Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!


Have some awesome holidays! See you next year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sand peeps - WIP Ala'der

Time to go back to my souless Sand people!

Kelder, the main character, is a very well behaved character. As in, I know her pretty much inside and out, which makes it very easy for me to jump back into this project. Looks like I'll be swapping with some writer friends this January to get some eyes on the first 50 pages.

My feelings right now? I feel like I start off with a strong first chapter, but I worry that the next few might read a little slow. I feel like I have good conflict internally and between characters - but is there enough external conflict. Do I have enough tension and conflict that the chapters work, without pressing plot issues? Or is "learning how to be a killer" enough plot?

I guess we'll see.

Opening line of Ala'der:

Good people do not go out in the night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cracking open the NaNo pot

I went into my folders to take a peek at the mess I made in the month of November. I ended with 99k spread over three projects.

  • sequel to HOUND - 30k or so
  • Ashfall - about 60k
  • Ala'der - two scenes
  • The Finding - opening scene

So far, I haven't looked at Ashfall, mostly because I already know its a mess and I'm not sure if I want to deal with it! Hehe! Actually, I'm about 85% sure that I'm going to work on Ala'der instead of Ashfall when I finally get focused again - which will be soon I hope.

I'm pretty happy with what I wrote for HOUND's sequel, though, and it seems to want my attention. I'm trying to fend it off, but being on query for HOUND makes me think about HOUND, which makes me think about what I could do with world and characters next.

Darn imagination, running where it pleases. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

On my mind

I try not to complain on my blog – unless, of course, it’s about my characters misbehaving or a plot gone crazy. But I have to admit, some stuff on the blogosphere/Twitter has had me a bit miffed lately.

It basically boils down to one thing: people not thinking about other people, and even in some cases, how they used to be the same as those people they aren’t thinking about. For example, an author with a debut novel coming out in 2012 commenting on Twitter about Authoress’ Backer’s Dozen Contest to one of the bidding agents. And called the entries “junk.”

Really? I suppose once you have a book deal you forget all about where you were before then? That you were once an aspiring author, putting themselves out there for a chance to get an agent’s attention and get feedback from the community? I guess writing one book that hasn’t released yet makes you an expert on writing?

Or 2011 debut author that commented in their bio about how they don’t understand why aspiring authors struggle with getting published – after all, that author landed a deal really fast on the first try. Good for you – no, great for you and I truly mean that…but do you really need to rub it in the face of someone who wasn’t as lucky? Or someone who had to work a little harder to achieve their dream? Or someone who is still chasing the dream?

Or aspiring and published authors alike who slam fiction/novels/aspiring authors that differ from/don’t write in whatever genre you love best? Or bash blog posts and trends because they don’t match up with your tastes?

It’s one thing to not like a book, to give it a bad review, to think one genre is superior to another, and to prefer writing in that genre. Opinions are like assholes, right? Everyone one has one, and everyone has a right to share – especially on the internet where you can be anonymous and never face the people you’re insulting.

But you can have an opinion without being an asshole.

Just because you landed an agent, or a book deal with a big house or an indie house, or on the bestseller list…well, it doesn’t really give you the right to throw shit at the people who aren’t there yet. It doesn’t really mean that you know everything about publishing and everything about writing. Just because you prefer one genre doesn’t mean everything else sucks.

Remember, before you became “famous” you were one of people chasing the dream. And those dreams and journeys come in all shapes, sizes, time frames and genres. Think a little. Unless you have thousands of followers on Twitter or your blog, you probably know a little bit about most of the people spending the time to read what you post.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t care how popular a novel is. If I think the author is a dick, I’m not going to rush out and buy their novel. So at the very least, think of it as helping your sales. After all, if you’re doing this kind of stuff – like calling other people’s writing junk, publicly, where you have to know all those people are looking at the agent’s feed – my guess is you don’t care much about anyone but yourself.

But that’s just my opinion, isn’t it?

Monday, November 29, 2010

10k in a day, 2 days left of NaNoWriMo

I put up over 10k words yesterday. Ugh. My netbook attached to my hip, and if I wasn't at my computer, I was on the couch hammering away. All. Day. Long.

I did get to watch something like six movies between Thursday and Sunday, and watch Erik get about 2/3 of the way through his birthday present.

Two days left in NaNoWriMo and I'm trying to stay in the running for a nice prize. Needless to say, putting up 10k took a ton of work - and it put me over 94k so far for the month of November.

That being said, things aren't really working out exactly like I planned. My goal was to get a full draft of Ashfall by the end of the month, but after I crossed the 60k mark, I decided to put it down. I was having trouble getting my main character ironed down - the kind of trouble that is going to end in rewriting instead of revising. I decided instead of writing words for the sake of words, words that I knew I was going to have to trash, it was time to switch gears.

I started working on a sequel to HOUND, which is up to about 29k. I'm loving it, though I'm not sure how far I'll run with this until I know if HOUND has a chance in the wide world of publishing.

I also cracked out the opening scene of an idea I call "The Finding" and wrote a new scene in my Ala'der novel, which puts me up to my current total.

I still need to make a choice, however, and soon. In April, I'm going to the Breakout Novel Intensive again, and that means I need to have 50 pages in tip top shiny shape come the end of February or so.

But for now I have two more days with my head back, my fingers typing, and my ass hurting from sitting so damn much.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Naughty Writer.

So I've hit a wall with my NaNo project. Strangely enough, it's not the plot. I see the plot, I have it mapped out and I'm happy with it. My problem is my main character.

For some reason, I cannot get in her head. I write scenes, and she feels like a different person in every single one. She keeps bouncing back and forth - does she like killing? does she regret when she does? She wants to be free (that's the for sure part) but what does she think about the rest of the world? She hates the Sesti (masters in the Ashfall/Sesti relationship) in one chapter, all of them unconditionally - then she's waffling around like she understands, but just don't want to be a slave.

And no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to pin her down. I'm pretty sure what this means is I need to spent a lot of time ironing out her character arch - time during NaNo that should be spent pumping out words, at least in theroy.

And of course, this could all be very compelling - if I was doing it ON PURPOSE. /facedesk

So, I cheated on my NaNoWriMo WIP last night. I wanted to keep putting up word counts (trying to stay in this contest for the BONI participants, which I'm fighting for with two others - really neck and neck! I could still win it /crossesfingers).

So...I wasn't just bad though, I was extra bad. I did the "big no-no" for unpublished authors.

I started working on a sequel to HOUND. That's the big no-no because if your book 1 never gets picked up, you're never going to sell book 2 - and that makes writing book 2 a waste of time.

But damn did it feel good to get inside the head of character that I know, inside and out.

So, we'll see what I work on today. I also know Kelder (from the Ala'der, my sand people book) very well, so I might go back to her.

Whatever I do, I need 50 damn good pages by the middle of Feb to make going to BONI in April again worth it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

51,142 in 16 days


WHEW. I am pleased.

Man though...this draft is A HOT MESS.

Now, to see if I can keep up the pace through the end of the manuscript/story.

Almost there...

46,253 words! ARGH! I was hoping to hit 50k yesterday (halfway mark to put me on track for 100k by the end of the month) but alas, I missed the mark. I completely sucked it up on Sunday (about 280 words...ewww) then got some interesting news yesterday that interrupted my progress.

Hopefully I can hit the mark today!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

35k and ...edits?

Broke 35,601 words yesterday for NaNoWriMo. Woo!

I also realized that switching gears from create to edit in the middle of a complete, unbridled mind dump SUCKS. No worries - I'm not breaking NaNo's golden rule. I'm working on some tweaks to my HOUND partial before I send more query letters.

To sum it up, last night I opened my HOUND document after finishing my NaNo words and it went something like this:

Me: "HunnrrrrrruuuugghgghgggrrrrhhhhhmRAHHHHHHH."

Boyfriend: "Oh. You must be editing."

Sad but true. I know I have to do it - my goal is to get this task done by Sunday night - but it hurrrtsssss usssss.

I know part of this is me pouting. I thought I was done with HOUND for now. I really, really wanted to be done with HOUND for now. So I keep reminding my pouty self that it's ONLY three scenes to revise. ONLY THREE. I spent April - August editing/revising/rewriting the ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT. I can so do this. I will do it.

Apparently, I will make awful noises while I do it, but hey, you work with what you got.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

20k and counting!


Day 6 of NaNoWriMo has come to a close for me and I'm at 20,880 words. Woo! According to the website, at this rate I'll finish Nov 15! Awesome...because if I can hold the pace after that, I might be able to knock out the whole draft by the end of Nov. I almost always shot for a 100k first draft.

Here are the things that are making this work for me:

  • I've accepted that I will have a shit ton of edits to do when this month is over. This helps me write without worrying about that perfect sentence or word choice right now.
  • I did a really comprehensive outline before I started. For the most part, I'm following it fairly well.
  • BUT when the scene or characters want to run a little off my intended track, I let it happen. I've come up with some cool ideas this way and it all really boils down to my first bullet - if it doesn't end up working, I can just cut it or rewrite in draft 2.
  • I'm a competitive person and having friends doing NaNoWriMo with me helps me stay motivated. I love seeing awesome word counts from my buddies! It's inspiring! And it makes me want to put up the highest numbers I can.
How's everyone else do this NaNoWriMo? :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back in the saddle

I started off November with a writing bang yesterday! I wrote 5,086 words on my new project (called Ashfall for now) for my first day of NaNoWriMo 2010. It felt good to flex my brain to fingers to keyboard to word doc muscles, which have been enjoying a vacation from writing and revising for the last month or so. But it was time - the creative itch was getting pretty persistent.

Quite a few of my writer friends have caught the NaNo bug this year, so this should be a really fun month.

Are you doing NaNo? Friend me! "The Screaming Guppy" is my NaNo name. I bet you NEVER would have guessed, huh?

Hooray for writing and not revising - at least until the end of November.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Break

I'm taking a writing and blogging break for the next month or so. If I do post, it will probably be about video games or something else unrelated to writing.

I'm considering doing NaNoWriMo this November, and even if I don't, my goal to dive into a new maunscript is November 1.

So...see you guys in November!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New WIP Codename: Ashfall

I've decided what to work on next. Actually, I decided a bit ago, but I was having trouble locating...what was that thing called? Oh, yes. A plot. I think I finally found it! Hooray!


When I write, I tend to plot out important events - opening and ending at least - then plop down and start slogging through. Before that, I spend a good deal of time on worldbuilding. The Ashfall world is going to be a big complex one, hopefully a place where I'll be able to spend a lot of time. Right now, I see an arc that should make this a trilogy. Fun! (Keeping in mind, of course, to make #1 "stand alone.")


I'm enjoying this time spend pondering and creating. I think it might be my favorite part.


Here's a sketch of the only city in my world, a domed metropolis on a nightless, super heated planet, and the underground below it.



Friday, September 3, 2010

Free Range Brain

Though I am still checking my inbox every second all the time fast heartbeat for each new email I get...I'm pretty relaxed.

Why? Because the shackles of revising and editing have been RELEASED!

Free Range Brain is CREATING again.

Omnomnomnomnomnom! Ideas and worldbuilding! Characters development! NEW CHARACTERS! Omnomnomnom!

That bunny is my hungry brain. That...uh...table cloth thing (?) is the oyster that is my ENTIRE WORLD.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What now?

I have to admit, I'm going to enjoy a break from revising. I know I'll be tweaking and polishing HOUND as I go through the query process. I also know that late September will be filled with video games (FFXIV and Civ V yessssssssss).

But even before I finished HOUND and sent it out, my mind was already leaking into old and new ideas for other novels. Actually, that was part of the reason I knew I was ready to query. For the first time in two years (excluding Jan-March 2010, where I took a much needed break), HOUND wasn't filling all corners of my mind. Even during revisions, with the bulk of the manuscript/story complete, I still spent hours - every walk, shower and car ride - with Kumari and her world playing in my thoughts.

I walk to and from work (half mile each way) every day. I jam out on my Ipod and hammer out scenes. About a month ago, those scenes stopped being about HOUND and started revisting other ideas...because, well, I had figured out my novel. Kumari's story was complete.

Now I have to decide what project will come next. Soulless sand people? My space opera series? HOUND's sequel? A crazy domed city locked in a war between sciene and faith? A dystopian Earth ruled by knowledge stealing creatures?

My well overflows. I simply need to pick my next pen.

Yay!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No turning back now!

I sent my first query letter for HOUND this morning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Proof that dreams do come true: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Nothing like a chapter of awesome to start your day right.

Beth Revis, blogger friend and writing buddy, is living the dream. She worked hard for her success and reading her blog and being part of her journey in a even a small way has really made breaking into print seem more like possibility and less like a pipe dream.

Right now, the first chapter of her novel is up on her novel's official launch site. Go read. You'll understand right away why this novel is going to be a hit. Personally, I think Across the Universe is going to do for YA sci-fi what The Hunger Games did for YA dystopian fiction.

Go get 'em, Beth!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The end is near...as in, one scene away!

I wrote/rewrote/revised 12 scenes over the last three days - 22,760 words.

I have one left - the ending (I even skipped ahead to write my eipilogue first...haha! Stage fright, perhaps?) I wanted to finish last night but I was pretty much burnt out by the time Erik got home from work and going a little stir crazy!

Apparently, when I need to get out of the house after a long day of writing, I want to shop for random shit. This included four mugs (same mug, different colors: purple, green, yellow, red), a neon green towel-rug to match my insane shower curtain covered in neon color sea creatures (I was sad said rug didn't come shaped like a fish. The search continues!), and a set purple hangers. Oh, and cat food.

I'm very excited. I have chapters 29-33 and the epilogue printed out for my first review. Chapater 34 will be one long scene and the last of the book. Right now, looks like I'll end up at about 147,000 words, and about 514 pages, double spaced. I've done trimming on pages 1-233, and got rid of about 20k words (this included cutting two scenes and combining two others). So, I confident at the very worst I'll be able to trim it back to around 130k just by tweaking and cutting extra words and not cutting more scenes. Ideally, I want to get under 120k. (Even if under means 119,999, dang it!)

My query goal date is Sept 20.

I am confident this will happen. And that when I finish this last scene, that I will have told the story I set out to tell two years ago.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Advice on word count

In my recent struggle with my ever growing word count - which I think will top out at 160k for this draft before I start cutting back - I decided to email one of the editors I worked with at BONI. I thought her advice was interesting, and something that might help others trying to trim that final draft.


I'd advise you to not worry about it right this minute, to finish it all up and then let it sit for just a bit. Then go back in and first edit for larger story issues, asking yourself what, if anything, you can remove in terms of CONTENT. Are there scenes that don't quite further the action of the story or that play out at much the same emotional "temperature" as immediately preceding or following scenes? Be tough and ask, "WILL THE READER MISS THIS?" Not, of course, whether or not YOU'LL miss it because you clearly might but whether or not the reader's experience will be significantly diminished without that scene.

THEN, after you've done that larger scale edit, I'd go back through and do the "house cleaning" line edit, looking for redundancies, etc. I think you'll be surprised how much fat you can trim away without hurting the story. In fact, often doing so makes things sharper and more resonant.

With just a few minutes spent thinking about her advice, I came up with three places where I should be able to cut scenes. I hope they are many, many words. :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

What we can learn from crappy movies

I watched Legion last night and it sucked. I think the only reason I sat through the entire thing was to deconstruct where they failed from a storyteller’s point of view.

What they did in the movie that we should avoid in our novels:

  • Don’t have too many characters – When you lock nine characters in a diner, I already know that hardly any of them are going to make it out alive. I also know that the only two that are going to live are the only two you spend time developing at the movie’s opening. And if you have to kill everyone off to finish their story, you might have a problem. Unless you’re writing splatterpunk.
  • Avoid cardboard characters, no character arcs and clich├ęs – The snotty rich lady who stays snotty, the slutty daughter who realizes she’s a slutty brat, the hoodlum with a heart of gold and glock, the dad struggling with the loss of his wife and…never getting over it the entire movie, the pregnant girl who doesn’t want her baby but changes her mind when he is going to be the messiah, the guy with low IQ who’s helpless in love with the pregnant girl even though its not his baby that becomes the hero, the husband of the rich lady who acts like a prick and dies first, and the one armed cook who…uh…does something? Oh, and the angel who cast off Heaven to save mankind and the baby. Hm.
  • Make your rules and stick to your rules – If an angel can cut off his wings with a butter knife, the other angel cannot have bullet proof wings. Nuff’ said.
  • Be consistent in your world building and setting – If an angel looks all Old Testament and shit with a giant skull crushing mace of biblical proportions, it’s really hard for me to believe that it also has a motor that changes the mace into a giant drill.
  • If you think you’re really cool, have someone verify that you are really cool because you might be very, very wrong – Ice cream truck driving down the road playing the ice cream man song with an possessed ice cream man who gets mowed down by machine guns in his yellow ice cream man suit and paper hat? No. Not cool. Possessed person standing in the crowd with a birthday hat on, that you focus on for three minutes to add “tension?” Not cool.

Though the movie sucked, I did get glaring examples of what NOT to do as I write. As my writer friend Gary said, it’s sometimes nice to just absorb a little art from time to time. Or watch a trashy movie, I guess.

Oh and yesterday I wrote one new scene. Not my best day’s work, but progress!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On not being an asshole at a Writers Conference

We all have heard about how pitching to agents in bathrooms, running around your chair in circles during your two minute pitch to an agent, or showing up in sweatpants are sure fire ways to make a complete ass out of yourself to agents and editors at a Writers Conference.

But I think people get so excited about agents and editors, that they forget that going to a Writers Conference, particularly a local one, is a great way to network with other writers in your area. So I’m going to give you two tips, free of charge, on how to avoid being considered a complete dickhead by your peers!

1. If a fellow writer asks you about your novel, the correct thing to do when you're done answering the question is ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR NOVEL IN RETURN.

In critique groups, beta reading, manuscript swaps, networking, and just about every other writing organization that you get involved in (in which you are not PAYING someone for their services) the name of the game is reciprocity. If you can’t even ask me what my novel is about after I listened to you ramble on about your own for fifteen minutes, I’m pretty damn sure you’ll be a shitty critique buddy. I’m not going to hand someone my business card when they’ve proven they’re only interested in furthering their own work and not being an interactive part of a writing community. Besides that, you’re just RUDE if you don’t do this, even if you aren’t interested in anything else but a brief chat at the local conference. Every writer that comes to a conference is there because they are excited about their own project and want to share it with the world. So share the love and share the courtesy, and avoid burning bridges before you’ve put down the first brick.


2. If you walk up to two or more writers introduce yourself to EVERYONE present even if you only are interested in networking with one of them for a particular reason.

My friend Maggie was a finalist in the literary contest for the PNWA conference. As a result, she got to wear a ribbon on her name badge that said Finalist, which was awesome. And I got to hang out with a finalist, so awesome for me, too! Well, when writer Joe Smoe, who was also a finalist, walked up to rub shoulders with Maggie based on her awesome status, not only did he interrupt our conversation, but he completely ignored me. Lesson here? The first thing Maggie did when he left was turn around to me, her friend, and comment on the fact that Joe Smoe was a complete dickhead for not even acknowledging I was alive. Take a moment and think people. If you snub the friend of the person you want to network with, do you really think they’re going to give you a ring to hang out when you’ve just proven that you lack the most basic level of manners? No. You’re going to get mocked when you walk away for being a pompous prick.

See how easy that is? All you have to do is remember those brilliant lessons you learned in kindergarten.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Revisions! Come on now. Did you really expect something else? ;)

I think I'm due for another revision update for my manuscript, HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK.

Last update I had hit the half way point, chapter 17 out of what I'm guessing will end at 33 chapters.

Right now, I have various chapters spread out over my "revision folder system."

It looks like this:

0 - Rough Draft
This is where I cut a chapter out of my complete document (from before this draft started) and give it its own word doc. Then, I turn on track changes and GO ALL MACHETE ON ITS ASS.

1 - Major Revisions Done, Needs Minor Edits
After I finish machete-ing (verb, ftw), I accept the changes and print it out. I edit once on paper, then put the changes in. When that's done, it goes to the next folder...

2 - To be read by text reader
...and the chapter sits here until I listen to it via a text reader called NaturalReader. I pause and correct typos/mistakes/weird wording/anything else I notice as I go. And when that is done...

3 - Read by text reader - DONE!
IT GOES IN THE DONE BUCKET. YESSSS! And then I shut the folder, and refuse to look at it again. If I think of anything to change or add, I make notes for myself on paper when I go back for my house cleaning draft. I call this done, because unless something goes insanely wrong, I feel confident this is going to be my last major draft. I know I'll need one final pass for tweaking, but if its in here, I'm pretty much finished with it.


Right now I have six chapters spread over folders 0-2. Chapters 18, 19 & 20 are waiting for a text read. Chapters 21 & 22 are waiting for me to input my paper changes, then they will be moved on. I have chapter 23 started, which includes writing a new scene that I'm about halfway done.

So. We has progress.

I've also spent a good deal of time working with my writing group on pitching, which I will be doing in a week (insert sound of panic here). Good news is I've gotten my story down to a manageable length. Bad news? I SCARED!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thumbdrive implosion and dropboxing

Oh yes. Thumb drive went belly up earlier this week, and as bad as it sounds...it actually turned out okay.

I ended up loosing only one scene of revisions - about three pages - and only about an hour of work. Also, it wasn't one of those gut wrenchingly difficult writing sessions.

Despite my relief that I'd transferred three full chapters worth of work only two days prior from said devil drive, it was a wake up call. I'd been getting a little lax in my backing up. Instead of transferring files to all my back ups every day, I was only doing it every other or even every three days. I also hadn't done my extra, extra back-ups in quite awhile.

Here's all the places I'd need to remember to update my work on HOUND:

  • thumb drive (which is now dead and a defiler of tender trust)
  • desktop pc (main writing computer)
  • netbook
  • external hard drive system
  • Erik's (my boyfriend) computer
  • gmail

Lots of places to update, right? Pain in the ass, right? Easy to get lazy, right?

Well, worry no more. And if you have a huge amount of locations like me, consider checking out dropbox. This is a file syncing system that keeps a copy on any computer you have, provided you download the software, and keeps an online copy. The dropbox is located in "My Documents" and acts just like your normal windows file system. Every time you save changes, the dropbox syncs up across all locations (as long as you're connected to the internet).

And, since Erik also uses dropbox, I shared my folder with him. Now I have a copy on his hard drive and his web storage that auto syncs. Now every time I make a change, my files are saved in/on:

  • online storage
  • Erik's online storage
  • Erik's PC hard drive
  • PC hard drive
  • Netbook hard drive

And I never have to move files via thumb drive or email them to myself. And even if the dropbox website crashed, the files are still saved on my computer, not just stored in the interwebs ether. I encourage everyone to check it out.

It's free for 2GB and you can "rent" more space for a fee.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New blog template

Meh, felt like mixing it up and checking out blogger's new stuff. I'd imagine many other writers will choose a layout just like this but...

It's cooler than my old layout at least! :D

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

That pesky voice thing

Trying to figure out what exactly "voice" means when it comes to your writing?

Read Beth's post on what was missing from The Last Airbender for an excellent example.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hills, valleys and the occasional snowball

I’m curious about something. I know all writers work differently, but I’ve found that I have a very odd habit in my writing – at least it seems odd and little counterintuitive to me.

Whenever I accomplish something in my writing, I seem to have a temporary deflation of motivation afterwards. You’d think this would work the other way around, and progress would snowball like crazy. Shouldn’t finishing that great scene or overcoming a milestone – say, for an example, hitting the middle mark in your revisions – inspire you to plow ahead and keep making great scenes and get to the end of said revisions?

Not me. I’ve been cranking along for about two months, hit the middle…and my motivation collapsed for a few days. I’ve been playing facebook games for the last three days for HOURS and haven’t done a lick of revising.

What the butt? It’s so strange, because this happens to me on a smaller scale day by day. I finish a scene and I’m really happy with it, and then I just stop working and can’t find the push to keep going. Luckily, in most cases, I’m able to pick up the next day.

I think I’m over my little slump, so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining since it only lasted a few days. Just seems ass-backwards is all!

Does anyone else experience this? Or does finishing a scene or hitting a goal propel you on to your next scene or goal with renewed vigor?

Could be the fact that I’m going to be pitching to agents for the first time in less than a month, and I’m really worried about my capability to write a synopsis, a query or a pitch…but that’s a whole different can o’ worms, now isn’t it?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Hound Update

Woohooies! I've hit the middle mark. Yay!

In two months I've gotten through:
Pages: 279
Words: 80,717
Chapters: 17

Downhill from here?

Hmm...debatable. While it feels good to be "half" done, I'll be doing much more rewriting vs. revising in what I have left, so it might actually take longer than the front half.

But hey, as long as I'm moving forward, I'm happy!

Also, I have part 1 sent off to four beta readers. Figured I should get a gauge on how the revisions are coming. Here's hoping the news is good.

Oh, and my synopsis still sucks. Har-hardy-har-har!

And for those who've been paying attention, I have now surpassed the total word count of the last draft. <.<

Must not freak out. Deep breathing. No freaking. Smiling writer smiles, and knows she will be doing another draft of trimming in the near future.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hound update

My new draft is coming along nicely.

Progress so far:

55,846 words
191 pages
12 chapters


Possible bad news? I'm not even half way done yet, and I'm already 2/3 of the way through my word count from the last draft.

I guess I'll just have to wait and see! :}

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Nathan Bransford!

Thanks to my mad ninja skills of browser refreshing, I was the first post for Nathan Branford's page critique today! YAY!~

He'll be posting his feedback later today in a new post.

I'm super excited! :D

Friday, June 4, 2010

So close! Honorable Mention in Nathan Bransford's contest!

Drats! So close!

I made honorable mention over at Nathan Bransford's ROCK PAPER TIGER Chase/Action Writing Contest Extravaganza. Five honorable mentions and five finalists were selected out of somewhere around 521 entries (total comments on the contest post).

My entry isn't up for voting since I was only honorable mention, but stop over to Nathan's blog and support the contest by voting for which of the five finalist you like best.

This is a hell of a confidence booster for me because I submitted a scene written after BONI, using some of the new techniques I learned at the workshop. This bodes extremely well for my revisions, me thinks!


Here's my 500 word submission:


A gangly man struggled against the flow of traffic, upstream against bricks, waving a pair of shoes in the air. Kumari couldn’t help but notice they were in decent shape. Soles still attached for the most part – a flapping heel, wagging slack-jawed but holding on – complete with shoe laces and not enough holes to let pebbles in. Kumari wiggled her toes against the worn insides of her own boots.

All he wanted, the man claimed, was to gamble for water. What did a dead man need shoes for, he wailed. Kumari subconsciously checked her canteen, confirming it hadn’t been lifted.

She knew what would come next. Someone was going to try and take those shoes. He was right; a dead man had no use for shoes. Kumari cursed under her breath as the crowd began to shift, the flow of the tide leaning backwards instead of away, despite the whips and threats from the arena guards.

Idiot had done himself in. She shook her head. A person could live three days without water – a few hours more if they were lucky. She knew. She’d done it plenty of times. Sure, dehydration hurt, sometimes drove a man inches shy of crazy, but he looked lucid enough that he was likely only a day, maybe thirty-six hours, without a drink.

Kumari threw an elbow at the mammoth man fixated on the unfolding drama and in her way, and caught his jaw. He grunted, rocking back, then slapped past her, heading the wrong way – the wrong way for those damn shoes. She gritted her teeth, using her smaller size to duck under arms and shimmy between spaces the bulkier men surrounding her would have found impossible to fit through. The stairs were just a few paces off.

The first gunshot fired, followed by the kind of scream made by a dying man. Her pulse sped, panic prickling up and down her skin as the crowd responded.

People snapped, crashing against two sides of ugly motivation. Get the shoes, or get the hell out before things got worse. Heat thickened, thousands of people breaking into sweats of greed or fear.

Three more shots broke out, enough to rail in her wandering mind. By Kumari’s guess, they came from three different guns: two pistols and one shotgun. What little order held at the sound of one shot – an ordinary and expected occurrence – shattered at the change from singularity to sure fire shitstorm. She padded her holster and fumbled between her belt, her shirt and own slick skin. Her hand was shaking – she’d face the undead any day, but an unruly mob inspired a rightly placed fear. Too many, too risky. Too out of control. Eyes on the exit, Kumari folded her fingers around the gun grip.

The cold metal reminded her that control was hers to take. Escape was about fifteen bodies away.

She’d get out one way or another.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Collecting dust

Wow, it's quiet around here!


Since BONI I've been pretty focused on revisions, between moments of burn out and work. I've been making some pretty good progress, but in all that I honestly haven't had much of an urge to blog about it.

Will that be for the best? I guess time will tell. Regardless, I figured I'd give a quick update.

So far, I've revised the first 78 pages - around 22k words. I've added two scenes and quite a lot of text, while also rearranging the order of a few things. I'm up to five chapters - one extra from where I was at the original word count in the last draft. This is good. I was short on total word count.

One of the biggest changes in this draft is adding the POV of the antag, which is working out really well. At the same time, super creepy.

I've also axed my last 68 pages. Plan is to completely rewrite them. Most of the events are pretty much the same, just with tweaks and a few character shuffling around. I've rewritten two scenes of that ending stretch so far and I'm pretty happy with them.

I've given myself a target goal of three months to complete this draft. Three weeks in the bucket, so I'm close to target. Maybe a little behind, but I'm not worried yet!

Three days of vacation planned next week to really dive back in. After this weekend, which I pretty much took off writing in favor of sunshine (the first really nice weekend in Seattle this spring). I'm so glad the sun is back. I missed you so much sun!

Hope everyone is doing well with their writing and/or other hobbies and lives. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How cool am I?

So last night, in my sleep, I won a gold medal in Olyimpic Ice Skating pairs with Evan Lysacek. I also did a quad, because I'm a complete bad ass.

Oh yeah.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Electronic post-its!? What will they think of next!

I have Windows 7 on my home PC, and discovered this fun little program while revising this weekend.

Post-its!

I used them while I was figuring out how to re-jigger some scenes. A fun tool - and you can toggle them on and off! Then, just take a screen shot to save them. It was pretty fun. And helpful!



If anyone is wondering, that's a picture of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Attacked by spam

Apparently, some jerk is hell bent on commenting on every post of mine with a buttload of spam. I've turned on approve comments for now.

Don't click any of the links posting in Asian characters in comments. I have no idea what they are. I'm deleting them, but it's going to take a little while to get through them all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wow.

When I went to the Fire in Fiction two day workshop last year, I was truly blown away by the style and techniques that Don Maass teaches. But I wasn't ready to face HOUND and everything I needed to do to improve it. I really just needed a break - that extended rest period writers need sometimes so they can come back with fresh eyes and clear head.

Last week, I went to the Breakout Novel Intensive. Blown away doesn't really seem to cover it.

Incredible? Getting closer. Absolutely AMAZING? Perhaps.

All I know is that the way he teaches gets to you. You feel it when you're looking at your story. You understand what this could mean for your novel.

And it's fucking inspiring.

If you ever have the chance to do the BONI or Fire in Fiction - or anything else Don Maass teaches - DO IT. It is, by far, the most advanced lessons and tool set I've found for writing. This is coming from someone who has a BA in Creative Writing, did three semesters of Masters level courses, has done a number of workshops and classes besides that, is a professional writer for my day job, and has worked with a paid editor. It is also the best way to spend your money - the best investment - when it comes to writing.

If you're ready for it - if you understand the basics and have a good grasp of the general principles of writing - this cannot be missed.

At the very least, pick up his books. The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel. It doesn't hold a candle to his interactive teaching and workshops, but it's something.

I was struggling with what my novel was missing. How to get what I was trying to do and the story I was trying to tell completely on the page, on a deeper level instead of just on the surface. How to bring out everything I thought I was writing, but just wasn't quite making it into the text.

I have a good novel. Now, thanks to Maass and the people he works with, I understand what I need to do to make it a GREAT novel.

Now, I just have to do it. And I can't wait - so I need to finish this post here and get started. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zombie flowchart - hah!

Totally copying Carrie Harris, but this is just too fun not to post!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have you heard Beth's news yet!?

Awesomely awesome chick that she is, Beth Revis is holding a celebration contest over on her blog. For real? We should be holding a party for her! Beth recently landed a three book publishing deal with Razorbill!

Best part about this contest? You don't have to be a writer to get cool stuff. Beth is doing two giveaways - one for readers and one for writers!

Stop by, join the fun, and share your well wishes.

(Bwhaha! I know someone who's going to be a famous author!)

Congrats again Beth! I can't wait to see you in print!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New toy! A very useful toy.


I has whiteboard.

Woo fun! This was my thinking dump after class last night. Don't worry too much...I, uh, think I can read it.

Note my many colored markers.

Also note that I only used black.

Opps...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh snap.

What Fall 2010 and beyond will look like in my house:

Erik: What are we doing tonight, honey?

Me: Same thing we do every night, dear. Take over the world, bishes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Movie Narrative Charts.

Saw this on xkcd today (click the link to view the orginal source or the image to view it full size), and had the urge to make one of these for my own novel!







Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life plays on

Beat Mass Effect 2 and loved it! I got everyone out alive, too. Almost done playthrough #2, and also started a new game of Mass Effect 1. I can has Mass Effect 3? PLEASE.

Word count is up to 32,224 on Ala'der, not counting at least 10-12k words in various out of order scenes and exercises from class. Have a critique group online with some writer buddies which is going well and preventing too much slacking off. I'm working backwards in a sense, and adding some new chapters between 2 and 3. Looks like 2-3 chapters, and so far, I like the results.

Preparing to send off my entry for Hound for the PNWA literary contest - I even picked out my required three pieces of different colored paper today. In case you're dying to know, they're purple, orange and red. Why? Because that's what was available for looting in the local supply closet at work. To give the postal service a full week, I need to drop it in the mail tomorrow. I did a rewrite/reorganize of the beginning, then decided (via my own ponderings and the feedback of some writer pals) to revert to my original opening. Also, my synopsis is cliche ridden and made of supersuck, but I don't think anything shy of immaculate conception is going to remedy that in the next 24 hours. But to quote the classy Zombieland (oddly appropriate), time for me to Nut Up or Shut Up. So this goes in the mail, do or die, tomorrow.

On the PNWA note, all signed up for the conference in July, which includes two ten minute agent pitches. Plenty of time to overcome horror and apprehension. I'm also signed up to volunteer, which should be fun.

The PFC class is going well. Pam even brought us roses and a candle for our discussion about sex scenes and sexual tension. That was an interesting class!

I'm still alive, still writing, still reading blogs. Posting has been a little low, but I figure things will pick up eventually. I guess I just haven't had much to say!

Oh, and Survivor Heroes vs. Villains starts Thursday. Just making sure you all remembered, that's all. 'Cause it's very important.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shepard, part duex.

Finished my Archon Shepard renegade (mostly) Mass Effect 2 play through last night. Woooo doggies. That was gooooooooood.

Quelled the collector threat and managed to get my entire team out alive. Huzzah. Did everything possible, including current downloadable, all planets probed (including Uranus (and that is not a joke)), scanned and side quests completed, all loyalty quests successful and a Thane romance thrown in the mix.

/flex

Though I hardly feel any better, because just like part II in a movie or novel trilogy, it ended on a huge ciff hanger... I thought this would be my Mass Effect fix. That I could relax and not be dying to know what's going to happen to the universe. But no, Bioware, nooooooo. I'm more excited than ever for the final instalment of the series! Man, the wait is going to be a long one.

In order to prepare properly for ME3, and try and get over my need to in the Mass Effect world, I'm about halfway through my second play through on Paragon Colt Shepard, who has eyes only for Kaiden and a slightly more...pleasant outlook on things.

You get to make a lot of interesting choices in this game (and choices you made in Mass Effect 1). Choices that I'm dying to know how they'll effect (har har) #3. I'm going to do a few major differences in my play through with Colt.

This game really is awesome. The reviews aren't lying. Even things I thought I'd miss (like tons of loot) don't really matter is the scope of how fun this game is. The story is exciting, the tension is great, and the characters - even ones I expected to dislike - were amazing. On the downside, planet scanning does get old on the second play through (though you do get a nice starting stash based on achievements when you start a new game after beating it once - this does help some, but its not enough to get all upgrades), but it's not a deal breaker by any means.

And thank the maker that the MAKO is dead. I hated that thing.

In short, Mass Effect 2 is a super fun game - but if you're going to become one with the Shepard, why not play the first one? The small details - all the little things you did in ME1 - make the world feel alive. Like this world is YOUR world.

I am starting to get a stiff neck and a sore pinkie finger from spending so much time playing...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This here universe needs some saving.

And I'm just the geek for the job.

Mass Effect 2 lands Tuesday (or Monday night at midnight). I have three days off work for a gaming binge to rival all binges.

Case of Soda - check.
Meals that can be prepared and eaten in under 5 minutes - check.
Snacks, lots of snacks - check.
Gift card to Gamestop - check.
Pre-ordered Collector's Edition - check.
Two fully charged wireless xBox controllers - check.
50 inch TV with surround sound system - check.
Archon Shepard, Renegade Vanguard level 55 - ready for import

All I have to say is this:


BRING. IT. ON.

On a side note, writing will resume when I've successfully saved the universe (at least twice).



omgomgomgomg I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breakout Novel Intensive Update

I got my pre-workshop assignments for BONI (Breakout Novel Intensive) yesterday!

/claps hands

There's quite the list of things to do.

1. Print out (in separate documents) and mail in: First fifty pages of the MS; first fifteen pages (depending on scene/chapter break) ; Four copies of the first five pages ; six copies of a 1-2 page synopsis.

2. Read "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Don Maass

3. Go through the manuscript and write one sentence about every scene, each on a separate note card.

4. Write a brief description of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and your goals for the workshop.


I better get to work! The intensive is in April. I can't wait!

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's on like Donkey Kong.

Survivor Heroes vs Villains starts Feb 11! WOOOOOOOO!


Adding Maass' microtension to PFC

The second semester of my Popular Fiction Class with Pam Binder started up this week, and I found it pretty cool that she was using a Maass' technique from The Fire in Fiction workshop for one of our exercises.

The discussion was an overview about the middle of the novel, and how even when nothing exciting is happening in terms of action, you still need to have tension on the page. Pam had use pull out a page from out novel and try adding tension to every line.

So you tell me. Did I add tension?

Kelder has been sent to kill her sister, Telleo. Grist is her former mentor, and has offered to kill Telleo for Kelder.

Orignal:

“I think I understand.”

Kelder shook her head. “Do you? What pain did you have in your Sun life? You speak only of love lost and your happy family. At least when you left them behind you knew they would be safe.”

Grist shifted behind her, his hand stilling on the top of her head. “My pain was leaving them behind. A Sun life is not an easy one, you know this. Without me, their provider, my family may have starved and died. I left my wife alone, with a newborn child. And I’ll never know.”

“Better the unknown, than sent to kill them,” Kelder muttered into the furs. “Sand be praised.”

“Yes.” Grist paused. “But you think killing Telleo is protecting her?”

“And letting someone else kill her isn’t?” Kelder sat up, shrugging him away. She turned to give him a hard stare, too tired to hide the pain and tears in her eyes. “If I…if I can just…”

Grist sighed. “The canary wouldn’t have called all this if your sister isn’t truly a soul looker. She is beyond your help.”

“I know that. At least I can see that her death is merciful.”

Grist’s brow creased. “Is your opinion so low of me? You think I would torture your sister if I took your task? That I do this for some pleasure?”

Many Ala’der took great pleasure in maiming and giving soul lookers slow and agonizing deaths for their defilement of the Sand. But not Grist, she did know that. “I didn’t mean--”

Revision with more tension:

“I think I understand.”

Kelder shook her head and sneered. “Do you? What pain did you have in your Sun life? All you talk about was your happy family. At least you know they are safe.”


Grist shifted behind her, his hand stilling on the top of her head, though his fist clenched slightly, his nails tugging at her hair. “My pain was leaving them behind. A Sun life is not an easy one, you know this. I was their provider. For all I know, my family starved and died without me. I left my wife alone with our newborn child. I’ll never know the truth.”

“Better the unknown, than sent to kill them,” Kelder muttered into the furs. “Sand be praised.”

“Yes.” Grist paused, his hand relaxing. “But do you really think killing Telleo yourself is protecting her?”

“And letting someone else kill her isn’t?” Kelder crawled to her feet. Grist tried to stop her, but she shrugged him away. She turned and gave him a hard stare, too tired to hide the pain and tears in her eyes. “If I…if I can just…”

Grist sighed, holding a hand out to her. “The canary wouldn’t have called all this if your sister isn’t truly a soul looker. She is beyond your help.”

“I know.” Kelder swallowed, staring at his extended hand, scarred and calloused from years spent killing. “At least I can see that her death is merciful.”

Grist’s brow creased, his fingers falling out of reach. “You think I would torture your sister if I took your task? That I offer this for some perverse pleasure?”

Many Ala’der took great glee in maiming soul lookers and delivering slow and agonizing deaths in return for their defilement of the Sand. But not Grist, she did know that. She’d seen him kill, many times. It was always swift and mechanical – a necessary evil to him, not a game. “I didn’t mean--”

Do you think the second scene has more tension than the first?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why, hello there.

I'm back! Hope everyone had a great holiday season. Happy New Year!

Now that vacation and all that jazz has come and gone, time to get down to business.

PFC class is back on for semester two starting Wednesday, and I need to put together a rough draft of my synopsis for Ala'der by then. I have one done, came in just over four pages single spaced. We'll see if I can turn that number into three double spaced pages in two days. Hah!