Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Week's Chapter - Done!

My weekly chapter rewrite is complete! I still have to type some of it out, but it's been redone, and that's what's important.

On a side note, I've been reevaluating my writing time and space. It used to be, before we had annoying neighbors move in, that I could pick up my writing time at the end of the day with a glass of wine and be done with my daily goal.

However, since we've had neighbors move in, it's been difficult to set a groove. They're from Uruguay and have no concept of being polite neighbors. They weren't too bad when they first arrived in the fall, but from winter on their child has been a noisy nuisance. I live in a two-story duplex, and every single day (with rare exception), this five year old thunders through the house and shrieks at the top of his lungs.

His running causes the walls to shake and items to eventually fall, so I've taken almost everything off our walls. The shrieking is obnoxious, but I can't stop them other than requesting that they calm their diablo nino down on weekend mornings. Yes, he does it all afternoon and from 7 AM on during the weekends.

I finally got them to realize it truly is loud and obnoxious when he does this on weekend mornings. We've taken to saying the Mexican Hare and Spanish Parakeet are playing downstairs, depending on what noise he's decided to make.

So this leaves me with a quandary. I need my shut out writing space to write. The outside world has to be gone, or I get too distracted to work. It's hard enough focusing after a day of balancing people's salaries and explaining to researchers that compliance really does care how they consent people. Now I have a menagerie downstairs.

I could try taking my laptop to the library, although I don't feel like leaving the house after work. Cranking my music works, but even Queen doesn't drown out the Mexican Hare.

I think I'm going to have to shorten my writing time to work on only 1-2 pages of editing daily instead of sitting down for a chunk amount of time. Editing takes so much more focus than actual writing. Then I can slip in my work between wild animal bouts and hope I don't get too annoyed.

My current worry is that all of my editing is shit because of the distractions. I wish I had a book buddy to swap chapters/books with and discuss why we liked it and didn't. I have a critique group, but that serves a different purpose. I need to find a sample group of fantasy readers to bounce back and forth with once serious edits are "complete". (I am deluding myself about revisions ever being complete, of course. ;o) )

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Less Time Blogging Means...

more productive times offline! I'm busy with pays-the-bills work and with working on my writing in the offtime to hit my deadline this week. I have to have this chapter done.

I'm here. Promise!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Today is a response topic. I want to ask all of you - what, to you, is over-writing? I want to know your definition. Are there little tricks or hints you use to catch it?

I'm not obsessing over anything in my own writing, merely curious. I'd like to know your thoughts on overwriting.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Am Alive!

I slept for 11 hours last night. I kid you not - I fell asleep at 7:30 and woke up at 6:30. I feel much better, although my eyeball is still twitching.

Sorry I cluttered up the blog with so much non-writing stuff, but I'm concerned the time I've been doing at work (I have overtime this week) is going to put me off of my writing goal of finishing a chapter a week.

So to assure you that I'm up and about, I thought I'd post on this beloved Friday and ...

Yeah, my office now has a revolving door, what with everyone who keeps coming in and out. LOL. I gotta work it!

Happy Friday, everyone. I'll hopefully report on my success of finishing Chapter three this Monday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So, since I have some explainin' to do...

I work as a grants administrator. Sometimes I get some huge money that I have to help people apply for. I've got my plate more than full, and my boss is gonna be out a lot for the next few days.

I fell asleep at 6 last night, and I think I'm going to bed in a half an hour. I'm pooped.

*grumbles* Stupid allergies...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm so Close


*attempts to throw in her towel, then gives up and collapses. the towel flutters to the floor*

Subsequently, Marisol is buried by a pile of government paperwork, never to be seen again.

A.K.A. I'm working on a 1 million grant that's due in a week (and investigator just told me about it arghawtethestkhse), and a grant that'll be around $40 million. It was nice knowing all of ya. Really.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, Kinda Like Monday... but Not

April marks the 50th anniversary of Strunk & White. I know a lot of writers swear by it, but is it really the best grammar advice that you can get? One journalist certainly doesn’t think so. Read this article for a fascinating discussion on why the classic – well, sucks. As someone who read S&W and found some of the advice contradictory, it was nice to hear I’m not the only one.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Agent for a Day “contest” at Nathan Bransford’s blog, you should. 50 queries were posted throughout the day, and people have a whole week to read through and follow the rules of the contest. I read through the queries yesterday. Some of them I could see why people weren’t interested, others left me wondering why people didn’t pick them up. This is why you need to pick the right agents to query. It made me excited about the query I’ll someday write for my WiP.

Well, I don’t want to take up too much time today on zee blog. I got some NIH grants to finish budgeting and a chapter to edit.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How I Work It

Chapter two of Devil's Tongue, my magic crimes novel, is officially a working draft.

I'm sure I'll make more revisions, but I enjoy the overall feel of it. Now to see if my writing group feels the same. *chuckles* They always find stuff that needs a rewrite, but hey, that's what revision three is for.

A quick breakdown of how I organize my work. In order to keep my sanity, here's how I handle my drafts. First draft is pure story and characters. I follow my characters around, and eventually I realize what's going on with the story. Yes, even in a detective novel, I don't plot things. I discuss with my protag and then my evil guys how they would handle the situation, and toss them together into a mixture of mayhem.

Rough draft two is to work all of the big errors out - continuity, unintentional oopsies, reusing the same phrases, etc. Then I toss it over to my writing group. They help push it to the next level.

When I finish with the second draft, it's like having a mostly formed vase out of clay. This is important because I see the bumps and the flat pieces, the parts where either myself or others help me realize there's an irregularity. The third phase is smoothing it out to its final shape, so it's as ready as a whole piece in its form.

After that point, I consider it a fairly whole piece, subject only to decoration, glaze and a bake in the kiln.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Shenanigans

It’s Friday, so I thought I’d take some time to blather on about – well, anything and everything.

First off, in order to keep myself motivated in a timely manner, I joined Elana’s Writing Throwdown Challenge. We each make a writing goal for the next thirty days, then hold each other accountable. After taking several months off from grieving and work stress (very bad time in my life this past winter), I’m ready to challenge my goals, and to make them work for me. I don’t want to meet my expectations, I want to exceed them. And I can only do that by getting dirty.

My goal, incidentally, is rewriting a chapter a week – about 3k-4k words.

Elana, I’m really hoping you’ll keep the accountability group going after thirty days. I think thirty days to evaluate goals and reset them is good.

I finally read the last book in a trilogy that I’ve been meaning to read for about a year - The Eternal Rose by Gail Dayton. I loved the first two books, and no matter how the first ones develop, I try to finish a series so I can understand the whole arc, for better or worse. In the case of the third book, it was not as good as the first two. The first two were crisp, with well-defined issues and zippy plots. Real suck you in material. This third one was about the characters waffling on their feelings and life direction, and it shows. The first third was a slow starter, and it didn’t really pick up into her usual pizazz until halfway through. If you like unique ideas in fantasy, however, give it a read. The culture is that of polygamy with a magic twist – very nifty.

I also finally picked up some books by Kelley Armstrong. On one hand, I can see why she’s popular. On the other hand, she’s got some writing pitfalls that drive me nuts. But a good story will not be held back, and she does craft a good story.

I’m always looking for new authors/suggestions. Feel free to recommend books to me. Especially newer ones published in the last three years. I’d prefer not vampires/werewolves. I’m getting sick of the paranormal fantasy genre. Give me some good magic casting books.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gimme a Bite

This is a new segment I’m going to start doing. Bites will contain only a bit of mind doodling.

The tear sparkled, illuminated her pale blue iris, then slid down her smooth, pale cheek. “James, you must take it.”
It was luminescent; no, how could water shine so? Yet there it fell, down into her cupped hands. She held them out to me. The opalescent orb suspended an inch above her hands. No imperfections, not a single line signifying age or wisdom graced her palms. My hair stood up on the back of my neck.
She once again pushed her palm towards me. “Take it.”
“I don’t think it’s meant for me, faerykin.” I edged back and hoped she didn’t notice or take offense. “I’m not worthy of this gift.”
It was then the faery bared pointed teeth in a predatory smile. My blood turned to ice. “But James, you’re meant to be with me. Forever.”

Note: Geared up and sent out Death Rites again. Hoping for another publishing credit to my name soon. Too many near misses with personal rejections.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

30 Days Without Facebook

Last week, I instituted a challenge to myself—to stay off of Facebook for 30 days. The razzings have already started from some of my friends, the ones I can see in person. Some people may not care about Facebook, but for twentysomethings like me, it’s an institution. Schedules, party invites, work networking is all done on there.

Part of being a writer is making sure you carve out time to do your writing/editing. Too often we use all of our nifty networking tools to the point of distraction. Checking people’s status and keeping in the loop becomes a habit, where we refresh the page every few hours to see what’s going on, and perhaps doing a few quizzes and apps along the way.

One of the most precious items allotted to me is my free time. I have a full-time job, I sleep, and I have a few hobbies, so balancing time is extremely important to me. I realized last month that I probably waste a good hour over the course of a day doodling on Facebook. I also spent a lot of time playing WoW (World of Warcraft for you non-geeks) and feeling bored. Bored, for crying out loud! What do I have to feel bored about when I have a book I’m editing for hopeful publication?

We so often ramp up our writing only to take so many little detours out of a need for a break that our breaks become distractions, and the distractions cause us to lose focus of our true goals in life. Sure you want to watch those TV shows – but if you watch so much TV that you’re putting your writing away four nights a week, you’ve lost all of that time.

Thinking about how I spend my evenings, I realized I could easily cut out or reduce my distractions and be focused and therefore much happier about how my time was spent, rather than enjoy a few empty hours only to be frustrated at my lack of fulfillment. No matter how much we enjoy things like games or reading writing blogs, they will not leave you with the satisfaction that your time was plumped with activities that gave you something, something that advanced your goals, hopes, and dreams.

Here are the things I cut out/reduced:

1) Reevaluated my blogs and other info sources. I now don’t compulsively check the news every few hours.
2) No Facebook for 30 days, to see if I really miss anything.
3) I retired my raiding spot in WoW (huge time commitment), and I’ve found I don’t miss anything. I still get to talk to my friends, and I’m spending time sunk into my writing worlds.
4) I cut out a lot of TV. I found myself watching old seasons simply because I enjoy them. Darn you, Hulu.
5) Looking at houses and whining about wanting to own one (I’m cursed with bad landlords)

Because of all of this, I not only have more time for my writing, but all of a sudden I have time for more reading. I’ve always read a lot, but this winter I only read 1-2 books a month as opposed to my usual 6-10. Reading is more satisfying than TV for me.

Will I go back to Facebook after the month is up? Yes – I don’t want social annihilation. But I don’t think I’ll be checking it every few hours anymore.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Discussion on Hook and the First Paragraph

I found a link to a nifty PDF that everyone should read. It's by Nat Sobel, and it discusses the first paragraph in your book and why it's so important to hook a reader from the start. Fascinating, and worth the quick read.

Nat Sobel on A Literary Agent that Reads Reviews.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why Reading is Important to Writing

Whenever I start to feel like I’m losing productivity in a piece (symptoms include vacant eyes, drooling and rewriting the same sentence fifteen times), I take a break and Zen it. I find my inner peace and focus. And the way I usually do that is by reading.

People say that perfect practice makes perfect, but in writing, consistent reading is just as important. After all, how can you expect to write things others will read when you don’t read yourself? How do you know what people like? Besides giving a plethora of writing examples (both good and bad), it kickstarts your brain into creative overdrive, and sometimes the things that lurk that won’t speak up suddenly do.

I’m not the only one who says it. Check out this talk by Stephen King:

Think he’s the only one? Here’s Neil Gaiman:

I could go on, but I don’t want to weigh down this post with fifty different youtube videos.

The rest of this week’s focus is to read and immerse myself in a few different worlds. I’m hoping to put in some serious work on this first chapter so I can finally say it’s close to finished.

I hope.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I had a post all ready for yesterday, and I realized I never put it up. My bad. Let us all note the importance of turning save draft on.

Ch. 1's beatdown continues. Well, beatdown isn't exactly the right word. I've spent a lot of time channeling Blanche and really getting in sync with her thoughts. This has lead to a much improved first chapter (I hope), and I sent it to a discerning friend who kindly agreed to read my ramblings and see how they measure up.

The best part about sitting down and really talking with your characters is the realizations you make. I could write an essay about Blanche, but sometimes she doesn't reveal things to me until we've reached a level of trust - a phenomenon that speaks of her character alone. I discovered some really deep-seated things about my protagonist that surprised even me. Just goes to show you that no matter how you birth them, your "kids" always end up evolving in ways you never realized.