And… Done

Well, it took months, so long that I can’t even remember how long it’s been, but I’ve finally completed the re-plotting of Fighter One and the four potential sequels.  Now that I know where the story might go, I can be sure to leave just the right foreshadowing in the first story (the only one I’m likely to write, unless it’s as good as I hope/think it is).  I’m actually very pleased with the way that it turned out, and the plot even surprised me until the very end.  My subconscious and I are apparently a very good team.

 

Now all that’s left (hah) is to update my list of scenes and edit the novel.  It’s in pretty good shape already, but there are a few minor changes that I need to make and some things that I want to add/show.  All told, I’ll probably add 10,000 words.  Which brings it up to well over the length of a typical YA novel, but then I’ll cut it back down.  Or I might just leave it as it is – I’m starting to think the story is more NA than YA, though it would probably fit each category fine.  I guess I’m going to have to do some research!  (Boo hoo, I have to read a lot of books in the name of research, how sad).

 

Next on the list though, is sending what I’ve prepared to my critique group to make sure the plot is as solid as I think it is.  I hope it won’t be a huge blow to the ego!

A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Normally, I’m pretty good at computer shortcuts.  I use them all the time, both for writing and for work.  It’s one of the reason my more… ‘senior’ coworkers think I’m so fast on the computer.  I’m pretty good at realizing when I’ve made a mistake and fixing it.  Control-Z is my friend.

 

Sometimes, I admit, I do struggle to switch from my work (Windows) machine to my home (Macbook) one.  Usually I try to hit control instead of command (or alt instead of control, depending on where I am and how hard I’ve been working).  It usually doesn’t work but doesn’t screw anything up, so I laugh and move on.

 

This weekend, I screwed up.

 

It wasn’t funny.

 

I had just spent two hours working through the plot summary (step 6 of the Snowflake method, if you’re curious) for my novel’s potential sequel.  It was brilliant, it was witty, it was even charming.  And I promptly accidentally deleted it (I won’t go into cutting versus copying and why I should have done one and not the other).  And my trusty command-Z apparently doesn’t work on Scrivener.

 

I was crushed.  Just ask poor Mark.  Weirdly, I was more angry with myself than sad, which is a nice change over crying in the corner for a few hours, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant.  It was hard to admit that I’d made that kind of a boneheaded mistake.  But I did.  And now I know that cutting in Scrivener (at least my version) can’t be undone.  So LEARN FROM ME PEOPLE!  DON’T FOLLOW IN MY TRAGIC FOOTSTEPS!

 

All it will do is keep you up to 2 am re-writing what you lost.

 

[Which, oddly, only took about 25 minutes.  Apparently there’s something to re-writing it right away.  It lost some of the sparkle, but the function is all still there.]

 

What’s the silliest computer mistake you’ve ever made?

Big Enough to Drive a Truck Through…

I think I mentioned that I’ve been working on re-plotting Fighter One.  It’s a good storyline, I just needed to do some major surgery to make it all work the way that I wanted it to.  I’ve switched events around, moved the whole thing further forward in the timeline, and played with point of view.  I actually finished the latest write-through during Camp NaNoWriMo.

 

And promptly returned to my Snowflake.  You see, although this is a standalone novel, there’s the potential for a five book series, and I wanted to plot that series out before I went much further.  A lot can happen over four additional books, and I want to ensure that I leave the cornerstones of the plot and story world that I will need for those books.

 

I knew from the beginning of the process that there was a problem with the last two books, but not what exactly.  I had a vague idea that the last two books would reveal a sweeping and epic problem that would lead to an awesome climax and end the series with a metaphorical (and possibly literal) bang. I just didn’t know what this problem was.

 

I figured it out on Saturday, at what I would have thought to be both the most and least likely of places.

 

Saturday I attended When Words Collide, which is a local writers/readers con.  I learned a lot, like I fully expected, but I was sitting in a panel that I thought would be relevant to my main character(s) when somebody said something that made me think about my own story.

 

And then I realized exactly what the central crux of the whole series was about, and it wasn’t what I thought.  The plot hole wasn’t big enough to drive a truck through, that’s an exaggeration, but it was quite large and it had been bothering me for a month or so.  To have it sorted out was both a relief and exhilarating.

 

Of course, it totally changed the course of the books, so I have a little bit of re-plotting to do now.  But it’s totally worth the extra work to get everything figured out!!

 

Why I Didn’t Write This Weekend

Internet, I swear… I have a really good reason.

 

His name is Saffron.

 

Let me ‘splain.

 

Saturday was “annual kitty torturing day” at my house.  For those of you new to the party, that’s how my cats view their annual checkup.  It’s nothing horrendous: the usual listen to heart and lungs, palpitate abdomen, check eyes, ears, and teeth, stick thermometer up butt, and stab with a needle or two (vaccine SCIENCE!).  But, apparently, this is a really big deal when you’re a 14 pound cat.

 

I mean, I don’t enjoy my doctor’s visits either, but I have to shut up when he does most of the above (though the thermometer goes in my mouth because I’m a big girl).  I also have the benefit of understanding the importance of the visit; a bit of trivia I have not succeeded in imparting onto the cats.  So for them, this time of year is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

 

In fact, my boy kitty hates it so much that last year we had to drug him just to get through unscathed.

 

Fortunately, last year, it worked.  This year… not so much.

 

It looked promising, he took the meds easily and tolerated the wonderful tech weighing him to see if he’d lost weight like he was supposed to (he hadn’t).  He explored the exam room like a champ with slightly wobbly legs.  He even jumped onto my lap for a snuggle and attempted to get up on the exam table.

 

Then he saw his sister, who was hiding behind the black laptop like she does every year, trying to blend in and hope that, this once, we forget to examine her.  Apparently, this was a traumatic thing for Saffron, and he started to growl and hiss (the working theory is that he didn’t recognize her.  Or that he was being a jerk).  I thought it was still going to be manageable, if difficult.  The vet came in, did her essential oil magic (the cats smelled really good) and gave Saffron some (dried and fresh) catnip, which calmed him enough that he didn’t mind us being there, examining Socks, whom he was still growling at.

 

He started to get antsy so we ended up taking Socks to the back room (surgery) to give him a break with the lights out, and finished her exam there.  For various disgusting reasons involving glands needing to be expressed, it turned out to be a good thing that we’d moved.  Then we put Socks in her carrier in the hallway and went back to get Saffron.

 

Who had spent the whole time prowling and stalking and generally pretending to be a wild jungle cat.  We (the vet and I) had come in to get his vaccines to prep in the back room in preparation for the usual brief exam, stabby, and put kitty back in carrier when we made the unforgivable mistake of trying to leave the room without him getting out.

 

Internet… my cat bit the vet.  He ran into the hallway, clawed onto her leg, and bit her knee.  And when she tried to close the other exam room door (which was open to the front, where he could escape, he metaphorically lost his sh*t.  When I tried to help the vet, he attacked me.

 

I have to say, that having a cat claw in your bottom lip while simultaneously having your index finger bitten is not pleasant.  Nor is having a cat claw stuck in your forearm with said cat growling and hissing while you’re trying to contain the copious amounts of blood gushing from your lip.  My utmost support to the vet tech trainee who did what neither the vet nor I could do and caught Saffron underneath a quilt and held him there without getting a scratch.  At this point, he also literally lost his sh*t.

 

At this point, I decided that Saffron had enough and needed to take a nice, long nap.  So we put him in a box.

 

photo-4

 

And then we filled that box with gas (kitty nitrous oxide) and waited until he fell asleep.  Then we pulled him out and got on with many things we couldn’t when he was awake.

 

photo-3

 

It was a more thorough exam than I usually get, and included blood and urine panels (and faeces, fresh from the floor) because why not?  He’s the cat version of middle aged and he’s probably due for a good workup.  And it wouldn’t hurt to check his blood work since he’s overweight.

 

We plopped his doped up body into the cat carrier (he barely fit all splayed out like that), I nursed my wounds, hung around until he was more or less awake, paid up, and headed home.

 

Where I had a VERY snuggly Saffron.

 

photo

 

They warned me that he would be snuggly, but I was unprepared for how vocal he would be.  He spent most of Saturday sitting and crying, even when asleep.  It was kind of heartbreaking.

 

He also spent about two hours carrying a yellow toy mouse around in his mouth like it was his baby.  He barely put it down to eat.  And yes, my big macho cat cuddled with it.

 

photo-2

 

Even on Sunday, he was still pretty snuggly, which made it hard to get any work done.

 

But Internet?  With something this cute, I find it hard to justify doing anything else but cuddle all day.

 

photo-1

 

I’m sure you understand.

On Creativity

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Breathing out Birds by Roni Amin

 

I’ve been fighting with my muse lately.

 

It’s not that he/she/it hasn’t been talking to me, which is usually my problem.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I actually want to write lately, which has been a feeling that’s been hard to come by lately.  No, lately my problem has been to find the energy.

 

And the self-confidence.

 

The first is a lot easier to control: it means getting enough sleep and eating right and exercising, and making sure that I’m being nice to myself.  I’m still recovering from a very difficult time in my life and, if anything, have a bad habit of over-extending myself, especially on days when I feel well (like yesterday, where I helped my fiance clean his old room at his parents’ house – he was still storing stuff there – and then went shopping for house stuff, food, and new fish for the aquarium, and then went to a NaNoWriMo monthly meet).  That leads to days like Friday and Saturday, where I basically lay on the couch watching TV all day.  Neither of these days are particularly conducive to being productive in a writing sense, but there you have it…

 

No, that part is easy.  The self-confidence thing is a heck of a lot harder.  For example, this week, my wonderful, amazing fiance posted to social media that he had nine (NINE!) novel ideas lying in wait for when he only had the time. A lot of my writing friends claim to have the same problem – more ideas than time.  I have the opposite.  It’s rare for me to have a novel idea pop into my head.  I find that I really have to work at it to make them show up, which makes me worry that they might actually be not all that good.  Because it seems to be so easy for everyone else…

 

So I had a crisis of confidence this week, because I’m clearly doing this writing thing wrong if I don’t have nine or ten more ideas than I could ever write (which is funny, in retrospect, since all I’ve been able to think about has been the sequels to the book I’m currently writing, and how awesome the series is).  And it sucked, because I had finally, after nearly two years of forcing myself, felt like I was starting to re-discover the passion I had for writing.  And spending hours trapped in the conviction that I was absolutely no good at it was frustrating and maybe a little damaging.  Fortunately, I have a partner who’s well used to my confidence issues and knew all the right things to say to make me feel better.  Sometimes it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re trapped in negativity. I’m glad I have him around to be positive on occasion.

 

So I’m being nice to myself this week.  I’m not pushing the writing (there will be time enough for that in July).  Instead, I’m catching up on sleep and trying to feel better physically (because the last few months have been bad for that).  I’m also trying to focus on positive thoughts and reminding myself that I’m not doing anything wrong, I just need to learn how to look at everyday situations in a different light.  Of course, I think that requires me to be a little less exhausted…

 

How do you react when you realize you’re doing something “wrong”?

Phone The Media

I’ve been writing again.

 

Newspaper of New Zealand

 Photo from here

 

Slowly, to be sure, and not terribly effectively, but I’m writing again.

 

I haven’t talked about it much here, but I’ve actually been really struggling to write lately.  I haven’t had the mental and physical energy that I’ve needed to really devote myself to the task.  In part, I think it’s because of the day job, which has some really unusual hours right now, and often gets me home well after 7:00 three days of the week.  After then, by the time I eat and settle in, it’s bedtime.  So those days aren’t writing days.

 

But I’ve also found it hard to settle into a good sleep on those days (only having two hours at home isn’t what I’m used to).  Since the long days are usually Monday and Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday and rarely Thursdays, that means I’m exhausted by the end of the week and I need Thursday/Friday to catch up.  Then comes the weekend, which will be very busy now that it’s summer.

 

I’m probably not struggling with anything that’s terribly unusual to most of my colleagues out there, but I’m finding it difficult right now.  I’m also training for a 5K run at the end of June, trying to lose a little of the weight that I put on over the last few years (the side effect of some medication that I really needed), and attempting, however ineffectively, to spend some time with friends.  Writing time is at a premium these days.

 

Which is par for the course for summer, really.  I should be used to it by now, but this year it seems to be more of a struggle than usual.  All the same, I did a little bit of writing/editing this weekend.  It was mostly planning, since my motivation was stronger for that, and getting back into working again on something that I was motivated to do seemed logical, but at least I did it.  Now I just need to sustain it.  I should be good at this, since squeezing in bits of writing is all I preach during November, but I’m finding it harder to just edit for fifteen minutes like I could if I were writing.  What I’m working on needs a bit of conscious thought and sustained effort.  So I’m just going to have to experiment, I guess!

 

What are your tricks for writing when you don’t have much time?

 

 

 

 

Winner… Again!

So…

I’ve been working a series of rather long hours at the day job (the price one pays for having clients 16 time zones ahead) so this will be a short update by necessity.  But guess what?!?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

Did you guess?

You didn’t, did you?

 

 

 

I’m disappointed in you all.

Seriously, though, I’m pleased to report that I finished and WON the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo on Sunday April 28.  I celebrated with my fellow Wrimotaurs at our usual restaurant haunt by purchasing and subsequently eating the entirety of a caramel brownie bacon sundae.  It was delicious: although one wouldn’t think that those flavours go together, they totally do!

 

In typical me fashion, I have done absolutely no writing since that night.  Mostly because of the aforementioned long hours.  And my weekend was completely full of social-type events.  But things are slowly growing manageable at work as I get used to 45-50 hour weeks again, along with the hour commute each way.

 

And, as fun as gaming, cleaning the entire house, shopping and prepping for a party, watching Iron Man 3, and entertaining at said party were, I’ll be glad for some quiet time.  Which is kind of the exact opposite of summer, but there you go.

 

But now that Mark and I got the spring cleaning done in advance of entertaining last night… well, there’s going to be some more time for writing in my future!

 

After I mow the lawn and get the gardens in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Chicken WHAT?!?!

Chicken WHAT?!?!

 Photo by Riverseal (flickr)

 

So, last week I shared how I participated in the Camp Marathon for NaNoWriMo (the NaNoThon).  Well, today I had two great pieces of news related to the NaNoThon that really made up for a long, tiring Monday.

 

Not that my day was bad or anything.  Far from it.  It was just a 10 hour day, from start to leaving work, including a 4:00 pm meeting that went until just before 6:00.  Then there was work to finish after that.  This is my normal Monday, and is the curse of working with a client that’s 15-16 hours ahead of us (4:00 our time is currently 9:00 am their time).  I’m still enjoying it and learning a lot, and hey: overtime’s alright.

 

But!  It was long and I was tired by the end of it.  So just imagine my excitement when I got home and checked the mail to find my Camp NaNo donor goodies awaiting me!  A brand new patch to add to my NaNoWriMo hoodie (that I’ll have to show you sometime).

 

Then, I checked my e-mail to learn that I was one of the lucky people that won a NaNoThon Donor Bonus prize!  So I have a Chris Baty Studios poster coming my way (which are beautiful and completely writer-themed.  It will likely be donated to my local NaNoWriMo group if it’s one I already have), along with a subscription to The Writer and an album download from Debs and Errol (which I have been listening to while writing this blog post).

 

So there you go: a rather uninspired Monday that ended up with me feeling pretty excited about NaNoWriMo stuff (we got some more good news about this year’s NaNo plans with our new partner, which I am saving for just the right moment to reveal) and life in general (a health insurance rebate cheque?  Yes please!)

 

What was the best thing that happened to you today?

 

 

 

 

 

Well… I’m back!

Hello friends!  I’m back!!

Yes, I was gone for a rather long time.  And I do apologize for that absence.  I have plenty of excuses, but that’s all that they are, so we’ll just leave them unsaid, shall we?

 

For the last half of February, I devoted myself to finishing the re-write of Fighter One.  Of course, I failed somewhat spectacularly in getting it done before we left for vacation on March 2.  I feel a little bad about it, but life exploded right before I left (when the client is visiting from Australia, you work late, because he’s only there for a limited time and there’s lots to do).  In fact, thus far I’m 3/3 on clients visiting the week before I go on holiday.  So clearly, if we need the client to come at a specific time, I should book a trip for the week after.

 

Vacation was a wonderful break, although it had some challenges of it’s own.  Not, as I expected, to do with hoteling right between mom and dad, and my sister and her boyfriend: traveling with the whole family actually went surprisingly well and was a lot of fun.  No, the challenges had to do with wi-fi being slow (which in itself was okay, as I got a nice break being forced to disconnect), a fire at the resort, and the cold Mark and I both caught right before we left to come home.

 

Yes, we caught a cold.  And there was an electrical fire at the resort, which  was just an adventure for us, but ended up shutting off power to half the rooms.  The worst part for us was that the pool bar had no blender, so we could only get drinks on the rocks there.  Sad.  Seriously, though, everyone was okay, although a few people had to go to the hospital for observation, and several people were displaced for a night or two.  My sister and her boyfriend bunked with us so that a family with two young girls could have their room rather than having to leave.  And our new friend from Calgary (we met him at Carribean night!) and his wife got to live in their ‘bat cave’ (what they termed their powerless hotel room) for a few nights.

 

I will say this: the resort and the staff were wonderful, the food was amazing, and everyone handled the fire with good humour and maturity.  Although it made things hard for people, it also pulled some people together, and I think we made better friends of our resort mates because of it than we would have otherwise.  I can’t wait to go back!

 

Now that I am home, I’ve spent the last week recovering from the Mexico cold that still hasn’t left me (fortunately it was only a cold and nothing worse) and I think I might be on the mend.  Writing will be slow for the rest of the month as I catch up with house chores and other things that got put off for the frantic novel finishing spree, and then by the cold.  So hopefully I will be back in the saddle come April, for Camp NaNo.  Who knows?

Blue Monday

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Image by Ron Bennetts

 

So, today was apparently “Blue Monday”.  The most depressing day of the year where the holiday bills are starting to catch up and the resolutions are starting to be broken.  And yet, I feel pretty good today.

 

Some of that is undoubtedly because I just got off the treadmill and I always feel better when I exercise.  I didn’t do much, just a slow walk while watching some TV on my iPad, but since we only just got the treadmill set up yesterday, it seemed to go pretty well.  So far I’m pleased with the setup – it’s got internal speakers and a perfect platform for my iPad, is nice and smooth for walking/running on, and even has flat armrests that I can use to support a walking desk!  No more sedentary clicking around on Facebook for me!

 

Some of it is also because I again got more positive feedback at work today and, although the job is proving challenging, I do feel like it is kind of something that I can do.  It means juggling priorities and personalities, but at least I’m starting to feel like the team likes me and is supporting both me and the project.  Also, positive feedback right before a three month review is a good thing!

 

But really, I think the main reason that I feel pretty good is actually a more general one.  I haven’t done much writing in the last three weeks, although I have made a point of working a little more on my goals of spending more time planning and editing and I have a couple of semi-secret projects I’m working on (one of which I will reveal shortly), but I’ve also made my health my priority as well.

 

The term “blue” has meant a lot to me for the last couple of years, as I’ve been struggling on and off with Depression and stress.  My health has been generally not all that good as I’ve been less conscientious about my eating and a lot more sedentary.  And I feel just gross because of it and my whole self is suffering.  But the changes I’m making (including the aforementioned treadmill and a new standing desk I’ll probably blog about later) are making me feel positive even if I only started them in earnest today.  It didn’t hurt that I managed to eat “right” with little to no temptation today and that my partner has issued a walking challenge to get me a little more active during my days.

 

Without getting too introspective, I think that Blue Monday is a good day for me to change my negative mental, physical, and emotional states that have kept me from enjoying life as much as I might like.  And if I feel better, sleep better, and look better, I’ll be happy.  Besides, I might just find that I get more inspiration for writing too!