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Archive for August, 2011

Connie: Well, here we are in our second week of working on our new books. Julia is busy helping her youngest son get acclimated at college this week, so she will be adding her own update at the end of this post when she has time.

Personally, I had another pretty good week. I wrote 12 more pages, which gives me a grand total of 28 so far. While some of that will eventually be scrapped—this is, after all, a first draft—I’m still feeling very good about how this book is coming together. Today I have to write a scene that’s going to be one of the most difficult in the book. I’m not looking forward to it, and in fact I thought about it all day yesterday, which limited my forward progress. But that’s writing. It doesn’t always sail smoothly along like you hope. By this time next week, I expect to report that I successfully finished this scene and was thus able to move on. Stay tuned.

Julia‘: Driving to Stockton’s University of the Pacific  for the second time in three days, what story did my mind work on? The murder mystery ghost story novel? Heck, no. That would have been too logical. Instead, at the tail end of my second coffee on the road, the perfect details to finish another story I wrote about 11 years ago ( a story, not a novel or even novella) came together.  Just now I wrote them down on my laptop, and saved.

Of course my main project is the new book, but sometimes the muse asks for peculiar favors. I have asked Connie if she has had this problem, but I do not remember what she answered. I know I will have to get back on task or there will be nothing polished to read at our meetings!

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Julia writes:

Connie and I have been talking about our new books for months now, but talking is not usually the same thing as writing.  Over the years I have noticed almost everyone grows dewy eyed when talking about what he or she wants to write, or about what life will be like when said work is already written.  The cold hard truth is that a book won’t get written by itself, and chances are even slimmer that it will get rewritten.

Writing a book takes a heck of a lot of commitment through the days and months of tummy upsets, sore shoulders, bad news, and all the good shows on TV or YouTube that one would rather be watching. Even after a writer has written one book or five books, the next unwritten book is still another huge undertaking. It would be easier, I expect, if one were a feted writer with a strong marketing department poised and ready to spring into action once the last period is in place. Speaking for myself, I cannot write without encouragement. 

Luckily for me, thank God, I have Connie.   I have been waiting for her to begin this new novel, which is going to be a sensation.  Connie is a dynamite writer who knows how to keep a reader on the edge of her seat.  That is the kind of reader I need to critique my upcoming novel. 

Now that she is writing, one fine day soon, I will show up at her door with my first chapter.  We will read through her chapter and then my chapter, and we will give each other our true feelings about the way the chapters sound, helping each other write her best.  I can’t wait. 

Connie writes:

First let me say that having a writing pal as loyal as Julia is rare, and I appreciate her on so many levels. I truly hope the new novel I have begun turns out to be a sensation.  I am writing it with that result in mind, because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that sensation sells. Whether it will sell for me remains to be seen, but I am going to give it my best shot.

Over the course of the next 9 – 12 months, Julia and I will provide  progress reports on our respective books via posts on this blog. We are doing this for no particular reason other than we thought it might be interesting for our readers. Think of it as a mini reality show presented in print-only form. The good, the bad, and the ugly will all be covered.

I wrapped up my Writing Week One on Friday with four pretty strong pages. All told, I wrote 16 pages for the week. Given how hard beginnings (and endings) are to write, I feel pretty good about my start. It tells me that after thinking about this book for two years, I must finally be ready to write it. That means no more excuses. It will be full speed ahead from now until I type those infamous asterisks after the final scene to signal the end. That’s all for today, I have to get back to work!

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Last weekend I went to Borders here in Fresno to shop their going out of business sale. I didn’t expect to find many bargains since this store will supposedly remain open until late September, but I wound up spending sixty-some dollars. Deals on cookbooks and animal books were abundant. I browsed around the store for at least an hour and as I was doing so I was reminded of my days in Seattle where every Wednesday night, with very few exceptions over a five-year period, I attended a critique group downtown. The building where we met just happened to house a huge Borders’ store on the ground floor. I usually tried to arrive early so I had time to check out the latest books (always study your competition!) or simply to browse the massive number of books and movies and CDs the store carried before going to my meeting.

The clearest memory I have of that Seattle store is that it was always busy. Sometimes there were three or four check-out lines—and that was at six-thirty in the evening, not weekend afternoons. Every seat placed around the store was occupied. The second story coffee shop area was usually busy as well. The last time I was there was late spring 2002. If someone would have suggested to me back then that a high end bookstore like Borders would be facing bankruptcy in nine years, I would have laughed them out of the building. And yet, nine years later, here we are.

I’m as guilty as anyone for allowing this to happen. The sad truth is, prior to my stop at Borders this past weekend, I hadn’t been there for over a year. As for why, I have one a one-word answer: Amazon. Let’s face it, most of us have very busy lives. It’s much easier to sit at our computers in the evening after a tiring day and browse for books (or just about anything else). We don’t have to leave our chairs to make a purchase, and it arrives at our doorstep within a few days. Amazon doesn’t charge for standard delivery—three to five days (or two days if you are an Amazon Prime member). Buyers in most states, California included, don’t have to pay sales tax either.

We can talk all we want about changing our ways, promising to make our book purchases at only book stores, but the reality is that we won’t follow through on that promise, at least not for long. It’s time consuming and costs more—not a very viable business plan. Logic then would dictate (as Mr. Spock would say) that the answer to the question in my title is a sad but resounding yes. The end of Borders is the end of an era, and there is nothing we can do about it. Change happens, and that change is not always for the better.

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