Friday, April 15, 2011

Writing Partnerships

Today I spoke on the phone for 2 hours with my new reader, a friend who now lives on the opposite border of the US, but remains close to my heart.  I trust his opinions, and am thrilled that he has the time and inclination to read my manuscript and help me identify and shake loose the kinks in the plot and characterization.

Choosing a reader is not something to be taken lightly. 

I took a long time considering whom to ask for this really important stage of revision.  I wanted to find someone who was an avid reader, who had dabbled in writing (or had published already), who knew the mechanics of story writing--structure, arc, dialogue, so many other aspects.  Someone who had the patience to read through my entire novel manuscript slowly and thoughtfully, and the stamina to respond to it each week.  Someone who would make a suggestion on one page that would blow me away with its dead-on appropriateness, and who also would not get offended if I disagreed with the suggestion on the next page. Someone I trusted. (And yes, I think most writers need a reader in addition to their husbands/wives.)

It's funny that I hadn't thought of Fred as a potential reader until I'd already taken up his invitation to bring the family on up to his lakeside home for the family vacation this summer. So, when the idea that it was he, He, HE who was the reader I'd been looking for all along, I felt a bit slow in the brain.

But I'm so happy now.  I have the first 60 pages revised in only two long sittings, and I can't wait to get back to the draft this afternoon.

This is really good news.  Now.  I must confess that I promised my younger son that, as soon as I finished remodeling the kitchen, I'd build him a "tree house" in the back garden.  We have no tree to build it in, so it will be more like an elevated fort.  I was going to start this weekend, but I'm going to postpone, delay, make excuses so I can spend more time surfing this writing wave.

More news:
The reading at the Dallas Museum of Art was so fantasmic, I can't even describe in words (which is bad for a writer, huh?) how thrilled I was to be part of the Texas Bound Series.  It's an incredible feeling to be sitting in an auditorium filled with people who are laughing, hooting, wiping their eyes at your story. The actress who read my story, "The Epidural," was Lydia Mackay.  Her reading was perfect. The reading, the dinner afterward, the good company of writers and actors--just amazing all around.  Thank you, Katie Hutton, Lydia, DMA, everyone who made it happen.

Even more news:
If you live in Plano, in two weeks, open up that Plano Profile Magazine and flip to the Author Author interview in May.  I'm still afraid that my picture will be scary--I just don't do well with posed studio photographs--and it won't really look like me at all.  But the interview, which I got to pre-read yesterday, is so fun.  Thanks, Brit!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Arts & Letters Live: Texas Bound

On Monday evening, April 11, I'll be sitting in Horchow Auditorium listening to four great actors reading four great stories. (Am I allowed to call mine great?)

It will be strange but fun to hear someone else interpret the story.  I'd forgotten that the art students at Booker T. Washington (Arts Magnet) have created original works of art, all of which will be displayed at the Dallas Museum of Art reading event, based on the four stories being read.  My story is called "The Epidural."  I can't wait to see what they did with that!

Here's the link.  I'll try to post pics of the event soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Final Reveal (and now I can get back to writing)

 I finally have the Before & After pictures of the kitchen.  What an adventure.  Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, because although the pics don't reveal it, I do have a few paint touch-ups here and a little glue there.  I'll have to squeeze in some time next week to take care of that.

My friend Ashley told me at one point earlier in my remodeling frenzy that I should do something with the blog--publicize it somehow to DIY bloggers.  I probably blushed and waved away her flattery.  Besides, when you're the one doing the remodeling, you're just too tuckered out to do anything else in the evening except take a shower and pour a huge glass of wine.

So, here is the final installment of my DIY kitchen remodel.  Now I can turn my attention back to remodeling those manuscripts waiting patiently for me.  Please feel free to leave comments here in the blog (which looks like a ghost town these days) instead of the usual Facebook.

A final note for the curious: the new countertops are Silestone.  The floor is porcelain that looks like slate, and the backsplash and base tiles are real slate, all combined for a hint of European flair.

A final, final note:  a talented, professional, and authentically nice handyman named Rob Knight (of Knight Residential Services) hung my range hood and fixed one of my electrical outlets for me.  He was amazing, friends. And his rates were so ridiculously reasonable, I had to tip him $45 bucks so I didn't feel guilty about my bill.  I highly recommend him if you need anything repaired or remodeled--just contact me and I'll give you his number.
BEFORE: view from dining room
AFTER: view from dining room
BEFORE: Our sad, sad, cooking area

AFTER: our much happier cooking and prep area

BEFORE: the horror
BEFORE: the oven and dishwasher with doors that hated each other
AFTER: Appliances separated, citing irreconcilable differences.  They are on amicable terms now

BEFORE: Storage on the countertops
AFTER: le chef can never have too many knives at his fingertips

AFTER: My "Martha Stewart" attempt at stylish organization
AFTER: our drop-in sink made of granite composite
AFTER:  possibly one of my favorite things about this remodel--the handy place for foil and plastic wrap.  I'm in love.

BEFORE: table--cute, but too big for the space
AFTER: bar table and open storage

Friday, April 1, 2011

An interesting post on why we should buy directly from small presses

For one, Barrett's small press "nets more revenue from 100 direct sales than 1,000 copies sold through conventional distribution. That’s right: A factor of 10."  Wow.  This is what bookstore lovers mean when they sneer at Amazon and B&N. (Sigh.)  I sympathize with the presses, the independent book stores, and with those who bargain shop for books. To read the rest of the article, click here.