Saturday, December 12, 2009

So what to work on now

Now that I have (gratefully) taken my post-NaNo break, I'm ready to start writing again; however, this is the first time in many a year I desire to write with a purpose. You see, I posted a list the Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary things forum, and on this list involves two primary goals:

Completing my 2009 novel, and completing my 2008 novel. I'd like to complete the 2008 novel for CreateSpace's free proof offer for NaNo winners. I've missed this offer (or the similar one from Lulu) every year, and dangit, I want this book in my hands, even if not published yet, for sheer vanity's sake.

Now, I'm struggling with the desire to finish my2007 novel, Heaven's Bounty. It's such a GOOD story, and now I've finally figured out where I want to go with it, after letting it sit for a year or two.

This is why I'm not a published author yet. It has nothing to do with the quality of my work; I'm convinced that my prose is as good or better than anything you'll see in Barnes and Noble. It's the fact that I don't finish novels, and therefore am unable to submit them for consideration.

So that's my goal for the coming year: to complete a minimum of one manuscript, and polish it well enough for submission to agents.

Not a publisher, mind you; Like Editorial Ass, I believe firmly in the power of agents to help authors in more ways than just finding a good editor.

But to do this, I have to not only finish a novel, but polish it well enough to put through my critique group, and then polish is MORE into perfection.

But now my dilemma is I have multiple novels that I want to work on. I'm going to finish them all, but in what order?

What I have:

1) My first love, my original. The Story that Had to be Written. I'm currently working on handwriting the second draft, which I'll then transcribe into the computer. This is the one I'd like to have for the CreateSpace offer.

2) The sequel to the previous one; I know, I know. In all fairness, I HAVE finished the first one, when I was 15 or 16... I know how the first one ends.

3) This year's. This one is the one about the widow who ends up as a Queen, and then has to take her husband's assassinated soul, memory, and skills and avenge his death and take back his kingdom. It's FUN, but it's lying fallow again, victim of 50k disease. Mortos Rex.

4) 2007's novel, Heaven's Bounty. It's a sci-fi piece about a winged bounty hunter who is captured, wing-clipped, and raped (dark stuff) and set free by her friends, then seeks to find the source of her deceased captor's freakish shapeshifting powers, powers her love also seems to possess. This one is so much fun, and the voices for all those characters have started up in my head.

5) Of course, Double Edged Sword, though a good chunk of it has gone missing. That's a hard one to write though, and when I get back to it, it's going to be like pulling teeth. Good story, just delicate work.

I dunno. I'm going to work on them all... but which first? My bones tell me I need to finish this year's novel FIRST. It's what's most recent in my mind, and dammit, it would be nice to finish a NaNo novel the same year I started it.

But Heaven is calling...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Looking for a great way to boost word count?

The wildly popular NaNo Word Sprints are going on over on Twitter. It started out simple enough, with a couple of word wars on the main NaNoWriMo twitter. It's proven to be so popular that we've got a ton of people doing it, and I even volunteered to run a few myself during the day and when I'm writing. Before, it was just on the west coast time, which is exhausting for us east-coasters. 

Most common is 10, 20, 30, and 40 minute word sprints.  It's a great way to sprint through and get some fast words racked up and see how you compare to others. Some people are insane writers, one even managing to pull off over 1,000 words in just ten minutes!  Most people write at a more reasonable, less wrist-breaking pace.

It's fun, and be sure and check it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squeaky new OS, and writing progress

A couple of days ago, I installed Windows 7 on my laptop. See, when I bought this thing, it had Vista on it, and I hated it. Oh, I could see the potential, but it's such a resource hog that doing anything was a big pain. Before I wiped it, it actually took ten minutes to shut down. We won't talk about how long it took to boot up.

Well, I found a deal online, where students with a .edu email address can get a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional for $30. For $30? Why the heck not. The reviews from friends who have used it have been good, so I decided to take the plunge.

Oh. Em. Gee.

It's what Vista SHOULD have been. It's fast, responsive, and shiny.  It does cool things, and my laptop is running the way its specs say it should.

It put me a little bit behind on my word count, setting everything up, but overall, I've installed a LOT of operating systems (some multiple times) and this was by far the smoothest, fasted install and setup yet. I'm very impressed, and for the first time, I'm going to give Micro$oft props for not blowing yet another OS.

On the NaNo front, last night I broke 40k.  My aim is 50k by the weekend, and to continue beyond as far as I possibly can. I'm getting into the meat of a new story, and things are really starting to roll.

I'm also competing with Snark.Gallant; we're running neck and neck, and I'm hoping to overtake him tonight. ;) Of course, he hasn't updated for the night, so the bastard has likely added a few more thousand. A worthy opponent indeed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

With great inspiration, I write

Last night, I got inspired. You see, the night before last, I hada dream. It was a dream that hung with me all day, and I started thinking about it.

So I started writing. After a total 2.5 hours worth of writing? I'd jumped from 21,705 to 30,474. I hit my stride, and this story has exploded. It's not really related to my current NaNo, but I did the cheesy old trick of "meanwhile, in another part of the universe." This one, I fully expect to hit 50k before the month is over, so I'm keeping the words. To see my erratic performance this year, click the widget to open up my progress report.

I love this. This is how NaNoWriMo is supposed to feel. 8,776 words in 2.5 hours, so excited I can barely contain my enthusiasm or stop writing. I was up till 2 AM last night. That's what I missed. I will post an excerpt from the piece I'm working on, and tell you more about it as it gels soon. For now, I must WRITE.

Today, I'm about to embark upon the terrifying prospect of upgrading my computer from Windows Vista to windows 7. I found a deal that offers a copy of Windows Home Premium or Windows Professional to students for $30. So I've downloaded it, and now, all I have to do isfinish backing up the rest of my files. I'm uploading all my non-music stuff to dropbox (which, by the way, thanks to all of you who checked it out... thanks to those referrals, I now have 5 gigs of free storage instead of 2. It's going to take about five hours to upload all of my remaining photos, but they'll all be safely stored, and in no risk of erasure by the upgrade.

I'm moving all my music over to the desktop PC. It's got over 200 gigs... it can handle it. I love modern technology. I can't believe I'm sending over 12 gigs of music through the air to the PC nearby, while I sit here and type, and while I'm uploading pictures to another storage site. how awesome is that?

So I'm going to take advantage of my remaining hours of backups to write, write, write, and see how much further I can go.

And here, for your interest, is my progress towards my goal of 100k. I'm still a bit behind where I should be, but a couple more nights of writing like last night, and I should be caught up with no problem.

Let's see if we can't get a little less red in there, whaddya think?


Monday, November 09, 2009

Signs I might be a computer addict

I just bought a $50 mouse. No, seriously.  In all fairness, it claims to give 15 months worth of battery time, so I should make up the difference in battery usage.

You see, my old laptop mouse has taken a beating.  I've used it a great deal, and it gets knocked off the table a lot, so the right mouse button doesn't work well, and the left is starting to fail. It's also getting less responsive. So, the time came to buy a new one. 

First, I bought a belkin from Target. Public Service Announcement: Do not buy belkin products. That mouse won't work without a mousepad, which is useless for a laptop! If It can't work on my couch cushion, I don't need it.

So I splurged on a Logitech M505 in a very nice shade of red. Not only is it stylish, it's Logitech, and you just plain can't go wrong with Logitech stuff.

So far, I like it. It's fast, responsive, and doesn't care if I'm  using it on my jeans leg or the table. 

We'll see in 15 months if it lives up to its packaging about the battery life.

As for NaNo, let's see.

I  haven't written much in the past few days. I think the problem  has been that my husband has been home all week, thanks to my injured foot/ankle. That does not make for a creatively-inclined writing environment. In fact, he's been here ALL. The. TIME.  It's mental interference.  So, I'm taking today off for schoolwork and such, and this week I'm going to hit the writing hardcore and catch up to my word count deficit.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Back up your novel, RIGHT NOW!

One of the worst things that can happen to any artists is to lose your work to a corrupted file, a power outage, or storage device failure. It's happened to me several times, and now I back up my novel in several places.

1) I have Dropbox set up on my computer. It automatically syncs my files stored in its folder, without me even having to think about it.  I can access it across multiple computers, or log in online anywhere I have net access. 2 GB free. If you get referrals (such as with my link right here) you can earn another full GB of free storage. They also offer paid accounts up to 100 GB, I think it is. 

2) USB stick.  I keep a 2 GB drive handy at all times.  It's nice to have, but they're losable. In fact, I'm missing one now, and it's annoying me.

3) Google Docs - it tends to muck up your formatting, but it's perfect for writing from anywhere, and making backups. better to have to redo your tabs than to lose it completely, eh? It's also great if you want to share your writing with a few people for critique or collaboration.

4) Backup to another partition on my laptop.

5) Email it to myself.

Backing up is vital... I lost over 30k on my original NaNoWriMo novel, and I'm missing about 20k on the one from two years ago.  It makes me very annoyed, and if I'd been more diligent about my backups... I'd still have it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A little short on my daily goal

Yesterday, I bell a bit short of my goal.  I'm at 6,026, and I was planning on being at 6,670 last night.  That adds a bit more to what I need to have done, but that I can do.  I managed to insert a gratuitous sex scene, but I think it's actually going to advance the plot a little; add some conflict early on (and not the kind you think, either). 

Just to share a little, here's a short snippet of what I've written so far (in all its unedited glory). One of my MCs is an albino; however, I'm trying to make her representation realistic; albinos have serious vision problems, as a result of the lack of pigment in their eyes, and glasses don't help, either. So she's actually mostly blind. And magic hasn't automatically fixed it, either; her spells help, but are imperfect. 

   Sara stretched and reached for the ceiling, trying to work the kinks out of her neck and back.  She had been sitting for hours, poring over one of her beloved texts, nose to book, the only way she found it possible to read.  The spectacles that should have been on her face were lying by the book.  They gave her headaches, and they didn’t really help her much, anyway, but her instructors insisted she have them.  They were mostly just fashion accessories at this point.

    “Still moldering away in this library?” Larath said,patting her on the shoulder and flopping noisily into the chair. The librarian glared as he scraped chair against floor and knocked three of her books onto the floor.

    “Larath, you need to be more careful!” she admonished, stooping to gather up the books.

    “Sorry, sis, I’m just not good with this stuff.”  He thumbed through one of the tomes, sniffing and setting it down with a shake of his head.  “Give  me the sawdust in the salle over the musty dusty in here any day.”

    She shook her head.  “You’re lucky you have me around, you know, otherwise you'd be a complete ignoramus. How did you even manage to pass your classes?”

    Larath grinned at her.  “Easy.You helped me.”

    She rolled her eyes.  “I shouldn’t have.  Maybe you would have learned something other than how to swing a sword.  Speaking of which, aren’t you supposed to be practicing for your final practicum?”

    He shook his head. “I was supposed to, but instructor Elias managed  to sprain his ankle, so the session was cancelled. I’ve got the rest of the day off!”  he stretched and leaned back in his chair.  He pinwheeled his arms wildly as the chair overbalanced and nearly toppled over, dumping him into the floor. He seized the table and steadied himself. 

    Sara shook her head again. “You’re hopeless. Get out of here before you tear the place down, or get me kicked out of here. I’ve got to finish this.”

    “Nuh uh. I’m here to make sure you eat, young lady. A little bird told me yiou’ve been here *all* day, and haven’t stopped once for anything to eat. If you fall over from starvation, you’ll never have the energy to finish your exams. Or stay up to study for them.”

    She sighed. “But I just have a few more pages--”

    He grabbed her arm, closed the book, and pulled her up to her feet. “No way. You're coming with me, now, while lunch is still hot, so you don’t end up with a bowl of stewed leftovers.” 

    Sara grabbed her cloak and slung it over her shoulders. She murmured a few arcane syllables, twisted her fingers, and pulled the hood of the cloak over her head. “Alright, alright, I’m going.”  She let him guide her through the tables, thankful that this time, at least, she wouldn’t end up with another bruised thigh when some thoughtless ass forgot to push his chair under the table.

    “Sara! Sara!” someone called.  She looked back to see the librarian’s indistinct shape, glowing, waving something high in the air.  “Wait!”  The librarian caught up to her, and the glow faded to see the blurry human form.  She blinked to try and clear her vision, but the spell had malfunctioned somehow, and the blur remained. 

    I need to work on that.  Still not handling the far to near transition well, Sara thought to herself. 

    “Sara, dear, you forgot your spectacles,” the librarian said, shoving the metal framed lenses into Sara’s hand.  Sara smiled, swallowing the retort, and crammed the spectacles  onto her face. The librarian smiled, and bowed, then scurried off to her desk.

    “I thought those didn’t help?” Larath said as they walked out of the library.

    “They don’t. No one seems to believe me when I tell them that, though, so they keep insisting I wear them. They give me a headache, but if I don’t wear them, the headache I get from the constant nagging to put them on is worse. So I close my eyes, or just grin and bear it.”

    “That is so cool. I wish I could see with my eyes closed,” he commented, holding open a door for her.

    “I wish I could see more with them open.” 

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009: First day's progress: slow but steady

I didn't get as much of a boost as I was hoping for, this go round, but I've set a comfortable pace that I think I can actually maintain.

Last night's trauma left me with a pitiful start: 200 words by the time I went to bed. In all fairness, it was the Lortab that left me drowsy and unable to focus, that combined with general exhaustion from a long day and pain from the sprained ankle.

Today has been a frustrating day dealing with malfunctioning forums, although I have been incredibly impressed by their performance thus far. Failures to load aside, they're staying up and reasonably zippy, given that this is our highest traffic day, and in years past, this always meant CRASHING or completely unusable.

I wrote in drips and drabs, starting and stopping my writing timer so I could keep track of how much actual time I wrote. Most of it happened after 9, when the girls went to bed. Final results?

60 minutes of writing, 3,737 words total. I need 3,334 per day to reach my ultimate goal of at least 100k. My full goal: 100k or a complete novel. Preferably at least the former, combined WITH the latter. I'd really like a complete novel, more than a particular word count, so if I hit 90k and it's done, I'll be happy.

i'm starting the story slowly, with the interactions between my two MC. They're twins (don't groan, please). One is albino... but she suffers from the same maladies real world albinos do. She's damn near blind, and has to wear a cloak any time she's outside, or she'll get a severe sunburn. This is a fantasy, so she's learning to use magic to compensate, but it's imperfect, and she's definitely a bit handicapped.

Her brother is the protective sort, very outgoing and physical, she's introverted and academic.

I've also introduce the other MC, the third member of their Hunter's Triad. This thing really has a bit of a YA feel this first chapter, even though they're 22, because they haven't yet become Journeymen, and are still students. That's definitely not the focus I'm going for, though. They'll be out in the world and their age and student status will be left behind.

I'm trying to decide if I want three POVs or not... there will be at least two, Sara and Larath, but I'm trying to decide if I want to pull L'varen in. I guess it'll depend on how strongly he comes through for me. Right now, he's a bit more clownish than I intended. He'll get more serious, I hope.

Things are flowing smoothly, a good sign. I was already having trouble finding my characters last year at this point. They're coming through, and already feeling real.

A bit about them: They are both 22, and living under the shadow of very famous, skilled parents. Part of the point of this story is going to be them finding their own identity, outside of a famous family, and making a name for themselves. Sara is not as concerned with this as Larath; she's content with her books and her magic. He is more ambitious, and is determined to be a greater Hunter than his father, who is one of the best. i'm trying to design them to be not polar opposites, but complementary. They're close. I'm going to introduce more friction as the story continues, because I want their growing independence from each other and their parents to be a strong focus until the middle of the story, when it's going to become more about them dealing with the consequences of their family's past... through no fault of their own.

So, tell me about your stories. If you're doing NaNo this year, what is your novel about? What genre? How has your first day gone? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Of sprained ankles and Trick or Treating

Yesterday started great. We went down to Cordele, GA to ride Thomas the Tank Engine (the real one.. full sized passenger train, not just the dippy little thing at Six Flags).

It was an absolute blast, although my husband almost had a seizure and the staff freaked and called the ambulance. It was more embarrassing than anything.

We got home, carved pumpkins, went trick or treating. All went well, until we left the last house, and started walking to the car to go to the next neighborhood. I put Elisabeth on my back, and lo and behold, a pothole grabbed my leg. I went down, candy and Elisabeth went everywhere and I started hollering... fortuitously, I fell down in front of a freakin' golf cart. They helped me over, and rode me down to my car, and Nathan came to get me and take me to the ER.

Four hours later, I've got a really bad sprain, (yes, crutches) I can't walk, can't do much but sit around.

Ah well. Necessity is the mother of invention, and it won't be that long and I'll be back on my feet. The good news is, this means I've got lots of ass time for writing and modding the forums. Naturally, I've done neither this morning.

Back to the grind.

Oh, and last night, I did manage to get 200 words in before the painkillers knocked me down.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Liquid Story Binder: Going on sale November 1!

My favorite Novel writing software, Liquid Story Binder, is going on sale on November 1st for NaNoWriMo! If you've been around long, you know I love this software. It's unbelievably powerful, and includes so many features that it's dizzying... the best thing is, there's no one way to use it. You can use as much, or as little, as you like! I highly recommend this software. I've used it for the past two years running, and love it so much that even though I have a legitimate free copy given through giveawayoftheday a couple years ago, I'm planning on purchasing a full license this month through this sale. I love the program *that much* - this is not my recommendation as a NaNoWriMo staffer, but as a writer who has searched for a program that does what I want it.

I haven't learned to use all of it, but it's shareware, so you can use it free for 30 non-consecutive days, with ALL features intact, before you have to purchase a license to keep it working. The developer of the software really *listens* to his users, through his discussion group, and makes changes based on the feedback he receives, and is single-handedly the most responsive tech guy I've ever seen.

Excellent customer service, unique, matchless product... and a discount. What's not to love?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chinese Whisperings - an Anthology in which a friend is published

Everyone, I'd like to take a moment to plug something for a friend. Chinese Whisperings is an eclectic anthology of short stories that... well, it's awesome. You need to check out the site to see what's different. It's totally awesome!

It's really cool is that if you comment on the blog, you are entered in a drawing to win a free e-book copy of Red Book Reversed.

A dear friend of mine, NaNoWriMo's own LousyWriter13 (known to his family as Rob Diaz) is this week's featured author. You can check out the first installment of his story (an intriguing teaser, indeed) by moseying on over to the Chinese Whisperings blog. Rob's slaved hard over this tale, enduring last-minute rewrites, waiting on pins and needles for his turn! Check it out! (I'd appreciate it... and I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The gentle sound of smack talk and crying babies

I think one of the important tools a writer needs is a place to write. This is something I unfortunately lack, completely. I chill in the living room, surrounded by children's toys with my feet propped up , and usually with the television on (sometimes, I can turn it off and listen to some music, but once my husband gets home, back on it comes.) It's usually cartoons, too.

right now, I've managed to get the TV turned off, but it'll be just a matter of a few minutes before he wants to come in and break the silence.

What I'm listening to right this moment is the crying of my 1 1/2 year old who is not interested in taking a nap, the twinkling bells and tinkling voices of a Barbie fairy movie in the 3 year old's room, and the non-stop cursing, smack-talk and endless explosions of Warhammer Online as my husband takes on the minions of chaos. Or something.

The best I can get, usually, is through my blessed MP3 player. It's a coby, not your most popular brand, but oh, how I love it. Plug in the ear buds, turn up the volume, and the cacophany that is my home fades into the distance, and I am allowed to write.

One of the things I want to do is get my dining room clear,and turned into a writing nook, a place for me to get away from the family. It's an enormous mess, though, so hard to get through. But I need to. I need to get out of this living room. It's a terrible place to try and write. I can't even retreat to my bedroom, since it's just as cluttered, and the baby's crib is in there, so if she's trying to take a nap, I can't get in there. I ache for the write-ins of NaNo... even a crowded coffeehouse is a fabulous place to write when you're surrounded by fellow writers, friends and nanoers. It's inspiring.

So tell me, what sort of writing environments do you have? Surely you're all not as nook-starved as I am?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So, social media websites

I'll admit it. I've started using them. Facebook, sure. Twitter... well, let's just say I've got a lot of tweets. I'm discovering the power of these tools, and can definitely see the potential. For example, someone on the nano forums posted about twibbon, a way to add a cause ribbon to your twitter avatar... and within a few minutes of me posting and tweeting about it, several people had re-tweeted it.

That's what I call viral.

And that's just small stuff, compared to those who have huge followings. I've got less than a hundred. (Wanna follow me? Come on, you know you wanna.)

I also see how dangerous they are. Post some small detail, and instantly you could find it sent around the world.

Facebook doubly so; I have some of my husband's inlaws on there, and frankly, that's a little scary.

I'm contemplating creating a more public Facebook persona for my writing-related stuff. I prefer to keep my facebook to real-life friends and family... not real keen on adding a bunch of random people I don't know. I keep it as private as possible.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, one thing I've learned in the past couple of years is that the publishing industry is changing... rapidly. The dynamics are changing. Viral marketing using social media like twitter, Facebook, even blogs like this one, are absolutely essential to success. Published author J.A. Konrath writes his blog about this very thing, and is trying tons of experiments to see just what he can do. A lot of his success comes from his own blood, sweat, and tears (and gas miles.) It's up to us, as wannabes, to be aware of these things, and start laying the groundwork now. And by not sabotaging ourselves before we even behind. Remember that as ephemeral as the Web may seem, with it's 140-character rambling thoughts, those memes, and facebook apps that suck away our time (I can say with pride that I have never used a facebook app, and I've blocked every one anyone I know has sent me), these things are NOT ephemeral. With the power of google, something can stay cached long after you've tried to delete it.

And any writing you've posted? You lose control of it. I know, it's protected by copyright, but that doesn't mean everyone will to respect it. And there's some debate about whether or not posting your work counts as publication; You can be certain any potential publishers will google your work and see what comes up. That's why you'll never find any of the work I intend to publish online; I want complete control over it until it's published. If I post something here? It's likely because I don't ever intend to DO anything with it, or have offered it as "free" fiction for your pleasure. If I get rich and famous and they want to make a book out of my blog... well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. You know, sometime around the time pigs fly.

So the point is, be aware of what you do online, on social media websites,etc. You never know when it might bite you in the ass.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reasons I love Firefox

I sat down and thought, "I wonder if there's an add-on that will let me open multiple links at once without having to hit the CTRL button each time."

So I looked. And lo and behold... there was. 20 seconds, and I'm drawing boxes around massive numbers of links in the nano forums and opening them in new tabs. WITHOUT having to click each individually.

That is awesome. you think it up...someone probably has, and made an add-on for it for Firefox. That's the power of open-source. Stable, powerful, and flexible. I refuse to use Microsoft products if I have any choice. Heck, if I didn't have the programs I do for Microsoft OSes only, I'd switch to Linux completely, too.

That's what I love about Firefox... it's SO much more than just a web browser. In fact... I'm posting this blog entry from within the browser itself, using ScribeFire.

100k or bust! (I promise. For REAL this time. Honest.)

I have been wanting to double my wordcount goal this year. I said I was going to last year, but ended up damn near failing for procrastinating to the last minute.

So I made myself a nice motivational calendar.

I used an image from Moodflow - this website also has some lovely mood/ethereal music, if you're looking.

I created the calendar itself from scratch in photoshop. Overall, I'm really pleased with the results.

I think I'm going to use some of his other images to do some more. I'll probably do 50k calendars as I have the time.

Low-rez thumbnail: (Click for 1280 x 1024, 265.43 KB high-res version)

1280 x 1024, 265.43 KB

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oooh, a plot bunny - Want it?

I had this idea on the way to the grocery store a few minutes ago, and it would be so fun... but I just don't think I can do it justice.

Someone discovers they have the ability to see digital data... as in, if someone sends a text message, they can see the contents, and watch it as it fires off through the air towards the nearest cell phone tower. They can see the broadcasts as they pass a radio tower.

It shouldn't take you much effort to see the danger of something like this to someone in today's digital age. The character is effectively blind, or housebound, since digital everything is well... everywhere. They certainly can't drive, and might very well live out in the middle of no where in an old farmhouse with no electricity just to get relief.

But we know you can't have a protagonist without conflict. ;) The digital age comes to them. Or someone wants them - probably the government, for the powerful ability to see and interpret the data. Imagine a spy who can break codes without any equipment, or who can eavesdrop on an official's cell phone conversations just by standing nearby.

This character would find themselves in the middle of a lot of unwanted attention. Now, where you want to go from there is up to you. Maybe they're running, trying to find a place to hide. Maybe they're looking for the ihghest bidder. Maybe they're loyal to their country, and are willing to do anything to help. Maybe they're just trying to learn to control their ability, or develop technology that allows them to filter it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

So the sites are down...

I always feel a little bereft with that happens. Like I don't know what to do or something.

So I'll talk about this year's novel!

The title this year is Pride of the Hunt - It's the second novel of the series, possibly a trilogy. The first is Spirit of the Hunt, and follows the adventures of a shapeshifter nomad and a vampire. Don't worry, vampirism isn't a big deal, and dammit, I started this thing over a decade ago, so it wasn't cliche then. Anyway.

This story follows their children, twins Sara and Larath. Those of you who have roleplayed with me in Pern clubs may recognize his name. I borrowed it from this story. ;) Originally, they were albinos. In my old age, I am recognizing that this is ridiculously unoriginal, and the reason I did it in the firstplace was because it was cool... now there's no need for me to do stuff likethat because it's cool, since I'm so awesome as a writer. I'll probably cut that. I may have one of them albino, but if I do, it will come with all the attendant health issues. I'm leaning towards not, though.

Anyway, this follows them as they return to their mother's clan to learn more about their heritage. This will probably involve some kind of magical rite to give them access to the kind of powers she has or something along those lines.

On their way back, however, they encounter problems... one of their parents old enemies, bent on vengeance for the death of his son at their hands. Their father specializes in rogue vampires, you see... those who have started killing for pleasure, or who have otherwise violated the covenant the species has with humanity that allows for a peaceful coexistence.

Beyond that, I don't want to spoil you, but suffice it to say this will not be an easy struggle, and there will be Deaths.

Also appearing will be L'varen (you may recognize that name, too - same thing. he was my bronzerider at Azov, and transferred him to Cibryen for a time for a plot. Larath was the name of his dragon. Both names come from this story, originally) a shapeshifter of a different clan, whose magic is limited to only single animal forms, as opposed to their mother's clan, who have access to more. He'll be Sara's love interest, but I'm not focusing on their relationship as much as the familial relationships.

I'm actually looking forward to this. Now, I just need to push through and finish the FIRST book so I can work on this one. I do know how it ends, already, but I'd like to have it finished first before starting on the second.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

NaNo Question of the Day

Join me on Twitter ( to ask the NaNo Question of the Day... ask me a question about NaNoWriMo, and I'll answer it. Just add #NaNoQoTD to your tweet to help me find it!

Ask anything about NaNo... rules, history, popular topics... whatever you've always wanted to know! If I don't know the answer, I'll find one (or make it up!)

And the season begins!

Launch went off beautifully. Our new cloud-computing systems have really held up very well, and in fact have made for a smoother launch than ever! bugs have been around, but nothing that drastically affects anyone's ability to surf the site! I'm absolutely thrilled.

I still don't know what I'm going to write yet.

At the moment, i'm working on a point-and-click development of a Live CD SUSE linux CD - for NaNoWriMo! I think it would be fun to have my own NaNo OS, you know? If it turns out really well, I'll offer it on the forums, too (Man, I love Linux.)

I've got more site-related stuff to juggle, so I'd better get back to it, but I'll post a longer, more detailed blog later. Until then, I leave you with this:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To Meta or not... that is the question

Well, today is the day we're scheduled to relaunch the NaNo website. I'm excited; I love the feel of a freshly-wiped forum, that new-forum smell. Just like your NaNo each year, the forums start with a clean slate, too!

I still don't know what I want to write. I've thought about writing a meta-novel, a piece about a NaNoWriMo mod. If I did that, I could count all my forum posts fromNovember in my word count! It would be a mind-numbingly boring piece. However, I could do evil things to my least-favorite spammers. That would be a plus.

I've also toyed about with asking my husband to decide what I want to write about this year. He's always got good ideas, but he's just not a writer, so his execution sucks. He tried NaNo once. Got 1500 words, at least. That was kinda neat... I wish he'd do it with me.

I've thought about invoking the Zokuto clause this year... I mean, I've won several times, one year in just 10 days! I have nothing left to prove. ;) I'm also not an ML anymore, so I don't feel compelled to stick tot he rules. However, I wouldn't feel right validating, and frankly, I want to legitimately win every year. I'm just too damn loyal to nano to join the ranks of the rebels! It wouldn't feel right to me. I mean, I've spent so much time telling people on the forums "yes, you DO have to start from scratch, no, you CAN'T write 50k words and claim a win." that it would feel hypocritical of me to not stick by the rules. Having to set an example and all that.

Oh, the burden of responsibility!

Who knows. You're lucky... you get to see my thought process as I write it. not everyone gets that view!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Macon Telegraph is NOT smarter than a fifth grader

I opened today's paper, and read through, to find a horror of a level that leaves me damn near speechless. On page 1E, the main headline for the main article of the Life and Style page, this abomination:

Please note that this is an actual scan of the paper I am holding in my hand right now.

I really... this is just mind boggling.

Macon Telegraph, spellcheckers are not an appropriate replacement for actual editing. A mistake this glaring would be bad enough in text, but in a headline?

I'm sorry, but this is simply unacceptable. I'm used to seeing this crap on internet forums and YouTube videos, but a professional newspaper? Just because you're supposed be writing at a fifth grade level doesn't mean you should be making fifth grade grammar errors.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Midnight Disease: first 60 pages

Wow. That's all I can really say. This book is utterly fascinating.  It's written by a writer and a scientist, and aims to look into the science behind the drive to write, and writer's block. So far, it's mostly talked about hypergraphia (the compulsion to write) but it is continually tying it back into "normal" writerliness.  It's incredibly fascinating, and I've already learned a lot. There's a good bit about temporal lobe epilepsy (something I believe my husband suffers from) so this is even more interesting to read.

So far, I am going to highly recommend this to anyone who might be interested in the human brain as it relates to being a writer.  It's truly amazing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beautiful decay

These are such inspiring photographs:

I love old, decaying buildings. I even created a blog photo project to display my own photos, but alas, two small children make it hard to drive around and photograph these old buildings. I've already lost one of them; one down the street was knocked down and is being redeveloped. I really wanted pictures of that one, I remember before it was abandoned, there was a sign in the yard about piano lessons. I imagine someone died.

Abandoned buildings are rich playgrounds... Downtown Macon is full of old abandoned places like that. Such stories, so much to imagine. Maybe I'll do that some this November to see what is inspire for my NaNo. I still don't know what I want to write. I'm not stressing. Best one I've done yet came from nothing, started on November 1.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain

I found this book on Amazon, and thought I would order it and see what it was all about. The reviews are very good, and it involves a layman's look at the neuroscience behind writing, and includes some personal anecdotes from the author when she was dealing with depression and writer's block.  I'm a scientist at heart, and love this sort of thing, so I thought it would be an interesting read. A Like-New hardback copy cost me a whopping $6, so I figure it's worth the risk. At worst, it'll be boring and it'll take me forever to read it.

I'll be sure and review it and let you know how it turned out.  this could be veeeery interestink.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wow, a new month?

It's September now... which means it's time to ramp up for NaNoWriMo.Behind the scenes, it's getting frantic as we prepare the site for relaunch, rush to deal with the increased traffic flow to the site, coordinate our efforts, and in general behave like a bunch of screaming lunatics. 

And that's just me. I imagine it's even crazier on the OTHER side of the country!

With the coming of September, it's time for me to think hard about what I'm going to write.  Some years, I try to plan, but I usually fail the more I plan.  this year, I find myself in the unique position of having a WIP. So do I continue it during November, set aside my momentum and do something new, or do I rush to finish it before November and start NaNo like you're supposed to, with a new project?

I mean, I've proven I can do NaNo. It's not even really a challenge anymore... I mean, I've done my 50k in 10 days before. (I don't recommend it, by the way. My wrist hurt for a month after that.)  I keep saying I'm going to double it for 100k, but I've always gotten lazy the closer I get to the deadline.

Not to mention, I don't actually know what I want to write. I have thought about taking the characters from my steampunk novel from last year and sticking them in a different story. I love them, but the story I tried to write wasn't the right one for them.  I wound up abandoning them halfway through and starting on the one I'm working with now.

I dunno. I can join the ranks of the rebels and not validate this year, but that just seems... wrong. I mean, if it's not NaNo, it's not NaNo, you know?  But then again, what do  I have to prove?

Oh, the angst.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A time for every purpose, under heaven

Today, while standing out talking to the Schwann's delivery man, I felt a cold chill against my spine.  The sun was still hot on my face, but that little chill breeze spoke to me of fallen leaves, crisp nights, clear skies and teenage angst behind a tattered building at church.

Fall's always been a magical time for me.  As a child, the season's change meant camping in North Georgia, camouflage and walking sticks.  Carving walking sticks has always been a favorite pastime of mine.  Dogwood makes a great walking stick, with fascinating multicolored streaks if you so desire. 

In my high school years, it meant breaking out my favorite leather trench coat and being moody. I tried to be angsty, but honestly, I was too happy a kid to pull it off. I did moon over one guy, though. Oh, I had such a crush. But he had a crush on my best friend (no, he loved her. With undying devotion.) So we would sit behind a dilapidated building behind the church sanctuary, he would talk abuot her, and I would commiserate, though I never told him who I was mooning over.  Such tragedy.

He eventually married a woman with a kid.

Fall was always the time my imagination has soared the most. From the days of imagining my wolf familiar running alongside my bus, or me spreading my wings and escaping from the school playground bullies, to my much darker fantasies of torture and rape. Fall has always stroked my right-brained tendencies. 

This fall's light change, and ever-so-slight temperature shift, has done it again. I think that's why I've been finding it so easy to write.  It's just the right season.

It's my time to write.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Writing every day

I can hear your groan a mile away. This is not new advice, right?  Yeah, every writer blog you've ever seen tells you that.  It's good advice, but you've already heard it.

Well, I'm not going to tell you to.  Because you already know. What I will tell you is how this advice has started to transform my life!

Seriously, I've been suffering from insomnia for the last year or so. A lot of it is because of my lingering post partum depression (PPD, to the uninitiated.)  Some of it eating habits (Why yes, I'd love a coke at 10:00 PM!). But the primary cause is staying up too late on the computer. There was a study done recently linking computer screen time to insomnia.  My husband told me about it, and it makes sense;  the light emanating from the computer screen interrupts your natural biorhythms.  So I figured... why not. Let's cut out the electronic lap-teat and see what happens.

I don't have any good books around right now, so I pulled out my blank journal, the one I've been half-ass carrying around with me all the time with intentions of writing. 

I wrote 20 pages in two days.

That was four weeks ago. I've only missed three nights, and that was due to unavoidable medical issues.  I've gone from 24 pages to 92 (as of last night.) I'm sleeping better, my back hurts less,and I'm a lot less grumpy. More importantly, the only time I've seen 3 AM has been when the insomnia left me tossing and turning in bed AFTER I wrote.

It feels good. I've actually loved sitting in bed, with my husband, him reading a book, me listening to my MP3 player and scribbling like I did when I was a poor teenager with no computer.

Best of all? No email to distract me from my latest WIP.

Now that, my friends, is good news indeed.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Steampunk art

I met with a local steampunk artist today. She makes steampunk jewelry, and she does really pretty stuff.  I wanted to see some of her pieces in person, so I met her for lunch.  Her stuff's so nice I wanted to share with you guys. Here's her stuff: Dream Steam.  I can vouch for the quality of her work. She's VERY good. If you're looking for that perfect piece to complete a steam punk costume, or you just want something very unique for every day use... this is the place to get it!

Writing and Music

Music is one of those things that just seems to go with writing. Like peanut butter and jelly, or peaches and cream, or Fred and Ginger.  Combine music with writing, and you can transcend the ordinary, stimulate your sense, and inspire your mind.

But how that music affects your writing is as different from person to person as different foods taste to different people.  (Hmm.  I think it might be lunch time... all these food references!)

One of my greatest inspirations comes from one of the strangest places: industrial techno.  I started listening to is while writing Hacker Dragon. The gritty, visceral nature of it has proven to given me a very strong motivator for my writing; not everything, but I never write a battle scene without it! Not all industrial, either... I actually have a penchant for the German stuff. Front Line Assembly is actually one of my favorites.

On the other end of the spectrum, there's Enya. Seriously.  I love Enya. She goes back to a part of me that's been writing for decades. She can keep my brain flowing, without intruding on my words.  Gentle inspiration without overflowing. Marie Brennan (Enya's siste), too, has that effect. 

Hearts of Space
often provides me with a random assortment of unexpected gems. Sometimes, it's total crap, weird new-agey lame stuff, but occasionally there's some really spectacular stuff. I used to listen to Hearts of Space on PBS with my dad... there are dozens of recorded tapes of HoS programs around this house. Black, with tiny hand-made labels in my dad's neatly scrawled, cramped hand, and lovingly taped on the front. I love those tapes.  Even though the quality is deteriorating now, it still brings back fond memories of staying up until midnight on Sunday to listen with my dad.  Music is a tactile thing, for me.  Some people have olfactory memories. I never really have. Mine are auditory. 

Music can stir memories that translate into powerful scenes when I'm writing. 

What kind of music inspires you?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Free (non) Fiction - Honey, I'm home!

Many thanks to Violet, whose blog inspired me to write this piece. Special mention to Danie, who has been writing faithfully in her blog and sharing fiction as well. What good is a writing blog if indeed no writing appears? If my friends can do it, so can I! I'm going to start sharing short pieces from time to time, what subjects, I don't know. Whatever takes my fancy. Maybe nonfiction, maybe something from life, but it'll be all creative prose. I haven't written poetry since I won the Young GA Author's contest for a poem I wrote in the 7th grade and my 8th grade literature teacher thought it would be fun to analyze my stuff. Ruined poetry for me completely. No, there is no symbolism in that star. It was just a star, dammit. Okay, I lied. I'll share that poem for you. I wrote it in 7th grade, and I happen to think it ain't bad.

Glimmering Beauty

Glimmering beauty,
shimmering sight.
Bathing our world
in its beautiful light.

Flickering in,
Flickering out.
Dance in the sky,
spread yourself all about.

Falling down,
for all to see.
Flickering out,
after dancing with glee.

Little one, little one,
so high, so far
Don't you know
you're a shining star?

This is the only poem I ever wrote that I liked. I never wrote another one after this. (Thanks Mrs. Held! I appreciate that! No, really! Oh, and you ruined Les Miserables for me, too. I can't even stand the sight of the posters.)

That had nothing to do with anything. Anyway. Here you go.

This is not fiction; it's a blow-by-blow retelling of about four hours ago. Harrowing experience, it was! But I survived! Let me tell you the tale...


Thunder rumbles outside the window. I glare at the slats of the back door, but the storm was not impressed. "Well damn. I guess I'd better get moving before the storm gets bad." My friends and I had already procrastinated enough as it was. I wave and than them, and left the bright, cool apartment for the oppressive heat and dark.

The sky above flashes, nearly blinding and deafening me as a few fat drops of rain splatter on my treasured hand-made card. I press it to my chest as I fumble in my purse for my keys. The flashes of lightning are near constant, illuminating the dark, heavy, low-lying clouds in the night sky. I jump in the car, thankful I'd made it before the bottom dropped out.

I triy to call my husband, but no answer. Must have fallen asleep. I'm not running that late. Maybe he's just catching a smoke on the back porch?

I stare up at the sky. Another blinding flash of white-hot light crawled across the black sky, reaching twisted fingers over me, a plasmic creature aching to seize my dirty car and fry me.

I jerk the wheel, nearly slamming into a curb in my inattentiveness. Eyes on the wheel, stupid.

The sky never stops moving, never stops flashing and belching its anger overhead. The fat drops of rain come faster as I take the curve of the entrance ramp a little too fast in my haste to get ahead of the storm before it overtakes me.

A huge gust of wind blasts the car, nearly knocking me into a creeping semi in the left lane.

Uh oh.

Rain inundates my poor car. The duct tape half-covering the driver's side window doesn't keep it all in. I take off my glasses and try to wipe the droplets off, succeeding in nearly rearending the guy in front of me as I stare down rather than out.

What the hell is wrong with me?

I put my glasses back on my face, and grasp the wheel firmly at ten and two. I lean up and stare out of the window, trying to see between wiper swipes and locate the reflective bumps on the center line, since the paint was covered by the deluge, reflecting too bright street lights instead of the faded stripes.

I slow to a crawl, not noticing the flashing blue lights behind me when a cop came up, because I was too low to see the rear view mirror.

I signal and shift to the left lane, letting the officer pass. I'm under the speed limit, so he can't be waiting for me. Sure enough, he slides past, and then pulls off over the hill where another set of flashing blue lights indicates either a motorist in distress, an ill-timed bust, or something else entirely.

The road is invisible. Several times the car hydroplanes, just a bit, pulling me too close to the edge of the road, the guard rail and rumble strips threatening and warning me of the danger. My night blindness is getting worse. Every little car dealership's overlit parking lot blinds me as I pass.

Nearby, a bolt of lightning strikes a telephone pole, leaving my ears ringing and my eyes blotched in negative colors. I panic and pulled into the right lane, but it clears in a few seconds. Fortunately, no one was nearby to be a victim of my momentary blindness. For future reference: Driving blind is not a good thing.

I veer around the curve of the I-75/I-16 split at a whopping forty miles an hour.

As if a curtain was pulled back, the rain clears, leaving a dark, slick road reflecting more street lights and my windshield wipers squeaking and protesting at the sudden lack of wet. I turn them down, and lean back against the damn driver's seat. Thunder is still rumbling, lightning is still flashing, but it's behind me, not above and ahead of me. I don't make it far, though, before the rain catches me again, but this time the road is prepared. No more huge puddles of rain that haven't had a chance to drain off.

It's a little easier as I pull off of the interstate onto the sharp round curve of the exit. Every car is actually going slow for once, cautious in the downpour, instead of the usual willy-nilly oblivious driving I'm used to around here. The rain fades again, foiled by my sudden change in direction, and I can actually speed up to Pio Nono's limit of 50 miles per hour.

I make it into the driveway as the fat drops of the front catch up to me. I seize my "shit" from the night's activities, clutch them to my chest, and duck through the rain across the three feet from my car to my front step.


Wind chases me through the door, following by wet grasping droplets of rain catching the heels of my shoes. Triumphant, I slam the door a little too hard, and yell, "Honey, I'm home!"

To plan or not to plan... that is the question

Every year I have ever planned for NaNoWriMo in anything other than a vague, general sort of "this is the idea" I've failed. If I outline, plan, plot, do dossiers and stuff... I fail.

If I get a few character ideas, a few plot bunnies, the occasional odd plot point... I win. Usually in record time. (Current record is 10 days.  I do not recommend it. I had my wrist in a splint for weeks.)

I sorta want to plan, but I'm currently working on a novel that's been around forever.  I want to continue with it, I don't want to lose it. I'm in love with these characters, with this story. 

I think I may do something with last year's steampunk characters... the story fell flat.  They were good characters, but I did not have them in the right story, I'm afraid. Happens from time to time.

I think I may do something new. To keep me in this world, and not too far in the future, I may work on the sequel.  It's actually written with my MC's children (Albino twins. I KNOW, I know... they probably won't stay that way, but in all fairness, I was 17 when I came up with the idea.)

I've got a few title ideas: The current one: Spirit of the Hunt. The sequel: Scion of the Hunt or maybe Song of the Hunt.

I promise. No violent rape scenes like in 2007.

To plan or not to plan... that is the question

Every year I have ever planned for NaNoWriMo in anything other than a vague, general sort of "this is the idea" I've failed. If I outline, plan, plot, do dossiers and stuff... I fail.

If I get a few character ideas, a few <a href="">plot bunnies</a>, the occasional odd plot point... I win. Usually in record time. (Current record is 10 days.  I do not recommend it. I had my wrist in a splint for weeks.)

I sorta want to plan, but I'm currently working on a novel that's been around forever.  I want to continue with it, I don't want to lose it. I'm in love with these characters, with this story. 

I think I may do something with <a href="">last year's steampunk characters</a>... the story fell flat.  They were good characters, but I did not have them in the right story, I'm afraid. Happens from time to time.

I think I may do something new. To keep me in this world, and not too far in the future, I may work on the sequel.  It's actually written with my MC's children (Albino twins. I KNOW, I know... they probably won't stay that way, but in all fairness, I was 17 when I came up with the idea.)

I've got a few title ideas: The current one: Spirit of the Hunt. The sequel: Scion of the Hunt or maybe Song of the Hunt.

I promise. No violent rape scenes like in 2007.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grammer illogic and fun sentences

Thanks to my friend Richard, I now have been reading over the joys of the English language.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. (Grouch Marx)

For example: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. No, really, it's an actual, grammatically correct sentence.

There's also: Rose rose to put rose roes on her rows of roses. That's a fun one, but not quite as mind bending.

Now, you can really start playing with the English language when you break out garden path sentences. These fun little bits are perfectly correct, but lead the reader down the wrong path of logic, forcing them to back up and parse the correct meaning of the sentence. Syntactic ambiguity makes for some really fun

Some examples (culled from Wikipedia):

The old man the boat.

The man returned to his house was happy.

The government plans to raise taxes were defeated.

The farmer threw the cow over the fence some hay.

Comedian Mitch Hedberg was a master of this sort of ambiguity; his short, clipped style, distinctive speech pattern, and tendency to take advantage of syntactical ambiguity made for some classic jokes.

"I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long."

I wish I had the skill for these kinds of Enlish shenanigans, but alas, I do not. All I can do is turn a poetic phrase now and again, and share the joys of the masters who CAN with you!

Testing Scribe Fire

I'm testing Scribe Fire, a Firefox add-on that's supposed to let you update your block from within your browser. I tried Deepest Sender, but that's primarily a livejournal client,  and I need one that updates both LJ and Blogger.  So far, I like the interface on this one; it just opens a window beneath the browser site you're looking at, so you can blog about whatever you see there, if you want, or just not be interrupted while you do. 

So far, I like it.  This may help nicely when I'm working NaNo site and need to update this blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The dragon awakens from her slumber

Did you miss me? I missed me. It's been almost a year now, and it's about time for NaNo season to come! We're gearing up and making big changes to the site.

In even bigger news, though, I've finally broken through my nearly one-year dry spell! I bought a nice blank journal book, and have been writing by hand. I'm up to page 72! the story is going well, and it's an old favorite.

Keep your eye here, I'm working on some amazing updates for my blog, including a new look and feel, twitter updates, and more!