Our digital era

The advent of the e-reader has brought the world of books to an interesting place. I’ve gone back and forth myself, though I was never firmly in one camp or another. I enjoy the convenience of the e-reader: I can carry a series, better yet an entire library, in my bag with minimal bulk and weight. I can download new titles anywhere, their size makes it painless to set up a wifi hotspot on my phone and use my cellular data plan. I get recommendations directly on my home screen.

That said, nothing beats the feel of a paper book. There’s something reassuring about its heft, the feel as you turn pages, the smell of a new book or that more usual scent that comes with time. They look nicer lined up on a bookshelf, they add personality to your home. When you get excited after finishing something new, you can pass it on to a friend without considering whether their device is compatible with yours, or how to transfer the file.

In younger days, I foolishly got rid of a substantial portion of my physical collection because I was enamored with my Kobo. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but now that I’m no longer commuting two hours or more a day, I’ve mostly gone back to paper copies. I find myself in the position of purchasing copies of novels I’ve given away, taking particular care to dig through precarious stacks in used bookstores. My bookshelf is starting to look a bit disheveled, and I don’t really have space in my current home to get a second one, but I’m not letting that stop me.

The e-reader still has certain advantages. I expect when I finally have money to travel, I’ll want to load my Kobo up with enough reading material to keep me busy. I’ll just have to make sure to bring the appropriate cable to charge it; I’ve upgraded my cell phone, so it’s no longer the same USB plug. Maybe a few paperbacks and a graphic novel or two aren’t too heavy for my luggage, after all.

August goals

Talkin’ ain’t doin’

Here it comes: actual, concrete goals to hold myself to. I’ll have to start with arbitrary numbers as I get back into the swing of things, and adjust as I go along. Naturally, I’ll try to push myself harder.

In terms of writing, I’d like to have a new novel outlined before August is up. That gives me three weeks, so I’ll set myself a goal of ten chapters outlined per week.

Revision is a little harder. I’m due for another reread of Yggdrasil to see what needs editing, cutting, and where new material needs to be fitted in. I can manage a reread in one week, then a second look over another week to target problem areas.

Of course, I’ll want to make hokey index cards to put on my corkboards to illustrate my progress with these goals. It helps to have them there, staring at me at all times.

I’ll be back next week with updates on my progress!

 

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.

Scribophile

I’ve finally found what I needed to give me a kick in the pants. I saw something online for this site, Scribophile, which I had never heard of but I’m always up for more engagement with interested writers. They have this interesting karma system where you need points to post your writing, points that can only be earned by critiquing the writing of others.

I was terrified. Who am I to critique someone else’s work? What do I know about characterization and plot and pacing? What if I sound mean?

This is nonsense, of course. I know what I like to read. I know what works for me, and I can recognize if writing is confusing or uninteresting. I can also bring up things that can be improved upon without tearing something to pieces.

The more I critique, the more comfortable I get with it, and the more I feel I can offer kind suggestions of areas to improve. I’m also building awareness of what makes writing good, and turning to my work with new eyes. Also, I’ve posted the first chapter of Climbing Yggdrasil and gotten back some great feedback on things I had never noticed. I’d like to post one chapter a week, which means regularly critiquing in order to have enough karma to keep up that pace.

Are any of you on Scribophile? Please let me know so I can have a look! You can see my profile by clicking here.

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.)

desk leds

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?