Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MisCon!!! + ROW Update

I know I usually post my updates on Sunday (or Monday, because, you know, I'm so timely and all), but this weekend was MisCon - the Missoula Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention - so I was a little busy.  The Con was a lot of fun, even though I didn't get to see or do everything I wanted (if only I could clone myself).  I spent the daytime hours going to writing panels with my writing friends, and played cards with my gaming friends at night.  I did not get a lot of sleep, and I'm still exhausted.  But it was awesome.

I'm still kind of processing it all, so I may post some more about the panels and guests later (our author guest of honor this year was Jim Butcher, plus we had lots of returning pros and some new authors whose work I'm looking forward to checking out), but for the moment, I'll get on with my ROW update.

1) Write 25,000 words
Since my last update, I have written another 2288 words, bringing my total for the round to 19354 words.  I am so gonna hit this goal!

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts
Posted and on time!  Okay, so I never actually specified that I would post on Saturdays, but that's always what I've been shooting for.  I think this is the first time I've actually made it.  I wrote the post on Friday, so all I had to do Saturday morning was hit publish, and it worked!  I even made it to the con by 5 minutes to 9 am to stand in line for Jim Butcher's book signing.

3) Write first draft of short story
This would be the goal that's not going quite so swimmingly.  I just really need to sit down and figure out where I'm going with this or else scrap it and pick another project.

4) Make progress on Last Words
Not as much progress on this either, though I did figure out some details about how my main character's mother is going to die.  I'm hoping to get a little more done this week.

Well, that's it for me!  I hope you are all having a great week and your writing is going well!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Writing Post Round Up - Week of May 19-25 2013

And I actually posted these on Saturday!  Hooray!

Burnout.  I have both been there, and done that (actually, I’m still kind of doing that).  Creative pursuits are hard work, yes, but when they’re just hard work, and no longer fun, it’s probably time to take a break.   I want to retain a sense of joy and passion in my creative process.  So here’s a post on the importance of maintaining a balance and suggestions for setting boundaries to help you maintain your best creative self.

Here’s a really fun look at how some famous authors outline their work.

There is no doubt that the face of fantasy has changed since Tolkein.  It’s still changing.  And I do love that we have fiction with grey areas – characters who aren’t clear cut good or evil, choices that aren’t clearly right or wrong.  But sometimes, I do like a good old fashioned epic battle of good vs. evil.  What do you think?  Is black and white fantasy dead?

This is just a really beautiful post on life and fiction, and how we tell stories.  Really thought provoking.

An interesting announcement from Amazon – apparently they’re wading into the fanfic waters, as in publishing.  I haven’t read the actual announcement yet, but here are a few reactions from the writing community.  I found John Scalzi’s take on the situation, as well as the discussion in the comments, to be particularly interesting.  I don’t really know enough about any of this to form an opinion – I haven’t read or written fanfic in a long time – but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Ah, the dreaded info dump.  Here are some things to avoid so as not to annoy (or bore) the heck out of your readers.

Overcoming resistance to writing seems to be a major problem for me.  If it’s a problem for you, too, these suggestions might help.  I’m also kind of intrigued by this Massive Action Day thing.  I might have to get in on that.

In this post Jurgen expands  on his advice from the previous post to explain how to build (and keep) momentum for individual writing sessions.

I so appreciate blogs like this.  I struggle with a lot of anxiety about this whole writing thing (and other stuff, but that’s neither here nor there).  It’s really nice to know I’m not alone.

Here’s a little bit about the results of a new publishing survey that recently came out.  Pretty interesting stuff.

Kristine Katherine Rusch knows a lot of stuff about this crazy business of writing.  This post is long, but well worth reading. 

Well – that was an eclectic group of postings!  I do try for variety!  Hope you’re all having a great week.  Happy writing!

Note: this is a list of blog posts and articles on writing that I collect weekly.  Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean it was published this week, just that I read it this week and thought it was cool, interesting, and/or useful.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Writing Post Round Up - Week of May 12-18

Wow!  I collected quite a few posts this week, so we’ll just get started:

Synopses.  We all know we’re going to have to write one (or more!) eventually, but what exactly are they and what purpose do they serve?  And how does one write one, anyway?  Here is a post breaking down one method of writing a synopsis, step by step.  There’s also a link to a previous post where Mindy discusses that first question – what are they and why do you need one.  Two-for-one!

Some tips on how to keep all the balls in the air.  Because who among us doesn’t have too much stuff to do, and too little time to do it in?  Plus, I just like the juggling metaphor.

Social media - because you’ve got to be there, right?  Here are some tips to make it work for you.

I like this one because a) Jan O’Hara is just an entertaining writer and b) although conflict may be our bread and butter on the page, it’s good to have tools for dealing with it when things go off the rails in the real (or digital) world.  Thankfully, the interactions I’ve been part of or witnessed in writing communities online have mostly been very positive, even when people disagreed.

I love these tips on writing fiction from Margaret Atwood.

The first in a very interesting series of posts on the daily rituals of famous creators (writers, painters, filmmakers, etc.).  Okay, I haven’t read them all yet, but the ones I did were interesting, so I assume the whole series is.

This is something I’m struggling with right now – the inner editor.  Sometimes it strikes before I even sit down in front of the computer.  “You suck,” it says.  “You have nothing to say that anyone is going to care about.  Why bother even putting words on the screen?”  I’d like to say I ignore it every day and put words on the screen anyway, but that would be a lie.  Anyway, this post kind of gives me hope that it’s possible to conquer that obnoxious voice.  Also, he shares some pretty awesome writing tools.

This is actually not a writing post – not really.  It’s a "know thyself" post, I suppose, and I freely admit that I cannot immediately think of answers to all these questions.  I’d have to sit down with it and think about it for a while – which I think might be a good thing for writers to do.  Know ourselves.  Also, it could make an awesome character questionnaire. 

Going back to that inner editor thing (sort of), here’s a post on doing things “good enough”.   (I know, I know, the grammar is atrocious.) This post is taking off on the quote “Perfect is the enemy of the good,” attributed to various really smart dead guys.

And I’m obviously catching up on Writer Unboxed posts this week.  Here’s one on finding a good title – a process that sometimes seems mystical in the way it works (or doesn’t).  I’m pretty happy with my title for my current WIP – if the work can live up to its promise – but I have another one on the back burner that’s pretty much called “the changeling story that refuses to be named”.  And my poor musical is currently languishing under the title “Chess Pieces.”  Sigh.  Maybe some of these tips will help.

A quick trick to spice up your characters.

Heaven knows I’m guilty of some (if not all) of these writing mistakes on occasion.  Here’s a handy list of common mistakes to watch for in your editing.

How do you know when it’s time (or not!) to give up on a manuscript?  One author’s story.

Still with the Writer Unboxed catch-up.  A compilation of advice from literary agents on what NOT to do in the beginning of your novel.

This is a question I’ve often wondered about, but haven’t really seen discussed a lot.  How much is too much truth in our writing?  This is a particularly important consideration for memoirists and other non-fiction writers, but fiction writers should probably think about it, too.  What is the cost of telling all (even a fictionalized version of it) and are we prepared to pay that price? 

Well, that’s all I’ve got folks!  Stay tuned for the next installment (in two days, when I actually post it on Saturday, for once!).  Happy writing!

Note: this is a list of blog posts and articles on writing that I collect weekly.  Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean it was published this week, just that I read it this week and thought it was cool, interesting, and/or useful.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Quick ROW Update

I'll make this quick, because it's late, and I don't have all that much to report anyway.  I was out of town most of the weekend, visiting my brother and his new house, as well as our parents, who came out to help him.  It was a nice visit, even though it was short, but I didn't get any writing done, or blogs posted this weekend.  C'est la vie.

On to the report:

1) Write 25,000 words
Since last Sunday, I've written only 1542 words, for a total of 17066 this round.  I was feeling pretty good about being on track for this goal last week, but my low word count this week makes me a little nervous.  But, there is still a month left of the challenge, and I only have 7934 words to go.  I can do this!

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts
Not done.  I really should have done this Friday, since I knew I wouldn't have time to do it this weekend, but after a scramble to change plans (my parents were originally going to come up here for the weekend, but couldn't find a hotel due to the University graduation - it all worked out fine, because I wanted to see my brother and his new house anyway, and they got some more time to work on stuff, but ever shifting plans kind of exhaust me), and a really long week at work, I was pretty exhausted and just wanted to watch TV.  Then we went out for dinner and to see Iron Man 3 (which was awesome, by the way - more about that later).  Long story short - no blog post.

3) Write first draft of short story
I actually made some progress on this this week!  I pulled out the original idea (a 500 word thing I'd written for a writing prompt), read through it and started writing some new stuff.  I'm a little stuck now though.  I really loved the idea, and at the time I thought it was something I wanted to expand, but now that I've read through it again, I kind of like it as it is (with a little editing and polishing).  I'll keep playing with it a little to see if I can expand it, but I may end up leaving it as flash fiction and moving on to something else.

4) Make progress on Last Words
More on the ghostly research front.

So that's all folks.  I hope you all had a great week and made loads of progress on your goals!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

ROW Check-In : Of Owls and Other Things

I'm not sure if I'm on time or a week late.  Last weekend was crazy busy, and I didn't get my check-in post up, so I decided that rather than posting late and continuing my perpetual cycle of lateness, I'd just wait for this Sunday and try to get back on track.

(This next part got longer than I planned, so if you're just looking for the ROW update, scroll down)

Last weekend was the first week for one of our farmers' markets here in Missoula, and my husband works with a guy who runs a booth with amazing breakfast burritos, so after my cycling class, we decided to go down and get one.  We didn't really end up buying much to take home - most of the produce is still of the type that you take home and plant in your own garden - but we had breakfast burritos, which were enormous and delicious, a fruit kabob, and fantastic donuts made with local ingredients.  After that, we walked downtown and got my husband a new wallet to replace his falling apart one, and up to the arts & crafts market to get some popcorn - kettle corn for him and huckleberry for me.  It was also one of the first nice days we'd had in a while, although it was windy, so it was pretty much a perfect morning.

I also did a bunch of laundry (why does laundry never end, anyway?) and dealt with a bunch of paperwork.  I can't seem to entirely conquer my packrat need to keep absolutely everything - though I am getting better at getting rid of some stuff - so I've started scanning things and shredding the originals.  At least it takes up less space in my house that way.

And Sunday evening, a friend and I went to see a rare Russian Teal that had apparently been blown off course, because it's really not supposed to be found in this area.  It was really far away from the pullout, and on private property, so we couldn't get close enough to take pictures, but some kind bird watchers let us look through their spotting scopes, so we at least got to see it.  After that, we decided we didn't want to go home yet because it was so nice outside, so we went down to Maclay Flats to walk along the paths there.  And we saw owls!  We were just walking along, and we heard this hooting, so we stopped to listen, and after determining the direction, left the path and tried to get closer.  And then of course, the sound stopped.  So we stood still and waited a while, but we didn't hear it again, so we went back to the path.  As soon as we got back, it started up again, so we walked back along the path in the other direction to see if we could see it around the curve.  Then we saw it take off, and it flew across the path and settled on a tree that was close enough for us to take pictures.  It was terribly exciting - I don't think I've ever seen a live owl before outside of the zoo.  Further on along the path, we saw another one, but the pictures aren't as good because he was backlit and further off the path.

So that's what I was doing last week instead of writing.  Honestly, if I don't write first thing in the morning on the weekends, it just doesn't get done.

And now for my ROW report:

1) Write 25,000 words

Since the last time I posted, I have written 6345 words for a total of 15524 this round.  Which is actually pretty awesome.  Even accounting for the fact that it's been two weeks since my last check-in post, that's more per week than I've written so far.  Yay!

2) Post on Blog once a week - besides check-in posts
My writing post round-up posts are up for both weeks, although I think it took me until Wednesday to post last week'sThis week's went up this morning.  Maybe one of these days I'll actually get the post up on Saturday, as planned.  But as I said, if I don't write first thing, it pretty much doesn't happen.

3) Write first draft of short story

No progress on this.  Maybe if I would start getting the blog post up on Saturdays, I wouldn't have to use my lunch hour writing time during the week for that and I would make some progress on the story.  This week.  Really.

4) Make progress on Last Words
Did some reading and note taking of the ghostly research variety.  I'm really hoping to capture that ghost story feeling with this project.

So that's it.  Happy writing, folks!

Writing Post Round Up - Week of May 5-11

It’s a short list this week – I guess I didn’t have much time for reading blog posts.

                First up, a guest post on Janice Hardy’s blog.  This is a snapshot of how one author works from initial idea to completed project.  I’m always interested in such things because I’m still trying to figure out my own process, and I often find things I can use.  Also, it’s nice for an unpublished writer, such as myself, to see a little bit about how the publishing process works. 

                Scrivener is my new favorite writing tool, and I don’t even use half the bells and whistles it offers, so I’m always looking for more tips.  Here’s an article on how one writer uses the cork board feature.  I used the corkboard in a similar way for my NaNoWriMo project in November and it’s really pretty nifty. 

                A post on character development by a fellow ROWer.  This post speaks to me because I’m in the middle of trying to make the characters in my own WIP less cardboard.  As a bonus, she links to 3 other cool posts with ways to make your characters pop.  It’s kind of like a 4-for-1.

                This post marks the one year anniversary of Creative Writing with the Crimson League.  Here, the author reflects on what she’s learned over a year of blogging, and offers helpful advice for new bloggers – like me.  I’m pondering what to do with my blog besides posting my ROW check-ins and these link round-ups, so I turn to posts like these for a little help.

                Another Scrivener post, though this isn’t a tip about one particular aspect of Scrivener.  This is actually a link to a downloadable manual – which I’ll totally be checking out so I can learn to make the most of my new favorite toy.  I’ve been using Scrivener for around two years, but I still have a lot to learn about the program and how to make it work the best for my writing process.

That’s all folks!

Note: this is a list of blog posts and articles on writing that I collect weekly.  Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean it was published this week, just that I read it this week and thought it was cool, interesting, and/or useful.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Writing Post Round Up - Week of April 28-May 4

Greetings fellow writers!  I was catching up on my blog reading last week, so I’ve got a lot of links to share this time (can that please be my excuse for not having this posted on Saturday?).  Let’s get to it!

                One of the most frequently asked questions of writers (by writers and non-writers) is “why do you write?” (the tone and implication of such a question, of course, can change, depending on who’s doing the asking).  I’ve been collecting thoughts with the intention of writing my own “why I write” post for a while, but I haven’t actually done it yet.  The truth is, I don’t really know all the reasons why I write – I just do – but I know that one of the reasons is that I feel in my bones that stories are important, not just as entertainment, but as a way of exploring what it means to be human, and a way to process things that happen to us.  And I think this post speaks to a lot of what I feel about storytelling very well.

                I’ve always thought of outlining as something one does before writing a book, but this suggestion to re-outline after you finish your first draft (or maybe outline for the first time if you’re a pantser) makes a lot of sense to me.

                You may notice this link is from the same blog as the previous link.  As I mentioned above, I’ve been catching up on my reading this week, and sometimes I like a lot of posts from the same blog.  Since I do try to keep some variety in this post, I try not to list too many from the same blog, but sometimes they’re too good not to list.  This post is a fun look at how you might incorporate your sleeping life into your writing practice.

                Here’s a great post on character building as a sleuthing exercise.  This really resonates with me, because it’s pretty much exactly how I build my characters.  I almost never feel like I’m deciding things about them, but rather uncovering them layer by layer as I explore.

                I write abysmally bad dialog, so I’m always looking for new tips on how to make it better.  I also enjoy numbered lists, and hey! this post has both. 

                From K. M. Weiland’s “most common writing mistakes” series, musings on “suddenly” and why writing is most often stronger without it.

                Another character building post.  I like this unique take on the character questionnaire by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, although it does make me kind of hungry for pizza.

                Did I mention I’m catching up on my reading?  This is the last one from K. M. Weiland’s blog (this week), but it’s a good one.  I like to think of myself as a pretty organized person, but the truth is, I can always use more help in that area.  Here’s some organization suggestions specifically tailored to writers (although most of them would work for anybody).

                Multitaskers unite!  I truly believe that part of the reason I don’t get much writing done on the weekends is that I just can’t function creatively in a messy environment, so I end up doing cleaning tasks (when I don’t get overwhelmed by the shear scope of the mess and end up on the couch watching another episode of “How I Met Your Mother” instead).  Finally, someone has come up with a way to clean house and write at the same time! (Sort of)

                This post is actually not about writing at all, and yet it is.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the theater and still subscribe to some theater related pages on Facebook.  This article popped up on one of their posts the other day, and I thought, “you know, this is kind of applicable to writing, too.”  We may apply those real emotions in different way than an actor does, but it still seems like it would be beneficial to learn to use them to make our work better.

                I am woefully twitter illiterate.  I have two accounts, but I just don’t really get it.  I like the new thing they’ve added where you can expand tweets so you can see replies, but before that I was really at a loss to understand how to have a conversation in such a format – it all just looked like random unrelated stuff to me.   Anyway, Gabriela over at DYI-MFA recommended this guide to me, and while I haven’t been through the whole thing yet, it looks pretty good.  Twitter may never be a tool in my toolbox, but it’s nice to know there’s guidance available for those of us who need a little more help.

                Here’s a nifty little chart of defense mechanisms people use with examples.  It’s definitely going into my character building toolbox.

                For some reason, I don’t yet have Chuck Wendig’s blog in my RSS reader, even though I’ve liked pretty much everything I’ve ever read of his.  I guess maybe I just always come across his posts during times when I’m freaking out about the fact that I subscribe to 30+ writing blogs and don’t have time to read them all, but how can I possibly unsubscribe because they’re all so awesome.  But I digress.  If you write romance novels, this may be an essential post.  If you don’t, it’s still hysterical.  Be forewarned that this post contains some explicit language.

                A post from a fellow ROWer.  I love these tips for how to make the most of a novel writing month.  I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last November, and while I didn’t “win”, the experience was so worth it.  And if you can’t wait for November, there are plenty of other “novel in a month” challenges out there.  I had no idea!

                This is a great post from Janice Hardy on setting mood and tone in your scenes.  I love the way she lays out examples, from the very basic telling, to spine tingling showing.

                My current project is a stand-alone novel (I think), but I do have a couple things in the idea box that I think are tailor made to be series, so I appreciated this post from Lynn Viehl on series planning.

                Another Chuck Wendig post.  This is an older post of Chuck’s, but someone linked to it in another post I was reading, and I thought it was pretty awesome.  I am still working on some of these virtues, but I’ll get there! (I hope.)  Also contains explicit language.

                And to close, another list of tools that might make your writing (or some other aspect of your life) easier.  Some are free and some just have free trials.  I’ve downloaded the To-Do Desklist – it seems pretty cool so far.

So that’s it for this installment!  I hope you find something useful here, and have a great writing week!

Note: this is a list of blog posts and articles on writing that I collect weekly.  Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean it was published this week, just that I read it this week and thought it was cool, interesting, and/or useful.