Sunday, June 27, 2010

Randomness on a Friday night

I'm not sure how many of you, since you've hit over drinking age, have run amok in playgrounds meant for children at least a decade and a half younger than you, (amok in a completely sober, legal, clothed kind of way)--but it's actually quite fun and oddly magical.

Especially if it's a Friday night, there's a full moon, and you've successfully convinced your friend (who hates bridges) to cross a footbridge that goes over the Grand Central Parkway. Well, three of my high school friends and I did just that this past Friday and I wanted to jot it down because it was random as hell. None of us know any bars there-at least not one that wouldn't be extremely crowded--and we hadn't seen each other in a while, so we wanted to talk and not shout at each other. Somehow we ended up in the park.

The Jurassic playground is dinosaur-themed. It has two or three of those play-monkey bars-slide combos and swings (baby swings, too) and a sprinkler! Whoo-hoo!

The fact that the four of us twentysomethings ran across the playground, giggling, and running onto the play equipment, then near (but not into) the sprinkler...was both hilarious and kind of awesome. I can't remember the last time I was on a playground (probably with my niece).

Oh, and quote of the night:
"Hey, that looks like the beginning of New Moon."
"Oh, yeah..."
"I'm the vampire Twilight."
"Oh, yeah? Which one?"
"The vampire Twilight!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

WTF Boston? 2

I think everyone has heard of Boston drivers. They are notorious. The Roommate, who hails from NH, once confirmed for me that up there, they can tell when a person is from Massachusetts by their driving.

To quote from wikiTravel's page on Boston:
As mentioned above, Boston area drivers are not known for their courtesy or consideration for others around them. Pedestrians should use crosswalks and exercise considerable caution when crossing streets. Assume the drivers are *trying* to hit you.

In that spirit, here is this week's WTF Boston?

This pic was snapped by Sonal, the second time we saw a car (plus one motorcycle) driving on a sidewalk in Boston. This car was driving off a sidewalk on a corner of Tremont Street and School Street.

Friday, June 18, 2010

WTF Boston?

So, yeah...as some of you may have seen, I'm back in retail. It's a shit job with not-so-great pay and I'm not planning on being there for very long--I hope that with a lot of legwork, I'll find My Editorial Assistant Dream Job soon.

Or, you know, get a job at a bookstore.

I went to Boston from Sunday to Wednesday and along with revisiting stomping grounds, seeing lots of new things, storing things away for the novel's Boston portion, I came away with lots of weird pictures of weird happenings in Boston.

Thus, the first of a new weekly installment (as long as we have photos) called WTF Boston?


This was taken in the back of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Anyone know the sculptor or just...why?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ruh-roh

So this is a blog on critiques, specifically giving them. Interesting, interesting. The blogger linked in a page of a manuscript she had a crit buddy read. Her favorite comment from her friend? "Ruh roh."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Synopses Are The Devil. And Other Thoughts.

I've wondered if the story is too complicated (which it probably is--soul swapping plus past "it's complicated" relationship plus family discord plus dead parents who killed themselves...).

I think about the books I like. Atonement, my favorite book, is not exactly a walk in the park. It's painful and hard to read in parts and the twist at the end puts everything into perspective--but it can be boiled down to "In 1935 England, 13-year-old Briony sees her sister take off her clothes outside in front of the housekeeper's son Robbie. Not understanding adult emotions and having an overactive imagination, Briony later accuses Robbie of raping her cousin, sending the innocent man to jail, then the army, where he marches across France toward Dunkirk. From that moment in 1935 on, Briony writes and rewrites the events, striving to understand what happened and to atone for how she ruined Robbie and her sister Cecilia's life."

Then there's The Lovely Bones. 14-year-old girl is murdered. Girl can look down on Earth at her grieving family, her growing friends, and her murderer.

Persuasion: Anne Elliot was convinced that her fiance, Frederick Wentworth, was not suitable enough for her. Years later, as the Elliots come down in the world, Frederick has risen in the Royal Navy, becoming wealthy."

I love all of these books because of the emotional content and the descriptions and characters and setting. But, as you know, I also love historical romance novels and historical fiction, which have that added complication of evoking the time and place and having the characters either deliberately behave in a more modern way to make them more palatable to a modern audience. And I also adore Harry Potter for the ideas of destiny and self-fulfilling prophecies and the world building that it took to make 7 books link up so well. Then there's Lord of the Rings, for the rich history and creatures and immense world and background that Tolkien created.

Perhaps I'm just manuscript-weary (I really can't read it anymore and haven't for almost a week) or maybe the honeymoon is over and it's time to get to work on it, but there are big things that are irritating me about the book and the synopsis.

Synopses are short and they only cover the main story lines and the main characters, so prioritizing becomes a big deal. And frankly, Brix and Jade's relationship isn't as important as Eva and Brix's. Plus, add on to that that you don't have space to write a synopsis descriptively, character motivation has to come across in one line and the main characters have to roll out quickly...and you can probably see why I hate writing these suckers.

Here's what I see as the main plotlines (you can ignore this--it's just me writing it out to lay it out for myself):

Eva and Jade are switched. Eva is the "active" one and must figure out the why's of their situation. This causes reflection, a search for answers, acceptance of new concepts, and forgiving of the past.

Eva's uncertainty in the above situation reflects her attitude toward a long-term romantic relationship with her best friend, Brixton, though the two have grown up together and have seen each other through some truly heinous times.

Jade is in Eva's body, listening to everything everyone says about her and is indecisive about almost everything, except her hatred of Eva.


Of course, if I take out the swapping part, then it leaves me with Eva in a coma in her own body, perhaps as an omniscient type of narrator (similar to Susie Salmon in Lovely Bones), Jade has suffered a concussion and is still in a state of utter indecision about her life. I'd still have all the history of Eva and Brix, take out the fantasy paranormal bits (which are becoming so ubiquitous that the market is becoming saturated by it anyway). Then, the problem becomes that the interactions would have to be more tense and emotional--they're already pretty much there anyway--but it would be more traditional love-triangle-ish, I suppose. I've never seen this as a love triangle--Jade does not compare to Eva for Brix--but I suppose it can be seen that way.

Now, if I leave the paranormal in (which has been bothering me for a while--and if it's bothering me, then something needs to be done about it before I start sending the sucker out for queries), but take out the flashbacks...nah. I mean, yeah, I can hint about Brix and Eva's past, but it's more impactful to see it.

I can take out the dead mother bits--she's not in there much anyway--or the dead father bits, which leaves me looking for another catalyst for Brix's year or so of sluthood.

Or I tighten up the paranormal. I've done some of that anyhow, since I had my mini-epiphanies with astral projection and negative capability, and it would take the least amount of work, but I'm not sure it'll serve the story or the characters. Because let's be real here, I'm not exactly taking a stance on anything like this. I believe in reincarnation and therefore, I think this kind of thing might be possible, but not being a hardcore believer, I'm not sure I'm doing it justice and I don't know that it's reading as credible.

Or I can go back to the original concept of this story, which had Brix massively ill, but doesn't want anyone to tell Eva, who is still his best friend and mother of his child. It basically dealt with them getting their shit together and committing.

Must mull over what's best for the story here. Truth is, I'm not sure and everyone has a million opinions and answers. Crossroads, really, because if I'm going to rewrite it completely, this is the time to do it and it won't take terribly long, since the bloody thing is actually finished. Of course, the lazy side is going "stick with what you have! don't rewrite it all!" but the anal writer side is going, "It's not ship-shape yet. Keep working it 'til it is because otherwise, when you query, it's going to be summarily rejected and you'll know that you could've fixed it beforehand and you didn't, you lazy bitch!"

At least I have the synopsis for my next story written--I'm working on characters and outlining now, as well as gathering sources since it's an historical. Dissolution of the Monasteries. Son of a priest and nun. Don't ask.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Synopsis--Version 1

As with any other version 1, this isn't exactly bug-free. It's also vague, doesn't cover all storylines or characters, or give character motivations. From what I've read about synopses and what I've read on my own through internship, it's a quick summary, written in present-tense, in the same style as the book, detailing the main plot line.

EVA FONTAINE wakes up one night confused and alone—and a completely different person. It started when she walked out of her brother’s rehearsal dinner, after seeing her estranged father for the first time in many years. Then there was an unfortunate collision in a Boston street with a car. Waking up in a strange room, Eva thinks she’s home, in Paris, before realizing that she’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Instead of her own hazel eyes, olive skin, and brown hair, she sees a taller, blonder, paler person in the mirror.

Eva flees the room, panicked, and encounters her childhood friend, erstwhile lover, and father of her child BRIXTON DAVIS. He calls her Jade, asks if her head hurts or if she feels dizzy—Jade hit her head and is very minorly concussed—and sends her back to bed. Eva, he reminds her, got hit by a car and now lies in a coma.

Shutting her eyes, Eva considers various possibilities. Maybe she’s under heavy medication. Maybe she’s hallucinating. She concentrates on leaving Jade’s body, imagining hospital rooms, but to no avail. Eva recalls that JADE PRESTON is Brixton’s most recent girlfriend.

Jade Preston has had a short, but complicated relationship with Brixton. She wakes encased in darkness, cannot move or speak, and hears everything said in her presence. The talk in her hospital room revolves around Eva. Jade’s thoughts bounce from her overbearing mother to her hatred of Eva to her love life to her uncertainty of her future.

The next day, Eva wakes up and hears Brixton talking to their two-year-old daughter. Eva decides to leave Brixton’s apartment and uncertain of what else to do, goes into Boston and decides to live as Jade until she can figure out what the hell happened. Her theories include death, hell, purgatory, or perhaps a botched reincarnation. She finds out that Jade works as a waitress in the restaurant Brixton, a chef, owns and even works the girl’s shifts. In the meantime, Eva searches for answers in books, journals, and the Internet and visits her comatose body. She also explores Boston, where she grew up, in a way she hasn’t before, tinged with sadness.

In a dual timeline, Eva remembers entering high school and meeting Brixton. The two friends go away to New Orleans, Eva’s birthplace, for college, bringing them closer together as they grow into young adulthood and explore a new city. When Brixton’s father dies tragically, Eva watches helplessly as Brixton spins out of control into alcohol and women.

In present time, Eva finds spiritual and reincarnation experts and contacts them, growing more anxious about returning to her body and where Jade might be. Eva finally tells Brixton that she is not Jade, resulting in rapid-fire questioning until she answers everything correctly and Brixton must believe that Eva is, in fact, living in Jade’s body.

Jade is conflicted as she lives in Eva’s body. Growing more tense as time goes on, she is also making some solid decisions about her life. As she listens to Eva’s father speak, apologizing for leaving his children to be raised by his parents and speaking about his late wife, who died under mysterious circumstances, Jade can’t help but come to understand Eva. Eva and Brixton visit the body. Eva whispers that she is meeting an expert and prays that they can be returned to their respective bodies soon.

Through a professor of East Asian philosophy and big believer in reincarnation and a paranormal psychologist, Eva is grilled about her present life, Jade’s life, her mental health history, her religious beliefs, and is urged to think about concepts called “astral projection” and “walk-ins.”

But it’s not fast enough for Eva--in desperation, she leaves her daughter napping one afternoon and steps into a busy state route. Brixton pulls her back, gives her a heavy piece of his mind, and drags her back to his apartment where they argue, rehashing Eva’s situation, her state of mind and their past. They begin to make love.

Eva wakes up in the hospital—in her own body. She wakes up a little at a time, but during those waking minutes, she speaks to Jade, now back in herself and more resolved to move on with her life. But first, Jade writes Eva a long email, telling her what she heard while in Eva’s body for two weeks.

When Eva is discharged from the hospital, she attends her brother’s wedding and reception. Brixton asks her to marry him or at least consider living in the same country as him. She agrees and the two, finally, begin to plan a future—together.