Getting Back on Track

I’ve been rather distracted as of late while waiting on medical test results. I was writing, but not very much.

I’m not a New Years resolution type of person. I’m a goal-oriented type. So here’s the writing plan for 2016:

1. Finish the second draft of The Blood Waitress Club. It is a tale of a team of roller derby girls who happen to be vampires.

2. Finish the first draft of Scion. This one is an alien conspiracy involving a particularly skilled boy.

3. Do whatever is needed to get The Page & The Magician to publication. It’s my urban fantasy romance that’s set in Ottawa. This one is currently in review by a publisher, but they could decide it isn’t actually something they’re into, or that it needs a lot more work.

4. Polish some of my short stories and send them out into the world.

5. Attend Ad Astra and Can-Con.

That should keep me busy.

Ciao,
R~

NaNoWriMo 2015

Well I’ve been doing terrible at National Novel Writing Month this year. Why? Life has been busy.

At the end of October, from the 30th to November 1, there was Can-Con. I successfully pitched my novel to one of the publishers, then spent two days touching up my manuscript before submitting it. I had gotten some outside feedback at Can-Con and wanted to apply it. So that took me to November 4th as a start date. Then I had to spend some time ensuring I had food to eat at the Iaido seminar on the 7th. The 6th and 8th were partially lost to travel. I didn’t get much writing done in the first week.

In week two when I could get some time to write, I was facing the challenges of full-time work, writing course, plus social life. I was also facing a challenge of, “Man, it’s been so long since I looked at this manuscript. What’s it about again?” Also, I had updated my Scrivener to the newest version and it moved some of the text files around, so I had to reorganize and read to figure out what I had already written and what needed to happen in the story.

Week three had me facing a bladder/urinary tract infection. The antibiotics quickly cleared that up, but not without other issues. I was nauseous, lightheaded, dizzy, light sensitive, sinus headache, fevered/chilled… It was fantastic.

Somehow I was able to write 1,019 words on one of the days despite how ill I felt? That’s the only day I’ve written over 1000 words.

So as we head into week four, I have 5555 new words written on Scion. I have martial arts tonight, food allergy treatment tomorrow, and physio on Friday.

There are only a couple martial arts classes left before grading. It’s likely best I spend my free time on that if I want to pass it.

On the upside, the writing course is done and I received interesting and helpful feedback from the other students on several of my stories.

I’ve been terrible at ROW80 for this round. I’m posting a day early, because.

Next month should be a little better for getting my writing in. Not that I’m going to stop working on Scion. I’ll just stop feeling bad about not being up to Nano word count. And when I’m stuck, I’ll work on edits for The Blood Waitress Club. Whichever one is ready first will be my next pitch.

Goals for the Rest of the Round

Scion: 250 words/day

The Blood Waitress Club: 1 chapter/week

Ciao,
R~

An Eventful Weekend

I’m still alive! Things have been eventful though.

Can-Con 2015

When I last posted, Can-Con had just begun. The rest of it went by in a blur.

On Day 2 I attended a panel called, “Ask a Doctor Anything.” I asked questions about amputation for my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel Scion, which I’m trying to finish this year.

I can’t recall what I did next, but I think it was change into my hakama and keiko gi to get ready for the panel I was part of. Or maybe that’s when I went to the one on villains.

I’m not going to lie, it felt damned cool to be a panelist. I enjoyed demonstrating some moves and the attendees got a chuckle when I did. They learned size doesn’t matter as technique will prevail. I feel like we could have used 2 hours rather than one. One hour to talk and take questions and the other to demonstrate techniques and scenarios. I didn’t get to talk much, but as it was my first panel, I’m all right with that.

Almost immediately after that, I pitched my novel and they requested the manuscript, which I spent the rest of Sunday, all of Monday, and some of Tuesday fixing up. I hope they like it. They said I would know by January. I think there might be some parts written too passively, but hopefully there’s enough good that they see potential in it. I don’t mind rewriting parts as that’ll make it better.

Next, I cared for our table in the vendor’s area then had food and attended some panels. I caught some of the blood spatter panel where I learned that amputation of a live limb will create arterial spurt.

There was an interesting panel on Eco-Fiction, but I didn’t get as much as I thought I might from it. My friend enjoyed it though.

There was the paper airplane contest as well. I managed to sing in front of people this year. It’s odd. I was once part of a choir and had no issue singing as part of a group in front of other people. I can sing decently alone or around a small group of trusted friends. Each time I tried to sing for an audition in high school, I nearly became Willow Rosenburg in that nightmares come true episode. Last year, I had a visceral reaction to the idea and nearly went into a fetal position. This year I managed many brown notes from the opening to Supernatural. Progress.

The Hallowe’en party had several people taking pictures of my Hit Girl costume. I’m petite, so it’s fairly easy to pull off this character.

Sunday I opened the table, had my second pitch, and another Blue Pencil. My book wasn’t what they were looking for. A friend got that response from them too. At the Blue Pencil, I got tips on my opening chapter, which I incorporated in my edits before submitting my manuscript.

I have a lot to learn about selling books. I sold one the entire weekend, but that’s better than zero. I also way overestimated how many chapbooks to make. Oops.

Scion

I began writing Scion in May 2010, a month after graduating with a Business degree in Technology Management. I also began shotokan karate shortly thereafter.

As my first novel attempt, I knew how to write, but not how to get passed the 32,000 word wall. That’s a common place for stories to get stuck for some reason.

I also didn’t know enough about things like The Hero’s Journey. I’m unsure if there are other forms for novels beyond the hero’s journey…

I’ve returned to this project with more experience and at least one clue of what to do to finish it.

I’m starting with the lead up to the amputation scene… Fun stuff.

Well I’m starting later than I hoped to, but I think 450 words is an okay start.

Politics

Today made me proud to be Canadian and hopeful for the future. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sworn in today with his cabinet. He stayed true to his word and selected a diverse cabinet filled with women, minorities, and even someone confined to a wheelchair. He created a new position: Minister of Science. A woman holds that seat. This cabinet reflects the diversity in Canada. It’s a cabinet for and of the people.

I never thought I’d be writing about politics, but Justin makes me care. It’s like we finally have a real leader in this country who’s also a human being.

I tuned into the brief Google Hangout he had with school children after the swearing in ceremony. The chat screen was annoying. There were several people yelling for legalization to happen.

I’m pro legalization, but there are vastly more important things to handle first. Syria and the refugees. The missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Bill C-51. Also, Trudeau has stated that it must be implemented in a way that ensures it’s not accessible to youth. He’s likely talking to Colorado about what problems they ran into, so we don’t have problems here. It’s more important that those in need of medicinal marijuana get access first. It’s more important that the textiles and other goods can be created. Those will give people jobs. Recreational use will come, but give the man a chance to do it right and stop screaming for it in inappropriate places like the chat room for elementary schools.

Ciao,
R~

Update – October 21, 2015

Well I’ve missed some updates recently. I’m sorry for that, but things have been rather hectic.

Health

I’m in physio for my neck. I think it’s helping put the discs back where they should be. I’m hopeful that there will come a day where I will be pain free.

I haven’t heard about the other stuff yet.

Writing

I’m feeling a conflict.

The course I’m taking to improve my skills is taking up so much of my time that I’m not getting to work on my actual writing projects. As such, I’ve decided I won’t be going for the certificate. I already have tons of things like that for my wall and don’t need more. I’m going to pare down to just what I need to do in the course to improve my skills. I will comment on some of the posts, but 15 per week is too much. I’ll continue doing the assignments as they force me to do things I wouldn’t naturally do, so I think they’re helpful for growth. I also like hearing the feedback from others. I’ll continue giving them feedback too. I’ll also watch the videos because those are the lessons. The readings I’ll do if I have time.

My cover designer is getting closer to having a cover to me. It’s looking really good so far. I’m excited!

I need to do my back cover writeup. I think I started it and may just need to tweak it.

I’ll post my schedule soon for Can-Con 2015.

I’m planning away for National Novel Writing Month as it’s very soon. I’ll be working on Scion, which I formerly titled The Truth About Jacob. It’s an alien conspiracy and it’s currently stuck at around 30,000 words. It’s the first novel I tried to write, so finishing it will feel great. They’re currently stuck in the woods. I plan on torturing them some because characters love that. Right?

Martial Arts

I’m using my wooden sword for a little while as I need to relax my trapezius muscles.

Grading is coming up and though I’ve not registered yet, I’m training for it.

I’m speaking on a panel with three other people at Can-Con about weapons. I’m looking forward to this, but I’m also hoping I don’t get too many questions that I can’t answer.

Life

My tattoo has been finished. It’s just starting the itchy stage. I WANT TO SCRATCH IT SO BAD!!! I know I can’t though. I can slap it and put more lotion on it.

My Halloween costume is getting close to being finished.

Things are going well with the boyfriend 🙂

I feel like I’m always cleaning my place and never getting done. I suppose that’s usual. It’s Back to the Future Day! We need clothes that clean themselves. Dishes too. I’m tired of that crap.

Well, off to do laundry.

Ciao,
R~

Ahead of Schedule

So… I’ve transferred all of my old roller derby blog posts into Scrivener. They amount to 56,000+ words, which is a good amount to work with as a start for a story. The old blog has been deleted. The next step for this item is to figure out what to do with the posts. Fiction or non-fiction? One genre or cross-genre? Keep some of the feel of a blog or make it more like a regular book? I’m also thinking of other outside-of-the-box ideas.

I’ve been working on my sci-fi novel some. I need to figure out how to get the rest of it done, but I didn’t really know about writing prompts and the like when I was originally writing it. I’ve decided the name has to change. I can’t remember if I talked about doing that before or not. Anyway, I like the title Scion better than The Truth About Jacob. It’s a more accurate reflection of the story and it sounds cooler in my head. There are other reasons for doing that, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

My writing group is going to talk about editing at the next meeting and how to go about it, so I need to get a couple of pages together from The Page & The Magician and send them out to the group for review. I’m looking forward to getting to editing it as that means it will be closer to having people read it.

I’m almost done watching Arrow. I’m on the second last episode and it doesn’t want to play tonight, so I’m watching Sequestered.

Guitar class is almost done. I’m not enjoying the course. It’s not the guitar itself, but assignments, peer-reviewing, and song choices. We only learn songs written by the instructor and I was excited to learn things like “The House of the Rising Sun”. I’m going to try the guitar course in town at the community center. I’m hoping they can give me tips for my tiny hands as I can’t reach more than 3 frets and it seems common to need to reach 4 at least. I’m already using a 3/4 size guitar, so I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should be learning ukulele instead?

As usual, I don’t have a shortage of work ahead of me, but I feel like I made good progress last week and I hope I can keep the momentum going.

Ciao,
R~

NaNoWriMo

Well I’m hip deep in NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month. November to some means growing facial hair for charity and for slightly insane people like me we take on the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s the end of the 18th day and I’m doing well with 33, 146 words into my romantic fantasy novel, The Page & The Magician, which is a mix of deeply spiritual concepts, modern dating woes, and fantastical characters like a green-skinned, voluntarily beardless dwarf who bakes muffins. And of course, there is sex and glorious battles too. Much of the book happens in Ottawa, Ontario with segues into places I haven’t decided upon yet.

This is actually more than I have written on another novel that I’ve been working on for 4 years. I feel a bit ashamed at myself for that, but I know what has been a key differentiator for me with this new novel: character development. Prior to starting November, I used D.N. Frost’s character tarot and did an extremely thorough mapping of who my main character is. This has helped me figure out some things on supporting characters, but it’s also been immensely helpful for me in generating ideas on how to keep pushing my story forward.

I plan to do some serious development on my main characters for “Scion” sometime after NaNoWriMo is done. I have a feeling my current piece, “The Page & the Magician” may get finished before Scion does as I’m on a roll with it. There have been many times over the month where I have found myself giggling as I write scenes. I’m enjoying writing fantasy as I can throw silly things in and have it be totally legit, which is not so easy with Sci-Fi.

At any rate, I thought I should post something to say I am alive. Tonight was particularly challenging as not only was I a little bit stuck, I injured my left pinky at martial arts the other night and each time I typed I would experience pain. Talk about negative reinforcement… I had to wrap my hand so only a couple of fingers could move and my pinky could be forced to stop typing. I never realized how much I use the left “Shift” button. I hope my finger doesn’t continue to be sore for long. That pinky is rather necessary for the martial art I do as the left pinky is integral to cutting with a sword and I have my first grading on December 6. I’ll power through any pain for grading, but I’m hoping it is resolved before then, so I don’t have extra hurdles.

I had to stay up late in order to squeeze the words out. It’s passed my bed time, so I’m off!

Ciao,
R~

Where have I been?

Hi! Sorry, I’ve not been blogging lately. Why not? Well…

I’ve been painting my condo living/dining room. The living room has two walls left and the dining room also has two walls left.

I also caught up on some TV shows I happen to enjoy. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watch television from time-to-time. I enjoy stories and the medium doesn’t have to be limited to text for me to enjoy them.

I’ve been reading books by other Ottawa-area authors.

I’ve also been writing… sort of. Well, planning to write may be more accurate. I’ve been pondering my NaNoWriMo piece and intend to come up with a plan for it soon. I’ve started putting a plan together for a sci-fi conspiracy story that’s been rattling around in my head.

And, I’ve been stuck.

My main novel, whose working title is, “Scion,” has had me stuck for a little while. Here are the reasons why, I think:

1. This first reason I feel rather silly about. I had a character tell my protagonist to go and rest. That’s it. I’ve been stuck because of that. The other day I said, “What the hell is wrong with me? So he told her to go and rest… that doesn’t mean she has to!” And like that, I could write again, though I’m still figuring out what should happen while they kill time until night comes and they can leave under the cover of darkness. I think they’ll order pizza. She’s never had it and it could be yummy.

2. I keep saying writing a series is harder than writing a single novel. I need to stop that right now. Writing anything is hard. Each novel in a series must be its own story. Also, part of the great thing about writing is that we create problems for ourselves that we then have to figure out how to solve. We place our characters in predicaments that seem highly unlikely to leave them alive and somehow manage to keep them alive… or sometimes we kill them off. I’ve killed a few along the way. Couldn’t be helped… or maybe I like to kill characters (she laughs maniacally). Anyways… stopping talking about it being hard. From now on it’s back to writing a little at a time whenever I can find a spare moment.

3. I keep forgetting where I left off. I think this is just an issue with staying organized. I get in the habit of writing tidbits in my email and I think I need to go through those tidbits and get rid of the ones I’ve already merged into the story and work on merging the rest into it.

4. I’m worried it’s leading to, “So what?” I think this item is something to bring to my writers group. I think I should start talking about the end of the first book. I’m not sure I know how it ends. I know what I’m building to series wise, but book one needs to be completed first.

5. I think I’m a little scared. I’ve been working on this book since 2010 and it’s rather precious to me. I’m scared I’ll publish it and people will think it’s crap or they’ll scour it to find that one thing I messed up. I’m scared they won’t like it. I think it’s normal to feel these things though. I’m also both scared and excited for what happens once the manuscript draft is complete… Editing could be arduous and scary. Maybe I should hire a book coach. I’m not sure how expensive they are or if there are any in the Ottawa area, but they sound worthwhile. EDIT: 2015-06-01 I’ve since learned that book coaches are a scam. Don’t get one.

My NaNoWriMo piece may never be published. It might just be something for me. Perhaps I should think of all of my writing this way and take the pressure off of myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if that change in mindset helps me finish the rest of it.

Tonight was the first ChiSeries reading event of the season. I bought two books. Then the second author, Madeline Ashby, read and I had to buy two more. She was hilarious. She thanked us all for staying up past our bedtimes because Ottawa people are early sleepers. She described her own story before reading the snippet she read to us and kept interjecting that somehow her publishers went for it. (Her books involve robots/androids. The protagonist is in kindergarten and decides to eat her grandmother. Then she grows to full human size because of the intake of extra mass.) Extra bonus… she’s tiny like me, though still taller than I am. I hope I can be as comfortable reading in front of a crowd someday. I’ll have to dig into my theatrical past likely. It’s rather dusty and I’m allergic to dust, so… drugs? I mean the allergy kind! Anyways… as this analogy no longer makes sense… or does it?… I think it’s time to say good night.

Ciao,
R~

A bad workman…

Today’s proverb is, “A bad workman blames his tools.”

I don’t fully agree with this. There is merit to it as some people just look for excuses to avoid doing something. There are valid reasons to having the right tool though.

Take process mapping, for example. Yes, one can process map by hand or use paper-based methods involving sticky notes (I’ve seen it), but at some point it becomes rather cumbersome to maintain and a realization that the paper could become damaged and a lot of work could be lost, occurs. Sticky notes fall off. Plus, it’s hard to share a very large paper copy with others without them having to come to a specific site to see it. Putting it into a computer-based tool like Visio becomes a necessity. Not all versions of Visio are created equal. Some versions one may spend inordinate amounts of time trying to get something to work, where a newer version lets you document the process in seconds because they constantly improve the tool.

Yes, you can write a novel on paper, in notepad, in Word, or in something like Scrivener. There are benefits to each method. I often start my first scribblings in paper as I have with a recent piece that may or may not become a romance novel. With paper, I often feel like I don’t want too much of it on paper as I’m scared it will be spilled upon or have some other catastrophe occur and I will have to rewrite. Rewriting isn’t terrible as I usually write it better the second time, but there is the odd time I’ve felt that I lost an amazing piece of work (perhaps only amazing in my own mind haha). Notepad is as simple as it gets with a few font options and word wrap being it’s features. I often used to do random notes in Notepad as little pieces of my series that I wasn’t sure where to use. I used Notepad in conjunction with Word because those little notes in Notepad took up less space than they would as Word documents. I was writing in Word for a long time using the outline view option to allow me to navigate through my story without having to scroll through pieces of it. Now I’m finishing it in Scrivener because it’s amazing. I get the benefits of Word’s outline view, combined with the benefits of separate little notes, and a whole host of new features like the ability to take a snapshot of a webpage for citing and referencing. This means that I don’t have to be online to work with my novel if I’ve grabbed the research material beforehand. This also means that I don’t have to take up so much room on my hard drive with pictures of things. I can split the view so I can be writing while having the webpage open in the application. That all being said, I could have finished writing it in Word likely, but it was getting cumbersome to work with and Word is rather prone to crashing.

My point is that there always comes a time where it is necessary to upgrade if getting the job done efficiently is a concern.

The only reasons to stick with old tools are artistic ones or short-term monetary ones. The Woodwright’s Shop on PBS is an example of an artistic or artisan use of old tools. It’s neat watching the way things were made years ago and it’s probably rather enjoyable to be able to take such time and care with each piece he produces. Were he in high demand, he likely wouldn’t be able to keep up using his current toolset. He would need power tools. Still, there is this enchanting element to putting so much care into each piece. He’s not in a rush. He’s truly enjoying his work. How many can say that today? How many times are workers today rushed to complete something and unhappy with their own finished product? Software gets released with bugs and products with extra holes or missing pieces. The world of today is a hurried one. I refuse to take that approach with my novel. Sure, I’ve been at it for a few years, but I’m doing it to my own level of quality. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the first Harry Potter book took 5 years to write, in part because she was planning parts of the rest of the series. Life was likely crazy raising children alone and working whenever she could. I’ve had my own challenges along the way and I’m not worried about it because the time it takes to write it doesn’t diminish the words on the page.

Anyway, I may be getting off topic. I think everyone has tools they prefer for certain jobs. I find it uncomfortable to rollerskate if I don’t have the right socks. Some derby girls can’t imagine playing the sport while wearing underwear. Labeling someone as a bad worker simply because they have a preference for one tool over the other doesn’t make sense to me. They may be exemplary in actuality and know something you don’t about the different tools. Drummers often prefer specific makes of drumsticks and drums. Yes, they can jam with different ones if they had to, but why would you make them? Artists may be at the extreme level of pickiness with their water preferences, brands of paint, guitars, etc, but that doesn’t make them bad at what they do. I don’t believe this proverb is anything more than a blanket statement issued after observing only a small sample. Yes, I can manage to perform my martial art with a longer bokuto than I am used to, but the quality isn’t the same until I’ve had time to get used to the change. I also don’t believe that only rockstars, famous authors, Gotham all stars, or CEOs should be allowed to be choosy with what tools work best for them.

Yes, it may be true that a bad worker will blame their tools, but they’ll also blame everyone else around them and anything they can remotely associate with their poor performance. They’re easy to root out and the rest of us shouldn’t be lumped with them.

I guess this proverb got to me. Sorry if I ranted too much 😉

Ciao,
R~

It is not work that…

Today’s proverb is, “It is not work that kills, but worry.”

Basically, hard work is good for you. Worrying about things that you can’t do anything about is bad for you.

I am an over-thinker. I mull things about in my head all the time, but I’ve learned to try and focus on things that I do have the power to change. There are more things in your control than you may realize, so before you stress yourself out think, “What can I do about this?”. Make an action plan with steps to achieve that will get you closer to whatever your goal is.

If I write at least 200 words per day over the next couple of months, I should be able to finish my novel by year’s end. This post is around 150 words, so if I write a couple of paragraphs every day my book will be done by December. Awesome.

Ciao,
R~

If wishes were horses…

Yesterday, I bought a proverb calendar. I thought it might be interesting and inspiring for story writing. I realize half the year is over and that it seems silly to buy a 2014 calendar now, but sometimes I’m silly.

Today’s proverb is, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

In other words, instead of spending life wishing something was better, come up with an action plan to make it better. You are in control of your own happiness.

For some people, that might be scary, but not all things require huge amounts of effort or commitment, at least at the start.

Take a journey, for example. What does a journey begin with? One step.

A novel? One word.

Of course, before you know it, another word happens. Then another. Suddenly you have a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, a chapter, another chapter, more chapters, a first draft, etc.

I’m at the more chapters stage with my first novel and all the while climbing closer to a first draft. It’s a jumble of hair-pulling excitement, self-induced insanity, soul-rending frustration, and periodic delirium. Writing a novel means constant decision-making, cursing myself for the problems I’ve created that I now need to solve, and philosophizing about whether my character would do/say/know anything.

This makes descriptive text challenging. I have a scene where my character is walking down a hallway on a spaceship. I’ve decided the walls look like apologia. Given that my character is from another planet, even if they know what apologia is and looks like, it’s probably not called apologia on their planet. This means I have to describe it entirely based on appearance. Why don’t I just say the walls were blue? It’s not interesting. Besides, would you rather see a plain blue wall on a spaceship or something that reminds you of some kind of biological organism? It’s a friggin’ spaceship!

So ignore all my banter if you’re just starting out. One step. One word. That’s all you need to get going. Take a chance and let me know how it goes.

Ciao,
R~