Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday Tally

Status of my novel
total words to date: 51,607
pages: 223
completed chapters: 10

Last week's goals:
  • keep working on 100 day challenge - check
  • submit to other 2 poetry markets - done
  • finish writing chapter ten - check
  • storyboard chapter eleven - done
  • ignore Civ long enough to do 2 hour Wednesday writing - I did storyboarding, but certainly didn't spend the whole two hours... Civ call was too new and strong
  • polish children's story - edited. would like someone to read it to their kids (ages 4-8) for their feedback before submitting to contest.

Goals for this week:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Halfway Point

I have finished ten of the twenty plotted chapters for my WIP! Woot! Even more encouraging is the fact that I have written twice as much on my novel this month than I did in April, which was my previous record. And no sign of burn out.

For fun, and a taste of the work in progress, here are the ending lines of each chapter thus far:

  1. Her hands and pockets full, she hurried back to the village to find the one person who might be able to help.
  2. "...Maybe her husband will part with some fresh sweet cakes while we're there."
  3. The landscape clear, he grabbed the loot and dashed back into the forest.
  4. She decided to stay and confront whomever it was.
  5. Too many thoughts of magic and parentage flooded her head.
  6. "It's good to hope so, but I wouldn't suggest betting your life on it."
  7. "I am Conscia, and I shall be your mentor."
  8. It gave her purpose, which would have to be enough as happiness seemed to be denied her.
  9. A name came to her at last, "Arroyo," and with the simple whisper they belonged to each other.
  10. She had no reason to be mad at him.
Wow, only one name in all that. Of course, opening lines would be more likely to have them. Out of these chapter endings, my favorite line would have to be 9. I know each one should compel the reader to keep reading, and some of these will need to be stronger, but I could spend way too much time obsessing over it. Right now I need to finish writing draft number one. Back to the manuscript to get today's writing started.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter Confessions (not spoilers)

I read a lot of fantasy, across most subgenres, both YA and adult. But my newsletter readers would probably be shocked to learn I have not read the two most talked about series in Fantasy literature. The question that always comes up seems to be: Which do you prefer, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

I have read neither. I've watched the movies though (love them!). Own all the DVDs. I don't look down on people who've read them. I just haven't gotten around to it myself. We even own the first three Harry Potter books - currently boxed up with the rest of our library.

Possible reasons for not reading LOTR:

  • don't want to be influenced, as many new authors are said to be
  • too much narration/description - I enjoy description, but if it goes on too long I will zone out and possibly miss something important
Possible reasons for not reading Harry Potter:
  • because it's a big thing - I'm not one to follow trends
  • easier to wait until the series is finished (stopped reading Robert Jordan for same reason)
  • my sister owns them all, so there's no rush, I can borrow them whenever I'm ready
A benefit to not having read the books before the movies is I don't fret over something missed or changed details. I have nothing to compare the films to, and can judge each on their own merits. Example: With Jurassic Park, I saw the movie, loved it, went and read the book, loved it as well. With Jurassic Park 2, I read the book first. I went to the movie with a preconceived notion of what it would be - and it was very different. I enjoyed the movie more the second time, having cleared my expectations.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading Harry Potter book 7. Just don't flame me for never having read any. :-p

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday Tally

Status of my novel
total words to date: 48,620
pages: 210
completed chapters: 9

Last week's goals:
  • keep working on 100 day challenge - still going :-)
  • finalize choices for poetry submissions, and polish/prepare to send out - check. even submitted to one
  • storyboard chapter ten - this story keeps adding unplanned scenes! minor characters are finding more importance, and some plot points have changed.
  • storyboard chapter ten - done

Goals for this week:

  • keep working on 100 day challenge
  • submit to other 2 poetry markets
  • finish writing chapter ten
  • storyboard chapter eleven
  • ignore Civ long enough to do 2 hour Wednesday writing
  • polish children's story
This past week was quite a success! I flew through chapter ten - over 4,000 words written and only one scene left to go. Picked up the new Civ4 expansion today. Agreed to play LOTRO with hubby though since he has day off, and wait to play Civ tomorrow when he'll be working.

Back in March I was trying to write 500 words/day. On one slow writing day my hubby challenged me to write a 500 word story about a snail. So I did. Then didn't look at it again. Then last week I was looking at the Cheerios website (one of my poems I'm submitting mentions Cheerios) and saw a writing contest. Seeing they want children's stories, I remembered I have one. I dug up my story to read it and see if it was any good. I thought it wasn't bad, but figured I'd need a second opinion, so let my hubby read it. He said it's good but needs a little tweaking to make it more child vocabulary. We agreed I should enter it in the contest. Thus this week's goal.

Dinner timer about to ding! TTFN

Monday, July 23, 2007

Computer issues

Last week my DVD drive stopped reading. No Sims2, listening to audio CDs through my headphones, and the necessity to buy a new drive before Tuesday. The new Civ4 expansion comes out tomorrow! It has uber cool scenarios (fantasy, historical, and futuristic), many more civilizations, and is the biggest Civ expansion yet. So excited! Understandably, Saturday we went to CompUSA to buy me a new DVD drive (with burner this time, as it's now standard). We got lucky on the timing. We picked out the one we wanted, took it to the checkout, and learned there was an unadvertised, 2-day only, $20 instant rebate. Then they handed us a form for another $20 mail in rebate from the manufacturer! Couldn't have been a better time to get a replacement.

There were problems with it though. The box was opened and likely already returned and reboxed from someone who had the same problem we encountered - would burn CDs just fine, and read discs, but kept freezing when burning DVDs. We took it back to the store and they had to root around for another one, but we finally got it replaced for a new unopened one (which works great). Tomorrow is a state holiday, so I'm hoping the game gets in early so I can play it lots. =)

Lesson: Don't buy computers from Dell. We paid lots for cheap parts (even look/feel cheap). In the three years we've owned our two computers, we've had to replace my mouse, disc drive, hard drive, and video card; my hubby's computer has needed new keyboard, power supply, and video card. They didn't come with the stickers with Windows OS Key (I think that was it) and the checklist never mentioned needing to look for them so we didn't realize they weren't on the computer or elsewhere until I got my new hard drive and we needed the number. Took a lot of convincing for them to send us new ones for free. What's going to go out next?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Creation

One of my favorite things about writing fantasy is the creation process. I am a goddess, creator of an entire world. I can fill it with traditional creatures and ones entirely from my imagination. It's an exhilarating process. But it's not the only reason I write.

Last year I had to write a paper for my English 101 class on the topic "Who Am I?". I'd like to share it here. It may inspire one of you, but in the very least it still inspires me. Only a few things have changed since writing it, which I will touch on after.

Who Am I? I am a Writer

Who Am I? According to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1903), “The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression” (p.5). My expression lies in the same form as that great man. I am a writer. I would not be complete without that part of me. There was a time in my life when I stopped writing, believing that nothing I had to say was worthwhile. That period was marked by emptiness. Once I finally returned to writing, I found the purpose I had been lacking. I knew I could never give up writing again. I write because I must. To forever stop writing would be akin to stopping my lungs from breathing. It would be death. First I’m going to tell you the role of the writer in society. Then I’m going to share with you how and why I started writing. Last of all, I’ll focus on the different forms my writing takes—poetry, journaling, and fiction.

The world needs writers. They record history, entertain, educate, and enlighten. Writers find beauty and meaning in the day to day life around us, and they have the aptitude with language to communicate that with the world. Emerson (2004) says it better than I:

There is no man who does not anticipate a supersensual utility in the sun and stars, earth and water. These stand and wait to render him a peculiar service. But there is some obstruction or some excess of phlegm in our constitution, which does not suffer them to yield the due effect. Too feeble fall the impression of nature on us to make us artists. Every touch should thrill. Every man should be so much an artist that he could report in conversation what had befallen him. Yet, in our experience, the rays or appulses have sufficient force to arrive at the senses, but not enough to reach the quick and compel the reproduction of themselves in speech. The poet is the person in whom these powers are in balance, the man without impediment, who sees and handles that which others dream of, traverses the whole scale of experience, and is representative of man. (pp. 5-6)

Writers can be incredibly honest in writing about human nature. Reading is a private business, allowing the words of a writer to speak directly to the reader’s soul. This frees them to say what no one else will. Even in a world saturated with computers and the internet, people still turn to books. The Book Industry Study Group has even forecast an increase in total book sales of 3.6% more than last year (Milliot, 2006). Nevertheless, if books were to go out of fashion, writers would still be needed for business, e-books, and web writing. Writing may not be the most profitable, but that simply means that those who do write do so for passion.

I first started writing stories at a young age. I was one of the two top readers in my first grade class, and the teacher encouraged us to write a story while the rest of the students worked on their basics. I still have that story. It wasn’t very good, but my teacher and parents were very encouraging. I was an imaginative child and my sisters and I would tell stories to each other. As I grew up, my dreams would change--wanting to be an artist, a scientist, or a dancer--but the one thing that remained consistent was my desire to be a writer. I’ve always been in love with books. They take me away to mystical and wonderful places. I grew up the middle of nine children, and books were a way for me to escape the surrounding chaos. I started my first attempt of a book in fifth grade. We moved that year, and I lost many of my notes. I may have given up on that story, but the desire to write a book remains. I want to write a book that will entertain and enchant a reader, giving them sanctuary from the world as the books I read did for me.

It was also in fifth grade when I discovered poetry. We had a section on Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I really enjoyed his poetry and as a result wrote my own humorous poem. However, it wasn’t until the end of junior high that I really considered myself a poet. I was going through the typical teenage emotions, as well as struggling with some issues from my childhood. I needed a way to deal with it all. I used poetry as a catharsis and to communicate all the emotions that were so hard for me. I was so shy and withdrawn; my poems gave me a way to reach out to people and let them understand me. My poetry has branched out to include more topics than myself, but the majority of my writing still has an underlying theme of emotional pain.

Another way that I dealt with life was through journal writing. In junior high and high school, my journal was my constant companion. I didn’t have any close friends to confide in, so I confided in my journal instead. I wrote about everything. It kept me in the habit of writing regularly, and helped me keep mentally stable. An added benefit is being able to go back and read my journals. I can relive moments, see how much I’ve grown, and keep them as a record of my life. I wish I had started journal writing at an earlier age. I feel like so many years are missing simply because I do not remember many details.

About a year ago I discovered blogging. Initially, I still wrote in my journal and only used my blog for organizing my thoughts about my writings. After a few months, I realized the benefits of being able to share my thoughts and problems with a community, receiving support and feedback. It had all the benefits of journal writing, with the added advantage of group therapy. Now I only use my journal for private issues. The title for my blog is “Discovering Me.” It is my journey of discovery within myself and my writing. I have many motivations to continue blogging: keeping in touch with friends, therapy, working through my thoughts, and writing practice.

Last, but not least, I am a fiction writer. I’ve written a handful of short stories, but looking back they all have one thing in common—school assignments. I do not consider myself a short story writer. I like some of the stories I’ve written, but I don’t think that’s where my talent lies. I prefer to go more in-depth with the characters and plot. My focus is on the novel. As I said earlier, I want to write a book that will allow readers to escape to another world. The fantasy novel I’m working on now is one I’ve been wanting to write since I was sixteen. I didn’t have the knowledge, skills, or confidence to write it back then. The plot has changed some, but it’s much stronger now. I’ve made some great progress on my novel these last few months and plan to finish it within the next couple of years. Writing this book has been the hardest and most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done. Every time I finish a scene or chapter, my confidence goes up. It is so exciting to see the story unfold. According to Betsy Lerner (2000), a former editor in New York’s top publishing houses, “For every person who writes a book, there are thousands who believe they could” (p. 236). I am determined to be one of those that does. I will finish this book and send it out for publication.

My goal isn’t to get on the New York Times bestseller list. Not to say I wouldn’t love for that to happen, but I’m more realistic. I simply want to get my book published. I want to share my book with the world. After this book, I have plans to write another. In fact, I have ideas for three more novels. I don’t plan on quitting after just one book, regardless of whether it sells. However, I cannot get published if I don’t have a book finished. To work toward that goal, I have challenged myself to write at least one chapter each month. In addition to the goals for my novel, I also have goals for my poetry. I’m constantly sending out my poems to magazines and online markets in the attempt to get published. So far this year, I have sent out 34 poems. Three have been accepted so far, for the online press The Pink Chameleon. I didn’t receive monetary compensation, but it gives me something to put in my publishing credits. With enough credits behind me, I can aim for more notable markets. Eventually, I want to publish a book of poetry. Each time I make progress on my goals I gain a satisfaction and confidence which carries over into the other aspects of my life. My writing completes me.

Being a writer is a crucial part to my identity, whether it be writing poetry, journaling in a diary or blog, or working on a novel. All these are expressions of my soul and in turn shape me as the person I am. My writing allows me to stand out to the world as I never could any other way. It is the only way for an introspective person such as I am to be bold and confident. I let people see me through my writing. Lerner (2000) says it well, “Indeed, the great paradox of the writer’s life is how much time he spends alone trying to connect with other people” (p. 36). I am determined to continue writing and pursuing my goals. Someday you will see my byline on a book. The world needs writers. The world needs me.

References:
Emerson, R.W. (1903). The Poet. The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (pp. 1-42). Houghton, Mifflin and company.
Lerner, B. (2000). The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc.
Milliot, J. (2006, May 22). Book Sales Projected to Increase 3% in 2006. Publisher’s Weekly, p. 3.


I have since written a novella and am getting more confident in my short story writing. The blog mentioned, Discovering Me, is my one on Writing.com. I haven't written there much since I started this one. But other than that, the above still applies.

We are all creators... not just of art, but relationships, homes, personal space, etc. What do you create? Why do you create?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Tally, plus Drive

Status of my novel
total words to date: 44,305
pages: 192
completed chapters: 9

Last week's goals:
  • keep working on 100 day challenge - still going strong!
  • find some poetry markets (really this time) - found three markets I'm interesting in submitting to.
  • finish chapter nine (one really good, long, scene left) - this story keeps adding unplanned scenes! minor characters are finding more importance, and some plot points have changed.
  • storyboard chapter ten - didn't get to this one...

Goals for this week:

  • keep working on 100 day challenge
  • finalize choices for poetry submissions, and polish/prepare to send out
  • storyboard chapter ten
Please vote on the poll in the sidebar. Help needed!

I got an email today confirming that my contest entry (Blazing Princess) has been received. Yay! Estimating another eight weeks for results. Speaking of contests, winners for a poetry contest I had entered were announced Sunday. I didn't place. =( Oh well. Time to send more poems out. I have high hopes for one of the poems and will be submitting it to one of the three markets I'm looking at.

My hubby is very supportive of my 2-hour writing Wednesday. One of the great things about writing every day is that I've found it easier to get into my story when I sit down. For the last month or so I was really struggling, forcing out a paragraph here and there. Now I'm in tune with the story again and it has even led me ways I hadn't planned. Good to know the muse hasn't completely deserted me.

I finished chapter nine today. It's umm... 42 pages long... will definitely be split up later.

I've finally got a one sentence hook for my book, but not sure yet if that's the focus I want. Grr. So many aspects to this book. Would help if I could figure out which one is most important. Anyway, here's the current one-liner: A girl must choose to either save the people who killed her mother or lose the magic that has defined her.

On another note, Fox now has the final two episodes of Drive online. Still wish it hadn't been canceled, but I'll still be watching these today with my hubby. I'm a sucker for punishment. Yes, it will leave me hanging, but the process will be enjoyed (watching the show, not the hanging).
You can read a Post Drive interview with the producers, about where the show might have gone, but reading it just makes me wish they were able to film more. *le sigh*

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday's Experiment

If you missed my last entry, my goal for Wednesday was to spend two hours completely focused on my novel, no distractions. I did it! I didn't check my email, or browse the web, or watch TV. Hubby did talk to me a little bit, but wasn't too distracting. And our son was napping so I didn't need my hubby to keep him off me.

Most of the first hour was spent scanning the last couple chapters and updating my neglected time line. I hadn't realized how behind it was getting until I needed to figure out what time of year the next scene I started took place. I still got about 700 words added to the actual story though. Yay! I will definitely be doing this again next Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday Tally and Turning up the Heat

Status of my novel
total words to date: 41,460
pages: 180
completed chapters: 8

Last week's goals:
  • keep working on 100 day challenge - wrote every day!
  • find two markets to submit some of my poetry - barely looked for this one... though learned a poetry contest I entered should announce winners on the July 15th. then I'll know if the poems I sent will be freed up to send elsewhere.
  • write three more scenes in Emergence - did it! this chapter will definitely be broken up in revisions...

Goals for this week:

  • keep working on 100 day challenge
  • find some poetry markets (really this time)
  • finish chapter nine(one really good, long, scene left)
  • storyboard chapter ten
Yesterday I wrote about personal obstacles to writing. What inspired it (other than not being in the mindset to work on my WIP) was watching a short movie on 212 The extra Degree of Effort. I command you to go watch it. Now. Before reading on. (Don't even need sound, though music is inspiring.)

So, looking at that list of obstacles, how can I write more? It's not a matter of not having the time. Here's a shortened version, some were combined into one general problem:

  • too tired - not tired ALL day. stick to writing in the afternoon, or when muse demands I write in the morning. exercise more so I have more energy, same goes for eating right
  • bugged by kids - ignore noise, resign myself to the fact that needy kids won't let me get anything done if hubby isn't home (son listens to him, not me)
  • fear of expectations - mantra: "It's okay to write crap." write in the moment. don't worry about how long the chapter is getting, or stop to count words, or that I'm being utterly undescriptive and telling much that should be shown. that's what editing and second drafts are all about. I can count words when the flow ends and I can't think what else to write.
  • allergy medicine making me too lethargic - not sure what to do about this one. currently take Benadryl. any better suggestions that aren't too pricey? On a bad allergy day, if I don't take meds than I'm sniffing and sneezing and blinking watery eyes; if I take the meds (even one pill), I have to take a nap or slump into a lack of energy and motivation topped with foggy brain (not conducive to writing).
  • video games (much less stress than writing) - get writing done first!
  • too busy checking email/blogs/forums - check everything before writing session, then ignore even when stuck or looking up research.
  • hubby expectations on weekends - don't give in to no writing, but keep it to one short session
  • television most evenings - if I procrastinated writing that long, it's still possible to write during commercials
  • only one hour 'til hubby comes home and there's so many other things around the house that need to be done - house doesn't need to be perfect. don't let everything wait until last minute (get housework done after lunch on short babysitting days, and don't worry about doing any on long babysitting days)
  • interrupted by IM's - actually tell hubby/whomever that I am going to start writing and not to message me unless it's important
Okay, now what can I do to up myself that one extra degree? It has to be something new, beyond what I've done to push myself. Hmm. Alright, here we go. Wednesday I don't babysit, and hubby telecommutes. After lunch, whether my kid takes a nap or not, I can take two hours to focus completely on writing - sign out of MSN messenger, stay away from blogs and involving websites that have nothing to do with research, put a bottle of water on my desk, tell hubby he can take care of kid if it's a non-nap day and let him take charge of disciplining our son for bugging me (i.e. grabbing arm or building tower on my desk), and immerse myself in my novel. Plenty of time to get into "the Zone" and get past the initial forcing of words, giving my muse time to settle in to start the words flowing. If I find myself struggling halfway through, I can do the 48/12 method: 48 minutes of focusing on the task, then 12 minute break to walk around, get food, check email, etc. Then back to work for another 48.

I'll report back on Thursday, let you know how I do. For now, I need to go get today's writing done.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Obstacles - different kind of writing blocks

Obstacles to writing more (yes, this is one more way to procrastinate...), in no particular order:

  • too tired / too early in the morning / brain hasn't woken up yet
  • have headache / too noisy / kid(s) won't leave me alone
  • afraid of writing crap / convinced of my utter lack of talent and determination
  • allergy medicine making me too lethargic
  • haven't thought out the next scene well enough to write it (or conversely) afraid the scene won't write out the way it played in my head
  • would rather play Sims2 or Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam or some other video game
  • too busy checking email/blogs/forums
  • weekends my hubby would rather I play with him than write
  • feeling guilty for putting son down for nap when he didn't want one and now he's crying and not sleeping and though he's not climbing or pulling on me he's still a distraction but I know he's tired but still can't write until he's actually sleeping
  • television most evenings
  • only one hour 'til hubby comes home and there's so many other things around the house that need to be done
  • interrupted by IM's
Tomorrow I will write about how I can overcome these obstacles.

How do you procrastinate?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

Happy Independence Day to all my USA readers. And Happy Birthday Mom!

Anyone doing anything special tonight?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tuesday Tally

Status of my novel
total words to date: 39,175
pages: 169
completed chapters: 8

Goals for this week:

  • keep working on 100 day challenge
  • find two markets to submit some of my poetry
  • write three more scenes in Emergence
Last week's goals:
  • keep working on 100 day challenge - wrote every day!
  • complete editing for Blazing Princess, have someone do a last read through, then mail out (Deadline June 30!) - complete and on its way!
  • finish 2 scenes in Emergence - I wrote two and a half!
I got my chapter critique back from the Manuscript Mavens. The thoroughly marked and commented document helped to show me where my blind spot weaknesses are. I will definitely refer to the critique when I'm ready for second draft. Yay for nit-picky readers. For example, I didn't notice how often I use "began" for an action. That's definitely something I'll have to watch for.