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5min – Time

A while ago I started doing five minute writing sessions almost every day. It was a moment I could take to write my thoughts, and let out a little bit of the stuff inside my head keeping me from writing.

While I was doing it I found it very helpful to keep my mind on writing. I wrote more on my novel back then because I took those five minutes in the morning to recenter myself.

I think it’s time to start doing those five minute writings again. I have been a bit lax with my writing lately. Not as bad as before, but still, not as much as I’d like. I have so many ideas, so many wonderful short stories waiting to be told, and novels waiting to be completed. They’ll never get done if I don’t buckle down and do them.

So…here’s day one again. Back to basics. Five minutes to talk about writing, or art, or the upcoming conventions. Anything that is on my mind.

Today was our date night. Gregg and I go to D&D each Wednesday and play a table top game with our friends. It hasn’t been as consistent as usual because our dungeon master just had a baby, and babies require a lot of attention. But we squeeze in a night here and there when we have the chance.

Tonight was a slow session since it was more role playing then actually fighting. But that’s okay, sometimes you have to have the back story in order to progress the story and get tot he jucie parts. Sometimes you have to poke your nose into unusual places, and see if you can find any clues, or else you’ll never know what you’re missing out on.

Writing is like that. You might be in the middle of a big story and one day your characters might poke their nose into a place you didn’t expect, and low and behold there is something amazing there. Something that shifts, or expands, or even changes the plot. The corners can be interesting. Or distracting. It’s up the the writer to figure out which.

And that’s my five.

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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in On Writing

 

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But that’s HARD!

I recently got an email from a young writer (young in her writing, I have no idea her actual age) and she described her writing to me in the same way I would describe mine. I write until I come to a hard part, jot down a little note, then skip to the next easy part to write. Anyone who is just trying to get their words down for the day has probably done this, or skipped that spot of dialog that didn’t quite work, or put down “battle scene with hero as the winner” or some such. I do this a lot for battle scenes because it takes me a while to puzzle through the moves to make it right.

The problem becomes, and this is me talking more about myself than anyone else because this is where I am in my writing… eventually you have to finish something or you have to admit this is just a project novel. Like that project car your dad had in the garage when you grew up. He kept it to tinker on, and play with, but never really got around to finishing it.

So here I am, 40, with hundreds, if not thousands of ideas in my idea journal, half written novels and partially written short stories, and only a small fraction of them finished. I keep putting aside the hard parts because… it’s HARD!

And damn right it’s hard. It’s hard because you’re writing something that is actually worth reading. Something with detail, and heart, meant to move people and get them to read. If it was easy then everyone would do it. If it was easy then there would be no value in it, but a book on a shelf has a value. People buy it and read it, then take their time to review it. If you expect people to spend time and money on your words then it should be good.

But there is good, and there is perfectionist. Finding that balancing point where you can actually finish stories, and get them out there in good order vrs tinkering on the story for years…that’s the edge that you walk.

Sometimes I do have to walk away from a story. Maybe it doesn’t work, or something isn’t quite fitting together right, so I put the story away and I work on something else. I’ve been working like this for years, and I have over a million words banked in my folders, waiting to be finished. (Here’s a picture, but this is not ALL of the stories I have started. The blue are published short stories and novels. Pink are finished, but not published. The rest plots, or started stories, but never finished.)

I have a whole shelf filled with tinker stories. I add a few words here and there, I might even binge through a few chapters on a novel, but finishing one isn’t easy. There’s always that point where it’s just hard, and I skip it.

I need to stop skipping it. I need to write down why it’s so hard and get my head back into the game. Last year was my worst word count in almost five years. That’s not acceptable, and neither is never finishing another novel.

So here’s to the hard parts! *Cheers!*

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in On Writing

 

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Thoughts on Star Wars the Last Jedi

Is been a few weeks since I saw the new Star Wars movie, and I had to think about it because I wasn’t sure what I thought about it at first.

On the positive side, there were some cool new creatures. Crystaline wolves, fish people, and porgs (that were flavor to the set rather than integral to the story, which I liked.)

I loved the final battle scene. The beautiful reds and whites playing off each other, and marking every move made in the field.

I really liked the development of Rey and Kilo. Tense hatred, punctuated by bitter betrayal, and a risk finding answers for both of them. I almost felt their story line was a little rushed to add in bits for other people, which disappointed me.

I even liked the bomb run. It had a very ww2 vibe to it, risking everything to stop the enemy, which is what the original SW fight scenes were based off of.

So, there was a lot to like in the movie, and even love.

But let’s get into the things I didn’t like as much. Here there will be spoilers, so you’ve been warned.

The biggest problem I had with the movie is that while we were watching I would be really into what was happening, on the edge of my seat, and then something would happen that just pulled me out of the scene and ruined it for me. I thought about it too much, stayed analyzing and trying to figure out why it didn’t fit, and it took me a while to get back into it. There weren’t a lot of those moments, but they were sometimes big moments.

In writing one of the worst things you can do is throw a reader out of the story. It becomes less likely they will pick the book up and continue reading. There were other things that pointed at bad, or sloppy writing. No foreshadowing, missing continuity, sub-plots that lacked cohesion with the main plot (casino planet?). You probably want specifics, but it’s been a few weeks since I watched it so I can’t give you a very detailed list of anything. But I can tell you why I think the purple-haired-lady was such bad writing.

In a story you have to make people care about characters. Make them hate the character, or love the character, but make them FEEL something about them. Either you see them a lot and grow accustomed to them, or they save a puppy, or kill a puppy…SOMETHING happens to make them endearing or hated by you, and then when they die you care. Either you cheer, or you’re sad. It really impacts the audience. But you have to SHOW that they are worth caring about, not tell us.

If I said “hey, that dude over there killed a puppy,” you might look at him a little sideways, but you’re probably not going to believe me. If I show you a video on youtube of the guy tying up a helpless puppy, putting it in a sack, then throwing the sack into a deep, fast moving river…you’re calling the cops more than likely. Showing has far more impact than telling ever will.

In this case they introduced a character, told us she was some great commander that did some awesome thing, then she promptly told Poe (someone we really liked) to get lost. She keeps telling him to get lost, and has no meaningful interaction until the very end. Even then she tries to destroy the one chance we, the audience, can see of the rebels survival by trying to capture Poe. Then after she’s destroyed all chance of anything good happening (from what we see) someone finally speaks up and says “oh, she had a plan.”

We spent no time with purple-haired-lady. We knew nothing about her, other than Leah said she was a good general. We did not see her kiss a kids boo-boo, rescue a puppy, or teach some young trainee to shoot. She did NOTHING except stand there and tell Poe to sit down and shut up, over and over again.

I saw a video from I Hate Everything that said we also didn’t care about Admiral Akbar, so it wouldn’t have mattered if they would have switched it out. I disagree. The fact is Admiral Akbar has been a staple meme of Star Wars culture. “It’s a trap!” is imprinted on us. We quote it, time and time again. We see his face, hear his voice in countless videos, pictures, and jokes. We knew him. No, he didn’t save a puppy either, but he did try to save the fleet, on screen, while we watched, and that resonated with us. We watched as the ships were decimated, and we knew Admiral Akbar tried to save them, but it was too late. If he had been the one on that ship to sacrifice his life than it would have meant something. Instead we got a “and Admiral Akbar is dead too” from some lady we didn’t know, or care about. They didn’t even have the decency to show him die.

You know what it felt like? What a lot of the movie felt like? The director said “how many women can we cram into this movie” and he cut out as many men as he could, making their rolls insignificant if he couldn’t out right cut them. Unless they were the bad guy. Notice that most of the fighter pilots they showed were women? Or that all of the generals were women? Poe was cast as even more of a screw up maverick than the first movie, and Fin was painted as an idiot at times. Mostly due to sloppy writing. I try to imagine this is because most of the men already died in battle and all they have left is women, but it’s still awkward that they make the male’s in the rebel group look so damn incompetent. Even Luke had become a coward, though I was glad to see he learned from it.

Lastly, the way they destroyed the ship at the end was kind of bad ass, I’ll admit. It was beautiful imagery, and looked amazing…and it left a lot of questions. Like why didn’t they sacrifice any one of the other three ships that were being destroyed before that? Oh, I can see not sacrificing a ship unless you had to, but you’re already dead. Why aren’t you doing something heroic instead of letting yourself get blown up? And how did purple-haired-lady know it would work? Was she really the first person to even think of doing it? Even so, it was a beautiful scene, and I think with a little bit more story they could have made it fit in better.

And no, I’m not talking about the casino planet. Let’s just forget that ever happened, okay?

Overall I loved the imagery, and the battle on the salt planet was beautiful. I even liked the end of Luke, it was fitting. I thought the dice on the mirror were kind of dumb, but what can you do? There was sloppy writing, and inconsistencies, and it kind of didn’t fit entirely in the Star Wars universe, but it was a really good space adventure film.

Would I watch it again? Maybe, if it was on late night cable or netflix. I’d probably even like it more the second time. If you believe the film theorist watching something repeatedly makes us like it more. I will probably even go to the theater to see the next movie in the series…and hope it has a better writer next time. Or the director stops trying to make it so female-centric. Whichever.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in Review

 

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Welcome to my House

The last two weekends have been busy. I actually took two three day weekends so I could get a bunch of little things done around hte house, starting with the cleaning.

Gregg and I have been down sizing everything. It started with going through my games, game consoles, and our books. Over the last three months we have gotten rid of five boxes worth of games and books between us, clearing up some much needed space. We also emptied a lot of the things from our storage that we had been saving for when we bought a house. The house isn’t happening any time soon so it is pointless to keep it. That cleared up more space.

You’d be surprised how much scrap leather you get from making leather projects. Gregg has three large boxes of scrap leather that we have been making small projects with. Bracelets, key-chains, etc. But there isn’t enough time to use it all, so we’ve actually been throwing some away, or giving it away in boxes. That cut down on a lot of room.

Then there are my crafting supplies. I consolidated a lot into a smaller section of my storage, got rid of anything I hadn’t been using, or which had dried out or expired, and I’m down to a much smaller selection. Next I’ll be putting a bunch of the beads and charms up on etsy I think just because I’m not going to use them, but someone should.

I also went through out clothing and threw out a lot that didn’t fit, or was worn out. And we had some old electronics that weren’t working, or we bought newer stuff for, so we took the old stuff to be recycled.

The house is so much cleaner. Over all i think we got rid of, recycled, or sold a few car loads of things. It’s made it easier to sort out, store, and keep dusted the things that are left.

Writing wise, I updated the print covers of Flight of the Griffins and Witch’s Stand, and ordered some a proof of each of them. For some reason the cover of Witch’s Stand was really blurry so I completely redid it and got it to a much better size and dpi. Now if you order them you should get a really nice looking set to have on  your shelf.

Speaking of shelves, I don’t have most of my books in print because a lot of them are on the short side, but I still wanted to have a “shelf” of my books available. So I made these two posters for that purpose. Most of my book covers are on here, and I’ll do a third when I get enough books out. For right now you can download this if you like. I have to get more ink before I can print the second one, but it is really nice having them above my desk to remind me to keep writing.

  

Speaking of writing….I’ve almost finished “Ghostly Intentions,” which is a little fantasy ghost story I’ve been working on. I’ve also edited half of book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series. I’m still debating on the name, either Dragon’s Blood, or Dragon’s Touch. Both would be appropriate, and there are several more in the series so it will all have dragon names. Appropriate in a world where magic comes from dragons, I think.

As for art…I haven’t been doing as much of it lately. I did some sketch’s that were kind of cute, but really I do most of my drawing at work, and work has been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to think, let alone sketch or draw. Also another reason I took some time off work. I needed a chance to breath and be myself for a while.

Anyway, I get a new shift starting in a month or two, so I have no idea what’s going to happen after that. For right now I’m just trying to do what I need to do. And writing more, that’s the good part.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Updates

 

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Such a good weekend!

The last three days have been so good! Between being productive, and getting things done, and being more creative, I actually feel much better going back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday was family time. We had lunch with my daughters, who I don’t see very much since they moved out. Then d&d later in the evening, with some cleaning in the middle. So I didn’t get to do much for myself that day, but I was okay with that because it was really good to see my girls, and friends at d&d.

Thursday I woke up in pain. That’s not unusual with me. I have joints that don’t like to work all the time, and some mornings hurt. Bjorn finally talked me into going to the chiropractor and that helped a lot.

Thursday evening I was able to stream day one of my new crafting project. Hopefully I’ll post it to YouTube in a more condensed version soon.

Today I took a mental health day from work. Boy did I need it!

I spent the morning playing games, running a few errands, and just relaxing. Then I spent the evening streaming with Bjorn doing leather work. So much fun! You can find the video on demand on my twitch stream still. I might post some of it to YouTube too.

Then after streaming I edited. It was the first time I had looked at my novel in a week, and I got two chapters finished today. It felt great to get back to work on it.

So, look for me on twitch. I’m enjoying streaming even if I’m not sure what to say on there.

And look for more updates on my novel soon.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2018 in On Writing

 

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What’s with all the games?

This weekend (my weekend, which is Wednesday and Thursday) was a weekend for being sick. I ended up taking an extra day to sleep the sickness away. It’s now Saturday, and I’m at work drinking my morning coffee and logging into the computer, and I feel much better. So glad I took that day.

But, while out for the weekend I did manage to get a few things done. Not much for my novel because that wasn’t working well. Something about fevers makes thinking difficult, or maybe just being really … REALLY … tired. In any event I did not do much actual story telling this weekend, but I did get some of my other writing, and a little art work done.

Anyone who has been following me for a while probably knows that I’m a gamer. What probably nobody knows is that I have a gaming blog where I do reviews. Not the usual kind of reviews, though, because it feels like everyone reviews AAA titles, and the big indie hits. I like the indie titles that fly under the radar, and mobile gaming. Since if felt like gamers all say “mobile gaming is for casuals” it was only natural for me to share some of my favorite mobile games. After all, Pokémon is a hand held game, it just so happens that handhelds now sit in our pockets and are attached to phones. It’s just really hard to find good games among all the junk.

What started out as “hey, this is a game I love, you should try it,” slowly evolved into a review sight for mobile titles. I started downloading, playing, and sharing my impressions of a bunch of mobile games, some of which are free. Some are bad. Some are good. A bunch of them I paid for through Humble Bundle. Lots of them!

I think I’ll be posting my favorite mobile games of 2017 this week, since that’s the thing to do. I will probably do a run down of my reads for this year on this blog, too, since I completed my reading challenge on Goodreads.

Overall my personal life has been pretty good this year. Bjorn is doing awesome with his new job. We did the trip to LA for Twitchcon. He just set up his new 3d printer last night so soon I’ll be able to do some designs for that. And I wasn’t sick nearly as much this year as previous years. Plus publishing two short stories (Dark Angels and Hidden Treasures) as well as Dragon’s Flame. Plus I’ve written another 100k words on the next two books for The Half Blood Sorceress Series. Just a lot of awesomeness.

Anyway, if you’re also into gaming you might check out the gaming blog over here. I sometimes post commentary on it as well, but mostly I just like sharing good games.

And look forward to some updates about the new Half Blood Sorceress later in the month.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2017 in Updates

 

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NaNoWriMo 2017 Aftermath

It is December first, and NaNoWriMo is over. Now we are all celebrating our victories, or licking our wounds. I am doing both.

For the second time in nine years I’ve failed NaNoWriMo, but boy did I come close. 4365 words from my goal, and I just could not go on. My brain, and my fingers, just gave out. I had been pushing all day long, and I managed to write 7284 words in one day, but I just couldn’t get those last four thousand words.

This was an incredible month, and I learned more about myself, and my novel, than I would have any other time. I threw away chapters, and rewrote a whole synopsis. I got stuck on the novel and went over to write some short stories for the day. I gave up on the original idea I thought I’d write because it just didn’t work. And I got that much closer to finishing book two and three of the new series.

Why did I fail? Well, I had a slow start. I fell into my stride about half way through the month, and finally found what I needed to say. That drove the story forward, and the words piled up. Had I found that story, and my perseverance, a couple weeks sooner I wouldn’t have had that epic writing day at the end.

However, that day writing 7k words was pretty exciting. That shows me that it’s possible, and if I keep pushing myself, and my endurance, some day I might be able to do writing days like that regularly.

I can make excuses about being distracted by life, children getting the flu, and feeling down the first week of this month, but ultimately they are all excuses. The truth is we all have those things happen. Life is not fair, life does not care if you’re trying to write every night. It simply is, and sometimes you have a bad day and you have to write anyway.

So I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, and you, and show exactly why I failed this years writing challenge.

First, for me I know that if I don’t write for a few days it is really difficult for me to keep writing. If I take a week off it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. If something stressful is going on it’s that much worse.

So here is a chart showing how many words I’ve written every year for the last five years.

I have one month left in 2017, and I am 83,000 words behind my worst year out of the last five. And 48,000 of those words were written in one month. THAT, dear reader, is why I lost NaNoWriMo. Not because the kids were sick and we had to take them to the hospital. Not because I lost the story. Not because I had a couple bad days, or didn’t get enough sleep. It’s because I haven’t written that much this year anyway.

It’s not easy to look at this chart. Writing has been an incredibly important thing for me for as long as I can remember, and it’s upsetting to see how little care I put into my writing this year. Yes, I’ve written 65,000 words just on my new series, but that’s half as much as I wrote on the Witch’s Curse books each year when I was working to get them finished. And the question is why? Why did I give up? Why didn’t I push myself? Why did I choose video games over writing? Or a movie? Or a craft?

I’ve been asking myself that a lot these days. What do I want out of my life? Out of day job? Out of my writing? And I think that’s why I’ve been writing less. I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to focus on, because I wasn’t sure if it could get me the one thing I wanted more than anything.

Gregg, my boyfriend, started his own business this year. He works harder than ever, but he’s happier then he’s ever been. And he’s his own boss. No one to be accountable to accept himself (and maybe his audience) and….well no management to look over his shoulder, count the beans, and make sure he’s “doing his job right.” He’s accountable to himself, his art, and fans he’s gathering. And he’s so happy!

That’s what I want for myself, I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Writing seems to be the thing that I’m best at, but I’m still pretty horrible at marketing. I know that because I’ve tried a LOT of marketing this year with maybe okay results. But we live, we learn, and we try something new, right?

The world is a strange place. We have adages like “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and “fake it till you make it” but no one tells you that someone has to weed the yard. Someone has to fix the plumbing. Someone has to pick up the trash. They probably didn’t want that for their life’s work either, but there they are. Supporting their family and doing a job so they can have a home, and set the table every night. But when you believe those adages and you aren’t doing what you love as a job you start to feel like you’re not good enough. And so here I was, feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Wondering if I should just give up and let writing be a hobby, like video games or crafts, instead of just working my butt of for the next novel, and trying to make a living on it.

And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make enough so that I can stop working for someone else. I don’t know if I will ever get a book out that strikes a cord with readers. I don’t know…if I’m good enough. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. I love to write, and I’m going to keep doing it.

So, this NaNoWriMo I learned to stop wallowing in my own self pity, and wondering what if, and just enjoy writing the story again.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Starting tomorrow. Today was a day for reflection.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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