Thursday, March 31, 2005

a week of Madness...

Sometimes I feel Jean's pain with Blogger. I just wrote out a nice post, and Blogger ate it before it could go up. Bad Blogger, no doughnut. But what does it want doughnuts for, anyway? It gets to eat nummy blog posts. Grr.

(Edited to add: Thanks to Katie for the heads-up, and apologies to anyone else who suffered through FOUR versions of this post. Apparently I made blogger have indigestion, and it recanted all its ERROR messages and regurgitated the posts. I have now done some deleting... Oh, and Jean, if you're reading this, I haven't been able to comment over at your place the last few times I've tried, either. So maybe it's not JUST blogger!)

Okay, the novel now stands at just over 21K (average of 3K a day for a week). I'm really liking the story still -- good news, eh? I could never have managed this pace with *False Perceptions*. I don't know whether that's good, bad, or indifferent, but it's a fact all the same. Maybe some day we'll get a professional opinion on which is the stronger story, but it's also possible I'll get no nibbles on either one. At any rate, it will be half a year at the least before either is ready to go out into the big world to seek its fortune.

I heard from Jim just before I left work at five that he had been called out on a service call an hour's drive out of town. I was smart enough to go through the A&W drive-through on the way home. It took me 55 minutes to do the chores by myself. The majority of the cows are in a pasture adjoining the haystack area, so for them I hauled bales over to the barbed wire fence (on my wheelbarrow!), broke the bales, and flipped the parts over. But I still needed five bales onto the atv trailer, and getting them over/under/through the fence was an entertainment not good for either my elbow or my shoulder. But I didn't get the atv stuck today (that was yesterday) so all was good, in the end. All the mooies have been fed and accounted for.

Tonight was the third weekly interdenominational praise night (which, as you may have noticed, Jim missed...) They are scheduled for eight weeks total, and I already know I am going to seriously miss them when they end. The band is made of musicians from various churches, and they are pretty tight considering. These evenings have provided much needed refreshment in my life.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Can I keep this up one more day?

I never thought that *Marks of Repentance* (aka: Shann) would get this kind of a kick start in its first week. Things just clicked today, and I wound up with a total of nearly 4K, bringing the total to date to a spit shy of 18K. I might as well go for the 21K pip at Forward Motion after all, don't you think? I just need a tad over 3K tomorrow, so if the customers and the characters all are agreeable, it should be a possibility.

The characters took the bit a few times today, but I managed to keep them turned in at least the general direction of the outline. I have to admit that it caught me off guard when Taafa and her cousin Nadiia had a shouting match in the courtyard, though. Poor Shann; I think it embarrassed him. I totally did not see this fight coming; I'd thought the cousins got along really well. Maybe they do. Even in the best of relationships there are squabbles at times. By both word count and scene count, I'm about a sixth of the way into the story. That does NOT mean I'll be done first draft in another five weeks, though. To say that continuing the pace would give me a major headache would be an understatement. I would like to know how the Sheila's and the Zette's of this world do those kind of numbers day after day, month after month, year after year. (Though I understand that Zette has had to slow down a bit in the past couple months).

Is there life outside writing? Barely, this week, although we did have worship team practice tonight, and tomorrow evening is the interdenominational worship service at the rec center. But mostly it's just write write answer-the-phone write.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

For what it's worth...

I went to Curves this morning and finally could do the whole circuit again. Whatever has been the deal with my elbow has lessened off somewhat. I can still feel the discomfort, but the pain is gone. Hallelujah.

My in-laws upgraded their computer monitor to a flat screen, and didn't know what to do with their old 17" *regular* monitor. WooHoo!!! With the tower I picked up for fifty bucks two years ago I have been using the 14" monitor that came with our first computer, a 486 from 1992. It's been wavering between pastel pink and nearly purple for at least half that time. So now the old monitor is in the dumpster, and I am happily looking at a WHITE background, HUGE screen (well, yes, I have one this size at home, but still...) Me happy.

Monday, March 28, 2005

More words!

It's been easier to justify all the writing I've done this weekend with the fact that it has been pouring cats and dogs. It certainly wasn't conducive to yard work or anything like that.

I believe this was the first Easter sunday in our history where we didn't go to church. Jim had been up til past one Saturday night finishing the drawer glides, which didn't want to run smoothly, and by Sunday morning we were so low on water in the cistern from two days of NOT hauling, that he had to get a load. It was the oddest feeling. In the meanwhile I put the second coat of sealer on the drawers and began the move-in. *Nice, happy drawers*. (We've got a stack of t&g pine that we plan to use for drawer fronts and doors, but that's the next phase. We need to lay in a supply of hinges and knobs before we go and get all carried away with that.)

Later in the afternoon we went over to one of Jim's sis's homes for dinner, which is always fun. At least that part was normal for Easter.

Today Jim went back to work, and I still had time off, so I hooked up with Mar and others writing online and went for words again. Over the four day weekend my novel has grown from zero words to over twelve thousand. March Madness is still on at Forward Motion till the end of the month, and I'm hoping to keep the daily average up for the next few days before being quite thankful for half that much, five days a week again. Meanwhile, I am comfortable in the story and am past the dreaded opening scenes and into the early middle. Yay me...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Behold the transformation!

Before Posted by Hello

After Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Of words and drawers

Ten o'clock in the evening, and I'm exhausted. For starters, some very nice person got the wrong number at 2:20 am, and was convinced for five minutes that they did, indeed want to talk to us. Jim hadn't been asleep long enough at that point, and neither of us found it easy to go back TO sleep. He had to be in town by seven thirty to help a friend move.

I could have gone back to sleep at that time, and I must admit I was very tempted to. But I'd kind of half made a deal with Mar last night for some more synchronized writing, so I rolled out of bed and hit the shower so I'd be ready for my writing stint. I got just over 2K over the morning write/run before Jim got home, and Mar had to head out for HER day, so I'm pleased with the effort.

For the rest of the day it's been back and forth between the computer and the drawer building expedition with one trip to town for 1/4" plywood (drawer bottoms) and screws thrown in for good measure. As a dual purpose day, it went very well. I added a further 1600ish words for a two day total of 7506. Taafa is just about to figure out that she said the wrong thing in front of the wrong person, and there will be only one way out if she wants to keep her skin intact. She's fond of her skin, but she's already thinking of ways to flip this situation and land on her feet. Her thoughts are pretty basic and are founded on how nice she thinks her skin is. Her writer's thoughts are much more devious. I happen to know it is going to take her another 100K or so to land on those aforementioned feet, and there will be times she very much regrets her impulsive words that triggered the mess. Oh, Shann? For some reason, he's been fairly willing to let ladies go first. Although he is certainly IN the story and has had several pov scenes, the bulk of the story so far has been from Taafa's pov. I think it will balance much more evenly once they officially meet in the scene after this one. At least, I think so.

At the moment there are four lovely plywood boxes on my kitchen table and countertop, drying from the first application of clear sealing finish. They have been carefully and lovingly built to fit into a particular section of lower *cabinetry*. One more clear coat, and it will (theoretically) be only a minor job to mount the drawer glides and my kitchen will be in business.

The next time you go in your kitchen and pull out your cutlery drawer to grab a spoon or fork, please think about what a wonder of technology such a drawer is. I have lived for four and a half years without one, and tomorrow some time I greatly look forward to sliding that drawer in and out, in and out. It is one of the many unsung pleasures of life, but it will take me awhile before I start taking it for granted. At least a week, I should think.

Friday, March 25, 2005

AND...we're off :)

After completing the store pricing yesterday, which I see I forgot to mention then, I was able to get a good start to *Marks of Repentance* today.

I wrote online today, mostly with Mar when we both had time, and pulled Shann's story from zero words to 3902. I am SO tired...but it feels good. That first chapter is always tough, even though you know you can--you will--you MUST--revise it later. There's just so much that has to go in, and yet the last thing you need is an info-dump. Anyway, if it isn't written, it can't be revised. So at least I'm free of THAT problem, as the story is well under way by now.

Jim got a good start on building four drawers for the kitchen cabinets today. You don't even want to know how a person functions in a kitchen for YEARS without drawers at all. Okay, I did install a couple of wimpy wire basket ones we got for free a few years ago, but they hardly count. We do need a few more supplies we can pick up in the morning, and then he's back to the sawing and gluing and other fun stuff, and I'll see if there are more words in me wanting to come out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Occasionally at work I actually WORK. I know this comes as a shock to some of my faithful readers, but it's true. In return for paying me, sometimes I need to do some pricing maintenance for my guys. Today I worked my way through almost all of the pricing guide of our major supplier. It's entiredly possible I'll be able to finish the other sections tomorrow; it's almost only ceramic tile left to double check, and I think one of the companies hasn't had an increase in recent memory. I did discover that I must have missed the commercial carpets last time I did this, though; there were some significant changes in that area. It's not an area that gets a lot of traffic, which is why no one noticed. I'll be glad when I have this out of my hair again, and can turn guilt-free to Mark of Repentance.

I've been playing out the opening scene for the book in my mind, trying to discover the way to lead into the story that provides both a glimpse of the world and a solid introduction to the conflict right at the beginning.

Here's the opening line of *Black* by Ted Dekker: "It all started one day earlier with a single silenced bullet out of nowhere." That leaves a couple of questions that beg an answer, doesn't it? There's certainly conflict. As an opening line, it is savorable. I'm on a hunt for my own opening line. Silenced guns aren't a big thing in my fantasy world, and there certainly isn't one going off right at the beginning. Or in the middle or the end, for that matter. Instead, I have a man alone with a ritually scarred face demanding to a foreign king that the king surrender. And then he walks away. And doesn't get killed. Lots to fit into that scene, for sure. And I hope it will beg many questions that my readers will want to find answers for.

At least it gives me something to think about besides price checks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A different day

You know, a lot of days are just like any other day. Oh, they have minor variations to be sure, but within well-defined parameters. Today is not being one of them.

I went to Curves this morning. It was still a bad idea. I still had to skip about four of the machines, and use two of them one handed, which they're NOT designed for. And YES my elbow is sorer than it was earlier. This is driving me crazy. How can a person injure an elbow and not even know about it? How can an elbow feel this much better and still hurt this much? Like, I feel stupid going to the doctor NOW, but...what's wrong with it? (Throwing hay bales every night after work isn't helping either, guaranteed, but Jim hurt his back on the weekend, so we're gimping it out together.)

Anyway, back to the story. I'm at Curves, sitting on the bench and putting my street shoes back on, and I glance out the window to see the hugest plume of black smoke. Something is quite obviously on fire, and not that far away. Traffic looks normal, though. I glance at the clock and see that I have time to spare to walk *the long way around* to work.

A seniors' 4-storey strata apartment building is on fire, right next to the nursing home. I know two of the people who live in the strata, one of my bosses' mothers-in-law, and a fellow whose flooring we've recently re-done. I know the mom is currently in hospital from a bad fall, which seems suddenly to be a good thing. And the old fellow I know comes across the street looking like he's seen a ghost. His is a ground floor apartment, and he says at the very best the place will be flooded with water damage. That didn't look true for quite awhile, though. Why does it take so very long for the fire department to get hoses going when they're right there already?

After awhile I decided that I really ought to go to work, that eventually somebody might want in the store, so I cut through the alley and...met my bosses. They'd seen the smoke from where they were working across town and thought it looked close to the store, so had come to investigate. So I walked back over to the fire with them while they talked to the people that they knew. Anyway, I got to work kinda late in the end.

So far today I have finished reading Holly's *Vincalis the Agitator*, which makes me want to re-read the Secret Texts trilogy to pick up on the foreshadowing type stuff in it. It's been a couple of years since I read them.

I actually have gotten a start on the pricing guides for the store, but I'm not too big on re-arranging the samples and stuff; my elbow hurts. Soon I'm going to have pain on the right side from favoring the left.

At noon I drove past the strata (or at least close enough to see). The fire is out. The building is still standing, but has no roof and looks plenty warped. Everyone who lived in the building is accounted for. The nursing home was evacuated to the rec center eight or nine blocks away; I imagine they're back home by now, unless there is water damage on the side of the building nearest the strata.

Monday, March 21, 2005


It seems about as hard to gear DOWN from writing as it does to gear UP. I did a fair bit of store work today, I guess, but I couldn't stay away from my story. Shann has become *Mark of Repentance* -- we'll see how long that lasts for a working title. I also tweaked the outline some more. Now it's at 62 scenes and is tighter in a couple of spots that needed it. (Not that I can remember yet what brainwave I had after lights out the other night.) More attention to pacing will doubtless still be a good thing. I've also updated the WIP link on the sidebar in case you're interested.

*Incredible* subplot lessons

It was a windy, cold, and snowy weekend, the perfect weekend for indoor pursuits. On Saturday I sewed a new comforter cover and pillowcases that I'd had the material for since November. I'd sort of been waiting until I got the new flooring and had the room gutted anyway for painting and flooring, but...I wanted the new look already. It doesn't *clash* with the current walls and carpet, but it doesn't look great either! Our sales reps want the guys to change a large section of demo floor at the store to something that is currently available, and I'm welcome to take home the *old* click laminate from that area. It's been in the store for two years and is in great shape. Only the really big question is WHEN the guys will have time to replace the store floor when they are so very busy? So, yeah. New look: started.

I also began scrapbooking our September trip to Vancouver Island. I've only had the scrapbook desk set up since January, so don't look at me that way. The hard part, apparently, is STARTING. I'm pleased with the eight or ten pages I've gotten done thus far.

Sunday after church Jim decided we needed to buy The Incredibles. So we watched it Sunday afternoon, went to his sister and brother-in-law's for supper and watched it again at their place with their two teen boys. It gave me some time to analyze the storyline (grin) and learn. If you've watched the movie, I'd be interested in your input. If you haven't, you may want to skip the rest of this post. Either you WANT to see it, and this will contain spoilers, or you DON'T want to, in which case you'll be bored silly.

Jean commented a few days ago that having trouble spotting subplots might be a good thing, meaning that they're so well interwoven into the main story line that they don't stand out. I have suspected all along, though, that it might require a different colored pair of glasses to see subplots. So I had a *duuh* moment (hour) with The Incredibles. So many subplots! The resolving of Bob and Helen's marriage problems is a subplot. Ditto Violet's shyness (characterized both by her relationship with Tony and by her hair, both resolved). Ditto Dash's learning the appropriate use of his powers (from a kid who puts tacks on his teacher's chair to a kid who figures out how to come in second in a race). Ditto Jack-Jack's having no special powers to figuring out what his are. Ditto Edna's search for the perfect material for super-suits, which includes the tiny subplot regarding why you should not have a cape on a super-suit. Ditto Mirage's recognition of Buddy's evilness and decision to help the Incredibles escape. Even the babysitter had her own subplot, from calm, cool and collected to frazzled beyond belief with Jack-Jack, to willingly giving the baby to the first person to walk in the door. Maybe the littlest subplot had to do with the neighbor kid on the tricycle, who kept sitting in their driveway to see what amazing thing would happen next. There are literally dozens of subplots woven together to create this super incredible movie. Could the movie have been done without all of these subplots? Certainly. Any one, two, or three of them could have been eliminated. The kid on the trike, for instance, adds NOTHING to the main story (except a little wow factor). But you couldn't have eliminated very many before the story would have begun to unravel. It would certainly have been a much less rich experience.

And without Violet's and Dash's subplots, how could this family have learned to work together (the main theme, I think), instead of Bob (Mr. Incredible) continuing to work alone? Many of the subs were necessary to the eventual outcome, but were still not, in and of themselves, the main plot.

For those of you who have wondered about my inability to understand subplots, I think you can relax now. I finally had on the right pair of glasses (incredible ones) to see the underworkings of the plot. Does that mean that the weaving wasn't tight enough? I don't think so. I think I was finally able to SEE, and it all fell into place. Hopefully it will prove to be like learning to ride a bicycle; once you know, you never forget how.

The dvd *extras*, such as the alternate opening scene were also fascinating from a writer's point of view (yes, we also watched THOSE twice). The director knew the story he wanted to tell, but played with different ways to get to it. What would set up the action in the best way? Also good lessons in how to eliminate unnecessary characters. And I haven't even touched the pacing of the story line, the lulls, the build-ups, the climax, the heroes thinking they've won and then finding the villain has the baby... So much more meat for study. Believe it or not, I could watch it again...

I feel like I spent hours yesterday in a writer's workshop! Good stuff. I recommend the movie, in case you haven't figured that out.

Friday, March 18, 2005


This morning when I looked out the window there were about twenty or more robins in the lilac bush (looking as annoyed as robins can get--scary, that...). Annoyed at what, you say? How about the snow covering the ground? It was quite a sight, actually. We had several inches, and then most of it melted by noon. If that was the worst kick-back we're getting out of winter, it's not so bad. We didn't even manage slick roads out of it.

But, I digress. Today has REAL NEWS. Today is the day we have all been waiting for. Today is the day that I make an announcement. Ready? I finished first draft of my 2-year novel, False Perceptions. It came in at about 84K, which is my longest first draft to date. I'll be able to add 10-20K easily enough by setting scenes better (description is something I really gloss over in first draft; *I* can see it, why can't you?) and then there are those subplots that I need to search out and tie off. I can think of several right off the top.

Friday afternoon. Ah. It will be nice to think about something else for a while.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

soooooooo cloooooooooooose.........

It was looking hopeful there for awhile this morning. I wrote over 1800 words and I'm somewhere in the midst of the final chapter. Does that not sound like the perfect time for a peripheral migraine? Writing is not worth the headache. Not worth the chance of pushing it into a full scale one. I closed the file, turned some of the lights on low in the back corner of the store, and stared at the backs of my eyelids. I did NOT nap, honest!!

I can think of a couple of subplots that I did not wrap up adequately, back a chapter or two when I should have. I'll make notes and catch those in revision. For now, I'm just going to glory in the fact that I recognized some of the subplots in the book at all. Have I mentioned that I have a lot of trouble figuring out subplots? My book or your book, doesn't matter. It seems like they're invisible to the naked eye. Anyway, this story has some (yay!) and I haven't tied them up right (not so yay). However, it is progress.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Forward Ho!

One more calf yesterday; now we're up to 14 out of the expected 18. We haven't tagged this one yet, so don't know which gender the cutie-pie is. With the 13 we were at 7 heifers and 6 bulls.

Late last week (before my fight with the cow) I pulled a muscle or tendon in my left elbow. It's been causing a fair bit of pain when I try to lift anything with my left hand. (Thankfully it hasn't affected my typing comfort or speed.) Just in the past couple of days it's felt a little better so I tried Curves this morning, thinking that I might have to pass by one or two of the machines. Bad idea. Really bad idea, actually. That's all they'll see of me this week, I'm thinking. Hopefully by Monday it will have receded. The really odd thing is that I have no idea how I injured the elbow. I hate when that happens.

*False Perceptions* is zinging right along at over 2K today. And I might have been right. This might be the second last chapter after all. Suddenly things are getting more condensed, which may be an okay thing. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get first draft done this week. What a relief that will be. I'm looking forward to several FP-free months. After that I'll be in a better position to decide on the quality of the story.

Got one more crit out the door today, but there's still one in the line-up. This one doesn't have a rush on it, so I may leave it until next week. My main goal the rest of this week will be to get the 2ynovel done.

Not that I've remembered yet whatever it was in Shann plot points that I thought of late the other night. I'm trying really hard not to obsess about that. Grr.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

As promised...

Mick Silva is hosting this month's celebration at his blog My Writers Group. There are quite a few links to various blogs, folks discussing aspects of Christian writing. Check it out if you're interested.

Another decent writing day on the home front, another 1300-plus words to finish a difficult, draining chapter. Somehow, I still think that I have three left to write, which is strange. It's what I thought after the last one... Still, at some point it has to be true, doesn't it?

I spent a couple of hours today actually earning my keep at work. When things cave in, they often do so in a big way. Three separate suppliers' orders got screwed up this week, how ya figure that? We'll see tomorrow if the dust has all settled. Some of it my guys will have to pay for, but one of the suppliers will have to kick in a fair chunk for shipping.

Last night after I went to bed (way too late...) and was nearly asleep, I thought of some plot twists for *Shann*. Being too far gone to reach for the lamp, notebook, and pen, I told myself that this was so obvious I couldn't possibly forget it, because it will naturally arise out of the story. Jeepers, I hope so. Can't for the life of me figure out what part of the story, though. Or what it was. Or what was so ground-breaking at one a.m. Or...

Monday, March 14, 2005


Weekends are always so busy that I struggle to stay awake Mondays at work. I got plenty of sleep last night, too. There were a few customers in the morning, but the afternoon was fairly quiet.

I managed about 1500 words of *False Perceptions*. I'm in a confusing spot, because as I was writing, I realized another scene should come first, so I started on that one. So now I've got two partially done bits.

I had planned to do a crit this aft (I have two in the wings) but just couldn't deal with it. Too, too tired to make sense. So I poked and massaged the *Shann* outline some more, and I'm up to 59 scenes. I've even found some places to add conflict that don't require anyone getting captured and escaping yet again (Jean will be glad to know...) I'm about half way through the outline massage, and I know of a couple more places that are looking a little thin, so I'm hopeful to have a decent lengthed outline to start with. Getting closer...

Tomorrow is the second monthly Celebration of New Christian Fiction. If you had a look around last time, you might enjoy this one as well. I'll post the info in the morning, when I get it all. I think there are more bloggers participating this time than last.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Calves on Saturday morning

Of course Jim was away for the day on Saturday, when I discovered that two of the cows were in labor. Should be no big deal, I figure. I grab the digital camera. The farthest along is Molly. It will be her second calf.

Here the front hooves are just starting to show Posted by Hello

The calf being birthed. Posted by Hello

And it wasn't a big deal, until after the first birth, when the OTHER cow in labor decided how nice it was that she'd already given birth but didn't remember. She wouldn't let Molly anywhere near her own calf, and Molly, being new to this whole procedure, backed off. Not so me.

All was well until the old auntie biddy came snooping around Posted by Hello

I put down the camera and spent twenty minutes duking it out with the old cow. We circled around that baby dozens of times, me punching her on the side of the nose every time she leaned down to lick the calf. Finally I got her circling farther from the calf, allowing Molly back in there. With a LOT of help from God (yes, He DOES care about stuff like this), I managed to get the older cow clear down to the other end of the pasture and somehow locked up into the calving pen BY MYSELF (except...remember God?). That's probably an eighth of a mile. I have NEVER been good at moving cows. But like the Visa credit card commercial says, I was everywhere she wanted to be. When I got back, this is what I saw:

Mom and baby doing well. Posted by Hello

The old cow gave birth about an hour later.

We are now at thirteen calves, and about ready to go tag the two babies and turn them loose with the other moms and babies. They're well bonded with each other by now.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Winding up the Work Week

Between yesterday and today, *False Perceptions* has grown by just over 3K. It's feeling good, emotional and tense. I've remapped my way to the finish line, which is just three chapters away now (I think, unless I find a new map). The map was good; it outlined what needed to happen to get to my HEA ending. The same stuff is still happening; just we're cutting the technical bits and sticking closer to the characters than the plot. I think it's working. Obviously I can't totally dispense with the technical bits, but I think this approach is working better. It's about the characters, and they have some huge stuff to resolve -- the stuff that the plot keeps hucking at them. I'm way happier than I ever thought I would be writing this book. I wonder if there's places *back there* where I got balled up last time that needed this approach as well?

Still frantically busy at work. My boss is starting to mumble about locking the store doors for a week so that there will be no new stuff to deal with for awhile. Three new lookers today, and one gal who ordered her lino in October is ready (!) for installation next week. Good luck, lady. It just ain't ahappenin'.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Why a critique group? What's in it for me?

What benefits are there to a good online critique group? While I don't have vast experience with these circles myself (or with their sisters, the walk-in crit groups), I think different people expect different things when they hear the term.

Not every writer needs or desires a team approach. I know several fine writers who write, polish, and submit without any other eyes looking over their manuscripts. Some of them sell stories and books, too. It's a sound way to do things.

My understanding of many published writers (alas, I am not yet in a position to know this for myself...) is that their agent and editor act as a crit group for them. The writer pitches an idea, and the agent may suggest changes. The writer writes the story; the editor suggests changes. And the line editor will go through every sentence with a fine-tooth comb. Etc.

Some folks may think that a bunch of unpublished writers have nothing valid to offer each other: what do these unwashed writers actually KNOW, what expertise do they actually HAVE that another writer should listen to them? I firmly believe that we have much to offer each other.

These are specific areas that we can help each other with. Complex worldbuilding can use an extra set (or more) of eyes. Sometimes when I am neck deep into building a backdrop I don't see the inconsistencies I've created. I've been at it for weeks, eating and drinking it, sleeping and dreaming it, and I can't see the forest for the trees.

I also appreciate comments on the plot outline before I start to write, for the same reason. Sometimes I think a character will do one thing when it is obviously not in his character to do it, or it is not consistent with the worldbuilding. Is it just sloppy plotting on my part? Maybe. But it is hard to think of everything when *everything* is so all-encompassing. Someone with a narrower field of view can zero in on potential difficulties more readily.

As I critique another writer's work, I come to understand some of the flaws in my own work reflected in theirs. Perhaps their villain's actions don't seem logical. And as this makes me think of my own villains, I begin to see similar problems, and possibly ways to solve them.

Some groups require each writer to submit a certain number of pages each week for critique. To my lopsided way of thinking, that may not be useful. My preference is to push my way through the entire first draft without formal feedback, with few exceptions. In one story I wrote, I had a child nearly drown. I submitted that particular scene to a lifeguard for review before going on. I needed to know it was valid, the way I saw it in my head.

After the first draft is complete, I think it should rest a bit, if possible. Go do something else: write another first draft, plot out a new novel, or revise an earlier work before coming back to it. When you think you've gotten the bulk of the tweaking done, that's when I think new eyes can be helpful once again. Line edits may be useful here, but maybe the story isn't ready for them. I wasted several people's time when I asked them for line edits, but the story had more fundamental problems that needed addressing. Don't waste time on line edits when vast paragraphs or even chapters need to be ripped out and rewritten.

Should writers in a group be jealous of another writer's more advanced skills? No. When that writer sells, it benefits the whole group. They all stand to gain much information and encouragement from it. Should a more experienced writer look down on those who have less skill? No, not if they're willing to work on their craft. A little mentorship can go a long way. Every writer's learning curve is different, but I believe it is valuable to give a helping hand where needed, as much as I am thankful to those who reach down and give me the same.

If you sell a book, does that narrow the market for me? Not really. Maybe this particular publisher now has a full list for this quarter, but the real problem is not how many books are available, but how few people are readers. Support the industry: give books as gifts whenever you can! Help turn your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews into lifelong readers.

Is there a difference between Christian crit groups and *regular* ones? Yes and no, with emphasis on both.

There is no difference. Both should hold up the highest standards of the craft to each other. Both should treat each other with respect, encouraging and cajoling one another to meet their goals.

There is a difference. A group of Christians who band together in such a way has the added benefit of a more focused goal, that of glorifying God through their stories. They also pledge to pray for one another through the journey, sharing and supporting one another at a deeper level.

Is this view of critique groups *the last word*? No, not at all. It is simply my personal viewpoint; what works for me. There are a few other people who share this vision with me, and we have formed a small group. Others are considering joining us. While many have certainly traveled the road alone, and reached their destination, others may falter or lose their way at an unmarked crossroad.

Share the burden. Share the joy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rusted wheels

The wheels were rusted and squeaky. It took a great deal of effort to get them turning. Several shots of oil were required where various gears interlocked. In the end, though, the wheels did turn.

And *False Perceptions* is 1088 words longer than it was yesterday. I re-read the last few chapters to set the scene, being as I've been ignoring the story for about a month now. The chapters did not stink as badly as I thought they did. They are not prize-winning prose, either, but the story is better than I remembered. That can only be a Good Thing, right?

The rest of the day got divided up (not very evenly) between customers, worship team planning (we got bumped forward a week), starting to draw a map for Nuumour's capital city (Shann), and getting first draft done for a crit. I always like to let a crit sit overnight when I can. I'm more likely to catch things that don't make sense or come across harsh if I can see it with a fresh eye.

Busy busy busy. I guess that's how things are going to be this spring. At least the time will go fast.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Some folks will do anything to keep from writing.

Today, however, it required a two-pronged approach. First, customers are always good for that kind of procrastination, and today they produced for me in a big way. Most of them found it hard to believe they'd have to wait at least two months before the guys could come replace their flooring. But only one person actually said she couldn't wait that long, sorry. I set up three new measures for the guys to do. We have three entire brand new houses between now and freedom, and by then there will be more stuff. The usual spring rush is just now starting.

My second approach was in fielding emails to and from folks interested in joining the Christian sff crit group that I'm involved in. When I posted openings, I didn't expect quite so much attention. If everyone who asked for initial information today responds again and wants to take the process a step further, I'll have a fair bit of critting to do as well. All in a good cause, though. We need more brains to bounce ideas off of, and are perfectly willing to bounce other people's ideas too. And if you are reading this as one of those applicants, don't worry, I didn't get SO MANY that we're turning folks away on that account. We'd be full, though!

Have you heard this before? Tomorrow I MUST get back to work on my novel.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Inspiration is elusive

In an effort to regain enthusiam for my stalled 2ynovel, *False Perceptions* I re-read the entire progress thread at Forward Motion. This progress thread is where I posted the various assignments in response to the classes, and where folks (bless you all) could comment, encourage, question, or pick apart the various aspects. It was a very valuable process, and something I've missed (on that massive scale) during the planning of *Shann*. Reading through the thread took several hours. I wish I could say that my enthusiasm for the story was re-kindled and is burning brightly once again. Instead, I see instance after instance where I had difficulties capturing parts of the story. Times when I just couldn't get inside my main character's head and figure her out. Times when my worldbuilding and plotting were inconsistent, producing large enough holes to not only drip water, but to sail entire war fleets through. And those who followed faithfully through the process, asking the telling questions, etc, were being kind and helpful. And honest. It's no fault of theirs that the story isn't tighter.

I can't be too hard on myself, either. I had only written two novels before the 2yn class began. Now I'm at three and three quarters, nearly double. I've learned a lot both THROUGH the process and ABOUT the process. I've used many of the 2yn classes for doing the ground work for *Shann*, but I have to admit I've done many of them in a different order, with different emphasis, and I've gone back and forth between them as inspiration hit.

What am I saying? It's gonna be a tough couple of weeks, but I'm going to get the story out onto the screen. I'm not giving up on the first draft this close to the end. (You've already figured out I was stubborn, right?!) Will I actually be able to clean this novel up enough that I feel comfortable submitting it? THAT is an entirely different question. And I have no idea of the answer.

Busy Weekend

We had another calf, this one a bull calf for a total count of 11 calves. They are all strong and healthy. Jim replaced the tubes in our bike tires and oiled up the chains, etc to we could start biking again. We went for a few very short rides over teh weekend, enough to know that very short rides are going to be the norm for a week or two until our muscles begin to strengthen again. It's been a few years since we've done any significant amount of cycling, so we're out of shape for it. I shudder to think how bad it would be if I *wasn't* going to Curves three times a week.

Jim also got the leaks in our fiberglass slip tank fixed, which should make hauling water in the truck a little less of a dampening experience. The slip tank fits in teh truck bed and holds three hundred gallons of water, which we dump into a thirteen hundred gallon cistern at home. This is a chore that constantly needs doing.

MY biggest project over the weekend though was cleaning out our porch. It gets to be a major dumping zone, and it had been awhile since it got tackled to this degree. This morning I hauled four bags of garbage into work for the dumpster (we don't have garbage pickup at the farm) and a lot of recycling. It looks a heck of a lot better than it did on Friday.

Now it's time to read through my entire 2yn thread at Forward Motion (which has been loading onto my computer while I wrote this) and see if I can get some inspiration for the final scenes of *False Perceptions*. Here goes!

Friday, March 04, 2005


I've been working back and forth from a Word document to notecards to a new Word document. Why? I'm not sure, but it seems to work for me. The first Word document is filled with random bits of scenes and things that I believe will happen in the Shann novel, mostly pretty sketchy. Then I took those bits and created scenes out of them, putting each perceived scene on its own notecard, with the pov character's name in the top left. If I'm not sure whose pov the scene will be from, I'm happy to leave it blank for now. Probably three quarters of them were easy to figure out, though. Then I shuffle those notecards around until they make some sort of logical order, and try to figure out what has to happen in between them to get the characters to the next notecard. That helped to fill in a few more. When I got stuck, I typed them back into a new Word document, a line for the pov, a line for the setting, then however many lines needed to describe what happens. When you click on word count, you can also see how many paragraphs you've made. Divide by three (because you've hit enter three times for each scene) and you know how many scenes you've thought up so far. I now have 51, and I'd be happier with 70-80 as my scenes tend to average 1500 words, and I'm aiming for 120K.

There are two options, and I'll likely use both. One is to take a close look at the pacing. I think there may be parts with too much action and no scenes allowing the development of the relationship between my two characters, who are from two very different cultures and falling in love. I need to mine that diversity more, I think. I also need to find out ways to *kill some time* while a character is pregnant. In essence, that's also a pacing problem, and unfortunately, she can't really get pregnant enough earlier to make a real difference to the plot line. As it is, there's little way that time can simply pass, and I need to figure out something that works for that. I don't know if sending them on another wild goose chase at that stage (as in, adding yet another major conflict) will be the right thing to do. That would be the second way to up the ante as far as scene count goes. At least I know at which stage in the plot things need to stretch out.

But really, isn't there a limit to the number of times two people (one or the other or both) can get captured and escape in one novel? You mean I may have to come up with something else? LOL

In other news, calf #10 was born today. Six heifers and four bull calves so far, eight babies left to come.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Adding twists

In this lovely limbo world I have created for myself this week (having completed *Quest* and not yet feeling guilty about not writing on *False Perceptions*), I enjoyed a play date with Shann and Taafa. As complicated as I thought I made their lives last time I wrote out outline point ideas, I see that my scene list is still too short to make a novel of 120K, my new goal. Now, it seems I *always* write short, so I'm really going to try to get my first draft up there somewhere in the neighborhood of the actual goal. I know I can add stuff in revision, subplots and more description, which I'm weak on, but wouldn't it be easier to get it close to right to start with? It seems so from this vantage point, where I am stretching my leg muscles behind the starting block, just waiting for the race official to wave the flag for the beginning of this new marathon.

You always love to hear about my goals, right? :p Okay. Next week I'm back at *False Perceptions* until IT IS FINISHED by golly. I allow myself till the end of March, but it will be pathetic if it takes that long. There can't be more than 10K left to write.

Pacing. The goals for Shann are as follows: Starting by April 4 (beginning of a new week), I plan (bad me, I almost wrote *hope*!) to write about 1500 words per day, Monday through Friday. Sixteen weeks of this should see me with a finished first draft of about 120K. If I get slack or (gasp) take some vacation time, add a few weeks. So, the end of July to the end of August. Then it will be revision time for *False Perceptions* with the 2yn class.

Now I still have to contemplate subplots for Shann. Why are these always so difficult for me to put a finger on?

This is not a rant

I know you don't come here to read a political rant, so I will continue to bite my tongue and not comment on this. Please do understand that while I, as a cattle producer, am extremely upset, I realize this is nothing YOU personally, as an American friend, did to ME, personally.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Yes, that rates a newspaper headline. I got finished the tail end of the novel just at lunchtime today. It came in at 69555, but honestly, if I ever decide to do something with it, it's likely to be YA, so its relatively short length wouldn't necessarily be against it. I really enjoyed writing this entire story with the excpetion of last week, and a few days back in November (its the '04 nano project). For now, I just need to back up the file and let it sit for awhile. Hopefully when I get back to it later on this year I'll know whether it would be a good thing to polish up or if it is best continuing to be what I thought of at the time, just a fun little project.

The rest of this week is Fun-with-Shann week. I need to breakthrough on some plotting bits that are fuzzy, and I'm not entirely sure what motivates Taafa at certain points in the outline. I posted some bits for my crit group this afternoon; maybe they'll see things in it that I missed. I hope so, because I know it isn't all perfectly clear. They'll be hearing more from me as the week wears on, but then I'll be quiet again as I take a deep breath and jump back into *False Perceptions* next week. There can't be more than 10K to go on that novel, either. A good shove should get me through it. I sincerely hope.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A Link Worth Visiting

I just found Flogging the Quill thanks to Pat Loomis. This entry Story as River is about the right way to start a story, and is very interesting. Check it out!


I got another 1370 in the final chapter of *Quest* this morning. Things are looking pretty grim at the moment, which is just as it should be. I like it! At noon I wondered whether I'd continue with *Quest* in the afternoon or switch to *Shann*. The question was completely moot. It was a busy busy afternoon. A friend came in for tea with me and left when she had finished hers. Mine was still untouched! My bosses are glad that all three of the jobs I sold this afternoon are do-it-yourselfer jobs. Everything is ordered and on the way. Our fax machine is also acting up so I dashed out for a bit and researched getting a new one. Do you know that it is relatively uncommon to have a fax machine with a voice answering machine built in? I love this feature, and the guys may have to swing for a separate answering machine. Or I can leave two fax machines plugged into the phone line and simply leave one empty of paper and transfer film... Hmm. We're gonna have to make a decision in the next day or two, before I take a hammer to this one. (Did I say that out loud?)

In case you were wondering

My medical test results yesterday came back completely clean. I guess my body just had a glitch, which my doctor isn't worried about. Neither am I.

This kitty was just too photogenic to keep to myself, even if there may be a few flowers that can't make it to the surface for blooming. Posted by Hello