Plotting

Nanowrimo 2016 Update #4

I’m slowly catching up. I’m still 5000 words behind but it’s nice to see the gap closing. I might not win Nanowrimo this year but I’m glad I’m trying. So far today I’ve written a bit over 2200 words and I hope to write some more later.

I dumped my first Nano project because it was not working the way I thought it would. The story needs more thought and plenty of changes before it can progress. Nanowrimo is not the time to redo a story so it’s on the back burner for now.

Another story raised its hand and politely asked to be considered. It’s one I previously plotted but hadn’t started writing yet. I would have but I wasn’t completely happy with where the story was going as I planned it out. So I was reluctant to pick it back up after putting aside another problematic story.

Still, I decided to give it a look and as I read through my notes I could clearly see what it needed. I made an index card outline and liked where it went. So now I’m writing it. I’m only 3000 words into it but I’m invested again. I always loved the idea of this story and I’m glad it’s starting to see the light of day.

All l have to do is keep my muse happy now. I’ll let you all know how it goes.


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One Of Those Months

Have you ever had one of ‘those’ months? You know what I mean, a terrible, no good, crappy, problems piling up months. Well I’m enjoying one of those now. It started with physical therapy finishing up and my back problems not any better and shortly graduated to those problems getting worse. I am the biggest wimp I know when it comes to pain so this super sucks.

Then my monitor went out. It was only a few years old and has effectively ended my love affair with LG electronics (although I still swear by their appliances). My husband’s computer started making strange sounds and my phone went a little crazy. Don’t even get me started on the damn laptop issues! Moving on…

A couple of days ago my car started making a clicking noise. It only happened as I was accelerating and between 20 and 30 mph. I know just enough about cars to know this was weird. My ‘oh shit’ meter was maxed out at this point because I have horrid luck when it comes to car problems. I’ve never owned a vehicle that didn’t have something unusual (and expensive) go wrong with it.

My husband and a coworker figured out what was wrong (see picture below). They got a new part and started really working on it, only to find out the part they got didn’t fit, which was the part’s guy’s fault. They went back to the parts place and were told they would have to buy a different part, a $1200 part to be precise. FFS!! I was in no way surprised since this is my kind of luck but holy crap! This car has been so much trouble. (Did I mention I only have it because my last car was totaled when some a-hole crashed into it in the middle of the night and then took off. Great thing to wake up to.) Hopefully we can actually find that part tomorrow, since the auto place didn’t have it, and get the car fixed. I really don’t want to take it to a shop.

Anyway, the point is this month sucks. A lot. But here is where it gets odd. It seems like the more that goes wrong in my life, the better my Nanowrimo prep gets. Pardon me tooting my own horn but this story idea is good! If I do it right then the novel will be great. I’ve been having breakthroughs left and right and for the first time in ages I know exactly where I want my story to go. I’m positive my plan will fall apart by lunch time on November 1st but I don’t care because I can either get back on track or rearrange my handy little note cards and get back to work. I feel like I have just enough planning. It’s like everything belonging to baby bear. Not too hot, not too cold, etc. I really think I can make it work and I’m super excited about it.

Since I’m stressed out, pissed off, worried and all around frazzled I might just say screw Nanowrimo and start writing all the angry, scary, freaky and sad scenes today. Or perhaps some flash fiction that will creep me out.

I go see the pain doctor on Monday so we’ll see how the pain issue goes. If he orders the test I think he will the end of the month will be awful, horrible and almost unbearable since the test is designed to reproduce my specific disk pain. However, if said test goes the way I hope then I’ll be a step closer to surgery, which at this point is what I want to happen.

I’ll keep you all updated. Wish me luck!


20151022_151950  Obviously it shouldn’t look this way.

Everything Update

I couldn’t write a story for today’s story a day September challenge so I’m doing an update instead. Why couldn’t I write a story you ask? The prompt asked for an ending to a story. When I started this challenge I added a restriction for myself to only write flash fiction. I figured if I only stuck with short stuff then I would have the time to do a story every day, which has worked. Obviously I could post the ending to one of those pieces but my style of flash fiction is to end with a twist or surprise. Posting an ending like that doesn’t make sense to me and I wouldn’t want to give any of my twists so I’m passing on the prompt for today. Also I went to the dentist today (along with every member of my family – 6 of us, so ALL morning), so anything I come up with would consist of pain, scraping and the sound of drills.

On with the update!

Writing: I’ve written a story a day for a challenge, with the exception of today. On some days I’ve written an extra story, which is a great bonus for me. After having emergency surgery last month and all these back troubles any writing makes me happy. The reason I took the challenge was to get myself back to daily writing. It’s still hard to sit at the computer for any length of time but after going through a period where I physically couldn’t do it at all makes me appreciate that I can do it now. I’m going to have this pain for a while to come and I’m tired of it deciding everything for me. I can push through at least some.

Writing/Nanowrimo: I’m putting my crazy hat back on in November and doing Nanowrimo. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, basically it’s a made up competition you have with yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Sound nuts? It is and I swore I wouldn’t do it again. What happens when you become obsessed with meeting that ridiculous word count is you write crap. Sentences that could be 5-8 words long suddenly become 20-25 words and when you read it later all you can think is how it would sound better if it were five fracking words! I had decided I would rather have quality over quantity. However, I realized a few things since griping about this last year.

  1. All first drafts are crap. It may be for different reasons than overzealous sentences but they are still junk. So I took that argument off the plate.
  2. I am capable of writing 1667 words a day. I proved it by winning Nanowrimo last year. I might as well do it again (hopefully).
  3. When I participated last year I wrote every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! I know I’ve gotten into that habit again but it wouldn’t hurt to reinforce it.
  4. I got involved in activities with other writers.  Even simply being around other writers for a couple of hours was beneficial. I don’t know if I was picking up on writery vibes floating around the room or if it was subtle, yet positive peer pressure but I was more focused and more creative than ever before.
  5. Lastly, I figured out I don’t care if I win. I know I said I could win again but I’m saying I don’t have to. I’ll be happy to get however many words I get. It’s the other benefits I’m looking for this year.

I decided what story I will write for November. I’ve got a basic plot mapped out with index cards and I’ll do some more planning in October. I’m not known for being a planner but a little goes a long way when you’re trying to write that many words in such a short time. More on that story sometime in October but until then click here for a small sampling of the story.

Health Junk: I’m almost finished with physical therapy for my back issues. It’s not working. It has made me stronger (and incredibly sore) and able to be more active but it certainly didn’t fix the problem. I go to the pain doctor at the end of the month and we’ll see what steps to take next. It looks like I’ll have to have a horrible injection designed to recreate my specific pain. If it works then the doctor will know I’m a good candidate for the surgery. If it doesn’t then I’m screwed and keep doing pain management. I never thought I’d say I hope I have surgery but I truly am hoping for it.

Reading: I’m still rereading all the Shannara books. I have a few books on my to read pile that I think I’ll like much better but I’m determined to finish what I started. Only seven more to go, ugh! I will probably read Brian McClellan next, if not then Anthony Ryan. Maybe I’ll finally write another review!

Photography: Nothing to report here.

Everything Update

Writing: Not a lot to update here. However, I’m finally thinking like a writer again after all this medical BS I’ve gone through. I went to a hematologist yesterday (more on that below) and while waiting on results I found myself noticing the multicolored floor tiles in my room didn’t have a real pattern. I pulled out my notebook and wrote down my thoughts on it:

What’s under the floor? Is there a combination lock hidden in the lack of pattern? What are they hiding?

Maybe a little silly but there could be a good story percolating in those questions. A month ago I would have stared at the floor in a doctor’s office and zone out or gotten stressed about whatever the hell might be wrong with me. I see my ridiculous questions as progress back to being myself again.

I also keep thinking about my ghost story. I made a storyboard for it months ago, wrote a few scenes and some notes but haven’t touched it since, mostly because I thought I should work on a different story, the fantasy one. I haven’t been able to concentrate on said fantasy tale for a while so I don’t think it will hurt me now to work on something, anything for crying out loud! I stare at the storyboard and all I can think is the first act and half of the second are really a prologue or something to be brought up later. The story really starts in the middle of act two. So I got some poster board and I’ll move my index cards I from the first half to it and figure out how to change the middle. I’m super excited about it because it’s writing. I’m not staring at it thinking I just can’t deal with it now (like I have been since my appendix adventure).

I’m also going to try to get back into the class I’m taking. Thankfully it’s a work at your own pace kind of thing. Lesson 27 came out today and I believe I’m on lesson 15 or so. I don’t have to do everything in the class at my desk. My nice sturdy clipboard, my spiral and a pencil work well if I have to lay down.

No flash fiction lately but there is one mapped out and ready to be written. I keep changing my mind about the POV so I think I’ll write it from both options and see which I like better than flip-flopping and not working on it.

Medical: I got a second round of injections in my back today. It was so weird! Last time, in the middle of July, went so differently than today. In July, whatever they gave me that supposedly has a calming effect didn’t work, at all. This time, well let’s just say I didn’t really care how many needles they stuck in me lol. I didn’t exactly feel good, but nothing fazed me either.

I’m all healed up from the appendectomy. There is still a bit of soreness from the incision at my belly button but only if I press on it, which I don’t, or if the dogs jump up on me, which they are getting better about. It didn’t hurt me to lay on my stomach for the injections though. I still have a mega bruise near that incision but I’ve always bruised easily and kept bruises longer than most.

As for the hematology appointment. It was the most frustrating visit to a doctor I’ve had in this 3 or 4 month span of junk. The man was clearly knowledgeable but he spent more time making sure I knew how much he knew than telling me what I needed to know. It was like reading Michael Crichton! He would explain for a while about what could be wrong with me, then spend some time explaining how he thought none of the things he listed were actually wrong then ask me what I thought. Rinse and repeat for thirty minutes. He then said we probably didn’t need to do any really ‘big’ tests like a bone marrow test and he wanted to check my blood sample for 7 or 8 different things. After listing these off he said we should schedule the bone marrow test and we could cancel it if the blood tests indicated we didn’t need it. Huh? Oh did I mention that he only backtracked on the test when he brought up insurance and the costs adding up. I said “Oh I know all about it adding up, by Monday I will have seen my 8th doctor in four months.” Suddenly it was well maybe we’ll do the test and let me check your blood some more first. To be honest I don’t know what the hell is going on at this point. He said he originally thought my issue had to do with smoking but I quit almost five years ago so he discounted that. He didn’t seem to think it was anemia, which is what I was hoping for since it’s the easiest to fix. I didn’t come away from that appointment with any idea of what it could be really. He said he was checking for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and a bunch of other things I can’t remember.

I should get a call from his nurse soon. At this point I don’t know if she’s calling to schedule the bone marrow thing or give me results or both. I do know I won’t make the appointment until after the results come back.

Photography: I wish I had more to say on this. I did take over 100 pictures while in New Jersey but around 20 of them were of one sunset and the rest were around my in-laws’ property while I was making myself ‘ambulate’ a few days after surgery. There were a couple of great dragonfly pictures, cool looking moss and some plant ones. I didn’t get to go to the abandoned summer camp I planned to visit or to any rivers or lakes or anything else. Maybe next year.

Reading: I’m still working on the various Shannara books. I enjoy them because I like adventure tales with magic, deception, battles and some coming of age stuff thrown in. However, as much as I like these books I can easily pick out the flaws now. I’m thrilled they are making these books into a TV show. I think it’s a better medium for this type of story. The show will be better than the books.

Personal: There is a comic-con in my city this weekend and I’m hoping I can go. It starts tonight but I’m not pushing my luck going so quickly after needles in the back. We can’t go tomorrow because my husband works, so the plan is to go on Sunday. I won’t know until that morning if I can go or not. Maybe I won’t be too sore or it may be a dumb idea to even try. We’ll see. I’m leaning towards being dumb of course. This is first comic-con we’ve had here and while I think it will be a little dinky, I don’t want to pass up the chance. I could be broke afterwards but I think it will be worth it. Oh and I don’t cosplay but I can’t wait to see all the people who do! I’ll let you all know how it goes.

This is silly but I got the email revealing the theme of Loot Crate for September and I can’t wait! It’s Summon. The art in the email showed some World of Warcraft stuff, Supernatural, Pokemon, maybe Starcraft, maybe Final Fantasy, and weirdly Homer Simpson. I’m a WoW and Supernatural fan. I’m not into Pokemon but my middle son is. My husband likes Starcraft and we’ll see about the rest. This is the crate I’ve been more excited about. I was thinking about cancelling my subscription soon but not anymore!

That’s all for now. Next week will be full of writing updates (fingers crossed)!

New Year’s Resolutions and Goals

There are millions of resolutions being posted today. Here is mine anyway. I have a couple of resolutions and some goals.

Resolutions:

  • Write more. Write everyday, no matter what, even on my husband’s days off.
  • Get organized. This does NOT include my desk but does include my closet! Mostly I need to organize my tons of books and office supplies.

Goals:

  • Finish first story in my middle grade series, and revise it.
  • Write the rough drafts of the second, third and fourth in that series. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. I have the bones to the stories already.
  • Finish rough draft of my fantasy story. This is your typical fantasy thing. Ensemble cast.  A few dragons. Good against evil. A long quest to find important artifacts. Magic. Awesome locations.
  • Figure out if one of the characters in the fantasy story will keep the name Zanne or if I need to rename her. Same with Darian.
  • Come up with a solid outline for a YA project. This matters because I’ve been writing it with no planning. I don’t want to lose where I’m going with it.
  • Join and participate in a critique group. I’m being pressured to join now (in the best possible way), but I’ve been too chicken to do it. This should probably be a resolution.
  • More flash fiction.

I have other goals that have nothing to do with writing but I left them off this list because they are only of interest to me and my family. Good luck with your goals and resolutions. Happy New Year!

Eureka and all that…

I had a breakthrough in re-plotting tonight. Thanks to Ryan at A Writer’s Path. In his post he explains the seven point structure. It isn’t something I have ever tried to before. I’m not even sure why, I’ve read a little about it before. I guess I somehow assumed it wouldn’t work for me. When I saw Ryan’s post I figured nothing else was working, I should give it a try. It’s so simple and makes so much sense. I feel silly for not trying it earlier. I have no idea if it will work with other projects I have but I certainly will try it out. I can’t keep being a creature of habit. Change is good. Obviously trying something new can break you out of a rut. If you haven’t already, go visit A Writer’s Path, it could help you too.

Re-plotting Update

I’ve been writing out notes but today is the day I buckle down and really get to the business of re-plotting the middle grade story. I already have the beginning and ending (hopefully) that I want. It’s the middle that is giving me so many problems. This is the beginning of a series and there is a lot to introduce. One of the things concerning me is that I’m afraid I have too many characters. It’s pretty much an ensemble but one is The main character. The first story is about her but includes three new friends she makes. As I’ve been working on this even that is making me unsure. There will be one or two new characters in each story. I want to have Tommie the fairy be the common thread. This started out as her story. The problem is as I have written scenes and snippets as they come to me, I keep wondering if she should really be the main character in each book. No matter what I’ll use Tommie to tie everything together but we’ll see what happens. The whole thing could change after today.

Brief Update

I am re-plotting my middle grade fairy story. It was originally my nanowrimo project. After the excitement of winning nano wore off I looked over it and realized that I had melded two separate stories together. I don’t know why I changed my plot in the middle but I’m glad I did. Of course now I have to write the end of the first story and the beginning of book two. Re-plotting is much harder than plotting was the first time. So if I seem to disappear for a while, that is why. I can only hope that I can control the dreaded inner editor long enough to get my thoughts out. I will also intermittently work on my fantasy novel. When I’m not doing that I hope to keep trying my hand at flash fiction and eventually finish the course I started before November blew all my plans out of the water.

Plotter or Pantser?

So which is best? Being a plotter or a pantser? I really have no idea at this point, but I suspect I’m somewhere in between. I did a lot of plotting for nanowrimo. I won so that seems like a good thing right? I’m not so sure. Somewhere in the middle I lost my way. All my planning and I managed to get stumped? Yep. I made an outline, not a vague outline or a simple one. I made a full-out official looking outline (I hated it). I had a blank wall outside my bedroom door so I made plot cards and taped them up. I didn’t make a card per scene. I made 3-7 per scene. That I loved. When I got writer blocked in the face I looked through my outline and found nothing. I stared at my plot wall and was able to at least see gaps that needed filling and get some more work done. One things that was really helpful was a character sketch. I had written down everything thing I knew about each character, adding anything else I figured out along the way. Those pages helped me come up with what-if questions. Those questions are what got me back on track. Still, it was like a battle plan and most of my strategy went out the window after the first ‘really cool amazing new’ idea popped into my head. Basically the conclusion I’ve come to is I need some planning, but too much doesn’t work for me. Having a simplified outline is a good jump point. Writing character background stories is great for me too. My wall of index cards was wonderful. Even so, at heart, I’m a pantser. Most of what I wrote was unplanned. That’s how my mind works. I need a little organization and a little clutter to function and I’m perfectly happy with that.

That said, I’m sure I’ll change my tune when I really dig into revisions.