Jumat, 25 Maret 2011

And the edits are upon me!

Edit letter has come and let the hacking begin!!! I love editing, because, as fun as the purely creative drive of the first draft provides its own high, it's edits where the magic happens, where the art is finally crafted closer and closer to a finished entity, able to go live on its own out in the world.

I've forced myself not to look at the manuscript for months. And when I came back to it, editorial suggestions from my fabulous editor in hand, I can suddenly SEE it with fresh eyes. And yeah, then go in with a hack saw to pages at a time. All this shit I thought was necessary for character building, sooooooooooo slow--hack out all the boring crap, keep the heart of the cinematic, emotional moment, get back to the moving action, the active tension. I love editing because in my mind it seems like sculpting.

The first few drafts have created a real living entity on the table, but it is blunt, awkward, and ugly (not to say that it wasn't hard as hell to get it that far, but still, it's not ready for the world to see). The edits are the crafting of the crescendos and diminuendos of action, all working toward a truly dynamic climax at the end. Each scene should have shape to make it cohesive, cause-and-effecting as it goes. The middle and second half are really where most of this work needs to be done.

After the plot gets shaped up, then I want to go through a pass at the language level--making sure the most potent moments of emotional impact are the most lyrical, and the language of dialogue is unique and distinctive. Here's to the Hermit Cave of Edit-land, kids. I raise my glass to toast, and I'll see you on the other side.

Rabu, 23 Maret 2011

Laura Mercier Portofino Collection

I don't know a huge amount about this collection, other than it is launching into Selfridges exclusively next week! Inspired by 1950s resort fashion, the collection features two Lip Glaces, (one a re-issue, formerly Champagne) Sparkling and Nectar, eye shades to make a sun-washed blue/gold eye, a navy liner and gold/pink highlighter for the face. There are also two Lip Colors in Coral (an existing shade) and Sunrise.

Urban Decay Primer Potion In A Tube

I spotted this newbie from Urban Decay over at Sephora - same formula as the wand version of Primer Potion but in a squeezy tube. I quite like this idea as you'd be able to apply it with a brush of your choice and not that bendy-wandy thing that we have currently. Obviously, its US only just now, but fear not - we'll get it (in about 2015 probably).

NB: have just heard this launches here in June.

Argan Oil: Is It The Big Fat Beauty Fudge?

For those who don't know, Argan oil comes from the Argan nut, extracted by Berber women co-operatives in Morocco. Argan trees grow only in Morocco. The oil is full of fab things for hair and skin, such as vitamin E, essential fatty acids, lipids, antioxidants and ferulic acid to name but a few. There's a huge surge in the number of beauty products including Argan oil in their ingredient line up and I'm a big fan of Argan oil myself, particularly for hair.

To be honest, if all the brands that are using Argan oil as an ingredient were using it in a meaningful capacity, there would be no Argan oil left in the world. Personally, I only use pure 100% Argan oil bought from reputable sources such as Mir Skincare or Melvita, but it is starting to really bug me the number of brands that are using the Argan trend to cash in and only using it in tiny quantities, that in my view, can't really bring anything much to the party. Don't get me wrong, Gielly Green Argan Rescue is one of my favourite hair products, but it also uses sea buckthorn and neem oil although Argan is listed second on the ingredient listing, indicating correctly that it is one of the main ingredients.

Not so for other brands, who use a very small quantity of Argan oil to justify using Argan in the name of the product or marketing materials. I've spoken at length with a well respected formulator who says, "It isn't actually a requirement to list ingredients in weight order when they are present at quantities of less than 1%, so if an ingredient appears half way down or lower on the listing it is likely to be only present in the barest of quantities." Which means, pretty much, that it doesn't really make any difference if it is there or not. There are also clever formulation tricks such as splitting your key ingredients in such a way that you can push the 'trend' ingredient further to the top of the listing. The formulator I spoke to is doubtful that even at 5% there is any actual impact on skin or hair. 

If you check on the Kiehls website and look at Superbly Restorative Argan Dry oil, while it mentions that the product 'utilizes' Argan oil, the key ingredients listed are apricot kernel oil and olive oil. So, it isn't really clear just from looking at the site how much Argan you actually get for your £26. Similarly, with the new Lee Stafford ArganOil From MoRocco range: I actually asked outright what percentage of the products were actually Argan oil and they declined to answer. I don't question that the products will be great for hair, but I do question whether it's the Argan oil that makes it so.

It is perfectly okay to use pure 100% Argan oil on hair or skin although you might want to consider your hair or skin type before you do this. I suggest you look really closely at brands that scream 'Argan' in their labelling and opt for the real thing as and where you can to get the optimum Argan benefits.

Selasa, 22 Maret 2011

Path to Publication

Just read Jessica Shea Spotswood's blog about her path to publication, and I agree! I love hearing people's stories about getting published too! So I thought I'd share mine--important dates in bold if you're in a skimming mood ;)
  • Spring Semester 2010: amorphous period where I start planning out Glitch. My last novel has just been rejected by enough agents, even ones who'd read the manuscript, that I figure it is time to move on with a new project. I'd always wanted to write a dystopia since I read and LOVED 1984 in high school, so I sit down and write out my favorite elements of dystopias and think about what my ultimate imaginary dystopic future might look like.
  • Chatting with computer science-y husband, and he brings up this article he'd just read in Popular Science. Ideas about implanted computer bits in humans start germinating.
  • Came up with the love interest hook and start falling in love with my characters and story For Serious.
  • June 2010: exhaustion from previous semester and some life things prevent actual starting of book. Instead, complete scenes play out over and over in my head, mostly at night when I am trying to fall asleep!
  • July 2010: FINALLY! Time and energy to write! I take after it like gang-busters and have a first draft by August 1st.
  • First week of August: edit non-stop for a very intense week, and start querying, probably before I should have, but oh well, I have the patience of a gnat!
  • August: get lots of requests from agents to read the manuscript! yay! and then:
  • Sept. 15 2010: Charlie Olsen of Inkwell Management emails saying he'd read the first third of my book and was loving it and would like to set up a phone call with me!! An actual phone call! with an agent! just like I heard about with others authors but had never happened with the two other books I'd queried. I still remember the coffeeshop chair I was sitting in when I got that email. After trying for YEARS to be a writer, I had my first indication that the impossible dream might be actually possible!
  • The next Monday: we talk on the phone, and I am a lot less nervous than I thought I'd be, even though Charlie is less excited about the second half of the book, parts where it dragged. We talk potential edits, he mentions what he'd like to see, maybe some scenes to add, and I am super stoked, because not only was I talking to an ACTUAL AGENT, but he really GETS the feel of the book, and all of his ideas are totally in sync with what I want the book to be.
  • Rest of September: Heather goes into Crazy Edit & Rewrite Mode.
  • Mid-October: I send in the edited manuscript, and Charlie asks for Outlines of Book II and III in the intended trilogy. I say 'sure!' then sit down and try to figure out how the hell to write an outline ;)
  • October 27th: Another phone call! Offer of representation! Giddy jumping up and down! I have an agent!!!
  • November: More edits. We decide to wait to submit to editors till after the holidays.
  • January 15, 2011: Book goes on submission!!!!
  • January 15th-26th: Absolute worst ten days of my life. A few editors pass. I am sure I am DOOMED TO ABYSMAL FAILURE, HOW COULD I HAVE DELUDED MYSELF INTO BELIEVING I COULD BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? OH GOD, WHAT DO I WRITE NEXT? I THOUGHT MY BOOK WAS GOOD BUT NOW I'M SURE IT'S A STEAMING PILE OF SH---- then I get a call from my agent. We have an offer!
  • January 26th: Omg, an offer! From a super awesome publishing house, a 3-book deal! And not just any house, but St. Martin's Press! A publishing house that I have not only heard of, but one that publishes some books I've loved, that are sitting on my shelves RIGHT NOW! Squeeeee!
  • Feb 1st: Deal is official. Holy shit, I'm going to be a published author, slated for Sp/Su 2012. I walk around in a daze smiling so much my mouth hurts by the end of the day.
  • 2nd week of February: Magical foreign rights agent at Inkwell, Lyndsey Blessing, solidifies deals for Glitch trilogy in Germany and France!! OMG!
  • Feb. 10th: first call with my editor from St. Martin's, Terra Layton. She is AWESOME and so excited about my book! We talk for an hour about the edits and the process and I feel so lucky to have gotten such a rocking editor!

Smells Like Barbie Head:

Remember when you were little and opening a new doll the first thing that hits you is that gorgeous sweet, plastic smell? When I was little, that smell was so glamorously exotic and something that I only got to have a sniff at at Christmas or birthdays. I wasn't much of a Barbie fan - I had Pippa dolls for a while but sent them on a 'cruise' down a stream at the back of our house and never actually saw them again..oops. I like to think that maybe they reached America and are now sipping Pina Coladas near some bleached out beach living a high life for dolls. 

So, Hypnose have managed to encapsulate that dolls head/nylon hair smell in their latest candle, Art Plastique. Kind of a grown up version of a new dolly but without the fiddle of having to choose it an outfit. 

£39, www.averylondon.com

Everybody's Crackling: LCN Crackle Finish Polish

There are so many ranges now with their own crackle polishes, so I'm happy to see some from LCN that don't cost a fortune but still stick with the trend for coloured shatters. They're £4.65 (til 31st March then £5.50) each and available now. I'd love to see what the navy or the red looks like over a gold polish.

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