The Calendar pressure is getting to me.

January 31, 2012

I think that I might be taking the ‘Calendar of goal tracking’ a bit too seriously. I’ve been ignoring great television queuing up on my DVR, and getting to bed later and later so that I can scratch out just one more letter on the calendar. Seems like it’s time to take a break.

I did mark a few letters today, (including keeping up my consistent Reader’s chain!) but I haven’t pushed myself on it; caught up on some television, and hopefully I’ll make it to bed early. And I spent some time working on something that won’t be on the calendar: trying to get a user’s manual sorted out for a word counting program I wrote for the Alphasmart Dana!

Tomorrow, the February goals and projects will begin…

Short story stuff

January 30, 2012

So, I think that overall, I’ve done pretty well on my January goals and projects list, but one area where I’ve been procrastinating is the short stories department. Week after week I’ve resolved to outline a new short, (or even complete a first draft!) or rewrite one of my existing stories, like ‘Project Fast Track’ or ‘Father Ismay’, and for four full weeks, I made pretty much no progress.

Working on shorts is hard, especially since I’ve raised my expectations for them, and I guess part of the problem was that it was easy to procrastinate while I hadn’t reached my JanNoWriMo goals for sample chapters of ‘The Scroll’ novel manuscript. Maybe I shouldn’t be pushing myself to work on a novel project and shorts at the same time.

But I really do want to do more with shorts this year, and before the end of June in particular, since even though I’m not planning to go back to the short story workshop, I’m sure if I go back to Lawrence, some people will ask me how my short stories are doing this year. When it comes to breaking short story ideas, I think that it’s the sort of thing that I can build momentum on if I keep working on it every day – keep a file of notions that haven’t quite jelled into story outlines, for instance, to see if maybe I can find the right angle on them tomorrow, or next week.

So I think that’s going to be one of my big targets for February. (As well as revising the ‘Scroll’ stuff, gulp – I want to have my workshop application ready for Feb 29th.) And I think I managed to make some headway on a new story outline this evening, based on a random prompt I found on a website of random generators.

“The seaside is the location, happiness is the theme. A mirror is an object that plays a part in the story.”

At first I thought that was a pretty useless prompt, and I was even tempted to try a different website. But I kept at it, looking to see if I could figure out a fantasy take on those three elements, and something’s coming together. I’ve got two characters – the first is a teenaged boy, Melvin, who lives in the seaside fishing village; his father’s a fishing boat captain, and his big brother that he loved was lost overboard in a storm.

Everybody in the village says that the storms are bad because of the old, ugly witch who lives in the grey house up on top of the cliff. But when Melvin climbs up the cliff to confront the witch, he finds a beautiful girl about his brother’s age, Sorina, who isn’t a witch, but she has a temper and a dark secret involving mirrors…

I tried using the random character generator at to flesh out the teenage boy character, but I got a name that just didn’t fit – I think it was ‘Walter Jenkins’, and the full description was so ludicrous, I wish that I’d saved it. 😦 I remember that he was 80 years old and had muddy blue hair.

Six Sentence Sunday, Project Fast Track 3

January 29, 2012

Previous excerpts: First, second.

Setup: Darlene is sales and customer service for TimeBubble, Inc, and is doing a demonstration for two customers – a young woman, (Jasmine) and a middle-aged man, (Michael) as part of the sales pitch.

The little brass bell was on the very end of the pendulum, and immediately above it was a custom quartz watch face with a minute hand, second hand, and a third hand that went a full circle in exactly two seconds.

Jasmine pulled the bell towards her, and let it go. The bell rang several times as it swung, and then Darlene pushed the button to activate the field. Suddenly the pendulum was travelling through the air much more slowly, its motion just visible. On the watch face, the second hand appeared quite still, and the faster hand was doing a good impression of a second hand. Unusual ripples of violet and aquamarine reflected from the metal surfaces.

Reading 52 books in 2012 – January-ish milestone.

January 28, 2012

The challenge to read 52 books in a calendar year is another something that I came across on Stringing Words, where Eileen and Roma have been starting threads for tracking our yearly readings for the past few years.

I didn’t join in the 52-books fun until July the fourth of last year – at which point I had only 12 books that I could remember reading in 2011 to date, so I was going in with a huge lead to make up. But I had fun reading and keeping track of what I was reading, and by the thirty-first of December, I had thirty-four books listed, which means, I guess, that I read twenty-two books during the second half (or so) of the year, and wasn’t really on pace to get to 52 even if I hadn’t started behind. But that was just the warm-up lap, not really for serious.

This year, I’m bound and determined to get to 52, and I plan to not let myself slip behind. So far, my count stands at six books:

  1. Darwin’s Radio, by Greg Bear.
  2. Door to Alternity: The Unseen Trilogy, by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte.
  3. More than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon.
  4. The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells.
  5. Long Way Home: The Unseen Trilogy, by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte.
  6. Vampire Diaries: The Struggle, by LJ Smith.

The books from the ‘Unseen trilogy’ are all e-books that I bought a long time ago, and was reading on particular portable devices that were properly authorized to access their DRM – Door to Alternity was in an old Adobe DRM format, (before the new ‘Digital Editions’ standard,) and would read happily only on my palm tungsten, and ‘Long Way Home’ was Microsoft Reader DRM and was authorized for my HP pocket PC. I could probably have read either of them on a PC as well, but it’s been nice reading while riding the bus to work or back home every day.

And the other four titles, I read in audible format, from  I’m still working on ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ in paperback, but it seems like I only pick that up once or twice every week or so.

If you’d like to join in the challenge, you can come over to Stringing Words and sign up to the forums there, and/or check out a blog dedicated to the challenge: Read 52 books in 52 weeks.

Another Grant Faulkner interview! This one is more official than mine.

January 27, 2012

Following in my footsteps to tell the world more about their new leader, Lindsey Grant, program director for National Novel Writing Month, put up an interview on the Office of Letters and Light blog about the OLL new Executive Director, and Chris Baty’s heir in spirit, Grant Faulkner.

So check it out to learn more about Grant’s book-stacking habits, his beloved mannequin head, and the coolness of 100 word story! And if you haven’t yet, you can read my interview with Grant today too.

My face is mostly unfrozen now.

January 26, 2012

I’ve been having a very dental January so far, sigh. Last week – cleaning and check-up, X-rays picked up three little cavities forming between my teeth.

Today – got three needles worth of freezing and two fillings.

Next week – have an appointment to go back and get the last cavity taken care of – at two in the afternoon, so I still have to check if I can leave work that early.

It’s a weird sensation, to have that kind of local anasthesia in my face. I didn’t want to talk afterward, but I still got my exercise walking around the mall, picked up some groceries, (yay for self-check-out, hehe,) and took the bus back home.

And even eating cream of chicken soup with crackers was a bit more chewing than I was really wild about.

But at least it’s over with until next week.

My calendar of goal tracking is in trouble!

January 25, 2012

Because it can’t stay on the wall. 😦

I think it was on Sunday that the calendar fell for the first time, while I was across the room. I let it sit for a while, then figured that maybe that first adhesive hook had run out of life, and that since it stayed stuck for about three weeks, maybe I should just keep going through the rest of the pack of nine, and it could last me for another six months or so.

Read the rest of this entry »

JanNoWriMo day 23 update

January 23, 2012

Previous update

The writing on ‘The Scroll’ is going pretty well. I’m into chapter three, with a word count of 8,309 to date – not a Nanowrimo level of output, obviously, but ahead of track for my sample chapters goal.

I thought that I wasn’t doing so well with the other goal of ’30 pages’, but once I remembered that the manuscript format I was wanting to use was 12-point font, that made my page count much more impressive.

At this point, I’m just getting into the scene where my main character, Will Peterman, is telling the bosses that he saved the priceless Persian scroll from burglars who were trying to steal it, but he’s not going to return the scroll until he can be sure that it’ll be safe in the museum. I’m not sure that’s going to go over too well, especially considering there’s not so much evidence for his burglar girls.

Stay tuned for a JanNoWriMo wrap-up next week, and keep writing!

Six Sentence Sunday, Project Fast Track 2

January 22, 2012

Okay, this time I’m continuing directly on from last week’s six, as an appointment starts in the TimeBubble Inc office:

She didn’t know any more about these people than their names. But they could be uncle and niece – was he diagnosed with a terminal disease? That was the lion’s share of TimeBubble’s consumer customer base. Since Jasmine seemed to be in her late teens, he might want to make sure that he was around for Jasmine’s high school graduation day, or college, or to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day…

“Okay, I’m ready for the demonstration,” Darlene said, looking up. “Jasmine, could you give the bell a swing?”


Calendar goal tracking update!

January 21, 2012

So, I’m not sure how many of them you can make out, but I’ve written in one hundred and twenty-five letters onto my calendar for the first 21 days of the year. That’s nearly 6 goals achieved per day. Whoo-hoo for me, I think that’s pretty darn good work.

I’ve also added one letter to the ones that I was originally tracking. Since practicing for my next driving test is something that I want to make time for, I’m giving myself a D for every day that I go driving, and I’ve written that in retro-actively for every day that I’m completely certain that I had a driving session. (Including the day of the road test.)

The calendar proudly proves that I am over 20 days for my writing and reading chains, (well over, actually, since I’m continuing chains from 2011,) and I just hit 20 days for a chain of posting a comment to at least one other blog every day, since I started on January 2nd. 🙂

One other item of note is that I haven’t gotten an ‘O for outlining yet.’ I’ve been procrastinating on my goal of brainstorming ideas for a new short story, and ‘The scroll’ has been ticking along pretty well based on the plans I drew up in December. But the O’s time shall come, mistake me not!

(And once again, I can only write in the B for today’s post after taking the picture.)

How are your new year’s goals doing after three weeks?

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