Blog-cation time!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I just started a new job this week, and right now it's sapping my energy. For good reason though. I'm helping open a brand new Michaels store here in town! Very exciting, but exhausting. I'm taking a week off from the blog to give me a chance to adjust to my new schedule and will be back on Monday October 3rd. Energy permitting, I will try to keep up on my reading and commenting.

Have a great week!

End of my first Round

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My goals for Round 3:

Write an hour a day: certainly feasible but didn't keep it up. I just needed to kick my own tush more. I'm going to have less time at home starting tomorrow (new job), but I think I might be able to give this goal another whack during Round 4. We'll see.

Hmm, I intended to rough out the second half of one novel in chapter summary format. Never worked on that. Oops. Kind forgot that one.

I did finish the first draft of Red Riding Hood. I'd hoped to be done with the first pass through, but I've at least received feedback from my two alpha readers who have given me some ideas.

All in all, though I didn't stick to my goals very well, I did better than I might have. I also have a better ideas of how to make clearer goals for the next round now that I've seen what other people have used. Progress goals will be more incremented to have steps I can check off. And I'm going to post my goals somewhere on my desk where I can see them and remember what they are.

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arrrr!!! Didja all have a grrrrreat day of talkin' pirate? (Myself, I was a little busy with orientation at my new job. Not much room for pirate when listening to videos and explanations.) To wrap up the day, here is Tom Smith's Talk Like a Pirate Day. Hope you all had a blast with your piratittude. Yo ho!

Filk Friday: I'm a Pirate

Friday, September 16, 2011

Avast! Monday be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Just getting me voice warmed up for good 'ol pirate speak. Make sure that on Sunday night you skip the ZZZZs and get plenty of ARRRRs instead.

To help you landlubbers get ready for a day 'o pirate fun, here's Cap'n Slappy, 'Ol Chumbucket, and lil Chumpail singing an original ditty by Cap'n Slappy hisself: I'm a Pirate.

And for a bonus, here be George Harrison sneaking his own pirate song onto Eric Idle's show back in 1975. Never knew he had it in him. Yo ho ho!

ROW 80: Check-In 9/14/11

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I slipped the past few weeks on working on my goals. Not enough effort even though I had time on most days. On a few I had good reason to not write, but most of the time, I have no excuse. I need to do better. The last couple weeks of August had been great.

My RRH story is not really any closer to being ready for crits. I've made progress on the second version of the new beginning. Today I looked it over, then read the original draft. I think I've lost something. Probably the story focus. It's much closer in line with what I was going for than the first attempt. That one I've made a quick sketch-up on how I can use it in something else. But this one bothers me even it reads okay. I'm hoping one or both of my alpha readers have time to look over the whole thing tonight. I need a fresh opinion.

I hadn't made it a stated goal, but I've also slacked on reading check-ins. I've only been on a couple people's lately. So for the last week I plan to visit 10 new blogs plus the ones I've been to before.

My writing spark

Monday, September 12, 2011

Joshua asked: What made you want to be a writer? Was there a specific event? A specific person?

For the most part I've kind of slid into the mindset. I had fun writing stories in 5th and 6th grade, but I didn't pursue it that much. I don't really know why. It would have helped me work stuff out, and I was already a heavy reader. I only wrote stories for school even through high school. Then my first few years of college, I wrote nothing creative at all.

But then my roommate my 4th year of college got me playing D&D and NERO, a live-action roleplaying game. NERO in particular resparked my creative drive. I created a couple characters. To best play someone other than myself, I had to make up backstory and motivations. At some point, I realized that this process was sort of like prewriting for a story. It made me think that maybe I could actually make stuff up and have fun with it.

I started working on a novel with just an idea of the two main characters and what had just happened right before the story opening. Worked on it during the summer. In the fall, I took a creative writing class as an elective. My professor allowed me to keep working on that story for the class even though it was fantasy and intended to be a novel rather than a short story. I learned two major lessons about writing from that class: people way outside the target audience tend to not understand/appreciate genre characteristics and when you change the rules to how the world works, you need to define them somehow.

Well, and some people are simply clueless about clues. (My piece was titled Chapter One: The Rescue, because it was the first chapter and it was about a rescue. One person complained that the story didn't make much sense because it didn't read like a short story and who would name a short story "Chapter One" anyway? *headdesk*) That story has been tabled ever since, but mostly because I hadn't decided where I wanted to take the story from there.

Even though I haven't gone back to that one yet, it got me kicked off. My next bit of writing was a brief bit of backstory about one of my larp characters. I really want to tell her story in greater depth at some point, but I haven't worked out what to make the overall plot. It's sort of rambly right now and the beginning keeps shifting. For now, it's a tabled project.

The story that really pushed me into writing with the goal to share began with a dream. It had been so vivid and the characters so compelling that I wrote down as much of the dialog and setting that I could remember when I woke up. It made me want to know what had led to the confrontation. Even after a few days, I still felt it pulling on me. Thus began a several year long project I have never completely put aside, even though I still have a long way to go to completing a draft.

Currently, I cycle between that story, three other novels, and a couple of short stories. Having multiple stories may seem scattered, but when I get flustered or muddle-headed on one because I've narrowed my focus too tightly for first draft work, I can switch to another project. It's reduced my chance at being hit by Shiny New Idea. That's how a couple of my current projects began. I took too long of a break with no writing, and SNI bit me hard. Considering how my focus has improved and my non-writing intervals have shrunk, I'd say it works for me.

But I wouldn't have gotten past the puttering stage on that dream story or spawned any of the other stories if it hadn't been for Writer's Digest. The forums on the website connected me to other writers, especially ones who appreciated the kind of stories I enjoyed. The class may have been a nice start, but I've learned more about improving my writing skills from my forumites and the bloggers I've stumbled onto because of them. Even this blog exists only from the encouragement they gave me in starting one.

It's been a long slow ride for me to get this far as a writer. I wasn't sure how serious I was about it at first, more like yet another hobby. (I have many.) Some writers describe their drive to write as this powerful urge, their passion, something they've always had. I don't have that. But the longer I continue on this writing adventure, the more I want to keep going and the better I get. And my stories won't leave me alone.

Filk Friday: Dark and Stormy Night

Friday, September 9, 2011

This is one of my (many) favorite songs from the Valdemar collection. Dark and Stormy Night refers to a bit of backstory that happened during the time of Tarma and Kethry, though they hadn't been a part of it. It's first referred to in Arrows of the Queen when Dirk sings the song. Then at the end of Oathbreakers, it's brought up again as something that had actually happened fairly recently before the song had been written. (Oathbreakers was written after Arrows, but chronologically it happens before.)

Some of the Valdemar songs are ones that characters actually know in the stories, while others are simply from their point of view about things going on. Heralds, Harpers, and Havoc has some of both, and it's just one of several CDs. I got sucked into the music at the same time as the books thanks to a couple friends. Been a fan ever since. Hope you enjoy the song even if you have no interest in the rest. You certainly don't need the books to appreciate it except to know that the Heralds mentioned in the song act on behalf of the Crown as messengers and peacekeepers, among other duties.

My writing nook

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DL asked about my writing process, if I curl up in a corner or spread out across the kitchen table. (Meant to post yesterday, but forgot to schedule it Sunday night then was out all day yesterday.)

It's changed over the years. I used to use a notebook almost exclusively and write pretty much anywhere, including work lunch breaks. Then I wanted to do more on the computer. Word was okay, but I had to juggle multiple documents. Sort of annoying. Due to a shoulder injury when my son was about a year old (which I didn't even get a fun way), I couldn't sit at a desk for longer than half an hour before it ached too much. That's when I got my first laptop, an iBook G4 which allowed me to try out Scrivener. It's become my favorite writing program, but I won't go into that now, other than it saved me from having to deal with Word. Working on a laptop meant I could sit on the couch or a comfy chair where my back and shoulders could be supported. I still use my notebooks, but I mostly work straight on the computer.

Recently, I determined that I finally needed to work at a desk again. Sitting in the chair got too distracting with people watching tv, plus it made me feel less productive. The kitchen table was fine except I couldn't leave my stuff set up and kitchen chairs aren't designed to be on them for long periods of time. My mom-in-law had a desk she wasn't using, so she helped me shift things around and bring it upstairs. Now I have my own workspace where I can put my laptop and work materials and not worry about them ending up somewhere else when other people start cleaning. My new desk chair is simple but supportive. Also proud of it 'cause I bought it and put it together all by myself.

The window has a lovely view of a grassy field (farm country). My desk has a bamboo plant, plush black and orange dragon, fairy sculpture, pair of scented candles, desk sized Ott lamp, pencil/pen holder, the necessary tissue box, and (of course) my laptop. I also usually have a glass of water and/or a mug of tea on hand. The shelves to the side hold my notebooks, sketchpads, and colored pencils. Plus right now they also have some of my crocheting stuff and other miscellaneous items. My shelves are messy, but I'm trying to keep the top fairly uncluttered. The clean look helps me work better. It's probably a Feng Shui thing.

So what's your writing nook like?

Filk Friday: Creative use of self parody

Friday, September 2, 2011

Carla Ulbrich knows how to apply humor to her own embarrassing incidents and health issues. I like her unique voice and would love to meet her in person. This video clip was a recording she made just a few days ago as part of an interview with Michael Stock. She tells about an embarrassing fall she made when she was recovering from kidney failure and stroke. (She even made a whole CD entitled Sick Humor, humorous songs about medical procedures, after being in the hospital.) Then she shared about how she lost weight during the recovery to the point where she'd lost too much. It had inspired her to write "What If Your Butt Was Gone?" Not only is it entertaining, but it's a parody of one of her own songs.

Some of my favorite songs include "If I Had the Copyright" (the F Words Song), "Sittin' In the Waiting Room," "Therapy Works," "Duet With a Klingon," and "How Old Are You." Hope you enjoy the video. If you do, you may want to check out her website: The Singing Patient. She is a spunky woman as well as a remarkable singer. What an inspiration.