I’ll give this a try – Ready Set Write!

August 11, 2014

Well, I spotted this blogging thing and decided to join in. Apparently calling it a ‘writing intensive’ is enough for everybody else doing it, though that phrase makes me ask ‘an intensive what?’ 😉 But they’ve got good headings of what to share, so here goes.

How I did on Last Week’s Goals

Well, I didn’t post any RSW goals last week, because I didn’t do it, and the goals I sent to Team Ambitious were for that two-week round, all about revision, and I didn’t really get anything done on them yet. But–I started a new story! And I did some work on the ‘How to Think Sideways’ course and worked on two story critiques, so that’s not nothing.

My Goals for This Week

Finish the draft of the xylophone story. Make some kind of measurable revision progress.

Favorite Line from my WIP

This is half a paragraph, but I can’t resist sharing it all:

“Petra was at the near end of the near bench, and at the far end of the other was Angelo, looking like he thought he was in charge–as always. He waved for Nicholas to come and join them, but Nicholas had a better authority to follow. Yes, even a cat was better at being in charge than Angelo.”

The Biggest Challenge I Faced This Week

Getting over the post-workshop crash from TNEO week in New Hampshire, especially since it was such a busy and stressful workshop–in good ways, but still I was tired when I got back home.

Something I love about my WIP

The idea I came up with during the A-Z challenge. This is the Xeroxxing Xylophone idea. I got some great help from Jeanne and others during the TNEO brainstorming session fleshing it out.

Okay, I guess that’s it for me. Click here if you want to join in, or check out other writers doing Ready Set Write!

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May round-up: Thinking Sideways

May 31, 2013

Well, May is almost over, and one of the things I’m pleased that I tackled, (along with getting ready for Odyssey!) is my ‘How to Think Sideways’ lessons. I’d only just started lesson 1 back in February, never really got back to it through EdMo and Camp Nanowrimo, but I did some gangbuster Thinking Sideways in May!

I’ve even gone through the lesson material… well, maybe not strictly sideways, but I went through and did it my own way, maybe just because I’m too dense to have figured out the right ‘sideways’ path from the start. 🙂 You see, in HTTS Ultra there’s a couple of different elements to each lesson. There’s the lesson itself, in ebook or PDF format, which comes with worksheets to go through the main exercises on. That’s all there was to the old ‘HTTS Direct’ (which has now been discontinued,) which I got for Christmas from my sister and her family.

Since I upgraded to the Ultra course, though, there’s a few other elements to each lesson, like DVD bonus material. First, there’s the walkthrough, which has videos, audio files, and cool graphics; each walkthrough step has a section where Holly shows us what she’s working on with a creative project or two, tying in the same concepts that are in the core lesson, and discussion questions for people who are doing the walkthrough at the same time, and a ‘hotseat’ interview with a student writer who’s volunteered to have Holly help them out with a writing challenge that they face, for the edumacation of us all.

There’s also the Quick Fixes, which are little audio files describing useful techniques and worksheets to use them with, and a few other Ultra video files.

So, I went through the core lessons up to lesson six, where I sortuv ran aground on the ‘Amazon River’ exercise; I understand the description of the technique, but I’m not really sure how to apply it to the stories I’ve been working on this month or anything else I’m doing at the moment. The workgroup forum for Lesson Six had a prominent sticky thread for ‘The Fireside chat’, which was actually part of the lesson through walkthrough, but it took me a lot of exploring in the Ultra classrooms before I found that, and I haven’t actually gotten to it yet. First, I went through all the bonus videos and the Quick Fixes up to #6. Then, I finally found the walkthrough, and I’m still partway through the walkthrough for lesson three. It’s great stuff; I love actually getting to see Holly and hear her voice, after just getting to know her as words on the page in ‘How to Revise your Novel’ and the core HTTS lessons.

I’m not sure how much I’m going to keep tackling HTTS during June. Probably it isn’t wise to put too much time and energy into these lessons while I’m getting ready for Odyssey… but I never said I was wise, did I? 😉 And definitely I’m going to be really busy learning other things about writing once I get to New Hampshire.

I’m definitely going to keep the techniques that I’ve learned from ‘How to Think Sideways’ in mind when it comes to Odyssey, though; especially Calling Down Lightning. That one could certainly come in handy for my Odyssey writing assignments!


Surprising news about my Muse!

May 15, 2013

Over the weekend, I started working on How to Think Sideways lesson three, which involves a really cool brainstorming exercise, “Calling down Lightning”, and talks a lot about getting to know your muse better. The brainstorming went really well; I came up with two good ideas over a few waking hours and one night of sleep on the weekend, and I think I’ve got another today that I’m going to start this evening for a short fiction contest.

But I was definitely startled by some of the things I learned about my muse. For one thing, I found out that it wants to be able to communicate by talking to me out loud. I’ve suggested a few ground rules on that so that I don’t blurt out a story idea in a situation where it would be awkward to explain what I was blathering on about, but in general I liked the concept.

I was wondering about a picture for my muse too, and at first I didn’t come up with anything but the old standby I’ve told you about before, and I got the sense that my muse wasn’t really wild about looking like Liz Parker, but didn’t suggest anything different over the weekend. At some point yesterday or the day before, I walked into the living room, noticed some of my stuffed animals sitting on the stereo, and idly remarked, “Maybe some of you guys  could be the face of my muse.”

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To which Ember, the golden owl with the smart black bow tie, shot back, (with my voice,) “Who says that isn’t what we’ve been all along?”

That really got me thinking. I know that a lot of people, writers or no, might think of having stuffed animals around, talking to them, and having them talk back, as something childish that should be stopped before you enter your teen years. My mother and I definitely wouldn’t agree with that sentiment. She has some beloved teddy bears of her own, and while I don’t know how much she talks to them while I’m not around, she usually doesn’t mind chatting with them if I do.

We even have two small stuffed bears who have become a package deal; Almond was mine and Praline Mom’s, but now they shuffle back and forth between our homes, seldom splitting up. They look fairly similar, maybe six inches long or so with brownish coats, but lying on their bellies in a sortuv polar-bear-like pose. And there have been a few moments when I wonder if Almond and Praline are ship-teasing us, dropping hints that their relationship is a teddy bear romance and not just a close friendship, but never admitting anything straight out. 🙂

I never really thought of stuffed animals in terms of my muse or my inspiration before, but considering the fact that my muse wanted to speak to me out loud, and that since I was little I’ve been speaking for teddy bears and other stuffed animals with my own voice, there’s probably a deep connection there. And big thanks to my parents, for never telling me that that spark of imagination, that suspension of disbelief, that can give a teddy bear or stuffed cat a personality of its own is something I have to give up in order to grow up. I’m sure that spending all this time with them has helped me keep my creative edge in ways that I never guessed.


How to Draw your SSM

May 10, 2013

No, not that SSM. After a few false starts, I’m finally making progress on my new Holly Lisle ‘How to Think Sideways’ lessons. I asked my family for this course for Christmas, and my sister’s side came through, paying for my first eight lessons! Thanks, sis.

I remember I took a stab at lesson one back in February sometime, downloading the worksheets before going off to Williams for a write-in with Elizabeth and Nixy, and I got through at least one exercise that day, the shadow room, which is a lot of fun. I think I did my first visual clustering exercise back in February, or maybe squeezed it into May when I was sick and tired of editing. But my attempts to get some Thinking Sideways done during April were completely squeezed out by Camp Nano. (Getting to 50k in a month is never as easy as I think it’ll be.)

But I’ve been going a little gangbusters on HTTS since May started, finishing lesson 1 in a few days, (where you’re introduced to four fearsome villains of the mind: Safe, Perfect, Victim, and Feel–doing battle with each in an introductory exercise.) On Sunday afternoon,  I touched based with Elizabeth about her own experiences with the first few lessons in the course, and read through lesson 2. The next day, I started the lesson 2 homework: a giant six-page cluster of free association that Holly calls a Sweet Spot Map, or SSM for short.

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My first SSM is almost complete now. There’s a starting ‘node’ on each of the pages: Things I love, things I fear, things that make me shiver, and so on. From these six starting places, you just let your brain free-wheel and draw your own things to connect, creating a big cluster of things, names, and concepts that make sense in your own inscrutable brain. It’s a lot of fun.

I’m not quite sure what I do with this map now. That’s in lesson 3. 🙂

 


I sold somebody on How To Think Sideways – and bought into it myself

March 15, 2013

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Cheerfully,
Holly

That’s the email that came through around 4 pm this afternoon. If you bought something from my links to the Holly Lisle sale from a few days ago… thanks so much! I hope you get a lot of benefit out of the course. And I’d love to hear from you in the comments (or privately at chriskelworth at gmail dot com if you’d prefer.)

Myself, I’d been wavering up until this morning, but I finally signed up to the How to Think Sideways ‘Bring your own lessons’ plan: This means that it doesn’t include the original 29 lessons, which you can buy a la carte on Holly’s side, or through Amazon or Nook stores through her HTTS Direct program. My sister and her family got me the first 8 HTTS Direct lessons for Christmas. But the ‘Ultra Bring your own lessons’ package includes all the extra stuff beyond the basic lesson handouts – permanent passes to the HTTS student forums, examples of the process from Holly’s own books, audio and video materials, and bonus lessons.

I hadn’t been sure if I needed that, but decided to dive on in. I also scored a bunch of HTTS Direct courses – from nine through twenty-four, which seemed like a good place to stop for today because lesson twenty-five was quick revision stuff, and as you know, I’ve already been through Holly’s big revision course. 😀

So I’ve got lots of course stuff to go through, when I find the time of course. What else? Oh, I’ve officially starting my victory lap for ‘How to Revise Your Novel’ – while “Children” is out with critiquers, I’ve begun going through lesson 1 with “The Angel’s Charlie”, a very different kind of book, but one that I have high hopes for revising.

Lots of cool Holly Lisle-ish stuff goin’ on.


Holly Lisle has an Ultra sale on!

March 12, 2013

Full disclosure: After months and months of raving about Holly Lisle courses here on the blog just because I think they’re amazing, I’ve decided to see if I can actually promote them effectively to my friends and followers. So all the links in this post are tagged with my Holly Lisle affiliate ID: if you follow the links and buy anything from Holly’s site, then she kicks some of the money back to my Paypal account, which I can then spend on my next courses, and so on. Everybody wins. 😉

And the reason I’m bringing this up now is because Holly’s having a big sale. She’s launched a really cool upgrade to her How to Think Sideways course, with one cool bonus lesson already released and dozens more in the pipeline. For three days, she’s offering How to Think Sideways Ultra at the 2011 prices, before raising them to reflect all the new material on Friday. I’ve only gotten partway through lesson 1 of HTTS, but I think it’s really good stuff, and I’m seriously considering upgrading to the full course before this offer runs out. For anybody who’s been considering getting a Holly Lisle course but wasn’t sure, this is a great moment to commit!

What if you sign up and decide the course isn’t for you? Holly guarantees that you can quit at ANY time and receive a full refund of your current lesson and all remaining paid-for lessons. No questions, no hassle.

You have nothing to lose. And even by trying out the course, you’ll learn more about the process of writing- even if it’s just that Holly’s process doesn’t work for you.

Here’s the blurb for the first bonus lesson:
If you’ve ever sat staring at the blinking cursor, trying to find the right, the perfect, the one and only way to start your story (or your chapter, or your day’s writing), trying to will words onto the page…

…Discover the PERMANENT five-minute fix for this problem—the technique Holly uses to get words quickly on days when SHE’S having a hard time getting started.

Five minute fix. Lose the agony.

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? 😉

 


A Christmas gift of battery power

December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays again, friends and followers. December the 25th is almost over in this time zone, and I hope you had a great Christmas, (or an alright day, if you don’t celebrate Christmas today.)

I went up to Kitchener to celebrate with my family, and had a great time – catching up, exchanging presents, throwing things at each other in the traditional Christmas wrapping paper fight, then a great turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, and dessert after.

But the present that I’m thinking about wasn’t something that anybody in my family set out to buy for me, but just a simple favor of a moment’s time that was given without hesitation.

As I’ve probably mentioned several times, my Alphasmart Dana has been having some issues for several months now. I think I first  noticed it in the spring, with little things – it was taking more time to respond after powering on and showing weird screens occasionally. Over the months, as I used it to work on short stories, to do Block Revision and start the first draft of “The Witches of Arion,” it became clear that the battery was no longer as strong as it once was, and all of the other issues might relate to insufficient power.

During November, I got to the point where I was nervous about losing my words on the Dana in the middle of a write-in, so I started taking the netbook instead, and I backed up frantically after every screen when doing the Block Revision for “Storm Mirror.”

Now, the Dana comes with a rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack, and on my particular unit, the battery compartment was screwed shut with a tiny screw that I’d never been able to loosen. Today, I packed Dana along with my Christmas cards and wrapped presents, and asked my brother-in-law for his help. He’s an engineer, a generally handy guy, and I was pretty sure he owned more screwdrivers than I did.

Quickly the two of us and Dana were down in his basement, and after trying half a dozen screwdrivers he found one that worked. Together we figured out how to pry the rechargeable battery pack out of the compartment, and unclip it from the power cable. He even had some AA batteries sitting around, and we were able to use them as a replacement power source, (which is an option listed in the Alphasmart manual.)

 

 

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I’m not sure where I go next with my Dana. Probably it’ll be worth using it with the AA batteries for a while to see how much they last, and I’ll look around to see where I can get a replacement recharge pack here in Canada, and how much it’ll cost. But I feel blessed just to know that this wonderful writing tool has more life left in it, that I wasn’t going to see it fade further and further away until it couldn’t even write a single word for me.

I also got eight lessons in Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Think Sideways’ course from my sister! Not quite sure when I’m going to be able to focus on these, especially since I haven’t finished ‘How to Revise your Novel’ yet, but I’m sure I’ll have fun when I get to them. Oh, and here’s a picture of the Christmas tree, just because it’s nice.

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