Editing and Workshop submissions progress

January 23, 2013

Hi again, friends and followers! It’s been a pretty cold week here in Ontario, but that’s given be some time to stay inside where it’s warm and get cracking on my workshop applications stuff, including the editing. (Yay?) 😉

First off, the Missing Gnomes. I still need to sort some stuff out here, especially with my five-page synopsis, but I pitched the rough outline to the Hamilton Writer’s circle at Chester’s yesterday night, and people really seemed to love the premise, the characters, and a few people started really debating a few of the plot points – including whether my villain can actually reform and seek absolution at the end. (“Pixie crossbow to the back of the head, I’m tellin’ ya! Only way to be sure.” :D) So that was great, really helped me stay excited about that project.

What I’ve been working on tonight, though, has been the “Time Bubble Blues” story. I got something like two dozen great critiques for this story a week ago, and even though people really liked it, there was a lot to come to grips with. After taking a little while to catch my creative breath, I dove into the revision with a variant of an approach that’s worked pretty well with me for short stories before.

  • Start by re-reading all of the critiques in order, and making notes of everything that you’d like to change – not necessarily something that a critter told you to change, it could be something that you were reminded of by something they said. Leave off anything that you like the way it is.
  • Some of the items will be very concrete and easy, some extremely vague and nebulous, but that’s okay.
  • Once the critiques have all been read and the list is complete, find something that you feel confident to fix right away. Fix it, and cross it off or mark an X next to it. Then look for the next thing.
  • As you X off more of the list, the quick wins will become sparse, and maybe vanish entirely. Tackle bigger items when you feel ready for them.
  • If you need to do online research or involved planning to take care of an item on the list, do it, but don’t let yourself get distracted. If you make some changes for a nebulous item but think it’s not finished yet, mark a diagonal slash / in front of that item – that’s half of your X mark.

So, I’ve been going at my list that way for a few days, and this evening I just felt moved to blaze a slightly new trail, so I started at the beginning of the story. There was one item on my list to ‘Speed up the start, give less exposition about how the bubble operates’ so I cut as much as I could out of the first scene, before disaster strikes. Then I just kinda kept going through the storyline, adjusting everything I could think of or remember from the list, re-ordering some scenes, expanding some content and adding a few hundred words. I think I really got some great stuff done.

I guess the next thing I’ll need to do for my next editing session is go through my list and see how many more X marks I can add.


One fellow writer is better than none.

December 18, 2012

I was a little worried about showing up to the Hamilton Writer’s meeting at Chester’s beers of the world this evening, after the late-November meeting when nobody else showed up. There were a few RSVPs on Facebook over the past week or so, at least.

Not all of the RSVPs worked out, but at least one other writer, Marilyn, showed up. We chatted, had a beverage and some dinner, and read over each other’s writing samples. I brought the first nine pages of “The Gnomes are Missing”, and Marilyn had a fun little two-page piece about exploring an attic. 🙂 Since she’d had a tough time getting downtown on the bus and was worried about heading back home, I gave her a lift with Ghost once we were ready to leave.

I’m sorry that Laura wasn’t able to make it. Perhaps she stayed up at her tiny house today after all.

What process do you write in?

September 26, 2012

There was some great conversation between the four of us who showed up to Chester’s Beers of the World for the Hamilton Writers meeting last night – once they turned down the music enough that we could hear each other speak, that is. 😉

One interesting topic that came up was our choice of writing process – specifically between three very different experiences – typing on a keyboard, scribbling with a pen or pencil on paper, and speaking into a voice recorder. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to the different options.

I’m a typer; I have been since I was very young; taught myself how to go beyond two-finger hunt and peck typing, though it took proper typing lessons to cure myself of looking at the screen. I have handwriting so horrible that I can’t read it myself, and I get very nervous about the sound of my voice and my ums and uhs if I try talking into a voice recorder. But I’ve never really needed an alternative to typing – it’s a process that works very well for me.

The new gentleman who brought up this topic for conversation said that he found that a voice recorder and Dragon Naturally Speaking work very well for him – especially after he’s reached the halfway point in a story, which is where the tough part usually begins for him. He can usually cruise through the first half on a keyboard, he said, but then gets blocked if he can’t talk it through. Another writer that I’ve known for many years mentioned that she associates keyboards as a tool for a day job, not a part of her writing process, so she writes her first drafts out in longhand.

Have you found the process that works for you? Is there some special subprocess within those big three that you write best with, (a particular keyboard device, that perfect notebook paper, or whatever?) Do you ever wish that you could find a better process than the one you’re writing with now?

The writers of Hamilton

December 7, 2011

I had a great time at the Hamilton Writers meeting last night, at Chesters’ beers of the world. There was a good turnout, eight of us, with a mix of HW regulars, friends of mine from the Hamilton Nanowrimo group who were coming for the first time, and one other guy who was an occasional member of both groups.

There was some great conversation as we assembled – Laura talking about her tiny house, and I showed my Holly Lisle manuscript notes to anybody who would take a look. Many burgers and fries were eaten, and beer was brought.

Then, it was sharing time. I went first, with most of the revised Father Ismay story, and Rob gave us another chapter of his thriller. Then Gale booted up her little netbook and read from the opening of “Murder in the Parish”, her Nanowrimo mystery story from this year, and Alex read something that he was working on involving a guy who has a UFO encounter and gets spooky powers.

It was just a great time spent with nearby fellow writers. We all need some every now and then.

Quick Nanowrimo update: Day 8

November 8, 2011

Feeling back on track again. I realized yesterday that I’d overcounted by about 100 words on Sunday and missed a few weekend milestones that I thought I hit, and then yesterday evening I was tired and didn’t feel like writing much when I got home. This morning I was all excited to write on the bus – and then the bus was 25 minutes late and got really crowded because it was essentially carrying two full loads, so I didn’t have enough elbow room to use the Alphasmart. Ended up just reading the whole way on the palmpilot.

But I crossed the 20k line on the bus ride home, and I’m off to the first unofficial write-in at Chester’s beers of the world. Whoo-hoo!

How’s your November writing journey going so far?

And I’m back home.

July 11, 2011

It’s good to be back in Canada.

I’m still a bit tired from the trip and all the excitement of Kansas. Took me a while to get back into the swing of things with work – and it didn’t help that my Blackberry didn’t want to take any emails when I powered it up today.

My creative energy still isn’t really focused yet, but hopefully that won’t last too long. There’s lots of great new stuff sort of still swirling around in my head, but I’ve got projects that I committed to for July, and I don’t want to let them all slide. Tomorrow night is Hamilton Writer’s at Chester’s Beers of the world, so that should hopefully be fun. I’ve printed out copies of the scene assignment to read there.

On a sadder note, I left “The Prisoner of Azkaban” in the seat pocket of my Continental Airlines flight from Kansas City to Cleveland yesterday afternoon, so the Harry Potter posts may get delayed until I pick up a new copy.

The tiny violin that went canoeing.

June 8, 2011

Well, I think it’s time to share another quick little prompt story. Like a lot of the writing that I’ve shared here, this came from the Hamilton Writer’s meeting at Chester’s Beers of the World, in early May.

Nobody had prepared any prompts ahead of time, so I actually used my iphone to get a few random writing prompts for everybody, and I think that they worked out pretty well. The prompts were:

A sleeping bag, an old record player, and a poem.
A tiny violin that went canoeing.

Here’s what I came up with based on that.


“I wish we could have brought the turntable,” Emily muttered as she looked over the clearing and the cozy tent that they’d managed to set up.

“Shall I compare my love to a vintage record?” John said. “The depths of my heart are scratchier and less bored…”

“Spare me the poetry,” she grumbled. “It’s just a good night for music, and I’d prefer something that doesn’t come out of that portable radio. They never play anything good on the FM band out here, anyway.”

“We could sing,” he offered, looking through the duffel anyway.

“I sing a quarter note flat, and you sing a quarter note sharp,” she pointed out. “We don’t make beautiful music together, at least not that way.”

“What the hell – why is this still in the bag?” he exclaimed, bringing a little black case out of the long duffel.

“Umm… well, I thought that was your manly shaving kit or something.”

“Who puts manly shaving gear in a minature violin case?”

“I dunno, somebody who wants to pretend to be a very short gangster? What is it? It was in the case already, from that trip you took to the convention in the city I assumed.”
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The socks left behind

March 4, 2011

This was from a prompt writing exercise at the Hamilton Writer’s group (Chester’s beers of the world,) over a year ago. As always, feedback greatly appreciated.

There’s a wormhole that opens up in the top drawer of the dresser and swallows socks. Nobody knows where it leads, but any sock that goes through that hole in the space-time continuum is never seen or heard from again.

Everybody in the whole dresser knows about it, and even the dress shirts and pants that get put on plastic hangers in the closet have heard the stories as they go through the laundry. New socks, fresh from the store, shake when they first find out, and hope that they’ll be left in the laundry basket after they’re washed and dried, just so that they don’t have to get put away in the top drawer.

But I’m not afraid of the top drawer. That wormhole has already taken everything it can from me. It’s not going to take what’s left of me.

I’m a gray dress sock with black horizontal stripes, and I’ve lived in the top drawer of that dresser for three years.

Sometimes I do dwell on the wormhole, concocting overly elaborate plans to track a fresh white tube sock as it gets sucked away, to find out what’s on the other end, or to implode the wormhole permanently. But I know that that’s all melodramatic nonsense. I’m a sock for god’s sake, and a lone sock at that. There’s nothing I can do against forces of that kind.

Lately, I’m often the one who tells the facts of life in the top drawer to the new purchases. The white briefs snicker as the story is retold – they know that they’re untouchable, although some of them have seen dozens of innocent socks get snatched.

Occasionally a fresh sock, a deep navy blue one perhaps, will ask if there’s any way for a sock to be safe. I know the answer to that, and I’m honest enough to tell them, although that’s the answer that breaks my heart.

“The vortex will never suck away a sock once its mate has already been taken, kid,” I tell them. “What do you think about that?”


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