Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Toughest Critics

My two young sons are both my greatest and most enthusiastic supporters, as well as being my toughest and most demanding critics. Let me paint a picture of what painting a picture looks like in my house...

Night...
6 year old: "Mommy, we are going to bed, I want you to surprise us with a new painting in the morning. Can you paint something now while we sleep?"
Me: "Sure son, do you want me to paint anything in particular?"
6 year old: "Pretty flowers, it is fall now and there aren't many flowers in our garden so I want to see a painting of flowers."
Me: "Ok, I will try. I will make a start but I probably won't get it finished in one night."
6 year old: "Ok, but please try your best. I love you Mommy."
3 year old: "I love you too Mommy, don't forget to surprise us with the new painting."
Me: Skips sleep and paints most of the night.

Morning...
6 year old to 3 year old: "Let's go check on Mommy's progress."
3 year old: "I hope she finished it. We slept lots of hours so she had lots of time."
6 year old: "Mommy I love it! It is beautiful! Don't sell this one, I want to keep it."
Me: "Thanks son, I'm so glad you like it."
6 year old: "But there is a problem, why did you sign it when it isn't finished?"
Me: "I thought it was finished. What do you feel is missing?"
6 year old: "It needs a bee collecting pollen from the flower. I want you to add a bee."
Me: "Sorry son, once I sign a painting, it is finished, I don't modify it."
6 year old: "Well, you can sell this one if you can paint me another version with a bee? How long will it take? I don't mind if it is a little bit smaller if that will make it quicker." (He says as he stands in front of a painting that is 4 feet wide).
Me: "Ok son, I can try and do another version with a bee, but not right now."
3 year old: "Forget the bee, I want you to do a painting of Darth Vader fighting The Hulk."
Me: "Son, why do you want me to paint that?"
3 year old: "Because I want to see who wins the fight."

Apparently my eldest son thinks I'm a miracle worker who doesn't need sleep, and my youngest son thinks my paintings have some special insight into the unknown.

I love my boys.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Feeling the Love from an Unexpected Source.

If you are in "the biz" you've probably heard of Kirkus Reviews, if you aren't, you've probably read their work over and over without realizing it. For decades, Kirkus Reviews have been responsible for many of the review excerpts you see in magazines and printed on book covers.

Known for being horribly harsh and critical (it is their job after all), it was with both fear and excitement that I opened the attachment sent by Kirkus Reviews today.

The verdict on J159... they loved it! Here are a few brief comments from their review:

"...riveting...imbuing scenes with anticipation...Logan wisely lets a dash of uneasiness linger...utterly appealing fusion of dystopian tale and courtroom drama." - Kirkus Reviews

If you want to read more, here's the full review:






If you haven't yet read J159, visit your local Amazon website, Barnes and Noble, or local bookstore and order your copy today. If you've already read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you may have.

Here's a link to the Amazon USA page to get you started:

Enjoy!

R :-)


Friday, April 28, 2017

Sometimes, Enough IS Enough.

Every time I (and my merry band of helpers), read J159, we think we are done. That's it. Typos found. Commas squished back into place.  Then, mere minutes after submitting what we think are finished files, one of us spots another nasty little punctuation mark that we feel is out of place.

Last night, or perhaps it was more likely early this morning, I realized that this process of iterative refinement could, literally, go on forever. Since I have other stories to write, and I truly do want you to read J159, I've decided that this current pass over the book will be the last round of editing. Anything bothersome left by this point, should be minimal, and, at least, no longer detract from the story.

So, I hope to be able to finally share J159 with you within the next 7-10 days.

Happy Reading!
R.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Novel is Never Really Finished

I recently completed writing the first draft of my mildly dystopian thriller "J159". I was excited to say the least, but the moment I finished, I immediately felt compelled to begin editing and rewrites. So off I trekked to Chapter 1 and waded through the words all over again.

A nip, a tuck, a little glue here and there. I unraveled the sections that seemed matted together like a pile of wire clothes hangers, and I emerged on the other side, with what felt like a wonderful story in excellent shape.

Then we go again...

Now I'm doing yet another pass, this time looking for typos and formatting errors. The type of things you overlook when concentrating on the finer points of the overall language, or inadvertently add back in when you "fix" a phrase. Much like when we all allow our electronic devices to install "updates". They claim they will fix bugs, but deep down, we all know that in fixing one, they will likely add at least two back in its place.

I'm currently proof reading Chapter 5, and will eventually make my way back out the other end of Chapter 15, but then what? Will this go on forever?

I've recently discovered with my oil paintings (yes, I do that too from time to time), that if I keep on refining the same painting until I am perfectly happy with it, then it will never be finished. I will never be truly happy with it until it is perfect, and a perfect painting simply doesn't exist. I'm slowly working my way around to the acceptance of the fact that no novel I ever write will be perfect either. The trick with writing (just like painting), is finding that balance that you can live with, and then happily moving on to the next project. Finding that balance is hard, but if I don't figure it out eventually, you'll never get to read the book.

So, for now I'll keep proof reading. Then I will release it to my beta readers to pick it apart. After a few more iterations, I may well be ready to let you see it.

Happy Reading.
R.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Who Changed the Script?

I could tell you a tale, oh how I could tell you a tale...

Our move from North Carolina to Texas could have originally been depicted as a buddy comedy, filled with errors, mix-ups, annoyances, frustrations, and the odd bit of comic relief. The kind of adventure that gets under your skin at the time, but at the end of the day, you sit back and laugh as you shake your head in disbelief.

Somewhere along the way (in Louisiana to be precise), someone changed the script. An underinsured driver of an 18 wheeler was written into our lives, and our buddy comedy quickly turned into a seemingly unfathomable action movie. Time was passing slowly enough as our caravan of vehicles sat motionless, one behind the other in traffic on the I-10. That's when this unwanted character invaded our lovely film. This driver, who seemingly forgot what the brake pedal was for, slammed through us at over 70mph. I still can't bring myself to describe for you exactly what happened, as my eyes tear up and my hands start to shake when ever I paint that picture in my mind. Just suffice to say that it made my favorite action movies appear all the more real to me after that day. The sequences you see when massive collisions happen in painfully slow motion, are indeed accurate. Those actors who skillfully portray so much going on in so little time, are indeed masters, whose acting prowess far exceeds the acclaim their genres are usually afforded.

My two young children were in the back seat praying throughout the ordeal, and we thank God that we are alive. As for possessions... we lost over 90% of them that day. That which wasn't incinerated by the multiple explosions, was either horribly burned, smashed, or at a minimum, soaked with diesel and gasoline. 

Imagine sitting on the floor in the bathroom of a hotel room, while you attempt to dry diesel fuel from birth certificates with a hair dryer. The pungent fumes attacking your already throbbing head while you sit quietly on the cold, hard tile, trying desperately not to cry too loudly or you will wake your children. That was the first of many months of sifting through rubble. 

In the months that followed this ordeal, I frequently found myself asking,
"Where do we go from here?"

Whilst the dust has settled and the fumes have largely dissipated, we are still engulfed in the ongoing dramas. Medical, insurance, legal, those issues are painful enough, but they pale in comparison to the emotional toll such an event can have on a family. Fears, anxiety, nightmares, above all else, I was so angry with what that man had put my children through. Being afraid to get into a car, unable to sleep, night terrors. I needed somewhere to vent my anger, for fear that I would soon errupt with more force than Mount Saint Helens.

Time and exhaustion chipped away at my inability to sleep, and my zombi-like state was soon replaced with brief, recurring nightmares. Unable to face another repeat of that terror, I swapped attempts to sleep with writing. It became my outlet. I worked through my fears, my rage, my helplessness with every completed page. Pouring the emotions that I could not confront for myself, into the very life of the characters in my novel.

Night after night, emotion after emotion, I wrote.

I recently reached the all important words on my manuscript "The End". As I go back through each chapter, editing and completing rewrites, I am reminded of the emotions that I felt along the journey of writing this book. One day soon, when you read it, I'm sure you will be surprised by the topic of the novel and the characters within it. You may wonder how I could possibly draw parallels between its story and mine. But for those of you who know me, or consider what I've just told you, you may find glimpses of me and my struggles hidden within the pages.

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (@realreneelogan) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/WordOfRenee), I will swing back around here from time to time and let you know how things are progressing. Hopefully one day soon, you'll be reading my novel "J159" for yourself. I look forward to the day when you can ask me questions and tell me what you think. 

As for the question "Where do we go from here?" Simple, we rebuild. My family is what matters most to me, and that's the way it will always be.

Wishing you all love, peace, and countless blessings.

Renee.