Monthly Archives: May 2013

yagottawanna

One of my first counted cross stitch projects was a sign that my mother hung on the fridge.  It said, “Yagottawanna.”

And it’s true.  No matter what it is…

Yagottawanna.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they want to write a book, but they don’t have the time.

Seriously?  Every minute of every day is filled with something? You never have any down time?
Well, no…
So what do you do with your free time?
Watch TV.
Uh-huh.  Turn it off and write.
But I’ll miss my favorite show.
Yep…

Yagottawanna.

Look, it’s simple.   Really it is.
If you want to write — write.
If you don’t — don’t.
But don’t say you want to and then make excuses why you can’t.  You have the time — you just have to choose how to use it.

In other words…

Yagottawanna.

Get a calendar book that divides the day up hour by hour and write down what you do all day.  I’m willing to bet you could find time to write — even 100 words a day — but…

Yagottawanna.

And, yeah, maybe you need to be a little bit selfish but that’s okay.  We all need time for ourselves.  We deserve time for ourselves.  But…

Yagottawanna.

Want to get into the habit of writing daily?  Check out 750words.com .  It tracks your daily word count and your streak (I’m at 767 consecutive days as of this writing) and gives all kinds of fun info when you finish for the day.  (It’s also excellent practice for NaNoWriMo — work on doing 750 words a day, then 1000. Then 1500.  Then NaNo’s 1667 words per day to hit 50k in 30 days isn’t nearly as scary of a thought.)

But again…

Yagottawanna.

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Selfishness

It occurred to me the other day that blogging is very self-centered.  You’re writing about yourself, your thoughts, your projects, etc.  And you hope that someone else reads your posts and finds them — and you — at least remotely interesting.

But isn’t all writing like that?

You write your words — create your worlds, your characters, your stories — and you hope that someone else reads them and finds them interesting, and maybe even loves them as much as you do. (Or at least likes them a little.)

And self-centered?  You betcha!

Writing is a very selfish activity.  It’s done by yourself and for yourself.  What could be more selfish than that?

Writers seem self-absorbed, but really, we aren’t absorbed in ourselves so much as in our work.  Ever get irritated when you’re wrapped up in a good book and get interrupted?  It’s the same thing for a writer when we’re on a roll in a scene, only worse:  it’s  harder for us to get back into that groove.

(On the other hand, we’ll love you forever if you interrupt us while we’re staring at the brick wall of writer’s block — then we can use the interruption as an excuse.)

I think that the self-centeredness is one of the things that prevents people — especially women — from writing.  Taking time to do something for yourself when there are others to take care of — that’s some sort of crime against humanity, isn’t it?

One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is that it gives you permission to take that time for yourself.  If only for one month you can say, “I need to do this — for me.”

And who knows?  Maybe after that month is over and the world still exists…. Maybe… Just maybe… You’ll continue to take that time for yourself.

You should.

Your self deserves it.

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Decisions, Decisions

“In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”
(T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)

I spent most of yesterday going through the tutorial in Scrivener again, since I hadn’t looked at it since just after downloading it last winter.  It made a little more sense this time and the information overload headache didn’t start until Part Two – another seventeen rounds or so and I should have it pretty well in hand.

Or I can dive in and do hands-on learning.

Learning by doing is what works best for me, so I’m starting to (very nervously) load the books from The Academy of the Accord series into it.  (I’m afraid it will eat them and I won’t be able to get them back.  I’m paranoid that way.)

I’m really excited by the thought that this program can help me organize the series, but a little overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the project and the amount of work that is going to be involved just in getting the books into it and divided into chapters.  (Not to mention still overwhelmed by all the things that Scrivener can do.)  I don’t even want to think about the editing, re-writing, and internal coherence issues.  Or  the fact that some of the books have three or more alternate versions of certain scenes.  I’m pretty sure I’m looking at a year-long project with this, after it’s all in Scrivener.

But I can do this!  And I will, because I love writing, I love these characters, I love the whole thing.

The plan was to finish the three books that I know I still need to write (and untangle the mess in the middle of the series) by the end of the year.   (Yes, I know it’s only May.  But you have no idea what I’m facing in that middle section!)

But… I keep thinking about turning my attention to The Other Mages trilogy.  According to “The Plan” I’m not supposed to work on it until after the first of the year, but… It won’t take nearly as long to finish and edit for e-publication as The Academy of the Accord will, so, while it’s not exactly instant gratification it’s certainly more immediate gratification.

But it will break me out of the flow of The Academy of the Accord, and I’m not sure I want to lose my connection to these characters until I’m done with their stories.  (I also don’t want to lose track of the story arc and relations and the “this, that, and the other” that flows through what is looking to be around a dozen books.)

I suppose I could try to divide my time between the two, but I’m not quite sure how well that would work.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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Well, I did it!

Too late to back out now.  Song and Sword  is available on Kindle.  And I am… relieved.  Still a little nervous, but mostly relieved.  And tired.

Formatting isn’t hard – but it sure is time-consuming and monotonous. I was going to use Scrivener  to do it, but I haven’t played with it yet other than the tutorial when I first downloaded it last fall, so I wanted to have my copy of Scrivener for Dummies on hand, but I can’t find it.  Fortunately their “how to” book is great.

I know I had it in January for the “show and tell” meeting of the local writers’ group.  The other book I took to the meeting is on the shelf where it belongs, but not that one.  The next logical place for it to be would be near my computer, so I dove into the piles of papers and notebooks and miscellaneous items too bizarre to mention and came up empty.

(On a brighter note I can now see roughly half of the stand next to my computer, and the floor beside it is a little more user-friendly.  And I found a scene I’d written for one of the Academy of the Accord books.  (I was beginning to think that I’d dreamed writing it.)  I also located a bunch of cross stitch charts (that need to be entered into the inventory file) and I tamed a couple piles of scrap paper that I keep for my printer.)

So, anyhow, what’s next?   Getting Song and Sword out for Nook, for one thing.  And available as a hard copy.

And more writing, of course!  (And a continued search for Scrivener for Dummies.)

The plan (Ha!) is to finish rough (very rough!) first drafts of all of the books in the Academy of the Accord series by the end of the year.  (Except for the mess in the middle — that might take longer to sort out.)

After the first of the year I want to return to The Other Mages trilogy that came out of my first ever NaNoWriMo.  Book One is almost done — I just have to figure out how to get them out of the mess I left them in.  Book Two… I think I’m about halfway through it, but I’m not too sure about it.  It’s over 50,000 words and still seems to be in search of a plot, so I need to sit down and make an outline for it.  And I need to do the same with Book Three, since it needs a complete rewrite.  The goal is to get them published by the end of next year.   Of course, that means that they are going to need real titles, and I hate naming things.   (I’m thinking that books two and three might be Camp NaNoWriMo projects next year.)

Then… something completely new for November 2014 NaNoWriMo.

And in 2015 the focus will be on The Academy of the Accord series.  Getting that patched up and edited and turned into a cohesive whole will be a massive undertaking, but it’s a project that I’m looking forward to completing.

But for now I’m still caught in a feeling of unreality regarding Song and Sword.  I can’t believe that it’s over.  Done.  Not something I have to work on anymore.  And that I’ll never write those characters again.  (Unless I do a couple side stories or a sequel.)

I think I feel… a little sad.

Excited and thrilled, but sad.

I wonder if this is how mothers feel when their children go off to kindergarten, or college, or… wherever.

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Valium, Valium, Who’s Got the Valium?

With any luck, Song and Sword will be available for Kindle on Monday, May 20th.  (Just in time for writers’ group that night.)  It has a cover, all the front stuff, a blurb, and a bio.  It is as edited as I can get it (but I’m sure there are still things I’ve missed.)  All it needs is to be properly formatted.  (That is going to be today’s project.  Please ignore screams of frustration emanating from a small town in Western Pennsylvania. I may be bald by the time it’s all said (screamed?) and done, but it will happen.)

Am I excited?  You bet!

I’m also scared and nervous.  What if it really sucks?

My mother (who owned a Kindle long before I did) says she’s read a lot of self-published books on it and she assures me that mine is better than most and as good as the others.  But part of me can’t shake the feeling that… Well, she’s my mother.  She’s supposed to say that.  It’s in the Mom Handbook, along with things like “Your face will freeze that way,” and “When you fall and break your leg don’t come running to me.”

So how do you find the courage to go through with it?  I don’t know. Really I don’t.  I hope that I’ve told enough people that I won’t chicken out, but if anyone has any other advice I’d love to hear it.

Meanwhile, please pass the Valium…

(P.S. Yes, it will be available on Nook, but one crisis at a time. LOL)

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One Step Closer

Yesterday I finally finished re-paragraphing Song and Sword.

When I write, I use block paragraphs.  They are easier for me to “see” when I scan through the manuscript looking for something.  Unfortunately, in order to publish a book it has to have indented paragraphs.  It’s been a long, mind-numbingly dull process, but it’s done.  And the lesson has been learned.  From now on when I finish editing a chapter I will re-paragraph it before going on to the next.

So, anyhow, it’s all official-looking now, with real book-like paragraphs.  It’s printed and in a three-ring binder ready for one last read-through.  (Anyone care to guess what today’s project is?  Other than laundry and mowing the lawn.)

I still need a book cover — that’s the next major project.  (Note to self: start working on covers sooner.)

And I still need an author bio.  I hate writing them so I’ll just steal from the one here.  (Can you plagiarise yourself?)

Then there is the disclaimer — a work of fiction, no resemblance, yadda yadda. It shouldn’t take too long to write.  Neither should an acknowledgements page.  (Why does that sound like famous last words?)

The worst thing (except, possibly, for the cover) is a blurb.  I hate writing blurbs.  Writing a blurb is like trying to describe yourself in three words or less.  Which words do you choose?

But even the thought of writing a blurb can’t dim my enthusiasm.  I am one step closer to getting Song and Sword out there.

And I am so excited I can’t stand it.

And I am scared to death.

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Notes to Myself

I am always and forever writing notes to myself.  Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it.  I have nearly illegible handwriting at times, and a tendency to use abbreviations and assume I’ll know what they mean when I run across a piece of paper three months later.

Case in point: I just recently came across a handwritten scene for…  Well, that was a good question.  The only people in it were identified as G and K.  Um… Okay… I was drawing a blank on the G, so I started with the K.  K = Katheri?  Nope. No G’s in her story.  K = Kashrya?  No… no G’s there, either.  K = Kordelm?  Hmmm… maybe.  There is a G but the two of them don’t interact much… I slogged through half a page or more of my scribbles before finally figuring out that it was Gregor and Kane from Sanguine.

Even better was the twenty minutes spent staring at the back of an envelope trying to figure out what I had been trying to tell myself.  Eventually I figured out that it was a list of fillings for a stromboli I’d ordered.

Then there are the ever-popular “assuming I’ll know what I’m talking about” notes.  I came across this one while making an attempt to clean off the stand next to my computer:

“Shan goes looking for father? is taken away by him?  Memory loss.  Sees Rahm, remembers.  How important are ribs, anyhow?”  Huh?  How important are ribs?  Fortunately the next line helped somewhat:  “Less important than the arms of the wizard you thought you’d never see again.”

Song and Sword was written over the course of a couple NaNoWriMos.  It had an outline:  neatly typed, printed, hole-punched, and in a three-ring binder.  All was well until one day, several months after making the outline, as I was nearing completion of the first draft, I came upon this:

“The prophecy is fulfilled.”

That was okay.  The problem was the note scribbled in the margin next to it:  “Write the damned prophecy!”

Trust me: 70,000 plus words into a novel is not where you want to see a note like that.

 

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Names (And The Lack Thereof)

If you ever get a chance to see my rough drafts you would see a lot of things that look like this:

[Elf King]
[Elven King]
[King of the Elves]
[Elven King I really gotta name this dude since he’s Pash’s father]

Um, yeah.  Naming things is not my forte.

Titles are even worse than character names.  My list of Word docs looks something like this:

Book One
Book Two
Book Three
original NaNo novel
NaNo 2010
June Camp
AotA bk4
AotA Marsden and Vinadi (That one’s at least slightly helpful.)
(It should probably be noted that Book One, Book Two, and Book Three have been without real titles since 2008/2009.)

The problem is that names define things.  Once something is named, it becomes permanent and… limited.  Some of its potential is lost.  Therefore, names have to be perfect.

(I often run into this same perfection problem with counted cross stitch when it comes to choosing a fabric for a project. “Yeah, this will look good on it, but what if there’s a better fabric out there for this chart? Or what if another chart comes along and this fabric would be perfect for it?”)

Names have power.  Some cultures believed that knowing someone’s real name gave you power over them.  (Remember Rumpelstiltskin?  Only by knowing his true name could she void the deal they had made.)

Names give you power over demons, too.  To summon a demon, you have to know its true name. That is how you control it, confine it, bend it to your will.

You know…

Novels are a lot like demons…  They possess you and refuse to give you their names.

 

Need naming help?  Don’t look at me!  (But do look at my links page.)

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Welcome to My World!

Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to get to know me – and to let me get to know you.  Updates will probably happen on Mondays and Fridays – I’m still trying to figure out a comfortable frequency, so bear with me.  And feel free to subscribe in case I get an urge to write about writing in between those days.

So, how did all this start?

Growing up as an only child I had two best friends:  Books and My Imagination.  The three of us had a lot of adventures: I loved to read and Books and My Imagination took me lots of interesting places.

In school, I excelled in English classes, and I loved writing assignments, especially creative writing.  Starting in seventh grade or so I began writing fan fiction – Star Trek and S.W.A.T. and CHiPs, mostly – or whatever other TV program had caught my imagination at the time.

After college, my writing sort of waned.  I still “wrote” but the stories never made it to paper.

Then I discovered NaNoWriMo  — an acronym for National Novel Writing Month.  What is NaNoWriMo?  It is a month-long ascent into madness in which participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  In November of 2008 I took the challenge and wrote my first novel.

What a rush!

I had no clue, no outline, and no expectations.  And I had a blast.

I won, and I was hooked.

Next NaNoWriMo couldn’t arrive fast enough, so I kept writing. The book I wrote that November turned out to be book three of a trilogy (The Other Mages), so I set to work on books one and two.  They are still in process, and book three needs such a complete rewrite that I may as well start over, but I am working on them and they will see the light of day… Someday… Honest!)

Currently, however, I’m focused on getting Song and Sword ready to e-publish.  It was also a NaNoWriMo novel.  As an experiment I posted it chapter by chapter as I wrote it, and you can all thank my mother for nagging me to finish it.  It should be available for Kindle soon, then Nook.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

(Updated = the world will echo with my screams of triumph.)

I’ve learned a lot since my first NaNoWriMo.   Mostly I’ve learned that I work better with an outline – and the more detailed the better.

I also learned that I am happiest when I am writing, creating a story.

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