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WIP Marathon February check-in

Yeah, you read that right. February. That’s how I roll.

Actually, that’s how I rolled last month. Next time around should be more prompt. A last-minute weekend jaunt to London, followed by our annual March-let’s-get-some-sun-before-rickets-sets-in holiday, this time to the Canary island of Fuerteventura, sort of took over. I was still working, I just didn’t get around to posting about it, though if I could choose one or the other, writing wins over writing about writing every time.

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That said, my February check-in has arrived!

Last report word count: 113,431

Current report word count: 120,600 — bearing in mind that I’m on a sort of second draft right now, cleaning up the first draft hot mess and smoothing out some side plots and world building before sending it to CPs/betas. I don’t have a goal word count for this, but in the end I’d be happy around 100-110k. It’s become a bit more epic than I intended, but I *always* prefer to have lots of padding to work with when I get to the serious edits later on down the road, so I’m pleased with this!

WIP issues this month: I’ve had surprisingly few stumbling blocks, but there are things . . .  like a scene I wrote within my outline parameters, but then threw in a twist at the end. Some characters open a chest in another character’s chambers, and they’re shocked by what they find.

Why did I do that? I had no idea what was inside, and just left the scene that way and carried on. Now in this 2nd draft, I’ve had to puzzle out what of significance they could’ve discovered. Last night, I succeeded. But I tend to work like that! It’s not very organised and for someone as Type-A as I can be, that’s bizarre. But I’m learning that the way I work in writing is not indicative of the way I work in other matters 😉

Four things I learned this month in writing:

1. This I actually learned in reading: the thing that makes me enjoy a book isn’t how perfectly the opening scene is crafted (though a first scene has quite an impression and a lot of responsibility), but the characters and their choices, above all else. One of my holiday reads had an opening scene that made me think it would be a fluffy, one-dimensional tale of one-dimensional characters. Which isn’t good, but this book had such hype, and the subject matter interested me so I pressed on. I’m glad I did! I LOVED the book. So while opening scenes are weighty indeed, I only saw how it fit the story and characters as I read on. On its own, it made me literally wrinkle my nose. But in the end, it all worked together.

2. This isn’t something new, but a necessary reminder! I have a tendency to say the same thing in 2 or 3 (or, geez Louise, sometimes 4) different ways. I don’t know why. I think my brain feels this idea is so *deep* that the reader won’t get all that I’m trying to convey if I don’t describe it from multiple angles. But you know what? That doesn’t really matter. Different readers will always take different views of your words. Nailing a feeling, a vibe, or that one key feature is great. If they don’t get every last little nuance you want to impart, the story goes on. Just nail the key, and trust the reader (ie, get over yourself 😉 Less is often much, much more. They will fill it in with their own experiences just fine.

3. Some great tips on foreshadowing, by K.M. Weiland here.

4. And again, this is obvious, but sometimes the obvious things are the things I need reminding of the most: mystery = compelling. I wrote this on a Post-it and stuck it on my corkboard. Every scene needs to have something, no matter how small, that compels the reader to keep reading. Sometimes I get caught up in ticking all the plot boxes that I forget the simplest goal of each scene is to make the reader care, whether through a budding curiosity, a heart-twisting cliff-hanger, or a shocking revelation. There’s gotta be a question of who, what, where, when, or why, or you lose the reader.

What distracted me this month while writing: Piriformis Syndrome. I think this is what I have, coupled with some sciatic nerve nastiness. I’m calling it Writer’s Ass. I’ve had a shooting cold sensation down my right leg, which moves around and wavers in intensity (sometimes disappears! Like it did for the entire week we were in F’ventura!). I’ve been seeing an osteopath and a physical therapist for awhile now and I think we’ve narrowed it down. So. Strengthen the glutes. And I’ve just ordered a kneeling chair. I’ve used them before and they’re great. I’m praying it helps this because I can sit still for so long but the cold sensation can be so intense, it’s hard to think about anything else. No stretch or ibuprofen or hot bath or anything makes it go away when it’s happening, but sometimes I’ll get a few days’ reprieve. Argh.

Goal for next month: I’ve foolishly signed up for Camp NaNo. I’ve no idea how I’m going to write 50k in April when I’m still working on finishing this 2nd draft of NEVERSEA.

Last 250 words: (A random selection from February. Still first draft.)

Then he saw the front door clearly, the same chintzy white curtains hanging in the bay window that he’d meant to replace but believed there’d always be time. And all these years later, he didn’t regret that the time they’d shared had been spent enjoying each other, rather than mundane chores like redecorating. Seeing those curtains now filled his heart with new purpose, like a royal banner being raised, whipping wildly in the winds of decision. He would take time now for those things she wanted — they wanted — to make their home one that reflected the love they had. And the time they’d lost.

The truth will set you free. Wasn’t that what they said? The truth of his otherness would be breathed by his voice, proven by his native form, and all the cover-ups he’d shamefacedly doled out to her would come undone. He didn’t expect her to understand, or to love him still. But the fantasies had given him the guts to come this far.

The moment was here. The jig was up. He knocked on the door, a door like a hundred others in a hundred London suburbs, but as his flesh connected, it could’ve been a silkenstone gate to a palace of crystal and diamond and cut-glass beauty that would only shimmer in his sight. Of all the wonders the cockatrice had seen in his long life on both sides of the fissures, this door and — more importantly — what waited beyond, was incomparable.

A dog’s bark came from inside, followed by the sound of a chair scraping the kitchen floor. His heart thumped like a wild hare beating the burrows to announce the presence of danger.

Anna was allergic to dogs.

– – –

Good luck with March! What’s left of it 😉

White Saharan sands <3
White Saharan sands <3
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Don’t Give Up! #Writemotivation June Check-In

So I’m late again on my #Writemotivation check-in! What is #Writemotivation, you might ask, if you’ve somehow stumbled on this blog?

My first full MS paper edit. Scary. But good.
My first full MS paper edit. Scary. But good.

Check out the link. K.T. Hanna has masterminded a group of cheering, supportive, amazing, talented, and varied writers who all encourage one another through their monthly goals via blogs and Twitter. Now on Google+!

Last post I mentioned I started using the Pomodoro technique. I’m here to report after little over a week, it’s done wonders for my productivity. I’m using PomodoroApp, and it seems to be keeping me focused on one task at a time, as well as showing me how long it’s taken to do tasks. I’m not just using this for writing, though. Oh no. Everything’s gone on here – from job hunting to weekly cleaning chores to my consistently-behind Inbox to even-more-consistently-behind crit work. I may still be behind on some of these items, but it’s really been a big help. Check it out!

Two quotes this week which kind of tie in together. But first, an awesome video and song (and band) that I’m late to the party discovering but am in LOVE with now:

It conjures so many story ideas. I can’t get enough of it. (Even if they do kinda borrow the Patronus visual ;))

Querying & Quotes

For those of you querying right now – and possibly using the crap out of Query Tracker and Publishers Marketplace in the process – a few encouraging quotes. Feedback, polishing, revising, even rewriting. Don’t give up. If you love and believe in your story, and keep doing your best, I believe things will happen. You have to believe that, or there’s no point, right? Here are a few quotes that are in my head this week:

This from EliteDaily.com:

The difference between the successful minority and the general majority is simply that the former group keeps coming back stronger after each rejection, not letting anyone get to them and deter their efforts in any facet of life. They create no excuses or rationalizations, nor do they accept limits. Those are the people that know how to get what the want and apply the focus and discipline necessary to achieve their ends. They’re resilient, cool and collected. They end up winning.

I recommend the entire article. It can be applied to anything. It’s a great reminder to STOP with the excuses. Take whatever feedback I get about my writing, sift through it for the gold and let the rest go. Out of all the critical feedback (and I don’t mean snarky trolls on contests, etc. because those people will always exist. Don’t feed them. Don’t explain to them. Leave their meanness to their big old meanie selves and move on.) … I’ve forgotten what I was saying. Yes. Out of all the great feedback I’ve been given, I’d say a good 65% of it has truly applied, and made a big difference in a revision. The writing community is overflowing with people who want to help others, even if it’s just a shake of pom-poms.

Most fellow writers want to see your story shine, and will give you advice that if duplicated by others, you probably want to seriously consider. But even the feedback that surprises you, that you bristle at…. give it a shot. Consider how your story would be different if you followed their advice, and if that means writing out a paragraph with their suggestion and comparing it with your original, do it. It just might lead to a world of difference. The smallest suggestions by a recent editor who gave me advice on my first 4 chapters were the ones that made me look at things in a whole new light.

Me on the Isle of Staffa, Scotland, from our trip the other week.
On the Isle of Staffa, Scotland, from our trip last week.

Quote #2 from Max Lucado, one of my favorite inspirational authors, from his book GREAT DAY EVERY DAY:

Do you let anyone who knocks on your door enter your house? Don’t let every thought that surfaces dwell in your mind . . . Negative thoughts never strengthen you. How many times have you cleared a traffic jam with your grumbles? Does groaning about bills make them disappear? “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NCV).

I don’t let just any Joe Blogs in my house, so why the heck do I let every thought that appears in my head linger and grow? So you got one rejection today. Or five. Don’t let those negative thoughts that want to tell you you can’t linger. Don’t let irrational worries hang about. Reject them. I’m trying to learn how. It seems revolutionary to think that I don’t have to let worries, fears, and negativity hang about. Why didn’t someone tell me this before? That, in fact, I’m the only one with the power to make them go away?

Write Motivation June Goals

1) Complete Revision #2 (paper revision) of WIP This is what I’m mostly focused on this month. I’ve never printed a complete MS before. This is scary but it’s amazing. For each chapter, I’m reading and making notes on the paper copy, making noted changes in Scrivener, and then either printing this revised copy to check for errors, or reading on the screen for errors. It’s slow, but I’m cutting so much fat. 
2) Find 2 CPs/betas willing to read as soon as this revision is done!
3) Rewrite synopsis This will come when I finish 1). Might happen this month, but might not, given the month’s craziness.

How’re you doing this month? If you’re not writing, are you working on any goals that you’d like to get in gear for the summer? GOOD LUCK! Try the Pomodoro Technique, if you’re struggling with focus like I’ve been. Have a great week 🙂

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Writemotivation check-in & Liebster Award

I think this might be the first #writemotivation month I actually complete all my goals (though I’m too lazy to verify that), and given what they are, this excites me. OoooOOooh.

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Don’t ask. I just got a big fat depressing email in my inbox, and this made me laugh. Anyhow, here is my progress:

1. Second draft of WIP complete. I’m following my schedule to get this first revision done on time, and am feeling good about how this story is tightening up and some of the new subplot threads coming out of the woodwork!
2. Finish final revisions on SOMEBODY…  Done!

Good luck on all you other #writemotivation peeps out there! How YOU doin’?

– – –

Now I need to thank author Heather Jacobs for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Thanks for the thought, Heather! 9209113

Here are the guidelines:

(1)    Post the award on my blog.

(2)    Thank the blogger who gave me the award and link back to their site.

(3)    Post 11 random facts about myself.

(4)    Answer 11 questions from the presenter of the award has asked.

(5)    Nominate 11 new bloggers with fewer than 200 followers that I want to pass the award on to.

(6)    Ask my nominees 11 questions of my own.


11 Random Facts
(1) I used to be a massive Dave Matthews fan and saw him live about 10x in the span of 4 years. At one show, I brought a painting I did of/for him (how cheesy is that! But it was good, if I do say so myself ;)) and held it up briefly. When the show ended, Dave walked to the front of the stage and pointed at me. Minutes later someone came and beckoned my friend and I backstage where we got to meet the band. Freakin’ happiest moment of my life, to that point! (Of course, it didn’t hurt really that my bass teacher’s brother played in the opening band…)

(2) I stood for 12 hours for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Leicester Square in London to take photos. I’m not an autograph seeker. It was more interesting to see all the actors and how they interacted with people. And scream my head off.

(3) My favourite animals are sheep, puffins, and crabs.

(4) My sister and I played spies as kids. We had a tree fort, code names and everything. I wore a cape. These are some of my favourite memories.

(5) I’ve been playing volleyball in a local league for 3 years now and I still stink at it. But it’s fun.

(6) I love Trivial Pursuit. I feel like I learn more from it than I did in school.

(7) Gary Oldman is my favourite actor.

(8) My top 2 favourite films couldn’t be more different. I’m calling the LOTR trilogy one; two is Withnail & I.

(9) I’m greatly affected by lack of sunshine; when the sun is out, everything seems possible. This makes life in the UK difficult, to say the least.

(10) I can quote just about every Sex and the City episode, as well as entire films (nearly), some of which include Monty Python & the Holy Grail, the above two mentioned, Romancing the Stone, Anne of Green Gables, Goonies, Clue, and endless Little House on the Prairie episodes to name a few.

(11) My sisters and I largely talk to one another in such quotes 😀

My Answers:

(1)    Who is your biggest inspiration?

Difficult to name just one, but for this I’ll go with my mom, for her strength and encouragement.

(2)    What is/was your relationship with your mother?

Oh! Well, now that you ask, very good, thank you!

(3)    Do you have pets?

No, but we had loads growing up and I consider my parents’ cats “mine” when I go home 😉 Hope to get a cat of our own soon.

(4)    What is your guilty pleasure?

Which one? 🙂 I have many. I’ll go with the Golden Girls.

(5)    Do you outline or are you a seat-of-your-pants writer?

Started out a pantser; now I greatly value outlines. I start with a synopsis and expand on it, sort of like the snowflake method, but I leave plenty of space for inspiration to strike off in other directions.

(6)    Do you write aspects of your personality into your characters?

As Diana Gabaldon has said (and I paraphrase), an author IS every character s/he creates. As the creator, you insert bits of yourself into these people, so whether you like it or not, something slips through. But I think drawing on everyone you meet is just as inevitable. The point is to find ways to give each character a unique voice. While character A may be similar to me in her initial shyness, she’s unlike me in 15 other ways, ways I wish I was. And character B may have my temperament. And so on.

(7)    Last time you lost your temper, what caused it?

Speak of the devil! Ooh, it’s like you’re psychic. I don’t really throw fits, but I do get annoyed big time by poor customer service (having worked in it myself), and people who look you in the eye as you’re on the crosswalk then drive right through.

(8)    What would your dream vacation be?

New Zealand, an island resort in the Caribbean, Bora Bora, Azores…

(9)    Do you think you’re weird? Why or Why not?

Everyone is weird.

(10) What do you think you purpose is?

To do unto others as I’d have done to me. And to write. And eat cheese.

(11) If you were going to a deserted island and could only take three things, what would they be?

Loaded Kindle, my 50″ plush crab, and, oh, my husband 🙂

Ok. So next is to list my Victims…err…picks for the Award:I’m going to cheat here. I’m sorry. As much as I enjoy answering these and reading others’ answers, lots of my friends and online buddies are already receiving this and I don’t want to bombard anyone, so I’ll just be lazy and sit back and enjoy their answers to Heathers’ questions 😉

Your 11 questions to answer:

(1)    What would you say is your muse?

This is dependent upon what I’m working on, I think. Variable!

(2)    You’ve been whisked away to the Big Brother house, what type of housemate would you be?

The kind who gets herself kicked off as soon as possible because she’s done the housemate thing more than enough times, thank you 🙂

(3)     What’s the last book you read and felt lonely after because it was done?

The last book in the OUTLANDER series, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, by Diana Gabaldon.

(4)     What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

How much time have you got? Broadway actress, writer, doctor (briefly), video game designer (as early as 5)… I could go on.

(5)     The Doctor has decided to make you his next companion. Where in time or space would you want to go first and why?

Is it the 10th Doctor? Otherwise, I’m previously engaged 😉 I’d go anywhere with him.

(6)     Have you ever written anyone you’ve known into any of your stories? If yes please explain.

I plead the fifth.

(7)     We are all different. What sets you apart?

My laugh. It’s raucous. Rau-cous. Adj. Boisterous and disorderly. My old bandmates referred to me as the Queen Chortler.

(8)     If you could go anywhere right now without the worry of money where would you go?

Nashville, to visit a much-missed friend and meet her new little baby.

(9)     If you could meet one person alive or dead who would it be and why?

Hehe *cracks knuckles*. Let me tell you a story. Actually, no. Let me allude to a story. I’ve always been someone who wanted to (and tried to, and succeeded in many cases) meet her heroes. If I may, I’d like to suggest this isn’t always wise 😉 But we’re talking brief, I suppose – like have a coffee with. That should be safe, so, JK Rowling.

(10)   If you could change one thing in your life right now what would it be and why?

I’d change my status from agent-less to one with an agent. As for the why, I should think that’s pretty clear 😉

(11)   Name your favorite thing in the world right now?

Fro-yo.

Thanks for reading, kids! Hope you have a great week!

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