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Shanna's Journal
Shanna's Adventures in Publishing (and in life)
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18th-Apr-2014 11:59 am - One Way to Deal with a Busy Week
dalek tea
I'm starting to think that this might have been a cold instead of just a severe allergy attack because of the way the symptoms have cycled. In which case, I may have infected the whole choir and everyone will be sick on Easter. Then again, I probably caught it from someone in the choir because those are the only people I've been around in a while. Or else yesterday's light rain eased the pollen, so I'm now just dealing with the consequences of the allergy flare-up. At any rate, I'm still a little stuffy and have a bit of a cough, but I still have a voice, so I'm going to try to make it to church tonight.

Proof that I'm really a soprano: It's the high notes that I can sing right now. The low notes are rough and break, but it's on the upper half of the staff and above that I sound okay.

I suppose this was one way to deal with a busy week: Get sick, so most of the activities went by the wayside. I've gotten no writing done because of the fog. We'll hope that this means my subconscious has been busy, and when I snap out of it, suddenly the story will come pouring out of me. Today I think I'll try to do some outlining, but there will also be some napping. And then tomorrow will be a complete slug day so I can make it through Easter.

I put the new bedspread on the bed yesterday to see how it looks, and it's rather gorgeous. Now when the weather gets warm, I can put the comforter away for the summer and have something lightweight. I started a new project that's something of an experiment, making a pattern as written but using different yarn and needles, so it should come out a different size. It's a pretty tricky lace pattern with a 43-stitch repeat, so there's lots of room for error, but it's absolutely lovely the way it comes together. I'm in awe of how you can take just a few basic stitches and put them together in so many different ways to make amazing things happen.

Sorry, all I've written about this week is how sick and foggy I am. That's why it's probably best that I didn't try writing on the book. My characters would have all been sneezing and sniffling and whining about it.
17th-Apr-2014 12:15 pm - London Bridge
tea
I definitely had an answer to prayers last night, since I only had four kids and none of them were the really difficult ones (and two of them belong to the other teacher). We worked on the songs we're learning, then used those songs as music for some parachute games, then played some other games and then did some coloring. We introduced them to "London Bridge" last night, and one kid thought this was the best thing ever. He normally doesn't get too into anything, but he just came to life with this and wanted to do it again and again. When it was his turn to get "locked up" he giggled hysterically. Strangely, though, it completely freaked out one of the girls, even though her mom was part of the bridge. She wouldn't go under the bridge at all and started crying. So we had one kid who wanted us to stop, NOW, and one kid who never, ever wanted to stop it.

True confession about "London Bridge": I grew up listening to the My Fair Lady soundtrack and saw the movie just about every year (it used to show on TV every year at Thanksgiving, I think) and knew it well before I was ever exposed to nursery rhyme type games, so when I learned "London Bridge is Falling Down," I thought the "my fair lady" part was about the show, and I couldn't figure out how it fit together. I'm sure the show got its name from the song, but when I was a kid, I kept trying to put Audrey Hepburn into the nursery rhyme. Then there was a cartoon on the history of London Bridge they showed on the Wonderful World of Disney that left me fascinated. Of course, the "real" London Bridge is no longer in London, and the current London Bridge is just an ordinary bridge (I've crossed it, just because). And it's a common misconception that the Tower Bridge is "London Bridge," but it isn't (I've walked across that one, too, but not on the upper level).

I made it through the choir rehearsal last night and even got through my solo, though I cracked a little on the high A. I'm just amazed I was able to sing, as much as I was sneezing. Today I hit Target first thing in the morning and stocked up on cold and allergy supplies. As always seems to happen, the gunk in my head when I get the allergy attack is trying to get into my chest, which tends to trigger bronchitis, and I'm not going to let that happen. So, I'm hitting it from all angles today. I may not make it to tonight's service, but I'm not singing for this one and I need to be able to sing the rest of the weekend. The stuff that works best doesn't allow me to drive.

I have a new favorite Target checker, though. There are so many I like at this store that usually at least one of my favorites is on duty at any time. This was a rather motherly British woman. Since the store was fairly quiet, she had time for a chat, and I got the vibe that she really thought she should be offering me a cup of tea. It was very soothing. I guess having so many favorites means that if the store isn't too busy, I can pick based on which experience I need that day. There's the cool, fun guy, the very prim and proper older lady (she always asks, "Did you find everything for which you were looking?"), and now the motherly British woman.

I think today may be a sofa and movies day, with sporadic napping.
16th-Apr-2014 10:47 am - A Four-Dwarf Day
promise tea
I'm still sniffling and sneezing and kind of exhausted because it's hard to sleep when you're sneezing. It's a Four-Dwarf kind of day -- Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy and Dopey. I will probably have to take a nap before I can go to choir.

I finished my epic knitting project last night, a bedspread I've been working on since January. But I haven't yet spread it over the bed to see how it looks. I'm already twitching a bit about deciding what to make next. I want to make a baby blanket for a friend who's adopting, and I have tons of baby yarn, but I don't have enough of any one type to make anything I have a pattern for. I may have to improvise. There's a circular shawl pattern I want to play with, and since you start from inside, I can just go until I run out of yarn, and then I can use a second color for the border. That might make a cute "play on the floor" mat. It's funny how twitchy and restless I feel without a project in the works. It's like I don't know what to do with myself. But I will hold off on starting something complicated with lace until I'm a little more coherent. I can go on autopilot with something I've been working on for months, but starting a new lace pattern requires focus and concentration.

Speaking of which, I may be even less focused than the kindergarteners tonight. This should be fun.

I'm sure I had more planned to say today, but the thoughts aren't coming, and I just ran out of tissues so I need to run out to the garage to raid my stash. I'm glad I bought one of those giant packs of multiple boxes.
15th-Apr-2014 12:07 pm - Redeemed Rogues
Books
Wouldn't you know, during a busy week when I have to do a lot of singing, the allergies have decided to kick into high gear. Spring came late for us, and it's coming with a vengeance. I'm almost out of Allegra, so I'm going to have to drag myself to Target this afternoon. I'm iffy on dancing tonight because I can't go without a tissue for more than about 30 seconds. That could make pirouettes kind of messy.

I finally have a book to talk about! I read the latest Terry Pratchett Discworld book, Raising Steam, but there's not much to say because if you're into the series, you'll already be reading it. It's a Moist von Lipwig book, and this time he gets put in charge of getting a railroad going, a task made more difficult and more urgent by an internal struggle among the dwarfs, with their "Taliban" group that opposes progress being a problem yet again. I like the von Lipwig books because it's fascinating being inside the head of this scoundrel and con artist who's now using his talents for good, and I love the way he and Vetinari work together. I'd been rewatching the previous season of Game of Thrones and found it a little disturbing that I was hearing Vetinari's dialogue in Charles Dance's voice, but then I remembered that he played Vetinari in one of the TV productions, but then when I looked it up, I found that I haven't seen the production in which he played Vetinari. I guess it's just spot-on casting because I was hearing "Tywin Lannister" in my head (though Tywin makes Vetinari look like a marshmallow).

I kind of love the redeemed rogue stories, the character you start out opposed to and gradually get to know and then like as he finds more positive ways to channel his energies. That's a lot of why I've been digging the Captain Hook storyline on Once Upon a Time lately. I need to add that to my literary bucket list. I don't know if there's room for this kind of character in any of my planned stories, though. Maybe in that multi-generational gothic thing I want to write.

I think I have the rest of my book worked out. I got stuck on figuring out what should happen in the next scene. It was a complete blank. And then I realized I didn't need the scene at all. It's a travel scene, but I can just jump to the arrival because in this case, the journey itself isn't important. If you can't think of anything that needs to happen in a scene, you don't need the scene. I don't know how much writing I'll actually get done, though, because the allergies are really doing a number on me. This may be a time to put on my "soundtrack" and watch my mental movie a few times.
14th-Apr-2014 10:38 am - Crazy Week Begins
I survived part one of Crazy Week: Two services, the children singing, and a rehearsal (all with potential storms looming but that fortunately didn't hit here). The kids were adorable and did quite well, though I had to separate a couple of them. They had their own silly little inside joke going, cracking each other up. In addition to the separation, it also helped that I got their inside joke, and it ruins those secret little things if the teacher knows what you're talking about. They were on a tear about Ducky MoMo from Phineas and Ferb, and I know all about that, so once I played along and they realized I knew about it, it became less fun. (And then that got the main episode involving that stuck in my head, the one about the science fiction convention, which involved Ferb dressed as an elf, which made last night's Game of Thrones scene involving the actor who voices Ferb dressed in a very similar costume a lot funnier than it was intended to be.)

One thing that's funny is that it's often the kids who give me the most trouble who are the most affectionate, which may be how they stay alive. Since it was Palm Sunday, the kids did the procession down the aisle with palm branches, and then they were supposed to go sit in the front pew until it was their turn to sing. The adult choir sang a prelude before the procession, so I sang with the choir, then ran down from the choir loft, through the choir room behind the sanctuary, and then got to the other side of the church in time to direct the kids into the right pew. New Problem Child (who turned out to be wrong about not being there -- his mother made sure of that) ran to hug me when he got into the pew. Awww.

Now I just have to get through another rehearsal, two services during the week and three services Easter morning. In addition to other stuff. There will likely be utter collapse at about 12:30 Easter afternoon.

I did a bit of brainstorming over the weekend and may have figured out the rest of the book. It turns out I was wrong about the groups realigning because once I started figuring out who would go with whom and why, it became obvious that the mix-up was only because it would be interesting to play with and not anything organic to the decisions the characters would make. Plus, the relationships that need developing are between other characters. There was no real drama or emotion in putting the sisters together. They'd just have fun with it. Today is suddenly cold and gray, so it's a good day for putting on some music, making some tea and really having a good think. After I get back from the post office.
11th-Apr-2014 12:10 pm - Mental Movies
butterfly
I've realized that there's one good thing about all the activities I have scheduled in the next week: A lot of them involve meals, so between the pulled pork and the quasi-Indian curried chicken I made last night, I shouldn't have to cook for a week.

I discovered yesterday that while I had outlined the rest of the book I'm working on, I've changed a lot as I've been writing it, so it doesn't really all fit anymore. Even the soundtrack I made for the book no longer fits. I got a start yesterday on outlining and planning, but I think today is going to be a big brainstorming day -- put on some music, get out the blank paper and colored pens (maybe even crayons) and go to town. I need to see the movie of the story in my head before I can write it or else the scene will be lifeless. So I need to go to the mental movies today.

I do have a start on it. Once one good image comes up, it seems to breed more images and spin off more ideas. Just changing the location of a planned scene opened up some plot possibilities. Then plugging a plot hole I noticed spun things off in another direction that provides some opportunity for fun. One thing I'm really looking forward to is switching some characters around. I have two parallel plot lines going, with the characters split into two groups. Midway through, the groups meet, merge, then split again, but they split along different lines, and that creates some interactions I haven't really used much before. For instance, two of the main characters are sisters, and each is the lead of her own plot line, but they've seldom interacted because of that (I guess it's like Frozen in that respect, but I wrote the first book of this series long before that). In this book, they're going to end up working together, and that should be so much fun to write.

I ended up bowing out of all Saturday activities, so I'm looking forward to a retreat kind of day, with writing, reading and maybe some pampering and other relaxation stuff. Or, you know, playing on the Internet all day.
10th-Apr-2014 11:58 am - Crazy Juice
promise tea
All the children I had to deal with last night survived, but it was a close call. Even the good kids were being kind of naughty. The other teacher whose twin daughters are in the class had to go "mean mom" on her girls, who are usually quite well-behaved. I asked the kids if they were served crazy juice for lunch. We could get them quiet, and then they'd be going nuts before I could finish my next sentence. I'd planned to play musical chairs, but I said they weren't behaving in a way that showed they could handle it, and we didn't have enough time because of all the time we'd had to spend waiting for them to stop talking long enough for us to give directions.

I may have lost my problem child, but a new one is rising to the occasion. He really doesn't want to be there but his mom is making him go (she's involved in another activity for adults during that time), and so since he doesn't want to do these things, he tries to make it impossible for anyone else to do them. We're singing in church on Sunday, but he can't be there, so he decided we didn't need to practice. He complains if we sing any song more than once or do any activity more than once (and by that I mean once, ever, not even more than once in a session -- meanwhile, the other kids want to do the things they like over and over again). Last night, he brought a pencil with him -- a very sharp, long pencil -- and when the other teacher told him he needed to put it down, he put it in his pocket, where we could just see the imminent disaster, so she confiscated it and said he'd get it back after class. He spent the next ten minutes whining about his pencil (it was just a yellow #2 pencil, nothing special) and started crying because he was afraid he wouldn't get it back after class and we'd forget it. I finally got tired of the whining and crying, got the blue painters' tape and taped it to the door frame so he couldn't forget it. His mom was mad at him for having the pencil when she came to pick him up (he'd apparently been told not to bring it), but she found it hilarious that I'd taped it to the door frame after confiscating it.

Unfortunately, that tape isn't strong enough to hold a kid, and we're not supposed to use anything else on the newly painted walls. Otherwise, I'd have been tempted last night.

Today, I had a calendar freakout when I realized how full my next week or so is. I've got a very early start Sunday, with two services and the preschool music, then a dress rehearsal for Easter that afternoon. Monday is free (yay!), then dance is Tuesday, an extra-long choir rehearsal Wednesday, church services Thursday and Friday, possibly a meeting Saturday, and three services on Easter Sunday. There's a social gathering this Saturday that I'm thinking of bowing out of because it's a long way away and I wouldn't be able to stay long. I figure you should at least stay longer than it takes to get there and back, and that would put me getting home later than I'd like, considering how busy Sunday will be. I could use a day to just chill out and not have to be anywhere.

I sent the book off to the editor yesterday, so now I'm down to just doing some formatting for the global release of the early Enchanted Inc. books and writing the first draft of the second book in my new series. I couldn't concentrate yesterday, so I'm hoping I can get something done today.
9th-Apr-2014 11:59 am - Quoting Others
shoe
Here's another writing topic suggested at Facebook: How do you use or quote material from other sources in a book? This would include stuff like song lyrics, movie quotes, poems, or passages from a novel.

I've avoided using any material that would require permission, so I'm not going to try to get into how to do that. Instead, I'll talk about how to avoid doing something that requires permission. Keep in mind that I'm not a lawyer or an expert, so you might need to consult an expert, depending on your case. I'm basing this on observation from years in the industry, some workshops on the subject, and a semester of media law in journalism school.

First, I want to clarify a couple of definitions: copyright infringement is any use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder -- even if you attribute the source. This can include not only the actual words but also things like characters and settings. I can't write books about the continuing adventures of Harry Potter, even if I write them all in my own words, and I can't write books about the next generation of students at Hogwarts, even if they're all original characters. Plagiarism is stealing someone else's words and passing them off as your own.

But there are some ways in which you may be able to use attributed material from others without getting permission.

1) Fair Use
The Fair Use doctrine has a lot of gray areas, but it generally allows you to make references or allusions to other works -- your characters can talk about movies, books or TV shows. Satire and parody are also considered fair use, but you may wind up going to court to prove that it really is satire or parody and not a copyright infringement. You can also quote small amounts that aren't a substantial percentage of the work. With a novel, movie or play, you can quote a line or two because that's a tiny portion of the whole work. Now, I have seen lists of "used with permission" for quotes in books, so this may be something handled on a case-by-case basis, and it probably depends on how it's used (this is when you need an expert). Because songs are so short, it's generally considered that quoting any part of a song lyric is considered using a substantial portion of the song, so to use song lyrics or quotes from non-epic poems, you'll need to get permission from the copyright holder, and for songs especially, payment may be involved. The more well-known the song, the more you may have to pay. You may be able to work out a deal with an independent, up-and-coming songwriter to use lyrics in exchange for a link on your web site and attribution in the book, but if you want to use Rolling Stones lyrics, you'll have to pay for it -- and it usually is the author, not the publisher who has to handle this.

2) Titles
But there is a way around the process of getting permission to use song lyrics. The title of a work is not considered to be under copyright, so you can name all the song titles you want as long as you don't quote the lyrics. If it's a well-known song, that generally does the trick. If you write something like, "'Bohemian Rhapsody' came on the radio, and she cranked up the volume and sang along, hitting all the high notes with Freddie Mercury," you probably have the song pop into your head even without the lyrics. In fact, quoting lyrics generally just slows down the story (and, frankly, makes something read like fan fiction written by a teenager).

3) Public Domain
Meanwhile, there's a vast library of material that's no longer under copyright that's fair game. You can quote from it, use the characters, use the setting, write sequels or even publish your own editions. Properly attributed, of course. Copyright laws keep changing, so it depends on when a work was written when it goes out of copyright, and some authors or their estates manage to renew copyright on a work. In some cases, elements of a work may be trademarked, which means those elements can't be used even if the original work is in the public domain. A good guideline is that something available at Project Gutenberg is in the public domain, but you'd need to verify this before using some work.

Most "classic" literature falls into this category, as do many hymns and folk songs and most folklore, mythology and fairy tales. But there are some cautions.

Some things we think of as "classic" are more recent than you think. The hymn "How Great Thou Art" seems like an old standard, but it was written in the 1950s. With folk songs and hymns, new verses may have been added, and those verses might be under copyright. If you're using something that has been used and adapted often, like a fairy tale, you need to be careful to work from the source material, not the more recent adaptations. For instance, you can write about Snow White and the seven dwarfs, but the "Doc," "Sleepy," "Grumpy," etc. personalities are from the Disney film, not the original fairy tale, so you could be in trouble if they show up in your work. Or there are times when most of the popular images associated with a work are from an adaptation that's still under copyright. L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is in the public domain, but most people are more familiar with the 1939 movie, which is under copyright. Dorothy's slippers in the book are silver, but this was changed to red for the movie (I guess silver was considered a waste when shooting in the new, exciting color format), so the red shoes are from a copyrighted property (and I believe MGM has also trademarked them). That's probably why in the TV series Once Upon a Time, when they delved into Oz, the slippers were silver instead of the red that a lot of people expected.

Translations are another issue with works not originally written in English because even if the work is in the public domain, a particular English translation may be under copyright. Beowulf is well out of copyright, but you're only safe using a fairly old translation. Ditto for the works of Cervantes or Victor Hugo. The Bible is ancient, but many of the more modern translations are under copyright. The King James Version is safe to use, though.

Using others' material is a decision you have to make depending on how critical it is to your story. Really, quoting long passages of anything makes for boring reading. A passing reference may be all you need to give you the right flavor, and it requires far less paperwork.
8th-Apr-2014 12:11 pm - Reading Influences: Narnia
Books
I was so very good yesterday, getting to everything on the to-do list. Today's list is a wee bit more ambitious, so we'll see how I do. I've reached the end of the parts I'm reworking on the current book and will be plunging ahead into the unknown.

I still don't have any reading I'm ready to talk about -- the book for the last couple of weeks wasn't bad, but I don't have anything to say about it and am not sure I'd recommend it, and I haven't finished the current book. So, I'll talk about more books that influenced me.

I guess I'd always read fantasy in some form or another. I had the books that went with the Disney fairy tale movies (what we had to do in the Dark Ages before home video -- there were also records with the songs and a narrator telling the story), and I had "real" fairy tale books. I went through a phase of checking out every book with "witch" or "magic" in the title, but oddly, I don't remember any individual books. I know I read The Hobbit in fourth grade, but at that time, nothing clicked in me to say "this is the kind of book I like," perhaps because I was at the height of Star Wars mania then and was getting into science fiction.

What turned me into a fantasy reader was the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I'd actually read The Horse and His Boy sometime in early elementary school, probably in second or third grade because it came during my horse phase, when I'd check out anything that had anything to do with a horse, but it didn't click with me then, probably because it was such a one-off and I was far more focused on the horse than on the fantasy. But I clearly remember when I started the series and really discovered the world of fantasy. I was in sixth grade and for some reason I had to meet my mom at her office after school instead of going straight home (I don't remember if there was some business thing we had to do or if it was meant as a treat). I had to ride the shuttle bus from the neighborhood where my school was to the post where my mom's office was. She'd bought a copy of The Silver Chair for me, probably to keep me occupied until she got off work. I was instantly hooked.

There was a quest, a long journey, giants, magic and all those wonderful things that come with fantasy. My imagination seemed to totally explode, and my brain went into overdrive imagining more things that could take place in a land like Narnia. I was very disappointed that I had ordinary closets instead of a magical wardrobe. I remember being reluctant to take off my nightgown and embroidered house slippers in the morning because that seemed like an outfit closer to being appropriate attire for a fantasy world. Of course, I had to get the rest of the series, but I rationed them because I knew there were only seven books and the author had died before I was born. To help spread them out, I started looking for other books like that and read The Lord of the Rings (I had no idea at the time that the authors were friends).

The funny thing is, in spite of me having grown up going to church and reading the Bible, I never caught on to all the Biblical allegory until I was in college and taking a "parageography" class. In one of the lectures, the professor got into allegorical worlds, including Narnia, and I had the big "Oooooh" lightbulb moment. I had just read it at face value as fantasy. Now it's hard not to see it. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most obvious parallel, but the Gospel message is more subtly woven throughout the other books. I have to admit that I really intensely dislike The Last Battle. That book just doesn't work for me, on so many levels. I'd put off reading it for months because I didn't want the series to end, and then when I finally let myself read it, I was very upset and disappointed. I can see what he was trying for, but I think it has the opposite effect on many (if not most) readers. Most of the people I've heard dismissing Lewis entirely have used things from that book as a reason.

As an adult, I've gotten more into Lewis's theological writings, and I think his writing style is actually better suited for that than for fiction. But Narnia is a special place, and it was my gateway into fantasy. I doubt I'd be doing what I am today if I hadn't read that first book. The Silver Chair remains my favorite, perhaps because it's more of an adventure story and less preachy. Jill, our designated "outsider" character does get her "conversion" experience, but she wasn't a horrible person to begin with (unlike Eustace in the book where he played the "outsider" role). She didn't have to dramatically change, just learn to have faith. It seems that the film version of The Magician's Nephew is still in development, and I'd thought it odd that they were going out of chronological order to go back and do that one after Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but part of me kind of hopes that they're letting the kid who played Eustace (who was wonderful) grow up a bit so they can add a teen romantic subplot to The Silver Chair. When I read the book now, they're just kids to me, but when I was eleven, I totally read a romance into it.
7th-Apr-2014 11:14 am - Tea and a Book
dalek tea
I had a pretty good weekend. I spent most of Saturday working and finished this pass of revisions, then went on a brief walk/hike (there was some minor "hiking" content on a more rugged trail, but most of it was a paved path). Sunday was deliciously cool and rainy, the perfect day to spend with tea and a book.

There's nothing like coming home from church on a cold, rainy day to the smell of dinner cooking in the Crock Pot -- except that the dinner was timed for the evening meal and was nowhere near done at lunchtime, so I got that smell upon coming home and then had to reheat leftovers for lunch. But dinner was awesome when I got to it. I had a pork loin I was cooking for pulled pork, but I ended up taking some slices off it before I shredded it and just had it as regular meat. I'd planned on slaw to go with the barbecued pork I'd been planning, but since it was cool weather, I braised the cabbage instead. I'll have to get more cabbage to do slaw later because this pork will last me a while. I'm going to have to freeze some of it. Oh, it was good, though. The one problem with Crock Pot cooking is that the house smells like what you're making all day, so you spend the whole day hungry.

Today will be mostly devoted to business-related stuff. I've broken down the big tasks into smaller daily bites, so there's not going to be any one day that will have to be totally taken over by icky stuff. I want to get back to the book I was writing today. I may or may not give the steampunk book another pass before sending it to the editor. Right now, I'm letting it rest. I may go back over the places where I made more significant changes, but I'm not sure if another complete re-read would be worthwhile. And I need to work on my map.

My incentive for getting through the to-do list today is that I still haven't finished the new Terry Pratchett book, in spite of yesterday afternoon's reading session. I think I'm trying to savor it because I keep forcing myself to take breaks.
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