June 25, 2017 § 2 Comments

Hello, it’s me. I’m in California dreaming about the way we used to be.

Okay, that’s a lie. Worse yet, it’s an Adele lyric.

I’m not in California, but it almost feels like it. The day is sunny and breezy and cool, and the windows are open and flooding the house with fresh air. 

I’ve been a pinball lately, distracted by a hundred things and having no time to write. I miss writing; it itches and aches like a phantom limb. That itch is never stronger than when I read a writer’s thoughts on the process. 

Today’s edition of Orbital Operations, Warren Ellis’s weekly newsletter, made me itch ferociously. 

But the grass needs mowing. I’m loathe to do it, especially since I learned recently that the whole lawn-mowing thing began when the middle class started doing it to make their houses look like the manicured estates of the wealthy. A stupid reason to rob yourself of hours of free time, yet it’s become a social expectation now, and legally mandated in some areas. 

So I’ll mow and weed. It’s a good day to be outside, at least. And while I toil mindlessly, I’ll try to remember where I left off with the novel, and the plans I had for revisions of whatever the hell draft I’m on. Maybe I can steal a couple hours tonight to pull it up on screen and poke at it. 

Speaking of mowing and weeding, my wonderful friend Sarah has a blog she’s been keeping secret. It’s all about gardening, at which she is a master and possibly some kind of wizard. (Seriously, her back yard is so beautiful, some kind of dark magic must be involved.) Check out Horseradish and Honey if you want to learn how to enchant the earth into growing gorgeous, nourishing things instead of just the hateful, thorny weeds that plague my yard.

And off I go, to sweat and weed and mow. 


The Eye of the Whirlwind 

August 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

When the cyclone hits, it’s a hundred miles per hour of whirling chaos. It roars you deaf, batters you with airborne buses, and shreds you with sharp slivers of siding. But if you make it to the eye of the thing, you have a moment of calm before it snatches you up again.

I feel like I’ve been spinning in the whirlwind for about a month now. My dad is sick and that, on top of the thousand natural shocks, has knocked everything shitward. I spend most days reminding myself to breath. My lower lip spasms. My heart rate thunders like the hooves of a thoroughbred. « Read the rest of this entry »

Joss Whedon talks about being prolific, and you should listen

April 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

joss-whedon-spReal quick: This popped up today and I read it and think it’s very much worth sharing. So go read HOW TO BE PROLIFIC: GUIDELINES FOR GETTING IT DONE FROM JOSS WHEDON, because it’s worth it. 

I have thoughts on this, and I also have a post brewing on what it’s really like to complete your novel’s first draft (spoiler: it’s HARD), but right now I’m focusing on getting the damn book finished.

In the meantime, listen to Joss. He’s way smarter than me, anyway.

[INFOGRAPHIC] How to Be Productive

March 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

If you’re like me, you never have enough time to do the things you really want to do; i.e., write more. It seems like every time I sit down to write, I think of a dozen things that need doing. So I’m always looking for ways to maximize the too-few hours per week that I can carve out for writing.

I think I’ve seen the infographic below before, but I came across it today and decided to share it here, on my much neglected blog, because I think there’s a lot of good ideas here. And because I want to revisit it every once in a while as a reminder to myself, which is much more likely to happen if I post it here rather than chuck it into the mountain of links in my bookmark folder. Click to embiggen it:

How To Be Productive

by annavital.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

(A tip of the hat to GalleyCat, which is where I found this today.)

As for a real update, I’m still trying to finish the first draft of the book. I passed the 64,000-word mark this week, but I’m finding it difficult to get to the Big Moment. I think I’m going to have just vomit up that scene and accept that it’s (as the infographic says) “better done than perfect.”

I just finished reading Iain Banks’ novel Matter, which I didn’t blog about because I think I’ve learned everything that Banks can teach me about writing. I keep reading his Culture series because they’re very good and I’ve noticed I write more when I’m reading a Culture novel than when I’m not. Anyway, it’s another Banks book that is slow to start, but really good when it takes off. Unfortunately, even when the story is rocketing along, the author stops for long-winded digressions and pages of description. I found myself skimming a lot, just to get back to the story.

So that’s where I’ve been in a nutshell. Hopefully, my next post will be announcing that I’ve finished the first draft. And hopefully, that will be soon.

Creating Character Names

November 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

for-your-inspirationNaming characters has never been easy for me — especially those “walk on” characters that surprise me by turning up in a scene unplanned. That’s why I am sharing a link to this article: How to Invent Names for Your Genre Novel. It’s partly for those of you who also have this trouble, but mostly for me, so I can find it again when I need it. (Yes, I can and did bookmark it in my browser, but … well, I have a bookmark problem. I’m a bookmark hoarder. There, I said it.)

Going handily with that link is another article I stumbled across this morning about the naming of the characters in the Hunger Games series. (There are several articles about the Hunger Games names, by the way; that’s just the one I happened to read this morning.)

Do you have any tips for coming up with character names? Share them in the comments! I need all the help I can get.

Inspiration from Neil Gaiman

August 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

Fantastic advice for we struggling writers from one of the contemporary masters of the craft:

To sum up:

  1. Write
  2. Finish things
  3. Read outside your chosen genre
  4. Tell your story

(I can attest to third thing on the list; the idea for the novel I’m currently writing came from watching an opera and an old movie.)

What’s the most memorable first line you, er, remember?

August 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

600622_515218381866357_703050485_n“He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

I read Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche over 30 years ago, and to this day, I remember that opening line word for word. I can honestly say, it’s the best opening line I’ve ever read.

A lot hangs on the opening line of a novel. If you’ve got a great first line, it immediately sucks the reader into your story. If it’s just “OK,” a browsing reader might keep reading … and if so, you’d better hope the rest of that first page captures them. But if it’s terrible? Your book is going back on the shelf, my friend.

That’s why Stephen King agonizes over the first lines of his books, a fact he just wrote about in an article for the Atlantic. He lists a few good (and one terrible) opening line, and talks about why they work (or don’t). What it boils down to, King says, is this:

An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

Does the first line of Scaramouche fit King’s criteria? I think so, with a one-word addition: “Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this guy.”

Check out King’s article. The man knows his stuff (obviously) and, as usual, he makes the sharing of said stuff interesting and lively.

Got a great first line to share — either yours or someone else’s? Leave it in the comments! Let me know where it’s from, though — I might want to grab that book.

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