Sunday, January 31, 2010

Post It

Note: As of 9pm, I've made my writing goal for the second week, and my draft is now creeping above the 20,000-word mark. This week was tougher than usual to make my daily 2k--I had to overwork on a couple days to meet the average. Next week will be even harder, with 3 days of physical therapy and a re-check with my surgeon...but I'll do it!

I've had one major goal in writing Four (yes, I finally gave it a working title besides Draft 1):

Cut the crap! 

What does that mean?

To illustrate in a far more humorous manner, I refer to this. I am guilty of this and then some. I'm not sure when this habit started. I wrote many successful papers in college, and I actually have quite a little hobby in microfictions, which are by definition SHORT-- yet somehow over time my novel-writing has grown more and more purple and obtuse.

It's a disease, folks, a disease with MRSA-like virulence and staying power. (I only use MRSA as an example because one of my co-workers has been infected since last August with no end in sight, and it's been on my mind lately.)

How can I fight the disease? Well, a good round of editing, for starters, but I'm not to that point yet, geez! I'm still drafting the damn thing.

So, I have two (actually, I have 9 post-its on and around my computer monitor) post-it notes with little messages for me every time I start to stray.

One says this:


And the second says this:

We don't need to know how many teeth he has, what color armpit hair, or how many calories are in his breakfast.

It actually kinda works.

Got any writing mantras/signs/coffee mugs that keep you on the straight-and-narrow?

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Does this scenario sound familiar?

Brilliant idea/spark/character/scene/etc. pops into your head, and you think: "Shazam! A novel hath come upon me."

Spurred by your brilliance, you scribble pages of notes, draw pictures of brooding eyes and flowing hair, draw maps, perhaps--paper the walls around your desk with post-it notes, all with mysterious phrases on them: "Is Deroc poisoning the ketal?" "Communication through runes--circles on floor."

Then, with a somewhat tenuous or solid grasp on your idea, you open that shining, fresh New Document and write that first sentence, that mother of all hooks. (Another bullfrog yelped, its throaty bellow cutting through the humid air.) "Oh yes," you think. "This is golden."
Sentences turn into paragraphs, which string together coherently, and the next thing you know--hey! You've got some chapters going on!

At this point, you stop and draw a plot curve, add in some random notes here and there, sit back in your chair and start imagining what the cover of this bad boy is going to look like in the bookstore.

(Then you obsessively check your email, blogger, Twitter, and Facebook three times just-in-case-you-missed-something-new-while-on-the-other-site.)

These feelings of self worth may continue for some time, a week, two weeks, maybe even three. You've written ten thousand words, perhaps twenty. Or less. The page count grows daily. Every so often you format the page into 6"x8" to see how many pages it "really" has in "paperback form."

And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, you come to realize that you somehow wrote yourself into the first mini-climax of the plot, and it's terrifying. What the hell were you thinking? You weren't really supposed to get a story out of that shower/dream/driving idea! It was just going to be another 8 pages added to your long folder of My Documents failures (though you know they're really just WIP's that you'll get around to sooner or later. The world needs those ideas.)

But somehow the muses inspired you just right, and BAM!

There's no Emeril here, though.

Just you and the solitary keyboard.

Cue more email, blog, twitter, and Facebook to give you temporary relief from your fears. Look at all those people who have agents! There's still hope in the world! Geez, anybody with half a brain can write a book.

So you open back up that document, which by now you may have lovingly crafted a name for, or you may still be calling it Draft 1. You stare at the last sentence you wrote.

You have a pretty good idea of where you want this scene to go. You know the emotion that you want it to evoke in both characters and readers. You may even know where the scene after it is heading.

And this is when I open my Pandora's Box. "You suck!" "You can only write beginnings!" "You've never finished anything in your life!" "You're never going to be a real writer." "You wrote better stuff than this when you were 12, and there's a 200 page document to prove it."

Time to call in the big guns.

My big gun is a fairly small, innocuous-looking book that you've probably seen mentioned all over the blogosphere: Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott.

"What possible help could a book about birds be?" Well, this is what briefly crossed my mind when I saw the required reading list for the last creative writing class I took in college. But I bought the book anyway, and let me tell you: it's worth it. There are tons of writing books out there, and to each their own, but I really love Lamott's voice.

Here she is, published how-many-times-over, has had several careers in writing, yet she faces the same fears that I do every time she sits down to write.

If you don't have any books about writing, I'd suggest you try to find a copy of this one. It's fast and easy and funny as hell. My particular favorite chapter is called "Shitty First Drafts," and let me tell you, it's really ringing true right about now (40 pages, 18223 words) for me.

So to all of my blogging friends out there, friends stopping by, or people who resent me calling them my friend who are in a really craptacular place in their book right now, I'm going to leave you with two quotes, neither by Lamott, but both in her book:

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way (and if you're like me, it's going to be at 35mph, night-blind, and terrified that a deer or rabbit is going to jump out at any moment--metaphor this how you will). -E.L. Doctorow

When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a big crayon in his mouth. -Kurt Vonnegut

Happy writing!

Friday, January 29, 2010

In Search Of

I'm going to start looking for a crit group today.

I don't even know when the appropriate time is to start having your work critiqued, but at 25% completion, I'm ready for some feedback, methinks.

Seems there's a lot out there for YA writers, but I'm looking for urban fantasy...

Suggestions? Recommendations?

Am I too soon?

Update: Good grief. Yahoo! Groups is like my worst navigation nightmare. Kudos to anyone who ever found anything remotely helpful there.

Update Again: Never underestimate the power of Facebook! About 3 minutes after posting my status as " in the market for a dedicated writing critique group," I got 3 enthusiastic responses from not only real life friends, but friends who live nearby! I think this thing may actually pull together! 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different! (with pictures galore!)

Jen gave me my third blog award this week! I'd just like to say how overwhelmed I am by this blogging community so far... it's an amazing investment: put a little in, get a TON out! I started this blog as part of a New Year resolution to write daily, but it's leading me to many amazing and wonderful places. Especially since I've been reclused at home since my wrist injury, the online community has done wonders for my spirit. I deeply appreciate each and every one of the people who visits my slice of cyberspace, and believe me--I stalk you back. Hard core. ;-)

So, I'm supposed to list ten things that make me happy. Here they are:

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation re-runs. I grew up watching Star Trek, and I'm an unabashed lover of all things Trek. I've been to Dragon*Con twice, specifically to meet Star Trek actors. I've met Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LaVar Burton, Gates McFadden, and John DeLancie. Check this out:
Yeah, that's John DeLancie, a.k.a. "Q." And that's me. He was really tall!
 I also have an autographed headshot from John, as well as an autographed headshot of LaVar Burton. 

2. Herbie the Munchkin Cat: I rescued Herbie, a Munchkin, from the animal shelter where I work last summer, and gifted him to my in-laws. Fortunately, they love him, and it's impossible not to:
Sleeping is his favorite pastime. 
Because Herbie likes sleeping so much, getting a picture that shows his Munchkin-ness is difficult,so make sure you check out the Wiki link. Or better yet, search "Munchkin kittens" on YouTube. You'll love it. Anyway, Herbie totally rocks my world, and I love him to death, even though he sheds like a fiend. 

3. Brand New. I'm fairly new to this band, but I love them. 

4. The supernatural. Vampires, wereanimals, fairies, shifters, ghosts, demons, angels, fallen angels, slayers, witches, goblins, elves--you name it, I love it. It all started when I was a wee child and the Dark Shadows remake was coming on in the late 80's. My mom and I would watch it together. Later, when the Sci-Fi channel started playing the original Dark Shadows, Mom and I watched it together every morning. She's where I get my love of the ghoulies from, I think. 

5. The mountains. I lived in Brevard, NC until I was six, and have lived in Northeast Georgia for the last 18 years. If I have my way, I'm always going to live in or as close to the mountains as possible.

The road in front of my parents' house in summer. Pretty fairy-tale, huh?

6. Epic movie soundtracks. Elfman, Zimmer, Shore--love it, love it. Mainly what I listen to when I write. 

7. Shopping.'s true. But I'm also a bargain hunter. My favorite store is TJ Maxx, hands-down. 

8. Kudzu. I hope everyone knows what that is...seems like not everyone's as familiar with this pesky plant as Southerners. It's technically a horrible weed, but I think it's awesome!

These were "trees" outside one of my apartments in Athens. 
9. Skittles. 'Nuff said. 

10. My hubby. He's really number one, but I like to save the best for last. This is one of my favorite photos, from our wedding reception:

All his idea. Pretty sweet, huh?
Now, for blogs that make me happy? Just look at my blogroll, friends...just look at it. Then add a million.

The Dark Passenger

Within all of our minds, there lies a place we rarely come in contact with. A dormant entity lurks throughout our thoughts and emotions quietly unnoticed--however, there are those of us who perceive this Passenger and learn to accept it as part of ourselves. As in all things active, a hunger dwells within the Passenger. A hunger that drives its host to the near brink. Though we all have this darkness within, many of us will never stumble across it.
--Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter Morgan series

And then there's us.
The writers.

Many people wax philosophical on what compels them to write. I do.
And what I've come to realize is that the thing compelling me to write is much more akin to the Dark Passenger than to some desire to change the world, to shine a light, to inspire masses. I don't have any such fantasies.

I don't want to change the world with my writing. I don't want to try to make a living with my writing. That's what college and grad school are for: making a living.

I write because if I go too long without it, something inside me changes. At risk of sounding like a jackass for quoting my own writing, I'm going to share a passage from my WIP that sums up that thing that makes me write:

Or maybe that heavy feeling had more to do with the waking of the dead place. It moved now, swirling and heaving and pressing against him, mewling in his head. Hungry, desirous. 

Ever felt like any of those words describe your need to write?
It seems that many people describe their impulse to write as something light and beautiful, but not me. And I suspect many people are the same.
For me, that urge to write comes from a much darker place inside me, a place that could have gone many directions, and instead took this form.
Sure, a lot of what I write is light, airy, comedic. Nothing wrong with that. Satisfies the urge.
But then there's the darker stuff.

I'm fascinated by the darker stuff. It manages to ooze into a lot of my work, even things that started out light-hearted.
I've shocked a few people by sharing my darkest writing, my NaNoWriMo '08 piece, which is still unfinished, but still haunting me. They seem so surprised that I could/would write something like that.
We've all had dark times in our lives. What's wrong with going to that place for inspiration?
Or sick fascinations. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with serial killers and the mob.
It doesn't make me a killer or a sympathetic. I have no urge to go out and be violent on anyone; in fact, I'm quite a pacifist.

But that Dark Passenger is still inside me.

EDIT: RIP J.D. Salinger. You knew all about the Passenger. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beautiful Stranger

What a fantastic week! My favorite fashionista and RL gal-pal received a much-deserved Beautiful Blogger award this week, and she was sweet enough to pass it on!

   And now, for 7 random facts about me, a complete stranger, about which all things are random:

1. I was engaged at the time that I met my current husband. Dumped the poor sod and am living HEA!*
2. Two of my all-time favorite TV shows are Dexter and Rome.
3. I read super-super fast. Like a mutant power.
4. When I was 9, my older brother convinced me that I had super-powers. **
5. I have extremely vivid, complex dreams, and often resume where I left off if I wake up, then go back to sleep.
6. I don't like Jane Austen. (Yep. I said it.)
7. When I was 6, I watched Ben Hur, and it made me afraid to go outside in case I got leprosy from an armadillo. (Still lived in GA.)

* I said "current husband," but I'm not planning on having another one. Just to clear that up.
** Because I know you want to know, my powers related to nature. I was able to make plants grow taller, healthier, and sturdier.

Tomorrow's post will be on all things dark and twisty.

Beginnings (long one! <--- that's what she said)

Progress on my WIP is on target. I'm aiming for 2,000 words a day to keep me on my 10k/week goal, allowing for weekends to spend with Evan. I'm a bit over 14,000 words now, and while it feels like I'm just hurtling through the plot, my logical side assures me that my pacing is probably better than it's been yet.

I've been thinking about beginnings a lot lately. First introductions to characters. First taste of a story. First impression.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to show a random mix of opening passages from different things I've worked on, some dating back to over 10 years ago, when I was the ripe young age of 13. I'll try to give an approximate age/date for each piece.

Here goes nothing! (Some adult content/language ahead)

-Draft One (current W-I-P): Jan 2010 (23)
Another bullfrog yelped, its throaty bellow cutting through the humming air.
“Shhh,” he said, laying his hand on top of the dog's broad head. The dog glanced backwards at him, her pale blue eyes glinting yellow in the lantern's beam, then grumbled in her throat and snorted an exhale.

-After All (NaNoWriMo '08) (22)
Light, feathery, slightly ticklish--I woke up suddenly, with the heart-pounding that comes from deep sleep to unexpected consciousness. Fingertips. Brushing over my cheeks, tracing the shape of my lips, dipping in the shallow valley between chest and collarbone, edging close the steep swell of breast.

-Erastai: sometime 2008 (22)
Even at six in the morning, the air was already thick with humidity. As the summer had progressed, my early morning runs had started to feel like early morning swims. I’d been living here in south Georgia for a year now, but I was no where near accustomed to the humidity; Michigan was like the desert compared to this tropical hell-hole. 

-Nymph of the Night: 2007 (mostly during class) (20-21)
I am a nymph of the night. The badass of all badasses. I am the mistress of the dark, a creature of the crypt, the—
I am a clumsy oaf.

-Savior: 2000 (vomit alert ahead!) (13-14)
Applause and cheers filled the private auditorium as the cast of the ballet glided on stage for curtain call. Ana gripped Victor Romano's hand on one side and Duncan Irons' on the other. They had played the main trio of the ballet, an entire work composed and choreographed by their instructor, Anita Siroux. She had harbored a fascination that bordered on obsession with both men for as long as they had been dancing for her.

-The Darkness in Redemption: c.1998 (12)
The scorched landscape baked under the intense heat of Yoma's binary suns. The air was filled with the acrid sickly-sweet smell of burnt vegetation and charred flesh. On the southern horizon, the whitish-blue sky was dark gray, where it marked the beginning of the dark side of Yoma.

-93 Million Miles: c.2002 (15-16)
Slowly hanging the phone back on its receiver, Colin Kennedy slumped into his plush chair and picked up the cherry-red Fender at his feet. Idly picking a few chords, he tried not to dwell on how bored—and now depressed—he felt. It was late on a Sunday afternoon, and he had nothing to do. 

Humorous, eh? I think it takes practice to recognize your own style in your art, whether it be painting, drawing, music, photography, or writing. Having dabbled in all of that media, I think I've gotten pretty good at recognizing my own style/voice in my art. Makes sense, right? It took be much longer to recognize my painting style than my writing. But you know what's interesting? I can look back at stuff that even pre-dates some of these gems, stuff that I was first churning out, and you know what? There's my voice. 

I've practiced at all of my art for many years, but only two forms have ever stood out as being mainly the same since the beginning: my piano and my writing. 
Of course, I had to practice, practice, practice until my piano "style" was something beyond scales and arpeggios, just like I had to practice my writing until it was something other than "Raine giggled. She liked the way Henry grinned at her whenever he said something funny" (and yes, my first MC's name was Raine. Coincidentally, this was also the name of the male MC in the romance book belonging to my mom that taught me about sex at the age of 8.) But both my piano playing and my writing have had my personal style in them since day one. 

Is it just my imagination? Or when you look back over the years (decades), can you see your own voice, no matter how bad the words it's saying? Obviously every person has a distinct way of talking, of using their hands, etc--does this translate automatically into our writing? After all, isn't writing just putting the words in your head onto paper instead of into the air? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Over the Top

My goodness, I've won a blog award! I didn't even know these things existed, but now that I'm paying attention, I'm seeing them places! All my thanks to Guinevere for the nomination; if you don't follow her, you should!

Here are the rules: Answer the following questions with single word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers. Make sure you let them know about it!

Your Cell Phone? crap
Your Hair? sheds
Your Mother? funny
Your Father? complex
Your Favorite Food? cheese
Your Dream Last Night? espionage
Your Favorite Drink? tea *
Your Dream/Goal? writer
What Room Are You In? great
Your Hobby? books
Your Fear? death
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? teaching
Where Were You Last Night? home
Something That You Aren't? devious
Muffins? wildberry
Wish List Item? house
Where Did You Grow Up? college
Last Thing You Did? read
What Are You Wearing? robe
Your TV? off
Your Pets? birds **
Friends? select
Your Life? great
Your Mood? blah
Missing Someone? nope
Vehicle? Chrysler
Something You Aren't Wearing? bra
Your Favorite Store? Amazon
Your Favorite Color? lavender
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? today
Last Time You Cried? commercial
Your Best Friend? Evan
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? email
Facebook? Hourly
Favorite Place To Eat? couch

* sweet tea, that is
** wild birds, not the creepy talking ones

And the blogs I choose:

-Amanda at Athenista and chai am woman, because even though I don't see her as often as I'd like, I still feel like I see her every week!

-Lainey at Two Dimensional Ephemera because she's right here with me, along for the wild ride. And she's awesome.

-Gretchen at Seanchai: writer, opera singer, voice over artist, circus freak--how could anyone resist? Amazing.

-Chasing the Moon at Dancing Down Serendipity Street. Fairly new to her blog, but I love the feel, and I love that she shows her introspective side.

-Janine, Donna, Frankie, and Sara at First Novels Club. Their blog was the starting place.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I had my first real physical therapy appointment this morning, and it was intense. My therapist said that my forearm muscle is fairly knotted, and the web between my forefinger and thumb has a lot of tension in it, all of which are contributing to my resting pain. I used one of those cross-trainer bikes just with my arms for about 10 minutes, and that about did me in. But all-in-all, I'm seeing some improvement, so hopefully Dr. P will be pleased when I go back on February 4th.

I know I talk about my birds a lot, but you have to understand how cute they are! I've been working as a veterinary technician at an animal shelter for nearing 2 years, yet my husband and I aren't allowed to have pets in the apartment we rent. Having a bird feeder right outside my sliding glass door really gives me enjoyment. I already had to buy a new bag of seed today; my feeder is turning into quite the hot spot.

It rained torrentially over the weekend. Since we live in a basement, when the rains really get heavy, I always worry a bit about flooding. We haven't gotten any water in yet, but it came really close last fall when we were having all the flooding in Atlanta.

This is a picture from the door of the back yard:

Looks like a river, huh? That's about 6 feet from the door. I figure we've got about 3 more months of this to look forward to. Georgia winters are great.

Today is beautiful and sunny, but windy! I'm talking gusts up to 30mph! But you know what? My little birds aren't daunted! I haven't seen the titmice out today, but the sparrows and chickadees are taking full advantage of the titmice's absence and have barely left the feeder and patio since I refilled it 2 hours ago. Whenever the wind blows, they just kind of hunker down and let their feathers ruffle. It's quite cute.

I'm sure there's a great writing analogy in there about hunkering against the winds of destruction or something like that, but I hate cheesy crap like that. Besides, I'm talking about my 20 cute little bird-pets, not the precious 10,000 words my manuscript it now up to.

Yep, I made my goal on Saturday and went over by a whopping 29 words. I think I'm going to aim for 10k a week. It's a pretty heavy pace, but while I'm still out of work and not having to start thinking about moving yet, I'm going to try to take advantage. I'm not sure how long this story will turn out to be, but I'm aiming for 70-80k, just because that's a good, readable length.

That being said, I spent my time yesterday making the book trailer and not actually writing, so I'd better stop blogging about my writing and actually write!

PS: If I could have any other job in the world besides a writer, it would be Samantha Brown's. Seriously. You shouldn't get paid for that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


So that didn't take near as long as I was expecting! A mere hour compared to the whopping 11 or so it took me to make my first. Of course, it's less than half as long, so that doesn't hurt...

Without further ado, the very basic plot of Draft One:

Trailers and Titles

As one of the excitement and momentum-building exercises in the week before NaNoWriMo '09, I joined in the forum of folks making book trailers. I'd never seen or heard of a book trailer before, but after watching a few, I thought--hey, this is pretty cool! So I made one. Took me about 12 hours to get it "perfect," and while the story ended up going in a completely different direction, it was still fun, and I still get enjoyment out of watching it.

I thought I might make another one for my WIP. I'm not to any point of needing publicity in the least, but when my inspiration was flagging during NaNo, I watched my trailer and got excited all over again. (Plus it's fun to find pictures of handsome men, right? *wink wink*) I certainly spend enough time on my duff in front of the computer doing nothing--might as well do something somewhat useful. So stay tuned! Trailer to come...sometime soon.

On another note, I'm curious about titles. I've always had a hard time with names of anything: people, places, items, objects, technology, and especially book titles! I usually just give it a silly name or some sort of descriptor so I can keep track of what's what in My Documents.

I gave my NaNo novel the working title Eternal Spring, because at first I was working off the idea that my MCs were the mythological Hyperboreans, who were said to live in a land of Eternal Spring. Cheesy, I guess, but until I came up with that, I was just calling it Apocalypse. Ha!

I'm at a total loss of what to workingly name this one. Right now it's stored under folder name "All the Pretty Fairies" just so it appears at the top of my documents list, and the text itself is titled--ready for it?-- Draft 1. Pretty thrilling, huh?

If I ever do get published, I'm really banking on the publisher coming up with a decent name. Otherwise, all books published by Summer B.P. are going to be called "Draft 1." I find myself somewhat amusing that I can endlessly come up with ideas for content, but when it comes to naming that content, it's blank after blank after blank. Pretty sad, huh?

So how do you come up with names for your projects? Do you give it something like "draft 1" until it's pretty firm and then get inspiration? Or do you have pretty good luck coming up with a fitting title from the beginning?

(Stay tuned for a book trailer for "Draft 1." It's only 5pm here...plenty of time to make a movie!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And the Plague Came

It's been coming. I've been avoiding it for almost 7 months now, fortified with vitamins and massive water consumption, exercise and general good health.

Unfortunately, only 5 weeks post-surgery, my immune system isn't what it could be, so it finally happened.

Evan gave me his crap.

My husband works at the private, liberal arts college where we met and he graduated from. Back when we were there, the theatre department was dumped in the basement of the main building, and this basement had one thing: black mold.

Seriously. All of us theatre students were sick all the time, especially me. We've all probably lost about 10 years of our life thanks to that funk. Then I moved away to UGA and got much better.

Then the school built a brand-spankin' new theatre building across the lake, all fancy and shite, and what did they do? They decided to dump Financial Aid down in the basement instead. Because nothing says "give us your money" like black mold, right?

So poor hubby is back in the black mold 40+ hours a week. We bought an ionic air purifier for his office, which he has to clean about every other day--nasty! Unfortunately he doesn't stay in his office enough for it to help, so he's been sick about, oh, five times since he started working there last June. That's more than he was sick in the entire 4.5 years I knew him prior to this job.

Anyway, he came home last night feeling pretty crappy, so I did the usual loading him up on Mucinex and fluids. Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning, I felt about like I'd been hit and dragged twenty feet by a Mack truck. I had just enough energy to go out and pick up his dry cleaning, buy some meds at Target, and meet my mother-in-law for an impromptu design meeting on the bedroom she's redoing before I crashed.

When I was a freshman in college, I was having really bad migraine-type headaches, so I went to the neurologist. Turned out that I'd developed a nasty nasal bone spur that was causing the pain. The doctor didn't think it needed to come out yet, but advised that if it ever started hurting again, I'd need that horrible, horrible surgery to remove it.

Currently, the left side of my nose is so swollen and sore that I can't even bear to touch it. I'm really, really hoping it's just some nasty sinus cavity pain and that the spur isn't causing trouble, because the last thing I need is another surgery. I took two Advil Cold & Sinus a couple hours ago, which made me feel some better, but they're wearing off again.

I'm almost to the 10,000-word mark in the book, which is quite exciting. I'm hoping to get there tonight, if I can stay awake and focusing long enough. Evan read over everything earlier this afternoon and gave his stamp of approval, even going so far as to compliment my pacing! Yay! Pacing is an issue for me. I tend to wax poetic...and kind of forget to keep the story moving...which was a big thing I was concentrating on changing in this rewrite.

So, 10k tonight, then hopefully 8-10 hours of sick-fighting sleep. And no feeling worse in the morning, please!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finally Remembered!

Just a quick note:

During Nano last year, I must have said a million times how much I wished I had made a record of every Google search I made that was somehow related to the story.

When I googled "can beer freeze?" about five minutes ago, it clicked that I wanted to keep a record of this type, so I am officially keeping an ongoing document open alongside my book of Google searches related to the book.

This should be interesting.

Up Early

Because I had my first physical therapy appointment this morning, I woke up extra-extra early today--early enough to actually have a conversation with my husband before he left for work.

Since I've been away from work, I've gotten into the habit of sleeping until around 9, and on rare occasions, after 10. The very idea of dragging myself out of bed before 8 before I absolutely have to when I do finally go back to work is awful. But then I do it on some days, and I remember exactly how productive I can be on these early-rising days.

For instance, yesterday I got up at 8:20, and before noon I won an email battle with my worker's comp adjuster, scheduled then REscheduled my appointment with the hand therapist, went for a run, did a load of laundry, dropped off dry cleaning and went to the grocery store. I kept looking at the clock thinking, "is that wrong? No way it's only 1pm! I've gotten everything done for the day." And all this after I stayed up late writing.

The writing is going well. No new changes to report today, though I did tell Evan about my narrative changes and the plot twists that come along with it. He was intrigued, but overall approved.

I hit the 10-page mark last night! Not really that impressive, since I'm still in the beginning of the second chapter, but hey! Every small victory is still a victory, right? Today I'm going to aim high and shoot for 15 pages. Evan has another night class, so he won't be home until late late.

So right now I'm grooving to my Norah Jones Pandora station with my fleet of candles lit, enjoying one of my special cups of coffee. It's rainy, and I have the blinds open beside me so I can watch the little birds who finally discovered the bird feeder I hung for them. Between the feeder and the puddle on the patio, they're having a grand old time.

And so am I.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oops, I Did It Again

Just a quick note before bed:

I've gone and done it again. More major screwing around with my layout.

But, I figure it's better to get these things right now, when it's only 3,000 words than later, when I'm at chapter 24 and have the epiphany to completely change the narrator.

Oh, because that's what I did.

You see, I was writing this scene from the male POV earlier today when I decided to introduce a character who was also a major personal plot point for him and possibly the entire story.

Then I couldn't stop thinking about her.

She was interesting, this character, more alive than I'd managed to make my MMC yet. She knew her story, she knew her voice, and she knew exactly where she fit into this ever-evolving equation.

So I did that thing that I usually don't like: I've introduced dual perspectives in differing POV's.

It already feels right (and if you want my thoughts on feeling, just check out my earlier post on clairvoyance), and I managed to pound out about 2000 words in a little over an hour. That's a record I only broke a few times during NaNo writing sprints.

So, Payette Moreau, previously single POV; meet Mairwyn "Mary" Davies, your newest cohost and first person POV protag. You're gonna love her.

No, really. You're going to fall in love with her.

PS: Yes, as soon as I figure out exactly how I'm going to tell this story of mine, I'll post more than random allusions to the plot.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Dude with a View

While I was out doing my laborious cardio exercise nonsense bright and early (10am) today, I was giving some thought to point-of-view.

I started writing my first story when I was 9, and I basically haven't stopped since. Even in the throes of college, when I was hip-deep in books and papers and Japanese homework, I still managed to have a work in progress.

I have huge boxes under my bed, some that have been taped up for years, all containing the scraps of paper and notebooks that I've collected my writing in over the years. When I graduated from high school, I got a laptop, and there began my gradual shift into computer-writing versus hand-writing.

But to the point...when I started writing, I wrote in 3rd person omniscient and stayed that way for years and years. In fact, it wasn't until 2000, when I started working on my first "vampire romance" (before I'd ever even read one myself), that I dabbled in first person POV for the first time.

Now I write almost exclusively in first person. It comes naturally, after all: the protagonists are always fairly young females, similar in demographic to myself, and getting into their heads is quite easy. They all have a different voice, but the feeling is the same, and there's very little struggle for me to actually express their emotions/thoughts/etc.

However, when I started NaNoWriMo '09, I wanted to split perspectives between a male MC and a female MC. I've read books that jump between first-person narratives, but unless you're paying close attention to chapter headers, sometimes those can be confusing. I decided to go ahead and revert back to third-person limited for each POV, and I managed to crank out 65,000 words from these 3 perspectives (a third female was added later.)

Now that I'm starting the Nano concept over again (and let's be serious--I'm really just starting a new book with a few similar ideas), I'm back to square one on perspective. I'd decided to write the thing from a limited 3rd-person male POV, but now that I'm a little over 3,000 words in, it's starting to feel a little forced.

Maybe I should try switching back to first person. The idea of writing from a man's internal POV is a bit intimidating, but I think if this rewrite is going to succeed, I need to do whatever I can to get back into his head and back into the game.

Today's goal: write 2,000 words from first-person perspective.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I've been hard at work hammering out the fine details of my book.

I used to jump straight into a project with little thought beyond the most basic of plot and a few character names. Needless to say, I never got far.

With my Nano novel, I tried a new approach. Instead of jumping straight into the writing, I spent about a week thinking and living in the feel of the story. I wrote character sketches, drew maps, scribbled any note that I thought may be helpful--I even drew costumes! All of this helped me form a really concrete picture of the world I would be writing in and who these characters (nay, people!) were that I would be inhabiting for months to come. It also made me really, really excited to start writing, and when I did, I had plenty of momentum to carry me through to 65,000 words (though there were plenty of hangups along the way.)

I'm using the same approach to the rework of the Nano, though it hasn't lasted quite as long. I've spent several hours talking it through with Evan--this was probably the most helpful thing I did. He doesn't write, but he does love movies, and anyone who loves movies usually has a pretty good grasp on what makes a compelling story. We bounced ideas off each other, some sticking, some going in the trash, until I had a pretty good idea of where this story was going.

Then I slept on it, and the next day I threw a big monkey wrench in the whole mess: I decided to set it AFTER the apocalypse, not imminently before, like had been the original idea. Things started falling perfectly into place from there.

I regard my writing much as I do other major decisions in my life: I rely on gut feelings. Every major decision I've made in my life has been accompanied by a very strong "sense" of the situation, and if it "felt" right, then I dove in. My writing has been the same way. The fun part of me likes to think that it's a mild form of clairvoyance, seeing far into the future when my book is a best-seller, sending me back signals for what I did to get it there (if only).

The night before last, I had a dream in which I was pregnant. Now, I am neither currently pregnant nor ever seeking to become pregnant--Evan and I decided independently of each other that we just weren't interested in having a family beyond each other and some animals, and that's something that we stick to. However, from time to time I do have dreams in which I'm pregnant, and it's almost always accompanied with happy feelings.

After waking up, I was mulling over this dream when it hit me: Vinita, my female MC, is supposed to be pregnant! And then a ton of other pieces fell into place.

So thanks, future-me, for sending those little psychic transmissions back in time to guide present-me. The dreams are creepy, but I'm happy to take the inspiration from them.

And just out of interest, here's what the dream dictionary says about pregnancy dreams:

"To dream that you are pregnant symbolizes an aspect of yourself or some aspect of your personal life that is growing and developing. You may not be ready to talk about it or act on it. This may also represent the birth of a new idea, direction, project or goal."

Clairvoyance or what?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ain't No Rest for the Wicked

(Great song by Cage the Elephant, fyi.)

Newsflash: writing a book is HARD WORK.

I have a very good friend who is also a compulsive writer like me, and the last couple days our shared sentiment has been, why do we do this to ourselves again? Oh yeah, because we can't help it.

So my Nano novel has gotten a major makeover, a la What Not to Wear. You know, if books were style, and mine was 80's sequins and detachable shoulder pads. There were too many stirrup pants and blindingly geometric acid trips, if you know what I mean. You don't? Yeah, fashion probably doesn't make the best metaphor for writing.

Evan and I talked about my new ideas for the book for a couple hours last night, during which I scribbled on post-its until I thought my hand was on fire. Then I slept on it.

And spent almost all day today thinking about improvements to those ideas, Googling random phrases somehow related to my thought process, and actually putting new words down into my sketchbook, which used to have pictures in it, but now has my madcap notes for this poor tortured book (and a dorky doodle of a crocodile on a character profile. Don't ask why.)

So I'm back to a semi-post apocalyptic feel, which is where I wanted to be in the original Nano version. Throw in some very artistically-licensed twists to some ancient folklore and a grumpy protagonist, and you've got my current evolution of Eternal Spring. Which now needs a new working title.

This is all going more slowly than I'd like still, because if I thought typing hurt/tired my wrist, writing by hand is a whole new level of pain and limited endurance. Unfortunately, I really like having my plot and character sketches on paper, not just in the word processor.

Physical therapy, please come soon!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What Can You See on the Horizon?

Evan is finishing reading what remains of the Eternal Spring manuscript, so I thought I'd put on the station that I listened to while writing to give him some fitting epic background music. Not sure he even notices it, but I like it.

Anyway, the first song that came on was the Annie Lennox song from the Return of the King soundtrack, "Into the West," and since this post is about getting back into finishing my book, I thought the words were fitting.

What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
to carry you home.

A bit cheesy, I guess, when referring to oneself, but hey.

I read through the entirety of my Nano book the other day, finishing up the day before my cast was removed. Now I'm back in the spirit of things...but unfortunately, also screamingly aware of all the work I have cut out for me.

What I have is essentially 80 different directions all crammed into one manuscript. During November, I had a devil-may-care attitude, which was a must for actually getting through the month and 50k, but now I'm wondering how much that may have hurt me. Let's just say a continuity editor would probably have an apoplexy reading it as it is now.

The upside to reading it through was that I rediscovered some real gems that I'd promptly forgotten about once typing. My Nano friends can probably relate to this. There's such a rabid frenzy in getting the words out, that you could be spinning out the crux of the scene and have forgotten everything about it in the next paragraph. In my case, my characters are actually a whole lot cooler than I gave them credit for. They're also a lot more complex, complicated, and generally unhappy with the rap I've been giving them in my head all of December.

So, another pro is that I'm very excited to delve deeper into these layers I didn't realize I'd created. The con is that I'm going to have to start over from scratch, basically, in my world building and mythos-creation.

In later posts, I'll get into more detail about the story, but for now, just know that it's an urban fantasy-cum-science fiction tale about love, war, freedom, and adventure. Is that vague enough? Good.

My one-day uncasted wrist can't take much extended typing right now, so I'll have to end this here, but my mind is running at full tilt now...probably taking me straight to Crazy Town.

And I'm ready.

Monday, January 4, 2010


New Year Resolutions 2010

Listen to music every day.
Read every day.
Write as close to every day as possible.
Finish writing and editing Eternal Spring
Successfully grow some herbs
Learn how to make palak paneer
Save x dollars each month with Evan
Get a bird feeder
Learn to play the violin
Once wrist can handle it, get back into yoga
Drink at least 64 oz. Water daily
Write and edit 2nd, as-yet-unnamed novel
Win NaNoWriMo '10
Find a new job, eventually

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Long December

On August 15, 2009, at the very beginning of a vaccination clinic at my job, I had back-to-back run-ins with an uncooperative table and more uncooperative terrier that resulted in the near-complete tear of the TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex: basically the ligament that lets your wrist do wrist stuff) in my right wrist. What followed have been (thus far) 4 months of pain and frustration as far as the injury went, but a unique opportunity to accomplish some things that have been sitting on the back burner for a long time. Worker's Comp can be a nightmare for some people, but for me it's been a real boon. Getting the injury has sucked, and I'm still afraid that I'll have permanent weakness in my dominant hand, but the paid time away from work has opened up the world for me.

In the first month, I managed to finish the 3-credit-hour Math 1101 course that kept me from graduating from UGA back in May 2008 like I was supposed to. I was so discouraged and frustrated at the time, not to mention busy with getting married and finding a job, that I put the class out of my mind for a while. My job didn't require a degree, and the thought of going through it was just exhausting. But I finally registered in February 09 via UGA's Independent Distance Learning program (which was great, btw), which gave me 9 months to complete the course. Needless to say, I had 3 lessons done by the time I got the injury in August. I stuck to it religiously and finished the course in 4 weeks, took the exam, and not only made an A in the class, but managed to graduate from the University of Georgia magna cum laude, albeit in the Winter of 2009. But hey, I did it, right? A lot of folks probably never would have finished that one measly course. I could easily have seen myself not finishing, but I had nothing but time.

It took me about 3 months and 4 doctors before I finally found answers with Dr. Peljovich at the Hand and Upper Extremity Center of Atlana. We tried physical therapy for 5 weeks, but that did nothing, so on December 8th, I had my first surgery. As he suspected, the ligament was torn, but a bit worse than we'd been thinking. He stitched it back together, and I've been in a long-arm cast ever since. That has been a huge adjustment, considering all my hobbies involve my hands, and suddenly I'm basically without function of my dominant arm! I couldn't even shower alone until I figured out an elaborate system involving trash bags and hair ties... I was depressed for a while, mostly just sitting on the couch watching TV. I can't drive, I can barely use the computer, I can't write, and reading is difficult. Christmas was a nice break. Having people around cheered me up a lot, plus it gave me enough books to go ahead and overcome the awkwardness of reading with one hand (it doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but it really is!)

In even better reading news, my husband and in-laws gifted me with my #1 desire for a late graduation present: Amazon's Kindle 2! I was shocked and completely thrilled. I haven't downloaded any ebooks yet; still trying to whittle down the pile of tangible books TBR before I do that, but I've been thinking about what to buy first!

But back to the story...

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the second time, but this time I won! My manuscript is currently sitting at around 65,000 words (which would be around 275 pages in a paperback novel), but I haven't gotten to finish it yet due to this big blue stifler wrapped around my right arm.

I get the cast removed on January 7th, then have about 3-4 months of physical therapy to go through before I can even think about going back to work, so in the spirit of the end of '09, I've decided to tackle my goals head-on. I have quite a list of resolutions for this year, but at the top of the pile are these:

1. Finish writing Eternal Spring, then buckle down for the overhaul and rewrite. I have to be done with this by June to be sure I can lock in the NaNo winners offer from CreateSpace to get a bound proof copy of my manuscript (in other words, my novel in a REAL book format! wow!)

2. Finish up brainstorming then write my second book for the year, a young adult urban fantasy that's been stewing in my head for quite some time.

I don't have a good history with blogs, but I've surprised myself in the last few months, and keeping up with that momentum, I'm determined to keep up this blog as accountability to myself, plus a nice way to look back over the process of writing these two books.

I'll also most likely talk about books I'm reading and other things that I'm currently in wow over--like Rome, a fantastic HBO series from a few years ago that the husband and I are about to finish. It's amazing, though if you have delicate sensibilities, I wouldn't suggest it.

Typing this much has been a serious hurting on my awkward right arm (I have to hold it at an extremely uncomfortable angle to be able to type), and my poor fingers are swelling, which is the surest sign I've overdone it with ol' righty, so I'll sign off here. No real novel work until my cast is off, but maybe some thoughts before then.

2010, you're mine.