Monday, January 31, 2005

This evening's class: Coloring 101

Another chapter of *False Perceptions* is done, and it only took me an entire week to write the 2400 words! Okay, not really bragging about that part. But I'm glad to be back rolling with this. This chapter is definitely the beginning of the end of the book, so it's all down hill from here. I hope. It stands at just over 70K.

Therefore in accordance with my goals and rewards, the afternoon was open for Shann. Of course that's when the customers came! (Is there any other way this could happen?) In between them I spent my time working out minor details of the language and naming conventions in my secondary language group (which will see the most action), and going through all my previous notes to make sure that only the new spellings were in there, so as not to confuse myself later. I'm pretty easy to confuse :) I also went through and deleted references to plot points etc that I had already changed in the evolution of the ideas.

I need to give a bit of thought at some point as to what my theme really is for this story. Right now I honestly have no idea. Themes are really hard for me, but I've seen how much smoother outlining can go (and therefore writing) if the writer has some idea of what they're *really* trying to say, behind it all. Just now everything is still swirling around, hard to grasp. But hoo-boy, I'm having fun. Writing is *supposed* to be fun, isn't it? (Please say yes!) Yes, I'm well aware that it's work, too. But if it isn't fun work, it isn't worth doing (not if you're not sure anyone will pay you for it, anyway...)

When I get home from work, I'm going to spruce up my maps and color them. If that doesn't excite you, nothing I can say will. Why are you reading my blog?

In January, I wrote 29277 words, most of them on False Perceptions. I'm a little shy of my goal of 1K a day, but not as bad as I thought it would be, considering I write five days a week and not seven. Can't complain.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

January in BC

January in BC: not precisely typical! Posted by Hello

We went for a walk along the dike by the river this afternoon. It feels like March, not January. We've come home to see that our third calf will be born shortly.

Added later: Baby #3 has arrived, hale and healthy. The first bull calf.

Friday, January 28, 2005

happy happy character sketches

Wow, the past couple of days have been a gentle spring breeze for my writing. I have so loved being able to immerse myself in developing characters for *Shann*, and it has given me a much greater depth of worldbuilding too, as I discover who lives where and with whom and what their relationships to each other are. I am trying to develop a complicated world, hoping it will spawn a complicated story that will be great fun to write. I wrote over 4K in sketches in two days!

I have also received a pleasant and informative email from Kathy Tyers in response to my letter of a couple of weeks ago, and have passed it along to those who wanted to see it. What do you think?

Pretty much all our snow is gone. The weather hasn't dipped below freezing for a week and a half. This is so NOT like winter in Canada. As usual during calving, we've got a full day of farm work planned for tomorrow. The water line is still giving problems. Short of digging the whole thing up, I'm not sure what we can do. The pipe at both ends (house and trough) is fine, but somewhere in between we've got a clog of some sort. Water does move through, but slowly. And with the snow melted and the puddles evaporated, the cows do need water. The fog has kept the grass (yes, they're eating grass!) moist, and yesterday it rained. Today it was *just* overcast. It seems like if it's not one thing, it's another here on the farm.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mixed Bag

I started reading a book recently, and I really wanted to like it. I got all the way to page 189 by hoping things would get better (the book has about 500 pages) but it didn't seem to be happening. The main character is not very likeable. He's surly and grumpy and flies into rages, and he doesn't want to be where he is now. Nobody has told him what they know, and so he's in the dark (and surly and grumpy) and running for his life. I don't care. The bad guys can get him. I just don't care what happens to him. I wish I did. But the book goes back to the library unfinished. It's not worth it.

Today I played with character building for the marathon at FM. I know a great deal more about both Shann and Taafa than I did before. Shann's archetype is Lost Soul, and he used to have a wife, but she died. (I'd like to think of something other than childbirth complications, but those will do if they have to.) They did have a child, a son, I think, about two years old when the mother died. This is complicating because in their culture the child cannot be raised by a single parent. And if Shann really does marry Taafa (from the enemy country) his child would not be released to him anyway. That might be fodder for a second book; I don't expect it to play a huge part in this story except as difficult decision making. Taafa's archetype is Survivor. She'll do nearly anything to make her life more meaningful, including a few things not acceptable to either culture. And I discovered that she has a cousin, Nadiia, with whom she is good friends. And her sister is married to a prince. Yes, I had a ton of fun today!

At work, anyway. Came home to discover that calf#2 needed its bottom washed. And then I discovered that my only rubber gloves had holes in them. So...anyway. It was pushing dark by the time we got to the baby's bottom, so I'm not sure how clean I got it. Good enough till Saturday, anyway, when I can have a look in daylight. And have some new rubber gloves. Whichever one of you who said they wished THEY lived on a farm, come on up. You're welcome here anytime, especially this week. I promise you rubber gloves.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Temporary change of focus

I decided last night to declare the rest of the week a *False Perception* free zone. Yesterday I was so spazzed feeling guilty for not working on it that I also got nothing else done. I'm not under contract, and I'm frustrated with the story. I WILL finish it, but not this week.

Starting Thursday is a character-building marathon at FM. I have only very bare bones information about Shann and Taafa, and so I will concentrate on them and some of the people around them for this marathon. Today I have been freewriting cultural information (again based on Zette's 2yn classes) as a foundation for building these characters. 2557 words today, WooHoo!! Today it was FUN to write. I've been missing that.

It's still foggy, by the way, but visibility has improved. Now you can see not only the headlights of an oncoming vehicle at half a block, but also the color of the vehicle. Serious progress, that. Our snow is pretty much gone. I'm sure winter will have another fling or two yet though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fog is...foggy

Can you think of anything good to say about fog? God made it, so I presume it plays a role in the grand scheme of things. From my point of view, it's major depressing when it just hangs in for days on end. And then there's the idiot drivers.

[rant] Why do people not realize that there is more than one reason there are headlights on their vehicle? In this visibility, you can see a vehicle WITH HEADLIGHTS ON for an entire half a block. If he's grey and running blind? Much, much less. Idiots!! Put your lights on when driving in fog, even in daylight! It's not so YOU CAN SEE, it's so YOU CAN BE SEEN.[/rant]

We have a new calf today. Mother (Roman, because she has an arched *roman* nose, when most cows have a scooped nose) and infant are doing well.

Have I distracted you from the fact that I have to report zero words for the day? Gee, I hate saying that.
WooHoo! Another Rustle bites the dust! YES! (Do we dare hope that's got all of them?)

For those who are interested, this morning I received an email from Karen Hancock in response to the one I sent her a couple of weeks ago regarding Christianity in fantasy. I've forwarded her email to those of you I KNOW were interested, but if anyone else wants to know what she had to say, I'd be happy to email it to you as well. Just ask.

On Saturday my librarian phoned and begged me to help her with ordering sff books for the library, out of the new releases for Dec/Jan. After asking for recommendations at Forward Motion, I compiled my short list this morning to give her later today.

That means its eleven a.m. and I'm just ready to open my *False Perceptions* file. Let's see, where were we? Treyan has just been released from the hospital after observation from his concussion. He's undergoing depression and is sure he's ruined everything he always dreamt of. Sigh. Okay, Treyan, here we go. Sorry, dude, I'm not quite done with you yet...

And now it's 11:40, and I'm finally getting a chance to upload this, and I haven't spent any of that time with Treyan, either. Sigh. After lunch?

Monday, January 24, 2005

A mixed bag today

I'm glad you are enjoying the photo of the calf. She is still the only one, but won't be lonely for much longer I'm sure. We are expecting 17 more over the next couple months or so.

We had a very busy farm weekend as we had water line problems when it was so cold last week. It's not cold anymore; I bet it hasn't dipped below freezing for five days or so now, so Jim was finally able to get the repairs done to the water line. The leak had caused an iced over pond which was now simply a pond, right in front of the watering trough, so he scraped the corral out with the tractor blade and hauled in some gravel. And then we hauled a lot of bedding hay in order to get the rest of the maternity wing set up in our corral. Now I remember where some of my muscles are located. Right where the *ouch* is.

The mouse still runs freely at the store. Apparently the latest Rustle does not like peanut butter. He's quieter than the whole family was, which is a (minor) improvement.

I got almost 1K done on *False Perceptions* today, and it did go better than last week. I might have been tempted to try for more but it got busy at the store so I decided to be content. I'm working on nailing down YET another whole house flooring job, but as these folks are early in the building process, my bosses are okay with it. :p

I did reward myself with some *Shann* later in the day. I'm finding the notes from the 2ynovel course fabulous as I do worldbuilding for this new fantasy novel. Today I learned about the history of Shann's people, and where they came from. A couple of tidbits could work into plot twists, so I'm happy with the results.

And I've been online WAY too much this evening. Time to get off and go have a life. (Just a sec...what IS a life?)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Our first calf of the year! Don't worry, I won't make you look at photos of each and every one of them. Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005

This is TOO funny

Want to write a fantasy? This site will tell you everything you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. I'll have a bestseller out any day now, just watch and see! :D

Yay! It's Friday again :)

Yesterday I saw another little mouse running around at the store, and we did not manage to lure him into the trap overnight. Now he's got a whole weekend again to be tempted by it. He's been pretty quiet most of today, for which I am truly thankful. I know. It's pretty sad when the mouse score is the headline news item of the day.

Words on *False Perceptions* have been low these two days, but they have existed. I'm struggling massively with not even liking the story right now. The words are not coming easily, even with the outline to point me in the right direction. I can only hope it gets easier again once I'm through this section; if not, I'll be doing battle with myself each and every day to even open the file. But I will. Most days, anyway.

There is no job in the world that is nothing but joyous fun, every hour of every day. (If you have such a job, I DO NOT WANT to hear about it, thank you very much.) Whether I have chosen writing or writing has chosen me or God has chosen to plop writing and me together, I am not certain most days. But it's where I'm at, and I'm not giving up, especially not in the midst of a project. I may need to read this again on Monday, to remind me!

This afternoon I finally downloaded Keynote (a freeware tree-style organizational tool) as RuthAnne recommended back in...November? Whereas Ruth apparently thrives on figuring out new programs, I am still trying to determine what really makes it better than QuickPlot, which I've been using for over a year now. SHE says Keynote can run circles around QuickPlot, but maybe I'm too near-sighted to watch the race. I don't know. You'll be getting a *help* email, Ruth!

I chose this particular time to download it because I am just barely starting to amass enough information on the *Shann* project to need to organize it, so if I'm switching programs, this seems to be a good time. I already have *False Perceptions* and *Heaven can Wait* all laid out in QuickPlot, and see no need to transfer them over. (Once I've finished writing them, I won't be accessing the info nearly as often.)

Other than spending a couple of hours messing with Keynote, the only real progress I've made is finalizing my secondary language group to Black African. This language family consists of many African tongues spoken south of the Sahara and west of Ethiopia and the Sudan. Again, I'm not taking the language straight; I'm tweaking the feel of it for my own purposes. The big news is that the name of my female main character, a woman from this enemy country, is Taafah.

I'm seeing plenty of scope for conflict between Shann and Taafah and their respective cultures, and will be entertaining myself with seeing how many layers of conflict I can weave into this story in this pre-writing stage. Why is planning a story always so much more fun than writing it? Enquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Re-visiting 2005 goals

Goals. Pesky little critters, aren't they? (Much like mice in that respect, come to think of it.) Can't live with them, can't live without them. (And that is where the differences begin...)

First off, I am not progressing as quickly as I'd like on *False Perceptions." My wordcount table tells me that I'm at about 66K, two thirds of my projected word count. My outline tells me that I'm at point 46 out of 60, three quarters finished. Best guess is that I have another 25K to go? Hmm. I guess that's still a *maybe* for mid February at 7K a week.

I need to figure out where I went astray on *Quest to be Queen* near the end of nano. The story started out light and fluffy and funny and it isn't that way anymore. Yes, it is a *real* story, so there have to be serious blocks to Teagren's goals, but I've lost the story voice somewhere. I don't want to simply finish it just to finish it; I want to figure out what it needs and THEN finish it.

The real trouble with my goals is *Heaven can Wait*. There's been a thread recently at FM about knowing when to give up on a story. I have invested a lot of time in the past two years to *Heaven*, but it still has some serious issues. I've written three drafts mostly from scratch. It's way better than it wmas, but I'm not sure how to solve the stuff that's still wrong. Is it worth saving? And if it is, is now the best time to do that? (By *now*, I mean after finishing the aforementioned first drafts.)

I look at the plans that are beginning to solidify for *Shann*, and I am getting really excited about writing that story. But I know I'll never get published if all I write is first drafts. I'm under no illusions that my first drafts are THAT good. (grin)

I do know that I've learned a lot through the books I've written so far. Is it time to say that *Heaven* was a fabulous learning curve, but that it can't take me to the top? Or will I learn enough by continuing to mess with it that it will justify the time spent, even though it may not ever be publishable? I wish I knew.

Mar suggests that I take the book out and re-outline it. Figure out what the purpose of each scene presently in the book is, and therefore which, if any, are redundant. Slot into the outline new scenes that may be needed to drive the plot or characters. Set it aside again for a bit, and then decide how much work it will be to bring it up to snuff. I do know I've learned a lot about outlining since I did the prep on *Heaven*, but it seems scary to outline a book after it is written. Let's say, for argument's sake, that I could be finished outlining by the end of March.

If I'm not convinced it's publishable, but I decide to go ahead and write the fourth draft for the exercise of it, then there's no huge panic to get it done this spring. I can even dig it out in a couple of years when I feel more equipped to fix it, sometime when I have a gap in my writing schedule. Can't see that happening, but I guess it's within the realm of possibility.

That would free me to start writing first draft of *Shann* earlier, if I'm ready, and that DOES excite me. Say, April - July should be well beyond ample.

By then, *False Perceptions* will have sat for four or five months, and I should be ready to hit revisions on it, just about the time the 2ynovel class officially gets to that stage. I don't know if the book is any good; I'm still in the middle of it, and too close to it to tell. But I do know it won't have the same kinds of continuity problems that *Heaven* does, that are causing me to choke up there. The 2yn class ends in December after walking us through the revisions, query letters, etc. So the theory says that by the end of the year I could still have one novel ready to submit, but not two. I think I can live with that.

Then I can either do nano 05, or go into *Shann* rewrites in the fall. I don't have to decide that now.

The thing is, pretending for a moment that I have these two first drafts completed, I've written two fantasies and two sfs. It has seemed easier for me to present the science fiction stories based on a Christian worldview than the fantasy ones. But I've been doing a lot of thinking, praying, reading, etc about how best to do fantasy that way. Face it, I like fantasy better as a genre, at least when it doesn't get too deep into blood magic and stuff like that. So potentially I may not go back to writing sf if I can get this figured out to my satisfaction.

Lots to think about. At least I've cleared the air and revised the plan to something more workable. Yes, I think I can live with this.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Assorted, much like life...

I know you can hardly wait to read what is going on in my little world.

In mousiness, we caught another one last night at the store. I must tell you about Boss Hero #1's mouse trap. He took an empty pop can and drilled holes in the center of the top and the bottom, and ran it through with a straightened coat hanger. Then he drilled holes on opposite sides of an ice cream bucket and put the coat hanger through it, roughly centered over the bucket. He filled the bucket half way with water, and smeared some peanut butter on the pop can. The crowning touch was a shingle, leaning against the bucket to make it easier for the mice. They jump on the pop can trying to get the peanut butter, the pop can turns, the mice land in the water and drown. It's pretty easy to clean up behind, too, compared to snap traps.

We nailed three new jobs today. One of them is big. Two more are newly in limbo. This is absolutely crazy for January; it's more like October or May. And besides, it cuts into my writing time.

I played with an idea for an article for Vision this morning (1200 words) and 700 words on False Perceptions. I wanted more there, but...

Today the weather is about five above freezing. The roadways that are bare are beautiful. The ones that aren't have puddles of water on top of the ice. That makes them still quite entertaining to traverse. You gotta love winter. Really.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

other stuff

Today has not been a day for words. First off, it stopped snowing late yesterday evening, switching to rain, and then freezing. The highway was slippier than all get out this morning, and the streets in town no better. It's one of those days I'm very thankful that Jim and I share a vehicle and that I can be a passenger if I feel wimpy. When my husband drives the highway at speeds half of in town speedlimits, I know the roads are big trouble! It's still raining now, and the temperature is hovering around freezing. There is a travel advisory for our area tonight: Freezing Rain--Stay Home. I intend to. First I have to get back there, though.

When we got home last night I shoveled the walk (so that made five episodes of shoveling for the day yesterday) while Jim got the tractor going and the first load of bales for the cows. They looked miserable, huddled against the wind with snow caking their backs. After we fed them, Jim carried on plowing out the driveway with the tractor while I went in to make supper. I think we ate about 7:45. And this morning he was sure glad he'd plowed, what with the additional slop that came down overnight.

Anyway, this morning (smack in the middle, of course) I had a doctor's appointment and then bloodwork done. The good news is that he doesn't think I'm dying of cancer, but we don't have the bad news yet! (I've had menstrual bleeding every day so far this year, and it's getting tedious). And then today, just for the hang of it, I have plugged ears. Both of them. It is driving me stark raving mad.

Around the appointments I worked on language issues for *Shann*. I think I'm scrapping the Scandinavian group. It just doesn't sound right. I'm working with some traditional African languages/Arabic at the moment.

The bosses were in and out all day today, trying to get caught up on measures, quotes, phone calls, orders, bills. Those days are relatively rare (because we're not usually quite this busy), and they turn into writing non-starters. The guys find too many things for me to look up and people for me to call. So I didn't earn my words in *False Perceptions* today.

Nor am I absolutely confident that all our mice have gone through the ultimate mouse-hole. I've seen only two tiny mousey turds today, but they were in places I KNOW I cleaned. I'll set up Gary's fancy trap again before I leave for the day, and see if that produces any excitement. (He did leave it set last night, but caught nothing).

Monday, January 17, 2005

No more mice! (I hope!)

Goal one is accomplished. Gary (Boss Hero #1) caught four mice in the store over the weekend, so no more Rustle. Can't say I miss the little dude to be honest.

I did spend the entire morning scrubbing, though. I did a very thorough washing down of everything in my corner of the building, and vacuumed and washed floors in the rest of it, too. Now I don't have to think about mouse prints all over my keyboard when I touch it. It was really grossing me out!

It has warmed up outside. At this time of year, that means snow. And snow it is. I shoveled the walk four times today. I'm guessing a total of eight inches or so, and no sign of it letting up yet. The forecast is for another 24 hours of it, actually.

So this afternoon, when I was willing to allow myself to NOT work on *False Perceptions* today, I just started poking at in anyway. And wound up with 1911 words for the day. So I'm happy :)

Things are plinking into place for the *Shann* novel, too. I have named God in my world, and have started picking through the tenets of OT Judaism to see what to stress in my world, and what can be changed without it being a huge deal. The premise of the story is starting to come together. Shann's language is based on the Indian languages of Sanskrit, Urdu, Bengali, and Hindi. The country now has a name, and so do some of the towns and rivers and lakes. The next entertainment will involve choosing a language basis for the enemy country, where most of the story will take place. I'm leaning Scandinavian, just for the hang of it.

That's today in a nutshell in my little world.

Friday, January 14, 2005

of death...

In May of 1998, on my birthday, my father died. He was 76, but had been old all my life. Arthritis and a difficult life had combined to make him that way. About a year and a half earlier, he'd had a stroke, followed by a second one a few months later. The second one was more severe, and it took several months for him to make enough progress in therapy for him to return home to Mom in their apartment. Then that week in May, he had three heart attacks, possibly four. It was a brutal week for my family, one that I can still remember many of the details of quite clearly.

So, when I needed Cae's elderly father to die in *False Perceptions*, I decided to go with what I knew. At the time of outlining this book, remembering seemed easier than research. Maybe so, but that didn't make this scene an easy one to write. At the end of today's 2436 words, Moshe, the former captain of the Sphere, is dead. And I'm a little choked up.

I've got a mug of hot chocolate beside me and I'm going to try and immerse myself in some *Shann*. This week's word count is way low (6736 words), but it's just going to have to stay that way. I can't tackle another scene today; it's just not going to happen.

My friend Rustle is still hanging around. He did set off the mousetrap today, but managed to avoid being caught in it. Gotta give him some credit for brains, or something that passes for them.

I've learned to build power point presentations this week. Our worship team is up this Sunday, and I dropped off the cd with our music to the church this morning. We had a really good practice last night.

Our town was practically the hot spot in BC according to the news at seven this morning. And we were at minus eleven celsius. You gotta love it. Really. When is the first day of spring again?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

of Mice and Monarchies

3:12 pm. Sigh. Apparently this is not a writing day. So much for the best-laid plans of mice and men.

Oh, speaking of mice. A couple of days ago I went into our porch and heard a rustling sound. There is an open bag of cat food sitting in the corner as our six starving motherless, kittens...require feeding several times a day. So I bumped the bag with my toe and this mouse leaped in the air. He couldn't quite make it out of the bag, but not for want of trying. So I called Jim, he grabbed a work glove and went rooting around in the cat food until he'd caught the little dude. He threw it out the door and watched the six vultures set in for the chase. End of that story.

But don't worry, I have another. This morning at work I heard this little rustling sound, and after awhile I caught a glimpse of a little mouse scurrying around. He'd found a dry soup package that I'd had here in case I needed a meal one day in town, and he'd nibbled through it. So after lunch my boss brought back some cheese and set up our trap, and went back to work. I peeked behind the cupboard and watched the mouse proceed to eat all the cheese and run all over the trap without it going off. Then he resumed work on my dry soup. (Yes, I could have thrown it out in the meantime, but THEN where would he have come looking? I'll leave it right there until he's a goner.) For over two hours I've listened to him (and sometimes seen him) move around over there, not four feet from me. I think Rustle is having a nap right now. It's blessedly quiet at the moment.

By 11:15 this morning I'd gotten a whole 200 words or so written around customers. The phone rang incessantly this morning. The two best writing hours of the day were shot, and I'm not good at late starting. Someday I may have to learn to do that, but today, it just wasn't happening. (By then a good percentage of my concentration was listening to Rustle, too, which didn't help).

So I decided to declare the remainder of the day a Shann Day. I'm receiving extremely valuable feedback on the topic of Christianity being portrayed in a fantasy setting over at Faith in Fiction, and spent some time going through that. Then I started reading through Zette's assignments for 2yn to jumpstart ideas as to what decisions about my world I should make first.

Today's topic is government. So many fantasies have monarchies or empires, but Zette gave us a long list of governmental types to consider. If I choose an empire, it will be because it works best with my story, not because of laziness. I'm getting a bit of an idea as to what Shann will be up to in the neighboring country, and why he was sent, etc. His own governmental leaders would say they were under God. Did you know that a hagiocracy is government by a group of persons believed to be holy? That might work. Or possibly hierocracy, rule by a priest or clergy. Here's a couple of interesting definitions: thearchy is government based on divine sovereignty, while theocracy is government by church officials who believe they have divine sovereignty. Zette did not quote a source for her definitions, of which these are but a few of very many.

I thought about playing the name game and choosing my language styles, but I'm going to need internet access to follow it to the next level, so I have to do that at home. I can pop on for a few minutes at a time at work, but can't really do extensive research here, as it ties up the company line. I usually open a page online, disconnect, read the email or thread or whatever, formulate an answer in Word, then pop back online to post it. So now I connect for just a couple of minutes again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Writing Goals

Chapter 23 of *False Perceptions* is complete at 3472 words, bringing the book's total thus far to just over 60K. Still, I'm not quite meeting my word count goals of 2K per day with yesterday's 1695 and today's 1777. Are my goals unrealistic? Or is it just that I'm busier with other things than usual? It IS busy. I've just spent over an hour actually WORKING, if you can imagine. Paperwork and orders and fun stuff like that. Occasionally I do have to organize my guys. They are just about done the 1800 square foot new house and needed to make sure everything was lined up for next week.

I'll decide next week if my daily goals are completely unreasonable and need adjusting. It doesn't hurt to push myself, but it's most helpful if the goals are at least within the realm of possibility. I tend to write by scene rather than word count, and I think that is one of the problems. Except for a few shorty scenes here and there, scenes for me average 1500-1700 words. I don't quite know how to make them be 2K each! And I don't like not finishing what I start. Early on there were too many times I'd sit back down to write and not remember where I was going with a scene. I like the thoughts to be complete before I put them away.

If I decide to just accept that about my writing, then my average weekly count goes to 7.5-8K. The other option is to add a writing day at home on the weekend, or try and do at least one double day in a week.

Aargh. Do you have any idea how long it's even taken me to write this much blog entry? Half an hour. I think I'll settle for one scene a day for now and consider my goals met. (Unless they're shorty add-in ones!)

What else do you want to know about life in my little world? I haven't had five minutes to put together to deal with ideas in Shann's story since Monday. I am NOT used to being this busy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Wow! Busy day here in my little world!

Welcome to the folks from Faith in Fiction. You are most welcome here. Your ears must have been burning because I've been talking about you for a couple of days. I hope I only said nice things. :D

And thanks, Mar, for pointing out the obvious on the broken link to FiF's site. It now works. (Mar gets an aspirin for her sore wrists and another one to tuck in her vase, to keep her bouquet of roses fresher longer. Go Mar!)

Another scene in *False Perceptions* is out of the way at 1695 words. I decided to cut this council room scene in half. The first half is in the antagonist's pov, and he has wreaked quite a lot of havoc in it. The second half will be from Cae, the MC. Not that the bad guy has finished all he intends to lay out on the table, but the second half pertains more specifically to her personally, and I think I'd like to get her reactions to it from inside rather than outside. At least I know right where I'll be tomorrow morning when I pick it back up. With luck I'll finish the next two scenes and thus the chapter. They should be somewhat shorter. Maybe.

My afternoon seemed to fill up with crit circle emails circulating. It's amazing how many emails hit the inbox when you've got five people sending every response to each of the other four. Some of us are in the process of setting up a semi-casual crit group called Shekinah, for the purposes of helping each other with the nittygritty of writing Christian fantasy and science fiction. I don't think it will eat this much time once things are rolling. Except in spurts, of course.

As a result, I spent no time with Shann today. I'm sad about that, but tomorrow is another day. As far as I know... See you later!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Writing moves aside...

for the afternoon, anyway. In the morning, I got 828 words on *False Perceptions* to finish the chapter I started yesterday. We're at the place in the book where momentum is building and it's too late to take anything back Soon everything will careen out of control. It will be fun. :D

And then Jim phoned and asked if I could take the afternoon off work. I love my bosses. (I think I've mentioned that before.) One of their wives covers for me when I need time off, and she was willing to work the afternoon. Jim and I came home and worked the cows. The bull needed separated out. He now spends three months by himself in the large corral, bored out of his skull. We feed him often to keep him fat and happy! We then moved the cows into a different pasture, and let out the two heifer calves that had been locked up in the smaller corral since October, to prevent them getting pregnant too young. We hauled a bunch of hay, re-arranged some pens, and Jim plowed the snow in front of the calving shed. We still need to give the cows their prenatal shots, hopefully this Saturday. It's a big relief to have the bull moved. He gets kind of antsy, and you never know how smoothly it will go. He was pretty good, all things considered. We are expecting our first calves in about two weeks. It was a nice sunny day to work outside, and only seven below freezing celsius.

When Jim went back out after coffee to do some of the things he didn't need help with, I hauled a stack of volumes of World Book to the kitchen table, looked up countries, and began to play with place names for my new little world. I have not yet chosen language groups to emulate, but I've opened up the possibilities tremendously. And I have a new (much longer!) list of town or place name endings. I know you've been desperately waiting to hear what I would come up with, so here we go(with examples): -ton (Hampton), -ov (Svishtov), -ow (Moscow), opolis (Ermoupolis), -burgh (Edinburgh), -abad (Hyderabad), -pur (Shahdadpur), -ganj (Kishorganj), -grad (Leningrad), -avik (Keflavik), -burg (Hamburg), -holm (Stockholm), -shire (Hampshire), -chester (Winchester). I could keep going on. The suffixes I mentioned had multiple names associated with them, so they seemed particularly apt. Of course, the main thing I learned was that if I chose two or three suffixes from similar language groups for each of the countries to build place names with, and throw in a couple of random names as well, I'll be onto something. I don't have to use suffixes that already exist, but I do want particular *feels*. Too much fantasy has a Celtic naming system. I love the Celtic names myself, and would easily slide into them if I wasn't paying careful attention, but they're overdone. (Do I get to keep *Shann*?!) And I also want to avoid basic English places like Westcastle. So that's why I'm playing with various language groups. I may go with Arabic, Slavic, Scandinavian, and/or Portuguese. I'm getting closer to a decision, now that I have some of my basic homework done. The next thing is to hunt down given names on the internet from those language groups, and see what jumps out to me with a little twist.

When I find the language group I want to use for my *good* country, I'll look for words in it that could help me to portray God. And I had a couple of good ideas for the religion itself after I crawled back in bed at three in the morning, and before I went back to sleep. I actually functioned pretty good today, all things considering (like less than five hours sleep.)

It's 2:30 in the morning, and I can't sleep...

Honestly, I WAS asleep, but can't seem to get back. Too many things are buzzing around in my head. I thought maybe I could make note of them while the valerian I just took kicks in. Let's see.

Faith in Fiction.
You'll notice both a blog and a forum by that name in my links, to the right. Someone in the Christian forum at FM pointed at the blog. (I see the link on yours, too, Tina, but you have so many links that I gloss over it, and now I'm sorry.) You see, it makes me want to weep. Why didn't I find this before? There are several years of blog here written by an acquisitions editor at Bethany House, and his purpose for the blog is to actively fish for talent that is thinking outside the box of traditional CBA publishing. Wow. So many posts in which he gives mini-lessons, talking about the fine arts that relate to his job, his passion, and actively encourages dialogue, questions, WHICH HE ANSWERS. It will take me a very long time to read through the archives there, but it will be well worth every minute.

So of course I followed the link back over to his forum by the same name. There are about 88 members there, and they are real people. Some of the Christian writer's forums I found didn't look too kindly at genre fiction, but this group is actively writing it, and those who aren't, read it or at least aren't snotty about it. So much to learn there, too. It's overwhelming.

Edited to add: The link to the forum isn't working, and I've double checked it, so I'm not sure what's wrong. You can go to the blog and link to it meanwhile while I try and figure out why it won't go through. Tomorrow! After sleep

How do you name God?
I'm up against a wall here with my fantasy religion, trying to work things out. How do you make a *new* name for God that a) sounds right to the ear and b) doesn't have some hidden meaning in...Zulu or something...that is negative? How do you make a fake religion that rings true (cultists everywhere actively seek the answer to this question!), isn't sacreligious, but isn't exactly Christian, either. It needs to be able to address Christian truths, though. I think that this is the subject that is REALLY keeping me awake tonight. Talk about a balancing act.

Hmm. Maybe I could just call God, "The One Who Orders", or simply, "The One". Karen Hancock calls hers "Eidon". Narnia's is Aslan. Both start with vowels, end with 'n'. Does it matter? Does that sound more gentle yet powerful? Am I missing something very obvious here? Can you think of other examples? I'm trying to remember what Kathy Tyers uses. Aargh. Why don't I have my own copies of her Firebird trilogy? Maybe I should make that a priority. It won't help tonight, though...

Town name endings
Help me out here, folks. Different languages typically use different endings for town names, and I think they help give the feel for separate countries, languages. What can you come up with? Since 1:30 I've only come up with a few: -ton, -ville, -burgh, -ov. No, I came up with more but can't think of them right now. And this isn't the primary thing keeping me awake.

In other news...
We had our friend Anita and her husband over yesterday after church, the ones whose son suicided last year. We had a really good visit with them. We didn't speak of Mike much, but it seems God is giving them healing. I'm so glad they came; it took our friendship deeper which can only be a good thing.

Maybe I can go back to sleep now. I'm gonna give it a try.

Friday, January 07, 2005

more questions!

I've made a good start on chapter 22, with 2123 words this morning. It's been a quiet day at work, as Fridays often are. This one is also below freezing with a howling wind, so not that many people are hanging around shopping downtown today. I'd have liked nothing better than to stay home as well, I can assure you.

But on the other hand, I like this morning's words. Cae has confronted her hospital-ridden father with the facts of her adoption; she's had it out with Ramon's father, who helped engineer the whole baby swapping thing; and Ramon himself is in shock, and feeling sorry for her. Lots of hot and emotional yelling, lots of icy cold cutting words, ooh yeah.

I promised myself that if I would get my words out of the way in the morning, the afternoon would belong to Shann. Shann will be the main character in the Christian fantasy I am just starting to play with. And that brings up a very interesting question for me to examine.

I know how to develop religions for secular fantasies. It seems like it would be relatively easy. If you can make it hang together in the scope of the story, you can be pretty outlandish and still be believable.

This is a Christian fantasy. I want (need?) one of my religions to sort of parallel Christianity, but it's a fantasy, so I don't want to just plunk my own beliefs straight in and force the story around them, either. How can I make a believable and yet not real-world faith for my characters?

In Kathy Tyers' Firebird series, which is Christian SF in an alternate universe, she develops her true religion around a basic pre-messianic Judaism, with specific differences. Karen Hancock, in *The Light of Eidon* (book one of a new fantasy series from Bethany House), introduces the main character as he is about to say his brotherhood vows, having desired to know God (Eidon) all his life. How he discovers he is in a false religion is a main part of the book.

What guidelines did Kathy and Karen use to develop these religions? Gulp. I've decided to stick my neck out and ask. Karen's website offers email contact, and an offer to answer questions, so I've emailed her. Kathy makes it less easy to contact her, but does give a mailing address on her website and does indicate willingness to correspond that way. Her letter is ready to send.

I'm really nervous about this. I feel like a snotty little kid sidling up to a big, popular kid at school and asking favors. Why should they care? Why should they take any time, or be other than condescending? I'm not in their league, folks. They've been PUBLISHED, and I'm one of the thousands (?) of wanna-bes that clutter their lives. But you know? I'm doing it anyway. I'm being as polite and professional as I know how to be, keeping the letter short and specific...what else can I do?

Oh, yes. Shann and I hung out this afternoon, and I've learned more about him and about his world. I've got a basic map, but I don't really want to start sticking names on places until I figure out at least a little something about the various languages, and what they sound like.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

In which one chapter is completed in 2005

Chapter twenty-one of *False Perceptions* is now complete. Okay, that's not completely true, but it's as complete as first draft needs to be. I think there's a bit much showing, but my brain didn't want to come up with more dialogue today. The book now contains 54456 words. It lookes impressive, but I've only written 35 scenes out of the 60 in my outline. Trust me, I thought of a lot of random smaller scenes that needed to be added thus far that weren't in the original outline, but still, I'm guessing I'm a little over half done the first draft.

And now I must go and play with my new fantasy character, Shann. I don't even know what kind of a story he intends to star in. We've got a lot to talk about, if we're going to be ready to write a story together in July.

How do YOU get your ideas? I have to work pretty hard on them. All I know right now is I want to explore writing a Christian fantasy, and Shann has decided to be in it. Who is he? I don't know. What kind of a world is it? I have no idea. What huge good and evil struggle will he be involved in? I would really like to know. Maybe some of Holly's workshops would be a good place to start.

"Hello, Shann, and welcome to IMLW broadcasting system. My name is Valerie, and I will be interviewing you today for an upcoming feature presentation. Please tell me a little bit about yourself." Heh. You think it will work?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I've dived in, and now I'm all wet!

One scene down today, for a total of 1602 words. And it was the antagonist's pov, which is never my favorite thing to write. He gets the next scene, too, so its not like I'm out of the woods yet. Or even out of the water. I do hate to see Treyan bullied and humiliated, but it's not like he didn't deserve *something* for the nasty stuff he'd been doing. I think we can soon get on with his change of heart. Anyway, its a decent start.

And then I decided to make goals for the year. Goals are good. They provide much laughter in December. And so, in summary, I *will* finish False Perceptions, and then Quest to be Queen, by the end of February. And then I *will* take a few months to revise Heaven can Wait. And then I *will* write a new novel, for which ideas are still sparse. And then I *will* do the next pass on False Perceptions. And then I *will* write another book during Nano. Come on, laugh with me? Ready? Hahahahahaha. Yeah. Pretty much.

Bouquets of Roses go to...

Tina Kulesa! For being absolutely willing to help me set up the links in my little world. It's not Tina's fault she couldn't get her Trillian working to meet me by instant messaging!

Jean Schara! (aka Inuit) For emailing me the code for her own links on her own blog. Thank you! This enabled me to see exactly what needed doing. Copy and paste is a wonderful thing, and from there I could add and delete as suited my own needs.

Margaret Fisk! For being there on instant message while I worked through implementing Jean's email. I am not so techno-savvy, and Mar loaned me the nerve to make actual changes to the blog template to meet the needs in my little world.

If you look at the header for this blog, and see the words *In My Little World* in ordinary font such as helvetica or verdana, you owe it to yourself to find and download the font HARRINGTON. It will make things ever so much prettier. Really!

And thanks all for your encouragement to just kick back into the book. I am opening the file right now. Really. Right now. I'll report back later...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Do you think I'm stalling? I've finally finished reading through what I have written thus far on *False Perceptions*. Instead of writing this post, I should start on chapter 21. Really, I should. There's nearly an hour left in the working day. But apparently I can put it off yet until tomorrow. The story is better than I remembered, though I see that my memory of struggling to get the feel for the characters in the first few chapters is accurate. Maybe I'm afraid to start in again, and spoil it. If I ever decide to put a novel on hold again in the middle (especially for two months!), kick me, would you?

The weather has been crispy and cold, amazingly like winter. The temperature has been hovering about ten degrees below zero (Celsius). Today the sun is shining brightly out of an astonishing blue sky, causing a tremendous glare off of the white snow. You can see your breath. It's supposed to warm up some in the next few days, and if the weather follows normal winter habits, it will doubtless snow. I think I'd rather it was merely cold.

Last night Jim took the truck into the shop to change the oil, adjust the baffle for the defrost heater, and to trace down the loose electrical connection that was preventing the dash lights from coming on consistently. This morning as I dropped him off at work and began to back out of the parking lot, he waved me to a stop. Apparently we had an oil leak from the engine. He grabbed the service truck to drive me the rest of the way to work so that he could have our truck there at his shop to look at if he got a few minutes' time, which he did. Some valve had broken. It's a good thing he caught it when he did, as it is not very good for engines to drive around with the oil leaked out of them. So now that, too, is fixed. We are also having trouble with the four-wheel drive shifter, and he needs to have a look at that before it snows again. I pretty much need it working to get into my parking spot at work. The truck is an extended cab, so it has a long turning radius and the angle into my spot is very tight. With snow pulling at my tires, it becomes impossible to maneuver.

I bought salad-in-a-bag, because I apparently am not motivated enough to make salad these days if I have to start from scratch. I also bought a couple of new dressings. Gotta start eating better. And I went to Curves again this morning. Yay me.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I am SOOO tired...

I guess I've been having a typical Monday. Fairly busy at the store. The guys have started the whole house flooring job we nailed just before Christmas. Now there are two others elbowing for room right behind it. At this rate, we'll not have the usual slow time in February/March.

It's a good thing it's been busy, otherwise I'd be having trouble staying awake. I've been unbelievably tired this afternoon. That, too, seems to be typical of Mondays, and this Monday is the Monday to beat all Mondays, being as it follows a sixteen day weekend! I *really* haven't been going to bed early enough, especially not for the 6:30 a.m. alarm clock. Yikes.

Writing. I promised that today was the day. I lied. Well, I sort of lied. In between customers I have been reading what I have written so far in*False Perceptions*, and I'm not all the way caught up yet. Hopefully tomorrow. My goal for this week is a minimum of 5K new words. Not a lot, but at this rate, still enough of a challenge to be worthy. My guess is that I am about half done writing the first draft of this book, so I am aiming at about the middle of February for completion, I suppose. 10K a week seems doable while not being a walk in the park, after this week, once I get my writing legs back under me. I really need to schedule my Christmas crafting better next year. Maybe I should try to have it all done BEFORE nano. (Insert hysterical laughter here.) I've been away from this story too long.

*False Perceptions* is the two year novel. I guess I'm on track, then, being as we just began the second year. Zette has offered to look over the first three chapters, up to 15K, for anyone who would like her to. Having read my first three chapters (and more) today, I think I'd like to clean them up a bit before I submit them to her inspection. I know she is expecting raw draft material, but it doesn't seem fair to punish her for her willingness, if it can be avoided! I need to work on Treyan's introduction in chapter two. He isn't coming across as fun-loving as I wanted. He's too cynical. Loosen up, Treyan. Show your stuff. Hmm. I wonder if I should take the time this week to smarten him up, before I move on? Normally I advocate the *push through to the end of the draft, then clean up* school of writing. Hmm again. If I wasn't so tired, maybe it would be easier to make a decision on this topic!

Today is a grocery shopping day. We need food in the house. I'm hungry, just thinking about it. That is the worst time to go shopping, but...I'm gonna do it anyway. Anything to avoid driving home, and then back to town. Store closes at 7 anyways.

Oh, yes, it was back to Curves this morning. I haven't been for two full weeks, and it was pretty haphazard for a few weeks before that. It is time to buckle down and deal with things. This is not so much a new year's resolution as a fact of life. Probably I should make some changes to my eating habits. Probably I should think about THAT while I'm in the grocery store after work. Probably I should stop boring you with the details...

Sunday, January 02, 2005

And a Happy New Year to you all

Tomorrow morning bright and early I get back to work, both literally and literally. I've enjoyed a two week vacation, but I suppose one can say it is now over.

What have I been doing?

For starters, I have been having Christmas without my kids. That was sad for me, but they both were able to share the day with other relatives, which made it easier on me. We had our extended family nearby here, so we weren't exactly *alone* either.

I spent a few days before Christmas with my sister. She just lives a few blocks from my mom, and we started the HUGE job of organizing my mom's old photos and memorabilia into a memory scrapbook. Jim came over to pick me up and bring me home for Christmas, and then I went back over for a couple more days this week. We've got a solid start, but...yikes it's going to be a big job. Mom is 82, so it seems that if we want anyone to tell us who's who in those ancient blurry black and white photos, it was time to start asking the questions!

Jim and I rather splurged on Christmas this year. I had a really good bonus, but we spent it and then some. He got me a digital camera which has been delighting me. It's a Fuji FinePix E500, and I am having a lot of fun. I've been fighting with installing Blogspot's Hello program for showing photos to you, but I seem to be going in circles. I'll work on it again another time. I got Jim a dvd player, and then discovered that our old tv simply wouldn't handle it. We found a 27" flatscreen tv for a very reasonable price, so bought that too. Now it is absolutely time to pay down our charge cards and quit buying stuff!


Tomorrow is the start of getting back into writing. My bosses may actually think I should do some work, too, being as I'll be back at the shop. Tomorrow I have to decide which of the two partial novels I've been working on I am going to finish writing first. I had promised myself to finish *Quest to be Queen* (nano novel) before Christmas, and, well, er, I didn't. I have some thinking to do about it, actually. Which means I may jump back into my 2ynovel, *False Perceptions*. It's about half written, around 50K if I remember correctly. And it's outline is solid, so a bit of reading to catch myself up and I should be ready to fly again. We'll see about that tomorrow!

I'm actually quite amused that you all seem so surprised by my pink blog, but then I have to admit that *I*'m a little shocked, too. It amuses me for the moment.

Anyone know how I can link other blogs from here? I can't seem to find the right spot. Or did I just pick the wrong template?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Welcome to Val's NEW Little World :)

Here I hope to hide from evil prying eyes and remain queen of my own little kingdom. You are here by special invitation. What do you think?