Monthly Archives: November 2013

Writing Rotation

On Monday I wrote about needing to find some focus and discipline for the creative surge that was swamping me.  I may have come up with a solution.

One of my other hobbies is counted cross stitch.  I really do enjoy it, although it tends to take a back seat to writing most of the time.  I probably have more WiPs (Works in Progress) for counted cross stitch than I do writing, and every once in a while I try to find them all and organize them and set them up in what is known in cross stitching circles as a rotation.

There are several ways of doing rotations.  One is to spend a certain amount of time on one project (say a week or three days or whatever) and then go on to another one.  Another method, especially for people working on BAPs (Big Assed Projects) is to complete a page (or part of a page) of a chart and then go on to another one.  Often they will alternate a page of BAP with a smaller project.  Yet another method is to do so many stitches on a project and then go on to another one.

It is this last one that I am adapting.

I use the site 750words to maintain a habit of writing daily.  I use it to rant about my day, to do stream of consciousness writing about plot problems, especially when I’m outlining, and to actually write, especially during NaNoWriMo.

Now I’m going to use it to work out a rotation for novels.

Currently I have three thing that I’m working on: the scene(s) for Book Two of The Academy of the Accord series, finishing Book Five of that series, and finishing Sanguine.

The current plan is to do 250 words on each one every day, using 750words. (It has a counter in the bottom corner.)

This will provide slow but steady progress on each of the three projects. And when I finish one (the scenes from Book Two shouldn’t take much longer) I can either increase the word count on the other two or add something else in to the rotation, like Book One of The Other Mages trilogy.

(That won’t be all I do: I will work on them outside of 750, but it will keep me working on all of them.)

There will, of course, be days when 750 is used for ranting or plotting. I know that and I’m not setting myself up for failure by trying to promises that I will always use it for the 250x250x250, but mostly I think it will.

Will this work?  I’m not sure. I have yet to find a rotation schedule for counted cross stitch that works for me, but I am more committed (addicted) to writing than I am cross stitch, so maybe.  And I’m on a 970-something streak of daily writing with 750words, so that’s promising.

At any rate, it can’t hurt to try.

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Torching It

Well, my plan to do a scene a day on Sanguine has sort of failed, but I am writing again.  Not anything useful, mind you, but I am writing.  I’m back to working on the Academy of the Accord series… sort of.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how you can be “sort of” working on a series.  Well, it’s like this.  I’m not working on Book 5 which is the one that is almost finished.  No, I’m writing a scene that belongs toward the beginning of Book Two, which is done and ready for editing so this really isn’t needed, except it’s fun to write.  And it does show some character development of four of the series’ main characters, and explains the wizard and Warder bond that is one of the main parts of the books, so…

(Yeah, I can rationalize anything!)

Of course, it’s a little harder to rationalize the two alternate version scenarios I wrote for Book 2, but they are short and they were fun.   And after all, this is a hobby – it’s supposed to be fun.  So there!

But if all of that isn’t bad enough, I was kicked back relaxing with a non-fiction book on Sunday while dinner was cooking (we did our Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday – holidays are flexible in this house) and while I was reading it a plot bunny hopped in.

Just what I need… another plot bunny.

And, sadly, I don’t think I’m going to be able to take my own advice about shiny new plot bunnies.

Seriously, muse, I appreciate the flow of ideas and I hope they never stop but have you seen how many things I’m already juggling?

Well, what’s one more, right?

Besides, I’m only working on an outline and character development.  I’m not actually writing it.

(I told you I could rationalize anything.)

In all seriousness, though, it feels really good to have the words and creativity flowing again.

Now I just need to find some focus for them:  right now it’s like there’s a disco ball in my head, flashing sparkles of light everywhere, and what I really need is a laser beam.

Or at least a flashlight.

Then again, I mostly write fantasy so a torch would work.

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Sunday Excerpt — November 24, 2013

More from Sanguine, a science fiction novel (still in progress) with elements of semi-paranormal M/M romance.

(This is still a work in progress and the following lines have been hacked and recombined and creatively punctuated to fit into 10 sentences.)

Picking up from last week, Kaen has accepted Gregor’s offer of blood and fed from him, and Gregor’s last sensation was that of falling into an endless blackness.

 

Gregor woke in a bed in a strange room.  He was cold… so cold.  He tried to sit up but could only stir weakly.

“Lie still.” 

The voice was warm and full of concern and he turned his head and closed his eyes as the room spun around him.  Cautiously opening them again he found a pair of dark blue eyes gazing into his own. “Captain?”  he whispered.

Kaen put a gentle hand on his head and Gregor felt himself relaxing, cares slipping away.  “I am sorry,” Kaen said softly.  “So sorry.”  He stroked the blond hair, savoring the silky feel of it.  “I lost control.  I drank too much.”  He bowed his head. “I nearly killed you.”

 

Check out Weekend Writing Warriors  and Sunday Snippets for great stuff from other writers.

My other novel, Song and Sword is currently available for Kindle and all other e-readers. 

Song and Sword cover

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for all other e-readers.

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A Writer’s Vacation

Believe it or not, I’ve managed to spend a few days not writing.

Well, sort of not writing.

One of my favorite quotes is something along the line of “A writer never takes a vacation.  A writer is always either writing or thinking about writing.”

So, even though I didn’t actually write (um, well, not really…. I mean, I didn’t really write, but I did add the words “Chapter Break” to Sanguine, but that doesn’t really count… does it?)

Anyhow, I didn’t actually write – or edit – but I did think about writing.  I figured out how to fix Onyx Sun (or at least start to fix it) and made a note of what to do, and I cobbled together an outline of the rest of Sanguine:  if I do a scene a day I should be pretty well done with it by the end of the month, barring any last minute changes.

And, of course, I entertained a few other plot bunnies.  None of them are serious contenders for my attention, which is good, as it can only be pulled in so many directions at once before it explodes, and it is already getting close to overload.

So what does a writer do when not writing?

Well, let’s see, so far I have:

done some reorganizing and decluttering in my room (You can’t really tell, though – it seems like the more I get rid of the more there is – I’m sure my room defies every known law of physics and probably half a dozen unknown ones as well)

discovered that I have enough candles to provide light for the entire neighborhood for a week if the power goes out

failed to find two different things that I was looking for even though I knew where they were… (Not surprising:  every time I know exactly where something is that’s exactly where it isn’t – see previous comment about my room and the laws of physics.)

in the process of not finding them I did find two more candles and four more rolls of Scotch tape, both of which apparently breed like tribbles when no one is watching

finished the book I was reading (To Walk a Pagan Path by Alaric Albertsson – I’ll be reviewing it soon on my Pagan Blog, Wytch’s Cauldron.)

started reading an advance copy of Alaric’s first published work of fiction, Perception, which is coming out on December 7th and which I am enjoying immensely so far.  (I will review it here when I finish it, meanwhile, check out its FaceBook page. )

finally got one set of book shelves fairly organized and have put together a plan of attack for the next set

mostly avoided housework

played a lot of Book of Treasures (I love word games)

spent too much time on FaceBook

plotted some future craft projects

And, through it all, of course, I have thought about writing, because…

Well, because I’m a writer and that’s what writers do when they aren’t writing.

 

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NaNo2013 – 50k+

Yep!  I did it.

Despite strong winds, thunderstorm watches (and warnings!), and flickering lights, at roughly a quarter to midnight I passed 50k and wrapped up what is probably the worst rough draft I’ve ever written.

But it has promise.  A lot of promise.  A lot of promise that I never expected to come out of it, to be honest.

So, it is going to get revised.  Eventually.  For now it’s going to sit in storage until I am brave enough to look at it again.

(Yes, it’s that bad.)

But it can be great…or at least not cringe-worthy.

So, now that I’ve won NaNoWriMo, I think I’ll give myself a day off from writing (anyone want to take bets on how long that lasts?) and do some counted cross stitch or something.

And then I’m going to work on Sanguine because it’s what I’ve been using for Sunday Snippets and I really want to finish it.  And, really, there’s not that much more needed to finish the rough draft:  I might even be able to get it done in what’s left of this month and start editing in December while I get back to work on writing The Academy of the Accord series.

I still want to hold to getting The Other Mages trilogy done next year, too, so I’ll be starting on that project in January.

(Someday I will have a lot fewer works in progress to juggle…)

 

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Sunday Excerpt — November 17, 2013

More from Sanguine, a science fiction novel (still in progress) with elements of semi-paranormal M/M romance.

(This is still a work in progress and the following lines have been hacked and recombined and creatively punctuated to fit into 10 sentences.)

Picking up from last week, Kaen is mesmerized by the small ceremonial blade Gregor his holding, and has accepted his offer.

 

Kaen watched hungrily as Gregor pulled his sleeve back and drew the blade across his wrist: blood welled up from the cut, the sight of the rich dark liquid filling his vision as the scent – the overwhelming heady aroma of it — flooded through him. 

He could hear the man’s pulse and the rhythm echoed through his body until he was nearly mad with need and desire and lust and it was all he could do to restrain himself.

 “I offer freely that which you need.” 

 Kaen barely heard the ritual words through the demands running through him.

 “Drink deeply of my life, my Lord.”

 Gregor raised his wrist and Kaen grasped his arm with both hands, steadying it. 

 Closing his eyes he wrapped his lips around the wound and drew the blood into his mouth, moaning in pleasure as he swallowed and felt the power flow through him, overwhelming him. 

 He raised his head and stared into Gregor’s eyes for a moment: they were glazed with the pleasure of a vampire’s taking, and he smiled, then traced his tongue over the cut, sealing it.

 He straightened and Gregor stepped closer:  cupping one hand behind Kaen’s head he drew his lips down to his exposed neck. 

 “Take that which is yours, Master.”

 There was no pain as the vampire’s fangs sank into his flesh, only an explosion of pleasure that grew unbearable, and then a sensation of falling into an endless blackness.

Check out Weekend Writing Warriors  and Sunday Snippets for great stuff from other writers.

My other novel, Song and Sword is currently available for Kindle and all other e-readers. 

Song and Sword cover

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for all other e-readers.

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NaNo2013 40k-ish

I did it!  I made it through the dreaded 30k section and it‘s all downhill from here.

(Considering my opinion of this novel, maybe that was a bad choice of words…)

Actually, my opinion is going up along with my word count.  I really don’t hate it anymore, and actually kind of like it.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have issues, because it does, lots of them.  There is a whole big awkward boring chunk that is either going to have to get slashed out of it or completely rewritten.  I think I need for her to get a traveling companion sooner and get caught in the crossfire between crime syndicates and law enforcement agencies later.

Or something.

But I’m beginning to think that it’s not only fixable, but maybe worth fixing, although it’s not going to be high on the priority list.

I’ve learned a lot from this novel, and the main thing that I’ve learned is that if you are a character-driven writer your characters should not spend a lot of time alone.

That should be obvious, huh?

I don’t remember the circumstances, but a while back (a year or more) a friend and I were talking about writing and the subject of characters came up, and having multiple main characters and a bunch of secondary ones… just general writer chit chat, and the question was asked, “Who says you have to have more than one main character?” (Or something along those lines.)

My answer was that the main character had to have someone to talk to, to react to, to exist with.

“So just have them have a bunch of secondary characters that they meet as they go along.  They don’t have to be there for the whole book.”

That’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do in this book, and you know what?  It really doesn’t work for me. I enjoy writing more when I have at least two characters – my writing just seems to flow better that way.

So, when the time comes to edit this thing a huge chunk is going to get rewritten.

But for now… I’m out of the dreaded 30s and should clear 50k by the end of the weekend.

Will that wrap up the story?  I’m not quite sure – I’ll find out when I get there, and you’ll find out in Monday’s post.

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NoNo2013 – 30k-ish

I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped over the weekend.  I keep letting myself get distracted from my book by other books. (Facebook, and the book I’m reading, and the one in my Sunday Snippet posts (Sanguine) that I now really want to finish writing.)

Still, I’m past the halfway mark and well ahead of par, so I’m not going to beat myself up too badly over word count.

I should beat myself up over the totally pointless conversation that I just wrote and which will probably end up being edited out. (Seriously, Self, no one cares about the sex life and child-rearing habits of an alien race. The sex life part might be important if I was writing erotica, but I’m not, so could we please move on?)

Ahem.  Right.  Anyhow…

As you can maybe guess, Taliya, my main character, is no longer traveling alone. (Yay! Dialogue!)

This means that the story is getting easier to write and is going to start moving faster.  (I hope.)

It may also mean that I’m going to start liking it more.

These are good things because 30k is where I normally hit my slump and if I get into any more of a slump with this thing than I already am I’ll be un-writing it. (I don’t know why, but 30,000 to 39,999 always seems like I’m slogging hip-deep in muck through an endless 10,000 word swamp.  Once I get to 40,000 I’m fine again, but the 30s?  They suck.)

I’m bribing myself to finish this.  The current bribe is that when I finish it I can go back to work on Sanguine, which really doesn’t need all that much to finish it, although there is a fight scene coming up (I hate writing fight scenes in general and I’ve never written one between vampires before, so that’s going to be a challenge in and of itself).  And most of the upcoming scenes are tense and emotional, so they should be fairly easy to write as long as I have a box of tissues on hand.)

(Yes, I cry while writing my own novels.  Shh!  Don’t tell anyone what an emotional sap I am!)

Of course, finishing Sanguine sets me back even further than I already am with The Academy of the Accord series and with The Other Mages trilogy. But if I can get Sanguine finished by the end of December I can alternate editing it and working on the other two.

So, that’s the new plan.

I’m not holding out great hopes for it though – so far I’m not doing too well at following any plan larger than a novel outline…

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Sunday Excerpt — November 10, 2013

More from Sanguine, a science fiction novel (still in progress) with elements of semi-paranormal M/M romance.

(This is still a work in progress and the following lines have been hacked and recombined and creatively punctuated to fit into 10 sentences.)

Picking up from last week, Gregor has told Kaen that he knows he is a vampire, and has drawn a small golden dagger from his belt, asking Kaen if he recognized it.

Kaen rose slowly as he stared at the blade resting on the palm of Gregor’s hand. “Yes,” he said, his voice little more than a whisper as he stared at the ceremonial blade:  less than three inches from tip to heel, it held him enthralled.    

“Then you know what I am offering.”

“Yes.” 

Kaen could not seem to look away from the blade: it held him, entranced, mesmerized, and it drew him from behind his desk and he reached out and stroked one finger along the intricate etchings in the blade and licked his lips softly.    

“Do you accept?”

Kaen pulled his gaze away from the knife to stare into Gregor’s eyes. 

The man’s gaze was calm and steady: he knew full well what he was doing, what he was offering to the vampire and Kaen felt a shiver of anticipation run through him.

“Yes.”

Check out Weekend Writing Warriors  and Sunday Snippets for great stuff from other writers.

My other novel, Song and Sword is currently available for Kindle and all other e-readers. 

Song and Sword cover

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for all other e-readers.

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NaNo2013 – 20k

I’m gaining on it.  Almost halfway there. Hopefully I’ll be at 30k by the end of the weekend.

I’m still having a love hate relationship with this novel. I’m pretty sure it has potential. I’m equally sure that I’m ever going to let anyone else see it.  (Yeah, it’s that bad.)

I’m learning a lot, though.

I’m learning that I like writing male characters better than female. (I haven’t learned why.)

And I’m learning that having your main character spending huge amounts of time alone can make for some really sucky writing.

And most importantly I’m learning that it’s okay to leave that really sucky writing there and go on with the story.  It’s not going to go away (sadly) – it will still be there when I’m ready to edit it.

Still, inner editors are persistent nags, so I’ve taken to bribing mine by leaving notes in my rough draft so that it knows that I know that it sucks. I find that acknowledging it in some sort of tangible (visible) form is the best way to move past it – at least for me.

And I think I’m starting to get into the part of the story that I’m going to enjoy more. I feel like everything that I’ve done so far has just been set up for the real story.  It really isn’t (at least, I don’t think it is) but it feels like it.

Then again, I might have a totally different take on it when I reread it.

Sometimes, being too close to your work is a drawback.  (Okay, most times being too close to your work is a drawback.)

So is knowing where the story is going.  I so want to get to the good stuff that I’m not enjoying the journey and am rushing through parts of it.

Huh?  Wasn’t I just complaining that it was dragging and now I’m saying I’m rushing through parts of it?

Trust me – that paradox isn’t a paradox in my mind.

And I bet a lot of others out there can relate as well.

 

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