Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thangs 'n Suches

Thanks for all the wise words and well-wishes regarding my irrational fear of returning to my neglected novel!

I got back on the horse, and we galloped around the countryside--no bucking and just a hair of braying.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to make my end-of-March deadline, but I'm okay with it, considering I lost two weeks. March has turned out to be hella stressful since adding the house-hunting business to the mix, though I'm hoping that will be resolved soon (please god).

In random news...

  • My sister-from-another-mister Hannah Kincade has joined the dark Twitter ranks! Follower her @WriterHKincade (and prepare yourself for any drawn-out, inappropriate [to some] conversations between us [and sometimes with friends]) 
  • The author who visited my university last week said that he thinks all characters need a secret. I'm not sure I agree with him, but he's the one with four books published, not me. 
  • She'll probably kill me for mentioning this, but my uber-friend and writing partner L-O-L-A Lola SHARP's birthday is Friday. That's right, April Fool's Day! So show her some big bloggy love, because she deserves it!! 

Class dismissed!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Only Thing to Fear...

I'm afraid of my novel.

Let me back up:

On February 10, I decided to blow the dust off my urban fantasy project, tentatively titled FOUR. Between then and March 10, I added a little over 30,000 words to the document. I let one of my critique partners read the roughness, and she liked it. She pumped me up with encouragement.

Then I joined the ninjas and was automatically part of a support group. High-fives and gentle butt-kicks all the way around--complete with weekly chats! Awesome, no?

I was holding pretty steady with an average 2k/day word count goal. I had the entire thing planned out, and I was excited to write it. I got myself to the climax of the second act, a part I'd been excited about writing since I came up with the plot points.

And then I went on vacation.

All good intentions of writing while away fell to the wayside. Vacation was stressful, but I bought Donald Maass's book The Fire in Fiction and have read most of it. Reading it made me feel part-validated, part-daunted. I'm on the right track in some places, and have a lot of work cut out in others. But it gave me some good ideas for immediate ways to improve the final third of my novel. So I was all excited to get back home and start writing.

But getting back from vacation is no vacation, right? First, it was a Monday, which meant I had class. And I also had to catch up on all the stuff that'd been left waiting while we were gone--grocery shopping, laundry, cat-related things, bills, errands. Not to mention hubby was still on vacation, so he was around the house to distract. Then on Tuesday, we were gone all day looking for houses. Ensuing house-related business totally sapped the rest of my energy.

To make a long story short, I haven't touched my WIP in two weeks now, and I'm a little scared to go back. I remember precisely where I left off, and it was a scene I was already a bit nervous to write--let alone come back to TWO WEEKS later. What if I was in a speed writing-induced haze? What if everything I wrote to this point totally blows and sucks all the joy I had for this novel out of me?



Today I finally, finally have enough time to open up Word and check the damage. I've had my grapefruit, had my coffee, and the cats are napping.

Now or never...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

House Hunters: Georgia

So, remember last week when I shared the news that hubby and I put a contract on a house and was like WHOA! Tee-hee! House for me!!!

Yeah, life doesn't like it when I giggle a lot. So we found out later in the day that I posted that the house was, in fact, already under contract, despite what the listing agents' answering machine said, etc. So we lost out. It wasn't the first time this has happened to us, and I doubt it will be the last. Life likes to throw steaming poo wads at us from time to time, and after 25 years, my reflexes are sharp and nose dulled, so the ball keeps rolling, etc.

The first and third days we were in Maryland, we chose to hang around my brother in law's apartment and take it easy, mostly which entailed looking at houses online and streaming the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica on his 46-inch flat panel TV and surround sound system.

We knew that we'd be meeting up with our realtor again today, so we felt like we had a few days for new listings to accrue, and sure enough we have a healthy list of 9 addresses, 3 of which are townhomes.

In the spirit of sharing (and helping me keep them straight), I'll share a little photo session of the properties we're going to look at. It'll be like House Hunters, only without the stupid comments!

1. Funny story about this house: it's down the road from the condo community where Evan and I first lived after we got married (when I started blogging, it was from there [for 2 months]). I'd always thought it was very cute from the outside and had a nice, big lot--so imagine my pleasure when I saw it on the listings! This is the first place that we're going to see tomorrow. We have a history with the 1st houses--so far we've put offers on every first house that we've seen (and again on the 20th and 5th billion, but that's another story):

2. This is one of three townhomes, all in the same community right by a marina. Our very close friends (and Evan's boss) actually live in this same community, so that would be pretty fun. Even though we're looking at townhomes, we're definitely saving those as a last resort, so to speak. I'm just gonna lump all three of those photos together:

3. I'm a little dubious about this house only because the other split foyers we've seen have left more than a little to be desired. However, this one is claiming to be move-in ready, so we'll see... :

4. This next house is in the same neighborhood as a previous home we tried to look at, but found out was already under contract. It's a wee bit small, but still pretty cute and in a good location:

5. Funny aside: evidently this next listing shares the same MLS number as a $2 million house in New York. This house is older, but has a very large kitchen and giant fireplace. From the pictures, it looks like it'll need some cosmetic work, including new flooring, but it's a good size and has a nice lot:

6.  This house is also from the 70's, but I'm actually second most excited to look at it, and I'll show you why. It will need cosmetic updating, but has a big kitchen and a really nice back yard:

I love this living room!

7. This last house is at the top of the price ranges we're considering right now, but it's been recently renovated and is in our prime location:

So, wish us luck today, and I promise no more jumping the gun on sharing about house news. This is a business where you get your heart broken quite easily...

What's your favorite, judging from the photos? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I'm back from vacation! It was...interesting...

I'll write a long post about it later (oh, I can feel the excitement), but for now--I'm home. What did I miss?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Vacation

I will be on vacation until this time next week! Spotlights to visit include Baltimore, Annapolis, and Philadelphia. So if you know anyone in the area, please tell them to be polite to the two gawking strangers who look like fish outta water. 

Until we meet again...write hard, play hard, Tweet hard, Google hard.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday or Whatnot

As I stated last week, I'm serious about that accountability thing. Nothing like public shaming to motivate you to get it in gear.

I am ashamed to report that last week's word counts were abysmal. From last Wednesday until yesterday, I added a measly 2,452 words to FOUR. Which, if you recall, is only a little more than my daily word count goal.

Oh, the humiliation! 

However, over the weekend several more life-things cropped up (which I will talk about next week, hopefully) that are going to be very time-demanding soon (no, I'm not pregnant), so it re-energized me to finish this draft before all the hoopla begins. 

Monday I wrote 3,285 words and finally crossed the bridge to the climax of Act Two! I'm very excited for all the events that will soon be playing out, so I've been writing much more reliably than last week. 

Hubby and I are going to Maryland next week during my spring break to visit his brother. I'll be taking the netbook, but I doubt much writing will get done. Therefore, my goal is that by next Monday, March 14, my WIP word count will be at 72,000 words. 

If not, I will be one sad walrus. 

How's your writing coming? Feeling the end-of-winter drags, or is spring being right around the corner putting some jazz in your fingers?? 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I Took Off My Pants.

Ever since I scribbled my first novel's pages (protag name: Raine) in the first (of many) green spiral-bound notebooks, I've been a pantser--you know, the kind of writer who plots as she goes, throwing caution to the wind and following the white rabbit through its warren and inevitably the warrens of all its millions of relatives.

Though I started this writing thing in 1995, when I was a tender age 9, it wasn't until 2010, at the slightly-tougher age of 24, that I wrote THE END, BITCHES on a novel. I have hundreds--very possibly even thousands--of discarded stories, from a paragraph on a napkin to a hundred hand-written pages, and from the mid-aughts on, dozens of echoey Word files.

Every time I started one of these ideas, I was filled with absolute certainty that this would finally be THE ONE THAT I WOULD FINISH. And then 5, 10, 30 pages later, I moved on to greener pages.

Not until I finished my second novel last year and started making noises about revisions did I come to realize something very important about myself. Despite all previous espousing and belief, I am not a pantser. And I have the dusty skeletons of a lifetime of discarded stories to prove it.

It took NaNoWriMo for me to realize that I needed at least a semblance of an outline in order to flourish. In 2008, I gave up on NaNo at 32k, which was the longest thing I'd written to date. In 2009, unemployed and determined to make it work, I spent the month of October world-building, drawing maps, and figuring out who exactly these people were whose story I wanted to tell. I knew their over-arching plot and a few points in-between. As I wrote, I got more ideas about how I wanted things to progress, and I made notes in my ever-growing sketchbook.

Three months after NaNo, I finished that book, my first. A few months later, after throwing out all but about 18k of the first NaNo idea, I wrote another rough synopsis and finished Saving Me.

This is what I've come to learn:

If I don't have even a basic skeleton idea of the plot (especially the ending), I will never finish. 

As I've picked up a discarded draft from last year (Four) and read through the notes I made myself during the initial planning process, I've realized that not only have I saved myself a ton of stress and effort in trying to figure out what a-year-ago-me wanted this story to be about, but I could simply jump back into the writing without doing all the research and soul-searching that killed my spirit before.

So now, with a bullet-listed synopsis of the story, including the major climax and several important plot-points, as well as separate lists for desired character arcs, I'm flying through this novel (for me). Before I write each chapter, I open a new Word document and write a very rough synopsis of what will happen in that chapter. Then, during the chapter drafting, I refer to the synopsis when I need to, but ultimately speed through with no speed bumps AND continuity.

Continuity. Amazing, that.

I'm not stressing about writer's block, because my path has been paved. I'm not trying to think out the best possible twists and turns, because I've already done and recorded it. Even better, I'm writing a draft that will be infinitely easier to revise and edit than the hot messes that my pantsing ways left me with before.

All of these reasons are why I took off my pants.

Do you still write in pants, or have you joined the skivvy crew? Have you found that as your dedication and seriousness about writing grows, you've changed your perceptions of your writing habits? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That Accountability Thing.

Since getting my golden ticket (okay...white paper) to nursing school, my life--while amorphous and unsure in some areas--is solidifying into a distinct path. School starts in August. This is March. That means I have roughly FIVE MONTHS in which to complete any or all or some of the mega writing goals I outlined for myself this year.

Okay, to be honest, when I made those write goals I was feeling pretty pessimistic about getting into school, so the list is enormo and definitely not feasible. Thanks to some input from a couple of my lovely CPs, I've narrowed my focus. And thanks to Ali Cross and her Ninja Writers, I think I might actually be able to accomplish it.

So, in the name of accountability and public humiliation and all that (plus a sad lack of blog inspiration, which I think many are experiencing throughout the blogoverse), I'm going to revamp my old Writer Wednesday or Whatnot feature. (I just made up that name, so don't go looking for it in the archives.) (Not that I really think anyone would. Just sayin'.)

Here's the skinny:

Genre: urban fantasy
Current length: 53, 894
Estimated length: 80,000
Daily write goal: 2,000 words
Weekly wordcount goal: 10k

Let Me Sum Up:
         This is a pretty major write goal for me. I've stuck to it pretty well so far, though the whole dissertation-editing thing derailed me for several days. Between February 10 and February 22, I added around 20k to the WIP. I am not a fast writer by any means. NaNoWriMo is definitely a once-a-year type thing, for the calendar and for my sanity. But desperate times and all that, right? Since I'm essentially giving myself two days off a week, as far as word goals go, I'm hoping to make up for slack on days that I just can't get it all together. Like yesterday, first day back on schedule, I only pumped out 1200 words. C'est la vie, I suppose.

If you're working towards finishing a novel or pulling some Chuck Norris moves on a revision, why not visit The Dojo and consider taking part? We all need support. And what better way to get support than by finding it while you're procrastinating on Twitter and then being suddenly shamed into going back to the WIP? (Not that any of the Ninjas do the shaming--they do the supporting, which leads to the self-shaming. For me, anyway.)