Friday Five: Beta Bliss

1. I’m beta-reading a book that I like so much, I’m cranky I have to take time out to write this blog post at all. Seriously, the beta reads I’ve done in the past year? Really enjoyable. Friends, keep writing fab books, because you’re making the “work” part of critiquing, well, less like work!

2. The Mentalist – Homes and I are addicted. Or wait. Were addicted. Because we breezed through the DVDs of Season 5 in, like, a week. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and wondering what is it about annoying detective-types? Columbo, Patrick Jane, Richard Castle, the guy in Lie to Me, the guy in The Finder, the doctor in Bones. Sherlock Holmes! Gone are the hard-boiled detectives with the checkered pasts…actually, this isn’t a new thing at all. Take a quirky person, give him or her a mystery to solve, and watch how those quirks put a new spin on solving the same question over and over: who killed the dead person?

3. I’ve been feeling super lucky this week – a shiny new idea for a novel (see more below), the way-fun beta read, and an awesome contact to talk about 1950s Hawaii with. It’s incredible how kind and generous this woman is, exchanging emails with a total stranger about random personal facts. Now if I can just find someone to tell me the exact dates of the Makaha International Surfing Championship in the winter of 1956/57, I’ll be good to go. (That’s a lie. I need about twenty or thirty other questions answered. But one thing at a time. One thing at a time.)

4. The Shiny New Idea! And National Novel Writing Month! They happen to very nearly coincide, which is a first. I never thought I’d do NaNoWriMo, because what are the chances that I’ll be in a place where I can start a new project right at the beginning of November? It has finally happened, so I’m going to join the insanity next month. I’m nervous, because it sounds like a recipe for frustration. I get most of my writing done during Maverick’s naps, while Z is in school. But in November she has seven days off (five for Thanksgiving, one for Veteran’s Day, and then an inservice day). Worst-case scenario is I don’t “win” NaNoWriMo, so I don’t have 50,000 words. But I bet I come close, which is better than nothing, n’est-ce pas?

curiosities5. For awhile I was on a short-story kick, and that seems to have passed. This makes me a little sad, almost nostalgic for that month of short stories. This last time I was inspired by reading The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff. Whenever I put the book down, it seemed I had a new idea to write about – it was incredibly energizing. Maybe after I finish my NaNo novel, I can read through The Curiosities again.

The Arms of the Ocean

A beautiful thing happened this week. I finished typing in my handwritten revisions for Draft 3 of my surfing novel!!!!!!

Really, this is a small thing, and probably doesn’t deserve six exclamation points. Because I’d already made these revisions by hand on a printed-out copy, all I had to do was type them into the Scrivener document. So maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

But when I was having a crisis of confidence THE ENTIRE TIME I WAS TYPING, thinking THIS IS TERRIBLE with every keystroke, then, it starts to seem a bit bigger.

And when I was (not so) merrily type-type-typing away, I came to a note that said, “Need scene for such and such,” and I HADN’T WRITTEN THE SCENE. It’s a bit of a smack in the face to have to halt all the (easy?) typing work and actually create something from scratch. Even harder when, as I’m writing it, I’m thinking OH WAILY WAILY THIS IS TERRIBLE with every word.

So maybe it’s still awful (actually there’s no “maybe” about that), but now I can print the [expletive] thing out again and revise it once more.

That’s progress, my friends.

Also, how totally perfect is it that right after I finished typing, I had to pick up Z at school, and when I started the car, “Never Let Me Go,” by Florence + the Machine was playing – and the lyrics are:

In the arms of the ocean so sweet and so cold

And all this devotion I never knew went on

And the crashes are heaven for a sinner released

But the arms of the ocean delivered me

…which is absolutely awesome and goes with the surfing book SO WELL. It was unbelievably cool.

So big thing or little thing, typing up those changes feels big, and it’s gotten me excited again about a book I’ve been struggling with from the very beginning.