NaNoWriMo

Well I’m hip deep in NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month. November to some means growing facial hair for charity and for slightly insane people like me we take on the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s the end of the 18th day and I’m doing well with 33, 146 words into my romantic fantasy novel, The Page & The Magician, which is a mix of deeply spiritual concepts, modern dating woes, and fantastical characters like a green-skinned, voluntarily beardless dwarf who bakes muffins. And of course, there is sex and glorious battles too. Much of the book happens in Ottawa, Ontario with segues into places I haven’t decided upon yet.

This is actually more than I have written on another novel that I’ve been working on for 4 years. I feel a bit ashamed at myself for that, but I know what has been a key differentiator for me with this new novel: character development. Prior to starting November, I used D.N. Frost’s character tarot and did an extremely thorough mapping of who my main character is. This has helped me figure out some things on supporting characters, but it’s also been immensely helpful for me in generating ideas on how to keep pushing my story forward.

I plan to do some serious development on my main characters for “Scion” sometime after NaNoWriMo is done. I have a feeling my current piece, “The Page & the Magician” may get finished before Scion does as I’m on a roll with it. There have been many times over the month where I have found myself giggling as I write scenes. I’m enjoying writing fantasy as I can throw silly things in and have it be totally legit, which is not so easy with Sci-Fi.

At any rate, I thought I should post something to say I am alive. Tonight was particularly challenging as not only was I a little bit stuck, I injured my left pinky at martial arts the other night and each time I typed I would experience pain. Talk about negative reinforcement… I had to wrap my hand so only a couple of fingers could move and my pinky could be forced to stop typing. I never realized how much I use the left “Shift” button. I hope my finger doesn’t continue to be sore for long. That pinky is rather necessary for the martial art I do as the left pinky is integral to cutting with a sword and I have my first grading on December 6. I’ll power through any pain for grading, but I’m hoping it is resolved before then, so I don’t have extra hurdles.

I had to stay up late in order to squeeze the words out. It’s passed my bed time, so I’m off!

Ciao,
R~

November!!!!

November is nearly upon me. This means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This means 30 days where I attempt to write 50,000 words while working 9 to 5, attending several martial arts seminars and classes in preparation for December grading, and try to keep up with other life things.

I’ve read it’s important to reward oneself, so on my list is:

1. A deck of Tarot cards.
2. ???
3. Digital bunny ears. (Might wait for a sale)
4. A “Best Brass” trumpet mute.

So I might drop off the planet for many people this month. I’ll be slow to answer texts and I’m going to avoid Facebook. I will tweet the odd thing that will update Facebook for me, but my goal this month is to see how much I can do in 30 days if I cut down my social media time and really focus on my writing.

I’ve been looking forward to starting this new story. It’s been hard to resist starting ahead of the November 1st start date. I worry that I will finally be allowed to write and the words will be assholes. I’m sure I’m not unique in this worry.

I’ll be writing something very cathartic, so I may also be cranky. This has been your warning 😉

Time to pack for seminar.

Ciao,
R~

Can-Con 2014 (Oct 3-5)

The list of panels I planned on going to was altered slightly based on panel cancellations and me changing my mind. Here is the list I went to with a few takeaways from each:

Medical Science Fiction & Biological Engineering [Alison Sinclair, Julie Czerneda, Agnes Cadieux]
– Life will find a way.
– Some efforts to improve things in the world don’t want publicity.

How to Get Traditionally Published [Max Turner, Matt Moore, Matthew Johnson, Alison Sinclair, Julie Czerneda]
– Avoid writing purply prose (over-using adjectives).
– Stay away from people like book coaches who just want to take advantage of you. Check out sites like Writer Beware.
– 35,100 words is often where it gets annoying to write.

RPGs: How the Industry has Changed, Open Gaming Licenses and Breaking in [Geoff Gander, Alice Black]
– You can’t copyright a game system.
– 4 Styles:
1. Event Based
2. Location Based
3. Story Based
4. Crisis Management
– The world is still happening when characters aren’t there, but the characters have to have an impact.

The Economics of Self-Publishing [Kevin Johns, S.M. Carriere, Mark Leslie-Lefebvre, Tim Carter]
– Minimum cost for professional quality is $3,000.
– Short fiction is best published in electronic format only
– Up to 25,000 words

A Peek Inside Canadian Labs [Pippa Wysong]
– Canada is the leading innovator in potatoes (yukon gold) and lettuce, but we have a lot of other things going on too like:
– Applications for nanocellulose
– Physics (Canada Light Source, SNOLab, TRIUMF)
– Very small satellites
– MOST
– NEOSSat
– Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
– Research and Development
– L’Oreal (Montreal)
– National Research Center (Ottawa)
– Canadian Space Agency
– Technology & Clothing
– elevator shoes
– bear deterrent clothing

Romance: Learnings that can be Imported into any Genre [Marie Bilodeau, Linda Poitevin, Coreene Callahan, Leslie Brown, Lynne MacLean]
– A scene must move the story forward and give new information. Your character needs to be challenged. Adding great pacing to this leads to a story that is hard to put down.
– Doing psychological profiles on each character will help you know your characters well before you put them into situations.
– Romance really focuses on human connection.
– Write in layers.

Taking the Next Step in a Creative Career [Jay Odjick, Gabrielle Harbowy, Linda Poitevin, Marie Bilodeau, Robin Riopelle]
– Plan releases
– It’s best to have more than one thing ready to publish or close to publishing
– No more than 30 minutes per day is plenty to manage social media (I need to work on this)
– It shouldn’t be all promotion either. People need to know you’re human.
– It’s a good idea to have a separate name for children’s work from the one you use to write for adults
– Keep foreign language rights and any rights for a country you aren’t selling to. Also, limit the amount of years of exclusivity.

Exploring the Solar System: Mars Rovers, Pluto Fly-By, Cassini – What have we learned? [Peter Atwood, Mark Robinson, Wolfram Lunscher, Canadian Space Society]
– There’s a lot of cool stuff around Saturn.
– Asteroids can have moons.
– Ethical aspects of space exploration vs. Starving people of the world.
– Space exploration helps us understand our own planet and predict its future.

Face-Palms of World-Building, or, How to Fail Epically [Mark Robinson, Andrew Barton, Julie Czerneda, Cenk Gokce]
– A good world will allow you the freedom for your readers to take leaps of faith when you decide to throw in something crazy.
– Sometimes small things will mean large gains. You can be subtle with it.
– Don’t get into the minutiae of things that aren’t relevant
– Why should anyone care?
– Does it connect to the plot or a subplot?
– Implications of things like weather.
– Ignorance and laziness are responsible for a lot of world building failures.

Wattpadd [Maaja Wentz, Linda Poitevin, Mark Leslie-Lefebvre]
– Serial fiction
– Good for building a following.
– beta reader potential
– Allows interaction with readers.

Enhancing Creative Imagination [Dr. Jim Davies]
– Counterontology Theory (Pascal Boyer)
– Keep a file of ideas, combine 2 or 3 to make something interesting.
– Write down the most obvious way and then change it.

Left-Field Approaches to Publishing [Caroline Frechette, Hayden Trenholm, Su Sokol, Coreene Callahan]
– Co-ops
– Collectives
– Chap books

Getting Noticed (in a good way) in the Novel and Short Story Slush Piles [Mike Rimar, Nicole Lavigne, Sean Moreland, Gabrielle Harbowy]
– Follow submission guidelines!
– Don’t take rejection personally.
– With the cover letter, again follow guidelines per the publisher, but also less is more.

A Comparison on the Building Codes of the Northern US States, Chapters on Plumbing and Wiring [Marie Bilodeau]
– Best panel EVER!
– Hopefully I can overcome my fear of singing in public for next year.

Opportunities for Self-Publishing and Hybrid Models for Authors [Mark Leslie-Lefebvre]
– Some book sellers refuse to carry books from that retailer that starts with an ‘A’
– DO NOT try and create your own cover unless you are a graphic designer by day. Spend money for a real cover because people DO judge books by their covers.
– Novellas sell in digital format.
– Publishing Methods:
– Traditional (slow, low risk, advance is a debt, vast expertise, you still market)
– Self (digital is more successful)
– Fully Assisted (you pay all, get higher royalties, no gatekeepers, high writing focus for the writer)
– DIY (you are everything and outsourcing is key)
– Community (blog, Twitter, Wattpadd, etc)
– Indie/Regional (like self without stigma)
– 3Ps:
1. Patience (It takes time)
2. Practice (Write lots)
3. Persistence (Write your next book)

Superhero Versus the Collective – Do Superhero Tropes Devalue Collective Action? [Jay Odjick, Mark Shainblum, Su Sokol]
– Superheros fix everything often by themselves rather than inspiring the people to work together to solve problems.
– Crutch: We don’t have to be better people because the superhero will save the day and fix things for us.
– Leave open-ended metaphors so people can take what they want from it.
– This can be too safe and not encourage talking about key issues
– Some things are too sensitive like what’s happening in the middle east.
– Also, swastika can’t be shown in Germany, so Captain America fights the Hydra, which we know are Nazis, but German people wouldn’t be able to have most of the merchandise.

Talking about your Sonic Wrench and Other Tricks for Flushing Out the Nerds Who Are Hiding As Muggles [Marie Bilodeau, S.M. Carriere, Erik Buchanan, Timothy Carter, Mark Shainblum]
– I really enjoyed this panel. Notes weren’t necessary.

The Mystery Plot Form for Aspiring Writers [Hayden Trenholm, Derek Künsken, Barbara Fradkin]
– Several types
– Caper
– Crime
– Cozy
– Gumshoe
– Police Procedural
– Thriller
– Whodunit (Murder Mystery)
– True Crime
– Amateur Sleuth
– Hard-Boiled (Noir)
– Soft-Boiled
– Suspense
– People can’t handle abstract things like society.
– Mystery has a strong moral component and justice must prevail.
– Range from funny to Hannibal Lecter

After all of that learning, I felt rather brain-fried for a couple of days, but also really inspired. It seemed the most mundane things would spark a story idea. With no shortage of inspiration, I’m excited for NaNoWriMo to be starting in a couple of weeks. My Nano novel has been planned out and added to the system and I’m raring to go and write it. It won’t be easy to get my daily word count of 1,667 words in order to meet the 50,000 word goal, but I’m going to do my best. I do have some other committments such as two martial arts seminars, which are important as early December means grading and I need all the practice I can get with my sword. I also have regular martial arts classes, and a couple of roller derby practices to make. Oh and that pesky thing called a day job that ensures I can eat and keep having a place to live. I’m looking forward to this upcoming challenge to see how much I can accomplish when I really put the effort in. I’m starting a new story for Nano, rather than continuing my current novel. Don’t worry, I WILL finish that one too, just not in November.

As part of prep for Nano, I have mapped out chapters and some characters. I’ve been cleaning my condo. I’ve also started getting up earlier by allowing one snooze instead of two or three. I’m going to start going to bed a little earlier, so I can get up earlier and have more writing time. It won’t be easy as I like my sleep, but it’s the difficult things in life that I love the most. Also, we get an extra hour of sleep in November, which will help. I’m looking forward to that despite that it represents the coming winter months… Anyways, that pesky job thing will be upon me soon.

Ciao,
R~

Where have I been?

Hi! Sorry, I’ve not been blogging lately. Why not? Well…

I’ve been painting my condo living/dining room. The living room has two walls left and the dining room also has two walls left.

I also caught up on some TV shows I happen to enjoy. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watch television from time-to-time. I enjoy stories and the medium doesn’t have to be limited to text for me to enjoy them.

I’ve been reading books by other Ottawa-area authors.

I’ve also been writing… sort of. Well, planning to write may be more accurate. I’ve been pondering my NaNoWriMo piece and intend to come up with a plan for it soon. I’ve started putting a plan together for a sci-fi conspiracy story that’s been rattling around in my head.

And, I’ve been stuck.

My main novel, whose working title is, “Scion,” has had me stuck for a little while. Here are the reasons why, I think:

1. This first reason I feel rather silly about. I had a character tell my protagonist to go and rest. That’s it. I’ve been stuck because of that. The other day I said, “What the hell is wrong with me? So he told her to go and rest… that doesn’t mean she has to!” And like that, I could write again, though I’m still figuring out what should happen while they kill time until night comes and they can leave under the cover of darkness. I think they’ll order pizza. She’s never had it and it could be yummy.

2. I keep saying writing a series is harder than writing a single novel. I need to stop that right now. Writing anything is hard. Each novel in a series must be its own story. Also, part of the great thing about writing is that we create problems for ourselves that we then have to figure out how to solve. We place our characters in predicaments that seem highly unlikely to leave them alive and somehow manage to keep them alive… or sometimes we kill them off. I’ve killed a few along the way. Couldn’t be helped… or maybe I like to kill characters (she laughs maniacally). Anyways… stopping talking about it being hard. From now on it’s back to writing a little at a time whenever I can find a spare moment.

3. I keep forgetting where I left off. I think this is just an issue with staying organized. I get in the habit of writing tidbits in my email and I think I need to go through those tidbits and get rid of the ones I’ve already merged into the story and work on merging the rest into it.

4. I’m worried it’s leading to, “So what?” I think this item is something to bring to my writers group. I think I should start talking about the end of the first book. I’m not sure I know how it ends. I know what I’m building to series wise, but book one needs to be completed first.

5. I think I’m a little scared. I’ve been working on this book since 2010 and it’s rather precious to me. I’m scared I’ll publish it and people will think it’s crap or they’ll scour it to find that one thing I messed up. I’m scared they won’t like it. I think it’s normal to feel these things though. I’m also both scared and excited for what happens once the manuscript draft is complete… Editing could be arduous and scary. Maybe I should hire a book coach. I’m not sure how expensive they are or if there are any in the Ottawa area, but they sound worthwhile. EDIT: 2015-06-01 I’ve since learned that book coaches are a scam. Don’t get one.

My NaNoWriMo piece may never be published. It might just be something for me. Perhaps I should think of all of my writing this way and take the pressure off of myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if that change in mindset helps me finish the rest of it.

Tonight was the first ChiSeries reading event of the season. I bought two books. Then the second author, Madeline Ashby, read and I had to buy two more. She was hilarious. She thanked us all for staying up past our bedtimes because Ottawa people are early sleepers. She described her own story before reading the snippet she read to us and kept interjecting that somehow her publishers went for it. (Her books involve robots/androids. The protagonist is in kindergarten and decides to eat her grandmother. Then she grows to full human size because of the intake of extra mass.) Extra bonus… she’s tiny like me, though still taller than I am. I hope I can be as comfortable reading in front of a crowd someday. I’ll have to dig into my theatrical past likely. It’s rather dusty and I’m allergic to dust, so… drugs? I mean the allergy kind! Anyways… as this analogy no longer makes sense… or does it?… I think it’s time to say good night.

Ciao,
R~

Progress!

I have made great strides in the last while. Today alone has been full of progress. I realized a large issue was that I was writing from no point of view. It was difficult because the story is about a particular character, but currently he is a baby and unlikely to know or understand what is happening around him. So I decided to pass the puck and whoever has the puck gets the point of view.

It’s National Novel Writing Month, so I hope to get as much written as possible.

In order for it to be considered a novel, it must have at least 50,000 words. I am at 9,242/50,000, so only about 18 percent complete to hit the minimum. I know I shouldn’t focus on that, but it can be helpful to have a target.

I stumbled onto a blog post by author Justine Larbelestier about how to write a novel and well much of it I am going my own way for, the spreadsheet tip and discussion around balance between action and inaction, was very helpful. If not for this I probably would have continued not knowing what exactly was giving me issues.

http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2006/09/06/how-to-write-a-novel/

Since I am a project manager in my day job, my spreadsheet looks a little different, but it was a value-add for sure. Yes I could use something crazy like MS Project, but that’s a little extreme when Excel does the trick and I already have the license…

I haven’t read one of her novels, but I will try to squeeze it in 😉

Lots of excitement lately with buying a new car, assisting in teaching karate, and working. Still have to get that certification to keep the money coming in while I dream about and work on getting this novel out.

Ciao
R~