Sunday, June 29, 2008

June Results, July Goals

I know we have one more day left in June, but there's no time in my schedule for writing tomorrow, so my June 2008 writing is as complete as it will ever be.

All in all, the month went quite well. The writing didn't quite go in the places I decided exactly, but the amount of writing I did balanced out very well. My goals were to edit 1 - 2, of which I edited Treischan Strength twice, and am in the progress of editing two more. I wanted to write 2 short stories, and wrote 1 (Eve), with another one moving forward (Once A Thief). I took part in FM's Emotion's workshop, and signed up for an online advanced fiction writing class of which I already completed (or at least, turned in) the first assignment.

I'm stepping up July goals as my system seems to be working, but keeping each goal "area" light, so I don't overhwelm myself with one task. This'll allow me to be flexible in what I do, and where it can be done. I tried to leave some "extra" time in there, to deal with any inspiration that tends to hit me when my muse is tied up in multiple projects. The most exciting thing is getting Treischan Strength submitted. A new submission -- yeah!!

My July goals are:
* New Submission: 1 (Treischan)
* Short Story Edits: 2 (Orchard, Sunguard)
* Short Story Writing: 1 (Thief)
* Crits: 2 (these are good for me!!!!!)
* Adv Fiction Class: 1 lesson
* FM Dialogue Workshop
* Reading: Tinker

Last year, I burned myself out by piling on too much work, specifically crits. When those pile up, I get stressed out. I also tend to take on too many "big" projects when I don't have the time or energy for it. Sticking with the small ones - short storying writing and editing - should fix that.

I intend to keep my writing active through July and push into August. I want to break the cycle of hope/failure I've created for myself in the past. Now is the time. I'm going to do it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Editing Sungard

Something clicked or unblocked or woke up, not quite sure which one at the moment, but am half way through the Sunguard edit. Out of nowhere.

Maybe it's my magic notebook? It told me to edit Sunguard tonight...

Other Sunguards

Interesting find today. I googled "Sunguard" to make sure no one else had recently published a short story by that name and came across a company named Sunguard with an interesting product. Would you use a laundry aid to put UV protection into your summer clothing? It requires a 15 minute soak and is good up to 20 washes. The company claims dermatologist recommended as well as approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation.

It's even affordable.

And for Star Wars fans -- Who knew?

Yes, my blog is more than about writing now I suppose...

Ever Elusive Time, Captured?

It's interesting to me, that the less time I have available, the more I accomplish. For instance, until my daughter was a year old, her bedtime was 5:30pm, based on her needs for sleep. I had from 5:30pm to about 11pm every single night to fit in dinner making/cleanup, laundry, game playing, and writing. I even pushed it to midnight some nights. The writing got done sporadically, the game playing was too much fun, and dinner was eaten in peace every night. Over time, my daughter's bedtime has moved up to about 7:30pm, and since I'm pregnant, I need to be in bed by 10pm. I give myself a half hour to read/unwind at that point, but it must be done in bed. So I went from five and a half hours every night to do these things, to about two and a half. And somehow, I'm managing better now.

Maybe it's because we've managed a nice evening routine with the two year old where even if we have separate dinners, we're all together for it. Meals tend to be gobbled down, and cleanup doesn't always happen to completion. (Thank goodness for the dishwasher and a husband who knows how to use it!). By 8pm, I'm usually on the computer. That leaves two hours to enjoy my time, do some laundry, and prep for the next day. (Is it any wonder I haven't done my nails in a few years?)

I have lists to thank. Yes, you read correctly, lists. I make a series of lists that keep me organized. No more too-tired-brain wondering what the heck I had to do. Now I look at my lists. There are three, really, that tie into each other. One is a Writing Goals (Monthly) list. Based on the time I predict I'll have and what I feel most needs to get done, I make my writing goals on the front page of a notebook. The next pages follow with a Home list that lists home/finance/family related things that need to be done over the next month that isn't part of the normal weekly chores. Then there's the weekly page. One page for seven days of tasks. I break down 3 - 5 tasks for each day, a balance I hope of writing and home needs. At the end up the week, I tear out the weekly pages and make a new one.

My intention is to accomplish something writing related every day, however minor. This helps me do that. My notebook, by the way, goes everywhere with me. Whereever I am, I know what I need to fit into my day, so on those lucky days when someone else offers to pick up the two year old from daycare, I can complete an item on my list -- early. :) I feel almost sane!

So tell me. How do you stay organized?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

When An Edit Isn't An Edit

When is an edit not an edit? When it's a complete rewrite. I think that's my problem with Sunguard. I deleted the first three pages, wrote another two and a half, but I'm going to delete most of that. I'll wait until I get the ending sorted out, then tie the beginning directly to that. In the meantime, I'm not happy with what I rewrote.

I'm right back at the original issue of viewpoint, too. Ashelle's voice hits my fingers in the first person, and I'm forcing her back to third. (I type often before I realize what's in my head). I don't write first person well, but I don't think Ashelle is giving me a choice this time.

I also think I've started the story in the wrong place. (Real interesting timing with the online advanced fiction course I'm taking through University of Madison. The first lesson is "Begin Someplace That Matters".)

Since I'm rewriting this anyway, I'll try the first person, see if I can't do something decent with it. It may help to reread one of my viewpoint reference books. Maybe I'll grab it on the way up to bed.

On the upside, I decided today I wanted to start sketching again. I don't know where it came from, aside from sharing my beloved colored pencils with my two year old daughter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Edit: Treischan Strength

Yes, again. I'm getting closer. Sending the story off for a sadistic crit. I'll edit once more after that's done, but then it's going OUT THE DOOR. I promise you -- better yet, I promise me!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bookshelf: "Rebel Ice" S.L.Viehl

I'm currently reading "Rebel Ice" by S.L.Viehl. It's the sixth in the Stardoc series, a heart-warming yet culture shocking, humorous at times, science fiction adventure that isn't over-the-top science-in-your-face. She doesn't write down to the reader either. The tech's in there, the emotion's in there, and this time, there's snow. Lots of it. (With all the snow that fell this winter, I had to wait for summer to read this one, didn't I?)

For anyone who hasn't read any of the Stardoc novels, I have to warn you, they're addicting. The main character, Cherijo, is a doctor with some family problems that turn intergalactic. Literally. If you're going to read the series, start with "Stardoc".

Interestingly enough, Viehl starts this novel with the point of view of a character we've never met in the previous books, in a strange world we've never even heard of, practicing customs I'd never imagined. I admit, I was a little concerned for the first few pages about being thrown into this world without Cherijio and her friends, but trust in Viehl won out. My favorites showed, each being tested in their own way around this planet of ice, each suffering, each tortured. And quite a punch at the end, I might add.

Here's a link to Viehl's blog which contains a fascinating combination of writing advice, general adivce, and Viehl's interpretation of what makes the world go 'round. She gives stuff away too, which is always nice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Don't Take Your Authors for Granted

My blog is about writing and very little else. It makes sense to me that since reading influences my writing, it should also influence my blog. It's another way for me to support the authors I enjoy, and especially the authors who have influenced my writing, whether it be through their own writing, or direct contact with these normal everyday people who have their own issues and worries and loads of talent to bog all that down.

Never take for granted that your beloved authors will always be there. Writing is competetive. If their sales aren't top notch, they won't be getting new contracts. Don't have time to read it all now? That's fine. You know you love them, you're going to buy the books anyway. Buy the books now and have them ready for when you want to pick them up.

My rule has always been to buy paperback rather than hardcover because I could purchase more books that way. I still have a hard time spending $25 or more on a hardcover and can't wait for the day when Lotto picks my numbers and I can buy all hardcovers and show them off on an antique cherry bookcase. I'd rather help a little, all the way around.

I'll share with you my current reading list, what I think you'll like about the book, and link you to the author's site in hopes you'll check them out and support them too.

Editing Galore!

I made a bunch of goals for myself this week, but I wonder if I didn't overcommit. I put the Sunguard edit on the back burner to thnk some stuff over, but I think I'm ready to get back to it. I gave Treischan Strength another look at (with some comments from the Roving Crits boards on FM), and marked that up to be edited again. It's in good shape, and should only take one night to work out the details. I'm just waiting for feedback from two other folks I emailed it to before I finalize it. (Either that or when the mood strikes). I'm also working on The Lonely Orchard which posed more of a problem because of backstory issues. I think I have those mostly worked out, so it's just a matter of putting in the time and getting a few scenes rewritten.

The two year old's birthday party is this weekend, so we have house-cleaning and party prep (and monthly bills) to get to this week. I'm hoping for a high energy week so I can keep up with my Wish List. ;)

Here goes nothing!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Edit: Treischan Strength

I took a quick break from Sunguard as editing a first draft can be overwhelming, and this one is taking so long it's stressing me out. I pulled up a story -- Treischan Strength--I wrote last May and edited last June, and reviewed the crits and comments I received on it. I made some changes, reviewed for basic editing, and the third draft is done. I've sent it out to some readers for feedback. I have a good feeling about this version, it's very very close to submission-level writing, but I need some confirmation before I ship it off to my favorite zines.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Still Editing

I'm holding myself to high standards right now, so the edit is taking a while. I took a new approach to find the Voice this story seemed to lack, and was drawn in by the freewriting. I enjoyed the results so much I was tempted to rewrite the story in First Person, but I got some feedback and -- I agree, btw -- it wasn't enough to hold the story. So I will stick with my original 3rd person viewpoint.

I've been reading a lot more lately, focusing on short stories. I have a tendency to subscribe to several fiction magazines a year, and not touch them until the bug hits. I usually end up devouring 6 months of magazines in the span of just a few weeks. It's good though. I'm reading some quality stories and then hitting my stories for editing and I'm learning that my stuff does not yet compare with these published stories. Yet. I'm learning from them. It'll be my turn someday. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Editing, Editing, Editing...

It's pretty easy to read a first draft and pinpiont what's wrong with it. It can sometimes even be simple to decide how to fix it. The hard part is getting your brain to move into fix-it mode and making those changes. It's a challenge, and it's rewarding once I get it done.

I worked on Sungard tonight, contemplating a name change to The Fallen Sun, but we'll see after I make it through this edit pass. I only got through 1.3 pages out of an orriginal 7 pages, and 1 page of that was new material. A few more nights of this and I should be able to make it through safely. ;) I'm looking forward to getting it all fixed!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

May the Edit Begin!

I spent Wednesday evening organizing the stories I like the best, the ones that I feel have the most potential. The four I wrote this past month, plus two from last year are the highest priority in my editing queue, although there are a few older favorites that need major revamping. The plan is to move those six along, and then I can look at the older stories.

I'm starting with Sunguard. I wrote my stories this year without use of my "Notes" sheets, so I'm using that document to prep for the edit. I like the premise, but I need to increase the threat in the story. Reading it feels too far removed from what Ashelle is dealing with, and that isn't quite the feel I envisioned.

I red-lined the printout last night, and today I'll move onto the analysis. Hopefully I can get this first pass done in a few days and out to my First Readers for some basic feedback. May the edit begin!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Short Story: Eve

Eve is complete now at 1500 words. This SF story was inspired by my own pregnancy research. (I've been contemplating an article on birth methods and the riding trend of repeat c-sections vs VBAC). There has been a growing trend and comfort with the "ease" of births via c-section. While I believe it's warranted in some cases, I was almost a victim of "let's just do that again, it's easier". Maybe in some respects it is, and while I'm not guaranteed a surgery-free birth for this child, it made me think about the future and the "ease" of childbirty via surgery. What if future technology removed the risks of surgery and this became THE way to birth children?

And this is what Jessica fights in "Eve". Space dwellers on a science ship, the course of her pregnancy is determined by Medbots until Jessica takes things into her own hands.

Monday, June 2, 2008

May Progress, June Goals

I wrote three stories in May, and have another two in the works. It wasn't quite the success I hoped for, but I am very pleased that I completed those three stories. This particular May was very very busy, and I feel like I'm lucky to have completed anything at all.

On to June... I'd like to complete those two in-progress stories (Eve and Queen's Diamond). Then I need to choose which stories should be edited (I'm aiming at 4 for the summer), and choose markets to submit them to. It'd be nice to get 1 - 2 edited before the end of June, despite the father's day holiday, the daughter's birthday, and all the weekend fun we're planning. :)