Thoughtful Thursday – On Editing

L4BB3-67RLK3J_RoyRSometimes a contract falls through and it’s the best thing for all parties. Editors and authors can have vastly different visions of what a story should be and sometimes an artist needs to stay true to their vision.

This is a good time to officially say that going forward, I will be extremely choosy about writing short stories. They are very time consuming and I’d much rather be working on a screenplay or a novel or a novel adaptation as those are where my heart is.

Don’t worry. I’ll turn that little story into something. I think a different medium will truly let it shine.

Stay true to yourself and you will never go wrong.

Salut,
R~

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Fortifying Friday – Done!

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Editing is complete on The Page & The Magician. Well, until an agent or publisher tells me to fix something. This last revision was about making sure the story flowed, fixing grammar and tense issues, and being clever. In correcting flow, I found some spots where I had thrown something in that either didn’t jive with the story or I forgot to finish something. A package never got delivered, and that had to be fixed. In being clever, sometimes the smallest changes can add so much to a story. After a great conversation with a friend, I added hints that my world was bigger than the immediate story. I also made tiny changes like the species of a flower to increase meaning. As I’ve said before, I write in layers. I don’t know what layers are beyond this. I’ve taken my novel as far as I can alone.

With this complete, I have a little breathing room to tend to things like cleaning my home. Not too much. I have more queries I need to do, of course.

I have a short story I also need to plot out because pantsing hasn’t taken me nearly far enough. After the short story? The Blood Waitress Club will become my focus.

I also have some other skills to work on and an interview to prepare for. French level 3 starts in a couple of weeks as well.

First, I’m dancing and singing some Green Day in the privacy of my condo. Sorry neighbours! I realize my singing is terrible, but I enjoy it anyway 🙂

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend despite the chilly weather!

Ciao,
R~

Thoughtful Thursday – First Query

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I submitted my first ever query letter this week. It was hard to describe all the elements of my book in a couple of paragraphs. It’s urban fantasy erotica. I didn’t talk about the sex scenes. They are, of course, part of the story, but there is more than sex going on and I wanted the agent to hear about the basic story and get an idea of the key things that happen. It’s really hard to do that when you’ve spent so much time making sure all the pieces go together like breadcrumbs making a trail. I figured they would guess there is sex in it judging by my putting it in the erotica category. I wanted to tell them the whole wonderful story, but there isn’t enough room nor do they have enough time. I just hope I gave them enough to pique their interest and give me a chance.

I was still holding my breath after I clicked on the submit button. It’s a mix of fear and excitement.

I suppose I should submit to some other agents too. Eggs in one basket and all that.

With martial arts cancelled due to freezing rain, I had time to do more editing.

Yes. I queried before I completely finished my edits. Why? Because I have a background in project management. Knowing that it took me only a couple of days to get through the first half of the book and that they usually take around 3 months to respond, I wanted to get the ball rolling.

There was so much more I would’ve liked to put into the letter!

Yesterday, I continued editing my novel and edited the first draft of a children’s book for a friend. Editing is something I struggled with early on, but now I quite like it. There is set structure and I can just sit down and work without interruption. Well, when there aren’t barking dogs and sirens disrupting my concentration that is. I think editing as a career direction is something for me to look into in a serious sense.

Well, I have chapters to edit, a short story to write & edit, and other novels to finish first drafts on.

Ciao,
R~

Fortifying Friday – Calluses

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I first started learning guitar in grade 12. We had a course we could take and get credit for as part of our high school diploma. My then boyfriend was also taking it and class was slightly uncomfortable once we broke up, but I enjoyed it regardless. I had a blast performing with the class. I was supposed to sing too, but singing performances and I are like that Buffy episode “Nightmares” where Willow ends up singing with Pavarotti and can’t utter a word only weird screechy noises… Yeah. Put me in a car with friends and I’m fine. Shower? You betcha. In a musical or band performing in front of people. Nope. Unless I’m just one of the choir and not alone. I did make it through an O’ Canada performance with only two other people one time in high school, though. All our strongest choir members were at another performance and the football team needed singers. Us three thought there would be more, but nope. I’m off on a tangent again, aren’t I? The point I was trying to get to was that my learning of guitar was put on hold, not because of the failed relationship, but because it hurt my fingers too damned much to play the thing.

I hadn’t built calluses yet.

Calluses are a pain in the ass. There’s no way around it. You have to play until it hurts and play a little bit passed that, but not so far passed it that your fingers bleed. Bloody fingertips mean cut fingers and downtime from playing while they heal. We don’t want downtime because we need to build our calluses.

I’m to the point now where I can play for a whole hour before it hurts. My calluses are coming along. Those fingertips feel almost like leather.

They’re frail, though. I have to play every night to ensure they get strong.

I’m not sure what the writing equivalent to calluses is in this digital age. Few people write by hand enough to get writer’s bump today. But I’m not talking about a physical callus. Could it be learning to accept rejection? We build up a tolerance to it and it hurts less each time we are told no. Perhaps it is learning to edit? We get better at killing our darlings as we collect experience. But that may only be some of us. I know I’ve begun asking myself what I’m aiming to accomplish with a sentence, paragraph, or chapter and I’m getting better at cutting when it isn’t accomplishing the objective.

Perhaps calluses are really just visible experience markers and as we write more, we can see the progress in the quality of the words on the page. In which case, we should challenge ourselves with stories that make us uncomfortable to write. Stories that push our own boundaries and force us to reach for something beyond our current skill level.

I know, at one point, I was playing guitar and it was all just noise. Now it sounds a lot more like the song I’m playing. I’m not playing with the recordings yet or at the right speed. I’m going to soon, though. In fact, my guitar teacher gave us special versions of the songs we wanted to play that used easier chords because we couldn’t play the advanced ones at the time. If I had the time and the cash, I’d take more lessons from her. She was pretty cool and skilled.

In writing, my work last year felt like a mess of scenes that didn’t necessarily link together. Now it’s got a flow and looks like a novel. There are things like foreshadowing. There are climaxes and there is setup, etc. There’s more to do to make it the best it can be but it’s coming along really well.

I’ve now been playing guitar for over a year. Lately, I play every day. Sometimes only a song or two. Other times I lose track of how long I’ve been playing and suddenly it’s bedtime. I used to have to stop after a short amount of time. Especially songs that used my ring and pinky fingers as those are often on the two thinnest strings. The strings that hurt the most. Now, those fingers have the thickest calluses. They have come farther than my other fingers.

In martial arts, I began barely able to hold the sword in the right direction. Which was the blade’s edge again? Swinging it straight down the center line was hard to do. Harder still was the horizontal cut. Sensei would say things that had deep meaning to someone who wasn’t me. I eventually got the basics to a level that we can now build on the physical skill as well as the mental understanding. Each class I learn something. Often Sensei told me about it last year or perhaps even the year before, but I am only able to understand it now.

Calluses are a mark of experience and while I have a long way to go before I can be called good, I’m moving in the right direction.

I’m targeting my fitness callus next. There will be extra challenges for me with food allergies, exercise-induced asthma, and tendon pain. I discovered I was already in the right weight range for my height and frame size, so my current goal is to tone. I made up my own HIIT routine to help focus on the areas that I use in martial arts. What I enjoy about HIIT is that it is scaleable and you always just do your best. Instead of counting the amount of pushups you did, you just give it everything you have for the duration. I never feel like I suck because I did 20 instead of 25 of something. However, my original goal of doing HIIT twice per week was ambitious because my fitness callus had not been built.

I’m also working on my French callus. Language learning works well a little bit each day. Too much and you overwhelm your brain. Besides, you didn’t learn your first language that way. You saw a thing you wanted and mom or dad told you the name of it. You gradually learned to then describe its appearance, texture, etc. Then you learned to speak full sentences instead of fragments. They were simple at first. “Clifford is a big, red dog.” It’s easy to put too much pressure on oneself to know something after a short amount of time. So I immerse myself a little at a time. I get a library book in French and work through it with a dictionary nearby. I don’t use translation app because that doesn’t force me to use my brain and map the neural connections that will build the callus.

And there’s the geocaching callus. Currently, I have a high DNF rate (Did Not Find) and it’s frustrating. I’ll keep trying, though. I know it’ll get easier at some point. I installed a GPS app on my phone to hopefully get a little closer to the caches than a 13-foot range. After that, it’s honing other skills. I have to train myself to see the single grain of white rice in the salt shaker.

Whatever you’re working on in life, you’ll face tough parts and you have to push through it to build those calluses. Challenges help us build calluses and prepare us for greater things ahead.

Ciao,
R~

Oh, here’s my 7.5-minute HIIT workout in case you’re interested. I just modified one that I found online so it was more martial arts focused. Change the time as needed to scale it to you:

30s Jumping Jacks
30s Push Ups
30s Lunges
30s Punches (alternating left and right)
30s Jumping Jacks
30s Side Kicks (alternating left and right)
30s Front Kicks (alternating left and right)
30s Lunges
30s Push Ups
30s Crunches
60s Obliques (30s each side)
30s Squats
30s Leg Raises
30s Stretches (or as long as it takes you to stretch things out)

Merry Monday – Grinding Away


Back to the grind this week. It was a little hard to get into French tonight, but after a while it was OK. Sometimes I feel like my pronunciation is very good, but my comprehension isn’t. I guess that will come in time.

Yesterday was a packed day. After iaido, I had a date at the Ottawa Geek Market. It was just OK. 

After that, I had a visit with my toddler buddy, which was awesome. I was taken aback when he greeted me at the door. Usually, he’s excited to see me but also shy about it and half hiding behind one of his parents. Yesterday, he said hello, asked me how I was, and how my weekend was. So adorable! Then he wanted me to do burpees with him hahaha. Of course, I obliged despite having done a bunch of leg work at iaido. At one point he said, “ciao”! After reading him “Stuck”, it was time for b-movie club, which featured “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead”. It was pretty funny, though I still prefer “Cannibal the Musical”. 

The itchy skin thing is persisting, though not as bad. I can’t tell if allergy medicine is helping or not. Hopefully this gets figured out soon. I’m losing less sleep at least. The last couple weeks, I’ve felt like I was barely functioning. Really not helpful for writing anything.

I realized partway through editing chapter four that I haven’t been using contractions and should, so it’s back to chapter one to be sure I get all those fixed. This is really what writing is about, nitpicking.

Anyway, I better get to bed.

Ciao,

R~

Fortifying Friday – Limbo

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I’m in limbo right now. The job application and interview process is a slow one. Companies take months to get from advertisement to selection. I know this. It doesn’t make me feel better, though. I don’t want to end up on EI, even if it would be nice to get a little of it back after paying into it for so long.

My days are currently taken up with job searches, applications, etc. And otherwise, I’m trying to get a martial arts seminar booked into a location, which is more difficult than one might think. Some places give preference to organizations that have booked with them before even if it’s not a recurring weekly event or they haven’t yet booked with them. Seems odd to me. Why wouldn’t you go with the guaranteed income? Maybe they’re friends.

My job coach says that this period where I’m waiting to hear about jobs is normal. He recommends going to more networking events.

I have an appointment tomorrow to get professional photos done. I need them to go with my writing bio (rather than a selfie) and my LinkedIn could use it too. There’s a promotion on at this place a couple of blocks away, so I’m going to try them out. I was told to bring two outfits, no black. Apparently, black thins you in person, but does the opposite on camera.

I got a few more outfits from the thrift store today. They had $2 off pants, skirts, blouses, and blazers. My lucky day. Now I need to do laundry, though. I also need a couple of camisoles as two shirts are a little see-through. For $30 I got 1 pair of pants, 2 blazers, 2 scarves, 4 blouses, and 4 skirts. One blazer needs a small repair. The back hem has come out in one area. That’s not a big deal though. I have to get fixing my fancy martial arts pants before seminar and taikai next weekend anyway.

More edits have been made to my mystery story Sandra’s First. One was left over from before. I couldn’t decide which way to go with it then. The other, I think was missed because of the mess of tracked changes markings all over.

Ciao,
R~

Thoughtful Thursday – Stir Crazy

I haven’t felt myself most of this week. The job hunt is ongoing and it is emotionally taxing.

On Monday, I felt anything but merry. I realized I was going stir crazy and the weather was absolutely perfect for a visit to Papanack Park Zoo. I took more videos than photos as my camera is not a DSLR and isn’t so great at taking action shots. I spent the bulk of my time there admiring the big cats. Perhaps a strange thing to do for someone with a cat allergy, but they were fascinating. As I walked toward their cages, I could feel the danger in the air. Some of the enclosures reminded me of a wooden version of those found on Jurassic Park. Lions act rather like a mixture of house cat and dog. They pounce if you turn your back on them and jump up excitedly when they see their feeder. This doesn’t go on for long as they wear themselves out quickly. They were surprisingly adorable. I never heard any roar, but would have liked to. Tigers are more active and are surprisingly hard to lose sight of despite their orange colour. During the feeding, I didn’t get much chance to take pictures of the tiger, so I went back alone and watched it until it snapped at me. At that point, I told myself it was best to leave it alone if that was what it wanted. I had left the tiger as I was following the feeding tour. Our next stop was the snow leopard. What a fluffy kitty. It had a pretty relaxed demeanor and I swear it was walking by the cougars on purpose to rile them up. The cougars were right next to her and they were nasty. One female cougar in particular was terrorizing the male. The other female left the two of them to fight while she stayed hidden from the crowd. The male let the other female push him around until food came and he was hungry. He snapped back and she threw herself to the ground and tried to act all sweet. He wasn’t buying her act, though. I visited the monkeys and realized their poop smells the most like human poop. There were a lot of them too. The squirrel monkeys only did cool things when I didn’t have my camera out. Figures. Now for some pictures… The first is of a pair of owls. The one on the right wouldn’t take its eyes of me and turned its head around more than 180 degrees. It was a bit creepy.

owls

There were creepy bald eagles too. Somehow I didn’t notice until after I took my picture that there were three in the cage that were all in the exact same pose. Other birds were so still I wondered if they were alive or even real.

eagle

There was a capybara, which I thought looked rather like a giant beaver.

capybara

I also got to see cute things like a wallaby. I fantasized briefly about having one as a pet.

wallaby

There were zebras too.

zebra

I felt better after the zoo visit. It surprised me how much the wild dogs looked like regular pets. I did not find them scary, but should have. I did start sneezing after a while, but by then it was time to go home anyway. I didn’t spend much time looking at the North American animals. I was more interested in the exotic ones and had only so much time.

On Tuesday, I finished the edits on Sandra’s First and sent them to my editor. I was dreading my afternoon appointment with Dress for Success. I felt like there wasn’t much point to getting clothes for interviews as it seems I haven’t been selected for any. At the start, I wasn’t confident in some of her selections for me. She gave me a mint green shirt to try, which was as awful as I expected. Shortly thereafter we found two outfits that I can mix and match. They make me look great. Also, older and taller. I can’t wait to wear one to an interview!

Tuesday evening was somewhat frustrating. One member of my martial arts club was being subtly jerky to me by uttering comments meant to make me feel stupid. I will defuse that situation in due time. It caused me to lose a lot of sleep and I won’t let that continue.

Because of the lost sleep, I was barely functioning yesterday. I couldn’t even manage to use my scanner properly, but I also couldn’t nap. I caught up on Supernatural and picked up a package. I also got an ergonomic cushion to make my office chair better and did some shredding. At least I got more than nothing accomplished.

Today, I’m still a little sluggish, but almost back to normal. Caffeine helps. I’ve been watching more TV than I should, though.

Back to working on the to-do list.

Ciao,
R~