Finished with Block Revision – for now…

July 31, 2012

Well, it’s the last day of July, and I’ll be working on a new story for Camp Nanowrimo starting tomorrow. 🙂 Which means that I’m going to put the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course, and my Block Revision, aside until September, even though I’ve only finished 35 scenes out of fifty-seven.

Even though I’m still a little disappointed with my progress, I’m really pleased with the revision so far when I look at what I’ve accomplished in the past few weeks. I’ve rewritten the majority of those scenes in their entirety, because I could see what I wanted, but not find enough of the right words in my first draft. (sigh.) I’ve learned how to edit in pen on paper where the scene was ‘green’ enough to do that, with my own little markup notion of insert scenes from the Alphasmart Dana where needed.

I think that the break will do me good, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Holly Lisle in September… around the 4th or so, because for the first few days of September I’ll be much too busy at Dragon*Con to do any revising! 😉

I still haven’t packed up all the revision stuff on my living room table, (some of which I haven’t really used – the blank typing paper, the scotch tape and pens, most of the post-its, three colors of pens, and the jerky.) It’ll probably get packed up somewhere safe over the next few days.

So – how are your summer projects going. Is anybody else looking forward to Camp?

Six Sentence Sunday – Gotta have that look 6

July 29, 2012

It’s still all about teenagers and sci-fi cosmetics, genetic tech to modify bodies for the sake of looking good.

First Six. Second Six. Third Six. Fourth Six. Fifth Six.

I cleared my throat, brought out the pocket-Smart, and then with a shrug I just let him see the list. It wasn’t like I really had a problem talking to strangers, but that seemed easier. He scanned the list and tapped a few things on a monitor screen that was turned away from me. 

“Okay, we’ll have to test if you’ve still got growth spurt potential, but we should be able to get you to your target height in about three weeks. Do you mind if you get taller, later? Your body might have its own ideas about when it wants to grow?”

Since the cookies for comments deal was fun last time, I’m continuing it for this week. 😉

Ninja Spotlight #7 – Rose Winters

July 28, 2012

Good evening, ninjas and followers. Today, I’m very pleased to spotlight Rose Winters, author of the Plinas series.

Tell us something that’s frightened you.

*Cough-cough* Getting people I don’t know to read my work.

Are you more of a planner, or a spontaneous person?

It depends on the book I write, but normally I’m spontaneous. (Even in my life if I’m working on a good book I’m spontaneous. When I’m writing a frustrating book I’m a planner. I’m weird like that.)

Who would you go to if you desperately needed help?

I go to my best friend who is a fellow author. She reads all my work and passes it onto my other best friend-fellow author as well- and they help me with all my problems, life or writing.

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Presto card fun, one more time

July 27, 2012

Okay, as some of you might remember, I’ve ranted about the Presto transit card here before, but I’m mostly satisfied with mine lately – at least I haven’t had to worry about overriding the default trip on the GO train lately.

I still couldn’t get a monthly pass for Hamilton on it without taking time off work, but then again, I haven’t needed to. And I think that I’m going to be using it more in Hamilton, because I’ve belatedly figuring out that paying by the ride four times a week is cheaper than the monthly pass, since I never ride the Hamilton bus anymore except going to work and back. (And usually less than four times a week on average, too, now that I’ve got the car.)

And I haven’t used public transit at all in weeks, since the Toronto CSTS screening, the day before I left to go to Kansas in June. Since I got back from Kansas and Polaris, I’ve been driving to work every day, and walking to the store when I can. Partly this is because I didn’t get a July bus pass before I left town, and partly because the Block revision material is spread all over my table, so I couldn’t easily pack it up and work on it on the bus anyway, and having time to work on a writing project is part of what I like about taking the bus. If I’m driving, I can spend part of that time working at home, and the rest behind the wheel listening to an audiobook or tunes.

But I wanted to take the bus today, because it’s been so long, so I checked that I was still carrying the Presto card, and got up early enough to catch the 7:50 bus. This was the first time that I’d actually used the Presto on a Hamilton bus, but it wasn’t a different process than using it in Burlington. Swipe the card, the reader goes beep, and tells me that it’s deducting two bucks and my remaining balance is two point thirty-something. That wasn’t good, because if the cash fare to take the Burlington bus home from close to my office was two dollars fifty cents, and it was supposed to rain this afternoon.

Wait a second. Didn’t I reload the card on the Presto website before I left for the airport?

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Ninja Spotlight #6: Suze Reese

July 26, 2012

Well, suddenly it seems like I’ve got lots of Ninjas wanting a piece of the spotlight this summer! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Suze Reese.

What is your current (or next) project about? 
I’m working on Book Two in the ya paranormal romance ExtraNormal series. (No title yet). Book One is the story of Mira, a teenage girl from a planet called Nreim who gets to visit planet Earth as a student emissary. Mira’s not sure why she was chosen, since she’s considered pretty mediocre on her world. She has a bunch of rules to follow – mostly involving staying away from Earth males. She quickly starts breaking rules, which leads to a very forbidden romance. And then someone starts targeting people around her and she realizes she has to step up her game and figure out what’s going on if she’s going to protect them. Book Two starts with a new assignment on Earth, this time as an official agent along with her hot boyfriend Jesse and her best friend Geery. (Who is a fan favorite.) They start out pretty excited about the job, but it goes downhill pretty fast–from totally boring to totally dangerous.

What was the first story you wrote, (or can remember writing)?
Ooh, great question. This goes waaay back, to when I was probably five for six and had the most adorable dog – a little black cocka-poo named Bleu. I would sit and cuddle up with Bleu for hours and either draw his picture (which I was absolutely convinced were life-like) or write stories about our adventures. (Not that we had adventures beyond running around in the backyard. But I made up some great ones.) As far as a real story goes, I was about twenty-five when I decided to write an actual novel. It had great elements to it. Readers laughed and cried and I got great feedback. But it was a horrible book. I hadn’t yet learned all the elements of plotting, story structure, and things like that. I did learn a ton, however, so it was totally worth it.

How did you first find out about Ninja Writers or the Dojo?
I’m not sure exactly. But I know it was through Ali Cross. I’ve been following her career for several months and like to think of her as a friend (you do remember me, right Ali? =) She’s great at social media and supporting other authors.

I’m so honored to be here at the Dojo! I love the idea of Ninja Writers! It fits so perfectly how I feel when I’m pounding out a story. (If I could just figure out how to burn calories I’d be set.)

In fact, I’ve been going through cancer treatment for the last couple of years. (Yes, I went bald – my most frequently-asked question). ExtraNormal was just a rough draft when I got the diagnosis. This is taken from my official bio: “Meanwhile, I had decided that I (literally) lost too many brain cells to continue working on anything as complex as a manuscript. Fortunately I have an incredible support system who convinced me to at least open the file. After that I felt kind of like Rocky in his last movie when he’s an old geezer pouncing around the boxing ring doing things his aged body has no business doing.”

I can honestly say that I’m in awe with every good review I get. It’s humbling and amazing to me. And a heck of a lot of fun.

I’d love it if you’d drop by my blog and drop me a note! And while you’re there, please sign up for the I Heart YA Blog Carnival! We blog on the 2nd Tuesday every month. See you there!

This has been great! Thanks for having me!

Thanks for coming over, Suze!

Goal + Motivation + Conflict =…

July 25, 2012

In going over what I learned at the workshop in Kansas, I keep coming back to something that I heard about on a Storywonk podcase – Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It’s a good concept about how to make your narrative craft better, and I think that’s where I need to be focusing some of my attention in what’s left of this summer, possibly in connection with Camp Nanowrimo August. But I’m also not sure where to go or what to do to hone that aspect of my craft.

I’ve done a Google search on those terms, and found a bunch of interesting stuff, but unfortunately a lot of it seems to be pretty superficial – defining the terms, going into a few details about how to use them, but stopping at a screenful of information – which is about the right level of info to absorb in a blog post, but most of these places all have just about the same screenful, which is frustrating when I want to dig deeper. For the record:

  • Goal – what your character needs to have, concretely.
  • Motivation – why he needs it, on a more personal level.
  • Conflict – who or what prevents him from getting it. (Or her.)

Have you heard of these terms? Can you suggest a course that I can take, or a website where I can really delve into the mysteries of GMC, preferably with exercises and worksheets and lots of crunchy examples? 😉

A little more about my Block Revision process

July 23, 2012

Block Revision is still doing pretty well; I got up to scene 24 at Williams yesterday with Elizabeth Twist, then went back to add on to scene 20 this morning. Sometimes the going seems slow, but that’s probably just because I had the crazy notion that this was something I could plow through in a week just because Holly Lisle put it in one lesson. 😉 It’ll take as long as it takes, and I’m getting lots of great work done.

When I’m not at Williams cafe, though, I’ve been noticing that my way of approaching Block Revision has become very formal and ritualized, and that probably helps me get into the right mindset for it. It starts with the setup – making sure that the big tall lamp in the living room is plugged in. I hook my iphone up to a traveldock speaker, set the timer for 45 minutes or however long I think I have to edit in this session, and start playing the ‘Monastery’ playlist, which is almost all instrumental tunes. If I feel any need, I’ll make sure I have sugar-free koolaid in something with a screw-on lid, and some peanuts in a bowl.

Then I go to the Focus Outline cards that I had printed up from my notes, find my place, and get down to work. After comparing the sentence on the card with the pages indicated, I figure out if I can start by marking up a passage in my printed first draft, or if I need to start with fresh stuff on the Alphasmart Dana. Quite often I start and finish the scene on the Dana, without using anything from the page, just marking ‘Block Scene 22’ or whatever somewhere in the margins in blue pen, updating the page number, and doodling a little red box with an X through it, to indicate that the entire page is to be cut as-is.

I haven’t done anything with cutting and taping so far, or really used the post-it notes, and I only occasionally refer to my consistency laundry list or my worksheet printouts. Maybe I should be leaning on these more, but I’ve got a system that works and that keeps me paying attention to enough things at once already. If I’m making a mistake at this point, I probably won’t figure it out until I’m done the course.

Six Sentence Sunday – Gotta have that look 5

July 22, 2012

Thanks very much to everybody who commented last week! Yes, it’s all about sci-fi cosmetics, genetic tech to modify bodies for the sake of looking good.

First Six. Second Six. Third Six. Fourth Six.

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve been to Transform-U. They don’t let you make an appointment until you’re thirteen, so nearly everybody goes to check it out after their birthday, though you can only get a few treatments when you’re that young. I tried growing my hair out blond, having a smaller nose, and the perfect tan treatment. None of it really seemed worth paying for on a longer-term basis, so I just sort of went back to more or less the way I was born.

The sales rep who was available for a walk-in five minutes after I got there was a tall man, and his hair was starting to grow grey – I thought that was natural, but wasn’t sure about the rest of him. “So, Jimmy, what can I do for you?”

I love comments and will return cookies for each one! 😀

Ninja Spotlight #5: Eric Kent Edstrom

July 21, 2012

Hi, gang, I think it’s time for another spotlight, what about you? Tonight I’m pleased to present Eric Edstrom, a fellow Dojo Ninja who has a book out!

What does your voice sound like?

My speaking voice is somewhat breathy, not particularly loud, but filled with humor and irony. Pretty much like my writing voice.

What social class, if any, are you a part of?

I am royalty. (in my own mind)

How many Ninjas does it take to change a light bulb?

It takes one to shatter a light bulb with a throwing star. Ninja’s want it dark!

Eric Edstrom is the author of The Undermountain Saga, a YA science fiction series about a group of teens who discover bigfoot’s high-tech city deep under the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Book 2, Afterlife, was released on July 1st 2012. The final installment, Starkiller, will arrive in December 2012.

twitter: @ekedstrom

Thanks for visiting, Eric, and best of luck with Undermountain!

Block Revision progress update!

July 20, 2012

Well, I’ve got fourteen scenes done now, out of fifty-seven, and I’m excited about making more progress over the weekend. A lot of scenes were nearly-complete rewrites on the Alphasmart, which does take longer, and I was starting to get depressed about it. And then I hit three scenes this evening that I could mark up off the first draft, (along with a few inserts on one of them,) and that made me feel better that I can make it through this before the end of the year.

And it still feels good to know that I’ve got this process for tackling the revision, and so many months of prep work that I’ve done to picture the book that I want to have when I’m finished. Exciting stuff, even when I feel a bit bogged down. 🙂

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