Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Looking Back at 7DN

Good morning, squiders! I hope you’re doing well! I’ve been sick, which has not been awesome, but I think I’m on the mend now.

I mentioned a few times that last week WriYe was doing a challenge called Seven Day Novel (or 7DN for short) where you’re got a week to write a novel or novella (WriYe has a 15K minimum) which I decided to take part in, both because I’ve had this scifi/horror novella I’ve been wanting to write, and as kind of a test to see if Nano would be doable this year.

And the results are…mixed.

You obviously have 7 days for 7DN, but I only ended up with 4. I knew Sunday/Saturday were unlikely to be usable and so had only planned for 5 days (with 3K a day), but Friday I woke up with really bad vertigo and hence lost it too.

An added issue was that I have a story for an anthology that I’m also working on, which takes precedence because Deadlines and so forth.

So, in the end, I ended up with 6.5K on the scifi/horror story, plus another 2.5K on the anthology story. So 9K for my four days, which is not bad at all. Obviously not quite at the goal, but not bad.

So I think I will do Nano this year. I haven’t tried since 2014 (and I did win that year) mostly due to the small, mobile ones, but it wasn’t too hard this past week to get 2K+ words a day, and school will be back in session in November (except for Thanksgiving break, but oh well).

Of course, making that decision now has come with some unintended consequences. Mostly ones of the “YAY I GET TO WRITE A NEW STORY WHICH ONE SHOULD I WRITE” variety.

Which…no, brain. We’re not there yet. We’ve got to focus on the current projects first. We can pick a story idea in October, or maybe late September if I’m feeling generous.

(Though…maybe this is the year to try my non-protagonist narrator story? I’ve technically written the first chapter already, but I’ve had it planned for close to a decade now and I should probably get on it.)

(No, bad Kit. Focus on your current stuff.)

Got too many things going on as it is.

I might try running the 7DN challenge again on my own. Maybe once a month or so? It’s a good way to get a word count boost, and I think it’s good for your soul to do some creating in with all the other administrative and logical things (revising, marketing, checking contracts and doing market research, etc.).

Anyway, quite pleased with the experiment overall, except for the getting sick part. And now on to other things for at least a little bit.

How was your weekend, squiders?

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WriYe and Experience

Happy Wednesday, squiders! My week’s off to a pretty good start–getting a ton written, which feels amazing. I’m really enjoying my 7DN novella, which is a scifi horror story about a falling apart space station. Also finishing up a story for an anthology. But I’ve written more this week than some months this year already.

Anyway, new month, new WriYe blog prompt.

We’ve all heard “Write What You Know”. What do you think? Truth or fallacy?

I wrote a blog post about this back in 2016 while I was working on the blog tour for the release of City of Hope and Ruin. That post is here. But basically, I think this idiom is one that’s not very well understood. People take it very literally, like, “I am a college student, so my characters must also be college students” or “I have never jumped out of a plane and so my character can’t either.”

Which is wrong, sorry.

“Write What You Know” means that you should pull from your own life where applicable to help make the situations and characters in your book feel more realistic. You may not have faced down a dragon, but you’ve been scared before. You may not have lost a child, but you’ve been sad before.

So, yes, I think it’s true. But I do think you need to understand what it’s really saying.

Bonus:
Do you write what you know?

I mean, I write 95% speculative fiction, so, kind of?

Going back to what I said above, I try to make the feelings and tone throughout my stories as realistic as I can by drawing on my own feelings and experiences, which is really the best you can do, I think.

Luckily, there are not really evil mechanical people or haunted space stations or immortal archnemeses to deal with in my life, for which I am eternally grateful.

Hooray for Flash Fiction

In the interests of full disclosure, this post was supposed to go up yesterday. However, we lost power for several hours and nothing was charged, so you get it today instead! (Sorry.)

Hi, guys! It’s the end of July (now the beginning of August), however the heck that happened. I have had a very good couple of weeks since we stumbled home from our road trip. I’m finally feeling a little more like myself, and I’ve gotten quite a bit done.

I finished the last nonfiction book, and am currently putting together betas for the books/workbooks.

I made three finalized drawings for the Landsquid picture book as examples for an illustration portfolio (so now I only need to type up the manuscript and put together a list of places/agents to submit to, and then…I think I’m good to go?).

And I wrote the middles and ends of five short stories for my flash fiction class. While the class wants you to aim for 500 words a story, the first two are around 1000. That’s on purpose, since I’m submitting one to an anthology and planning on using the other one as a freebie for my newsletter, so I wanted them to be a little more substantial.

I’m pretty pleased with all five stories, truth be told, though two of them are only borderline spec fic and so I’m not 100% sure what to do with them.

But, best of all, I wrote.

If you remember, after certain traumatic events back in May, I was having a really hard time with fiction. So having five completed short stories feels really nice.

And since we’re into August now, we can talk about plans for this month! Or at least for next week, because that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. WriYe is doing a challenge called 7DN (or Seven Day Novel), where you write a minimum of 15K of a novel in a week. It must be a new project, and it should have some semblance of a complete arc.

I’ve got a horror/scifi idea I’ve been poking which I think would be perfect for the challenge, so I need to outline that here in the next few days. And I think the challenge will be a good indicator of whether or not I can give Nano a try this year.

How did July go for you? How’s August looking?

WriYe and Zombies

Still going strong over at WriYe, though I am a little behind on my word count for the year, but not so badly that a couple strong months won’t catch me up.

So on to this month’s blog prompt. Along with the monthly challenges (this month’s genre stretch looks fun–epistolary + Gothic romance), there’s also certain months set aside for certain types of stories. May was mermaids (MerMay) and July is apparently zombies.

(I haven’t done either. May was, well, May, and I am not a zombie person.)

Zombies are a July tradition here at WriYe. Do you have a writing tradition of your own? How did it come about?

I don’t really have writing traditions. I used to, but as I began to write more regularly I couldn’t be sure of being in the right spot at a particular time, and I’ve learned to be more fluid in my plans.

I used to do Nanowrimo religiously–did it for nine years straight–but with the small, mobile ones in the picture, it’s been harder to devote the time to the challenge. I’ve only committed myself to it once in the past seven years, though I am tempted to try again this year. We’ll have to see how we’re doing/where we are when November rolls around.

And I suppose there were other monthly challenges as well. April Fools in April, though that one has gone defunct. Camp in April and July, though I am less committed to that than a normal Nano. (I also find it’s less helpful in terms of dragging you along in a creative stupor.) But this particular brand of challenge has grown less useful over the years.

Other than that, I don’t think I have any.

Bonus:
Tell us about your favorite non writing traditions!

My family has an Easter tradition known as the Egg War. And I am notoriously terrible at it. I’ve won twice in my life. The small, mobile ones have almost caught up to my record at this point.

The Egg War takes place after all the Easter eggs have been found. These are real eggs, hard-boiled and dyed. The eggs are laid out in open egg cartons, and everyone selects an egg. You then partner up and proceed to smack the eggs together (there is a particular way to hold the egg, and you hit “points” or “butts” together).

Last egg standing wins, and there’s typically prizes for first and second place. We do two rounds every year, and if you win the first round you can’t win the second, though you’re still allowed to play if you would like.

(My problem is that I’ve never figured out how to tell if an egg is structurally sound or not. Shape doesn’t seem to have much to do with it, nor does placement of wax decorations on the shell. If you can find one where the air bubble is on the side rather than one of the edges, you’re on the right track, but I don’t know how you tell that just by looking.)

Anyway, I love the Egg War even though I am godawful at it. And I appreciate it because it’s one of the few traditions that we still do from my childhood with my extended family.

Do you have writing or otherwise awesome traditions, squiders? I’d love to hear them!

First Class is Up!

Happy Tuesday, squiders! I hope you’re all having a lovely day! (I am because I just got a short story acceptance, hooray!)

We’ve been gone on a road trip (but thank you for all the lovely likes and comments on the foundational book posts I set up before I left–and I did want you to know that I found Alien Secrets yesterday. It was on a different bookcase than expected, but other than that it was pretty dang obvious. Whoops.) but I’m back now.

(We went on another National Park tour, this time hitting Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater National Monument, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, and Yosemite. Lovely trees, sequoias. I’ve had a fold-out of one from National Geographic on the wall next to my computer for years, and now I’ve seen that particular tree in person.)

Right before we left, though, I put my nose to the grindstone and got my SkillShare class done.

I know we were all skeptical, but it happened.

I have a membership to a chain gym called the Row House (I rowed in college and have occasionally rowed with the local adult team, but like many other things in life, having small, mobile ones makes things more difficult) and for some ungodly reason they got rid of the 6:30 am class (perfect timing! I go while the spouse is still home and then he can go to work immediately after I return) and so now my choices are 5:15 (butt early, though about the time you’d be on the water if you were actually rowing) or 7:00 (done too late for spouse to get to work). Or, in theory, later in the morning, but then I am responsible for the small, mobile ones and have to put them somewhere.

Alas, the 5:15 normally wins.

(I am hoping they bring back the 6:30 once school starts but am starting to give up hope.)

The good thing about working out at 5:15 is that I am home by 6:15, and the small, mobile ones don’t normally roll out of bed until about 7:30.

Perfect time for filming, it turns out, except that it’s still a little dark out so lighting is a little problematic.

Long story short (too late), I had a lot of early mornings to myself right before we left, so I got everything recorded and/or filmed, and got the class uploaded the morning we left.

So, I wanted to share it with you! I’ve got two links–the first will let you watch the class for free. I’d love it if you do–I won’t get paid for it, but more eyes on the class will help it become more visible in searches, which will be helpful overall.

The second link will offer you a free month of SkillShare Premium (very nice, I did it back in November, and you can do any class you’d like, as many at a time as you’d like, and not hard at all to cancel before they charge you) and get you to the class. I get paid for the class this way, you get free classes for a month, but I understand that commitment is difficult and not everyone is up for it.

The class is called Story Writing: Premise vs. Plot, and explores what premise and plot are, how they’re used, and what the differences are between them.

Free link

Paid link

I’m starting to work on the next class, which will be on tracking story ideas so you can find them later. I think the next couple will probably focus on story ideas, since that will be the first book released.

Almost done with the submission nonfiction book now, so a reminder that if you want to beta any of them (and/or their associated workbooks), just let me know!

Anyway, good to be back! Please look at my class! I’d love feedback so I can improve things for the next class.

(Although I need to buy a new or fix my microphone because it fell apart in the middle of recording and I had to duct tape it back together, which is working with varying levels of success.)

Halfway Through the Year

Madness!

(Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement about both PowerPoint and my class in general on Tuesday. You’ll be happy to know that I did finish the class and now just need to record the audio and get the thing posted.)

(Even thanks to Rick, who expounded on the value of using an overhead projector. :P)

Where is the year going? It’s half gone. It’s half gone and I am not being nearly as productive as I would like to be.

May was a wash, of course, due to certain unfortunate circumstances that we’re still dealing with, and June hasn’t been much better around the small, mobile ones being out of school (and some of us having been too eager when signing people up for summer camps). February was my surgery, and there was the car accident in March (insurance guy is not currently calling me back, go figure).

I think, maybe, around mid to late July things will start to calm back down.

But, I mean, is anyone ever exactly where they plan to be in terms of productivity for the year? Maybe. Maybe there are people out there who are better at estimating how long it takes to do something and how much time they’re likely to have to do said thing.

It’s not all bad, though. I’ve gotten things done.

  • I finished my serial story, which I’ve been working on since 2009.
  • I have edited almost all my nonfiction books (on the last one) and have made all associated workbooks/journals.
  • I finished the dummy of my first picture book and have done some editing on it.
  • I’ve written a few new short stories, one of which was published on June 1 (here).
  • I’ve been working on getting critiques on books that are in the revision stage (expecting one back sometime in the next few weeks, yay!).
  • I’ve been working through a writing class that I bought ages ago and have a decent start on a new novel.
  • I’ve been writing drabbles in established universes for fun and practice.

So not terrible. Not where I wanted to be–I did want the nonfiction stuff ready to do a few months back–but it’s not nothing. And we’ll keep on trucking, and everything will eventually get done.

(And then we’ll start new stuff and the process will be neverending.)

How’d the first half of 2019 go for you, squiders?

PowerPoint is Hard and Boring

Happy Tuesday, squiders! It’s a busy week around these parts (again) (we may have overbooked ourselves just a tad) but it’s fine. Everything is fine.

::nervous laughter::

So, if you guys have been around the last few months, you know I’ve been working on a Skillshare class to supplement my nonfiction book series (also in progress). There are, of course, a number of ways to make a class, but seeing how, at least for this first class, I’m not actively demo-ing anything, it seemed to make the most sense to make a PowerPoint with a voice-over track. (The intro and projects videos will be true videos, but the main content is in PowerPoint.)

Great, right? PowerPoint. I used it all the time back in high school and college for presentations. Very helpful.

I don’t know what’s changed, honestly. I mean, they moved the menus around, but they did that for all the Office stuff, so not that weird. I found the animations and the drawing stuff and, really, what more do you need?

So that’s not it. And the content is also fine–I’ve got a palette and fonts that match the workbooks I put together, and this is a subject I’m familiar with and am perfectly happy to talk on, so it’s not that hard to put the slides together.

Except it feels like pulling teeth. Why?

Best I can figure is because I’m writing out the script in the notes as I go. This seemed to make the most sense to me, so that I know the points I’m hitting/have hit and can keep track of what I’ve covered, and so that it will be easier when recording the voice over because I won’t have to think too hard about what I’m saying for each slide (and will hopefully avoid “um”ing all over the place).

Being prepared is a good thing, Kit.

I don’t know. It just seems way harder and more time consuming than it should be.

Any tips, squiders? Any thoughts why it seems like it’s taking so long? If you were taking a writing class (say on expanding ideas or learning how to outline) would you rather have the visuals of a presentation or watch someone lecture?