Monthly Archives: July 2017

Lessons Learned From Camp

Well, it’s over. (Well, actually today is the last day so if you’re participating you have until midnight wherever you’re at, but I validated last night.)

I validated, but way under my original goal of 31k. Somehow this month just plain got away from me, and in the interest of having it not happen in November I’m going to be taking a look back at what went wrong.

Or as near as I can figure, anyhow.

Part of it was too much time. I’m not working so I had lots of time. Which meant that I had lots of time to procrastinate and plan to do it “tomorrow.”

Part of it was too low of a goal, which kind of goes hand in hand with too much time. I had set my original goal at 31k, a mere thousand words a day.  Should have been a no brainer considering that I wasn’t working, right?  Right. Er, wrong. An “easy” goal coupled with too much time resulted in no sense of urgency which resulted in nothing getting done.

The third major problem was that I was working on an existing project. Now, I’ve done that for Camp before, but that was to finish something that was in progress, not write scenes to be worked into the (more or less) finished manuscript. That (at least for me) results in a mental block because I want to get it right, not just get it done.

(And then there was the fact that I was having trouble getting the scene to play out in some sort of compromise between what I had planned and the direction it went off in.)

So, I think that sums up July Camp, which leads to…

Now what?

Well, now that camp is over and the pressure (or non pressure) is off, I’m going to finish the scenes I need for Onyx Sun and hopefully get it to a beta reader or two (again).

And then (so that I’m not trying to do too many things at once) I’m going to work on getting changes entered to the remaining books of the Academy of the Accord series.

And I want to organize all of my started stories and start working on outlines for them.

Yeah, I think I have enough to keep me out of trouble for a while.

A long while.

 

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Sunday Snippet July 30, 2017

 

More from Song and Sword, the first novel I published, since I’m working on a sequel and need the motivation.  This follows immediately after last week’s snippet.

Dakkas has been tracking the Orcs that took Kashrya.

 

As darkness gathered he found himself on a mountain trail.  He was not familiar with this passage, but it was at the foot of it that he had lost the Orcs’ trail as they traveled over solid stone.  Still, there was nowhere else they could have gone, and small deposits of dirt gave him an occasional partial footprint that kept him going.

His mind whirled, consumed with dark thoughts.  What were they doing to her? Why had they taken her? And why had no one in the village – save the shaman – been at all upset to find her gone? There had almost been a sense of relief when they realized that she had not returned, that she had been taken, as if some problem had been solved and life could get back to normal. 

Rebel grew agitated and he tried to soothe his mount, but the unicorn stopped, tossing his head and refusing to move forward.  Dakkas leaned forward, reaching out for his horn, but suddenly the night erupted in shouts and Dakkas felt hands grabbing him, pulling him from his saddle.  He heard Rebel voicing a challenge and yelled for him to get away and then his world went dark, his unicorn’s scream of defiance still echoing in his ears.

 

 

Song and Sword cover

Blurb:
Pashevel: a simple Elven Bard — and the Crown Prince

Marlia: a Paladin of Arithen, the Elven God of Justice – seeking vengeance for the destruction of her village

Dakkas: heir to the Drow throne — if his father and elder half-brother don’t kill him first

Kashrya: raised among a tribe of nomadic Humans, she is unaware of her true heritage — or of the prophecy that made her mother an outcast

Their goal: build a bridge between the Elves and their outcast brethren, the Drow, reuniting them and undoing the damage caused in a time so far gone that history has become legend and legend has become myth.

But first, they have a problem to solve:  how do you stop a war that hasn’t started?

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for everything else

 

Find more great reading
at the Sunday Snippet group.

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Rainbow Snippet for 7-29-2017

rainbow logo 1

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, bloggers, and readers to gather once a week and share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).   Check out all the other awesome snippets by clicking on the picture above.

 

Picking up from last week’s snippet.

“I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t found her.” 

“Do you really mean that?”

She considered the question for a moment. “Yes and no.  On the one hand, I have freed another slave, but on the other…”  She closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them she looked into the Araxian’s eyes.  “On the other hand, I liked it a lot better when it was just the two of us and I wish it still was.”

Taliya sat up straighter, staring at ni. “I’m seeing it again.”

“Seeing what again?” 

“Your eyes.”

“My eyes?  You’ve seen them every day since you bought me.”

She shook her head impatiently.  “They were… glowing, sort of.  Not bright, but just kind of … glowing.”

Ayess’ race does not have words for he/she/his/hers, etc, because they are (for lack of a better term) hermaphroditic. Their pronouns to refer to other members of their race are “ni” (for he/she/him/her), “ni-es” (his/hers), “ni-en” (they/them) and “ni-en-es” for theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wheee!

I’m writing!  Okay, so I’m not working on the scene for Onyx Sun as planned, but I’m writing.

After Monday’s post I got to thinking that maybe working on something so close to done during a NaNo session isn’t such a good idea. There’s too much pressure to get it right instead of just getting it done.

So, I’m writing quick little scenes that may or may not develop into full novels. Of the four I’ve done so far two will and two won’t. Well, one of the two that will might actually be something that fits into an existing start that’s not been outlined at all yet, so we’ll see.

Productive? Not really. But it has me writing again and having fun with words and ideas.  (And isn’t that the spirit of NaNoWriMo?)

At this point, though, I’m pretty sure I’m not even going to hit the 10K that I set my word count goal down to, but at least I’m writing.

And I’m having fun.

Meanwhile, this post is kind of later than normal because of a minor crisis. I couldn’t find my grommet setter. It has rematerialized, so all is good and I can get back to work on my envelope flip book for the exchange at Swap-Bot.

 

 

 

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Wednesday Words #132 (7/26/2017)

Welcome to Wednesday Words!  Every Wednesday I will post some sort of prompt for a flash fiction piece.  The prompt will go live just after midnight Eastern time.

The prompt might be a picture, or it might be a list of things to include in a story, or maybe a phrase or a question or something from a “news of the weird” type thing, or a… who knows?

After that, it’s up to you.  But if you do use the prompt to write a bit of flash fiction (say, 500 words or so) I’d love to see what you came up with, so comment below with a link to where it is on your blog (or on WattPad or wherever).

(And a pingback to the post here where you found the prompt would be appreciated but isn’t necessary.)

Oh, and this isn’t a contest or anything.  It’s just a (hopefully) fun thing for all concerned.

And, hey, if it inspires more than 500 or so words, run with it!

This week’s prompt:

 

(Click for larger image.)

(Found on FaceBook.)

And, as always, I’d love to see what you come up with!

 

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Un-Motivation

What motivates you to write?

Actually, let’s look at the flip side of that question, too:

What unmotivates you?

I’m suffering from an abundance of unmotivation this month, which really sucks because it’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and not only did I, for the first time ever, set my word count goal for under 50k, I actually decreased it from 31K to a miserable 10K because I just can’t seem to get focused and motivated. (I’m not counting April because I had an editing goal instead of a writing one for that camp.)

I don’t know what it is but I’m guessing it’s multiple causes:

1) brain-melting heat and humidity (especially this last week!)

2) the rescue dog fiasco

3) too much free time

4) the project in question

The weather can only be blamed for so much and the dog thing was a week or week and a half of an issue at the most, so that leaves the last two points, both of which are probably more pertinent, so let’s look at them in more detail.

Too much free time.

I think I’ve written about this before. I seem to be more productive when I have not just a deadline, but less time.  It always seemed that I could get more writing done in a couple hours before work than on an entire two days off.

And since I’m currently job-hunting I have lots of free time to not write.

(And to think that since I wasn’t working I had considered upping my goal to 50K…)

So, yeah. Having lots of free time unmotivates me.

Now for the project in question.

I’m not working on a novel.  Well, I am, but only sort of. I’m writing (not writing) a scene to be added to Onyx Sun.  There’s going to be another scene (which also isn’t written) in addition to this one to be added to the book.

So, I’m more revising than writing. And I’m so close to being able to get this book finished and released.

Really.  Finish this scene and write the other one, get them both integrated into the main manuscript, tweak a couple other things that are bugging me, get it printed again and go over it one more (hopefully last) time and release it in September.

You’d think that being that close to publishing would be a big motivator, wouldn’t you?

You’d be wrong.

It just looks like so much long dark dreary work ahead.

And if that just doesn’t suck the motivation right out of you I don’t know what will.

 

 

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Sunday Snippet July 23, 2017

 

More from Song and Sword, the first novel I published, since I’m working on a sequel and need the motivation.  This follows immediately after last week’s snippet.

Picking up from last week, Dakkas has left the Humans to find Kashrya.

 

He dismounted when he reached the site of the skirmish and frowned as he studied the bodies.  He had grown up around Orcs — the Drow had used them as slave labor for almost as long as they had been in exile—and he had never known them to form any kind of organized groups outside of some sort of loose family structure.  But these Orcs…  They were different somehow and he knelt to examine one more closely.

Orcs were roughly the same height as Drow, but had a heavier build.  These had the characteristic grey-green skin and the large dark eyes set into a flat round face, but they were much larger than any he had ever seen, both in height and build.  All were wearing a uniform bearing an insignia that he had never seen, and he was puzzled.  An army of Orcs would be formidable, but forming an army just wasn’t in their nature – as a rule they were timid and shy, even fearful. 

The ground was so trampled that it was nearly impossible to read the signs of the battle, but at last he found the place where they had first come across the river. He could see the smaller footprints of the women, could see one set that did not run, that stood facing the oncoming Orcs.

He stood in her footprints and closed his eyes.  She had been in a balanced fighting position, and he could see her clearly in his mind’s eye, the small hand axe that she carried held in a ready position.  He opened his eyes and examined the ground. There was some blood, about at the reach of her arms, but none where she had stood, and he felt a wave of relief.  At least she was most likely still alive.  But why?   Why would the Orcs have captured her?  That, along with the uniforms, made no sense.

 

 

Song and Sword cover

Blurb:
Pashevel: a simple Elven Bard — and the Crown Prince

Marlia: a Paladin of Arithen, the Elven God of Justice – seeking vengeance for the destruction of her village

Dakkas: heir to the Drow throne — if his father and elder half-brother don’t kill him first

Kashrya: raised among a tribe of nomadic Humans, she is unaware of her true heritage — or of the prophecy that made her mother an outcast

Their goal: build a bridge between the Elves and their outcast brethren, the Drow, reuniting them and undoing the damage caused in a time so far gone that history has become legend and legend has become myth.

But first, they have a problem to solve:  how do you stop a war that hasn’t started?

Available for Kindle at Amazon

and at Smashwords for everything else

 

Find more great reading
at the Sunday Snippet group.

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Rainbow Snippet for 7-22-2017

rainbow logo 1

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, bloggers, and readers to gather once a week and share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).   Check out all the other awesome snippets by clicking on the picture above.

 

“Yes,” she replied, her voice barely audible.   She drew a deep shaky breath and swallowed hard. “Thank you, Ayess.  You’ve just said what I felt but couldn’t quite grasp.  Luzita would have had no qualms about doing the same to me.”

“Are you afraid that she will try?”

She shook her head. “She can’t.  The collar works only for me and she’s smart enough to know that I’m the one taking care of her, and that if anything happens to me…”  She looked up at Ayess.  “If anything happens to me, the ship is yours.  It’s already recorded,” she added to forestall a protest. “The ship, my accounts, everything.” 

“Nothing is going to happen to you.”

“I hope not.  But if it does, I want you to know that you will not need to worry about your future.  And don’t worry about Luzita, either.  I told her that if there’s trouble I would know where it started and she would be the one leaving the ship, not you.  I wouldn’t put it past her to try to tell you the exact opposite just to try to create discord, play us against each other.”  She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t found her.”  

Ayess’ race does not have words for he/she/his/hers, etc, because they are (for lack of a better term) hermaphroditic. Their pronouns to refer to other members of their race are “ni” (for he/she/him/her), “ni-es” (his/hers), “ni-en” (they/them) and “ni-en-es” for theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read Like a Writer

You see it all the time in advice to writers: read. And read some more. And then read some more. In short, if you aren’t writing, you should be reading.  The idea behind it is that you can learn your craft by reading what other, supposedly better, writers have done. The problem is, the good writers make everything flow so seamlessly that you don’t notice what they’re doing or how they do it.

I had an English professor in college who would always tell us to “read like a writer.”  I never really understood what he meant.

Until recently.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, thanks to the Kindle app on my phone. And a lot of what I’ve been reading has been… eye opening, to say the least.

A story in one anthology I’ve read said was by a “best selling author” but it was so full of grammatical errors (especially sentence fragments) that I nearly gave up on it. (It had some other issues too, but that was the most glaring.)

Now, granted, sentence fragments can be used properly but these just… weren’t. All through reading it I kept wondering who edited the story – and the anthology it was in. (Mostly so I never hired them – in case I ever got enough money to hire an editor, that is.)

And there was another story that I really learned a lot from. It had way more telling than showing, and that “telling” read like it had been written by a second grader.

Then there were really awkward scene breaks. (As in: an empty line, a row of asterisks, another empty line then the same scene continued. Why????)

And stilted dialogue. I think maybe it was written with an emphasis on word count because there were few contractions anywhere (except for a fairly consistent use of “you’re” instead of “your.”)  You know that advice about reading your dialogue out loud to yourself?  Well, now I know why they say to do that.

It also just had too much going on. There were too many characters that just showed up with no background or information, just a name, and a few chapters later you discovered that this one was that one’s sister, and, oh, yeah, this other one is also a sister.

Now, maybe this book was part of a series, and the readers were expected to know who was related to whom, who was whose mate, etc, but for someone coming in cold there were just too many characters.

Granted, in the Academy of the Accord series, I do have a lot of characters, but I’m being careful to introduce them – and to reintroduce them in later books. I also remind my readers about which warrior is bonded with which wizard, not just when re-introducing them, but once or twice later in the book too.

Overkill?

Maybe. But I’d rather slip in an unneeded reminder here and there than frustrate and confuse (and therefore lose) my readers.

A few other random thoughts.

Sex scenes are fine.  But when it seems that that’s all the characters do then it gets old and dull and I tend to skip them. (I’m wondering if I should go back through Sanguine and delete some of mine, except the ones in there serve a purpose – they show the developing relationship between the Kaen and Gregor. The ones I’m talking about are just… there. Gratuitous sex. Sometimes while there are pressing issues that need dealt with. (It reminds me of the scene in The Sound of Music where they’re running from the Nazis and stop to sing.)

Also, could adult characters please act like adults and not teenagers with their first crush?  Or two year olds throwing a tantrum?  Seriously! Never in my life have I wanted to smack some sense into so many characters in such a short amount of time.

Oh, and see that exclamation point up there? Please don’t use them when describing action.  One really intense scene was utterly destroyed because of an exclamation point. (Or, as another English prof used to tell us, “Don’t tell me how to feel.”)

So, yes. Read. Read a lot.  Read everything. You’ll learn from reading the good writers.  You’ll learn more from reading the bad stuff.

 

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Wednesday Words #134 (7/19/2017)

Welcome to Wednesday Words!  Every Wednesday I will post some sort of prompt for a flash fiction piece.  The prompt will go live just after midnight Eastern time.

The prompt might be a picture, or it might be a list of things to include in a story, or maybe a phrase or a question or something from a “news of the weird” type thing, or a… who knows?

After that, it’s up to you.  But if you do use the prompt to write a bit of flash fiction (say, 500 words or so) I’d love to see what you came up with, so comment below with a link to where it is on your blog (or on WattPad or wherever).

(And a pingback to the post here where you found the prompt would be appreciated but isn’t necessary.)

Oh, and this isn’t a contest or anything.  It’s just a (hopefully) fun thing for all concerned.

And, hey, if it inspires more than 500 or so words, run with it!

This week’s prompt:

a hole in the ground
a wizard
a cloud

And, as always, I’d love to see what you come up with!

 

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