NaNo Eve

I’ll admit, I haven’t really done any outlining since my last post. I’ve made up for it today with two new parts, and getting some new software set up for tomorrow.

I read this post about Dabble, and thought I would give it a shot. Simplistic UI, auto-saving to cloud, ability to create plot points and shift them around? Sounds fun. Since I’ve only finished one roughdraft to date, I have no idea what works for me, so trying something new is never a bad idea.

So here I sit with just under ten hours remaining and four of five parts outlined in Dabble. I will get that last part out before I head into work for a bit of overtime, and then I will prepare for a midnight sprint to begin this National Novel Writing Month. I don’t have a specific goal for tonight: just write, write, write. Then, in all likelihood, come back here to write about how I wrote and what a mad rush it was.

Till then!

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Outlining

I took the plunge and did the first step: outlining my novel as a subdivision of five parts. The decision to label them explicitly within the novel will come later. For now, they are a way of organizing my work into distinct acts. Of course, anything can change as I go on.

Now I’ve given myself the task of fleshing out each part with “chapter” outlines. I’m identifying key scenes and the events surrounding them, and will probably only go this far in the outline process. The rest will be narrative linking them, and I will get into the whole of determining how much goes between each major point as I go along.

I have to keep reminding myself that the most important word is ROUGH: this is a first draft and I don’t need to get hung up on refining things. I need a framework, a skeleton. I will sculpt the muscles and the flesh at a later time. I need raw material to work with.

For the moment, I’ve got two out of five parts “fully” outlined. Not bad for just past halfway into the month. I’m doing my best to give myself incentives: do some work in a cafe, or bring home a bar of chocolate I won’t open until I reach my daily goal. (Dark chocolate, sea salt, believe me it was WORTH it.)

I feel happy with my progress so far, and each consistent bit of work I can put behind me makes me more confident that I can keep going and accomplish what I set out to do. I’ve also decided to outline in a notebook I can carry around, and type up the result in Scrivener when I’ve completed it. I should take to keeping it in my bag; I was on the way home from an appointment earlier and wished I’d had the chance to stop at a caf√© and work there. At least I got it done at home.

Dusting

Goodness, I’ve got some dusting to do, don’t I?

Hello everyone! I am still alive and well, though I have had some adventures since I last wrote here. Not much has changed, and I find myself again reminded that writing is what I love to do.

… that is, when I’m not being so lazy. Hehe.

I’m engaging myself to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, with a new project. I believe part of what drags me down is my mulish insistence on working on Destiny. Maybe it will happen one day, but I think I benefit more from fresher ideas.

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I bought a small journal and started scribbling some ideas in it. The working title is “The Oracle’s Daughter” and it’s about, surprise, the daughter of an oracle. I have some other vague notions about it that I plan to realize by the end of the month so that I can launch into a flurry of narrative.

Of course, I will be posting semi-regularly here to keep everyone up-to-date in my NaNo madness. I’ll also be sprucing up the pages here. I’m due a new bio, and this blog might need a makeover.

It’s been a year already?

I apparently missed my one-year anniversary! I was notified by e-mail that my domain name was expiring (I actually let it lapse… oops…) and unfortunately, the last week had been too busy for me to do much about it. I’ve since renewed my domain, and have realized it’s long since time I come here for an update.

oops

Not much has been happening on the writing front, though I did start a new pantsing project today. For those unfamiliar, “pantsing” is a term thrown about the NaNoWriMo forums, used in opposition to planning. Pantsers typically do not outline their books, or do very little outlining; planners, on the other hand, make detailed outlines before beginning a project.

This blog has a lot of my personal musings on writing, some news as to what I’m working on, but there is a scarcity of actual creative writing here. With an idea to remedy that, I may very well post all of my pantsing project as I go along. I may also write a story entirely on Google Drive, with my phone as the main interface. That said, here is a sort of prologue for my pantsing project, which I will call “Maelstrom” for the moment.

Ran looked up at the concrete sky not far beyond her window, counting the pale lights that hung there, grim parodies of stars. She had read about stars and seen images of them in books, but they shone far above anywhere she was likely to ever go. So she counted the lights from her bed as she lay waiting for sleep to take her.

The alarm threw her rudely from already fading dreams. She stumbled from her bed and rubbed sleep from her eyes. Her feet found her tattered slippers and she shuffled off to the bathroom to begin her morning ritual.

Eight flights down to street level, a diminishing piece of toast hanging from her mouth as she bounded down the stairs. The building that housed her school stood nearly within view of her home, a few bridges from one tower to the next would save her half the trip.

The lights above now glared with yellow light meant to be reminiscent of the sun, though surely sunlight did not give such an unhealthy tint to skin. Ran had read about the sun as well, another near-mythical object as far as she was concerned.

She checked her watch as she exited the stairwell on the sixth floor of her school, breathing heavily, trying to regain a semblance of composure which failed when she saw the time. She hissed a curse and ducked back into the stairwell. She was late, and her teacher would have locked the door by now, forcing any tardy students to knock and make a spectacle of themselves.

Ran frowned, then continued up the stairs.

No building on her level had more than eleven or twelve storeys, the concrete ceiling preventing growth beyond that. Her school was one of the rare buildings with twelve floors, ceilings being lower in classrooms. Probably to make us feel more oppressed, she mused darkly. Ran climbed to the twelfth floor, where one door led out of the stairwell to faculty offices, and another was bordered in red with explicit warnings written all over it.

WARNING: EMERGENCY USE ONLY. ANY NON-JUSTIFIED USE WILL RESULT IN CRIMINAL CHARGES.

She narrowed her eyes at this, then pushed the bar. An alarm began to screech, echoing down the stairwell. She ignored it and went through, pulling the door shut behind her.

Another stair continued up, lights flashing red and white as a different alarm sounded this side of the door. She continued up, her thighs protesting as she gripped the handrail and pulled herself along. Ran listened for the sounds of boots tramping down from above, or up from below, certain that enforcers would be along to apprehend her in a moment. Why did I do that? she thought giddily.

As she made the next landing, she stopped short, staring at a strange glimmer on the wall. It was the size and shape of a door, and seemed flush with the concrete. Yet it appeared to have depth, leading into a dark tunnel. The edges wavered and shifted, and Ran knew instinctively that the apparition would soon be gone.

She summoned a bit of energy against the aching in her legs, and bounded into the strange tunnel. It faded behind her silently, leaving solid wall and no trace of the young woman.

Coming soon, news on Destiny and Climbing Yggdrasil!

NaNoWriMo derailed

Who would have thought beginning a new job at the same time as NaNoWriMo would be difficult?

I wrote nothing November 3rd and 4th; my training at work, while not difficult, was so full of facts that I had no mental energy by the time I came home. No writing. I hatched a clever plan to carry my laptop around and take the train home. Sure, it would take a little longer to get home in the evening, but I’d have a solid hour to hammer at the keys. It worked, I managed an average of 1,700 words each night on the train, and this while still fiddling with my cell phone.

Then, tragedy struck. On November 14, I turned 28.

… and the tragedy is that I fell ill during my birthday supper. This started five straight days of fever, and painful swelling in my mouth. On day 5, I got myself to a clinic where the doctor told me I had an abscess and prescribed me antibiotics.

Needless to say, those fever days saw me write not a single word, and though I am currently much recovered, I am rethinking my strategy from here on. It’s too late for me to make a mad dash to the finish with NaNoWriMo, but a daily writing habit would be a good thing to keep going. My laptop is heavy, and I do get a sense of pride from handwritten words on the page. My biggest complaint last time was that I can’t write as fast as I’d like (i.e. for NaNo purposes), but isn’t slow and steady better than nothing at all?

Plus, this gives me an excuse to go to Essence du Papier downtown and splurge on a gorgeous, new journal.

Another good idea would be to return to a regular updating schedule. This blog is almost a year old now, and though I have had very long periods of consistent updating, I can hardly say I’m at 100%. The last pieces have fallen into place with my changing life, there are no longer any excuses for letting things slide. Time to buckle down.

Planning

It’s the last week before NaNoWriMo 2014 begins. I am a good 20+ chapters into my outline for Project: Destiny and feeling good. I have color-changing LEDs on my desk that I believe I will use to admonish myself; red when I haven’t written, yellow once I’ve started, green once I’ve met my word goal for the day. (I will probably not keep up with this.)

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I’m excited. I’m raring to go. I’m posting encouraging notes on the corkboard beside my desk. I have magnetic poetry next to that in case I need some unrelated word play to get the creative juices flowing. I have lots of good music ready to go.

Tick-tock.

Moving, getting ready to write

Despite the best intentions, I’ve only managed to outline a few chapters of Destiny. Most of my time has been (avoiding) packing up for a move later this week, and all the nostalgia that entails. I’ve lived here nearly five years, it was my first real home with my husband, and I’m leaving that behind. This will be a good change, but leaving things behind isn’t often easy.

life in bags

My move on the 10th still gives me plenty of time to hammer out my outline. Once I get settled in, I plan to dedicate 90% of my free time to getting it done (I still have to leave myself a small percentage for socializing, quiet time, baths, etc.) so that come November 1st, I’m ready to start at a run. I can see myself taking my laptop with me everywhere in the house, outlining in the dining room, the basement, on the front porch on less cold days.

It will be good not to be chained to my desk, to have a change of scenery. I’m mostly ready. My desk is a mess, I’ve got to organize things and probably chuck most of it out.

Clariel, the Lost Abhorsen

When I was in seventh grade, I had an English teacher with a full bookshelf, who encouraged me to borrow from it and read voraciously in addition to my assigned reading for class. One of the first books I borrowed from her was Sabriel by Garth Nix, which quickly lodged itself in my heart and became one of my all-time favorites. I adore the protagonist, the realistically-painted world, the limitations of the magic within, and the fact that necromancers use a series of seven bells to control the Dead. Bells. Genius.

I reread Sabriel at least once a year, and quite often the two sequels Lirael and Abhorsen. Finally, after many years of there being nothing new in the Old Kingdom, Clariel is coming.

Clariel

This forthcoming novel is a prequel to the others, taking place some few hundred years before the events of Sabriel. Here’s the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

I’m greatly looking forward to it, and have already preordered it for my Kobo. It comes out October 14, and I can’t wait to go back to the Old Kingdom.

Darkness Concealed is coming!

D. Emery Bunn was one of the first bloggers to follow me, and I have long enjoyed his posts on writing and editing. In just a few days, he is releasing his first book, Darkness Concealed:

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50 years ago, the dawn did not come. Again. Everyone in Telthan knew it would happen. Monsters roamed the land, killing virtually everyone in their path, laying waste to anything in their way. Only a precious few survived to rebuild the wreckage of civilization, just like last time. No one questions the Darkening. Not even the children.

That is, until four strangers set off in search of answers, braving a forbidden city, a forgotten library, and foreboding mountains for the truth that has to exist. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, and the truth is far darker than the blackest night.

It’s already available for preorder on Amazon and Kobo, which makes me very happy; I’ve noticed that some indie authors neglect Kobo, which is a shame.

Congratulations to D. Emery Bunn for getting your work out there! Darkness Concealed is available September 23, and I greatly look forward to reading it!

Losing touch

Life is full of odd little twists and turns, isn’t it? I’m up against a major one right now, and in the process I’ve let myself lose touch with my inner writer. I’ve written only a few hundred words of Destiny, I haven’t been updating here regularly, and I feel sad because of it. I need to get back on the ball.

I have decided the tack to take with Yggdrasil is another full read from start to finish before coming back for notes. I had written a few things in the opening chapter, little bits of awkward and character inconsistencies, before I realized that I need to give the flow another look. I’ve got my fancy proof copy in my bag and will make my way through that during the commute to and from work. Honestly, sometimes I just take it out and look at it. I love the cover. I love the glossy finish. I love seeing my name in that impressive font.

I’ve given myself a three-day weekend, which I intend to use to carve out a huge chunk of Destiny. I’m thinking 5,000 words or more, I’ve certainly got the time. I won’t beat myself up if I don’t manage to quite make 5k, but I’m going to give it a serious effort.

I’ve really got to get my head back into this. It makes me happy, it makes me feel more like a proper person. This is what I want to do with my life. So long as I’m not doing it, I’m not really living, am I?