Monday, December 31, 2012

December Reflections

Words today: 378

Total for January: 10,860

Word deficit: 0!

I surpassed my goal by more than 2,500 words. And I'm pleased with the words; it'll definitely need another "polishing" pass, but I wouldn't be completely mortified to have someone read it in the state it's in now. Workwise, I feel like I've found my groove; now I just need to keep my momentum going and take the fullest advantage of the next 10 weeks. New Year's to mid-March is a historically productive period for me.

The next few scenes are ones that gave me a lot of trouble in the first draft. I'm really curious to see how much my scene-building process helps straighten them out.

On the Terra Astra front, I'm still having episodes in which Ezra and Lark seize hold of my brain and force me to write out their dialogue. I now have the emotional arc of every "relationship" scene sketched out. I've discovered that  Lark is slightly older than Ezra, and that they met once before, as pre-teens. 

This is all just pure playtime; since I don't have an external plot for them at all, it doesn't feel like working on a second book. But if a brilliant plot hits me, watch out. These two are very insistent that their story be told. I just hope they can wait until after Eleven Names, which I intend to go back to WHEN (note the lack of  if with that when) I finish The Owl Bearer,  which will be sometime THIS YEAR.

Books Read in 2012

This year's tally: 51 books, including writing books, children's books, graphic novels, and a re-read. I count children's books if I've never read it before, and re-reads if I haven't read the book for more than twenty years.

Writing Books:

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon
The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel by Robert J. Ray

Children's Books:

Henry and the Clubhouse by Beverly Cleary
Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett
Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spiderwick Chronicles: Lucinda's Secret by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wrath of Mulgrath by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
The Beast of Blackslope by Tracy Barrett
The Case That Time Forgot by Tracy Barrett
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary
Ramona's World by Beverly Cleary

Graphic Novels:

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Castle Waiting II by Linda Medley
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura

YA and Adult Novels:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Purge by Sofi Oksanen
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
Foundation by Isaac Asimov (re-read)
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarity
Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemison
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Crossed by Ally Condie
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novick
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Edge by Jeffrey Deaver
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Quatrain by Sharon Shinn

I read so many good books this year. Really, there are only a handful of books I didn't enjoy (sadly, most were for book club). I recommend all three of the writing books.

My top 5 stand-outs as I look back over the year:

1) Pretty much anything by Beverly Cleary. I still can't believe I never read her when I was a kid. The Son owns a lot of Cleary on audiobook (read by the seriously amazing Stockard Channing. If you have the chance to hear these recordings, do. She's wonderful), and since we often listen to audiobooks in the car, I have heard all these stories many times. I never failed to be blown away by Cleary. Holy shit, could that woman structure a story! Her mirroring in her openings and closings makes me want to bow reverently at her feet.

2) Castle Waiting. I don't yet own this, because it's expensive and I'm trying to buy fewer books (although I did give it to The Sibling for Christmas). But I'm going to have to get it. I find it hard to explain why I love it so much: it's about a fairy-tale commune, essentially, of people (some of whom have animal heads) seeking connection or sanctuary. There is no sex or violence. And yet it is so addictive.

3) The Name of the Wind. Okay, yes-- the hero flunks the Mary Sue test in a major way. But that just goes to show that rules crumble in the face of awesome. I'm looking forward to reading whatever else this guy writes.

4) Troubled Waters. Desert island book. I've already re-read it. It's everything I love about Sharon Shinn: meticulous worldbuilding, strong-willed heroine, stalwart hero, and people who are mostly good-intentioned, even when they're wrong.

5) To Say Nothing of the Dog. Another desert island book. If you like Arthur Dent, Dr. Who, Jeeves & Wooster, cats, dogs, WWII, country house mysteries, love stories, and poking fun at Victorians, then I have to insist you read this book immediately. I have a feeling this is the start of something long and beautiful between Connie and me.

I'll be posting about my personal reading challenge for 2013 in a few days.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

12/30 Count

Words today: 252

Total: 10,482

Word deficit: 102

I got a late start writing today. The Son had a play date, and the plan was that the mom would drop his friend here and then go to the gym, and I would write while loosely supervising the two kindergarteners running around the house with lightsabers. Instead, she got her car stuck sideways in our nightmare of a driveway, so we had tea and a nice visit while we waited for her husband to come pull her out. And then I had to fix the boys' lunch, and then they wanted to go outside and build a snow fort, and then I had leave for tutoring minutes after the mom picked him up, and there went my writing time.

Tomorrow my mother-in-law is taking The Son on a day trip to visit her parents (who are now coming up on their SEVENTY-FOURTH wedding anniversary), so for the first time in a week and a half I will have a lot of time to read and write. My goals for the day:

1) write the day's 250
2) make up the 102 deficit
3) finish scene work for the next upcoming scene
4) do scene work for the scene after that --not going to finish this today, but it's in progress
5) finish reading Quatrain
6) write "books read in 2012" blog post
7) write "december reflections" blog post

Saturday, December 29, 2012

12/29 Count

Words today: 281

Total: 10,230

Word deficit: 104

I'm feeling that New Year energy kicking in. I am full of plans and resolutions. While I have never in my life accomplished all that I planned to on Jan. 1, I'm pretty sure I've done a lot of things I never would have done without the magic of new year motivation.


I am 10% done with the second draft!

That feels at least twice as exciting as 5% did. 5% you're basically just humoring yourself to even report it. 10% is more like a real start on something.

Friday, December 28, 2012

12/28 Count

Words today: 285

Total: 9,949

Word deficit: 135

No long writing day until Monday. But it's coming along, and I've been slowly doing the scene work for the next scene, as well as my daily 250. I know I need to pick the pace, but I'm nervous about bumping it to 500 in a few days.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

12/27 Count

Words today: 252

Total: 9,664

Word deficit: 170

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12/26 Count

Words today: 397

Total: 9,412

Word deficit: 172

Christmas Eve I didn't write at all, and Christmas day I did my best but fell short by 69 words. Since I've been busy with holiday preparations and The Son's been out of school, I haven't had the time to do scene work on upcoming scenes, and now my daily words have caught up with my scene outline. I've been working on just the dialogue for the first scene in chapter three, but today I had to take the time to finish the scene work and outline before I went any further. I've felt a little sheepish about how absurdly overcomplicated my scene-building process is, but today I see how much it helps me. I still have 172 words to make up, but I'm hoping for a long writing day this weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Not Today

Posting just after midnight on Christmas to say that even 250 words aint happenin' for the 24th. I cooked a truly ridiculous amount today. But the family is asleep, my kitchen is semi-clean, Santa has come, and I have two desserts and triple digits of homemade tortellini in my fridge.

I'll have to make up that 250 somewhere between now and New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12/22 Count

Words today: 281

Total: 8,579

Just a few more sentences and I'll be done with chapter two! I was out until 11:00 tonight hanging out with two of my mom-friends, and I'm too hazy to fiddle with words right now.

Friday, December 21, 2012

12/21 Count

Words today: 390

Total: 8,298

Made my goal for December, with ten days left.

Today was the first day of The Son's school vacation, and we did N.O.T.H.I.N.G. He watched two movies, I baked some meringues, and neither of us got dressed until 5:00pm when we went out to deliver cookie tins to friends. If the world ends in the next 40 minutes, I will have had a rather unimpressive last day on earth.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/20 Count

Words today: 253

Total: 7,908

Not going any extra miles this week. I see the light at the end of the shopping/baking/wrapping tunnel, but I'm also facing down 2 weeks of school vacation.

I've decided to do JanNoWriMo again this year, for the 4th time in five years. January just feels like the best month for a writing challenge, like starting the year off on the right foot. Even though I'm editing instead of producing new words, and even though my word count goal will be low compared to everyone else's, I'm still giving it a go. Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Crazies

Words today: 286

Total: 7,655

Now I remember why I'd planned to take the week before Christmas off. I'm baking, cleaning, shopping, decorating, wrapping presents... and still doing some tutoring... and The Son has no school Friday. It's 11:27pm and I just finished writing my measly little chunk for the day.

Ezra and Lark have backed off, which is a relief; for a few days there I was making a lot of notes about their relationship and was really consumed with their story, to the point that I started a playlist* for them. Fortunately, I have no idea what their external plot is, so I wasn't tempted to start writing. Now, even though the words aren't flowing, my focus has sharpened back on Willa and Akenam. They won't cross paths again for another 10,000 words or so, but I want to be buzzing on their vibe when they do.

*Ezra's love theme is "Anyway That You Want Me" by The Troggs, which manages to be deeply romantic and kind of dirty at the same time:

anyway that you want me
anyway that you'll take me
anyway that you'll make me be part of you
anyway at all

Lark's is "The King of Carrot Flowers, Part 1" by Neutral Milk Hotel:

and this is the room 
one afternoon I knew I could love you
and from above you how I sank into your soul
into that secret place where no one dares to go

And if I had to sum up Ezra in two lines from a Led Zeppelin song:

in the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man
now I've reached that age I try to do all those things the best I can

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

12/17 Count

Words today: 259

Total: 7,082

Today was one of those days I mentioned yesterday, when it takes me 45 minutes to write a hundred words and I'm very glad I get to stop at two-fifty.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mid-Month Check In

Words today: 707

Total: 6,823

It's still going well (knock wood!). I like how it's coming together (guys-- it's, like, a book now! Not a great book yet, but a book), and I like that on days when I'm wrestling with a particularly tricky bit and it takes me 45 minutes to write 100 words, I can stop after 250 and feel good that I met my goal.

After a few months of looking at the big picture of the plot and sort of galloping through the book with CUT TO's and scene cards, it feels slightly odd to be crawling through each scene. "Where are we again? Oh right, still in the rain, deciding whether to get on the cart or not. We've been here awhile, huh?" It's enjoyable for now, but I can see it getting on my nerves as the months of revision slog on.

Still getting snatches of dialogue and scenes for Ezra and Lark's book, working-titled Terra Astra.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Voices From the Future

Words today: 429

Total: 6,116

Last night I was hearing voices, chunks of dialogue for a book I probably won't write for another 4-5 years. Mr. Intrusive again, and his lady love, who I'm starting to be able to hear (although I can't see her at all yet).

I'm 85% sure that Mr. I is Ezra Bright, the hero of a YA novel I did some planning for a few years ago. It takes place in the same universe as Eleven Names and The Owl Bearer, but earlier in the timeline-- only a little more than a hundred years into our own future. The story I'd planned was narrated by a 16/17-year-old girl whose scientist parents uproot her from her life to move the family to the first self-sustaining space habitat. In addition to all the other "hardships" of her new life, there is only one other teenager in the habitat: Ezra. And they don't get along at first. I knew there would be threats to the habitat's safety, and that my heroine and Ezra would team up to save the day, and romance would ensue.

I envisioned it being a kind of breezy YA thing, like "ZOMG my parents are making me move to space!  So lame!" But if/when I write this, I think the tone turn out very different, because:

1) Ezra is much more formidable young man than I'd originally thought. I need to make sure the heroine is a match for him.

2) The romance is hot. Um, probably too hot for YA. I may have to make them older to push it into NA (New Adult), but I don't see them being any older than eighteen. But I've been writing the sexual tension dialogue, and Good Lordy.

In news pertaining to the actual novel I am officially working on now: things are going well.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Words today: 293

Total: 5,012

I am 5% done with the second draft.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Back Home

The Husband came home tonight, as promised. Today was really hectic, but I managed to stay on track.

Words today: 256

Total: 4,719

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Not Again

The Husband's in the hospital.

Sharon Long-time readers may remember that I began this blog while he was hospitalized following a bowel resection in Dec. '10. This one should be far less dramatic. He just got super-dizzy and it turned out he needed a blood transfusion for his anemia. He should be home by tomorrow night, or Thursday at the latest.

Famous last words.

The count:

Words today: 390

Total: 4,463

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hero Love

Words today: 400

Total : 3,742

I'm getting self-conscious about all these update posts, but I don't have anything much to say about the writing at the moment. I feel like what I'm getting so far is pretty solid second draft level stuff. Akenam is entering the story for the first time (I'm working on the First Encounter scene), and I feel like I need to pull myself away from this intrusive new character and actively work to re-infatuate myself with Akenam.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

12/6 Count

Words today: 465

Total: 2,771

Tomorrow is a long writing day for me, so in addition to my 250 words I'm going to try to get some scene-building work done on the scene that follows this one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

12/4 Count

Words today: 454

Total: 2,032

I finished the second draft of the first scene today.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First of Many Check-ins

Words today: 355

Total: 1,164

I forgot to mention that during my hiatus from working on TOB, a new character snuck up and tapped me on the shoulder, just like Willa did in June '11. (Not to fear: I am not abandoning this novel to scamper after some shiny new character.) I have no idea what his name is, who his heroine is, or anything else about his story; I'm not even sure it belongs in the SF world of Eleven Names and The Owl Bearer. Maybe it does, but waaaaay earlier in the timeline, in our near future. I don't know. But I know him, and I know I'll tell a story about him some day.

I've posted before about how for me it's rare for characters to spring to life as complete people that I understand and am ready to explore. Usually I have a vague sense of what I want a character to be like and then I craft his or her personality and background to suit that-- and often have to re-work it several times before I have a character who feels real to me. Willa felt real to me right away, and so does this guy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Month, New Goals

Aw'right. Time for me to stop being a bitch and get back to work. I've actually been back it for the past few days, but wanted to see myself actually produce written words before I made any big announcements along the lines of, No Seriously Guys, I'm Working On the Book Again. For Realz.

(NOTE: in the above paragraph, the word "bitch" should be read in Jesse Pinkman's voice. Thank you for your cooperation.)

Since my life this blog is basically a series of fuck-ups followed by fuck-up analyses, let's get on with it:

Life has been kicking my ass this month, in ways both big (we've had a much rougher transition to Kindergarten than I expected; I'm not getting nearly as many tutoring hours as we'd hoped; The Husband's job is unbearably stressful right now) and small (we had The Son's birthday party, hosted Thanksgiving, my car broke down, our dryer broke down, I twisted my ankle badly enough that I was limping for several days, The Son had a bad reaction at the dentist and his lip swelled up so badly I couldn't send him to school the next day... the dryer, ankle, and lip things all happened on the same day, and the next day I was like some wretch out of the Middle Ages, hobbling around town with my enormous sack of laundry and my drooling, disfigured child).

All that didn't exactly help me to focus on the book. But there were also deeper problems with the writing itself. The Grand Pre-Revision Plan? Needed more Voice exercises. I loved the scene-writing process I blogged about at great and gory length back in October, but I kept stalling out in step 5, which is to write the scene so it actually sounds, y'know, good. I used to love this part of the writing process, but now I just fear it. I'm so invested in this story and so worried that my writing just isn't good enough to do it justice.

And angst aside, I just couldn't hear what the tone of the writing should be in my head. And that's weird for me-- I mean, right now, typing these words, I know exactly what I'm trying to sound like. So then I thought that since I was enthused about doing steps 1-4 in building the scene, maybe I'd just do that, and then make it all sound good in another draft. But then I got overwhelmed and grumpy at the thought of another draft, because doing too little in a draft (and thus making way more rounds of drafts for myself) is 68% of what derailed me when I was writing Eleven Names.

Then I said, Hey, look! Books on my shelf I haven't read!

And THEN (name that movie), I got thoroughly disgusted with myself and ordered me to open up to beginning of scene one and write the first 250 words until I found the tone.

And I think I found it.

And the next day I wrote 250 more words.

So as ridiculously few as that is, and as concerned as I am about my rapidly approaching self-imposed deadline, that is going to my goal for December: 250 words a day, for a total of 8,250 words (including the 500 I've already done) by the new year.

The parameters of the goal:

1) Each day's words exist in a vacuum, so if I write 700 words one day in a burst of inspiration, I still have to do 250 the next day.

2) If I miss a day, the words must be made up.

3) The 250 words is in addition to working on scene-building steps 1-4 for future scenes.

4) Blog progress here every day. I know that makes for some boring posts, but it helps get me back on track.

See ya tomorrow!