Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Writing more...

http://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/

I've read a lot of fluff articles about getting my productivity up (and written some) but this one really makes sense.  I doubt I will achieve her numbers for a while, but any increase is a good one!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Another video for friday

It's a thing now.

This week we have geek and sundry's video Written by a kid, this episode staring Joss Whedon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why is it important to go with a reputable publisher?

This thread about Firefly and Wisp publishing over on Absolute Write speaks volumes.  Please.... do your homework before you submit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Write In!

Alas that I can not do this and that I did not find out about it earlier. The Fairborn Ohio library is doing write in's on Thursday from 12-4pm.  If you have the availability check it out.

Here is the description from the library website: "What's a write-in? Write on your own, anywhere in the library. Recognize other writers by the sticker/button you pick up at the reference desk. Take 15 minute scheduled breaks to snack, talk about writing, and enjoy being a writer!"

Hopefully they will repeat these in November!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Your Monday Writing Excuses

Today's writing excuse has some brilliant discussion on how to switch gears and start a new project. There was some great tips on how to keep consistent with what people liked but still write a new project.   
http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/08/19/writing-excuses-7-34-how-to-start-the-next-one/

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday video

I am trying to get back in the habit of blogging again, and true to me I'm going to take the easy way and designate Friday's for videos.  Today's video is the Lizzie Bennet diaries.

They post new videos multiple times a week.  I love the way they are updating Pride and Prejudice.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Publishing sizes and what do they mean

Anne Allen has a wonderful blog post up that is a who's who in publishing companies.  My only note is that Dorchester (under the Mid sized publishing links) is pretty much dead.  The last information was that Amazon was looking into acquiring their line but I've seen no news on that front since late June.  I highly recommend checking any potential publisher out at the Absolute Write forums.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Groundhog stew

A few weeks back, and just days before I drove to North Carolina, I found out that something had eaten the wires in my car that led from the transmission to the speedometer.  We got it fixed.  I drove down south and had a wonderful time.  Three days after I got back our little rodent friend ate them again.  Add in a broken refrigerator and a convention for my husband and you have a mess of chaos that's spilled into my writing.

I'm proud to say I've manage to write a non zero number of words.  It's progress.  I am still stalled out on chapter four.  In the mean time I passed my outline off to my writers group.  I am so very glad I did.  They pointed me towards a new opening and suggested some plot twists that I had overlooked.  I'm working on the new chapter one now, hopefully to finish this week, and then the chapters will be going up for critique.  Having a writer's group has been the best step I could have made.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interesting news from google

Google's searches are going to filter out websites with multiple piracy or DMCA complaints against them.  It should be interesting to see how this shakes out between free speech advocates and the anti piracy side.

http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/google-to-fight-ebook-piracy-with-major-search-engine-shakeup/


Monday, August 13, 2012

This weeks Writing excuses

http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/08/12/writing-excuses-7-33-authentic-emotion/

This week's writing excuses is all about authentic emotions.  I confess to using some of the method acting versions in my earlier life. It's a little harder to do that now with the child and husband.  They already suspect me of insanity, no need to confirm it.  ;-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Monday....

Have you had your Writing Excuses yet?

I'm home for a fabulous weekend and we are getting much needed rain so onward with chapter 4.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let the marathon commence!

I am away from home for a few days and I am planning to do some serious writing. Let's go with the stats:

Updated!
Beginning word count: 5440
Ending word count: 7443
Status:  About half way through chapter 3 right now.
Goals:  Finish chapter 3 and get about halfway through chapter 4.  I finished Chapter 3 and started chapter 4 but I am not as far in as I wanted to be.  Total words written just of 2000.  

I'll update later tonight with my progress.  And now it is story GO time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Endings

I've talked earlier about my love of Avatar and The Legend of Korra.  Legend of Korra just finished it's first "book" and I wanted to share some of my thoughts about the ending.  As always spoilers ahead.

The plot for this book has not been slow at any point.  Even the side plots with the pro bending have been pushing things ahead at a good clip.  The last two episodes took us to a higher gear.  It was breakneck and I think it suffered because of the speed.  Episode ten left Korra and her friends in a bad space.  Amon had taken over the city.  Lyn Beifong was stripped of her powers and the airbenders had left the city.  The only ray of hope was General Iroh bringing in the fleet.

The Korra creators wanted something different then Avatar with Korra.  Avatar had the same overarching enemy who grew clearer as the story progressed.  Korra does not.  The reveal that Amon and Tarlock were brothers came out of no where.  It was the one stagnant part in the story progression.   Nowhere in the previous episodes was it ever hinted that Tarlock had a brother.  If they had laid any hints earlier I would have been happy.  But as it is it felt like they didn't play fair.  There was no way for the audience to know that Amon was a blood bender faking the firebender attack.  The firebender attack lead a false trail that he might have a tie to Mako and Bolin.  Three things in a story usually implies meaning.

I did like the final confrontation between Korra and Amon, but again I felt that having the airbenders captured and appearing on the stage was another cheat.  It comes back to foreshadowing again.  Korra finally learning to airbend in that moment was amazing.

I loved the scene in the boat where Tarlock decides to sacrifice both himself and his brother, that was amazing.  I hope that the writers don't undermine that by having them survive.  I loved the real tension in the story between nonbenders and benders.  I hope that plot is not dead.

The very end of episode twelve when Korra finds the avatar state, heals herself and heals others did not feel earned.  Especially that she can drop in and out of the state at will.  I am worried that she's reached her goal too quickly and the next three books she won't have a goal to reach for.

And let's just say it.  I hated the way the romance was tied up, meaning there was no resolution.  Mako ended up looking like the biggest jerk ever.  If that is not resolved and complicates things in the next book I might walk away from the series.  I don't care who ends up with whom.  I do care that they act like human beings about it or if they are acting like jerks they have that pointed out and dealt with.

I'm looking forward to the next seasons.  According to the press releases they are supposed to delve into the spirit world next.  I look forward to Korra trying to manage that.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Monday!

Have you listened to your weekly Writing Excuses?  This week is all about the villain problem.

My progress this weekend ended up stalling out.  I've had a request to assemble skirts for my dancing group and three of them needed to be done now.  I'm still working on them but we are in the end game.  Writing did happen, just not much.  Tonight the skirts get turned in and then writing shall be going full tilt with an extra bonus of all day Friday I will be in the mountains of NC, in a lovely little house with only my first draft.  I am planning to make the most of it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rolling and rolling on

The words came harder today, but I'm in a groove.  I still added over a thousand words to my count leaving me just under 5k.  I'm sure this is minuscule progress for some people.  It feels like I am inching.  But my day has about 4-6 hours where I am awake and not keeping my child from concussing himself, breaking things or otherwise being a force of nature.  And some of that time is used for such pressing issues as getting a shower or making sure we can walk across the floor with out tripping on toys.  I've been pulling 2-4 hours away for writing most days.
I am hoping to finish this draft in early Sept, unless something goes insane.  If I can keep up this pace I can do it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

While we are on the subject of rough drafts....

I just did a scary thing.  I started this book back in early May.  It is based on an earlier story that I've been trying to find the right form for since I was in high school.  This time I think I have the right form.  Over the last two months I have been grinding out words slowly.  Computer troubles hampered most of May.  Time commitments have been dragging me down, but slowly I have managed to crunch out about 3k of story onto the page.  And yesterday I reached the gestalt where all my ideas just poured out and I wrote an outline for the story that is over 2k.  This from a gal who's daily word output has been 200 or less.  But they were the wrong words.
While I was outlining I realized that my character was starting in the wrong place.  There wasn't enough pressure on her to take the opportunities being offered her.  After all she was starting in a place where she had shelter, food and clothing. It needed to be worse.  Today I wrote the beginning of that scene.  And it's right.   The words flowed.  They aren't all the right words, but it's much closer then before.  I need to do a bit of editing with my old stuff to blend the scenes back together, but it's close.  There is a map to the end (or at least close to the end).

After ripping out the beginning:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Still writing....

First drafts is eating my brain.  I've reached the time where I need to world build and outline.  If I had a neat and organized brain all of this would be done before I start drafting but I don't.  I have to dip my toe into the waters of the story for a bit.  The heavy bits of research are done, or at least a lot of them are done.  But now I need to find the structure of the story.  This part always goes faster for me.  I wrote at least 1300 words of outline [make that 2400, I stayed up a little to late] (not included in my draft) already today. Once I have a guide I am hoping my own word count will speed up and I can make progress.  I have a weekend "retreat" at the end of the month and if I can plow though a few chapters on my day away from the munchkin it will be amazing.  I want to be done with this before the snow flies.

All together now.... Get Back to Writing!



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Surfeit of life

So life has gotten away from me.  First it was cooking for 20 for a weekend, then storms and power outages and now cooking for the 4th of July.  Although I have been silent here I have been progressing on the rough draft of doom.  It has reached over 3400 words.  It's not much but it is a heck of a lot more then when I started.  The alphasmart helped a ton.  I was able to write even when the power was out. 

Hopefully the weather will not give us 80mph winds again and life will be calmer for the rest of the month.  Until then have another episode of Writing Excuses.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legend of Korra

This post is going to have spoilers for the current series of Legend of Korra proceed at your own risk.

I love Avatar the Last Airbender.  There are so many good things about it, I've blogged about it before. One thing that the writers have not shied away from is having an arc of growth for their characters. Aang's arc was maturing from a child to an adult (at least in so far as responsibilities go) and learning to act decisively.  In the new series the current avatar Korra has the opposite problem.  She acts decisively but with out thinking or planning.  She has no contact with the spiritual side of bending but she has been able to bend every element but air from a very young age, younger then her predecessor.
Just that simple choice of flaws helps radically define her character and make it clear that this is her story and not a continuation of Aangs.  Throughout the series a character behind a mask by the name of Amon has been threatening benders in Republic city.  There has been a lot of speculation as too who he/she really is under the mask.
I am finding as I look at this series through the eyes of a writer (mired in one novel's revisions and another first drafting) that I am guessing some of the plots trajectory.  You don't put a character under a mask unless removing it would reveal to much information to the people.  That's led to some speculation that Amon is one f the characters from the original series, that he was Tarrlock, that he was Tenzin, and many more.  My pet theory is that he is a spirit but we'll see how that speculation plays out.  Another theory that was brought out was that the avatar was split into to beings, the physical side with Korra and the spiritual with Amon.
There's one problem with that theory.  Korra would have no growth arc.  The logical progression to that kind of arc is some sort of melding and it means Korra doesn't have to grow and change and learn spirituality.  So far she seems to be changing. She's had contact with Aang's past life last episode and she's starting to learn patience.  I am going to stick with my spirit theory.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Writing Excuses

Have you had your fifteen minute break today?  http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/06/17/writing-excuses-7-25-writing-capers/

Today's episode is about creating a heist or crime plot. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pixar's guide to stories

Pixar has created some of my absolute favorite movies.  Up makes me cry every time. Incredibles, amazing. These story guidelines are on par.  Check them out.  http://www.pixartouchbook.com/blog/2011/5/15/pixar-story-rules-one-version.html

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Opps!

We've had the husband away for 2 weekends and about half a set of weekdays over the last few weeks, jury duty, end of school and now a birthday all this month.  It's made things a little hectic.  I haven't stopped moving forward though.  This week a kind friend is going to suck out my netbook's hard drive so I have access to my old files (and my son's baby pictures!)  Today my replacement is coming.  I decided to go lowtech this time and I ordered an alphasmart.  It's cheaper then any laptop/tablet/netbook and best of all, there is no internet, solitaire or anything else to get in the way of my word count. 

I have also set my desktop up with Ywriter. I can not first draft with this software.  There are too many awesome little distractions built into it.  It is amazing for editing a work.  While still keeping everything in one file you divide your novel into chapters and scenes.  You can create character reference notes, settling notes, and plot notes in the file to pull up as needed with out leaving them in your finished "manuscript" file.  It was written by a writer for writers and it's free. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

More interesting historical sources

Today we have a podcast about history from Colonial Williamsburg.  I enjoyed their latest one about tailoring and fashion in the 18th century.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stay at home mom

Posting has been a little light this week as I am doing my normal stay at home mom gig, plus sitting with out a net.  Mr. of Cricket house has been away.  Posting should be more normalized soon, whatever that will end up being.  We are still neck deep in first draft land over here which means microwave meals and absent minded professor moments.  In the mean time have an episode of Writing Excuses.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Other sources for research

Jas Townsend and son is a company who sell period clothing and equipment to reenactors covering about 1750-1840.  They are an awesome source to use when writing a period book.  Ever wanted to know what that chamber pot looked like?  Did you know that there was a regency equivalent to a dry erase board?  On top of all the items they sell they have an excellent youtube channel. There are videos about cooking, building ovens, setting up tents, making ink.... I've found them very helpful in my current project.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Good news for self publishers (and everyone else)

Amazon is working to ban the "spam" ebooks that have been littering the kindle lists.  Hopefully this will reduce the people who reprint things public domain or plagiarize other people's books so the real books on the kindle will have a better chance of being seen.
http://paidcontent.org/2012/05/24/amazon-bans-kindle-store-spam-finally/

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Balance

You may have noticed the blog has been a little quiet of late.  I've been in the middle of first drafting.  It's not going easy.  I find that I can balance about three sometimes four things in my day with out feeling utterly stressed out.  Top slot is being a Mom/ babysitter.  Next comes the basic housework so I don't drown in dishes or diapers. I'm trying to squeeze writing into that third slot, the one that is usually filled with cooking, shopping and gardening.  It's not working very well. 

You'll notice everything else on my daily list has to do with making things nicer around the house for my family.  I'm particularly prone to falling into that trap, until recently my "me time" was dancing on Monday nights and an occasional weekend away where I was cooking for thirty people. 

It's hard to think of writing as a job when you aren't being paid for it yet.  It's hard to push things aside, even dull things like laundry or sweeping the kitchen floor because if they aren't done I feel guilt that I'm not getting everything I need to done. 

Finding that balance has been really hard.  If my blogging lags for a bit here I'll be back again soon.  This time at least the silence hopefully means that work is being done behind the scenes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Monday Monday

Today is a total Monday.  Have you checked out the latest Writing Excuses podcast today?  They are going into details about projects that they have written and go into detail about how it was created. 

We also have a nifty infographic of how a book is created from idea to publication.  Enjoy and I hope your Monday is sane!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Agent brain

Have you ever wanted to see how an agent reads a slush pile?  Nelson Literary agent Sara Megibow weekly posts a 10 queries in 10 tweets on Tursday.  Here's the link!  https://twitter.com/#!/SaraMegibow

Everything is done as anonymously as possible and not maliciously.  Check it out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How do you avoid a bad situation....

Last week the story of Undead Press and their "editing" practice was released on the internet.  If you missed it the story is here.  Today Writer Beware has an excellent post on how to minimize you chances of something like this happening to you. (Caveat I don't have the contract, undead may have this language and ignored it.  Theses things are like locking the doors of your car, they might not prevent you from getting broken into but they should at least help lower the odds.)  As always reading and understanding your contract is at the heart of the matter.  I recommend yesterday's post and checking through their archives. Pub Rants has an excellent section on publishing contract 101.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shit hits the fan

I don't bleep curse words here.  Every word is a tool and poo has an entirely different connotation then shit or excrement or turds.

Regardless things are a little crazy at Casa de Cricket so on that subject here's a good post about writing through the craziness by Nathan Bradford:  How to keep writing when the S*** Hits the fan.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scams and Shams

There is a new scam out there in the Epublishing world. A company called e-Publishing Revo is offering to publish your ebook for the *sarcasm* low price of $299.  Or for an extra hundred bucks they will "edit it" and "market it."  Revo's parent company has a reputation for it's "marketing", or as most people would call it mass spamming.

We revert back to Yogg's law on this one.  Money flows from the publisher to the author, never the reverse.  There is a full write up on this scam including some great information on author royalties at WriterBeware.

And don't forget to check out this week's Writing Excuses.



Monday, May 14, 2012

How to write a novel

I am exhausted from the weekend so here's a great post by someone who isn't brain dead. I'll talk to you tomorrow. How to write a novel by Lani Taylor. Steps 6-8 are particularly important.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Storytelling

I am off for the weekend so here is Ira Glass talking about storytelling. There are four parts.
Part 1
Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crazy town....

After 3 mights up till about midnight sewing I can see the end of the tunnel. I'm still plugging away to get my word count done before the weekend though so today's post brought to you by a couple of links on what it costs to make a book:
Profit and Loss by Anna Genoese.  The article was written in 2006 and she includes some updates here

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Avengers!

First, if you haven't seen it and don't want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ FURTHER!








I am assuming you either don't care about spoilers or you already saw the movie.  Last chance for fluffy bunnies. 

First I loved this movie.  Marrying six characters, four of them who already have had their back stories written out and keeping them all interesting is no easy feat.  The first act of the story was more drawn out then some of the previous films out of a need to establish all six main characters, Loki and Shield for the audience.  One regret I had was that Agent Maria Hill felt a little interchangeable as a character, it felt as if any random soldier could have filled that part.


On the reverse side of that the Black Widow subverting the helpless damsel trope was brilliant.  I find the idea that in rage someone exposes themself as much or in these cases more then the "victim" is an interesting and empowering idea.

This brings me to one of the best things Joss managed.  Every single character got a moment where the audience literally applauded.  Hulk stole the show though.  "Puny god."  There was less of an arc with the main characters.  You can't move them forward too much because of the limits of the franchise.  Ironman 3 is in some form of production now and Thor and Captain America sequels are in the pipeline.  Still Steve Rodgers ended the film more comfortable with the world outside.  Tony Stark and Rodgers push each other in the development so that Stark ends up more selfless and Rodgers more willing to look at the world with out the idealized view of his past.  Thor ended up with very little development. His interactions with Loki were limited, in my opinion because if he was the proactive force the movie could have ended up being Thor 2 instead of an ensemble. Bruce Banner continues the journey echoing Rodger's acceptance journey and Stark's quest to do the right thing even if that sacrifices himself or in Banner's case his need to keep control.


Whedon's trademark is his witty banter and it keeps the very expected journeys from becoming trite.  The villain's journey is one of the more underdeveloped.  Loki's backstory and motivations are implied with his interactions with Thor but not explained.  Whedon's other trademark is to let you grow attached to a character so that when he's killed you feel it. Agent Coulson's role was just that, a brutal moment just after a moment of strength.  His last words were a very meta reference to the heroes needing his death to motivate them.  Fury twist the knife even further taking the death to the point of mellow drama when he
doctors the cards with blood and flings them all on the table.

The third act of this was dynamite. Let's be honest.  We knew generally how this was going to end.  You can't have a movie called the Avengers with out knowing that our heroes are going to team up and defeat the bad guy at the end of the day.  The brilliance of the third act is that even though you know they will win you don't care. You don't need the mystery to keep engaged with the story.  We know Hulk is going to come back. We know that Tony isn't going to die, although the earlier death allows you to worry about Black Widow and Hawkeye who don't currently have movie franchises behind them.  But the action is good, the lines are quotable and hilarious, and the ending satisfies the story.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Writer's groups

I've been looking for a good writers groups for a while now. This week, in the midst of all my other chaos, I am going to check out a local group to see if we'd make a good fit.  Every group has it's own rules but here are some of the rules I follow for critiques:

  • If you are the one being critiques don't speak unless there is a direct and specific question asked of you.  Don't defend or justify your work.
  • As the critiquer start with something positive.  If you can not find anything positive you probably should critique.
  • Don't be personal in your critique.
  • Don't say how you would rewrite it.  No "you shoulds."
  • Find a middle ground between nit picking grammar and word choice and painting in broad strokes. "I liked it," not helpful.  "I liked X because of Y," is much more informative.
A lot of my material comes from Brandon Sanderson's course.  Go watch the video, he's got some great stuff in there. 



Monday, May 7, 2012

This week is going to be crazy!

This week I am prepping to feed about 25 people over the weekend and sewing a costume for my RCSD troop demonstration the weekend after that.  It's made life nuts over here so I may be in and out this week.  Blogging should be more or less back next week as normal. 

So check out this week's Writing Excuses.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Making promises

Writing a story is making promises to your reader.  You set up your characters and your world and you reveal questions about them.  Then over the course of your story you give the audience the answers.  Now every question does not and should not be answered, but your readers will expect certain questions raised by your story to be answered for them to feel satisfied. 

A perfect example of this is Pat Rothfuss's King Killer trilogy. *Spoilers ahead for the first 2 books*  Rothfuss sets up Kvothe's story as a story literally being told in the book.  Present day Kvothe has become an innkeeper by the known by the name of Kote and Chronicler has come to hear his life story.  At the end of chapter seven in the first book, The Name of the Wind, Rothfuss tells us most of the promises that he will pay out over the course of the story.
 "I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the city of Trebon. I have spent the night with Fellurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age then most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to gods, loved woman, and written songs that make the minstrel's weep.
 You may have heard of me." -The last 2 paragraphs of chapter 7 in the Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
Here you can see that Rothfuss has made a promise to his readers.  There will be a princess who is stolen, perhaps an implicit rescue.  Kvothe will burn down a city.  He will explain who Fellurian is and Kvothe will spend the night with her.  Kvothe will go to University and be expelled. He will talk to gods. The name of the series is a question the book must answer; The Kingkiller Chronicle.  We learn that Kvothe is living in isolation and he's lost his magic.  For the story to be complete we should have most of these questions answered. 

In the first book we learn that Kvothe is accepted into the university.  We see him burn down the city.  The genius of the story is that even with such bold promises, "I burned down the city of Trebon," Rothfuss pays them out in unexpected ways.  Trebon burns by accident and Kvothe all but kills himself trying to contain the fires. In the second book, The Wise Man's Fear, he reveals the story of Fellurian and he opens more questions.  Why does Kvothe feel responsible for the war? When the third book comes out we should receive the answers but the questions keep the reader interested enough to move forward in the story.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Query Tracker

I have an inner type A personality.  It might not be apparent when you look at my house right now (toddlers are walking tornadoes) but I love organization, tracking numbers, and spreadsheets.  This hits all my buttons right now.  Query Tracker

Query Tracker is a website that lists agents and lets you create an online database of agents to submit to.  And it lets you enter your submissions to an agent, track their responses, look up their average response times, etc etc. etc.  The best part.  It's free. Your inner type A's can thank me with housework :-p

This video explains the system much better then I did.  Check it out.
Please also remember to double check any agency or publisher with Writer Beware or Preditors and Editors.  Yogg's Law, and don't feed the scammers. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On the matter of research...

I've been in full on research mode over here. My local library is pretty small and I haven't found a lot of books on the shelf that fit my needs, but my local library is hooked into OhioLink. I've been able to pull out some books from university libraries. The expanded selection is wonderful! Now I just need enough time to finish all of them!

Selecting the right books has been important. I'm working on something with a historical setting. One of the very best material I've found is actual period books. Right now I'm working through the Mirror of Graces written in 1811. I've found similar books on Project Gutenberg and Google books. On a side note I feel that for books that are out of copyright such as the Mirror of Graces or The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (both written about 200 years ago) a free download is appropriate, if it's still in copyright though proceed with caution and common sense and don't pirate.

Another way I've been able to select the best books for my research is by asking a history majors. I've been lucky enough to be friends with one who as a focus in my current time period. I've had recommendations from other authors writing in the same period. Going through Wikipedia and checking their sources is another way to find information. And finally asking your local librarian. Happy reading.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And still with the sick....

So here are a few more links.  But since I am feeling slightly more human then yesterday there are a few actual words to go with them. 

First up is a link to a blog which is going through a class that Brandon Sanderson taught on writing. The class was videoed and the segments are being posted online slowly.  There is also a group of people who are taking this class through the videos over the summer.  I have not actually read any of Brandon's work yet.  You can revoke my nerd cred at any time now.  I need to pick up some of his non World of Time stuff someday.  Right after I finish the primary and 2 secondary sources I've got on loan for the library.  But that's a different post. 
http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/home/brandon_w2012/lecture-1-sub/

Next we have one of my favorite story tellers Pat Rothfuss who joined with Felicia Day, John Scalzi, and Amber Benson for a google hang out to promote Geek and Sundry. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlQMAEo7qRA&feature=g-u-u

Last I have a podcast on Josh Whedon, another of my favorite story tellers.  http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/joss-whedon/id470019885?i=113058390   http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2012/04/11/popstuff-show-notes-episode-58-joss-whedon/

Enjoy and perhaps tomorrow I'll have something more witty.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Today's post is brought to you by illness

I may or many not be drugged up on cold meds right now so before I start typing things about rainbow butterflies and purple platypuses let me just send you over to the latest Writing Excuses.  It's about discovering your voice.  If you happen to find mine let me know. I'd like to be able to talk again soon. 

Wait.... wrong kind of voice.  Why don't we just pretend that segue was funny and leave it at that.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Griefcom

There are a ton of good reasons to join SFWA if you write Science Fiction or Fantasy.  There is prestige.  There is fame.  And there is the Griefcom. Griefcom is who you can go to when something is going really wrong in the business of publishing and normal channels aren't fixing it.  You must be a member of the SFWA to use their service but they can help negotiate issues of non-payment, revision of rights, or abusive contracts.  I don't know if RWA or MWA have similar programs as well but I highly recommend checking out the groups for your genre.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ebook news

Tor publishing has decided to no longer sell ebooks with a DRM code in the file.

John Scalzi (president of SFWA and published by Tor) shares some of his thoughts here.  It will be interesting to see how things will be changing in the ebook landscape in a few more years.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ten ways I make myself write

I need to follow this advice today.  I'm trapped with far to much #9. 

1. Take a break: if I have been writing pages and pages and suddenly I don't know where the story needs to go, getting away from it helps my subconscious to start putting pieces together. I read a book, a blog, or just get out of the house. This only works when I’ve already put in the work though. Taking a break after ten words is a cop out, which brings me to…

2. Summarize: Sometime the scene isn't working yet. I have been known in first drafts to write; "they fight, add it later" and move on. On the same note imagine the scene is already written. You will be surprised what details you find that already know about that scene by writing the scene right after your troublesome one.

3. Calculate: As soon as I know what type of book I am writing I have an idea of the length it needs to be. Young adult is about 50-100K. Most novels are around 80-100K of words with fantasy going as high as 150K (or if you are Jordan or Rothfuss MUCH higher). I pick a number in the range and use that as my goal. Then I figure out chapter length, 2-5K for me, and figure out how many chapters I need, I rounding up. I have a spreadsheet with words, pages and chapters to go to meet my goal and a count for how many more words to go in a chapter. I like the organization and tangible measure of progress. Why yes I have an inner type A.

4. Outline: Once I have that first rush of story that tells me who and what I am writing about, I try and figure out what needs to happen to get my characters to the ending. If I get stuck in the outline I write a ending and work backwards to figure out how to get there. I write about 10-400 words per chapter. Sometimes I write out major bits of dialog and description, other times I write, “Tie up the fight. Be clever! No pressure here.”

5. Don't go backwards: As you are writing the story you will get ideas for the parts you have already written. That is great, but if you break off writing and scroll back to chapter 3 and find the scene that all of a sudden needs to have ice-cream in it to emphasize the deep spiritual meaning of waffle cones in chapter ten, then getting back to where you started is much, much harder. I've heard of writers that keep a notebook next to their computer and jot notes down as they come up. I type red text into Word right in the middle of what I was doing. I fix it during the revision phase. I don't look up names or facts either unless it's vital. If I don't remember what I named Matt's little brother then I type "xxlittlebrother" and keep going. The xx makes it easier to search with Find and Replace later. I also change my text to be minuscule on the chapters I am not working with so I can't get sucked into the story or into doing fussy edits yet.

6. Type something: If I absolutely can not figure out what comes next then I start free typing. Delete is always an option but usually something will come out a few words after typing "I don't know what to write" or “What do I need to happen next?” I find the physical part of typing to be relaxing, I’ve never been what you would call normal.

7. Work on something else: I work on a couple of projects at once. Writing something fun and with out the pressure of being the "first draft of X project I am going to submit professionally" helps me get words. And perhaps that space squid story will get sold someday.

8. Be bad: I give myself permission to be horrible when I first draft. I overuse words, use trite metaphors and ignore the spelling check. That is what the second draft is for (and the third and fourth and…) On the first draft I need to get the ideas down, meet my characters and write an interesting story. I think of it as the pencil sketch for a painting. Once it’s down I can erase like crazy, fill in where needed and edit, edit, edit.

9. Research: Sometime knowing the whys about your environment can give you new ideas on how your character would act. Just don't research more then you write. It's easy to fall into the trap of researching every single detail. Research is great, the story is more important.

10. Read it out loud: If it's not working I go back to the last place that the writing did work and read out loud till it doesn’t. I can usually hear where the narrative is off and how to fix it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Avatar! Not the blue guys.

Hands up how many people have seen the Nickelodeon series Avatar the Last Airbender?  I think the television series is one of the best stories to hit TV.  It is aimed at children but the series covered a full arc of redemption, defining morality, sacrifice, and selflessness.  The shows five main characters evolve and grow in realistic ways so at the end of the three series arc they are all different yet still recognizable.

A very funny writer by the name of Ferrett Steinmetz suggested watching the series of Avatar (or at least the first season) and then watching the movie by the same name.  It's the exact same events that happen in the series, albeit tightened for time.  Yet the characters were stripped of the things that make us love them and they lost their growth and arc.  *Spoiler*  Aang in the television series begins as childish and flighty. As he begins to see how the world around him has changed for the worse he grows more focused but he doesn't entirely lose his sense of fun. In the movie he was serious at the start, and he stayed that way.  The movie had to cut events and play in shorthand what took about 8 hours and 2 episodes to do on the small screen.  But the end result was still a pale reflection of the original story.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stopgap measures

I've got a couple of deeper posts half written right now but while I try to edit them to a coherent state have a link. 
Why publishers fail.  If anyone was following the insanity a year or so back when Aspen Mountain folded stranding authors mid publications and the nightmare of rights and recriminations that followed.  This goes through a few of the examples, the causes and some tips that can help avoid that sort of situation.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Links Galore

Today's post needs to be short and sweet so here are some of my favorite links:

Absolute Write Forums This is a wonderful community for writers at any level and with all different kinds of goals. For those who are looking at professional publishing though I will recommend their Bewares, Recommendations and Background check forum.

Writer Beware This is one of my very favorite blogs. What can I say, I like watching them dismantle scams. If you are thinking about publishing at all, self-publishing, small press or with a major house, read through this blog. They can help you avoid throwing away your money, your time, and your rights.

Pat Rothfuss's blog I love everything that Pat writes. His writing advice on the blog is sporadic but what is there cuts to the heart of crafting stories.

Pub Rants This is agent Kristin Nelson's blog. I particularly recommend her Agenting 101 series for a great look at contracts and what sort of language should be in there.

Miss Snark This blog is closed however if you read through the archives their is a wealth of information both in how to land an agent and how to craft a compelling query letter/pitch.

I'll be back on Monday with more bloggery goodness.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can you see the theme....

I've been on a roll recently, going through the back episodes of Writing Excuses and applying their advice to my latest outline.This episode is one of my new favorites:http://www.writingexcuses.com/2011/10/02/writing-excuses-6-18-hollywood-formula/

If you are seeing the word formula and rolling your eyes, hold on to your skepticism.It is not quite as exacting as a2 + b2 = c2 but the case it makes for character roles and pacing are very good. You can break the formula, (and they list a few successful things that do) but knowing it can help tighten your story a lot.

One of the main points I took out of this was dissecting my characters role in the story.In the piece I am working on now I have set up about five major characters.My protagonist is easy to identify, I am telling the story in a limited third person through her eyes.My antagonist is not my villain, it is one of the character who is closest to the protagonist and a generally good person.My relationship character is someone who will probably be identified as a villain. My villains, while they are driving the plot, are not important to the underlying story I am telling.

An example of the three character dynamics in Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold the protagonist is Cordelia Naismith.The book is about her actions and written from her view.The Antagonist is the main male lead, Aral Vorkosigan and *spoiler* her eventual husband.The plot is about a coup and a war but the story is about loving someone so completely that you make a sacrifice for the relationship and the way that love changes us.The relationship character is harder to identify.This was originally written as two books. Bothari the tortured batman of Aral's is the relationship character of the first book but I feel that the second half, where the love theme changes from romantic love to maternal love, that Princess Kareen shows the theme of the story.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Foils in story

I'll repeat my plug from yesterday, Writing Excuses. They have a wonderful episode in the sixth season about character foils. Go, listen, I'll wait.
http://www.writingexcuses.com/2011/12/18/writing-excuses-6-29-character-foils/

In my writing I like my foils for my romantic characters. I particularly love the scholarly character paired with the more street smart. Patrica Wrede's Kim and Mairelon and Tamora Pierce's George and Alanna are great examples.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I think I'm back....

A few years ago, just before this blog went quiet, something happened and it's taken a while for me to find some equilibrium. Pregnancy and the lovely ball of chaos that is my son didn't help the adjustment. Babies are little energy vampires that only increase once they reach toddler-hood. Very adorable entrancing energy vampires that occasionally sparkle (because Mommy forgot to put the glitter on a high enough shelf and six months later we are still washing it out of his hair).

And that's about all the navel gazing I want to deal with. The end result is that the things I love that haven't been in my life are coming back in. Blogging is one of them.

I'll leave you with a wonderful link to Writing Excuses. It is a fifteen minute podcast that produces a new episode each week about writing. I am a fan.