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!

 

 

 

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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!

bits and bobs

 

Thoughts on writing A Haunting of Roses…

What to do is as plain as the nose on my face. At plot group I was advised to get rid of the prologue and begin at Chapter I with the murder. Okay. No problem, but now the decision is if I begin with the murder and follow with the detectives, that is, my inquisitor and his physician assistant, then the mystery follows the cosy style, although it’s more like a thriller in content. It becomes a matter of Inquisitor Mira and Physician Evara puzzling out who did it.


On the other hand I could begin with Marisandra’s dilemma—that’s the first set-up for a motive to murder. I would have to follow with other set-ups of suspects and motives: Chard Roelof maybe, certainly the Geddes situation, and Lady Elynde’s unhappy situation, and finally the true reason for the murders would come to light, that is, must be woven in so that Inquisitor Mira (and the reader) could figure it out. The focus would be more on characters than puzzle, although the murder is a puzzle, the truth would be misdirected–heh, heh.

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.