About Toilet Paper…

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner_congrats

Well, I “won” NaNoWriMo again. I think this makes my ninth victory in twelve attempts (I can’t double-check that because the NaNo site is not loading properly right now LOL) For this NaNoWriMo I was a rebel — I wasn’t writing one novel, I was writing a series of interconnected short stories. Or, that was the intention. As it turned out, some of the stories were less connected than others.

I’m kind of an old hand at this NaNo thing, but this year seemed especially difficult. I knew it would be going in — part of the reason I decided to do NaNo this year was because I had so much going on in November that it was ridiculous for me to add NaNo to the mix — but I didn’t realise just how very tough it would be. Things like the results of the American election and an unexpected weekend away added extra bumps along the way. Some of the biggest obstacles I had to deal with were 100% internal and included a ginormous helping of impostor syndrome right around the middle of the month.

highlight-reelIf you get a bunch of writers/editors/publishers together and start them talking it soon becomes clear that things aren’t always shiny, and what you see on social media is only one of many facets of our lives. As the quote says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” With that in mind I’ve been making a real effort to peel the curtain back now and then, to acknowledge the struggle from time to time.

Some writers don’t go to conventions or writers groups or whatever so if we don’t talk about this publicly on occasion they might not benefit from those ventfests I enjoy from time to time. They might not get that they aren’t alone. I’m not looking to be Debbie Downer, but I think it’s important that we be real about this stuff.

A small group of friends and I have banded together to work through Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story“. Right smack dab in the middle of my most recent bout of impostor syndrome I was working on the latest assignment for that group — to write a story about an old woman doing some task while thinking back to something in her past. I used that assignment not only to add to my NaNoWriMo word count (every bit of fiction counts!) but also to work through some of the stuff I was feeling. Now that I’m in a much better state of mind, I think it’s kinda funny so I thought I’d share it here.

Uh, enjoy?

And know that when you’re feeling badly about your work, or like an impostor — you are not alone. I think we all go there from time to time. I certainly do.

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All rights reserved by Rhonda Parrish

2015 Goals

All rights reserved by Rhonda Parrish

I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, because I’m crap at keeping them, but I do enjoy setting goals for the coming year each January. I find them super helpful staying focused and find the accountability which comes from sharing them publicly really helps as well. This year I’m a wee bit late on getting this blog post done, so it may be slightly less chatty than in years past, but without further ado, here are some of my work-related goals for the coming year (and health counts because you can’t work if you’re not at least a certain degree of healthy).

Health

  • Weigh less at the end of the year than I do at the start
  • Run 5k
  • No working on weekends and minimal working on evenings.

Editing / Publishing

  • Publish the final three issues of Niteblade and then close down that aspect of the magazine
  • Complete Corvidae and market it to the best of my ability
  • Complete Scarecrow and market it to the best of my ability
  • Publish B is for Broken and market it to the best of my ability
  • When Shadows is published market it to the best of my ability
  • Have the manuscript for C is for… polished and ready for publication
  • Have the manuscript for D is for… polished and ready for publication
  • Come up with a way to set actual concrete goals for promotion.
  • Make progress on sekkrit collab with CJD
  • Open to submissions for Sirens

Writing

  • Write and submit at least one new short story a month*
    • The ‘submit’ part of this is important. I can’t just write a first draft and leave it to moulder indefinitely. The story needs to be ready for submission and, in fact, submitted, within the month to count.
  • Begin querying agents about Hollow
  • Self-publish at least one collection of reprints
  • Complete work on collaborative project with Marge
  • Successfully participate in April Poem-A-Day
    • This means actually writing a poem a day or at least having thirty poems written by the end of the month
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo*
  • Either complete the first draft of a new novel, or revise one of the novel first drafts I’ve already written (this can be completed in conjunction with NaNoWriMo or separate from it)

Reading

  • Read at least 50 books
    • Slush doesn’t count, nor do books by friends I read to critique.
    • Have at least 20% be non-fiction

Misc

  • Create a website at poiseandpen.com
  • Attend When Words Collide and Pure Spec
  • Blog at least once a week
  • When someone visits this blog and leaves a comment — reciprocate.

Kobo

As of New Year’s Eve of 2014 I’d sold a total of one book via Kobo**. One. For a whopping $0.45 in royalties. One of my goals in 2015 is to improve that. I don’t have a super firm goal in mind but it shouldn’t be too difficult to top one sale and less than fifty cents in royalties, right?

I’ll probably tweak this list as the year goes on, but for now I think it’s a very good jumping-off point 🙂

*under this name or as a pen name project. Either counts.
**this doesn’t count books I didn’t self-publish like Fae, Metastasis etc.

2014 Goals. How’d I Do?

So this is it. The time of year where I look back at the goals I set for 2014 and find out how well I did at reaching them. What’s usually most interesting about this time for me is seeing how my priorities have shifted over the course of the year, the number of things which were really important to me at the beginning of 2014 which I was happy to back burner (which is totally a verb) but the end.

Also, I have a rule. I may explain failures, but not excuse them. Who wants to read a whole blog post of self-justifications and excuses? Not me LoL

So. 2014 goals. How’d I do?

bold = success

tl;dr — Overall, it was a pretty freaking awesome year 🙂

~*~

Health

  • No drinking pop. Period.
  • Lose 20 lbs
  • Lower blood pressure (bonus points if I get to reduce my medication)
  • Run 5k

Didn’t do so awesomely here. Or well at all, really. I’m still drinking a lot of pop (diet pop, for better or for worse) and my weight has remained steady. Much, much too high, Diet Dr Pepperbut steady. I *was* making (very slow) progress on that 5k run thing before plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head but once it did I was less than enthusiastic about actively stretching to relieve it or exercising in a way which didn’t aggravate it so… pretty sure that counts as an excuse, not an explanation. The only thing I did manage here was to lower my blood pressure. Alas, I did not get to reduce my medication in the process so no bonus points for me. *pout*

~*~

School

  • This degree is taking a ridonkulously long time. I need to finish another course toward completing it this year. Bonus points if I manage two, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that this is honestly more of a hobby than anything and it must not negatively effect my work.

I didn’t find the time to finish even one course toward this degree. In fact as of last month I became inactive in my program, which is kinda crappy but I felt like my writing and editing took off to such an extent that it would be a bad choice for me to prioritize school over them at this point in time. So what I’m saying is, I’m okay with having failed to meet this goal. I think it was the right decision.

~*~

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Editing / Publishing

  • Complete Fae and promote the hell out of it.
  • Pursue other anthology ideas
    • I am really, really, really enjoying editing anthologies right now and I’d like to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of 2014.
  • Increase promotion efforts for Metastasis
    • I need to come up with a way to set actual concrete goals for promotion. Not only for Fae and Metastasis, but everything I edit and/or publish. Oh hey!
  • Figure out a way to set concrete goals for promotion. Set concrete goals for promotion.
  • Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
  • Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if interest exists
  • Publish and promote A is for Apocalypse
  • Solicit writers for B is for (haha not telling yet!) and begin that process
  • Continue to edit and publish Niteblade, keeping it something I can be very proud of.
  • Complete the edits on Grammy’s book

Wow. What a year it’s been under Editing / Publishing. Going to tackle all these one at a time…

This is the audience for the launch of Fae at WWC

Audience at Fae Launch at WWC

First, I did finish FAE and I promoted it to the best of my ability. That included getting over my anxiety about holding a physical launch party, and making sure I always had copies of the book on hand at every convention I went to (and I went to three) to sell. Some of these efforts were successful (the party at When Words Collide, for example) and some, like the postcards with discount codes I printed up for World Fantasy were abject failures. Live and learn, right?

I was also successful in pursuing other anthology ideas. My goal had been to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of the year, but I smashed that to bits. I have two anthologies with signed contracts which I’m even now finalizing the tables of contents for and which will be published this year. They are SCARECROW and CORVIDAE. I also have a verbal agreement to begin reading submissions for a fourth anthology for World Weaver Press (tentatively entitled SIRENS: Sea and Sky) this year and publishing it next year.

I did not find any awesome ways to increase promotion efforts for METASTASIS, but even so it earned out all its production costs and began sending small (but emotionally meaningful) donations to support cancer research.

C.S. MacCath reading from her A is for Apocalypse story at WFC 2014

C.S. MacCath reading her A is for Apocalypse story at WFC 2014

I also didn’t come up with a way to set concrete goals for promotion, but I did get far better at tracking the results of promotions, so I’m going to call that a step in the right direction.

We held another successful fundraiser for Niteblade in 2014, raising $510 and (even better for my ego) collecting a whole lot of really nice things Niteblade authors had to say about it.

I didn’t produce a NaNoLJers anthology last year, but that is because there wasn’t much in the way of interest.

A IS FOR APOCALYPSE is awesome. I did, in fact, publish it and promoted it as well as I could. I think in some ways it suffered for being launched so close to FAE but despite that sales exceeded my expectations and it has been very well-received including having stories from it on people’s top five lists, end of the year reading recommendations and getting a handful of nice reviews here, there and everywhere.

Not only did I solicit writers for B IS FOR BROKEN I’m nearly finished editing those stories and I’ve settled on the themes for the next two alphabet anthologies and let the authors know about them so they can decide to sign up, or not, in a leisurely fashion.

Niteblade had a fantastic year with me at the helm and though I’m partly saddened that 2015 will be its last year, mostly it feels like the right thing to do. End on a high note and go out in style 🙂

I completed the edits on Grammy’s book. Added the whole new section she wanted appended to the back, got it formatted, published and shipped to her in time for her to give out copies at Christmas. So, basically, I rocked it 🙂

~*~

Writing

2014 is the year of the novel. It is because I say it is, damn it!

  • Complete the novel currently known as ‘Hollow’
    • By ‘complete’ I mean have that sucker ready to start querying agents about
  • Complete the first draft of at least two other novels
    • One of these may be one of my pen name projects
  • Self-publish the zombie poetry book and complete my other plans for it
  • Write 350 words a day, five days a week. So 1,750 words a week.
    • Yes. A week. It’s not huge, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff on this list, damn it! :-p
  • Bundle up and self-publish more of my reprints
  • Complete sekkrit collaborative project
  • Participate in NovPAD and/or April PAD
  • Anything with the word ‘NaNo’ in the title is optional
    • …except NaNoLJers. Set up prompts for odd-numbered MondaysMythic_Delirium_paperback_cover-1024x760

Well, despite my intentions 2014 turned into the year of the anthology, not the novel. Hollow is done. Mostly. I had to do a whole extra draft I hadn’t counted on, but now it only needs a final spit polish and it will be ready to start querying. It’s finding the time to do that polish that is turning into a tricky thing.

I also sold my Aphanasian novel, SHADOWS, to World Weaver Press. That required a lot of re-writing and I anticipate at least one, possibly two more passes before it’s ready for release. It’s scheduled to be released some time this year though, so we’ll have to wait and see when that comes to pass 🙂

I did self-publish my zombie poetry book, and a collection of funny zombie reprints. I didn’t find time to ‘complete my other plans’ for the zombie poetry book, but who knows, perhaps a miracle will happen and I’ll find a way to do that this year LOL Could happen…

Still not finished my sekkrit collaborative project with Marge Simon, but working on it. Still working on it. Kind of like the tortoise in that story…

I participated in NovPAD and April PAD. I was not super successful at either but… I got a few poems out of them. I also participated in NaNoWriMo, however in recognition of how busy I was I re-named it MicroWriMo and aimed for 10k words. I wrote just under 8k. Meh.

Also, I had prompts set up and scheduled for odd-number Mondays for NaNoLJers and then I did something very stupid and deleted them all. So, that was a big fail right there.

~*~

Reading

  • Read at least 50 books.
    • Have 25% be non-fiction

Ocean At The End Of The LaneAccording to Goodreads I read 63 books (I really ought to keep track of how many stories I read in slush LOL) 11 of which were non-fiction. So, I surpassed the main goal but fell short on the mini one. Of those books my favourites, in no particular order, were:

~*~

Misc

  • Create a publishing website (company name, etc. but only to publish my own projects.)
  • Participate in A Month of Letters
  • Do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge
  • Blog at least once a week
  • Shoot at least one roll of analog film per month
  • Finish the ship cross stitch I started *mumble* years ago
  • Complete the top of the quilt I’m doing in memory of my mother and post it on JoFigure
  • Attend at least two writing conventions

Photo stolen from Billie Milholland --> https://www.facebook.com/billie.milhollandSo… the good news about all the things I missed on this list is that they are all still on my radar, and aside from A Month of Letters I can do them anytime. I’m surprised I missed A Month of Letters this year, so surprised I had to go and check my blog archives to make sure I really had. Weird. I do write snail mail sporadically over the course of the year anyway but historically I’ve really gotten a lot out of A Month of Letters so I’ll have to work pretty hard at re-adding that next year.

Also, I went to three conventions. When Words Collide is my new all-time favourite convention ever. Plus I also attended my second World Fantasy and went to Pure Spec here in Edmonton. The highlight of Pure Spec, for me, was the Character Death Matches (I participated and got my butt kicked. Fun!)

~*~

And there you have it. My year in review or, more specifically, a look at the goals I set last year with an eye to seeing how successful I was.

On paper I wasn’t super successful, but as I mentioned at the start of this (very long) entry, it’s always interesting to see how my priorities shift and change over the year. While my health-based priorities remain the same and I really need to devote more time, energy and effort to them I’m perfectly good with the progress I made on my other goals. Writing a lot of novels got pushed back a bit in favour of editing a lot of anthologies, for example. I’m good with that, and very proud of the results.

I know a great number of my friends struggled through 2014 in ways that meant getting dressed each morning was a victory, but overall, 2014 was a very good year for me. How did it treat you? Did you accomplish most of the things you set out to do? Are you happy with what you managed?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer. I’ll be making a new set of goals for myself and sharing them here in the near future. If you do the same please let me know, I like seeing the goals other people set for themselves, sometimes they help inspire mine 🙂

MicroWriMo

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

I am pretty freaking busy this November. Off the top of my head I will be:

  • Attending the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC
  • Attending Pure Spec in Edmonton
  • Editing the bulk of the stories for B is for Broken
  • Prepping the December issue of Niteblade
  • Doing the November Poem-a-Day challenge
  • Making final decisions for Scarecrow and Corvidae
  • Beginning edits on the stories in Scarecrow and Corvidae
  • Finishing revisions on Hollow and drafting a query letter for it (for agents)

annnnnd there’s probably about a million things I’ve forgotten.

That sort of looks (and rather feels like) a lame attempt at a humble brag “Look at all the stuff I’m doing!” but that’s actually not my intention.

The thing is, aside from the poem-a-day challenge, there’s not actually any writing on that list. As much as I love editing and going to conventions (and I really, really do) I have been so busy with that and revising various things that I haven’t written a word of new fiction in a couple months. That, to me, is completely unacceptable.

Especially in November, aka NaNoWriMo month.

However I’m not willing to commit to doing a full 50k words for NaNoWriMo either.

So I’ve decided to do MicroWriMo.

In November I’m going to write at least 10k words of fresh fiction. If somehow a miracle occurs and I end up with five times that much, well yay, but that’s not my goal. 10,000 new words. That’s my goal.

Wanna join me?

(I’ll be tracking my progress on the NaNoWriMo website, because why re-invent the wheel. My username over there is Midnyte.)

Looking Back at 2013

Rearview -- Photo by Rhonda ParrishWhat a year. To say it’s been exponentially better than last year would be a huge understatement, but at the same time, it’s been far from perfect. It’s that time again when I look over my goals, see how well I did, celebrate the good things and figure out how to fail better at the others next year.

I’ll list my goals for 2013 below, bolding the ones I figure I accomplished and addressing each briefly. I don’t want to turn this into a novel-length blog post 😉

Health

  • Lose 25lbs
  • Successfully complete the P90x program (I’m giving myself permission to swap Cardio X workouts in for Plyometric ones because I worry about my ankle and also, I’m a bit of a wussy)
  • No energy drinks
  • Significantly cut the amount of sugar in my diet. I have a complicated set of rules for this for myself, but I don’t want to bore everyone with sharing them.

Right. So I totally fell down on pretty much all my health goals (though I mostly managed to avoid Red Bull).  I’m not even sure what happened to tell the truth, I just never managed to get back into the habit of working out and watching what I ate. This needs to be my primary focus for next year though because if I’m unhealthy everything else falls apart too. I may need help remembering that over the coming months though, so I’ll have to figure out a way to address that when I set my goals for 2014.

School

  • Begin another course (or two) toward my degree no later than April 1st and complete it/them successfully.

I took Psychology 304 – Research Methods in Psychology (which is required for my degree) and passed it with a B+. A very irritating B+. I was point five percent away from an A. >_<

Editing/Publishing

  • Sell my cancer anthology idea to a publisher.*
  • Edit the cancer anthology, making sure the end result is something I am proud of.
  • Promote the hell out of the anthology, ensuring that there actually are royalties to donate to charity.
  • Continue to pursue my sekkrit projeckt with CJD
  • Increase Niteblade’s readership and distribution
  • Begin offering Niteblade in more file formats
  • Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
  • Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if sufficient interest exists

Metastasis Cover FinalI sold the Metastasis anthology idea to Wolfsinger Publications and edited the hell out of that thing. I am *SO* freaking proud of this book. So proud, and my mother (who I dedicated my efforts to) would be as well. We’re still in the process of ‘promoting the hell out of it’ and our first statements haven’t come out so I’m not sure how sales are going yet. Fingers crossed though… and if they aren’t where we want them to be, well, I guess I’ll just have to put some more time in.

This year I did increase Niteblade’s readership, distribution and the number of file formats it is available in. We also held a super successful fundraiser (raising $604!) and even adopted a chimpanzee.

While I did check to see if there was interest in a NaNoLJers anthology, there didn’t seem to be. Maybe next year… And my sekkrit projekt kind of got left behind a bit this year, but maybe that’s something I can look to a little closer in 2014 as well because I sure wasn’t slacking when it came to editing projects this year.

In addition to Metastasis and Niteblade, I’m also working on an anthology with World Weaver Press. You may have heard of it, it’s this little thing I like to call Fae. And I also broke ground on the first of what is going to be a huge series of anthologies, A is for Apocalypse.

Writing

  • Participate in The Whittaker Prize
  • Successfully complete the weekly version of Write 1 Sub 1. For the ‘Write’ portion of this challenge I will count completed short stories or poems as well as individual scenes from longer works. By allowing myself to count individual scenes I will be able to work on longer works and still participate in W1S1
  • Participate in Writo De Mayo
  • NaNoWriMo and both camp NaNoWriMos are all optional
  • Finish writing poems for all the 2012 NovPad prompts
  • Actually successfully complete the AprilPad or NovPad properly, without having to make up prompts after the month has passed
  • Self-publish “Aphanasian Stories”
  • Look into the practicality of bundling and re-releasing some of my previously published short stories as ebooks
  • Follow through on my 2012 plans for my zombie poetry

Tesseracts 17Well, you win some you lose some, right?

For example, I participated in The Whittaker Prize (well, this year’s incarnation was the Not-Whittaker Prize) but when it carried over into November, when I was trying to do All.The.Things including NaNoWriMo I decided to drop out for my own sanity. I was successful with NaNoWriMo however… but then I totally haven’t written another word on my novel (which needs about 30,000 more of them) since then. >_<

I did participate in Writo De Mayo where my primary goal was to transcribe a family history my grandmother had written and format it as a book to give to her. I did, and she loved it very much making the month’s worth of work well, well, worth the effort. (Alas, now she has edited the proof copy so guess what I’m doing in May 2014? LOL).

I also self-published Aphanasian Stories. Sales have been pretty lame (read: nearly non-existent) but I’m glad those stories are out there and available to an audience who might want them, if not today, perhaps tomorrow. Plus, the reviewers seem to like them, so that’s good for my ego 🙂

I’m looking at bundling some of my other previously published short stories to re-sell as ebooks but right now I don’t have enough which aren’t under contract that have common themes, so that’s something I’ll have to look at again next year.

As for the zombie poetry collection? It’s a work in progress. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it before the end of the year, but I don’t want to rush through and create an inferior product. Because.

Under the writing umbrella for 2013 I’ve had a fantastic year. I’ve produced some stories I’m really, super proud of, and many of them have found homes with dream publishers. Highlights definitely include being published by Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, work forthcoming in Kzine, Mythic Delirium and the Trafficking in Magick anthology, poetry publications with Every Day Poets and especially the story I co-wrote with Jo for Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories.

Reading

  • Read at least 30 books

As of today I’ve read 47 published books. I’ve also been privileged enough to read one soon-to-be published book as a critiquer and a couple anthologies I may have mentioned above. I also read a crapload of short stories as submissions to Niteblade and those anthologies, so overall I think I crushed this goal 😉

A Month of LettersMisc

  • Participate in A Month of Letters
  • Do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (bonus points if I come up with a theme this year)
  • Blog at least once a week
  • Take a social media retreat for one week a month all year
  • Attend WorldCon 2012 in Texas
  • Post writing prompts/exercises in NaNoLJers on odd numbered Mondays
  • Run and participate in the writing bingo in NaNoLJers
  • Don’t forget that life is for living, not leveling

I did well on these ones 🙂 Sadly I didn’t make it to WorldCon, we had some unexpected expenses that needed to be dealt with (stoopid money) and I kinda sucked at putting prompts up for NaNoLJers but other than that I rocked the goals in this area. My month of letters was a lot of fun and I still write to several of the people I met that month (in addition to the friends I’ve always written to — I’ve fallen behind on that, but working on catching up. Let’s blame a crazy autumn, okay?), I did the Blogging from A to Z Challenge with a theme (Niteblade), ran the writing bingo at NaNoLJers and significantly cut back on the amount of time I spend playing World of Warcraft.

My social media retreats have gone very well, except for during the times when I’m in the midst of a promotion or such and need to pop on at least once a day because of that. I think next year I’m going to set a daily time limit for social media stuff rather than trying to avoid it completely for one week of the month. I think it will be better for consistency and also my sanity. Taking a break has definitely been good for my productivity though, and my state of mind. It’s really easy to get caught in a loop when every time something happens you think ‘I need to tweet this!’ Stepping away regularly definitely helped me shift my perspective and live a more balanced life. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

In the next little while I’ll look at my goals for 2014 and share those here, but in the meantime I think I’m going to bask a little bit in the glow of a year which, while it wasn’t perfect, was pretty damn good.

NaNoWriMo 2013 — Winner

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

Yay! I *won* NaNoWriMo again this year (this makes my 8th victory). Of course, the novel I was working on isn’t finished. I think it still needs another 20-30,000 more words, but I’ve got a good start on it and I feel like I know where it’s going from here. I’m going to keep working on it at a bit of a slower pace (I have to focus the bulk of my time on Fae for a while now) but I look forward to having a complete workable first draft sometime in January.

NaNo Excerpt Week Five

alcatrazI’ve just come home from my the Christmas party at my husband’s work, and I’m sleepy and my head is a little foggy from wine, but I was reminded that I haven’t posted my excerpt for this week for the NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. So now I’m doing that. And just because I feel like celebrating the fact that first drafts are supposed to be shit, I picked this excerpt. Yeup, this is how I write LOL

“Well,” Sevren laughed. “I’m not sure we can go that far, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Just like you gave me back in grade two when I was sure SOMETHING WAS SOMETHING INSTEAD OF SOMETHING ELSE.”

Morgan laughed and pushed Sevren back by his shoulder. “This is not like that.”

“This is exactly like that,” Sevren said. “And do you remember what you did back then?”

Morgan did. They’d hidden in the cloak room of the classroom every recess for a whole week DOING SOMETHING TO DISPROVE WHATEVER IT WAS THAT SEVREN BELIEVED. EVENTUALLY SOMETHING EXCITING HAPPENED THAT PROVED TO THEM WHATEVER HE THOUGHT WASN’T REAL AND THEY’D BEEN FILLED WITH RELIEF AND LAUGHED AND LAUGHED. OR SOMETHING.

“Perhaps, but do you have a better plan?”

“No–” Morgan admitted. “But that’s not much of a plan.”

“Sorry Scoob, but we’re going back to the haunted mansion.”

“Rut-roh, Raggy,” Morgan said in a terrible impersonation of Scooby Doo. “Rut-roh.”

Wheee! For the record, I write my NaNoWriMo novels almost exclusively with the Write or Die desktop app. I turn it on Kamikaze with the tolerance level set very low. That means if I stop typing it starts erasing my words. It’s motivating, but it does mean I haven’t time to sit there and think about things like this so I rely on a lot on placeholders. Whatever gets the words on the page, right?

Grrr Rawr Argh!

alcatrazMarcus Romer tweeted this:

The Creative Process

1. This is awesome

2. This is tricky

3. This is shit

4. I am shit

5. This might be ok

6. This is awesome

— Marcus Romer (@MarcusRomer) October 23, 2013

And yeah… that pretty much sums up my freaking creative process. Right now I’m at #3 and sliding pretty quickly toward #4. This is actually happening much earlier into this book than it usually does. I usually hit the ‘This is shit’ point when I’m about halfway done something, and ‘I am shit’ follows behind that. Things turn around into ‘This might be okay’ somewhere around 2/3rds done… usually.

Right now I’m about a third of the way through and already eyeball deep in ‘This is shit’ which freaking sucks. *sigh* I’m still writing, I’m still plugging away though, because if I quit this story never gets told. If I quit I never get to move past ‘This is shit/I am shit’ and I’ll sit there and wallow indefinitely. If I quit I never get to make it back to ‘This is awesome’. And ya know, I’m a pretty big fan of ‘This is awesome’.

So I’m gritting my teeth (so hard I’m halfway scared they might break) and I’m putting one word in front of the other. Even if they are shit. Because I have to. Because it’s what I do.

…but I also had to take a break to vent/whine a little bit.

Because apparently, that is also what I do.

:-p

I also share excerpts from this novel on Fridays because I signed up to participate in the NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. This week’s is pretty short, but I like it…

Alone in the white Varenous forged an object from thought and fear. Summoning all his available power he pushed against the walls of his existence, tearing a small hole in the fabric that separated his reality from Morgan’s.

The hole healed itself almost immediately, but not before he shoved the camera from his world into hers. Then, spent, he waited.

NaNoWriMo Friday Excerpts: Week Three

alcatrazIt’s Friday again, which means it’s time to post another excerpt.

I’m a fair bit behind on my novel right now (about 5k) and we’re heading into the weekend which is usually a really bad writing time for me. I’d planned to write 5,000 words today to get caught up before the weekend hit but that’s not happening so far. I am locked in my (small) bedroom with three cats and a dog while there are people using jackhammers in my basement. Not exactly an ideal work environment LOL

Anyway, I’ll see what I can manage. The construction ought to be done by Tuesday or Wednesday next week so if all else fails I’ll do 5k days on both Thursday and Friday. It’ll suck, but *shrugs*

But you aren’t here for my whining, are you? Time to bust out another excerpt from this years NaNoWriMo novel, with the working titled of Hollow Children:

Suddenly she wasn’t sure this was such a good idea. Morgan didn’t believe in ghosts. Not anymore. Not really. But she did believe in rusty nails, crumbling supports and unstable vagrants. Perhaps it would be a better idea to just go home and face her parents now. She looked over her shoulder, out at the neighbourhood she’d grown up in. She couldn’t see her house from here, it was on the other side of the prison, but all the streets around her home were as familiar to her as her own block. All safe. All boring. Maybe what she really needed to deal with Barry, and all the other troubles in her life, was to learn to be braver. Maybe that was what this trip would teach her. Maybe. She looked back toward the prison.

“Twenty seconds,” she told the boarded up window. “I’ll give you twenty seconds to start.” If she was too frightened after twenty seconds she would leave, but not before.

“One one thousand…”

Morgan pushed the board out of the way and peered down into the darkness.

“Two one thousand,” she whispered. She could see a table pushed up against the wall beneath the window. It was filty from the passage of countless feet but very welcome as it saved her from a substantial jump down into the prison’s basement.

“Three one thousand,” she said, putting her left foot down carefully, testing the table before putting all her weight on it. Though it looked sturdy enough there was no telling how long it had been in there, nor how many hundreds of kids or vagrants had tromped across it. Better safe than sorry, as her mother used to say. The table wobbled a little beneath her weight, but it seemed stable enough. “Four one thousand.”

She pulled her other leg through the window, followed by the rest of her. The plywood over the opening swung shut behind her, taking the light with it. Suddenly it was dark. A new flutter of fear flitted in her belly and her voice shook a little when she whispered, “Five one thousand.”

Her mouth was dry, and the familiar taste of fear filled it, tangy and bitter. She strained her ears against the darkness, slowing her breathing to minimize its interference and searching for any sound. Any proof she was not alone.

She waited, her back pressed against the cool concrete wall, for her eyes to adjust to the difference in light. Nebulous blobs of color floated across her field of view and she imagined a dozen sets of eyes on her. Eyes belonging to rats and spiders and other creatures unhampered by the darkness.

“Six one thousand,” she said as the darkness bled away into a grey half-light and shapes began to become visible. A filing cabinet leaned in one corner, three of its drawers were missing completely and the remaining two stuck out at drunken angles. Obviously this had been some sort of an office back when the prison was still in operation. Nothing to be afraid of.

Morgan sat on the table, dangling her feet over the edge before making the tiny hop to the floor. “Seven one thousand.”

She scoured the ground with her gaze as well as she could in the dim light, making sure there were no hazards waiting to trip her up and make her break a leg. Or worse. All she saw was water stains and tracked-in dirt.

“Eight one thousand,” she said after much more than a second had passed with only the sound of her heartbeat heavy in her ears.

“Nine one thousand,” she said, though the more time she spent in the shell of a prison the more comfortable she became in it, and despite her count she’d already been there substantially longer than nine seconds. “Right,” she said, looking around the room once more before following the tracks of hundreds of other adventure-seekers deeper into the old jail.

Other people are sharing excerpts from their work over at the Absolute Write NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. Check ’em out 🙂

Weekend Writing

Haunted Hospital, a photograph by Rhonda ParrishDudes. I can’t write on weekends. Seriously. I keep trying and I keep failing.

During the week when I have the house all to myself (well, me and our pets) I’m golden. I can write 1,600 words in half an hour. Zip zip zip. The biggest obstacle there is getting my ass in the chair and keeping myself from being distracted by shiny things. On the weekend though… ugh.

It’s not like it’s Jo or Dani’s fault either. When I tell them I’m going to write they both respect that and don’t interrupt me… but just having them here in the house, that’s all it takes to keep me from being productive. Maybe it’s that they provide too much shiny to resist. Maybe it’s the sound of World of Warcraft being played behind me (or, when Jo uses headphones it’s just the knowledge it’s being played behind me) or maybe that I’d rather be doing stuff with Jo and Dani instead of writing.

Or maybe (and this is really the most likely) they just provide a handy excuse for the procrastination I’m so very good at.

Whatever it is? It’s really not good for my word count.

I’ll make it up starting Tuesday when Jo is back at work and Dani at school, but in the meantime I’m counting 500 words an evening as a victory. Because I can.

NaNoWriMo Friday Excerpts: Week Two

alcatrazIt’s Friday again, and because I’m participating in the Absolute Write NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain that means another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, Hollow Children (which I think I’m going to re-title. Possibly to just ‘Hollow’). This section has a whole whack of issues, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start editing before the first draft was done, so I’m swallowing my ego and sharing it warts and all.

Enjoy.

Running helps. As long as Morgan keeps her eyes straight, her right shoulder to the old prison and focuses all her attention on the sound of her shoes on the sidewalk, running helps.

It’s quiet. The only sounds are her feet hitting the pavement, her breathing loud in her ears and an occasional bird. The sound of traffic is a dull hum in the background but she hasn’t seen a moving vehicle in several minutes while she’s run laps around the four city blocks that contain the decrepit prison. It’s getting late enough that the sky is bruising and the streetlights are coming on, but their light is dim and there’s still more than enough sunlight to see without them.

The leaves are still on the trees but she can smell autumn’s bite in the air. She’s too warmed up from her exertions to feel it though. Her hoodie is tied around her waist and its hem slaps against the back of her knees as she runs.

Her body knows what to do, the movements are automatic and her mind is empty but for the one-two count of her feet on the sidewalk. One-two, one-two, left-right, left-right. She focuses on those numbers like she never does in math class, letting each one grow to fill her mind and push everything else out.

Usually she doesn’t have to count. Usually she just has to run. Usually, but not today. Today she walked in on her mother crying, so if she stops counting, Morgan knows the birdsong around her will be lost in the remembered sounds of twisted metal, screams and shattered glass.

As she rounds the northwest corner of the prison grounds something penetrates the barrier she’s put up around her thoughts. A voice. A very specific voice. Barry’s voice.

“Shit,” she whispers as her eyes flick one way and then the other, trying to discern where it’s coming from. Acoustics are weird around the prison grounds, the old prison and its outbuildings catch them and toss them around like a SOMETHING, and to make things worse the wind has chosen that precise moment to pick up and rattle the leaves in the trees.

The last thing in the world she wants is to have to deal with Barry. Especially f he’s with his friends, and if he isn’t, why would he be talking?

Finally she catches sight of him, he and his friends. They’ve just turned the corner and are walking toward her. That leaves her two choices. She can turn around and run back the way she’s just come from, or she can keep going and hope they leave her alone. She anticipates no joy from either choice. If she runs away they will know she is avoiding them and as soon as they sense any weakness they will be like a shark with chum in the water. History has shown her that. Still, the chances of them ignoring her as she runs straight at them are slim to none.

Well, if you’ve gotta go down, go down fighting.

The novel is going okay. It was really, really fighting me at first, but I feel like it’s developed a little bit of momentum. Which is good, I’m going to need it heading into week two since I don’t have a buffer like I usually do. Also, I haven’t written yet today, so I really ought to get on that…