Monday, November 28, 2005

Stringing It All Back Home

I love Bob Dylan. Many of you already know that; for those who don’t, you’ll realize it soon enough when the second book of my series (PARALLEL HEAT) hits the shelves next fall. But that’s not the point, apart from explaining my blog title. I want to talk about the struggle of putting all the parts of a novel together, at least for me.

The truth is I tend to write way far ahead. In fact, I already have about 100 or so pages on my third book down on paper, which I wrote while halfway through book one. Can’t help it. If the story is speaking loudly to me, I have to go with that energy. In fact, an author who I hold in high esteem once gave me a great piece of advice. She told me that if she didn’t write ahead—but merely kept anticipating those big scenes off on the horizon—by the time she reached them, all that power had faded away. Ever since that discussion I am a huge, gung-ho believer in writing whatever scene is whispering to me with the loudest voice.

The downside of that habit comes in pulling all the disparate bits together. For instance, on the book I’m currently writing I have a big huge chunk written toward the end—segments totaling more than 100 pages. But I’m nowhere near that place on the front side of the book, in other words, we are missing a big middle chunk. And that missing piece calls the latter part into question.

So how does one handle such a situation? I’m reminded tonight that outlining is my diehard friend. In the past I really did love outlining—lately, I think impatience has taken the stage and I’ve drifted away from the habit. But then you just reach that point in a book—especially if you write ahead—where it won’t come together and make logical sense if you don’t take a step back and figure out how it all tiles together.

I think of it like a mosaic, each piece a tesserae and it’s my job to form the full picture. Life has a similar out-of-order quality, even as its happening chronologically. Ever notice how many times your memory takes over with your own life’s events, reshaping their pattern into the “right” arrangement? I think that’s our mind trying to outline events into the most coherent, artful shape of things. So why do we resist the need to lay out our own books? Or, at the very least, why am I resisting it lately?

Perhaps the fear of concretizing the story too fully. Perhaps that impatience I mentioned above, the urge to freight train into the battle without stopping for water or air. I’m not sure. But tonight I’m going back to my own writing basics. I’m outlining, stringing it all together, and remembering that the most important thing as a writer is to hold to your best habits. Hold the course. Keep the faith. Keep on writing until the book is done.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In My Life

Let me start this blog by reassuring everyone that, truly, I am not a redneck; I’m not even close to approximating one. I might have made my iPod joke the other day, but especially due to the nature of this particular post, I want everyone to have a pretty decent handle on the kind of girl I am. So here we go: I’m southern by birth, well-traveled and sophisticated by the grace of God. That would be me. I grew up in Atlanta, a cosmopolitan city that has, in recent years, morphed into a disappointing megalopolis that I hardly recognize anymore. The distinctive southern flavor of my hometown has given way to generic, homogenized overgrowth of epic proportions. Where people used to wave one another into traffic, they now bowl them over at eighty miles an hour. No wonder I decided to move away.

For college, I did a four-year stint right outside DC in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Every weekend was spent visiting museums and dance clubs and hanging out in Adams Morgan. It was the eighties then, a time when the 9:30 Club on F Street was the place to be, whether for slam dancing, techno cool, or pre-grunge rock. After my freshman year I biked a thousand miles across Europe in a month; I have to tell you, if you want to see Europe up close and personal, there’s nothing like being invited into a German lady’s home for fresh lemonade.

Later, I returned to Europe for a semester studying in London where the walls of my more sheltered childhood life kept crumbling down (acknowledgments to John Mellencamp.) After college, working in the movie business certainly removed what was left of my na├»ve, rose-tinted lenses. Enough so that it might possibly explain why I headed back to London once again, roaming around the world (just like the B52’s, who were oddly popular at that exact time) in search of some higher definition of self. And then—and only then—did I decide to let my roots grow deep in the town of my birth: Atlanta.

All of that is my effort to establish my bonafides, to prove before I go further on this topic, that I am not a redneck. Why prove that fact? So I can foist my latest literary observation upon all you poor, reading folk. Here it is: What if writers were wrestlers? What a colorful literary landscape it would be!

My childhood took place in the era before wrestling was packaged and well-produced, a high-powered glitz affair at home on Pay-per-view. Mine was the era of Gordon Solie narrating Georgia Championship Wrestling by video on Sunday nights on WTBS. He was the man of easy poetry, who made that ring like a Shakespearean stage. He taught me “bedlam”, “pandemonium” and a dozen other fifty-cent words. He was a lyrical genius who could make grappling in front of a “live” studio audience of twenty seem like a Promethean battle fought in the coliseum.

My parents sent all of us to one of the most prominent prep schools in the country, but kudos to my dad for taking me one night to a real deal live wrestling match. I’ll never forget that night, how some genuine redneck tossed my baseball cap into the ring and Dick Slater handed it back. So here’s the thing, my friends: people are a complex tapestry. Here I am, preppy, Euro-gal, and I found a taste for drama, for that mystical thing that drives me as a writer, early on in the high drama of wrestling theater. My favorite books include WAR AND PEACE (waves at Diana!), PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, anything Salinger, anything Kerouac, anything that moves the world a little. I own a first edition of THE SECRET HISTORY, love Spike Lee movies, and grew up on The Who, the Police and The Smiths.

My point? We are all an amalgam of our influences, a wide spectrum of tastes and impulses. Which means that for us as writers, any characterization that falls short of that standard will, quite simply, fail to meet character where it really happens—in the realm of the complex.

And that is, undoubtedly, more than any of you wanted to know about my childhood. Have a blessed, wonderful, and grateful Thanksgiving. I am deeply thankful to have all of you, my blogging friends, in my life!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

If DVD Players Were iPods, How Nerdy Would I Be?

We’ve had the iPod inventory, or at least the snapshot inventory, thereby proving that my unit is not, in fact, a redneck one. But I keep waiting for the day when I can download all my favorite DVD movies and shows onto a single device—already, I far prefer just playing something I’ve TIVO’ed, rather than going through the rigamarole of loading a new disc. So imagine the day when we’ll have our little porto-units with SIX FEET UNDER, all five seasons, and Roswell seasons 1-3, and so forth. It will be a true testament to my own personal geek factor.


I like shows I can become obsessive, or the very least thorough, about. In other words, I want something where I can see every show, discuss those episodes knowledgably, and more important, I want to look forward to it every Friday night. What’s so great about Friday night, you ask? That’s usually when Sci-fi Channel has rocked. For a wonderful while it was the Farscape slot. Now it’s the Battlestar Galactica slot (BSG.) Life is plenty exciting and hectic for me; I travel the world, write novels, and (most important of all) raise two amazing daughters. Life is never, ever dull for Deidre. That said, there’s something really great about a lift on Show Day. Like Game Day, Show Day is that key day of the week when you know your fave show will air. So, about two pm or maybe six or maybe even nine am, depending on how excited you are, you will think to yourself, “Yes. Today is the day.” The world gets a tiny fraction brighter.

How many shows will I follow? some concerned folks may be wondering. Never more than two or three. At present, BSG is on hiatus until January, so I’m only watching LOST and OFF TO WAR. The latter has been an eye-opening look at one Oklahoma reservist battalion during their tour in Iraq. What makes the show even more interesting is that it also follows these soldiers’ families back home. There’s no editorializing, but rather it’s just a very frank, emotional look at what these soldiers experience while in country. I highly recommend catching this on Discovery Times.

But back to the iPod theory. I believe we’ll have movie iPods in the next five to ten years. And so, what would my play list include?


The list goes on and on… I always find it troubling when people ask me my favorite movies, because there are always so many of them. But the above would be an iMovie load-up that would make me very happy.

The Woman is Brilliant

And that would be MEL on her recent blog post about overweight women. Check it out, and be sure to follow the link to her dressing down of the boys who moo'ed.

There are many brilliant women in my life; I'm lucky that way. At my office, I'm surrounded by smart chicks. There's Pamela Harty, my sister and lifelong best friend (and fellow agent, of course.) She's not a blogger because that's not her cup of tea. I'm the writer in the family. But she loves books, loves agenting, and never ceases to amaze me with her keen observations. Plus, as I said at RWA a few years ago: "She's the better bitch." And in this business, that's a pretty important trait on the business acumen hierarchy.

I'm also fortunate enough to have the triumverate of twenty, i.e. the three Generation Y ladies who work in my office alongside me. It's incredibly energizing to work with women who bring fresh perspective. They make the business feel new to me again.

Then there's my wonderful Nephele. Talk about smart. She had a better handle on some of these agenting nuances after three months than I did after more than a year. Plus she's more well read than I am. :)

My daughters, of course, are the most brilliant people in my life. A couple of gems:

Tyler (seven) while we were watching the New Orleans coverage on the news. I told her, "Tyler, you should watch this. This is history." She said:
"I thought it was happening now."

Riley, while doing "this little piggy" on my toes: "this little piggy went to market...and this little piggy had Arby's..."

Yes, brilliant women. I know that I'm blessed.
hugs to all my wonderful women out there!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Truth About the Redneck iPod

Well, Pamela is correct--the iPod does indeed rock. I like some country rock (yes, it was Skynerd!) and a little bit of country (love Tim McGraw these days), but on the whole, I'm more of a rock chick.

A quick perusal of the iPod's music listing reveals:

10,000 Maniacs
4 Non Blondes
A Tribe Called Quest
Adam Cohen
Afrikaa Baambaataa
Alanis Morrisette
Alex Lloyd
Alien Ant Farm
Atlanta Rhythm Section
Bachman Turner Overdrive
The Band

And we aren't even very far into the B's...

So, truth revealed... it's an ECLECTIC iPod.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

That Dog Ain't Gonna Hunt

Title for Mel and Maria. :) Actually, one of my best friends is really fond of that expression, which is one of the stranger southernisms in our collective cultural consciousness as southern folk. So to fall into more gently bred phrasing: what, mayhap, shant be hunting? My husband's latest description of one of my favorite electronic devices. Today in the car, as I wanted to hear a particular southern rock tune he informed me: "You're the one with the redneck iPod--I'm sure it's on yours!" :)

The redneck iPod. I had to laugh at that one...

Friday, November 18, 2005

“Night Mares”
by MaryJanice Davidson

(Triskelion Press)

Welcome to Brokenoggin Falls, where the housewives are not only desperate, they’re Witches! (And one of them might be a Harpy) The spells cast by moonlight frequently go awry. And there are times when toads and Chihuahuas seem abundant as black flies in the summer, the dragons are a little touchy, the Forest Trolls are in danger of extinction from teeny-boppers, the Gryphons need help conceiving and...the scientist are crunchy and good with ketchup...

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

At a birthday party for the Disdaine Triplets, the little darlings decide they aren’t pleased with the party or the guests and use magic to create their own fun. That night the town and all its residents are visited by the infamous Night Mares who wreak mayhem as only giant ponies prancing through your house can. (First episode with story & characters created by Lynn Warren.)

Be on the lookout for MYSTERIA, an anthology expanding on the episode MaryJanice created in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEVAMPYRED. MYSTERIA (Berkley) hits shelves in August 2006!

MaryJanice Davidson is the best-selling author of several romance novels, including UNDEAD AND UNWED and HELLO GORGEOUS. Her books have been on the USA Today best seller list, as well as the New York Times list. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, two children, and dog, and is secretly addicted to Peanut Buster Parfaits.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Any Which Way You Can

People sometimes (often?) ask me how I can possibly find time to write. As I sat writing in the car during my daughter’s ballet practice, pungent smell of manure (the ballet studio is on a farm!) wafting in through the air vents, it really occurred to me that it’s not about the Big Expanse of Time. It’s about learning to write, day in and day out, month after month. And when you consider that I’ve been writing on a consistent, daily basis for more than five years now, the rhythm of writing under contract isn’t all that new.

For several years now I’ve been of the mind that you just have to write whenever you can, even if it’s not the most pristine, graceful moment. See the cow manure/farm moment earlier today. Irony here? That it was some of the most unadulterated creative time I’ve had in weeks: no radio on, no Internet service, no interruptions. It was just me in my car, fingers flying over the keyboard.

Too often aspiring writers seem to wait for the big ideal moment, forgetting that life is an accumulation of less-than-ideal moments. It’s the overall tapestry we’re creating that matters.

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I posted here, but I think my more ideal moments are starting to click by closer together. Here’s hoping that means I can be a more regular presence out here in the blogosphere.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And the Winners Are...

The signed ARC of PARALLEL ATTRACTION with nifty lunch cooler goes to chocowriter!!!


The second place prizes go to (each a winner of the coolest cooler around!): banderson and pellini1!!

The crowd goes wild! WOOHOO! Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to everyone for participating!

To the winners: I'll be emailing you soon on how to best get your prizes to you! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

His Dark Desires on tour today!

Psst.. a little bird told me that Jennifer St. Giles will be a star guest on the TKA Chats soon. I'm just sayin... keep an eye on those calendars and the TKA blog for more info!

Winner of Rendezvous Reviews Magazine’s Rosebud of the Month!
Who cites His Dark Desires as Powerful and emotional, with complex characters…an excellent journey into the past you won’t forget.

by Jennifer St. Giles
(Pocket Books, Nov. 2005)

Can any woman resist the fire in his eyes—and the danger in his kiss? From award-winning author of The Mistress of Trevelyan (2004 National Readers Choice Award for Best Historical and Best First Book, and 2004 Maggie Award for Excellence in Historical Fiction) comes the sensual tale of a woman haunted—and a man possessed—by an all-consuming love. . . .

You are in danger. Trust no one. The terrifying words from a mysterious letter echo in Juliet Bucheron's mind. Destitute ever since her husband disappeared in the Civil War, Juliet has turned her New Orleans ancestral home into a boarding house -- despite the rumors of ghosts, the whispers of scandal, and the stain of murder. But even more unsettling is Juliet's new tenant, a handsome stranger named Stephen Trevelyan. Wealthy, educated, and seductively compelling, Stephen fills Juliet's heart with uncontrollable longing -- and her head with suspicion. Something, she senses, is lurking beneath the surface. And someone is stalking the hallways after midnight. As the danger draws nearer, Juliet wonders if she can really trust Stephen. But as he pulls her closer, she knows she cannot resist matter what the price.


A former nurse and home educator, this award winning author loves to create unforgettable heroes and heroines, who against all odds, fight and win the battle for love—the human need that drives us all. She lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three children.

A wonderful Americana suspense thriller.. St. Giles provides a fabulous reconstruction era tale
—Harriet Klausner.

A riveting sequel…a sexually charged romance that satisfies whether they’re seeking suspense or passion.
--Romantic Times Book Club.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Giveaway Extension

Everyone now has one extra day to win the signed ARC of PARALLEL ATTRACTION! Tell your friends to sign up today!

New giveaway deadline: Midnight EST, November 10th 2005

Click here to join DeidreKnight
Click to join DeidreKnight

Monday, November 07, 2005

Giveaway Coming to a Close!

The very first Deidre Knight author contest is quickly coming to a close!! Deidre is giving away an ARC (advanced reading copy) this Weds November 9th, and all you have to do to qualify is sign up for her newsletter e-group by midnight EST on the 9th!

The grand prize winner will receive a signed ARC of PARALLEL ATTRACTION. Might I add that this will most likely be your ONLY chance to get your hands on the novel before it hits the bookshelves.

Two great winners will each receive a promo cooler sporting I'm off to read PARALLEL ATTRACTION by Deidre Knight.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for the newsletter and you might just be the very first reader to pick up PARALLEL ATTRACTION!

So click here to sign up and qualify: Deidre's Newsletter

Good luck everybody!