Tag Archives: creative process

The Best Laid Schemes…

(of crafters and writers)

… gang aft agley.

Remember on Friday when I said that my plans for my weekend home alone involved rearranging some stuff in my craft room? (I believe the phrase I used was “editing my living space.”)

Uh-huh.

A plot was outlined. The characters (myself, the dogs, and an absent roommate) were developed. The scene (a craft room that looked like an episode of Hoarders) was set.

In short, plans were made.

The gods laughed so hard they had hiccups.

Cue inciting incident on Saturday morning in the form of the panicked voice of my not-done-packing-yet roommate yelling, “Paula! The washer’s overflowing!”

Sure enough. Apparently the washer had decided that “full” wasn’t “full enough” and kept on filling… and filling… and filling…

There was about half an inch of water covering roughly half the (carpeted) floor in my craft room.

So, instead of just moving the buffet table and the bins of yarn, I spent the weekend running the shop vac and moving over half the contents of my craft room into the back half of the basement and then back to where they belong.

I really didn’t lose anything to water damage because most of the stuff on floor level was in plastic tubs. (I learned that lesson a few years ago when the hot water tank declared war on the carpet.)

Epilogue to the weekend:

The carpet is a lot cleaner than it used to be.

The new washer comes on Wednesday.

My craft room is still a disaster but there is more room in it now. Not because there is appreciably less stuff, but because it’s better organized. (I “tightened the writing,” so to speak.)

There is still a lot to do.

The carpet is still slightly damp. (I think water is leeching back up to the surface.)

There is still a lot of unsorted stuff in boxes. But at least the mad rush on it is done, although I do need to still make more room by Wednesday. (Mostly I just need to move some stuff that is rather precariously stacked so it doesn’t get knocked over by the guys bringing the new washer.)

And the sink needs cleaned out – I was emptying the shop vac into it and it’s kind of full of sludge.

Let round two of the edits begin…

 

 

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Who Ya Gonna Call?

Have you ever just been bopping along, doing your own thing, and suddenly one of your novels (or a character) just walks up and slaps you in the face?

That’s what happened to me earlier today.

I was scrolling through Face Book clicked on a link someone had shared and found this article.

My first thought was of Marsden from The Academy of the Accord because that is soooo something he would do.  (If, of course, he was a cop in today’s world, but that’s a minor trifle.)

The part with the hand on the shoulder and “Easy… I’ve got this one, son” is what really made me think of Marsden. That is something he would say and do and the description is spot on too, although he’s not quite that old – at least, not at the start of the series.

So, while it was really cool to come across that, now I want to get back to work on The Academy of the Accord.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Onyx Sun is still supposed to be on the front burner.

I think maybe I need a staff of ghost writers…

 

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Unhappy Camper

Well, this hasn’t been going according to plan.

And by “this” I mean “Camp NaNoWriMo” of course.

And by “plan” I mean at least one thousand words a day.

It’s day three and as I write this I have written less than a thousand words.

What happened?

I wish I knew.

Saturday I had every intention (Yeah, yeah, the road to Hell is well-paved. I know) of writing three thousand words.  I managed a little over seven hundred.  (Soraine is being a very uncooperative pirate captain and is trying to do some sort of odd heroic thing that is going to completely mess up other stuff… But maybe I should just scrap the other stuff and let her go and do it.  But anyhow, I digress.)

I did have one hellacious headache all day, though, which didn’t help.

So, Saturday was a bust.

Sunday was even worse – I managed to scrounge up another two hundred words or so, despite the headache that staggered in from Saturday.

And so far today hasn’t been very productive either. I was running errands for a large part of the day, though, so at least I know where some of the time went, unlike the two previous days.

But still… How did I get this far behind already?

I think maybe part of it was the departure from what I had planned. I’m fighting against the natural flow of the characters and story, trying to force it into what I had planned.

Or maybe it’s that I didn’t really have a whole lot planned for this scene, but when it made a 90 degree turn from my expectations I still insisted that it needed to follow along my non-existent planned route.

Either way it seems that the problem is my reluctance to give up control and go with the flow. (Maybe because what I’m writing is an extra scene to a more or less completed (a beta reader wanted more added) novel that I’m trying to finish up?)

At any rate, the solution now seems clear.  Strike through a lot of what I have written (don’t want to lose the word count) and start fresh, letting the characters lead the way.

On Friday I’ll let you know how that works out.

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De-Stressed

Well, somewhat.

I had an appointment with a cardiologist yesterday and he cleared me – no stress test needed.  Happy happy happy day!

The countdown has begun – only 16 more shifts at my current job. Just having made up my mind to not go with the new company has relieved most of my stress. Now if my doctor would just get back to me with when I can pick up my physical form…

And with the stress starting to fade away my energy has started to come back.

Yesterday I planted some tree lily bulbs, Dutch iris bulbs, and some other kind of bulbs that my mother thinks are some kind of lily. I also planted some chocolate mint and regular mint.

This gives me hope that my will to write will come back soon too, so I can do something about these plot bunnies that are nibbling away at my mind.

Meanwhile, I still have other stuff to plant, and some columbine to pry out from between the bricks in the retaining wall and transplant to my garden.

And lots of other craft stuff to keep me occupied.  (Not to mention the Kindle app on my phone.)

And I only have three weeks to decide what I’m doing for Camp. I should work on Onyx Sun or the Elven Bard novel.  But doing one thousand words for 31 different plot bunnies sounds like fun too.  And then there’s the werewolf thing that’s preying on the edges of my mind. It has some characters (without names) and a scene or two, but no real plot. Of course, I have 3 weeks to flesh it out. But I should work on Onyx Sun or the Elven Bard novel…

I hate being undecided.

Or, rather, I hate being decided on too many things – I want to write them all! Right now!

Sadly, I have to go to work.

Sixteen more shifts.

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Grapevine

This is probably going to be a non writing related blog post.  At least mostly.

I came home from work Friday night and was letting the dogs out and noticed that the majority of the grapevine on the back porch was gone. I asked my roommate what had happened to it and she said that our neighbor had cut down the dead part. I asked if she was aware that he had cut down living vines – vines with flowers that would turn into grapes. She said she hadn’t really looked at it.

Well, I got a better look at the damage Saturday morning and all I want to do is cry. It’s gone. All of it. What I saw still hanging on the rails the night before is just a handful of vines not attached to anything.

The neighbor came out while I had Riley out and said it will grow back. I finally got up enough nerve to go down to ground level (instead of looking from the porch) and it’s worse than I thought. There’s nothing there. Nothing. I can’t even see where the vine was. I don’t think there’s anything left to grow back.

I am heartbroken.

Heartsick.

And even if does grow back, it’s not going to be the same.  That lovely ancient twisted and gnarled trunk is gone forever. (This house was built in 1905. I don’t know when the vine was planted, but the original owner made wine from its grapes.)

I feel like I lost a friend.

So, yeah, it wasn’t a good weekend.

I have been invaded by a couple new plot bunnies though.  *sigh* I can’t keep up! I am doing pretty good at writing them on index cards but I think I’m going to need to get another flex binder (I’m pretty sure I don’t have one on my avalanche prone office supply shelves) and use it to keep outlines in.  I think this project may have outgrown any hopes of fitting in a traveler’s notebook.

Anyhow, one of the plot bunnies is a shifter story.  I have characters (with no name of course) but not much plot yet.

The other grew out of the grapevine butchering and is something that’s going to make me change some stuff in another novel (semi-finished – it needs to be expanded and edited) and create a whole new… not really a series but…

What do you call a bunch of loosely related books set in the same universe?

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Evolution of a Novel #1

So, on Friday I mentioned that I’d started outlining my project for November.  It’s a science fiction novel that’s been kicking around in my head for a lot of years (long before I’d even heard of NaNoWriMo).

It still doesn’t have a name but for now we’ll call it The Desert Planet. (The Word doc name is my usual ever-(not)-helpful “NaNoWriMo 2017 Outline.”)

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to explore where the idea came from and trace it from that one bit of inspiration through to the final project.

This novel started as a single scene that hit me as I walked out of an air conditioned building in downtown Pittsburgh and into a wall of city heat.

And that’s all the scene was – the main character walking out of an air conditioned building and into a wall of heat.

Then a second character came up to him. Said second character was supposed to be his guide on a rescue mission.

And for a long time that’s where the whole thing sat.

Throughout the years a couple more scenes got added inside my head, but nothing major was happening, just two characters traveling through the desert.

Then last Wednesday, years after the initial idea, it suddenly had a prologue, some background, and a plot twist. (What brought it to the forefront after all that time? Unseasonably hot weather that hit me when I stepped out of my much cooler house.)

So, I started outlining.

So far I have the prologue outlined, and the first two scenes.

Scene two used to be scene one, until I decided that there was too much telling (it was MMC1 reflecting on the mission briefing he’d just left) so I made the briefing scene one so I could show it instead.

Scene two is MMC1 meeting his guide for the mission – one of the planet’s natives.

It still doesn’t have a title, and none of the main characters have a name. One minor character does, but the main characters are MMC1, MMC2, and FMC. I also need names for the planet, the city, the natives, their tribes, and the enemy.

But, hey! I have over five months to name everything, right?

 

 

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Plot Twist

There’s a meme on Face Book that says something along the lines of “When life throws you a curve ball, yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.”

Well, yesterday I got a plot twist.

I’m not entirely sure how it will play out yet. I’ll know more by the end of the month if not before, but for now let’s just say that my stress levels have about tripled.

So, anyhow…

I’ve been thrown off balance and am trying to regain my equilibrium. I’m sure I will and I’m sure it won’t take too long, but in the meantime I find myself in that weird author place where you’re not only caught up in an emotional whirlwind but you’re also outside it, observing the physical sensations.

And as another side effect, there’s also a line kicking around my head that wants (or maybe needs) to be worked into a novel. (Unfortunately, probably not any of the ones that I already have started.)

(Of course not. *sigh*)

Anyhow, I’ve written it down for future use.

In other news, I haven’t made much progress on any of my writing goals.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on anything. Onyx Sun still needs more scenes added and I’ve started working on one to explain the relationship between Taliya and Soraine, which falls somewhere between friends and rivals, or maybe spans both. Soraine only has a couple brief appearances in the novel so far, but since she’s going to be getting her own book someday I thought maybe I should expand her a bit.  And this is a fun bit of writing because it showcases her rather wicked sense of humor. It’s also going to tie in nicely with a couple other scenes, which makes me super happy.

(By the way, I really need to use different paper for different things. I left to run errands on Wednesday and grabbed my shopping list from my keyboard shelf. When I headed into the store and opened it I discovered I’d grabbed my note about how the scene introducing Soraine ties into other scenes. Useful, but not what I really needed at that point in time.)

So, anyhow, life – and writing – go on.

Just not always in the expected directions.

 

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Time Sinks

You know what they are. They’re those black holes that you fall into and before you know it you’ve lost hours of your day.

A few of mine:

Pinterest. I’m pretty good at avoiding this one, but when I fall… I look at someone’s board, then go the board of someone that they pinned an image from, and from there I find other boards and other people and… Yeah. Half a day and forty boards later I come up for air, bleary eyed, wondering what year it is.

Jigzone.  I’ll admit it. (I may have already admitted it here.)  I am a jigsaw junkie. I have been known to skip meals while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have been known to ignore chocolate cake with peanut butter icing while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have foregone sleep while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle.  I’m only semi successful at avoiding jigzone.

YouTube. *sigh* Let’s not go there.  No, I mean, really, let’s not go there. I’m currently addicted to all things Pentatonix.  And to Superfruit videos. And the comments on them. And the Moody Blues. And then I look up old songs that I used to like or wonder if they’re on YouTube.  And then I start looking at horse videos and videos of Boxers (dogs, not fighters).  I’m um… really not good at avoiding YouTube. I tell myself that I’ll use it as a reward, that I’ll watch one (just one!) video and then get back to work. And, yeah, one video becomes two hours and…

Yeah. FaceBook pales in comparison to those.

Then there are online games. I’m pretty good at avoiding them, mostly because I haven’t even thought about them recently. (Until now.  Thank you, me. Now I have to go find Alchemy and BookWorm and Hangaroo, and…)

No. Just no.  I am not going to go there, I’m just not.

 

 

 

 

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Camp Update — Sort Of

Week one of Camp NaNoWriMo is wrapping up and I’m feeling kind of “blah.” Editing for Camp isn’t nearly as much fun as writing for Camp so it’s kind of hard to work up any enthusiasm for it.

(Then again, editing isn’t nearly as much fun as writing even when it’s not for Camp.)

So, anyhow, I still have 150 some pages to enter changes to, and two additional scenes that are written but need to be inserted somewhere. And a ton of notes to work through. (No wonder I’ve been putting this project off!)

And, of course, the increasingly evil day job to contend with. I’m seriously about to beg for a steady night shift there.  I could take my laptop, put my current project on a thumb drive, and edit the heck out of stuff.

But since that’s unlikely to happen (plus, as mentioned before, I have trouble sleeping during daylight hours), it looks like I’m going to have to carry on as is for a while.

So far I’m hanging on with NaPoWriMo, too, thanks largely to my dogs (two poems about them) and the weather. (Spring weather in Pennsylvania is always good for poems – it’s totally unpredictable.) It is still early in the month, though, and subjects get harder to find near the end.

I even managed to enter Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Thread challenge yesterday. (And my first draft was only three words over the limit.)

Now if I could just get something written to submit to the Queer SciFi flash fiction contest with a deadline of the 10th… I’m trying, but I keep coming up empty, or with things that will require way more than 300 words.

I should go back to writing haikus.  They are great for teaching economy of words.

Of course, then I’d have to revert back to being wordy for novels.

Seems I can’t win…

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Families

Like them or not, we all have them.

And so do our characters.  After all, they don’t exist in a vacuum.  They had a life before the story (and hopefully they’ll have a life afterward too.) They have families of some sort, just like we do. And friends and rivals and…

And let’s just stick to families, okay?  They can have enough drama for multiple books.

Like it or not, our families helped form us into who we are.  We might break from them and their beliefs, but they are still there in the background.  Why should our characters be any different?

Answer: They shouldn’t.

Even if your characters’ families are never shown or mentioned or named in your book they’ve still had an impact on who your character is and why s/he is the way s/he is.

Some people are great at writing families and family relationships.  I’m… not one of them. Most of my characters seem to come from families that are dysfunctional at best and downright toxic at worst.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

In Onyx Sun (which I will finish the revision of sooner or later), Taliya’s mother tried to cheat her out of her rightful place as head of household, and sold Taliya’s lover to a slaver.  Growing up, Taliya always felt closer to her grandmother than to her mother – and to the father that she barely knew.

Sanguine is something of an exception, in that Gregor has a large, warm, loving, and closely knit, extended family (with one exception).

In Song and Sword:

Marlia’s family is dead but the manner of their deaths did a lot to shape who she was at the start of the story.

Dakkas’ father and half-brother want to kill him, so he grew up not really expecting to grow up.  It made him cautious and hesitant to trust.

Pashevel and his father don’t see eye to eye, but at least he’s not plotting his son’s death.  Pashevel’s mother is dead, and it was her banishment from the kingdom – along with his father’s somewhat cold attitude – that had the greatest effect on who he turned out to be.

Kashrya never knew her birth parents, but was raised by a shaman, who, while respected by the tribe, was never really a part of it, so she was also always an outsider.

And lastly, in The Academy of the Accord series:

Marsden is the oldest of a large family, and when their mother died after the birth of the youngest he pretty much took charge of raising the others.  He loves his family, but we only meet two of them. He still fills a “father” role much of the time.

Vinadi is the only child of wealthy parents, both of whom were wizards, and was never really close with his family. (We only meet an aunt and a couple uncles.)  He grew up isolated and lonely. His early wanderlust came from an unconscious desire to find “home” – which is also what led to his dream for the school.

Kordelm’s mother was a whore who kicked him out to fend for himself when he was just a child. He is resilient, street-smart, and independent.  Something of a loner growing up, now that he has friends he will give his life to protect them.

Wellhym’s father threw him out when he was ten years old and it was discovered that he didn’t like girls. Wel’s mother never said a word, but his older brothers did.  One of them later comes around and accepts him. The other… not so much.  His friends become his surrogate family, but he never really stops wishing things could have been different with his birth family.

Torlew’s father was more interested in money than in his children. As the youngest son, Tor grows up seeing how unhappy his older siblings are, and resolves to not fall into that same trap. We meet his family and it’s about as awkward as you’d expect. He has one free-spirited aunt, who we never meet, and a little sister that is following in her footsteps.

Caristen’s family is loud and boisterous, and except for one temper tantrum from his father, they are totally accepting and supportive of him and his friends. (Cair’s mother is a force to be reckoned with and his father should be glad she wasn’t holding a cast iron skillet when he was throwing his tantrum.)

Yhonshel never knew his birth parents. He saw his first foster family killed for no reason other than that the man wanted to.  It was eight years after that before he could form attachments to other people. (And then it was mostly because they didn’t give him a choice.)  It was because of his helplessness as a child that Yhonshel became very good at protecting people.

(No, I’m not going to go through the families of the other characters from later books. If I do this post will turn into a novel and there are enough of those in this series.)

Maybe on Friday I’ll talk more about families – the kind you find or create vs the kind you’re born into.

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