Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Let’s Not Be Sad

Good Lord, squiders. I have sat here all day, trying to figure out what to blog about. My thoughts keep going back to what’s going on in the world, which is depressing and awful, and, to be honest, I don’t want to talk about that. Everyone is talking about that. It is everywhere and inescapable. I mean, it makes sense, because it’s affecting everyone, but me talking about it isn’t going to add anything to the conversation.

(Monday I made face masks out of my leftover fabric from the bookmarks I made people for Christmas. That was…surreal. Also the first mask was super easy and then the second and third masks kept jamming my sewing machine and I didn’t change anything so I don’t know why.)

And, I mean, it’s April Fools Day. Now, I’m not a huge AF fan anyway, but you know how many AF jokes I’ve seen today? None. Nada. Not a single one. The whole world said, “Nope, not this year.” I appreciate that. But it’s still kind of depressing.

So! Let’s focus on the positives, shall we?

March was a freaking roller coaster that lasted forever, but it wasn’t all bad. I did some really nice watercolors in my travel journal (though the travel watercolor set I have has some…interesting colors). I got to rib my sister about getting old (she’s two and half years younger than me, but as older sister I am required by law to tease when appropriate). It is well and truly spring now.

I also got some things accomplished. I finished the draft of the scifi horror story. (And found a title for it! Finally.) I finally got through my February writing book. I’ve got the final nonfiction book more or less ready to go. My Pinterest prompt spawned a whole novel idea…which, uh, I guess I’ll add it to my list? (I wrote creation myth for the prompt.) I wrote more than I did in February.

And April, even if we’re still in the midst of all this, well, it kind of feels like a new start. At least March is over, amirite? Plus, there’s Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I’m going to work on the changeling story I started as part of How to Think Sideways last year. I stopped cuz I lost interest in the story, but I’m hoping I can poke it into something usable.

I guess if I can’t, there’s always the story I came up from my Pinterest prompts? Or I could go back and finish the draft from Nano. Always options. Too many options.

How did March go for you, squiders? Plans for April?

How Goes the Education?

If you guys remember, my word for the year is education.

We’re three months in, now, so how’s it going?

Ha. Haha.

No, actually, it’s going decently. It may be the only thing making any real progress, thanks to the medical issues with my husband and other issues going on around these parts.

Except the programming. I have more or less given up on the programming. I don’t have time, it frustrates me, and the more I poke at it, the more I think that it’s not a good fit. (Which isn’t a huge surprise–it’s never really been my forte. In college, I’d write a program, it wouldn’t work, I’d borrow a classmate’s program, compare, and they would be identical, except theirs would work and mine wouldn’t.) I am good at adjusting programs–I can make changes in a test environment, or modify Fortran to do what’s necessary–but writing code from scratch sucks.

And to be honest, I don’t want to program so much as it feels like I should know how to program, if that makes sense. I need to take a closer look at the jobs I’m considering and see if that’s actually a necessary skill or not.

(Also, part of it is that programming classes are very open-ended. This skill here, this skill there, with no clear indication how some of it would be used in a practical manner. I’m quite good at picking up specifics for a particular task, but the open-endedness here is throwing me off.)

I may look more at other types of classes–software test, or UX/UI–later in the year, when/if things stabilize a bit.

The writing books…go. I was a little afraid this would happen when I set the goal of one of month. They’re hard to get through quickly, since I’m trying to focus and absorb. I’m still working on February’s. To off-set that, I’ve watched one of the tutorial videos I purchased from Writer’s Digest whenever they had that big sale. It was a good course, about the foundations of a good plot. It was short, so I’ve watched it twice to try and absorb the information as much as possible.

Not sure that worked, but eeeehhh.

The art classes are going great. I’ve really enjoyed the three classes I’ve done so far (art journaling, figure drawing, and I’m working on faces this month) though I don’t know if I’m actually getting any better. But practice makes perfect, right?

(I’m certainly accumulating art supplies, whoops.)

The prompts are going well too. It’s freeing, to write without trying to do anything with it (which is probably good, because I suspect none of them thus far are any good). I don’t think I actually explained the concept to you guys.

I’ve been accumulating pins on Pinterest for years: characters, scenery, prompts, etc. But I hardly ever do anything with them (especially these boards, since I tend to draw off my Inspiration board or my separate Writing Prompts board when looking for story ideas). So each month I’m taking the oldest pin from each board (character, scenery, prompt) and writing a short story on them. There have been some…odd combinations.

This month’s are:
Character: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328795863331/
Setting: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328796303296/
Prompt: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328795821985/

The cozy mystery idea isn’t going anywhere, since I’d like to finish up some drafts before I start new ones.

Those were my main areas of focus, so yay, I guess? Things are going, I’m enjoying myself mostly (except for programming), and there’s still plenty of year to go.

How are you doing on your goals?

Book Sales and Updates

Hey, squiders. I smashed my thumb in the car door on Sunday, and let me just say, that hurts a stupid amount. Like, it’s some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and it’s not even broken (though I suspect I may lose the fingernail in the coming weeks). What the heck, thumb.

At least I can touch things again, though, without it sending sharp waves of pain up my entire forearm. I mean, seriously.

But, anyway! On to more interesting things.

Smashwords is doing their Read an Ebook Week sale this week, so you can get Hidden Worlds or Shards for half off!

(Man, I still can’t believe HW is ten years old. Madness. Older than my actual small, mobile ones.)

The nonfiction books and workbooks continue apace. The sixth is currently up for pre-order and will be released next week.

I’m actually really excited to have this one coming out. It’s the first one I wrote (and so was not blogged and is completely new content) and the one that made me think about doing the series in the first place. It’s about working on more than one project at a time, and how to make sure you’re not wasting time and energy waffling about what to work on or wishing you were working on something else.

(And there’s a workbook that goes with it.)

As we get to the end of the Writers’ Motivation series (at least for now, and at least in book form–I’m working on my next SkillShare class at the moment, about how to set goals and stick to them), it is interesting to look back on the exercise. It’s a project I started on a whim because I took a webinar back in 2015, and it’s cool to finally see it out in the world. There’s one more book (about submission and publication) for now, and then we’re done!

(Here are the books again:

…and the workbooks:

It’s a lot of books, all the way around. Always neat to get to the end of a project.

What have you been up to, squiders?

Show Aftermath

I’m freeeeeeee ahahahahaha

No, I had a great time. All the shows went really well, I had fun, I love everyone, and all that jazz.

Here’s a picture of me in my Act 2 costume (after joy has been brought into our lives):

(Half the braid is not my hair, har. Never done a show with a dedicated hair person before.)

(Also, the costume room/green room/hair & make-up room happens to be the preschool downstairs.)

Rumor says the fall production will be a play, or at least more of a play than the musical reviews we’ve done the last three years (two years of Christmas on Broadway, and then Forbidden Broadway last year which I noped out on), so fingers crossed.

Completing a show is kind of like completing a novel.

I feel like I’ve talked about this before, but I can’t find it, so we’re here again. I’ll explain.

A novel takes a ton of work. It’s several tens of thousands of words. It’s mentally taxing. It’s emotionally draining. It takes a lot of time.

And when it’s over there’s a bit of a period of…depression, almost. Like something huge is missing from your life, especially if it was something you’d been working on for a long time or had unexpected difficulties. And it can be hard to move to the next project, or to get out of your funk.

I’ve found shows are like that too. It’s not as bad with the current theater company, since we only rehearse a few times a week until the end (that last week of rehearsal/shows I spent 45 hours working on the show), but especially back in high school and college, when rehearsal was often every day for at least a few hours, usually for three months, the show ending was very, very jarring.

(And it does depend on novels, too. I’ve found that if I’m working on multiple things, there’s less of a weird period when I finish something up. Or if the writing was fairly smooth, in the great scheme of things.)

What do you think, squiders? Is it hard when you finish up something big? Or is it a relief to be able to move on to new things?

(As an added complication, my husband was in the hospital all weekend unexpectedly, so I split my time between the hospital and the show. It’s honestly mostly a relief to have that all over.)

Ugh, this month. Almost March, though. Just another week.

How to Celebrate a 10th Anniversary of a Book?

It’s crazy, squiders. My first book, Hidden Worlds, is 10 years old.

(The first edition came out Dec 2009, and the revised second edition, published through Turtleduck Press, came out in late 2010, complete with change in pen name and everything.)

First of all, wow, where the heck did the time go?

Second of all, wow, that’s kind of a big deal, and it feels like I should do something to celebrate.

But what? And how?

I’ve not had a book reach a 10th anniversary before.

Do I put out a new edition, with new material? What kind of new material? Notes on how the story came together? Old unpublished versions of scenes (and man, do I even know where those are?)? New stories in the same universe (I wrote one recently for my newsletter subscribers)?

Do I put out related swag? Bookmarks? Character profiles? Art of the characters?

Do I do a whole promotional blitz?

What would you, as a reader, be interested in seeing? What would be really cool to see in relation to a book that’s been out for a while?

Too many options. Woo.

(Do you know of any other books that did cool things for their anniversaries? I’d love to check them out.)

WriYe and the Love of Writing

Ugh, squiders, nothing is getting done around here. I mean, I suspected my productivity would drop off precipitously while I’m caregiving for my spouse, but when you add on that yesterday was a virtual day, it has meant that I have had everyone, the whole time, since last Thursday.

(I’ve complained about virtual days before, but essentially the larger, mobile one’s school, whenever the district declares a delayed start, throws in the towel and is essentially like IT’S YOUR TURN TO TEACH YOUR CHILD, SUCKER. The school closes, but sends home a ton of work for each child to do, and you’ve got to wrangle your child into doing six hours of work when there’s invariably snow on the ground.)

(I don’t know that the spouse has ever been home for one before, but I think he hates them even more than me, ha.)

(Seriously, screw whoever came up with this plan.)

Also, my plans for the month have been slightly thrown off anyway because I’d like to try and get a mentor through Author Mentor Match, which is happening on Feb 13. I need a variety of submission things (which I have for the most part), including a synopsis, which I do not. So I’m reading back through the manuscript to remind myself what happens when.

(The trick is to not get sucked back into books 2 and 3 after I finish book 1.)

I’m going to submit the first book of my high fantasy trilogy that I have been working on forever, because despite my re-writing three times, it continues to not quite be there. And I’m hoping a mentor might offer some good tips for getting it that last step.

(I’m leaving a couple of notes here, because re-reading it, I do see what the issue is. It’s that the first…seven chapters don’t feel terribly connected to each other. More like related vignettes than anything, with threads of main plot/relationships connecting them. I suspect this is because the first part of the book covers about five or six months of time. I’ve tried to compress the timeline previously, but have always run into issues because there does need to be time for certain plot and character elements to be believable. Once we get past that bit it’s fine.)

ANYWAY ON TO THE PROMPTS

Why do you love writing?

That’s a very interesting question, really. I love my stories. I love taking abstract thoughts and weaving them into something complex. I love creating characters and seeing what they do.

Do you always love writing?

I mean, yeah, I’d say so. For the most part. There have been periods where everything feels awful and I am depressed about my skills, but I’d never actually stop. I might say I will, but I won’t.

What do you do when you (gasp) don’t?

Oh, huh, this is kind of part of the last question. Sometimes I take a break, and work on something else creative, like drawing/sketching, or sewing, or costuming, or scrapbooking. Sometimes I switch projects, or spend some time working to determine why something isn’t working (which may require having someone else at something, or doing more research). Sometimes I take a week off and play copious amounts of video games. It kind of depends on what’s going on, both with writing and life in general.

I hope your February is off to a good start, squiders!

The Fickleness of Creativity

Ah, squiders. Life, amirite?

If you recall, back in May we had a fairly traumatic experience (I didn’t specify at the time, but it involved guns and schools. An unfortunately American phenomena that has personally affected me three times in my life, the first and the third times almost exactly 20 years apart.) and I…shut down. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even read.

I did manage to get back working on nonfiction projects after a few weeks–my Skillshare classes, my nonfiction books and workbooks–but fiction took a lot longer.

Well, now, facing a major medical issue (surgery on that tomorrow)–it’s not me, but a member of my immediate family–I’ve found its the opposite. The fiction work is going great. I’m making great progress on my scifi horror novella. (I should give it a title.) But nonfiction?

Yeaaaaaah, nope. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. I got Writing Around Life out, as scheduled (and, believe me, I understand the irony) but I haven’t touched the next one (How to Write Multiple Projects at the Same Time: A Quick, Easy Guide to Project Management and its related workbook) or started on the slides for my next SkillShare class (about setting and achieving writing goals).

There’s still time. And there’s deadlines, which is always helpful. But man, there is no motivation there.

(I wonder if the fiction would be going as well if I were editing instead of writing. Probably not. Different sections of the brain and whatnot.)

But, hey, I know it will be okay. This too shall pass, and it’s okay to take time when you need it.

Fingers crossed that all goes well tomorrow. I’ll see you on Tuesday.