Plans for June

QT by Rhonda ParrishDear _______,

As I write this there is a clock counting down the hours until Camp NaNoWriMo begins. I’m quite nervous.

It’s a little bit silly. Since 2003 I’ve participated in 8 NaNoWriMos (6 times successfully) and for several years I ran NaNoLJers. NaNoWriMo is not a new thing for me, and Camp NaNoWriMo is really only that transplanted from November into June.

If anything I really ought to be excited about this because it will be all the things I loved about NaNoWriMo with fewer of the things that had begun to drive me nuts and contribute to my NaNo burn out. AndΒ  yet… and yet…

My worry isn’t completely unjustified, to be fair. I mean, I am going to be trying to write a novel based on some character ideas and a concept with no real idea what the plot is. I’ve been taking some of the advice I received in my Hollow Children call for help blog post, but I’m starting out late. While people’s suggestions have helped me firm up some of my ideas and start to get a vague idea about the shape of the story, I don’t really have enough time to firm it up too much.

And whose fault is that? Um. Mine. LOL

Also, did I mention that I signed up for The Whittakers again this year? I did.

The Whittaker Prize is a writing contest wherein you write a story, poem or both (depending on what you sign up for) every two weeks and submit it for scoring. Usually there are 9 rounds but this year it’s a shortened schedule with 6 rounds instead.

It’s sort of become a tradition for me. I never expect to win, but I love having the deadlines and getting feedback on the work I send in. It’s a fantastic way for me to write several short stories that I can then spend the rest of the year refining and sending out for submission. The only problem? They begin on June 8th. *facepalm* Yes. That’s right, while I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and working on the first draft of a nebulous novel I will also have to write at least one, and closer to two, short stories.

So, in order to combat a situation that could easily result in creative burnout I’ve decided to really embrace the whole ‘camp’ theme for the month. Everything I do will be camp themed. My workouts will become ‘hikes’, some meals will be cooked over an open flame, blog entries will be letters home–hell, I might even set up the tent in the backyard and spend a Saturday night or two out there. Why not?

What’s more I’m going to cut myself a lot of slack on anything not directly related to writing Hollow Children and my Whittaker Submissions. That means I’ll likely be slower than usual replying to emails, and I may be on social media/visiting other people’s blogs/etc. a lot less. The internet connection at camp is spotty at best, doncha know?

I will continue my T4T posts and I’ll try to write you all a letter once a week, but I can’t promise anything.

I’ll be thinking of you though.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to sewing my name into all my underwear and maybe getting a little bit more brainstorming time in on this story.

Best,

Rhonda

T4T: Two Book Covers… Almost

These pictures are going to be book covers when they grow up πŸ™‚ Click them to see the full image, WordPress crops the thumbnails.

I’ve decided to put a few of my previously published works up on Kindle. Sister Margaret and Shades of Green seemed like the ideal stories to start with, so I commissioned some cover art from Marge Simon.

I can’t share actual cover design yet because Jo is usually my cover design guy and right now he’s up to his eyeballs in getting the June issue of Niteblade ready, so I’m practicing being patient. I will ask him to textify these for me in the not too distant future, though. I guess that means I better get back to trying to learn how to format books for Kindle πŸ˜‰

Hollow Children

Camp NaNoWriMo is next month and I am very nervous about it. Very. I’m going in nearly blind, and midway through another huge project (revisions on Twixt) which seems like a recipe for disaster but…well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and now I’m committed. I freaking hate breaking commitments so, despite how unprepared I am, I’m going to suck it up and give it a shot. Who knows, maybe something awesome will come out of it and I can’t possibly end Camp NaNo with less than I started with, right? So, there’s that…

My project in June is going to be Hollow Children.

A few months ago (man, it might actually be a year ago now :-/) my daughter, Danica, and I decided we wanted to write a novel together. We searched through stock photography sites to find an image that sparked both our imaginations and chose on the image you can see to the left. We brainstormed together and came up with a couple characters then borrowed a story concept I’d been working on before and combined them.

I wrote an opening scene and passed it over to Dani to write the next one. She struggled with it. She’s possibly even more of a perfectionist than I am, and writing isn’t usually her “thing”. So we decided instead of sharing the writing duties, I would write the story and she would illustrate it.

And then I got stuck.

History has shown when I get stuck like this it’s because I’m starting the story in the wrong place, or haven’t really gotten into the brains of my characters. I suspect both are issues when it comes to Hollow Children. To make things even worse, our plot is only a nebulous concept still so I have no freaking idea what is going to happen in this book.

Ugh.

And now I’ve committed to writing 50,000 words on it over the month of June.

What was I thinking? LOL

Right now I’ve got the cover image (which I purchased the right to use) as my desktop image on my laptop so I’ll see it all the time. I’m hoping it will spark something in my brain but if all else fails I’ll draw a couple characters out of my fishbowl (or traits to help flesh out the characters Dani and I created earlier) and write random scenes. I can always try to fit them together once it’s time for revisions, right?

That being said, I’m very open to any suggestions anyone might have about how to find the skeleton of a story in a hurry LOL

Help?

T4T: Danica’s Eyes

I decided it was time that I set up a weekly recurring “thing” on this blog again. The problem is I struggle a little bit with consistency at the best of times so I didn’t want to constrain myself too tightly. For example, if I were sharing a photo a week, that would either begin to bore me after a while and I’d let it slip, or during a time when I wasn’t taking a lot of photos I’d have to use old content and that would bore you. That same basic idea applied to pretty much everything I could think of doing so I decided to keep things pretty open to avoid boredom while still forcing myself to post something on the same day every week. In the end I decided on:

Two for Tuesday

Starting today I’ll be posting two somethings each Tuesday. They could be anything. Two words, two pictures, two recipes, two quotes, two poems, two stories, two links — you get the idea.

It should be fun πŸ™‚

I’m going to kick things off with two pictures. These are both images of Danica’s eye. I took the pictures within seconds of one another and then just processed them differently. They are some of of my favourit images (a’la moi) that I’ve done recently. If you like them, I invite you to pop over to my Flickr page to see more of my photographs, and if you use Flickr why not add me as a contact? I’ll be happy to return the favour πŸ™‚

"Over There" photograph by Rhonda Parrish

"Danica's Eye" photograph by Rhonda Parrish

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

I may be crazy. Ah hell, I might as well own it, right? I am crazy.

I just signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for June. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as regular NaNoWriMo but it takes place in June or August rather than November.

I signed up because I’ve really been struggling with writing new fiction this year. I’ve created several poems I’m really fond of, but when it comes to fiction I haven’t written anything new all year. I’ve re-written a few stories, and I’m up to my eyeballs with HTRYN revisions on Twixt, but brand new from nothing drafts? Nada. In five months. That’s unacceptable.

So, that’s where Camp NaNoWriMo comes in.

I have a story I’m meant to be working on with Danica. It’s called Hollow Children and the idea is that I’m going to write it and then she will illustrate it. I’ve decided to make it my Camp NaNo project. Perhaps the daily word counts, accountability and a NaNo-light atmosphere will help me get it done. It will then sit for a few months until I find time to revise it, but it will be written and maybe that will break through this wall in my brain that is keeping me from getting any new fiction written.

Or, maybe I’m just crazy.

Track and Field Day

Warning: This post doesn’t have anything at all to do with writing. I have Danica’s permission to share this story about her.

This is Danica. This isn’t the most flattering photograph I have of her, but she looks angry in it, and that makes it the most appropriate photograph for this post.

Thursday was Dani’s track and field day. This is ungood for a few reasons

– Like her mother, Danica isn’t much into sports. That includes track and field.
– Dani’s birthday is in October, which means she has to compete against kids a grade higher than her
– We, as a family, haven’t really had a very active lifestyle until recently which means we’re all somewhat out of shape.

So, Dani was not looking forward to track and field day, but, like a champ, she sucked it up and was going to make the best of it. Still, she did call me from the track and field day to complain about the weather, and then again in the afternoon to tell me that the event had been canceled on account of snow (gotta love springtime in Edmonton, right?) and would be continued on Friday.

Then she came home and wanted to talk to me. There were tears in her eyes.

She cried as she told me about how the people who were measuring and raking for the triple jump event had made fun of her performance.

*sigh*

I was furious. Mean people suck. And people being mean to my kid, well, they suck even more than most.***

One of the worst parts of the whole situation was that she would have to go back to school the next day (Friday) and compete in two more events.

Could I force her to do that? Turns out the answer is no.

I know we can’t shelter her from everything, but I asked myself, what would she learn from going to the track meet that would make it worth the anxiety she’d feel and the potential for having to deal with insensitive people. In the end I couldn’t see any valuable lesson to be learned other than ‘sometimes you have to do stuff that sucks’. I decided she’d done that when she’d participated in the track meet on Thursday, I couldn’t force her to go back on Friday.

Jo and I discussed it and we agreed. We decided that if Danica asked to stay home on Friday we’d let her. She did, and we did.

My point?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
~Plato

It’s something I sometimes struggle with** and maybe this was life’s way of reminding me, so I thought I might help spread the word, in case I’m not the only one who could use it.

~*~

On a sideways-related note*, Danica has decided to get into better shape and so she and I have commited to doing the Couch to 5k program starting today. Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be our running days. We know it’s really going to suck at the start, but we’re determined to stick to it.

That’s one reason why I’m making this blog post, actually. This is going to be hard. Super hard. I would have a difficult enough time keeping myself motivated to do this. Now, not only am I going to have to push myself to do this, I’m also going to have to push Danica.

Did I mention that it’s going to be tough?

Yeah. So I’m hoping by sharing this it will not only provide a little accountability, it will also give me a whole bunch of people who will be able to remind me that I’m doing the right thing. The right thing for myself and for my daughter.

Yeah. I’m definitely going to need that.

*The kids at the track meet were just the proverbial final straw, not the sole motivation for this. It had been a long time in the making.

**As evidenced, I suppose, by the fact that when I originally wrote this post I referred to the children who mocked Danica as jerks. Not very kind there, Rhonda, not very kind at all.

***It could be that those kids are actually good people who are usually very nice. It could be that they didn’t know she could hear them. But what they said was mean, and she could hear them so whether they know it or not, they really hurt her feelings. I grant you that there is a huge difference between intentional and unintentional meanness, but when I’m in ‘protective mother’ mode I don’t clearly see subtleties like that.

Looking Back at April

April was freaking crazy. I think when I described it as a vampiric month I hit the nail on the head. Now that I’ve had a few days away from it, however, I can see that it was also a very energising month. I think it was good for me. I tend to shy away from taking on too many things at a time, but April pushed me in that regard and showed me that I really can funtion outside of my comfort zone. Now, I’m not going to be signing up for multiple challenges like this again anytime soon (if ever) but I have a strong feeling of accomplishment for surviving it when I did, and I’m finding that very motivating as I move deeper into May. I’m going to take a quick look back at the three main challenges I tackled in April.

The Blogging From A to Z Challenge: This was by far the most time-consuming challenge. Not only did I have to publish a blog post almost everyday of the month, but I had to visit 10 other people’s blogs, take a look around, read thier posts and leave a comment. What’s more, I replied to every comment left on my blog and visited those people’s blogs as well. Now, from what I can tell, a very large proportion of people who did this challenge skipped that part, and frankly, that kinda pissed me off.

The challenging part may have come from writing blog posts everyday, but if that’s all you did, you missed out. What’s more, you took advantage of the people who embraced the challenge in its entirety. The point (at least in part) was supposed to be to meet new people and expirience new blogs, not just sit back in your cozy hole and enjoy free traffic from the Blogging From A to Z participants list. /rant

Anyway, I did meet some new people and added a couple new blogs to the list of places I’ll visit regularly, and I did get to blog about somethings that I might normally not have had an excuse to. I don’t know if I’ll do this challenge again though, because I worry that it was a bit too much. Not necessarily for me (if I were to do it again I would have a theme, shorter blog entries and they would all be pre-scheduled LOL) but for my readers. There were far more comments on my posts at the beginning of the challenge than at the end, and I suspect that’s at least in part because people were tired of hearing from me everyday πŸ˜‰ So… I’ll consider doing this again next year, but I don’t know. I don’t know.

The Platform Challenge: Robert Brewer offeredΒ  his readers the first annual Platform Challenge this April, and I participated. It was, by far, the easiest challenge I did. In fact, it wasn’t much of a challenge at all. For me. I know it was a huge challenge for a lot of people, but for the most part the daily assignments were things I’d already done or do regularily (sign-up for Twitter, get a blog, make a blog post…). If you are just starting out in social media/platform-type stuff than this challenge would be great for you. It would push you to jump into the fray, but at a pace that was designed to avoid overwhelming you. If your already social-media savvy and running a blog, however, it will be less helpful. That being said, I did learn a few things and discovered several ways to tweak my blog to be more betterer. Those share buttons at the bottom, for example, and the ability to follow the blog via email from the thingy to the right there (not available on LJ, sorry). So, yeah. I’m glad I did it. I won’t be doing it again though unless Robert puts out an intermediate version.

The April Poem A Day Challenge: This challenge was also hosted by Robert Brewer on the Poetic Asides blog. The idea was a poem a day for thirty days. I finished up to and included Day #26 by the end of April. That means I have four more prompts to write poems for over the month of May. It was a struggle this time around. I think largely because I didn’t have any focus, I didn’t have a theme. Allow me to illustrate:


Day One
Β 
Day Two
Β 
Day Three

Day One. A fresh new notebook, a big fat blank spot where theme should go. Not a great start, right? Okay, so, then we have Day Two over to the right there. Happily I have a theme, a theme I really, really like. In fact, someday I will write a poetry collection with a corvidae theme. Alas, that day was not situated anywhere in the month of April 2012 LOL

Day Three. Okay, says I, maybe corvidae is too narrow a theme for this particular poetry challenge. If I broaden it to be ‘Wings’ that can include birds, and planes, and angels and metaphoric wings and… Yeah, so that theme last until about day six when it, too, got crossed out and I went with a big fat question mark for a theme LOL

I think I have a few poem seeds as a result of this challenge that I’ll be able to make grow into something cool, but right now I’m not blown away. Many of the poems feel unfinished, like I had the start of an idea but I didn’t know how to end it. Or there’s the gems where I obviously just wasn’t feeling the prompt, like the haiku I wrote as my rejection poem for Day Eight:

It’s not quite for us
but please submit again
stabby, stabby, stab

Still, it’s a bunch of poem starts I wouldn’t have had without this challenge, and you bet your ass I’ll be doing it again next year πŸ™‚

W1S1 Update for April

This is just a super quick update post because I expect you’re kind of tired of hearing from me everyday after the blogging challenge I did in April. No matter how much you might like someone, hearing from them every. stinking. day. can begin to wear you down, right? πŸ™‚

I had a very productive month in April, and remain on track for my W1S1 goals. I didn’t write any new fiction but I participated in the April Poem a Day challenge (as of this post, which I’m writing on the morning of April 30th, I am a couple days behind but I expect to catch up this afternoon. I’ll update you next week when I write a post about all the challenges I did this month). I read through my poems the other day, to see how bad they were and discovered a great many of them are unfinished, but several have potential so… Yay?

I also made three sales this month and added at least one more poem into the pool of work I’m actively submitting which gives me 13 pending submissions right now.

Not too shabby, eh? πŸ™‚