Goodbye, 2008!

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So ends another year, still unpublished. So many goals not attained this year, so many goals added and attained. Successes and failures went hand in hand. Such is a writer's life.

I failed miserably at Nanofimo, depending on how you look at it. I only reached 10,000 or so words for Nanofimo on my 2007 Nano novel. But looking at it another way, that's a third of what I needed to do for Nanofimo, at least.

I may not have reached my 500 words a day goal for the year, but I did get considerably more writing done this year than I would have without that goal. I certainly put my nose to the grindstone a bit more, whenever possible.

Well, goodbye, 2008. I have mixed feelings about you, but I'll toast you just the same. I wrote my first short story in completion during you, and my daughter was born, so there were really good times along with all of the bad. Quite a stormy friendship, but in the end, I guess I'll call you a friend.

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Goodbye NaNoWriMo, Hello NaNoFiMo!

>> Monday, December 1, 2008

So I finished up the month of November with 65,115 words for my 2008 Nanowrimo novel. The novel is not yet finished by any stretch of the imagination, but as I'm rather worn out in writing it, I am switching to my Nano novel from 2007 and participating in NaNoFiMo, or National Novel Finishing Month now. I have been working on that story in bits and pieces, but it rather took the back burner to that short story about the vampire cows for a while, and before that I was quite busy for some months with a newborn baby.

But, now that my daughter is older and (somewhat) more cooperative about my time to write (ha ha ha! That's a riot, right?), I have decided to enter Nanofimo for the first time as a challenge to myself to finish up my 2007 Nano novel. Especially since I would like to try to publish this one within the next year. That will be one of my 2009 writing goals, I think.

But, I digress.

The two main goals of Nanofimo are: 1) to add at least 30,000 more words to your story, and 2) to finish the novel. You have to complete these two goals in some form to win. There are some variations on them, but I leave it to anyone interested to read about it on the Nanofimo website, which is , and read about it under the Nanofimo FAQ.

I am looking forward to the change of pace, especially story wise, this month. By the end of November, after working at such a grueling pace on one novel, and only one novel, I get rather tired of that story by the end of the month. So it will be nice to switch back to my 2007 story and work on that. I am a much better fantasy writer than a science fiction writer, anyway. By far. But, I gave it a good shot, and things went much better than I anticipated. Plus, I did not give up.

So maybe someday I can turn that sci-fi of mine into something publishable. For now, I am going to take a break from it and try my hardest to finish Anemone's Song, this month. Wish me luck!

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Ostensibly Halfway Finished...

>> Monday, November 10, 2008

I have 26,710 words on my NaNoWriMo story so far. That's a little more than halfway finished with my novel, assuming that I only write the 50,000 words required to win Nano. And of course, that is really short for a novel, and I seriously doubt that my book will only be 50,000 words. I'm not even into the foreseen middle of my plot yet. I have a lot of work on this after Nano is over, just to complete it, never mind edit it.

But I will happily set it aside on December 1st and take up Anemone's Song again for NaNoFiMo, or National Novel Finishing Month. I hope to finish Anemone's Song in December, but if I don't, it won't be the end of the world. I'm not going to push too hard for it depending on how I feel at the end of November. But it would be really nice if I could finish that, since I want to edit it and get it published.

Well, one story at a time, right? At least this month. *cackles*

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Off to a Darn Good Start...

>> Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nanowrimo has been going really well for me so far. *knocks on wood* This is going much easier than last year. The story is just flowing from me, for the most part. I don't know if it's because I'm just more experienced at Nano, or if I'm not letting myself get as hung up with fixing mistakes and just moving on instead, but something seems to be working.

As of right now, I have 11, 864 words. I am just over a day ahead of schedule. I hope to write even more soon, to give myself a large cushion to fall upon, in case something happens and Eileen doesn't let me do much writing for a day or so. But so far it has been working pretty well. I let her play in the room with me while I type, and it works much better than I thought it would.

The election really got me down, but I'm trying to just move on from that. I may not have wanted Obama for president, but I really hope he does as good a job as people think he will. I hope that at least after all the hype, he can do some good for the economy--at the minimum. But I won't hold my breath.

For now, I'm pushing on with Nanowrimo and pouring even more of myself into my writing. Writing has gotten me through many things, and it will get me through this as well.

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Nostalgia

>> Wednesday, October 29, 2008

After catching up on some of the blogs that I follow, I happened across a post that was linked through Editorial Anonymous via the October 26th post to Editorial Ass. It is the story of an underdog, and it made me yearn to write Spellfighters again, my own underdog. I really miss it, but alas...I am working on other projects for the time being. As it has happened before, so it happens again...and the characters take a long vacation while the story gathers dust.

It has potential. I know it does. But I believe that some of the criticisms about it are right, and some things need to be reworked. At the time, it didn't seem that way, but now I see it with clearer eyes. A long break can be a good thing, oftentimes. Spellfighters is like my epic story, my favorite beloved tale and much petted characters that have to be shared with the world, some how, some way...even if it's never published, but only written out in full on crumpled up pieces of paper. Their story has to be told.

I feel sad now. Sad, and hopeful that one day, when I do make some of the changes that need to be made, my story will be published and shared with the world, as beloved by others as it is by me.

Check out the post. Really. It's worth it.

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Submitted!

>> Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I sent my vampire cows story in to the Writer's Digest Popular Fiction contest, under the fantasy category. It's entitled Put a Stake in It! It was somewhat inspired by my friend Morgan, who suggested similar titles that didn't quite fit. So that's what I finally came up with one morning while watching my daughter. My husband doesn't like it, and informed me so today. He was then subjected to a short rant about how I didn't care if he didn't like it, it's my story and my title and I like it, which is all that matters.

Then he said, "Boy, once you make up your mind, you really don't budge, do you?"

Usually, no. Especially when I didn't ask for your input to begin with. Ahem.

Figured out some new stuff for my nanowrimo story. I have a small, brief character profile for my main character, and I have a sketchy idea for the ending of my book, which is (as always) subject to change.

Now I just need to figure out my other characters before the contest starts...

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Warm Up Those Presses!

>> Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I sent the final draft out to some of my editing buddies for feedback and opinions before I turn it in for the contest. As soon as I get some replies, I'll make any necessary changes and enter my final version in the contest. I'm really hoping I at least place in the contest, because I think my idea is really creative, but I won't hold my breath.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to turn my attention to Nanowrimo. I've finally decided what type of story to write. I'm writing my first ever science fiction. But it has a bit of a horror twist to it. So it's kind of a science fiction-horror, or maybe a science fiction-thriller. I'm nervous and excited. I've never written a science fiction before. Most of what I write is fantasy. Still, this is a wonderful opportunity to stretch myself as a writer, and I'm looking forward to seeing what results from this experiment.

Oh, and I've started job hunting! Yay, me! I'm hoping to be employed by Christmas. Prayers and good wishes for that are appreciated!

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That's One Thing Out of the Way! Now on to Nano!

>> Friday, October 17, 2008

I did it! Yayness (as my friend Echo would say)! It is 4000 words exactly. Now I just have to call my sister and double-check my cow facts. Then I can send it in for the contest. This is about the best birthday present I could get right now, I think.

Speaking of birthdays, I have to go. My husband is taking me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday tonight, since he can't be with me on my actual birthday tomorrow. He got called in on a DJing job, so he called off of his regular job today to be with me, using a vacation day. Is that nice or what?

Here's to hoping I win!

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Nearing the Finish Line!

>> Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am almost done with my short story, thank heavens! It seems like I've been writing it for eons. I managed to edit it down to 82 words over word count, but I had to change the lackluster ending. It didn't feel right. I wanted something that was quintessentially Wintra. It took me a while to come up with something, but I did.

So now I'm only 144 words over my count for the contest. I can whittle that down easily! Yay! I was honestly beginning to think I could never do it.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling nervous about Nanowrimo. Why? I haven't picked a story idea yet. At first, the problem was that I couldn't come up with one. Now, I have a LOT of ideas...and I can't seem to pick one. *sigh* Will the madness never end?

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Editing Buddies, Part II

>> Sunday, October 12, 2008

4. A good work ethic--Who wants a lazy editor? You don't want someone who will take three months to edit and return a five page short story (exaggerated example). And the last thing you want is someone who will put it off forever and let it collect dust until one day you inquire about it and they have no idea what you are talking about (ditto...I hope). This brings us to the next trait:

5. Someone who can manage his or her time--If a person is perpetually busy, you don't have to dismiss him out of hand. But be careful. If a person is so busy that he can't make time to edit your story, but spends hours playing video games or watching TV, move on. You need someone who can manage his time well, who will edit your piece and get it back to you, even if he has to do it in ten minute increments at a time until it's finished.

6. Enthusiasm--This is an important one. If someone hates to read, or doesn't like your particular type of story, think twice about handing it over. She may not be able to let go of her bias(es) when editing your story, and you want constructive feedback, not a long list of criticisms about what you SHOULD do, or that you're wasting your time writing anyway, or that fantasy isn't a real genre and the only books worth reading are the literary classics, etc, etc. Some one like this is only interested in cutting down, not building up.

7. A basic knowledge of literary elements (plot, structure, POV, etc.)--This is essential because if something major isn't working in your story, your editor not only needs to be able to identify it, but also be able to suggest how to fix it.

8. Creative flair--It's always a plus if your editor can help you make stylistic suggestions and changes to your story. But you don't want to make just any changes and sacrifice your characters, story, etc. You want to make changes that would suit them; this is where an editor with creative flair comes in. Your editor needs to be able to assess what changes would not only fit your characters or story, but improve it.

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My Beautiful New Blog

>> Monday, October 6, 2008

I love the new layout of my blog! My friend Morgan was gracious enough to volunteer her talents to spruce up my blog, as I hadn't been able to find something I completely liked. This is so cool!

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>> Friday, October 3, 2008



Come on, let them debate. The first amendment gives us the right to free speech, and they have the right to let their views be known to the public, instead of having the media censor or ignore them as potential candidates. Four candidates other than Obama and McCain have ballot access in enough states to possibly win enough electoral votes to potentially win the election.

Regardless of whether they win or not, and they probably won't, at least let them debate. Is it really going to kill us to do this? Besides, I would find it interesting to see them debate with the two major candidates. I would definitely tune in. Besides, practically no one I've talked to likes their options for candidates this year. A lot of people are dissatisfied. It's time to shake things up a little and change that.

Watch the video, sign the petition, and pass the word on!

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The Importance of an Editing Buddy (or Five!)

>> Monday, September 29, 2008

Today I realized again how important it is to have people who can critique and edit your writing. I am so thankful for my friend, Morgan, who has been both gracious and ruthless enough to edit some of my recent work. But we shouldn't let just anyone critique our writing. There are certain traits that I have found to be helpful in an editing buddy, and not every person has them.

What should you look for in an editing buddy?

1. Honesty. If you can't count on her honest opinion, no matter what it is, you will never receive any useful feedback. Without that, you will never improve any of your writing. We writers tend to become attached to certain characters or phrases we've written, and sometimes they just aren't necessary. We need someone to hand us the scalpel and tell us where to cut or operate, not let us live in an unrealistic world of perfection when it comes to our writing. Even if we write well, we can always write better.

2. Tact. This is closely related to the above point. While it is good to be honest about one's opinion, you want to choose an editing buddy that you won't get in an argument with every time you hand them work to critique. Let's face it: you won't be hurrying to give them more, if they deliver sharp diatribes about every single thing you've written, or just downright insult your writing. You want an editing buddy who can be both harsh and compassionate--someone who will get on to you about fixing mistakes, but also encourages you to do well and cheers with you when you get things right.

3. Decent Knowledge of the Essentials. This one should be obvious, but it needs to be said. Your Aunt Sally, who can barely spell, or your Cousin Johnny who specializes in run on sentences, are not the people you should choose to edit your work. An editing buddy should have a working knowledge of basic grammar, punctuation, and spelling. He does not have to be perfect (who is?), but the closer the better.

I will post the concluding part of this article soon. It will include five more traits, for a total of eight ideal traits in an editor. For now, I must attend my daughter.

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Echoing A Recent Post of Mine...

>> Friday, September 26, 2008

Here is a good article I found that reiterates my point about making the time to write. Writing must be a priority (not necessarily THE priority, but a priority), or you will never get anywhere with it. Writers write. So many people don't seem to understand this. If we can sit in front of our TVs for 20+ minutes a day, we can find the time to write. Maybe instead of wasting so much of our time, we should manage it better.

Find Time to Write Your Novel
Finding the time to write your novel can be a challenge in today's always-on work environment. See how published novelist Jean Shields Fleming balances her creative life and her professional life--and how you can, too.
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In college, I would read books for pleasure or write in 5 or 10 minute chunks before or between classes. It wasn't a lot, but at least I accomplished something. And it really piles up over the course of a day, much less a week.

Stop the excuses. Just write. Even if it's "horrible," it's something. You can always rework it later, or throw it out altogether. Sometimes we just have to wade through the muck, the bad writing, before we can accomplish any good writing.

Really, that's the metaphor for a writer's whole career, really. Because there's always something more to improve.

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How's This Blog Working Out For You?

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What do you think of it? Is it too hard on the eyes? I thought my last one was a little difficult on the eyes, but I wonder now if this one is worse, though there are elements about it that I like.

Let me know what you think.

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What Being a Writer Really Means

Life as a writer is anything but the easy, get-rich-and-make-lots-of-money fantasy that so many people think it is. Writing is hard work. You have to write even when you don't feel like it. Writing must be a priority. You must make time for it. And those who like to sit around and talk about writing rarely do much writing at all. Some of them even complain that they have no time to write.

Well, guess what, my friends? Stop talking about writing. Stop complaining about having no time. Make time. Write! (That's an order, you hear me?)

I have noticed that if I do not make time for my writing, I become very nasty to be around. I am moody, tense, snap at the littlest things. Life is not pleasant for my husband, and I am not nearly as patient with my little daughter, if I go too long without writing. This is exactly what has happened to me in the last few days.

Which is why I have been forcing myself to edit and write during my daughter's nap. I don't want to edit. I'm finding it difficult to concentrate, and I feel almost bored with it, which is unusual for me. Normally I am alert and excited about editing, because it means I am almost done with a project. Instead, I feel lackluster, perhaps because I am tired. Or maybe because it looks as if it will be hard to lower my word count for this story right now.

But I am editing anyway. Because I need to. Even if it means losing a little of the little sleep I seem to get as it is. Writing needs to be a priority in my life, and it needs to be a priority in yours, too. So write! And

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NaNoWriMo On My Mind...

>> Monday, September 22, 2008

I have already begun trying to generate some novel ideas for Nanowrimo in November. I don't feel that I yet have a project that I am enthusiastic about. I have some nice ideas, but none of them are coming together into an actual working plot yet. I'm trying to decide whether to write a science fiction, which I've never done before, another fantasy, which I tend to write the most, a modern day vampire story, or a general fiction story.

I don't have a solid idea for my science fiction story. I'm toying with the idea of time travel, wherein people can travel into the future, but not into the past (as current scientific theory holds). This would mean that, once in the future, my characters wouldn't be able to leave and go back to their time, which would be the past, by that point. But I'm not sold on this yet. My other idea is a sci-fi about some kind of war over a planet's natural resources. The warring factions think it's uninhabited and ripe for the taking, but there's actually intelligent life on the planet, and that later complicates things.

For my modern day vampire story, I intend to re-vamp (pun intended) vampires in a way. I found some interesting things during all my research for the vampire cows story, and I think it would make an interesting story, if I wrote about psychic vampires, who feed off of people's energy, not necessarily their blood.

My general fiction idea isn't developed enough for me to feel comfortable talking about it yet. The other alternative I've thought about is to combine my modern day vampire ideas with some of my sci-fi ideas. Maybe a genetic experiment goes wrong, and scientists accidentally create human vampires, and the story chronicles the effects of that. I don't know.

I think my preparations for Nanowrimo were easier last year, when I already had a solid story idea and notes for November far ahead of time.

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And I Didn't Even Give Myself Carpal Tunnel.

>> Friday, September 19, 2008

I just finished typing up my story in its entirety. I'm surprised it didn't take more than a couple of days, considering I can only work on it during my daughter's naptime (and considering she often doesn't cooperate with the whole napping thing, despite a regular routine). Now I can print out a copy and begin some preliminary editing.

Yesterday I wrote a little fresh material on my Mer novel, which I have now given a title (finally). I have decided to call it Anemone's Song. It will probably be changed if it ever gets published, but oh well. This is a fine working title for now. I don't totally hate it, or find it corny, like my other list of title ideas that I've been kicking around for a while.

I'm hoping to get some more work on my Mer novel done before Nanowrimo, but I doubt I'll finish it up by then. What may happen is that I switch from my new Nanowrimo project at the end of November to Anemone's Song on the first day of December, or NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month). Just for a change of pace. November really takes it out of you. Last year, I took a long sabbatical from writing after it. My husband calls it a long, drawn out writer's marathon.

He's right. But I did it.

Here's to hoping I manage to finish this year. It's looking bleak, but I'm clinging to hope.

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Reveling In All Its Gory Glory!

>> Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eeeee! Finished, finished, finished! My daughter actually cooperated by sleeping long enough this afternoon for me to complete the story! Now I'm wondering just how far I went beyond the word count. I'm a bit scared to find out.

Onward to feverishly typing it up and pulling out my hair while editing...

...or not.

I'm sick. I actually kind of like editing, most of the time.

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It's So Close I Can Smell It...

...and I'm salivating with the promise of victory on the horizon. I'm almost finished with my short story. I just need to finish up the last scene or so, and I can begin editing it. I'm way over word count for the story competition, I just know it. But, I've done much worse on college papers and somehow managed to trim them down to limit. The papers always came out so much the better, somehow. That's why I consider it a good sign when I go over my word limit. Does anyone else ever feel this way, or am I just crazy?

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I Should Never Go Into Government...

>> Thursday, September 11, 2008

...because I can't even run a household that well.

My husband has a new work schedule. It's very similar to his old schedule (which has crazy, weird hours), except that he works four days out of the week for ten hours, instead of five days out of the week for eight hours (this excludes the DJing he does on the weekends). This makes it harder to get things done, because we have to try to get our shopping, laundry, etc. all done on one day of the week (unless he happens to have the weekend open, but since it's busy season for DJing right now, that's unlikely). It also means I have to take up the slack on cooking again since he has to leave much earlier in the mornings.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind cooking. I really like it. Yet it's hard to try to fit cooking, dishes, writing, etc., into the evening when/if my baby decides to wake up every couple of hours, or if she won't go to sleep at her normal bedtime. On the whole, it makes life a little frustrating right now. More than a week went by where I didn't do any writing at all, really, and I started to get really tense and snappish because of it.

Ever know that feeling?

I did manage to do some writing last night. I really want to finish this short story soon, though. I feel like it's been dragging out long enough, due to my unpredictable writing schedule. I don't know how on earth I'll do Nanowrimo this year. I really don't.

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Slowly, Slowly, Comes the Progress.

>> Saturday, September 6, 2008

It has been a busy week. My sister and my nephew have been in town, and I have been visiting with them several days of this week. Between that and caring for the baby, I have only managed minimal writing this week. However, I am taking advantage of the situation to ask my sister questions about cows and other general animal questions as they become pertinent to my story.

I believe I am halfway finished with my story. I look forward to completing it and turning my attention toward my Mer novel again. Hopefully I can work on that some more before Nanowrimo.

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A Really Tough Week

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

It has been an awful week for me. My daughter has been really fussy the last several days. She hasn't been sleeping well. It's a battle for naps and nighttime sleep. I don't know what's gotten into her lately, but it's driving me insane.

Suffice it to say that I haven't managed much writing. I wrote a little bit tonight, after she finally settled down for a little while. I'm at the point in my story where they conduct an internal examination one of the vampire cows, and since I don't know much about cows, I brought in a firsthand source: my sister, the veterinarian. She's more than happy to help, and told me that she wants to read it when I'm finished writing it.

She also told me about a story idea that she has, but she says she's not a writer and wouldn't have the time to write it anyway. She told me the idea and said I can write it if I want, but she didn't know if it's the kind of story I'm into writing.

It IS an interesting idea, but I just feel a bit uncomfortable taking her idea and writing it as my own. The writer in me almost feels like it would be plagiarism, even though it wouldn't. I totally have her permission, but...

...it isn't my idea.

What does everyone else think? Would you be as uncomfortable with this idea as I am, or would you feel that it's totally okay, if you have permission to use the idea? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

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How Do You Manage Your Writing?

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

Well, after my daughter FINALLY settled down and went to bed (it wasn't easy getting her to fall asleep tonight, let me tell you), I managed to write some more. My word count for today is 552! Yay me! I met my yearly writing goal again for the first time in a while. It feels good to accomplish something.

All of this made me wonder about the writing habits of other writers, though. How do you get your work done? Do you have a schedule that you follow? If so, what is it? Do you set page or word goals? Do you make yourself sit down for a certain length of time, and whatever you accomplish is what you accomplish?

I'm very interested to know these and other tidbits of information about your own writing habits!

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Getting Back Into the Daily Grind

My daughter has been sleeping for an hour and fifteen minutes, and I have written 230words so far today. That's almost half of what I need for my 500 word goal, which I'm attempting to work my way up to doing again.

Crud, she just woke up. More on this later.

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The Immortality of Writing

>> Friday, August 22, 2008

A thought occurred to me as I played with my four month old daughter today. Being a writer is a lot like being a child sometimes. There are days that frustrate you and nothing seems to make sense or go your way, and there are days where the sheer exploration of life, of learning and discovering as you go, is simply exhilirating. I have recently experienced both types of days in the short story I am currently writing. On the bad days, I often feel as if some piece of a puzzle is missing, and it confuses me. I keep staring at a sentence or a paragraph, trying to figure out a way to make it work, and worrying why there's just something about it that seems so out of place that I can't go on. It's almost like an instinct--I know something about it isn't working, but I have to unravel what it is.

Sometimes solving that problem is as simple as rewording the sentence, or crossing it out to write a new one. Other times, I have to delete the offending sentence or paragraph entirely before my writing brain turns on again, so to speak, and the wheels in my mind start churning the story toward my next goal.

As a writer, I know I will have many "bad" days. I have even gone through blocks of time, sometimes months, where I felt myself in stasis, unable to move with a project no matter how I tried. Sometimes even working on another project didn't help, because I was simply in a very ugly slump for varying reasons.

But on the good days, it's like the words are curling straight out of my pen's ink onto the page, or like they're printing themselves on the computer screen. Words, imagery, dialogue...they're all a jungle gym or a slide that I can build, explore, and play on. And it only takes one good day to make up for a lifetime of bad ones. That's why I keep writing; I know that eventually a good day will come again.

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There's An Awfully Fine Line...

...between fantasy and horror, at this point in my short story. I'm writing the first battle scene, and after some struggle, I need my main character to kill one of the cows in a way that sort of shows just how much power she has and what kind of person she really is. I have several ideas, some more gruesome than the others. I'm afraid of making it too gruesome or macabre in places, lest my story be recategorized to horror instead of fantasy in the short story contest I'll enter this in. I don't want to become known as a horror writer, because that's not what I consider myself. I don't write horror, I write fantasy.

However, given how many people will enter the contest, the chances of my story winning are low, given the odds. I could then try and market the story as a dark fantasy if I so chose.

I always wonder, though: what is the difference between dark fantasy and horror per se? The line looks awfully blurry sometimes.

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Battling Vampires and Other Musings

>> Thursday, August 21, 2008

How does one battle a vampire?

No, really. How? Sure, there are lots of ways to defeat a vampire, which I could rattle off in a jiffy, but how does one battle a vampire? This is an interesting thing to explore as I work on my story, for it includes at least a couple of fight scenes between my main character and the vampires. My goal is to portray it in such a way that my character doesn't just blow them all away, so to speak, and be done with it (though believe me, she would love to). She has power, and yet, she isn't a god. But she is a force to be reckoned with, and not just because she's a necromancer. I want to have something of a struggle, after all, or what's the point?

If it were regular vampires, perhaps I wouldn't be quite so stumped, because I'm more familiar with how a human vampire would move and attack, possibly. But how does a vampire cow? There must be differences, and yet...what are they? How can I realistically portay them? How does it affect these battles?

It's a lot of food for thought, but I'm slowly writing my first fight anyway. Likely, it will come together better in the editing, as most of my battle scenes do.

On another note, check out this post on one of my favorite blogs. She makes a good point about letting a story simmer from time to time. If we don't do that as writers, we run the risk of really mucking up a good story with too much editing or extra fluff. Sometimes a story just needs to be what it is.

Enjoy the new layout. I finally found something free that I think looks really nice. After months of searching for something with ink splatters, I found this layout today by accident. Amazing how things go sometimes. Eventually, I'd like to create my own layout, but I have neither the time nor the proper tools lately, so this will more than suffice in the meantime.

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Time Management

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I would really like to finish my short story soon. Yet I have been unable to manage more than a paragraph or two the last couple of nights, after my daughter goes to sleep "for the night." There are so many other things to do: cook, do dishes, shower, do yoga, etc. It's the only time of day that I have much time to accomplish anything. But I feel like I have to choose between several different activities every night, and since the family needs to eat and I desperately have to be clean or I get grumpy, writing doesn't always make the cut.

But now, as my daughter slumbers in her swing for a late afternoon nap, I have some extra time on hand to enjoy a cup of tea and think about how in the world I can find more time for everything. Or at least more time for writing, if possible. This made me wonder: how do different writers manage their time? Do many of you organize blocks of writing time into a strict schedule, or are you more casual about it? What are some techniques that you writers who are also parents use?

This subject has me thinking ahead to Nanowrimo in November, and I'm wondering how I can possibly finish and win it this year if things stay as they are now. I need a better system. I've considered keeping my notebook nearby as I play with my daughter throughout the day, and jotting things down here or there. Of course, this runs the risk of being interrupted a lot and losing some great stuff. It also gives me pause because I don't want it to become a habit. I don't want to be one of those mothers that is always focused on something else and never present in the moment with her kids.

I have a lot to think about.

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The (Short) March of Progress

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Frustrated with my lack of motivation (and thus lack of writing progress), I IMed my friend Echo online tonight, and within minutes of talking about writing with her, I was writing again. Of course, this lasted for, oh, maybe 10-15 minutes before my daughter woke up and started crying for food.

So life goes.

But I got a little more writing done. A few paragraphs, at least. Yay me!

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Oh, the Irony!

>> Monday, August 18, 2008

How do you motivate yourself to write? It's the oddest thing: now that I have some time to work on my writing today, I'm having a tough time making myself do it. I tried so hard to write during my daughter's (rare) two hour nap today, and I accomplished...a paragraph. *sigh* I think perhaps I was tired, because I had to get up early for a doctor's appointment today; he wanted to meet with me and see how my medication was going, after having been on it for about six weeks or so.

I had a couple of short naps today during my daughter's other naps, so I'm not nearly as tired as I could be. My daughter is asleep for the evening (read: for a few hours, until she wakes up crying for food), yet I'm still unable to make myself write, even though I want to and I'm not nearly as tired as I was this afternoon.

So what gives? I've solved my problem with the short story, so that's not it. I almost feel like I don't want to work on it. Maybe I should work on something else this evening instead. I have been thinking about my Mer novel, and one of my old book series, lately. Perhaps my muse is trying to tell me something.

Or perhaps I just need to make a really big pot of (decaffinated) tea.

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Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah...Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive...

>> Saturday, August 16, 2008

Well, my husband was right. The solution did come to me at a random moment: while we were on a plane, getting ready to take off, to Cleveland. It was so simple, it was stupid, really. I can't believe that I hadn't thought of it sooner. Of course, it had nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with my character. I felt really silly. But, that's the way things go with writing, sometimes. At least I found a solution sooner rather than later. I am shooting for a November deadline. I plan to enter the story in the Writer's Digest short story contest. It's worth a shot, after all.

On the other hand, I uncovered a lot of neat facts about vampires that I never knew before. I look forward to possibly sneaking some of it into my story, if I can. Some of it I won't be able to, but hey...maybe sometime I'll write another kind of vampire story. It would be something I've never done before, and a way to stretch myself creatively.

As it is, I am already thinking ahead to this year's Nanowrimo, and the kind of story I'll write for it. I'm tempted to try a strictly science fiction story. I'm not sure how that would pan out, but it would be an interesting thing to try, since I've never done it before...at least not exactly. I made an attempt back in early high school, but looking at the story as it stands now, I think it would need some major rewriting--perhaps as a fantasy.

Nanowrimo would, in a way, be the perfect time to try something new. At the same time, it would also be the worst time to write something in a new genre, given the immense pressure. Well, I have a few months to think it over. I can't believe it's almost been a year already. Where did the time go?

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A Plethora of Research

>> Sunday, August 10, 2008

I have uncovered some interesting sites and information about vampires and vampire hunters in my quest for a tidbit of folklore or something that could spark an idea for getting myself out of the corner I've backed into. Unfortunately, there's nothing I can use for the current problem in my story. *sigh* But there are some interesting things I'm learning. I might sneak a fact or two into my story here and there. Who knows.

I may even put together a bubble chart if I get desperate enough for ideas. Maybe I can find a new, unique idea that would work. Here's to hoping, anyway...

Hmm. I've just thought of a new avenue to research that might help. Maybe I can get some ideas from researching more about my main character's profession. It can't hurt, right?

Meanwhile, I'm probably the only person who falls asleep at night these days thinking about vampires and necromancy and morbid things like that.

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Ding, Dong, the Story's Dead?

>> Saturday, August 9, 2008

I feel like my brain is broken. I cannot come up with a solution to my writing dilemma, though I have tried. My husband says the solution will come at a random moment, but this gives me little comfort. It could come months from now. *sigh* I don't know. Maybe there's something in the story that just isn't working somehow, and I can't see it yet.

I can't believe I'm already second-guessing my story. I usually do that during revisions.

I'm going to go read and rest my brain.

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That Darned Wall

>> Friday, August 8, 2008

It's always so frustrating when you hit the wall in your writing. You're chugging along, happily scribbling out some lines or scenes, and then all of a sudden, it all halts to a stop. For whatever reason, you can't go forward. The reasons for this vary; sometimes it's a plot problem, or you don't know how to describe something, or you realize you need to do more research before you can continue. It can happen for a myriad of reasons.

I have halted to just such a stop in my own writing. I became stuck a couple of days ago, after managing a few paragraphs. Perhaps I am over-thinking it; I realized I do not know how to realistically describe or portray my main character hunting for vampire cows. So now I am researching vampires and methods of tracking animals to see if there are any ideas that might apply. So far, no luck. My husband has suggested some things, vis a vis the fact that they are vampiric, but since they are not human, I don't know that it could realistically work. I am still looking for solutions.

Right now I am not too frustrated about it. I'm giving it some time. Perhaps it will solve itself, so to speak. In the meantime, I'll do what I can, and maybe work on another project. Sometimes a switch is just the thing I need, so that I can return to a project with fresh eyes and new ideas.

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Regaining a Sense of Self

>> Thursday, August 7, 2008

Being a mother means sacrifice. Sometimes that sacrifice comes in the form of one's writing, throughout the days and months of a new baby's advent and adjustment to the world. Luckily, my daughter is starting to sleep longer periods at night, and so I have some precious little time to devote to my writing now and again. I have written a number of pages of an interesting short story about...vampire cows. Yes, you read that correctly.

Perhaps some other time I will recount exactly how it is that I came up with THAT idea, but suffice it to say, I'm writing the story, no matter how bizarre it may seem. I am also enjoying myself immensely. I am getting back into the swing of things again, writing-wise, and I feel wonderful--normal, even. I feel like a person again, with a bit of my own corner of the world, my own life, if only for a few minutes at a time.

I cannot now describe how much of a contrast there is now with the previous months of dark, grim, ugliness. Perhaps some day in the future I will be able to write it all down in an article about Post Partum Depression. Right now, I'm recovering, I feel wonderful, and I am so in love with my daughter like I just couldn't be before. Nothing else matters.

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Slow-Going...

>> Saturday, March 8, 2008

I feel like I'm plodding along so slowly in my writing that slugs are passing me, slathering me in their slime as they speed away. Hm. Actually, that's probably the most creative sentence I've written in about a week, right there.

I haven't been doing a lot of fresh writing lately. If I do, it's only bits and pieces. Nothing significant. I'm still working on my new short story. I didn't get it done for that deadline, but I figured I wouldn't, all things considered. There's just too much going on in my life right now. I'm trying so hard to get the apartment set up for the baby, but I can't do it all myself and my husband is almost never able to help me. He's always working overtime so we can pay bills and buy groceries, and I barely see him anymore. The little time he is home, we're both sleeping for most of it. So I'm doing most of the housework and preparations myself, but at this point in the pregnancy, there's a lot I just can't do, and it seems he never has time to help me. So nothing gets done that needs to get done, usually. It's frustrating.

On top of all that, I'm not sleeping well anymore. I find I can only sleep for about 2-5 hours anymore, before I wake up and can't get back to sleep for several hours. So the upshot of all that is that I can't even get a lot of housework or preparations for the baby done myself because I'm so tired and I have no help. And trying to write when I'm tired is just about impossible.

Probably the most I've been able to accomplish in relation to writing the last few days is to read some of a book I have on how to write magazine articles, produced by Writer's Digest.

And did I mention we're in financial and other stress again? We're always tight on money as it is, but Tuesday a really bad snowstorm hit our area, and we got dumped on big time. You could hardly see anything while driving, so we ended up canceling our appointment to interview a pediatrician that morning and went home. I tried really hard to convince my husband to stay home and not go in because of the weather, but I couldn't...and not too long after he left, he got in a car accident due to the snowy, icy roads. So, unfortunately (long story short), he didn't get in to work that day. He was okay, but the other lady in the accident was complaining about neck and back pain even though she seemed to be moving and walking around just fine, so my husband is worried she's going to take us to court and sue. And we can't afford to go to court and hire a lawyer, much less be sued. It would put us in debt that we'd never be able to get out of, probably, since we're barely making it right now as it is, and since we're already a little in debt right now anyway. How are we supposed to support ourselves, much less our baby that's almost HERE, for crying out loud, if we have to go to court and get sued? We're barely squeezing by as it is.

Those are the major things going on right now. There are a million other smaller things going on, too. Our family just can't seem to get a break. I'm trying hard not to get depressed or dwell on things and worry--or let my husband do it, either--but it's hard not to. And needless to say, it's hard to do a lot of writing with all of this happening around me and being on my mind. Still, I'm trying. Probably not as hard as I should be, but I just can't seem to get a decent night's sleep to be able to have enough energy to get anything done. I find myself falling asleep for unintended naps when I sit to rest, and waking up hours later. It's frustrating.

Well, at least tonight I read two and half chapters in that book on magazine writing. So I got something accomplished, right? That's more than I've managed in a few days, writing-wise...

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Struggling Against Writer's Depression

>> Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So I've been bad, very bad. I hadn't written anything in about a week, until just yesterday. Of course, I'm busy with household chores and trying to get ready for the baby, but that was only a small part of the overall picture of why I wasn't writing. The main reason I wasn't writing is depression, of a sort.

I got seven rejections last Monday. And those rejections came at a really bad time, since I was already down and depressed that morning from the lack of having a job and being stuck at home all day, doing chores and feeling like I'm not doing anything worthwhile or getting anywhere with my work situation or writing. I couldn't bear to sit down and write after all of that, so I focused on other stuff that day, and eventually the day turned into a week. I kind of felt like "Well, what's the point in writing? I keep getting rejections. See, it really isn't going anywhere, and those rejections just proved it."

But then I finally woke up and realized that if I'm not writing anything, then I really won't ever get published. So, I sat down and wrote about three hundred and some words on the book I began for NaNoWriMo last November. It wasn't a lot, but it was something.

Today I wrote about 631 words on that weird short story idea I got from my husband's friend. I don't know if I can finish it by the deadline (I checked today, and the deadline is March 1st! That should teach me to waste time not writing!), but if I don't, I'll probably just submit the short story to other places and see what happens. I feel more confident in my story writing ability anyway, and much more comfortable with that kind of writing. So maybe I'll take a short break from poetry for a bit. Stories are more my speed, anyway--even short stories, apparently. Though I may not be great at coming up with workable ideas for short stories, I'm still more at ease writing those, at the moment, than poetry. It's still too soon, the wounds of so many rejections all at once still too raw, to go back to poetry right now.

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Of Bizarre Stories and Re-Hashed Fairy Tales

>> Friday, February 15, 2008

I am posting rather early tonight, at least by my usual standards. Yet I haven't updated in a few days because everything has been rather hectic around here. I've accomplished little writing for most of the week, which is the bad news. The good news is that I'm doing rather well in my writing tonight. So, things are getting better for me. Granted, all of my writing so far has been in the form of notes for a new short story, but writing is writing, no? And notes are the preliminary stages of work that help you jumpstart and construct an actual writing project, so I'm rather happy with the way that things are going at the moment.

My short story idea is rather crazy. The idea is actually quite bizarre, and I got it from a snippet of overheard conversation when my husband was on the phone with one of his best friends. When I heard the strange phrase, I laughed and my husband relayed to me that his friend said not to laugh at him. Of course, I couldn't stop laughing--certainly not when I was specifically being told not to laugh. Then I blurted out that I would have to write a short story about it, just for fun.

So, I am. Although I may submit the story to some places after all. Namely, a place that is looking for silly fantasy stories. When I saw the call for that type of submission, I couldn't think of a good story that was sufficiently silly to write. Well, I think this topic just about covers it. And it can't hurt to try. Plus, it's doing wonders for my creativity.

Who knows? I may end up submitting it to other places as well, when all is said and done. I just hope that in writing this piece, it will help rev up my creativity and sense of humor for that humorous short story re-telling. I'm going to try to start working on a re-relling of the Frog Prince, and see what happens. I'll probably play around with re-telling some other fairy tales since I never could definitively pick one from my list to re-tell, and simply see which one I like the best after that. What's interesting is that I found part of a fairy tale that I started re-telling at some point in the past, and I had totally forgotten about it until I discovered it while digging through my writing files recently. It has some promise, but the reservation with it is that it's a re-telling of a fairy tale that will probably be very commonly submitted. I'll have to think some more about whether to finish rewriting that one for the contest. Until then, I have plenty of other things to keep me busy. Too much, in fact. I'm finding it harder and harder to write as much as I want to and still get stuff done around the house, not to mention preparing for our baby. Still, a little is better than nothing.

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Success Comes in Inches of Time

>> Monday, February 11, 2008

I don't have a whole lot to report for the last few days. While I didn't get much done in volume, I did get some editing and submitting done. I went back over some of my poems and edited some of them. Some of them were rewritten a bit and tweaked, and I think they came out the better for it. Some of these poems were pretty old, dating all the way back to high school. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with the writing quality from most of those old poems, but I found a few gems that I left more or less the same. And some had enough promise that I reworked them.

The up side of seeing how bad some of the poems were is that I've improved in my poetry since high school. So while the poetry I write now is weak in comparison with my other writing, it was encouraging to see that I've already improved my poetry over time, just by the act of writing itself. Now that I'm specifically motivated to improve upon this weaker area of my writing, just think how much more I may be able to improve it and grow as a writer! That's a very happy thought!

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Finding My Writing Groove Again...

>> Thursday, February 7, 2008

Well, I arrived back on Monday. The baby shower was nice, and I got to see my family for a few days. I wrote very little while I was there, however. I had a feeling that that would happen. It was hard to find the time alone to write, and I've never been able to write very well with too many people around. I can't concentrate with a bunch of side conversations going on around me. Plus, my nephew was there, and I spent a lot of my time playing, watching, or reading to him.

The little writing I did do, however, was some more of the book review I'm working on. I'm hoping to re-start my writing habits using that, beginning tomorrow. Today I did research, mostly. I'm looking up various forms of poetry and articles about writing poetry in the hopes that they will offer some advice or insights I can use to improve my poetry. I need to go through some of my poetry soon and see what I think is currently submission-quality, then look up some markets that I think might work for them.

Well, my story was rejected. I found out the night that I came back from my trip, which kind of sucked because I was already tired from driving all day. Maybe that's why I felt only slightly disappointed and almost indifferent. *sigh* It's too bad. I put a lot of work into it, and I thought that it came out rather well. I'll be curious to see what stories did make the cut when that particular publication comes out. I might try submitting my story elsewhere eventually, but for now I think I want to take a break from it for a while and work on something else. Then I can go back to it with fresh eyes and see if I think it has any weaknesses that I didn't catch before.

I'm hoping to begin working on the fairy tale re-tellings just as soon as I can get back into my writing groove. I'm having trouble getting back into my daily habits since the break from it during my trip. I lack the motivation on the one hand, but on the other hand I just forget to sit down and make myself do it. There's so much going on now, and so much I'm trying to accomplish before the baby comes. I simply don't have time for everything, and I'm feeling very anxious and impatient to get the baby's room ready. It should have been done months ago, but like everything else around here, it's been put off for various reasons. And some of the stuff still gets put off, but I'm doing what I can right now and hopefully I can get my husband to help out. But even that's hard because he's working overtime almost all the time now, so the little time he has to be home and help is usually gone, and on the days he doesn't work overtime, he's so tired that he sleeps all morning and I still don't get help. And yet, we need the money at the same time...

I really wish my story had won instead of being rejected. It wouldn't have been much money, but it would have been something. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get published. Or have a normal job again.

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Finished!

>> Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This is going to be a really short post, as I'm very tired and need some sleep. I finished my story today. Editing was touch and go, because I was trying to do other stuff around the house as well, so it took me pretty much all day to do. I basically edited sections of it on and off, until I finished at about 11:00pm. Then, I printed out a hard copy and double-checked my work. I caught one or two minor things that I wanted to change, such as a comma where I didn't need one. Other than that, the piece was definitely finished, and as polished as it was going to get.

I'm just very thankful to my friends and my husband, who proofread my story and offered their input. My poor husband read about five or six drafts, I think. He saw it go from very rough and messy to something much more coherent and polished. I don't think it would have turned out half as well as it did, though, if not for my friend, Maria. She suggested some structural changes that I wouldn't have thought of, and my story is much better for those changes.

Anyway, I turned the story in around 11:30pm or slightly later, and then I took the rest of the evening off to knit and watch TV with my husband. Tomorrow I will decide which writing projects to tackle next, besides my fairy tale re-telling. I can start scribbling out some rough drafts of the fairy tales and see which ones I think have the most potential, but I have some time before I need to make a final decision on that. In the meantime, I want to finish the book review and perhaps turn my attention toward my poetry. I have some ideas for new short stories that I've written down, but I'm not sure when I will begin those.

The important thing is, I met my deadline by the date that I wanted to--a day earlier, even. So I'm happy. And my future is filled with many other projects, stories, and poems to keep me busy and help me develop my writing career. It's a good start.

Edited to Add: I'm going to travel down to my hometown for my baby shower this weekend, but I'm leaving a little early to avoid bad weather, so it may be almost a week before I'm able to update this blog.

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A Change of Pace

>> Saturday, January 26, 2008

I'm not sure of my exact word count today. I kept track for about the first 140 words, and then I just never tallied them all up for the day. I began a new poem today, and that's where I wrote 140 words. It isn't finished yet, though. I'm hoping to write a few more stanzas to wrap up the action of the poem and finish. I just hope I can write a decent climax to it.

The other writing I did today was a book review. I haven't finished that, either. I only wrote about a page and a half (wide ruled paper...all I could find at the time). So either I came close to my word count or I actually made it. I'm not sure which, and I'm too tired to go back and count now.

Anyway, I started writing a summary of the book I chose to review, drawing from some notes that I took while reading it. I know of a publication that takes book review submissions from writers from time to time, and I figured I would give it a try. It's a non-paying publication, but the experience and everything would be good, if they like my review. We'll see how it goes.

Today was a nice break from editing. I think it was good for me. And it certainly gave my poor mind a little bit of rest (as bad as that sounds!). It was a decent writing day.

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To Write, or Not to Write? There is No Question!

>> Friday, January 25, 2008

I am really tired today. I don't know why. I got plenty of sleep. Maybe it's because I've been working so hard on my editing the last couple of days (no, I haven't deprived myself of sleep. That would just be stupid. I can't imagine trying to edit anything, much less well or even coherently, without plenty of sleep) and that's taken a toll on me. Or maybe it's just the pregnancy hormones doing a number on me today. Whatever it is, I feel mentally sluggish and physically exhausted. I just want to go back to sleep, and I know that would be very, very bad for me. Even if I told myself it would be a short nap, it wouldn't. I know myself, and it never is. I don't desire to waste a couple hours of my day that could be spent more profitably, so to speak.

So, here I am, blinking at my computer screen as if I've never seen it before in my life--even as I type this. I don't think I'm going to edit today. Not unless I wake up, anyway. But I think maybe I should take a break from it for a day, maybe two. I need to finish the story and turn it in on the 29th, however. I go out of town at the end of the month for my baby shower, and since the deadline is the 31st, I need to make sure my story is edited and polished and turned in before I leave town.

Maybe I'll try to write some poetry today. I'm not sure whether it will be any good or not, but then, I never am. At least I would be writing something and not feeling like I'm wasting the whole day away, writing-wise. The most productive I've been today is research. If you can call it that. I'm reading some articles on how to better promote yourself as a writer, and things of that nature. I'm learning some useful stuff.

Ever since I took some of the Writer's Digest Writing Workshops (www.writersonlineworkshops.com), I've been getting offers in the mail for subscriptions to writing magazines and publications--at a professional writer's discount. The only one I've signed up for is Writer's Digest, and that was early on when we weren't so short on money yet. However, I've recently received another offer that looks interesting. And while it's cheap, I'm not sure I can bring myself to do it right now. Maybe I'll treat myself to something like that after I get something published at a paying publication or in writing contest. Although, who knows when that will be. I'm hoping it's soon, but who knows. If there's anything a writer has to learn to deal with, it's waiting and rejections. And I've had experience doing both for some time now. It's nothing new.

Still, at least I feel like I'm moving forward a bit in my writing career. The writing goals help. It keeps me on track, and I feel like I'm accomplishing a lot more than I used to, in some ways. This blog also helps. Accountability to someone or some thing (both, if you can get it!) helps.

I'm off to write now. I feel a bit more alert after typing this.

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Feeling Like A Winner!

>> Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I. Kicked. Butt. Today. I did a ton of great work today in my editing, I think! After struggling most of the day with the rough draft, trying to add more description to various parts of the story, my creativity finally kicked in this evening as my perseverance paid off! I'll have to type up the changes tomorrow, but I'm really pleased with my work. I think it has promise as it is, and once I polish it, I think it could definitely win the contest. I don't know if it will, of course, but I'm hoping it will!

Yesterday was some of the same. I spent it editing. Mostly, I fixed grammatical mistakes or misspellings. I even went through and changed some words that I had been overusing. I added a little bit of new writing to it, but not a whole lot. In addition to the editing on the story, I began two new poems. One of them...I really don't know exactly where it was going. It sort of turned into a ranty piece about how I feel, being stuck at home without a job. But aside from one or two salvageable lines, it really sucks so far. I can't seem to capture the things I want to say with just the right words. I have a feeling it'll go through a major rewrite. The other poem I started is about writing. It kind of rambled along until it developed the theme of writers block and trying to meet deadlines. I dunno that it's all that great, but it sure pleased me a heck of a lot more than the other poem.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my new book when I get a chance. I've been pretty good about not letting it interfere with or distract me from my writing so far. It's kind of like when I was in college, or grad. school: I sneak a little of my pleasure reading in during lunch time, or right before bed, to help myself relax. That way, I can read something that I really want to, but not at the expense of my work.

Now if only the book weren't so hard to put down at the end of lunch, or my bedtime...

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Progress, Progress...

>> Monday, January 21, 2008

Well, this evening I gave my rough draft for the story I'm working on its first edit. Had I used a red pen, it would look much like it had been dipped in blood. As it was, I used a pink pen since it was closest to hand, and as a result the rough draft looks like someone's bubble gum popped all over the pages. I found a lot of things I want to add, change, or expand upon, in addition to fixing the minor errors such as misspellings or repetitious use of certain words.

I know it sounds weird, and I don't know if it's just me, or if writers tend to be like this in general, but I'm quite pleased by how messy the draft looks right now. The messier a draft starts out in its initial editings, the better the finished result usually is, I've noticed. But perhaps that's just me. I don't know. I take editing pretty seriously. Editing is something I have mixed feelings about. While part of me enjoys editing, another part of me loathes the whole process, since it gives me a headache.

And I mean that quite literally. Sometimes editing actually gives me a splitting headache. But that usually happens when I pull out the BIG editing guns, so to speak. I have, somehow, developed a technique of editing that I can do in "desperate" circumstances, such as when I'm waaaaay over my word limit on a paper or something, and I really have to trim it down to size (it's always been my theory that it's better to have too much to say than too little!). It's very slow-paced, time-consuming, and ultra-anal. But it works, and it gets the job done.

I doubt I'll have to use that particular technique with this story, though, since I've still got some room for leeway, in terms of word count. But, we'll see. I'll reserve the final verdict for whenever I get some of the new description added and stuff.

I have some other editing techniques, one of which is very unusual, but it's the perfect thing for trying to see how the different pieces of your story fit together and whether you've left out important plot details, or whether certain things should go in a different order. In other words, it's a great technique for checking the structure of your story, or for correcting any structure problems you might have. Plus, it helps you to catch a lot of details and little mistakes that you might miss otherwise. I'd describe it here, but this entry is getting long already. Perhaps I'll devote another post to editing some time, and I'll go over the various techniques I use then. I'd be interested to know the different techniques other writers use to edit, and why. To me, different types of editing are necessary for different situations. You use the appropriate tool for the situation, much like a writer often agonizes over just the right word to convey a very specific meaning. After all, despite what my husband thinks, all words are not equivalent in meaning. There are subtle shades of meaning, nuances that can tip the balance and cast a whole different meaning on something, when used in combination with certain other words. My husband just doesn't get that. I suppose a lot of people wouldn't. It drives me up the wall. I could write a whole post just on this subject alone. But I digress, as I usually do...

Anyway, I accomplished a decent amount of work tonight, and I'm fairly happy. I celebrated with a carmel ice cream sundae with everything on it (mmm!) that my husband bought me, and a new book that I've really been wanting to read--which my husband also bought me. I used them as bribes to get myself to buckle down and work tonight, so I was really (over)excited to reward myself with them afterwards.

Now if I can just tear myself away from my new book and go to bed so that I'm not too tired to write or take care of some other things I want to accomplish tomorrow...

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Drafts, Editing, and Weaknesses--Oh My!

>> Sunday, January 20, 2008

Well, today I typed up my rough draft of that short story. I'll begin editing it tomorrow, but I can see already that I need to add some more description here and there. The middle is kind of narrative-heavy in some ways, although with what little dialogue and action takes place between the characters, I think I captured the emotion pretty well during the middle of the piece. I just need to work on my description and expand upon things a bit. Description has always been a weak area of my writing.

It's not that I can't do it, mind you. It's that it takes work, for me. See, my problem with description is that I get so caught up in the plot, dialogue, and action, that I tend to forget to describe the setting or much of what's going on around my characters. I'm better about this flaw than I used to be, but it's still a weakness I have to watch for and catch--usually during the editing phase.

I'll turn a keen eye on the piece tomorrow, though, and mark it up properly, nasty comments and rare compliments to myself and all. I'm too tired to start right now, though. I'm sure I wouldn't catch half of what I needed to, even if it is only a first editing.

Didn't write any fresh material today. I'm concentrating on this story, since the deadline looms near at the end of the month. So, I'll probably be working almost exclusively on this piece for a while, with only a few scrawls toward other projects in the meantime. I may try to continue my research on the fairy tales, though. I have my list narrowed down a lot more, but I'm still unsure as to which one I should re-tell. I may just have to play with some of them after I finish my current piece and turn it in.

Well, I'm off to get some sleep, no matter how interrupted it may be by the cat, who wants to cuddle every few hours, and several nightly bathroom trips--which are frequent enough, being pregnant, but are now guaranteed to be even more so, since I was stupid enough to drink an entire pot of decaf tea by myself today while working on the short story. *sigh* But tea helps me to write when I'm having trouble getting started, or when I'm stuck. And it's just plain comforting.

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A Feeling of Accomplishment

>> Saturday, January 19, 2008

Aaaah, I'm done! I started a rough draft rewrite of that autobiographical piece that I wanted to fictionalize and turn into a short story today, and I actually finished it today. Of course, I have a lot of editing and rewrites to do, but the point is, I managed to get the whole rough draft done in one day. This makes me very happy. I feel like I accomplished something big today, even if some of the material was only somewhat rewritten and inserted alongside the totally new material I wrote for it.

Better still, I think I managed to capture the essence of the autobiographical piece without losing any of its power in the fictionalized setting and story. I was afraid the ending and emotions wouldn't be as powerful, but as I wrote the ending to the story just a few moments ago, I found myself smiling. Actually smiling. I'm pleased with it in terms of its conclusion, I think. And when I go back to edit and tweak, I think this could really turn out to be an excellent piece. I just hope it wins the contest. Besides kind of wanting the money I'd get for winning (it wouldn't be much), I just want to start getting somewhere with my writing.

And perhaps it's the adrenaline rush from producing something with a lot of great potential, but I feel excited about my writing for the first time in a long time. Don't get me wrong, I love writing. I always have. But for a long time now, even back before NaNoWriMo, I've been in a writing rut. Besides having trouble writing at all, or totally not liking anything that I did write, I just felt very blah, uncreative, and unenthusiastic. I'm not sure what it was, but it seems like (I hope!) I'm getting a reprieve from it now, at least for a little while.

I think I'm going to go write some poetry now. I've been producing more of that lately, although slowly, in bits and pieces. But the only way to improve any kind of writing is to write.

Today was a good day. Produced a lot. Way more than 500 words. I'm tired, excited, and happy. It gives me hope for the future, and that's something I need very much right now.

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Does It Ever Stop?

>> Friday, January 18, 2008

To answer the question in the title...No, I don't think that it ever does.

I only managed a little bit of writing today. Started a new poem, which petered out when I couldn't find a rhyme for a word I really want to use because the imagery is very pretty. Typed up an old piece of my writing so I have a copy I can change and edit, instead of marking up the only hardcopy original that I seem to have. That's about it. Didn't get anything else done. Wasted day, in a lot of ways. I tried to do some writing, and I was well on the way, but basically I got some bad news when my husband came home from work, and I can't get past it enough right now to write. I'm too worried and depressed.

Basically, despite the fact that the company said they were going to hire him on permanently this week, they called him into their office today and told him that his handle time needs to go down, and they're giving him a probationary period to work on this and fix it.

I'm worried he's going to lose his job, the only source of income we have. And there's little enough of that as it is. And it's not like I'm going to get a job, being pregnant and about to have a baby. If he loses this job and we're out of income again, I don't know what we'll do. We're struggling to pay bills as it is.

Why can't anything ever go right for us?

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Writing, Interrupted.

>> Thursday, January 17, 2008

Well, I didn't get any writing done today, but it was for a very good reason. I went in for my Gestational Diabetes test, and while I was doing that, I had to go to the bathroom. When I got in there, I discovered I was bleeding, so I called my doctor. The nurse told me to go down to Labor and Delivery because they wanted to make sure it wasn't preterm labor or something like that.

So, I had to leave in the middle of my Gestational Diabetes test (which means I will have to reschedule and go do it all over again, next week). Luckily, the center where I was having the Gestational Diabetes test was just down the street from the hospital that I'm going to while I'm pregnant. So, I drove myself down and went up to Labor and Delivery. They had me give a urine sample because they wanted to see if it was a urine infection, and then they took some information, my vitals, and hooked me up to the monitors so they could monitor the baby. I was there for hours.

Long story short, they ruled out several things and they think they know what caused the bleeding. I'm on rest for a week (I can get up and move around, but I'm supposed to take it very easy and not do any bending, etc.) and I have to do some other things, but the baby and I are fine. I feel bad for my husband, 'cause he called me from work just as I was going to Labor and Delivery, and when he found out where they sent me, it gave him a scare. But, I told him to stay put until we figured out what was going on, exactly (which, of course took several hours). So, I got periodic phone calls from him throughout the day, as he got breaks at work, to find out what was going on.

Finally, around four thirty or so they released me. I got home around 5pm, and I warmed up some food to eat dinner because I was very hungry by then. I was really tired at that point, so after finally talking to my husband when he called me again, I went to lie down for a while and took a nap. I wasn't even going to try to do any writing after everything that went on today. And, so, that's why I haven't reached my daily word count or anything else. Maybe tomorrow I can get some stuff written, since I'm supposed to be resting anyway. I'm just glad the baby's okay. That's all I care about.

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Busy, Busy Day

>> Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In stark contrast to yesterday, I accomplished a lot today. True, I spent most of the day cleaning, but I did manage to do some writing and writing related stuff today. First, I researched some writing markets and publications a bit and found a contest with a theme called "Goodbye to All That," which I think I'm going to enter. The deadline in January 31st, however, so I need to get to work on it soon. I think I can do it, though. I'm going to rewrite an old piece of mine for the contest, and I already started some notes on the different changes, deletions, and edits I'm going to do to it. Plus, I'm going to completely change the scenery, and change the ending a bit, plus add a whole new beginning. Sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but I'm going to keep the essence of the original piece while making the necessary changes to the piece to make it a short story and fit the guidelines of the theme for the contest.

I'm hoping to begin work on it tomorrow.

While I was going through my writing files looking for the aforementioned piece, I came across one of my old sheafs of poetry. Long story short, I found a few good or relatively decent poems among them that I might try to submit for publication. And since looking at the poetry put me in the right frame of mind, I finished up a poem tonight that I had started a week or so ago.

I also did some reading today on those fairy tales, and I'm starting to narrow the list down a bit. Some of them simply aren't suitable for a humorous re-telling (or at least I can't think of any way to make them so, given the subject matter inherent to the stories. I mean, how do you make something like the story of the Ugly Duckling funny? Not in any good way that I can think of). So, I'm crossing some off of the list here and there. Besides the Ugly Duckling, I'll probably eliminate Little Red Cap, simply because the story of Little Red Riding Hood might be a popular one to submit. But, I'll reread it when I get to that place on my list, and give it a thorough consideration anyway. Rumplestiltskin, which I thought might be a good candidate for a humorous retelling, was crossed off my list today. I'd forgotten how creepy the end of that story was, somehow. But I do recall vague memories of that ending as a child, so they must have read the original version to me from that old book of fairy tales we had when I was a kid. But, I digress.

The story of the Frog King, or Iron Heinrich, has possibilities. I don't have any specific ideas in mind on how to implement the humor, but I think, given the structure, and stuff, it COULD be done. I might have to just mess with it and see. I have a feeling that when I get my list narrowed down to the last candidates, I'll just have to try writing them to see what happens and if they work out or not. Good thing I have until the end of March for this deadline. I'm going to need all that time!

Finally, I wrote a bit more on my NaNoWriMo novel (yes, it's not November, and all of that is over by now, but since the story still lacks a title, that's how I'm going to refer to it until then). I've been doing most of my writing to meet my daily word count on this novel. Tonight, I only wrote a little bit on the novel, but I did meet my word count, because my word count was split today between the preparatory notes for the short story I'm going to rework/write, the poem I finished, and the NaNoWriMo novel.

All totaled, I reached 551 words today.

And now, I'm going to sleep because I'm tired and I have an appointment tomorrow.

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Unproductive Day

>> Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm in a very bad mood today. And by bad mood, I mean everybody duck for cover, it's going to be worse than World War III.

Why am I in such a bad mood? Well, the short of it is that I didn't get any writing done today, and that really, really irritated me. Now, why didn't I get any writing done today? Because I decided to finally start undecorating our Christmas tree and taking down Christmas decorations because it's been put off all too long, despite assurances otherwise that we would get around to it soon. So, annoyed, I hauled the boxes up from storage myself, undecorated the tree (which was an irritating experience in itself considering our tree is beyond dying by now, and kept shedding millions of pine needles as I took the ornaments and then the lights off of it), and took down some of the other decorations.

But even all of that wasn't as bad as trying to put the stupid Christmas lights back in their packages. It's much easier to get them OUT of the box than back IN to the box, I've discovered. So, I spent hours wrestling three separate strings of lights back into their boxes, and got no writing done whatsoever. Thank goodness we had a smallish tree and I didn't have even more lights sets to put away!!!

Anyway, I failed to reach my 500 words for the day, and I didn't get a chance to read fairy tales to retell for that contest, either. The most I managed to accomplish today in terms of any of my goals was to apply to a job position that I've been considering for a while now. Today was the deadline for application, so I finished getting all of my materials prepared and gathered and faxed it all over to my potential employer's office. Now let's just pray that by some miracle I get the job...

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Perseverance Pays Off

>> Monday, January 14, 2008

Ugh. This post is going to be short because I'm really tired. After watching the third Terminator movie with my husband this afternoon and doing a couple loads of laundry, I spent a few hours making homemade pizza. Considering we have little to no counter space in the apartment, it was both frustrating and interesting trying to knead and roll the dough out to the appropriate size not once, but twice. Yep. I made two pizzas, as my husband and I don't see precisely eye to eye on toppings. But I digress.

By the time the pizza finished baking and we ate, it was already getting kind of later in the evening, and then I still had to do the dishes. After all of that, I finally got to sit down and write. But boy, was I tired. And, being pregnant, my back ached like crazy. But, I did manage to get about three hundred and some words by time my husband went to bed. I felt almost like going to bed then myself, but I forced myself to continue on sheer determination. After all, I was almost there!

So, I forced myself to keep going, and lo and behold--I reached 657 words for my daily total. I think I've more than earned my rest, considering the long day I've had and the work I accomplished. Tomorrow I plan to leaf through my fairy tale collections and reread some of the tales from the list of potential candidates for re-telling that I drew up. I just hope I can retell it well enough for it to be published. There are some strict guidelines and stipulations regarding it, and I'm a bit nervous about it.

Well, that's tomorrow's worry. Time for bed.

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The Beginnings of Progress

>> Sunday, January 13, 2008

Well, I'm very tired but happy. Today I managed to reach my daily goal of 500 words. In fact, I went slightly over it, and managed 560 words. I probably could have even managed more since writing was coming somewhat easily tonight, but my husband wanted me to watch all of the Terminator movies with him (we managed to get through the first two, and we plan to watch the third tomorrow, before the premiere of the TV series), so I was pretty distracted for the majority of the evening. Still, I at least managed my daily word count.

In other writing news, that website, http://www.duotrope.com/, that my friend left in a comment to my previous entry is both quite interesting and helpful. I recommend it highly to writers. It makes finding markets for various types of writing a lot easier. Through my own efforts at detective work, I had managed to hunt up some publications for fantasy, but my discoveries were only a handful compared to the treasure trove that this site pulled up for me. To that end, I began poking around some of the websites of these publications and I found a call for submissions that interested me. It's for short stories, but since I'm hoping to improve mine anyway, I figure why not give it a shot? And since they want fairy tale re-tellings, I figure that it's a good place to start, since I will have a loose framework for my short story to build upon. I'm hoping that something like this will help me ease into writing short stories, and that I will soon feel more comfortable writing my own completely original material (I have already begun a list of ideas, which I hope to further develop in the future, after I finish this project).

So, I'm starting to chug (or is it slug? *wink*) along, writing wise. The momentum is slow, and I don't expect it will speed up noticeably any time soon, but maybe one day later this year, I'll be able to look back and say to myself, "Wow, I've really come a long way and accomplished a lot."

Now why is it I'm having flashbacks to that story my mother read me, The Little Engine that Could? Oh, yeah...that's right. I'm the little engine.

Who says books never teach you anything, eh? That's at least one lesson from a book that I guess I picked up well enough.

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2008: The Year I Will Be Published, Or At Least Accomplish Something Worthwhile!

>> Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 was a hard year for me in many ways, so I wasn't altogether sad to see the back of it. Of course, the new year has thus far been off to a less than steller start for me, so I'm desperately hoping and trying to hold it together and try for a better year. To this end, I have made some resolutions, or goals. I will begin my blog by posting these goals in hopes that they will serve as not only a reminder to myself of what I want to accomplish for the year, but also give myself something to look forward to in my current dreary life and motivate me to keep trudging toward a better future.

I have further subdivided my goals for the year into two groups: small goals and large goals. My reason for doing this is because it's easy to get discouraged when you don't seem to be reaching those highly coveted big goals and you often begin to wonder if you're getting anywhere at all. That's where my small goals come in handy. They are designed to instill confidence in me and give me a sense of accomplishment. The small goals are something I can point to and be proud of, saying to myself, "There! See, I am getting somewhere, and I am accomplishing something, even if things aren't moving as fast as I want them to!" The small goals keep me sane, and they help stiffen my resolve that I will reach my large goals eventually, even if it isn't this year. The small goals help me to know that I can do it; they keep me chugging along, putting my nose to the grindstone.

So, my small goals include:
-Writing at least 500 words a day, whether it be on just one writing project or spread out amongst several. The point is, I should be able to easily reach 500 words a day, considering I pushed myself to do much more every day during NaNoWriMo this past November.
-Learn how to write decent short stories, as I've never been good at them, since my ideas always seem to work better as novels.
-Explore some new genres or areas of writing that I've never tried before, like Horror or Mystery, or something else that catches my fancy. Perhaps it will shake my creativity into gear, if nothing else!
-Write more poetry. Although I consider myself a novel writer, since I tell stories much better than anything else, I dabble in poetry, and I'm hoping to improve what is, admittedly, a weak area of my own writing.
-Submit said short stories and poems and other items of writing for publication as I improve my abilities.

Large goals:
-To finish the book I began for NaNoWriMo. I reached 50,000 words during this first year that I chose to enter the November writing marathon, and after a decent break from it, I'm ready to work toward completion of the novel, though I know from my outline and the current state of my story that I have a long way to go. This is shaping up to be a long book.
-To get a book published.
-Keep up with this blog! Part of the reason I'm starting this blog in the first place is to help keep myself accountable. Yet, it's very easy for me to forget to post and not keep up with it, so, I'm hoping that over time it will become habit as much as some of my writing goals for the year. If not, perhaps at least some of my readers will poke me every now and then to remind me that this blog does indeed still exist and needs to be updated as soon as possible.
-To get a regular job again! Though it does not pertain directly to my writing, I do need to pay bills, and money is tight with only one income. Worrying about money, I've noticed, often distracts me from my writing and hinders my creative process somewhat. So, the sooner I'm employed again, the better. Though I doubt it will be before the baby comes, in April. *sigh* Still, here's to hoping and working toward that goal in the meantime, just the same!

There! That wasn't nearly so awkward as the usual introductory post of "Hi, my name is ____," and "I like ____," etc. This was a lot easier for me to type up. There is much to be said for just diving in to something, sometimes. After all, it's a question of beginning at all, no matter how tough or awkward it might be, versus never beginning and thus never getting anywhere you want to.

I need to make that my writing mantra. Only more wise-sounding, I think.

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