Only hours left until camp!

May 31, 2012

The June session of Camp Nanowrimo is set to start on June 1st, which is just under two and a half hours away by my local time. I’m really excited, and not quite sure what to expect.

Because I’m off to Kansas for the last week of June, I didn’t think that I was up to the 50k challenge, and plus, I’ve been wanting to concentrate more on writing short stories than novels. So, my rebel camp challenge is this: Write eight short stories, (that is, first drafts of new short stories,) in June, with a minimum of 2000 words each.

That isn’t a huge word count target – 16k total as opposed to 50k, but writing shorts is harder than getting into the novel groove, so I felt that this was a good place to set my goal. For one thing, it can be harder to be brief than to write at length, and if all of my stories end up stretching to an average of six thousand words – then I’d be at 48k. I’d be a bit frustrated if that happens, but finishing the count is the important thing.

I completed three shorts in May, along with a lot of other goals I was working on, but I was generally pretty focused on a short story if I had one on the go. “Tough Love” was finished over a two-day weekend, while  “A Prayer for Healing” and “Northward Ho” each took four consecutive days – for Northward, they were all weekdays, and ‘Prayer’ ended on a Saturday.

So… if I can manage to finish off a short every three days or so while I’m in Canada, then I’ll be almost finished when I leave for Kansas on the 24th, and will be able to squeeze in just a little time writing in between workshop sessions, or on Saturday the 30th.

Last August, I did the Camp Rebel thing, (and even gathered a group of like-minded rebels into a cabin, as I have done again this year,) but in terms of rebel progress, it was a pretty big failure. Part of it was that I had a very vague goal, “Rewrite this manuscript and change the character of Ereyu in this way…” and the Storywonk revision class that I was taking, although it was great and I learned a lot from it, wasn’t quite concrete enough to get me on the step by step path that I needed – in fact, my head was swimming with all of the stuff I learned but wasn’t quite sure how to put into practice, and it wasn’t until I discovered the other revision course, the Holly Lisle one, that I was able to find that path.

I thought about doing a rebel Camp session for Holly Lisle HTRYN classes, but figured that it might be tempting some bad juju to declare myself a rebel camp editor again – and anyway, I did plenty of that in March for NaNoEdMo. So June is about the journey of short stories.

Are you signed up for Camp Nanowrimo? If not, do you have other goals in mind for June?

The dangers of correcting your course.

May 29, 2012

I read some of my favorite comic strips online at I’ve started to read some of the comments to see what other readers think, too, and occasionally to join in the conversations.

Last week, there was a brief running series in ‘Drabble’ with Norman trying to adjust the clock in the family car to daylight savings time. And one of the readers mentioned a clock that was built into a car that he’d owned.

This clock, it seemed, was designed to automatically correct every time you adjusted it – if you set it forward, it would calculate how much time it must have lost, and start running faster. If you set it back, it would start running slower.

That sounds like a good idea at first. But apparently, there was no way to tell the clock that you were making an adjustment NOT because it had been running fast or slow, but simply because you wanted to start keeping a different time – with the beginning or end of daylight savings time every year, for instance, or when travelling across a time zone line. If you set it forward in the spring, the darn thing ran very fast for a while – until you managed to get it back on track by setting it back a few minutes at a time. And the same thing when you set it backward in the fall.

To me, that sounds like a good metaphor for how I tend to autocorrect for the opinions I receive when I’m getting critiques. If I don’t throw out a criticism entirely, I’m liable to give it too much credence, and to try to apply it as some general rule to everything I write in the future, even if it doesn’t really apply.

Of course, you have to correct your course based on what you’ve learned a little, or you’ll repeat mistakes over and over again. But it probably pays off to be hesitant rather than impulsive with that. What do you think?

‘Out of Media Res’ transitions

May 28, 2012

So, I dove into reading Jim Butcher’s “Grave Peril” this morning. I’d dipped my toe into the book back in late March, reading a bit from the first chapter, and didn’t get any further because I was trying to catch up on Elizabeth Twist’s short story challenge and just getting to some of the good parts of ‘Game of Thrones.’ So this morning, pulling out my Kindle on the bus, I started from the beginning again.

It’s an exciting opening, with Harry Dresden and a holy knight going to a big Chicago hospital to save some babies from a formidable ghost. And then, just at the most exciting part of the scene… we find out that it was an ‘In Media Res’ opening, starting in the middle of the action, or at least a point after the chronological beginning of the narrative.

A lot of the time when you have an IMR opening, it’s fairly obvious, but this one snuck up on me, partly because it wasn’t a trick Butcher had used in the previous Harry Dresden books. (Incidentally, this is also the first that I’m not reading in audiobook format, so it’s somewhat odd the way James Marsters’ voice is sticking with me, giving life to Harry’s words inside my head.) I knew that there were a few things going on that had to be explained about how Harry and Michael Carpenter got where they were, but hadn’t actually clued in that there would be flashback scenes to go along with the explanation, or that this was a flash-forward scene.

So I’ve started thinking about the moment when you come out of ‘In Media Res’, and transition back to the chronological beginning of the story. Sometimes, with a narrator in a book, he actually tells you ‘But wait, I’m going to have to back up a bit…’ or something of that sort. In a movie or television episode, there might be nothing to signal the transition but a bare caption: “23 and a half hours earlier…”

What are your favorite ‘In Media Res’ openings? Were you taken by surprise, or did you know that they were using the In Media Res technique from the start? How did they handle the transition back in time?

Six Sentence Sunday – The Shuttle 4

May 27, 2012

First six. Second six. Third six.

Thanks so much for the comments so far! There’s just been an accident on a routine flight up to a commuter space station. The engines are dead and the ship is stranded in a slightly unstable orbit…

“When will Orbital Rescue get here?” a woman in an expensive designer dress demanded from one of the most comfortable seats.

“We haven’t been given exact ETA, but I’m expecting a rendezvous in approximately four and a half hours.”

“I’ll miss my connection,” an older man said, and others near him started to grumble.

Ronny, the Chief Purser, chimed in at this point. “On behalf of the company, I apologize for the delay and inconvenience. Southwest Orbital Transit and your next carriers will do everything that they can to get you on your way with a minimum of disruption.”

Thanks very much for any feedback you can give me!

Blank pages and the eloquence of wordlessness

May 26, 2012

Vikki at ‘The View Outside’ posted about writer’s block a week ago, and included a poem from Andy Szpuk about looking at the blank page. It was a really nice poem, and reading an eloquent and poetic word picture of the sensation of not having the right words reminded me of a favorite song, “Blank Pages”, by Patricia Conroy, from her ‘Bad Day for Trains’ album. The song tells the story of someone about to leave a relationship and trying to compose either a letter or a speech to explain why. I’m not going to include the full lyrics here, but I can’t resist sharing a few of my favorite lines:

Blank pages staring at me; I don’t know what to say.
But I’ve got to tell you something before I leave today…

No, the words won’t help me to explain just how this hurts me so.
Read between the tears on these blank pages; maybe then you’ll know.

Have you ever come across the perfect words to describe the sensation of not knowing what to say or write?

It’s nearly 7 Friday evening, and I just wish I was home from work…

May 25, 2012

Feeling a little sorry for myself just at the moment. 😉 At least it looks like I may not be stuck for much longer.

Work wasn’t too bad today, was just kinduv watching the clock until a little after four thirty, a bunch of new little requests for one of our customer got sent out. (And yes, that could have been worse. I could have been the one stuck in a conference call all afternoon listening to the customer complain and trying to figure out what they wanted, but anyway…)

So, it was ten after five by the time I could finally get out of the office – not too bad, all things considered. I took public transit in today, so I walked down to the bus station near Lakeshore drive, and that was pleasant enough. Hung around listening to ‘Dogs and Goddesses’ on my Audible Otis player until the bus driver showed up to let us on, and at the stroke of six o clock, we were back on the move.

The next hint of trouble was at the Canada Center for Inland Waters stop, just before the bridge. Bus driver hung around for a few minutes there, and I wasn’t really sure why, until she drove out and onto the bridge road. The lift bridge was going up.

We’re on the other side now as I’m typing this – after waiting nearly three quarters of an hour for one sailboat and two cargo carriers, as far as I can tell. Guess when I get home, I’ll be wanting something quick and comforting to eat, watch a bit of television, and maybe I can get to bed reasonably early and get an early start on my weekend tomorrow morning.

And on the plus side, I managed to get more done than if I’d been stuck in traffic driving Ghost:

  • Nearly finished lesson 16 of ‘How to Revise your Novel.’
  • Finished a first read-through of all my stories for this week.
  • Watched half an episode of ‘One Tree Hill’ 🙂
  • And I’m posting this blog entry thanks to my iPhone personal hotspot!

What’s your worst memory of being stuck or delayed in transit?

Online Cabin Fumigation Evacuation

May 24, 2012

A lot of people who’ve already signed up for Camp Nanowrimo have been waiting as patiently as they could for their camp cabin assignments to show up on the website, and find out if they’ve been matched with the campers who they requested, or campers in their age range and genre, or if they were very brave and clicked the ‘Surprise me’ option, to find out about cabin-mates that they knew nothing at all about.

Sometime yesterday evening, a few cabin assignments started to show up – or so I believe. I actually wasn’t checking. But then, Heather Dudley posted a new Sticky thread in the Campfire Circle forum on the Nanowrimo website, calling attention to the following news:

There are bugs in the cabins! Everybody out! Dan the Man is performing mandatory fumigation on the cabins… So grab your sleeping bag, save anything you don’t want to lose from your cabin message board, and we’re sleeping under the stars tonight! 

Over the course of the day, the website has let me into a cabin, booted me out, and let me back in again – with the same other five campers – four campers that I had requested, and a buddy of one of the four. From the thread of discussion following Heather’s announcement, there’s been all kinds of excitement, joking around, frustration, disappointment, and curiosity from excited wannabe camp writers. At this point, things seem somewhat stable for many of us, but I’m going to keep a can of bug-spray next to my sleeping bag just in case. 😉

Anybody else out there looking forward to Camp Nanowrimo? Have you checked on your cabin assignments at all today?

Flash Fiction Blogfest time

May 22, 2012

I found out about this Blog-fest very late, because I happened to drop in on a Ninja who was participating. Luckily, I was up to the challenge on very little notice too! 😉

1. Entries must begin with the two words: Lightning flashed.
2. Entries must be 300 words or less and be in prose. I’m not versed enough in poetry verse to judge it properly.
3. Entries must be posted on your blog between May 21 – 23.

Lighting flashed against the horizon, a tiny fork of it in the flat distance. Robert noticed it out of the window at once, and hope leapt inside his chest. With lightning, there was rain!

By the time he’d run downstairs, the hope was quietly taunting and jeering at him. There was more lightning, and a faint rumble of thunder, and a fresh breeze blowing, but the only arcs were from that one spot in the sky. How far away was the thunder – and the water? He could wait for it – but what if the storm was moving in a different direction?

His drive all used up, Robert lay in the dust, face up, and dreamed of the patter of water droplids on his eyelids.

When the water actually came, it was in a torrenting splash, and hope fought briefly with alarm. In a downpour that heavy, would there be flooding? Would the crop be washed away, or the farmhouse?

Then the splash eased away, and he realized that his pant legs were completely dry. Robert sat up, rubbed his eyes, and saw Mary holding the garden hose. “Aww, whatcha go wasting the wet stuff like that for, watering me like I’m one of your garden projects?” he complained.

“It’s a traditional way of waking up somebody who’s making a nuisance of themselves,” Mary complained. “What did you pass out in the front lawn for, anyway? Were you out drinking at Joe’s?”

“No, I ain’t touched a drop since the last time it rained,” Robert said. Maybe that was part of his problem. “It rained last night.”

“Did not.”

“Did too – somewhere over yonder.” Robert tried to point where he’d seen the lightning, but the memory was already faded. “If it doesn’t rain here soon, the bank gets everything.”

What do you think?

Happy May two-four weekend!

May 21, 2012

It’s Victoria Day today, and the long weekend is informally known in parts of Ontario as ‘May two-four’, as the holiday falls on the Monday on or before May twenty-fourth. To me, the May long weekend has marked the start of summertime for a long while.

This weekend, I’ve had a fairly quiet weekend, sticking close to home, partly because of work stuff – we were asked to keep an eye on our email in case there were support requests from customers in the states, and my brand-new Droid work phone isn’t admitting that it has a data plan yet, so I can only check email over wi-fi. Sigh.

But it’s been a good weekend anyway – I met up with Elizabeth Twist for a coffeeshop write-in yesterday, drove around last night in a somewhat ill-fated attempt to find a parking place for the fireworks show, and I’m heading over to visit with my Mom later this afternoon. I also got some cooking done, storing away leftovers for next week and possibly longer, and finally started serious work on my new revision of my ‘Father Ismay’ story. The hobgoblins are going to get changed into wolf people, for one thing.

So, what were you up to on the weekend? If you’re in the US, do you have big plans for Memorial Day?

Six Sentence Sunday – The Shuttle 3

May 20, 2012

First six. Second six.

Dara is the pilot on a routine space shuttle trip, which has just become less than routine:

Something must have leaked just enough heat into the fuel tank for one piece of Fracture to detonate early, and that set off a chain reaction.

Dara sighed and started the emergency procedures. This was not going to be an ordinary milk run.

“There is no need to be concerned,” Dara said to the passengers and the cabin crew over the shuttle’s video screens. “Our engines are down, except for the small docking jets which will not be enough to get us to a stable orbit. However, we have six hours before our orbit will decay significantly, and Orbital Rescue and Recovery has been notified.”

Again, any feedback would be much appreciated, and thanks!

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