june!

Summer’s practically here in southeastern Alabama, but the days are still pleasant enough, not yet the anvils of humidity coming in July and August. The lovely spring with everything blooming and fruiting isn’t quite over. I’ve been busy with my Short Fiction Workshop–a self-designed writing workshop that I do Monday to Friday, from about 8 (or 9, if I make breakfast) till noon. The goal is to write more short stories, read more short stories, and improve my ability. It’s been fruitful. I’ve written three new short stories so far and edited two previously written ones into better shape. Two have been submitted and two more are on the launching pad.

In her book about writing, the Six Month Novel Writing Plan, Caitlan Jans quotes George R. R. Martin, one of my favorites, who said there are two types of writers: “…the architect who lays out the novel as if designing a building… and the gardener who digs the hole in the ground, puts in the seed and waters it with his blood and sees what comes up.”

I’m the gardener type and pretty much approach writing fiction the way I garden: I know what I’m planting and where I’ll put it. I dig a hole and drop in the seeds, add water and cross my fingers. Lately though I’ve tried to become more of the architect as I wrestle with A Fall of Diamonds. I’ve cut 40,000 words from the manuscript. It’s fully outlined, has a beat sheet, and yet still I’m mired in Part 1, trying to write my way into Part 2. I know what needs to happen yet can’t seem to get it written. Best I can do is keep pushing.

Today, seeing as it’s a sunny Saturday morning, think I’ll make myself another cappuccino and settle down to read through the latest print out of A Fall of Diamonds and do scene-planning notes.

Meanwhile I’ve got hailstones of thought for future books that I hope I live long enough to write.

 

a walk in the genre woods

Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Recently completed the Genre Structure workshop offered by Dean Wesley Smith. This workshop is one of the Classic six-week courses, a downloadable video series priced at half the cost of Smith’s current ongoing workshops. I learned there was much more to genre structure than I thought I knew.

It isn’t just the obvious story pattern. Every genre has its tropes and patterns and reader expectations. The writer’s job is to meet those expectations if the writer wants to write genre fiction successfully. And yes literary fiction is a genre.

The workshop gave me a deeper understanding of genre, of the importance of story structure, even of composition as well as an understanding of how very flexible genre structure can be. Within the framework of any genre’s format is plenty of room for great creativity and flexibility.

I enjoyed the video lectures and my creativity was put to the test by the assignments. Once you purchase and download the series, it’s yours for life and you can return to it as many times as you like. I’ll listen to it again because Dean Wesley Smith conveys a cornucopia of information about genre structure along with interesting bits of genre history, and I’m sure in all my note-taking I probably missed some details, like when you watch a movie for the first time, you don’t see everything that’s on the screen.

As a writer, I’ll never stop learning because the minute you close your mind to the experience of creative learning, you’ve stared the gorgon in the face. You know what happens then.

wobbly

dark_angel_by_qiubi-d5asy1m

Beautiful outside, sunny and warm, and with a nearly cold wind blustering through the palm trees to keep the heat under control. I’m preparing for a trade show, the World Tea Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center. I’ll be an exhibitor. Took 3-1/2 days of my time last week and I wrapped  up the final details today. This is my first time doing a trade show and I had no idea about all the logistical details that go into it, but I know them now. The Expo opens Wednesday and closes Friday. So little writing done last week and there will be be none this week, except for what I might manage today. Tuesday is move-in day for my booth.

I’ve finished Dust, found a market, but can’t let it go yet. Want to give it one more pass, and then I’ll shoot the engineer. I’ve printed out 90 pages of the Shadow Walk novella; it’s roughly finished, but far from ready to wing away.

Michelle and I had our monthly accountability and writing meeting. I restructured a chapter of The Foreigner. I’d like to work more on it. It’s a good novel.

Since the writing will be down for the week, where am I with things:

  • Crossing, short-short, submitted
  • Edited Dust, 5000 words, ready for submission
  • Shadow Walk, horror novella, rewritten and restructured, about 36,000 words (restructured from 50,000-word novel manuscript)
  • Romancing the Night, stalled novel, 6,565 words
  • A Terrible Thing, short story, submitted
  • Shadow, horror short story, published, The Horror Zine
  • Runaway Heart, novel, in progress
  • Chained, fantasy novel, a little bit of work done on it
  • Attended Literary Orange Conference
  • Attended IndieReCon, online conference

WORK IN THE HOPPER

  • The Foreigner, fantasy novel
  • The Red Goddess, sword and sorcery short story
  • A Useless Blind, steampunk mystery
  • The Friendship Killers, novel
  • Vampire article
  • Non-fiction project: writing workshop

There I be.

2015!

N08542-52-lr-1A week into the new year and I’m home in bed with a stomach bug. But the nasty pains have subsided momentarily enough for me to think. Must greet this new writing year with my goals. But first a shout out to Becky Lang. Her first novel is at Amazon: The Changelings. Congratulations, Becky!

2015 GOALS, DREAMS & RESOLUTIONS

  • Write Book In A Year (RWA challenge) – will write 2 actually:  Runaway Heart, a contemporary romance, and Tempting Fate, a fantasy romance
  • Rewrite A Useful Blind
  • Participate in Nanowrimo – November Novel 2015
  • Research and write next vampire essay
  • Finish short story, Dust
  • Write one blog post a month
  • Danube River Cruise – June 2015

DREAMS

  • Establish Penpanther Publishing 

RESOLUTIONS

  • I resolve to make weekly writing goals. 
  • I resolve to write every day except Friday:  Saturday and Sunday – writing days and Monday – Thursday – write for 30 minutes each evening after work

OTHER AGENDA ITEMS

  • Renew RWA membership
  • Writing Saturday meeting – First Saturday of the month
  • Little Fictionaires meetings
  • Attend 2015 Literary Orange Writers Conference

Projected Quarterly Goals for 2015

January, February, March 2015 – 1st Quarter

  • Finish writing Runaway Heart as soon as possible
  • Continue with Tempting Fate

April, May, June 2015 – 2nd Quarter5

  • Write Tempting Fate
  • Attend Literary Orange 2015
  • Danube River Cruise
  • Plan vampire essay

July, August, September 2015 – 3rd Quarter 

  • Rewrite A Useful Blind
  • Finish writing short story, Dust

October, November, December 2015 – 4th Quarter 

  • Plan November Novel – October
  • Write November Novel – Nano 2015 – November
  • 2016 agenda – December

2014 ASSESSMENT

It was a raggedy year writing-wise; didn’t get much done at all, most of my plans remained on paper, but there were a few successes. I was especially happy with writing The Dark Angel’s Dilemma, the kick-off essay of a series of vampire essays I pan to do. It was good to finish another draft of A Useful Blind (formerly Sleight of Hand).

JANUARY

  •  Began the year with A Fall of Diamonds, a fantasy historical. Story planning and development. Recorded total of 14 hours work time, although I did much more, forgot to keep track. Wrote 4,936 words. Total ms. @ 26,297.
  • Finished discovery draft of Sleight of Hand, a mystery short story, 14,190

FEBRUARY

  • Edited and revised Sleight of Hand, Word count: 14,725.
  • Organization work on A Lamentation of Swans
  • Romancing the Night. Manuscript total: 2,499 words
  • Worked on Chained, story notes. Revised Manuscript total: 20,712. (2008 NANO)
  • Attended Publishing and Marketing Your Book, Sonia Marsh, El Toro Library

 MARCH

  • 2-day self-designed writing workshop on Chained. 8,431 words.
  • Began drafting “Soul-less Perhaps” for pendrifter. Vampire essay.
  • Expanded Romancing the Night. 2,392 words.
  • Sleight of Hand 2nd round edits/revision
  • Wrote review of Indelible Beats
  • Signed up for Camp Nano, for 4/1. Project: Romancing the Night
  • Attended Little Fict meeting

APRIL

  • Attended Literary Orange Conference, 4/5/14
  • Dropped Camp Nano but continued writing Romancing the Night
  • Sleight of Hand edits, 14,717 words
  • Placed Romancing the Night on hold

MAY 

  • Sleight of Hand retitled A Useful Blind, 14,600 words. Finished.
  • Indio Retreat. Worked on A Useful Blind edits
  • Dust, 2836 words
  • Submitted Parting Gift short to Everyday Fiction
  • Chained, 19,418 words
  • Lake of the Rose story notes
  • Worked on The Foreigner
  • RWA meeting, 5/10
  • Huntington Library meeting w/Michelle, Quarterly Progress Report 

JUNE

  • Finished A Useful Blind edits
  • Story notes: Chained
  • Writing Retreat: Los Angeles Public Library. Worked on Chained

 JULY

  • Published blog, vampire essay, The Dark Angel’s Dilemma
  • A Useful Blind edits
  • Completed insurance study and took California Insurance Licensing exam. Passed.
  • RWA meeting
  • Completed editing Ch. 11, 12, 13 of Becky Lang’s The Changelings

AUGUST 

  • Worked on Lake of the Rose

SEPTEMBER

  • Retitled Lake of the Rose to The Friendship Killers. 17,729 ms. Total.
  • Rewriting A Useful Blind

 NOVEMBER

  • NaNo: A Useful Blind, 50454 words.
  • Continued writing short horror story: Dust

 DECEMBER 

  • Writing Dust. 7312 words 
  • Blog posts: 34
  • Monthly accountability meetings w/Michelle
  • Little Fictionaires meetings
  • RWA meetings

one sentence at a time

Slide1

The leaves of the basil are incandescent with sunlight, the pot sits in the bathroom window, and I sit facing the start of Romancing the Night for Camp Nano. One sentence at a time, I tell myself. I’m aiming for 1000 words each session. Don’t know if I’ll make it, but one sentence at a time is like one step forward on a long path. I don’t expect to finish the novel this month; I’m not aiming for 50,000 words like in November. At first I thought I’d try to finish it this month, but no, too much stress–instead I want to write 5 chapters and get the story engine rolling. So, 5 chapters, one sentence at a time. One of the nice things about Camp Nano is it’s a free-for-all writing journey and you can do what you want.

I want also to continue writing the vampire essay. I’ve got it started, but have not worked on it in over a week. And then there’s Sleight of Hand in revision hell, 16,406 words.

I’m reading Deborah Harkness’ marvelous A Discovery of Witches, sighing with envy at the beautiful writing and the entrancing story.

Must get on with it–hoping for a good day.

quakes and cracks

Equoid_by_Charles_Stross_Cover_No_Type_200_309

Cover art for Equoid by Charles Stross

Outside appears dismal, yet the sky is suffused with light ‘though the sun can’t be seen. I’ve had a raggedy week. Last week I completed the first edit of Sleight of Hand, and now I’ve got a list of questions to answer. I must go down the rabbit hole and poke about.

I’m thinking of setting objectives again. This rarely goes well for me–my mind tends to behave as if it were an ice rink and my thoughts like skates–a lot of slipping and falling, unable to stay balanced. Anyway, I was thinking that one hour of writing in the morning should be devoted to the Austen and Valaria vampire romance, one page a day right now until I catch a groove. I’ve got the first five chapters sketched out. How hard can it be? After that, it’s time to work on  Chained. The manuscript is a roughly completed first draft and now I need to get it together, make it coherent, turn it into a real novel. And then after spending time in development hell with Chained, I should start the second edit of Sleight of Hand. It all seems so clear and simple when I write it down. I’m like a drug addict determined to make it through rehab.

I’m very pleased about Sleight of Hand, despite its flaws, and I finished it a month ahead of my deadline, March 31st. At 14,725 words there is room for growth into a more fully realized novella. And I’m already making notes on a second Jerob Deal/Rafael Torrance story.

This afternoon I’m attending a workshop, Publishing and Marketing Your Book, by author and Indie Publisher Sonia Marsh, at the El Toro Library. I’m meeting other writer friends there. I’m looking forward to hearing what Ms. Marsh has to say.

Somewhere between one and two a.m. this morning, yes I was awake, I heard a bird calling out in little treble bursts. I imagined some small featherball perched on a tree limb, all alone in the well of night, singing out and hoping for a response. It was peculiar.

omg it’s october!

Trick or Treat, Tim Burton

October 1st! Summer’s long fingers grip the season still–not that I’m complaining; I like hot weather. But I know many people are longing for Fall’s cooler weather.

The cosmic clock has ticked-tocked its way to NANO prep time. I wasn’t sure I’d do NANO this year, felt like I needed a break from the annual pressure of November, but an idea jumped up and waved at me and now I’ve decided I will write another 50,000-word draft in one of my favorite subgenres: Sword & Sorcery. Not much of it around anymore, but I’ve always loved sword & sorcery, so yeah y’know I’ll be writing one for the love of it!

I’ll have to carve out some time this month to prep for NANO and continue making progress with Shadow Walk. My worry was taking two months away from SW, especially since I want to finish it by December 31st, but I think I can do it, despite my long commute and full-time job.

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to write in November. I’m kicking over a couple of ideas–a sword and sorcery anthology? a sword and sorcery novel? a sword and sorcery novella or two plus short stories? Tonight, to kick off the start of prep, I’m going to take an hour and brainstorm.

Saturday I attended an excellent seminar on ebook publishing given by James Scott Bell at The Writer’s Store in Burbank. First time visiting the place–small town feel, tucked against foliage-covered foothills, hot as the Mojave that day. It was a long drive for me, but well worth it. Looks like he’s giving it again at Writer’s Digest Conference, West in Hollywood in October. If you’re interested in Creating A Career Out of Ebooks and you plan to attend the conference, his ebook seminar is a go-to in my opinion.

Sunday was devoted to Shadow Walk, in the trenches working out Act 3 and the Five Point Finale. Got 6 new scenes to write, mostly in Act 2. I’m kind of afraid about the Act 3 scenes. All I want to do is finish, let it set still for a couple weeks, and then dance it around somemore.

Happy writing, d:)