Monday, April 03, 2006

The Evil Time Change and Other Weekend Adventures

I had one of those crazy weekends that makes me want to treat Monday like another weekend day for recovery, but I have a lot to do, so I can't really. The time change is affecting me a bit, mostly by making me feel like I'm running behind. I don't generally set an alarm on mornings when I don't have to be anywhere or do anything at any specific time, so my body doesn't recognize time changes very well. I went to bed last night on the new time because I was utterly exhausted, but I would have slept late today even without the time change. On the new time, it was extremely late. Now I'm worried about how this will affect my work schedule. My brain kicks into gear at 10, which is now 11, and I don't want to get in the habit of working from 11 to 2.

The conference this weekend was great, in spite of the headache that hit me midway through the day on Saturday, in fact, right in the middle of a workshop, so I had to get up and leave right then before my head exploded. I might have survived the workshop if it hadn't been one of those interactive ones where you're expected to write during the workshop. I don't write well on command, and the surest way to get my brain to freeze is to say, "Okay, in the next five minutes, I'd like you to create a memorable character and write a scene showing how this character is memorable." It takes me five minutes to settle in and decide to write. It can take me weeks to create a memorable character because there are all sorts of layers and nuances that come to me gradually. Writing a scene and creating a character who's anything but a stock stereotype in five minutes? You've gotta be kidding me.

The headache may have been my agent's fault (sort of. Okay, not really). I got dragged (okay, invited, and I went willingly) to a late-night happy hour with a couple of other agents and their authors, and appletinis on a nearly empty stomach aren't a great idea (for the second round, I ordered chips and queso instead of a drink). I now have to check a bunch of blogs because the constant threat anytime anyone said anything funny was, "That'll go in the blog." I don't think I said anything particularly interesting because alcohol tends to make me mellow, and I was just listening to everyone else talk. I ended up getting to bed pretty late, and then our workshop was at 8:45 the next morning, which meant I didn't sleep well because I kept waking up to look at the clock and make sure I wasn't oversleeping.

But we survived our workshop, and I think it went really well. They even had to kick us out of the room so the next workshop could get started, we had so many people coming up to speak to us afterward -- and they weren't even all people trying to pitch their books to Kristin. Some even wanted to talk to me! I think they mostly wanted to admire my shoes. Well, there was one bookstore owner who was excited about doing a chick lit display in her store, which was cool.

I did pick up one really cool tip from a workshop that I can't wait to try. Linda Lael Miller talked about the Rule of 20: when you have to think of what will happen in a book, make a list of 20 things that could happen. Do that for the whole book, for a scene, for a character's decision, etc. Some may be cliched, some may be silly, but something on the list will trigger your imagination and give you something fresh and interesting. It's having to come up with 20 things that really forces you to come up with different things you might not have considered otherwise. That's a tip that's right up my alley. I LOVE making lists. I make lists for fun. Making lists relaxes me. This seems like a brainstorming idea that might really work for me. Unfortunately, my silly brain decided to put it into action Saturday night when I fell into bed to try to get some sleep and get rid of that headache. And I had not been drinking at all Saturday night because I was the driver as I dragged my agent around some of my Dallas stomping grounds.

I may have to do a post someday on insider secrets to not annoying an agent because boy, did I learn a lot. I should also teach a class on how to pitch a book because that seems to be a skill a lot of people are lacking.

Meanwhile, I've been on a reading binge. I took a break from the Stephanie Plum books before I had the urge to knock over a Krispy Kreme. Over the weekend, I read Innocence, by Kathleen Tessaro, which had an interesting structure, with chapters alternating between the past and the present, telling what was happening to the heroine now and what had happened in the past to get her to that point. I love the idea of playing with timelines that way. Now I'm reading Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews, and I may have to give up on the idea of work so I can sit on the patio with a glass of iced tea and read because it's an addictively funny book. I can justify it by saying I have to finish reading it before I go back to work because her voice is similar enough to mine that there may be bleedthrough, and I have to get it out of my system. Yeah, that sounds like an ideal excuse!

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