NaNoWriMo 2019 update 2

Week two was a rough one. I struggled, while working, to ramp up my production, but a couple of things happened that pushed me off-course.

The first was that a family member had an operation and is waiting for further test results. We’re all trying not to worry until there’s something to worry about but waiting is the worst. It affected me more than I thought it would.

The second was that former employees and authors of ChiZine Publications spoke out about systemic financial, professional, and personal harassment and abuse. The stories that continue to emerge on social media are horrific and have made it as far as File 770, Publishers Weekly, and the SFWA’s Writer Beware. Though the publisher and managing editor have stepped down, they still own the company. While a statement was released, and a new publisher has taken charge, promising all accounts will be settled by the end of 2019, no apology was made nor was any acknowledgement of the harm done or of trying to make amends other than contractual.

Though I am still trying to process this, I will state categorically that I believe all the testimonies I’ve read. I believe all the victims who have come forward and all the victims who have chosen not to. I know many of them from the SFF community, and I support them unequivocally. I thank those who have come forward for their bravery and hope that justice will ultimately be served for all concerned.

It’s still an unfolding tragedy that is having ripples throughout the Canadian SFF community.

In the midst of this, I was also struggling with story logic issues. I had to work through events in a way that would read well and make sense. That slowed my pace considerably.

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As a result, only yesterday did I approach the daily writing goal for NaNoWriMo, and I’m pleased that I was able to accomplish that. Unfortunately, I will write short for the next couple of days because I have to finish my next DIY MFA column.

I am behind by a considerable margin. I’m not going to stop trying, though.

All this unrest is also why I’m posting this update a day late.

It’s the writer’s life.

Until next week, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

NaNoWriMoBanner

NaNoWriMo 2019 update

NaNoWriMoBanner

For the month of November, curation stops (sorry, not sorry). The October next chapter update won’t come out until the first weekend in December. In the meantime, I’ll be writing these wee weekly updates. You won’t see much of me on Twitter. I stop looking at Pinterest or YouTube. I devote as much time as I can to the NaNoWriMo challenge.

Still, the first weekend of November is always tough. Wordstock Sudbury, our local literary festival, takes place this weekend and has for the past several years. I want to participate, support the local arts community, see writerly friends, and fill the well a bit. So, I do.

This year, it was also my 50th birthday, and the party was last night.

Accordingly, I didn’t get much done this weekend. It is what it is. I’ll catch up, or I won’t. Regardless, I’m still giving it my all. Within reason. I’ve often reached the first of December with barely a brain cell to spare. I’d rather not exhaust myself like that if I can help it.

Also, I’ll be working for most of the month and possibly training for the last week of it (and the first week of December). It’s going to be a rough go.

This year, for the first time, I’ll be participating in NaNo as a rebel, rewriting a prior NaNo project, Reality Bomb. I received some difficult-to-hear, but on-point critique of the draft I presented to my online critique group. I’ve spent the last two months reconceiving of the novel in anticipation of rewriting it. I’ve learned enough about my proclivities to know that if I work with the existing text, that I’m hella reluctant to change things significantly. And I have a lot of things to change about this novel.

So, to the word count report:

November 1 – 702 words

November 2 – 295 words

November 3 – 967 words

Total – 1964 words

I hope to make more headway this week.

I’ll check in next Sunday.

Until then, be well, be kind, and stay strong (whether you’re tackling NaNoWriMo or not). The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 29-Oct 5, 2019

A nice, compact batch of informal writerly learnings, this week.

Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes list ten character traits of an espionage hero. Later in the week, Janice Hardy stops by and explains what happens when your plot hides behind the details. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland poses five questions to help you choose a protagonist who represents your story’s theme. Helping Writers Become Authors

Nancy Johnson asks, is your book done yet? Donald Maass explores the making of a hero or heroine. Bryn Greenwood talks about what happens after your dreams come true. Cathy Yardley: dare to deliver. Writer Unboxed

Tamar Sloan dig into writerly procrastination, why it happens, and how to break free of it. Then, Angela Ackerman wonders, how do you know if your protagonist is strong enough? Writers Helping Writers

How to write a strong protagonist. Reedsy

Leanne Sowul explains how to find your writing purpose. And here’s my latest Speculations column: five ways to rock NaNoWriMo. DIY MFA

Robert Lee Brewer sorts out the distinctions between imminent, immanent, and eminent. Writer’s Digest

Chris Winkle: six rape tropes and how to replace them. Then, Oren Ashkenazi examines siege warfare before gunpowder. Mythcreants

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to help you wrestle your work in progress into shape.

Be well until Thursday!

Tipsday2019

The next chapter: December 2018 update and year-end review

Let’s just get right into it with what happened in December.

My goals had been to continue drafting Tamisashki at the rate of about 500 words a day, to complete and submit my next DIY MFA column, to resume blogging, and complete a couple of critiques for my group.

Then, life intervened.

I slipped on the ice and fell on my right knee while walking Torvi. It was my third fall on that knee since August and the repeated trauma finally caught up with me. The first night, though I didn’t feel much pain, the knee swelled up so much that I couldn’t bend the joint or bear weight on it. When I looked at it, jest because it was feeling weird, it looked like the alien from Alien was trying to break out of my kneecap.

So, the next day I spent at the clinic, getting x-rays, icing and elevating, and plying the injury with anti-inflammatories.

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Though Phil “officially” retired Nov 30th, he returned to work to install a new piece of software. They haven’t managed to hire his replacement yet and he knew it was coming, but it was only supposed to be for Dec 11th and 12th. It turned out that he was working right through to Dec 28th. And, when he came home from work on the 20th, he had an abscess in one of his teeth.

Two appointments with his dentist on the 21st and the 31st fixed him up, but when the dentist’s insurance specialist submitted his claim, they were informed that his coverage had ceased. Though Phil retired, he’s on a salary continuance with access to his benefits right through to March 31st of 2019. So, he had to sort that out, too.

Turns out that was just a computer glitch (ironically). The insurance company had, in fact, processed the claims, but the system was erroneously sending out notifications, both through its online interface and by email/snail mail, that the claims had been refused.

Phil now has written confirmation that the claims have been processed and paid.

Between all that, I didn’t get as much as I’d hoped done. While I submitted and edited my column on time and completed my critiques, I only 67% of my writing goal on Tamisashki. Still, 10,346 words is nothing to sneeze at.

Also, toward the end of the month, and year, I decided to devote some time to planning out my 2019 writing year. More on that in a bit.

It took me a while to get back on track with curation after my NaNoWriMo break. So, I ended up being a bit short on my writing goal for the blog at 1,994 of 2,600 words, or 77%.

My DIY MFA Column came in at 1,047 words of my 1,000-word goal, or 105%.

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One thing I discovered, during my convalescence from my fall, was that standing really does improve my productivity. When I sit, whether at work or at home, when I write, I tend to lose track of my posture when I sit. I get so focused, regardless of what I do, that I tend to hunch over or slouch. My back, neck, and shoulders hurt more. It affects my breathing and I tend to feel more fatigued.

I’m happy to say that, with my doctor’s approval, I’m back to standing. I’ll let you know whether I notice any improvement. This is an anecdotal, personal experiment, of sorts, but it is supporting my preference for standing while working.

The holidays were quiet and understated. We did not exchange gifts. My sister-in-law hosted Christmas dinner at her place. Phil and I took Torvi out early in the day so that we could hit a local dog park with Buster.

We had a fabulous meal and played a few games of Sequence before returning home, with containers full of leftovers, around ten in the evening.

I took a picture of lovely sun dogs on the last weekend of December.

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And that was that.

2018 was a hard year. I had to work through my burnout and get to the bottom of it, which took me a lot longer than I expected. I thought, with my experiences in 2017, I’d have been able to work through the worst of it by the end of that year. Because Phil’s health problems and then his work problems were a big part of the reasons why I was burned out in the first place, I wasn’t able to dig my way out until he was able to dig himself out.

Accordingly, my plans for 2018 were all shot to hell. I didn’t finish drafting Playing with Fire until September. That was my year.

On PwF, I wrote 55,867 words of my 55,000-word goal, or 102%.

For Tamisashki, I wrote 47,174 words, or 72% of my 65,500-word goal.

I wrote about nine columns for DIY MFA, or 12,744 words of my 9,000-word goal (142%). Yeah. I tend to write long. Gotta work on that.

On the blog, I wrote 43,823 words of my 42,000-word goal, or 104%.

And I compiled six newsletters for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild until I resigned from those duties, writing 31,008 words of my 24,000-word goal, or 129%.

Finally, I “revised” Marushka for the critique group, managing 77,021 words of my 80,000-word goal, or 96%.

Interestingly, I managed 98% on my writing goal and 96% on my revision goal for the year.

 

 

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Not bad at all.

In 2019, I’m going to be continuing to draft Tamisashki. I figure that will take me to the end of April. Then I’m going to take two months to read the whole series, remap all the novels, and organize my series bible. With this final novel, though I’m not yet half way through it, I’ve had a number of ideas that reshape the world. I’m glad I decided to finish the series before getting into heavy revisions. The whole will be more cohesive and the story much improved as a result.

While I read and sort things out with the series, I’m going to prepare a draft of Reality Bomb for the critique group to work on.

After the reading and remapping, I’m going to get into those heavy revisions on the Ascension series. I hope to make it through the first three novels by September before I have to begin work on my outline for my 2019 NaNo project in October.

I’ve decided to begin finishing off the rest of the series I’ve started. I’m going back to Mageblood, my YA urban fantasy. It’s definitely going to be a duology.

That will fill up my November and December for 2019.

In addition to blogging and continuing my columns for DIY MFA, I’m trying two experiments this year.

First, I’m going to write an original short story every month and submit them to paying markets. I have ideas for four of them brainstormed and I’m working on one as we speak. So far, so good.

What do I hope to gain through this experiment? The knowledge that I can write short fiction and improve sufficiently to get some more of my work out there in the world.

The second experiment is one that I’ve talked about for a number of years, but never committed to. I’m going to work on a poetry collection and two collections of short fiction (one speculative and one non-speculative), all of which I’m going to self-publish in ebook format only. For now. If they generate enough interest, I might make them publish-on-demand (PoD) in the future.

The idea behind this is that I want to have something representative of my body of work to date. Also, even if they’re only ebooks, having some short form collections available will be valuable from a marketing perspective. The more work one has out in the world, the more one’s name is circulated.

Between the new short fiction I produce, and the collections of past work, I see this as another step forward in my platform building. Finally, having my stories edited and published will also give me material with which to start a newsletter. That probably won’t get set up until 2020 but starting the groundwork now will make that project easier in the future.

Although this might all seem very ambitious, I am, at least at the moment, feeling capable of doing it. I may well have to adjust my goals as the year progresses, but I’ve never had a problem doing that in the past.

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A week into 2019, and things are going well.

I’ll keep you updated.

Until next I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong, my friends. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 16-22, 2018

Happy holidays (whatever you celebrate, or don’t)! It’s time to open your present of informal writerly learnings!

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Tiffany Yates Martin says, NaNoWriMo was the easy part and shows you how to see your story across the finish line. Writers in the Storm

Vaughn Roycroft considers the gifts of the writing life. Writer Unboxed

Kathleen McCleary explains how to navigate families in fiction. Writer Unboxed

Porter Anderson offers a provocation: “The New Year’s Eve of time.” Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle drops by Writers Helping Writers to discuss attachment, the first element of goal-oriented storytelling.

Over on Mythcreants, Rachel Meyer shares the five essentials of an opening scene. Later in the week, Oren Ashkenazi considers eight terrain features for fantasy kingdoms to fight over.

Janice Hardy takes a first look a first draft: how to revise your manuscript. Then, she shares a goal-checking trick for plotting your novel. Fiction University

Sara Letourneau explores why the theme of family is important. DIY MFA

Becca Puglisi stops by Writers in the Storm to share nine tension-building elements for character dialogue.

Kitty the Retro-Writer visits Jami Gold’s blog: if you have a complex story, use a crime wall.

And that was Tipsday.

Enjoy your seasonal celebrations with family and friends.

Until next time, be well, my friends.

tipsday2016

The next chapter: November 2018 update and #NaNoWriMo 2018 wrap up

Ah, friends. So glad you stopped by 🙂

Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo 2018 and I finished with 36,828 words. It’s basically what I predicted. In one way, it’s a comfort that I know myself so well. In another, it’s disappointing that I can no longer push myself beyond what I know to be my limits.

Well, I could, but here I am on December first, exhausted, as it is. Mind you November also gave me the gift of a time shift courtesy of Daylight Savings and that tends to upset my sleep for a week or two afterward. Losing an hour is worse than gaining one. So, there’s that.

Let’s break down the final week of NaNo, shall we?

Sunday last week, I wrote 1,194 words.

Monday, I managed 1,039.

Tuesday, 1,047.

Wednesday, despite having what ended up being a two-hour recording session (I’ll let you know when the result is available online and you can hear what a total nerd I am in comparison to the composed and brilliant people I get to work with), I wrote 1,069 words 🙂

Thursday was another rough day and I only managed 705 words.

And on Friday, I wrote 1,525 words.

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What that means is that I’m past the first plot point in Tamisashki and heading for the midpoint.

What’s ahead?

I’m going to continue drafting at the much more reasonable pace of 500 words a day. I may write more, particularly on a weekend or day off, but 500/day is my goal pace and if I end up taking a day off here and there, I can definitely afford it 🙂 I’ll probably be drafting into March or April, depending on how things go.

I also have a couple of critiques due, which I’m going to work on in the next week, a DIY MFA team meeting on the 5th, my next column for DIY MFA will be due on the 11th, and I think that will keep me busy for the month.

I’m also going to start my annual planning cycle, set my goals for 2019, and be on the lookout for Jamie Raintree’s 2019 writing and revision planner 😀

Finally, I’m going to shift back into a more normal routine. Curation will pick up again not this coming, but the next week.

In other news, yesterday was also Phil’s last day at his day job. He has to go back to fulfill a couple of key obligations, but he’s now officially retired. Technically, he’s on vacation into the New Year and has some severance that will carry him through until March 31st of 2019. It’s a nice little cushion and will give him the time he needs to decompress and decide what’s next for him.

Torvi is showing every sign of becoming a sweet dog. She still gets inordinately excited when meeting other dogs and people, but she’s calming down. She also still has the irritating habit of getting bity when she has a want and can’t think of another way to express it. And she hasn’t distinguished between good and bad attention yet, but I think she’s beginning to.

Health-wise, I’m quite content, not having had a legitimate period since May. I don’t know whether it’s the ablation, or menopause setting in proper, but it’s wonderful. I’ve settled in at a thirty-pound weight loss since this time last year. I’m almost back to my wedding weight, which is a good place for me to be. While I could stand to lose a little more, I can definitely live with my current size, shape, and general sense of wellbeing.

I’m going to see my doctor this week to check on my blood pressure (I’ve seen signs of elevation, recently—what’s stressful for Phil is also stressful for me; also the uncertainty of not knowing how we’re going to survive after March 31st on half our income—so, yeah), a few new aches and pains, and a particularly irritating keratinaceous growth (AKA, horn) that may need to be removed.

And that’s about it for this month’s update.

Next month will see my end of year wrap-up and I’ll share my 2019 goals.

Until Tipsday fires up again on Dec 11th, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

#NaNoWriMo 2018 week 3

Greetings!

I only managed 1,193 words last Sunday, for reasons I shared with you last week.

Monday was a total slog. Every word was a battle. Even so, 421 words was rather pathetic. That’s the lowest 1-day word count of the whole month. So far.

I got back on track Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with 1,016, 1,018, and 1,075 words, respectively.

Friday, I wrote 1,852 words and, on Saturday, I racked up 2,035 words.

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I have now broken 30k on the draft and I’m just about at the first plot point. Yeah. This is epic fantasy, with due emphasis on the epic. Plus, I expect to edit down in revision.

I probably won’t make 40k this year; so, a hair less than last year, but better than the 28k I managed in 2014, also a year of NaNo-while-working.

I joined NaNo for the first time in 2013 and, if this year pans out as I expect, this will result in three years of achieving the 50k goal (or exceeding it) and three years of not meeting it. In all years but one, the drafts were actually finished after the fact.

Aside from that, I have three other novels that I drafted outside NaNo.

I’ll speak a little more next week about what I see coming up, writing-wise, in 2019.

Until then, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

#NaNoWriMo 2018: week 3 update

Super short update this week.

Last Sunday, I only managed 1,143 words. Sunday is laundry day and supper-with-Mom day, so there are generally other things to occupy me besides NaNo. Yes, I could ask for help, but Phil already does the cooking, grocery shopping, and he has been cleaning up the kitchen and bathroom. He’s not yet retired, and I don’t feel it’s fair to ask more of him right now.

Also, spending time with my mom is non-negotiable. I’m an only child and my dad died—yes, it was going on eight years ago, but still—so, this is a personal line I choose not to cross. I also spend mornings with Mom on my days off/weekends. There it is. I’ve never not done this during NaNo, so it is possible to achieve 50k in a month, even working and spending time with Mom. I’ve done it.

As I get older, I do have to accept some limitations, though. I’m not able to do as much as I used to. I’m trying to be mindful so that I don’t hurl myself right back into burnout mode.

Monday, which was a day off for me, resulted in 2,118 words. Though Tuesday was a little rough at 705 words, I managed to rack up 1,006 and 1,169 words respectively on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Saturday were 2,019- and 2,213-word days. I’m up to 21,648 words as of yesterday.

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So, I’ve broken 20k words, but I’m about 6.5k words behind. I don’t know that I’ll realistically be able to catch up at this point. I’m good with that.

Whatever I accomplish during NaNo, they’re words I wouldn’t have written otherwise, and that’s the real win. I’m pleased with what I’ve written so far, though there are some points of continuity I have to fix (yes, already). I’ve made notes 🙂

Until next weekend, be well, be kind, and stay strong, my friends. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

#NaNoWriMo2018 week 2

It was hard going back to work after five, lit-event-filled days off.

On Sunday, last week, I attended the launch of Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli’s historical fiction, La Brigantessa, which was published by Inanna Publications. It took place at the Caruso Club, Sudbury’s Italian cultural hub. There was as much history lesson as reading, and thanks to the various groups who had supported Rosanna in her journey.

And, of course, there was awesome food 🙂

Since that event took up most of the afternoon, and I also published my next chapter/NaNoWriMo week 1 update, I only managed 931 words that day.

It was back to work, Monday through Thursday, and with supper, dog duty, and other personal and household responsibilities, I wrote 831, 510, 558, and 534 words respectively.

My initial plan had been to write between 3,000 and 3,500 words per day on my days off, leaving me with the reasonable amount of between 250 and 500 words per work day. But I hadn’t accounted for Wordstock Sudbury and the book launch, getting the car serviced, an evening out with a friend (even though I knew they were all things I’d sacrifice NaNo production for).

Sometimes, we’re too blindly hopeful for our own good…

Friday and Saturday, I managed 2,071 and 2,102 words respectively. I haven’t been able to ramp up to my goal number. There’s a possibility I could get there by the end of the month, but, in the meantime, that leaves me short. I’ve broken 10k and as of the end of day yesterday, my work count was at 11,275, but that’s almost 5, 500 words short of where I should be (considering an equal division of 50k words over 30 days, or 1,667 words per day).

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I’m going to try to up my word count during the week and see where that leads, but at this stage, I’m thinking that a NaNo “win” in 2018 is going to be a long shot.

I do have my outline, though, which has meant the world of difference in the drafting. Though I’ve already diverged (I always do—ALWAYS), I’m only about a thousand words behind where I was this time last year, when I had the entire month of November off. Don’t forget, I also had new puppy to contend with and did not manage a NaNo “win” in 2017.

I did manage a NaNo “win” in 2016, while working, so there’s still hope, though it might be slim.

Winter has settled in up here in northeastern Ontario. We had a single day of snow in October, and it melted almost immediately. As of Thursday, there was still green grass on most lawns. The lilac leaves hadn’t fallen (they now have—most are green).

There was a light dusting of snow on Thursday night and the snow continued through the day on Friday. 10-15 centimetres (4-6 inches) fell by Saturday morning and Phil shovelled both Friday night and Saturday morning as he had a team building event to attend. There has been a dusting of snow again Saturday and Sunday (so far), to reinforce the initial fall and the temperatures will not reach much above the melting point for the next week.

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So that’s this week’s NaNo update. I’ll check in with you again, next Sunday.

Until then, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Muse-inks