Back in the game again

Oooof.

 

October has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’m back at ‘real work’ and juggling a workday, writing, marriage and household has been challenging. I’ve made some progress on my sci-fi book but nowhere near as much as I’d like ANNNND Nanowrimo is right around the corner and I’ve got 0% prepwork done and I’m not entirely sure which project I want to start on. I mean, I’m about 50% sure which story I want to start, but I have no idea where it is going in my brain. Hopefully that is a good thing, but I’m a planner, damn it.

Plus, I still have to finish sewing my dog’s Halloween costume. Priorities, right? She’s going to look soooo cute when I’m done with it though.

 

Right. Focus. Nanowrimo planning.

I’ve only done Nanowrimo twice. The first time resulted in Pendraline. The second one resulted in the sci-fi book that I’m currently working on and editing (trying so hard to have it done to give to my husband for Christmas!). Both times, I had some planning done. I’ve found that having at least a rough outline helps me to stay on track during the month and keeps me semi-on-target. It’s always mildly terrifying when I start going off course a bit; I’ll look at my writing and think, “Where did THAT come from? I actually wrote that?”. Sometimes, it’s a hit and other times it’s a hit-my-head-on-the-desk kind of thing.

I also get mildly obsessive about my characters. I usually have a list of names on hand, both first and last. I’ve learned my lesson before: if I can get stuck on pairing first and last names together, I WILL. It’s almost as bad as naming a child or pet, and you can have a lot more characters and their names are a source of stress and anxiety until you find the perfect one.

My current rewrite/revise/edit project for example. The main character’s name was ridiculously easy: Barden Thornton. I swear, it sprang into my head and stuck there. My idea was that his parents named him so that his name would basically look nice on a shiny brass nameplate, but they didn’t want a completely “traditional” name. And then the image with the name sprang into my head. Boom, he was named. Other characters, however, have given me strife. I think I’ve renamed one minor character (always the tricky ones) about three times already. I can’t get a fix on her! Bleeeeeh!

When I get REALLY obsessive with a character, I start Sims3-ing them. Yeah, that’s right. I do. I make Sim versions of my characters. I am that much of a nerd. But it works! The Sims3 has some awesome customization/character creation, so it’s super helpful if you’re trying to get a fix on a character in your mind. Plus it’s just fun. And distracting, which probably isn’t such a good thing, but oh well.

Back to the grind again. Time to get my Sunday started!

 

 

 

Books That I have Loved

During a conversation with my husband, I was complaining about how I can’t figure out what to write on this blog. And in his usual way, he cut right to the point and said, “Why don’t you write about books?”

Um yeah, that would be obvious right? But I’m not going willy-nilly into this and just write about any old books, no sirree bub.  I’m going to talk about the books that I LOVE. First up, this lovely gorgeous thing.

Firebird

This book was actually my grandmother’s. When I was a kid and my family would make a summertime trip to grandma’s house and stay for several weeks. This was one of the books I always looked forward to pulling off of her shelves to read. I’d cuddle down in the reading/library area, grab this off the shelf and read it several times over. In later years, when I was a teenager, she rearranged things and I once found it under what can only be described as a sex manual. For same-sex couples.

Yeah, finding one of your favorite books in your grandmother’s house under THAT book? Let’s just say it was hard to look at Grandma for a while after that….

When Grandma passed away, I rescued it from my parent’s massive book-giveaway and have carted it across the country with me. The cover is ripping apart (NOOO!) and strangely enough, despite the many times I’ve opened this up to read, I never once noticed that it was edited by Jackie O until I stopped to take the picture. My eyes always travel to that amazing picture of the Firebird and completely ignore the text beneath it.

It only has four stories in it: The Firebird, Maria Morevna, The Snow Maiden, and Vassilissa the Fair. I always loved the Firebird, but Vassilissa the Fair was a close second. There are fantastic title pages for each story and the illustrations are amazing; they’re probably half the reason I love this book so much.

 

It’s a cold fall day here and which means it’s the perfect time for me to sit in a chair, drink some tea and reread this book for 1000th+ time. Which is precisely what I’m going to do. 🙂

A breath of relief

The short story is OFFICIALLY done and now up on Amazon. I have to format it for Smashwords and all the other formats, but it’s done and on Amazon now. You can go buy it here.

What feels like AGES ago, I’d read this fantastic anthology of short stories called “The Beastly Bride”.  After mulling over the awesome stories I’d read, I came up with the idea for “Changes”. I’m actually really happy with it. Like REALLY happy with it. It was a struggle sometimes (had to dig deep emotionally for a bunch of it) and I’m now actually thinking of changing that cover. That version is much better than the one I started with, but looking at it again, I’m like…eehhhhh. Maybe that’ll be my weekend project.

Now that it’s mid/late September, I have to start thinking Nanowrimo. I have to finish my sci-fi project first (which is actually the one my husband loves the most out of all my books) and then decide what I’m going to work on during November. Which is quite agonizing really. I have several projects sort of fleshed out in my head, and all of them really exciting to me and I can’t flippin CHOOSE.

Hermione_eye_roll

I swear there is not enough time in the world for all the things going on in my head. Slow down life, please!!

Slow and Steady… finishes the story?

Remember when I said I was writing a short story? Yeah, that thing.

 

I FINALLY FINISHED IT. Woohoo! One thing done. Now I can set it aside for a few days and then edit it, proofread it and do, oh something with it.

 

Footloose gif

 

Seriously, I feel like confetti should be falling from the ceiling right now. Some dancing, a few drinks, maybe a bucket of ice cream.

 

Instead, I have a dog snoozing on the floor near my feet. Every so often, she farts. Celebration indeed. I’m mostly just proud of the fact that I finished it. The first one in geez, 10+  years? How the heck did I manage to crank out stories every month for workshopping? Yikes. Oh wait, I remember: copious amounts of hot chocolate, with Baileys. Creative fuel, right there.

Ack, dog just let out a stinker. Time to escape.

The Naming of Characters is a Difficult Matter

And it really isn’t just one of those holiday games.  I frustratingly realized a pattern with my choices in names in my latest project so I’ve been trying to come up with new names while breaking the habit and getting a name that feels right to the character. And I have to avoid alliteration. Apparently my mind is terribly in love with M’s and V’s right now, because all the names are peppered with them. Somehow my brain can’t register that there are indeed 26 letters in the alphabet to choose from and gets very much stuck with those two. I haven’t done anything with apostrophes though; I’m always reluctant to start using them because I’ve seen them done TERRIBLY before and I’m always afraid that I’m going to fall into that same trap.  So I’m trying out different names, combinations, misspellings and most of all, new letters.

Thank goodness for find and replace right? LIFESAVER.

 

Summer is over, it’s a gray day here and as I type, I’m watching a cat snooze on the cat tower, her body all curled up with one of her back legs extended onto the windowsill.  She’s a bit big for the space; some of her bulge hangs off the edge and of course, there’s the extended leg, with her tail curled neatly under it.  There’s something just wonderfully comforting to see this mass of fluffiness snoozing, her bulk rising and falling with each breath. Sometimes she even wheezes. It’s completely adorable. And such a damn distraction. She is obviously not plagued by worries and self-doubt and anxiety about word choice. Lucky thing.

(Lest you say, um, girl, you’re talking about a cat, they have no words…. Well. Let me assure you that yes indeed, this cat has words. She is the most verbose of all our creatures and has a full range of inflections and squeaks and meows that she makes to communicate. The cat, she has sass.)

In the meantime, in between time

I’ve been writing a lot lately; working on stories, doing some world building and making maps and revising old stories. But I can’t write allll the time; my poor eyes and fingers can’t take all that. I have to have other hobbies, things that don’t involve screens.

Last week, I picked up this beauty at the thrift store for 99cents.

20130821_152535

 

Hellllloooooooo Cinderella! I started it on Sunday and had it finished by Tuesday morning. The hardest parts by far were the dress and the grass. I have the same approach to puzzles as I do to writing. If I get stuck somewhere, too overwhelmed to focus and figure it out, I go do something else. Cleaning. Cooking (I made some badass banana breads the past couple weeks). Reading. Something ELSE AND DIFFERENT to clear my head. Sure enough, when I pass by my puzzle table or sit at my desk again, something clicks/snaps/floods my brain and everything works again. I got so stuck on even starting that carriage for a few hours so I left, did some laundry and looked down at the puzzle when I passed it and woooosh I could it put together. That section was done in under 5 minutes. (And yes, laundry waited. Who needs non-wrinkled clothes anyway?)

Gods, I love moments like that. Can I get more of them with my writing please? I’ve been having a doozy of a time with making a map of one story (SO MUCH FUN) since it also brushes up my somewhat rusty design skills but writing…oh boy.

 

 

 

Prologue

So I thought I’d throw up the prologue to Pendraline here, as a bit of a preview.  It’s Friday, it’s summer, and my brain is already turning off.

 PROLOGUE

The old merchant watched the dancers from the dark shadowy corner of the tavern. He raised his mug of ale to his lips and grimaced as an exuberant couple jostled his table, knocking the leg against his knee.

“That’s it,” he said. Throwing some coins on the table, he took a final swig and rose from his chair. The crowd of dancers was thick; a mess of bony elbows and swishing skirts. He tried to make his way through as best as he could, searching for gaps between the couples. There weren’t many. As he made his way across the tavern floor, a young man tripped over his partner’s feet and the couple crashed into the merchant’s back.

“Oh, so sorry,” said the young man, his eyes on his rebellious feet. His partner looked up at the old merchant and gasped. The merchant glowered even harder at them. The girl turned back to her partner, tears in her eyes and away they danced.

The crowd was so thick, it made the tavern door look even farther away. He looked around to find the edge of the throng; there seemed to be no end to it. The long hall was packed from wall to wall. “Just have to plow through,” he muttered. The dancing was more lively now, the music frantic and wild. He pushed his way to the center of the dance floor. As the dancers bumped into him, more and more would stop their whirling and stare at him. A red-haired youth slammed into the old man from behind, knocking him to his knees. The merchant cursed as pain shot through his legs. A large brown hand reached down towards him.

“Sir, I’m sorry, I…” the words trailed off as the merchant lifted his face to look at his assailant. The young man took a step back, moving in front of his partner as if to shield her. The merchant glimpsed a pair of dark brown eyes under a mess of tangled blonde hair looking over the young man’s shoulder. There was soft cry and the head ducked down behind her partner’s broad shoulder. The young man stood still, staring at the merchant’s face.

The room grew quiet; the music died down and the shuffling noise of feet on the wooden floor came to a halt. The dancers had stopped and they all slowly turned towards the scene in the center of the tavern. Cries of dismay could be heard throughout the crowd, gasps of shock and whispers spread around the room.

The merchant looked around him. They were all staring at him. Young clear faces, their wide eyes open in horror. Is there something wrong with my face? he thought. He raised himself off his knees and stood up. The crowd backed away slightly. He touched his hand to his face. There was his beard, yes. His long nose, his eyes, his cheeks.

“Is there something on my face?” he asked, turning to a matronly looking woman at the edge of the crowd. She clapped her hands over her mouth, choking back a scream as she backed further away. He turned to a tall skinny fellow, hiding behind a wooden pillar.

“Please, what’s wrong? Why are you all staring?” The fellow’s face seemed to drain itself of all blood as the merchant addressed him. He grabbed the man’s shirt. “Tell me, what’s wrong with me?”

Around him, the whispers were growing louder.

“What is he? A monster? Diseased, maybe?”

“Disgusting, it is. What a fellow like that is doing, goin round with people…”

“It’s so awful! How can he bear it?”

“I’d rather die than look like that, oh gods, how terrible he looks.”

“I can’t look any longer! Tell me when he’s gone!”

The merchant frantically raked his hands over his face. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Everything was there; nothing missing. No cuts, no boils. What were they talking about?

“Please someone, what’s wrong with me?”

A child broke through the crowd, running to see what everyone was whispering about. Before his mother could grab him, he’d burst past the onlookers and came face to face with the old merchant. He raised his eyes to look at the old man’s face and let out a long shrill scream.

The merchant woke up, the scream still ringing in his ears. The dusty morning light shone through a small window in his room and he blinked twice, his eyes adjusting. Still feeling the stares of the dancers on him, he slowly touched his hands to his face. Like the dream, it felt normal. His eyes lit upon his packs in the corner. A mirror. That’s what I need. There was one in the bags. He swung himself out of bed, knelt in front of the bag and undid the straps, his fingers sliding and fumbling in his rush.

There it was. He pulled out the mirror and unwrapped the thick cloth that surrounded it. It was large for a hand-mirror, and heavy. Holding it in his lap, he pulled away the last bit of cloth, exposing the shining glass surface. The sunlight glinted off the glass and with shaking hands, he held it up to see his reflection. A sigh of relief escaped him. He was normal; he was all there. The dark ruddy skin, the graying beard. The long nose and thick brows. He was all there.

He settled himself more comfortably on the floor and sat for a while, gazing at his reflection. The sunlight was warm on his face, but the mirror remained cool to the touch. Tracing the edge of the mirror with his fingers, he stared at his reflection, reveling in its familiarity, its comfort.

A knock at the door made him look up. “Coming!” he shouted. He looked back at the mirror in his hands. What a thing to be doing, sitting here, gazing at myself like some fine lady! Chuckling to himself, he reached for the cloth to wrap the mirror up again. The sunlight seemed to shine more brightly across the mirror’s surface and for a moment, the merchant began to tilt the mirror to see his reflection again. Another knock at the door woke him and he shook himself out of his daze, wrapped the mirror in the thick cloth and placed it back into the bag.