Buy it now!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Phase Two: Laziness

Haven't written anything since the almost-20,000 word mark. Other than end-of-year laziness and the welcome distraction of long-lost friends, I have no excuse! I apologize to my goal. Time is running out and I shouldn't be dawdling.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Phase Two: Reboot! ...and an impromptu Twilight "blargh!"

Haha! I have placed my hands on my hips and now defiantly proclaim that I have worked on my novel tonight! It is an accomplishment I will continue throughout the evening. Just digging myself out of a verbal rut.

EDIT UPDATE: WORD COUNT 19,592 (Done for the night.)

And speaking of rutting... I received the gift of Twilight: Eclipse the movie for Christmas. My mother had read the book but hadn't seen the movie, so I made sure she watched it with me. (Poor Dad!) Now I'm not on Team Anything regarding Twilight, but Robert Pattinson looked rough, and not uncut diamond rough, but straight up give-the-boy-a-hot-meal rough. And no, that's not a blood-sucker joke. If his sickly more-tortured-than-usual look was a directorial decision, then it's unfortunate. If it was a makeup oopsie, then shame on the techies!! He does have the potential to be an attractive Brit. :)

And on a strictly editorial note, I've cast Taylor Lautner in the role of my novel's protagonist, if I can get the book published and optioned for a movie somewhere between Mr. Lautner's baby-face stage and rugged manly stage. This is a known fact among my friends and family since the first Twilight movie came out. I turned to Brandon in the theater and said, "Oh my goodness! I've found ________!" That means I'm not cyber-stalking the young man... I'm legitimately scouting him!

(I'll be waiting on the indignant responses of "But Edward looked sickly in the Eclipse booooook! He's 'posta be all tortuuuuuured!" I love the nasal ring of the whiny voice translated to type! Look-- been there, read that, bought it and the movies, and almost carved a tiny wolf for a charm bracelet. Don't preach!)

A Resounding Argh!

And then there was snow again, and no one could make it to the Christmas dinner I so lovingly prepared. But everyone's all right and safe, if not a little worse for wear. I would say we've got six inches of snow, and more in places due to drifts.

I need a real kick in the pants for lazing about when I should be working on my book, product development, graphic novel art, and my health. I'm tempted to make that latter option a public affair to shame myself into accomplishment. When it's all said and done, I'll probably need to find the dreaded "gainful employment" by mid-February, or risk my relative comfort and bill-paying. So, here's to a little over one month of hard work. I know I said that one before (*cough* NaNoWriMo *cough*) but it's getting harder to be lazy. Unrestful, even.

Unfortunately, I made it to a turning point, AKA "good stopping place," in my novel and I'm still drifting around the 18,000 word mark. It's the mortal wound to progress, to stop in such a place. But I'll just take a few "Cure Minor Wounds" potions, otherwise known as Pepsi, and ensure my full recovery and restored momentum by the end of the month... when I give up the hard stuff for a few months. It'll be those first few Pepsi-less days that are the hardest, no?

So, how to repair a stalled story? Fall back on the loose outline I made, of course! Just boot up the file, tap my fingers on the home keys for a few minutes, and get to work! Save all the shiny stuff for the polish. As the great Moe Conn once pounded into my recovering perfectionist skull: "Done is good!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Sad Time

All that I want to accomplish seems so trivial sometimes, in the face of reality. I like that my characters act logically, at least in their own minds, and that there's always someone willing to be the good guy-- unshakable and capable of winning. I like that good and evil fight and will continue to fight ad infinitum.

Reality taught me many things:

1. People die, and only a few people care.
2. People that matter don't always communicate when you offend them or hurt them, or when they need you, or they do communicate, but passive-aggressively.
3. People are not always smart enough to figure out the latter, and perhaps worse, we're not always capable of righting the wrongs. Or we're too exhausted with the behavior to help fix it.
4. Some people hide behind their faith instead of standing firm inside the armor of their faith.
5. Walking in someone else's skin is impossible if people are too caught up in their own drama.

I won't say I don't use characters with these idiosyncracies. It just hurts when I do, because it reminds me of something I'd rather not experience. But when all the failings of the human race get dumped into one story, or one life, I can't help but want, beyond all things, to have that perfect hero emerge and save the day. I want the good guy to win over evil. And I want to look out on a bright day, knowing that the pieces will all fall together and that my path is not just a series of stumbling blocks that end against a brick wall.

Maybe that's why I tell stories...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Phase Two: Attention Deficit Dis... Snow Before Christmas???

Given the state of the world's climate, and the global warming debate, (or the reneg to "global climate change" *cough, cough*), one would expect a great deal of subtle changes, mostly to warmer days and milder winters. But alas, I spent my outside time today trudging-- trudging to walk the dogs up and down hills, trudging to the basement to retrieve my winter coat (it's not even January, for crying out loud!), trudging up and down my zig-zag path to my friends' place.

All that trudging was thanks to the ugly-hiding, ground-slicking, school-closing, old-injury-aching snow. The flakes were fluffy for a while, but then shrank to those bits of shiny flat shards that sparkled like crushed vampire. And by a little after 11pm, it was a combination of that and the little dots that make good snowballs.

The ground is covered. My tracks and my dog's tracks are long filled in, three times for the dogs and six times for me. We're going to get more than the forecast 4 inches max. With any luck, I can hole up here and not have to leave. Except for the cabin fever...

So, you may ask, why don't you use this shut-in time for productive pursuits? To this, I give an obvious answer: I plan on making Snow Cream! (It must be an Appalachian thing, since I've had to explain it so often to "outsiders.")

Snow Cream Recipe

1 Person Willing to Brave the Elements
+Big Bowl of "Clean" Snow (Off the car is good... Don't scrape the bottom!)
+Sweetened Condensed Milk (or the traditional cream and sugar)
+Vanilla Flavoring (A teaspoon or so. Eyeball it!)
+Stirring... Not a lot! (SCM makes a firmer, less sugar-gritty Snow Cream that is more like Ice Cream.)
= Snow Cream!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Phase Two: Mannerisms and Details

In my story, I realized I hit a derivative, bland dead end with a creature I introduced. When my plot screeched to a halt and my characters were treading some seriously unnecessary and whimsically-inappropriate literary water, I realized that my train-of-thought had completely derailed. I've had trouble reconnecting since then.

I can't even call it writer's block. I just felt so dumb for thinking that any of that huge block of prose mattered. It was suddenly bedtime. I slept in a haze of stupid and woke to the bright early sunlight of enlightenment... I think! I think the tangent-purge is important to figuring out what actually matters in the story, and what will never matter. And when I'm ambling along at a snail's pace with no deadline to keep me true to the story, that's fine. But here there be deadlines! The rule is that you get to cut out whatever doesn't advance the story. But that's for the Editing Phase!

I realized that I used my tangent to develop missing traits in my characters. I was searching for the defining psychological features that would connect them with the audience, make them sympathetic and worthy of caring. I explored their habits and vices a bit more. I did this for the sake of the story. Now that I "know" my people better, they'll "act" more naturally and true-to-self even when all the crap is cut out. Otherwise, the remainder of the story would be hollow in some way, just a string of facts.

In Christopher Pike's Remember Me, the main character is a ghost who, when alive, constantly broke her hairbrush handle when brushing her hair. (I was confused until I started to do this myself. It just happens!) Anne McCaffrey's Robinton has a penchant for fine wine and Menolly is too tall and lanky for a proper girl; Anne Rice's Ramses eats delicately without ever touching his food to his lips and Louis shuffles his feet in a very human fashion. In a Jane Lindskold novel, the main character speaks only in literary quotes and converses with inanimate objects. Stoker's Dracula has blond hair and a heavy handlebar mustache.

These are all random details and mannerisms that are burnt into my memory. They reveal everything and nothing about the characters who exhibit them. How do authors burn in such random details? Maybe it's the result of a tangent. Well, if Peter Pan can sleep on his way to Neverland because he's now light as the air, then Lancelot is physically ugly but charismatic because he's so dang chivalrous. Arguably, it's the fault of those stupid top-hat nests made by Never-birds...

And I learned about horcruxes and the like from Elric long before Harry Potter tried to corner the market...

See? A tangent. Welcome!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Phase Two: Writing... Still???

I'm still going... Promise! Not going strong, just going.

I've started working on several different pursuits that keep me busy! At some point, I realized that my sleep schedule was crap. Today, I turned over a new leaf. I woke up before double digits today. Being "between real jobs" is a good excuse to be "planning a business" and "writing my next novel." :) Except I'm really doing those last two things because of that first thing.

So far, I've spent some time looking for a plausible job along my lines of qualification. The Master's degree has hurt me more than helped me. So, among my many "things to do" right now, let me present a list for accountability:

1. Write first draft of second novel. (Revise, Edit, Complete... Submit!)
2. Plan business and develop products.
3. Develop characters and story for my graphic novels.
4. Exercise and Diet! (I'm a Health-By-The-Wayside Warrior!)

That should be enough to keep me busy for a while!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Over 18,000-- At Last!

That is all... I just hit 18,000 words. A paltry accomplishment, I know. But I'm still not done with Part One. I'm close, though. Just a bit more...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Progress Tonight...

17, 561 words. Not much, but I dug myself out of a verbal rut. Blah! Things are happening now! I will take a short break. (Watching Conan the Barbarian special features. Hey! Don't judge!) Then I plan to finish Part One. An undertaking which I have avoided... since it's very upsetting.

I am convinced that if I get through Part One, the remainder of the novel will be a breeze by comparison. A lot of work, of course, but not as strictly tied to what has become the sequel. The whole second part is just alluded to, in very broad strokes, in the sequel. Yay, pure literary fabrication!

Phase Two: Gear Up!

All right... Settling down with less than four hours left in the night. Minus mandatory dog-walking time, this gives me a little over three hours to write. I gotta get somewhere in this story tonight!

Although I don't plan on requiring the NaNoWriMo 50,000 words, I have one goal. I may write more or less. My goal is to finish the story without using shortcuts. [These procrastination devices include 1) Typing a Chapter Title with a short description and skipping onward without finishing that part of the story, 2) Writing up part of the story in vignette format in present tense... which makes more work later! and 3) Jumping around from POV to POV to explore others' brains. Wastes time and energy when I'm trying to explore my worlds!] Now, number one is the method I use to throw an outline together. Very effective. :) But it kills the flow when I skip around in the story.

Now, regarding word count: I had left in all my ramblings and notes while participating in NaNoWriMo. Really, it helped to do some chain of thought rambling sometimes, but now I don't want that stuff to get in the way of a cleanly completed novel.

17, 228 words down, after the minor cut.

Phase Two: Beyond NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo was a partial fail. I didn't finish by the deadline. My fault completely. I won't say I failed completely and the world will cave into a black pit of despair and nothingness with my lack of accomplishment. That seems a little dramatic. I accomplished something, at least-- a solid start. Becoming a good writer, like many things, requires practice. (Yeah, I know... Obvious!) So on that note I will refer you to the following bit of advice: I guess that part of finishing a novel quickly is WRITING EVERY DAY!!! :-D

The good news is that I'm over fifty pages into my first draft of book 2 (which will be volume 1), but nowhere near 50,000 words to "win" NaNoWriMo. No big deal, however. NaNoWriMo was just a springboard to make me focus and at least get started. I've added an arsenal of additional daily activities that'll pressure me into the kind of hyper-focus I need to be productive. I'll be working on the novel and improving my drawing skills; I'll be planning a business and working on an inventory. That's in addition to the regular household things I need to do daily. I'll put off finishing my video game list until after Christmas. Maybe.

I've set a new deadline for Christmas Eve to finish the rough draft, no matter the word count. After I wake up today, my clock's tickin'. I have 24 days and counting. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blatant Randomness

I'm feeling amazingly uncreative today. The leftovers were good. (I cooked at Mom's yesterday.) I want to make firelizards, not prose! I can't draw men all that well, at least not comic-book-style-from-my-head. Brandon says their eyes are too big. Or their poses are too effeminate. Bad habits. I am a girl, therefore I spent most of my life drawing girls. I don't know how that happens. It's not like we sit and stare down our shirts to draw boobs. Or at least I don't. To each her own...

I bought way too much tofu miso soup, tea and short grain rice. I think I'm starting a Japanese diet. Brandon bought me a PSP game... the newest Kingdom Hearts! I'm excited. However, since I've continued to buy or receive new games over the last six years and haven't played hardly any of them because I was so busy working hard, I need to make a list and systematically finish them all. I kind of stalled out at Final Fantasy X-2. I think that's okay, because apparently most other people did, too! Not because it was difficult (please!). My FFX Tidus was pulling 99,999 on every hit before I finished the game. No, FFX-2 dress spheres make me cringe. I didn't want to turn off the animations for each change, because they were literally the only thing worth watching...

I watched the Avatar movie (Blue People, not Airbender) a few weeks ago, but not in good quality. I bought the extended edition and haven't watched it yet. Other than the generic, predictable plot and the fact that all the people are Fourkids-Popo blue, it's all right. I also feel like I've seen it before, and it was called Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.

Now, I think I'll work on my drawing...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

7 Days... Phase Two: Fizzle!

I'm still naive enough to believe I'll kick it in gear and finish this new book on time. It's all just a matter of putting in the man hours. After all, I've got an entire 7 days to do this! Now, as for coherence, it may not be pretty! And that's fine. But the reality is this: I want to have this book ready to submit for publication within the first quarter-- or earlier!-- of next year. And another reality is that I'm starting to let myself worry about all those things I can't control right now that have nothing to do with my creative career paths. It's just the weight of the year pressing in all around me.

Now, I'm not one to get really, REALLY claustrophobic. In fact, as long as I can sit, stand, lie and do some exercise (not that I have been doing enough of that!) in my residence, I'm okay. My current place is a blessing at a time when so many things fell apart. I had been wondering if I was getting cabin fever, or too much stress, or too many creatures in this apartment breathing up all my air. Maybe I was just wanting to walk up to the sink without hitting my head on the ceiling... again! (Yes. Small apartment, tall tenant!)

Things that are inconveniences fall by the wayside when I'm busy with something that doesn't require my immediate left-brain input. Other than my infrequent writing, I hadn't done much that was really creative until tonight. I painted glass ornaments that I intend to sell to have some Christmas money. Every bit helps, especially since I haven't been able to find a certified job after the school system spat me out! Teaching was fun and a pain (and still a JOB!) all at once, and I still keep in touch with many of my students and zero co-workers.

Now, as a dreamer, I know the sky's no limit. I have so many great options laid before me, and a great opportunity to take creative chances that my logical left-brain would have prevented by saddling me under job after job after job. To satisfy that hemisphere of my brain, and the UI system, I'm still looking for employment. God'll get me through whatever comes my way, blessing or otherwise. I believe He's plopped me down in the middle of an exciting adventure, and told me that I'm on the right path now. God, after all, likes to tell stories, too.

And the best part is, for now, I'm finally able to grab onto the stuff of dreams!

If you've made it this far in my post, I'll reward you. I'll leave off on the sappy stuff and give you some real and weird options I've got on the table right now. Let me know what you think!

1. Tattoo Artist, complete with apprenticeship
2. Dollmaker and Creature Maker, the fanciful and scary types, not the bug-eyed, unrealistic staring little girls in fancy clothes. Creepy!
3. Graphic Novelist
4. Artist, fun genres
5. And of course... Published Novelist!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Phase Two: A Twilight Rant-- No One Is Safe!

I wrote a little over 2,000 words yesterday, and I'm still behind by a lot! I'm sort of resigned to the fact that I may not make the deadline in time. Or I may have a Zen moment and type and finish it all in a day!

I spent way too many days writing nothing at all for whatever reason, both listed in my Procrastination Confessional and not. This tells me that if I just write every day like a good WriMo, I would not only be caught up, but very much ahead or finished by now!

Now, what I do know is that I really like the NaNoWriMo format. For someone who intends to get published in the near future, I find the one-month rough draft to be a priceless attempt. Mainly, I like the tight deadline because it prevents me from rambling... much... and procrastinating... a lot. I could easily-- exhaustingly-- get most of my entire series completed in rough draft by the end of next year! (Though I'll probably space it out a bit more!)

Editing will be an experience, especially since I know I'm gearing the work toward a YA audience. I was worried about watering down the content for a younger audience and then did some research. In the higher and lower age groups for YA, I noticed a lot of violence as their conflict. Even Twilight had blood and gore, and that was to my "chagrin" and I'll be over my initial shock in "(insert fraction here) of a second." Gaaaaaah!

If so many of my pet peeves are activated by a highly successful novel series like Twilight, and it still sells wildly, and spawns movies that bring Taylor Lautner's abs and cute baby face to the world, I guess I could learn something about the subject matter and storytelling devices rather than Stephenie Meyer's insistence at not cutting out her "darling" phrases.

I forgive you, Stephenie Meyer, for how New Moon upset me. And for your insistence upon "chagrin" and "(fraction) of a second." I'm still working on letting go of Jacob, though. I called that one, and I'm still mad. Not that Bella deserved him... Stupid Renesme. :) There, a fangirl moment. Brought to you by off-brand Fruity Pebbles and cheese and crackers for breakfast.

I do love and anticipate Bella's suffering in the last movie. Ever since Kristy stuck Twilight under my nose one boring day and I ended up buying all four books and hating that I loved reading them all, I have waited for the long days during which Bella will suffer. *sigh*

I also love that the books are a quick, easy read. Even when a story isn't in first-person POV, they seem to sell easily when someone doesn't have to sit with a thesaurus to understand it. I don't like word-heaviness for the sake of word-heaviness. Blah! Among Anne Rice, T.H. White's The Once and Future King, and Michael Moorcock's Elric series, and some points in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders series, I own plenty of books for which it is perfectly acceptable to possess and utilize an extensive vocabulary and highly-structured grammar.

But as horrible as it sounds, I don't have the time or attention span to muddle through Anne Rice's deeply self-conscious writing style. (Yes, Louis. We know you're sad. We know you miss your humanity! For crying out loud! We don't care anymore that you shuffle your feet intentionally when you walk-- even though you can move silently-- so you can feel more human!!!) I love her dearly, still, for she helped me through those angsty, morbid, years of my life when I had all the time and freed-up attention span in the world. (I read Interview with the Vampire at 12.)

But all the other books I mentioned, I crave. I have read and re-read those many times. That's what I want to infuse my books with. (Yes, Grammar Nazis of the World. I ended in a preposition!) Re-read-ability. Meaning no matter how heavy or light the writing is, the world and characters are engaging enough to keep a reader coming back. For sequels. For re-reads while anticipating sequels. To buy the graphic novels and the action figures. (One can hope!)

I think I mentioned one time that those Twilight books are an amazing fad. That, unlike Harry Potter, they'll fizzle out into an "I love the 2000s" special one day. (Or whenever they were first published.) Be that as it may, my dear Brandon made an insightful comment that went something along the lines of this: "Yeah, but she's set for life. I bet you wouldn't mind a ten-year fad for your books!"

Touche, Brandon. And touche, Stephenie Meyer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Phase Two: Getting Back On Track

I wrote over three thousand words on my novel today. (Okay. It's after midnight. I did this yesterday!) I've still got a whole lot more to play catch up. Once I muddle through the very-loosely-planned stuff that is heavily insinuated in the first book I wrote (now the sequel of this one!), then I should be able to breeze through the action-packed and equally (verbally) sparse climax and closing.

In the first book I ever wrote in high school, (giving me the fledgling forms of two of my favorite characters! Thank goodness they grew up with me!) I was a control freak in planning. But then again, I was hand-writing most of my stories. Over and over! (I thought we had a computer back then... Why wasn't I using it? I'm sure there was a reason.) When Mom and Dad got me an electric typewriter and ink and blessed, glorious corrector ribbon, I extended and typed out this book. More than once. Now it's sitting on the top shelf over my little desk, in a purple binder with a Goosebumps folder holding all the loose pages of type-written paper.

My path to becoming a storyteller has been circular. I believe it is significant that I have returned to the dream career I had given up to do the logical career. I always have been a planner and a dreamer. Maybe the path is becoming straighter, linear now because I'm not bouncing back from the logical things into the risky dreams. We'll see!

Unfortunately for my timeline, the lead-in content about my main character and his world is very important to me and for the second book. I don't like backtracking on stuff like this. I like to flesh it out while it's fresh and while it matters. In the last book I finished, I had a few chapters with one-sentence descriptions on what should take place, just so I could get to the more interesting parts at the end of the book. This forced me to go in and work on the squishy, mundane stuff after the catharsis of the story's end.

In the end, it didn't hurt much, but I'm sure I cut all that last minute garbage out and fleshed it out in an interesting way-- a few edits down the road! If it couldn't keep my attention in the creation process, then it apparently wasn't necessary. Something better came along that actually moved the story. I'm hoping that I don't feel the need to do chapter sketches in my current novel. I hope I've grown as a storyteller, at least enough to keep my attention!

After all, if I want to jump around in the story to get to the "good" parts, then something's lacking. For momentum's sake, the whole thing should be good!

And now, the good rambler needs her sleep. Tomorrow is another wonderful day to reach a writing goal!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Should I Panic Yet???

I'm not a big panicker. Honestly. I am also not a decisively extensive procrastinator. It seems like crap just happens, just like all the NaNoWriMo participants said. On the days that I write, I get a lot done. On the days that I don't, obviously nothing gets done. I need to work toward more of the former and less of the latter. Unfortunately for me, I know that I work extremely well under pressure while performing several different tasks, creative or otherwise. Since I know this, I think my subconscious wants to challenge it by finding at least two other major activities for me to focus on, activities like starting a business and making an inventory of items for sale. So I won't panic just yet. I may even still win this thing, for spite if nothing else.

On a side note: Being a "Creative" wreaks havoc on my sanity. Telling stories takes equal parts dreamer, creative, and crazy. I contemplate the worlds and characters as if they are real regarding events and reactions. This is key to telling stories that ring true! If you don't believe in the good guys and the bad guys, you're just providing a hollow list of events with characters who are just doing what you tell them.

I think all the people in my head play Rock-Paper-Scissors throughout the day to see who runs the show! Susan once told me that all my characters are just facets of my personality, which is true and comforting and... scary! I guess I knew this all along, because I am very attached to them all, even the villains. The good news is that if I ever dissociate into split personalities, she says she'll at least know them all!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Phase Two: Procrastination Confessional

I found the following ways to avoid completing this novel on time:

1. Compose recipe for Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits. Complete Trial Run 1, 2 and 3.
2. Watch American Dad with Ryan and Melody.
3. Begin plans for new Dungeons and Dragons campaign. (Yes, really!)
4. Outline brainstorming options for starting a small business. Whatever will I sell in my storefront and online???
5. Clean 3 weeks of dirty laundry.
6. Eat Japanese Steakhouse food.
7. Scoop cat litter... twice!
8. Paint a mural on future niece or nephew's wall.
9. Organize my tea on a shelf.
10. Go to Jungle Jim's.
11. Purchase and begin watching Dragonball GT. (Also yes, really. I wasn't even that fond of GT...)
12. Research traditional Japanese eating habits.
13. Stare back at The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
14. Go shoe-shopping with Brandon.
15. Stop at two hobby shops during the same trip listed in items 6, 11, 14, and 16 and buy things I don't need.
16. Buy a girly pink d20 dice set for Melody.
17. Re-evaluate zombie contingency plan at the apartment to account for zombie pile-up. (Molotov cocktails to burn 'em up after reinforcing porch pillars with steel. Duh!)
18. Briefly contemplate attendance at a bee-keeping seminar. (I'm sorta allergic!)
19. Watch anime and movies I've seen many times, especially if I also own the up-to-date or completed manga series.
20. Vaccuum, sweep, strip beds and clean sheets and blankets.
21. Watch Melody take an online class during my business-planning time.
22. Proof-read this entire list for proper tense of action.
23. And finally... Type up a really long list of things that keep me from finishing the book!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Phase Two: What's the Counter Say About Her Word-Count-Level?

Yes, it is indeed OVER 9,000! Finally, I have a legitimate reason to say that. Now, I do believe that I'm a bit sleepy and slightly, well, off after clocking a word count close to two thousand tonight. (After a LONG afternoon of base-painting a mural for my future niece or nephew.) That'll account for the crazies that I'm feeling right now.

Apparently, my pep talks are getting a little over-dramatic, too. (Be inspired, Rebekah! Be VERY inspired!)

Writing is all about the euphoria of using horrible posture that will ruin my back and wrists to create something that will ruin my anonymity!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Phase Two: Complications!

I'm officially behind now, at only 7,423 words toward my 50,000 words goal! It is to be expected, what with my H'ween party and my Indiana trip and attention-seeking company. Oops, no excuses!! I'm back on track with writing today, but far from my up-to-speed NaNoWriMo writing goal!

I'm going to put in a concerted effort to play catch-up today. I have done about 1,000 so far today. I don't have any pressing plans today, so my laptop is going with me everywhere but the bathroom today! I may pull off the panic-miracle known as 13,280 words to be wonderfully caught up today, or I may snap and giggle profusely until someone shakes me. Or both. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Phase Two, Day 2: Write the Thing

If planning is the procrastination stage, then I'm okay so far. I'm at 6,122 words right now. I've got a decent lead at this point, but it's mostly because I've not got much of an exciting life. I'm visiting in Indiana with my friend Susan right now, and she has been informed that I'm not to nap or sleep until I've got a decent word count-- every day!

Tomorrow, I'll do better! But I've stopped for today at a point that will be easy to slip back into tomorrow. So far, I haven't written all drivel. It's sort of coherent at least. Since I ditched completion of a full outline, I'll be regretting it soon. Tomorrow, after I reach my word count, I'm going to type in my possible chapter headings and numbers, with maybe a note on what could happen in the chapter. At least this way I'll have a bit of guidance for potential writer's block.

I don't find it particularly effective to dwell on what I haven't finished. The characters are pretty much ingrained in me, because most of them are in my previous book. I pull other character's traits out of... thin air. Then I throw situations at the characters and see how they react. It can be fun or annoying depending on how what I WANT my characters to do differs from what they WOULD do! Major continuity conundrums ensue.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Next Step: Writing the Novel...

Well, the first day of NaNoWriMo is today. I logged over 4,900 words on my first day of writing and may do more this evening. Some of the writing is just the outline and chapter titles I came up with, but I made some headway. I never finished my full planning of the novel due to our Halloween party and loads of company-- company that took a while leaving.

Despite my lack of novel planning, I'm still really tired. I'm going up to my friend Susan's house today to spend the vacation week. It should be relaxing and productive. I hope I can stave off the procrastination demon tonight and tomorrow! And all month!

I guess I've got a strong start. I hope it means I'll work quickly and finish early. If worse comes to worst, I'll at least have a word cushion for rough days. I'm feeling stressed and frantic, but it doesn't have anything to do with today. November is a really difficult month for NaNoWriMo on my end, but I'll manage well, I believe.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Phase One, A Tangent

Diversions are a necessary evil. As a good friend said earlier today, "Life's just too short to worry about things that don't matter." I'm diligently working toward Halloween party things right now. I have looked at the ton of story notes I spewed onto printer paper. I haven't done anything more with my story.  I think I'll consider this stage as the "percolation" stage of writing.

I'm allowing the story to roll around with a dozen other things in my mind. It seems like the kinks in plot or other inconsistencies often work themselves out if I force myself to wait a while. There was a time when I fought very hard to write every single detail in a super-special notebook that I would sift through when the time was right. I have several notebooks with practically irrelevant info now, with only a few gems among all the wasted ink.Ahem...  I mean the important, brain-flushing idea-storms from which I gleaned true knowledge! :-\

While it's true that I often still make notes, I find that the more poignant details remain in my head and reverberate until something clicks in place, makes sense, and ends up a character trait, plot point or other significant bit of storytelling gold. I would be lying if I told you I never have moments where I should have written an idea down and felt it was deeply detrimental to the telling of a perfect story. :-D

Of course, a writer is only as good as her procrastination allows.  Don't think that adding more details to your notes or doing a complete genealogy on every character will help you in the long run. When it comes right down to writing, planning is counter-productive and just another form of procrastination. Just start writing! I like this NaNoWriMo guy because he tells us to do just that.

And as far as detail while you're writing, be mindful of your tangents! Most of those little "darlings" you love will not fool an editor and you should be cutting them out in the editing process later. No matter what you've read or how self-indulgent the author is, know that what works for one author should not be a blueprint for you. As a reader, I could care less about the number of sparkles on Edward Cullen's forehead. Get to the point!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Phase One, Activate!

I'm collecting my notes today, but I doubt I'll spend the full allowance of seven days on planning. I want to make sure I have a list of recurring and incidental characters after I get the overall story outline, whether they have been named yet or not. I have a tendency to forget some character names, but I'm also not ashamed to enter brackets and  blanks to fill in later. :)

After I finish a basic outline, I'll split it up and expand it into chapter headings and enter it all into a new Word document. I just use Times New Roman font, size 12 point. I set all the page margins to 1 inch. I center the chapter numbers and titles and align the body of text to the left with a default indent. All standard formatting stuff that will make my writing virtually brainless!

If I have time left over before November 1, I do a little more preparation. I may make a world map, do some character art for visualization purposes, and design the weapons. But if you've seen my Character Portfolio, you'll know that most of that is already done for the main characters. I don't want to go overboard with a full family tree and social hierarchy map, but I may. Stuff like that just helps in the rewrite process or with a very complicated political plot structure.

Now, here is where I need help:

1. What is the difference in "Mainstream fiction" and any other genre? I've seen sci-fi and fantasy fall under "Mainstream," but I don't know what makes certain fiction "Universally Appealing."

2. One of my form rejections was accompanied by a note that told me that my writing is more for young adults than adults. Young adult readers are between 13 and 17, and up to 20 in some accounts.This led me to my new direction with this novel's story concept. Violence is an unfortunate but necessary part of my character's world. What examples can you provide from popular novels that would showcase appropriate levels of violence for young adult readers?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Ethos of a Novelist

I spent a lot of time doing what is expected of me because it paid the bills. I had to pay the bills. Going to college was something I so wanted that I allowed the debt to pile up. Now, to the detriment of logic, I am unemployed for the first time in my adult working life. But I am managing quite well, considering the huge relief that supplemental finances can provide. To meet the requirements of logic, I am searching for a qualified teaching job. Now, shut up Logic and let me do something I really want and need to do!

If you need the stats mixed in with the dream: I grew up in small town Kentucky and loved it. I earned a Master's Degree in Art Education this Spring. My Bachelor's is in Art with a minor in Theatre. I love the art of storytelling, no matter the medium, with a preference for sci-fi/fantasy based stories. Why would we want to escape from our boring lives into someone else's boring life?

I realized at some point that I'm a list-driven person. If I can make a list, surely I can accomplish everything on that list. Right? I categorize lists and break them down into sub-lists. I write micro-lists from my macro-lists. I half-heartedly accomplish the "need-to" lists of cleaning and organizing. I throw myself completely into the fun things that defy reason. After some enthusiastic list making...

So, there is my disorder. Laid out for the world to see. I make lists. The truth is that if I don't list, I have all the ideas for stories and things-to-do crashing around in my skull and I really can't focus. It's not a particularly horrible "disorder," but it is a character attribute. I've broken myself of the symmetrical stacking of toilet paper, finally. So only the listing remains.

Another weird thing I realized is that I am blissfully free of most levels of OCD. I don't ritualize every moment of every day. This is good because I don't have to freak out if something doesn't go my way, but it's hard to develop the good habits of taking vitamins and exercising. This anti-ritualistic mentality allows me to remain malleable (and physically squishy due to lack of constant exercise).

I think it's due to my messed up right-brain-left-brain integrate status. My left brain tries to keep my right brain in check with logic and lists. My right brain says "A'ight, then. I'll fill this head with ideas, but I refuse to keep her hyper-focused on your silly un-fun things so that she can dream!" Then the left brain says, "Then at least she'll be really productive with those dreams!! HA!"

So, I guess this is how I tick. And this is how I arrived at NaNoWriMo. Throw a deadline at me and tons of pressure, and I thrive!

Of course, I have a prediction and a self-challenge: I will get finished with this novel early. I will get antsy by the next morning when I wake up, and I will consciously stop myself from editing this novel until it has "percolated" long enough. I will direct the energy toward outlining the next, next novel.

Now you know I'm slightly warped. All of us "Creatives" are a bit crazy. If you are one, stop denying it! Bask in your creativity-induced-pseudo-insanity!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Quick Background

The hardest decision I ever made was to follow my dream. I was lucky. The school board, my employee for one year, indirectly made the decision for me. When I finished my Master's degree, I was suddenly too expensive for them. I got the permanent pink slip and a ticket to unemployment. As I have no desire to return to my previous call-center job, I found myself struggling between what is logical and what is fun.

During the first week of my job-less status, I finished a rewrite on my first book, a sci-fi/fantasy story that has been pseudo-finished but rejected by agents for a couple years. I gutted the story, ripping out my rambling backstories and pasting them all into individual files for expansion later. After a little tweaking, I finally had a functional, linear plot with one protagonist I could focus on and some supporting characters that weren't painfully forced into the story. 

The one problem I encountered with this new draft was that it wasn't Book One anymore. I'd shuffled it into sequel status before the edit was finished. Now, the content called for a new novel. I'd get to use the main character's gutted backstory to write a brand-new novel that would fit neatly into my story. I already had a functional outline for the first part of this book from a graphic novel script I'd written and never made. 

So here we go, approaching November... the official National Novel Writing Month (See for more info). I have a few days before our annual Halloween party, and a few days to plan the content. Then I'll be writing a full rough draft for a new novel. I'm excited.

Just a note: Any writer or artist who tells you they're doing it just for themselves is lying. :) As much as I am making the story just the way I want it, I intend to pursue publication to the fullest extent. I'll post what works for me and will graciously receive any advice or comments you have. Don't worry. I don't bite!