The Month Where I Hacked & Slashed

Productive Mary wasn't as productive as she set out to be in April.

Blame it on the fact that one of my new WIPs is horror-bordering-on-sci-fi. I’ve never written sci-fi. I feel uneducated about sci-fi. Hence, I think I felt a bit intimidated and let that hold me back.

So the decision now is – do I keep the sci-fi aspect or can the story work with it being only “slightly” futuristic? Near-future, if you will. I'd rather do what I’m good at than take a risk with something that doesn't measure up. Hopefully, I can work out the kinks this month. I’m thinking it will take more karate-chopping than gentle persuasion.

I’m also a bit bummed I haven’t been able to work on my mini collection of self-published shorts. Or my novels. Apparently, I need to clone myself if I want to do it all.

Either way, I've got 2 shorts on the go for May, plus 2 rough outlines for the 1st volume of the mini collection. And that’s paring down my WIP list to what’s doable…

Total Words Written This Month: 11224
Stories Started: 1
Stories Finished: 2 old, 0 new
Acceptances: 0
Rejections: 0
Stories In Submission: 4

Pertaining to the above
: tattoos, ghosts, sacrifice, an asylum, the Grim Reaper, nightmares, mysterious cures, small towns (no surprises there!), 17th century, ritual, scrapbooking, jealousy, a priest.

What I’m reading:

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The Month Where I Stayed On Task

Got off to a good start this March and am happy with the progress made on my WIPs.

It’s too bad I had a little trouble with my writing program. It keeps a tally of my daily/monthly/yearly word counts, but I had to reset the count so only have stats for the last 10 days of March.  I would have liked to have seen how many words I came up with (my desk chair certainly looks more worse for the wear, but in a writer’s case this is a good thing).

Either way, here’s a snapshot of how my March went (inspired by the fantastic months-in-review of Miss Cate):

Total Words Written This Month: 3047
(March 21 to 31)

Stories Started: 3
Stories Finished: 2
Acceptances: 0
Rejections: 0
Submission Tracker: 2

Pertaining to the above: ghosts, Day of the Dead, funerary customs, Victorian England, disembodied voices, a machete, Pinot Noir, sunflowers.

Discoveries:
I still need to work on showing, not telling

Sneaky Peek:  “You expect me to believe that this bunch of soused up socialites collectively witnessed some sort of haunting? That's rubbish! And if you believe it, well I'd venture to say that you should be locked up here at Holloway with the rest of 'em. No return ticket!”

On the Horizon: working on some pieces that I will self-publish; 3 other stories I hope to finish in April; I suppose I should look at my half-finished NaNo 2010 project 

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WIP Wednesday Falls Back Into Line

Photo: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/120408So after a long break, I’m back and ready to take 2011 by storm.

I spent yesterday going through various online sites looking for any upcoming theme deadlines that interest me.

Of course, there is a fine line between what I want to submit to and what I’ll actually physically be able to accomplish – but there’s nothing like a looming deadline to strengthen one’s writing resolve.

Right now, I’ve got about 16 that caught my eye (and that was just after doing a preliminary search).

That also doesn’t take into account any new anthos or opportunities that come up throughout the year, as well as my Muse and any random ideas that pop up (because we all know that just when you've decided to focus on one story, 3 others start vying for your attention).

So, now I’ll look at what I've earmarked and compare it to my list of WIPs to see if any match (while trying to avoid falling into the trap of forcing my story to fit).

It has happened. A theme, an idea that is slightly parallel. Often in the editing process, the idea goes off into some tangent that completely changes the concept (and not in a good way) or the writing simply sounds forced. Definitely one of the pitfalls I'll do my best to avoid.

Now – those are just the shorts. Didn't I mention something about a collection? And a few novel WIPs that need finishing?

Yeah. 2011 is looking busy. Wouldn't have it any other way!

Fellow WIP Wednesday posse:

If you’re a writer participating in WIP Wednesday, post a link to your blog in the comments! More info on the WIP Wednesday initiative can be found at Kate Karyus Quinn's blog.

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WIP Wednesday: Writing Posse

Peeps!No man (or woman, as the case may be) is an island. Surrounding oneself with a pool of writers is one perk of living the writing lifestyle, and seeing how people travel so differently down their own path is a treat that makes all those solitary hours worthwhile.

So, although I know part of the reason you are here is to see how I go about my journey as a writer, there's an extra prize inside the box. 

I'm going to take a break from talking about my insomnia, strange dreams, and ever-growing list of WIPS and shine the light on a few of the many writing superstars that I have the pleasure of knowing.

Here are a few chats that I'll be sharing in the near future with my fellow writers:

  • My buddy Barry Napier is making some serious waves in the writing community. Poetry, shorts, novellas, comic books – Barry has his finger in so many creative pies that I just have to find out how he does it all and still manages to find the time to consistently recommend great music to me. I'll be posting an interview with him soon in my Writing column
  • Another cool writing guy, Ian Rogers, has been kind enough to answer my very open-ended query for his experiences working with small presses, and I'll be putting that up soon, as well. Plus – he dressed up like one of the Dharma Initiative for Halloween. How can you not want to know what makes Ian tick?!

2 of my fellow Creative Alliance members will also be answering some hard-hitting (and hopefully not half-baked or hair-brained) questions soon.

  • I'll be showcasing the – yes, THEJenny Beanses this June as part of her blog tour
  • Plus, I'll be getting a sneak peak at Ro Van Saint's new ebook, Tales From The Abyss, and will be providing you with a double-shot of writerly tidbits, including an interview and review of the story

Phew! Seems like I've finally come out of hibernation! The writing life? It's good, my friends.

Oh yeah…..remember that little giveaway I mentioned? Look for the details to drop in the coming week or two here and on the Like Flies To Honey page. And get ready to put your thinking caps on. Free swag! You know you want it!

Fellow WIP Wednesday participants:

If you’re a writer participating in WIP Wednesday, post a link to your blog in the comments! More info on the WIP Wednesday initiative can be found at Kate Karyus Quinn's blog.

Fellow members of The Creative Alliance:

Photo: sanja gjenero

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Moving Rocks

Have you ever realized how writing a story can be similar to a game of Jenga?

After putting together a bunch of building blocks (including an intriguing premise, snazzy characters and some twists and turns to keep the reader occupied), you hope your story is solid enough to stand on its own.

Sometimes, though, you must pick and pull at various parts of it to make things right. And if you aren't careful, it can all come tumbling down into a big ol' mess.

How does this apply to me? I've been having some trouble with one of my WIPs. The story just doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and I've already invested almost 1000 words into it.

When one of my fellow writers, Jamie, got talking about moving rocks and the resulting shift in water patterns, it rang true – and reminded me of Jenga. Because the moment I pulled out the bad parts, changed my main character, and added some new pieces back into the mix the story seemed to unstick itself again.

Granted, I had to do a little more tweaking to make my minor character into someone more worthy of carrying the story, but luckily I had my trusty worksheets to brainstorm with. (Seriously – I am a worksheet fiend.)

So, just as it happened in Jamie's yard, I moved around some stones and the water is flowing again. Woot! If you need some worksheets to add detail to the backgrounds and motivations of your characters, I actually just did an article about it today. Serendipity!

Photo: Samantha Villagran

[NWC]

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WIP Wednesday: Note To Self…

MoleskinesNote to self:

- try to write all story ideas in ONE NOTEBOOK! it sucks frantically leafing through multiple books in fear of having lost that story gem you thought up last week

– you don't need to watch that episode of Three's Company again. Seriously. Turn off the television. Those eps of Supernatural, on the other hand…

LeechBlock really works…as long as you don't cheat and unblock for an hour…or two…or use Seesmic to bypass Firefox and get on Twitter…

- more coffee at 7pm may seem like a good idea…but your dark under-eye circles are also on their way to becoming an abyss. That extra jolt or more cover-up? You decide.

Photo: Stig Andersen

My Current Works-in-Progress

– currently flitting between 2 of the 4 stories I wanted to finish in march. Yup. It was 3. Now it's 4. Can't stop myself.

– getting the urge to pick up my NaNo '08 project again. Would love to finish it and then go back and weave in tones of dank & stifling dread

– my fire-building skills are getting better but i still find myself getting distracted far too easily these days. Maybe it's the summer-like weather we've been having. That's a habit I've got to kick – and fast. Spring arrives next week!

- on the non-writing-but-still-relevant front, I've rehauled my website and hope to launch it next week. It looks sweeeet!

If you’re a writer participating in WIP Wednesday, post a link to your blog in the comments!

Fellow WIP Wednesday participants:

Music: Svarte Greiner: Last Light from Kappe

click below to listen!

Svarte Greiner_04_Last Light.mp3

  [NWC]

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WIP Wednesday: Watched Pots

You know what they say about watched pots? Fuck that. My creativity has been on a slow simmer (if that) for months now and I'm taking charge.

I'm not going to sit around and wait for things to happen anymore. Sure, there are times when you have to let stories sit and brew (or ferment, as the case may be). And then there are times when you have to give the Muse a jolt by giving him or her a swift kick. Today, my friends, is the day for the latter.

I fear I've been slave to my Muse for a little too long. Words aren't coming? I've been happy to let them sit and hope they boil. Still not brewing after a few days? A few more won't hurt. That, my friends, is how you fall off the writing wagon.

Well, too bad. It's time to get on with things because I have become the Me that I hate. The Me that talks a lot about writing but isn't doing any actual writing. And that doesn't make me a writer. So, I've made a schedule of my WIPS.

  • 3 stories that I would like to finish in the next month, as deadlines are looming
  • 2 more that I fell back in love with and can't wait to get to
  • a further 9 that are in various stages of completion
  • and there's still that pesky half-finished novel…

This non-writing is the reason I've dropped off the blogging/tweeting/interacting radar – nothing important to talk about! So although I may still be MIA for a while, I will be away doing – devoting my time back where it belongs (writing) and also taking care of my writer self (aka doing The Artist's Way, taking myself on some artist dates, etc.).
Which begins with a trip to see the King Tut exhibit at the AGO. Cannot wait!

So that's how I intend to make things happen. Watched pots never boil? They can if you light a fire under 'em.

How do you regroup when you fall off the writing bandwagon?

Photo by Ryan Lindh

[NWC]

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WIP Wednesday: I’m a Cheater!

Scarlet letterSee, that's the problem with blogs. You put 'em out there and then they come back to haunt you.

Wasn't it just last week that I went on about how we need to stick to our guns and do the 'responsible thing' by working on the task at hand, no matter how feverishly our Muse whispers story ideas into our ears late at night?

Well, I admit it. I caved. My Muse planted the seed of a story in my mind and now, I've dropped my other WIPs like they are hot potatoes.

If there were a scarlet letter for falling prey to literary whimsy, I'd be sewing it onto my sweater as we speak.

But then again, who am I to ignore my Muse? I've done it before and she paid me back by propping her feet up on the table for a long….long….long while without passing on any of her pearls of wisdom.

It's official, folks. I'm on a short leash.

My Current WIPs (works-in-progress)

- WIPs 1, 2 & 3: I've made no progress on these, I'm ashamed to say.Still stuck on 1; still waiting to hear if 2 has been accepted; 3 is stalled

- WIP #4: I know, I can't believe I've got these 4 stories on the go. It kind of annoys me that I'm working on so many stories at once. Maybe the Muse will award me for my obedience by allowing me to make quick work of this idea while it's still fresh in my mind. Because it's actually pulling at me (like most story ideas do…in the beginning, at least). Let's just hope this one doesn't end up a stalled project like the ones above

If you’re a writer participating in WIP Wednesday, post a link to your blog in the comments!

Fellow WIP Wednesday participants:

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Literary Booty

I know I risk a bunch of pervy late-night surfers finding my site after Googling 'booty', but that's a chance I have to take, my friends.

My insomnia is back. And although I harbor the illusion that on nights like these, I'll get thousands of words down or 10 articles pre-written, the reality is I often surf, play FreeCell, watch MTV melodrama and generally fall victim to ABS all over again.

But for once, my ABS has been fruitful.

I was trolling through my old files, curious to see what little gems I could unearth, if any…and then I found it.

An old novel on the go.

I can't believe I forgot about it. I think I started it in '98. I've plotted up to Scene 22, and have written just over 15,000 words so far (I just took a quick glance at the main file. There was a 2nd file that may be edits of the first few scenes, so I'm not sure how much it differs from the original draft…) It's a supernatural thriller based around twin brothers. I took a quick read – and I don't hate it!

Of course, I'm sure my skills as a writer have improved since then (I'm hoping!), so there will probably be lots of tweaking and a reworking of the plot and all that.

But that's the fun stuff. The reworking. The piecing together of the puzzle. The bending and shaping and sculpting of this malleable lump of characters and plot and conflict into something tangible.

Could it be that I have my NaNo 2010 project?!

For now, however, it's staying put on the back burner. As i start to remember the nuances of the story, I'm going to need to let it brew a little while longer as I think of what I want to do with it.

This weekend, I'm hoping to pick up my NaNo edits. I still feel like I'm on the outside looking in on the current piece, so if I can't make it work, I'm going to shelve it for now and move on to one of the other ones.

The thing that sucks is I know how I want this story to be. It's kind of similar to those mornings you wake after having a strange dream and you don't quite remember it but the residual strangeness seems to remain with you the rest of the day. I feel like it's just out of my grasp. I know eventually, I'll be able to push through the gossamer veil between the dream and reality. But right now, I'm still waiting…

[NWC]

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WIP Wednesday: WIP It Good

In life, we all need the kind of friend who will tell us when we’ve got something stuck between our teeth, or who isn’t afraid to let us know when we could use a breath mint.

Being a writer is no different. Because sometimes, after spending days, hours or even weeks working on one piece, it isn’t uncommon to contract a case of tunnel vision.

I had what I thought was a pretty good story going. Atmospheric beginning? Check. Creepy things afoot? Check? The story was going along well…until…well, you know how sometimes saying a word over and over again can make it lose all meaning? So, too, can working and reworking (perhaps overworking?) that one beloved piece of writing.

I admit it…my story needs more work. Every now and then I slipped into the passive voice. Yes, there were a few places where I forgot to change the spelling of my antagonist’s name. And alright…I get it…it could do with a better build-up of suspense, and the ending needs some slight tweaking. Thankfully I had a friend who wasn’t afraid to give me a little reality check. And I’m thankful for that!

It’s never too late to make your work better. As writers, we primp and preen and finesse every word; we tame every stray plot thread with a final spit-shine. But before we decide to showcase each piece, no matter how good we think we are, it’s always best to get a second, third or fourth opinion.

Besides, what kind of writer would I be if I allowed said story to leave my outbox with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of its shoe?

Right. So, here’s the meat you came looking for:
WIP #1: a short story I’ll be subbing to Pill Hill Press. Quick rewrite, which I hope to finish by Friday
WIP #2: outlining my NaNo project. Still brainstorming on that one, but planning to start the actual outlining on Monday – yikes!

Join me Friday for my 2nd attempt at Friday Flash!
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