Tag Archives: creative process

Buses and Bunnies

Story ideas come from the strangest places.

Today, for instance. I picked up a shift doing a school bus ride-along with the student that I was with last school year (until Covid shut the schools down).  The bus leaves from a different garage this year and has a different driver. I got there early (as I usually do) and settled down to wait.

Fifteen minutes later than we were supposed to leave I asked the dispatcher if I’d missed the driver somehow. (Unlikely since he can’t leave without me.) She said she hadn’t seen him and called him but he didn’t answer the radio which she thought was odd, so she called his cell phone, with hers on speaker.

He said that since he only had one student today he wasn’t leaving until 7:15. The dispatcher said okay, that she hadn’t known he only had one student, and that the nurse was asking and he got snarky and said “I’m tired of these damned nurses.” She ended the call, looked at me, and said, “He’s a grumpy butt today.” (At this point I already had a somewhat more colorful description in mind…)

As I was leaving at the end of the day I said to him (in the sweetest, most pleasant voice imaginable – a clear danger sign to anyone who knows me – ) “This ‘damned nurse’ will see you next Friday.”

And now I want to write a story using the “damned nurse” scenario.

Because, you know, I don’t have enough plot bunnies…

And now my internet is being wonky again (it rained last night but was sunny all day today) so there might be another bunny brewing between a phone repair person and customer. Or maybe not – this internet cutting out and coming back multiple times during/after rain is getting old.

But I have bigger problems than either of those to deal with so I’m off to research toilets. (And I hope no plot bunny hops out of one.)

 

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T.G.I.F.

(Someday that “F” is going to stand for “Finished” but for now we’ll settle for “Friday.”

Only one more Friday in Bedlam. People who work with special needs kids do not ever get enough credit. Or money. I know I couldn’t do it long term, or even for a five day week.

Still plodding along with The Academy of the Accord. Only two more books to get ready to print. (I’m not counting the prequel as it’s nowhere near done.)

The last book I worked on had chapter breaks… Starting on page 70. Yeah, no. I added a few before there. Probably a few too many but I’ll sort that out in edits.

Some of the books were printed ages ago (I knew that) and have paperclips marking their chapters, as well as margin notes and post-its (I’d forgotten about that). I suppose I should probably go through them before I print them again.

Then I got a bright idea to change something in the last book. It’s not going to affect the outcome at all, but it will affect large parts of text and will make me have to work in a new subplot.

Maybe by the end of the year I’ll be able to start a solid round of edits and bible-building.

(Yes, I know it’s only the end of February. But there’s an overwhelmingly long road ahead of me…)

So, anyhow, it’s supposed to rain this weekend so my plans are to curl up with a bad draft of a good book or two, drown myself in tea, and see if I can get ready to start the comparisons with what was printed earlier by the end of the weekend.

And blog hop and set up my weekly posts for the next month.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Plodding Along

And I have chapters!

And possibly a cold.

And probably bronchitis.

And how was your weekend?

I went to my mother’s on Saturday and took both dogs with me. I took my two out for a potty break and hers got out too and all three ran circles in the snow, chasing each other and having a great time and completely ignoring me when I tried to get them to come in.

I finally got the Demon Dog inside, but the Diva was having too much fun on her “girls’ day out” and I might as well have not existed.

Then mom’s dog (Hershey – yes, she’s a chocolate lab) took off around the front of the house with the Diva in hot pursuit and I lost sight of them.

By that time I was starting to panic, worried that something would happen to the Diva, and, in addition to my own guilt if something happened to her, my roommate would kill me.

So I trudged along after them, following their tracks in the snow, breaking through a crust of ice and floundering in snow halfway up to my knees.

Fortunately they hadn’t gone far and came when they saw me and I was able to grab the Diva’s leash. (And she walked very nicely beside me on the way back, which should have been my first warning.)

Got her inside with my feet soaking wet (sneakers are not the best shoes for breaking trail in the winter) and freezing cold and discovered that all four of her legs were covered with blood. (She’s white, so it was pretty noticeable.)

I cleaned her up and there were no big injuries, just some tiny scratches and scrapes from breaking through the crust on top of the snow and continuing to run like a maniac.

Through all of this it was probably 13 or 15 degrees Fahrenheit out there, so I spent yesterday feeling like death warmed over and left to congeal again.

Today I’ve only felt like death warmed over, so not quite as bad, although it still hurts to breathe. (We had a snow day today so at least I didn’t have to go to work.) Since I felt semi-alive today I got chapter breaks put into the book that didn’t have any. I’m pretty sure they’re temporary and will move a lot.

Anyhow, I’m back to work tomorrow (or so my checkbook hopes) and am finally back on track with getting the Academy of the Accord ready to print for editing and concordance-creating.

Here’s hoping the momentum continues.

 

 

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Chapters

And the lack thereof.

So I finally finished the latest untangling of the middle books of the Academy of the Accord series, and thought I was finally in for some smooth sailing to get the rest of them ready to be printed.

I was wrong.

When I write, I put in chapter breaks. (Usually labeled “Chapter Break” because I lose count. I put the numbers in when I do the first round of paper edits.)

When I get a manuscript ready to print for editing, I have each chapter start on a new page. (It’s just how my mind works at organizing things.)

So, I opened the next book and did a Ctrl F to find the word “Chapter” and Ctrl F said “Word not found.” And I said “What the F?” and tried again in case I’d mistyped it.

Nope.

There are no chapters.

And I said “F” a lot. (Without “Ctrl”)

How?

How could I have written this whole novel and never put in chapter breaks?

And how could I have read through it multiple times and never noticed that I didn’t put in chapter breaks?

At any rate, I decided it could wait until tonight, but work left me with a migraine so now it’s waiting until tomorrow so I’m not tempted to delete the whole thing. (Kudos to teachers and support staff who deal with a roomful of special needs students five days a week for nine or more months of the year. You all are a special breed of human who deserve a whole lot more money and recognition than you’ll ever get.)

But at least I got the most problem-filled book printed after work tonight so it’s ready to be attacked with paper clips, post it notes, highlighters, colored pens, margin notes, etc.

I should probably start on that fairly soon, while the memory of what I was trying to accomplish with that mess is still semi-fresh. (There is likely to be more swearing in my near future.)

But tomorrow I have to go try to help my mother recover and reset all the passwords that she lost because despite my best efforts to orient her to the truth she is under the delusion that I am some sort of computer guru.

(Some computer guru. I have a Word doc that is “Read Only” and I know I didn’t do that (at least, not on purpose) and have no idea how to fix it. *sigh*)

Anyhow, I hope everyone has a great weekend.

 

 

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Night Shift

In a moment of insanity I agreed to work a night shift tonight, and, as usual, as the time to work it draws nearer I am regretting my decision. (Although I do have to admit that it was kind of worth it just to hear the confusion in the voice of the person from my agency who called to ask if I’d pick it up as the client had requested me. It was quite obvious that she had expected me to say no and she was kind of fumbling for a response when I said yes.)

Anyhow, it’s an easy assignment; most of my work is done by midnight at the latest and then there’s basically nothing to do (except check on the residents a time or two) until 6:00 in the morning.

Which begs the question: what should I take along with me tonight to work on to stay awake?

I can’t take counted cross stitch because the lighting in the nurse’s office sucks. (I’ve tried before; it just doesn’t work.)

I could maybe take yarn and a crochet hook and make a scarf, especially since I’m behind on that goal.

I should take something to edit but I don’t feel like lugging my laptop along and working on Onyx Sun and I don’t think I have any current print outs of The Academy of the Accord to swear, cry, and pull my hair out over.

Maybe I could take a note book and work on the outline of Song and Shadow? That won’t take all night, though. At least, not in a solid stream of working on it. (I tend to do outlines in fits and starts: write some stuff up, let it sit for a while, ask/answer some more questions about the story, add to the outline, repeat… And it’s even worse for this book because it’s started, and I know pretty much how it ends, but it’s getting from one point to the other that is giving me problems.)

Part of me wants to take my portable DVD player and the complete series of Fraggle Rock DVDs that I got for my birthday and have a Fraggle Rock night.

But on the other hand, I should do something productive…

*sigh*

In brighter(ish) news, I’m still chugging through fixing the spacing in that Academy of the Accord book, paragraph by paragraph. And I have another book ready to print for editing. (And might get another one ready before I go to work tonight. The Word doc is open and ready to work on at any rate.)

But I really just want to go to bed.

 

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Tips Appreciated

(No, this is not a plea for money. But on the other hand, if you do happen to have an extra million or two in petty cash that you don’t know what to do with…)

Due to a variety of factors I have multiple versions of pretty much every novel I’ve ever started, stored in a variety of places.

What led to this?

Well, it mostly started when my PC’s power supply went snap-crackle-pop, resulting a large amount of panic until my local computer tech managed to salvage my hard drive and transfer all my files onto a thumb drive.

Some of the stuff from that thumb drive (primarily my Academy of the Accord series and the Elven Bard novels) has been moved to my laptop.

Various versions of the Academy of the Accord books exist on my laptop and on multiple thumb drives, making it really hard to find what I’m looking for.

It doesn’t help that I tend to save every new version under a slightly different name:

AotA Bk1
AotA Bk1 1st Edits
AotA Bk1 for Beta
etc.

Now multiply that times the 13 books in the main series and a prequel. And then there are outtakes, stuff to add in, ideas for short side stories… Oh, and let’s not forget the “to print” versions, where I change to a size 10 font (instead of 14) and make sure that each chapter starts on a new page.

And that’s just one series.

Yeah, it’s a hot mess.

I’m currently trying to corral and merge all versions of the Academy of the Accord books onto one thumb drive, which I will find a way to label. (Unlabeled thumb drives are also part of the problem because I have no idea what each one holds.)

So, my question is…

Is there anyone else out there with this or a similar problem? Solutions? Suggestions?

I can’t be the only one. I mean, there is this mug that tells me I’m not alone, at least in the multiple versions department.

 

(I do own this mug, but the image is from a Google search.)

 

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February Goals

I’m still working my way through re-reading the Academy of the Accord series, and am up Book Six. Er… Book Seven. (I have to renumber them.)

Books Five, 5.5 (Six) and now this one are… a mess. Book Five is the one that I pulled a lot of stuff from to create Book 5.5 (because it didn’t really belong in Book Five).

The result is that Book 5.5 is a hodgepodge of stuff that needs to be tied together and finished. It has also somehow lost its plotline.

The one I’m currently reading through has a sequence of events that fail to fall into any semblance of a workable timeline. It should also win an award for the most plot holes in a single draft: two sets of wizards Warders in the same tower, one of whom is too young to have gotten her Master’s robes yet; one antagonist who has had something like three different names (and I still have forty pages to go); and a cadet who is there and then not there. (An overall timeline for the series would probably help a lot with that last issue.)

Anyhow, by the end of the month I hope to finished reading through them and have them either printed for editing or at least ready to print. I’m pretty sure they get easier after this one. (The next book might still be slightly problematic because of the timeline, but I don’t think it’s as much of a chaotic mess as this one is. At least, I sincerely hope it isn’t.)

I also need to get back to work on a concordance so I can pick up some dropped threads. (Book One has a couple dozen things that never got picked up again.)

Other goals are to get the changes done to Onyx Sun and figure out where I need to reinsert a scene that I cut and need to put back. (No, I don’t know why I cut it to begin with.)

And keep chugging away at Song and Shadow, although I may put that on hold until I work out an outline and start a concordance.

That sounds like an awful lot of stuff for four weeks

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Almost Gone

January, that is. But where? I can’t even figure out where today has gone, let alone this whole month. I could have sworn the year just changed a week or two ago.

I’m slowly getting used to my new day job assignment. I don’t seem to be quite so tired at the end of the day, at any rate. (Seriously. Who knew that riding a bus for seven to eight hours a day would be so tiring that all I want to do is sleep?) Of course, there were two days this past week where I didn’t work, so I don’t know if it really counts as getting used to it or not. One day was because the school district closed due to weather, and the other was the student being kept home.

I got my car inspected today, then got my second dose of the Covid vaccine, so those are both out of the way. And outside of a doing a load of laundry and taking a bag of garbage down from my room I haven’t done much of anything else.

Except read.

I’m working my way through re-reading the Academy of the Accord series so I read Book Four today, and so far it’s coming in as one of my favorites, although the ending totally sucks and needs to be completely redone. (Endings are a major weak point in my writing, but this one is especially bad and lazy. I really need to “read as a writer” and note how other writers wrap up their books.)

Yes, I know I’m supposed to be writing the prequel to Song and Sword, and I am still plugging away at it, but it’s not what’s calling to my heart right now.

And I’m also still poking at edits for Onyx Sun, and the rearrangement of my computer hutch is making that project much easier, so there is light at the end of that tunnel, although I’m afraid that my self-imposed deadline for it is going to go swooshing by. (Kind of like my To Do list that I just keep changing the date on.)

The Academy of the Accord, even with the amount of overwhelm and frustration I feel about it sometimes, is truly my heart project. I just sometimes despair of ever getting it finished and edited and free of continuity errors. (Especially that last one!)

Then there’s going to be the issue of finding a beta reader (or readers) for a 13 book series plus a prequel.

And coming up with titles for all of them. (Naming things is hard.)

And blurbs. Fourteen blurbs.

But one thing at a time. I have to finish writing a couple of them, and edit all of them, but I’ll get there. Eventually.

I just need to find a balance between the big picture and a narrow focus, and to a creative mind that frequently goes in several dozen directions at once – and multi-tasks in all of them – that is easier said than done.

 

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Over Booked

No, this has nothing to do with the overcrowding on my bookshelves. (Although it would be appropriate…)

It also has nothing to do with my ever-growing list of Works In Progress and Plot Bunnies. (Although it would probably be even more appropriate…)

No, this time it has to do with scheduling.

I know I always give myself a bigger list of things to do than any thirteen people could accomplish, but now I’ve gone and overbooked myself for Friday.

I had made (tentative) plans to go to my mother’s to get help with that damned waffle stitch scarf (that looks more like a lumpy pancake than a waffle), but then I realized that the month is almost over and I have to get my car inspected. No problem. Inspection, trip to my mother’s, done.

But when I was entering the inspection appointment into the calendar on my phone I realized that Friday is also the day of my second Covid vaccine and now I need to be in three places at once.

Meanwhile, as far as writing and such goes, I am making progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. I fixed up the scene that I thought I’d already put into Book One of the Academy of the Accord series and hope to get it inserted before the week is out.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I make my goals too big sometimes, and then they feel overwhelming and don’t happen. Like “Enter changes to Onyx Sun.” That’s a big project. I think I need to reword it to “Enter changes to one chapter of Onyx Sun every day.” That’s a lot less scary.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I really need to stop and make an outline of some sort for Song and Shadow. I have no idea what’s going to happen and only a vague idea of who the Big Bad is and even less of an idea about how the reveal is going to go.

And while I’m working on the outline I should start a series bible.

*sigh* Here I go. Overbooking myself again…

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And Tomorrow’s Not Looking Too Good Either

 

Today’s “To-Do” List turned out to be more of a “Not-Gonna-Happen Today” List. I have marked a couple things off of it, so I’ll take what small victories I can find and move the rest to “Probably-Not-Gonna-Happen-Today-Either” list.

I did get a bit of a reprieve in that I only have to work a half day tomorrow so I’ll be able to get some errands run on the way home, at least one of which is writing-related.

While poking around in my files I found a scene that needs to be added to Book One of the Academy of the Accord series. I could have sworn I’d already inserted it but I have no versions at all with it in, so I’m going to put it where it belongs and reprint the draft (it desperately needs gone over again anyhow) and put it on the shelf again for another round. My current goal with the series is to get one book edited/reprinted each month. (One month will have to have two books done because there are more books than there are months now.)  And maybe finish the prequel’s first draft.

And, then, of course, there’s the work on the prequel to Song and Sword, and the edits of Onyx Sun, and… *sigh*

On a brighter note, the computer hutch project is almost finished and I hope to get it cleared out today and start moving stuff into it. I really should work on my CPR recertification for work first, though. I think they’d like that.

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