the walls we build


Written on Thursday, May 29, 2008 by haleigh

So this week I built a wall. It was a pretty thrilling project. Actually, it was a major pain in the ass. But I got to thinking, and I realized that building a wall is a lot like writing a book.

Not so much the whole one stone at a time part, but that too, I guess.

The problem for me was the leveling. I had to dig down a ways to put the bottom stone, and if I didn't get it exactly level, then the stones on top were all kind of skewed.

So I tried to fix my skewed stones by jumping up and on them to beat them into submission (i.e. into being flat and level). That didn't work so much. So I had to remove my top stones, dig down, remove my bottom stones, dig down a bit farther and level everything out with some dirt and sand that got all over my hands.

Then I get to the end, and I have a freakin two inch gap in my circle. I can't fit a stone in a two-inch gap! I can't leave it - the hole will be obvious to everyone! So I either have to move everything around to close off my gap, or I have to widen my curves to make enough room for one more stone.

There was an analogy in here somewhere. Something about plot holes popping up no matter what kind of foundation we lay or how carefully we, outline.

So anyway, I'm just full of plot holes this week. I've been researching out the wazoo. Did anyone else know that there are oil pipelines in Colombia being attacked by gurerllia and paramilitary armies? Or that it cots approximately $35 per barrel to drill for ultra-deep sea oil off the coast of Brazil?

Anybody else have a plot full of holes about now? Or is it flowing?

My first rejection letter!


Written on Monday, May 19, 2008 by haleigh

I am proud to announce that this morning, I received my first rejection letter. I tried my hand at flash fiction (though I had no idea what I was doing), and submitted (on a dare from a friend) to a literary magazine. And as far as rejection letters go, it didn't seem all that bad. In fact, I'm still smiling about it:


Thank you for your interest in ----. Our decisions were difficult, but we have decided not to use your submission. We have included below our editors' comments on your work; we hope you find them useful. Please note that we are closed to submissions until June 1, when our Fall issue reading period opens.


Editor 5 Vote: Maybe
Ed. 5 Comments: This starts off very strong but the murder revelation feels like a gimmick. Otherwise written well.

Editor 6 Vote: No
Ed. 6 Comments: Although the writing is good, the first mention of a husband comes too late in the story and as a result, the murder confession seems tacked on for shock value.


In the submission explanation on this magazine's website, they warn that all editor's comments are unedited, and often not positive. You need two maybe's or one yes to move on to the final round of editing.

So........not bad, right??? I got a "starts off very strong," "writing is good," and "written well." And I got one maybe. There was no "you suck," no "stop writing now," no "I wanted to poke my eyes out halfway through this and eat them."

I'll take it!

I know it's a rejection, but for some reason, I'm just all smiles and thrilled with myself right now. An actual editor gave me a "maybe"!!!!

After my whole crisis-of-faith this weekend (see voodoo doll below and the clumping of voodoo pins in the balls-region), I'm back to feeling better about myself and my abilities. Even if the encouragement is in the form of a rejection.

Anyone else have rejection letters they're proud of? Or am I just insane?

faith and voodoo


Written on Friday, May 16, 2008 by haleigh

So today I let a friend.....let's call him the first three chapters of my WIP. I'd submitted these chapters to a critique group, gotten good feedback and made revisions, so I was feeling pretty damn good about myself.

Mark felt differently.

I won't repeat everything he said, but the words "sophomoric," "suck," "start over," "implausible," "unpolished," "unbelievable," and "start over" stick out in my mind.

(Notice I really remember the phrase "start over.").

So parts of what he said was very good criticism, and parts of his advice I'll take. Parts of it just pissed me off. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he's right.

And that's okay.

My writing is not perfect. It's not polished. It's not ready for the New York Times Best Seller list. But I started writing 14 short months ago, and it's a hell of a lot more polished now than it was then. And that's what my comparison should be, right? There's a reason 80% of the authors of NYT Best Sellers are in their 60's!

Writing isn't something that happens overnight, or that we're instantly good at. Sure, there are those success stories of people who rocketed to the top of the best seller list with their debut novel at the age of 22, but for the rest of us, it's all about hard work, dedication, and faith.

It's the faith in myself part that I'm running a bit short today. Which sucks, because I was on such a roll before he got started! (halfway - woohoo!)

Anyone else get a figurative (or literal!) knee in the balls this week?

Anyone else use the voodoo doll gadget from Google desktop? (notice where on my Mark doll the voodoo pins are clustered). The doll sits on your screen. You can assign a name and add a little pin every time they piss you off. Very nifty for those pesky co-workers.

jumping in the deep end...


Written on Wednesday, May 07, 2008 by haleigh

So I've been thinking about point-of-view.

I thought I was pretty solid on POV - no major slips into the wrong one, no head hopping, none of those pesky "she thought's" or "she said to herself's". Basically, none of those mistakes that I used to make.

But yesterday morning I was re-reading sections of Pamela Clare's Unlawful Contact (I had gone to my neighbor's house to let her puppies out and found her borrowed copy so sat down with it - not to get off-topic or anything). And once again, I was blown away by the depth of her POV. I mean, she gets way down in there. As a reader, you're so far inside those characters head's that it creates an almost visceral reaction.

And what I really want to know is how in the world she does it!

I'm pretty sure a big part of it is knowing your characters so well that you, the author, are that deep in their heads. Because really, if you're not that deep, no reader will be. Right?

I think I'm getting there. But then again, I've been saying that for a month now. On the bright side, I am slowly falling in love with my heroine.

And it's about damn time! I thought I was going to have to kill her again. I've written seven scenes now where she dies. Cole holds a gun to her head and shoots her. She gets hit buy a bus. Their plane crashes (Cole, of course, miraculously survives, because let's face it, he's hot).

I pulled each of these scenes out of my WIP and put them in a file called "SHAE DIES."

It was therapeutic.

But now I'm starting to think that I like her. I'm warming up to her. Now I just have to get further into her head.

Any ideas?

(And Christie.....I'm still ahead of you!)