About dayya

I write fantasy, science fiction and romance. I'm also a vampirophile--a mere indication of my overall tendency toward the dark side, and a cat lover. When I'm not writing, I'm reading everything and anything that catches my attention, or becoming way too fascinated with horror films, um, with vampires especially.

asterisks and touchstones

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One more thing I like to do during Nanoprep and while writing in November is read or re-read books on the art and craft of writing. I have at least a hundred books on writing, maybe more, haven’t counted them. This year’s selection:

  • 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, Jane Smiley
  • No Plot, No Problem, Chris Baty
  • The Art and Craft of Novel-Writing, Oakley Hall
  • The Art of Fiction, John Gardner
  • The Writer’s Notebook, edited by Howard Junker
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain
  • Make A Scene, Jordan E. Rosenfeld
  • Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
  • Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
  • The Art of Creative Writing, Lajos Egri

Through October and November I’ll dip into these books for inspiration, rejuvenation, to crack writer’s block to smithereens or melt the frozen tundra my mind becomes when I sit down to write, and also to just take joy in writing. These books serve as my touchstones. Like the glow of Earendil’s star, they are a light in dark places.

 

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pecans are falling

 

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My pecan tree has gone nutty, dropping black-striped brown egg-shaped missiles all over, turning my backyard into a field of nuts. Considering the cost of pecans at the grocery store and considering I love pecans, I’m one happy nut-gatherer. I was greatly aggrieved last year when I found few nuts–maybe 5–that the squirrels hadn’t squirreled away but now I’m thinking maybe the squirrels weren’t the only reason the yard was practically nut-less. The house stood empty for a couple years before I bought it and down here in Alabama, you can sell your pecans to the various nut suppliers so I figure anyone who knew the property had a large mature pecan tree in the backyard probably came by with buckets and sacks. This year–they’re all mine! (Snoopy dance!)
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Last year, a whole nation of squirrels–mamas, papas, grandmamas and grandpappies, aunts, uncles, cousins and all the babies scampered about the boughs of my pecan tree throughout the summer, swishing their bushy tales, chattering and eating my pecans bold as they please. When winter came, they vacated the pecan tree for the oak trees and they have not returned. Probably has something to do with the new landlord stalking the property–my cat Loki.IMG_0609

Fine with me–the little freeloaders! The tree is a skyscraper and when I’m outside I can hear the nuts plummeting from on high and landing in the grass, sometimes with a crack! They pick up speed as they dive earthward and hit the ground so hard, they actually crack. Some hit the wood planks of my box garden and at whatever mph they’re falling, it’s like a firecracker going off. You know how hard pecan shells are? That’s amazing. One other amazing thing is there’s an insect that can drill a tiny perfectly round hole in a pecan to get at the meat. That’s one insect I don’t want to meet–although, given how I was eaten alive when I arrived here last summer, I may have already had the displeasure. I spent August and September scratching my skin off. Alabama has a universe of insect life and they all bite.

So it’s Sunday, usually my reading day (almost finished with Gone Girl), but I’m preptobering so the agenda today is to continue on with getting ready to write Errors of Choice. Might do a few other things too, like:

  • Do some market research today for the 3 short stories I wrote this year;
  • Re-do the manuscript progress list at penpanther’s sidebar; and
  • Find my printout of The Bone Box because for some reason the right version is not–gosh darn it–on my computer; don’t know why not!

Time to get to work!

 

 

 

nano novel doings

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Journaling about the Nano novel this morning yielded a title. I like to have a title, even if it’ll change. Not having one bothered me a bit, but I decided not to fret over it and to get on with the planning. So was brainstorming in the Moleskine and out popped a phrase–“errors of choice.” That’ll do! Baby has a name. Not particularly brilliant but it’ll work for the first draft, and the novel has a touch more dimension to it.

Coming up with a title made me think about doing a cover for the fun of it. I neglected to put that on my Preptober to do’s, but noted it in the journal list, and spent a little time creating a cover. I’m not a graphic artist, can’t draw a straight line with a ruler–no kidding–it takes me more than one try, but there’s my cover.

Using Scrivener’s Corkboard feature (love the index cards), I sketched out Act I and a half of Act II. Will note Act II when it’s outlined but right now these items are completed:

Set up Scrivener file
▫ Create a journal for the novel in Scrivener file
▫ Decide on a working title
▫ Brainstorm story notes
▫ Do Character profiles (Whose who and why)
▫ Figure out Character motives
Make a list of names
▫ Research photos for character
Figure out character personality types
Outline Act 1
Add a November word count calendar in Scrivener file
▫ Create a cover

I have not developed a premise–kind of cart before the horse way of working–but my initial idea has yielded quite a lot of story stuff, just have not distilled it into a sentence. No worries!

preptober!

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It’s that time of year again. November is rolling up and I’m getting ready for 30 days of intense writing. I’ve signed up at the Nanowrimo site and made my Preptober checklist, and have been working my way through it. The “to-do’s” are in no particular order. The italicized items are done.

Preptober Checklist

Set up Scrivener file
Create a journal for the novel in Scrivener file
▫ Decide on a working title
Brainstorm story notes
Do Character profiles (Whose who and why)
▫ Figure out Character motives
▫ Write a brief summary of each supporting character
▫ Develop premise
▫ Decide on a plot structure
Make a list of names
▫ Research photos for character
▫ Research photos for settings (Pinterest)
▫ Create a playlist
Figure out Character personality types
▫ Outline Act 1
▫ Outline Act 2
▫ Outline Act 3
▫ Plan rewards
▫ Stock up on snacks/coffee/tea/treats for November.
▫ Plan writing schedule
▫ Writing candle
▫ Add a November word count calendar in Scrivener file

I’ve done and won NaNo for the past 10 years; would be 11 years but I skipped it last year–was getting settled from my move to Alabama. I was going to write a YA fantasy, but a shiny new idea popped up with a few bells and whistles that I don’t usually get and lured me on with all the charm of my favorite vampire character (Anne Rice’s Lestat). It’s a contemporary novel–no vampires involved… this time. 🙂 I gave it the green light. I may still tinker with the YA fantasy after NaNo hours are done, if I have any operating brain cells left at the end of my writing day.

 

the wind is high, the lilies scarlet

Have stacked up a goodly number of pages on A Haunting of Roses since August. After a severe slicing away of narrative, cutting the manuscript from 38,000 to about 16,000 words, I’ve built it up to 31,774 words, writing over 15,000 words to get it to where it feels right.

I’ve been fretting some over the structure and the plot. It’s a fantasy novel containing a murder mystery and I’ve been wrestling with point of view–single? multiple? Have written it both ways and there is merit to each approach. It comes down to am I writing a whodunnit or a whydunit? Do I want only the point of view of my detective, Senior Inquisitor Mira? Or do I want the point of view of the potential suspects as well? What do I want to show? How do I want to embed the clues? Do I want the reader to know what the detective doesn’t know or hasn’t yet discovered? Or do I want the reader and the detective to discover things together?

On my coffee cup mood tracker in my bullet journal, I’ve colored in five days of frustration, one day of stress, two happy days, one depressed day, and eight good days, so not doing too badly. Today I came to a happy conclusion, thanks to Kathleen Bittner Roth: “Write what you love, and in the manner you love!”

I’ve made up my mind.

Happy writing!

 

hello, september!

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A happily productive day yesterday. Wrote 1,060 words on A Haunting of Roses (“AHR”)  before noon during my morning session, which I managed to start on time after having been late to the office for a couple days. My morning writing time is 9 a.m. to Noon. AHR gets the morning session and after lunch, I move onto my next manuscript, Verdugo Bay Dark, a paranormal young adult or if I’m stalled (temporarily) on it, I’ll do research or fiddle with a short story, or find something creative that’ll jog me back into the manuscript.

Wow where has the year gone! September already! Wasn’t it just January yester-month? Today or early tomorrow morning must do my Writing Progress & Productivity Report for August, have it ready for my monthly meeting with my productivity accountability partner. These monthly meetings really keep me in the loop of my creativity, listening to all that she’s accomplished during a month energizes me to keep going for the gold. It’s so easy to fall down, not because I’m not dedicated to writing, but because of the constant wrestling with doubt demons. In my combination writing and bullet journal last month, I created a mood tracker to chart the up and down days to see how to help myself stay focused. I like creative mood trackers, but I’m not a graphic artist so I printed out spaceandquiet.com’s coffee cup mood tracker for this month, free from her Resource Library. Can’t get the link to set :(.

I submitted two short stories last month, but been too busy with the novels to carve out time for my self-directed Short Story Workshop. Hope to remedy that this month and get back to it. Doing the workshop gave me three new stories that might never have been written had I not developed the workshop and carved out time for it.

Yesterday, I’d hoped to get another thousand words done on AHR in the afternoon–sort of a bonus goal–but instead I ended up reading and writing story notes, developing more material for the novel. I also printed out the first ten chapters. I was so happy at how well the morning session went, completely writing a new scene that I’d expected to be difficult going, that I cooked a tasty dinner for my sister and me. I harvested from my garden a half a dozen bell peppers and stuffed them with shrimp, turkey sausage, rice, and summer squash with fresh garlic, onion, a sprinkle of garlic salt and pepper, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and for dessert, made cheesecake. A successful writing day usually leads to a successful dinner!

Next month is NANO prep or Rachael Stephen’s preptober.  Haven’t decided on a book yet, but it might be Verdugo Bay Dark. I’m only a little ways into it–2 scenes.

Now I’m good and late for today’s work.

Happy writing!

Lillian in the Doorway

 


Lillian in the Doorway by Michelle Dutton is Book One in the Orange Ranch Brides series, a charming sweet romance spiced with danger set amid the orange ranches and oil derricks of 1924 southern California. As Shakespeare wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” proves all too true for intrepid Lillian Spratt, on the run from Chicago gangsters, hiding in the sanctuary of Gilda Axtabal’s Boardinghouse in Fullerton, California. Lillian’s roommates at the boardinghouse think she should marry first and provide them with a proper parlor in which to meet gentlemen. They finagle a meeting between Lillian and the widowed German pharmacist Jens Schreiber, an honorable man with secrets of his own, devoted to his six-year old son Leo and doing his best to avoid the matchmaking efforts of his housekeeper and her friend the mayor’s wife determined to see him married to a suitable woman. To keep the matchmakers at bay, Jens proposes a fake engagement and Lillian agrees. Jens finds Lillian very much to his liking, but Lillian is only biding her time until she can safely return to Chicago. Things go awry when Lillian’s past catches up with her and she and Jens find themselves in a tangled web of romance and danger. A delightful read.