White Rabbit: Topaz Edition

HAPPY WRITING NEW YEAR! Er, well, yesterday.

You will not be seeing me again until December.  I can pretty much say that with certainty, given my track record of blogs and the fact that, well, you know. Nano.

Anyway, last year was generally a success. The goal was four major projects and I accomplished three major projects and one short story. And since I never write short stories, I’m counting that as a success. As well as editing one novel and completing first drafts of two others, I slapped down words on a whole bunch of projects. I had Plot Wars with two novels when I realized what I was writing was not part of those novels, but those battles have been resolved with a new direction for said two novels and thoughts for pursuing later books in the series. Over all, a fairly productive writing year.

The goal for this next writing year is going to be getting a lot of things edited and get a number of things to the point where I wouldn’t be ashamed if the public read them. I’ll likely try expanding on this next month.

So, what am I doing for Nano this year? Which project am I tackling?

Any of them that I want. I have a list of ‘active’ projects and I am allowed to add words to any of them. I am not allowed to write random scenes that aren’t part of anything and I’m strongly discouraged from jumping around chronologically. I have the Crowned Act listed on my Nano page and that is tentatively the one I will be focusing on most. However, any of my major projects are allowable, so that I end with 50k new words on my projects by the end of the month.

Anyway, this blog is wasting words I could be putting on my Nano! I had best go put my nose to the grindstone. Or. Get brunch. One of the two.

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White Rabbit: Opal Edition

Pppppppt, September.  Let me sum up my feelings of the month thusly.

Accomplished little visible last month, all told. Did not get my editing done. Did not do much in terms of word count. Scraped by, which is never a great feeling. Mostly, it was a month of scribbling. It was the equivalent of an artist sitting down with a sketchbook and just doodling whatever. Sometimes it’s a necessary, but when you’re sitting there surrounded by scenes that aren’t attached to anything and may never be, it doesn’t feel productive.

Still, did get a draft of a short story done, so I’m rounding that up to four projects for the year, thus completing that goal. While I don’t feel good about September, it was a rough month on other fronts and I did get some good work out of it at the end of things.

So now we’re sliding through October and the question of what the hell do I want to write for Nano next month? Here are the big contenders that are on my radar at this early point in the month, though I make no promises that I won’t go sheering off into a whole new and unexplored territory, probably on October 31st.

The Crowned Act
The sequel to the Collared Act. Burlesque clubs, out of place slaves, foreign royals, and language fuckery.
Advantages: The first was a blast to write and kept getting words tacked on every time I turned around.
Disadvantages: I… don’t actually have much plot? It’s always been a character-centric work, so much of the plot will come out of how characters clash and bounce off of each other. May throw in some multiple homicides, those fix everything in novels, right? Don’t answer that.

Untitled Itzie and Rodney Sequel
A gay necromancer and a seven foot tall lizard woman continue their friendship. May involve vampires, fairies, zombies, murder sprees, and one undead cat. Or may not.
Advantages: Banter. Banterbanterbanterbanter. It’s easy to get these two chattering at each other, which keeps the words flowing on the page. Also continue to have good thoughts about the future for this series. It’s fun and less weird than some of my other stuff, while still carrying its own unique accent marks.
Disadvantages: The plot is starting to come together, but is still pretty loose at this point. This is one where I’m worried I’ve got too many things trying to be crammed into one book. On the one hand, I can always triage the plot AFTER I’ve managed 50k words. On the other hand, I’m trying to work on writing tighter drafts the first time around. So I’d really rather NOT. But hey, however the novel gets written.

Thrall
Gay BDSM smut with consensual magical mind control interspersed with magical detective agency shenanigans. Or maybe vice-versa?
Advantages: This one’s on my mind currently, I’ve been hammering out the plot, and I’m pretty sure I can do something with it when it’s done.
Disadvantages: So I spent last night hammering out the details of one of the mysteries, because I have made a new rule for myself where I’m not allowed to do any murder mysteries unless I KNOW who did it. And I actually succeeded! Got the basic shape down, I know where the twists are, and damn, it looks like it’ll be a good mystery! Aaaaand then this morning, I realized that thematically, it’s completely inappropriate for the first book. And yes, I am aware how nerdy it is to be concerned with theme in a work that is one half gay smut. The point still stands and the upshot is that plot. Once again, I have to build that up out of nowhere.

Dragon Bride
Knights, dragons, and unexpected gayness because the princess decided to go have her own adventure. Intended to be novella, but who knows.
Advantages: Few expectations exist for this work, so I can write a little wild. I’m going for a shorter work, so in theory, I could get the entire thing done in a month, provided I don’t unexpectedly spawn a monster. A promise which I am not making.
Disadvantages: Few expectations exist for this work, so I don’t really have a plot. WHY IS PLOT SO IMPORTANT TO THINGS? UGH, YOU WOULD THINK IT WAS THE BACKBONE OF ALL STORIES OR SOMETHING.

Anyway, those are the major works that I’m looking at. There’s a few other works that might get on that list, but these are, as of today, the big contenders. For the rest of this month, the plan is to try and get some edits done, get my word count to a more respectable average than its been so that I’m not out of practice when November hits, and maybe, just maybe blog more than once a month.

Next month is out though, I have traveling for family to do.

White Rabbit: Sapphire Edition

So yeah. August. That happened.

Completely failed my tentative word goal, in fact, didn’t even manage to hit 30k for the month (which is my generally prescribed ‘minimum.’) But, you know, over all? Not actually feeling bad. Seeing as how I. Well. Sort of accidentally finished two novels in August. Very much by accident in one case. Once again, what I thought was going to be one novel ended up being two, but at least I noticed before I was halfway through the second. But hey, I’m no longer dreadfully behind on my goal of four projects this year.

So here are the two projects I finished this month:

The Collared Act
A complete surprise, started in December and finished at 79863 words. I was not expecting this one to happen or actually become finished. But damn, it was just a blast to write. On the light side of novel for word count right now, but since I thought I had another half again as much to write, there are several places that can be expanded and fleshed out in subsequent drafts and I plan to get to said drafts before too long. The downside of this one is that I have no idea how to market it. It’s a character centered story about a gay slave who ends up working at a burlesque style theater with psychics, oh, and there is no romance or sex. Obvious selling points? Lacking. Thus, how to find a market? No clue. And none of this has stopped me from taking off and writing the second book, which is now in progress and growing steadily. Yup.

Phoenix and Wolf
Started for Nano last year, finished at 127578 words. And it is a big, ugly rambling mess of a novel. I hit the end and realized that there were two dramatic reveals I was saving that should have happened far sooner in the novel. There’s a glut of needless scenes and exposition, we end up in the library at least two times too many, and I failed to properly explore a lot of the elements which make the actual novel neat. So, while it is a draft that I can declare finished, it’s really not viable and the work that is needed to make it viable will come more in the form of fresh writing rather than editing. Because of all this, and the fact that I’ve got other novels that seem to be going much better, this one will be put on the back burner for a while. I plan to revive it at some point, but have no idea what point that will be.

Plans for this month? Unsure, not bothering with a word count goal since I can’t seem to keep them lately. I am, however, trying to get done another draft of the Cat That Wouldn’t Die. After some of my earlier mishaps with other novels, I’m not confident that I haven’t left some major issues in the draft, especially after reducing its length by a solid fifth.

After that, well, we’ll see what happens.

White Rabbit: Peridot Edition

So I had three goals this month.  And.  I occurs to me that technically, I failed ALL of them!

Major Goal: Begin submitting The Cat That Wouldn’t Die to agents.
Novel is completely ready to submit, I didn’t actually submit it anywhere, I realized. I think at some point, I forgot the goal was to actually start submitting and had it recorded in my head as ‘have ready for submission this month, including all required edits and accessories.’ And I succeeded in that! I have a query letter, synopsis, fully edited novel… I just didn’t actually throw it at anyone. Threw something else at a thing, however, so I don’t actually feel failed.

Minor Goal:  38750 words, or 1250 words per day.
Ehhhh, ended up with around 30k words this last month. So, failed my word count. Most disappointed about this failure, but there were reasons. Focus became a struggle one week, another week I took easy because of my birthday, and then another week I fucked up my hand with inexplicable bruising (FUN TIMES). So, there were reasons my word count wasn’t what I wanted, though logic has nothing on Writer’s Guilt.

Most Minor Goal: Complete Phoenix and Wolf.
So, yeah, I only added about 4k to this project. And the whole thing keeps sliding sideways on me when I jump in to try and tack more words to it. Either I keep forgetting plot points I mean to bring up or it just takes off somewhere else entirely. In general, I’m feeling like this project is not really where I want it to be. There’s a lot of elements that I included, but never did as much with as I wanted to and I kept fucking ending up in the library in the story. Three fucking times, the book goes to the library AND ONLY ONE OF THESE IS PLOT SIGNIFICANT. So, long rant short, there’s a lot of edits in this book’s future, if it has a future at all.

Anyway, that was last month. Moving on to this month! Plans! Goals! Dreams!

…Yeah, I got nothing.

Tentatively going for my 38750 word goal that failed last month, but not feeling good about it since this month has started out rather weak. Not that I can’t recover and recover easily at this point, it is the third fucking day of the month. But my hopes right now are low and I have a few things I’m flipping out at. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of them when I report in next month.

And hell, maybe I’ll blog more than twice this month. THAT would be something to see, wouldn’t it?

White Rabbit: Pearl Edition

THINGS HAPPENED THINGS HAPPENED WHY DID MAY HAPPEN?

By which I really mean, got the first draft of The Cat That Wouldn’t Die finished.  That is to say, I got all the way to the end and have now circled around for draft 2.5 in which I fix the beginning because I’ve realized it’s a mess. Still, its progress, real and definite progress.  Now cleaning up the intro again and debating what to do with the book in question.  Also trying to decide if I want to pick up one of my novellas/longish stories and see about a second draft.  Haven’t decided, probably won’t decide until July at any rate.

So, anyway, that’s ONE project down out of my intended four.  At this point in time, finishing short stories will even count, I don’t care so long as I finish things.  Because, yes, you guessed it, I picked up at least one more project last month.  Yeup.  That happened. 

And so, to help along my many projects that are not getting finished, I’m going for 1500 words a day (on average) in June, for a total of 45000 words by the end of the month.  Not any specific project, but a good solid chunk of words to get things closer to finished.  I’d really like to put a lot of those words towards Phoenix and Wolf, but we’ll see what happens with that stupidly long sprawl of a story in which little happens.

Still, at least for today, I’m not feeling terrible about my state of writing.  Too many projects, slow progress, lots of frustration.  At the same time, progress has been made and I don’t feel terrible about the things I have been writing.  Well, another month done, another to go.  Let’s see what June brings.

White Rabbit: Diamond Edition

I have nothing good to say about my writing during the month of March.

I am suspicious that this is one of those cases where I’m being much harder on myself than I have any right or reason to be.  It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel good about my progress during March.

Editing has been happening, but at a much, much slower pace than I want it to be going. I want to cut a lot of words (a fifth, all told) out of my current draft of the novel.  I cut what looks like a sizable chunk from the novel and my word count doesn’t drop nearly as much as I want.  I’m almost a hundred pages in with editing and I’ve barely chipped away any of this monster novel.

For generating new material, I have too many projects.  I keep jumping from one to the other and while technically this is forward progress, I feel stagnate.  Feeling stagnate makes me want to start something new.  To shake the paradigm.  Or, it makes me want to finish something.  Unfortunately, nothing is in a place where its close to finishing.  Everything is somewhere in the murky middle and many of my projects are at a place where I want to have a moment of focus before I tackle the next bit.

Focus has not been something easy as of late.

Let’s not even talk about how submissions have been going.

 

So, whining is fine and dandy, but I’m a little sick of it.  Instead, have a game plan for what I’m going to do about all of this melancholia.

New Writing:  Time to start tracking word count more closely, including keeping an eye on the growth of different projects on a monthly basis.  Since I’ve got so many projects, it’s easy to feel like I’m getting nowhere on any of them, like I’m spinning my wheels.  And maybe I am, but I’ve been generating a lot of words, so you would think that SOME of those novels would be farther along than when I started.  I’m even sure that they are.  I just can’t see where.  So, time to keep better track.  I know that word count is not the only indicator of a book’s progress as it is really, really easy to slap down many words that have little to no impact on the final version.   I am terrible for meandering and getting distracted on my way to the final plot.  However, since I usually only have a rough idea of what my final destination is with any given work, I don’t have another good way to track progress than with word count.  We use the tools we have.

Editing:  Finish the edits I marked out for myself on the Cat novel.  This draft has some large structural changes that need to happen yet and it’s hard to really say what’s necessary and what’s not until after those shifts have been made.  Even if I don’t cut the novel down as much as I want this draft, there will be future drafts.  And, frankly, even if, in its final and ultimate form, it’s long for its genre, I don’t really care.  Because at its heart, I am proud of this novel.  It is, or will be, a novel I always wanted to read.  Even if I can’t take it the ‘traditional’ route for whatever reasons, I’ll do something with this one.  After a few (dozen?) rounds of editing.

Submissions: This is the area that I’m most unsure of right now.  I grow more displeased with Trask’s novel as time passes.  I need to have a sit down with it and reconsider a lot of what it is and what it’s doing.  More and more, I think I haven’t been as daring with the story as I need to.  The plot is fine, the characters are great, but I need to take the setting to its limits and then off the other end.  That’s what feels right and that’s feels lacking at this time.  But the question is, do I keep throwing the novel at agents in hopes that I’m wrong or do I table the hunt for now and wait until I’ve got something new to toss around?  I don’t have an answer at this time and little bandwidth to consider the question.  Maybe I’ll know better next month.

White Rabbit: Aquamarine Edition

Another month down. Eeesh, how did it get to be March already?

I completed my read through of the Cat novel! It is now fully marked upon and awaiting my tender care in shoving those changes down its digital throat. I gave myself a couple of days to get my courage in hand before that plunge, especially since the last few days of read through were a twee neurotic. But editing has begun. Updates on how far I get next month.

I have also returned to the submission to agent bandwagon and have been tossing Trask’s novel at people. Fingers crossed.

And for new words on the page…
February Total Word Count: 27543
So, only 500 words short of a thousand word per day average. Not bad, considering the last few days of the month became focused on getting through the last chunk of the novel and not putting new words down. As for what I wrote, I was actually doing pretty good at slapping new words down on Phoenix and Wolf during the month, that’s moved forward quite a bit. And… then I got distracted by a completely new idea in a totally new world with fantasy vampires that was supposed to be a quick bit of personal entertainment and took me a week of buildup before I chickened out on the sexy bits. Yup. Aaaand this week, I took off on ANOTHER brand new idea, I need to stop doing this, this has been a TERRIBLE year for new ideas springing forth instead of working on all of the older stuff I have laying around. Nyargh. BUT, at least I’m producing…? Y-yay?

And now, a short evaluation, lifted from Chuck Wendig’s blog:

a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
Dialogue is one of my strengths. I’ve always loved writing dialogue and I think I’ve got a good ear for realistic dialogue. I also can write humor pretty well.

b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
Finishing things. Not just the act of getting all of the story down on the page, but writing endings. They’re so damn important and so damn hard to write. Another weakness is knowing the scope of a project, where ‘done’ is and how many words I’ll need to get there. I have a bad tendency to use more words than I need to get there too, at least these days. Also, action.

c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
Works I consider complete: 7
3 Novels
2 Short Stories
1 Novella
1 Novelette

Of those:
1 novel is in its 3rd draft and I am seeking an agent for it
1 novel is in edits now
1 novel was lifted to a 2nd draft stage but is now a dead project
2 short stories have been examined for a 2nd draft, but second drafts have not been completed
And the novella and novelette have not been touched at all since I wrote them.

We will not get into how many ‘in progress’ things I have right now.

d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
“Never stop writing.”
Been told this a few times, by a few different teachers/adults/mentors. And it’s made all the difference in the world to a paranoid introvert kid who wanted to write but had a shaky confidence in herself. It’s not that this is really good ‘advice’ to guide a writer’s craft or ability. But it kept me tacking words on things and pondering stories and scenes through high school and college when there were a number of other distractions to take up my time. Those three words are words that I live by.

e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
“To cope with Blank Page Syndrome, when you stop writing for the night, stop in the middle of a sentence, even the middle of the word. That way, you have an automatic place to pick up when you start the next day.”
This is actually good advice for some people, it really helps them. But it absolutely KILLS scenes for me. If I leave off in the middle of a sentence, I inevitably cannot remember how I was going to end the sentence the night before and anything I put down will feel lame compared to what I thought I was going to put down. Whenever I’ve tried this method, I usually end up deleting the entire half finished sentence and starting clean at the last period. And the whole process adds a good ten to fifteen minutes just to get me writing. Just not good advice for me.

f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
The writing advice that you need varies, not just from person to person, but from point to point in a single writer’s career. What’s helpful to a raw beginner may be annoying or even damaging to a writer who is working on polishing the finer points of craft. That doesn’t make the advice useless over all, it just means that it’s not the advice needed RIGHT NOW.

So, grab what’s helping you now and run with it. When you reach a new phase in writing, re-evaluate the old advice and dump it if it has stopped being useful. There’s always more writing wisdom in the pond.