Monthly Archives: December 2013

Writing Goals for 2014

Well, here we are, almost to the new year and I’m a bit behind on my (revised) goals for this year, which were to finish editing Sanguine (I’m on the second round) and finish Book One of The Other Mages trilogy.   Eternal optimist that I am, I suppose they are still possible, with enough caffeine.

But that isn’t stopping me for setting my goals for next year:

As soon as Sanguine gets back from the beta readers I plan to make any final edits and get it formatted and turn it loose on the world.

I also plan to get The Other Mages trilogy finished, edited, formatted, and turned loose on the world.

I am going to finish the rough drafts of the rest of the books in The Academy of the Accord series if it kills me.

And I’m going to at least start the sequel to Song and Sword, with an eye toward releasing it early in 2015. 

I think that’s enough for one year – probably more than enough, although I’m also pondering the possibility of a sequel to Sanguine.    

My only real concern about the writing goals is that I sometimes struggle when switching between worlds, which is why I don’t usually try to both write and edit at the same time.

But with so much planned for next year I had better get good at doing both at once.

But those are just the writing goals:  I also want to devote more time to other hobbies as well, so I have declared next year to be “The Year of Creativity.”  Some friends are joining with me in a pledge to spend at least a little bit of time every day doing something creative.  For me, that means not only writing, but doing something in addition to writing.    (Although, in a pinch, writing will count, but I want to do something that has a more tangible result.)

I haven’t set any stitching goals (yet) but I think that finishing a few WiPs might not be a bad idea, as well as weeding out some of the charts that I know I’m never going to stitch.

And I would like to start crocheting again.  (We have a huge stockpile of yarn that could be put to better use than taking up space:  I want to crochet afghans and scarves and such and donate them.)

Not to mention all of the other hobbies I would like to do (like scrapbooking and card making) or learn to do (like jewelry making).

Writing is always going to be my main hobby though:  I’m just happiest when I’m creating a story and I can’t ever seem to take a break from it for long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Excerpt — December 29, 2013

More from Sanguine, a science fiction novel 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.)

If you want to pick up from the beginning, I started weekly excerpts from this in October.

I made a slight change to the last line from last week so am including it here.

No, part of him said.  This isn’t right.  This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.  With an effort he pulled his mind back to consciousness.  “Master.”  The word was a protest, nearly an accusation, and Kaen smiled, pleased.

“Yes.”  Gregor heard the pleasure in Kaen’s voice and rested his head against the vampire’s chest, shaking slightly as Kaen held him.  “You did well,” Kaen said, his voice a deep murmur in Gregor’s ear.  “I do not want a mere puppet.”  

His lips traveled down the man’s neck, and Gregor’s breathing grew ragged, his neck arching as Kaen’s lips and mouth teased and caressed his neck and throat. 

“Master…”  His voice was a plea and Kaen smiled.

“I can barely wait until you are strong enough,” he whispered, stroking the blond hair back from Gregor’s face and kissing him again, deeply, hungrily.  “I have waited so long,” he murmured.  “So long…”

Gregor relaxed against him, feeling a contentment that he had never thought he would know.

And then another feeling made itself known.

“Master,” he said hesitantly.  “I… I have to use the head.”

 

Ah, reality….

(Things are looking to get a lot more heated between them in January…)

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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One More Chapter

So I finished the first edit of Sanguine, and it turned out to be not quite as bad as I thought.  At least, I don’t think it’s as bad as I thought.

(And for anyone who is keeping track, I did manage to finish the first edit before Christmas. Yay!)

Except it’s not quite done… I have to add a chapter in the middle.  (Fortunately, I found a place where I could slide it in fairly seamlessly.)

Why add a chapter at this point?   Well, because as I read through the first draft it occurred to me that a lot of things that happen near the end are not going to make sense to someone who’s not inside my head.  (And as a friend of mine pointed out, the inside of my head is a scary place and probably no one wants to be there.)

I’m hoping to get the chapter finished so I can take it for another printing this weekend.  The second read-through and edit probably won’t take as long as the first one did, so there’s a good chance my beta readers can get it by the first.  (Hopefully none of them will be dealing with hangovers.*)

That is, of course, unless I end up making some major changes.  (Yeah, I’m still waffling over the sex scenes.)

I think that the hardest part of writing is editing.  Not so much finding grammatical errors (some of those are going to slip through no matter what you do) but checking for internal consistency, making sure that the same conversation isn’t in there twice, and deciding if scenes should stay or go.

And the hardest part of all of that is looking at it from outside my head to see if it’s going to make sense to a potential reader, to someone who doesn’t know everything that I know about the characters, the world, etc.

Oh, and settings:  I really have to focus on describing settings more.  That’s related to “not inside my head” issue, though – I can see the scene: I just forget to draw it for other people.

And this is why beta readers are important: I can find out how the story looks from the outside looking in.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*Note to beta readers: 
Jamie: you’re not allowed to drink that much.
Richard: you’re not allowed to drink at all.
Rowland: eh, never mind – you’re Di’s problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Progress, Sex, and Christmas Wishes

Okay, so that’s a lousy title.  I never claimed to be good at them.  (In fact, I admitted that I was horrible at them.)

Anyhow…

I have just passed the halfway point of the first edit of Sanguine. So far it’s going better than I had hoped, but I’m pretty sure that as I get into some of the later scenes progress is going to slow down.  I haven’t looked ahead but I’m pretty sure that I left myself a lot of notes to check this, that, or the other.

Oh, and it doesn’t seem to be sucking as much as it did on Friday.

(Writers measure progress by such small things…)

I’m hoping to finish the first go-round by Christmas.  (Hear that, Editing Gods?  That would make an awesome present…)

Maybe I’ll pack up my editing bag tomorrow and go hide in the library where there are no distractions. (That works as long as I leave my laptop at home.)

I’m making a little less progress (okay, a lot less progress) on writing, but I still hope to finish the first draft of Book One of The Other Mages trilogy by the end of the year. (But then, I do tend to be something of an optimist.)

I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about Sanguine.  It contains a fair amount of sex scenes, at least at first, and I’m uncertain how they will be received.  I would cut them out, but I’m not sure I can without leaving huge gaps at the beginning of the novel.

(Cue the headache.)

I do wish that I knew how other writers deal with sex scenes in their novels.  I mean, it’s expected in erotica, but this isn’t erotica, exactly.  It’s also not romance.  It’s science fiction with elements of a semi-paranormal M/M romance. But the romance isn’t the plot.

(Cue the headache on top of the headache.)

Ah, well… I’ll sort it out… either in the next edit or the one after the beta readers get a crack at it.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it and Happy Holiday-of-Your-Choice to those who don’t.  May all of your reading and writing wishes come true.

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Sunday Excerpt — December 22, 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.)

If you want to pick up from the beginning, I started weekly excerpts from this in October.

Skipping a bit from last week, Gregor has been drifting in and out of sleep and is finally fully conscious.  Asking Kaen how long he has been there, he learns that it has been five days, and panics, as he was supposed to report back to the refitters’ shop after the inspection.

 

Kaen chuckled and kissed him, and everything else faded from his mind as he clung to the vampire’s arms for support, losing himself in the feel of his lips.   

“You resigned,” Kaen said softly.  “You signed on with me, remember?” 

“Yes, but…”

“Do not worry.  It has all been taken care of.” 

Kaen’s voice was soft and soothing and as he kissed him again Gregor’s mind floated away, cares falling and fading…

No, part of him said.  This isn’t right. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.  With an effort he pulled his mind back to the present.  “Master.”

 

 

 

 

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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Own Worst Critic

I have two chapters of Sanguine edited and they suck.  This thing is definitely headed for a second run through before it gets to my beta readers – or maybe I should just do one and let them tell me how much it sucks before I spend more time on it.

Okay, okay.  Maybe it doesn’t suck.  I do tend to be my own worst critic.

Part of it, I think, comes from looking at the way other writers write – their sentence structure, their way of presenting the story, their word choices… I constantly have to stop and remind myself that I am not them, that their voices are not mine.  Of course my writing is going to be different than theirs – I am not them.

That fails to make me think that it doesn’t suck, though.

And then I tell myself that it’s not going to be as good as [insert your favorite novel or author here] because they had a lot more experience (and usually professional editors).  But just because it’s not as good as _____ doesn’t mean that it’s bad.

And part of it is that this is the first edit of the story.  It’s going to suck.  It’s going to suck a little less than it did before I sat down with the printout and the red pen, but it’s still going to suck, especially since my main focus in this go-round is to check for continuity and consistency, and to get rid of the notes I’ve left for myself.

Once I have done those things I’ll go over it again and try to poke and prod it into something passable enough to show to beta readers.

And while it’s out I’ll poke and prod at some more because it will never be good enough, will never be done.

In a creative writing class that I took, our final project was to prepare a portfolio of our works from the semester.  Along with that portfolio we had to write an “Artist’s Statement” that told a little bit about what we were including and why we were including it, thoughts about the class, etc.  As part of my Artist’s Statement I asked if there was such a thing as a final draft.  In the margin my prof wrote “No!” (and a smiley face).

And apparently this problem of no such thing as a final draft has been around for centuries:

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Who am I to argue with DaVinci?

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No Writing Done This Weekend

I seem to be on a bit of a break from writing. Things have been a little chaotic this weekend.

It started with my best friend’s graduation from nursing school on Saturday.

(The weather service had to pick that day to be right about the winter storm warning. )

It was a rather scary trip to campus – I nearly went into the guard rails at the end of our street and a few miles out of town I hit a bad spot and got into a spin that I couldn’t control and nearly wrecked – but I finally made it, and with lots of time to spare.

While I was waiting for the ceremony to start I checked email with my phone, and found out that a friend of mine had died unexpectedly the day before and I spent the entire ceremony fighting tears.

Then I spent the entire trip home fighting tears and and the road as it was snowing (still or again, I’m not sure).

Since my roommate and I were in separate cars, we decided to stop and have a late lunch (or early supper) on the way home. We left the campus parking lot by different routes and I sat in the restaurant’s parking lot for half an hour before I gave up and left her a voice mail that I was going to go home before the roads got worse.

(Too late — they were worse. That last couple of miles was the worst part of the whole trip.)

Shortly after I got home she called — she had wrecked her car. It was still drivable, though and she was almost home when she called me. She’s not hurt but the car needs some help. (She can’t open the driver’s side door and has to crawl across the seat for one thing.)

So, yeah. Saturday was not the happiest day on record.

Sunday was kind of a lost day, in part because I had stayed up until 4:00 in the morning because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I went to bed.

Today (Monday) is going to be taken up with painting the inside of milkweed pods to make ornaments. (The outsides have been sprayed with gold glitter paint, and, as per usual when I am around paint, so have my fingers. Now I get to add blue to the gold sparkles that I can’t seem to get rid of.)

And then I have to get cleaned up and go to a writers’ group meeting, providing I can get my car out of its parking place. (The streets were worse than the roads when I got home on Saturday and when I tried to straighten my car up a bit in its parking place I started spinning so I may be sitting on ice by now.)

Tuesday will be devoted to finishing the ornaments — Wednesday might be too, depending on how Tuesday goes — and Wednesday night is the ornament exchange. I also have to find something for the white elephant gift exchange that night. (I have several things in mind — just have to decide on one.

So, it might be Thursday before I can get into any serious writing.

By then I will be more than ready to get back into it.  I miss it.   I’ve been thinking about it, but just can’t seem to summon the energy to actually do it..

Stress can do that to you.

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Sunday Excerpt — December 15, 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.)

If you want to pick up from the beginning, I started weekly excerpts from this in October.

Gregor is recuperating from Kaen’s first taking of his blood – Kaen lost control and took too much, nearly killing him.  Skipping a few sentence of no great importance from last week, Gregor has realized that he is in Kaen’s bed.  He’s been drifting in and out of sleep and when he wakes again Kaen has returned and is holding him.

“Master?”

“Yes?”  Gregor’s voice was already stronger and Kaen felt an overwhelming sense of relief:  he was going to be all right.

“You… you brought me into your bed…”

“Yes.”   Kaen watched him carefully:  it had been a long time since he had interacted closely enough with a mortal to care about their feelings, their reactions, but now he felt that it was essential that he learn to read this young man’s responses.

Gregor hesitated:  this was not an easy question to ask – vampires were not generally choosy as to the gender of their slaves, but they did tend to have preferences in… other things.  “Was it deliberate, or was it because it was the closest place to put me?”

“I know the significance, and, yes, I chose to bring you here.”

Gregor nodded, his eyes closing again, a soft smile spreading across his full sensuous lips. 

“You don’t mind?” Kaen asked, tracing a finger along the man’s jawbone:  he knew Gregor needed sleep, but he had brought up the subject…

“I’ve known I was gay much longer than I’ve known that you were a vampire, Master.”

Kaen laughed and kissed him, holding him close: it had been so long… so long since he had felt anything toward a mortal…     A shudder of emotions ran through him as he laid the man down and stretched out next to him, wanting to feel his body against his.  He wanted… oh, he wanted so much… 

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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My Never, Never Project

I finally finished Book 5 of The Academy of the Accord series — more or less.

It’s a (very) rough draft and has a long way to go to even be legitimately considered a first draft, but I sort of gave up.  I printed what I have, along with a lot of extra scenes that go in it somewhere, and when I do the first edit I’ll flag everything with colored Post-It notes and move them around on paper.  It’s just easier for me to “see” where things go that way.

(There is a logic flaw that corrupted the original version of how a character is introduced.  It was followed by several attempted alternate methods, all of which had some things I like and want to use, but the timing of events is now out of whack. Hopefully by the time I get back to it I’ll have a fresh perspective on it.)

So it’s not “done” but I’m done with it – for now.

This has been the hardest book of the series to write, mostly because I’m not so much writing it as I am untangling other things from it.

See, this didn’t start out to be series.  It started out to be one book about 2 characters (Senzu and Draethlen) on a journey.  Then a flashback got out of control and…

And now Senzu isn’t even introduced until Book 4 and Draethlen until Book 5.

And I’m not even going to have a book about their journey.

At least, I’m not planning on one.

But then, I didn’t plan on any of the 12 books in the series.

I keep pushing back the release dates for The Academy of the Accord. I still have four books that need their first drafts written and then I can start editing and trying to make sure that the entire series has some sort of consistency.

When it is finally released I’m going to feel so lost without it to work on.  I know that there will be other things, but this one is my “never, never project.”  (I had a college roommate who was tatting a bedspread – or tablecloth, I don’t remember which – and she called it her “never, never project” as in “I am never, never going to get this finished.”)

But with only four books left I can get it done by the end of 2014, then spend 2015 editing it, and release it to the world in 2016.

Yeah.  We’ll see.

I’ll keep you posted.

But it will get finished.

Some year.

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Tricks to Keep You Writing (#1)

The writing rotation has been semi-successful.  I got a little behind and in attempting to get caught up I got caught up… in one of the novels.  I told myself that if I did 1500 words on Sanguine I could take a break and watch a Harry Potter movie.

I never did get to see the movie – I hit my word count goal and kept writing. And I dove back into it the next day.  And the next.

And the result is that the first draft of Sanguine should be finished today and hopefully in the hands of beta readers by mid-January. (It better be finished today – my Gargoyles DVDs arrive tomorrow.)

The other result is that the other two books are falling further and further behind, but that’s all right.  Once Sanguine is finished I’ll work on them – adding 500 words to each of them every day, unless one of them catches me like Sanguine did.

(And I hope one does.  It’s been an awesome few days of writing.)

Along the way, though, I’ve learned a few tricks to keep you going when you’re slogging through and feeling stuck.  (I put the “#1” in the title because I may come across some others to share later on.)

One of them is to divide it up into small chunks.  I’ve been working with 250 word increments because a goal of “write 3000 words today” seems a lot more intimidating than writing 250 words.  So I set up another Word doc (no, we will not discuss how many of them I currently have open!) and called it “word count updater.”  Then, in a small notebook that is next to my computer I wrote:

250
500
750
1000

As I hit each goal in “word count updater” I cross it off.

When I get 1000 new words written I copy it from “word count updater” and paste it into the novel’s file and start over with the 250, 500,750, 1000.  Somehow this seems to go a lot faster than sitting down to write 1000 words – I turned out 4000 words on Saturday without even trying.

The other tip is one that I wish I’d figured out years ago.

I get pretty caught up in what I’m writing, and an intensely emotional scene will make me cry.  This results in not being able to see the screen, going through a whole lot of tissues, and ends in one horrible headache.

Well, on Saturday, I stumbled across a way to help work through that.

Robert Emmett posted a paragraph about a writer calling in sick (by emailing his editor) because he had a sore finger.  I couldn’t resist replying… And the thing took off.   I giggled and snickered and laughed outright through the entire exchange, and in between I wrote heavily emotional stuff and cried.

To read the goofiness, check out the post on Robert’s blog.

Now, I can’t always guarantee that someone is going to come along and save me in the midst of heavy emotional scenes, so I’ve bookmarked something that makes me giggle every time, and from now on I won’t have to face those scenes alone.  I’ll go into them with my trusty Invisible Cow at my side.

(There’s a goat there now, too, but I like the cow better.)

So, there you have it – the latest installment in my search for the perfect writing system.  I hope one or the other is helpful to you, and if you have any other tips or tricks, please share them.

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