In which the author recounts disaster and searches for her suitcase

It’s time to pack again and hit the road. I leave tomorrow for a long flight West. If you live in the upper left-hand corner of America, you’ll find me here:

Thursday – on an airplane all day
Friday morning – Mt. Baker JH/SH, Deming, WA
Friday afternoon & evening – preconference activities
Saturday – 2006 Bond Children’s Literature Conference, Western Washington U., Bellingham WA
(Here’s a nice article about the gig, and the wonderful woman who runs it, Nancy Johnson.)
Saturday night -Sunday – red-eye flight home. Ack.

Yesterday was horrible. Why? Background first: I am an Apple (PowerBook G4) user, one of the crazy drooling fanatics who irritate people condemned to use Microsoft. But in order to communicate with the rest of the world, I use the Word and Powerpoint (Microsoft products) – the versions which were specifically designed for Apples. So far, so good. I keep my AutoRecovery set to back up every 3 minutes, so in case of disaster, I would at worst lose only 180 seconds of work.

My computer had a seizure yesterday (yes, this happens to Apple users… about once a year). “No problem, I have AutoRecovery,” I chirped. I rebooted, humming a happy tune, and waited for Word to reopen my document. When it did, eight hours of changes, including three new scenes, were gone. Vanished into the ether. Forever. Poof!

We’ll skip the details of what I said at that point, and what I said for the next hour as I combed through files and logs in a vain search for my lost words.

What happened? AutoRecovery had gone on strike eight hours earlier. Why? Who knows. Maybe because I called Microsoft, “Microdweeb” a couple days ago. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. I really went over the edge, emotionally, fell all to pieces and thought Very Dark Thoughts. It had been years since I felt that bad. Decades, maybe. Thank goodness for my incredibly strong and loving husband, who calmly went around the house picking up all of the shattered pieces of my soul. He wrapped them into an afghan and brewed chamomile tea. When I emerged from this coccoon, he gently suggested I get back to work before I forgot everything.

Moral of the story: Choose your significant other wisely if you are going into the arts.

Dare to Read

Well this is something I never saw coming!

PROM was chosen to be part of Elle magazine’s Dare To Read Bookclub. Somehow, this qualifies me as an Elle girl. (I wonder if I can get that on a tee shirt.) Elle is having a contest, too – free books as the prize, so hop over and take a peek! Fellow LJer and cool YA author tanyaleestone is also on the list. Be sure to check out her book: A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl.

In the comments section on the 15th, Anon wrote: You often talk about story arcs in your novels. Would you please define what a story arc is, and discuss how different arcs relate to each other and pull the story along? Is there conventional wisdom for developing and using story arcs?

I will take a crack at it. (If any of you English teacher think I have messed up this definition, let me know.)

A story arc is the storyline… the path of a character as she works her way through the story. She starts the story, stuff happens, she reacts to the stuff that happens, she changes and grows as a result of the stuff that happens, and by the end of the story, she is a more mature and (one hopes) wiser person for having gone through these experiences. The trick in a novel is that you have a number of story arcs – different characters all on their own paths which cross and intertwine with each other. Every scene has to move someone’s arc ahead a little, or there is no point to the scene being in the book. In TWISTED, one of the secondary character’s arc was unclear. He was acting one way in the beginning of the book and a completely different way towards the end, and I hadn’t made clear why the transition happened. Not only was this bad for his character, but it messed up the interactions he had with the other characters in the book. So for the last couple of days, I’ve been studying every scene this guy is in with a microscope. I’ve changed a couple of the scenes. Today, I’m adding in a few more towards the end to better set up a fairly dramatic resolution to his set of issues with the main character.

That, my friends, is what we call revision.

And to answer Max’s question: the historical WIP is on hold until next week while I take a last pass through TWISTED. I occasionally look at the corner of the office where my notes are heaped on the floor and whimper, but I have to finish this project before I’m allowed out to play with the next.