Monday, November 13, 2017

A Word About Writing Project Logs

Only three chapters left to revise. *confetti* Then I can finally start working on something else. I'm more than ready to stick a fork in this one. (!!!!)

It took a lot longer to revamp this novella than I thought it would, although I'm pretty sure now where my initial time estimate went wrong. When I set out to work on it, I didn't intend to add so many new scenes to the reprint, but once I got into it, it made sense to fill in a little more here and a little more there, and boom--a medium size project because a super sized PITA. Lesson learned! 

About half way through the revamp, it was taking me so long to get a chapter reworked, that I created a project log "ebook" in Vellum to keep track of how much time I was spending doing what. I've learned so much about my own writng process by doing this, that I've continued using it daily, and I plan to create a new writing log when I start on my next book. It's been that helpful for me.

Each morning, before I start editing, I create a new chapter in Vellum using the date as the chapter title. That way the dates always appear in the left sidebar, so I can see exactly what days I worked, and how long I've been working on my project overall. It would be easy to set up the same sort of log in Scrivener, if someone preferred to use that program. It wouldn't even be necessary to use a template.

At the end of each day that I work on my book, I write a short summary covering the changes I made to the work, and note everything that I struggled with, and any possible solutions in mind to tackle the problems. I also make a note of any plotholes I find, and if I've learned anything from the process, I write that down, too. 

Chapter by chapter I do this, and what a difference it make in terms of productivity. I started seeing all these little writing quirks - particularly revising in circles, going over the same page a dozen times. Spending X amount of time playing with word choice, agonising over changes to the lurve scenes...

It turns out that it takes me three times as long to revise a love scene as it does a regular scene. No joke. That can make for some tedious editing when you're working on an erotic romance!

I won't say that keeping a writing log has made revising any easier. However, I could see exactly where my time and effort was going, and I was able to adjust what I was doing to get more out of each editing session. After the first two weeks of logging entries, I became better able to estimate how long a chapter would take me to finish.

By keeping track of the time in my writing log, I was able to find my peak writing time (mid-morning to early afternoon for me). All I did was make a simple note in my log everyday mentioning the time, for example 9:15 AM or 12 noon, or whenever it was that I sat down to work for the day.

After about a week, I noticed a distinct pattern showing my most productive hours. This allowed me to settle in each morning, make a log entry, get a scene revised and polished, and dog it off for the day, usually around three--before MiniBeast makes it home from school. Basically, I was able to give myself a daily quitting time. For me, that alone made the logging process worth keeping. No more trying to wrestle with a story at the end of the day just to try to get a few more paragraphs polished, while everyone is home and wanting my attention. That cuts so much stress out of the writing process, I can't recommend it enough.

While project tracking may not be for everyone, if you're struggling to get anything written or revised, or it seems like you're writing or revising the same pages over and over and nothing is getting done, keeping a log may help. It has definitely helped me get a grasp on the problem I've been having with this novella, and has helped me pick up the pace. Too, it's one of those things that's cheap and easy to do. It can be done on computer in Vellum or Scrivener, or even in a spiral notebook, and what you decide to track can be easily tailored to suit one's own personal writing needs.

That's really all I had to say for today, but before I go...

Yes, I took down one of my friend connect widgets from the blog sidebar. I didn't do it to alienate anyone, so please don't think that. I took it down because it had stopped working for some reason, and new people weren't able to join it when they clicked on it. I tried to unsubscribe from it myself using a linked account, and it wouldn't let me do that, either, so I got rid of the darn thing. No sense in dealing with that kind of frustration.

If anyone does want to follow me, I suggest following me on Google+ instead. I'm not super active on any social media at the moment, but I do get notifications for Google+ whenever I go online and use Chrome.

Until next time, best wishes. xoxo 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

27 Years and Life Calming Down

Hubby and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary on October 27th. He had to work that day, so we stayed home and watched horror movies to celebrate. It turned out to be a lot of fun. We don't usually have the house all to ourselves, so that in itself was a rare treat.

MiniBeast stayed with his grandparents that night so he could go to a festival at the church. He went on a hayride, visited with his great aunt and uncle, and ate like a little piglet. He brought home a ridiculous amount of candy...that I've been doing my part to help him finish off. As Eek! The Cat would say, "It never hurts to help!" 😉

Mom called me the morning after the festival and let me know she was bringing Mini home. The usual. But then she mentioned in passing that Dad kept calling MiniBeast "Chris" all weekend. That struck me as kind of weird. Chris is my older cousin.

That sort of name-mix up thing happens to a lot of us at some point or another, especially when we're thinking about them, so I put it out of my mind until Dad and Mom arrived with Mini. That's when Dad told me the full tale. After calling him Chris for probably the fifth time, Mom had pointed out, "That's not Chris." Dad told me he was confused for a moment, and said to mom, "Well, what's his name then?" Mom told him, and then he remembered. That's when he broke down crying.

As Dad is telling me this, I looked at Mom like, Why didn't you tell me?!  I kind of need to know this sort of thing. Mom just shooed me off and said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of him." Boy, that's not worrying or anything, ya know? 

Other than that little slip, everything seems the same as always as far as the parentals are concerned. But I told Mom she needs to mention it to the doctor the next time Dad goes in for his checkup.

Whew. Moving along to other topics...

All is as to be expected on the writing front. Things have calmed down enough that I'm back to revising Chasing Moonlight. I've added a few scenes to it, and I'm roughly half way through the book. This one has been like pulling hens teeth. I'm not exactly sure why, other than having a new personal crisis dumped in my lap every other day. I'm not even kidding about that. I just thought this one would go faster for me because it was previously published.

Revising this book has taken way longer than I thought it would. Way way way longer. Mercy. If I'd had the money and foresight early on, I could've--and should've--hired a freelance editor to mark it up. I didn't do that, though, so here I am months later, just now picking up the pace after a long stall. If I gained nothing else from that project, aside from 8 pounds, the stress, and my hair falling out in gobs, plus the fear I would never get back on track with that book, it at least forced me to step back and take a look at my process.

Writing out a work log has helped point out where I've been spinning my wheels, and it helped get me back making actual progress. But, it sort of feels like it's just dragging on and on at this point. I'm ready to stick a bloody fork in it. I'm trying very hard to be patient with myself and the project. It is what it is.

Okay, that's it for now. I need to get going and start dinner. After that... for Halloween fun, a marathon covering The Lost Boys trilogy. 🍿🍺

One more thing before I go. 505 and 606. I've been seeing these numbers everywhere. In the car, in town, on my shopping receipt, and on my phone. It's been kind of tripping me out, like, what does it mean?  I should google it or something. I just thought it was worth mentioning. Random weirdness, who knows?  Maybe someone can use that sort of thing in a story.

Until next time, best wishes, everyone. 

Friday, October 06, 2017

Wish In One Hand

I wish blogger had an app. If there is one for iPhone, I couldn't find it in the App Store. My red laptop isn't reliable enough to blog with due to the chronic freezing since updating to Win10. I can't write using that comp anymore  either, so I keep it for junk browsing and Neopets. That way when it inevitably freezes up, I haven't lost anything.

All of my writing is done on MacBook now. But it's an older computer so I don't use it for social media, so I'm not as "connected" as I once was. In the past I might've felt that was a bad thing, but these days the news is so stressful and depressing, I'm probably better off. I've managed to cut my browsing down to a little YouTube and Bing searches during the day. It's amazing how freeing it is to not need the net every waking minute of the day.

But that's not why I'm writing today. An astrologer on YouTube that I like to listen to once a month as the new scopes roll out recently recommended a book called The Science of Getting Rich. It was written in 1920 or thereabouts, and it isn't what you think it is just going by the title. The book is .99 on Amazon, but you can listen to the audiobook version on YouTube free since the book is in the public domain.

It's about living creatively, for the most part, and that really resonated with me. Those who know me well, the closest friends, know I'm not a competitive person, and when I read in the book about creating from a creative place not a competitive one, I knew this was the book for me.

It's very freeing to read something like that, about how creating comes from source, and how that frustrated feeling we all get with writer's block is the source, or the muse, trying to express itself through you. I read that book cover to cover and finally the words are flowing for me again.

Anyway, I wanted to take a minute to blog about it, in case someone has been mucking about in creative quicksand right along with me. There is a way out. I just had to keep reading and searching and writing until I found what worked for me. Hang in there.

I hope this post is readable. Kind of hard to tell from my phone, but I thought I'd try it. A quick mention also of Tom Petty's passing. Oh man, how sad. Another beloved artist has received his wings. Hubs told me about it and I had to go hide in the bathroom a few minutes til the onion eyes stopped. I can count milestones in my life by Tom Petty songs. Surely I can't be the only one. He will be sorely missed.

That's all for now. I have a couple of things to take care of before MiniBeast gets home. Until next time, hugs and best wishes. xoxo




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Writer's Block: Tea Time Edition

Woot. A tech guy from AT&T came out and fixed our internet service this evening. We haven't been able to do any streaming for weeks, and it was a challenge just to get a standard webpage to load without crashing. We thought it was the weather at first, all the rain we've been getting, but when the problem persisted, Hubz got enough of it and called in for service. The tech guy found a line down the street that was almost severed, probably from tractors riding over the ground there or whatnot, and once he replaced it everything was back up and running peachy. Worth the service fee, IMO.

Hubz told me that the tech guy was surprised we'd had any service at all with the line like that. Anyway, I'm glad that's all fixed, because Hubz doesn't really know what to do with himself without his favorite TV series. Now he has something to do in the evenings other than tinker around on his phone. 

As for me, I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Mostly writerly craft books, with some inspirational titles, and older pop fiction books in the mix. A couple were great. A couple weren't worth writing home about. Once the net was back working, I added a few books (from the ones that didn't suck) to my Goodreads, the books that I could remember without going back to Amazon and doing a search through my digital history for the past two months. I'm not as dedicated to reviewing as I once was, especially since I tend to look to Amazon when seeking reviews that might sway my purchasing decisions. But don't get me wrong. I don't mean that in a crabby sort of way. Overall, I'm simply not as engaged with social media as I once was. I figure I'm really not an interesting enough person for social media anyway. But I digress...

Instead of sinking my time into social media, I've been writing a little bit here, a little bit there. Not for the sake of word count, but to rekindle the joy I used to find in writing. Straight up "fun" writing to break through the writer's block. That's a big deal, because enjoyment has been wholly lacking from my process for a several years now.

On top of that, and undoubtedly compounding the writer's block issue, I've been having craft related problems that I couldn't seem to find the answers to. People I've personally asked haven't been able to help me. None of the favorite, top ten list, top twenty list, writing guides have had the answers for me. Then a couple of weeks ago, I listened in on a screenwriting lecture, and there it was, the missing piece of the puzzle. I wasn't expecting it; it dropped right into my lap. The reason why my stories were running out of gas midway through, and why the conflict never seemed to be enough, and why the hero and heroine never seemed to be quite on the same page in the story. All these things came into focus, and all of them go back to weak characterization and failure to properly set up the conflict. So now I'm back in the saddle, playing around with the new techniques I've learned. Not trying to rush, but rather just trying to enjoy the process and master the techniques.

There was another writing guide I read recently with big impact like that (I'll have to check my Kindle notes to remember which one). The author talked about someone who was never blocked as an artist because they'd do the same thing over and over everyday until something changed. That really spoke to me, and I don't know...it's like a huge weight was lifted when I read that. The weight of expectations, maybe. Whatever the case, that little snippet of wisdom made a big difference in the way I view my own work and the writing process.

Alrighty, then. I'm about to go make a cup of tea in the hopes it will kick this headache that won't seem to take a hike. I hope it's just eyestrain related. I've been having eye pains/pressure in my right eye for about a month now. I'm scheduled to see my optometrist soon, and I hope the pain/pressure is something they can address in-office.

I guess we'll have to wait and see. 👀 

That's all for now. Until next time, happy wishes. xoxo

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Answer is 42

Bedford bag and my wallet. I love it.
I wish the pictures (best 1 out of 10
shown) would turn out "true to color",
but the lighting in my bedroom is way
too dark and yellowy. C'est la vie.
Yes, yes, it's the obligatory birthday post. In the morning, a Monday no less, I will be the magical age of 42. *confetti*

I've had a couple of people (including my hubby) ask me how I feel about being over 40, and if I'm cool with celebrating an over 40 birthday, and I have to say I truly don't mind it. I really don't feel any different than I did when I was 35. Maybe that's just me, but there it is. 

Since Hubz has to work tomorrow, we're actually holding off having cake and ice cream until Tuesday. That way everyone can be there at the party. We're having it at my mom and dad's, of course, after Mini gets home from school. 

This year, I specifically told everyone not to bother with gifts. Rather than have everyone else spend money on me, I treated myself from my wishlist. I knew exactly what I wanted, and it wasn't something I could ask family to buy for me. I wanted a new handbag. Not that I need another bag, but ladies, y'all know how that goes. I wanted a 2005/2006 Louis Vuitton Bedford vernis handbag in the color framboise. Specifically in framboise. I have a French wallet / French coin purse in that color that I use it all the time. I wanted a matching bag to go with it. 

Alrighty then. That's enough of that. A weird blog post so far, now that I've read back over it, but I guess in terms of everything that has been going on lately, blogging about a new handbag is as good as it gets. 

It feels kind of weird that Oldest isn't here to celebrate birthdays together, but he's grown now, living half way across the country, and off doing his own thing. He recently landed a new job, so there's a plus. I miss him, but at the same time, I know he's doing what he wants. That makes all the difference. 

Hey, Bub, if you happen to drop by the blog today - Happy Birthday. I love you. Be safe. 💕 

That's it for now. I hope everyone out there has a good Monday. Until next time, best wishes! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Heads Up, A Rude Letter, and A List of Answers

I've been away for several months due to ongoing health issues, and for that same reason I've put off a lot of things internet wise. This post is just a heads up on what's happening with me, and why I decided to come in and post today.

First things first, I'm blogging today because I received a letter from Grammarly asking me to remove the links from a review I wrote for them in back in 2014. It was easier to just delete the review, so I did. I no longer use the service anyway.

Back in the day, I did open beta testing for Grammarly and was asked to do a blog review. I did. In exchange for the review and the beta testing, I received free service from Grammarly for a year. Thanks, and no prob. Now they not only want me to remove their links, the clincher is that they expect me to email them back to let them know the links are down. No, darling. I'm not emailing you back. If it's important to you, you'll check my blog to see if the links are down. Fuck you very much.

Receiving app/web service in exchange for open beta is nothing out of the ordinary. I've happily worked on open (and closed) beta testing projects for many, many companies and startups since 2006, including website builders, writing software, gaming apps, photo editors, and other grammar checkers similar to Grammarly. However, this is the first time I've been asked to remove links so a company can "clean up their backlink profile."

Oh, I know what it is. Don't get me wrong. That's neither here nor there.

The Grammarly staffer who wrote to me said that they weren't necessarily "questioning the quality of my website" (which is bullshit, since there is NO question of the "low quality" of my website - this is a personal blog.) Oh, and by the way, the whole purpose of cleaning up your backlink profile is to get rid of "bad links" that hurt your Google rankings. (Do you hear that, Blogger?)

While I do still work on open beta projects (I recently fixed a JavaScript error for a company with a platform similar to Grammarly), this is a prime example of why I no longer do independent reviews or link exchanges for startups and companies. I won't be doing any in the future, either. I'm putting this out there because even though I haven't blogged in months, I still get offers weekly from sites just like Grammarly looking to exchange products or services so they can kick off their business using word-of-mouth reviews.

Moving along. As I said, I don't know when I'll be back at it like before. Maybe never. I'm extremely behind on my personal emails, but I'm gradually making my way down the list to the oldest ones. I'm sorry it's taking so long. I've had a lot of people email or message me to ask what's going on, where I've been, and what's going on with my books and my writing.

I've answered as many of those questions as I can via Facebook messenger, although I'm not on Facebook much anymore. In a pinch, it's the fastest way for me to respond to people I know personally. If I don't have you on Facebook (note that I have trimmed my list significantly since last year), it will take me longer to respond via email. It is what it is. If you need to reach me over something super important, you can try to PM me on Facebook, but if the message goes to that other weird hidden folder, I may never know about it. I never check that thing.

To try to speed up the process, here are the most common questions, unapologetically answered:

  1. I've been away because I've been ill. I don't know when I'll be back full time.
  2. No, I'm not dying. No, I do not have cancer. Yes, prayers are welcome.
  3. I still have a Facebook, but rarely go there. I mostly use messenger to speak with family.
  4. Yes, I deleted my Cora Zane twitter. No, I don't regret it. 
  5. Yes, my email is still the same. I can also be reached through Google+
  6. Yes, I deleted my website contact form. 99% of the messages I received from it were spam.
  7. Yes, comments on the blog are disabled. I've been away, and I didn't feel like coming back and having to reject 500 spam comments for counterfeit sunglasses.
  8. Yes, I let my RWA/PAN membership lapse. No, I don't have anything against the org or any of the members. I've met some lovely people through RWA. The reality is that I've published more work in genres other than romance. While RWA has it's perks, there are members like me who fall through the cracks. I may rejoin in the future, but it makes no sense to rejoin right now when I'm not benefitting from being a member of the organization.
  9. I no longer write an author newsletter. I haven't for some time. I was doing double duty with a blog plus a newsletter, but the truth is I get a substantially higher number of hits to my personal blog than I do from a newsletter. Blogging is simply more feasible for me. 
  10. For email notifications announcing new releases, you don't have to wait for me to post on my blog or website. It's better to click the follow/subscribe buttons on my Smashwords page, and my Amazon page. These pages will send out notifications when new books are uploaded. It's reliable and spam-free. Note: I'm also on iBooks, but I can't link to my page there because I don't have iTunes on this laptop. For now, I publish more often on Smashwords than Amazon. Everything I post on Smashwords is uploaded to iBooks once it's approved. 
  11. Yes, I'm still writing, but I'm slow about it. Slower now that my health has taken a hit. I'll have new material up as soon as I'm able. Pinkie swear. Thanks for your patience and your continued support.

All that aside, I hope everyone is having a fun summer. I still haven't been able to go to the lake or the beach yet. Now here we are, it's almost August, and I'm crossing my fingers I'll get to make one trip to the beach before school starts again. *ocean waves*

That's all for now. I'll blog again when I have new news. As always, thanks for dropping by.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

RIP J. Geils : 1946 - 2017



A couple of days ago, I heard on the news that J. Geils passed away on April 11th at the age of 71. Few groups take me back the way the J. Geils Band does. I regret now that I never got to see them perform live. I loved the song Centerfold from the moment I first heard it at the Granbury skating rink sometime around 1981 or 1982. My parents bought it for me on 45, and I wore it slap out on our living room console stereo. Great times.

Although we didn't have MTV in the early 80s, the videos for Freeze Frame and Centerfold were popular on the Video Music Break and Video Jukebox type music promo "commercials" that came on between cable movies. The only time I got to see that sort of thing was when I was visiting my grandparents in Ruston. They were the ones with cable tv. Mom, Dad, and I lived out in the sticks where cable wasn't available at the time, so it was a special treat whenever I got to see the videos of my favorite bands. It was total brain candy.

Centerfold used to play in heavy rotation along with songs like Mary Buffett's My Boyfriend's Back, Bob Welch's Ebony Eyes, Mickey by Toni Basil, and You Might Think by the Cars. While I was too young to fully understand the risque lyrics of Centerfold, I loved it, and I loved the video too. Hip band guys, pretty dancing girls, and then there was J. Geils himself - the epitome of new wave cool with his feathered hair, razor-sharp cheekbones, and red striped shirt under a tough-glam rhinestone jacket. I was hooked.

Listening to that song now, it still jams. The video, too, is just as fun as it ever was. If you ask me, the intro to Centerfold is probably one of the top ten catchiest and most memorable song intros ever recorded. I'm terribly sad that J. Geils is gone. Nevertheless, it's safe to say he has left behind an indelible musical legacy, one made ever more influential and enduring due to one unforgettable song. #RIP