Monday, April 26, 2010

Cool Video

Just had to share this stereotype-busting video with you. Found it on Lee Wind's blog.



Monday, April 19, 2010

YA Authors vs. Bullying

There is a new Facebook group of YA authors and supporters who are making an effort to stop bullying. Thought I'd pass news of this along. It's a very worthwhile undertaking and I'm proud that authors have gotten involved in what must be an effort by all of us to make a difference.

I read about this on Lee Wind's blog.

Have a happy, peaceful, non-bullied day.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seat Time

This past week has been a tough one for seat time, with many major distractions pulling me away from my writing. These included finishing the taxes and a new baby in the family (not mine!). I did get some quality work done, but not as much as I had hoped.

I edited the past few chapters again, something I just can't stop doing, probably since it's the way I've been working throughout this entire draft and with good results. It's just been slow, at times too slow and too tedious. I've tried rushing forward but that's not working, either.

The good news is I'm much happier with the past few chapters. One in particular had never satisfied me; I think I can say now it's not nearly as bad as I had thought it was. The editing has focused the conflict and strengthened the sense of how and why things matter to individual characters. And, I'm through that really rough spot in the plot that had tied me up for so long. The word count has grown to 31k on top of the editing work. A meager step forward, but it's very solid progress.

This coming week I'll shoot again for 10k words, and more if I can to help me catch up. It's still possible to complete this draft within April. I know if I do race ahead the quality will go down and I'll have more editing to do later. The only thing that matters, of course, if finishing this manuscript and getting it out the door -- however that happens is fine with me.

I have a larger time line I'm working against, which currently calls for me to finish the first draft in April then spend two months editing, with the finished product ready to mail out by July 1st. With all the editing I've done thus far on this draft, there isn't much more to do with the existing chapters except polish them.

I'm excited whenever I think I'll finally have something ready to send out! And I want to follow it with more stories on a regular basis. All I need is more seat time. I've enjoyed using the Cool Timer (see "Resources" in the sidebar). I don't always need it, but using it gives me an extra push, a sense of urgency.

Wishing everyone else all the seat time they need this week,


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Free Timer

I've read a number of blog posts recently that extol the virtues of using a countdown timer while writing. Indeed, setting a limited, immediate writing goal is a terrific way to help yourself focus. You effectively carve a slice of time out of your busy day and set everything else aside, knowing it'll still be there for you later. It's important to remove distractions so nothing interferes with your concentration! A timer can sure help you churn out the work.

To keep yourself fresh, write for 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break, then write for another 50 minutes, etc. Breaks help. We need to clear our thoughts, release the tension, get some oxygen (get up and walk around!). Breaks help us return refreshed and ready to focus for another go-round.

If you don't have 50 minutes, you can set a shorter writing goal (10-15 minutes) and fit several smaller writing sessions into your busy day. This is a great way to keep in touch with your story rather than dropping it altogether when time is limited. By keeping the story moving, even slowly, you keep it from growing cold; when that happens, you need extra time just to get back into the flow of things before you can write productively again, which means you lose time.

To keep your work on-track, set a specific writing goal for each writing session. For example, "I'll use these 50 minutes to write a first draft of this scene or chapter," or, "I'll use this writing session to edit the last chapter and plan the next chapter," etc. A timer creates immediacy, but you need to complement that with a specific writing goal in order to achieve true focus.

I found a free timer called "Cool Timer" which you can download here. CNET is a great site for technology reviews, downloads, etc. The download is certified spyware-free, plus you can scan it with your own anti-virus software once you download it (just right-click the downloaded file -- you should see an option on the pop-up menu to scan it with your anti-virus software).

See the "Resources" section in the sidebar for more useful stuff!

Happy Writing,


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Climbing Over the Rough Patches

In the first week of April No-No I succeeded in breaking every rule I established for myself! Not only did I go back to the beginning and re-read the entire manuscript, but I also edited a bit here and there, in particular the last two chapters. I couldn't help it! Now I know how an addict must feel, trying to kick the habit.

Still, I managed to bring the story forward about 5k words, from 24k to 29k. That's only half the 10k progress I wanted, but I got a lot out of it. I'm not worried that I didn't make 10k -- I never wrote evenly during Nano; it came in bursts but still I made it to 50k for the month. I should still reach 40k by the end of April.

The past couple of chapters have definitely been rough terrain (hence the photo of the dune buggy). It's been a wild ride, but I'm hanging on and things are not as bad as they might be. I do know the plot; I'm just working out the details. I didn't plan this story in extreme detail because I wanted to allow myself the "joy of discovery" -- what was I thinking?! (haha)

I feel by having a specific word count goal I did get more accomplished this past week than I might have otherwise. I'll keep the goal in place and work harder this week to meet it. I hope to finish that missing 5k this weekend and get the new week's 10k done by next weekend.

I'm into Chapter 9 already and the first scene is EXCELLENT. It's the sort of stuff I want to do, and here I am doing it! Not only is this the quality and nature of the material I'm aiming for, in this case it came out clear and well-written the first time through. Exciting!

And the writing goes steadily on,


Sunday, April 04, 2010

New Blog Features


You may notice a few new items in the sidebar of my blog.

I'm now featuring free MP3 albums which you can listen to and download courtesy of Jamendo. Nice instrumental stuff that you can enjoy while writing. Jamendo offers free, legal downloads of music from aspiring musicians, composers, etc. Check it out!

Each album image has its own controls: you can listen while you view my blog. If you hit the next button (>>) you can check out the next track. And, of course, you can download the entire album to add to your collection.

At the bottom of the sidebar are also some images with links to items you may wish to purchase, if you haven't already. I'm not receiving advertising revenue from this -- I'm just sharing links to things you may enjoy.

You can now also subscribe to my blog from the sidebar, and join as a follower, showing your support.

Back to my WIP,


Friday, April 02, 2010

Wake-Up Call!

March has turned into April and my WIP is still not done! So, for what may be the third time now I'm extending my deadline, pushing it off another month! I hope to have the draft finished by the end of April!

And that constitutes a wake-up call!

Ergo, it's time for my own mini-Nano, which I'll call "April No-no" -- it's a no-no that I'm still finishing this draft in April, and no-no I won't let it go beyond that!

Time to determine weekly word-count goals. I'll set a minimum goal of 10k per week, which is about 3 chapters per week based on the length of the chapters thus far (just over 3k each).

In order to accomplish that I'll force myself to turn off the internal editor and just plow on through.

Here are my rules for April:
1. Write only on the WIP until the WIP is done (this draft).
2. Never go back to read more than the last scene before starting new writing, unless I have to search back to check a detail to maintain continuity.
3. Move forward with a bare minimum of editing as I go.
4. Read over and tweak current work only if it doesn't interfere with meeting the day's word count goal within the time available.
5. Believe that everything I'm writing is the best thing I've ever written and, besides, it'll all work out in the editing.
I'll keep you posted as I bring this draft to its conclusion within April!

BTW, I've succeeded with Nano at 50k, I should be able to do April No-no at 40k! Let's hope so. The difference is this is real, and I'm really serious about this WIP as something to send out the door, so I'm taking it much more seriously: it's not a throw-away writing exercise.

The race is on!