Monday, July 30, 2007

The Time Machine - Week of July 30, 2007

The publicity gurus at Author Marketing Experts advise writers to become a filter of information, another important aspect of building "author brand". Blogs are a great way to disseminate market information, expert advice on an aspect of the craft, editor news--in short, anything writers want their audience to remember them for and keep coming back for more.

Because the time travel market is deemed "soft" right now, I can think of no better way to celebrate novels and other mediums of entertainment answering to the small niche of people like me. Those who find the infinitesimal possibilities of story when coupled with any aspect of time, one of the most fascinating backdrops for human drama.

Each Monday, you'll find market news, tidbits, excerpts, links--anything and everything related to this wicked stepchild of the sci-fi world, now awaiting a projected resurgence in popularity. ===============================================
This week: time-travel friendly publishers and links to submission guidelines; latest news on the upcoming Time Traveler's Wife movie

Have a time-altering twist in your manuscript? Check out these publishers:

New Concepts Publishing: ebook and print publisher guidelines

TOR/Forge: The most successful science fiction publisher worldwide guidelines

NOVA Sci-fi: accepts short stories up to 7, 000 words; previous creative writing credentials a must guidelines

ImaJinn Books: For time travel stories with romantic elements guidelines

Shooting for The Time Traveler's Wife begins September 10th in Toronto. Eric Bana will play Henry DeTamble and Rachel McAdams will portray Clare. Jeremy Leven, who wrote the adapted screenplay for The Notebook, teams up with Robert Schwentke, who directed Flightplan (2005).
Who would have been your pick to cast as Henry and Clare?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wicked Dreams and Subplots

I had one of those wicked, wild dreams last night. A beta hero in a college bookstore, but by night he's part of something bigger called the Lonely Hearts Club. I have no idea. Don't ask.

I'm blogging today over at Sparkle This about subplots. Six authors. Daily sessions on the writing craft. Check it out...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Deep Thoughts (Not My Own)

Philosophy was never my thing in college. I know, hard to believe after all the self-indulgent theories I spill out here. So in the spirit of showing my lighter side (and because I'm channeling all of my creative juices into a highly emotional scene in my WIP) I offer up some of my favorite "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handy in place of my own.

"When I found the skull in the woods, the first thing I did was call the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns."

"I think there should be something in science called the "reindeer effect." I don't know what it would be, but I think it'd be good to hear someone say, "Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect."

"Once when I was in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, I met a mysterious old stranger. He said he was about to die and wanted to tell someone about the treasure. I said, "Okay, as long as it's not a long story. Some of us have a plane to catch, you know." He told us about his life and all, and I thought: "This story isn't too long." But then, he kept going, and I started thinking, "Uh-oh, this story is getting long." But then the story was over, and I said to myself: "You know, that story wasn't too long after all." I forget what the story was about, but there was a good movie on the plane. It was a little long, though."

"Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there, in the room talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books."

"One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh no," I said, "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Barrier

What is it made of? That undefinable slip between the mental fortitude a writer needs to sit down to write and the timeless, boundless overdrive where the world slips away? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl, a psychologist famous for his studies of the creative mind, discovered and labeled this phenomenon for writers. Flow. The mental state when concentration peaks, the writing is neither easy nor difficult, and the words are powerful and fascinating enough to suspend time.

Flow is liquid and hot, gravity and flight simultaneously conspiring to create something beyond the writer. Thoughts snatched from some nebulous plane, which when placed alongside the words we struggled with, laced with worries of marketability and POV and character arc, we barely recognize as our own.

Flow is the reward. The creative pull stronger than any self-medicating dark chocolate or dry martini or the nth episode of SVU. It's what keeps writers coming back each and every day, hoping to breach this barrier into our subconscious and the story world it has created.
Daily, ritualistic writing weakens this barrier, like a hand stretched through silk stalkings, easily penetrable. Each day away from the barrier strengthens it, layer upon layer until a writer, desperate for the creative high, believes it takes a magical key to open the post-thick door to their imagination.

For me, flow is realizing the cat curled up on my lap and I never felt him. Forgetting to eat a meal. Darkness descending where there was day. And once, only once, the sweet notion of fallen tears I hadn't remembered surfacing. Flow is a perfect time machine, fully accessible if we let ourselves go and find that place we discovered before we realized there were rules and the worries of the writing life weaved this barrier.

What does flow mean for you?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I couldn't resist blogging about the movie Premonition today. Yes, I'm just now getting around to seeing it, but I love the DVD added features. Priceless to a writer. Of course, it was a given I'd love the premise. The similarities to my novel Chasing Midnight are glaring and obvious and brought to mind many of the issues I dealt with when writing it.

The non-linear narrative structure is something I'm always drawn to. How better to get in the mind of a character thrown into chaos than to give the reader (or audience) the same sense of confusion? Hard to pull off and not everyone wants to go along for a ride where they must actively participate in the puzzle. A commentary on the passivity of our culture; but, I digress. Thankfully, there is a segment of the population who crave movies like Memento and Deja Vu and the quasi-romance blend of The Lake House and Premonition. As difficult a concept as time is to understand, in the not-too-distant future, the folds and nuances and possibilities will become clear and these movies and novels won't seem like a relic from the Twilight Zone.

In the bonus features, the writer and director discuss the challenges to the actors and production people to put together a scrambled movie experience. At one point, they rearranged the scenes chronologically like a deck of cards to determine if they'd accounted for every thread, every detail. A great trick, even for a writer juggling subplots. Pluck them out and read them in a linear fashion to determine if they work in the overall scope. And, when the creative minds behind Premonition reached the end, they had some hard decisions to make.

What about audience expectations? The Hollywood ending that movie-goers secretly crave, but makes critics cringe? How can they reconcile the best possible ending for the story with one that won't disappoint. In Chasing Midnight, the poignant and bittersweet nature of the love story would have struck an artificial note had the woodland animals emerged and a sweeping orchestral crescendo descended upon the final pages. Romance publishers are experimenting with "optimistic" endings in an effort to inject honesty in the genre. Readers know without a doubt my hero and heroine will find their "happily ever after." The payoff is just as satisfying as a heroine swept into the hero's arms against the backdrop of a painted sunset.

And the ending to Premonition? No spoilers here. Watch it. Watch the alternate ending on the DVD. Then let me know what you think.
The most common unexplainable human phenomenon: precognition

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Time Machine of Emotions

Time was a palpable force this past week. Just home from the National Conference for the Romance Writers of America, back to back days sliced and diced into ten minute editor segments and sixty minute workshops, I'm able to look at the larger picture. It was not the projected seven minute wait for an available elevator or the slippery slope of networking that sometimes slid into firm commitments, but the gravity of the moments seen through a broader scope that now resonate with me.

Logically, we know time is one of the most predictable forces on Earth; and yet, our perception of it changes through the filter of our emotions. How else is it possible that five months worth of anticipation and preparation can magnify into one infinite moment filled with breaths not taken, images and sensory input dulled into obscurity? The chance meeting with someone who could hold the key to your dream becomes a moment shifted into overdrive when you've realized you've lost your words. Listening to a successful author recount her twenty year climb to success and realizing some of the amazingly talented and beautiful writers sitting around you may not have the luxury of two decades to achieve their goals. Looking around you at a table filled with friends who would never be content with their own writing until yours soars with it and knowing our time together could be fleeting.

Time is stable, yet we are not. Our movements and dreams shift as often as the phases of the moon. We look ahead with anticipation, but cannot wrap our minds around the time it will take to find our destination. We look behind us and find moments slipping beyond our control into some vague recollection of what we felt at the time, never able to recall with any accuracy the precise edge to our emotions.

Hope, love, sadness, joy--our strongest human emotions distort how we experience time. In the past seven days, I experienced them all like an outdated amusement park ride, slow and jerky in places, swift and out of control in others. But when the ride is the one of your heart--the one you'd never imagine travelling through life without--it's the sweetest journey of all.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Rain In Spain Stays Mainly in the Plain

Remember the rule: Write what you know? Although this golden nugget has some gravity in truth, it doesn't give the writer nearly enough credit for imagination and bonus points for research. Inevitably, a writer will need resources. Accurate ones. One of the most basic and essential parts of location research is weather. Since weather is akin to a fifth family member in my house, I'm well within the boundaries of the rule.

Most countries have a division of their government devoted to the study and recording of weather information. The National Weather Service provides the public with the most accurate information since the United States government began an agency to record weather data in the late 1800s. Environment Canada runs the National Climate Data and Information Archive and offers normal and extreme data since 1961.

Private industry and media weather organizations' focus lies in the most immediate, gratifying, often eye-catching information. By using government regulated agencies, researchers have access to long-range trends, the benefit of consistent, unprecedented archives, astronomical data (tides, times (sunrise/sunset), moon phases) and meteorological experts who have committed themselves to providing products and information to the citizens in their area. If you can't find what you're looking for in the phenomenal archives online, call the local weather office in your area of interest, staffed 24/7 by scientists happy to answer your questions, provided they're not busy protecting life and property in a hurricane or other severe situation.

For United States archives, bookmark this::

Although this is the starting point for the Southern Region of the National Weather Service, the home page map is a fast kick start to research. Select the area you're targeting, choose the local climate feature in the left margin and you'll find indexed tabs of all the archived data.
Try getting all that from Jim Cantore.
Today's weather::Is the ark finished yet??