Friday, May 29, 2009

ConCarolinas


This weekend I will be attending ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC. This is a great little fantasy convention that is close enough to be considered 'local' (and give broke me the option of daytriping.) I attended last year with Tori and Darlene, and we had a great time, so I'm really looking forward to this weekend.

Recently, I've noticed that my views on conventions have changed. In past years, I've gone to cons hoping to learn lots of new cool stuff. While I still hope to learn stuff, the reason I'm looking forward to this con is to connect and see in person writer friends I usually only talk to online. What a change! Among the people I am excited to see are these very cool women (and wonderful writers) Marcia Colette, Misty Massey, and Faith (Gwen) Hunter. If you are near the Charlotte area, you should definitely check out ConCarolinas.

HB2 Progress: (I'm getting there!)

79840 / 90000 words. 89% done!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Please Insert Coffee to Activate this Brain

The title of this post is a bit misleading, as 1) I don’t drink coffee and 2) I want to talk about how useful mornings can be.

Yes, you read that correctly. I said mornings can be useful.

Now, before going any further, I would like to point out that I am not a morning person. Given half the opportunity, I revert to a schedule where I sleep through most of those pesky morning hours. My 9 to 5 doesn’t give me that opportunity. (Why do they call it a 9 to 5 anyway? I have to be here at 8:30. . . ) Usually my mornings consist of me staring at my alarm clock, willing the time not to go by so I don’t have to go to work. When I finally get up (late) I have to bustle to get to work (still late) then I drag myself through the rest of the morning.

If you’ve been following my twitter feed, you know that I recently moved. This move turned a 45 minute commute to work every morning into five minutes. I could sleep those extra forty minutes (or stare at the clock) and probably would have, but with my deadline approaching, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed for extra writing time.

I don’t write in the morning. I never have. But now I am. And it is wonderful.

These past two weeks, it has been easier to talk myself out of bed. And, because I feel accomplished, I’ve been in a better mood at work. It’s amazing. Granted, new habits are sometimes only shiny for a short period, and there is a good chance I’ll fall out of the routine (especially since I’m hoping to finish the first draft Monday.) But for now, I highly recommend waking up and writing in the morning.

Current progress on HB2:

73694 / 90000 words. 82% done!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Goals and Rewards

(x-posted from the Tri Mu Blog.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that goals are important, but I think a lot of people discount the value of rewards. Writing a book is accomplished one word at a time with a final goal of telling a complete story. One could argue that the reward is having a finished book at the end, but honestly (at least for me) writing the first draft is far from having a ‘complete’ project.

I’m a fan of smaller rewards along the path of the writing progress. Also of smaller goals. I’m a procrastinator with time management issues, so having set goals (and dangling rewards) gets me writing. Some days, if I’m really struggling, the goals are small and the rewards disproportionally large. I would never suggest complete overkill, like a piece of chocolate cake every 100 words--not only would you be the size of a house by the time you finish a 90k manuscript, but you’d be sick to your stomach before the first turning point. But, if I’m having a really bad day, I might promise myself I can check my email after I write 200 words (or write without distraction for X amount of time.) other days, after 1k words or 2k words, I promise myself a night off to read.

I also typically have big rewards for big goals. Currently my big goal is to finish the first draft of HB2. My big reward for finishing will be a week of guilt free time to play SIMS 3. I’m moving along at a nice pace, but it’s going to be close. The game releases next week (and the hubby preordered it for me back at my birthday,) so I know I have to finish soon. Very soon.

I’m nearing the goal, the dangling reward is within reach, and my productivity has tripled (maybe I should set shorted deadlines in the future.) Just days left now . . .

Do you reward yourself for reaching goals? What kinds of rewards?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who are you, and what did you do with my character?

Throughout the first draft of HB2, I’ve had trouble with one of my characters refusing to talk to me. This character has been suffering major behavior and emotional changes from scene to scene as I’ve forced him to participate (when he obviously has had no interest at all.) A couple of scenes he has clicked in, but more often than not he falls flat on the page or acts in a manner completely out of character.

This is problematic to say the least, but it is a first draft, which is basically the same as the early rehearsals when the actors still have scripts in their hands and miss most of their cues. Later drafts will be ‘dress rehearsals’, and we are still a long way from ‘opening night’. There is still time for him to fill in his role and bloom into a real character. So, for now, I’ll let him mumble his lines and refuse to take blocking cues.

The next draft though . . .

Despite a noncommunicative character, progress is moving right along. I have just over a week to meet my goal, which is daunting, looking at how much is left. But, if I can manage my time correctly, it is doable.

HB2 Progress:

60078 / 90000 words. 67% done!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Deadlines: Real and Imagined

In the past, I've often set goals for when I wanted to complete a piece of writing. The key word in that sentence is wanted. Up until recently, I haven't had an hard deadlines in my writing career.

Things have changed.

The first book in my contract is due in October of this year. After that, I have books due every year until 2013.

I have deadlines now. Real deadlines. Which means I probably need to spend more effort making sure I meet my imaginary deadlines. I have one coming up soon. I'm supposed to finish the first draft of HB2 by June 3rd. It's not a hard deadline, but it's the goal I set for myself, so I'm pushing for it. (Not to mention that week is SIMS 3 is released and if I want to squeeze in some guilt free playing, the two weeks while I let the draft sit are the perfect time. Also, fellow Tri Mu Sarah has threatened to taunt me with game facts if she gets the game first and I am still writing--yes we are geeks.)

So, I have about 13 days to finish the book. I dawdled a little in the middle, which put me well and truly behind. The 30k-40k 'trouble stretch' is now behind me, (I always hate anything I write at that point in a book, every book) so hopefully the forward momentum of the story will keep me moving. According to my progress meter, I'm about 60% through the book. My outline doesn't completely agree--but it doesn't always.

Okay, I'm going to splash my word meter up. Then go get some words on the page because I'll be out of town this weekend. Have a good one everyone!


52694 / 90000 words. 59% done!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writers Write

(X posted from the Tri Mu blog.)

When I was teenager, I was a member of a ballet company. One of my teachers was once told me that a ballerina could go three, maybe four days without practice, but every day after that, she was less of a dancer. I took her words to heart, maintaining a rigorous class and training schedule along with my rehearsal and performance schedule. When I stopped dancing, I felt what she meant as my muscles and flexibility suffered.

What does this story have to do with writing?

Well, I think my teacher’s advice can be applied to writing as well. Writers write, and if you spend a large gap of time not writing, you become less of a writer. Writing might not take hours of training and practice to build strength and flexibility, but writing regularly does develop skill and voice. It also builds a routine (even if your writing time isn’t set) and encourages the muse to make daily visits.

I think most people know someone who can tell a pretty good story. This person might have written a short story or two, (maybe even published them,) maybe they wrote a couple of chapters you are foaming at the mouth to read more of, or they wrote a book that is gathering dust in a drawer—whatever the case, they wrote something, but now it’s been months or years since they wrote more. The question is, are they a writer? Surely he or she was a writer, after all, something was written. But, writers write. Maybe they don’t write every day, but they write most days. (Or edit, or plot, or do other writing related activities.)

Did you realize that if a writer wrote only 250 words a day (approximately one manuscript page) she could take off major holidays and still write a first draft in a year? A little bit can go a long way, and as they say, the muse visits those at the keyboard, ready to write.

So, if you want to write, remember to (you guessed it) write!

Monday, May 11, 2009

More Haven Books To Come!

You probably remember my teasing post a couple weeks ago about something big in the horizon. Well, I am finally ready for the big reveal . . .

I have signed a contract for five more books with Bell Bridge Books!

At least four of the books in the contract will be in the Haven series, so if you enjoyed ONCE BITTEN, look for Kita and Nathanial to be back in a new book this Winter!

More news to come soon, so check back.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Postal Woes

I'm starting to think my post office has something against me.

Mailing a package should be a simple process, and my stress should be over what is in the package, not how it is getting to its destination, right? Well, this week, that hasn't been the case. (Edit: Not that the stress over what is in the package was missing. I've just had extra stress with shipping.)

I had an important package I needed to ship this week. I'm accustomed to shipping manuscripts and books at this point, so I know the whole 16 oz rule (in which any package weighing over a certain amount has to be shipped from the post office.) So, early this week, I walked up to my local post office and shipped my package. The meter wasn't working, so the woman at the desk sold me stamps--which in hindsight, I should have taken as a warning. Anyway, I didn't, but I did feel insecure enough to pay extra to track the package.

I'm glad I did.

My very important package floated in nowhere-space for a while, then the tracking listed it as being delivered--to my address. A side note about this address: I'm moving at the end of next week, so I went ahead and used what will be my new address as the return address. This was admittedly not my brightest idea, but I never assumed the package would be coming back. That said, I had to contact my brand new land lady and beg her to contact the current tenant(who didn't move out until yesterday) so I could reclaim my package and see what went wrong. I was sure I must have screwed up and put my address in the wrong spot (which would totally be something I would do, but knowing that, I actually checked before I mailed it.)

Well, once I got the package back, I discovered the shipping issue was no fault of mine, but that of my post office--they forgot to mark it received. Okay, so back to the post office.

At this point it was Friday and the package was now several days behind schedule. There was no apology from the post office, of course, but on top of that, I ended up paying more to ship it priority instead of the much more cost efficient media mail. *sigh* While I was there, I asked about my tracking number and if I needed a new one. I was assured I did not, and after forking over several extra dollars, I left my package in the post office's questionable hands.

This morning I checked the tracking. Status: Delivered. The same delivered status and date as when the package was dropped off at the return address. Apparently my money spent on tracking has been wasted, and I must now trust the post office to get my package where it is going. They have not thus far inspired me with much faith.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I think, next time, I'll be walking the extra bit to take my packages to a different post office.

Happy Saturday everyone! Someone tell me they had a less frustrating week than me?

(Edited to add missing words.)