A special Nanowrimo Spotlight: The Journeyman’s Letter!

November 18, 2015

A surprise change of pace today, friends and followers! Instead of an interview, I wanted to link you to today’s episode of the Parsec-award-winning podcast, “The Journeman Writer.”

Today’s installment is a must-listen for anybody doing Nanowrimo, any writers, probably anybody with creative aspirations at all!

The Journeyman Writer 125: A Letter To You

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Generating creative magic

January 14, 2014

So, I’ve been working for a while at the Storywonk Making Magic class. It’s taken me a little while to get into the magic groove, actually, (odd since I’m such a fantasy fan,) but there’s some great stuff in the course. I totally recommend it, especially for the encouraging tips Lani has about different ways to go out and hunt your magic; activities to help you get in touch with your muse, and sort out the inspiration you need for this particular book.

The first big exercise was the soundtrack. I love using music to fuel my inspiration, and Lani had some good tips for how to pick a good soundtrack, and avoiding the dangers of using something with too many memories that don’t really fit the book. On the other hand, I found I had some problems with her approach of going out and finding brand new music, because it takes me too long to figure out how I feel about a new song. So for my ‘Alien Love on a Kitchen Scale’ soundtrack, I ended up going through the ‘mid-tier’ of my music collection, considering a bunch of songs that I kinda liked but hadn’t rated with high numbers of stars. A few B-list songs snuck in there, mostly because I couldn’t shake the fact that they’d shown me something important about my characters, and I had to work for a few days cutting the list down to a length that seemed reasonable. Here’s the final soundtrack, more or less in the order of priority I was using to axe the last few stragglers:

  • Love Is My Witness, by Amanda Marshall
  • Clueless, by Billy Gilman
  • If My Life Was a Movie, by Steve Fox
  • That Was Us, by Alexz Johnson
  • Clocks, by Coldplay
  • Not That Different, by Collin Raye
  • Variations 1-4, by Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • More Love, by the Dixie Chicks
  • Snow Globe, by Chely Wright
  • Benefit of Doubt, by Chris Cummings
  • I Just Came Back From a War, by Darryl Worley
  • Waiting For Angels, by the Ennis Sisters
  • Haunted (Acoustic version) by Taylor Swift
  • Life For Rent, by Dido
  • I Wonder, by Aaron Pritchett
  • St John’s Waltz, by Ron Hynes
  • Blown Away, by Carrie Underwood
  • Summertown Road, by Brad Johner
  • Must To Be Free, by The Watchmen
  • Reasons Why, by Nickel Creek

Read the rest of this entry »


I’m on Storywonk Sunday! (Or is it Monday?)

May 28, 2013

First off, as Odyssey approaches, I’ll probably be posting a bit less frequently, and definitely a bit shorter. I don’t think I’ll be able to kick the blogging addiction cold turkey though!

And a really cool note for today; Lani and Alastair played a voice-mail from me on this week’s Storywonk Sunday! You can download the MP3 off the Storywonk site or from iTunes, (yeah, it’s a nice long episode this week,) and they introduce me around the 9:20 mark of “StoryWonk Sunday 48: Someone is Wrong on the Internet” 😀  They even have some awfully nice things to say about li’l ol’ me.

 


I feel like a true Story wonk now!

February 22, 2013

It should surprise none of my faithful friends and followers here that I’m a huge fan of the Storywonk podcasts with Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens. A little while back I submitted a question on the Storywonk.com forums, and this week Lani and Alastair really got on a roll!

It’s a great episode, including the jokes about how nice Canadians are, and shoutouts to myself and to Elizabeth Twist, who I mentioned when introducing the questions. (I’m not sure if Lani and Alastair know that we’re both Canadian or if that was just a random coincidence.) There’s three listener questions and a follow-up ramble about reader expectations in the episode, and I’m the second, so  the stuff about my question is mostly in the middle-ish of the MP3 file. They go to town explaining the differences between problem and conflict that were confusing me, (and the trouble with the capital T Trouble,) and share some interesting thoughts about Man versus Himself contrasted against Man versus Nature, both of which might be applied to The Time Bubble Blues.

So surf on over and give that podcast a listen!


Trying to glide through the Crash

December 3, 2012

On the walk to the downtown bus stop tonight, I was catching up on some of the last Storywonk Nano podcasts that I didn’t listen to during November, (I can never be prompt with podcasts,) and in one of them, Lani and Alastair were warning about the post-Nano Crash.

I think I hit the Crash over the weekend. On Saturday it wasn’t too bad – I was still high on sugar from Waffle-palooza, I did some grocery shopping, had some chicken schnitzel, and went into Toronto for a Browncoats shindig. Yesterday was a bit tougher. I felt as if I had a headache for most of the day, tried to nap but couldn’t stay in bed long, and didn’t get much done except for catching up on a few episodes of ‘Suburgatory.’

Lani said that you have to respect the Crash, that if you try to run from the Crash it will come get you. Now, even before I heard this, I wasn’t feeling particularly Crashed today – I did watch some videos on the bus to Burlington instead of diving back into ‘How to Revise your Novel’ or anything, but I felt fairly full of energy at work. On the bus ride home, I pulled out the eeePC and surfed through old word count tracking spreadsheets, trying to find promising short stories to rewrite for my workshop submissions, even though I think I have two strong candidates. Looking for other options is part of what helps me feel more confident in the choices that I already had.

So, I don’t think I’m going to just sit through my crash. I’ll take the December goals a bit on the easy side until I’m sure that I’m through the stormy weather, but a little gliding doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

What about you? Have you hit the Crash yet? What are your plans?

PS: I also want to mention, I’m kinduv liking the new National Novel Writing Month iPhone case that I got at the Night of Writing Dangerously. It’s a rigid case, with a bit less coverage than the big bulky Otter case I’ve been using, which means I can plug in the headphones with the ear guards, which means that I can listen to podcasts (or music, or audiobooks) on the iPhone while walking. With the Otter case, I had to use the apple ear buds, and they’d come loose if I was moving around. I think I’ll also be able to dock the phone on my little iPod speaker unit in this case.

The downside is that it seems like it wouldn’t give as much impact protection as the Otter, so I may switch back and forth – using the Nano case when I want to show it off, or use the attachments, and go back to the Otter – when I’m feeling clumsy, which is often.


Nanowrimo misses the mark on Venn diagrams

October 11, 2012

One of the big things in the new 2012 Nanowrimo merchandise is a Venn diagram theme. There are Venn Diagram stickers available and two different t-shirts.

Now, this may be my math nerdiness shining brightly through, but I’ve noticed a bit of a stealth trend of Venn diagrams in pop culture and merchandising, if only in the arena that’s already nerd-culture-friendly. And one thing I think that you have to do, to properly deliver on a Venn diagram motif in your merchandising, is to pay attention to those three double-overlap areas flanking the center of the diagram. What does it mean if you have two pieces of the puzzle, but not the third?

Alastair from Storywonk gets it. He didn’t unfortunately label his overlap areas in the show notes from Storywonk Sunday 21: Furious Robot Sex, but he did reference them in the podcast audio. The overlap between Character and Plot might be labeled ‘Soap opera/Sitcom’, (with an asterisk noting that there’s nothing preventing a really good soap opera or sitcom from discussing great themes and moving into the center,) the overlap between Character and Idea would be ‘Room with a view’, and the overlap between Idea and Plot would be ‘Golden Age Sci-Fi.’ And the Michael Bay Transformers movies, from which we get the tongue-in-cheek title of the episode, are consigned to the outer edges of the bubble marked ‘Plot.’

The best example of being really clever with a Venn diagram, to me, is the Doctor Who Venn Diagram t-shirt. Here, they take three timeless and fun aspects of the Doctor Who franchise, and show how rival franchises can only claim two out of three, thus illustrating why Doctor Who is vastly superior. 🙂

So, I’m calling on fellow Wrimos to help me out. Take one of the Venn diagram designs from the merchandising I linked to above and tell me what should be in the double-overlap spaces. Or come up with a brand-new Nano Venn diagram of your own – but label all three of the double-overlap zones. (Or at least one?)


A little insecure about Camp Nanowrimo…

August 1, 2012

So, yeah, I remembered about Insecure Writer’s Support Group at the eleventh hour. 😉

But it’s a fairly good day for it, because I just started the August session of Camp Nanowrimo. I’ve pushed myself to a pretty good day 1 word count – in fact, the scene with my character’s mother and the witch just started flowing so well that I didn’t want to stop in the middle of it, and I’ve got 1897 words now.

But this is really the first time that I’m going to Camp Nanowrimo and not hanging out on the rebel side of Camp. August last year, I said that I was a rebel editor for camp, and I didn’t really end up with much to show for my editing, though I learned a lot about structure from Lani Diane Rich’s Storywonk revision class. In June, I got about 20,000 words done and more than half a dozen stories, so I’m calling that a rebel win.

This time, it’s fifty thousand or bust. I’m excited and yeah, a lot nervous about that.

But onward! The only way out of camp is the finish line. 😉


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? 😉


Book of the Month group update

June 15, 2012

Hi all, friends and followers. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve started the wheels turning on the ‘Book of the Month discussion group’ idea and hosting it on Stringing Words. So, if you’re interested in reading and talking about reading, come by the discussion thread, have a read, and maybe sign up to talk about it. We don’t bite or anything.

It’ll probably take a while to get the ball rolling, but you’ve got to start somewhere, don’t you?


Writer’s book of the month online discussion group

June 8, 2012

I have a dream.

I dream of a comfortable spot on some friendly website where passionate writers gather.

I dreamed that they all shared a bunch of favorite book recommendations and titles that they’d heard good ‘buzz’ about, and agreed on a list of books that everybody was interested in.

I dreamed that most of these writers read the same book in a particular month, and a few of them begged off with excuses about how slammed they were with other things going on, and they’d read the book for the next month, PROMISE! 😉

I dreamed that all the writers who read the book, whether it was the first time that they’d read it or if they were revisiting an old favorite, chatted for weeks and weeks about what they loved in it, what they hated, what worked, what didn’t work and why, and how they’d fix it if they could. The discussion went off-topic at times, and even strayed into more general debates about what was really good writing, what a well told book should do for the reader, and all kinds of great stuff like that.

And then I woke up without seeing the internet address of this wonderful place. 😀

I’m not sure if it exists yet, or maybe if it’s my mystical destiny to help create it. But I want to belong to this club one way or another, and I want your help. First off, do you know of a group like this that’s still active and accepting new members? If not, do you want to become a founding member? Can you suggest an existing community of writers that would be willing to provide our club a home?

I already tweeted about this notion yesterday, and I posted a teaser over on the Storywonk forums, (because it was a storywonk podcast that inspired the dream,) and got one nibble in both places. If readers wouldn’t mind signing up, I’m certain that I can make a place for the club on Stringing Words.

So – what do you say?


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