Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One Step Closer

I'm one step closer to finishing the neverending project. I have one more scene to revise, then there's the epilogue to tackle. When planning out revisions, I decided to add an epilogue, but I was torn between two possible options for the closing scene. I've pretty much figured out now what I want that scene to be - it doesn't have to be long and elaborate, but I want it to reflect their new life happily ever after. Anyway, once I have the body of the book fully revised, I'll write and revise the epilogue in one time bloc. It seems like the most sensible way to do it.

I recently took a workshop on planning and productivity with the intention of gearing it toward my writing. I'm still on the fence about whether or not it was helpful or discouraging. I don't mind routine and ritual, but sometimes a process can be too complicated and that's what I thought of that workshop when I walked away from it. So I did what I always do. I went to Amazon and started looking for another book on productivity.

I don't know how many Kindle books I've read on the subject of writing productivity, but I'm willing to bet I've downloaded and read at least twenty of them just this year, from both known and unknown authors. None of them quite hit the mark when it comes to what I'm looking for. I waste entirely too much time per project, and I wanted that to be one of my major fixes in 2018. See, I'm already looking ahead to the New Year. However, I don't need a book that tells me to go to bed early, get up at 5 am to write, then to get plenty of exercise and mind my diet.

Just for the sake of those who would tell me, "But Cora, I promise you, getting up at 5 am will make you productive..." No. That is not how it would work at my house. When my husband is on days, he gets up to leave for work at 5 in the morning. If I got up at 5 am to write, it would never happen because I'd be fetching socks for hubby, making coffee, letting dogs out back to do their doggy business, and all our kitties would be yowling at me for an early breakfast. That would probably take the better part of an hour, and then Mini has be up at 6:15 to get ready for school. Getting up at 5 am in an attempt to write would just end up an extra hour of mommy-go-fetch before my morning routine usually starts. It is completely improbable and impossible for me to get any writing done at that hour. 

I need more of a project based productivity system. Something along the lines of "today we're gonna do this", and the end result will put us thereabouts here on a chart of project completion. And, if I'm behind that point, the guide gives me tips that will help me catch up without losing too much time. It doesn't need to be an exact science of steps, mind you, but if a guide can help me plan out my project in that sort of way where I can break it down into more manageable, actionable steps, that's what I need. It's what I'm looking for. And, so far, I haven't found it.

Before I go... Today's clip art is "christmas tree toys" by Keistutsis over at OpenClipArt.org. I think it's cute and festive. Okay, then. That's all for now. Until next time, happy wishes! 

Friday, December 01, 2017

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Xmas

It's December! Can you believe it?  It's been an extremely tough year for me, so I'm glad things are calming down, and we're heading into a new year. I'm ready for the change in energy that's supposedly coming in 2018. Now to just get through the holidays without wolfing down all the sugar cookies and icebox cherry cheese pie. I'm craving the stuff like you wouldn't believe!

At the moment, Hubs is sick. Mini just got over the crud, and now Hubs has it. He went to the doctor this morning and they gave him steroid shots, a CBC, chest x-rays, a breathing treatment, and a stack of prescriptions. Oh, and they took an EKG. Mercy. All he went in for was to get some antibiotics for his croupy cough. He's feeling better after the shots, which is great. He was joking around with MiniBeast this evening, so things seem more like normal around here. He's been mostly sleeping and going through fever-chill cycles for the past three days. It's been very quiet.

With a quiet house, what better to do than write? I have only a couple of scenes left to revise for Chasing Moonlight and it will be finished. Keeping a writing journal while working on the book has helped me figure out a couple of issues with my process, so that's one thing I'll be doing book to book from now on. On this current project, I've noticed when revising, transitions between scenes are what give me the most trouble. No idea why that is, but I spend a lot of time revising the transitions. Also, the loves scenes. They're fun to read, but difficult to write. I usually make extra editing passes through those to make sure there are no extra wandering hands or impossible positions going on.

I read a book just last week by a NYT best selling author where the hero was holding the heroine's hands above her head while he kissed his way down her body before settling in to "pleasure her". Throughout the entire scene, he's still holding her hands above her head. While reading the scene, I had this image in my mind of his arms getting longer and longer and longer the further he kissed his way down her body.

Yeh, my brain works like that. The scene was kinda funny, kinda creepy at the same time. It went from romantic to unintentional mutant sex within two paragraphs. Ah, well, it happens to the best of us, right? No book is perfect, certainly not my own. That said, I do try to be extra diligent when revising and watch for stuff like extend-o arms, extra legs and the like. If any other author could end up with unintentional mutant sex in a book, I certainly qualify as a valid candidate.

Before I go, just a quick mention that today's adorable, Christmas cottage clip art is by Inky 2010 at Open Clip Art. And....that's all for now. I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Until next time, happy wishes!   

Friday, November 24, 2017

Brainstorming On Black Friday

I skipped Black Friday shopping this year. There's nothing that weirds me out quite like getting caught between people warring over the last microwave on sale and such. During my lifetime, I've done my fair share of waiting outside in the cold for that crazy midnight sales to get the latest Ninja Turtle toy for Oldest, but these days, I'd rather shop online and skip the added anxiety.

Instead of shopping, I stayed in and cleaned the house, then I worked on a couple of books. I've got a spot of editing left to do on Chasing Moonlight, and I've done a little more brainstorming on Seth's book. (Werekind Series) Since he's a pre-existing character, I already had a good idea of what I wanted the story to be about, the themes and events it would touch on, so that's been kind of fun, playing around with his character. He's very rough around the edges, and I love reading about heroes like that when they're the ones who fall in love. I picked out the cover for his story today, but I'm still on the fence about the title.

Speaking of books, I've been driving around with a box of used books to donate to the free section at the library for a couple of months now. It's there sitting on the backseat of my car. I see it every time I go to run errands, but then I always get sidetracked before I make it to the library and forget to drop them off. Well, maybe there was a subconscious reason for that. Or maybe I'm just reaching. Anyway, I thought I had my hoarder shelf pared down, and that I'd boxed everything I wanted to cull, then last night I went on the hunt for a paranormal romance that I'd bought years and years ago, and I found even more books that needed to go to the library. They're not even in genres that I gravitate to. I think some of these are books I was given, or I bought intending to read them, but never got around to it...because, well, they're not in genres I typically go for. Seriously, there are so many here, I need to get another box and go through the shelves again. A second pass, if you like. I figure this will be the feather that tips the scales for me. I need the backseat of my car for errands and hauling stuff around, so I very well can't drive around for months with two boxes of books on my backseat. Right? Right? *challenge accepted* We'll soon find out.

I don't know what it is about certain books, but I develop an attachment to them. Yes, it's very OCD of me, but I am that I am. I would never part with my Dell Abyss books, or my Piels, Feehans or Laymons, but the keeper shelves have reached ridiculous proportions. I have kept many books even though I know I will never, ever read them again. They've really got to go. Before Santa arrives, they've really gotta go. So, that's one more thing to add to my Christmas to-do list.

That's all for now. Until next time, stay safe out there in Black Friday shopping land. Best wishes!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

School is out, and MiniBeast is home with me this week. He's got a cold so we've been staying indoors, taking cold meds and watching movies. Other than a cough and sniffles, he's his usual cheery self. A total joy to be around. Hubby finished up his shift rotation today, too, so we're all chillaxing around the house and enjoying the time off. I just wrapped up a series of doctor visits on Monday, and I don't have to go back until January. It feels like a big burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

On Thursday we're having dinner with my Mom and Dad, and exchanging Christmas lists. My current obsession is scented markers, I kid you not. I've been editing with them lately and really enjoy using them. There is a pack that has "movie scents" like buttered popcorn and rootbeer. That's the set I want. So that's going on the list for me. The only other gift I know for sure is on anyone's request list is for Dad. He wants a drone.

Onward to writerly things. I have one more chapter to revise, and an epilogue to write and revise, before this revamp of Chasing Moonlight will be ready to upload. It's slowly coming together, but I purposely saved the most challenging section for last. I want to make a few passes over it this week, but I find it nearly impossible to work with the guys home (too distracting). Even so, I'm going to try to make the first pass over the full chapter tonight just to see what's in there and what is missing. I know at least two of the scenes need expanding/fleshing out, but I won't know how work intensive it is until I get in there and start sorting words.

I'll be glad to see this one published and off the table, so I can focus 100% on something else. I have another project waiting in the wings, and I'm ready to tackle it and make it my priority piece. I had thought about making it my NaNoWriMo story for this year, but I ended up skipping NaNo to finish the revisions for Chasing Moonlight. C'est la vie. Maybe I can do a fast draft for December, instead?

That's all for now. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Until next time, best wishes!     

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