Thursday, May 25, 2006

Steaks the Size of Your Head

I'm a red meat kind of gal, but I ordered a hamburger today that was, quite literally, the biggest I've ever seen in my life. It was so large I had to cut away about 1/3 of it so I could wrap my hand around the bun. I couldn't finish it, didn't touch my fries, and really, really wanted a nap afterwards.

Where the hell am I, you ask? Calgary, where the hotel porters wear cowboy hats and vegetarians are considered freaks of nature. I'm here on business and am hoping to put the final polish on my book while I'm here, whiling away the nights in my hotel room. I get horrifically lonely when I'm traveling on business, even though I almost never feel lonely usually, being the uber intense, loner writer and all. (This probably doesn't bode well for my eventual book tours.) In any case, I was very pleasantly surprised to find an exquisite bouquet of flowers in my hotel room when I got back from work this evening, courtesy of some 007-ish wrangling from BHJ. Thanks BHJ!

Cheers,
Maia

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Scaring the Neighbours

I've heard a number of writing teachers/pundits/plain-old-writers extol the virtues of reading your work out loud, so I did just that this past week. It was an interesting experience and it showed me a few things. Namely, that I had a ton of errors that weren't visible to me by reading in my own head. I'm talking about mistakes that have been in the book for months, or worse, years. Some weren't so bad; word repetitions that I couldn't 'hear', minor flow problems, the odd psychotically placed comma. Others were a little more serious, like discovering that the tone shifts awkwardly between particular scenes and missing plot points.

I was reading through chapter five when the neighbour's kid walked past our open window to get the ball he routinely kicks into our yard, and I guess my (not so) dulcet tones scared him a little, 'cause he ran like hell.

The writing group that I'm in reads everything out loud, which I've found to be a really beneficial experience; not only have I become more comfortable reading in front of others (particularly good, considering the fact that when it comes to public speaking I'm nothing short of appalling) but it's helped me become a little better at finding lit problems (both mine and other people's). We don't distribute our stuff beforehand; we just show up, read, and then discuss, so I think I've gotten a little better and faster at figuring out what works and doesn't work. Which is nice.

However, reading 10 pages out loud every other week is a little different than sitting down and reading out 300 pages all at once, an experience which left me with a fairly spectacular saliva deficit and my tongue glued to the roof of my mouth. This was, as is the case with most things, fixed with a stiff drink.

So, at the end of the day, even though I scared a small child and found some pretty serious problems, I'm glad that I did it. I've finished doing most of the corrections that came out of my read-a-thon and am left with 3 major scenes that need to be reworked. On the other hand, it never ceases to amaze me how changing one or two seemingly innocuous things can result in a literary butterfly effect, creating ripples throughout the rest of a book. So, as is the case with most things, it can always get worse.

For those of you who despair that you'll be hearing my snail's-pace updates every week for the rest of the summer, I fear that you might be right. It's just not there yet.

Wish me luck.

Cheers,
Maia

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Fat Lady Rises!

I posted last week that the fat lady had 'officially sung' in the case of Kaavya Vishvanathan, a Harvard student whose debut novel was recently yanked off the shelves amid an uber cyber (and RL) kafuffle regarding charges of having "lifted" (I love that word) portions of Megan McCafferty's book, "Sloppy Firsts".

Looks like I know precisely nothing. Her publisher has now issued a statement saying that they won't be publishing an updated (eg. de-plagiarised) version of her debut novel and have pulled out out their two book contract. On top of all that, there are now claims that portions of the novel also resemble a second book, the bestselling "Can You Keep A Secret", by Sophie Kinsella.

Now I really want to know: will she have to give the money back?

Cheers,
Maia