What’s Up Wednesday? Thriller, baby!

September 24, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

What I’m WUWMaple65%2reading:

“Esrever Doom” from the Xanth series, Dune on Audible, Crossed Genres stories, and podcasts like Toasted Cake! Oh, and some graphic novels like “Illyria Haunted” and “Lost at Sea.”

What I’m writing:

Well, I finished the Gotta Have That Look ‘Hot Mess draft’, and it should be going out to critters sometime tonight. Now I’m hoping to get a revision outline for “Children” finished this week. I’ve been going over my TNEO feedback and a lot of things have been starting to fit together, especially the idea of writing it as a sci-fi thriller, bringing in the notion of a conspiracy on board the starship to cover up a lot of stupid decisions that have been made in the past…

What works for me:

The idea of writing a revision outline, whether it be through the Monastery/Shrine or some other way. Since I’ve been through the Monastery once with “Children”, I’m wondering about trying to do the thriller revision outline a different way, possibly a modified snowflake technique or something like that.

What else I’ve been up to:

Enjoying the fall weather, watching Doctor Who and the new Big Bang Theory episodes, playing around with photo editors on the android tablet. My new laptop has passed its two-week trial period and been adorned with the requisite Nanowrimo stickers!

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What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: The Workshop Blues…

August 7, 2014

Hey, guess I got kicked out of IWSG again for missing two months in a row, but I’m back. And boy am I insecure! 😉

Sign – when is revision ever enough? I just got back from the ‘Never-Ending Odyssey’ workshop in New Hampshire, and it was a great week of critique circles and hanging out with writers and that kinda stuff. But I also came to realize that I’ve got a LOT of work still to do on this novel I was workshopping, “Think of the Children”, which is a little disappointing after the months and months of work I’ve already put into the current draft. A fresh perspective from reader-writers is what I go to workshops for, but it was depressing to realize that the book still isn’t putting its best face out there and it just isn’t as ready as I thought it was.

At the same time, I think I’m kinduv excited about what I’ve learned, about how to get to the essential conflict in the story and let that shine. So, first step, is to put what I’ve learned into a new revision outline. I can get that finished in August, right? I hope so, because it’s on my goals list, along with a few other things…

What’s up with you? Are you feeling insecure this week? Share your thoughts with all of us.


What’s Up Wednesday? Back from TNEO!

August 6, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Well, more ‘Season 9’ Buffyverse graphic novels, Iron Druid ‘Shattered’, and Elizabeth Moon’s Command Decision.

I enjoyed a lot of Escape Artist stories on my way to Odyssey and back for the TNEO workshop, mostly PodCastle just because their episode numbers were lower, but some Escape Pod as well. It was really cool visiting all those fantastic worlds as I drove down the Mass turnpike and across New York State, with my little palm TX plugged into the AC outlet on my dash so that it didn’t run out of battery power. Once I was home, and recovering from the workshop and the driving, I devoured Bryan Lee O’Malley’s new graphic novel “Seconds” in one afternoon.

What I’m writing:

Finished my  Brain transplant story with the help of some workshop brainstorming. Haven’t really written or revised anything since I got home, because my brain’s still spinning with all the new stuff I learned and the revision possibilities for “Think of the Children.” Hopefully I’ll get back to the grind soon.

What inspires me right now:

All the character and plot stuff I learned in New Hampshire, and the fabulous writers I met! Also, once again, Bryan Lee O’Malley!

What else I’ve been up to:

Umm, let’s see. The workshop was amazing, really busy, full of critique circles and other small group activities and writers reading their stuff aloud and gathering over snacks to chat about internal editors, adversaries and allies, driving off in all directions to wander through bookstores (of the both dusty and clean variety.) Oh, and my lecture really went well, several people told me that they really enjoyed it and/or learned cool new stuff.

Since I got home, I’ve mostly been crashing and relaxing, getting back into the office routine, grocery shopping and that kinda stuff.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


A disappointment and some new plans

March 24, 2014

Just heard back from Kij Johnson about her CSSF workshop – once again, I didn’t make it in. I’m disappointed, but not too badly. There’s lots of other stuff going on in my writing life, and ‘Kitchen Scale’ is no longer looking so shiny somehow.

I’ve sent a new sample story over to Chris McKitterick, to throw my hat into the ring for his CSSF workshop; that’s the two week short story critiquing program I attended in the summer of 2011 and 2012. I’ve been working on my enrollment form for TNEO 2014, where I think I’ll go in the novel group and workshop “Won’t Somebody Think of the Children.”

I’ve also committed to finishing “The Gnomes are Missing” for Camp Nano in April! This was the novel project that I pitched to Kij for the workshop last summer, and I’m really excited about getting back to it.

Let’s see, what else? I got a cool idea while walking to the bus stop this afternoon; guidance counselors. Like really freaky good ones who listen to anything you can come up with about what sort of life you want and come up with the perfect plan for what you should do to get that kind of life. Not a perfect plan perhaps, but much better than anything you could do for yourself.

Except no plan can ever prepare you for the choices you’ll have to make, or for the way life changes your priorities. And the guidance counselors are free until you’re 18 or 19–after that, it gets more expensive. (And not necessarily in terms of money.) 🙂 It’s just a novum so far, not sure what the characters or the plot will be, but I think it could be a really fun one.


Taking criticism is still tough…

May 24, 2013

The revised version of “Won’t somebody think of the Children”, the one that I spent nearly sixteen months slaving over, (with a few breaks to work on other projects,) is still working its way through the critters.org critique queue. Chapter 4 got sent out for critiques on Wednesday, and I’ve gotten one full critique back of the entire novel by a dedicated reader and I’m waiting on a few others.

The results certainly haven’t been universally encouraging. I really think that the story is much stronger than it was in the first draft, and I’ve gotten some encouraging validation from some readers, but there have also been a few responses that took some wind from my sails. One of the critiques I got from chapter four said that there was no conflict, nothing at stake; and offered three different rewriting techniques for improving a scene. I was disheartened when I first received that, and then twelve hours later, I got a short commenting on my colon use, with four paragraphs of praise and apologizing for not having more negative feedback. 😉

I guess I’m going to have to organize all my critiques, including the feedback from the dedicated readers who haven’t gotten back to me yet, and evaluate it all like a big pot of soup without paying too much attention to any one piece. And always bear in mind that the first revision I did was based off my own impressions of the book, and there are dozens of tools from the Holly Lisle revision course that I can still turn to and use to fix the problems that I never saw, once a critter has pointed out that they’re there.

It may be a tough job, but a writer’s gotta do it at some point!


NaNoEdMo week 1 progress update

March 8, 2013

Total time logged: 14 hours, 58 minutes. I stopped short of the hour, so that I can easily get one more E on my calendar of goal tracking tomorrow, no matter how busy I am with Toronto ComiCon stuff. 🙂

So, let’s see. I finished the manuscript cut of ‘Won’t Somebody think of the Children’ by tweaking the production a little, and I’ve finished my post-revision review document, which I think has some good notes for whenever I start this up again. I’ve counted some time reading for the “James Gunn’s Ad Astra” slushpile and critters.org critiquing for NaNoEdMo hours, and time I spent reading Holly Lisle revision lessons that I haven’t put into practice yet; query letters, writing one-page synopsis, and seven-day Crash Revision.

I’ll share about the Crash Revision stuff, because I was wondering if I’d actually try that during March. After reading the lesson, it sounds like it’s something I’m glad I’ve read so I could start to let it percolate, and I’m really glad I have the instructions for when I need them, but that a seven day Crash Revision is something that I don’t want to tackle until I have to; like when an editor is asking me for it. It’ll also help if I don’t need to go to the office that week. Trying to do it in seven days just for the practice sounds like it would be incredibly masochistic.

Since finishing that stuff, I looked at my 2013 list of goals for anything editing that didn’t seem too stressful, and I’ve been working at polishing my first Roswell/Smallville fanfic crossover, Arrow through my soul. I always feel like ‘polishing’ fanfic will go quickly, and it never really does, but I’ve made some good progress, and it’s a short piece, around 27k.

One thing I’ve noticed is that even though I’m not trying to follow the Holly Lisle process in any way, what I’ve learned from those lessons is informing what I’m doing, from the way I look at commas and sentence flow, to cutting out wide swathes of text because they don’t add anything to the story I really wanted to tell. 🙂 That’s actually pretty cool.


Starting a revision post-mortem

March 2, 2013

My day began with a certain amount of rejoicing. Finally, after some 15 months, the revision of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ was finished! It’s been a long, kinda strange road with Holly Lisle, but I’ve learned an awful lot about editing and good writing from her.

After sending the manuscript off to two intrepid critters, updating my next chapter in the critters.org queue, sending a critique request in to the Nanowrimo ‘December and Beyond’ forums, and scanning through the bonus lesson about query letters and one-page synopses, I turned to lesson 22, to see what Holly had to say about making revision go quicker next time…

And boggled a little!

The worksheet for lesson 22 is a huge post-mortem on the revision process; now that I’m finished, I have to record my thoughts on every step of the process; how much work I had to do from my first draft, how well I did, and if there’s anything I need to keep in mind for my next revision. I like the idea, and it’s a great example of something to dive into during Nanoedmo, where I can get full credit for the time I spend filling out the post-mortem–

But it’s still a bit daunting, especially as I need to start with the lessons that I completed more than a year ago. I’ve come up with some good stuff so far, but I’m haven’t finished the postmortem on lesson 2 yet.

Hopefully it won’t take me all of March. 😉


A revision pass on the Kindle

February 15, 2013

So, I’m in the middle of my last read-through for the How to Revise your Novel course by Holly Lisle. I’m actually a little off the track of the standard lessons at this point, because of how much working with paper and pen saps my creative energy. The standard plan is to do four passes with pen and paper:

  1. Block revision (Lesson 17)
  2. Line editing (Lesson 18)
  3. Polishing (Lesson 19)
  4. Scene Beginnings, endings, and pacing (Lesson 20)

Then Lesson 21 is “The Type-in”, where you take all those pages and update your digital document with the changes, typing in the new stuff that you’ve written out in long-hand.

I would not have survived this process with my sanity intact. 😉 I did Block Revision with a lot of printed pages with pens, but also used the Alphasmart to type in new scenes or segments. After Block Revision was finished, I did the type-in, (though I didn’t really realize that was what I was doing,) and did the next 3 passes on the netbook, in Microsoft Word with ‘track changes’ turned on so that I could see what I was changing at each step, and copying to a new MSword file and accepting changes in the new document before starting the next pass.

So, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach lesson 21 at first. I shared my story on the Holly Lisle boot camp forums, and somebody suggested reading through it one more time, ‘on a different device or at least a different font’ so that I’d have a fresh chance to notice any possible issues, and then move on to a few final exercises in the lesson. So I converted the book to Kindle format and I’ve been proofing it that way.

It’s been interesting. So far, I’m a little less than half-way through, and I’ve already made over 300 annotations on the Kindle. And I’ve noticed I see to be developing a particular shorthand that’s different from the sort of notes I make when I’m reading on the Kindle to critique somebody else’s work. For one thing, I’m using the word ‘cut’ a lot – either by itself, when I’m cutting the word that the cursor is on, or with a little more context: ‘cut 5’ to delete a phrase that’s five words long, (generally trusting that I can figure out in what direction to go,) ‘cut comma’ or similar for eliminating punctuation. If I’m not quite sure what changes need to be made, I might just note ‘rephrase’ or something like that.

I’m pleased with the way this is going, and hopefully it’ll keep going quickly: both the reading and updating my manuscript with the changes. ‘Children’ is already out for Dedicated Readers at critters.org, though so far I’ve only received one reply and that was by someone asking what the plot of the overall book was; I probably should have included that with the first chapter, but considering that I don’t have a proofed copy to send back yet, I’m in no hurry to reply.


One application down, three to go

February 11, 2013

Yes! My application to Clarion West is in, as of yesterday afternoon at Williams. (Elizabeth Twist was there with me when I sent it in. 🙂 ) I think it’s good – maybe not perfect, but then, if my writing was perfect what use would I have for going to workshops? It’s about as good as I could make it given the circumstances.

I’m going to try to get the Odyssey app mailed off sometime this week, and I want to get the Clarion application sent off by Saturday. Then I’ll be able to breathe a bit and figure out where I stand with my missing gnomes before I send that application off to Kij Johnson.

I’m also trying to get the final read-through of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ done within the month, since I’ve already signed on a ‘Request for Dedicated Readers’ at critters.org, and the first chapter is going out to be critiqued on Wednesday. This is my first time doing an RFDR for a long work at critters.org, as opposed to short stories, excerpts, or synopses. It sounds like doing RFDRs is a bit looser and more casual at critters.org, so if anybody is really interested in the manuscript based on what they read next week, I hope they’ll be willing to wait for me to finish up a bit of last-minute proofreading.

So, that’s where I stand on some of my February targets. How’s the ‘month of Blah’ going for you?


Hopping on the ‘Be Inspired’ meme

September 20, 2012

Well, I finished Block Revision on ‘Children’ tonight, and to celebrate I’m going to take Ari’s sort-of-open-invite and join in the ‘Be Inspired’ meme to tell you a bit about the book!

1. What is the name of your book?

Won’t somebody think of the children? (Title might be subject to change, but I love it. 🙂 )

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

I’m not entirely sure. I was trying to come up with an original idea for Nanowrimo in October of 2009, and was noodling with doing something in dramatic science fiction set aboard a generation starship – not high action or adventure, just people living their lives in this very artificial and unusual (to us) setting, which they completely take for granted. The big breakthrough came when I had the notion of the parents-to-be who find out that their child is statistically likely to be alive when the ship gets where it’s going; I saw lots of ideas for how that could change their lives and the entire culture on board the ship. So things kinda got rolling in earnest from there.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

Dramatic Science Fiction, as I said, and possibly New Adult as well.

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