Monday, November 23, 2009

Why me?

Ravioli was on the menu the other night. J6.4 had helped me set the table. Partway through dinner, this is what happens:

J6.4: (clears throat) "Dad, guess what?" (very smooth, nothing happening kind of voice)
Husband: (in between bites of ravioli) "What?"
J6.4: "I rubbed your fork on my butt when I set the table." (bursts into laughter)

Now, J6.4 has a contagious laugh. It comes from deep in her belly, and completely takes over her body. When she starts laughing like that, you can't help but laugh too. So we all started laughing uproariously, even my husband who's sitting there with a mouthful of ravioli and a sick look on his face.

I thought this was a story worth sharing, so I grabbed the cell phone and called my bro-in-law, UncleR. He'd appreciate the trauma his younger brother was being put through by the offspring. Then we had to discuss Thanksgiving plans, and their new house, and eventually I got up from the table and went in the other room so I could hear. I finished the phone call and came back to finish eating with everyone else.

Husband: (After a few bites) "So how's the ravioli?"
Me: (Thinking through this because this was a new brand of ravioli, but ya know, frozen ravs are frozen ravs. So I finally decided on an eloquent: ) "Eh."
Husband: "Good. Because you have the butt fork now."

More uproarious laughter. I kid you not. This is my life.

So then yesterday, we were playing a marathon game of Uno. Poor J6.4 kept getting hit with the Draw 2's and 4's. After her 3rd Draw Four in about 8 minutes, she mutters under her breath, "Someone's gonna get their fork rubbed."

Friday, November 20, 2009

You've Got to be Kidding Me...

I was working at B&N earlier this week, and I came across a few books whose titles were disturbingly ironic. Let's evaluate, shall we?
  1. Teaching for Dummies - Now, do we really want dummies teaching anyone, er... anything? Seriously. It should have one page in it that says "Please don't." Then the whole rest of the book could be pages reading "This page intentionally left blank."
  2. Evolution for Dummies - Isn't one of the whole points of evolution to put paid to dummy propagation? So is the entirety of the book and attempt to explain to said dummy why we want him/her out of the gene pool?
  3. Birthing from Within - Um, duh? Where else would it be coming from? It's not like any woman is interested in reversing that process...
So what do you think? Should we have a competition to see who can come up with the worst/funniest book title?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Amelie: The Good, The Bad, and the Pitiful

Okay, so I said I'd talk about the writing things I'm good at and the things I suck greatly at doing. So here goes:

  • Dialog: Me, I like my dialog. Oftentimes the dialog is the first thing that pops into my head when coming up with a new scene. Now, someone who's read my dialog needs to weigh in here and tell me if I'm way off-base with my evaluation of my own dialog brilliance. :)
  • Plot: I think I do a fair job with plotting and making sure things flow logically. Bus-sized plot holes still occur, but they're usually infrequent and my critique partners point them out with glowy pens and markers for me. ;)
  • Scene Description: I wish I could describe scenes better. I'm worse at that than my kids are at listening (and that's pretty stinking bad, just ask my husband). In an effort to improve that - the description, not the listening because that's a hopeless cause - setting is something that I'm concentrating on for the dark fantasy that I've started plotting out. I've browsed the net for pics that show my world (concentrating mostly on just a city right now because most everything is happening there) in the hopes that when I'm doing a scene, I can do a better job of describing it if I have something to look at that resembles it somewhat. I've also spent time coming up with particular places so my folks won't be in a random tavern, but a place with a name, history, a particular clientele, ambiance and structure. What helps you guys with your settings?
  • Not So Likable Characters - I love reading characters who are not all "good" or "bad" but I'm not so good at writing them. I tend to give my chars small flaws that are too easily overcome or overlooked, and that's just not how real life is. So that's something I need to work on.
  • Full Book Plan: This is the biggie that I'm working to resolve. I want to be able to tell where I'm going from page one so I have a road map to get there. It's fine if I take an unplanned turn along the way and get the Garmin's testy voice in my head saying, "Recalculating..." because I will still have a destination to drive towards. I want to get away from just having a starting point and letting the story meander and frolic along on the way to somewhere. It's worked so far but....
Hit and Miss
  • Emotions: Sometimes they're on the money and sometimes they seem too overwrought. I think this is something that I'll get better at with time and practice. I hope. Oh, I soooo desperately pray this is so! See what I mean?
There we go. I'm sure there are more that I'll think up later. But for now, back to our regularly scheduled life. Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Makes Mommy Proud

Every so often, J6.4 sees me jotting down notes or doing research or scavenging the net for pictures to help me with my writing. She asks questions, I answer them (I mean like 15 straight minutes of questions...). I've explained what I'm doing and shown her the notebooks I've got going for various stories. I've read character descriptions to her and broken down imaginary religions for my people, and we've looked for pictures of potential gods/goddesses together. She's even named several goddesses for me although she's gone heavy on the 'S' names.

  • Point to note: We've found a ton of fantasy-type pictures of scantily clad women who could easily be the physical manifestations of my goddesses, and ironically we've found very very few scantily clad male pics. Wonder why that is... NOT!
The other day, she sat down to write a story to go with a treasure map that she'd doodled at school. After a while she came to me with the start of her story and another sheet of paper where she'd done verbal character sketches so she could "get to know her characters". No joke, I about burst into tears of pride! :) So here is Julia's first character sheet, age 6, complete with cute kid spellings. Click picture to enlarge

On a side note, I'm doing okay with my November writing goal. Thursday was a sucky day (ahem, 280 words *cringe*), but I've been doing well since then, even getting 1000 words in between working 2 jobs yesterday and playing Dragon Age: Origins. Dishes got put off until today. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Plotting or Pantsing?

First of all, I completely slacked on my writing goal on Tuesday. If you're unaware of what goal I'm referring to, check out my November Writing Plan blog post. That explains it. 300 of my 1000 words - that was all I did, and I almost gave in and did the same yesterday but I pushed through and actually managed 1025. Luckily I was a good bit ahead overall, but Tuesday used up most of my lead. Now I can't get sloppy again. Honestly though, I'm simply happy that I've persevered this long, even in the face of many distractions. Yay me!

Now onto the topic that I've been considering while writing today: pantsing or plotting when writing. I've mentioned that I'm a pantser right now. I plot maybe a day ahead of where I'm writing for the most part. I might have ideas for the end of the story or certain events later, but the meat of the story just comes to life in my head a few hours prior to its arrival on the keyboard. This has worked for me so far, but I want a system to make the math/science/logic/engineer part of my brain happy.

Today while writing, I moved past what I'd plotted out in my head the night before and just started writing on the fly, and I was amazed at how much that bothered me. I felt like I was typing around pits of quicksand, and any moment I was going to take a misstep. It really messed with me. And it made me start analyzing what I do and don't like about pantsing and plotting respectively.

Where do you guys stand? What are your writing habits and what do you like about what you do? What do you wish you could do differently or more consistently?

I'll evaluate my own techniques some more in the next couple of days after you guys get a chance to tell your story here. Maybe we can help each other out by letting others know what works for us.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Harsh Writer Earnings Reality

Earlier this year, Lynn Viehl posted about an actual royalty statement she received for one of her bestsellers (paperback). On Friday, she posted a follow-up covering the 2nd royalty statement she received later for the same book. This might discourage some writers, but I'm still determined and I appreciate her telling us the truth. If you want to see the real kind of money a bestselling author might be wallowing in, go check these out.

As for my November writing progress, I'm off to a good start. By Sunday night, my goal was 6500 words. As you can see from the sidebar progress meter, I'm up by almost 1100 words. This is good because I start my new full-time job today and I suspect that my writing stats will drop off drastically.

Yes, that's right folks, I'm no longer unemployed and living the good life, sponging off my husband's efforts. Weeping, weeping. It was good while it lasted, but there's that whole need for monies to feed the offspring and keep the roof over our heads. Wish me luck, in both the new job and maintaining my writing efforts in the face of it. I think I'll need it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This Writing Gig? It's Tough. Bonus Family Funny.

Five days I've kept to my goals now, and it's killing me. I'm completely in awe of full-time writers. The amount that I'm writing per day isn't even close to their output, yet from the amount of mental whining I'm engaging in, you'd think I was single-handedly creating the Holy Grail.

I thought I had decent discipline before and good, consistent writing habits. Yeah, not so much. The writing almost everyday thing was an important mental step in my quest for publishing when I decided to do it. And I'm getting the feeling that this is another. It's a different mindset when you have a deadline, even just one set on a whim, which this completely is for me.

And I think that reporting to you all on my progress is helping me to toe the line. So thanks to those of you who are following my efforts. It makes a difference, knowing that you're there, even when you don't comment. Again, thanks.

Now, for a quick family funny. The setting: Dinner table. The feast: Mac & Cheese (shells). The lead actor: E3.almost7.

E3.almost7: "More mac & cheese, mommy."
Me: "Excuse me?"
E3.almost7: "I said, More mac & cheese, mommy."
Me: "Yeah, I heard that. What do you say?" (I'm angling for 'please' here, in case you're not catching on)
E3.almost7: "Put it in the bowl." *husband coughs to cover his grin*
Me: *just staring at her*
E3.almost7: "Right here." *helpfully, she points at the bowl she's shoved under my nose already* *husband starts choking, and not on food*
Me: *trying for one eyebrow raise, but can't really, so probably one up, one at half-mast and looking goofy.* "What. Do. You. Say?"
E3.almost7: *big grin* "Thank you." *husband has to leave the table*
Me: "Gah! What about please!?!?!?!"
E3.almost7: *nods and gives a sweet smile* "Please. Now."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mid-Week Update

Eek! I've posted every day this week so far! Note that I'm also keeping up with my writing goal. Wonder if they're connected... I'd have to say that's an affirmative. I'm sure that once I drop behind I won't be posting here and bragging about it. :)

So, I did get another 500+ words written last night, and I've done 825 so far today. Even if I don't write any more today, I'm still ahead of schedule. Yay me! I do plan to get on the PC and write more after the kiddos conk out for the night though.

Also, please note the writing meter on the sidebar. I slaved over that for like two minutes, copying and pasting, so worship it.

Hope you all are having a great week. Good luck with your own personal endeavors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oops - Wrong Character

Before I get into my word count status, let me just say that I am an idiot. This isn't a shock to many of you. I sat down at the keyboard this morning determined to hammer outs lots o' words. So I sat there. And I stared. I finally started typing. The words came on with the speed of erosion, and were just about as productive to my story growth.

I was writing from the POV of an assassin who just missed his target and had to retreat. He was beyond pissed. He was looking for a fight and wanted to tear someone limb from limb, beat them with said limbs and then kick them while they were down. The passage seethed with emotion and barely restrained violence. I mean, he was this primo assassin and he'd missed! Because of some freak accident! It all makes sense, right?


I'd previously described him as a cold, remote man who saw her death as just another job - a tick-mark on his To-Do List. He doesn't want to kill her - has no need to maim or cause pain. But he doesn't care that someone wants to end her life prematurely either. Even if he'd liked her he'd kill her because it's his job and he said he would. That's who this guy is, not some boiling cauldron of emotion.

Grrr. Highlight passage - delete. Words gone. Word count back to zero. :( And I liked that passage too. Oh well. I did save it in case I do come across a just-failed emotional assassin later...

As for word-count, yesterday was just as difficult as I expected it to be. I was so blasted tired, that if I hadn't come up with this plan for November, I would have bailed on writing yesterday. (I think that by writing at all yesterday, I'm pursuing the spirit of my intent) As it was, I got just under 500 words written, not quite half of my goal. Although technically I'm still on track since I went over by 500 words on Sunday, I'm going to try to over-write today also. So far I'm at 800 words, and I'll write some more this evening after the kids go to bed. I need to spend some more time today plotting before I'm ready to write again. This is where plotting out the story ahead of time would be helpful. Pantsing is not so good for a consistently high word count.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Writing Plan

Okay, although I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, I did decide to try to increase my productivity for the month, mostly just to see if I can. :)

I mentioned last week that usually I get about 700 words per day written, weekdays only. Here's the plan for November:
  • 1000 words/day during the week
  • 500 words/day on weekend days.
I figure I should make it through oh, Tuesday. Kidding. Hopefully I'll do better than that. Ironically, today should be a very telling day. It's going to be tough to get the word count in, so I might not even make it through Monday. Luckily, I got off to a good start yesterday, weighing in at 1000 words even though my goal was only 500. *fist pump* So I guess I have a little leeway, although I'm going to try not to use it up on the second day.

I'll find some kind of word count widget to put up on the blog here to keep track of my progress. Feel free to heckle or cheer me on, depending on your mood. Just be aware that when I get stressed and frustrated, I might write you into a story and abuse your character... or I might use your name for the planet that I take my characters to be killed off on - oops, already did that, huh, Mike? Hahaha!

Have a great week, everyone and happy November!