Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Standard

This weekend my mom came up to spend Halloween with us. I LOVE Halloween, fall, harvest all that stuff. Though it’s hard to get into it down here in Florida what with the three colors we have; green, dead and cement. I do really miss the northern Autumns I grew up with. For some reason it just doesn’t “feel” like fall to me when there are highs in the 80’s. But I still love the season and grab hold of whatever I can.

Since being a parent and learning how to read packaging labels I’ve discovered there is one aspect of Halloween I just. can’t. stand. The Candy. Oh my word, the kids are like saccharine vampires constantly begging to sink their teeth into another sugary treat. Or maybe it’s more like a werewolf with a mouth full of razor sharp sweet teeth. The fights that ensue over me trying to pour the cold drought of reason over their burning sweet desire are EPIC. (like the fact that they’re just at this moment in the midst of a series of dental appointments to get fillings done for cavities, the pinch of that needle barely enough to keep them restrained) So the Switch Witch visited us last night.

It also means that I’m pretty busy.

Do not anger the bee.

I’ve just finished up a week long Tarot reading for story writing class which was amazing. I can’t even tell you how many ideas and progress of my story line I’ve gotten in the class. I’ll be posting specifically about that soon. So, I’ve made some progress on NaNo outlining, I’ve worked out a couple times, I haven’t really blogged much and I haven’t worked on Faylinn’s Chronicles at all. UGH!

Today hubby and I are going out to brekkie while mama watches the kids! Then heading to the toy store while we can to check out this thing I want to get the baby. Tomorrow, Max has speech therapy which means my day is usually shot, plus we’re down to 1 vehicle so I have to make the 35 mile one way trip four times in one day. Great way to gear up for NaNoWriMo huh?

Advertisements

Humpday Update ROW80

Standard

I have been trying to write more content lately, rather than just use this space as a twice weekly update. I got some really good feedback on Sunday’s so I wrote another yesterday and either the content is lacking or my entire audience is focused just on Sun/Wed (which is fine). I just put a lot of effort into them so I want to make sure they’re utilized.

So I’m wondering if I should bother writing informational things on writing and story building and character creations and the like on any other day but those? Or should I go ahead, write those articles on non-ROW days, and hope the readership comes? I want to get the information, ideas, etc to you guys so tell me the best way to do it.

 

As for my goals since Sunday not much has happened

-Already commented on 5 fellow ROW80’ers WEd update posts and will probably do a few more

-Read 1/2 chapter 3 in Nancy Kress’s Character book

-Halfway through the workshop on story creating with the Tarot

-Almost done with Alex Laybourne’s Highway to Hell and will have the review up shortly

-Outlined some characters for my NaNoWriMo novel

I worked out, playing and bike riding Sunday which gave me three days of WOD’s in a row and also made me super tired. So I haven’t done anything Mon/Tues but plan to get back to the work outs today. I also put up a few more blog posts on my Paleo blog.

 

How are you doing on your goals? Getting ready for November 1st? Do you think I should focus craft related posts on Sun/Wed or hope the readership comes later?

Limiting Imagination

Standard

I’m steadily working on not being a pantser anymore. Though there are still things I’m pantsing (Faylinn’s Chronicles being one of them) I realize that a lot of my time in writing is being effected by the debilitating process of having to stop mid writing to go back and remember what someone’s name was, research a historical something, make up a religion, tribe of people or whatever. When you’re in that groove (and you writers know what I’m talking about) cutting it off to look up what you called the Main Character’s neighbor’s dog five chapters back is like hitting a speed bump going seventy. It’s jarring, somewhat painful and there’s a good chance you just damaged something.

In this case, you’d have damaged that flow of words, ideas, imaginations. That sweet spot that we writers crave, where everything just kinda comes together in the cosmos and we crank out a thousand words without even blinking, becomes bruised fruit. It limits the imaginative flow. I’m working on this because I don’t like it.

I read an article this week about things you should never do in epic fantasy. Here is where pantsing can get you in trouble. The story I’m writing for NaNoWriMo is a fantasy and some of the things my characters are doing are because of the tips here. My Hero? Well, he’s going to have to work his ass off for that sword he needs so he can sell his skills in the King’s Army because swords are expensive to make. My Heroine? Well, she’s an orphan with no money who gets a position training as a Lady’s maid, except they’re treating her more like a slave and guess what? She doesn’t have the money to send a messenger with a letter to her Uncle to get her out. And if she just left? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish she’s thinking isn’t smelling too good. The Devil you know and all that.

There are real economic issues that need to be addressed, things that can add a lot of flavor to writing when you have planned out and understand them. If we visited a home where they had lush fabrics hanging from every wall, we can deduce from the fact that our Heroine comes from a culture that hand makes each bolt of fabric, that she understands that this is an extremely wealthy person’s home. One that has very little fabric and mends everything is probably fairly poor. If there has been a trend toward certain carvings (read the Meme post for more on using cultural trends in writing) that happened many decades ago and we visit a home that has these types of furnishings kept in pristine condition, we might be able to use that to determine that perhaps this person has been wealthy at one point but isn’t any longer, maybe they just prize well crafted things and are not wasteful. Or maybe the carvings remind our Hero/ine of home and we go into a few paragraphs of longing or reminiscence.

There is a lot of good that can come from figuring this out before hand.

I also researched some map making stuff and stumbled upon this fantastic article regarding map making and world building based on that map. The exercises are quite fantastic. It’s really interesting to delve into the socioeconomic structure of a place you’ve just made up. I have a city (really a small town) called Boe on an secluded mountainous island. It’s named after the animals they famously raise, that’s kinda between a goat and a llama. They also have a thriving ship building business using the hard scrub pines that grow exclusively in their environment and use them to trade for the foods they can’t grow in their soil (which is comprised of sugar sand and holds no mineral/nutrient value).

No one never needs to see the map (but I’ll share mine with you, I tried to clean it up a bit), it can be just for your own use in visualization or you could add it in the front of the book if you choose. Also, a small pronunciation dictionary for your world helps too!

 

I still need a legend. The / are mountains.

 

Boe, upper right hand corner, has absolutely no place in the story I have planned. No one comes from there. Yet. My Hero and Heroine come from Fynes (which does trading with Boe). I’m not sure if in chapter 7 when I have our Hero planning to come to a town on the mainland if there won’t be a Boe-raised immigrant and they strike up a conversation about their home island. Having it all planned and written out in advance makes Boe a real place in my head. Keeping with the ideas about epic fantasy mistakes, I’m sure not to hit any of those road bumps during their conversation. And who knows? Maybe this conversation strikes up something in my Hero that makes him want to visit Boe in a later chapter/book. (see how the map lets you visualize the things I’ve said about Boe?)

The point of all this isn’t necessarily to limit your imagination while writing, some of the best things I’ve come up with have been pantsed, but to help you think about things, keep them real in your head and have easy access to their traits, abilities and descriptions as you write so when you get into that groove, that flow, that zone, that you won’t struggle deciding on details. It’s about stretching your imagination, letting it run wild, to create a more solid world in your head before you even write that Prologue. And giving yourself a huge pool of information to drawn on while you’re in that zone can be utterly invaluable. Even if you don’t use it to create fantasy, there really isn’t a genre that wouldn’t benefit from these exercises.

Is it a lot of work? Of course. Even for places, people, names that might not ever come up? Absolutely. Is it worth it for your teeth not to snap together as you fly over a speed bump? Oh hell yes.

 

Those Cozy Comfort Zone Cabins

Standard

Pretty much sums it up.

Today I want to talk about something that can make or break you in anything that you do, your comfort zone. I could fill a small car with notebooks detailing all the things I’ve been interested in doing over the years but didn’t, because of my fear of stepping out of that comfort zone.

And that’s what a comfort zone is, a place we don’t feel afraid. It’s cozy there, warm and snugly like being curled up in front of a fireplace with a good book, a blanket tucked securely around us. We know what to expect, we know what is expected of us and we know we have the tools to do what needs to be done there. We don’t feel pressure in the comfort zone or if we do it’s manageable, still safe.

Recently, I’ve been pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone because while it’s safe and cozy, not a whole hell of a lot happens here. After a while, being safe and cozy gets a boring. The fire stifling, the blanket scratchy, the book read a thousand times. I stare into the flames and start day dreaming. What if I shed this blanket and step outside? Will I be eaten by a starving bear? Will I fall into a snow drift and freeze to death? What’s it like to do this or that or that other thing I’ve been thinking about?

So, I open the door, just a little. I write down an idea, just a scribble. I get excited. Something inside me sparks hotter than the fire in the hearth. I want more. I take a step out into the snow, it’s not as deep as I imagined. The cold is bearable, the fire within warms me as I take another step. Then it happens, I stumble. The warmth leeches out of me. I find tools to help me stand again. I could run back into the warmth, wrap myself up, pickup that same worn book. It’s there, calling to me.

But I don’t.

The world outside my comfort zone is so much more alive than I could imagine. I feel excited about life, discoveries, like a child again. Am I scared? Hell yes. There’s no ceiling here to protect me. There are many other places I could fall down. Sometimes those falls are hard, I scrape a knee, I break a bone. But I mend. I learn. I go on.

Lately, I’ve discovered that those debilitating fears I’ve had over things I’ve wanted to do are mostly unfounded. Yes, it’s still scary. The unknown always is. But the snow isn’t as deep and the scrapes don’t hurt as much as I thought. I’m still nervous, waiting for that bear to pop out from behind a tree. Here, though, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Here, I grow, learn, live instead of aging stagnant under a blanket of doubts, warmed by the fire of fear, stuck reading the same old book. Here, I write my own pages, I warm myself, I wrap experiences around me that strengthen me.

Here, surrounded by friends, those met and those to come, fired by desire and excitement to create a life worth living, create a life that burns a streak through the snow, my path, my journey one that could never have happened had I stayed inside.

I challenge you to take a peek outside today, take a step into that white void, to follow the things that spark life in your soul, sign up for that class, write down that idea, make that call you’ve been putting off, and leave your comfort zone behind. Don’t worry, it’ll be there waiting for you if you need it. But once you experience the world outside, I don’t think you will.

ROW80 Goals (accomplishments and progress toward THESE goals)

-Signed up for NaNoWriMo even though I said I wouldn’t

-Looked up workouts and expanded mine (wow, my thighs hurt today. Exercised Fri and Sat)

-Left a message for the gym the next town over (stepping out of that comfort zone…)

-Started planning my NaNo story combining 2 ideas and outlining and map making

-Wrote another 1300 for Faylinn bringing the serial novel total up to over 17,500 words and closer to conclusion

-Signed up for a Tarot story lining class (starts today!) will use this in my NaNo outlining

-Finished 5 college class assignments leaving 3 (half way+ done with the class!) and ordered the next classes books

-Researched the class requirements for my BA

-Commented on over 10 ROW80 Wednesday updates and another 5 for Sunday (so far, working on doing more)

-Read 2 chapters in Characters, Emotions and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress though I’m supposed to be reading the ECE by Margie Lawson, oops

-Written a few more blog posts for my Paleo blog

-Halfway+ finished with Alex Laybourne’s Highway to Hell which will have a review up after (2 books left for this goal)

Faylinn’s Chronicles ~ Saturday, October 22, 2318

Standard

Saturday, October 22, 2318

Nausea wells up inside me as I write. I learned today, almost by accident, something that I cannot accept. My father was a monster.

Lordain gifted me with some of my father’s journals, these, he said, were this private notes, things I wouldn’t have found in the Library. I think he gave me them so I would find this. His work with nano-techonology didn’t end with those pages I so eagerly read. No, they continued in what I would call ethically removed ways. The work with plants failed but he never let that stop him from moving into living beings, first small animals and then, God, I can barely write it, humans. He worked on humans, women, men but then children, then…embryos.

My brain is revolting against this knowledge but it’s right there in his handwriting. I can see these are his words. I can see he is disconnected from the horrific things he has done.

Tybal came to fetch me and saw my tears. He brings a comfort to me that scares me at times but this time I needed him. I showed him the things I found and asked him if he knew.

“Sweetling,” he said gently, “why do you think I am here?” At those words so many things fell into place. Tybal, Aaron, how many other nameless faces were here because of him? How many children had he experimented on throughout the years, grown adults now? But my father wasn’t alone in his research, his experiments. Grifkin’s name popped up more than once.

“I want to speak with Lordain.” I told him. I didn’t know what I wanted to say but I needed to say something. I couldn’t sit in silence, knowing the kinds of things these people, these “scientists” were capable of.

He was sitting behind the desk in the room I had never been in before but knew of from eavesdropping. The stark furnishings, the walls lined with large metal filing cabinets were different from the picture my mind’s eye had created. It took me a moment to adjust to reality. Lordain looked up at me, a haggard expression marred his face. Papers were strewn everywhere, spilling over the edges of the desk to pool around it’s legs. The flourescent light above flickered in that way that makes you question your sanity.

“You have read them, then.” It wasn’t a question so I didn’t answer. “I won’t justify what Johnathan has done. And I won’t speak ill of the dead. But I will say that he did things that others weren’t willing to for a greater purpose. The Earth is dead, Faylinn. How much longer do you think it can support billions of lives? Lives that still take it for granted, that still do the same things they’ve always done thinking themselves invincible. That the world will just be here because they want it to be. Yes, what he did may seem horrific to you but there is a greater horror that awaits us all if we cannot find a solution.”

“I don’t see how experimenting on babies will help.”

“That is because you have only been shown one part of the research that we do here.”

“I don’t want to know what other atrocities you’ve done!”

“What do you feel for these children, these beings?” His head tilted as he looked at me, narrowed eyes assessing. The worn expression was replaced with curiosity.

“I am sad for them.”  My anger not forgotten but held in caution. I gripped Tybal’s hand.

“You have wept for those you have never met.” He said as his gaze brushed over the dried salt-water on my cheeks. He smiled. “This is good! You’ve made some progress.” He stood up knocking more papers to the floor, walking across them as he came to stand in front of me. “Why do you think you are important to us?”

“I…I don’t know.” I stammered thrown off balance, hit by the swing in his demeanor.

“Still? I think it would be obvious by now.” He looked pointedly from Tybal to myself many times. Each movement of his eyes was like a sledgehammer to the gut bringing with it new threads of enlightenment. Tybal. Bang. Me. Bang. Tybal. Bang. Me.

“I’m not his daughter.” I choked out.

“Yes and no. Think harder, allow yourself to accept the unacceptable. Bring down those walls you’ve erected in your mind.” He focused on me but I didn’t really notice, my mind was swimming in a sea of broken pieces as they snapped together, the puzzle was quickly being completed.

“I’m his experiment.” He smiled wide as Tybal squeezed my hand. My throat, so tight, the words barely scraped through. “You need me, what he’s done to me, to save the Earth.” The smile got wider. “But I don’t know how!”

“Read his books. Look beyond what you deem horrific, you will see. It’s important for you to accept this, it’s important for you to want to do this. It’s part of the reason Grifkin kept you in the dark, he felt that you didn’t need to know to be effective, that fear would be a better motivator. I, and the others, don’t feel that way. We need you to cooperate because you feel compelled to do so. We need your compassion just as much. You need to know what the future holds for you but we cannot pressure you into the knowledge. While time is growing shorter, we do have the time you need, I think, to see how this is the only solution.” He looked at Tybal, “Take her to her room and help her find the answers she needs. I’ll be waiting when she’s ready.”

My mind was still lost in that ocean of puzzle pieces as Tybal brought me back to my room. Had Jonathan ever loved me? Was it only a game to him, an experiment? I remembered the games we played, the ones so like the tests here. The books he read me as I snuggled in his arms. Was it only a rouse? Was he merely training me? I tried to remember my mother and him together but they were separate. As though one came after the other. Had they ever been married, true husband and wife? Tybal urged me to rest but I couldn’t. I flipped to the middle of a book, the one with the least amount of wear.

 

The subject is showing increased attachment. I feel I have successfully integrated myself in her mind as her father. The subject doesn’t consider herself any different from the others around her. This may be a positive step, something we have neglected with the others. Only time will tell…

 

No, I won’t rest again until I understand it all.

5 year planning

Standard

I’m a pantser. It’s a pretty well known fact.  Because of this pantsing I rarely plan out anything. I don’t outline my stories, I don’t meal plan, I don’t even really budget. I’m working on this as its a hindrance rather than a help. I can see areas in my life that pantsing just isn’t acceptable for. Which is really most all of it.

I was inspired by Kait Nolan’s post regarding changing her 5 year plan and what it now entails. She’s right on the money when she says kids are a hindrance but the sacrifice is worth it. For me at least. She talks about creating a S.M.A.R.T. plan.

My first goal is to finish my AA in Early Childhood Education and start and complete my BA in Early Childhood Education after. This is a huge goal for me personally as I’ve been working on this two year degree since August 2008. I want to step it up. I’m also doing this debt free so having the money to pay for classes is also rolled into this goal.

My long term goal is to either go to seminary school and become a Unitarian Universalist minister to become a youth minister or teacher in a UU school or go to a Waldorf school for training to become a Waldorf teacher. Either of those will probably be after the kids are finished homeschooling but I need to be prepared, I just don’t know which I want to do yet. I also want to use the BA degree in the interim to get my teacher’s license in whatever state we’re in and perform home school evaluations, counseling and tutoring.

My second goal is to finish and publish one of the many books I have currently in progress. I want to have it completely written out by December 2012 with my personal editing done and ready for professional editing, cover art, beta readers etc. I know 5 years for 1 book, right? But I just don’t have the time I would like to put into it. My kids have to come first, homeschooling comes first, my school comes first. When you put it in those parameters, 5 years isn’t all that bad.

I have about a dozen novels in various states of repair. I’d like for one of them to find life as a finished novel. I’m breaking this down into smaller S.M.A.R.T. steps also but for your sanity I won’t post that lengthy bit here. (I also have to figure out which one to stick with…)

My third goal is to increase my current strength by 200% or more. Nope, my goal isn’t to be a size six (wouldn’t that be nice!) or to be XX pounds or whatever. I want to be healthy. I want to be strong. I want to be a lifting badass. I need to go to a gym and get a lifting baseline which won’t happen for at least another 4-5 months. Which means if I can lift 50lbs I want to lift 150lbs, 75lbs= 225lbs and so on. I’m going to do what I can at home in the meantime but I’m also spending this time reading about lifting, strength training and more about the Paleo diet, incorporating more of it into my life each day. The weight will come off but it’s the strength that I’m really looking toward.

There are other goals that I wish I could plan into my 5 year plan, like where we’re going to live, and what we’re going to be doing but honestly, me and life are so unsure about that I don’t even want to attempt it. Three years, five goals, seems do-able.

I’ll be breaking these down further in accordance with S.M.A.R.T. and writing them out long hand in a notebook I’m keeping just for these goals.

Do you have a five year plan? 3 year? 1 year? Do you think long term planning is important or just an activity in fruitlessness?