Monday, August 27, 2007

Computer Update

Good news and bad news...

The good news is my computer came back over the weekend. The bad news is they didn't really fix it, so the screen was still flickering, and while the sound worked again, whatever they did broke the sound controls.

So, I took it back to them, and I am once again laptopless. (I'd like to register that officially as a word...)

It's a Monday.

I hope all of you had a good weekend.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

100 posts!


Wow, I logged on and realized my next (this) post is my 100th blog post!

It took me long enough to hit that mark--I'll be celebrating my blogging 1year anniversary next month. So, in honor of the occasion and the over all slow rate I seem to be accomplishing most things this week, have a picture of a Galapagos Turtle.


(In case you're interested, I took this photo last month at Riverbanks Zoo in SC.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Critique Groups Revisited

I went back to the round table critique group last night, this time with material to read in hand. It was a nerve-racking experience to read my work aloud, but I think I made it through without tripping over my tongue too much. (I tried to forget it was mine--I spent several years on stage, I should be able to read five measly pages to a group of 10 people, right?)

The group liked it...maybe a little too much. I expected people to rip into it, and I did get a couple of comments that need to be considered, but for the most part, everything said was flattering. Ego stroking aside, flattering isn't very helpful. I plan to go back, and join, so we will see what happens. The first couple pages might be more polished than the middle of the book.

I'm still a little concerned about the large gap between sessions and the amount of work shared. With the group meeting only twice a month, and only 5-6 pages per session (if everyone gets to share) that is 12 max pages a month. Over that span of time, can people really remember enough of the story to tell if it is developing well?

In other critique news, my agent recently hired an assistant. Susan, the new assistant, looked over the revisions I sent in, and sent me back a detailed (like with page number) critique with suggestions. I'm psyched. For some reason, knowing what people think is wrong always motivates me. Am I some sort of writing masochist?

Well off to write. (Still living off my jump drive while the laptop is in the shop.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Disaster!

Well, disaster hit this weekend.

My wonderful, very tiny, almost always with me, do everything on, laptop had a short. The sound started flitting in and out and the screen began flickering. As it is under warranty (thank goodness) I took it up to Best Buy. They, of course, shipped it off to be fixed. I backed up all my material--well, I hope I did--so now to settle in for 2 to 5 weeks without it.

2nd day almost down...I don't know if I'll make it.

I don't have a writing ritual, but over the last two years, my laptop has been the only thing I wrote with. Not that I NEED it per say, but it is small and light enough to fit in my purse, so I am rarely away from home without it. Lunch break? Great lets write! Stranded? Great lets write! I do have a desktop at home (rather old now, as I built it back in my freshman year of college) but it hasn't been turned on in over a year and it's not mobile. My husband passed down his old Power Book to me recently--but between its size/weight and decayed battery life it isn't that much more mobile than the desktop. It is easier to get to my desk though, so I'll probably be writing on it for the next few weeks. I will also have limited to no internet except at work for a while...in another circumstance that might make me more productive, but I don't know about now.

*sigh* You never really realize how much you depend on/ find comfort in something until it's missing. (Okay, not completely true...I've known for a while the laptop needed to go in...I've been putting it off because there is never a convenient time not to have it.)

Is there a special computer/place/object you usually have/go to work? Do you find it harder to work without that 'comfort' thing?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ready, Set, Write!

Candy Havens, author of Charmed and Dangerous, hosts a free workshop loop called Write_workshop. Every month (or maybe every couple months) she or a volunteer instructor generously give free classes for writers.

Next week she will begin her "Fast Draft" class, in which we (attempt to) write an entire draft in two (two?...) weeks. I've participated in and 'won' the Nanowrimo challenge (50k in the month of November) two years in a row, but a full draft in only two weeks? I'll admit I'm more than a little intimidated. I'm also very excited.

Who else will be Fast Drafting next week?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Critique Groups

I went to a local round-table critique group last night. I didn't bring pages with me because, well honestly, I was so very nervous I didn't think I'd be able to read them. It was quite a mixed bag of writers who attended: several poets, a man working on a civil war historical, a couple short story writers, a man working on his memoir, one writing a historical set in ancient Rome, some literary fiction writers, and a couple people who said they weren't real sure what they were working on, they just wanted to throw it out to the group to see if it was any good. Some of the writing was better than others, but everyone was kind to the author while still sharing at least a little honest and helpful critisim.

To be truthful, there was a piece or two I didn't care for much, not because the writing was bad, but because the subject matter bored me to tears. So, when my turn to comment came around the table, I focused my critique solely on grammar and complimented some part of the story that was technically good. And that, is exactly my fear for my own writing. With only a handful of fiction writers present, and none of them fantasy writers, will my work bore them to tears? (or worse, sound incompetently immature because it's fantasy and *everyone* knows that's kid stuff...Yes I've heard people say that--I worked in a bookstore long enough to know there are people who look down on genre fiction.)

I spend a lot of time with romance writers these days through RWA, but urban fantasy and paranormal/fantasy romance have a bit of a blurry line at times, so I don't feel completely out of place. Last night I felt more than a bit on the outside. Granted, the fact I was new and nervous didn't help. Nor did the fact I am always filled with self-doubt when it comes to my writing. I plan to attend the next group meeting in two weeks, but before I commit the money and time, I guess I need to determain if I'll benefit from joining.

What do you think of mixed genre critique groups? Is it important that critiquers have knowledge and enjoy reading your genre? If you were in this situation, would you join the group but continue looking for a critique partner? I've been told judging contests and sifting through other writers mistakes can improve your own writing, so do you think a writer could derive the same benefit from a round-table group?

Do you belong to a critique group? Have a critique partner? Please tell me about your experiences.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The balancing act

Do you ever look back and wonder how you ever got anything done in the past, and if you were able to do it then, why you can't now?

The year I wrote (and finished) my first novel was a busy one. I got married, graduated from college, was working a crazy job, painted enough during the year to enter newly finished paintings in two separate art shows, and read over 100 books. I don't remember being over taxed by all that. I think I even had a social life now and then. It was hectic at times, but hey, life just is.

So, why can't I juggle life now?

Do you ever get the feeling someone is stealing your time? Maybe I just procrastinate more than I used to(hey most of that's research, right?...)or maybe there are more obligations that complicate things. Whatever the reason...I clearly need a plan to increase my productivity.

So how do you balance your time? Do you have a set plan, maybe a certain time set aside for creative endeavors, or do you steal moments here and there as they come up? What works for you?