Monday, January 31, 2011

Wow, Milestones Much?

I did it. On the last day of the month, I reached my word count goal (20,023/20,000-- never let it be said that I don't go the extra twenty-three words) and won JanNo.

I also finished a chapter today. (Dude, chapter Twenty-freakin'-Four. And I'm only halfway done.)

And I passed the mid-point of Somi's story. Which is a grand achievement and all, but what's really got me giddy is that I came in less than 500 words over target! That's nothin'! I'll cut more wordiness than that on the next pass through (a.k.a the Fiddle draft).

I'm at 51,400 for the whole draft right now.


Productive morning-- I'm at 19,837 (I know! so close! but I have to get ready for work and then go pick up The Son from school). I'll post when I break 20,000!

Last Day o' the Month!

I've got just under a thousand words to write today to make my January goal. And this afternoon I have a long (for me) work day: two tutoring kids, and a couple of hours in my office to write reports and organize student files. But I'll get there.

Somi's just had like the most uncomfortable work dinner ever. Now she'll be heading off to the big city for her intimidating new job as a personal physician/advisor to a warrior prince. Mid-point's coming up!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Lady Doctor Wyre by Joely Sue Burkhart

Joely's latest novella is a stew of awesomeness: one part Regency, one part Science Fiction, and one part Erotic Romance, mixed together and seasoned with a delightful heroine who is both a legendary nanotech scientist and a silk-loving girly-girl, and two sexy heroes that she is not forced to choose between. Throw in an evil queen, a colony planet's rebellion, a sassy female pirate, and some hot sex, and voila!

Lady Doctor Wyre is a fabulous romp through an intricate world constructed from the best parts of my favorite genres. My only real complaint is that I wanted more; a novella just didn't seem like enough space to explore such a vast world. But Joely's already at work on another story set in Doctor Wyre's world,  so I'm thinking of this novella as the tasty first course of a fantastic feast.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cold From Hell

Oy, the cold. I'm sorry to keep whining about it, but it's bent on destroying me. I was getting better for a few days, and then whammo! Sinus infection. At least, I hope it's a sinus infection, because otherwise the devil has taken up residence in my left eye socket. For the past few days, I've been trying to write through a splitting headache and sudafed haze. This morning I took the laptop to The Son's gymnastics class and managed to eke out 185 words. Then we went to a birthday party, and by the time we came home, my head hurt so much I could barely open my eyes. I did a steam tent for a while, and then took a nap from which I kept being woken by the cracking noises coming from my face. Seriously, it was like ice breaking up on the river. But I did feel better when I got up.

I didn't get a chance to write again until The Son went to bed, and by then my brain just had nothing left to contribute. I crawled my way up to 408 and threw in the towel. I'm done for the day.

18,329/20,000 for January. Two days left. I can totally do it, cold from hell be damned.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Progress Report

16,493/20,000 for January. I'm on track to complete my JanNo goal. Good start to the writing year.

I'm still not at the job interview scene. Somi has to participate in an interrogation first. I'd planned to just summarize it, but when the moment came that seemed like the wrong thing to do. Tonight I need to do a little research on the "tells" that show a person is being deceptive, and then tomorrow I should be onto Somi's interview, which I'm really looking forward to writing since it takes place in a brothel. Very shocking for my rather sheltered and prudish protagonist, and a taste of what the next 11 years of living in a man's world are going to be like for her.

I can see the mid-point of Somi's story looming ahead, but I think it's a tad far ahead. In other words, this first half of Act II is probably going to come in a little long. Sigh. I think I've decided to just do my best to stay on word count target and not worry about cutting anything else until the entire draft is finished-- Bresher's story, too. If I wind up over 120,000 words, I'll figure out some cuts then. This means I'm revising my January goals to eliminate cutting 800 more words from Act I. I've already cut 2,200 words of unnecessary scenes and wordiness, but now I think I need to see the whole finished book before I decide what else needs to go. And I'm just not going to worry right now about it coming in long. See me not worry? No, really, this is me not worrying.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Checking In

I am rocking the house today. 1300 words so far, and I just finished a chapter. The fight scene and subsequent da-da-DUM! moment took more words than I thought, so I'm not going to make it to the job interview scene today. But I've got another 100 words to write today to stay on goal, so I'll get the opening of the next chapter done.

Whee! Good writing day.

Thank God For Nursery School

Whew! I made up all yesterday's words, and it's only 10:45! I'm almost done with the fight scene, and then this evening I'll do today's words, which should take me through the job interview scene. I'll check back in tonight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not My Best Day

I wrote a grand total of 80 words today. The Son's school cancellations are killing me. Today it was open house for prospective students. It was also -20F this morning, so I'll admit it was kind of nice to not have to go out in that. But I just had no time to myself all day, and then I had a tutoring kid, and by the time I got The Son to bed I was exhausted and feeling my cold ramp back up. It's just not happening today.

School tomorrow, and I'm planning to work for every second of it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lovey Dishwinkle, Lady Detective

Between the weather and my endless cold, The Son and I have been spending a lot of time indoors playing with the wooden spoon dolls we made at library storytime. They're these wooden spoons with googly eyes, and we made them clothes and hats and... look, don't ask, okay? I'm sure it's tough to come up with a craft for a bunch of 3-6 year olds every week.

Anyway, The Son has created this whole story world to go with these spoon dolls. It's this fabulous Wild West Steampunk thing starring one Lovey Dishwinkle, a detective who wears gingham and a big floppy hat, and gets around via jet car or jet boots. Lovey's sidekick is Lovey-Joe, a one-eyed fez-wearing Dishwinkle whose exact relationship to Lovey is vague. Lovey and Lovey-Joe get most of their work from their slightly Brokeback Mountain-ish cowboy neighbors, Chan and Franz, who raise both dragons and giant armadillos. When a case is solved, they celebrate with a clog-dancing hoe-down.

And now some deeply disturbed part of me really wants to write a YA novel based on this. Or maybe even a series! Lovey Dishwinkle and the Armadillo's Lament...  Lovey Dishwinkle and the Fez of Doom...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rilly Big Scene

13,649/20,000 for January.

I'm in the middle of a big turning point scene. There's betrayal, loss, a resurrection, and our heroine kicking a eunuch shaman's ass. Shit's going down.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Where's My Medal?

I've done the math, and found that if I increase my daily goal by just 55 words a day, I'll still make my 20,000 goal by the end of the month. I wrote 706 today-- that's exactly one word more than goal, and I want a damn medal for that word. My cold has moved from my chest to my head, which is the "kill me now" phase of colds for me. I'm massively impressed with myself for writing at all, and now plan to chug some Ny'Quil and take a scalding hot bath, and then try to make it to my bed in time to pass out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Sorta-Good Kind of Slow

12,227/20,000 for January.

I got my words today, but hoo boy was it slow. Not painful. Just slow. What was nice is that I was able to be okay with the slowness; both time in general and "running late" or "falling behind" are big fat stressors for me, and usually I get hugely annoyed when I'm not writing as fast as I've decided I should-- mainly because now writing will eat up too much of my time and put me "behind schedule". Being a mother has definitely made this aspect of my personality stronger; my free time is more limited, so I have this MUST NOT SQUANDER urgency about my writing time.

But today I (still) have a cold, and with it rather low expectations of myself, so I just kept the file open and kept inching forward. It probably took me 4 hours of sitting at the laptop to get 652 words. But I enjoyed the stroll, y'know?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Evening Check-In

I got another 300+ words, so I'm currently at 11,575/20,000 words, about 1,000 words under where I should be. But I made up some ground today-- and more important, I like what I wrote.

Limping Back; or, Adventures of a Bookslut

I've officially fallen behind. Yesterday was a total bust: we had a snowstorm, I spent an hour of my precious kid-at-school time on the phone with the insurance company, The Son AND The Husband were both having behavior issues, and I have a cold and was hitting the NyQuil by 8:00pm. I wrote not a single word.

Today it seems to be flowing again; I've written over a thousand words so far today and have another hour+ to write before I have to get ready for tutoring gig #1. It'd be great if I could get 2,000 total today and make up some of that lost ground, but we'll see. Just glad to be writing again!

I did a read a lot yesterday, despite everything. Maybe I just needed to fill the well. I'm being a bit of a bookslut right now. Usually I prefer book serial monogamy, but my reading list currently shows FIVE books "in progress":

The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie. Started this in late summer but have bogged down twice. I love Salman Rushdie, and in another life I would marry him and have his slightly demonic-looking babies... but there's always this point about 75-100 pages into his books where I start to feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, like I really am standing on a street corner in India. I have every intention of finishing this, though, since, as I said, Salman's my man.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Read about a quarter of it and then lost interest, but haven't abandoned hope of finishing it one day, if for no other reason than I have yet to see anything but lavish praise for it.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. For my book club. It's good. I'm almost done with it.

The Old Silent by Martha Grimes. I found this in the ladies' room at the hospital* when The Husband was there for his last ct scan. It's a detective novel, which is not my usual thing at all (I think I last read one over 20 years ago), but I started it and got sucked more than a quarter in already. I'll give it to The Parent when I'm done (if she hasn't already read it-- she's a detective novel fanatic).

Lady Doctor Wyre by Joely Sue Burkhart. Advance copy, baby! Erotic Science Fiction Romance? Jane Austen meets Dr. Who? Yes, please! I'll be reviewing it here, so keep your eyes peeled. All five of you.

*with an appointment card stuck in it-- NOT being used as a bookmark, just stuck in the back as a place to keep it-- that indicated the book had been sitting on top of that paper towel dispenser for nearly two months. If I'd thought there was any chance that the owner would ever come looking for the book, I never would have taken it. I didn't steal the book, is what I'm saying, even though I suppose technically I should have turned it into lost and found or something. But what would have happened to it then? At least now it's being read, which is as Martha Grimes intended it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rough Spot

The words are just not coming right now. I have all this information I need to convey in order for the upcoming Big Scene to make sense, and I have to lay a few future story threads. I stare at the screen, I write a sentence, I delete it, I shift stuff around, I stare some more. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his mouth. I've been pecking away for two days and only made 322 words of progress.

This afternoon I tried to really buckle down and get some words, and instead got this idea for reworking the opening of Bresher's first POV chapter. Is there anything as brilliant as the inspirations we get when we're trying to avoid writing what we're supposed to be writing? I indulged it for a while and got 148 edited words for Bresher, but I can't in good conscience count that toward my January words.

The Son has school tomorrow (he was off today for MLK day) and The Husband has a few hours of work, and I'm hoping that a few hours of an empty, quiet house will help me to focus enough to push past this rough spot.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mid-Month Check-In

15th of the month, and I'm halfway to my primary goal: 10,034/20,000 words. Gotta put in some time on the Act I cuts, though.

I'm coming off a week-long stretch where the words have been coming pretty easily. And then today it was like pulling teeth. I tried to work during The Son's quiet play time, but it was slow. And painful. And BORING. I walked away from it and gave some thought to the lack of oomph in this 650-word chunk. I wound up following the advice given to me twenty years ago by a fellow Creative Writing major: Whenever you're bored by what you're writing, have something die. It's never failed me! So instead of recounting all the boring details of Somi's apprenticeship, I got to write about an autopsy, and introduce a plot-important minor character in the same scene.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Got a Present Last Night...

...and I'm using it to write this post! Yes, a NEW LAPTOP! (I guess I didn't suffer for my art for all that long.) I never named my old one, since it was a hand-me-down from The Husband, but I think I'm going to call this one Oberon.

I took The Son to "lunchtime storytime" at the library today, and while he ate PBJ and listened to stories I jotted down a rough outline for the next ~2,000 words of EN. I need some kind of guide to keep me from wandering too much. I looked over the last draft and there's just nothing usuable for this section; this part of the story's changed too much. But there's a big turning point scene coming up that I'll be able to edit, rather than create from scratch.

Speaking of The Son... he knows I'm writing a book, and yesterday while I was working he came and sat on my lap and told me he wanted to write one, too. He's drawn pictures and then made up stories about them, but this was his first story that originated in words. He dictated most of it, but typed his own name.

Here it is (name changed to an initial to protect the innocent, and exclamation points used wherever he yelled):

Once upon a time, there was a boy named M. One day, M. thought of something he never thought of before. He thought he'd build a rocket ship! He did make a rocket ship-- all by himself! M. flew in his rocket ship, all by himself, to the bad guys' houses, to destroy them. And they were fast asleep. So he tried to be quiet. M. talked to the bad guys' mama, and the bad guys got sucked up into a vacuum cleaner! And then he left, and told his mama what he did. Mama said, "Oh, you didn't, M."

The climax is a little thin, but I think it's actually pretty solid apart from that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Post-Snow-Day Analysis

8,003/20,000 words for January.

2,215/3,000 words cut from Act I.

Snow day yesterday. The Husband went to work for a few hours, and then got an infusion in the afternoon, so it was just The Son and I stuck at home all day. We shoveled the walkway, played in the snow, made a truly fabulous art piece out of felt and sequins, and indulged in the time-honored snow day tradition of Too Much TV. It was hard to get much writing done; The Son is old enough to play independently, but young enough that "independently" sometimes means coming to ask me for something or tell me something every 2.12 minutes.

Despite all that, I managed to hit my word count for the day, and cut another ~200 words from Act I! I may have found a secret weapon in the battle to cut more words: I was browsing writing blogs and came across this mind-bogglingly helpful post on Kait Nolan's site, which includes a "scene questionnaire" to help you decide if the scene really belongs in the book. Now, I know all that stuff about GMC and MRU's and all that, but when I try to apply that knowledge to actual scenes in my actual book, it gets all muddled. But I started looking over Act I with Kait's questionnaire in front of me, and pretty quickly identified a scene that could be summarized instead. It was a brief scene, so it didn't gain (lose?) me that many words, but still. I am heartened. If I can do that 4 more times, I will have cut everything I need to and can just concentrate on moving forward.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Into the Wild

The Husband wins some kind of Supportive Spouse of a Novelist award for solving my "how do I write today?" freakout before even eating breakfast. He remembered that one of the desktop machines in his office has AppleWorks (yes, I still write in AppleWorks, and yes, it is now abundantly clear to me why I shouldn't), so he hauled it out of there and set it up for me, even managing to transfer my files over from my languishing laptop. So now I'm working in that most venerable of novel-writing home offices: the dining room table.

I wrote 215 words just now, finished a chapter, and crossed a threshold. Somi has just left the womblike security of the antru, and is trudging through the woods on her way to adventures she can't even begin to imagine. And man, do I ever relate to her. See, these first 37,000 words of the novel have been reworked before, and feel like very safe and familiar ground. But I just had to blow cobwebs off the file containing my last draft of the rest of the book. From here on out, the edits will be heavier, with more scenes needing to be written from scratch. I'm hesitating at the edge of the woods, noting with dismay all the mud and pricker bushes. But I'm excited, too, to see what adventures are still to come.

Oh No! Not Another Learning Experience!

My laptop died. Yes, the same day The Husband's returned from the shop. Our laptops always seem to fall apart at the same time.

This wasn't one of those "My God! I just saw him yesterday! He seemed fine!" deaths. It's been dying by inches this whole last year. The power connection is touchy, the left shift key is missing, the s and d keys stick, and it occasionally shuts itself off just because. It's time has come.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I mean, I'll be getting a new machine, but what do I do until then? The Husband's laptop doesn't have any word processing programs-- just TextEdit. So I lost all my formatting. I could go to work and open it there,  but I can't write in the office every day. I really, really don't want this to de-rail me.

I think this next week is going to be a big lesson about suffering for my art.

Monday, January 10, 2011


6,756/20,000 for January.

I had a job interview this morning (nothing major; just looking to pick up an additional tutoring gig), and afterwards stopped in a cute little coffee shop for some breakfast and some writing time. I've just finished a tough scene: Somi and her best friend have an argument, which is the catalyst for all kinds of mayhem and disaster downstream in the story. It was hard to strike the right note. I needed to let Somi not be 100% right, to let her get a little nasty... without generating too much sympathy for her opponent.  And I needed to make the conflict weighty enough to have plot reprecussions... while still making it sound like a believable bitchy fight between two eighteen-year-old girls. I think it turned out pretty well.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Check out my review of Jenna Reynolds' novella Kiss of Honor, which I won through a contest on author Joely Sue Burkhart's site. Joely's blog has been a great inspiration to me; she's busy working mom of three and a much-published author of romantic fantasy, contemporary erotica, and more. She's got dedication and perseverence like I've got pajama bottoms with moons and stars on them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Novel Formerly Known as TN

I'm drawing a line under it and calling it done: Twelve Names is now Eleven Names. I lost a name in the Act I edit. So be it: I like the sound of Eleven Names better anyway. Now I just have to get used to thinking of it as EN.

4,007/20,000 words for January.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Good News/Bad News Situation

I'm a good news first kinda gal, so:

I'm at 3,321/20,000 words for January, on track for my goal. I'm editing Somi and Bresher's second encounter right now, which has led to further tweaking the dialogue in their first. These have always been the hardest scenes for me to write, which I found troubling because, um, it's meant to be a SF romance, so the scenes with them together are kind of important. But I feel like I'm making those scenes much stronger now, and definitely more fun to read.

Now the not-as-good news:

All the dialogue tweaking wound up adding another ~200 words to Act I. So I combed through other scenes looking to cut those words back out. I did it, but sweet fancy Moses it was hard. And I still have that pesky 1,000 words left to cut to get Act I down to the absolute maximum length it can be. There's no way around it; I'm going to have to trash a whole scene. But picking one is agonizing, like deciding which kitten to kill. I think I need to clear my head, and then go back and re-read the whole Act, and see if any one scene jumps out as not moving the story forward, or as something that could be told rather than shown.  Good times.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wonder of Wonders

Check this out: today I set aside some time for writing, and then used that time for writing. I know!

Nursery school is back in session today (the heavens shone down upon us, bluebirds sang, angels farted rainbows over our heads), so I dropped off The Son and then marched myself down to our small town public library for some focused work time. Astoundingly, no medical crises intervened-- although The Husband's laptop died last night (leaving him to muddle through with just the two other computers he owns, poor lamb). But I held firm; offered my sympathies, and then asked whether he wanted his dad to take him to the repair shop, or did he feel up to driving himself? Since I'm going to be at the library and all.

I'm at 2,026/20,000 words edited for the month. Not a bad start.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Month, New Day, New Goals

Happy 2011!  Today's as good a day as any to set some goals even though, as The Sibling likes to say, it's just the White Man's calendar.

Goals for the Year:

1) Finish Twelve Names. Like, for real. Like, I'm not editing this thing again unless someone who wants to pay me money tells me to.
2) Submit TN to agents.
3) Start The Next Novel.
4) Read 25 books.
5) Keep blogging about my progress-- even when there is none.

Goals for the month:

1) Edit 20,000 words.
2) Cut another 1,000 words from Act I.

Goals for the day:

1) Edit 650 words.  Done! I'm at 687 for the day.