D.V. Sheppard

The web-log of a duck-herding author.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


After looking over my budget and fretting about money, I decided that there was only so much time I could let myself expend number crunching without a change in figures.
I was waiting for Wombat to return from an errand so I decided I should try writing. I got a couple lines down and found myself conflicted about how the character was responding. I re-read a couple paragraphs and realized that my Extrovert was acting very Introverted.

Oops! It's hard to write about the one when you are so typically the other. Gotta put some extra work into that one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Blogger May Be

I have never deluded myself into thinking that I am much in the way of a blogger. I like the concept, but honestly, every time I think of writing a blog the same questions pops into my mind: "If you feel like writing - then why don't you go work on your book instead?"

The other thing I run into is the fact that... well a lot of the things that I would talk about on my blog... well... I can't talk about. I'm a chiropractic assistant. I would talk about work - and let me tell you, because of the neuro-emotional technique, I know quite a doozy about a lot of people  - but frankly I don't like messing with HIPAA. There are plenty of safe things to say - like, "we had a guy who hadn't heard out of his right ear for 40-some odd years because of a fall as a kid get his hearing back thanks to our quantum neurology training! (true, and might I add 'awesome!', story) - but I'm so accustomed to keeping people's private information private that it just doesn't come easy in any way to share anything - about others or myself. 

Aside from that - I like to cook - but I don't like to take pictures of food... I like to eat it... no real patience for the picture thing. Who wants a recipe without a picture? Not me, that's for sure. No picture - no eatin'. 

This leaves my writing to talk about - but frankly I am afraid to dish the goods. It's my baby. I have written plenty of junk that won't see the light of day. The stuff that I am nurturing to bloom into the sunshine -well I don't want to share it prematurely. A heavy frost could kill it! It's been a long time since I trusted that a frost wouldn't hit. However, recently, after doing some N.E.T. with Wombat I pondered on what I was like as a teen writer. I wrote with abandon. Several books a once. And the joy was in the sharing!

Life's a little busier and tends to fill my head up more than life did back then - but I've gotta be able to do better than I am currently. In an effort to throw off some of my shackles - my goal is to get a new WIP page going within the next month. More info, more sharing. We'll see how it goes.

This'll sound ridiculous after that big blah-blah up there but I do have something to share (Blah-blah-blah is always sung in my head- see video). If you aren't currently a follow of Patrick Rothfuss's blog - than you are in dire need of some news. 

This years WorldBuilders fundraiser is up and running! Take a look at the swag that's going into the lottery and go buy some people some goats! (It makes sense if you check out the sites.)
Wombat and I have a Christmas tradition started to donate to WorldBuilders every year and this year will be no different. Go! Go! Join the fun! Click the image!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

At Least I Have Wombat Going for Me (IWSG)

Alex J. Cavanaugh's Blog Hop

Another NaNoWriMo has passed - and I should be feeling like this:

Portrait Of Disappointment
And to be honest, Saturday morning I did... You see it's been a crazy month. Wombat and I celebrated our anniversary. We had some family pictures taken. I had two long dental appointments that knocked me down pretty good. I got sick. Wombat got sick. Our Thanksgiving plans kept falling through, which meant multiple planning sessions. Wombat and I got into a glorious fight. Wombat and I made up after our glorious fight. Then, the crowning experience of the month, was a phone call that landed a major piece of family news that left me bug eyed and my mind spinning for a whole week. 

However.... that isn't why I didn't write more than 4100 words. No, all of that was crazy, and definitely kept my mind far from writing, but there were plenty of evenings or morning that I could have - or even DID sit down to write. 

No, it was Saturday morning- with one November day to go- that I lay in bed postponing my grocery trip with a furrowed brow trying to deduce the reason of my dismal progress. As with anything that I can't figure out - I turned to Wombat and told him, "I keep sitting down to write, but I can't stand the scene I am working on. It's so boring. I'm bored writing it! That's a bad sign!" 

He suggested that I skip ahead to the other character's thread. 

I sighed. "Yeah, but his will be boring too! I mean..." And then my mind began to percolate. "I guess it's boring to me, because there are no relationships. It's all plot, and that's boring to write. Curiel already has his passel of friends. Emerick is kind of interesting because at least you are getting to know Cicero...."

To which the Wombat made me feel jointly dumb as a door knob and chipperishly hopeful, by suggesting: "Well maybe you should make Curiel's friends not his friends yet. You could show him making friends with them."

I thought it over critically. Could I do that? Will that screw up the timing? How would that coincide with what I've written already? All 4100 measly words. Ooo! I know!

And the Wombat came to the rescue. It's always a little disheartening to have to scrap your work before it's really even begun, but if you have to, I guess there is no better reason than to do so to make writing your book more enjoyable.

So, while my NaNoWriMo attempt doesn't even deserve an honorable mention - I press on. Maybe December will be my month.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Que Beethoven! NA-NO-RI-MO!

A year later and here we are again. My past attempts at NaNo have not been successful, but my recent success at finishing draft one of my book has taught me part of the reason why NaNo has so entirely eluded me. Different people are motivated by different things, and I have learned that word count does not motivate me. It stuffs me. It keeps all the good stuff in my brain. So instead of following the NaNo Original Rules - I, like many others - am planning a Pseudo-Na-No-Wri-Mo.

I have been outlining Book 2 this month and frankly - planning out a sequel is so much more fun than the first. It's so much easier. I've been having a blast. I don't have everything figured out - but! I have what I expect will be at least 50,000 words. So instead of setting myself those word count goals and stressing about getting that certain number done within the day or the week - I will set my goals based on scenes and sections - it may come out to the right amount or it may not but my chances of getting my PseudoNaNo become realistic. Cop out. I know, but if I could achieve this goal I will be almost half way done with book two in a month instead of a year and a half like the first. Which would be a dream come true. Obviously.

Here's to NaNo2013!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Phase One: Complete! (IWSG)

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A little early - but I am excited. I officially finished the first draft of my book on Saturday. A little bit of a heady experience - it's been a long time since I've finished a book. I'm very excited to complete this stage of the process - very excited. 

I also feel intimidated. For while I enjoy re-writing and editing far more than first draft writing - it's still a monumental task, and I don't feel quite adequate for the job. I've taken so long to write this first draft that I have spent quite a long time, not picking apart, dissecting and improving my writing, and frankly I feel far from talented. My descriptive writing could make me weep if I thought about it too long. I feel like I need to do some writing technique warm ups. So here I reach out to the more practiced! What are your best resources for helping you with your technique? Favorite blogs or books? How do you get your writing properly dressed up? I'm a plain girl, with straight forward to-the-point tendencies - but I need to do some painting instead of bullet pointing. What are you thoughts?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The End is Nigh (IWSG)

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I think I can pretty safely say that my first draft is 85-90% written. Why then, can I not seem to finish it!?

I have iterated numerous times that I always "write forward." Well, Wombat stops me yesterday and says: "I have a suggestion - and hear me out before you immediately shoot me down... Maybe you should start doing some editing from the beginning, and then write the ending when you know that the book is flowing and building the way you want." 

I didn't shoot him down, because, quite frankly he had a point. That being said, I didn't immediately agree with him either, I decided to let it mull around in my brain. You see, I had a dilemma, and this dilemma went by the name of Pride. Pride, well, she finds it very important that I get on with the part where I have something to show for the past year or two of work. Especially since I have committed to having my book finished by the end of September. 

So in the end I'm making a compromise. I'm going to speed write to the end and block describe anything that I feel stuck on. THEN, I will go back and start the editing. Sheesh... for being a writer and, y'know, enjoying writing... right now... I really don't... 

But since Lady Pride ain't interested in waiting, it's time to suck it up and get the job done so that I can get back to liking it again. 

Wish I had something better to talk about this blog around, but I'm on day 20 of a 21 day cleanse, and quite frankly, despite physically feeling fantastic, mentally - I'm pretty cranky. So, maybe next time I'll have some good news and excitement to spill

Hope everyone's summer has gone well!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Take 52 - Action!

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I keep all my writing in Scrivener, and I use the cork board to lay out my prospective scenes. These can end up being one scene or more, depending on where the writing flow takes me. So each week, my goal is to finish one at minimum. For the past two weeks Wombat and I have used this set up as a focus for getting some brainstorming done for the upcoming "note card" on the cork board. It's proven invaluable! He helps me work through possibilities and probabilities. 

However, the other blessing that comes with this- that sometimes feels like a curse - is that the discussion always spreads from specific to broad. We talk about a scene - and then it brings up a question that can only be answered if I really have the purpose and direction of my book figured out. It's everything a writer could hope for, really, to always be fine-tuning and being kept on track with the plot and intent. 

But! It can be so exhausting!

I feel like each week I'm being rocked off my comfortable seat, thinking "Wow, have I really been writing this whole time without having that figured out?" or "Why did I think that was a good reason to move the plot this way? Seems lazy on my part, unnatural for the story progression, and BORING for the reader!" Again. I reiterate - I'm so glad I'm figuring this out as I go - but dagnabbit! why can't I be a genius and have it all figured out from the start? Sometimes I just want it to be easy :p Like filming take after take - I want to have one week where I take that final shot that is exactly what I want! That I can move forward from and not look back at til it's time to edit.

So I guess that's my current insecurity. If every week I have to tweak or go into greater depth to make the over arcing plot work, or the intent and message to be properly sent - will I ever be able to get the whole thing written and fixed, saying what it needs to say? 

Just gotta keep writing forward I guess.

*On a side note - my boss went out of town this week, and left me with projects to do while he's gone. He called me yesterday and told me he'll pay me to hardcore free write for a couple hours about our procedures and my thoughts about what's going well and what needs to be done better and so on, in order for us to become more streamlined and efficient. How awesome is that? Either he's getting to know me, or divine intervention gave him the perfect idea for how to get the best kind of feedback from me. Best. Job. Ever.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Rifftrax: Because Some Movies Have It Coming" and Goals

"Hey Bella! Come liven up our discussion with your bubbly personality!"
"Sorry, can't socialize, obsessed with crappy book series."
                            - Rifftrax, Twilight

It's really probably not funny at all if you haven't actually watched the Rifftrax (see link), but when I started formulating the idea for this post, it  brought that particular line to mind. I've been meaning to put together a post for awhile, but... well... I've been too busy writing my book (and of course, the whole working, errands, etc. which is boring to go into detail about).

I finally decided that with the rough draft over half way written, it deserved to be treated like a good roller coaster ride - heading down off the big curve. I knew that I could "easily" finish it before the end of the year, which was a "phantom goal" I had set, but when it came right down to it, that was just too unstructured and too much time to feel motivated about.

Now, when it comes to goal making, I have the perfect coach: Wombat. Because when it suits him, he can think like this:

So I sat down with him, and we talked about goal making and we came up with a couple reasonable expectations and end dates. He even made me a little graph to fill in and keep track of how I'm doing - so I can clearly see if I'm falling behind, and how much, or if I'm exceeding my expectations and how well. 

I now have two weekly goal possibilities: Ideal and Bare Minimum. Ideal would mean finishing my book by August 18th - which is a significant challenge for me at this point. Bare Minimum will get me to an end date of September 29th which is my Super Goal end date. Lastly, giving myself space for life's intervention (ie, our summer vacation, etc.), without being too lenient is the Bare Minimum End Date of October 15th. 

It sounds over complicated, but it graphs out very simply and helps me feel excited. The sooner the goal, the more motivated I feel, but the reasonable goals, keep me from feeling stressed when life gets in the way. So far, I'm on track... but then, it's only been a week. Gotta get back to work!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Writing Buddies (IWSG)

I have mentioned that with this year's move, I have been able to make some great changes, and that it has helped revitalize me to do good things. While this has manifested with improvement in health and work, I have only begun to really pounce on the opportunity to make improvements in my writing life. One of my prospects has been to find a writing group. Back in the day, I used to have a couple friends that I shared my work and exchanged critiques with. Over time I grew apart from both friends for different reasons, and since then my only beta-reader is Wombat. He does a fantastic job, but he ain't a writer. 

So, I decided once arriving in Austin I'd take a look and see what kind of groups are out there. Two landed on my radar that were close enough that I might have a chance of becoming a part of - but... then it turns out that one only invites five members of a time to meet and they do I think, like, chapter critiques. Booked out for a few weeks to. Well, that's not exactly what I'm looking for. Unfortunately the approach I've been taking with my book, means that I can't really bring in my work on a chapter by chapter basis. It won't be ready for that until I'm working on my second draft and I'm still on the rough. So I began thinking - maybe I can't join a group yet. Is this what all groups are for?

About then, I took a look at the second group. It was more of a writer's guild. They'd have guest speakers occasionally... but I can't tell what else they do. 

Needless to say, I suddenly felt far from secure about stepping out into the writer's world after all. So I turn to you loverly writers. Are you a part of a group? How do you function? Has it been beneficial? What would be your recommendation? 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Healthy Body = Healthy Brain = Healthy Writing!

Get Healthy Blog Hop!

Thanks to our StephenAlexL.Diane and Michael for hosting this latest motivational blog hop!

I work for a chiropractic doctor whom I dub Dr. Awesome, because he is a miracle worker. He is the kind of genuine individual, who never judges, respects his patients and gives people back their lives on a daily basis. I'm not exaggerating. He evaluates people on every base required to maintain a good health: structure (e.g., nervous, skeletal, muscular), biochemistry (nutrition), toxicity (e.g., metals, infections, food sensitivities/allergies), and emotional stress (it can kill you, friends).

I am not Dr. Awesome, nor a nutritionist, or anything so licensed or prestigious - but I get to sit and be a part of the journeys his patients embark on and I see honest-to-goodness miracles.

As you can imagine, it's a pretty motivating experience, and while I'm not perfect in any sense of the word, since Wombat and I have moved to Austin, we've gotten our lives back in a whole new better way.

First of all, we obviously have been getting treatment from our doctor. We took supplements and cleaned up some infections, and some nutritional deficiencies. He treated us for some neuro-emotional complexing, and got us both congruent with our new lives here.

Then we started to change our diet. We eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables - and can't wait til we can save up for a mega-blender to make green smoothies in the morning. We've started buying cleaner protein and have used it to replace a lot of our carbs (which I'm sorry to say, though filling and nummy, are extremely nutritionally lacking compared to your fruits, veggies, and protein). 

We've also started using better sweeteners. We use raw honey which is ten times tastier than regular honey, but we still try to use it sparingly, because it is still sugar. We also use a combination of liquid stevia and xylitol - which together can be as sweet as sugar without much in the way of after-taste.

Also, because I don't have a car here I have had to walk home from work. I find walking super boring - so instead, I run-walk-waddle! It's been great to not have a choice about exercising, as I am notorious for exercising in short bursts.

I'm soap-boxing a little, I know, and I hope I didn't rustle anyone's jimmies, but my point in mentioning everything above is that - I have noticed distinctly that now that I'm feeling better, I'm writing better. 
I'm busier than I have been in years. I still struggle to fit in writing in between taking care of home chores, and working my tail off - but I have such a strong desire to write, and my head feels clearer, and when I do sit down to write, it comes easier and I feel happier about it.

It's taken me and Wombat over three years to get to this point. Three years of working in a holistic health field everyday. It doesn't happen overnight, and I've done it the wrong way more than once, but each and every step you take brings you closer. Start with something - whatever it is, just start! Pick ONE thing and get going - once that one thing isn't hard, pick ONE more new thing, and just keeping moving forward.

Here are some ideas of things I've done or have seen make big differences in people's lives:

Structure: *start walking every day for 30-60 minutes *find a good chiropractor and get adjusted regularly *stretch out or do some yoga every day to keep good motion in your joints *practice standing or sitting with better posture 

Biochemistry: *get more nutritious foods in: fruit and veggies! *try drinking fruit and veggie rich smoothies in the morning *cut the carbs and sugars - just start saying "no thank you" to the goodies occasionally (that's how I started) *make more meals and snacks at home instead of eating out *eat at healthier restaurants when you do eat out *search foodgawker for paleo recipes, or simply pick the no desserts category

Toxicity: *avoid processed foods *don't eat things that wouldn't rot if you left it out - it's probably not food, it's probably a food product *cut the chemicals: high fructose corn syrup, MSG, aspartame, sorbitol, caffeine, food dyes, etc. *get resin fillings instead of amalgums when you go to the dentist 

Emotional Stress: *learn about meditation and practice it *pray, if you pray * practice smiling at yourself in the mirror *practice affirmations every single day *treat yourself smartly when things are weighing you down- get a massage, read a good book, get good sleep (this can be huge in improving your health)

Take a look around at the other great ideas being shared on this our May 29th Get Healthy Blog Hop!

Good luck on your health journey!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


December 2012? It really has been a long time. I feel somewhat embarrassed, but I have plenty of excuses gathered up to curry forgiveness with. Chief among them, and perhaps the only one I'll take your time to share is that me and the Wombat moved - over 2100 miles!

Yes, ladies and gents, we left the "Keep Portland Weird" slogan toting land of Oregon for the "Keep Austin Weird" slogan toting land of Texas. Most every aspect of our normal life was put on hold for the past several months, but we're here and we're happy.

We've had the great opportunity to get to know some of Wombat's family that we hadn't gotten the opportunity to party with much. The Wombat is falling in love with the computer tech scene. Happy Wombat = Happy Duckie.

Me? I'm working as a personal assistant to Doctor Awesome who I worked with back in Portland last summer. To be frank: I love my job. I'm crazy busy and rocking it. 

In addition, working with Doctor Awesome has re-motivated Wombat and I to improve our health even further. Nothing like a huge change in your life (ie., move thousands of miles) to help you break bad habits and change for the better. We've drastically decreased the amount of grains we're eating, making our meals out of good clean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. We aren't perfect and still tend to splurge on the weekends (can anyone say "Hopdoddies" or "The Salt Lick"?) - but during the week we are pwning face. 

Well it's good to be back, and I had fun revamping my blog, but I have to admit, I haven't written much in the past few months. Stress and creativity didn't prove compatible. Wombat and I have been working on some projects that have been inspiring me though, and as I've begun to feel better, I've noticed an increased desire to write. Better Health = Better Writing? I think so. With that said, I think I will join my first blog hop! Get Healthy Blog Hop here I come!