Monday, October 05, 2015

Post Craziness Writing and Revising

Today felt almost normal after about a week of spontaneous craziness going on in my world. I even managed to get in a little work on the revisions. I can't remember what day I last opened my files, but when I settled in to start working, I couldn't remember what project folder I'd saved the last two scenes I'd been working on. Yikes!

After digging through a couple of folders, I finally found what I was looking for. Crisis averted. Now I just need to finish polishing what's there and move on to the next chapter...which seems to be taking forever.  

I have an abundance of pet news, which is why I've been absent and not very writerly for the past...oh, probably, two weeks. Squeaky Mama gave birth in our bushes. We brought her inside. She took her kitten back outside. It's been a back and forth battle ever since. Her kitten's eyes are open now, and the little meepit has been stumbling around and trying to follow her mam everywhere. That has kept us all on our toes lately.

Then, if you follow me on FB or Twitter you probably already know, someone dumped off six doxy puppies down the road from us. Cue insane laughter here. The pups found their way to our yard, and not knowing what else to do, we took them in. We had no cardboard boxes, nothing, to put them in, so I gated off the dining room with Mini's old baby gates, and tossed one of JakeDog and SassiePup's old dog beds in there. For a few days our house was puppy madness. Lots of towel washing, floor mopping, puppy scrapping, etc. Jake and Sassie were besides themselves over these pups. JakeDog has abandonment issues, and Sassie is easily stressed, so I had to separate the pups from our dogs. SassiePup was extremely unhappy with me about this. She is my office guardian and lap buddy. Wherever I go in the house, she is right there with me. So, I had to put a gate up across my office door so I could keep her with me in here during the day.

CharlieCat, who is a rescue/stray himself, wasn't happy at all with the puppies. He saw them and decided to have his dinner on the patio. I kept a cozy cat bed in the laundry room on the deep freezer for him to sleep in. Still he's just now feeling comfortable about going into the dining room. It's been a big adjustment for him as well.

Anyway, hubby and I got in touch with the Humane Society, and they took all six doxy pups. We took their towels, toys, a dog bed and Jake's crate and donated all of it, plus some cash to buy dog food and vaccines. We were going to drop by the store for the dog food on the way to the shelter, but they were on a tight schedule and we had to rush. The Human Society was gearing up for a large adoption event, and we thought that was where the pups were going, but it turns out they're all presently being fostered, two pups in three different homes, until they're old enough to be spayed and neutered. Then they'll be up for adoption. I'm so excited about that!  Whoever adopts the little nippers will have a fully vetted, adorable pupkin right from the start. That's more than hubby and I could've hoped to provide for them.

All's well that ends well, as the saying goes. We've pretty much managed to get the house back in order. Now I just need to get my writing back on schedule. Wish me luck. I swear, it's never a dull moment around here.☺

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tomorrow's Another Day

Happy Autumnal Equinox!  It still doesn't quite feel like fall in my area yet, but I'll take what I can get. While I was having lunch with Oldest at Johnny's Pizza today, I saw on the news that the warmer weather is supposed to linger longer than usual this year. Ho hum. I'm ready for flannel weather to get here. It's been a toasty summer, and I'm pretty much over it.

I didn't get much writing done today, and I'm trying not to be too bummed about that. Today ended up being an errands day instead. I've got a cold and I'm not feeling that great, but I drove Oldest around to all the places he wanted to go...and managed to have a good time doing so.

At Walpurgis Mart, while waiting for him to do his shopping, I picked up a box of Zyrtec-D to try to fight off the stuffy nose and sniffles. Just enough ick to make you feel run down, cry-ey, and miserable. It's more of Mini's school germs. He came home with the sniffles on Monday and promptly gave his ick to old mother. Actually, I can only blame myself. He was drinking out of a styrofoam cup with a straw, and since he'd already chewed on the tip of the straw, I agreed to snip it for him. I did, and didn't think to wash my hands afterward, although I knew he had some croupy sniffly mess going on. Sigh. So, while in town, I should've been buying extra paper plates, but instead, all I could think about was the Zyrtec-D. In my own defense, nothing else seems to help with the stuffy nose, but omg, the pills are so effing expensive. It's $22 dollars a box for something like 24 pills, mega ouch, and you have to ask the pharmacists for it, because it's not on the sales floor due to drug regulations in the state.

All in all, it wasn't a bad day, just tiring since I didn't have a lot of energy to start with. We managed to get all the errands done, Bub and me, so yay. As a bonus perk, he bought our lunch, which was super yummy. Johnny's peach pie pizza is killer. I love that stuff.

Anyway, I promised I'd buy lunch next time once we left. After that, we came home and I promptly medicated myself, and began preparing for MiniBeast to arrive home from school. I've been sort of listlessly reading over a couple of pages and note taking here and there, but I've mostly just gone over the same five paragraphs dozens of times. I still can't say for sure what I accomplished by doing that. Right before Hubz came home from work, I decided to give it up for the afternoon. What with being kind of sick, and again, feeling a little out there due to the meds, I didn't want to cut or rearrange anything within my novel that I might regret later. I'll wait til I've managed to gather my wits about me before I dive into the project again.

That said, I'm swearing off anymore trips to town this week, if I can help it. I need to focus on revising this novel if my cold will allow it. It's probably just me, but it seems like everyday this week there's been something standing in the way of work. Kooky as it may sound to some, I blame Mercury Retrograde for all the wacky energy and distractions. It goes direct on the 9th of October, so maybe by then I'll have my writing and revising groove back. I hope so. I'm ready to wrestle this story into tip top shape so I can finally kick it out the door. ♥

Saturday, September 19, 2015

It's Complicated

I didn't get in a lot of editing time Friday afternoon: too much crazy pants going on at home. So, I'm up late/early revising the next scene in this book.

Anyway, what I'm doing... feel free to break out the wine while I complicate this for you, okay? I've been working on one scene at a time, really digging in with each one as I come to it, seeing what is there, and what isn't, and what needs to be added.

To do this, I copy the scene I'm about to work on from my Scrivener, then I move it into Word for revising. Once I've cleaned up the scene or rewritten it or whatever, I paste it back into a Scrivener project set aside as a "container" for the final draft scenes. That way I can work from multiple drafts without accidentally cutting something I wanted to keep.

It sounds bonkers, all that moving stuff around, but that's about as organized as I can get with this project. I just can't seem to wrap my brain around it any other way. I've never been one of those "neat" draft people to start with, but even for me this is a little complicated. I'm totally blaming the Mercury Retrograde going on right now. Any given day my process is a little like an explosion of glitter; I toss a handful of little sparkly story bits into a room, then spend the rest of my time trying to contain it and arrange it into something that makes sense. Brilliant method, right? No? I know, but I can't seem to help it. Care to pass the wine, now, please? I'm going to need it for this project.

That said, I'm setting a deadline for the end of October for Harlequin Hopeful. Hubby told me we've almost paid in the yearly deductible for our health insurance, and as much as I hate it, if we top it out, I need to take advantage of it. I've been putting off two very necessary surgeries, because I'm a big ol' chicken. But if the time is financially right, I've got to go in.

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm creeping along at a slug's pace through this revision, and I haven't even gotten to the part in the novel where I know the hero and heroine have breakfast, like, seventy-two times when they're actually only in close proximity for six full days. *insane laughter* Nevertheless, I'm throwing down the gauntlet and giving myself until October 31st to have this book ready for my crit partner to beta reading. Wish me luck!  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Live from the Trenches of Revision Hell

So it begins. I have been told in the past I have impeccable timing. Bad timing, as it may be, but impeccable timing nonetheless. As of last weekend, because I didn't already have enough stress in my life, I have two full novels that need revision, so of course I'm going to start snipping away at the first one right as Mercury Retrograde has entered my sign. I'd like to say I enjoy living dangerously,

That said, the work has to be done. I can't keep sitting on the Harlequin Hopeful forever. After three incarnations, and a lost (then recovered) draft, it's finally complete...and it's long past time to clean it up and release it into the wild. Then there's the Hot Mess Draft that I completed recently. On it's own, that's 85k ready to go through red pen surgery. Both books are now at the top of my to-polish list, because honestly, I'm ready to kick them both out of the nest.

I'm terribly slow at revising, I think that's why I hate the process so much. This has always been the toughest stage of writing for me. A couple of my writerly friends agonize over writing the draft, then zoom through the revision process. I'd love to be one of those writerly types, but, sadly, I'm not. I've always liked the drafting process, and the proofing/copy editing process, if I'm at all honest with myself. It's that middle stage, the hard revision, that gets me every time.

Several years ago, I took a six-month class on novel length manuscript revision. I'm linking to it, because I'm sure someone will email me to ask what class I took. I'm not an affiliate - clicks and signups don't earn me anything, not even a pat on the head. Just mentioning that as an FYI in case someone feels the need to flambe my carcass for posting about stuff that isn't free. (You would be surprised...or maybe not...)

The course was expensive, almost the cost of a college course, but it was worth it. The process saved both Wave Rider, a short story, and Wicked Obsessiona novel, from the scrap heap. It  showed me how to organize my draft and my thoughts before diving in, then it taught me the process to work through the manuscript, trim away the excess, fix what was broken, and shape what was left.

Revision is still a painful process for me. Lots of reading, tears, cutting, WTFs, and questioning of my own sanity every time I go through it. Only when it's over does the journey ever seem worth it. Probably another of my many unpopular opinions about the writing process, but there it is.

My goal in writing about all this? After spending three days this week trimming, rewriting, and polishing one critical scene, I'm about to break out the revision guide and take it step-by-step through the trenches, if for no other reason than to save as many brain cells as possible. By doing so, I'm hoping there will be fewer three day scene fixes after today, because whoa mama, ain't nobody got time for that.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Please Don't Squeeze Me

Evidently, I am full of panic, because when life puts the squeeze on me, that's what comes out. 

In my own defense, it seems like everything I've done this week, I had to do it twice: rewashing laundry, resending old paperwork, repeated trips to the store. I even had to re-enroll my kid in school where he's been a student since Kindergarten. I'm not kidding. The entire parish had to do it because some kids were attending school outside their district. But I digress... Everything twice. Okay. To add to my list of things to re-do, I can now add reprinting the hot mess draft, because...well, lemme tell you...

When revising and editing I have to work from hardcopy. I have to. I'm not at my best when revising on screen. So, a couple of days ago, I bought paper and ink and printed the hot mess draft back to front.

After an entire evening of wrestling with my printer, I finally got the draft printed. In 12 pt MT Bell, that came to about 148 pages. Hmm. The result of all that paper and ink seemed rather "thin" when I know the book is over 85k and more than 300 pages on screen, but the job was done, so I arranged all the pages and started working my way through the first chapter, noting places that needed revision.

About twenty pages in, a scene was missing. I made note of it in the margins and kept going. Then I encountered another missing scene. Okay, now that was curious. I stopped revising and began looking through what I had in hand. Only the first five chapters had chapter headings. I had also marked the book into three acts so I could divide up the book and work on each section individually. When I realized my Act 1, 2, and 3 markers were missing, it was time to cue the panic. I knew then something was very wrong with my draft.

I opened Scrivener and did a search for a phrase I remembered from the first missing scene. It was there in Scrivener. So was the other missing scene. However, it wasn't in my printed draft. I checked the Act markers. In Scrivener, it was all there. At this point, I'm thinking, what the crap is going on?

This is my first time using Scrivener to put a book together, and I'm not going to lie and tell you there isn't a learning curve. There is. A big one. I knew this before I printed the hot mess draft, and I was careful to read a couple of blog posts about printing from Scrivener before I tried it. And yet, I still ended up with only part of a manuscript.

I set my printed copy aside, and recompiled the manuscript from within Scrivener, trying a different setting/format. I still ended up without the headers. I tossed that file, and recompiled again in yet another setting/format. Finally, I ended up with a copy that had all my scenes, chapter headings, etc. Hurray. I'm glad I caught the error and fixed it before I got too far into revisions. However, now I have to reprint everything so I have a hardcopy to work from, which is in fact over 300 pages long.

I'm going to need more paper and more ink. No doubt about it. So, back to the store, then back to the revision trenches. C'est la vie. ♥

Monday, September 07, 2015

Dream ♥ Write ♥ Repeat

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for an ancient blogspot quiz from sometime around 2009-2011. I remember it was on a blogger blog with an orange and black theme. I think the blogger was an author, but I can't be sure about that.

The quiz was about what kind of romance you should be reading, or maybe it was about what kind of heroes you prefer...I can't quite remember. The quiz results were supposed to include recommended books (new releases at that time) for you based on your prefs; however, when I filled out this quiz, it had no book recommendations for me, because I like romances where heroes or stories that embrace a character's inner monster...which is entirely true. I wish I could find that quiz again!

Tomorrow the guys are back to school and work. While out and about running errands, I'm going to pick up some computer paper so I can print the hot mess draft I completed several days ago. From there I'll start reading through the scenes to see what I've got and what I don't. I hate this part of the process. I hate it worse than any other stage. It's always cringeworthy. I always question whether I should give up writing and go hide in a cave somewhere because I wrote something that bad. This stage requires copious amounts of wine and ice cream. I'm not even kidding.

Over the weekend I also started webspinning the next project, which is to say I've been writing little handjammer scenes for it, feeling out the characters and their world and the situation it's all linked to. I call it webspinning because there's a tarot card in my collection (I can't remember what deck) that shows a spider spinning a web representative of creativity and storytelling. It's an interesting card, and perfectly fits the prewriting before the writing stage, which I completely love. There are no right or wrong answers during this phase. Grammar and cohesion doesn't matter. It's pure creativity and brainstorming. It's my favorite part of the writing process.

In other news, I updated the blog. I cleaned out my links lists, added a new banner, added new social media icons, and tried to make everything easier to find. A small accomplishment, but I'll take what I can get.

So what's next on the agenda? I'll post updates on the state of the hot mess project in the weeks ahead. I'm terribly slow at revising, so I'll try not to let it drag out for months and months. It's painful enough to sift through a tough project; it's even more painful to have to tell others about it - lol. A quick and dirty revision, that's what I'm aiming for. We'll see how it goes.

That's it for now. I need to turn off the internets and tackle the mountain of laundry I've heaped on the bed. So many socks. So much folding. Alas, no house elves to do it for me. Sigh. I hope you've all had a lovely Labor Day holiday. Until next time, happiest wishes. ☺   

Saturday, September 05, 2015

What's On My Kindle Right Now : Story Trumps Structure and More

It's a hot, humid, rainy Saturday evening, and I'm not feeling 100% tip top. I visited my parents this morning (great visit), took care of errands, paid bills, and now I'm free to lounge and loaf for the rest of the four day weekend What better time to curl up with my Kindle Fire?

Yesterday I picked up a couple of books and a new app to keep myself busy, and since I have no new-news on my recently completed draft, I thought I'd share what's on my Kindle right now.

Story Trumps Structure by Steven James (with a foreword by Donald Maass) - I'm currently reading this, and so far I'm quite impressed. I'm on chapter two or three, and I've already taken a heap of notes. So far the book talks about what story is, what it isn't, and how to keep a reader's interest. I'll be reviewing this book in depth on Goodreads when I've finished it.

I also picked up a copy of Slenderman by Willow Rose. How about that fun, spooky cover?  Mini Beast initially introduced me to the Slenderman mythos, and I only recently began venturing outside the Creepypasta site to try to find a novel about him.

Slenderman by Willow Rose is part nine of the Emma Frost mystery series, which I don't know much about, but the author had a lot of cool, creepy looking titles in her extensive backlist, so this could turn out to be a new must-read author for me.

Both of these books are free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. I've linked to them for your convenience, but please note that I am not an Amazon affiliate. I do not get paid for your clicks. These picks are based on my personal preference. I get nothing in exchange for showcasing them here. The same goes for the app below. xoxo

Last, but not least, I picked up a new app called Colorfy: Coloring Book for Adults, Free.

I was directly inspired by the lovely N.j. Walters, who stated on her Facebook page a couple of months ago that she had bought a coloring book for grownups. I thought, how fun is that?

I've always liked coloring and sketching, so last night I went hunting around for grown up coloring books and found the Colorfy App. I really like it. It's free like it says, installed easily from Amazon App Store. Within minutes I was thumbing through the mandalas and florals looking for a picture to color.

The app allows you to email and share your colored pages. To test out the features, I colored two pages, which took between ten and twenty minutes, and I saved them to my Fun Stuff  board on Pinterest.

This is one of the finished Colorfy pages. The app allows you to name your creations. I chose Hens and Chicks - named after the succulent plants.

Overall a neat, cute little app for all ages. The interface is minimalist, clean, and easy to navigate. Simply choose a coloring sheet from the available albums, and tap-to-paint. To get into the tight places on the coloring sheets, you can pinch to zoom on your touch screen, and it will enlarge the smaller details.

So there you have it. My latest Kindle downloads. I'm about to go flop across the bed and start reading that Slenderman book right now. I hope you all have a cozy Labor Day weekend. Until next time, happy wishes! ☺