Archive for June 2010

The blinking cursor

I've stared at this blinking cursor a long time, so I guess I'll just start. I do have things to say, but I think I addled my brain with all the nothing I've been doing.

It's been a week since I turned in my manuscript. During that time I've basked in the glow of satisfaction, and also have identified some missed opportunities with the story. I could beat myself up about them, but I know those opportunities would never have become apparent if I hadn't let it go. Having been through this process before, I know there's always something I could have done better. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's that way with most writers, not just me, so I don't worry about it too much. I did what I did and now the book has to stand up tall, or fall over like a drunk girl on a slippery barstool. (Those days are long behind me.)

Anyway, it's done for now.

I've really enjoyed my break from writing. So much, in fact, that the first few days I started to worry I was enjoying it a little too much. Maybe I wouldn't want to start a new project, or maybe I'm out of ideas, or...whatever. But by Friday I was feeling that familiar pull to the computer, and then over the weekend little random ideas started pinging my brain, and last night I even thought about brushing off an old middle-grade book I started a few Nanowrimos ago.

I'm not ready to dive into anything just yet, but at least the desire is still there.  The blinking cursor no longer mocks me. That's nice.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Preparing for success

You probably saw a new theme every time you visited in the past three days. I think I'm going to keep this one for a little while, see how I like the layout and what kind of tweaks I might need. It has no theme options available, and while I usually look for a theme with as many as possible, I spent a little time learning some more CSS last night. I love doing that stuff, when I take the time to do it. So actually, this theme not having options may be a good thing, as it's forcing me to learn how to tweak things myself. That way, if I decide to keep it I will already know how to change the graphics into something more Sherri-flavored.

I'd been toying with the possibility of having a static front page, but I didn't know what to put there. I like the way this one's laid out. Of course, when I start promoting a book I'll probably have to get a real website built based on that, but this will work for now.

So apparently this is a time to prepare my external persona for success. If you're on Facebook, I have an author profile that will go active if I get a publishing contract. I expect it to be the easiest place to do news updates and such, and an easy way for people to connect to me. Log in to your Facebook account, click this link:!/pages/Sherri-Cornelius/91241069662?ref=ts

and then click the "Like" button, and you'll be all signed up. If you "like" my author page it will show up in your friends' news streams, and that'll spread the word.  Some of you are already on there, and I thank you. Also thanks to those who gave me notes on this theme. (Talking 'bout Soho Serenity.)

Time to go eat lunch with the hubs.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

After-the-book ponderings

Last night I cleaned out all the notes I've accumulated over the couple of years of writing this book, including handwritten, typed and printed pages, note cards and scraps. The pile filled the gerbil's old 10-gallon tank. That's a lot of trash. I did keep some notes, the ones showing the link between thought and finished product. Those were about five pages.

I've been working on this book so long, some of my newish blog buds might think it's my first. There was another before BVA, a magical romp with a young lady on the run, forbidden love and fireballs. It was called Stolen Magic at first, and later changed to Ea's Gift to avoid duplicating another published novel. This is the effort that caught my agent's eye, even though it went nowhere and was eventually shelved.

Writing EG was fun and exciting. I thought every book would be that way. Hahaha, what a silly goose I am.

Writing BVA felt like slicing open my own gut, pulling out my intestines, measuring the entire slippery length, then hauling them back in and stitching the wound myself. I didn't realize till I finished that sentence how true it is. Now that it's finished I can see why it was so hard, but that will be a post for another day.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Avatar: It ain't people running around in alien suits

I watched Avatar for the first time (the blue people one, not the last airbender one) with the family. Normally I don't let the kids watch PG-13, but this was a special occasion. My son in particular has been bugging me to get it from Netflix--in fact, he watched it again this morning, and will probably watch it again before it's gone--but I think we all ended up loving it just as much as he did. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was actually a good movie. I'd expected it to be a cookie-cutter special-effects blockbuster with a superficial "save the planet" message. What I found out, though, was a great story supported by heartfelt, emotional performances--with the added bonus of the OMG OUT OF THIS WORLD FANTASTIC special effects. Did I say OMG?

The Na'vi were so realistic that it gave me the hope that my work-no-longer-in-progress could someday be made into a believable movie. The last thing I'd want for a movie made out of my book is a bunch of people running around in lizard suits. Is that so much to ask?
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

It's done!!

Another week of musical themes as I try to decide what I want my website to say about me. I think this one is quite zen, only for some reason it's not giving me the theme options in my dashboard, so it might change before you've even read this.

But the real news for the week is that I finished my book. Really.

No, stop laughing. I'm serious.

I spent all day Sunday in a marathon of editing, and at 9:30 pm a box popped up to let me know I had no more comments or tracked changes. The manuscript was clean. My eyes opened wide and then squeezed shut, and I put my face in my hands and squealed. I'm sure it didn't look weird at all.

At the end I still had some formatting tweaks to do, but the story was done, damn it, so I saved the formatting for Monday morning. Once that was finished I began assembling the package to email Sara, my agent, and soon found that I'd not done an important step: rewriting the short synopsis to fit the new ending. Rackin-frackin mumble mumble... At this point I was so close I could smell it, and it smelled good. Gah!

So Monday was spent rewriting the rackin-frackin synopsis, and then late Monday night I composed possibly the most momentous email of my life up to this point. I attached the novel, the regular synopsis, and a longer, 17-page synopsis specifically requested by an interested publication...and hit send. My agent confirmed receipt just a few minutes ago. It's out of my hands.

I really had no idea I'd be so relaxed once it was gone. I've gotten used to the low hum of anxiety that always, from the very beginning, accompanied this book. All day my thoughts would drift toward that waterfall: "Why am I doing this? I should be writing!" Now usually, the next thought is smashed on the rocks below: "I can't write, okay? I have to clean the toilets sometime!" But today, I realized the waterfall was behind me, and whatever whitewater tossed my thoughts about, a sparkling pool lay beyond.

So basically, that was a beautiful metaphor for why I cleaned toilets without guilt today.

I have so many thoughts and feelings about finishing, some will have to wait for another day.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

My Magician's Book

Moonrat had a nice post today about her Magician's Book: "The perfect story you read as a child, and which since you read it has gone utterly unmatched and only vaguely echoed by anything else you read?" Hers was The Elven Bane.

Mine is, unfortunately, a book I can't name.

The story is etched into my memory, as well as the names of some of the players, the settings and the emotions and situations. Etched, I say. Only problem is I did not retain the author's name, nor the title of the story. It was not a book unto itself, because it was in a sf anthology. I remember it was fairly long, longer than all the other stories in the anthology. I wasn't really old enough to judge the length of a story at the time, but looking back I'd estimate it at 20k words.

The anthology came from my dead grandmother's library. We had a ton of books inherited from Grandma Jerry, all from the fifties and sixties, maybe up through the early seventies. This one seemed like a late sixties to me for some reason--maybe because it seemed really old in about 1980. Most of the books were book-of-the-month clubbers and Reader's Digest Condensed, none of interest to an eleven year old, but a few gems were scattered among them, like this book. It's almost certainly out of print now, but I wish I could read it again to see how it holds up. It took hold of my imagination the way few other stories have, and solidified my love of speculative fiction, though I didn't know there was a difference back then. A story was a story.

You may stop reading here, as the rest of the post is the story as I remember it, but before you leave, answer this question: What's your Magician's Book?

It was set in a somewhat primitive future after an unnamed but presumably man-made disaster, the clues pointing to nuclear weapons. Babies were inspected for mutations at birth and, if found to be imperfect, were left in the forest to die. The child protagonist lived among the villagers, because parents hid her imperfection: six toes on each foot. The protag's little sister, Petra, had a mutation that no one could see--telepathy.

The protag is found out, I think, or maybe not but for some reason she flees to the forest. Remember all those babies they left to die? They've created their own society in the woods, and they take in the protag. She meets an exceptionally lanky young man named (I think) Charles, and they war with the villagers.

So eventually, an airship comes and drops these filament things over the whole battlefield (can you say deus ex machina?) which hardens over everything and everyone, including the protag and her boyfriend. I remember a horse suffocating, but I can't remember if everybody else died. I know the main people were cut free and taken up to the airship where they were transported across the nuclear wasteland to civilization. Apparently, Petra, the little sis, had contacted them telepathically, and they embrace the mutations.

After all that, I think I remember the protag's name is Marie. Wish I could find that anthology again.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Are we there yet?

Once again, my self-imposed deadline for finishing BVA has come and gone.  This time it's been finished, but I can't stop finding things to fix. You know that stage, I'm sure. I've also come to the conclusion that my eyes will never be able to keep up with my imagination. That is, I think about my book all day, but the sinuses get irritated so easily that the eyes are always on the verge of fatigue. Looking at a computer screen and thinking at the same time is hard some days. I simply require more downtime than I feel I should.

I haven't been online a whole lot to save my eyes for the really important stuff. I expect to send the book off to the agent within the week. She may have edits for me, but they shouldn't take long. I'm ready. I'm done, now I just have to get the manuscript to agree.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

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