Category Archives: primeval

Conquering Fear

Oh, hello there, gentle viewers!

What a lovely spring day it is today! The birds are chirping, the kitten is mewing, and the puppy is “roo-roo-rooing.” I also just got the first real night of sleep I’ve had in the past oh, five days or so. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a beautiful day.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about fear. For the last couple weeks, I was stalling when it came to finishing my WIP — the third novel of my trilogy. I’d gotten a couple form rejections from agents in regards to the first novel, and I was starting to sense that said first novel wasn’t quite where it needed to be. Thanks to the lovely Julie Kenner, I am now armed with some professional advice and some rather sage opinions for reworking the first few chapters of my book (you know, the ones agents see).

I also got to do something I’d been wanting to do for a while: get outside and have an adventure. Last month, within 24 hours of each other, I found an ad in a magazine about this place and my husband found a Living Social deal involving it. It’s a ropes course through a company called Go Ape, and they just opened a new location about fifteen minutes from where we live. We pounced on the Living Social deal, and on Sunday we took off for the treetops.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I’m rather afraid of heights.

So why, you ask, would I want to go ziplining?

I love adventures. I want to experience a lot of them. Some of them include things that scare me. If I ever want to go to the Amazon or experience tropical regions (or Australia, for that matter), I’ll have to work on my arachnophobia. So what better thing for me to attempt but to conquer my fear of heights?

The first rope ladder set my heart pounding as I climbed up it. I was securely fastened to the rope by my harness in three places, but that didn’t seem to matter to my adrenal glands. When I got to the top I looked down (I know, I know), and I took a couple deep breaths. The first crossing was about 20 feet off the ground over a wire the size of my ring finger. I managed it, and I started feeling pretty elated. The first couple ziplines I just stepped off and let myself drop.

The first moment of real, paralyzing terror I felt was during an obstacle of swinging platforms. Picture five or so wooden swings suspended 30 feet off the ground and having to step from one swinging object to the next. I think the word is yikes.

Using a bit of insight from our Living Social guide, I tried to keep my center of gravity low and keep a lunge position across the platforms. They moved a lot, and I had to move slowly, holding onto the ropes that they dangled from. I made it without falling in my first big moment of the day.

Oddly, this grin happened right before attempting the most terrifying obstacle I faced. I didn't think it was so scary until I stepped on it and it moved. A lot. See Spouse in the background!

After that, it started to get more fun. I managed to land the next zipline ending without careening onto my arse. And as we neared the end, the obstacles got harder, and my concentration got more focused. I have three things I am enormously proud of — things I never thought I would try, let alone do.

1. I jumped (not fell) off the platform of the last Tarzan swing. There was a significant drop before the harness caught me, but instead of gritting my teeth and edging over the side, I actually jumped into thin air. Maybe I’ll be able to skydive someday after all.

2. I had a rather graceful ending to the final zipline. I have a video to prove it if I can get it up and running.

3. I made it across thirteen squares 40 feet off the ground without holding onto my pulley for balance. These things were set up and secured to wires like an odd rope bridge. There was a gap of about a foot and a half between them. I made it across without using my hands to hold myself up — and they wobbled.

I left Go Ape feeling like I could conquer anything — if someone who is afraid of heights and feels a little faint at the thought of being up a tree that tall can cross a wobbly string of platforms with no hands and no harness tension, anything can happen.

With that feeling in mind, it’s time for me to put aside book three and my April 15th deadline and start another revision on book one.

Wish me monsters.

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On Bookstores, Books, and the Number 33

“Hey, Emily! Can I have permission to read your book?”

These words reached me as I snatched two glasses from the bright blue rack and clunked them into one hand, fingers searching for the ice scoop. Table 5 wanted waters.

Wait, book? What book?

My hand paused halfway to the scoop, and I can only imagine that my jaw went a bit slack as I stared at Kevin, who slid a tray toward the edge of the stainless steel counter next to me. Table 5 forgotten for the moment, I shuffled the glasses in my left hand.

“Huh?” I communicate my befuddlement with charm and elegance, I know.

“Your book. Ashton said it’s amazing, and she won’t stop talking about it. I want to read it.”

I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t drop the glasses at that point. Instead I began to fill them as I fumbled through the words that decided to trip out of my mouth. “Um, yeah! Ashton? Book…you like it? Book.” I think I said something like that.

Ashton, who happened to be standing with her back to the ice tea machine at that moment, looked over. “Are you kidding? I love your voice! It’s amazing!”

I’m going to stop right there with my re-telling of the scene that blindsided me smack in the middle of last night’s dinner rush. Suffice it to say that I almost piddled from excitement like a cocker spaniel greeting visitors at the door.

Ever so adorable, but oh, how they piddle. Though from breedretriever.com's lovely photo, you'd never know it.

Aren’t you glad I didn’t choose to illustrate that with a picture of a yellow puddle?

Regardless, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the book Kevin wanted permission to read was, in fact, mine. And not one of the hundreds I own. A book I wrote. Ye gods.

At the end of working nearly 24 hours in a 30 hour period, I daresay that was a nice little gem to discover. I told Ashton to email it to him, thanked her for asking permission, and then glowed enough to turn table 5’s waters radioactive as I trundled back to my section.

Today, I found myself having a productive morning. I went to Target to pick up stuff to make goody bags for the winners of my little NaNoRebel Challenge, and I felt the urge to visit the nearby Barnes and Noble.

I love bookstores. I always have. Anywhere a lot of books gather creates a space that draws me. I always fancy I can hear their voices, the sounds of the characters in the millions of pages that surround me. I love seeing them lined up on shelves, piled everywhere, and the immediate kinship I feel with the others browsing around. Readers. Book-lovers.

There is a scene in The Book Thief where Liesel Meminger discovers the library at the mayor’s house, where she is quite undone by the beauty and awe of seeing so many books in one place. I remember I teared up at that scene, because it reminded me of the first time I ever set foot in Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. I was probably around eight, but the sheer scope of a bookstore that encompassed an entire city block downtown boggled my young mind. I would have moved in if my mother had let me.

Imagine multiple floors and giant, color-coded rooms of this, and be sated, gentle viewers. Glimpse of nirvana courtesy of relocationtoportland.com

I owned over a hundred of these books. I used to buy them at Powell's used for $1-$1.50. Thanks for the nostalgia, flavorwire.com!

Emmie Fun Fact: One of my dreams? To be an appearing author at that store. In the section that once housed the Baby-Sitter’s Club books.

Anyway, I ventured into B&N on a bit of a mission. I wanted to check out the shelves of my genre, see what they had to say for themselves.

I got sidetracked when I discovered that there is suddenly an entire section — about three full bays — of Teen Paranormal Romance. Again, I say ye gods.

The next thing I noticed was the covers.

Books today look so different than they did a few years ago! It’s amazing to me how dramatic, how full of shadow and beautiful graphic design they are. You can’t do much to make a book stand out among those works of art.

...Except that. *cou-effective marketing-gh* Showcased by wikimedia.org

When you think of some of the other books that have been splashing around the bestseller lists like page-filled Moby Dicks, they also seem to have gone for the “less is more” approach. I like it. Hunger Games, Game of Thrones — all pretty low-key.

That little research trip culminated in hearing an employee get in trouble for telling me what she really thought about James Patterson’s prolific, genre-spanning books (not much) and having her recommend a few new books/series for me. (A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin and Sunshine by Robin McKinley, if you’re wondering.)

So what did I discover? That books are alive and well, thank god. That I want my books on those shelves. (I already knew that.) That I don’t want them to die out. I’ve had this feeling for a while, and I know it will get the backs up on a lot of die-hard e-book champions out there, but I just don’t hear the voices on an e-reader the way I do surrounded by the smell of paper and bindings and shelves. All those voices blend together into the hum of electricity, and that can be cut off with a splash of water in the wrong place. All the voices silenced too easily for me. The bottom line for me is that books are books — I love to know people are reading, whichever medium they choose to facilitate the process. But for me, it will always be covers and bindings and pages of words. Full shelves and heavy boxes every time I move. One day I’ll create a room full of them in my own home, and mine will be right up there with the rest of them.

You're awfully cute, you know. Photobucket.com has a whole page of you, some more flattering than others.

Finally, a note on the number 33 that wormed its way into the title of this post. I’ve always quite liked the number 3, and two of them together looks mighty fine. 33 is the number of subscribers to this little blog, and I wanted to take a moment to humbly thank each of you for agreeing to let me spam you once a day with my ramblings. You are utterly appreciated, and in my mind you are all kittens with halos.

Crash, Crash, Boom

That’s the sound of my Scrivener Beta tonight. I got all excited thinking that today I could get my NaNo winner’s discounted full version, only to be punctured with a big, shiny pin that has “DECEMBER 2” engraved across its length.

My hopes and dreams, as depicted by http://www.loveourcanucks.com.

I’ve been working away in spite of the many (many, many) times Scrivener has crashed on me. I’m awfully lucky it saves all the time. Aside from its seeming inability to stay open for more than thirty minutes at a time, I love Scrivener. I love that I can separate my beast of a novel into chapters and further into scenes. That’s what has occupied my time for the last couple hours, along with fixing some punctuation that didn’t import correctly with the rest of the file. It organizes everything neatly into easy-to-manage bits instead of having to wield a novel and try to edit the thing like trying to sculpt Mount Rushmore with a hammer and a chisel.

Get out your tools. Image via Encyclopedia Brittanica, credit Getty Images.

As I have a heap of work to do on this monstrosity in the next fifty days (!!!), I love the features that allow me to move around those chunks of text within the manuscript and restructure things, insert others, and just generally act like you are writing with building blocks instead of 120,000+ words that need painstakingly detailed arrangement.

Much easier. Image via http://www.startbreakingfree.com

In short, I love it. I can’t wait to get my NaNo winner’s discounted full version tomorrow. (Grumble, grumble — wanted it today.) I just hope it doesn’t bug out on me after I install the full version. Even if it does, I tweeted the company, and got a response in seconds letting me know that there is a responsive support staff available, so that makes me more confident.

I’m really itching to get this novel polished and pretty. I know it’s a lot to expect in 50 days (again I say !!!), but I feel pretty confident that I can make it happen. Here’s what’s going on in this revision:

1. Name changes. I realized, much to my dismay, that a few of my character names bore resemblance to other series’ characters, and I changed the name of my protagonist from Sarah to Tarah (pronounced TAR-uh). It’s close enough that I won’t sit in a befuddled wash of confusion trying to remember what to type, but sounds different pronounced. I also changed another character’s name from Damon to Gabriel. He’s a Big Bad, and as his back story is entwined with a character named Elaine’s, he needed to change. (Growl, Vampire Diaries.) Luckily, those sorts of changes are as simple as running a quick Find and Replace. Done and done.

2. Switching my underlines to italics. So once upon a time (and verified today), I read that agents and publishers prefer to have paper manuscripts formatted in Courier font with underlining instead of italics because of some very important reason that has slipped my mind at the moment. When I wrote the second draft of Primeval, that’s exactly what I did in an effort to save myself the inevitable migraine I get when trying to format a large document in Word in one fell swoop. Then I read that most don’t care as long as the font is legible (I’m sticking with Courier to play it safe), and that italics are okay. I’ll venture out into italics, because underlining looks stupid to my eyes.

3. Structure. I know. Ouch. This is supposed to be the polishing draft, no? Why am I doing a major structural revision? Well, a couple reasons. *Big Announcer Voice* Are you ready for bullet points?!

Get it? Bullets, with points. Get it?!! These ones came from portwallpaper.com

  • I have three acts, but the climax fell into a weird place.
  • I have no Big Bad to defeat, really. It’s a trilogy, so the ultimate Big Bad won’t be defeated till the last book, and Mr. Gabriel is necessary to keep around for a while because he is deliciously fun to write and has some parts to play later on.
  • I want my books to sell, and the (possibly unfortunate) truth about that is that you have to bow to the Gods of Structure if you want that to happen. Structure Scripture dictates that your protagonist defeats a Big Bad, even if there’s going to be a Bigger Bad next time around. I’m not saying it’s impossible to buck that trend, but let’s face it. When did you last read a bestseller that left the primary antagonist sitting around picking his nose at the end?

Suffice it to say that I’ve gots me work cut out for me. Now if I can keep my new toy open, I’m going to get back to work.

Have a lovely evening, gentle viewers, and try not to pick your noses too much.

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