My first virtual conference #WANAcon Feb 2014

This has been a week of firsts here at Writerly Goodness.

Yesterday, I posted about my first twitterview experience. Today it’s #WANAcon.

WANAcon

Over the last couple of years, I have attended several excellent online courses through WANA International, Kristen Lamb’s online writer’s university. Each course has been reasonable on the plastic, and I’ve invariably received great value for the money.

So, I thought, for the price of three or four individual courses, I could have the benefit of twelve, plus (!) It was a no-brainer, really.

Also, if I want, I have access to all the alternate sessions that I didn’t attend. Everything’s recorded, and I can view any of them any time I want (for a defined period of time).

I’m not going to give away any of the content, except to say that I recommend #WANAcon to anyone who wants an inexpensive alternative to a traditional conference. No travel, no hotel, no days-on-end of eating out, no time away from family or work. It really is a fabulous deal.

There were even pitch sessions, though I didn’t opt into them.

So here’s a quick rundown of the sessions I attended:

  1. Branding for authors – Kristen Lamb
  2. Self-editing for fiction writers – Marcy Kennedy
  3. OneNote: The solution to organizing your work – Jenny Hansen
  4. Writing effective inner dialogue – Lisa Hall-Wilson
  5. World-building 101 – Kristen Lamb
  6. An introvert’s guide to Twitter – Jami Gold
  7. Backstory: How your hero’s past shapes his future – Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  8. Creating compelling, unforgettable characters – Shirley Jump
  9. Build an author website without getting burned – Laird Sapir
  10. 7 steps to a stronger love story – Gabriela Pereira
  11. Rock your revisions – Gabriela Pereira and Julie Duffy
  12. Blogging for authors – Kristen Lamb

As you can see, there was a smorgasbord of Writerly Goodness to take in. Added bonus: You can do it all in your PJs 🙂

I’m feeling pleasantly buzzed.

What courses have you taken recently that were good value for the money? Tried anything new that turned out even better than your expectations?

Do share.

Advertisements

My first twitterview as host (with Jamie Raintree, for @M2the5th)

Last night, I hosted an @M2the5th Twitterview with Jamie Raintree, author of women’s fiction.

I was a little nervous, but it was a blast!

For those of you who missed it, here’s the link to the Storify: http://storify.com/LaraBrittWrites/mto5-author-twitterview-jamie-raintree (lovingly created by Lori).

You can get an idea about what a twitterview involves and how much fun it can be.  The point of a twitterview? To help the twitterviewee engage her audience, promote her work, and develop her online platform. I hope we managed to do all of the above for Jamie last night.

I would never have survived without the support and assistance of Lori and Amy, the @M2the5th dream team. They have the twittervew down to a science. It’s awesome to have professionals on your side.

Here’s a little bit about Jamie:

She lives with her husband of 7 years and is a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) of two daughters.

She started writing fan fiction in middle school and finished her first novel length manuscript during NaNoWriMo 2008. She’s been hooked on writing since.

What interests Jamie: the strength and depth of the female spirit, who we fall in love with and why, what tears us apart, what little things can help make love last.

Jamie also has a YouTube channel and has produced two videos: one discusses balance in your day – how she balances her creative life and her family responsibilities; the other discusses happiness in the context of what inspires her to write. Jamie has promised there will be more to come.

Here’s how you can keep in touch with Jamie online:

Now that Jamie has an agent, we’ll be eagerly awaiting her first traditionally published novel! No pressure, dear 😉

Jamie Raintree

Sundog snippets: Something I learned about myself as a creative person this week

This week has not been a very productive one for writerly goodness. I have been so tired. I’ve attempted to write despite that, but I haven’t managed to get into what they call “flow.”

I think I’ve landed on the reason. At work, I’m developing a new course on the subject of constructive written feedback. It may be instructional design, but it’s still writing, and it still requires creativity. That’s why I think I’m tapped out when I get home. I’ve been writing all day. The muse needs a break. The well is dry.

So I’m doing something a little different this afternoon. I’m heading off to a friend’s to workshop a play she’s working on. It’s still creative, but it’s different. While I may be reading and getting into character, it’s not drawing upon my writerly energies in the same way.

I’m thinking that this will be the perfect perk-up for the weary muse.

On that topic, while I’ve mentioned in recent posts what my goals are for the year and the various projects I’m working on, I haven’t written a word about conferences or workshops.

Conferences, or conventions, are two ways to fill up that well, energize that muse and revitalize your love of your art and craft.

So.

First up, I’m trying something a little different this year. I’m attending a Virtual conference: WANAcon next weekend. I kind of like the idea of sitting in my PJ’s and interacting on line. It’ll definitely be different.

In March, Brian Henry, the Quick Brown Fox himself, will be returning to Sudbury for another workshop.

In April, I’ll be heading down to Toronto for Ad Astra. It’s more of a convention rather than a conference, and I wanted to see what, if any, difference there may be. And no, before you ask, I will not be participating in cosplay while there. I’ll certainly enjoy observing it, though 😉

In June, I’ll be heading to CanWrite! In Orillia again.

CanWrite! 2014

Finally, in August, I’m definitely hitting When Words Collide.

It’s a pretty full line-up, but my experiences of last year have proven that the expense is worth it. Plus, it gives me lots of blog fodder!

What conferences are you heading off to this year? Any workshops of interest? Do these events feed your muse and fill your well?

Until next week, my friends, TTFN!

Review of Lifeform Three by Roz Morris

I subscribe to Roz Morris’s newsletter, and when she announced that her second novel, Lifeform Three, was about to be published, and that she would pass along free ebooks for honest reviews, I jumped on the opportunity.

I am a slow reader these days, but Lifeform Three has carried me along fairly briskly, and I have to say I loved it. LOVED.

What Amazon says

Lifeform Three‘Beautifully written; meaningful; top-drawer storytelling in the tradition of Atwood and Bradbury’ League of Extraordinary Authors

Misty woods; abandoned towns; secrets in the landscape; a forbidden life by night; the scent of bygone days; a past that lies below the surface; and a door in a dream that seems to hold the answers.

Paftoo is a ‘bod’; made to serve. He is a groundsman on the last remaining countryside estate, once known as Harkaway Hall — now a theme park. Paftoo holds scattered memories of the old days, but they are regularly deleted to keep him productive.

When he starts to have dreams of the Lost Lands’ past and his cherished connection with Lifeform Three, Paftoo is propelled into a nocturnal battle to reclaim his memories, his former companions and his soul.

Includes an appendix of suggested questions for reading groups.

‘An extraordinary novel in the tradition of the great old school literary sci-fi’ – NYT bestselling author Joni Rodgers

My thoughts

Welcome to the Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall, intrepid guests! The Lost Lands is one of the last nature conservancies in the world. See life forms in their natural habitats. Like them, even name them if you wish. Our helpful bods will sing and dance for you when they’re not keeping the Lost Lands in pristine condition. Want a rainbow? Our bods will make it happen.

Roz Morris has created a wonderful fable with Lifeform Three. The protagonist is one of the aforementioned bods, or robots, but there’s something different about him.

While the other bods desire nothing more than to redo, or clean, racking up scores as if poovering (vacuuming animal waste from the lawns) was a video game, Paftoo has other likes, ones that he must keep secret.

Paftoo (all the redo bods are paf-number, and while it’s never stated in the novel, paf could be an initialism standing for personal automation form or something similar), does not shut down at night like the other redo bods. He dreams. He also has memories that fight their way back into Paftoo’s consciousness despite sharing.

Sharing is a form of bod maintenance and the other bods crave it like a drug while Paftoo fears sharing will rob him of what he holds most dear: his memories of riding a life form three, a horse, his horse, Storm.

Morris asks questions with her tale: what makes us different, unique? Does being unique mean that we can never truly be part of a community? What happens when our uniqueness is threatened? What happens if our memories are taken from us? Can enforced conformity change who we are?

There are other issues woven through the tapestry, as well: what happens if humanity’s waste of natural resources continues unchecked? What if nature becomes a commodity, a property to be bought and sold, tailored to the tastes of its users? It is said that history is written by the victors of battle, but what if those victors are corporate heads, rewriting history continually based on what will sell best?

Lifeform Three is a tasty novel, reminiscent (for me) of the works of Ursula K. le Guin, or Sherri S. Tepper.

My highest recommendation.

My rating

5 out of 5 stars.

About the authorRoz Morris

Roz Morris’s fiction has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, although you won’t have seen her name on the covers as she ghostwrote for high-profile authors. She is now writing acclaimed fiction under her own name. She is a writer, journalist, fiction editor and the author of the Nail Your Novel series for writers. Her first novel under her real name was My Memories of a Future Life.

Series discoveries

I haven’t posted about my television viewing since the fall. At that time, I wrote of my disappointments with various television series in the past.

I had some fairly high hopes for some of the new series. That’s what I’m going to spend a little time on today.

First, I’ll remind you that I do watch television and movies with a writer’s eye. That is, I look at the plot lines and the story overall, the character development, and I try to analyze why I like watching it, and not simply accept that I do and blank out on the couch for an hour.

I’m a critical thinker. What can I say?

So the new shows I’ve watched and liked this season are:

Almost Human

When I saw this one listed and read the preview, I thought that it would be a take on I, Robot, the novel by Asimov, not the Will Smith interpretation, which I must say was entertaining, but had as much to do with the text upon which it was based as Blade Runner had with Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Plus, there was the added attraction of Karl Urban. Hey, I don’t always have to be deep and thought-y, do I?

I’m enjoying AH, though it has been basically police procedural with a small twist for the most part. I’m waiting for the pay off of the Detective Kennex’s inciting incident: the failed assault which resulted in the deaths of his squad, the loss of his leg, and a 17 month coma.

Kennex bears the responsibility for the failure of the assault and the loss of his squad. He is teamed with a DRN android whose line has a history for going crazy. So two pariahs in arms. A buddy drama.

Bitten

This one is a mid-season offering from Space based on the Kelly Armstrong novel of the same name. It’s about werewolves, in the broad sense.

I’ve only seen a few episodes so far, and while the main plot continues through each episode, the cast is still in the character development stage. After establishing the crisis (murders of humans by renegade werewolves, or mutts), the series has gone into backstory mode.

The jury’s out on this one.

Dracula

I’m enjoying Dracula far less than I thought I would.

I appreciate the reengineering of the story and the tie in with Tesla (Greyson, Dracula’s American Industrialist cover is developing a new energy source that threatens the oil and coal interests of the wealthy in Britain). I like the strong(ish) women characters.

It’s too easy to dislike Harker, though, and the highlight of the show (for me) is Renfield, the voice of reason in a howling vortex of loose plot threads.

It’s hard to admit I like Renfield better than Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’s Dracula.

The concept isn’t strong enough to breathe life into the undead. Eye-candy aside, if I miss a week, I find I don’t really mind.

Intelligence

This is another mid-season offering and I like the premise, but I’m not certain about it yet.

An agent named Gabriel, with a special genetic affinity, has a computer chip installed in his brain. He can access the internet anytime he wants. The project is called “Clockwork.”

He’s not only a kick-ass spy, but he is also an asset, and so must be protected. They bring in a secret service operative to do this, and though Riley does prove herself, I was left wondering at the choice.

There seems to be a lot of potential in the series, but there is also a lot of potential for bad science and plot holes.

In the first episode, another person has the chip implanted. This, of course, becomes Gabriel’s nemesis. His wife ends up being a terrorist and she kills herself in a suicide bombing. Almost immediately, sparks seem to be flying between Gabriel and Riley, and I was disappointed in how they handled the whole situation. Gabriel was initially so devastated by his wife’s defection and death that he tried to hide in a bottle.

In any case. We’ll have to wait and see on this one, too.

Once upon a time in Wonderland

Like its parent show, Once Upon a Time, OUaTiW turns the Disney standard on its head and does a bizarre bit of a mash-up with the main character.

In this version, Alice is a young woman, having survived both her adventures in Wonderland, and the battle in the “real” world against those who believe her to be insane, including her family.

The mash-up comes from her love interest, a genie named Cyrus, and the two antagonists battling for control of him, the Queen of Hearts, and Jafar (from Aladdin).

Alice is helped by the Knave of Hearts (the Queen’s former love), and the unreliable White Rabbit, voiced by John Lithgow.

I haven’t seen any cross-over action yet, and don’t anticipate it, given the disparate settings (Victorian England vs. modern day North America).

While I enjoy the quirkiness of the story and the visual oddities of Wonderland, I’m wondering where the plot will go. As of the last episode, the Knave, having helped Alice and Cyrus reunite, is now the new genie in the bottle.

It’s a bit of a ramble, but I’m willing to indulge the writers a while yet. Sometimes an interesting concept will trump a good plot (for a while).

Sleepy Hollow

Another reboot, this time of the Washington Irving story. It’s a favourite of mine, so on the strength of that alone, I’m willing to indulge the series for a while.

In this incarnation, Ichabod Crane is not a school teacher, but an Oxford professor who enlisted in the British Army against his father’s wishes. Fighting against the Americans in the War of Independence, Crane defects and ends up serving as an agent for General Washington himself.

In his final battle, he faces a soldier known only as “The Hessian” and decapitates his foe even as he is dealt a killing blow. The two die and their blood mingles. Crane’s wife Katrina, a witch, casts a spell which will awaken Crane if ever the Hessian comes back from the dead.

In modern times, Crane wakes, and has to adjust to life in the 21st century while trying to defeat the Hessian, who, it is revealed, is Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

With him are Detective Abbie Mills, her sister Jenny, and Chief of Police Irving, played by Orlando Jones.

The writing for SH has been a lot tighter than for some of the other series and the plot is far more intricate.

Death, it is revealed, is Crane’s old friend, turned competitor for the woman they both love, Katrina.

In the last episode I saw, War is a man Crane and Mills thought of as a friend, but who is, in fact, Crane’s son and in a jaw-dropping final scene, Death rides off with Katrina, recently released from limbo.

Crane is devastated.

There’s a lot more to the story than what I’ve written here. Every character has a stake in the plot beyond the obvious (save the world). So far, I find it very well done.

Then again, I like intricate plots that engage my brain.

A note on reboots/mash-ups

Phil has lamented the state of television (and movies) for some time now, declaring that Hollywood doesn’t have an original thought in its collective head.

I tend to agree, but I also find that if I can set aside the obvious complaint (could they not have written an original story with these elements and have done equally well, or better?), I can enjoy the story and series.

He also dislikes the tendency of North American studios to copy British or French shows of better quality. The British version of Being Human is far superior to the North American, in my opinion. And both are shown, sometimes on the same network. Why show up one series as a shoddy copy of the other?

Bonus: Homeland

I’ve watched season one of Homeland on Netflix and am now catching up on season two courtesy of Bravo.

This is an original series, and I really like it. It’s clever, and gives its characters a lot to deal with.

Carrie Mathison is manic depressive, a disease she’s hidden from her employer and coworkers. She’s an intelligence analyst for the CIA and she is obsessed with the terrorist Abu Nasir. She discovers that Nasir has “turned” an American soldier, though she doesn’t know who.

When US marine Nick Brody is rescued after eight years as a prisoner of al-Qaeda, Carrie immediately suspects him.

It’s very well-written, and extremely well-acted. I love Clair Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin.

The plot is so complex, with so many unexpected turns, I can’t even attempt to give you a summary that will do it justice, and the characters are so well-drawn that their actions are always logical in context.

I know that they’re already into the fourth season, but we don’t receive Showtime here, so I have to wait for Netflix, or put out for the DVDs.

So that’s what I’m watching these days.

Series discoveries

How about you? Have you seen a new series that gives you the frissons (shivers)? One that makes you sigh and give up hope for originality or quality programming? Have you learned anything from these series that you could apply to your writing?

It’s all good.

Sundog snippets: What my mommy brought me from New Orleans

Just a quick note about my cool new mask.

My mom went with a bunch of her friends for a two-week road trip to New Orleans. She bought me a Mardi Gras mask in the French Quarter. The black bits are the ribbon ties. I think they make the mask look pleasantly evil.

I have dutifully hung it on my wall with the rest of my masks.

My new mask, making friends

My new mask, making friends

The green one on the right, I made in high school in art class. He’s a gargoyle. The brown one on the left was a gift from my friend, Margaret, from one of her trips. I can’t remember it’s origin at the moment, and I can’t take it down to check because it’s on there pretty securely.  I don’t want a random passing transport to knock anything down.

The little blue one, below right, was another gift from Margaret when she went to Jamaica. One of the wooden masks was from her, too, but it’s been so long ago now, I can’t remember which (I think it’s the singer) or where it came from 😦

Some of my other masks look on from the adjacent wall

Some of my other masks look on from the adjacent wall

Anyway.

Now you have another piece of the Mellie puzzle.

I like masks. It’s kind of a Hero with a Thousand Faces/Jungian archetypes thing. Also, shamanism.

What do you collect? Any particular reason? Is it thematic, or part of your gestalt? Is it part of who you are as a creative person?

Do share.

Sundog snippet

Six questions with Renny deGroot

I recently made Renny’s acquaintance (formally) at a meeting of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild.

She let us know that she had recently published her first historical novel, Family Business.  Another Sudbury Writer? W00t! Of course, I had to ask for an interview 🙂

______________________________________________________________________

Renny deGroot

Renny deGroot

Renny deGroot is a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents. She is a published poet and song lyricist, with Family Business being her debut novel. She studied English Literature at Trent University. Her strong Dutch roots continue to influence her while the love of her Canadian homeland with its beauty and freedom, flavours all that she does.

Renny lives in rural Ontario with her Great Pyrenees, Chocolate Lab and very old tabby cat.”

My parents were somewhat ‘citizens of the world’. My mother lived in England for a period after the war, before moving to Indonesia where she met my father (who was there with the Dutch military). They immigrated to Nova Scotia (where I was born) before settling in Ontario. This spirit of adventure influenced their three children (of whom I am the youngest). I’ve lived in Ireland, hung out in the south of France for a bit and  go ‘back’ to the Netherlands regularly to spend time with family and soak up my heritage, before always coming back with a sigh of relief, to the best and most beautiful place in the world – Canada.

_______________________________________________________________________

WG: Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Renny!

RdG: Thank you! I’m really pleased and honoured that you’ve invited me to participate.

WG: How did you come to the writing life? Give us the origin story of Renny deGroot, author 🙂

RdG: I’ve always felt artistic pulls. While my sister was sent to Brownies and my brother to Navy cadets, I was sent to art classes. Unfortunately my drawing skill set didn’t live up to my desire, so I turned to writing as an outlet. As a teenager I wrote the usual angst-ridden poetry, some of which found their way into community newsletters and school yearbooks (my mother was a faithful ‘sender-outer’ of my pieces J ). Lots of encouragement at home and from great English teachers drove me to take creative writing classes and work on my degree in English Literature.

WG: What inspired Family Business?

RdG: Well, simply put – family stories. One evening a couple of years ago I was visiting my family in the Netherlands. My uncle Jan (the youngest of my father’s six siblings) and his wife, Marja, were telling me of a certain situation with my great grandmother, and when he finished I said: ‘wow – there’s a book in that.’ My uncle looked sceptical, but they are such a great support and when I really started writing the story they did everything they could to help me with background, details and encouragement. Of course, it isn’t at all intended to accurately represent the family thing – it just was the starting point – as you say – the inspiration.

The end result is a story about a young man who struggles to learn the meaning of freedom amidst family conflict during the depression years and World War II German occupation in the Netherlands. The notion of freedom on a macro level (for a nation, race, community) and a micro level (our own individual right to choose and determine our path) is timeless and a topic that I’m passionate about. When I’m not writing, I manage an Irish tenor (http://jimmycartonband.com). Being so immersed in the Irish culture and music has been a huge contributing influence on my interest in the topic of freedom.

I’ve read that every writer could come up with ten stories based on family stuff, and I believe it. I don’t know if I just happen to have a quirky family, but I know that there’s inspiration for a few more still sitting there waiting to be harvested.

WG: And what about your new work in progress?

RdG: The working title is After Paris and it opens in spring of 1916 in Paris. World War I changed the world forever and, like Family Business, it isn’t a war story, but I’m interested in how people manage the massive changes that come into their lives both during and after these huge events. The role of women changed with WWI, for some more than others. I’m also very interested in personal development – emotional vs. intellectual. These are some of the things I want to look at, but of course rolled up into a great story.

WG: I love when writers talk about their process 🙂 Would you care to share a part of yours?

RdG: I can get pretty distracted so I need to set targets for myself – generally a page count per session and I tell myself I won’t finish for the day until I’ve done three pages or five pages, or whatever is realistic based on where I am. The beginning is the hardest so if I can get two pages done, I’m satisfied. I generally go through several pots of tea before the day is done.

After that, I love writing outside. I have a large screened-in deck and a pond with a waterfall. I’m surrounded by trees – so I am most productive when I sit out there with the sound of the wind in the trees and the music of the waterfall in the background. I’m afraid I’m less productive in winter, but do enjoy being by the fire, either reading for background, or doing a bit of writing.

When I’m in the groove, I don’t worry about grammar or phrasing too much. I want to get the story down and then I go back to start the revisions and editing. With Family Business I edited the finished story several times before hiring a professional editor and then we worked together for three full rounds. It was a great learning experience and of course I’ll incorporate those lessons into the writing of After Paris.

WG: You have a lovely Web page. Are you active on social media? What role has “platform” played in getting your work published?

RdG: I’m afraid I’m not great with the technology side of things and am learning as I go along. I guess I have to admit that I’ve only just set up a Facebook page – on the tenth anniversary of Facebook, I accept it’s here to stay, so I’ve climbed aboard, albeit somewhat reluctantly. I am more comfortable with the website for sure. That gives me the opportunity to give reign to my creativity and I see it as a spot , not just to provide information for fans, but to really interact in a virtual ‘book club’ environment. My book is for sale via my website, so it’s handy for that as well of course. Publishing and book buying/selling is a whole different world than it was, even five years ago. Amazon.com and other on-line retailers have opened up the world to make it accessible to writers like myself, who probably wouldn’t get the attention of large traditional publishing houses, and have done a great service to the reading world – as people can choose for themselves what grabs them versus having their tastes steered by the large publishers.

WG: What’s coming up for Renny deGroot and Family Business?

RdG: I am really excited about the next few months. It’s such a long process to get a book published that I feel like I’ve stepped away from Family Business for a while as I’ve become more involved with the outlining, research (including a trip to Paris last summer!) and writing of After Paris. It means putting Paris on hold for a bit, but I’m happy to be ‘back with the Meijer family.’ I have the official Book Launch in Toronto on March 1st at a wonderful downtown spot called The Hothouse Café. It’ll be an afternoon of wine, food, music and of course a reading and book signing. After that I’ll be doing a launch tour which I’m still firming up, but will certainly include Sudbury in early April, and various other spots in Ontario (looking at Port Perry, Bowmanville, and Mississauga, with more spots in Toronto, Brampton and Brantford to start with.) Then, in the summer I’ll be looking at the Maritimes – definitely Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and probably Newfoundland.

I’ll be updating my website regularly on the ‘Events’ tab, as well as Facebook – so I hope that your readers will join me, and even suggest other places that might like to host a book signing. I’m open to ideas. One idea that I really like is participating in small ‘house-readings’. I’ve been to a couple of house concerts (I first saw/heard the Good Lovelies at a house concert) and I think it’s a perfect setting for a book reading/signing/discussion. I’m really excited about these events as I get to travel, meet people and share some opportunities for storytelling.

WG: Thanks for a wonderful interview, Renny. Break a pencil in your future writing endeavours!

______________________________________________________________________

Family Business

Family Business

About Family Business:

Set in the Netherlands against the backdrop of the Great Depression and through World War II, Family Business follows the story of Agatha Meijer and her sons, André and Johan, as they build their textile business, a business Agatha is determined her sons will carry on, regardless of their own desires. Family tension comes to a head when the boys each take a stand, sending all their lives spinning in directions none of them would have ever anticipated, and making each of them question the true meaning of loyalty, love, and freedom.

For sale at:

http://rennydegroot.com (Canadian customers who would like a print copy)

http://www.amazon.com/Family-Business-Renny-deGroot/dp/1494233231/ (U.S. customers who would like a print copy)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/401486 (eBook)

Various other Amazon affiliates also have the print copy available for international customers (.co, .UK, .fr, etc.).

Also – Amazon.com will sell to customers in Canada, but as it comes from the U.S., shipping is much more expensive – so better to buy through the rennydegroot.com website.

The next chapter: January 2014 update

The Next ChapterFor those of you who may not remember, I decided to try out some new programs and templates for my writing this year.

So far, Scrivener and OneNote haven’t seen a lot of action.

I think that if I start a brand new project from scratch, I’ll give Scrivener a proper try. Having attempted to import several different writing projects, I wasn’t very impressed with the result. I’d still have to do a lot of work just to organize the piece of writing (break down the sections and chapters, format it the way I want, etc.).

Since I’m writing around a day job, those are precious hours I could be spending writing rather than figuring out how to import and configure my existing work.

Right now, Evernote is seeing more action than OneNote, so far as researching and organizing my short story submissions, etc.. The Webclipper tool is too convenient not to use.

The third tool that I investigated was an Excel spreadsheet that Jamie Raintree shared with her readers in December.

With a minimum of tweaking, this tool has proved TEH AWESOME for me.

I became aware of the joys of word count when I participated in NaNoWriMo last year. The simple thrill of meeting a daily goal quickly became addictive.

I’ve also been following Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing in Public reporting. That man can pump out the words!

My results are not so impressive when compared to his, as you’ll see in a bit, but just having a record of the accomplishment feeds back into my motivation. It’s a positive energy cycle 🙂

Another thing I decided to try this year was working on several projects, more or less simultaneously. In the past, I’ve been focusing on one WIP and writing short stories and my blog on the side.

This year, I’m working on the second book of my epic fantasy series, the YA Urban I drafted for NaNo, and the MG fantasy I worked on this time last year while waiting for my content edit. Plus stories and blog. Plus revisions on Initiate of Stone when all my beta readers report back.

Eep!

When it came time to implement my strategy, I just couldn’t see taking the few hours of writing time I have each night and dividing them amongst my projects. I’m good at rapidly changing focus between projects (what most people call multitasking), but not that good.

So I decided to try an experiment.

I focused on one project each week, plus the blog on weekends.

I’m not certain yet whether my experiment has been successful or not. So I’m going to continue in this vein until the experiment proves itself a worthy strategy, or it ceases to work for me. In the latter case, I’ll modify and try again.

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far

I write the most new words in a month for my blog. For January, I wrote 7114 words of Writerly Goodness. Flerkin’ shnit!

Apprentice of Wind clocks in next with 2781 new words written.

Then Gerod and the Lions with 821, my short stories with 609, and finally Figments with 207.

That’s 10,923 for the month. Holy kung pow chicken, Batman!

Keep in mind that these are new words I’m counting. AoW and Figments are already drafted, and I’m mostly realigning and writing in the holes on both of those. GatL had two chapters written, and after revamping them, I’ve gotten into fresh writing with that project. Even with the short stories, the work has been largely revision.

I’m working with the magazine’s editor to bring “Downtime” up to snuff for On Spec, and reworking one of my stories from last year for a submission deadline in February with Bastion.

January's results

January’s results

I’m not setting any hard and fast writing goals each day. I might be setting myself up for failure that way. I’m just seeing what I actually do without putting any pressure on myself.

Still, it’s interesting to see what I’ve been able to accomplish in a month of “normal” writing.

How have your writing projects been going?

Caturday Quickies: Good news and tech crisis averted

What should I find in my inbox today but a lovely message from Sopphey Vance that Enhance No. 14 is out 🙂

Aside from my lovely photograph (my first chosen for publication) you should check out all the lovely poetry. You can read the issue online, or, better still, support the Onimpression Network by purchasing a print copy of your very own.

My sweet little dear

My sweet little dear

Shortly after I checked my email this morning, my Samsung Galaxy Note II died.

Oh noes!

I didn’t realize how dependant I’d become on the dear thing until I couldn’t raise a signal from her.

Fortunately, the person at the Rogers store knew exactly what to do. He removed the battery, waited three seconds, then reinserted it.

Hard boot saves the day.

I should have thought of that 😛