Pardon The Dust + Some Show & Tell

The last update to WordPress finally broke my old theme. I suppose that means it’s about time for a total redesign? In the meantime, I thinks this works well enough and all the old links and posts are still here.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the layout quite yet, but watch me fall down the web design rabbit whole for a few weeks…

In the meantime, here’s a little show and tell:

Untitled

There she is! All 119k, printed double-sided, with narrow margins, and in Garamond font (to save ink). Though it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written, it looks a lot humbler than the last because of the print format.

Onward with the edits we go! I’m trying to get myself organized for the next round so it doesn’t take too long. Hopefully soon, some poor, brave, souls will get to read it.

Help out a friend

In the yea old days when I was yet a wee newbie to the Twitter-sphere, this nice guy named Harry asked if he could be my writing buddy. No one had ever asked me to be their writing friend before! Fast forward a few years, and we’re still both committed to encouraging each other to keep writing.

Harry got accepted to Clarion with a scholarship this year, but he’ll need some help to get there all the way from Bulgaria. In his own words:

I want to be a voice for my culture. I want to represent LGBTQ writers. I want to bring more diversity into speculative fiction and I believe Clarion can give my voice power.

I don’t have the means to pay these sums on my own. Because I’m a Bulgarian native and not a native English speaker, I’ve experienced difficulty finding better paying freelance writing jobs and can currently only work towards covering my basic living expenses. All my savings have gone to help my family through a very unforgiving year, so I can’t rely on anyone else, except for the community that has made me feel accepted for so many years.

If you’ve got a little to spare, please help Harry get to Clarion!

I Confess…

Confessions

[Photo: Confessions by Steve Ransom CC]

 

True Confessions (Inspired by Shari)

I confess…

That I enjoy taking writing breaks between novels and never regret them, even if they last for months.

That I don’t read enough these days. My average is 14 books a year, a little over one book a month. I can’t write and read at the same time, because a good book will suck me away from the world for days and demand my full attention.

That I wouldn’t want to give up my day job even if my writing career took off. I like the stability, and I get more done when I’m busier / under time constraints.

That I don’t enjoy reading or writing short stories.

That some days my inner introvert wins, and I will panic when I’m around a lot of people, even if they’re my friends or people I love.

That I’m utterly useless in the mornings. I walk around like a zombie, bumping into things, and will answer questions but not remember afterwards.

To being the worst judge of my writing. I never know if something I write is good or terrible.

To checking my email and social media compulsively all day long.

Now it’s your turn if you’re game!

Around & Around We Go

Hamster wheel

[photo: Hamster Wheel by sualk61 CC]

SOOO here’s some sort-of news for a change. I swore I wouldn’t blog until I finished draft 2 edits, so here I am and pleased to report that I’m done this round! Now that the plumbing’s fixed, I’ll let the book sit a couple weeks then do a round of grammar fixing before soliciting beta’s (You’ll be sure to hear from me then).

Now here’s a question for you: Do you print out your work and do a round of paper edits, or do you just jump straight into your word processor of choice?

I’m debating this one, because while I do find paper edits valuable, I ignored most of my notes and got sucked in by the word processor the last time, so it just seemed like extra work. On the other hand, paper gives you a fresh view of the text and a bit of distance. Though, I’ve heard some people will change the font during an edit on the computer for the same effect.

In other news, we bought a house! I’m so excited. I’ll finally have room for a desk and have somewhere to plug in my ergonomic keyboard! No more balancing laptops on top of dresser drawers, or hunching over my couch. On the other hand, my work commute’s probably going to be an hour each way by public transit. I suppose that’s just how these things go. Maybe I’ll turn into one of those book reading bus riders and that’s not really a terrible thing at all.

So… yay or nay on the paper?

Wishing…

Milky way - Mobius Arch

[photo: Milky way - Mobius Arch by Kartik Ramanathan CC]

There are so many times I see glaring flaws in my own work, but don’t always know how to fix them. There are things that I know I’m not good at and struggle with. Maybe someday those parts of the writing process will get easier, but I don’t really know. Some of the things I see as flaws may not be flaws at all, but I lust over talents that seem to come other writers, and not to me.  Sometimes I wish…

That I had more poetry in me. I feel like my writing is stripped down and sparse, sometimes too much to the point. I adore gorgeous prose, and the unusual juxtaposition of words that can make you imagine things in ways you couldn’t with just your eyes and your senses.

That I could edit faster. I hear other writers talk about how edits take just a few weeks (not months, not years) and that they can process through rounds of feedback quickly. How do they do it? Some of these people aren’t taking any more time on their first drafts than I do. How do they get enough distance from the writing between drafts? A month isn’t enough for me. Maybe our minds just don’t work the same way.

That I was better showing the inner world of my character’s minds. I realize that I’ve expected their actions, and decisions, to tell who they are, just like in the real world, but novels don’t have that constraint. I have a hard time figuring out what’s too much and what’s not enough.

Three wishes upon a star. If you could wish for any extra writing abilities (or abilities in general) what would they be?

It’s a rollercoaster

Rollercoaster

[ Photo: Rollercoaster by Kristin Nador CC ]

Novels are beastly, unforgiving, things. They eat up weeks and months, and never seem to be done. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get to the end, and I wonder why we writers subject ourselves to such torture. Inspired by Wendig, here’s my version of this insanity.

  1. This is the best idea ever! I have to write this story. Madly brainstorm ideas and not-quite sentences.
  2. Maybe I should do some research before I dive into this. Two weeks, a month, of surfing the internet – It’s productive right? See, I have notes!
  3. Here goes! Lets start writing. (I’m actually utterly terrified, but I’m wearing my cheerful face on the outside).
  4. Wait, maybe I should outline this. + Two weeks of procrastination.
  5. Okay I have some words down. It doesn’t matter if the beginning sucks, I’ll rewrite it anyway… (I’m really starting to get nervous).
  6. I’m officially worried now. I may run out of story soon.
  7. AHHH now what? I’ve hit the vast empty middles. Um um, let me try throwing anything in there. Dragons? Giant squids? Help!
  8. It’s a miracle. I figured out an idea that fixes it all. This novel is brilliant. I am brilliant. Let me hug this shiny new idea.
  9. At least I know how this story ends, but man, it’s taking forever to get there.
  10. This is the worst story ever. I take back what I said. This story is terrible.
  11. Almost there! It’s a race to the end and who cares about grammar any more. I just want to be done.
  12. Can I say I’m done now? Maybe I’ll announce it on my blog, even though I’ve still got a chapter or two to go. Help me, this will never end.
  13. DONE DONE DONE! JOY!
  14. DESPAIR. The novel makes no sense. I bawl into my pillow at night.
  15. Don’t look at the book for months or a year depending on how terrified I am of it.
  16. Bite the bullet and start to think about edits. Edits are easier than writing another novel, right?
  17. Read a little. The story isn’t as bad as I remember…
  18. Read more… okay some parts are as bad as I remember… (Cry on the inside).
  19. Just go for it. Edit.
  20. Edit until RSI flares up.
  21. Take a break because work’s gone nuts and my body hates me. I may fall apart before this is done.
  22. Edit more. Are we there yet? This is taking longer than I wanted it to.
  23. AHHH I just had the idea for another novel, and that idea is shiny and new, and exciting, and brilliant, all the things this novel isn’t…
  24. More edits. Weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  25. Finish edits. Um… I guess its time for beta readers. (Utter terror)

Right now I’m at stage 23. This happens like clockwork. My brain’s already trying to escape this story, but there’s still a good chunk left to go. Madness!

Is it just me, or do you go through this too?

Notes from editville: How do you eat an elephant?

Elephant

[ photo: Elephant by Cmiper CC ]

 

Things are still going slowly, but they’re going. I’m 20 chapters deep into the first round of edits for a 34 chapter long novel. I’m over half-way there, but it really doesn’t feel like it. This is the part where I run out of steam (always) because there still is a lot of work ahead.

Right now I’m focusing on fleshing out character motivations, and fixing plot issues. So far I’ve had to write one new chapter and rearrange the second half of the book. It’s going to be a bumpy ride from here on out because major details had to be shifted to fit in the real historical timeline. I’m not sure if the pacing still works with these changes, so I’m keeping an eye on it. The most exciting bit so far has been figuring out the emotional character arc of the protagonist. She’s so flawed I’m not sure if she’ll come across as sympathetic, but that’s one of the best things about writing this book too.

You know how people say “The only way to eat an elephant is one spoon at a time.” Well, I’m a little tired of elephant by now. A little chicken or fish would be a nice change, but looking at all the stuff still left to get through really kills the appetite. But don’t worry, because this always happens somewhere along the line and it’s just par the course. Mostly I’m just getting impatient with myself.*

So, how goes it in your neck of the woods?

*No actual elephants were harmed in the creation of this novel, but metaphor was badly abused.

Cool Writing Stuff

Giant Horslamaraffe in the sky

[photo: Giant Horslamaraffe in the sky by englishinvader CC]

Here are some nifty links for you writerly types:

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection - A collection of historical maps overlaid over Google Maps. Great way to get a sense of scale and distance.

Orbis (The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World) – This mapping system is specific to the Roman empire. It can calculate routes and travel times based on different modes of transportation.

Produce a star map for any date, time, and location - Perhaps you want to know the exact constellations your protagonists are laying under? You can also look up historical dates.

11 real world locations that are mythological entrances to the underworld - For the myth geeks. Would be awesome for a portal fantasy, no?

Relation chart – In case you want to know what to call the relatives in your story. Anyone writing about monarchies may find this handy.

I’ve got maps on the brain! Unfortunately none of these links helps with the time period I’m working on. Map scaling is the biggest problem I’ve run into and the second problem is a lack of maps in English. It’s a bit like detective work. The truth is right there, but it’s going to take some extra analysis (aka lots of squinting and turning my head sideways) to figure it all out.

Do you have any fun links to share?