Tag Archives: writing

Writing Wednesdays – Idols

For me, there is a difference between storytelling and writing. Some authors are excellent storytellers, others are excellent writers, and some are both. I am not a fan of JK Rowling’s writing style but she is one of my favorite storytellers. The same can be said of Lovecraft – but I think some of that is situational, given his contemporaries. I can’t think of writers who write better than their stories would allow off the top of my head because, for me, the story is the more important part but I know I’ve thought it while reading.

There are a lot of writers I’d like to grow up to be like. Gibson, Dick, King, Roberts, Arakawa, Harris. I could go on forever actually – I really love books and writers. Of all of them though, I think Harris and Gibson are probably the most balanced between storyteller and writer. I’m not saying the others are bad writers, they aren’t by any stretch, but I think for me, they’re storytelling skills are stronger.

When I think about my all-time favorite stories, whether because of skill or plot, the one thing they have in common are well written, complete characters. Hannibal Lecter is far and above my favorite villain – he is the most fully realized villain, he’s wicked, wicked smart, crafty, seriously broken, and deliciously horrible. And if you get to the end of his story, all that he does, all that he is, makes sense. And Harris makes it all make sense without once excusing any of it. Hannibal is absolutely a terrible person, even if it makes sense why he might be, it isn’t used to negate his evil. That’s a talent.

I think villains speak to me a little more loudly than heroes. Yes, I love Dallas, Charlie, the Elric brothers, Case and Molly, but they just don’t resonate with me quite as much. I think it’s more that a good villain is so hard to find, relatively speaking. It’s hard to write broken and evil and irredeemable and still have people care one whit about them. Good villains are charismatic, unapologetic, and understandable.

Good characters and good writing aside, one can be a passable writer and still succeed, if the story is strong enough. They say there is only a finite number of stories one can tell and, that may be true, but there are infinite ways of telling that story. Don’t look at whether or not something has been done before – a case can nearly always be made that it has – focus on writing your version of that story in a way no one else can.

How many stories about kids going to magical schools are there? Harry Potter, Ms. Peregrin, the Magicians, and there are probably a solid hundred more out there. Write another one, make it yours, make it amazing. Hidden realms are everywhere – including my own books. Monster hunters, chosen ones, witches, wizards, nothing is off limits.

Apparently, I’m having a scatterbrained sort of writing day – I’d meant this post to be entirely about writers I want to grow up to be and I completely veered off topic. I’m letting it stay that way because I don’t think another pass at it would make it better.


Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

February Wrap Up & March Goals

Well, February was my best month since the last time I won a NaNoWriMo. I am a bit of a spreadsheet geek – facts and figures make me so happy.

The figures!

35,221 total words written for February (47,806 for the year)

How does that break down you ask? 9201 words on Gods of the Fallen, 19552 on Hunter’s Hell, 4011 on this blog, 1694 for the Geek Girl Project, and 44 words worth of poetry (or one rough poem). I don’t do a count of any of my handwritten stuff – notes, snippets, my personal diary and such because that would be a pain in the butt to do.

I missed three days out of the month and that’s it. That’s so freaking awesome. I’m really quite proud of myself today, at least on the writing front.

The health front faired less well … stupid yummy food, stupid boring exercise … I actually gained two pounds. However, given how much junk I probably really ate, that’s not so bad. I bought some new resistance bands to help with some of that and I’m trying really hard to stick with the calorie counter app. For me, it’s really more about the calories – if I can keep that under control, I’m good. Doing actual exercise is just a thing I do so I can eat what I want.

I am tolerating the increase in methotrexate pretty well – changing the time of day has made a world of difference. Now I get to sleep through pretty much all of the tired and icky feelings. I’m not pain-free but I’m certainly at mostly tolerable levels and actually able to type. I’m not up to normal speeds but I am thinking that I have to consider this a new normal. I think my days of 80-90 wpm are probably over.

On to March Goals!

On the writing front, I’d like the total count to be higher than February’s and not just because of the missing days. I don’t mind having to not write for a day or three – I might have things that need doing, might be too tired or drained or whatever. I do want to aim for that 50k word count. Realistically, that should be my average at a minimum. That’s only 1650 words per day on average. I might have some days that are only 300 words and days that are close to 4000 words. I really should be able to do 1650 words per day on average. And I really should add a per day average number to my spreadsheet!

On the health front – my biggest goal right now is to be able to get up off the floor without help. Which means I’ll be able to do more proper yoga again I suppose if I can get the dog to leave me be for a minute. Yes, I would like to lose weight. Really, I need to lose a lot of it – 75-80 is my goal (the doctor would be super thrilled with 50 though). So monthly, maybe 5 pounds lost would be really wonderful but the ability to stand up without help is what I’m after.

I got nothing made last month and I would really like to get something neat made this month. So, I want to make at least 5 things in March. I don’t care what they are but 5 somethings. (And find at least one festival I can manage to do for this summer).

I had a lot of progress in February and I just want to keep moving forward as best I can so March is even better.


Leave a comment

Filed under Crafting, Health, WIP, Writing

Writing Wednesday – Music

Some writers require silence, I require noise. Some noise is better than other noise. Occasionally, I can even write when people are talking to me but, apparently, that’s rude. So, sorry if I’ve done that to you. Which goes out to pretty much everyone I’ve ever met in real life… It is an essential skill to have, though, when you have two kids who never ever stop talking.

For me, music sets the tone for my writing. Like some other writers I know, I have playlists designed for specific projects, playlists for certain types of scenes or genres, playlists for moods, and playlists for certain characters. Sometimes, music influences my typing speed too – at least when everything else is working right.

Many years ago, when I was in middle school, near the time I started my first book, we had a music class where the director had us listen to a piece of music and then write what we saw. It was a fabulous exercise both from the musician’s standpoint and the writer’s. Experiencing music can be an incredible thing – whether you can see whole scenes before you or just get swept up in the emotions of it. It’s where I learned that I’m a very visual listener. Music helps me see the stories I’m creating and generally keeps any writer’s block from settling in for too long.

I’m always on the lookout for new music to inspire me. I listen to a little bit of everything. Except for 99% of country and about 50% of rap music – not big on violent rap, love message and skill work – anyone who can do that, talk that way, rhyme that way, is flat amazing to me. I love opera, classical, electronic, dance, some pop, some hip hop, jazz, rock, metal, alternative, grunge, ska, heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, folk metal (omg, love folk metal). You never know what’s going to spark something.

So, have a little something my son found and see if it doesn’t spark a story or a character. These guys are great fun and it’s all quite catchy and familiar.


Leave a comment

Filed under music, Writing

So Far, So Good

I’ve been really good at keeping up this word counting and I’ve only missed one day this month writing and that was a holiday. I’m going to have missed days sometimes. Apparently, I’m having my November now. I’m more than on track to hit 50k this month and I’m really pleased about that.

Yesterday was a day full of going and walking and I paid for it last night. I’m glad we went but I feel bad as I move at about the pace of a snail and the poor dear husband moves more like a gazelle and so do my very tall kids. By the end of the day, I felt about like I felt one the day my very first flare started and we began the process of trying to find out what is wrong with me.

I still managed to get words in on Hunter’s Hell though, a little better than 800 of them. I really do love where this story is going. I feel a little guilty doing some of the horrible things to my characters that I do but they also need to happen in order for my lovelies to grow. That’s always my biggest complaint when I read a series – the characters don’t grow or they lean on one particular crutch too much. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the stories or those writers, just that it’s a thing that I note and remind myself to try to avoid.

I adore JD Robb’s in Death series – love em all. BUT, I do think Eve’s constant misunderstanding of common idioms is ridiculous at this point and she’s going to run out of them. In the latest, it wasn’t so much the idioms that bothered me but the botchery of Hitchcock’s name. Sure, not everyone is a movie buff but this isn’t the first in Death book where Hitchcock is mentioned. So it irks me. It irks me just a little as it’s one irksome thing in an otherwise fun book. They are fun, fast reads even with the occasional bout of come on that get under my skin. The most recent installment is fun, not particularly groundbreaking as the basic idea has been done before many times, but it’s a solid outing with Eve and Roarke. Really though that’s the best part of stories – I can read the same story by eight different writers and they’re all different and amazing in their own way.

I’m hoping to get more words in today but if I don’t, I’m not terribly concerned. At least the kids are old enough to, more or less, let me work and not stop me every three minutes to get them this or that or keep them occupied. They’re pretty good now at keeping themselves occupied.


Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Rheumatoid Arthritis, WIP, Writing

Writing Wednesday – Zero Drafts

First things first: Happy Valentine’s day! If you do stuff, I hope you enjoy it. If not, don’t forget, there’s usually a sale on chocolate tomorrow (I’m a sucker for good chocolate).

The other day, a relatively new to the game writer asked me about my personal process, especially as it relates to outlines. Outlines seem to be everyone’s go-to suggestion for writers but they do not work for me at all. When I outline a project, it pretty well never gets written. My process looks a little like this: Project A: Zero Draft. Project B: Zero Draft. Choose which project is the priority and which project is the treat. Rewriting to the first draft of Project A, and if I meet the minimum daily word count, I can work on Project B’s rewrite to the first draft. When the First draft of Project A is done, it gets sent to Beta readers while I work on finishing Project B’s rewrite and potentially working on Project C’s zero draft. And so on and so forth forever.

The concept of the zero draft was something I read about on Eugie Foster’s blog forever ago. Before that, I’d considered my first stage as a splat draft – both names work and are the same thing but Zero Draft sounds more professional and appealing to me so that’s what I’ve called it since then. For me, it is a start to finish, throw everything at the story, no idea is bad, point A to point Z, just the plots now story. Oftentimes, it ends up being a words only storyboard, chopped up by scene, the basic ideas conveyed but very sparse on pretty details and anything that requires detailed research. Sometimes they’re really short, 25,000 words or so and other times, they’re more or less complete novels that just need a little tweaking and come in closer to 60,000 words. The two projects I’m working on now started out on the lower word count step.

Sometimes, it feels a little like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks but it works for me. I don’t need a lot of structure or really work well with structure when I’m writing anyway – it always made for tricky work when outlines and such were part of the assignment. I tended to do it backward, write the story first then write the outline to turn in. It usually meant extra work for one week and none at all the next, when they wanted the first draft.

I am a pantser at heart. I write by the seat of my pants. I don’t know where it’s going, where it will end, or who will survive to see the end. It’s only been with this first sequel I’ve ever written that I’ve ever had any idea where my characters have been. Zero drafts are for ideas, inspiration, and a couple of plot holes. Rewrites are for smoothing it all out and actually making sure things make sense. My process doesn’t work for everyone, in fact, it doesn’t work for most people, but it works pretty well for me.


Leave a comment

Filed under Writing


At least for the time being, this attempt at tracking my words is actually working. Not only that but I’ve gotten at least 300 words every day this month and every day since January 20th. That doesn’t seem like much but the way things have been the last six months, the last year, that’s just flat amazing. I’m a bit of a sucker for a well put together spreadsheet and that’s what I’ve put together for tracking my words. It’s not as fancy as it could be but it’s functional – tracking by day, by month, by project, and yearly total. I’m probably enjoying that a little too much but it really is fun to do. I did learn that, even if I only wrote 300 words a day, I could still write a book every year. 300 words is nothing! Anyone can write 300 words.

Husband and I went out today, I hit Joanne Fabrics for some stuff that I can make other stuff out of, discovered much better prices on really nice makeup at Marshall’s, and bought myself a pair of light-up kitten ear headphones that are my new favorite thing ever. I have some crafty plans for this year – some of which might take a little practice – and I’ve got to get moving on that so I can make stuff worthy of actually selling at this year’s group of craft fairs and at my little Etsy shop. I have lots of plans, I just have to make my body cooperate.


Leave a comment

Filed under Crafting, etsy, Life, Writing

Processes and Projects

I’m routinely getting words on books and this makes me happy in ways I can’t explain. It’s been a long time – longer than I would like to admit – since I was writing with any real regularity. I tried to get back into the swing of things with two separate NaNoWrimos and it sort of almost worked. For a month or so. I’m coming up on a month of tracking my word counts for no one but myself and I’m actually doing quite well. I’ve got my spreadsheet with all its pretty formulas to help me measure down to the word – by project, by day, by week, by month. I love statistics. We’ll see if I’m still doing it in six months… If it gets these two books that are my current priority, I’ll be happy. I would really like it to stick around though – I have so many stories to tell!

Coming up, I’m going to be doing something a bit different. At least on Wednesdays. The other day I had a long discussion with another writer about my own process because she asked and I know I’m a bit of an odd duck in that I’m not an outliner. In any case, I’m going to start running a process spotlight on some Wednesdays I think.

My foot is very unhappy today. And my elbows. The elbows are a little less troublesome but I had to take the cane to get my youngest kid off the bus, as my one foot just feels broken. It isn’t, not even a little and there is no reason for it to feel like all the little bones in my foot are grinding to dust but, hey, yay RA. *sigh* Hopefully tomorrow will be better on that front.

I’ve taken a long enough break and I should get back to writing. I’ve broken the 2500 word mark, I’d like to hit 3k today if I can so I should get back to it.


Leave a comment

Filed under Rheumatoid Arthritis, Writing

Lost Days

Yesterday was mostly one. Not entirely, I did get a few hundred words on my non-priority project but I don’t remember doing a whole lot otherwise. Some dishes, a trip to the grocery, and a lot of sleeping. On the upside, today I don’t feel as congested or achy as I did yesterday. I’m thinking the barometer did some moving yesterday in preparation for today’s weather shift. So far, it really seems like my joints are fine in the cold (as long as I take my meds), only my bad knee gets mad when it’s raining, but pressure changes are terrible. I guess this is just another one of those things I’m going to have to get used to. It’s not like I didn’t have lost days before it’s just different now somehow. It feels like it’s harder to make up the losses than it used to be. Of course, it kind of is.

Before, a lost day was nothing to worry about and likely not really lost but spent doing house stuff or reading a book or doing something with the kids. Now, it’s a freaking event if we do a trip to the strip district for coffee, olive oil, and fresh tortillas (and a bunch of other stuff we probably don’t need but thoroughly enjoy) and I know I’ll pay for it the next day. I’m looking at the schedule for craft fairs for this summer and I’m debating a bit on how many I want to do or will be able to do. I was never very normal but I do very much miss being healthy. I miss when I could make up a day pretty quickly because my “day” really only took an hour or two of hard focused work.

I’ve actually managed to write every day this month so far – but it’s early days yet and we’ll see if I can keep it up. I’m going to try though – at least 300 words but better if it’s more than that. I have too many things I want to write, too many stories to tell, and I just feel like I need to get them to paper (or file) sooner.


Leave a comment

Filed under Rheumatoid Arthritis, Writing

Most of this week rocked

I got a lot done, I’m a bit concerned that my word counts are artificially high but they aren’t really – the way I do rewrites from the zero-draft, I’m actually writing every word over again. Maybe it doesn’t seem like I’m adding a whole lot just yet but I’m also cutting out the words that don’t work so I’m going to keep counting that way – two separate files side by side, no cut and paste, I get to keep the official words. It just feels easier because I have these bones already.

Today did not rock. The day I took my meds (weds) was fine. Thursday I zonked out quite a bit – certainly more than I expected to. Yesterday I was hurting so much more – especially in the feet. Today, today was just awful. I haven’t felt this sick since starting this whole process. Headache, nausea, exhaustion. If I’d shone any other illness signs or anyone else in the house felt awful, I might think it was a touch of something but everyone else is fine so it might be the meds – I guess I’ll know next week. I’m feeling a smidge better this evening than I was this morning for sure but I’m still not quite right.

This post is the grand total for my words today but I had a great week for words otherwise so I’m good with that. The X-Files is back again and, of course, I’m watching it and while I might be behind a bit and slow in the writing but recap/review is up for the first two episodes on The Geek Girl Project.  The reviews for 3-5 should be up sometime this week. I still love the show but, as much as I’d watch it forever, I think the actors are about done so I really hope they wrap it up in a more satisfying way than they did last time they did a special season.


Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Writing

January Wrap Up

This month has been a pretty busy, pretty decent month!

On the writing front, it’s been the best month I’ve had in a very very long time. I didn’t start counting my words until half-way through the month so it isn’t exactly complete and I didn’t write every day but I only missed three days in the last half of the month and that’s damned good. I wrote 12,585 words in the second half of January and I’m really pleased with that. I also finished the zero draft of Hunter’s Hell which I started in November so, I might be behind there but the bones of this book are solid and awesome. I submitted Purgatory’s Queen (sci-fi/thriller) and Demonborn (dark fantasy) so fingers crossed all over the place there. I also put in some words on the Gods of the Fallen first draft. I’ll be working both HH and GOTF first drafts for the next month or two. I’ll be very happy if HH is done mid-March.

On the health front: I’ve come a long way in the last six months but I’m not all the way there yet. I can do laundry all by myself now and stand up long enough to do dishes without using the tall stool to perch on. I can type at 3/4 speed for half an hour at a stretch. I’m not back to normal but I’m so damned happy to be where I’m at! I’m even exercising again. Slowly, gently, but exercising. I turned on my calorie counting app and hooked up the Wii Fit board. I’m only down about a pound but at least I’m back to going the right direction. Being off the prednisone is great but I think we’re probably not finished adjusting the methotrexate just yet.

The kids are doing well in school. Husband is the awesome. Husband’s family pulled through their recent health stuff, even if it didn’t exactly go as planned. This might be the closest month I’ve had to normal since my Dad died. ❤  Hopefully this month is even better!


Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Interesting, Life, Rheumatoid Arthritis, WIP, Writing