Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Goals Check-In

Now that June is over and done, let's see how I did.

1) 750 words per day, which works out to 22,500 for the month.
Done! I literally stopped at the 22,500th word, but hey.

2) Post here at least three times a week. 

3) Continue to work on living more healthfully and making my home cleaner and more organized.
So, so not done. I was completely derailed by the virus that has plagued me the entire month, and both my body and my home are a trash heap at present.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting Down to Business

Okay, enough of these airy-fairy posts about book birthdays and redheaded protagonists whispering in your ear in the dead of night. How's the work going?

In terms of word count, it's going well: I'm 8,000 words into part 3, and while I have a day's worth of words to make up by midnight Saturday, dog willing and the creek don't rise I should make my June goal of 22,500.

However. The Son is not in camp right now, I'm sick AGAIN (or more likely, relapsing), and writing time has been harder to come by than I anticipated. I have gotten beyond the scenes I had a phase outline for, and since my original rough outline for this part is now laughably unconnected to anything going on in the story, I had to toss it, and am all-out pantsing it. I know where the part has to end up, but I have no clue whether the scene I'm writing now (a day spent on a semi-intelligent bio-engineered oceangoing vessel) has a place in the final draft. I really need to take a few hours to outline some more, but at the moment there's nowhere to take the hours from without sacrificing word count.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Not to me-- my birthday was four days ago and observed with a pedicure, a book-shopping spree, and a family outing to our small-town country fair-- but to The Owl Bearer. This story was born one year ago today, when all the elements I mentioned in yesterday's post came together enough to create Willa, who visited my mind as I was trying to fall asleep and shared some tantalizing glimpses of her story. And now here we are, one year later, with the first draft sitting at 57,000 words and projected to be finished by the end of next month.

I vowed when I began this book that it would take me no longer than two years to write it. That probably doesn't sound very impressive, but remember I diddled around with Eleven Names for so many years, learning all my lessons and making all my mistakes by writing and rewriting the same damn book. I'm not doing that this time. Whatever the book is on June 26, 2013 is the best book I am capable of writing right now. And I will submit that book, and let the world make of it what they will.

Happy birthday, story. It's been a good year with you in my head, and I look forward to a good year revising.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Quyz

Where did the idea for your current project come from?

The Owl Bearer grew out of the worldbuilding work I did for Eleven Names. I was thinking about the origins of that society: a last, forgotten colony of humans left on an Earth that had become something akin to a holy monument. I knew I wanted the society to have grown out of six distinct cultures that were all thrown together in a relatively small area that they were unable to leave. I toyed with the idea of a YA novel with six main characters, one from each of the six groups, but it was filed away in the "maybe I'll write this someday, many years from now" compartment in my brain.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I read an article about redheads, which mentioned two interesting facts: 1) there is debate in the U.K. whether harassment of "gingers"qualifies as a hate crime against a minority racial group; and 2) there are those that believe that redheads will inevitably become "extinct", their recessive traits vanquished by dominant ones. That got me thinking about White Power groups, the M. Night Shyamalan movie The Village, cordyceps fungi, and those six cultures that were forced to come together to make one. Then I stumbled across a picture of a young redheaded woman on, and she was so strong, sad, beautiful, defiant, and noble, I knew she had a great story to tell.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Check-in

Goal report: 5,292 words this week, for a total of 15,517 for June thus far.

Life report: it's my 43rd birthday today.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Thing-That-Starts-With-Q

Just trying to dodge Kevin the spambot, who posts a comment every Monday when I use the Q-word.

Today's... you know... is about the "how' of writing. As always, feel free to answer for yourself in the comments!

Where do you write? Is it always the same place, or can you write anywhere? Do you use a computer, typewriter, paper and pen? Do you write to music, or do you need silence?

I usually write in my "office", which is a corner of the guest room consisting of a wing-backed chair I used to use for nursing when The Son was wee, an ottoman that doubles as a low desk, a big Rubbermaid container full of writing books and old notebooks, and a nice view of the pines that surround my house and diligently protect it from sunlight. My other writing place is in a comfy chair in the "quiet reading room" at the library. The key is that I cannot be sitting at a table or desk; I have never been able to create with my feet on the ground. I need to sit back with my feet up on something. Obviously, I use a laptop, although I do also scribble in notebooks when I'm trying to work out plot solutions. Writing by hand seems to access a different part of my brain.

To my sorrow, I cannot write to music, or while the TV is on, or at a coffee shop while the people at the table next to me are discussing their love lives, or while some truck in my neighborhood is apparently going around the world backwards. I'm a "Silence!" writer. I prefer to write when the house is empty, and I use a fan for white noise.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Onward to Part Three...

I finished up "Shadow Envoy", part two of The Owl Bearer. I'm 1,300 words into part three, which I'm calling "Mirror" for now.

My mother-in-law is taking The Son after camp tomorrow, so I have another long writing day. I've chipped away at my remaining 500-word deficit and brought it down to ~200 words, which I'll make up tomorrow. And I need to do some more work on the phase outline for part three, and possibly some exercises from The Fire in Fiction.

But then, I also want to watch the series two finale of Sherlock before it stops streaming on the PBS website. I can't promise I won't take a 1 hr 45 min lunch break.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Goal Check

I wrote 6,225 words this week, for a June-thus-far tally of 10,225/22,500.

I'm just beginning the mid-point scene, the moment at which the whole game changes for Willa. Politics, betrayal, and loss-- oh my!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Swamps of Late Act II

Another long writing day today, thanks to a babysitting exchange with my bud Maura. I did my 750 words in the morning, and then tried to untangle the mess that Part 3 (a.k.a. the second half of Act II) has become. I feel like Part 4/Act III is really solidly outlined, but the loose outline I had for Part 3 is full of scenes that are mostly irrelevant now, so in a lot of ways I'm starting from scratch. I know what the last 5-6,000 words of it should be, but the rest is still hazy. That's a little alarming, since I should be wandering into that haze in a matter of days. I made a bunch of notes, and then plunged into a phase outline and got two scenes sketched out, but there's a long way still to go.

I also bought two more books for my birthday: The Knife of Never Letting Go and Code Name Verity. Very excited about my upcoming reading list now!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Quiz

Today's quiz is about influences.

1) Off the top of your head, what are your top 5-10 favorite books or series? Don't agonize-- just list the first ones that pop into your head.

Four Ways to Forgiveness --Ursula K. LeGuin
One Hundred Years of Solitude --Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Eva Luna --Isabel Allende
Kushiel's Legacy series --Jacqueline Carey
Jovah's Angel --Sharon Shinn
The Sharing Knife: Beguilement --Lois McMaster Bujold
Hyperion quartet --Dan Simmons

2) What elements or themes from these books do you see reflected in your own writing?

--young, strong female protagonist
--Fantasy/Science Fiction/Alternative History... other worlds
--love story
--a community isolated from the rest of humanity
--wrestling with the notion of leadership, and whether a few people have the right to make decisions for everyone else
--memory: what cultures remember and forget about their own history over time; how facts becomes myth and myths become fact

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Session One

In my mind, my whole summer lays before me in 2- to 4-week sessions: 2 weeks of nursery school camp, followed by 2 weeks on Cape Cod, then 4 weeks of Kindergarten camp, and finishing with 3 weeks of lazing around and getting ready for school.

Session One begins tomorrow: The Son will be in nursery school camp every day from 9:00-12:15. Tomorrow is also my mother-in-law's day with him, so I'm looking at a seven-hour Sonless stretch. I'm going to go for 1,500 words, in order to make up some of the ground I've lost, and if I have time I'll spend a half-hour or so trying to sort out Part III. It's rapidly approaching, and I'll have to do some phase outline work on it before I get there. I also need to finish reading Room for book club, and maybe watch the movie I have out from Netflix (The Spanish Prisoner).

But mostly, I'm going to focus on moving as little as possible. I'm still recovering at a snail's pace, which is frustrating because I've just had a whole week of doing fuck-all, I'm behind on everything, my house is a wreck, etc. This morning I woke up and the hideous rattle in my chest, which has been driving me insane (and is audible from the other end of the couch), was finally gone... but then I totally overdid it today with housework and taking The Son to a playdate and actually cooking a real meal for supper, and now it's back. Dammit.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Goal Check

Sigh. Well, I'm already behind on my June goals.

But I'm still proud of myself.

On Sunday, I went for a hike with The Husband and The Son. It was only our second hike of the season, and pretty tame-- only an hour, and over not-terribly-challenging terrain. But on the way home, I was wrecked. Like, so exhausted I could barely drag myself up to the house. My internal monologue was all: "Damn, I knew I was out of shape, but come on. I should be able to handle a walk in the woods! God, I'm old." I crashed and took a nap.... and woke up shaking, aching, and miserable with a 102 fever.

Yeah. Probably didn't pick the best day for a hike.

Thus followed four more days of fever, muscle aches, sinus headache, wet hacking cough, and difficulty breathing, plus crappy sleep due to all of the above, and the resulting bone-crushing exhaustion.

I went to the Doctor on Wednesday because I thought I must have bronchitis, only to be told it's a virus and I just have to wait it out. He did give me an inhaler, though. I'm slowly getting better, but reeeeaaaalllly slowly. Like, instead of being at 2% capacity I'm at 13%.

However, I wrote 4,000 words this week. That's 1,250 less than I should have, but really I'm so impressed with myself for getting that much done. I tried to work on it every day and just write as many words as I could, even if I couldn't do the full 750. Last night I took a deep breath and calculated how far behind I am-- and was pleasantly surprised. 1,250 words is not that bad. I have a long writing day on Monday-- I should be able to make up at least half of it. The perseverance fairies did not visit me in my cradle and shower me with their blessings when I was a wee one, and yet I muddled through this week and came out not too badly fucked. So I'm going to hold my head high and report:

After one week, 4,000/22.500 for June.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Quiz

Today I posted a "getting to know you (and by 'you' I mean 'your work')" quiz for the summer writing challenge I'm hosting. It's been a while since I introduced myself here, so I'll post a tailored version of the questions and my responses for any newish blog readers. Feel free to answer the quiz questions yourself in the comments!

What are you working on this summer? New project on continuing a work-in-progress? Novel, short story, or other? Genre? And what's it about?

I'm working on The Owl Bearer, a novel in progress. It's Science Fiction with a side of Romance. It's a coming-of-age story set on a far-future Earth that has been largely depopulated by a nano-engineered plague. When space-dwelling humans arrive with the intention of resettling the planet, Willa, an ambitious, overconfident young woman from an insular and xenophobic culture, travels to a distant island to serve as her people's envoy at a global summit meeting. There, she uncovers truths about her past and faces threats to her future, while trying her best to not fall in love with the feckless "spacer" assigned to be her aide.

Friday, June 1, 2012

June Goals

New month, new goals.

The 500 words per day has been going swimmingly, and with tutoring on hiatus for a while, I should have even more time to write. I'm sitting at 40,000 words right now. I'd like to have a rough draft of The Owl Bearer completed by the end of July, which is going to mean upping my word count. 

Goals for June:

1) 750 words per day, which works out to 22,500 for the month.

2) Post here at least three times a week. Posting every day was good for getting my head back into its writer place, but I'm sure it's tedious to read daily word count updates. I think three times a week is a better goal. I'm hosting a summer writing challenge on a message board I belong to, with a weekly check-in on Fridays and a "writer's quiz" on Mondays, so I'll aim for posting here Monday, Friday, and one other day each week.

3) Continue to work on living more healthfully and making my home cleaner and more organized; in addition to being positive changes in of themselves, I find that the writing benefits from my body and my space being cared for and in order.