Tag Archives: writing

C.K. and I are doing a blog…together

It’s not up yet but we bought the domain name. It’s going to be all about living in Los Angeles and our new albeit temporary lives here on the West Coast. We hate it here. So, why not complain about it.

I’m not telling the name yet. But I promise it will be good.

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A “Colette” Chapter

I’m almost done rewriting a Kylie chapter in the voice of her cousin and confidante Colette. Colette is my carefree party girl of the book. She’s the daughter of the head of a crime organization (the same person Kylie works for). She enjoys the perks of the lifestyle: hanging out at her father’s clubs, throwing parties for her friends, going out to nice dinners, lots of shopping, some college, and lots more shopping and partying. She rarely sees the side of the business that her cousin Kylie does as both Denis’s niece and employee. She plays a good foil to Kylie’s sober, temperant maturity. However, it’s Colette who shows Kylie that she’s being to hard on Matt and on herself. In between Colette’s many drunken quips and laid back attitude lies an intelligence and an unfettered honesty. She’s one of my stronger supporting characters.

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Revision, Interrupted

The progress I made last week on the second draft of my book has come to a halt. I’ve finished rewriting the first four chapters: A Son’s Victory, Deep Breaths, Diet Coke, Anyone?, and Old Friends & New Lives. And when I’m done with this move (we are currently moving out of the corporate apartment and into our own little place), I will start the revising process once again. I think I’m going to make myself do a half-hour a day. It’s a little goal but once I start writing I usually don’t stop at the half-hour mark. But I set the small goal because I can’t get myself to do it some days. And I’m not usually a procrastinator.

Food for thought: I’m still deciding if I should put the narrator’s name at the beginning of the chapter. If I had three 1st-person narrators, it would make perfect sense (especially for a commercial novel). I’m not trying to confuse anyone here. But I have two 1st-person narrators and a 3rd person omniscient narrator. Obviously, I’m not going to put “3rd-person omniscient” at the beginning of a chapter. That would look dumb.

I say all this because I got some great feedback from an agent (a friend of a friend at Mahalo). He thought the novel was a good story but worried about the challenge of changing narrative voice so often. I’ll be honest: I can’t figure out another way to tell this story. Without the different voices, you can’t get all the story lines. There are so many characters and connections. Without 3rd-person narrator, I can’t link it all together. Without Kylie, you miss out on the main character’s thought process. Without Ben, you miss out on the anecdotes and laughter.

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Workshop Time

I got some great feedback at the Writer’s Group tonight. It’s a group of awesome people that work at Mahalo. We get together every Tuesday and read each other’s work. They’ve been reading North Shore South Shore since I joined the group in the fall of 2007.

Here’s what I learned about my work:

I need to give my “hero” Matt a bigger presence earlier in the book.

I need to cut back on my narrator Ben’s “love” of Kylie. He’s in love with Matt’s twin sister and I need to keep that at the forefront.

I need to get to the big conversation at the elevator sooner. It’s my narrative hook. It’s starts the real action so it should come sooner.

I’m making progress though.

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Almost there…a pep talk

I finished my last “Ben” chapter yesterday. Of course, it needs revision but I think it’s pretty good. I’m trying so hard not to get hung up on these last chapters. It’s not like the first time has to be right. I think I’m psyching myself out to certain degree.

I just want the pay-off to be there. My novel is straight-up drama (it will make a fabulous TV show one day). So I need to give my readers a great resolution for all this conflict I’ve created along the way. I want the story to end, not just stop. I would hate for someone to get to end and say, “Really? So that’s what happened?”

But I also have to let go of this pressure. I’ve never felt any writer’s block or pressure before so why start now.

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The Second to Last Chapter

I’m finishing up my second to last chapter tonight. It’s a “Ben” chapter. He’s my favorite narrator. He’ll be doing the epilogue as well. (I’m not counting the epilogue as one of my chapters. Should I be?)

Here’s my problem. I want to wrap everything up. But I want the pay-off to be good for the reader. I’ve caused so much drama, so much tension and now I need to let things come full circle. I just keep second-guessing myself. Does this conversation work? Does it do what I need it to do? Does this make sense? Will a reader sympathize with these people? Will the reader be happy and full when my couple finally gets together?

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The first three chapters

My first three chapters are pretty much ready to go. I’ve brought them to the writer’s workshop a few times, each time getting great advice from the Mahalo Writer’s Group. I was hesitant to join the group at first because I was worried about being able to produce anything. And now I have a full novel (well, all but two last chapters). It was like I had due dates for my writing. Each time I submitted to the group I had to give in something new. Due dates are good. Really good.

C.K. looked at the chapters last night. He did such a good job tightening them up. I tried to give them one last read yesterday but I found that my head started spinning. So, C.K. took over last night, a much-needed new pair of eyes looking at the text.

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An abstract

Here’s how I would explain what my novel is about. It needs tightening but it’s what I have right now. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. If I can write something good now, it can be what I use to describe my book in future emails, meetings,…maybe even the occasional power lunch. (Although I don’t think I’m in danger of having to attend any power lunches in the near future.)

I’m thinking I can also use my hands every time I say the title. “North Shore….South Shore” and I’ll place my hands in the sky like I can already see it as a movie billboard. I’ve seen this done before. I’ve heard it can be effective. I think that people in LA think that if you move your hands like that and just say single words, they’re somehow making their story more clear or more interesting.

That said, here’s my LA pitch. “It’s called North Shore…South Shore [moves hands accordingly]. Picture this. Kylie. Matt. Love. Lost Love. Found Love. Long Island. [continues to move head side to side and make serious faces] Families. Crime. We’ll have a trial. a shooting. a funeral. a wedding. It’s really just about life. I’m thinking [ponders and scratches head]…Leo. Or Shia. He’s a big deal right now. Do you think he’d go blonde? Maybe we stick with Leo.”

Okay, here’s the real abstract of the novel:
The novel, set on Long Island, is called North Shore / South Shore. It’s follows a group of friends who met in high school as they reunite in their last year of college. Two of those friends, Kylie Baines and Matt Tracy, were high school sweethearts who have grown apart.  As the novel progresses, Kylie and Matt rediscover why they fell in love in the first place but their reunion is not without conflict as they come from very different families. As the story unfolds we find out that not only are they from opposite shores of Long Island, but the families have deep-rooted resentment, unexpected connections and many secrets.

The Tracys are a well-known, very wealthy North Shore family, famous for their extravagant parties and exclusive social circles. While Kylie’s family is probably just as rich as Matt’s, her uncle, Denis Baptiste, is the head of a dangerous crime organization that has corrupted New York City for years. [I don’t like that sentence.] In the first pages of the novel, we learn that Denis Baptiste has been arrested on charges of exhortion and murder and that Kylie may be arrested herself for her own involvement in her uncle’s “businesses.”

The two main characters are joined by a host of other interesting individuals, all of whom provide laughter, drama, and offer insight into Matt and Kylie’s lives. Furthermore, the novel has three different narrators: a third-person omniscent narrator, Kylie, and Ben Carrick. Ben, who is Matt’s best friend and engaged to Matt’s twin sister, provides some of the lighter moments with his anecdotes about the friends in high school.

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The Elevator Pitch

Today, I have to write a description of myself and my book. I’ve been putting off emailing this literary agent (a friend of a friend who said he would consider accepting new talent) mostly because every time I try to describe my book I feel like I’m missing something. I know what it’s about but it’s 95,000 words right now so I’m having trouble putting all that into one paragraph. Just yesterday as C.K. and I were writing my About page. He asked me how I would finish that sentence about my book. We ended up finishing it with something about 2 competing families on Long Island but that’s not all it’s about. 

I got some good advice though. A friend said that I should have other books to compare it to (i.e. “It’s Blank meets Blank with a little bit of Blank.”). And she said I should think about how I would pitch it in 30 seconds as if I was on an elevator with a publisher. Maybe if the elevator got stuck and we were somehow there for like twenty minutes…

I’ll let you know how it turns out. 

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