Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yearly Resolutions, It’s Starting to be a Tradition for Me By Now

2006 I finished my first novel, a fantasy set in a medieval styled world. I’d started it in high school with a friend. I completed it as my undergraduate honors thesis.

After graduating with my BA, I got real impatient real fast and began another novel, an urban fantasy centering around humans and the fae. By December I finished the first of that. The months following I edited it and brought, five pages a week for the most part, to my writer’s group. Some time over the summer of 2007 I brought them the last of it. I still feel like it needs more editing, but I did get through one big round.

Now I’ve finished my third semester of the Master’s program. MA in English with a concentration in creative writing. My thesis is another novel, urban fantasy, with werewolves and gods/goddesses. I’m about halfway through it, and I want to finish the first draft before January 14, 2009, the first day I go back to class for my last semester. By Mid-May (technically by March or April), I will have a full draft, revised a couple of times.

Between January 2007 and November 2008 I also worked at a part-time job that just began demanding too much time for me to focus on school and writing. I’m not working right now, but I may get a part-time job on campus. We’ll see.

Which leads me to resolutions. I don’t (read: I usually don’t) achieve all my resolutions, but I like having something there, in print, something to move towards. I may not have accomplished what I set out to this year, but I’ve made progressed. That’s good.

So for 2009:

January through May—focus on school and finishing the werewolf UF. Graduate.

May through August—I will wait on getting a job, at least until after the summer (if I can help it) an focus on polishing the two urban fantasy novels. Start querying them with agents. Maybe I’ll start with the faerie one, since I already have ideas for a second and third book.

August/September—if I haven’t yet, start looking for a full-time job. Write Book 2 of the Fae UF if I haven’t started that yet.

October through December—writing Books 2 and 3, querying, hopefully by this time I will have an agent and we’ll be working on getting something out to publishers. (Is it too much to hope by this time next year, I may have an agent and a publisher?)

The resolutions are very detailed, but I think that’s just more evidence that this is the time to get off my keister and start querying. There’s some editing that needs to happen first, but I can’t get bogged down in that and avoid the next step.

So on that note, I will try to take those next steps.

And to you writers out there, good luck in 2009. May you have inspiration and luck in your writing and publication.

Happy writing.

See you on the other side,

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reflection about Villains

I find myself playing with the idea of villains a lot in my stories.

In the books I read I love finding an antagonist that has a reason for being the villain. That they aren't just acting as a foil for the hero for the sake of the hero having someone to fight against. The better the reason, and the more complex the background (even if it's only hinted at in the story), the more I tend to enjoy that character. Simple example: Severus Snape as an antagonist. He isn't a villain, ultimately, but there are numerous times throughout the series where he's in opposition to Harry Potter. What I find compelling is that he basically loathes Harry throughout the series, but they're both "good" guys. The question of whether he's an ally or not is turned on its head quite a few times, and especialy at the end of the sixth book (being in fact, a huge part of the promotion for the seventh book).

Anyway, I was thinking about my own writing (-not- I assure in comparison to HP, just generally thinking about the two novels I've been working on), and I find it’s never enough to just have a person to label the bad guy, even if they have perfectly reasonable reasons to be the villain.

Instead, I have one novel where the “villain” is essentially a child that wants a mother, along with the servant who guards and cares for him. In the novel I’m currently working on (and providing the daily word counts), there are multiple villains, and some surprises thrown in. The two main characters are chasing one ‘bad guy,’ but it’s pretty clear that two other characters aren’t so nice, and can be considered villains although some of their goals overlap with the heroes’. Then there is Guy 1’s friends, neither of whom are what they seem and one of whom's motivation is in direct opposition to the heroes, but isn't a villain. And Guy 2’s friends, who seem friendly at first, and again, have the same goals at the heroes, but one has darker motives, i.e. villainous, than the other, though they work together.

Perhaps this tendency of mine has risen to the surface because of this latter bok--I have the added challenge at taking that complex interweaving of action, relationship and motivation (explained in a rather mangled "concise but vague" manner above) and making it seem natural. That the revelations of the two main characters occur at times that make sense and that the people who seemed to be allies but aren't have their motivations well explained--trying to avoid the sense of "what, why is he really a bad guy, I thought they were friends" or worse "that explanation makes no damn sense, what is this writer thinking?"

I like a complex antagonist. Can you tell? More than complex, I love throwing in that uncertainty. Is the villain as villainous as they seem, or are those friends really acting in the protagonist’s best intentions?

Thus were my thoughts earlier today and last night.

I took a break from the writing for the holidays, so here's the word counts:

To refresh your memories Day 5 was Monday, the 22nd of December and I finished that day at 31,342.

Day 6, Tuesday Dec 23: end of day--32, 232 words, so 890 words, least amount so far for a day when I did write.

Day 7, Wednesday Dec 24: 0 words, but allowed for the holliday

day 8, Thursday Dec 25: 0 words, but also allowed for the holiday, and I was in the kitchen for most of teh day helping with the dinner.

Day 9, Friday Dec 26: end of day--32,896, so 664 words for the day, new low (I didn't realize it was only that much, but it's better than nothing, this whole period was off because of the holiday)

Day 10, Saturday Dec 27: 0 words, it was a run-around day that wore me out.

Day 11, Sunday Dec 28: end of day--37,062, so 4,166 words for the day. Getting back in the groove.

Day 12, Monday Dec 29: I'm still writing and am currently at 38,483, which is 1,421 for the day. I am still working on it, though. It's been a slow day because I let myself get distracted by the TV and the internet. Hence my doing this now. I'm so close to 40,000 I'd love to get there before I go to bed, but if I keep the internet window open I won't reach that goal, so this is my update and I'll edit it tomorrow with today's final word count.

Until then, happy continued holidays and happy writing to all.

EDIT: Last word for yesterday, Day 12--40,132 words, for a total word count of 3,070. Not too shabby. Today is starting off a bit slower.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day 5 is it?

So I did Day 1 and 2.

Day 3, Saturday 12/20: 26,611

Total word count for the day: 1067 words

Mitigating circumstances: No excuse really. There were people in and out of the house all day and it threw me off. I was just unmotivated and distracted.

On the other hand: It's better than nothing.

Day 4, Sunday 12/21: 0 words

Total word count for the day: 0

Mitigating circumstances: I had a date-ish hang out with a friend which took up the better of the morning and early afternoon, plus a little running around before I got home. By the time I could write, I was too tired.

On the other hand: I am trying to make up for it today.

Day 5, Monday 12/22: 29,403 words so far

Total word count for the day: 2,792 words

Mitigating circumstances: another day of distractions, with two people, basically on the other side of a thin door all day.

On the other hand: I'm not done yet today. At least I want to get past 30,000, if not 3,100. It just depends on whether I can focus a little better now in the evening (it's...goodness, I didn't notice, it's almost 8--I thought it was just after 7 pm).

I'm going to keep at it. In the meantime, people with a few spare minutes pop on over to Shrinking Violets. It's a blog for introverts and/or writers. Right now they're doing the Twelve Days of Christmas--Introvert Style.

EDIT: So far at 3,528 words total for today. Not too shabby, considering it was in fits and starts all day. I'll give you the final total tomorrow, but for now, just wanted to give it an update before closing the internet for the night (oh internet, how you distract when I could/should be writing).

EDIT 12/23: Last count for yesterday, Day 5 was 31,342, with a total word count for the day at 4731.

Pretty good, considering. It wasn't until nighttime that I really got on a roll. Now if only I could stay up all night without worrying about bothering others in the house.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Near the end of my first half-week of vacation

Here is me, hoping that by keeping track of my word counts, it will somehow fuel me to keep writing more and more. ~my stomach growls in protest~

Day 1--Thursday 12/18 (since wednesday was a run-around kind of day): started at about 16,000, ended the day on 20,292

Total word count for the day: 4,292 words

Mitigating circumstances: This was all essentially transcription of what I'd written longhand over the course of this semester. So none of it, possibly barring a few sentences at the end.

On the other hand: Good way to start this break, and I had no idea I'd written that much longhand.

Day 2--Friday 12/19: started at 20,292, ended on 25,544 (yes, I'm being a little redundant)

Total word count for the day: 5,252 words

Mitigating circumstances: I was distracted by a trip outside and a long lunch, and distracted myself with computer games.

On the other hand: I see this as a very good word count for one day. I'm hoping to maintain this for at least a while.

To reach between 80,000 and 100,000 before I start up with school again, I should be writing between 2,800 and 3,600 words a day. This doesn't include the two big holidays and their eves. But I know that there will be days when I just write that much, and there will be days where I will go and lose most of my writing time. So I will take as many of these 5,000-word days as I can get. Preemptive strike.

Happy writing, all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My winter break begins now

I did some more transcribing last night, so I'm over 16,000 in HS, what will be the master's thesis.

Today is basically my last day of running around sans holidays. All the other days I plan to write. Working out some very basic math, I can reach about 80,000 before the first day of class if I write about 2,300 words. I can get to around 100,000 words if I do closer to 3,500 words per day. That I believe, includes taking Christmas and possibly New Year's Eve off. If I write on those days, I have a slightly smaller daily word count.

I don't do the word counts and minimums as a hard and fast requirement, though. Some days are better than others, but it does give me an idea if i am consistently short, that I'll need to pick up the pace, or if I cna take it easy later, because perhaps I'm ahead.

I don't think the word counts include today, either. I have to go to university and run some errands. Then I'm going to finish up my Christmas shopping and hang out with a friend of mine. She lives in town and I live in what I guess are the suburbs (although it doesn't really feel like it), and I don't go into town often. I take the bus through it for class, but I usually stay on campus if I have free time. So yes, today I have time, and she has time, and we are hanging out.

Tomorrow I write. But today, with two long bus trips, I will try to plot out the rest the book. I know what I've done and what I need to do to fill in the gaps between the already-written scenes. But if I'm going to really focus almost every day, I need to know where I'm going. And I've introduced a number of characters that need to show up again, and I need to suggest the connections between them (playing with who's your friend and who isn't), red herrings and what not, and if I know where those hints will come in ahead of time, I (hopefully) won't be staring at my computer screen dumbly for hours at a time, only to start playing computer games (right now I am slightl obsessed with mahjong tiles) in an attempt to clear my mind.

I know that's bs, but if I have something to riff I can avoid it anyway.

Happy writing. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More updatey-ness

The 20-page paper was done on time, and turned in early Friday afternoon. The novella was officially due Friday by midnight, but she said people could post the final as late as Monday. I completed it last night, then did revisions this morning. I posted it around 2 this afternoon. Final page count= 74 double-spaced pages in Times New Roman.

All that's left is the Old English final on Tuesday.

In other news: It's raining like crazy in Hawai'i. And because of that (and also perhaps the fact that I didn't go to bed until 3/3:30 last night and the night before) the day has fled from me. I looked up and it was the afternoon.

It's dark outside.

Okay, more studying and then my weeks will be filled with novel-writing. (I can totally write another 64,000 words or more before January 12. No problem.)

(Why yes, Virginia, that is sarcasm.)

Truly, that's my goal. After the final, after a day or two to hang out with friends I haven't seen much lately, and excluding Christmas and New Year's days, that will be life fo the next three weeks.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Semester is Almost Over and Here's Where I Stand

Due by Friday: a 20-page paper and a novella. Next Tuesday: a final exam. Before the start of next semester, my goal is to have the first draft of HS done.

Here's where I currently stand:

No translations done for this Tuesday's class yet.

3,300 words (9 1/2 pages double-spaced) done on the paper--I find it really interesting--I'm looking at the twist endings on three fairly modern retellings of fairy tales. Makes me want to write about more than just the endings, so right now the hardest part is concentrating on a portion of the story and not the whole thing.

13,377 words done on the novella. I believe the range is between 20,000 and 60,000. I feel like I may be closer to the latter by the time I'm done, there's a whole middle chunk of the story which I still need to write.

15, 700 words on the novel, HS. That's 30 pages single-spaced. Not bad, but I think the trickiest part will come when this semester is over and I try to finish this draft by January 12, when school starts up again. I should figure out the last major scenes and calculate how many pages I "ought" to write each day. Even if I don't follow that at all, sometimes the page or word count just helps me focus.

So, in order to work on the novella and novel, the analytical paper comes first. Do it and get it out of the way. I'm off.

Happy writing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

As of today...

...I am officially unemployed.

I don't know if 1. I am just much worse at multi-tasking than I thought, 2. it's just work + school that's a bad combination for me, or 3. this specific job. I know people, many people in this Graduate English program who work and go to school. They work in offices or have a TA-ship at the university. As far as I know, none of them are managers, so maybe that's it, but I feel a bit bad that I couldn't keep working and still get all my school-work done.

I feel like if others can accomplish both, so should I, and then I think, don't be stupid, you shouldn't compare yourself to others, ever. (Because I talk to myself like that.) I knew even before they officially offered me the management position at the beginning of this past summer that I wouldn't be able to split my time well enough to devote all the attention I should to work, school and something resembling a social life (or even just some me-time). They didn't really listen. So I kept managing, but it got to the point where it seemed to me there's no way I can manage a store and a half (technically I was managing two stores, then one, then I was sort of an assistant manager as school began, but the main manager looked to me as a superior and I was still handling the major issues, or so it felt), and still complete all the project I needed to in order to graduate in the spring.

So here I am. My first day of not going to work.

My wallet will be wonting, but I think my writing will appreciate it. And I'm at a point in my life, where I can be out of work and still survive (housing situation is stable and I have some funds saved, plus a lovely scholarship that I am very grateful for). But I plan to only do so until I graduate, then get another job.

This one was supposed to be a regular part-time job for the two years of my Master's program, but it became so much more than I expected it to. (Just goes to show you how unambitious I can be.)

Of course, that said, I haven't typed a word yet today for either story I'm working on. But I'm almost done with 50+ lines of Old English translation (I won't say I'm good at it, but I like it), and I've been trying to get through my reading for my evening Tuesday class.

That one is slow-going, but I still have all of this evening, so I'm off to do that.

"Harry's Skin" and "Jinx Infinity" are calling to me and I am in a state of suspended excitement, my fingertips mentally poised over the keyboard.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Old English Midterm on Tuesday

Even finding out I didn't need the course, I was excited to take it. (I felt like a dork even among my fellow dorks for wanting to take it and being a little excited over its availablity.) But now I have the midterm on Tuesday. Oy.

I've been doing the work over this semester so far, and I've been studying this weekend, butI am not looking forward to cramming two paragraphs of translation and a handful of grammar questions into an hour and fifteen minutes.

But I'll keep working on it. I feel like I've remembered more than I thought I would.

Unrelated to Old Enligh: I've recently discovered the Shrinking Violets blog, for introverts. There was a link on another blog to their Introvert Bill of Rights. As a student, I especially liked the addendum that introverts don't have to raise their hands in class. I pay attention, but I tend to be more comfortable just taking notes, taking in what others say, and jotting down my opinions and questions. I don't like to share those right away. I usually say that my problem lies in the fact that I like to be precise when I share things aloud in class, but I take so long to get what I want to say right in my head, that by the time I'm ready to say it out loud, we've moved on to a different question or topic. So I like that right, but I enjoy a lot of the others as well.

Their most recent post is about the internet being another form of chatter, "Unplugged."

I once spent over an entire month unable to turn on the computer. I would check my email on my dad's computer because I had to, but I couldn't bring myself to turn on my own and spend time at the websites I enjoyed. Not because I didn't enjoy them, but...I don't know. I still haven't worked out quite what was stopping me. But this particular post struck me as interesting. Robin, one of the authors of the site, says, "And I share this with you because I wonder sometimes, if we don’t actively seek what we as introverts crave--quiet time and lots of it for exploring our inner landscape--out body is forced to do it for us." she adds that there is a "stillness and quiet" found in unplugging. I got a few pages written in that time--not much, but I'd been completely stuck before--but eventually that dread (is that even the right word? I've been a bit off in my choice of words lately--adverse or averse?) left me and I was ready and eager to get back online, connect with friends and write.

Anyway, this is a fun blog, especially if you consider yourself an introvert. I'm off to continue studying.

Happy Writing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An update, finally

Sorry I've been away so long, life took up a lot of time. Even this should be a short one, because I have to leave for class in an hour and I still have to get my things ready.

So final count of that week off I swiped way back when: approximately 14,000. Actually just a little under. And it's not all staying because I sort of rewrote part of one scene to see which way was better, but the second version is shorter, so it's not a painful loss of word count.

I wish I had a little more time to write, frankly. And I had a mini-epiphany last night. I keep telling myself I need to make time, but I think it finally sank in last night. I -need- to force myself to come home from work and school and just write for at least an hour. And yes, I'm exhausted when I get home from work, and yes, I'm tired when I get home from class after 9;30 pm, but if I don't start something at those times, I'll try to rely on the weekends, which never works out because those are my homework and running around days, unless I have to work and then it feels like work eats up the entire Saturday (it doesn't, but again, I get home exhausted) and both homework and running around are relegated to Sunday.

It's a bit strange. I have the committment to write a novel-length book--I've done it twice before--but I find the committment to making the time horribly difficult.

Just gotta keep chugging along, though.

In other news, work is kicking my butt, especially since I'm still only part-time and only come in two or three days a week. Also kicking my butt, but in a more pleasant way, is school. At university right now, we're having a symposium on folktales and fairytales: translation, colonialism and cinema. There's a panel discussion at 1:30 today, but I have class right at that time, so I can't go, but there are three other events I wanna get to today.

The symposium has been really fun, even with leaving my house early and getting home rather late everyday.

Speaking of, I have class and a symposium to get ready for. I'll try not to be gone so long next time.

Happy writing!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day Four, and it's already noon

Bad writer.

I didn't get started as early as I should have, but I ate breakfast and had to finish something for work, so it's not -just- because I was lazy.

So, let's see. I started yesterday around 12,314 and endded at 13,557. A little over 1,000, but again, I'd like to do better. I had my writer's group yesterday and I sort of want to go over those early pages. They asked some good questions, but I don't know if there's anything that will have a major effect on what I'm writing now. I'd rather not go back and revise--this week is about new pages.

On a related note, one person asked, in a curious way, whether I might be hiding from my story. I think I almost understand what she means by it. I don't think I'm hiding from my story, but I've never written a story with a mystery bent, so I am playing with which facts to reveal when. And I want the protagonist to discover things like magic and werewolves are real as teh story progresses, not start him off knowing everything. That's no fun.

So off I go, to avoid computer games and editing, to try and write many more new pages. Hopefully. Theorectically. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 3 and my love of sleep

I've been having trouble sleeping lately, waking up earlier than I need to and taking forever to fall asleep in the first place. Usually my night is punctuated with waking up at leat a few times in the early morning.

But back to writing.

I ended yesterday at 12, 314. So that was about 1,000 words? I now have too many numbers to remember which one I actually started at yesterday. In either case, I'm hoping to make better progress today. 1,000 is okay, but I was a little stuck and decided to play computer games instead of working through the issue. They're addictive. And not so mindless, so I couldn't play and think of my writing problem. And then I tried to go to sleep and see mahjong tiles in my head.

I'm going to try and get through the day without playing any of those games and hopefully I get more done.

And I was just reminded that I don't even have five consecutive days, because Friday I go up to campus to buy my u-pass and some of my books (I'll be fine as long as the total isn't over 500--that's what I get for transferring a bunch of funds into my savings account). I also need to order some textbooks online. Upside for one or two classes--I already have some of the required reading from previous classes.

Okay, time to write. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 2 of my week off work

Well, week off of my regularly scheduled work.

I was supposed to have a meeting yesterday, but it was canceled, so I started writing yesterday--granted, since this is my vacation time I decided to take it a little easy that first day--but now I'm really going to buckle down. Writing is the purpose of this week anyway.

So, yesterday I started somewhere around 9,500 words on HS, the story I want to finish as much as possible. I eneded yesterday at 10,431.

I'll come back and edit this post of the end of the day and we'll see how much further I've gotten.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Writing Progress

So I actually have to force myself to take a week off of work in order to get some significant writing, but I was honestly concerned I wouldn't be able to. Work's been busy, so I was going to give up on that week-long desire, but my wonderful and understanding employees encouraged me to take some time off, so I am forcing myself to take most of next week off. In the meantime, I've been trying to do some writing every day.

I haven't succeeded in doing so every day, but I am making headway. I guess there's just something about a song based on the Lady of Shalott and Kermit the frog singing "Creep" and "Hurt" that scream urban fantasy with werewolves and demi-gods to my imagination.

So anyway. ~waves~

Okay, I'm off to see if I can't finish these two scenes, if not this chapter.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Post 4th of July post

We barbequed yesterday. Well, I didn't per se--I spent my day on the computer, chatting with a couple of friends on AIM and editing. A few weeks ago I was on chapter 8, stuck there for the longest time, then I got through to chapter 11. This weekend (i.e. yesterday so far) I finish editing chapter 11 and ended my day somewhere just shy of the middle of chapter 13.

Today I hope to complete the edits.

I will have to go back anyway, though. There are a number of places where I left notes to myself in bold to double-check where character X disappeared to or see if I mentioned issue Y in an earlier chapter. As I'm editing I doing a little chapter by chapter summary for myself (not a chapter by chapter synopsis, yet), so some of those will be answered when that's complete.

Just one more way to give me a wide view of the story, instead of getting bogged down in the details of a chapter, scene, or paragraph.

In another news, for those looking for a distraction: Cabinet of Wonders is a website/blog that's really interesting. I found it some time ago and keep stumbling across it through various avenues, learning new tidbits. The most recent post has some beautiful pictures of the clock tower at the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Full of gorgeous pictures. Enjoy them. I'm of to get some more work done.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You'd think this would be the feature...

But I feel like I don't have more to add to that "preview" from the day before.

In brief, I enjoyed these two books, "Night Life" and "Unshapely Things." Both had interesting takes on the contemporary world where werewolves and the fae walk the streets.

Night Life: The idea of the riots and the fact that the protagonist, Luna, is a copy who really has to restrain herself to hide her secret adds a nice layer to everything going on (as if, not only do I have to deal with this case and this and this, but no one can know this other thing, either).

Unshapely Things: Again, I like the main character. To deal with a world that's more than mundane, most protagonists in this genre, it seems to me (I could be wrong, so let's not hold me to certainty), have some form of power. In this book, he used to, but now it's about squat, and the people around him are right at the point where they don't really want to hear him feeling sorry for himself anymore. It creates a different dynamic between characters that I haven't seen so much.

All in all, two very enjoyable books, and apparently Del Franco's third book won't be out until late 2008 or early 2009, so I'll really have to draw out my enjoyment of book 2 when I get it.

In other news: I was sick yesterday. I'm still a little sick, throat a bit scratchy and nose a tad stuffed up. But I never had a proper fever (which woul leave me completely brainless and would be even more unpleasant in this humid heat) and I'm not as bad off as I was yesterday, so I'm off to work today. On the upside, if I can get through the next three days, we get Friday and Saturday off for the holiday.

In the past week or so, I got through another three chapters of editing, so I'm hoping to finish this round by the weekend. I've been mostly MIA this summer so far, so I'm trying to reconnect with friends I ususally only talk to via the internet. It's very good motivation to turn on the computer. Ah, but work beckons, as does the rest of my morning cup of coffee.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I was going to post a real live post, but the long day and the heat hashit me suddenly, so here's teh gist of things and I'll go on in more detail tomorrow.

1. I now manage the store I work at, and basically manage the other one while a new manager for that store is being found and trained. I'm hoping the pay raise will help save even more for my last semester of gradschool (two to go, one's already paid for).

2. I'm probably going to be doing a 699 class with two other students--a directed reading class--which is fine except I don't quite have the best grasp of what that sort of course would entail, especially since usually it's one student to one professor, not 3 to 1.

3. In the past week, I've read Laurell K. Hamilton's "Blood Noir," Caitlin Kittredge's "Night Life," and Mark del Franco's "Unshapely Things." I enjoyed the first, more than "Danse Macabre," but a little less than "The Harlequin." I enjoyed greatly the latter two, to the point that I am looking forward to Kittredge's next book at the end of August/beginning of September--Hawaii seems to get new releases a week or two later than the expected dates. Werewolves in the modern have been done often now, but I like hwo this world is set up and the relationships, especially between Luna and her cousin is interesting.

Del Franco's I also devoured in a day or two. I know the second book is already out (actually I picked up the first because I'd read something about the second that sparked my interest), and the third is either out or will be soon, I believe. Alas, they didn't have any at my local Borders Express (it should be at the regular Borders, though, so I'll pick it up on Wednesday when I go to my writer's group).

4. In the meantime, I still have a stack of books borrowed from (read: foisted upon me by) my older sister, some library books and a few books I've bought recently that are calling to be read. I think I'll start with "Music to My Sorrows" by Mercedes Lackey, then to Gaiman's "Anansi Boys" (crazy I haven't read it yet), and the slew of comic books I picked up at the week-long book sale that started this past weekend. We always go the first day and I picked up an Edward Gorey book, Sandman and Books of Magic comics (the newer incarnation, I believe) as well as a few other books.

Completing collections and starting new ones.

5. Editing has picked up again. I'm just a few chapters from the end of editing Hounds, then one more read-through, then queries to agents. That's my goal this summer. Even if I don't have an agent by then, I'll feel good just getting on the road to having one.

Uh, heh, so I'm sure there was something else I'd planned to add, and this was all going to be shorter, a 'here's what I'll write about tomorrow, but I'm waving hello right now,' but my eyes are hurting so I'm signing off now. I feel like I've been getting a cold for over a week and sneezing for weeks, but can't really afford to take a day off unless I really need it. Ach, headache. We have Friday and Saturday off, but I could use Monday or Tuesday off, too. For now, I'll have to settle for sleep.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Life of a Grad Student

It's almost 1 in the morning, I am eating chocolate chip and cherry cookies that I baked earlier today and working on the first paper of three that is due this semester.

The key is that it must be anarcho-scholastic, utilizing both an academic and creative structure, blending the two in form and content. I'm working off of a desire to play with marginalia (incorporating the notes I'd scribbled in the margins into the body of the work) and letting the writing itself flow naturally.

Some students may be more inclined to the all-nighters, but I've never been good at them. Actually, my paper isn't due until Wednesday, but I work that day and I'd rather not put four hours on the bus on top of 5+ hours at work. So I'm doing most of the last of it now, but I think I'll leave the very last of it for tomorrow. My eyes are starting to get strained. (That's really my problem, not that I get so sleepy, though I do sometimes, but my eyes start to hurt and I can't read anything anymore).

I just thought I'd drop a line and say hello to all the people out there whose brains aren't turning into mush like my occasionally feels like it's doing (as evidenced by all the awkward phrasing).


Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Last Evening of My Spring Break

So this past week has mostly been filled with my job. I had two full days off, which I usually get because of my Tuesday and Friday classes--my own fault, I never got around to asking for the time off, but we were losing someone so we'd either be short-handed or training someone new, and I figured I wouldn't get the time off anyway--and opted out of my usual Sunday routine to get a third day free.

Tuesday and half of Friday was spent reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which I loved for so many reasons I can barely verbalize. (Mostly I'm stuck sitting here motioning with my hand, to pantomime the words are spilling out of my mouth as a tumble of letters, incoherent.)

Friday from 4 pm on was spent hanging out and taking to dinner another coworker who was leaving. I did read a few pages walking to work on Wednesday and Thursday and finished the last thirty pages Saturday morning/afternoon (just before and just after a five-hour work shift). Maybe I'm a little too pleased to have read about 300 pages each day for two days.

So I'm a few years late, considering it was published in 2001, but I've had it for a little while and just didn't have the time to read it before. Using it for a presentation for one of my classes is always nice motivation. One of my favorite parts of my workshop course this semester, we chose our own reading lists, and I added to my required 5--I read all three Patricia Briggs' Mercedes Thompson books, a couple of writing books, including Terry Brooks' "Sometimes the Magic Works," and the Dave McKean-illustrated children's books by Gaiman 'Goldfish' and 'Wolves'. Oh, and since I received the soundtrack to "Wicked" for my birthday in February, I read the Gregory Maguire book it was based on, as well as the sequel, "Son of a Witch," and found all 14 L.F. Baum Oz books for $2.00 each at a used bookstore. I'm on book 2 of that last one ("The Land of Oz"). I've also begun "Unshapely Things" by Mark Del Franco and "The Good Fairies of New York" by Martin Miller (which I bought before seeing a mention of it on Gaiman's website, who has an introduction in it, though I'd have picked it up even without the introduction, it's pretty interesting so far).

Needless to say, something about this semester has stimulated me into reading book-books lately (I talked about that strange aversion to it for a while, where all I wanted to read was manga, yeah, I like comics, but I love novels as much, if not more).

So American Gods: I think there's a combination of long story arc, as we follow Shadow following Wednesday, with the almost episodic, now we're traveling, now we're staying with Mr. Jacquel and Mr. Ibis, now we're in Lakeside, etc., that engages all my attention. I finished the last few sentences wishing it wasn't the end, which is a good sign for me, but I had a smile stuck on my face and I was content, even if I didn't know what would happen to these people next.

I was taking extensive notes while I read, which I thought would disrupt the flow of my reading, but which didn't, for the most part. And while not fully versed in mythology, I know a bit of almost everything, so it was fun to see a hint of something and either know what it meant or know it meant something important and excitedly read on to see what the something was. There's a line said to Shadow, page 483--it sums up my feeling about the end in a much more succinct way that I, with my rambly blogging ways, consistently fail to do--"Not only are there no happy endings...there aren't even any endings." The story's over but this isn't the end. That figure walks away, but he's also walking toward something, and just because the reader doesn't know what -that- something is, doesn't mean all the characters stop moving around once the book is closed.

(Think of that childhood wonder/fear some kids have, that when they leave the room their toys move around, have conversations and live, but as soon as someone walks back in, they are perfectly still and in their original positions. This book ends with a sense of the completete opposite.)

And then, to prepare for my presentation, and having recalled a few links in reference to AG on his journal (linked on the sidebar) I searched his archives and read up on the journal from when it was solely an AG blog. (And I noticed he started his blog a little more than a year before I started mine, not this one, though.)

And then my laptop decided it didn't like me or the warm weather and started giving me trouble, so I took a break for dinner, restarted the computer and went to finish up preparation for that presentation. Finalizing my other presentation will have to wait until tomorrow after work. I know what I want to say I just have to organize it.

And all of this to say that reading words by Neil Gaiman, whether it's his books or his journal, or listening to audio clips, really motivates me to write. In this instance, I ended up writing about him and books, but I finally feel like I accomplished something today.

Also, if you haven't read American Gods, find it, buy it and read it. I think it's available for free online (you can find the link on Gaiman's journal) for at least one more day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Lighter Side of Writing

In a class last week, the phrase "purple prose" arose, like a great, winged bird of description, overshadowing the smattering of plot-towns and roads of plot-threads. then someone asked where it came from.

As a person who loves to find new words (I am running into others' use of niggling again, still a great word, regardless of where it originated), I figured I'd look up the origins.


Purple prose is defined as, basically, overly flowerly langauge, description that goes way beyond what's necessary and "draws attention to itself."

It originates from a passage from Horace, the Roman poet in his Ars Poetica (lines 14-21):

Inceptis grauibus plerumque et magna professispurpureus, late qui splendeat, unus et alteradsuitur pannus, cum lucus et ara Dianaeet properantis aquae per amoenos ambitus agrosaut flumen Rhenum aut pluuius describitur arcus;sed nunc non erat his locus. Et fortasse cupressumscis simulare; quid hoc, si fractis enatat exspesnauibus, aere dato qui pingitur?

(Your opening shows great promise, and yet flashy purple patches; as when describing a sacred grove, or the altar of Diana, or a stream meandering through fields, or the river Rhine, or a rainbow; but this was not the place for them. If you can realistically render a cypress tree, would you include one when commissioned to paint a sailor in the midst of a shipwreck?)

Purple was a rare dye to find, so it was only used by the wealthy. Apparently, some people in the time of the Roman Republic who wanted to be viewed as wealthier than they actually were, so they put patches of purple cloth on their clothes to play into that purple=rich. (Most people know that connection between purple and royalty.)

Information from

Happy writing.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reexamining my Life at the end of 23

I don't work at the part-time job until the afternoon today, so I've had these early hours to do some stuff with my computer I've been meaning to do and never got around to doing. That didn't really work out, so I was site-surfing. Drifting over to Justine Larbalestier's blog (I never did post about her Magic trilogy, but suffice it to say, I enjoyed all three and it was interesting to see the shift between the viewpoints and understanding of language--that's an awkward way to put it, but I mean the difference in the POV of the two Australian characters versus the New York one), and she writes about blogging.

For some reason, that got me thinking about my life. My birthday is coming up in just a few days. Not the end of the month (I get that question a lot), but near enough to still receive the jokes. I'll be turning 24. I am a graduate student in the English department, working towards a master's degree with a concentration in creative writing, mostly as an additional impetus to keep me writing. I work part-time at a retail shipping/packing/copy and fax place. And I have not mailed out a single query letter yet despite finishing drafts for two novels.

Sometimes it feels as if I'm thinking too far ahead for where I'm at right now. (I'm not quite sure how this connects to Justine's post, just that the thought came to me then). At the same time, I am still working towards my goal, and in terms of blogger, I'm not the complete lurker I used to be, reading everything and never participating in the conversation. Introverted much?

But anyway, I'm almost 24 and have been writing since elementary school. I want to make it a career. I feel like I need to set some goals for myself.

February is almost over, but let's say, I will finish this round of editing by the end of March and will finish reading both writing books and at least two of the novels on my immediate list of things to read (I found Mark Del Franco's website and blog via his agent's blog a few weeks ago, and yesterday found and bought his first book, Unshapely Things). Often it feels like I have no time to read novels after work, school and homework, but my manga kick has slowed considerably, though I still enjoy it, and I find that I really want to pick up novels again. The prospect of 300-400 pages doesn't make me balk like it had been for a while there (I don't really know where that feeling came from, but I'm glad it's going away).

And it's twenty minutes later than I meant to be online, so I'll post this and then I'm off to edit for a little before doing some reading for one of my courses.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Writing in Hawaii

I was just over at Patricia Wood's blog and it got me thinking. She often mentions about living in Hawaii. I rarely do. In fact, I rarely write about this place. That old adage to "write what you know" seems to suggest I should try writing with Hawaii as a setting for some stories, if it fits, but I almost never do. Actually, I don't think I ever have. I have one drafted novel with a character from Hawaii, but I have yet to finish a story set here.

One might call it ignoring available resources. I've lived on Oahu since I was six (almost 24 now) and know quite a bit of it, despite a horrible sense of direction. But despite today being a generally gray day, raining for most part, and weather the past few weeks being much of the same, or that weird gray and rainy one minute, bright and muggy the next, I feel like every time I start to write about Hawaii, the steroetypical image of the idyllic tropical paradise comes to mind. Bikini-clad skinny chicks on the beach, tourists with cameras and bright sunny days called "perfect." I know that's not the way it is here and yet somehow, I feel like if I don't immediately set up a contrasting image, that's what the reader will see. But I don't like starting stories with a description of setting.

It's just interesting to see one's own prejudices, what one will or won't write about, and to examine why that is.

On another note, I was just about to end this post with an "Anyways..." sentence, and I've noticed I do that a lot. Now I'm horrible with short stories because I can't seem to finish anything in a concise manner, and even after 300 pages, I'm hardpressed to find a neat way to tie up all the threads, but apparently, that fault has bled over into all my other writing as well, specifically blog and journal posts, and emails. On the upside, I am mostly okay with keeping the 'anyway's, 'really's, and 'right then's out of my fiction writing. I'm still a huge fan of 'just,' though. And pretty fond of 'though's, too.

Monday, January 7, 2008

(A Bit Belated) Happy New Year

So I haven't been on Blogger for a while, and it feels like it's been quite a while since I was on my computer at all. But it is a new year, so I suppose resolutions are in order. Not that the time of year makes a difference, but I think it's a good idea to look over the year and set goals, particularly when one has lots of stuff going on. Now's as good a time as any.

So I looked over my goals from last year, and I accomplished some of what I set out to do, but not everything.

So for 2008:

I finished one round of edits, and half of another, so firstly, finish the rest of that editing, and start querying agents.

I've already done a little research into which agents might be a good fit, now I need to narrow it down and organize myself, make sure I know which ones prefer email queries versus hard copy.

Survive my second and third semesters of graduate school (this spring I have two classes, one after the other, on Tuesdays and one on Fridays).

Finish the first draft of at least one of the two big stories I started last year--the urban fantasy or the pirate-ish maybe-YA fiction.

Plan out the plot/story arc for book two of the story I'm currently editing.

Here's to the new year, people.
Happy Writing,

And Writtenwyrdd, thanks for the New Year's wishes in the comments below.