Monday, October 31, 2005

Countdown to Nano

Something like 8 1/2 hours to go here. Around the world, the calendar rolls over to November first, one timezone at a time, and thousands of crazy people begin their own private (and collective) Nano insanity. We pledge to write a minimum of 50,000 words in the month of November, and some of us are greedy for completed first draft novels of larger girths. We will only give up if we run out of chocolate before the end of the month. Obviously, stocking up is a vital process. We are crazy, but we are not alone. The characters in our heads are clamoring to get out, to quit talking about what they're going to do, and get on with doing it. Of the thousands (anybody know how many people signed up this year?) of participants, we also array ourselves in little groups of online writing chums, in larger forums at nano and elsewhere. We talk big.

We're already tired. Maybe I should skip the *we* already. :P I know its possible, as I did it last year, and so did tons of other people. But was it really this busy at work last year? I don't think so. I do know I was running on far more energy a year ago than I am now. Now I'd just like a nap.

Maybe I'll settle for stocking up on chocolate instead. Er, I mean food. It does take more than chocolate to get through an entire month. I guess I'll hit the grocery store on my way home from work. It's Hallowe'en, they might even have chocolate on sale! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fantasy writers

So. You think you're a fantasy writer? See how you fare on the The Fantasy Novelist's Exam. I'll be interested to hear the results.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Two diverse items of interest to writers

First off, any of you who hang out at Zette's blog already have met the woodle pooves, but it occurs to me that I have some readers who doubtless are unfamiliar with them. If your characters always do what you tell them to, beware. Don't let them see Zette's blog entry, for they may get ideas. Oh, and a bit of advice for YOU the writer: Do not take a sip of any beverage as you open that link, unless said beverage will be easy to wipe off your monitor after you spew it forth. Yes, that funny.

Secondly, and on a more serious note, I read the good news this morning that Holly Lisle, author of over 25 books ranging from science fiction and fantasy to romantic suspense, is coming out with a non-fiction book, Create a Character Clinic in January. Holly builds excellent characters, and I think this book will be well worth it. I discovered Holly and Forward Motion almost four years ago through Holly's free downloadable book Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love and Money. It was full of much more practical information about writing than most of the books I'd taken out of the library on the topic, and I assume this new book will be even better, reflecting a more specific topic and more years of writing under her belt.

Creston Mapes' first book

From time to time I've had the opportunity to blog about something new in Christian publishing. And from time to time there really IS something new. One of the most unique releases I've come across recently is DARK STAR: Confessions of a Rock Idol by Creston Mapes.

I haven't yet had a chance to read Creston's book, but I will be if I can get my hands on a copy, even though it doesn't really look like my first choice genre. I'm wondering how my son and teenage nephews might like it. This is how Creston himself describes his story: "Dark Star is a wild ride! It's a first-person account - a memoir-style novel - about a drug addicted, millionaire rock star named Everett Lester. He is on trial for the first degree murder of his personal psychic. Everett begins getting letters from a Christian girl in Topeka, Kansas - and without wanting to admit it, he finds hope in those letters. Dark Star is Everett's story about his troubled youth, his world-famous band, DeathStroke, his popularity and riches, his discontentment, his dabblings in the psychic realm, and his ultimate decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life."

The first chapter is posted on Creston's website. Go read it; you know you want to!

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Vist from the Police

Yesterday my friend-the-RCMP-Officer Tom phoned to say he was in town. He came on down to the farm for supper, and then let me pick his brain about police drug squad work for a couple of hours. Who knows why I'm suddenly interested in drugs? (Not DOing them, you understand...) I got a few little plot twists for the novel from Tom, and a few things that won't work quite the way I thought, but it's all good. I think I can work with reality here. Such a shock. (I mean working with reality is a shock...)

My biggest problem will be reading the notes I wrote while he was here. I was scribbling in an all-fired hurry, trust me. I can hardly read my writing the next day when I've taken my time with it, but today has been too crazy-busy to even open the notebook, until now. And I'm so scared of my own handwriting, I'm in here blogging instead. Not sure what that says about me, or my handwriting.

It's been a busy month at the flooring shop, but today capped it all. Just nutso for hours and hours. I hope it's not like that in November, or it's gonna be harder to get through Nano.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Down home on the farm

I don't have a lot of progress to tell you on the writing front, so here's a kitty to let you know I'm still thinking of you all. Ain't she cute? :)

One of Miranda's kittens Posted by Picasa

Yesterday we shipped our calves. Thursday Jim and a few other guys separated out the calves from their mamas, and kept the calves in the corral over night. Trust me, we did not get much sleep, due to all the bawling and bellowing. The bovines were *quite* unhappy. So we were up around five o'clock on Friday. One of the calves had lost her eartag, so job #1 was re-tagging her.

Okay. Picture this (cause I was too busy to actually take the photos, you'll have to use your own imagination): a wet, muck-filled corral with 17 calves, averaging 500-600 pounds each. Hubby, with a rope. He's going to slip the rope around the tag-less calf's neck, cinch her to the nearest post, and re-tag her through the old hole in her ear. He just wants me there *in case*. Have the setting in mind?

Characters go into action. The wonderful hubby slips said rope around calf's head. He wraps the rope quickly around the nearest post. Problem. There is about eight feet of tautly stretched rope. Oh, and 16 other calves, all quite excited about the action. Hubby hangs onto the rope, but he is too far away from the calf to encourage her forward. And she has all four hooves planted firmly in the muck, and has absolutely no intention of closing the gap.

Enter wife (that's me), stage south. I'm dressed right. Overalls. Rubber boots. My job is to encourage her to go with the rope. I'm like in the middle of the corral when the suction of the muck overcomes my ability to move. I have a choice. I can either: a) keep my right foot in its boot, and fall headlong in the muck (remember the 17 calves, kicking around), or b) remove foot from boot, abandoning said boot in middle of corral, but keeping my balance. Sort of.

More setting required, this time auditory. Seventeen calves, bawling and mooing at the top of their (expansive) lungs. Seventeen cows on the other side of the boards, increasing the racket tenfold. A bull, and a few other casual bovine onlookers, adding to the noise because everyone else is doing it and it sounds like fun. Hubby, yelling: "Move her foward! Get out of the way! What are you DOing? Are you okay?" Yes, all in one breath.

I wasn't much help. The calf stayed stretched out at the end of the rope, at least six feet from the fence. The other sixteen stampeded across my imbedded boot to the other end of the corral. Hubby followed his rope to the calf and popped the tag through with no additional excitement, then pulled out my boot and handed it to me, where I was perched on the railing.

I looked at the boot. I looked at my manure soaked sock. I looked at my boot. I pulled off my sock, stuck my foot in the boot, and climbed out of the corral, dropping my icky sock on the burning pile on the way by.

Oh, yes. We also had our share of fun actually loading the calves on the trailer, but I'll spare you the details.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Houston, we have an outline!

I got the outline for the Nano romance put together over the weekend, and it came in at 45 scenes, which is about what I was aiming for. Some of the scenes will be a ton of fun to write, too, so I'm starting to get excited about November.

However. (Isn't there always a however?) However, I have a lot of research to do. My big job today was writing down all the questions I could think of that have sprung out of my outline, categorizing them, and figuring out how to get the research done for them. I sent out three email requests to people in the know, and now I get to wait for responses. (Checks email inbox again.)

Just in case you all are knowledgable about these things, the categories are:
Police procedural work in Canada on a drug raid.
Watercolor artwork.
The city of Victoria, BC.

Anyone stepping up to the plate to help? No? And drat, my email inbox is STILL empty. Did I remember to tell everyone that time is of the essence? Taps fingers. Right, I have two weeks yet, but I'm aware that some of these answers might well lead to new questions, and we'll need time to answer those too. I'm off to check my email...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

JOY -- another tag!

I saw this meme begin on Holly Lisle's blog a couple of days ago, and thought it might eventually come around here to roost. Thanks, Tina. I think! Here it is:


Search your blog for the word “joy” used in the context of “happiness.” If you cannot find the word in your weblog, you may use any of the select list of synonyms below.

joy — amusement, bliss, cheer, comfort, delectation, delight, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, exultation, exulting, felicity, gaiety, gladness, glee, good humor, gratification, happiness, hilarity, humor, jubilance, liveliness, merriment, mirth, pleasure, rapture, regalement, rejoicing, revelry, satisfaction, wonder

If you’ve found the word and it was not used facetiously or sarcastically, good for you. All you need to do is link to your earlier entry, and write a few words about that joyous moment. If, however, you have no joy (whole words only) in your weblog, you must dig deep in your soul and find something wonderful in your life right now. One little thing that fills you with warmth, that bubbles you over with quiet happiness, or tickles you with its good-hearted hilarity, or makes you glad you just took a breath, and are getting ready to take another. It doesn’t have to be anything big. A smile someone gave you; your cat on your shoulder; the way the light angles through your window and casts rainbows on your floor. All it has to be is something genuine, something real, something that matters to you.

Because we all need joy in our lives, and need to take the time — from time to time — to recognize it. And sometimes, we need to pass it on.

Even if we’re a big pain in the ass when we do.

When you’ve dealt with your own joy, pass the quest on to five other bloggers.


Do you know something? Apparently in the ten and a half months I have been on blogspot, I have not used the word JOY once. That's embarrassing. My understanding of the word *joy* is that it is an underlying satisfaction in one's life, rather than *happiness*, which can come and go with the weather. There is much in my life that gives me true joy.

I find great joy in my relationship with Jesus, who gave himself for me.

I find great joy in my husband, Jim, in my kids and kids-in-law, in my friends both in Real Life and here on the web. You all mean a lot to me, in that understated supportive way. I love you!

I hereby tag:
Mar, who sprung the last one on me.
Maripat, because I know she wants to.
Lisa, because now I know she's reading my blog after all.
EJ, because she was so excited to be tagged last time.
Linda Ruth, because to the best of my knowledge, she doesn't KNOW she was tagged last time yet.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

One of those weeks

If you were guessing that I haven't posted because there's been nothing to say, you're close to right. Finally finally finally the workmen are finished fixing up the exterior of the store. Finally I have finished repainting the sign and it is back up above the door.

Now BC teachers are on strike, and while I no longer have kids at home, my bosses do. So my one boss loaned me a teenage boy this morning to do some of the heavy work I've been avoiding around here. Even so, I did too much and am suffering for it. But you can't ignore a gift teenager! I'd certainly be in much worse shape if I'd've moved all those five gallon buckets myself. Mostly I directed traffic.

On the writing front, I've been jotting things in a notebook as I think of them. When I went over the notes to see what I had, I discovered that I have roughly half the novel outlined. Gotta love the low-pain method of outlining. I still need to key in what I've got and figure out where it goes from here. It's gotta go somewhere, because my couple aren't together yet. And I still have 30K of story left to go. Hopefully I'll be able to get to that yet today.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blade Dancer

I've just finished Blade Dancer by Sheila Viehl. Here's another great opening line for you: All I was trying to do when they caught me was bury my mother in an unmarked grave. This opens a very strange book, but truth to tell, most anything Sheila writes (and she writes in five genres, so that's a lot!) is a little strange. My daughter said that she and her husband agreed that Blade Dancer was the best book they had read in 2005. And MY husband has rapidly become a Sheila fan himself. If you enjoy science fiction with a twisted sense of humor, give this book a try!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I've been Tagged...

Um, thanks Mar! The deal is as follows:
1. Delve into your blog archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas...

5. Tag five people to do the same.

My 23rd blog entry was from January 26 of this year. (Well, actually, it would have been on my old blog, but it is forever lost, so we'll skip it.) The title of this blog entry was: Temporary change of focus, and the fifth sentence is:Starting Thursday is a character-building marathon at FM.

Ponder it for hidden meaning, eh? Lol. Well, I'm still plenty active at Forward Motion, so it's nothing new or memorable that I mention on the blog some of the goings on over there. We often have marathons that range from *mundane* word count marathons, or editing marathons, to see how much mileage one can achieve if one concentrates for 48 hours, to the less frequent character building, outlining, synopsis, or other marathons. In fact, it may be of interest to note that this week contains an outline marathon, in which I'll be trying to put my general thoughts for the Nano novel into a roadmap for November.

I remember that particular marathon, though, as I was very excited about the new novel I was preparing to write back then, Marks of Repentance, a Christian fantasy novel. Revising it is my next goal after Nano. I absolutely love the story, and even though I finished the first draft in July, a day rarely goes by when I don't even think of the characters or the plot or the sequel I plan to write after revisions. Planning...always planning!

And now...hehehe, I get to tag five other people. Hmm, let's see. Some I would have tagged already have been, (you know who you are, Jean and Maripat, so let's send things spinning in a new direction:

Linda Ruth

Friday, October 07, 2005

whoosh goes the week

The amount of writing related things I have gotten done this week is pitiful. Between my guys finally hiring someone to fix up the exterior of the store, physio, customers, etc, I'm not much ahead of the game.

The exterior fixup affects me because I've been nagging my guys for about the last three years to deal with it, ever since I got the interior finished. (I've been here 4 1/2 years.) And the deal always has been that I would paint them a new sign. In the end, it turns out that I've been repainting the original sign. Yes, its hard on the neck. It is laid out on a 36" high island in the store's lobby, so at least it's a comfortable working height generally speaking. Could have been much worse. I still have some touchups to do to it next week, but the bulk of it is complete.

I spent an entire day online dissecting someone else's synopsis, again a very good experience. To squish an entire novel into five pages requires very perfect words, with as many layers of nuance shaded in as is humanly possible. And someday soon it will be my turn to be on the chopping block. Er, my synopsis's turn, that is.

I've done some preliminary work on the characters for my nano novel, but they don't have the depth yet that they need, not even close. Maybe I'll get a chance over the weekend to figure out what really makes them tick. Anyone else doing nano this year?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

It occurs to me

that I have not mentioned how my neck has been doing in the last week or two. That's not because it's all better. Just the opposite, in fact. The xrays revealed permanent damage to three disks in my neck (if the numbers 5,6, and 7 mean anything to you). Interestingly, the pain I've had on and off over the last year in my left elbow is directly traceable to one of these smushed disks. The doctor says damage such as this is normally from an injury or accident, but I can't remember anything in my entire life that could have caused this, and all four of my older sisters simply point at each other when asked if they dropped me on my head as a baby. Talk about passing the buck! Anyway, it takes a while to get into physio around here, and I'm hoping the physio will help some with the coping mechanism. The pain will flare from time to time, but the idea is that there should be good times in between. I'm hoping, praying, and aiming for LONG good times in between. At the moment, this means that friends are having to bail me out (pun intended) with the chores while Jim works out of town. He's home again tomorrow though, and it's getting close to calf selling time. That will help.

It's GONE!

And that is such a good thing. Not even five minutes ago I emailed False Perceptions off to my valiant crew of beta readers--thank you gals so much! It came in at 93K (up from 84K in first draft). Now I am going to do my best not to think about the story or its readers for a couple of months, but it's kinda hard sometimes to switch gears.

Monday I'll be starting the pre-work on my nano novel for this year. I'll be aiming at about 70K for this romance for older women. Not *old* women, you understand, but not those young twenty-somethings either. A few ideas have been roaming around in my head for the past few weeks, and it will be good to start writing them down and seeing how the dots connect. YAY!! Off on a new adventure.