Not anywhere near enough. Four hours usually, more if I’m lucky. Does anyone actually get enough sleep?
Monthly Archives: March 2011
How do you get yourself going when you just don’t feel like doing anything?
It would be either a cape or an old farmhouse with a real dining room, and at least a two-car garage. The rooms wouldn’t have to be huge, but I want a bedroom for each kid and two offices (one for Chris, one for me). Also, it wouldn’t be a "handyman’s special" in any way, unlike my current house.
Have you ever seen the movie “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles (of course)?
Silent Partner is a new novel by Jennifer Chase. She has two earlier books, Compulsion, and Dead Game, which won a 2010 Bronze Award for Fiction/Thriller at ReaderFavorite. Her latest novel is about Jack Davis, a police officer in California’s K9 Unit. He is a man of great integrity who finds himself in a difficult position when an ex-girlfriend, a girl from his childhood, becomes a suspect when her sister is brutally murdered in their house while both women are home alone.
Ms. Chase was generous enough to send me a signed copy of her book to review for this blog. The story sounded intriguing, so I looked forward to diving in. The plot of the book moves along at an enjoyably fast pace. There is a certain amount of suspension of disbelieve necessary to swallow some of its plot points, but I really did like the plot overall.
What this book suffers from a couple of problems. The first is that the prologue seems entirely unnecessary and has little connection to the rest of the book. It follows someone who ends up being barely a bit player in the rest of the book, and the book would not in any way be lacking if it didn’t have the prologue.
The second issue I had with the book is what I initially took to be a total lack of editing, but on rereading parts of it I now think that this may have been an intentional writing style. Many paragraphs in the book are written in a choppy style with incomplete sentences, sometimes of only one word, making it difficult to read. I think this may have been an attempt either to impart urgency or Ms. Chase was attempting to write in the style of hard-hitting crime novels that use this sort of terse tone. If that is the case, then it was overused and poorly done, rendering many of the paragraphs so convoluted that it was sometimes difficult to decipher their meaning.
I hate to see this in what could otherwise be an enjoyable crime drama. I had to really struggle to get through this book because some of the sentences and paragraphs were so convoluted that it was difficult to decipher their meaning. I know I can be something of a grammar snob when it comes to books. I’m not as bad when it comes to blogging or commenting because there people tend to write the way they talk, not in a more formal style. This, however, is not a matter of snobbery, but a matter of wanting to read a book without having to retrace my steps because by the end of a paragraph I have lost where the beginning seemed to be headed.
It was very disappointing to know that when I reviewed this book, which I would otherwise have enjoyed as a beach read, I could not possibly recommend it. This is one of the dangers of self-publishing, in my opinion. It is all too easy to think that what you’ve written is fine and makes perfect sense because of course to you it does. You know what those paragraphs mean to be saying. The fact is that what you may think is clear may be completely undecipherable to your readers.
St. Patrick’s Day was M.’s 3rd birthday. The two older kids and I ate dinner with her and sang her Happy Birthday again over a cake made in a ladybug mold but colored green in honor of the holiday. S. said it looked like a turtle, and M. agreed so instead of being a St. Patrick’s Day ladybug, it was a turtle cake. There was frosting, there were sprinkles, M. was happy.
I have sent out a story to two different magazines and a poem to another in the last week. All three have months-long wait periods before you hear anything at all, and since they are only first submissions I’m not expecting much, but I had to at least get the process started. I wanted to get used to the idea of contributing so that it will be a more regular occurrence.
I saw over the weekend that there is a short-story writing contest in my area and I’m trying to put something decent together to submit. Submissions are accepted until April 22, so I still have time. I just need to make sure I can get one of my preliminary ideas to work out as a story. It’s sponsored by the Mark Twain House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, both in Hartford right next door to each other. If you’re ever in the area and get to visit, you should. They are very cool houses in their own rights just because they are fine examples of architecture and decor, but that they were the homes of such great authors makes them twice as interesting. I’ve always been partial to the Twain house, partly because I’m a bigger fan of his writing than of Stowe’s and partly because there are some great stories/facts that are part of the tour of his house. When I was a kid (8 or 9) I used to imagine living there or at Gillette’s Castle (in East Lyme…or is it Old Lyme?) which was another of our vacation haunts.
I had two court appointments having to do with the house (one with the bank, one with the ex) scheduled for the same day, which I thought was very efficient of me. The 9:30 appt. got messed up on my end by a lack of a phone call that I was unaware I had to make and had to be rescheduled. The noon appt. was rescheduled by the bank because they’re still waiting on paperwork on their end before they have any info for me at all. Basically, I wasted the better part of the day not dealing with things that ultimately were both rescheduled, or at least will be once all the paperwork has processed. So much for efficiency.
I have done exactly zero work on my book. I have been tied up with household finances and cleaning and other mundane but necessary tasks, and really have just been dicking around not doing anything productive other than the bare minimum. That is going to have to stop. Tomorrow I’m starting to work with a time log. It’s more to force me to admit to myself that I waste a LOT of time doing nothing (email, Twitter, iPod, etc) than to show me where my time is going. I’m not asking myself what is happening to all my time. I know it’s being pissed away on crap. I just need to force myself to be a grown up and get back to work.
Do you find yourself wondering where your day has gone? If you were brutally honest with yourself, would you really need to ask? Would you like the answer?
I watched “Shutter Island,” the movie, long before I had heard about the book. I enjoyed it, especially the ending, and then found out that not only was there a book, but it was by acclaimed author Dennis Lehane, who wrote Mystic River among others. That book, and the movie made from it, were amazing, if depressing, and I went in search of Shutter Island to read the book from which the movie came.
It is possible that if I had read the book first, I would have noticed more glaring differences in the movie as is so often the case, but having seen the movie first I found it is very faithful to the book itself.
In Shutter Island, a team of US Marshals go to the island, which is home to Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the near-impossible disappearance of a patient. As we go on in the story, we learn that the lead Marshal, Teddy Daniels, has other motives in being there. His partner, Chuck Aule, is new to him, this being their first case together, and the two bond as the case progresses and they are stranded on the island due to a massive hurricane which cuts the island off from outside contact.
The book does have some differences from the movie, but nothing that was necessary to follow the story. No major plot points were cut out in the movie, and the story was handled artfully, with Teddy Daniels being played convincingly by Leonardo DiCaprio, one of my favorites since he was in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?“
I truly enjoyed both the book and the movie. For those of you who have neither seen the movie or read the book I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I didn’t see it coming. Since I had already seen the movie, and knew the eventual outcome, I was worried that I wouldn’t like the book as much, that the ending would be ruined. As it turned out however, I enjoyed the book just as much because I knew what was coming and was anxious to see how the book handled it compared to the movie. That is, in my opinion, what makes Lehane such a great writer. Even knowing the final ending, his art as a writer makes the book still worth reading.
I recommend the book to anyone who likes a good psychological thriller, and the movie both to those with the same interest, and fans of DiCaprio. In both cases, it will be time well spent.
- Shutter Island Theatrical Trailer (screenrant.com)
I realize it’s been a couple of days since I posted, and I do actually have two book reviews in the works that will be coming up soon. Things have just been very busy in my non-writing life so I’ve been caught up with that. As I mentioned before, Monday was H.’s 11th birthday. Yesterday (Sunday) was M.’s birthday party for her 3rd birthday, which is actually on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting the house ready and getting all the necessary decorations and favors. It’s been exhausting, but also good because it’s progress I can actually see.
Friday I decided to rip the carpet out of the downstairs hallway, an area not much bigger than a stair landing. The carpet predates our buying the house by quite a bit, and was a disaster. Cleaning it would have had no real effect, and our former dog (now living with my ex) destroyed areas of it around the doors trying to dig her way into/out of the rooms. The floor underneath is the same wood as the living room, not just plywood. Even though the floor is not in good shape cosmetically, it’s still a lot better than the carpet was. I want to do the hall stairs too, because they’re also real wood, but not until M. is done with the stage where she still could potentially fall down them. No need to make them slippery.
Sunday’s party went very well. All of my in-laws came as well as my mom and Cliff, and M. had a blast with her cousin, C. C. is three months older than M. and they play as well together as can be expected of two girls their age. They had a great time, the food was good (with Chris’s help) and the house isn’t totally destroyed.
I’m still recovering from all the work, and there is a little more cleanup to do, but I’ll be posting at least one of the reviews either today or tomorrow. I broke my writing chain on Friday, and haven’t picked it up yet. I decided since I had already missed a day I’d take the weekend off instead of driving myself crazy trying to find time. I’ll restart today though. I’ve decided I really want to spend more time now on rewriting and editing than on new work, unless I think of a great idea that can’t wait.
How did everyone else’s weekend go?
I have a story I want to re-read and re-work if necessary, and once it’s ready I’m going to try to send it out again. I think it’s good, I’m just not sure that anyone else will. I sent it out once, but never heard back. That’s what I really hate. I can take rejection letters. It’s when I get no response at all that drives me crazy. It says to me that my story wasn’t even good enough to call for a response, positive or negative. I know that some markets just don’t respond unless they’re planning on buying the story. I just think that’s a cop-out. I can’t see that it would take so long to print out generic rejection letters and send them out. Beginning writers don’t necessarily expect personal letters, and actually a rejection letter with a note or suggestion is a good thing. But for the average, “we just don’t want this” kind of rejection, a form letter is fine. It’s better than nothing.
I would like to say that if I ran a magazine or literary journal, I would always let people submitting stories know one way or another. But I can also see that it might not be possible if I was a small publication and had to deal with a lot of submissions. Just the cost of postage might make that prohibitive. But it would have to be very small, and the number of submissions would have to be huge for that to be the case. If I were one of the bigger magazines, I would send out responses. I know they get far more submissions, and that it would cost more to send out all those letters, but it would still be worth it.
Another point is that many markets are accepting online/email submissions. How expensive would an email response be? Especially the form letter type, where you’d have one email, and just send BCCs to all the rejected submissions that didn’t call for a more personal touch. Click. Done. No cost to speak of.
I’m sure that there are reasons for not responding to every submission, just like I’m sure there are reasons for not responding to every applicant that applies for a job. Still, I’ve seen large companies ignore applications, and tiny companies respond to every inquiry. I like that way better.
Do you prefer to get a response, even if it’s a rejection, or would you rather not hear at all?