Taking Action, Redrafting, and Getting Back to Work

As I mentioned in my review of Save the Cat!, the value of any how-to book is whether it inspires you to take action. For the past several months, I have been stalled out and completely avoiding working on my werewolf novel, The Cold Nothing Taste of Winter. After drafting about two-thirds of the book, plot problems proliferated and I didn’t know how to move forward toward the ending. Since a lot of my fellow writers have been recommending Save the Cat! recently, it seemed like a good idea to give it a read and see if it sparked the flame of progress once again.

It did just that.

Here are a few of the tools from the book I’m using to try to build forward momentum.

Continue reading “Taking Action, Redrafting, and Getting Back to Work”

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Reality has been kicking my ass lately, but I’m managing to get a few swings in finally. Bits and pieces of life are starting to fall into place, resembling at least an amalgamation of order.

The sun dappled through the trees as I took my run this weekend, a little more warmly than I would normally like, but it was lovely out nonetheless. Since falling off my running habit a few weeks ago, I’m not quite back to where I was in terms of distance. I only have the rest of this week to train, because the She Is Beautiful 5k is on Sunday. I’m sure sure the adrenaline and energy from my fellow runners will help me get through race day with a smile.

Writing progress has been minimal at best. I opened up my laptop this weekend with the intent to write new chapters for The Cold Nothing Taste of Winter (formerly Under the Midday Moon), but couldn’t jump into the groove of words and sentences and paragraphs and all that lot.

So, instead I gathered all my printouts and started putting together a spreadsheet of chapters written and chapters yet to write and problems that still need to be addressed — which I consider to be good progress. I have more work to do on the spreadsheet and it’s helping me to wrap my head around what I need to get done and how I might approach things, which is a relief.

To Do This Week

  • Finish the novel spreadsheet
  • Edit “The Shadow’s Flight” short story to meet flash fic markets and send it out
  • Write and/or edit one of the poems on deck
  • Run the She Is Beautiful 5k!

Good Reads

1. The Bare Knuckle Writer presents an awesome blog post on “Character EDC.”

EDC = Every Day Carry, or the things you always take with you no matter what.

“The things a person always has on them tells you what kind of person they are. A sentimentalist? A minimalist? A survivalist? All those people will have different things.”

This immediately had me thinking about the characters in my novel and what they always carry with them. Claire, for example, always carries the keys to her dad’s cage around her neck, even though she only needs them at home. So far, I’ve only referenced the keys a few times in the story, the times when she’s needed them. But since she always wears them, even when she doesn’t need them, I can see her wearing them as a kind of charm, a comforting talisman when things are going wrong.

Now I’m going to have to think about other characters and what they carry around and what it means to them, even if they’re not conscious of it.

2. The Winter 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit is out!

Go forth, friends, and read beautiful things. (^_^)

Weekly Update (because I don't have energy to come up with a clever title)

My weekend was lovely. Spent Saturday night out with a good friend, having a tasty meal at Johnny Garlic’s.

Sunday I met up with another good friend in San Francisco, where we discovered a street fair in preparation for Chinese New Year. We had szechuan food for lunch, checked out City Lights Bookstore (which is amazing! can’t believe I’ve never been!), and then closed out the day with a tea tasting. So much fun. (^_^)

Accomplished in Writing

In one of those moments where an idea just clicks into place, I realized the dynamics of one of the relationships in the story, which allowed me to rewrite a recent chapter and move forward on a stronger footing. Previously this chapter had almost zero conflict, or at least zero conflict based on anything solid. Now it’s much stronger and it creates a nice ripple for conflict in upcoming chapters. Has me excited to get back to making progress on Under the Midday Moon (the title of which I might change).

Two submissions sent out this week, containing one short story to a paying market and three poems to a non-paying market that I think is cool.

In Running

I did my three miles on Saturday using the Zombies, Run! app, which was fun and forced me to do sprints to escape the zombies. Though my pace turned out to be slower, because I think the sprints slowed me down afterward as I tried to even out my breathing.

Sunday’s run was skipped, however, because I decided to let myself take it easy before heading to SF.

To Do in the Coming Week

I’ve been feeling off today, bit of a scratchy throat and, well, just generally off. Also, I’m in the midst of going to press at the day job, which means added stress. So, I’m taking it easy on myself by not actually making a list. If I get some writing done or stuffsomething submitted out, great. If not, well it’s important that I rest.

The Giant List of Goals, or What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2014

Image by Jay Roeder

I love the new year, if for no other reason than I get to create my giant list of goals. As a whole, it’s not entirely sensible and is partly wrapped up in my love for list making as it is for actually getting anything done — but I can’t help myself.

Goal making in general is a good thing, I believe. Though what works best, in terms of what kind of goals and how they are approached, really depends on the individual. Massive lists like I make don’t work for everyone (and sometimes it doesn’t entirely work for me).

Figuring out what works best is experimental, a process of testing the goal-soaked waters to figure out what works. Every year I take a look at last year’s goals, see what I accomplished and test out some adjustments to the system in order to see what else might work.

Lightning Droplets talks about choosing process over goals, focusing on developing systems for ongoing progress, rather than setting a single goal that can be dropped once it’s a completed.

Last year, I came up with a plan that involved creating “Primary Goals” that would be my main focus per year, as well as a set of “Secondary Goals” that represented wishful-thinking kinds things I hope to get done, if I hve the time. Also, because some of my goals are giant in and of themselves (e.g., write a novel), I also created weekly goals in order to break things down in to bite-sized pieces that wouldn’t over whelm me. The weekly goals also allow me to work toward process, creating a habit of getting something done every week. On the whole this plan worked for me, and I was pleased with what I accomplished in 2013. So, I’m using the same method this year.

I would love to hear about your own goals or plan for getting sh!t done 2014! Please leave me a note in the comments below and/or link to your own goals/resolutions post.

Primary Goals

1. Edit Under the Midday Moon into a novel draft ready for beta readers

I’m feeling at a standstill with my novel. I’m getting close-ish to the end, but I’m struggling through it. So, my plan is to write the main ending scenes, so that I have a better sense of the end, and then proceed to the rewrite with the aim of having a complete novel in readable form by the end of the year. Rewriting the beginning chapters to understand the conflict and relationships better should put me in a better position to know how to make the ending work.

2. Participate in at least two 5k events

Since, as of this weekend, I’ve run two miles straight through, and I know I will be able to run 3 miles by the end of January, the next step is to participate in some 5k running events for fun and glory.

Bonus round: Run a 10k (6 miles!)

3. Submit two chapbooks and/or full-length collections of poetry for publication

I managed this last year, so I’m sure I can pull this off again.

Continue reading “The Giant List of Goals, or What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2014”

Stats for November Challenges!

NaNoWriMo Stats

nano
Nano stats for Saturday, November 30th,
just before midnight.

Total New Words Written in November: 46,419

After writing 12,900 words on Saturday, November 30th in a desperate attempt to beat the midnight deadline, I found myself with no more brain cells left over. So, I stopped an hour and a half before midnight and was just 3,581 words shy of the 50,000 goal.

Even though I didn’t reach the goal, I’m happy with the work I’ve done this month. I have large chunk of the novel now done and I know there ate at least a few of the scenes that I really like (hopefully they’re not the darlings I’ll have to kill later). My hope that I’ll be able to pull off the rest of the novel draft by the end of December, so I can edit in 2014.

With the 13,010 words I wrote pre-NaNo, Under the Midday Moon is now at 59,429 words, which is AWESOME.

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NaBloPoMo Stats

New Blog Posts Written: 27

Total Blogging Words: ~15,866

I started to fall off the blog posting toward the end of the month, because all my energy was taken up with trying to finish NaNo. It was an excellent challenge though, and got me thinking about different ways to approach my blog. I’m thinking about doing the challenge again a few times through out the year (probably not when I have other intense challenges going on).

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Total New Words (Novel & Blog) Written in November: 62,285

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Other Life Stats

Workouts Completed: ~8

I’m not entirely sure of the count, but I made sure to do a minimum of one workout a week, which is vital for my mental, as well as physical health.

Books Read: 10

Reviews to be posted tomorrow are here.

Day Job: We went to press on our December issue just before Thanksgiving. This involved me personally writing over 10 full pages of text, proofing every page of the 64 page issue at least three times, and working with authors and companies to get approval and photos. Lots of work.

On the whole it was a very productive month and I can definitely call it an epic win for myself.

epic-win

Clearing Away the Traces

Lone Wolf
Photo: Lone Wolf by h.koppdelaney

This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for NaNo. Adam (as mentioned here) is the main character’s best friend.

This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Traces” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies. Read at your own risk. (~_^)

* * * *

From the front, the house looked normal. Snow had settled over the night, layering the roof and ground with an inch of white, softening the edges of things. As the morning sun rose, bringing with it golden light that made the white bark of the birch trees glow, I could almost believe that last night hadn’t happened after all.

Mom sighed, the sound laden with exhaustion and got out of the car. She slammed the door hard enough to rock the car. I followed her into the house.

“Jesus,” mom said. She stood in the middle of wreck of the living room, looking like stunned survivor of a minor apocalyptic event. The couch was overturned and disemboweled, bits of fluff protruding from the rips in its fabric. The coffee table was crushed, wooden legs splintered and splayed, glass top shattered. The book shelf near the fireplace was collapsed in a heap, books and knickknacks and photo frames mounded in a newly formed hilltop. Shards of broken glass and ceramic were scattered around the room, tiny reflections of light like deformed constellations.

Continue reading “Clearing Away the Traces”

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 2

Along with two strength training workouts and a couple of walks with my sisters and niece, progress continues on the novel. I fell behind on the word count after skipping a couple of days, and so have been playing catch up over the weekend. Now, I’m just about on target again. I would prefer to be ahead of the game, but really it doesn’t matter, because I’ve written more words in this week than I’ve done in months. I have high hopes that I might actually be able to finish the entire draft by the end of the year, if not in November.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 6,920
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 14,555

Random Rough Sentences: The cold was soothing. The sky was black, stars hidden by clouds that smelled like coming snow. The trees beyond the porch light were full of shadows and it would be easy to imagine some creature hiding out there, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting teenagers. But all I could smell was mud and dead leaves and the leavings of a moose that must have passed by hours ago.

Novelling Notes: Ever since I decided to make a massive plot change to my story, I’ve been seeing a domino effect going through scenes both before and after the plot point that was changed. I was just thinking back to a scene in Chapter Two, which I was particularly fond of, and realized it would have to go, because now it that scene impossible.

I feel like things are progressing well though, even with all the rewriting I’ll have to do, I is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see the story coming together and taking a kind of shape I can work with.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 12,000 words
  • Do three workouts (0/3)
  • That’s it

Turning Right Instead of Left

Some writers avoid talking about what they’re working on with anyone, and my understanding is that this is because they feel they loose the excitement of discovering and writing the story when they tell it.

I personally find the opposite is true. While I’m writing, especially in the first draft stage, talking out the story can be incredibly helpful, helping me to plan out where I’m going. Of course, whomever I’m talking to often has many ideas of where they think I should take the story (most of them not right), but even hearing the wrong ideas can help me weed out the right ones.

During lunch yesterday, I was talking the story with a coworker and telling them what I had planned. One if my characters is attacked, and my coworker leapt to an assumption about the identity of the “villain”.

I explained that I had originally planned to write it that way, but had changed to another option. “But I’ve been thinking of changing it back,” I said. “Because I feel like I’ve been pulling my punches do it this way. That I’ve been playing it safe.”

“You are,” she said. “Just hearing the first version was compelling.”

“Yeah,” I said, and thought to myself, well, fuuuuuuuuuuu—.

1724315-fuuuuuuck_super

Because damn it, she was right.

Of course, now all the planning I’ve done has to be tossed out the window and I have no ideas of how to finish this novel. I’m also going to have to make changes in the beginning sections to make these changes work. And the first scenes I ever wrote for this thing before I knew it was going to be a novel, the ones that kicked it all off, will just about have to be trashed entirely. (“Kill your darlings,” the wisdom goes.)

But I’m grateful to have figured this out now. Actually, I’m right at the pivot point in writing the current draft where this change would have to occur. Instead of turning left, I just have to turn right in the plotting. This will save me tones of time during revisions.

Of course taking this plot turn is scary, and that’s how I know it’s probably right. I’m not sure I’m good enough to pull it off, not sure I can make readers believe, not sure I’ll be able to do that much damage to my main character. I don’t really want to twist the knife (metaphorically speaking) once I’ve jammed it into her belly, but I’m gonna have to.

Right now, I’m trying not to flail.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening mentally working out how to make the change work, and allowed myself a break from writing. I think I’ve got some of it worked out, but have no idea how to end it. I guess I’ll discover that when I get there.

When you’re writing do you talk the story out? Or do you keep it to yourself until the draft is finished?

Alternatively, have you ever caught yourself pulling your punches while writing a story? Or do you always go for the guts?

____________________________

Good Reading

Marilyn Brant posted Following Our Passions: A Dance of Love, Fear, and Change,” which gives some fascinating insight into her career as an author and talks about why as writers we keep writing.

The Daily Post has a great blog up called, Should You Let the Cats Out of the Bag? Blogging About Family and Friends, which deals with privacy and the internet, how much you should share and not share, especially in regards to the lives of friends and family. It has some great questions to ask yourself before posting and some tips on how to handle the sharing of private information in a respectful way.

All the Snow Melts Away

This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for Nano. This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Moved by Music” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies, so read at your own risk. (~_^)

* * * *

Outside tiny tufts of snow flakes drifted, most in a downward direction, but some alighted in drafts of wind, spiraling sideways or even beck up to the grey sky they fell from.

When I was a little girl, my dad and I used to run outside every time fresh snow fell. Not the half rain slush that came down sometimes, but real snow, the light white flakes that floated in and out of the porch light in flurries and drifts. We ran out in whatever we were wearing, pajamas or Sunday dress or, once, wrapped in a towel fresh out of the bath, and stopped only long enough to pull galoshes onto our feet. We would stand out under the cold sky, whether night or day, and let the snow catch in our hair and kiss our eyelashes. We laughed and danced and we stuck out our tongues in the hopes of tasting fresh snow, the cold nothing flavor of winter that was just so perfect.

But those days eventually melted away like snow in Spring as dad’s Black Days took more and more of a toll. He seemed to be more and more tired every year and for more and more days of the month. Sometimes after the moons, it would take him up to a week to recover now. He moved slowly through the house on those days, shifting from room to room, like a scrap of paper kicked up again and again, unable to come to rest. When he finally settled in a chair or collapsed onto the couch, he would just sit there, sometimes for an hour or more, just staring off at an empty spot on the wall.

Read the rest of the excerpt

Five Tips and Tricks for Nanowrimo

Since today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) — that delightful challenge to complete a ridiculous 50,000 words in a single month — I thought I would pull out an old video for today’s Friday Five.

To summarize:

  1. Don’t Delete Anything
  2. Jump Around
  3. Dares and Prompts
  4. Plot Ninjas Are Your Friends
  5. Be Competitive

While I will be attempting to write 50,000 words this month, I will not technically be doing Nano because I will be working on an old project (the rules of Nano say that it should be a new project). I will be attempting to finish draft one of Under the Midday Moon, so that I can use 2014 to edit it.

The key to Nano, really, is the community and that you are not in this alone. I really appreciate that a lot, especially at moments like now, when I haven’t been feeling very motivated.

For those like me, not technically following the Nano rules, but still wanting to participate in some form, you can do an anti-Nano project. Set your own goal and then post updates on your blog, or if you’re on livejournal join the squidathon and post updates there (they do check-ins on Mondays and Fridays).

I will, however, be updating my progress on the Nano website, under my username blythe025. You are welcome to join me there, if you’d like.


Are you participating in Nano this year? What will you be working on?

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth

Goodness, it seems it’s been almost two whole months (!) since I’ve last posted a Monday Update. During that time I have completed next to no writing and, while I have been doing my weekly training at the gym, my running days have been sporadic at best. Since all my traveling is done for the year, I’m planning on hoping back on the wagon and getting some thinks done by the end of December in the hopes of completing most, if not all of my primary goals for the year.

November is NaNoWriMo, in which writers from around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Technically this is supposed to be a new novel, something you haven’t touched before. But since I really want to complete the draft of my werewolf novel, Under the Midday Moon, I’m planning to use the challenge for that purpose with the hope that 50,000 words will be enough for me to finish the draft. If I can get this done, then next year’s big goal can be focused on editing the dang thing.

As for the running…, it is still possible to reach my goal of running three complete miles by the end of the year, I suppose. So, I will still keep working toward that goal. If I can get to where I’m running one mile, though, I’ll be happy. I’m also thinking of buying the zombie runner app, just because I think it would be fun and would add some variety to my training.

To be accomplished in the coming week:

  • Write a minimum of 5,100 words on Under the Midday Moon as part of Nano challenge
  • Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
  • Do a minimum of two runs.

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Good Reading: I’ve found two posts that could be helpful in my own goal setting this week.

Visuals for goals make an impression” talks about how adding a visual element to your accomplishments can help spur continued progress, like awarding yourself gold stars on the days you workout or pinning up your race bibs as Lisa J. Jackson did. I’m thinking a calendar for the year for posting stars would be great. I might also incorporate not only stars or smileys for exercise, but also for when I submit some of my writing for publication and/or when I receive an acceptance. I’ll have to get a variety of stickers for that purpose. Posting rejection letters, acceptance letters, and/or race bibs is also a great idea, and I may do that as well. 🙂

And on Courage 2 Create, Ollin Morales talks about “How To Add More Time To Your Day (AKA: How to Make The Most of The Time You Do Have),” something that I’ve been definitely feeling as a challenge lately.

“I have tried to see how I can literally add more time to my day. Unfortunately, I have learned that there is no way to actually add more time to your day, but I have learned that there are ways to make the most of the time you do have, and also how to make it appear as if the time is stretching out longer, rather than shrinking at a rapid pace.”

His advice is pretty darn good, and I’m going to try to practice a few of his suggestions in the hopes of getting done what I need to get done.

We’re in the fourth and final quarter for the year. How are you doing with your year long goals? Or, how are are you doing with your day-to-day goals?

In which there is much drunkeness

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
New Words: 2,292
Current Total Word Count: 13,010
Goal: Put together an workable draft of the novel that I would actually let someone read.
Accomplished: Chapter Six, which is halfway done.

Random Rough Sentence(s): I turned my head. Evan’s face loomed large in front of me, blurring every time he moved too fast. His blue eyes were too big and too close. He smiled, dimples swallowing up shadows. He brushed a strand of hair behind my ear. “I like you, Claire. You’re beautiful.”

Notes: I decided to skip right over Chapter Five in an effort to get to the more exciting and fun scenes. This led me to Chapter Six, which involved a bunch of teenagers at a party and I hope some character evolution. I love one of the scenes in this chapter, but feel so-so about others.

I don’t know. I feel like I’m one of those writers, who is sure it’s all wrong until I go back and see how it all fits together during the rewrite. And that’s okay. That’s part of the process, I suppose. At least for me.

The point is to keep going, and while it’s slow, that’s what I’m doing. So in that sense, I feel good.

“Celebrate any progress. Don’t wait to get perfect.” — Ann McGee Cooper

Last week progress was made on Under the Midday Moon, which was sent to the Writing Gang, who gave me some fantastic feedback about the friendship between my two main characters. Rewrites will require me to work to show their intimacy (as friends have who have known each other since childhood would have).

I’ve also realized that I have a potential timeline problem in that starting my story at the beginning of school year probably won’t work, since basketball season doesn’t usually start until November. Will require some rearranging of events.

(Did I mention I love my Writing Gang? Cause I love my writing Gang.)

In terms of exercise last week, I got in only two days of my exercise training and Saturday’s run was miserable. I couldn’t complete my intervals and felt like I was going to have heat stroke. But it was a super hot day and proves that I need to run really early in the morning on these hot summer days.

No attempts at organization were made last week.

In other news I have vacation this week! Woohoo!

In theory this means I should be able to complete my entire list of goals, as well as bonus goals (shopping, make some phone calls, help to hang living room paintins, etc.), because you know TIME IS AVAILABLE. And yet, it never likely comes out that way, because vaca should be for relaxing, too. Anywho…

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish Chapter Four of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poetry, fiction, whatever)
– Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and find a place to submit it
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (1/3)
– Do three yoga workouts, three sun salutations min. (1/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):

— Sort paperwork out by year for filing and set up system for the current year
— Organize craft supplies
— Shred papers and dispose of them
— Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
— Take box of items to donate to Goodwill
— Measure pictures and buy frames

The Chapter in which not much happens other than basketball practice

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
New Words: 1,860
Current Total Word Count: 10,718
Goal: Put together an workable draft of the novel that I would actually let someone read.
Accomplished: Finished Chapter Four!

Random Rough Sentence(s): I dribbled, starting slow until I got into a tempo, then passed the ball hand to hand and between my legs, back and forth, back and forth, dancing foot to foot with the ball tapping out a rhythm against the floor, the sound echoing through the nearly empty gym.

Notes: Well, I’m glad that’s done, though I still feel like I’m stuck in pre-action chapters, and I really can’t wait until I get past this part to the meat of the story. Though, if I’m totally honest with myself, I’d admit that that feeling might never go away. *sigh*

“Everyone must party, my friend. Everyone. Especially you.”

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
New Words: 824
Current Total Word Count: 8,858
Goal: Put together an workable draft of the novel that I would actually let someone read.

Accomplished: Finished Chapter Three, in which Claire and Evan discuss the coming events of the weekend and the potential for beer.

Random Rough Sentence(s): Evan reached across the table and gave her a high five, then turned to me. He smiled unleashing cavernous dimples. “Everyone must party, my friend. Everyone. Especially you.”

Notes: I am SO FREAKING HAPPY THAT I WROTE SOMETHING on this novel! It’s been many weeks! Too many weeks! And the absence has made me sad. But all the world’s better now, because there are words, sweet beautiful words.

Um, interesting title about my novel goes here

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
New Words: 1297
Current Total Word Count: 8,034
Goal: Put together an workable draft of the novel that I would actually let someone read.

Accomplished: The first half of Chapter Three.

Random Rough Sentence(s): I was tempted to tell Adam about my parents, because what else is a best friend for, if not for talking it all out, but I didn’t know if I could handle saying the word divorce. So, I just said, “Psychedelic.”

Notes: I’m still struggling with these opening chapters, feeling like things are moving too slowly. I keep thinking that there’s more I want to fit in and it’s not all particularly inconsequential. For example, I almost forgot to include Claire’s potential love interest in Chapter Three like I originally intended. He’s in there now, but it seems like a lot is going on in the chapter. I know it’s not precisely right, but onward.

In other writing news: I also finished a new poem last night and compiled a submission, which is ready to go out today. All this work had me up to midnight, which makes me zzzzZZZZZZZZZ.

Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.

Who's a good little Chapter One? Why you are!

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
New Words: 1866
Current Total Word Count: 6,737
Goal: Put together an workable draft of the novel that I would actually let someone read.

Accomplished: A new draft of what I think will be Chapter One. At least, it resembles chapter one, though it may not be chapter one later.

Random Rough Sentence(s): I kissed the top of dad’s head before heading through the door and down into the basement. The stairs led down to a landing and then veered right. The basement was fitted out with a little seating area on the right, a bunch of random boxes on the left, and rows of wine racks along the back wall. One of the racks from the center had been removed, rolled out of the way on hidden wheels. Behind it a steel door with inch thick bars stood open, revealing a stone walled cell.

Notes:
So, like I said a new Chapter One is down on the page, which works much better than my old chapter one (the version I was previously agonizing over). I’m resisting the urge to go back and reread any of it, because I know I’ll sit there and cringe and start hating everything I’ve just written, if I do. So, I’m going to move on to upcoming scenes, assuming I can just figure out what they are.

In other news: My foot is still acting up and what’s frustrating is I can’t really tell what’s triggering it. If I go on a walk/run it hurts, or sometimes it feels better. If I stay off it, it feels better, or sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts when I ice it. Sometimes it feels better when I ice it. Sometimes when I wear my regular flats, the foot feels fine. Sometimes when I wear the flats it hurts. Same with my comfy tennis shoes. I can’t seem to fully pinpoint what’s causing the resurgence of pain, so I’m not really sure what action to take to make it all better. At this point, I’m planning to just do what I’m going to do and get on with things, because waiting around for it to heal is driving me crazy.

In other, other news: Susie Subaru has been sold, which is both wonderful and a little sad.

Cross posted to my website. You are welcome to comment either here or there.

A little bit of flesh and blood

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
New Words: 1435
Current Total Word Count: ~2,500
Goal: Put together an workable draft of the novel that I would actually let someone read.
Accomplished: The second half of what I think will be Chapter Two

Random Rough Sentence(s): The sun was bright and glaring, reflecting off the fog that sat over Anchorage below. Standing there, breathing heavy after the last leg of the hike, it was easy to believe everything beyond this moment had been erased. Only a few higher mountain peaks poking out of the fog gave any indication there was more than just the two of us in all the world.

Notes: Chapter Two is progressing kind of interesting in the sense that I have Adam falling in love Jasper, but instead of drawing out the suspense of that first meeting, I have them immediately going on their first date. This puts them at the start of their relationship rather quickly (no watching the cute guy be all mysterious across the room). It feels like I set up the love interest and then am resolving it very quickly, which could be killing the tension, and I’m not sure will work in the context of the rest of the novel. I guess I’ll just have to see how it evolves.

In other news, while writing Chapter Two, I discovered where I want to go with Chapter One. Both, it turns out, will involve blood splatter and chunks of flesh, though in rather different contexts.

Being a belated Monday Update…

Saturday was spent in babysitting my niece and a significant chunk of that time was spent with her sleeping on my chest, while I watched The Goonies. Honestly, she’s the most delightful time-suck in the world. Going to hang out with her is a joyful black hole of baby love. No regrets.

Plus, I did a fairly good job at being productive before that, having managed to pull together a readable version of Chapter One of Under the Midday Moon in time for the Writing Gang meeting (it took me working on it through my lunch break and submitting it the day of the meeting — thank baby Jesus for deadlines, without which I would get nothing done). I’ve been having a hard time knowing where to begin with this story, but eventually figured that it was better to start somewhere rather than not putting words down at all. The resulting Chapter One was still not the right place to start, but the Gang offered some great feedback that now has me thinking of new scenes and perhaps a better place to begin. I couldn’t be where I am without having put those words down, so yay!

In terms of the physical, I managed to do two out my required three days. I absolutely could have fit that third day in there, but didn’t. Turning on the TV without specific purpose (eg., having a specific show to watch) is a problem for me. It’s easy to let a lot of valuable time vanish that way.

No work was done on the poetry or the financial side of things. *le sigh*

Things to do in the coming week:
– Write Chapter Two of Novel
– Walk/Run at least three days this week & at least 2 miles each day (1/3 down)
– Make a list of poems I want to include in the collection
– Make edits to two of the poems I know I want to include
– Contact Apple store or computer guys and get data transferred from the old computer to the new one (may require giving up my computer for a few days, hard to do when I’m in the midst of wanting to write)
– Contact my sisters accountant to find out about setting up an IRA
– Do yoga (three sun salutations minimum) each morning before work (1/5 done)

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Anyway, how have you been and how are you doing?

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.]

What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2013

I’m doing this a little different. While I liked my Massive List of 2012 goals (everything was together!), it was a little unfocused, allowing me to hop through willy-nilly. Instead I’m going to try working with primary goals (those that must be accomplished first) and secondary goals (things I would like to get done at some point, but only after I’ve made progress on my primary goals). If I can complete these four primary goals in 2013, I will be a very happy lady.

Primary Goals
1. Finish a coherent draft of Under the Midday Moon (my no-longer-untitled werewolf novel)
The spirit of this goal would be to submit a new chapter to each meeting of my writing group and thus produce a novel I can edit and feel comfortable sending out for beta reads. Using the writing group meetings as a way to break it up is a good way to keep me progressing.

I’ve worked on this one a number of times, beginning with some scenes posted online and with a previous Nanowrimo attempt, which provided me some good exploratory pages as I tried to figure out where I wanted to go with it. Since then, I’ve been pondering and been doing some mental stewing on the novel. I’ve decided to add another character point of view to the mix and have more clear ideas of the challenges my characters will need to face. The only thing causing me to hesitate at this point is that I don’t have Claire’s voice, which would give me the launch point into the novel. I don’t want to do a ton

Accomplishing this will require me to, as whipchick so wisely put it, “Write First,” which means before I do anything else (TV, reading, websurfing). I’m pretty sure I can pull this off, if I stick to that motto.

2. Work up to running three miles
I really, really, really, really, really want to do this. I’ve tried and failed to complete the Couch-to-5k program, and part of it was because the increases were too quick and partly because my head gets in the way (from “I don’t feel like it” to I can’t!”). Listening to music while I run will help some, and I’m also trying another version of the Couch-to-5k via an iPhone app. The app alerts me as to when to start and stop the running intervals, which takes the metal calculations out of it. I can just listen to my music and do as I’m told.

If anyone has any advice on how to beat the mindf*ck while running, I would love to hear it. I may just start with some affirmations for the time being.

3. Submit a chapbook- or full-length collection of poetry for publication
I have enough poetry written to do this. So it’s just a matter of selecting the poems and putting the package together. I know of one chapbook that’s open for submissions this month, so I’m going to start there. I plan to also submit a larger manuscript to a poetry book publisher that I’ve been looking at for a while. So that means two submissions in January/February.

I may have to follow up this submission with another manuscript in the middle of year, depending on the reply I get.

4. Address finances
This encompasses a number of factors that I may need to work on and adjust to as the year goes on. Essentially, I need to spend with in my means by sticking to a budget and set up a savings plan and making progress to pay off my debt, as well as begin an IRA or other retirement investment plan.

I would also like to earn an additional income from my poetry and fiction writing. I don’t have control over who chooses to publish my work, but I do have control over who I send it to. So, I plan to work toward sending my work to markets that pay something (rather than nothing) as my first choice.

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Secondary Goals
Fiction
– edit stories and submit them to paying markets (try for no less than 6 for year)
– finish Fay Fairburn 1st draft

Poetry
– perform morning poetry ritual at least six times per week
– submit new poems to paying markets (try for no less than 6 for year)
– begin work on my novel-in-poems idea
– finish 30 letter challenge
– post a new poem to wattpad as a part of The Poetry Project every week
– continue on my series of fairytale inspired poems

Events
– attend FogCon
– attend one additional convention
– attend and/or participate in 12 open mics/readings (1/month)
– attend poetry retreat
– 48 Hour Film Project

Finances/Employment
– create a system to track money spent/earned as writer and maintain receipts
– create a filing system that functions (which may mean I need to pull my mom in on this for help)

Exercise/Health
– do yoga five mornings a week (a minimum of three sun salutations each morning)
– keep using calorie counter, but more importantly try to incorporate healthier foods
– make appointments as necessary (don’t avoid doctors)
– participate in sunday/saturday hikes
– participate in Wharf to Wharf run (6 miles)

Inspiration
– adjust my perception of “having enough time,” because it’s not just about having enough, but using the time you have wisely
– meditate for at least ten minutes every morning after yoga & every night before sleep
– do a new set of affirmations every month
– go to monthly women’s circles or other spiritual meetings

At some point I would like to write a spec script and start making some short films, but that may be too much right now with everything else I already have on my plate, so that’s more of a tertiary goal.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to either comment here or there.]

Being a list of 10 things that happened this week

1. I finished, polished, and submitted my new short story, “The Shadow’s Flight,” to the anthology Rustblind and Silverbright. Clicking “send” has to be the scariest part of the writing process for me. It’s that moment when I keep wanting to do just ONE more proofread of both story and cover letter with the knowledge that once it’s been sent, it cannot be retrieved. Once it’s gone, I can sit back, comfortable in the knowledge that things are no longer within my control, and what will be will be. I’m quite happy with this story, and wether in this anthology or another market, I’m sure it will find a home.

2. I started work on another short story this week, which has been a little more challenging for me. I started out excited and enthralled with my idea, and was deperately throwing down snippets and phrases into a notebook, but now things have stalled a bit. I have the parameters all sketched out, filling in the colors and the details has turned out to be considerably more difficult. I need to give up finding the “perfect” words and just get any words into sentences and paragraphs in the hopes that my writing gang can read it and review it tonight.

3. The Untitled Werewolf Novel, which now has the tentative title of Beneath the Midday Moon, continues to evolve inside my head. I was originally going to write it in first person with a single perspective. Now, I’m planning to add another character POV, and am undecided on whether to go with first person still or with a limited third person omnicient POV. Decisions, decisions.

4. I posted a new poem on wattpad, called “Ode to an Antique Suitcase,” which you can read it here.

5. Yesterday, I pulled off my  sweater and totally freaked out, suddenly sure that I was naked underneath and had just exposed myself to the entire office — only to realize after a couple of deep calming breaths that it was fine, reall. That I was not naked, but just wearing a nude colored tank top undearneath the sweater. The panic, however, reminded me instantly of those terrible dreams I used to have in high school of being in class without my pants on.

6. Spent Thursday night hanging out with my brother and his friend in San Francisco, drinking beers and eating good food. We stopped by the restaurant he manages, called Split Bread, which is all organic food and has really good toffee cookies.

7. It is raining outside. A lot. It’s like the sky is dumping whole buckets of water on the earth, for which I am very grateful, because how else are my potted plants to get watered.

8. It didn’t help, though, that I left both rain jacket and umbrella in the car, and so had to run down the pathway, leap (unsucessfully) over a puddle and throw myself into the car — none of which stopped me from looking like a wet cat and having to sit there, shaking the water from my limbs.

9. I don’t really have anything else to say.

10. I just like round numbers.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. Feel free to comment here or there.]

Joy to be Had

This week was rather productive writing wise. No, I didn’t start work on my untitled werewolf novel, but I did come up with a potential title for it — Beneath the Midday Moon. Why “midday”? Well, because in winter in Alaska it is perfectly possible to see a full moon during the middle of the day. 🙂

I also finished the drafter of one short story and sent it to my Writing Gang for review and started sketching out random phrases and ideas for yet another story. Both of which I will have finished and off to their respective anthology markets before the end of the month. Huzzahs!

In other news, I just realized that my poetry review, “Joy to be Had: On Ron Padget’s How Long,” has been published in the Summer 2012 issue of Gently Read Literature. So, yay!

Reading it over though, I had to cringe because there is a rather blaringly bloody mess of a mistake that was left in the review when it was published. One of the sentences just cuts off halfway through and is painfully incomplete, neither I when I was putting it together, nor the editor caught this. *sigh*

In other other news, a friend pointed out Book Crossing, which is a way of assigning a number to books and tracking them as they are shared around the world. I had heard of this site before and loved the idea, but lost the link and couldn’t find it again. So, I’m thrilled to see it, because I love leaving copies of books in the hostels when I travel for other people to pick up. 😀

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

It's Friday. Huzzahs.

I’ve been somewhat sick half the week, but I’ve discovered that taking Nyquil before bed = awesomeness. What? Sleep through the night? Without my head congested and generally unbreatheable? Wake up feeling better not worse the next morning? Yeah! Why haven’t I done this before?

Because I’ve been a head full of mucus this week, I’ve use this as an excuse to be lazy. Thus no progress has been made on my anti-nano goals — I can’t, at the moment, even bring myself to open the untitled werewolf novel to even see where I’m at with it. However, I have been making some progress on a piece that will probably end up being just a little too long for flash fiction.

So that’s it in news about me.

Now I point you to this awesome post, “Black Women in Speculative Fiction: A Brief Investigation,” which increases my TBR list exponentially.

Also, here’s a meme I snatched from brigits_flame:

Book you are currently reading: The Hobbit by Tolkien, Nebula Awards Showcase 2012, and Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
Last book you read: Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey: Vampire Slayer as Feminine Chosen One, by Valerie Estelle Frankel
Book you could read again and again and again: The Hobbit and Beloved by Toni Morrison and a handful of others.
Book you are glad you read once but will never ever read again: Most recently? Probably The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett. (But I never really know what books I’ll read again.)
Favorite book (if it differs from a book you could read again and again…): Too many, but a novel that is my current favorite is Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman
Writer whose stories you enjoy immensely: Neil Gaiman, for one, Holly Black, Nova Ren Suma, Libba Bray, for others.
Writer whose style blows you away: Mostly poets, such as Ai, or Walt Whitman, or David Perez, or Karen Finneyfrock. Also, Toni Morrison.

[Cross posted to my livejournal.]

Ready… Set …

Tomorrow is the first ever Mindful Writing Day, organised by Kaspa & Fiona at Writing Our Way Home! Yay!

To join in simply slow down, pay attention to one thing and write it down (making a small stone ). As per Fiona: “small stones are easy to write, and they will help you connect to the world. Once you’ve started, you might not want to stop…” Read all about it here. You can also submit your small stone and see it published on the blog, and be entered into a competition to win one of five paperback copies of the book.

I shall gleefully be trying to write as many mindful stones as I can tomorrow. (^_^)

Also, in celebration of tomorrow’s Mindful Writing Day, a free kindle copy (US & UK) of the new anthology, “A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems” (which includes a poem by me) is available both today and tomorrow! For joy!

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In other news…. tomorrow (or rather tonight at midnight) kicks of Nanowrimo or Anti-Nano or whatever writing challenge you choose to launch into for November. In my case, it’s my Anti-Nano almost-from-scratch rewrite of my Untitled Werewolf novel, for which I am not prepared mentally or organizationally or in any way at all. *sigh*

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

November: Anti-Nano and Mindful Writing

1. Anti-Nano
November is generally known as the month my family stares at me in wonder and shakes their heads as I dive into National Novel Writing Month. Generally, they think of me as a crazy person for this (except for my youngest sister, who occasionally participates, too).  I will not be participating in the official Nano this year, however, as the Untitled Werewolf Novel I began for Nano last year is still sitting in a sorry state of disrepair. I don’t think its a good idea at this juncture for me to try to jump into a new novel just because it’s shiny and new.

Instead I shall be participating in Anti-Nano, which just just like regular Nanowrimo, except that you can set whatever sort of writing goal you want, from rewrites to a series of drabbles. It’s nice in that you get to participate in the mayhem and feel the camaraderie, but at a pace and a goal that works for you. If you’re interested, you can go sign up here in the squidathon community.

The end result will be that my family will still be staring at my like I’ve drifted into madness and, hopefully, a second and less-rough looking draft of the Untitled Werewolf Novel.

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2. Mindful Writing Day
I will also be participating in Mindful Writing Day on November 1st. The premise is simple: Write a small stone (poem or prose) by paying proper attention to one thing and writing it down. It’s a lovely little challenge that I’m happy to be a part of. Already, I’m starting to look more at the world around me, gathering ideas as to what I might write about.

Mindful Writing Day will also coincide with the anthology A Blackbird Sings: a book of small poems being offered for free on the kindle for that day — a nice little tie-in promotion.

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Therefore, before November I have quite a few things I should do to prep. It would be nice if I could clear my palate by finishing up some edits on stories and sending them out, but what I really need to do is read through my existing Untitled Werewolf Novel drafts and begin a new set of outline and get myself in a general head space to be able to handle the workload coming my way.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

"There is no great writing, only great rewriting." ~ Justice Brandeis

I recently finished a second draft of a zombie/Bluebeard story, tentatively called “The Girls Come and They Go”. It’s almost there. I need to smooth out some of the scenes, add some details and tension toward the end, and chop out some exposition before finishing up with some good polishing. (I’m tempted to try out the nerd polish excel thing, though I tend to be so focused on the text and hearing it in my head that it’s hard to me to stop and count how many times I used certain telling words.)

I intended to submit this story to an anthology, but the market has closed up. I was too slow getting the story written and edited, which I find terribly annoying. I would much prefer to have my story read by an editor and rejected than to not submit it because I working past the deadline date. It’s happened several times now, and I always kick myself every time (though the upside is that I now have a new story completed). So, now I have to find another market that’s open to looking at zombie stories.

Anyway, this realization — that I would prefer to have the story read and then rejected — has lead me to a decision. I currently have a handful or more stories in various states of revision that need to be polished off and submitted somewhere…. anywhere.

Therefore, I am not allowed to start any new stories (which is a sort of way to avoid the submission process) until I have finished revisions of at least a handful of stories and started sending them out. As great as it would be to launch into the next shiny thing, it’s also important to follow through, take the journey to its conclusion, so to speak.

I also have enough poems to assemble them into a collection for submission, too, and that also needs to happen.

I’m hoping to get all this done by November, though I have a two week trip to Germany (for work and play) happening at the beginning of October, which will really cut into things, but it’s an attainable goal, if I stay focused. Also, while I may not directly participate in Nanowrimo this year, I so have the Untitled Werewolf Novel to get back to and maybe start from scratch on.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. I’m hoping I’ll have a lot of submission posts to report in the near future (followed by lots of acceptance posts…. *fingers crossed*).

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Being an update of things accomplished and things to do

One of the ways I’m planning to keep motivated on my massive list of goals is to check in once a month and assess where I’m at. I know it hasn’t been a full month yet, but for some reason I like the idea of doing my check in during the middle of the month. *grin*

I’m off to a good start at the races. Three poems (including two newly written ones) have been sent off to a for-the-love market and I’ve written about 3,860 words of fiction, including work on Untitled Werewolf Novel, a section of the Fay Fairburn story for [info]therealljidol, and the start of a new short story for the Awesome Anthology. So, I’m feeling good on the writing front.

In terms of physical endeavors, I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with the yoga every morning. I’ve only missed a few days. I also got a walk in there and an ill-fated attempt at ice skating (no falls, but the skates temporarily screwed up my feet in a rather painful way). Already my body is feeling better from the little I’ve been doing, which equals awesomesauce.

Thinks to do in the coming month:

  • Get another 3000 words down on Untitled Werewolf Novel.
  • Complete the LJ Idol prompts (i.e. Fay Fairburn chapters) as they come up, which is necessary if I want to stay in the competition.
  • Finish draft zero of the new short story.
  • Write two new poem drafts.
  • Edit and submit “White Noise”
  • Put “Shaking Hands” up on my website
  • Create and post a youtube video
  • Keep up with the yoga.
  • Buy a house plant and frame the art I have in an effort to make apt more homey.

How are you doing in approaching your goals for the new year?

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Turkey and Pecan Pie and Writing and Writing and Card Games

I had a lovely, relaxing four day weekend with my family. In addition to a full weekend of fabulous food (half of which was gluten free) — candied yams, leftover turkey sandwiches, leftover turkey soup, cookies, brownies, and four different kinds of pie — we also participated in nightly rounds of 31 (a card game).

On Friday, we went to see The Muppets, which was fabulous. It was exactly what a muppet movie should be: fun, funny, wacky, and heartfelt. Also, “Am I a Man or a Muppet?” has to be the best song ever:

“Am I a man or am I a muppet?
If I’m a man that makes me a muppet of a man.
Am I a muppet or am I a man?
If I’m a muppet, then I’m very manly muppet.”

My whole family was singing this song and quoting from the movie for the rest of the weekend, and we are all in agreement that we want to own it.

When I wasn’t hanging out with the fam, I was on my computer either writing or being distracted from writing by the internets.

I’m currently at 26,700 words on my Untitled Werewolf Novel, which I’ve been trying to pound out in one go for Nano. I probably should have pushed myself a little harder on getting my word count up, but I kind of just let it be what it was in terms of progress. I have a right to have fun, too, and I did manage to get another 10,000 or so words down. I won’t be completing the Nano challenge this year, but I’m planning to keep working on the novel. Hopefully, I’ll manage to get draft zero completed by the end of December.

I am feeling fairly good about this Werwolf novel and there are some good scenes coming out. I can already tell that there is going to be some serious rearranging that’s going to have to take place in order to shift the emphasis on certain relationships and to make sure there’s conflict from page one. I’m not sure that I’m starting at the right place at the moment.

Draft zero writing is practically like outlining for me. Even though I have most of the novel planned out in my head, I spend most of my time figuring out who these people are and where they want to go. It become exploratory, which is an important step in the process. As I go along I insert notes into the text to help me know what I might want to change in previous chapters (such as putting more focus on the father-daughter relationship at the beginning).

In my next draft, I’ll be able to nail things down a little more solidly and will begin to share it with my writing gang.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

just because it's done, doesn't mean it's done

Current Project: The Witch of the Little Wood
New Words: 5,254 new words over three days, which was brought down to 3,614 words after editing
Current Total Word Count: 17,304!
Goal: Complete the story (this short story is definitely a novlette).

Random Rough Sentence(s): Devan’s body felt like it was made of lead, so heavy that she couldn’t move, so heavy that she was sinking into the couch, sinking past the cushions, snapping springs and cracking the wood frame.

Notes: I’m calling this draft of the story done, completed, in its entirety — more or less. When initially outlining the story, I had planned on ending it on another scene. However, when it came to writing that scene, it felt far too much like an epilogue or the start of a new story, so I left it alone.

I think my ending scene works, but I’m not in love with it.

At this point, I’m going to put it aside and work on something else. In a few weeks (probably after I get back from Australia), I’ll look at the whole beast and assess how everything fits together, whether the scene breaks work, and if the past/present jumps are cohesive. Right now, I’m feeling that it doesn’t, that it’s missing something vital, and that the resolution isn’t strong enough. I tend trust my gut in writing, though I have to be careful and not confuse “gut” with “anxiety” or “fear of failure”. I’m pretty sure that my gut is guiding me true, though, and that the story does need work. I want to try to submit to magazines as a short story, so that will probably mean trimming it a bit, too.

While I’m letting that simmer, I’ll be throwing together a retelling of Cinderella in short-short story format, as well as doing some outlining for the Untitled Werewolf Novel, which I’m planning to launch into.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Where My Writing's At

Current Project: The Witch of the Little Wood
New Words: ~4,000 new words in the last round of writing last week
Current Total Word Count: 13,690
Goal: Complete the story (this short story is turning into a novlette, I think).

Random Rough Sentence(s): Her hair was a nest of nettles, her skin gouged and wrinkled bark, her eyes the green of light pooling through leaves.

Notes: I’ve managed to get through two climactic scenes (very fun to write) with one major confrontation left to write and then several scenes of resolution to round things out. (I also have a scene that needs to be added to the beginning in order to make the mom more sympathetic.) Hopefully I’ll be able to get through all of those before the next Writing Gang meeting in a couple of weeks. That way I would have the first draft done before I head off to Australia, giving me time to let things simmer.

Writing a story that jumps between a past event and present events is an interesting process, because while the past influences and must reflect in the present scenes, it also has its own arc and own climax. I’ve been going back and forth between the past and present as I write, which has allowed me to discover parallels between the two arcs, which is kind of cool, but it also is a cause of anxiety for me because I’m not entirely sure the past and present mesh as well as they should (though my Writing Gang assures me otherwise). I guess I just have to get the whole thing written, so I can look at it in entirety and see what works and what doesn’t. The joy of revision.

The feedback I’ve been getting from the Gang has put a whole other idea in my head for this story, namely that it could be easily stretched into a novel — which has my head spinning. I had not thought of it before, but as soon as they said it, the idea started to germinate and now I have notes for starting to expand it. Making it novel is a scary concept, though, because it’s such a bigger work. It would require completely restructuring everything (the past/present alternation wouldn’t work, for example) and adding a litany of new characters and figuring out just who the Bear is and what he wants as my potential alternate villain.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to focus on finishing the story as a story, in the hopes of submitting it to various magazines (though there aren’t many that will accept this kind of length).

Other Projects in the Works:

The Untitled Werewolf Novel has been put on hold for the time being, while I work on “The Witch of the Little Wood” having settled firmly into the pre-planning stage. Don’t worry it’s not going to live there. My plan is to start getting chapters onto the page as soon as I finish the Little Wood short story. The Werewolf Novel keeps popping up every now and then tugging at my sleeve with new scene ideas and character arcs, so I won’t be able to ignore it for long.

I also have a couple of poetry manuscripts to work on. Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press is holding a chapbook competition, and it occurred to me that I have 10-20 pages of poetry that I could submit. I’ve been gazing at poetry chapbook competitions for a while now, thinking that I should submit to one, but haven’t felt like my work was cohesive or up to par enough to submit. Now I think I just might have a collection that would work — maybe.

You know those letter-poems I’ve been writing for the 30 Day Letter challenge that I never finished… well, I need to finish it, because I’ve been talking with the rather fabulous collage artist Jill Allyn Stafford about putting together a book that combines her art made out of international envelopes with my letter-poems. We’re both stoked on the idea (even though we’re not sure what publishers to approach about this sort of thing). First, I need to get those poems written.

And because I don’t have enough projects going on, there’s the Not-so-Secret Screenplay. I got an email about a script competition from Script Magazine, in which you have to come up with a script idea for a logline (which is: “After waking to find his wife dead in their backyard, a man conducts his own investigation and uncovers the hidden life of a woman he thought he knew.”) and submit the 15 pages.

Of course, instead of thinking, gee, I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, I think, gee, I can work with that, and my mind immediately started trying to put a supernatural spin on the story. So, yeah, now I’ve got a screenplay idea kicking around my head along with everything else. Deadline for the 15 pages is August 30th … we’ll see if I can pull it off.

[Cross posted to my livejournal.]

Switching Settings

The Short Version:
I’m pretty sure that I’m going to change the setting of my Untitled Werewolf Novel from California to Alaska.

The Long Version:
I love Alaska. I love the mountains and the moose and the crisp weather and the trails and so many things about Alaska. My parents were both born there before it was even a state and I still have family ties there.

Driving home, I was thinking about the Alaska that I love and wondering at the fact there are so few books set in Alaska. I can think of two off the top of my head: Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, in which a boy is trapped in the Alaskan wilderness for months and must survive, and The Curious Eat Themselves, by John Straley (isn’t that just about the best title ever), a mystery novel surrounding the oil companies. (I’m sure there are more, but I would have to do an internet search to find them.)

Most books about Alaska fall into the Hatchet category, as in: gee, look at how beautiful and wild and empty and dangerous Alaska is, looks at the pretty mountains, the roaring brown bears, the lumbering moose, and there’s like no one there! And yes, of course, there is a lot of forest and wildlife in Alaska and it is certainly achingly beautiful. (This romantic notion of Alaska in books and movies, I’m sure contributes the question I still get of whether or not I lived in an igloo.)

However there are people there and most of them are quite normal, just trying to live ordinary lives, concerned about bills and getting super on the table and boring normal things. It’s just that shopping at the local supermarket might be interrupted my by a bull moose meandering through the parking lot.

There should be more books like The Curious Eat Themselves, I thought to myself, more books obvious set in and influenced by Alaska, but focused on the more mundane aspects of people actually living there. Even better, why not a book with supernatural elements.

Hey! I thought, why don’t I write a fantasy novel set in Alaska. I could do that… which ultimately brought me to thinking about switching the location of my werewolf novel.

Doing so would require a rather large shift in how I’ve been thinking about the novel thus far, so I’m not fully committed to the idea yet. It would change the entire basis for how the characters interact with each other as well as their environment. They simply would not behave in the exact same way as they always have.

Making the switch would resolve some problems and create others. For example, I would not have Claire move to Alaska, she would have grown up there, eliminating the getting-to-know-you aspect from the plot. Also, it’s plausible that a werewolf could get away with living in Alaska, because the people are used to seeing large animals around. But, this would also mean that I will not be able to have the running off to San Francisco scenes that I was looking forward to writing, and there is not equivalent Big City in Alaska. Fortunately, I’m not very far into the writing of the novel (just the first chapter), so making the change would not require me to drastically rewrite much.

I’m pretty sure I will be making the switch up. Here’s why: I’m super excited about it. I mean, I’m hair-is-standing-up-on-my-arms happy about it. So it should be obvious that I need to do it (I’m not really clear on what my hesitation is). All I know is that I’m loving this novel more than ever.

Have you ever made a drastic setting change to something you were writing? How did you decide to make the switch and how did it change how you thought about the novel/story?

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined you can comment either here or there.]

“Beginning is easy — continuing hard” ~ Japanese Proverb

Technically this project began with the entries I wrote for January’s [info]brigits_flame contest (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, if you’re inclined to read them). As soon as I started writing these passages, along with about 712 words of back ground, I knew there was a much larger story that needed writing.

I’ve never thought about writing a werewolf novel. I definitely read werewolf stories and enjoyed them (Silver Kiss, by Naomie Clark is an excellent example), especially if they went beyond the wolf, but had never put much thought into writing them. The idea just hasn’t appealed to me much. Not only because the market is flooded with werewolf stories, but also because I haven’t particularly been drawn to the werewolf as a character. It hasn’t held the same fascination for me as witches have or even vampires did when I was younger. However, this story has got itself into my skull and presents what I hope is a new angle on the genre.

I’ve been letting the story slosh around in my brain for several weeks before coming back to it, and have since very roughly laid down what I know about the story, about my main character, some of the side characters, and of course, the villain. That’s the biggest one for me — the villain. I normally have a really hard time putting together a villain, one that’s not only dark or dangerous, but also has a purpose. This one just sort of jumped onto the page, full of mange and violence and rage, and I can’t wait to see what mischief I can get him up to.

I already know that this will be a young adult/teen book, and that I don’t want this to be a romance, but more of a bildungsroman.

And I know that Claire, my main character, only has enough wolf in her to be very strong, has a strong sense of smell, and is red-green colorblind, but doesn’t have enough wolf in her to shift into an actual wolf. I know she is extremely attached to her father and that she likes tragic stories from history, especially the life of Marie Antoinette.

I don’t have a title for it yet, which is typical, but not a big deal. I’ve started in on what might be Chapter 1. We’ll see where it goes.


Project:
Untitled Werewolf Novel
New Words: 952
Current Total Word Count: 6,310
Goal: ~80,000 (or until completed)

Random Sentence(s): Claire made an oompf sound as the box full of heavy books dropped into her arms. She awkwardly turned around and made her way down the ramp and into the house, depositing the box with the stacks of many others in what would soon be their living room once it was all put together.

Notes: Seems to be a good start. I already know this scene needs more to it. I don’t necessarily want to tell everything up front, but I want enough intrigue to the characters and the setting to hopefully keep a reader reading.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]