D.V. Sheppard

The web-log of a duck-herding author.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I/O for the Brain (IWSG)

Not only do I feel insecure about my writing today, but about my intellectual existence. Basically, my TV consumption has increased over the past few years, and my intellectual exercises have decreased to such a degree that I've gained POUNDS of dumb-fat (we won't even discuss what it's done to my level of fat-fat). Further, I can watch the extra weight slowly flattening my word count to nothing. not only did I poopoo on my NaNoWriMo goals, but I probably had the lowest word count for the month then I've had in a year. I'm just pulling that out of my rear - I didn't actually make any calculations. I'm trying not to beat myself up too much - most of the time all that does is cause a downward spiral to worse behavior... at least for me... <.<   >.>..... I can be stubborn like that :p
I am working to change my habits and behaviors, though. It's been a pretty hard few months for me personally. I actively avoided the blogosphere for awhile, because I was a might-bit antagonistic and moody and critical - I was in bad form, basically (though, I'd like to say thanks to Elise Fallson for thinking of me, and checking to see how I was doing - Elise your awesome). Thanks to some NET - I'm doing better and better. Part of my goal, is to limit the amount of time I'm watching TV - putting my foot down about what I really want to watch, and not go searching for entertainment beyond that. I've also begun making a list of things that I want and like to do - so I have answers when I think "there's nothing to do". My ultimate point is that I need to give my brain a jump. Turn it back on.
Part of this plan also includes the significant increase of reading. What? I'm a writer that doesn't read? I used to a read a lot when I was younger. Then life got me busy. Obviously I'm not as busy now- since I can spend as much time as I do watching TV (even when excluding when I multi-tasked). I'm in a new place now and one of my strongest focuses is to finish this book. I've not been reading, because I'm gotten picky and critical - but I think its time to hunker down and do some purposeful reading. Heck, even if I don't like a book, I can still learn "what not to do" and the truth is, most of the time, I'm so fickle that I won't even finish the first chapter. Too much TV has given me an extremely short attention span.
So, now, for the sake of my future as a writer, for my health as a person and personality - I'm going to fight for my brain's right to write, logic, express, and experience.

Anyone else find that a daily habit hurts their writing? Done anything to help it improve?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In Which I Prove Just How Bad I Am at Synopsis and Selling (IWSG)

I was thinking at this point in the much anticipated month of November that I would be lamenting about the infamous NaNoWriMo... okay, so I am currently very behind and that doesn't really make me feel like a winner - but truthfully I don't care so much about my word count as I care that my word count is suffering because... well... how do I put it... I guess I feel lost. 

I sat down to write the other day and got stumped. Which really shouldn't be a biggy - getting stumped is a part of writing for many of us out there. However, as I thought about it, I realized that I wasn't just stumped with my scene, I was stumped with my purpose. I have a pretty darn good outline for the remainder of my book (thanks to Wombat) - so it's not a matter of where I'm going - it's a matter of why I'm going there. I want my book to say something important, even if it doesn't spell it out as clearly as some of our old time fables. Right now, I look at my book and I feel uncertain about what I'm trying to say. 

Because of how my brain works and how I write, I know that I do well to hammer out the "what happens" and then add in the nuance when redrafting - but for some reason the lack of power in my manuscript is making me blue. frozen. insecure...... and I can't even blame it on hormones (I actually checked my calendar to make sure). 

After all, you know it's a bad sign when you're bored with what your writing. 

I get even more bored with super whimpering blogposts though - so now that I've confessed my blues, I think I'll take on a challenge. 

Y'see I've been tagged for The Next Big Thing Challenge by the incredibly talented and oh-so-entertaining Julie Touvi, over at From Pen to Paper. She's working her tail off posting on her blog daily for the month of November - and she's definitely worth following if you haven't already.

Now, I have avoided attempting to succinctly explain anything about my book thus far in my career (I know, I know, I'll be choking down nails when I have to start querying and pitching), so here's me doing my best to answer a few questions.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Unbanded   - Because my first book was called Banded... and  this is not it.

2. Where did the idea come from for that book?
I really only know part of the answer to this. In Banded, the cataclysmic event that  eventually required my dear heroes to have to do their hero thing was the eruption of an exceptionally terribly plague. Unknown to the main characters, the man responsible was the great Al'man Emerick, First Servant of the Almighty. Enraged by the murder of his son, Emerick struck out against the man responsible, unknowingly unleashing a disease that would not only kill hundreds of innocents, but  his daughter among them. So... while creating Emerick's backstory, Wombat and I came to fall in love with the extensively flawed holy man - and I intended on writing a prequel that would tell his story. The prequel turned into book one -and here I am. I don't know where the idea to make him originally came from - though flashes of memory lead to me think it was very different from what it is now - and if I looked through my old writings I'd probably find his beginnings within.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Epic Fantasy

4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I have in fact done this.

 My main "good" guy, Emerick has been the hardest to pin down. If I could find the perfect mix between Robert Downey Jr. , Russel Crowe, a young Alec Baldwin, and James Dean you would see what I see when I write. 


My "sidekick" Curiel - easy - Luke Perry.


Oh-so-down-to-earth practical Peaches - Juliet Aubrey

The Almighty -  Edward Norton

Councilor Lourden, bad guy for book one -
        Gabriel Byrne

And the bad guy to span all books- The Antithesis - you just can't put a face to.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
(*starts with the nails* )  Murdered and then resurrected by the Almighty in a time of ignorance and cruelty, the once undefeatable crime lord Emerick is refused his freedom, and set on a path of redemption in which he quickly finds that the whims of his deity demand the ushering in of a new age - an Age of Enlightenment. 
(Seriously bare bones. Someday I'll post a pitch that'll knock your socks off :)

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm aiming to get representation. I dream of being the next one-big-world--multiple-book-rockstar like Anne McCaffrey or Terry Brooks. I don't want to just write for myself though - so if no one else sees my vision, I'll project it myself :)

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Ahem, well... my goal is to finish it by the end of the year... and if that happens (come on NaNoWriMo - kick me into shape!) then it'll have taken about a year.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oh, wow... well, I suppose you might find a similar element or feel in Redemption of Althalus by David Eddings, or Song of the Beast by Carol Berg. That's a tuffy.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Ideally I'll capture a depth in showing a man's redemption, but it is by no means an entirely solemn account. The characters are an unlikely sort providing plenty of banter and fun. In addition, for those like me that love being able to explore - both across distance and through time- a whole new world through the eyes of meaningful characters - heh, well, this is just the first installment.

Ah... I feel a little better.
Tossing the challenge along to Elise Fallson, and Andrea Franco-Cook if it so suits their fancy :) Happy November y'all!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

So THAT's Why I'm Bothering to Write a Book!

Lately, I've been having some personal crises. Far from being the most Duckie's-World-shattering, but still pertinent enough to get my attention was the dilemma of the "why" in regards to writing my book. I looked at my writing and wondered, "Wait, why do I like books? Why do I think it's important to read, aside from the fact that I feel it's my calling?"

It took a little while before I realized there were two problems. The first was that I hadn't read much in the past couple years. I'd kind of forgotten the joy, even as I tried to guard against the distraction from writing. The second reason, was that I hadn't read very many books that I believed were truly great or challenging. I think I've read a lot of YA  books lately - and while I really enjoy them, a lot of them don't have the depth that I'm trying to put in my own book - so I don't come away feeling inspired - just entertained. I've also read a few micro-histories. Super fascinating, and really enjoyable - but so far from what I'm writing that - again- I didn't come away feeling inspired.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)I've also grown picky. I can't tell you how many books I've  brought home from the library - read two pages and set aside. Being "particular" can be okay - being "picky" just bums you out. So Friday my husband an I went to the library and picked up some books. My to-do list yesterday included "find a book you like and read it!" I did just that. I ended up reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

This book was very enjoyable. It built up with great intrigue. It wasn't a masterpiece. It didn't have quite enough power - but it was one of the better YA books I've read in a long time. What was the most amazing thing about the book, however, was not just the story but the presentation. The book was gorgeous! The cover design, the quality of paper, the page design, the colored chapter pages, and the vintage photos - accompanied with an enjoyable story - had me spending my intermittent thoughts on who might like to receive the book for Christmas! It was absolutely beautiful- the kind of you book want on your shelf because of the way it looks and the way it feels to hold.
My Wombat

The greatest thing about it - it inspired me.

I'm no photographer - I don't intend to try to recreate Ransom Rigg's work of art. However, I rediscovered that a book can be a work of art - a thing of beauty - and I hope to do just that with my writing.

P.S. I woke up today, and my husby says, "We need to finish outlining the rest of the scenes in your book before NaNoWriMo starts." What can I say? I have the best husby ever. I love my Wombat.

Do you find that you have to keep reading to care about writing? Have you read a book recently that inspired you in some aspect of your writing?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Ah-ha!" Moment

It's Tuesday! Tuesdays are my official writing days. I try to treat it like a job and be lotsa productive. I woke up prepared for this - but after about an hour I still haven't written anything. Instead I dabbled on Facebook - got riled up by political and religious posh thereon - and decided for my health's sake I'd stay away from that for awhile. Looking for distraction, I went looking at some blog posts and laughed my tookus off watching the video on Lisa Ann's blog. Then, in an attempt to get closer to writing - I opened up Scrivener AND my Liquid Story Binder. Then through a small series of unimportant events I found myself in an "Ah-ha!" moment.

You, see I've worked on three major book projects in my ickle life. The first I wrote when I was... say... 14? It wasn't til a couple years ago, when I found the printed manuscript that, I realized that I had in fact written a book from start to finish. How cool! I hadn't remembered this.

The second book project was called Banded. I worked on this for years - probably from 15ish to 22ish. It just kept evolving and changing and it wasn't until the last year of working on it that I finally put my foot down and decided what I wanted. I practically scrapped it and started from the beginning. I then realized that it couldn't be my break-out book, so I shelved it. This was significant, because  the other day after reading someone's post, I though, "Could I really shelve a manuscript? Could I really make myself let go and move on to more perhaps greater projects? Would my arrogance allow?" (I recently realized that I am in fact arrogant. It seems being arrogant makes it hard to see your own arrogance.) Turns out I've already shelved two manuscripts.

I'm working on the third right now which has the working title of Unbanded (yes, yes, my creativity is earth shaking- astounding :p). I intend to prove myself with this book - but I've found myself thinking "Wow, I hope I can do this, I've never written this much before." Apparently, I have the memory of a goldfish, or the observation power of a blind goldfish - or both. Today, I transferred all of Banded over to Scrivenar and got a word count of 111,946. I nearly laughed. You see my prospected word count for Unbanded is 110,000.

So... I guess my point is... if I've done it once - I can do it again!

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you catch yourself not remembering the credit you earned in accomplishing things? Perhaps thinking you couldn't write something "moving" enough, or long enough, clever enough or maybe make a character "real" enough - only to go back to something you've written and see that you actually have done just that?

Friday, October 19, 2012


Something wicked this way comes!! That's right - it's NaNoWriMo! 
Yeah, I know, it's a little early. You have to understand though, that I've only known about NaNoWriMo for a few years, and the past couple Novembers were times of transition. I was embroiled in distractions... things like... my wedding, moving, etc. I've consistently remembered NaNoWriMo over midway through the month. This year, I'd like to participate! 

Sort of. 

I've succeeded with the first step, and that was to remember it. Unfortunately, I'm not really keen on officially participating because... well... I really don't want to write a new book - and that's kind of one of their very few rules. So, instead I'm going to unofficially participate. Conveniently enough, my projected word count for the fantasy novel I'm working on is 110,000, and- wow, actually, as of right now I'm exactly halfway there. This means that after I write another 5,000 words before November (and I better ~.~ *holds bat up to my Lazy Butt threateningly*) - I will have 50,000 words left til I'm done (give or take, of course). 

So my NaNoWriMo participation will be to write the remaining 50,000 words of my novel. It feels outrageously daunting (especially considering that it took me months to write the first 50,000), but the incentive of finishing is oh so tasty! *slurp*

How 'bout all y'alls? Any of you officially participating in NaNoWriMo? How about unofficially? 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Go Figure, But with Good Humor (IWSG)

I haven't been around much lately. Busy being sick. Apparently I consumed some contaminated water oh- about two months ago - and suffered the consequences - for... about two months! Luckily, my symptoms stayed clear of the more foul and unfriendly side of things - meaning, the bathroom and I did not become partners. Mostly I just felt feverish and miserable. Dr. Kind (that's not his name, but he's not the same doctor as Dr. Cool, and he really is more kind than he is cool) used is magical non-western powers and has helped me get all better. Hurray! Feeling good!

This meant, however, that my writing life was stuffed into a box at the back of my sock drawer, and I spent hours upon hours (*cough* meaning about 90) watching Lost. I did other things too - like dishes and laundry and web surfing and online Christmas shopping - but yes, mostly I let myself be sick, ate lots of homemade chicken noodle soup, and watched T.V. I liked the series. It helped that I knew from the start the big "surprise" at the end. I think too, that I'm pretty forgiving of unexplained things - think it has to do with my love of fantasy. That's not to say that they didn't botch some things pretty bad, but the actual end "surprise" was pretty precious, I thought.

Anyways - as I haven't posted in a month, I suppose the only other big news would be these three things. First, that I had a sort of mishap with my hair. Wombat is awesome and trims my hair for me. He's getting better and better at it! But this time, being the loving and giving Wombat that he is, he sort of tried something new and messed up. He finished, and practically with tears in his eyes, professed that I looked like a recovering cancer patient (absolutely no offence intended). I'm pretty chill about my hair, and assured him that its fine- I'll just be looking like my little brother for awhile. Second, I had my birthday. Hurray! Third, I got a day cut at work, and Wombat gave up a day of work for religious and personal reasons. We'll be fine, but it puts a serious hamper in our goal to save a bunch of money. Oh well, we'll figure it out.

With all of this behind me - the good and the bad - I've finally felt re-inspired to write. Which, of course, means that I've been very busy with other things and haven't had a chance to do very much. My daddy bought me a license for Scrivener for my birthday though, and I'm determined to get back to work. I don't know if the rest of you ever feel like this, but lately, when I've felt like my life has been shaken and I don't know which direction to go - I hang on to the fact that I completely believe that I'm meant to be a writer. Do I feel insecure as a writer? Well, yeah. I feel like a farce much of the time. After all, you can't really be a writer if you don't, ya know, write. It's too important to me to let my struggle with being a "real" writer get in the way of trudging through the blizzard of self-doubt towards real success. It's only a matter of time, practice, and persistence. So here's to all y'all that know you're meant to make it! Keep believing! Let it be a driving force! Renew your efforts! Kick trash! Write! Booya!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Seedless H2O-Melon Addict (IWSG)

I wish I had something new and cool to say. I usually like to at least pose some significant questions or conundrums - but alas, tis not the case. I'm genuinely feeling insecure about my writing. I've had a four day weekend - in which I spent most of my time watching t.v. The first two days, I didn't judge myself to harshly. The previous two weeks were full of very long and tiring work days, and frankly I needed a couple days to do nothing! I definitely did better the next two days, but... I had this free time to write - and I did write- but it was like eating seeded watermelon. I finally put a better outline together for the rest of my book, and it really helped. However, as I've been writing lately, I feel like there just isn't enough happening in the book. Time needs to pass, and things need to be shown, but I'm just not showing them in an interesting enough way. It's discouraging, and I keep trying to just shove through it and allow inspiration to percolate as I write, but it's so draining. I know I'm better at editing than rough drafting, so I know I can fix things later, but it spots like this sure suck the fun out of the whole thing. I suppose it's an opportunity to teach myself perseverance, and self-discipline. Right now, I'm mostly cranky though and wish my pears were ripe so I could eat them with my Adam's chunky peanut butter. I wish my Husby were home.

Write again when I've got cooler stuff to say - take care all ye members of IWSG!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Golden Ticket of Scrap Paper

I have a little table/desk in my living room that is technically supposed to be mine to use for writing, and whatnot. For a month or two now, we've constantly had a projector, or video game console on it (did I mention that I'm kind of a nerd?). The projector and consoles have finally been given back to my dad and brother (guess, I'm not THAT big of a nerd), and I have my desk back. I moved my laptop back to this designated spot today, and caught sight of this sitting among the surface clutter.

It says, "Paige, You are a good writer. Are you sure you want to go to massage therapy school?" This was written at the bottom of on of my papers in my English 150 class in college. I ripped it off the bottom and framed it with the name and date of the teacher who wrote it. Now, I didn't continue on and get a four year degree - I went to massage therapy school. I'm a religious person, and I can tell you right now, that it was definitely in God's plan for me to go this route. Had I not, my husband would be a very sick man, and he and I would probably still be living with my parents... or I guess one of my parents. Anyways - that's a long, miraculous and heavy story. My point is that I do not regret in any way my decision - it was the right one.

But, I am also glad that I did my one summer term stint at a university, if for no other reason (and there are other great reasons) than that my English teacher wrote this to me. - By the way, did I mention that he was hot? He was. I mean... I was a bit flabbergasted that a man so genuinely and incontrovertibly attractive could teach a freshman course. I'm pretty positive that my eyes bugged out the first day of class when I realized that the overly good-looking man at the front of the class was going to remain there for all of us to stare at the entire term. I'd put up a picture, but I don't feel that would be either respectful (yes, I recognize that I already did that damage above with my description), nor do him justice (he really is that good-looking). Just understand that, in addition to be a brilliant writer, and excellent teacher, he was a model one (teehee).

Moving on past his good looks, I'd also like to point out that he was a critical thinker, and while not in any way "mean", he wouldn't have written what he did cause he was just that kind of a nice guy. It was unexpected, and coming from him it had to really mean something. No, I don't think I was the most brilliant writer he'd ever met. I literally laugh at that thought. No, no, I am not so gifted as that. But! Up to this point, my writing had been validated by a very small handful of people - most of whom were friends. I respected my high school English teacher's opinion, and held that close to my heart (if she had written a note like the one above, I would have framed that too). This was college though! And he seemed to think I had enough talent, that if I chose to pursue writing in school, instead of massage therapy, that it would be a good move! I could maybe get good! :p

So, I keep it framed on my desk to remind me that someone who's opinion on the subject I respect thought that I had what it takes to be great. It was and is to me a Golden Ticket into the ranks of "good-enough". "All" that I have to do is the hard work to get myself from where I am to the Chocolate Factory. It may sound overly simplistic, but it motivates me- and right now that is far more important than the outcome.

What about you? Do you have any mementos that help you keep going?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sayonara, Second Time-Sucker!

Ladies and gentleman,

I have the immense pleasure to announce that I have officially sent in my resignation letter for my stressful one day a week cafeteria job. Huzza!

Me and the Duckling Huzzah!-ing it Up

I know, I know - it doesn't sound like much of anything, but I'll tell my short happy story. I used to work at this cafeteria five days a week part-time, until about a year ago, when I picked up my massage job at the chiropractic office. This bumped down my work to only two days a week - Tuesdays (because the office is closed that day) and Thursdays (because I volunteer teach teens dance these nights, and couldn't be available as late as the office would need me). We fast forward to this summer, when I was trained as an assistant for one of the DC's, and picked up work on Thursdays after all, with the understanding that I might cut my hours just a little when dance season started up. 

So, for the past few months I've been working at the cafeteria for a five hour shot early Tuesday mornings. While I don't hate this job... it's immensely stressful. Lots to do, with only me as an actual staff member, and a small gaggle of volunteers to teach, keep busy, and keep from messing up in between getting the stuff done that only I could do. In addition my supervisor - though I love her - could occasionally be a struggle for me to work with. If nothing else, I can attest that I learned both to multi-task very well, and to bite my tongue. 

Actually, I have to admit - in comparison to my other job - which I LOVE - I did hate this cafeteria position - but only when comparing. It was a HUGE blessing to have gotten the position, and I will be somewhat sad to leave it. But lets get to the POINT of this post already!

The real question is why. Why did I leave? Part of it was the stress. My husband was sick of my coming home irritable, unhappy, and in need of a nap (which he usually put me down for like I was a five year old. Seriously, he did.). The second reason was that we didn't really need the extra money. Picking up my assistant position more than covered what my second job was providing. But, lastly, and most importantly - and I might just shed a tear of cherish-ment for my Husby's insistence in this matter - I wanted a day that I could commit to writing. I have spare time already - but, as many of you can attest - writing at the end of a long day at work is hard- and weekends, at least for me, are the time that I run all the errands and pick up all the pieces that fell apart between then and the last weekend. So my Husby decided that I needed to take the only spare day I had to do what I have a passion for. A day that I could blog, brainstorm, and bully words onto the page. A day that would be set aside to do the research, the practice, the everything. While I'm sure I'll periodically hate this new job- ya know, because I'm human like that - I truly couldn't ask for a greater present.

So there you have it folks! I'm a part-time writer! Not a spare-time writer! I'm now an as-many-hours-as-I-can-stay-on-task-on-Tuesday writer! I am ready for the challenge :D

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Never Ending Story... and a Cry for Help

Beating my head against the Plot Wall
Recently I mentioned how I was needing to do something of an overhaul with my book, because, well, plots are as elusive to me as Jason Bourne to the CIA. With my Husby's excellent help, I worked through the problems I was facing, and voila! I had a nutritionally reinforced plot. Lets fast forward to this weekend. I sit down to do some writing, and the only thing coming out is dribble. I'm not writing anything good! I give my laptop the cold shoulder and move to my "Harri" or "son" chair (one of a pair of matching named by my younger brother. I bet you can't guess what his name is :P ). In this new spot, I fussed and grumbled a little, before finally putting together coherent enough thoughts to involve my husband. You see, I had ideas of what to write. The ideas were there. The thought of writing those ideas into the story was like gagging on a mouthful of peanut butter. I wanted to do some fist shaking - but at myself, which is considerably dissatisfying to attempt. But by golly! Is there ever an end??? I just want a firm plot that doesn't leave ME questioning the authors intellect.

My policy is to push forward. Keep writing. Even if its horse manure. Move forward. I can always go back and fix it. Lately, though, I've found it pretty hard to do. I don't feel like I understand what I'm going to add to previous writing enough to move forward from it. I shudder to think of going back and adding or changing things. I wasted years doing it with my previous WIP. 

I think I started out heading in a particular direction with this blog. I suppose feeling directionless about my book had to spill over into the blogosphere. I know that my title was a lament of how I felt like my story would never end... Well, never mind.

I'm still looking for information about critique groups. How do you find yourself one? Online good? Online bad? - Truthfully, I'm timid about the whole thing. My research has only been half-hearted, but it has also felt fruitless. After all, this work is my baby. I know I can't home-school it forever - it needs social interaction and challenge - but that doesn't mean I want to be careless with it, and walk it down an alley full of thugs. What's been your experience?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Internal Conflict with External Conflict (IWSG)

It - is - ALIVE! My cord came in the mail and my laptop is back in action! Coincidentally - just in time for my Husby's computer to die. Funny how that happens. With the rebirth of my dear computer eNwY, comes the rebirth of my writing. I was quite excited about this, and then I realized that there was a reason I hadn't been writing a lot before my computer went on hiatus.

You see, my current WIP is a little... well... nutritionally deficient. Okay, okay, the truth is, I do a pretty shoddy job at putting plots together. You see, I'm all about the relationships. The friendship, the romance, the hatred. I'm also huge into the internal conflict. These are the things that I LIKE to write. However, I like to READ these things wrapped up in a great story of external conflict. Therefore, I am only willing to write a story about the former by including the latter. I'm just not so smooth with the latter.

Herein creates my predicament. I've been writing, and I like what I've been writing, but now that I've solidified that my one book needed to be two, I realized that book one didn't really have a good plot arc. Book two would stand alone just fine. I'm not writing book two right now, though, so I came to grips with the fact that I really did need to put the work in for numero uno. Now, here I go, working to get my Husby to sit down and be a sounding board for me. He's wonderful like that. With his help, I'll fill in the gaps and re-fall-in-love with my NEW and IMPROVED story.

While this in and of itself is obviously not a source of insecurity, it made me thing about something that sort of made my eyes go wide and blank, and my mouth tighten up (I want to draw a picture of what I need, but I haven't yet convinced my Husby of just how much I'd like him to get me an art program that I can use his drawing tablet with). I wondered in an ominous whisper, "Is this how it will always be? Will I have to dive into a story just to find that I have to pull out and re-align it, and fill in and fix plot lines EVERY time I write a book?" I'm not jumping to conclusions. This is what happened to my last book, which turned into a set a aside project so I could write this book. I don't want that repeated.

(This is my brain on plot)
I think my key weak spots are these: (1) that my outlines are not specific enough, and (2) well, I don't really like doing the work to think up plots based on external conflicts! I wonder if I'm the only one out there with this problem (please speak up if you can attest that I am not - I'm not a loner by choice). I also wonder how to strengthen these weaknesses. Any suggestions? Do plots just come to you, or do you get inspiration from outside sources? Do you make outlines that clearly direct your writing? Does it help? Any suggestions on just how to go about doing that?                                              

Share your 2 bit with me!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

For Why?

My laptop cord died. My laptop battery has been dead for awhile. This is serious news. Why? I obviously have access to a computer, and as I've not handwritten a manuscript in years, I can certainly continue the work I've deemed important. Well... I've lost my security blanket. It's not a REAL blanket, silly. My laptop has all my book info on it! All of it! I usually give myself a very brief run through before I start writing to prevent wasted time on work that is at its very conception useless due to a deviation on the current  course. Silly, yes, but it makes me feel insecure without it (and its not even the first Wednesday of the month!).

What's more- this shouldn't have happened. My Husby is a brilliant man and quite awhile back started preventing me from losing my most precious material possession, by backing up my WIP, and putting it on a drive of sorts so that it would never be stuck on a hard drive to be eaten in said hard drive's imminent demise. I speak from experience *sheds one tear for lost work*. My Husby is a superhero of sorts. Well it turns out that his arch nemesis is actual a hidden sabotaging streak that I was unaware dwelt within ME.

I thought my actions were harmless! I was just looking for a new writing program! My Husby even supplied it. I normally use Liquid Story Binder. Better than word, but definitely flawed. He brought Scrivener to my attention and I decided that I'd try the 30-day trial. I brought in all my writing, and started using the product. Incidentally, it was proving to be pretty awesome, and I was sneaking peaks at our bank account wondering if I could prudently drop the $40ish to buy it. I wrote and wrote, and then my computer died and died, and I didn't have a back up of what I'd written. After all - I figured I'd try the trial and then export my work to safety. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I wonder if I looked closer at the cord  if I'd find my own bite marks. That would add an additional "Dumb" to the lineup.

I haven't really lost anything but time (though that's an expensive thing). I'll get a new laptop cord and I'll get into my Scrivener and back up my work. It won't happen again. I just had to give myself four paragraphs of facing the truth of the event. Now I'll open up a Word document (*sigh*), and try to write.

Anyone use any writing programs to help with organization an' all that jazz?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gee Golly, it's Giddy Good News!

I just have to take the opportunity to shout out some of the good news I've got! First! I've been feeling great lately. The last three years have been a doozy for me - and my husband. Things have been improving for numerous reasons - part of which was getting my job with Dr. Cool, and getting treatment from him. Lately though, things have gotten even better. Over the last few days I've felt like ME! Me for real! It's been years since I've felt like me - and I've nearly been in tears from the joy of it. It's amazing what getting the right help can do.

Second! And this is on the same thread as the first. Today my husband ended up mentioning that he hasn't had hip pain in about three months. He wasn't talking about a little stiffness or aching. He was talking about excruciating, zinging sciatica that was so debilitating at times that he couldn't walk, and lying down - sleeping!- was almost as bad. He's had amazing good news over the past few years. He got rid of his migraines, made his tummy happier, got his head back on straight - lots of things. However, I really worried that the hip was a structural issue that would never improve. It just kept coming back! I've been proven wrong! I couldn't be happier. The thanks all goes to God, Dr. Cool, and LAc. Cool. (If you think alternative medicine is a crock - you just haven't had the opportunity to see the masters at work. I have see miracles from God wrought by non-traditional doctors that would blow you away - and that is not an exaggeration.)

Finally the final good news! This awesome husband that I've made you all covet helped me with some brainstorming tonight. You see, recently I realized that the book I was writing needed to be split. I just couldn't get everything into one book without glossing over thousands of years of things happening or by making it a 700+ page book. I just didn't want the single book to be that long, while still skimming over things that I wanted the book to express. Well, who knows if I end up skimming the book down enough to make it into one again - but I feel good about the decision. However, this meant that I had to have a good splitting point. Well it turns out that the splitting point gave me a relatively small amount of writing left to do in order to finish book one (of two). Then comes the rough part - tomorrow (I guess today now, but whatever) is Saturday - which is my designated "write or you prove yourself to be a lazy bum day"- and I had serious gaps left in my outline of the rest of the book. My husband - being awesome, as you by now know - helped me fill in those gaps tonight. Not only that, but he helped me improve some of the plot arcs. Now I can get to work tomorrow with out having to brainstorm without my wonderful sounding board. My book is going to be great! I have the best muse in the whole world *gush*.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Those Coveted Beta-Readers

Heya ladies and gents!

You probably don't remember me, after I fell off the face of the map and all, but I still exist and I'm coming back with a vengeance. I had a crazy few weeks of building stress, followed by three weeks of crazy busy, and finished off with a week or two of recovery (ie., being sick as dog, cleaning my filthy house). To show the extent of damage this whole series of events caused: I wrote under 300 words in May, and in June I desperately wrote about 1700 words the last week, just to prove I couldn't go a whole month without writing. This in comparison to better months like April where I pulled out 16,000 words. I know 16,000 doesn't shine too bright compared to many writers - but, I'm proud of every little word (even if half of them get scrapped in the end).

But! That is all a diversion from the real topic today. As it's time for my IWSG post, I have a new quandary to inquire about. You see, I read posts by authors and authors-to-be in which they talk about beta-readers. Lately I've been thinking more about these blessed beings. I have two beta-readers currently. One is my husby. He rocks. He gives great feedback and is my biggest fan. My other beta-reader is one of my very best-est best friends who also writes. She's fabulous. Great writer. Also gives fantastic feedback. The sad news for me, is that she's had wonderful news that's going to take her away from me for almost two years. I'm losing one of my precious generous bundles of feedback and support. 

This leaves me feeling even more sparse than I did previously, but by-golly what do you do about it? I know it should seem kind of obvious, but I mean it. I've had people ask to read my work -- people who seemed intelligent and supportive and interested! So, with bile in my throat, I handed over this precious work  ----- and!!! Well, more often than not, they never got around to reading it, or didn't give any real feedback, or professed interest in more, then seemed to lose interest all together. Obviously it might simply be that they weren't a fan of the work itself, or the genre, etc., but more often, I've noticed that because I was giving them a WIP, they'd grow away from it, forget pieces, and re-reading was more trouble than it was worth just to read another partial. I'm rambling.

My questions are: How have you found success in this department? Do you only give beta-readers finished manuscripts? Do you just keep asking people? Do you get really selective? How many beta-readers do you have blessing your piece? How'd you get that help? 

P.S. Pardon my shotty writing :p I've lost brain cells and vocabulary from watching T.V. *Word - verb- that I can't remember* that currently. ---- Remedying! Remedying that currently. That's it. Wait. Is that a word?... Should that have been, "Currently remedying that bad habit"-? Geeze. Excuse me while I eat peanut butter with a spoon and stare out the window.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Revved Up! (IWSG)

Not only am I late with this post, but for the second time in a row I'm not posting the Insecure Writer's Support Group logo-link-thing, on account of the technical difficulties that are apparently occurring on Alex's site. That, and my husby's not here to show me how to use it. Next time.

I was looking over my blog today and felt a little wussy-panted. I haven't been posting very much. I mean, I figure I should be racking my brain at least couple times a month! The truth is, however, that I've been pretty hot and cold with writing this month, in general. The hot was two weeks ago. I met my four hour a week goal and pumped out 6300 words. Hurray! Dents in writing are a good thing. The cold would be last week. When I only wrote for about 20 minutes putting out 519 words. There were of course extenuating circumstances, but it got me thinking about motivation, and I thought it might be an interesting blog topic.

I'm interested in getting some feed back for an additional reason that I'd like to preface my statements with. I've noticed looking around at other writer's blogs that everyone's end goal is not the same. I probably expose my naivete, but I was a little surprised. I thought that everyone that wrote was driven by the desire to publish! However, more than once I've read posts indicating that some writers write for the joy of writing, or are satisfied to write for friends and family - or simply speak about publishing as an "eventual goal, but in the meantime (etc.)" - all acceptable and admirable goals. It was an interesting discovery as I'm on the other end of the spectrum. By heavens, I like writing, but if my book does nothing but sit on my shelf as a manuscript, I feel like my soul will fester. I want it to reach the masses! I want to share it with all lovers of the genre! I want to bring another re-readable book to the audience's libraries. I was inspired to write when I found a book that opened a new world to me! I want to do that for another person. There are all sorts of reasons for this desire, and how it's fueled, but that's for another blog post that will likely never see the light of day.

My point in bringing this up - is that since people have different goals, they must also have different motivations. When needing a writing shove, I used to read for motivation. In retrospect this proved problematic for me. I quickly learned that reading genres different than the one I was writing threw of my writers chi. Eventually I realized that for me to stay focused in what I'm writing, I can't actually read much at all. Being a character lover, when I read a really good book, I want to emulate it! Well that can obviously be a slippery slope. So I decided that while this is a real bummer, it's worth it to me to retain my core story and character arcs. I figure I can start reading once my first draft is done. Then I know I won't look back and gag when I realize that I sucked the life out of a book I read only to spit it into my own writing.

While occasionally I'll just force myself (which usually brings out inferior product) - the most common practice I have is to get excited about the success of FINISHING - and this is where I tie into that tangent about goals- *wink*. I often go read the blogs of published authors in the genre I write. My two favorite are Patrick Rothfuss's blog (he's very entertaining) and Patricia C. Wrede's blog (she's very informative). Reading about people who have "made it" gets me excited about the potential success within my reach. Something I haven't done for awhile, but want to begin again, is reading a section of "Robert's Rules of Writing" by Robert Masello. It was a book given to me by my grandma when I was in high school, and she were trying to encourage me. I actually know nothing about the writer, but the book makes writing cool, and is both entertaining and informative. I don't always agree or follow what he says, but the book does what I want it to do: It helps me get writing.

The last thing that I'll occasionally do is get feedback from my beta readers. I have very few at this point... basically two. Coming up with the right questions for them can sometimes kick start my mind. Similar to this, is getting my husby to brainstorm through the problems I'm facing. Sometimes we'll do so over dinner, and can last over an hour, sometimes two. These help a ton, though, usually in a long term way, as I'm usually burned out for the day by the time we're done.

What about you? What do you do when writing doesn't sound fun, but you know you need to do it?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Innocent! I Swear! (IWSG)

On behalf of the "Insecure Writers Support Group" Web-logging-Wednesday - I thought I'd share a writing dilemma that I hope I am not the only person to have had. If I am, well... that would be embarrassing. So, even if you haven't, consider saying you did to prove your angelic nature.

Have you ever enjoyed a season of being wrapped up in your writing? You've been working, and brainstorming and getting excited about the fruits of your labor. Then, you pause briefly to step back and breathe in the finished work, only to choke slightly because you realize that something brilliant you've added to your book resembles an element of someone else's book. Egads! What do you do now? I mean, it's not like the story is a carbon copy. In fact, the point of what you've written is to get across a very different story! There are plenty of differences! It wasn't on purpose! In fact, if you think about it- you came up with it before you ever read that other book!

Aside from this being somewhat discomfiting, the real trouble comes as you begin to wonder, "what do I do now?" Does it need to be changed? Do you twist it into something different? If you don't will you be passed over by agents? Or worse! - what if it isn't passed over by agents, but the scathing reviews fill Amazon and Goodreads (etc.,) about how the book is just a poor rendition of "Awesome Book That Now Holds the Rights to All Things Cool Therefore Negating Anything Cool and Original in Your Book". Admit it, you've all seen those reviews - maybe you've even written one yourself (no, judging, I promise).

While the solution is rarely simple, it eventually has to be made, and the writing moves on. But, now the question of truth - anyone else faced that sinking feeling of worry upon such a discovery? If so, did you end up keeping the "familiar element", alter it into unique-ness, or nix it right off?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

That Being Said...

I don't know if it has thus far been mentioned, but the truth of the matter is this: I'm really excited about this new book I'm writing. I admitted to a friend today that I was worried I had committed some self-sabotage by setting aside what is now a sequel book in order to pursue the writing of the, then prequel, now kickstarter novel. I thought, "What if this is me making sure that I never succeed in finishing a book?" Working in a off-shoot of the "health-care field" I'm afraid I know just enough about the body, the psyche, and so forth to be truly worried about this. However, I've since set this aside. This is the book that needs to go out to agents first. - Ack! I just noticed that my fridge door was left open! How long have I been wasting money with the expulsion of cold air from my Frigidaire!? Gracious! - Anyway, despite the delight I'm experiencing in the creating of my book, progress is slow. Not dead slow, but possibly frozen-zombie-walking slow. However, I've proven to myself that I can break through the writing blocks, and reach (or nearly-reach to be honest) the end goal. Yes, that sentence doesn't sound all that impressive, but the truth is, that near-success achieved the goal that I hadn't realized I was needing. Now that I know that I can finish this book, and likely (most definitely: hopefully) within the year, it's only a matter of doing the writing itself. Silly sounding yes, but once you reign in the psyche you can accomplish new and inspiring things.

That being said... I have made a reassessment of my writing goals and have settled them down to 4 hours of writing a week. It's silly, but I am going to clarify - 4 hours of WRITING - not four hours of sitting at my computer, or even researching. I mean, 4 hours of typing the thought creating my book onto paper. I feel this is achievable under my normal writing circumstances - as I usually write during the weekend, and can expect myself to sit down for two productive hours on Saturday and Sunday. I also feel that it's exceed-able! Which just makes me feel good. This should mean I'll finish the rough draft of my book by the end of the first week of July, if it ends up being as long as I anticipate.

As one last note - in search of some writing company, I've decided to look into the Insecure Writers Support Group. I don't know that I'd say I feel insecure. But lonely for sure. Writing is by nature a "lonely" business. I like to see what other writers are up to though, and wouldn't mind if they likewise looked to see what I was up to. This in turn, has required me to switch my blog to Blogger. *Shrug* Whatever.


Out Like a Light.... Hit with a Hammer

The light at the end of the tunnel has been demolished. I have a lantern, so in truth things are not so terribly bleak, but honestly - I was really excited to be free of the cave. Of what do I speak? My book, of course. As you may or may not recall, I have been plodding along with my book, making small leaps of progress that have quite frankly brought me immense satisfaction over the past few months now. Further more, I've recently become increasingly excited about that "light at the end of the tunnel" thing that was supposed to come to fruition about April. Well, a week or two ago, I was doing some research and this horrible realization came upon me. It was, that while I consider my books together to be prime material for publishing, the particular book that I've currently been working on... well... it's not a good book to pitch to agents. It was something of a ground-shattering discovery for me, and if I remember accurately, I cried for awhile. Though, perhaps that isn't a good qualifier. After all, I cried watching Panda 2, though not as hard. My point is, while I didn't necessarily have to face "scrapping" my book, it would need quite a bit more revision that I anticipated... and well... I'll to set aside this current mature project, and set my focuses on the books "prequel". That is in quotations, because it is no longer the prequel. It's now book one.
(Continuing a week or two later) I've dubbed this new "book one" = Unbanded. Just so it won't be referred to as "book one". I'm started it. Right now (as I take a break from fantasy to write about reality) Unbanded sits at 9800+ words. This is only depressing when I think about the fact that Banded is over 110,000 words. Ach, why did I just do that to myself. I suppose I've been on a bit of a stats splurge lately. You see I discovered that, on average, I can write somewhere around 1500 words an hour. I suppose, however, that is somewhat deceiving. After all, I don't often sit for an hour straight typing. I usually get diverted to change music, and look at facebook, and in truth, my words per hour would look absolutely hideous if I counted the amount of time I sat at my computer with the intention of writing. No, I'm talking about actually the actually typing timed. My writing program does that for me. As long as the window is open and being worked on, or stared at, it counts the time. So for every hour that I actually have my book open before me, I get about 1500 words written. I'm also discovered that when I'm writing more or less nonestop-,I usually only last about two hours, getting 3000 words written - sometimes more. After this, I'm somewhat burned out. I'm not proud of this. Some part of me screams that I should be WAY more hard core than this. After all, haven't I previously declared myself possible of achieving hard-core non-wussy-panted awesomeness!?

Well in light of these recent thoughts, and with four days off in my future, I decided to push myself to the limit. My goal was that on the four days off (spanning two weeks time) I would double my normal word count for a hard core writing session. So each of my days off I would write for six hours getting me to 9000 words each day, and 36000 words by the last of my days off. Well.. I'm at the end of that first week, ahem, and like I said, I'm just under 10000. Needless to say, I haven't proven so great at doubling my word count. In fact, it was hard to get any writing done at all. I know when to revise a goal, so my intention is to do a good normal sitting on this upcoming Tuesday (day 3 off), and at least SOME writing on Thursday (day 4 off). In my defense, Thursdays are saturated with dance stuff. I was busy! - and I'm sure I'll be busy this upcoming Thursday.

I'm not entirely done with my stats though! You see I made a rough estimate that Unbanded should be around 500 pages long. I think, I can tell the story I need to, without getting too long-winded within that amount of pages. Now, in mass market paper back, which has about 250 words per page, this leaves me needing to write approximately 125,000 words to finish this book. Meaning it will take me about 84 hours to finish. That's four straight days of writing, or 42 of my "normal writing sittings". Well I don't particularly like that number, because that means if I continue to write on the weekends like I do, it could take me somewhere around 5.25 months to finish. lame. So lame that I didn't capitalize the 'l' in that one word sentence.

Obviously I need to make some new goals, but the truth is, I'm nervous about doing so. I'd like to take no more than 3 months. This means that I'd have to write - actually write - about 7 hours a week . I know this sounds weak-sauce. I could totally spend 7 hours a week writing. In fact, I should change my tone right now. I'll give myself 3 months - starting March. That gives me the rest of February to continue to create a nice pillow for myself, in case I run into some hard writing times. So June, I should be sending THIS book - Unbanded - out to proofreaders. Oh that would be so fun! Actually - that lines up with the goals I had for Banded. The difference is, Banded was already mostly written at this point. In fact it's over 400 pages long right now...

Okay, okay, I'll stop lamenting. Got to go make some new goal sheets!
(Written February 12th 2012)