Archive for April, 2019

The Podcasts, Oh No

A few weeks back we talked about getting back into podcasts, and I mentioned three I was listening to and enjoying.

Well, squiders, the whole thing has been a mistake. By which I mean, it’s become a huge time sink.

My three podcasts are up to six. Since the last post I’ve added:

Limetown

Well, technically I didn’t add Limetown. When I logged back into my podcast app after my three-year absence, it was already in my saved programs. I have no recollection of adding it, but hey, it is my favorite mix of mystery/horror/fake journalism. I’ve listened to about a third of the first season, and I do like it. But it and Tanis are pretty similar, so I’m trying not to mix the two.

And then two I’ve added but have yet to listen to:

The Once and Future Nerd

I did start this one on the way over here, but there were a surprising amount of cuss words and I had a child in the car, so I turned it off. I got this (and the following one) off a list of best fantasy podcasts. Most of the ones on the list were taped D&D sessions, which are not my jam, but this one is a story, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s been going forever, though, so it’s going to be a pain to catch up on. Also, not impressed in the two minutes I’ve listened to, but that doesn’t mean anything.

Inn Between

I really haven’t started listening to this one, but it’s not that old, so at least it won’t take forever to listen to. And the episodes are short, thank the Lord. The list sold this as what happens at the inn in between adventures. Hopefully there will be less cussing.

The biggest issue has been Tanis, which I mentioned last time, and is one of these mystery/horror stories presented as a radio show. I got super invested in it, so I started listening to it when I had a few minutes here or there, but you can’t just listen to part of an episode, and the episodes are long–35 to 45 minutes–and you get the point.

I think I listened to three episodes yesterday instead of, you know, writing.

But I’ve gotten to the end of the first season, so in theory I’m going to listen to Limetown and catch up on some of the podcasts without seasons (and thank goodness for seasons, it’s very nice to have a designated break point).

Or, also in theory, I will break and start the second season and everything else will languish.

The second issue is the Myths and Legends podcast which, while a more reasonable 25-35 minutes per episode and usually tame enough that I’m not going to traumatize the small, mobile ones if it’s on the radio in the car, tends to tell stories in multi-episode chunks. Right now I have a 3-part King Arthur episode downloaded.

Anyway, tl;dr–I’m spending my time listening to podcasts instead of, you know, reading the SIX BOOKS I’m in the middle of, or writing.

Advice on how to stop when I need to, squiders?

(I almost asked for podcast recommendations, but then I realized that was a TERRIBLE idea.)

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Project Overload

I’ve reached that point in the project where you starting wanting to write other things than what you’re writing. Which is ridiculous, for a couple of reasons.

  1. I’m not that far into any of the projects I am working on.
  2. I’m already working on a ridiculous amount of projects.

(Also, I have two library books which have just…disappeared into the ether. I seriously have no idea where they’ve gone, and the library wants them back.)

(Also we have a ton of books out right now because our branch reopened two weeks ago after being closed for four months, and we went a bit wild. I myself have four novels and six nonfiction books out, and that doesn’t count the two novels I have since read and returned.)

Two ideas are vying for time on top of the nonfiction books/workbooks, writing class, picture book, and writing class/fae novel projects.

The first I talked about briefly before, a YA fantasy novel I worked on and queried way back in the 2008-2011 time frame, and the second is a paranormal mystery series I have been slowly planning over the last year.

(Planning in this case includes pinning things to a Pinterest board and occasionally writing ideas down in the notebook I put aside for it. And reading old–1990s time frame–books about writing mysteries which are probably out of date, but which I got for free from my mother.)

I just finished a historical mystery this morning, and I tend to read a lot of mysteries, and whenever I do so it reminds me of my own series that I am not writing because there are not enough hours in the day.

Actually, I’ve got a lot of stories in planning for not actually planning to work on any of them in the near future. Aside from the Landsquid books, I’ve got three other potential children’s series in various stages of planning. There’s the mystery, and also the steampunk mystery, series. The prequel to the fantasy trilogy. A scifi horror novella on a space station.

It’s times like these that I wish that I worked faster. And stopped getting distracted by horror mystery podcasts.

But don’t worry, squiders! I’m being good. The current projects (and, quite honestly, probably a couple of them) will be finished before I chase the next shiny thing.

I think, anyway.



Time Management Has Failed Me

Here’s a question. How do you go to two writing meetings at the same time?

Or, perhaps more pressing, why would I schedule two writing meetings at the same time?

Well, the answer to that is easy, and that is that I forgot to put one on my calendar and so thought I was open when I rescheduled the other.

As an alternative but similar issue, Thursday night I must: go to smaller, mobile one’s art show, take the larger, mobile one to soccer practice, and run a writing meeting, all in the same time frame. Soccer and the art show overlap. I could make the husband take the larger, mobile one to soccer and take the smaller, mobile one to the art show, then drop said smaller, mobile one at soccer and go to the writing meeting, thus making the smaller, mobile one have to go through the art show twice.

Or I go to the art show myself, without the child with art in it, and then on to the writing meeting, and let the rest of my family fend for itself. OR I am late to my writing meeting, because we all go to soccer and then the art show and by then, I am an hour late to a meeting I am running.

So probably not the last one.

Back to the first problem. One of the writing meetings is online, so in theory I can go to the in-person one and then log into the online one while I am at the in-person one, assuming that there is wifi (possibly?) and that I won’t look like a wanker being on my computer in a setting where everyone takes notes in physical notebooks.

And that my laptop battery maintains life for the entirety of the meeting, which might be asking too much of the poor thing.

Said in-person meeting is also an hour away from where I live, so perhaps it’s just best to avoid two hours of driving and wait until the meetings rotate back up closer to home.

What have we got, squiders? Personally, I’m leaning toward giving the in-person meeting a pass and doing the online one instead. The soccer/art show/writing meeting issue remains in the air. I would move the writing meeting (since, you know, I run it) but I have new people signed up to come and that is confusing for them. Maybe I can push it back half an hour and no one will notice?

(Except that’s still not enough time. I’d have to go straight from soccer to writing meeting, and I will still miss the art show. But I should move the meeting back in general. Yesssss. ::makes note to self::)

At least I’m getting out of the house?

Vaguely Fae

As a part of the writing/career class I’m taking, the teacher advocated against doing a ton of research/worldbuilding, instead focusing on what’s interesting and what’s important.

On one hand, yes, this can be a horrible, slippery slope, where one disappears into their work and never gets to the actual writing.

But on the other, it feels a bit weird, and, to some extent, a bit disingenuous.

This teacher is a self-acknowledged over-worldbuilder, so I understand why she’s teaching this way, but especially with stories involving mythology, I like to delve into the mythology itself, so I can see what aspects best fit the story, and use it to shape the story itself.

I’m just saying, Shards would be a completely different story if I just said “I’m going to write a book about angels” and went off without doing any more research than what I knew off the top of my head.

But in the interest of trying new things, I’m holding off. So far. I’m strongly considering doing more research (and yes, worldbuilding) because I feel weirdly adrift at the moment and it’s making writing harder than it needs to be.

The story I’m working on for the class involves changelings, and so, by extension, the fae. I’d like to stick to your old world trickster sort of faerie, and a lot of the book will take place in the Otherworld.

Working from memory, I’ve got:

  • allergic to iron or whatever (iron burns)
  • DO NOT ACCEPT GIFTS OR FOOD
  • Time works all weird in the Otherworld
  • Fae are good at illusions
  • DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR NAME
  • Never offer to pay a faerie for anything
  • There’s two courts: seelie (summer)/unseelie (winter)
  • Veil between worlds that’s only passable at certain times/places

(I even have the perfect book to use for research. It’s Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages by Claude Lecouteux. I got it out from the library while I was doing my Shards research and liked it so much that I got myself a copy.)

Now, it’s entirely possible that I’ve misunderstood, and that it’s really worldbuilding to be avoiding (beyond identifying what’s interesting and causes conflict) and research is fine. (I mean, what if you were doing historical fiction?) I should probably double check that. Ask in the forums, maybe?

Any good fae mythology to share, squiders? (Especially related to the Otherworld itself.) Or good sources for research, if I give in to my itch?

Trying Podcasts Again

I like podcasts, squiders, at least in theory. The biggest issue is finding time to listen to them (or remembering to listen to them).

I don’t commute, so I don’t have transportation time. Sometimes I’ll remember to turn one on if I’m mowing the lawn or mopping the floor, but that goes back to the whole remembering thing again. And I can’t think and listen, so I can’t listen to them while I’m working (and am in awe that anyone can).

I had some marketing/writing ones that I used to listen to, but the issue was that invariably I would be doing something else while listening, so I’d have to stop both the podcast and whatever it was if I wanted to write down notes on the podcast content.

So, they’re not the greatest fit for me, or at least, I haven’t figured out how to fit them in. But I’m trying again. Not sure why. It’s like…I was standing there one day, and I thought, “Wow, I haven’t listened to Night Vale in forever,” and opened my podcast app on my phone (apparently never before opened on this particular phone, so I had to remember passwords and sundry), and here we are.

(I was over three years behind on Night Vale, so, wow, it has been forever.)

But for the last three weeks or so I’ve been listening again. When I was working on the consignment sale stuff, it was easy to listen to a few episodes here and there while pricing stuff, so I made some good mileage there. And the podcasts autoplay whenever the car and the phone pair, which is a little annoying (for example, if it’s a five-minute car ride and the small, mobile ones want to talk to me, and I’ve got to figure out how to dig my phone out of my pocket and pause the podcast, or if I don’t have the sound on, so it just autoplays itself with no one listening) but does mean that I’m not forgetting them.

So here’s what I’m (for the moment) listening to:

Welcome to Night Vale

Everyone knows Night Vale at this point, I suspect. On the off-chance you don’t (really?), it’s the community radio for a town somewhere in the American Southwest where every conspiracy theory is real.

I can see why I stopped listening–it’s a bit formulaic, which makes sense, so it gets a little old after a bit–but it is nice to see what I missed. I mean, I’m still 50 episodes behind, but I’m catching up. Also, every now and then there is a truly great episode. Episode 79 (Lost in the Mail) may have made me cry.

Myths and Legends

My spouse recommended this to me, because he knows I love mythology (and also he’s caught up on Night Vale and several other stories he’s listening to, and has time to poke around), and so far, so good. Every week the host tells all or part of a myth/legend and includes a creature of the week. I’m about six episodes in, I think, and so far we’ve covered one of King Arthur’s knights (Yvaine), Aladdin, and are part of the way into the Volsung saga of Norse mythology (apparently a major influence for Tolkien).

Tanis

My podcast app very quickly caught on to my particular brand of madness, and so keeps recommending me horror/mystery/supernatural docudramas and stories. Now, going back to the fact that I am bad at podcasts, I’ve mostly ignored said recommendations, but I did listen to the first episode of Tanis, which is a mystery horror podcast that presents itself as a journalist searching for this ancient idea of “tanis,” of which there are hints throughout history (Wikipedia tells me it’s “deep fiction” since nowhere does the show or its creators acknowledge it’s fictitious).

The first episode does a good job of dragging you in, so I’m going to give a few more episodes a try. They’ve also got a sister show, The Black Tapes, which is also mystery horror presented as reality, except having to do with ghosts, I think.

Listening to any good podcasts, squiders? Thoughts on these ones? Thoughts on how I can stick to/make time for listening in a way that doesn’t eat sections of my day?

Writing a Synopsis When You Don’t Even Have a Book

Afternoon, squiders. The big, mobile one has ANOTHER virtual school day today. I am considering strangling whomever decided that making a parent stay home and teach their child instead of doing a delayed start like EVERY OTHER SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT was a good idea.

But anyway.

You guys know I’m working through a writing class right now. Well, it’s billed as a “career class,” to also talk about building a writing career and marketing and so forth. And on I go, through the lessons, because I do think it’s beneficial to try everything at least once, because you never know how it’s going to go and what’s going to work for you.

My current lesson is about writing submission material–queries, synopses, etc.–before you have a book. Her (the teacher’s) point is that sometimes you’ve got to sell a book you haven’t written, so knowing how to write these before the book is done (or even started, in some cases) can be beneficial, especially if you’ve already sold a book or two and have editors/publishers who trust you and your work..

It’s an interesting process. A few lessons back we were supposed to outline our stories, but I had a really hard time with the method she wanted us to use (and ended up using a different one after I tried and tried to get the other one to work), and the lesson after we were supposed to start the story. So right now we’re sitting with an opening and a vague (or more detailed, depending on the type of outline we made, since it was open to how many plot points you wanted to do) outline and working on these submission documents.

(My synopsis has issues. But then, they do when the book is written too, so, whatever, I guess.)

I’ve heard authors recommend doing this before writing the book before, but not as a submission/selling too–as a writing tool. The idea is, by having to figure out the core conflict/theme of your story and the main plotline necessary for queries/synopses, that you do yourself a favor by knowing that information before you ever write a word on the page. That it helps you focus on what’s important and makes your story more coherent.

And maybe it will. It will be interesting to see. A side benefit of the experiment, if you will.

In other news, the nonfiction books are going well (though I realized I forgot a section in the common writing mistakes one and had to go back and write it). I’m working on the consistency one now, and also considering putting together a workbook for it. This book is the shortest of all of them, for whatever reason, but it looks like I left more sections post-blog to write than I did with the others, so that may be why.

Happy Thursday, squiders! I’m reading Once & Future right now, which came out last month, and am enjoying it greatly. It’s not a great work of literature, but it is fun, and sometimes it feels like everything takes itself so seriously these days. Are reading anything fun?

Finally Moving

Hooray for April, squiders. The consignment sale is over, the festival is this weekend (and will happen whether or not I do anything specific), and we can focus on being as productive as possible in these last few weeks before it’s summer break.

Some things that are happening:

  • I finally finished the story idea workbook of doom, and I edited the entirety of the outlining nonfiction book, including writing a few new sections.
  • I outlined a new Landsquid picture book and fleshed out more on a second children’s book series (though I’m unsure whether to do it as a picture book or an early reader).
  • I started writing a new novel. I have also realized that said opening scene is bad and have plotted out a new one that is MUCH better, but that’s pretty standard for beginnings.
  • I got through three lessons in my writing class.
  • I’ve outlined a potential class for Skillshare and now need to look at how I want to film/edit it.
  • (WordPress won’t let me get rid of this bullet, so please disregard this aside.)

All in all, not too shabby. But, of course, there’s always more to be done. WriYe is actually proving to be a bit of a distraction here, because I have the three main things I’m focusing on–nonfiction/workbooks/now Skillshare classes, Landsquid picture book(s), and writing class–and some of the monthly challenges are VERY tempting.

For April, for example, the genre stretch sounds awesome–a mix of a college setting with slipstream elements. I definitely want to write something for that. And there’s the addition of a challenge to brush off and improve a project that you’ve abandoned.

The last thing I need is to go into a major revision process. I’ve done so much revision lately that I’m a bit burnt out on the whole thing. But…I think this actually predates the blog…I had a younger YA story I adored. I polished it, I queried it, I entered it in contests–and it never went anywhere, and eventually I shelved it and moved on to other projects. But I still think about it sometimes, and maybe…maybe I could do it justice now? Maybe I could fix it and it could go out into the world?

God, it is tempting. But, goals! And previous commitments!

So I’ve made an agreement with myself. If I get the nonfiction books edited (and any additional workbooks/journals created), then I can read through this YA story. No pressure to revise it or anything. Just read it, see what state it’s in, and see how much work it would take to fix, if it’s fixable. Maybe look at the comments I got from various agents and contests to see what other people saw as problems.

So we’ll see. There’s still 5 more nonfiction books and at least 1 workbook, and April isn’t a very long month.

How is your April going, squider?