New Verb: To Sliver

We had a warm holiday season here in Colorado, so we’re paying for that now.  The high today is supposed to be around freezing (so weird to think it was sixty last Saturday).  School was closed Tuesday and Wednesday because the temperature was below zero.  That was a new one.  I teach in the same district in which I grew up, and we have never—not since at least 1967, and I’m pretty sure never at all—called school off for mere cold.  The district said something about busses not functioning right and little kids not being able to take the cold.  It’s not like we’ve never had sub-zero temps before, but I will admit that demographics have changed, and we have more students who may genuinely not be able to afford good winter clothes.  Ultimately, we’ve used our snow days and haven’t hit the very heavy spring snows that really can paralyze the city, so we’ll see whether those closings were wise.

Usually, I would have spent much of that time either baking or writing or both.  Fortunately in the former department, I’m back on the WeightWatchers straight-and-narrow, so baking wasn’t an option.  It’s not that I couldn’t bake something; it’s that I know myself.  Trapped in a house with brownies all day, I would sliver away the whole pan.  (You know—“I’ll just take a sliver…another sliver won’t count…okay, just one more…well, this one more…”)  And it’s not like I’d be burning it all off.

As for the latter—writing—I sometimes feel like sitting on my hands.  The time-travel still sits, 43 pages shorter, nowhere near the required 100 pages.  I told myself if I could shave 70, I’d call it good and send it back to Kristin, but I just dread the task, so I don’t do it.  The new proposal has been whipped into shape and a new outline written.  It landed in my editor’s email box last week, and the contract gives her 30 days to look it over and say yea or nay.  It’s a lovely honeymoon period where I know it’s out there and no one has rejected it.  At the same time, I told myself I wasn’t going to work on it unless it sold.  I wasn’t going to have another full manuscript that went nowhere.

And yet it calls…

I may yet sliver a full novel into being.  “I’ll just write this one little scene that’s been niggling at me…okay, just the lead in to the next scene, to give myself momentum when I start again…well, I guess I really can’t leave it there, what if I forget this great next part…”

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Paula is an author of historical fiction as well as a wife, mom, and teacher.
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4 Responses to New Verb: To Sliver

  1. JohnSherck says:

    I am quite familiar with the practice of slivering. My wife, more honest with herself in this regard, does the same basic thing but in big chunks.

    And while I know it may sound like anathema to you, I’ll throw out something with regards to your time travel book. First, of course, go ahead and see what you can do about getting it published. However, if you just can’t seem to find a market for it, consider putting it out as a self-published e-book. I know, I know: it was hard even to type the word “self-published,” but when it comes down to it, there’s self-publishing and there’s self-publishing. You’ve been around the publishing world long enough to know that there’s a difference between work that isn’t published because it’s not good enough to be published and work that isn’t published because “there isn’t a market for it.” Here’s the thing: you’re a good enough writer that the first case isn’t true, and I’m convinced there’s a market for that book. Particularly over in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy, publishing your own e-book is becoming a lot less dirty of a word (phrase, I guess). For some, it’s been a proving ground to get a book published by a major house, and for others it’s been a satisfying and lucrative endeavor all on its own. The key here is that with a manuscript in hand, you can publish a good looking e-book relatively inexpensively, allowing you to charge less than the major publishers and still quickly pay the costs and start making money.

    Like I said, go through the traditional route for now, but keep this idea in mind as a fall-back, because it’s too good of a book to spend its entire existence on your hard drive.

    And good luck on the new novel–here’s hoping it sells quickly!

    • admin says:

      Sigh. Echo is the only book I’ve written that I’m at all tempted to self-pub (though we both know what a snob I am about that). Kristin feels that if I could get a solid career in historical fiction under me, one with a little name recognition, we might yet be able to sell the sucker, so I’m not feeling too urgent just yet. (Another reason I’ve been dragging my heels.) I have my fingers crossed that my current work, Ruined, sells and builds another piece of the bridge for Echo.

      Ruined is the sexiest book I’ve written, by far, but with generous helpings of spirituality and history, so I think it’s got real commercial potential. I know my agent agrees, let’s just hope my editor does, too!

  2. cattykizmo says:

    To sliver should be part of the Weight Watchers lexicon. As a proud member and sliverer I vote for its inclusion to the Weight Watchers vocabulary. Dammit a girl just needs a brownie sometimes. It’s only 4 points for 1/20th of a pan. Today is weigh in day. I’m having the brownie, the whole brownie, not the sliver.

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