Bullet Points ftw!

You know, one goal I’d set for myself for this year was to blog at least once a week. I think the reason I forgot to add it to my goal list is because I’d set this goal just before then, so it felt separate somehow. But it isn’t.

I guess that’s relevant mostly because this is going to be my blog entry for this week. It’s a busy week, so I’m going to be making this blog brief and bullet point-y. I always sorta feel bad when I write bullet point blogs, but I do have a few things to share and not much time to do it in.

<– Check this guy out. How cool is that? This is the graphic reward I get for sticking to my Write 1 Sub 1 goal for January. I’m doing the lightweight version which is writing and submitting one short story or poem a month.

This month I was largely focused on working on Consequence but, because I’d set a W1S1 goal, I also made time to write a few poems and (nearly) finish revisions on a short story I’d written a few months ago. I also revised a couple poems I’d started for the 2011 November Poem a Day and submitted one of them. That, combined with re-submitting stuff as I collected rejection notices for them, resulted in 8 submissions this month and 1 new piece moved into the pool of work I’m actively looking to sell.

I got an email last week that nearly made me cry. In a good way. It was a ‘Your work has gone on to the next stage’ letter from a market I’ve been trying to break into for years now. I’ve got my fingers crossed really tight (and I’m superstitious enough to hope I’m not jinxing myself by talking about it like this) but really, at this point even if they pass on it, I feel like I’ve made progress, and progress is good.

Consequence is fighting me for every word. Now, I tend to be a proponent of the ‘just write it even if it’s shit’ school of thinking for first drafts, but this one is like… well, pulling teeth. I feel like I’m spending too much of my writing time staring at a blank page in my notebook and trying to figure out what to write. That’s not cool so I’ve temporarily stopped physically working on Consequence. I’m going to let my sub-concious chew on it for a little while, and turn my attention to Twixt.

I’d like to avoid having to revise Twixt over and over again like I did Shadows. A good friend of mine took the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course by Holly Lisle, and another friend took her ‘Thinking Sideways’ course. Both have loved them, so I signed up for HTRYN to try it out. I’ll let it guide my revisions on this draft of Twixt in hopes that it will save me time in the long run. I worry, mostly, that I’ll use this course as a new way to procrastinate “What do you mean I’m not working on it? I’m taking this course…” Only one way to find out, I suppose.

Lastly, on a short crafty note, I’ve reincarnated my Mystery Quilts blog. Hopefully I won’t accidentally delete it this time *eyeroll*. Anyway, it’s right here iffin yer interested. I’ve begun working on a new project for fresh beginners after having a crafty conversation with my friend Jayde, and I’ve got plans for a spring-themed tablerunner too, so, yeah… it should be good.

ETA: It looks like maybe this lil piccy to the right here is meant to be my reward for success in Write 1 Sub 1 for January and the top one is for a sub-section of the W1S1 community but I kinda like the dude up top better. Think anyone will be grumpy if I post both?

(This post has been edited to remove the bullet points because they were messing up my formatting. Funny and true!)

A Month of Letters

I am going to participate in A Month of Letters in February. The idea is pretty simple, each mailing day in February you mail something out via snail mail. I think it’s fantastic — who doesn’t love receiving things in the mail?

In my case, I’m going to ready something to be mailed each day and then actually, physically mail them once a week because the walk to the post office is nice enough on a warm day, but if we get a cold snap there’s no way I want to do it everyday. Plus, there’s the time it takes… So yeah. I’ll be mailing something for everyday in the month, but it will all go out in about 4 shipments.

If you want to participate check out the website –> http://lettermo.com/

If you don’t want to participate but you’d like to be one of the people I mail something to, leave me a comment with your mailing address, or if you’d rather, just email it to me (rhonda@jofigure.com). I make no promises about -what- exactly I’ll send you, but it will be something.

I’m looking forward to this 🙂

*sigh*

Magazines come and go. I understand that. No, truly, having run Niteblade for five years now, I really DO understand. However, there is a huge difference between a publisher closing up shop, and a publisher closing up shop and not telling anyone.

Once you realise your publication is going to be closing its doors it is time to, at the very least, drop an email to the people whose work you’ve accepted for future issues (not that I’m referring to myself here, no, no, of course not LOL). Really, you ought to make a public announcement of some sort and let everyone who has submitted work to you know as well, so their stuff isn’t hanging about in limbo, but to not even tell the people whose stuff is meant to be in your next issue? *sigh*

For what it’s worth, if Niteblade ever has to close its doors, I promise to do it right, not just vanish into the ether in silence.

Also, somewhat randomly and completely unrelated to the first half of this blog, I put up a writing prompt on NaNoLJers this week that I thought was pretty good. Check it out –> What would make your character go out in the cold?

Magpie

October 21, 2010I found a dead bird today, a magpie. Where I grew up, in rural Alberta, magpies were reviled. They were infamous for stealing dog food and being able to ‘smell a gun from a mile away’. I listened to many conversations about the best way to kill them (usually involving poison and the aforementioned dog food) and how horrible they were. Frankly, I thought it was the people doing the plotting that were horrible, not the birds. I love birds. Even magpies.

I know magpies aren’t angelic, I’ve seen them swarming to pick on a weaker bird, or squirrel, and I’ve heard stories about them ganging up on cats, but I guess that sort of falls under the whole ‘circle of life’ or ‘nature is cruel’ thing. I think they are beautiful. Their black and white feathers, their silhouette when they fly overhead. They are super-smart, and I freaking LOVE how they talk with two voices at the same time. Someday I’ll write a story with that in it, someday.

Not today. Today my story is about one particular magpie that won’t ever speak again, in any number of voices.

I left my house, intent on dealing with some mundane errands. I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself because a had a bit of a headache and the scale this morning said I’d gained 1/2 a pound overnight. I left my yard and started walking down the sidewalk toward the mall, and I saw it. A feathery bundle laying still on the sidewalk. Right in the middle of the sidewalk. It was unmistakably a magpie, even from a distance, it’s coloring and shape told me that much. I couldn’t tell if it was alive or dead, there was a light breeze and it was ruffling its feathers just enough to sustain the possibility of breath. I was frozen in place for a moment, trying to figure out what could have happened — because it was just laying there. There were no scattered feathers, no other birds or animals, no sign of any struggle, just a bird, obviously dead or dying, laying in the middle of the sidewalk.

When I finally walked toward it, I hoped it was dead. If it was suffering I knew I wouldn’t be able to find it within myself to kill it, nor did I have the faintest clue who to call. There was something about it’s posture that told me if it wasn’t dead it soon would be, so I didn’t think even if I -did- call someone they’d be able to help. So I wanted it to be dead. And I felt bad for that, but dead > suffering without hope.

All those thoughts swept through me in the time it took to reach the magpie, all those and several theories about what could have killed it.

Because it was very definitely dead. I realised that before I’d reached it. When I did get to it and look down, it looked beautiful. He had no wounds, no blood, his body wasn’t twisted or unnatural looking. Snow had fallen on him (from the trees above him, I presume) and then melted, leaving tiny droplets of water that sparkled on his feathers. Looking at him, my heart ached, and yet, I had the thought ‘I should photograph him, he looks gorgeous.’ I dismissed that thought as soon as it occured to me, but really, he was that lovely, even in death.

I took off my glove and reached for him, then stopped and put my glove back on. I don’t know why I’d taken it off in the first place, because his feathers looked so soft? Because I wanted to brush the water droplets off him? I don’t know, but a childhood of repeatedly being told ‘Don’t touch that, it’s dirty and it’ll make you sick’ put my glove back on before I picked him up. But I did pick him up. What choice did I have? I couldn’t leave him laying there. Couldn’t make him someone else’s problem, or leave him for a neighbourhood kid or cat to discover.

I brought him home, and then, swallowing back tears the whole time, wandered around my yard, trying to figure out what to do with him. I couldn’t bury him, the ground is frozen and covered with snow, plus I had errands to run before Danica got home from school. I couldn’t just throw him in the garbage because… well, I just couldn’t. I thought about putting him on top of the compost pile, where he could get covered with snow and decompose untouched over the winter (somehow compost doesn’t equate to garbage in my brain), but that wasn’t safe. Not only could the neighbourhood cats potentially get him, so could my dog. I didn’t want to have to deal with that. I thought about putting him in our shed until spring when I could bury him, but I couldn’t get the door open (it was frozen in place).

In the end I left him outside, up off the ground with a crate covering him to keep him safe from scavengers. I’ll leave him there until Jo gets home to help me make a decision. It could be that there’s someone with the city I can call to deal with him, if not, he spend the winter quadruple bagged in my freezer until spring. Or that Jo can get the door to the shed open.

Whatever happens, he touched my day and my heart and I felt compelled to write about him and share my story.

Rest in peace, Magpie.

Jersey Shore

TrainOne of my guilty little pleasures is Jersey Shore.

It started by accident. While flicking through channels last year I stumbled upon Jersey Shore and lingered on that channel a while just to torment my husband.

In turn, he set up the PVR to record Jersey Shore.

Then we started watching the recordings.

It became a family event. Each Friday we’d watch what had been recorded on the day before, and I have to admit that the word ‘Jersday’ was uttered more than once within our walls.

I grew to actually like Pauly and Vinnie and to enjoy the train wrecks that are Snooki, Deena and Mike.

I know, I know. But wait, there’s more. I caught an old, random repeat from Season 1 or 2 last night and it totally inspired the stuff I wrote today for Consequence.

At the moment I have a total of two scenes (two scenes! How lame is that?) which I think I’ll be keeping once revision time comes around, and that’s one of them. It’s good. Like, really, truly good.

Maybe I’ll name one of my characters Jersey as a tip of the hat.

Maybe.

Overthinking and Cornbread

Ingerii GoticOn Tuesday I looked over my schedule for the day and there was writing time all over the place. I had a list of things I needed to do for Niteblade, but other than that, it was writing time as far as the eye could see.

Care to guess how much I got written?

I think it was about three pages. Three. Pages.

I write fast. Well, okay, I write longhand much slower than I type, but still, three pages? Realistically that accounts for only about half an hour of my day.

What did I do with the rest? Well, I did work on that Niteblade stuff, and I also decided to make soup to have for lunch over the next week and I also… made cornbread.

I was in my room working on the first draft of Consequence when I discovered my POV character was a vegetarian. Apropos of nothing I wondered what he was going to eat for dinner (even though that dinner wasn’t going to be on the page at all anyway) and I decided he was going to have cornbread. “Mmm… cornbread,” I said to myself. “I haven’t had cornbread in ages. I should make some.” So, I kid you not, I got up from where I was writing, walked into the kitchen and made cornbread.*

How do you spell distractable?

Now, I always have to write myself into a story, and I typically end up cutting at least the first chapter or two when I revise but the cornbread thing was, to me, a huge sign that I was doin’ it wrong. You see, the reason I was so easily distracted was because I was over-thinking things like crazy. Really. It’s similar to what Robert Brewer talks about in his blog here.

In my brain it’s not really focusing too much on the first sentence, but on other important things, like POV and tense and such. My thought process on Tuesday was something like “I should do this from Carrie’s POV exclusively. No, wait. It would be better from Aaron’s POV. Yeah, because *STUFF*. Oh. Actually, maybe a 3rd person POV would be better. The problem would be I wouldn’t be anyone’s head’s but the advatanges are I could go anywhere in the town I wanted, and it would give me a way to show *STUFF*. Unless–“

You get the idea.

With so much indecision and over-thinking going on in my head is there any wonder I wasn’t connected to the story? That I found it easy to walk away? I don’t think so.

When I sat down to write today I gave myself permission, not only for the first draft to be bad, but also to be chaotic. First of all, I’m writing each and every scene that occurs to me, even ones I expect to cut later. It’s easier for me to cut stuff out than to add it in, and I never can tell what I’m going to discover in those scenes, I may just surprise myself and decide to keep them. I’m also writing from whatever POV and in whatever tense I feel like. Hopefully by the time I get to the end of this draft I’ll know what point of view and tense I want the final version to be in and I can revise everything to fit that, but really, if I didn’t give myself permission to just freaking write it, it just wasn’t going to happen.

So right now, this draft is a crazy, chaotic mess. Scenes are written in three different POVs and two different tenses. But there are words on the page and at this point, that’s all I can allow myself to worry about.

*In part I blame Jayde for my cornbread cravings.
**That picture is of Danica, I thought it was appropriate because we took it as a long exposure of her shaking her head back and forth. Which I’ve done at myself a lot lately.

2012 Goals

It’s that time of year again. I have a love/hate relationship with goal setting. I love it because goals really are motivating and help me not only get stuff done, but see progress when I need to the most. The thing I hate about goal setting is trying to figure out where the balancing point is between ‘Unrealistic Expectations’ and ‘Challenging Myself’. Tricky, tricky.

That being said, this is my attempt for this year:

Health: This relates to my writing because the healthier I am the more productive (and less dead) I am.

  • Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.
  • No drinking energy drinks
  • Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)
  • Workout at least five times a week*
  • Lose 40lbs

School: I think this year is going to be more writing and editing-centric so my school goal is optional, depending on time and stress.

  • Finish one, or, if I’m feeling super energetic, two more courses toward my degree

Writing:

  • Write the first draft of Consequence (Deadline is March 31)
  • Participate in the monthly version of Write 1 Sub 1. I have a habit of writing ‘cast-off’ poetry for things like this when I become overwhelmed. That’s not acceptable here. Poetry only counts if it is in a complete and publishable form that I’m proud of. Same goes for stories.
  • Figure out what to do with Shadows and my zombie poetry and get to work on doing it. This can mean looking for an agent, a publisher or any number of other things. I can’t be specific until I’ve made a decision
  • Either finish a first draft of Hollow Children or a transcription of Twixt
  • Revise the whack of ‘mostly finished’ short stories sitting in my Dropbox and start looking for homes for them
  • NaNoWriMo is optional. So is NovPad.
  • Participate in the Whittaker Prize again this year, but in only one category, not both.
  • Finish writing poems for all the 2011 Novpad prompts

Editing:

  • Implement the new payment system for Niteblade
  • Run a fundraiser and increase promotion in order to move out of the red
  • Super Sekkrit Projekt w CJD (not Niteblade-related)

Wow… so that’s a lot more goals than I usually set in a year, but it covers some of the things which affect my writing and I don’t usually address in goal-setting. Hopefully that makes things go smoother, but if not I’ll know better for next year.

*The reward for 300 workouts this year will be Christmas in San Francisco. Rewards, especially those not related to food, are good.