Officially on Mom-Duty

Well, today is the last day of school here, which means it’s my last day as an almost-full-time writer for the next two months. It’s been a bit of a scramble, but I managed to get my revision pretty much done (just waiting on feedback from some critique partners before I put the final polish on and send it back to my agent).

Things were slightly complicated by my headaches deciding to go into overdrive (at least partially due to the weird weather we’ve been having – it’s like migraine central in Ottawa these days), and partly because bad timing meant I also had a deadline for a craft exchange this week as well. (I work on the crafts outside of school/work hours, but it meant I didn’t have any extra time to pour into revising.) Everything got done, but there was perhaps a bit more stress involved than needed in the process.

The craft exchange was fun and it got me working on something creative that wasn’t writing, which helped refresh my creative spirit. If you’re interested in what I made, you can check out my Facebook page, where I post photos of my creative projects, including baking (although no baking went into this gift – I was afraid it would melt before it got there).

For the rest of the summer, I’ll be working on revising that too-short MG Fantasy, and finishing up the draft of my YA Fantasy…likely in short bursts before the kids are up in the morning, or during their one hour of TV time/day. I’ll still be blogging here, too, although I may take an occasional week off if things come up (I’ll try to give you guys advanced warning if I can).

To be honest, I’m hoping some time away from the computer will help with my headaches, so maybe an enforced summer vacation isn’t the worst thing ever.

Happy Canada Day (in advance) to my Canadian readers, and Happy 4th of July to my American ones!



Can I Quote You on That?

So, as you know if you’ve been following this blog lately, I’ve been hard at work on revising my YA Contemporary with notes from my agent and her assistant.

One of the notes asked me to develop a stronger relationship between my MC and her BFF, so I came up with what I thought was a genius plan: both characters are major geeks, so I was going to have them communicate in geeky movie quotes, trading the witty repartee of a shared pop culture experience. I even wrote a handful of scenes…

And then I thought to check with my agent.

Turns out movie quotes are like song lyrics. You have to obtain rights to use them (which are often super-expensive). I had hoped they’d fall under Fair Use, but according to my agent…not so much. It seems things are kept rather intentionally murky, but if I was brought to court and lost, it could cost me a bundle…so the scenes got cut again, since I’m not willing to risk it.

But it did leave me wondering in general, is there a line where something is no longer considered a quote, but has entered pop culture lexicon? Are the rights still fully attached to phrases like, “Use the F*rce,” or “Eat my sh*rts, man”?

What if you change the wording a bit? Is it okay to say, “These are not the chickens you’re looking for?”

What about single word quotes? Can my geeks use the word “shiny” for something they think is awesome? Or is even that too Whedon-esque?

And what about trademarks? I mean, I understand that I can’t write a sci-fi book where they have laser swords called L*ghtsabers. But what if my geeks go to a con and get to see Mark Hamill’s actual prop weapon? Can I call it by name then?

Anyway, this mostly just me blathering, because I don’t have any definitive answers. Right now, I’m left with two quotes that have been in the story since the beginning, which are fairly central to the plot, one of which may be considered “pop culture lexicon,” and one reference to a quote that I’m not even sure if it counts or not (how’s that for confusing!?)

I think our plan is to leave them in and see what publishers think. If  (hopefully when) the story gets picked up by an editor, they’ll have the final say over what needs to be cut or what rights need to be applied for.

Until then, I’m keeping my references to those two (and a half), and my fingers crossed.

Anyone Have a Spare Time-Turner?

School is almost out for the summer, which means I’m about to transform from being an almost-full-time writer and part-time mom, into a full-time-mom who squeezes in writing whenever she can.

I was originally hoping to rush through the first draft on this YA Fantasy, so my summer months could double as my time away from the manuscript, leaving me with fresh eyes ready to revise in September…but it looks like that’s not going to happen.

Last week I got a detailed edit letter back from Bri’s assistant on my YA Contemporary. At first I was disappointed, because I’d thought it was ready to go on sub. But obviously I want to have the strongest possible story to send to editors, and I love the changes I’ve made so far, so it’s all good.

But it has meant putting aside my WIP, at least until these revisions are done.

My new goal is to complete these revisions before school lets out, and then I can try and squeeze in some drafting over the summer, early in the mornings, or during the week the kids are at camp.

So far, the revisions are going well, but honestly, there are just not enough hours in a day (especially since I’ve still got mom-duties like taking kids to doctor’s appointments, or going to school functions, or feeding my family to work around, as well). So, if any of you has a Time-Turner you’re willing to lend out, I’d be very thankful.

Since you probably don’t, I’m going to cut my post short this week, so I can get back to revising.

*PS for anyone wondering, my 6yo has made a complete recovery from his concussion.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Seven Days…

Ack! Sorry guys, don’t have much of a post this week. This week seems to have disappeared in a cloud of doctors and hospitals, (some scheduled, some not).

Unfortunately one of my sons decided to join his mom in the Concussion Club this week. After a scary first day spent mostly in the ER, he seems to be doing okay now, except for resenting the restrictions he’s under for the next week (no biking, running, playground or gym class) – which ought to be really easy to enforce on a 6-year-old.

The same boy also discovered this week he’s in for another knee surgery, after a summer of painkillers/anti-inflammatories, so he’s definitely having a worse week than I am.

Hope your week is going better than ours, and that next week is more productive and less exciting for all of us.

Confessions of a Broken Brain

I don’t often talk about my concussion here, because I don’t want to weigh you all down, but since Saturday marks the third anniversary of my injury, I thought I’d give you all a little update on how I’m doing.

I still can’t drive. And doing anything that raises my heartrate (running, exercising, dancing, etc) results in an instant migraine.

But, for the most part, it doesn’t affect my writing too much. Yes, there are days my migraines keep me off the computer, and maybe I take a few more breaks than I used to, but otherwise I’m able to keep a decent writing pace.

I say “for the most” because, while the concussion itself hasn’t hampered me too badly, some of the medications I’ve taken to control the headaches have. My first one made me so sleepy and sluggish, it was like moving underwater, and even three cups of coffee a day didn’t help.

The one I was on for all of last year really affected my anxiety and depression, slowly, sneakily building up over months until by the end of the year I was barely functioning, spending most of days curled up on the couch in tears instead of, you know, living.

So now I’m on new meds. With new side effects.

These ones affect my memory. My doctor warned me I may have trouble recalling words – not a great side effect for a writer. But so far it hasn’t been much worse than my recall post-concussion. If you talk to me in person, you’ll probably hear me refer to a “what-you-call-it” at least once. Strangely, it doesn’t seem as pronounced in writing, perhaps because I can take the time to sit and think of the word I need, or else just throw in a capslock placeholder. (Lys looked at her father. He wouldn’t really WORD FOR KILLING ANIMALS FOR FOOD Aroo, would he?)

But two weeks ago I discovered a sneaky side side effect. Apparently while my recall for words is still pretty good, my recall for names is gone.

Completely gone.

I went to a friend’s book signing, and ran into a bunch of other authors from town, authors I’ve now known for the past few years, meet every few months (although not in the last six months – see the above paragraph about the last medication’s side effects), and I couldn’t name a single one.

That space in my mind was empty. The information, just not there.

I wanted to crawl in a hole. In fact, I tried to get out as quickly as I could, but I just kept running into more people and being drawn into more small talk, where they called me by name and asked about my book and I stumbled through answers desperately trying to come up with their names the whole time and failing.

I left mortified, and left in tears.

I used to have a photographic memory. Not only could I remember all the answers for a test at school, I could tell you their position in the textbook (lefthand page, second paragraph in the right column).

Not anymore.

My doctor has confirmed my failure with names is most likely the medication’s fault. However, we’re running out of things to try, and it *does* seem to helping with the headaches, so she’s not ready to give up on it yet (although she’s not increasing my dosage, either, which is good).

In a way it’s probably good I didn’t go to the SCBWI conference last week, as I think I’d have been a nervous wreck when it came to networking, afraid of offending people who I *really* should remember.

But I also can’t hide forever. So, as scary as it is, I’m going to a SCBWI get-together next week. I’m just going to be honest with people about my meds (they all know about the concussion already, thanks to having to explain away my dark glasses and hat) and hope they don’t judge my memory lapses too harshly.

Wish me luck.