The return of Meh Monday…

27 07 2009

Weather: High: 85 degrees & sunny. Possible rain later.

The weekend started off so promisingly…Sigh.

Friday was the Torchwood finale. I think my chest still hurts. That was incredibly hard to watch. And possibly the best ending to the best 5 days of tv I’ve seen in a good long while. I’ll probably get strung up by some of TW Fandom for saying that, but the mini-series elicited all the strong emotions it should have. If you didn’t come away from it hating politicians and the government in general, I don’t think you watched closely enough. I realize it’s fictional, but let’s be honest. The possibility of something like this happening, aliens aside, is frighteningly possible. We are a reactionary species. And our reactions don’t tend to be reasoned ones when something  threatens our families. Bluntly honest here, I despise most politicians. Of BOTH parties in this country. Most of the people that have been elected in the past 20 years or so have done so based highly on their charm and television presence.  I’ll take a boring candidate who knows his shit, over a highly polished and quip happy candidate who spends every minute on the microphone playing evasive games to avoid exposing that he knows NOTHING. But guess who we inevitably elect.  I can go on about this for ages, but I don’t want the vein to start popping out in my forehead again. Sigh. So yes. I liked Torchwood: Children of Earth a lot. And it made me take a good hard look at a lot of things ACTUALLY going on in the world. We really should be ashamed of ourselves as a species. But that is a much longer blog post than I have time or energy to write. Maybe later.

Saturday was nice and quiet and replete with housecleaning. And the evening was nicely rounded out by Being Human which is now my new tv obsession. Don’t get me started. I can go on about this show for a good long time. Nutshell? Irish Vampire. Adorkable Werewolf. Proper vampire effects. Lots of sex & blood & addiction metaphors. All things I hold close to my…heart. VBEG. Yes, this will be must see for me on Saturdays.
Here’s a vid on the Vampire “rules” in Being Human.

Sunday dawned with family stuff on the horizon, which evaporated thank goodness. So usual errand running and FINALLY some writing time.

Sat at the Dining room table, butt in chair for a good 4 hours straight. And realized fairly quickly that I needed to do some plot examination. Couldn’t really get my head around what was missing, what needed to be written and where all of it fell into place. So, lacking a giant whiteboard or a clear wall to stick things to, I MacGyvered myself a board by taking a large framed picture of  La Belle Dame Sans Merci we had lying around waiting to be hung, and used that instead. 🙂
My husband got a good chuckle seeing me prop this framed artwork on the arms of a chair and start covering the glass with post-its covered in my usual seizure-ridden serial killer scrawl.  (I swear that if someone wandered in and looked at my notes with an intent to figure out the ending, they wouldn’t be able to decipher the chicken scratch. ) So now I had a series of post-its with loose plot points (green), major plot points (yellow), transition points (pink) and final possible scenes (blue). Visually, it looks like a pastel factory exploded all over the picture, but it helped me a ton to see things laid out like that. As I’ve said before, whatever works for you is your writing method.

Well, water heater update: Tis fixed! (At the low low price of $600. Oy.) So at least I can shower when I get home tonight. Velly important after my 8 block walk in this sweltery weather.

I have True Blood to watch tonight and obviously need to put some time in at the Writing Cave.

Just saw the teaser Trailer for Dorian Gray, which will star Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) and Colin Firth (of Mr. Darcy Fame). It looks exactly as dark and disturbing as the story warrants. I’m looking forward to it, practically salivating to be honest. Don’t know what it is about the whole debauchery side of the story that appeals to me. Granted the repercussions are well noted and the story’s message well played out. But I do have a part of my that revels in that sort of dark pleasure, even if it is vicariously. Gods know I write enough of it into my stories. Probably explains the vampire fetish, to be honest.

End of day has found me. Must close down and head for the train home.

Hoping for a productive evening.

Now playing: Midnight Syndicate – Witching Hour
via FoxyTunes

Friday! My old friend! Let’s get ready to ramble…

24 07 2009

Weather: High: 84 degrees and partly cloudy & muggy. Gah! Thunderstorms later!

Well Friday has started off with a bit of non-fun. Missed my usual train into Chicago thanks to one of our interminably long freight trains in NW Indiana. Took a later train and made it into the office by the skin of my teeth. (An expression I have yet to understand, but there you go.)

Since yesterday’s post was so truncated, I’ll try and get the stuff said today I meant to say yesterday.

Working on the last few chapters of “When the Lights Go Down” is proving more difficult than I thought. Funny thing is, I have the plot worked out, have the scenes mapped and even have bits written. It just isn’t flowing like everything before it has. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting nervous about finishing it and am subconsciously dragging my proverbial feet or if I’m really having an issue with the ending I’ve chosen. Could probably be a combination of both or neither. Ahhh! Writing Angst! My old friend. But I have every intention of spending time this weekend focused on the manuscript and reviewing my outline. Maybe there’s room for tweaking and improvement. (Who am I kidding? There’s ALWAYS room for tweaking & improvement.)

I’ve had the major good fortune to be friends and acquaintances with people who are either in the process of writing books or have already had books published. The nicest thing about this is not what you might first assume.
I’ve never had any intention of currying favor with these people to get a foot in the door. Truth is, most of them I knew for a long time before they got published or were entrenched in the process of writing.

What has been advantageous is listening to their discussions about the process of writing, the pitfalls of getting published and all the various cack and nonsense that tends to crop up around both. Sometimes the best way to learn how to be a better writer and avoid the Writing 101 & newbie errors is to just ask a writer who is further along the path than you. Or read their blogs. Follow them on Twitter. And, as you’ll find in other areas, sometimes you learn more from what DIDN’T work or from their stories of rejection that you will from the successes.

The one thing I’ve learned from all the writers, published and not quite yet published, is that there are no shortcuts, no fast tracks and no wormholes to get you past the difficult bits. To quote Mur from I Should Be Writing. “It requires not only butt in chair, but daily butt in chair.”(I HIGHLY recommend going to her site and listening to her podcasts. Some of the best motivation & advice for writers can be found here.)

In other words if you want to get a book published, you have to put in the time writing it. Crafting it. Getting your words pulled out of the ether, onto a document, then making the words play nice with each other. And this process takes time.And generates headaches. And frustration.

A lot of people have also said, and it’s definitely a truism, “If you really want something, you can make it happen. You may have to work for it though.”

As lovely as the idea is that you could just sit down in a weekend and churn out a fantastic novel, it’s probably not going to happen. Because life happens. And words fail you. And eventually your butt gets sore from sitting. But honestly, excuses are not going to get your book written. (Thanks, Mur.)

I’ve managed a six hour writing marathon here and there.  Both my brain and legs rebelled after that.  A couple things I found out really quickly when I first set out to write were such bits of wisdom as “Typing does not equal Writing”  and “What seemed like a brilliant plot twist when you were writing Chapter One, suddenly becomes ridiculous and unusable when you reach Chapter 10.”

I’m sure every writer finds their own truisms as they start writing. A bunch of my friends and I have been experiencing what we all fondly refer to as the “What the HELL was I thinking? I HATE this story!” phase. It usually hits about halfway to 3/4 of the way through the manuscript. This is where your writer’s dedication gets tested. ESPECIALLY on your first novel.
Hopefully, you can set it aside for a day or a week and come back to it with fresh eyes and renewed love for the story & characters. What I’m trying to say here is the enthusiasm you have at the beginning of the story may lag in the middle, and the momentum may abandon you. It will come back, but you may have to work your way back to it.

So basically, I’m learning a lot from my friends, and let’s face it, no writer exists in a vacuum. We all absorb things from other people, for good or for bad. The way I figure it, no one method works for everyone.
As I’ve said before, one writer’s habits would drive another to homicide.  But it’s a good idea to  listen to people who’ve accomplished what you yourself are trying to accomplish.
Granted, taking their advice and using their methods & habits may not be a guarantee that you will mirror their success. But if you pay attention, you might just learn a thing or two about not tripping yourself up, or better yet, get renewed motivation to KEEP your butt in the chair and continue writing.

Ramble done for the day.  I need to get my butt back in the chair soon.  Today I had a nice anvil-to-the-skull epiphany that helped me work through a gap in my plot. Now I just need to get the damn thing written. 🙂

Torchwood finale tonight, and I have a gut wrenching feeling I’m going to be twice as wrecked as I was last night. But it’s been amazing so far.  I’ll probably catch Eureka on the replay later. And then there’s Being Human tomorrow night, which I am practically geebling over right now.

Also, just realized that Dragon* Con is just a little over a month away. Feeling that double edged sword of anticipation and terror.  I’m usually not good in crowds and I’m obviously going to have to deal when I get there. (Comic Con sounds like it would have been a nightmare for me.)  But I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friends, some of which I’ll be meeting in person for the first time. (Such is the nature of the internet community.) And there are bands I’m looking forward to seeing and some sci fi people that I’d like to meet as well. Probably a good thing my husband Brian will be there. I have a feeling he might need to be lugging around the smelling salts for me in some cases. 🙂

Have a good weekend everyone. 🙂

Now playing: VNV Nation – Still Waters
via FoxyTunes

Muses at the pub. Brain on vacation. Sigh.

23 07 2009

Weather: High:77 degrees with isolated Thunderstorms. Seriously? JULY, right?

Torchwood Day 3= HOLY CRAP WHAT WAS THAT!? Yep. Really freaked me out in bits. Loved the chemistry with the cast. Good all around.  Leverage was of the good as well. I mean, Eliot centric story & a martial arts badass Christian Kane all sweaty and stuff? Good thing I watch the show for the dialogue and clever writing, right? VBEG.

So. I’ve gone and broken a fourth wall of sorts. Just sent a message to some inspirations of mine. We’ll see if I get a response. And I’ll say no more until then. ::does the anti-jinx flaily dance::

Work project has me completely swamped today so unfortunately the blog will be truncated.

Hopefully I’ll get to work on those raw scenes again today on the commute home. 🙂

Now playing: Nine Inch Nails – Perfect Drug
via FoxyTunes

Plotting Day. So I’m wearing black & looking surly.

22 07 2009

Weather: High: 79 degrees with intermittent showers. Good writing weather.

Quick mention that Torchwood was FTW again last night. Unexpected naked Jack is Unexpected. 🙂 (Loved the cast commentary on that scene after the show. HYSTERICAL!) I’m probably going to wait on a proper review until it’s all done. (And considering the rending of cloth and gnashing of teeth in fandom right now, I think the last episode may be a barn burner.)

Was perusing a site that had a ton of writer’s Quotations and this one stuck out:

Being an author is having angels whisper in your ear – and devils, too.  ~Graycie Harmon

Very true. We all talk about our muses in various ways. To some of us they’re a general concept- inspiration, a cache of ideas or something ethereal that motivates us. To others, they have a face and a voice: maybe one of our characters, maybe someone we admire, maybe even someone we are involved with in our personal lives.  For me, when I talk about muses,  it tends to be the latter.

When I write, usually one of the characters comes to the forefront, visually and vocally, in my head. I tend to write from a very visual place anyway, so casting the characters tends to help me SEE them in action as I’m writing. It’s not that fluffy thing of “My muse dictates and I write it down,” which makes for a cute T-shirt eptithet, but bad writing headspace. Muses are just stand ins for characters in my head. They do talk back and give me something to push back against when I’m putting together a scene or dialogue.
It’s more like I have a three dimensional artist’s mannequin that I can mold and shape and move at my brain’s whim. I know they are my creations, even if visually they may look like an actor or musician or model. That is just the outer shell. Everything they say or do or think comes from me. I just have them play the scene out in my head, then describe what I’m watching. The interesting thing that happens is sometimes, the action portrayed goes in a different direction than I originally intended, or, more perplexing, points out how the scene actually ISN’T working.  Things  like the protagonist can’t exactly stab someone if he’s carrying someone in his arms. Or if you have him backed up against a literal wall, odds on are he won’t be able to “turn and run” . Usually I’ll joke that the Muse took the wheel in that scene.

Another thing I do to help craft a character once I get his/her visual in my head is to create a music writing mix for the character. I used to actually burn CDs for this, but nowadays,  I just create lengthy playlists in i-Tunes or for my i-Pod. Music helps me get in the right headspace to write a character. I also have scene specific playlists. I look at it as creating soundtracks for the movies in my head.  For myself, music is instrumental in the process, but YMMV.

A lot of the time I feel like a fraud writing about writing because I have yet to get anything completed or published. All I can do in this blog is convey what works for me and what I’ve found doesn’t work over the years. Honestly, the best advice for me was found in the FAQ at Neil Gaiman’s site. The section “Advice to Authors” has always been helpful. It’s to the point and a lot of common sense. A lot of other authors, editors and publishers have fantastic advice as well. I highly recommend the #writegoal tag over on Twitter. Or check out some of the writing blogs I have listed to the right. Google Fu is your friend. 🙂

Been a while since I did an Irons in the Fire list.

When the Lights Go Down – 88K words completed, finishing last chapters. Editing pending.  Query to be written.

Carrion Dreams, Book 1 – 33K words. Outlining rest of Book 1. Have Rudimentary outlines for Books 2 & 3.

Dark of the Mirror- 75K words. Gutting the last 1/3 of the MS. Needs to be rewritten.  And intensive research needed for historical references.

All Things Fanged & Furry (Book 1) –25K words  In overhaul. Needs a lot of fleshing out.

All Demons Dread & Dire (Book 2) — In Outline. What has been written will be scrapped. Plot needs re-working to seamlessly lead out of Book one.

Librarian Anthology– “Into the Stacks” — Need to finish last two chapters.
Second short story is in the works for this as well.

Untitled Sidhe/Norse Myth Urban Fantasy — Still in outline. Needs refocus on storyline. Maybe will be re-tooled as YA.

Also am toying with a couple non-fiction ideas, but not including them in the list until I can focus on them.

So wrapping up this meandering post with tonight’s plans: Torchwood Day 3, Leverage and perhaps another stab at the manuscript. Although I think with my complete lack of focus, this may be a vain endeavor. This weekend is already shaping up to be writing bootcamp, but I’d rather write and edit when my brain isn’t so hazy and stressed.

Off to the train.

Brain & muses are not playing well together…

21 07 2009

Weather: High: 81 Degrees & sunny, but a slight chance of pm Thunderstorms. WOO!

So. Am feeling a little more coherent today. Though my moon* is still making me miserable. (*this is code for TMI. Trying not to squick the boys. )

Watched the first day of Torchwood: Children of Earth last night and DAMN was that good. Nice to see the gang back. Love that they are so settled in with each other that the easy snark flies fast and free. 🙂  After that, I settled in and watched the lastest True Blood. O_O Needs more Eric speaking old Norse and being angry. Just saying. Is it sad that I’m starting to find Sookie annoying? And Bill kind of boring? Must be that damnable bad vamp addiction I’m constantly…well to say “fighting” would just be an outright lie, so let’s say…entertaining. 🙂 Jason has become interesting again. And Lafayette…oh honey. They did break you, didn’t they? Still.  I reiterate.  MOAR ERIC PLS.

Eric Northman. NomNomNom.

Eric Northman. NomNomNom.

Allright. Hormones aside for the moment.

Spent a good bit of time on the train ride home last night trying to pare  a rather exposition-y scene down to something informational without being just an information dump. Think I managed it. Now to consult the Google Timelines to make sure I have an accurate historical reference. (So happy someone pointed those out. So much easier to put something in the right historical context.)

Starting to get excited for Dragon*Con. Not that I wasn’t before, but the fact that so many people that I’ve been wanting to meet are going to be there? Yeah. Starting to get a little overwhelmed. Funny thing is, most of the people I’m dying to meet are not actors or celebrities. They’re just fellow writers. And friends I’ve only known from online interaction. I’m excited to meet some editors and go to writing panels. Okay, yes I’d have a huge moment of squee should I get to meet Ben Browder or Claudia Black. And I’m SOOO hoping to get a chance to meet Monica Richards from Faith & the Muse. So yeah, a little fan worship but a lot of hopefully professional interaction as well. 🙂 I figure I may end up concocting some business cards ahead of time. :shrugs:  Don’t know if it will help, but it surely can’t hurt.

Additionally, regarding Dragon*Con,  this will be my first time to a MAJOR convention. I totally expect to be gobsmacked and overwhelmed. So if you’re meeting me for the first time? Glazed eyes, distraction and fumbling speech is not my usual modus operandi. Once I settle a little, you’ll find that I’m pretty much like I am online. Gabby, sarcastic and flaily. (Standing a few feet back is good if I’m excited when I’m talking. The hands do start flying. )

All right. Work project is sucking up a lot of my time today and will do for the next few days. (I’m doing all the graphic design, production and data gathering for our company sponsored Golf Outing next Wednesday. It’s a little like herding cats. And then getting them to line dance. )

So. Torchwood Day Two tonight and hopefully some more work on zee manuscript. I’ve decided to drop a scene entirely. It’s been re-written twice now and I still can’t find a way to insert it without stopping the action cold. It’s a non-essential scene. I can reference it later in a much smaller way.

Gotta dash.
Everyone have a great evening.

Now playing: Three Days Grace – Wicked Game
via FoxyTunes

Meh Monday.

20 07 2009

Weather: High: 79 degrees and partly sunny. Weekend was unseasonably cool as well.

So. Weekend got away from me again. Went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on Sunday, which kind threw my plans to write that day to the wind. And Saturday was kind of off kilter anyway, so not much got done there either. Snoots took a tumble off the counter late Saturday and was favoring his hind leg for a bit. Seems okay now, but we’re watching him.  Think he may have sprained it. Doesn’t seem like a break, because he’s still jumping up and down and walking with no trouble. ::is typical paranoid CatMommy::

I hate lost weekends. Always want to kick myself for wasted time lost.

Half Blood Prince was good, but it was the first HP movie that I actually came away from a little irritated at what was cut out. I’m all for the movies taking a little creative license in editing to get the story out, but losing the big battle at the end? Kinda dampened the impact. As did the revelation of who the Half Blood Prince was. The revelation was kind of a throwaway statement that had no resonance because any build up or interest in that plot point had kind of been buried in the rest of the story. Still, they are my small quibbles and I still thought the movie was pretty damn good. Saw the full trailer for Sherlock Holmes and nearly wibbled myself into a coma. Yes I know it’s anachronistic and the purists are practically apoplectic, but it looks like 40 shades of awesome to me.

Torchwood: Children of Earth starts tonight on BBC America. Sadly I’ve been spoiled for a bunch of things (All inadvertently. Really. I was trying to stay spoiler free for this.) But Hubby and I will still be watching. It’s been a dearth of Whoverse this year, and I’m starving for some Captain Jack.

Also, I’m really looking forward to watching True Blood tonight. Really need to look into getting the first season on DVD. Really have loved this series so far.(More Eric is all I can say. )

And Being Human starts this Saturday. This is the show I’ve actually been looking forward to for quite  bit of time. A vampire, werewolf & ghost living together. Sounds like the start of a great joke, but truth be told, the show looks nicely dark and angsty and they have a tasty Irish actor playing Mitchell the vampire. Not complaining here. And they do the full black eyes for the fully vamped. Dear to my heart that is. 🙂

I know I seem to posting  a lot of television related stuff today, Unfortunately I’m feeling a little under the weather today, for reasons I won’t go into, and I’m having a damnable time trying to focus on anything. Thus insight is giving way to trivia.  It happens. Also think I may have to stop taking St. John’s Wort every day as I’m starting to feel a little dizzy and lethargic. It IS helping regulate my moods though, so that’s a good thing. Probably will just scale it back to when I seem to be going through a down cycle.

Have found a wealth of new friends and good writing advice by way of the #writegoal hashtag over on Twitter. Writers of various stripes are using it to network and track their writing goals, wordcounts and just generally passing along good advice. Very helpful and motivating all around.

Alas, my hazy brain and troublesome gut have to get going home. Actually got some work done today, in spite of my lessened capacity.

New quest! I need to find Strange on DVD. Apparently the BBC have either never released it or it’s out of distribution. Watched the marathon on The Chiller network over the weekend and LOVED IT. Was nice to see Richard Coyle (Jeff on Coupling) doing a dark & scary role for once. 🙂 It was only one season but my Google Fu is not yielding much in the way of DVD sale information.

Speaking of DVDs, and then I must sign off, Coraline Collector’s Edition will be on my doorstep tomorrow. So there will be squee tomorrow on that front.

Anyway. Enough rambling. More writing related stuff tomorrow. If my brain decides to actually kick in, that is.

Now playing: Folk Implosion – Natural One
via FoxyTunes