Previous month:
February 2013
Next month:
April 2013

Your Valued Opinion Please

I need your thoughts, please. The kid's chapter book I wrote is called The Psychic Cat.  It's about a cat named Zach who can see ghosts.  When a new cat moves into the neighborhood he goes to Zach for help with a haunted basement. Zach not only finds ghosts but he also finds a bigger problem threatening the entire neighborhood!  Da da dun!  It's up to Zach, his friends, and their new ghosts buddies to protect their families in time.  That's my basic pitch, minus the sounds effects. 

However, The Psychic Cat was always more of a working title because I basically ran out of creative juice at the very end of writing, and I thought, at the very least, the title will give an instant clue about what the book's about. So I was wondering if you all out there could weigh in on title suggestions. I'd really like to write this character as a series so I'm thinking about Zach and the Haunted Basement for the first book. 

But at the same time I'm wondering if that type of mystery title is overdone?  What do you all think?  Especially those of you who may have been reading to your kids.

To get an idea of the flavor of the book here is the first page/intro.  (P.S. Critique is always welcome!) 

 

Chapter One

            My name is Zach. I’m psychic. I’m also a cat.

            Humans usually don’t think animals can be psychic. Either that or there are those few humans who think ALL animals are psychic. Those are the goofy ones who are always following us pets around waiting for us to predict an earthquake or something. But animals can be psychic too, and I’m one of them. I see ghosts.  

            It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. Ghosts are just like people. Or rather, the ghosts are just like animals. Those are the ones I see--the ghosts of animals. As far as I can figure human psychics see other human ghosts and animal psychics see animal ghosts. I think it’s due to a communication issue. I mean, humans can’t understand us animals, right? And we really can’t talk to people. Every once in a while I’ll see a human ghost… but believe you me, there’s certainly no discussions of the weather going on.

            Being psychic doesn’t have much to do with my day-to-day life. I live in a great house, in a great neighborhood, with the best little girl a cat could have. Her name is Samantha and she never welches on the affection. I get lots of petting, great food, and plenty of sunny spots to nap in while she’s in school. The edge of the neighborhood butts up right against forest and foothills, so if you really want to explore or even just commune with the real wildlife you don’t have far to go. Not that I go looking. I know the good life I have and it sure as heck beats living out of dumpsters. Or, yuck, hunting birds.

            Yep, there’s plenty of adventure to be found without the ghost thing ever raising its--ha ha--dead.

            But somehow that ghost thing always seems to find me…

The Story vs. the Selling

When I worked for startups I had to change hats constantly.  At the time I could switch my brain over to a new, unrelated task pretty easily... one minute you're writing, the next you're negotiating ad prices, then you're looking at art comps, and then you're picking up Jamba Juice. (I always got the Jamba Juice runs.) It was all part of the job.  You would think that working in marketing would make the selling aspects of creative writing - writing the query letter, pitch, synopsis, etc. - easier but it's not!  I figure part of it is because my brain was then. Nowadays, I find I have to make a major brain switch, and sometimes pretend I'm someone else, to do it. 

(Actually, I think it would be much easier for me to write a query letter and pitch for a client than for myself. Not that I'm offering! (Although, hmmm... I bet there are enterprising writers out there making a living writing pitches for authors. Writer for writers for hire.))  

Anywho, I am doing it. I've written the pitch, the query letter, and a synopsis (that I am almost happy with). Usually I need a bit of a break from creative writing and a lot of research before I feel back in the marketing mindset, and maybe a little bit of minor panicking. These are the times that I miss school deadlines. Or actually, any authoritative voice giving me a deadline, because apparently I don't listen to myself at all!

So I'm wondering, for those you who write or anyone who has to switch between creative and business, what are your tricks to get in the right mood?  My main trick seems to be over-researching until I'm sick of the subject and then either 1) taking a hot shower or 2) going to sleep. I think it's the "relax and let your unconscious brain work on the problem" method.  What yours?

                - wg


Lessons

I'm working on my final edit pass of my first complete book. I was kind of anxious to do the sit-down-read-through but now that I'm there I'm actually enjoying it. See, I can live happily in edit-brain, just as I can live happily in writing-brain... BUT I CAN'T DO BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!  The things you learn.

This entire project has been a learning process that I'm really, really thankful I went through. First thing I learned... I write creatively A LOT slower than I used to. All those years I wrote marketing copy quickly, I got rusty on the creative side.  So early on I made a decision to switch projects.  I originally took the hiatus to work on a YA/Adult novel.  When I realized my writing process had slowed down I switched over to a shorter project, a kid's chapter book that I had started previously, and concentrated on completing it.  Because really that's what it's all about, we can start a million books but it's finishing one that's the challenge.  I was trying to be organic about the process in general because I wasn't sure what my process was yet, and allowing my type-A self to switch writing projects midstream was part of the learning curve.  

So the book is short, about 11,000 words, and that might not mean a lot to some people but it is done!  And I'm happy with it, to boot. I also feel like I can totally accomplish a larger novel now.  I just need to allocate more time to do it. I'm also confident that my creative writing will get faster with time.

I learned more, though, than just that I'm a pokey writer. I learned where the pain points are, I know where I need to improve organization, and I learned when to allow myself to breathe and when to push myself.  I honestly would tell anyone who wants to write a book but is afraid to try... do it. Just try it.  At the very least, you'll learn a lot about yourself. 

                  - Mary, the weirdgirl       

On a different note: Apparently, my blog has been eating comments. Sorry about that. I'm not sure why it's so hungry. When I'm not completely ignoring it I feed it some lettuce scraps at least once a month. Fiber is very important, you know.