Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life in Bullets


The first of the two holiday weekends is over, and all I can show for it is a rotten five days of being sick, bare bedroom walls, and a really cool kitty necklace. Mother tried to be supportive of my writing and gave me a digital voice recorder, but the sound of my own voice makes me giggle. ;)

I've had a few inquiries about what I've been up to, so here are my answers in bullet points (because I like everything organized and separated by subject - don't you?):
  • Writing: My writing took a few weeks off (I didn't - it did), but I returned to Project V over the long weekend and got in about 1K before succumbing to my sickness again. It's still kind of boring to write, but I have an idea of the next few scenes now so I'm going to try and get them down since they're there. As for SS12, I haven't touched it since I declared it my next project - which is bad because that deadline will pounce on me very soon!
  • Life: I am in the process of re-doing my room, which basically means removing all the posters and putting up new ones. I really want to get a new bed and shift the furniture, but I said that last year and it still hasn't happened. To hopefully further my writing resolve I have declared my closet door "writing space," and have begun filling it with encouraging notes and points to remember and inspirational pics, all topped with a map of the world. I must say it's coming along nicely.
  • Movies: Finally saw Harry Potter Part 2, which concludes the HP movies. *sniffle* I was surprised at how close they stuck to the book, which I only found out after declaring several scenes were not in fact in the book and then upon revisiting the book discovered they in fact were. (My memory is horrible!) I also saw The Help, which everyone raved about but it depressed me to no end. Still, it gave me a story idea about zombies...
  • Reading: I lost Legend back to the library, but another copy is on its way so I can finish it. Mother & I have been into Charlie & the Chocolate Factory lately, so I re-read the book (she's already well into The Glass Elevator and doesn't like it ;). I'm also still trying to get through Fairy Tail - only a few volumes left. I learned one can only take so much FT at once, and my tolerance level was about 12 volumes (I have 15 right now). I'm also holding onto a copy of Shatter Me, although once I found out it's in journal form I was a little put off (used to love them, now not so much). Will still give it a try though.
So that's what I've been up to. How about you?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Tidings


I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!
May it be filled with family and friends,
lots of good food, and tons of fun!
Happy Holidays! XD
~Skye

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why I Write

Just when I think I've reached the point where I can no longer get much from articles on writing, I stumble across one that leaves me pondering just how much I think I know. I read an article that asked me the simplest question: Why do you write?

And I had no idea.

It's not that I've never thought about it - I mean, we all do here and there. But I had never focused directly on the question.

The article said that you should write it down, to have on hand when you get discouraged or stressed and start questioning why exactly you are putting yourself through this anyway? So when I headed for my thinking spot (the shower) a little later, I gave it some serious thought. Why do I write? Here is my answer:

I write because I have so many stories to tell, and I want people to read and enjoy them as much as I enjoy creating them.

The article said that our reasons tend to change over the years, and I know this to be true. When I first started writing, my reason was to make a lot of money penning awesome stories so I could quit my job and move to Colorado with my parents where they could retire and relax. (This was only fed by the fact that said parents kept asking me when I was going to finish a book so they could move and retire and relax already! ;) But I now know that it is extremely difficult to make enough money to fulfill that dream - writing just doesn't pay that much. You have to throw your whole self into becoming a book machine, or get really lucky and hit it big. Not that I'm not going to try, but my reasons for writing are now much more realistic.

I come up with at least one new story idea almost every day. Life inspires me, and before I know it I'm thinking, "But what if this had happened instead?" or "What if she was put in this situation?" or "If only there had been a body in the middle of the room!" My mind starts churning and creating and expanding the story, and I itch to put it down on paper - and ultimately show the world. One day I hope I can, and I look forward to hearing what the world thinks of it.

But first, to get it down...*sigh*

So why do you write?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Musing Mondays: Curses & Parasols


Time for another Musing Mondays question, brought to us by MizB at Should Be Reading:

"What's one book you always recommend to just about everyone?"

I can't think of a single book, but there are 2 series that I rave about to anyone who will listen:



The Curse Workers Series by Holly Black
(Bk1: White Cat, Bk2: Red Glove, Bk3: Black Heart)
Genre: Older Young Adult Paranormal
What if there was "magic" in the world - and it was wielded by the mob? This series follows Cassel Sharpe, a boy with a rare power, as he gets himself entangled in "the family business." The premise is original and fresh, the writing flawless, the characters extremely interesting and engaging, and the world perfectly woven. Person: "Can you recommend a book?" Me: "Well, you have of course read Curse Workers, right?" Person: "No." Me: "Have you been living under a rock?"


SoullessChangelessBlamelessHeartlessTimeless
The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger
(Bk1: Soulless, Bk2: Changeless, Bk3: Blameless, Bk4: Heartless, Bk5: Timeless)
Genre: Adult Alternate History Paranormal Steampunk
It follows soulless Alexia and her adventures dealing with secret societies, threats against the Crown, and fashion - not to mention vampires, werewolves, and ghosts (oh my!) - set in Victorian England (or thereabouts). Tea, steampowered contraptions, parasols, proper language, dirigibles, a bit of blood, octopi, and lots of flying fur ensue. The writing is flawless and witty, the characters are real and eccentric and way too much fun to follow, and the world is perfectly constructed - you simply can't go wrong with these books. And Gail is branching off from this world with two more series - be still my fluttering heart!

So what books do you always recommend?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Library Haul: Daring Girls & Grim Reapers

It's time for this week's installment of Library Haul, in which I show you what goodies I picked up during my weekly trip to the libraries (TL, ML, and CL). This trip was marred by the fact that by the time we reached CL, which is currently undergoing renovations, it had CLOSED, without warning, THREE HOURS EARLIER. Needless to say this left me distraught, as they are currently holding the LAST Harry Potter movie for me! *sob* So I have to wait until TUESDAY to get it. (They aren't even open Sundays! What is the world coming to...)

But even without CL's goodies, here was my haul:


Highlights
  • A new Yotsuba&! finally appeared! I adore the adventures of the little girl, although it's so odd sometimes that I can only take a few chapters a sitting. ;)
  • Now that I've watched Willy Wonka, I want to re-read the books again, so I picked up the paperbacks. Now to find time to read them...
  • I came up with a story idea about a female grim reaper and remembered reading First Grave on the Right a while back. I figured there would be another book out by now, and sure enough there was (Second Grave on the Left) - and it was just waiting for me at TL! I adore perfect timing.
  • I listened to a Writing Excuses podcast episode with guest Andrew P. Mayer last week, and his book (The Falling Machine) sounded interesting so I picked it up. Not sure if it'll quite be my thing, but I'm willing to give it a try.
  • The books standing up are my used book haul, from both the library Friends and a quick stop by Changing Hands (which was crazy packed! Good for them!). I picked up The Daily Writer for my 2012 "daily writerly moment," which is one of the many plans I have for the year to come. I'm sure you'll be gleaning bits of wisdom from it as well as I read and blog about some of the entries.

So what goodies did you pick up your last visit to the library?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home Is Where The Heat Is


After such an amazing yet astonishing rain day this week (it was awesome! XD), I started pondering why I live in a place like Central Arizona, where rain days (my favorite type of day) are considered "amazing" and "astonishing" instead of "normal." So I decided to create my "Cons & Pros List of Central Arizona":

CONS

1. The summers are HOT. As in melt your shoe soles to the pavement. As in fry an egg on your dashboard. As in barbeque your brain into a gooey mess. It may be a dry heat, but you'll still collapse if you're outside more than two seconds in one of our many 120-degree days. Whoever's idea it was for human beings to live here year-round, I hope they died a slow, painful death out in the desert with a dry canteen and no hat.

2. It hardly ever rains. And NEVER snows. Snow? What's snow? I've heard of the phenomenon, but it's been so long since I've seen it I question it's existence. And as for rain, this year has to be one of the driest on record. When we finally had a real rain day this week, no one knew what to do with it. No one carried (or probably even owned) an umbrella. They would either stand inside the shops staring out with bewildered looks, completely at a loss how they were supposed to get to their cars, or they walked through it like it wasn't even there - rain zombies, completely oblivious that they were getting soaked. I, on the other hand, ran about in it with my plaid umbrella, shivering yet grinning.

3. It's BROWN. Sure we have our own greens (heck, most cactus are green), but they are majorly bleached out, and who can enjoy anything, green or otherwise, under the blinding sun? On the very rare days it's overcast, it's like I've been transported to a whole other world where I don't have to squint to see everything. Or it's like I've been blind, and oh look! That big brown smudge over there was a mountain! I never would've guessed.

4. It's really spread out. I dream of places like NYC, where within a few-block radius of your apartment you can buy groceries, pick up a pizza, purchase books, try on clothes, and take a stroll in the park. Here, a few-block radius might get you a QT, if you're really lucky. To get anywhere you actually want to go, you have to drive. And of course Arizona is populated with crazy people who drive like maniacs out for your soul. Bonus Points if you can sideswipe the Honda! *swerve*

5. Winter clothing is NOT an option. Sure there's enough of a chill outside to warrant long sleeves and a thin jacket, but once you head inside? You'll wish you'd never heard of long sleeves the heat is so sweltering. It's not cold enough outside for a person to need to thaw out inside before heading out again. And yet, during the winter? All the clothing there is to purchase is for Alaska weather conditions. (A parka? Really?) Clothes shopping in winter if you're not traveling = useless.

PROS

1. Beautiful, mild winters. They really are gorgeous. People live her for the "chill without snow" factor, which I have to admit is nice. You can still go around in short sleeves and sandals if you have a light jacket and don't mind a little nip. And this girl loves the nip! XD

2. Arizona bookstores. Our bookstores are pretty awesome. We have Bookmans (eat your heart out other 49 states ;), which sells only used media and has a really nice selection most of the time. Then we have Changing Hands, which has a pretty good new/used selection but it's the awesome guests and programs they run almost constantly that have put them on the map. If an author is coming to Central Arizona, most likely it will be there - or Poisoned Pen, our other independent bookstore that I don't get to often but know it's the other place to be seen if you're an author. Needless to say, I haunt these places whenever possible.

And... yeah, that's about all the Pros I can come up with. Sad, isn't it? Why do I still live here?! Oh yeah, I can't afford to move...

What are the pros and cons of where you live?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Legend

It is time for Teaser Tuesday, a weekly meme (what does that mean anyway??) hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, where you open your current read to a random page and pick two teaser sentences.

This week's read:


"One of these is the Republic's flag, imprinted faintly against the metal.
Another is a small red number: 318."


So what are you reading this week?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Library Haul: Fairy Tails & Chocolate Factories

After the amazing haul I got at my local libraries today, I thought I would start a regular segment entitled "Library Haul." (Original title, right? I have a gift.) Every Saturday (when I don't have a program to run) I hit three different libraries (TL, ML, and CL). This was my first Saturday back after more than a month away doing Nano, and they were as happy to see me as I was them! XD

Here's today's haul:


Highlights
  • TL finally got in the middle volumes of Fairy Tail, meaning I can finally start reading it! I refuse to read anything out of order unless absolutely necessary. 
  • I was two-thirds through Daughter of Smoke & Bone when a hold stole it away from me. Now I should be able to finish it.
  • Stumbled across Glee's rendition of "Pure Imagination" this week and got a hankering to see the original Willy Wonka movie again. I'm pondering purchasing the original soundtrack if it's as good as I remember...
  • New Nancy A. Collins Golgotham book came out this month (Left Hand Magic), so I got Right Hand Magic again to brush up before new book arrives. I read so much I can never remember what transpired in the previous volumes.

What did you get in your latest library haul?

The Secret of Blogging Regularly?


Unfortunately no, I don't know the secret of blogging regularly - I'm wondering what it is! Do you know? I have no idea how some people do it bi-weekly, let alone daily. I can never think of anything intelligent to talk about, and if I do it takes several days and many hours to write (because it can't be posted unless it's perfect). *sigh*

But I haven't posted since November (when Nano gave me a very good excuse and month-long subject to work with), so, updates:

So yeah, Project V... all I have left is the last fourth or so, but after being sick in October, doing Nano in November, and then being hijacked by a brand new story for 34 handwritten pages the beginning of December, I lost all momentum and can't find my way back. I tried printing out what I have so far to read through, but I got sick of it around Chapter 4 - not a good thing considering "if you are bored, so will the reader be." So at this point I'm not sure what to do other than set it aside for a little more time and abandon the 12/31 finish deadline. Perhaps this wasn't to be The Story after all...

As for the December story that hijacked me, it was coming along really well...until it wasn't anymore. So I decided to let it go for now. It was a fleeting idea that came from seeing one too many Mary Jane characters in superhero stories and wanting to break the mold. Perhaps if I started typing it up I would regain my interest, but for now I'm okay letting it breathe - my wrist couldn't take much more anyway.

My current project is my short story entry for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association contest (due mid-February). I did it this year with no intention of winning (and I didn't), and can't wait to do it again next year. It's the only contest I could find that gave two critiques win or lose (if you know of any others, please let me know). I'd yet to really receive much critique (I'm very wary of having people read my stuff - the "must be perfect first" complex again), so this was a great way to get some "professional" constructive criticism - and I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Although I never expect to win (this year's winning story showed me I don't write what the judges consider "winning material," I guess), I loved the feedback I got and am really looking forward to some more.

For the short story, I flipped through ones I had already started and discovered a complete 2K first draft from last December. After getting over the shock that I could have possibly written a short story under 10K, let alone 5K, I was very happy to declare it a worthy candidate. For now, we shall call it Project SS12. Who knows - maybe I'll post it here once it's finished (we'll see).

So that's it for me. What are you working on right now?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nano Day 30: All's Well That Ends

Dear Diary,

I write this, my dearest of dear friends, from the comfort of my home. Sipping tea in my favorite chair. Eating chocolate-dipped cookies. Surrounded by the hundreds of red pens that were showered upon me at my return. Life has never been so sweet. 

I emerged last evening to discover not the fancy party I had imagined, but an indoor luau in full swing. The glasses clinking were filled with brightly colored liquids and umbrellas. The snapping flames from the tiki torches and fire in the barbeque pit. The delicious smells that of smoke-roasted meats and fruity salads. 

And instead of being chased out, I was welcomed with applause and cheers, despite my appearance and atrocious odor! (Thankfully the odor was quickly remedied by a quick dip in a nearby wading pool.) Then they showered me with red pens like confetti, which hurt a bit but was well worth the pain.

As I was ushered deeper into the room, my host (she which imprisoned me) approached in pajamas and wide-brimmed hat and said: "Ah, there you are. Good, good. I sent a car for you..." She eyed the state of me. "But apparently you found your own way here. Anyway, it's good you're back - we have so much work to do!" Then she raised her sky blue drink and yelled, "But for now, let's par-tay!"

And so I enjoyed myself immensely, eating and drinking and talking and collecting every red pen off the floor into a nice weaved handbag I picked up...somewhere. Then, once we were sufficiently sloshed, my host (or, her driver) brought me (us) home, where I now lounge, happy and content.

So my dear friend, this is my last entry. After I sign off I shall tie you up and hide you away somewhere never to be seen a-more, lest you bring back horrible memories that I do not wish to contemplate ever again.

Although I could've sworn I overheard my host discussing "next year's hostage plans" with a ninja at the party last evening. I pray it was only the fruity drinks talking...

Yours no more (I hope),
Inner Editor

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nano Day 29: 50K? In the Bag.

Dear Diary,

I am close!

I was able to dig away just enough brick and mortar to squeeze through and found myself under what appears to be the floor of some type of large room. There is a lot of noise above me - people chatting, glasses chinking, those little lit cans of fuel snapping under hot pans of food - the smell of which is making my mouth water.

I am taking a quick moment to catch my breath and smooth out the wrinkles and filth from my clothing, then I shall approach the trapdoor I discovered at the other end of the crawl space and face my fate.

Pray that I shall be able to grab at least a crab puff before they chase me out.

Here goes nothing!
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 29

I reached 50K! XD *throws confetti* It was a tough month this year, but I made it. Somehow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nano Day 28: The End & Start

Dear Diary,

I HEAR VOICES. And I do not believe they are only in my head! I am quite elated.

The sewer finally gave way to a dirt tunnel that every so often is topped by a manmade substance, such as the brick and mortar I am currently sitting under. And I can clearly hear voices coming through!

After digging the last bits of jelly from my last jar I will begin using my trusty spoon to dig out some of the bricks. It's time to come up for air!

Yours on the rise,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 28

It is official - I FINISHED ASAU.

With about 3K still to go.

But I dove right back into Project V without taking a breath. It has been a bit of a rocky start - I haven't read or written a word of it in over a month. But I'm already up almost 1K - only a little more than 1K to go! XD

Concerning Project V, it feels REALLY good getting back to it. I am ready to get down and dirty and finish it already! Curious, I glanced at my notes and discovered I came up with the idea for it the end of May. Such a short time ago! This has to be a record story turnaround for me. But that was the plan in the first place.

ALMOST there!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nano Day 26: The End Draws Near

Dear Diary,

I feel I am quite hopelessly lost, my dearest friend. I have been wandering about these sewers for days without any sign of light or an exit, and fear the worst. Can you imagine? Those banked words may never see a red pen...

I did hear a great noise a while ago - it sounded like the pounding of many feet, as if rushing about with great urgency. It shook the tunnel walls and set the water sloshing around me. My pants are now soaked up to my shins, and it is very uncomfortable - I do hope it doesn't happen again.

I have been subsisting on an underground food storage I stumbled across (perhaps a few days ago? I don't know), filled with dried meats and bottled jellies. While it made for quite a meal, the way out was bricked up tight with no sign of busting or digging through. Whoever they were, they were quite accomplished in masonry along with their mastery of food preservation.

I fear I shall never find my way out, and shall spend the rest of my life down here, gnawing on turkey jerky and talking only to you.

While the company is quite pleasant, I would kill for a good candy bar.

Yours lost and possibly forgotten,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 26

Thanksgiving should have been a good word day, but alas when I sat in front of the computer after not writing a single word Wednesday I had lost all (and I do mean ALL) interest in ASAU and was repulsed by even the thought of the story. So I did the second thing a writer would do in the situation - I turned off the computer and left it for another day, even though I was behind word count. (What is the first thing a writer would do, you try to remember? That would be ditch the story and begin a whole new one. But so close to both the end of my story and the end of Nano, I wanted to TRY and stick it out.)

Thankfully, after some Black Friday shopping in the morning, Friday proved kinder to me, and spread out on the couch (and not at my desk) I got back into the story and passed word count.

As for today, after a nice afternoon with an amazing and lovely Word War taskmistress (where has she been all month?), I am now at 44K! Only 6K more to go. But there is a problem: I am in the middle of the LAST SCENE. With 6K to go. And it's mostly action. Rut-roh.

The last thing I want to do is go back and try to ADD to ASAU. I never want to see this story again - I have been writing it on automatic for weeks now. I thought of perhaps trying to fit in a short story, but there are only a few days left and I have another deadline to think of: Project V - 12/31/11.

So the plan is, if I don't make word count when ASAU ends, I hit the ground running right back into Project V. I have been DYING to get my hands on it again - I even started questioning character motivation instead of falling asleep last night. It is screaming to be finished, and I'll be damned if I don't answer the call.

Viva la noveling! XD

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nano Day 22: The Final Scenes Approacheth

Dear Diary,

Do pardon the smell, but as they say: I have struck gold!

Well, "gold" is a horrible term for the stroke of luck that has befallen me. More like "filth," for I have indeed struck filth in every sense of the word. But while I have assured myself that I shall scald my skin and burn every article of clothing on my person afterwards, it is a blessing.

You see, before I could begin tunneling up towards possible freedom, I broke through into a sewer tunnel. While the smell is quite atrocious and makes me gag, you can understand my elatement: no more digging on my part!

The sewer tunnel continues with no end in sight to either side, but after several days of crawling about in the dirt, a nice jaunt through raw waste will do me good.

The "jaunt" part. Not the "through" part. The "through" part will take all my willpower and much breathing through the mouth.

Yours up to her knees in unmentionable liquid,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 22

No writing yesterday during or after work, but I got in a nice 3K+ afternoon today. My story is moving at a breakneck pace now - I have decided to stick to only the major scenes planned in my head, so it is simply pouring forth from my fingers.

I have already made the two trades (for the son and for the spy father), filled the spy father in about everything, and now they are currently entering HQ. Soon: the final scene.

Keep your fingers crossed I'll get 10K out of it somehow...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Musing Mondays: My 4-Point Approach

Time for the Musing Mondays question, brought to us by Should Be Reading. Today's question(s):

How do you decide to read a book by an author you haven’t read before? What sort of recommendations count most highly in making that decision?

I rarely care about the "author" when I'm choosing a book - I simply go by the actual book. Sometimes I will look to see if the author is female or male depending on the story, but that is very rare. The only time I ever care about the author is if I love the book - then I go looking for them, and more of their work.

So how do I decide to pick up a book? I have a "4-Point Approach":

1. Cover. Unless it is by a very favored author, my choice to pick up a book begins primarily with the cover. Yes, I totally "judge a book by its cover." At the bookstore or library I mainly browse anything facing forward - if just the spine is showing, it will have a very hard time grabbing my attention (unless the title is so off the wall and in such big letters I can't help but notice it).

2. Title. After cover comes title. If it's too weird, long, or plain, I'll skip right over it if the cover doesn't really grab me. One-word titles are all the rage right now, which could be considered too plain, but they are doing a pretty good job of making them unique and interesting (Paranormalcy anyone? ;).

3. Summary. And I'm not talking about the inside flap or the back cover description - I'm talking the one-two sentence summary on the back of the title page. If a book does not have this, I will most likely put it back - simple as that. Unless the cover/title looks exactly like something I'd read, I don't have the time to stop and skim the book description. If the summary really intrigues me, though, I may scan the description afterwards, just to make sure it is what it seems.

4. Subjects. If the summary is too vague, I'll glance at the subjects. These give me a better idea of just what exactly I'll be getting into. If most are to my usual tastes I'll give the book a try, but if they are all "familial relationships" and "vampires" then I have no interest in even trying.

As for Recommendations...I rarely listen to them. If someone recommends a book I've never heard of but sounds intriguing then I may look for it at the bookstore/library -  but it will get the same 4-Point Approach like any other possible read. If I'm already interested in a book but unsure if it'll be any good I may scan through a trusted review or ask someone who's read it, but otherwise I go simply on my own tastes.

This is all, of course, within the context of my favored genres, which consist mainly of Young Adult, and Suspense & Urban Fantasy trade paperbacks ("t-ps" are a genre to me ;). I rarely browse genres I don't read, and even more rarely pick up something in them for perusal.

So how do you choose what you read?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nano Day 20: 35K & Change

Dear Diary,

I apologize for the radio silence the past few days, but I wanted to make as much progress as possible before they figure out where I have gone.

I am happy to report that my progress is very good. I believe I am under the cell wall now, but shall proceed several more feet before I begin tunneling up. I most certainly do not want to emerge still inside the walls - or, worse, pop up into an abandoned cell where they will never know to deliver an evening meal. As it is I subsist on old crusts of bread, bits of cheese, a bottle of water, and a party pack of Smarties I was given for "good behavior."


Little did they know that their reward would subsist me through this ultimate betrayal. Good behavior indeed...

Yours no longer behind bars,

Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 20

Productive Write-Out yesterday - which was good because I got nothing written Friday and feared today's required word count. But yesterday got me past today's count.

And as of today, despite a carry-over migraine from yesterday, I am now caught up to Tuesday, so if for some reason I cannot write at work (and my boss would do that to me, just because I think she won't), I can skip tomorrow if need be.

As for my story, they have the terrorist for trade, but now the boy has been kidnapped. Holy conflict Batman! As I am over 35K I decided to just hit the major scenes, and if I come up short word-wise after the story ends I'll figure it out then. But I have to: make the trade for the boy, make the trade for the spy dad, then a big HQ scene, then the spy dad goes and rescues the assistant. I figure that should fill 15K, don't you?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nano Day 17: The Big One (and Smiting)

Dear Diary,

I apologize for whispering, but we must be quiet. I can hear the guards above in the cell, trying to decide if they should look for me in the Fortress of Solitude or respect my privacy and hope I will come out when I get hungry enough. I added a Postscript to my DO NOT DISTURB sign, which read:


"P.S. Fasting."


Hopefully it will hold them at bay for at least a few days and give me a head start. When they do finally come after me, though, all they shall find is an empty fortress, for I have begun filling the tunnel behind me with the dirt ahead. 

There is no turning back now.

Yours no matter the volume,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 17

Thought I wouldn't get any words in today, but surprised myself with a late afternoon session and now I'm caught up past Saturday! XD I REALLY like keeping several days ahead of word count - it relieves a small sliver of stress from my life.

I am currently on the 2nd half of The Big [Middle] Scene. I thought it all had to be written in one sitting, but thankfully it split itself in two so I could take a breather and eat dinner and watch M*A*S*H and Person of Interest.

As I swore to do I paused at every point while writing and thought, "What would be the worst that could happen?" And then I smote my character with it. Many more words were typed, and some tension wrought. Makes for some pretty good writing, smiting. ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nano Day 16: Ninja Sneak Attack! 8O

Dear Diary,

Forgive the filth, but I have discovered dirt is extremely common underground and sufficiently coats anything it comes in contact with - such as yours truly. Although my cell has a nice sink, and the guards have provided me with plenty of flowery soaps, no matter how hard I scrub it is impossible to remove the many layers of silt I find building upon my person.

It is quite icky. But I shall not be...

Excuse me a moment while I wash just once more.

There. Now, where was I?

I am excited to tell you that my escape tunnel is almost ready! I have successfully delved far enough down to begin progressing sideways, and will start doing so after this entry. Tomorrow, after a light lunch, I shall shift the Fortress of Solitude around the hole and put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign over the entrance.

Then tomorrow evening (after dinner, of course), I bust out of this joint.

Yours like a mole in a hole with a goal,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 16

Yesterday I accomplished nothing more than purchasing an almost entire set of Nightside Series paperbacks for half price, and while this filled me with a sense of accomplishment I had no new words to speak of and decided to take the night off to hide my shame.

And I am ashamed to say that today was no different. While being several days ahead of word count relieves some of the stress of writing a novel in a month, it also gives one a false sense of security that they can take a few days leave of their story and come back where they left off.

Alas, this is simply not true. As we speak that dwindling word count is sneaking up on me, like a ninja ready to strike...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

4 Truths To Remember

I wrote this for my Regional Wrimos, and thought I would share it here as well. Rules 1-3 pertain to the writing life in general, and should always be kept in mind for a First Draft. May they serve you well.

Truth #1: First drafts are NEVER perfect.

So don’t expect yours to be! All seasoned writers, especially professional ones, will attest this is a universal truth. Any who say otherwise are lying through their hats (whatever that means, but they’re still lying). This month your story will veer helplessly into gray, boring areas. The dialogue will get away from you – as will your characters. But don’t despair! Just wrangle everything as well as you can, and once you’ve got your 50,000 words nice and settled in, you can attack them in January with editing vigor and cut and add and polish them until they shine. First: get your words written. THEN worry about perfection.
Truth #2: “Writer’s Block” does not exist.

So many people talk about the horrors of “writer’s block.” I am here to tell you now: IT DOES NOT EXIST. What we call “writer’s block” is usually one of two things. (1) Merely a hitch in the story, be it an uncooperative character, a plot falling short of its mark, or general confusion as to where the darned story is going! Or (2) pure and simple laziness, which is a disease that can run rampant among aspiring and seasoned writers alike (beware!). So when you find yourself “blocking” and that horrible term pops into your head, remember: it’s all in your head. Step back – peruse your notes and read through the last few paragraphs (but don’t edit!) to see what’s hitched in your story. If you can’t find a solution, skip over the whole section and start writing another part. Maybe once you have a better idea of where the story is going, you’ll see where you went wrong and will be able to fix it later. Or evaluate your state of being – perhaps all you need is a good power nap on the couch. But don’t lie there all day – make sure you’re up and writing after a short while!
Truth #3: Writing rules are made to be broken.

There seem to be so many restrictive rules to writing that we must follow or never be accepted into the “writing community.” But think about it: if everyone followed ALL the rules of writing, would ANYONE be published? Probably not. So this month, forget all the rules! If your writing seems a little crazy, a little off the wall, don’t fret it! Remember: you can always edit it later. You never know what breaking the rules will inspire in your story! And as for grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation – if they’re bringing you down, ditch those too! You can correct your overabundant adjectives and break those run-on sentences after you’re done, so shut off your spellcheck and get typing!
Truth #4: Nano is about getting the idea down into words – and having fun!

Getting the story down is the hard part. Once it’s written, EVERY SINGLE WORD can be changed for the better – so don’t worry about getting it perfect the first time! Just enjoy the thrill of writing and have as much fun as possible. Nanowrimo is an exciting adventure – treat it as such!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nano Day 14: Still Writing

Dear Diary,

Still digging.

Wish you had a shovel. A rather useless cell companion, aren't you?

Yours up to her elbows in hole,

Inner Editor





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 14

Another quiet day at home writing (and doing laundry). Got in about 3,200 words.

Brother-in-law is about to walk into [good guy] Headquarters and break out a terrorist so they can trade him to the bad guys for the spy dad. Whatever can go wrong probably will - it's my motto for this book. ;)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nano Day 13: Conflict Adoration

Dear Diary,

Digging.

Wish you had hands.

Yours up to her hips in hole,

Inner Editor





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 13

Quiet day at home. Got in a few thousand words, and plan to get in at least three all together by bed tonight.

Story progressing nicely. A little too nicely this morning, actually. I suddenly realized that my middle was moving WAY too fast, and I needed to slow it down a bit if I was going to make 50K. So I asked myself: What would slow them down? The answer: losing their safe house. And with bad people already after them, how easy was it for said bad people to suddenly appear and chase my characters off?

Peasy, that's how easy.

So now with a shattered windshield they have gone to do business with some unsavory types for a new ride...

Ah conflict, let me count the ways I am loving you this November!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nano Day 12: Writing Along, Writing Along...

Dear Diary,

It has been a horrid day, my comforting friend. Utterly horrid.

When the guards saw that I was playing with my books without even reading them, they talked to my host and begged for leniency. They were quite excited to tell me this morning all about their success, and presented to me a freshly printed manuscript, a gift to tide me over.

Although it was a distraction away from my mission to escape I did not want to disappoint my guards, so I sat down with the nub of a red pencil they had brought me and began to read...

Ugh, I feel sick all over again, just writing about it...

It is the most horrific manuscript I have ever laid eyes on. And old story, written long ago before even I had any idea of what I was doing. I barely got three chapters in before I could take no more and had to lie down.

I believe my host means to torture me, but she will not prevail. I have written the guards a nice thank you note, and after scribbling all over the pages to make it appear that I have thrown myself into the retched work, I have begun my digging with a new passion.

Yours in fighting spirit,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 12

Today was my Region's first annual DAY OF WRITING SAFE & WARM. The official site has their NIGHT OF WRITING DANGEROUSLY, so we created our own. I think it went rather well, and everyone seemed very productive in word count.

I got in a few thousand words of my own today, and am just shy of 25K! The assistant is currently plotting out how to spring a terrorist from agent headquarters to trade for her boss - and so am I. A few minutes of thought will need to go into this caper before I continue.

The little gray cells are calling. Happy writing!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nano Day 11: Singin' In the Shower

Dear Diary,

It has been a good day. The tunnel hole is up to my kneecaps, and if my hands hold up I hope to be out of this wretched place mid to late next week.

I hit a snag when I realized that a hole's contents must be relocated elsewhere, but I have repurposed my scale New York City and built a nice fort in the right corner behind the door. It is a bit of a blind spot for the guards, and now they dare not approach it since I told them that it was my Fortress of Solitude, and I would scream like a banshee if they set foot inside. My solitude likes to be alone, thank you very much, and should be left as such.

I requested a writing utensil catalog from the night guard, and when I am not digging I have begun the important process of choosing just the right red pencil with which to attack those banked words...

Yours bleeding yet cunning,
Inner Editor



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 11

Every writer has a place where the muse hits them over the head with a bat - I mean, delivers brilliant ephiphanies on fluffy white clouds with golden trumpets and such. Mine is the shower. I will begin pondering my latest story as I shampoo my hair, and by the time I'm stepping out I am brimming with ideas!

Today my muse visited me, and let me tell you, I am MAJORLY brimming. Yesterday I had no idea what would happen in my dreaded middle, and today I know EXACTLY what will happen. EXACTLY. I have never said that before. EXACTLY. It feels REAL good. :)

See, there was another outline sentence I forgot to mention yesterday: "The spy dad is captured where he is so they aren't getting any help from him." I had planned to let him do his own thing off-screen, and then eventually break himself out and get to them just in time to wrap up the finale.

But in the shower, I started thinking about how the assistant is leaving him phone messages about where they are - cryptic ones, just in case someone else gets ahold of his phone. And, of course, the people who have him would have his phone, and be getting these messages. Would that change anything?

And why would they keep him alive anyway? Would they want to exchange him for someone? If so, who would they know to contact? Wouldn't it be whoever is constantly ringing his phone? So if they called the assistant, she would totally get involved, especially since the agency would never negotiate for his life (he's really not supposed to exist) but SHE would because she doesn't want the son to lose his other parent so soon after losing his mother... Therefore, they would have to rescue the dad themselves.

And there it was. The secondary plot that would take up the whole middle and keep them constantly moving and in danger (because they will have to break out whoever they are supposed to trade the spy dad for, and the good guys won't like that).

And all in a half-hour. In the shower.

Isn't my muse AWESOME sometimes?

So there's my middle. And this will slide VERY nicely right into the Third Part. The only worries I should have now? Getting my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keys.

Whoever says Week 2 is hell, they have never met me.

Happy 11/11/11! XD

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nano Day 10: Uncharted Territory

Dear Diary,

I apologize for not writing yesterday, my fellow captive, but after a day of scraping in the dirt my hands were too cramped to hold the pen.

After another day today they are slightly less cramped, but ugly blisters have begun to blossom. I fear I shall never hold a pen right again, but if I do not extricate myself from this cell I may never wield that beautiful red pencil at all.

Ah, the blisters begin to bleed. Do excuse me while I rip the end of my dress for bandages...

Yours no matter the injury,
Inner Editor

 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 10

Work was CRAZY yesterday and I didn't get any new words written, so I took off Nano blogging to preserve what was left of my sanity.

Today was spent entirely at home and as such offered three separate writing opportunities which produced almost 4,000 words! XD My best day so far this month.

Story-wise I have reached the point where my outline reads: "So now they are on the run." This means I shall finally have to actually think about my next move. And as yesterday's RTW clearly stated, middles and plotting are NOT my forte. But I'm used to it and have prevailed at least five times before. I shall prevail once more!

There is still a whole second page of outline left, but this is for the THIRD Part of the story. For the Second Part, there is only the above sentence, and this: "After much frustration, and lots of arguing, romance ensues between uncle and assistant." Yeah, I can be extremely helpful to myself, can't I? ;)

I am already on a new, unplanned scene though, and it is coming along relatively well so far - although I have absolutely no idea where it will lead (but that's half the fun, isn't it? ;). The uncle overheard a phone conversation by the assistant (when she said no phones since they are hiding out) and now thinks his fears are confirmed that she is, in fact, a bad guy. The uncle and the assistant are currently arguing, with guns pointed at each other, because he is trying to make a break for it with the boy and she has to convince him that she's a good guy and they must stay in the safe house and keep together.

But is she really a good guy? Dun-dun-dun... ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

RTW: Ultimately, Torture & Death

I interrupt my regularly scheduled Nano broadcast for Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway! This week's topic:


"What are your writing and publishing superpowers (drafting? beta-reading? writing queries? plotting? character creation? etc.) -- and what's your kryptonite?"


SUPERPOWERS
  • Story Ideas are easier for me to come by than dust in the desert. When civilians ask authors where they get their ideas, or authors complain that they "can't come up with anything to write," I am completely dumbfounded. I get ideas in passing from dreams, books, movies, television, the news, dialogue from passing strangers - just to name a few. Life bursts with ideas - how could you not stumble upon at least one idea a day?
  • Characters are my bread and water (with butter on top ;). Almost all of my stories are exclusively character-driven, meaning I come up with the main characters and basic premise first and then work out the plot when I absolutely have to. (More on plot below...) Most characters are born their own unique person straight from the get-go, and as such flow from my fingertips with ease and pleasure. I always enjoy the new discoveries I make about them every time I sit down to write!
  • Beginnings, i.e. the First/Third (for me), are my easiest words to write, where you introduce the main characters and set up the premise and world. And it is a rare day when I don't put down a rather brilliant First Sentence right off the bat.
  • And speaking of which, Knowing Where to Start has become a specialty of mine, I'm happy to say. Now when published authors recommend to "cut your first chapter," I'm like, "Already done before it was written!" XD
  • Lastly, Encouragement is a natural way of life for me. I love to encourage others in their writing (and in their lives), and love to send emails and tweets with lots of !!! and XD in them! :)

KRYPTONITE
  • Plot is the first half of why I have yet to be published. If I had my druthers I would simply follow my characters around all day and not worry about them doing anything particularly exciting or adventurous, because they are just so fascinating all by themselves! But people insist on a plot for some reason, and when I can't come up with anything good enough my books tend to die a tragic death and I move on to something seemingly better. Started books? Probably over 100. Finished books? Under 10.
  • Middles, i.e. the Second/Third of a story, are the endless death valley that spans between the beginning and the end for me. I'll get hopelessly confused by my fractured plot and lose focus and direction and the characters will take back over and start worrying about holidays instead of finding the climactic end and... *sigh* I am happy to say I am learning to work through the dreaded middle, but I don't foresee them becoming a superpower any time soon.
  • Editing - the other reason I have yet to publish. A first draft is difficult to write, but I've done it. But go back and edit? *shiver* I have yet to do a successful novel edit. Heck I haven't even done a full second-draft edit! And it's mainly because my plot was so weak that it needs a complete re-do and I just don't want to go there. But I'm collecting my tips and tricks and reference books, and once I finish Project V (by December 31st or I die a painful death inflicted by my own hand), that will change (or, again, torture and ultimately self-inflicted death).

So those are mine! What parts of writing are you good and bad at?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nano Day 8: The Dreaded Week 2

Dear Diary,

My cleverness continues to shine, my fuzzy lined colleague.

Operation Cuckoo's Nest is coming along nicely. The First Step in my Three-Step Plan is to emancipate myself from this cell, and I have taken the preliminary measures to insure my escape.

When the guard returned for my morning cereal bowl, I insisted on retaining the spoon. I informed him that I had taken up telekinesis as a hobby and all the good reference books insisted bending spoons was the way to start. He was wary, but after much whining on my part he left the utensil with me.

I have decided to dig my tunnel in the far left corner, and have requisitioned the evening guard for a book on redecorating, to have an excuse to maneuver the furniture to cover it.

I tried to request some flowered drapes for my cell bars as well, but I was informed the floral look was so last year. Alas, foiled by fashion.

Yours in mind and pen,
Inner Editor




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 8

Week Two is supposed to be the dreaded week for Wrimos, but I've never had the problem and don't feel I will this year either. Week One is my dreaded week, when I'm forced to finally settle on a story and get into it. Don't get me wrong, beginnings are easy for me, but during Nano they can prove not as easy as they usually are.

Once Week Two rolls around, my story smoothes out and moves well. The characters become their own, the world forms, and my plot... well, plot is always a problem, but it does its best and that's all I can ask.

Despite being home all day today I only got about 1,200 words written, bringing me just short of tomorrow's 15K count. But despite a warned busy day at work tomorrow I shall make it or, as my blog name suggests, die trying. ;)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nano Day 7: Sneak Writing

Dear Diary,

I am quite clever, my sparkly pink friend. I heard the guards approaching and pretended to be asleep so I could overhear their conversation.

They were discussing my host, and I have learned that she is attempting to write an entire novel during my absence. This is quite an absurd notion - she can write naught a single word without me!

Then they mentioned something about her already having 13,000 words in the bank, and my stomach fell. She was keeping her words in a bank? How would I ever get to them, to edit them and polish them and make them shine? I decided drastic measures had to be drawn up, and quickly.

I have thus begun to make my plans for escape, and subsequent word retrieval. I have tentatively titled these measures: "Operation Cuckoo's Nest."

It is a working title.

Yours soon to be removed from within,
Inner Editor




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Nano, Day 7

Despite last evening's television distraction, I made today's word count and then some, demoting my "required" writing at work today to "recommended." And lucky for me I wasn't too busy and was able to sneak write another 1,200 words! XD Overall, a pretty good day.

As for my story, it is still proving pretty easy to write. I have introduced and set up all three main characters - the spy's (who is now a "secret agent," mostly because it gives me two words instead of one ;) assistant, the spy's son, and the spy's brother-in-law. And they are about to be driven out of the house and forced on the run by a team of bad guys lurking upstairs. Becky (the assistant) is at this moment creeping up the staircase with a gun to investigate strange noises...

Do excuse me!