A Friday roundup.

March 1, 2013

I’ve got nothing big to blog about today, so I’m just going to quickly share a few things that have been going on in my life and writing lately:

  • Finally got the car back today! When I took it in for collision repair on Tuesday morning, I was hoping I’d be able to pick it up Wednesday evening, but what with the somewhat wet weather they didn’t get the paint dry until this morning. It’s so pretty though! And it was interesting to go through a few days without having access to the car–I’ve been relying on it more and more lately, especially being able to use it when I have appointments or the weather is bad. Instead, I had to struggle with public transit through one day with messy weather, and one day with a dental filling in the afternoon, sigh.
  • I got my last summer workshop application sent in: Synopsis and sample pages of “The Gnomes are Missing” emailed to Kij Johnson for the CSSF Novel writer’s program. I’m looking forward to hearing back from all my workshop opportunities, and big thanks to Rinelle and Elizabeth Twist for critiquing my synopsis several times and making it much better!
  • The final revision pass of “Won’t somebody think of the children?” is finally done; one day late, compared to my target, but there was a lot to do, especially taming my crazy punctuation. I have a tendency to use a ‘space hyphen space’ combination in my writing for a brief pause, and in fact I used it twice by this point in the post, but went back and changed them. Because that is a combination that is wrong according to every style authority I can find, I’m putting myself on a zero tolerance program for it in my revisions; I can use proper M-dashes, I can use colons or semicolons or commas or periods or ellipses, but no hyphens as pauses. So I started off NaNoEdMo this evening by fixing a few hundred hyphens-as-pauses from ‘Children.’ I’ll be sending off the completed draft to two critters.org critiquers in the morning.
  • I’m really pleased with my progress in my ‘February month of drawing.’ I still have a few sketches to share with you, more negative space stuff, (a basketball pose and a chair from life,) but I haven’t taken the workbook in to work to scan them yet, so hopefully that’ll be Monday evening.
  • Didn’t do so well with ‘How to Think Sideways’ – I got started on lesson 1, but didn’t have time to finish it, and it might be a while before I get back to it, what with NaNoEdMo and Camp Nanowrimo and what-have you.
  • I may be loaning the Kindle to my mom, because she’s been wondering about getting an E-reader of her own. It’ll be odd not having it around for a week or so, but I’m happy to help. 🙂
  • And it’s only a week until the Trek TNG reunion Comicon in Toronto! I’m not hugely excited for this one, because money’s tight and I’m a bit tired of the high prices, but I’ll be heading in for Saturday, checking out a few Q&As, and looking for Buffy season 9 graphic novels.

So – what’s up with you lately? How’ve ya been?

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Six Sentence Sunday: The Gnomes are Missing, 10

January 27, 2013

It’s the last Six Sentence Sunday ever from sixsunday.com . I’d like to thank everybody who’s ever given me feedback, and the admins at sixsunday.com for helping me meet so many fellow writers and bloggers.

Last time, Kinwer accidentally mentioned Gibbs, his missing gnome friend, in front of his sister’s fiancee.

First Six Second Six Third Six Fourth Six Fifth Six Sixth Six Seventh Six Eighth Six Ninth Six

 

“I told you that you shouldn’t be spending time with those folk, Kinwer,” Father said. “You’ve got enough to keep you busy…”

“I don’t have any other friends!” Kinwer exclaimed. “Not since you pulled me out of school. As long as I get the work done, what’s it to you if I talk to a gnome? He’s the only one who understands me at all – and he didn’t come out of the mound this morning and I’m worried that something horrible happened to him.”

Thank you for your feedback, and I hope to see you all around the blogosphere sometime!

 


Out of my five-page depth…

January 24, 2013

Well, after putting it off, for a while, I finally checked out this link that Elizabeth Twist left me over at Stringing Words for my five-page synopsis on “The Gnomes are Missing.” And there’s really great stuff, so much really great stuff, (warning, it’s a link to the ‘5-page synopsis’ category on Anne Mini’s blog, and it looks like she’s posted about synopses of all lengths a LOT!)

So I’m kinduv at that point where I know most of what I thought about writing a five-page synopsis before today is wrong, and I’ve got some notion of what I should actually be doing, but not enough to feel actually comfortable giving it the old college try. Sigh.

Probably I just need to sleep on it and get back to this at the Power Center tomorrow – hopefully Elizabeth will be coming too and I can pick her brain about what she got from reading the Anne Mini stuff. (Unless she’s decided the weather is good enough to go frolicking with her dog instead. 😉 )

One thing that might be good is that I think I was actually on the right track when I went ‘off-script’ Tuesday evening and just talked to the Hamilton Writer’s Circle about what excited me about the Missing Gnomes story, instead of reading the plot outline point by point. If I can get the heart of that impromptu speech down into Roughdraft, and then expand some of the scene that excite me the most even more, then I think I’ll be well on my way.

I’m not sure if this is necessary, but I do think it’s worth doing. I’m sure Kij Johnson knows how to write a kick-ass 5-page synopsis. She may not expect everybody applying to her workshop to know that yet, but I suspect those who do will earn a point in her books. Now that I know more about the target I’m aiming for, I’m one step closer.


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.

 


Six Sentence Sunday: The Gnomes are Missing, 9

January 20, 2013

Happy Six Sentence Sunday, everybody! Next week will be the last SSS under the current dynasty. I’ve been posting sixes on Sunday for more than a year now, and it’ll be like the ending of an era.

Last time, Kinwer accidentally mentioned Gibbs, his missing gnome friend, in front of his family and his sister’s fiancee. Just to warn you, I’ve been revising this part recently, so I might have repeated or tweaked something.

First Six Second Six Third Six Fourth Six Fifth Six Sixth Six Seventh Six Eighth Six

Father turned and glared at Kinwer, and mother muttered something to him under her breath. Father didn’t like Kinwer talking to the gnomes about anybody, even family – and Zaffaran was ‘almost family.’ Zaffaran seemed to be a little upset too, but he forced a wide and friendly smile on his face. “Yes, what’s wrong with your gnome friend?”

“Umm, it doesn’t matter.”

“Are you sure?” Zaffaran said, and looked around at the rest of the family.

Thank you so much for reading. Even though it’s months yet to Easter, I’ll be handing out chocolate eggs to anybody who leaves feedback this week. 🙂


Looking for my Gnomes in new places

January 9, 2013

Well, I finally got around to reading through some of the critiques I got back in December for the first sample chapter of “The Gnomes are Missing.” There were some very nice things said in all those emails I got from critterfolk, and a few problems raised that I have to agree with.

I took a little while to think about it, and decided that I needed to turn the project around at this point. When I started with ‘Gnomes’ in late November, I really hadn’t planned it at all beyond ‘Hey, this will be a great thing to write now that I’m done with “Snow Job,” and maybe I can send it to CSSF novels.’ I took maybe 15 minutes to organize a few character thoughts at a local write-in and then dived into the first scene.

So, now, I’m going back to the drawing board. Based on what I’ve discovered about the Gnomes and their friends in Nanowrimo, and what people have said via critters and Six Sentence Sunday, I’ve started a new list of characters, changing around some of the personalities and relationships I began with in Discovery. Next I’m planning to do the five-page plot synopsis, (or as many pages as I can wring out of myself,) and then go back to rewrite the sample chapters with a clearer idea of where I want the story to go.

It’s going to be hard to put some elements of my trial run aside, but I’m also excited!


I’m all crittered out. (For now…)

January 7, 2013

Well, once again I’ve been racing to finish critiquing 10 different pieces of writing from the critters.org workshop queue, to earn the award that’s given out every week for “Most Productive Critter.” I like to shoot for an MPC every so often, mostly because the prize is a pass to go directly to the front of the queue of submitted stories, which can come in handy. The usual wait to get something critiqued on critters.org is a month, and I often get impatient when I have something new that I want to get feedback on.

The last time I earned an MPC, I kept the pass in my pocket for months, until I actually used it to see what the critters thought of the opening to “The Gnomes are Missing.” I actually haven’t really gone through all the critiques I got for ‘Gnomes’ yet, but they’re sitting in my gmail, and then I immediately sent ‘Time Bubble Trap’ through to be critiqued. TBT is going to be sent out Wednesday of this week.

And if I get a new MPC this week, I’m going to use it to get the new revision of “Storm Mirror” out next week – so I’ll have critters feedback on all three pieces I’ve been thinking of for workshop applications. Whoo-hoo!

Getting critiques of your own writing is obviously a good way to improve it, but I’ve found that critiquing other writers via critters has also helped me learn a lot. I’ve sortuv developed a sort of a pattern, which helps when I’m trying to get lots of critiques done quickly but still make them as helpful as possible to the authors:

  1. Read through the story or excerpt, making notes about anything that occurs to me but trying to look at the big picture, not the nits. (Kindle is great for reading to critique!) Read the rest of this entry »

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: Workshop Applications

January 2, 2013

Hey, everybody, it’s time for the January 2013 edition of Insecure Writers’ Support Group. At least this time I don’t need to feel insecure about missing the date – I actually got the moment of ‘Did I forget’ yesterday, just as I was posting yesterday’s blog about 2013 goals. Then I remembered that it was only Tuesday, and set an extra reminder to do IWSG today.

But I definitely have something to feel insecure about, because I’m facing the prospect of choosing samples of my work to compete with other sci-fi and fantasy writers from across the continent and around the world, to represent the best I can accomplish and my hopes for a rare opportunity to learn from extremely talented published writers and editors. Yeah. Once again, I’m applying to summer writing workshops.

This year, I’ve got four different programs on my list:

Each of them calls for something different in terms of a writing sample – Clarion asks for two stories, Odyssey for no more than 4000 words, Clarion West for 20 to 30 pages. CSSF Novels wants the first 5-10 pages and a synopsis. So I’ve been trying to come up with material for all of them.

I started the sample pages for ‘The Gnomes are Missing’ in the last week of Nanowrimo, and I’ve been sharing snippets of them on Sundays ever since. During December, I started a new short, “Time Bubble Trap”, that will hopefully be my sample for Odyssey and half of my sample for Clarion. I’ve also been working on a new draft of “The Storm Mirror” for Clarion and Clarion West – the problem is, at the moment it’s too long, still around 8000 words and Clarion doesn’t want any stories over 6500.

I don’t know if any of this writing is going to be good enough to get me into exclusive programs like these, but I do feel secure enough in my dreams to keep trying and see. This summer is one opportunity that I won’t be able to take if I hesitate and miss the applications deadlines – though if I don’t make it this time, there’s always 2014.


Six Sentence Sunday: The Gnomes are Missing, 5

December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays and Merry Six Sentence Sunday to you all. After this week, it looks to me like we have five Six-Sundays before they end – January 27, 2013 will be the last SSS.

We’re still in a flashback, with my main character, Kinwer, meeting his first Gnome friend:

“So if you’re eleven… how long until you’re full grown? They say that men don’t live as long as we do.”

“I might be as tall as I’m going to get by the time I’m seventeen.” Kinwer counted on his fingers. “I’ll be a man by law once I’m fourteen.”

“Gosh,” Gibbs repeated.

Thank you very much for reading! I’ll try to send out Xmas presents or cards to everybody who comments!


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.


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