Thursday, September 26, 2013

No Official Writing Day? No Problem!

Friday is a school inservice and Hubby didn't work any day shifts during the days that Son was in school this week, but it was still a productive week for me writing wise.

Monday, I added over 3000 words to Chapter 32. However, after looking it over and realizing nothing new really came out of that part until almost the very end of it, I decided it needed to be condensed or removed. It was dragging things down a little and I was worried the reader may get bored. So after contemplating for a while, I decided to condense it into a few paragraphs with a few key points highlighted instead. It went from over 7 pages down to one and a half after the condensing. The reader will still know what happened but only the "quick version" of it and the story will progress a little faster in that spot.

Chapter 32 continues with a little humor, then more serious scenes. I'm really starting to build up to the big UH OH my dear friend and mentor, Sandra, shot at me back in the spring and if I can do it JUST SO, I may have ten chapters or less to add into the gap before the big splice. Yes, I have a draft of the UH OH part written up already, although it's not completed and needs a tonne of tweaking to fit in with the rest of the story. I started writing that up in mid-March, and I don't think I had up to Chapter 10 in the main manuscript at that point so I wasn't sure about a lot of things then, like how the leading man interacts with certain members of the leading lady's family and other stuff. I have a lot of work to do just to get the UH OH part up to snuff, and that's an understatement. Thank the stars I am not on a deadline, I'll say that much!

I managed to wrap up Chapter 32, and get into Chapter 33. That's about one third to halfway finished at this point. Things are "condensed" a little in that chapter by times too, because if I wrote up everything that was being said, etc, the reader would get bored. It's another "going over" what they found out so far with the mystery of the book, and although some key points are shown, I thought it was best to keep it short and simple and keep moving onward.

I had been prepared to have only editing time this week, but with circumstances and my husband getting called into work on two days, I managed to get some writing time in and I'm grateful for it. I was ready to start chomping on the monitor again, but luckily, I didn't have to. 

The downside of all of the extra writing time is that my brain feels like it went through the rinse cycle, my eyes feel like they're going to start bleeding in protest at any time, and the CTS has been acting up, big time. I don't have any more writing time ahead until next week sometime, so I'm going to take the weekend off from adding anything new, and just edit, proof and relax for a few hours. I need a short break from it, just a few days, due to the emotional intensity of the last couple of chapters and the fact I don't want to get burned out. Last year this time, things were moving quickly with "No Regrets" and although I was a lot further along in that story this time last year than I am with Book 2 now, Book 2 is sucking me in almost as much as "No Regrets" was in the last weeks before Draft 1 of that story was finished. In some ways, that's a good thing, in others - notably due to the fact I have limited writing time! - not so good. 

Then, on the other hand, maybe it's a darn good thing I'm only able to write part time, so I do NOT burn myself out or make myself sick?

Yes, I'm being the eternal optimist, and I think my sunny nature is showing again. *laughs*

Have a great weekend everyone! If you're a CSI addict like I am, I hope you enjoyed the Season 14 premiere last night. I did!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another Rollercoaster Ride....

Another writing frenzy has passed and things are now progressing very smoothly, and quickly, in Book 2 of my duology.

Friday was another one of the shorter writing days for me, and of course, I dove into it pretty much before Hubby was out of the driveway on his way to work. I knew which way I was going with it, the revelation that comes out in Chapter 30, and the overall reaction to it. 

I knew how one character was going to react so I wrote that up first. However, I wasn't sure if showing another character's reaction would be okay or not. I was scared of slowing down the story, but after thinking about it, I decided to toss it in and include something else, something that fits in perfectly with the discovery and everything else that has been happening up to this point.

It took a lot out of me, because of the intensity and emotional nature of the chapter, but I got it finished by the time I had to go get Son from the bus stop and it looked good. I did the initial reread/edit, made sure everything was in line with everything else, and gave it a few more "once overs" while I chatted with my mentor in her forum. 

I sent the entire chapter to her, and she read it while she tried not to cry. Yes, it's that much of a roller coaster ride and a twist some people may not expect, but in some ways it's a good one. It's also a twist that lines up with the big "SAY WHAT?" that will be revealed at the end of the "UH OH" gem that she shot at me back in March. I'm probably going to have a few people ticked off at me for it, but others probably won't mind it when they see how things came about, etc. 

As it stands now, Chapter 31 won't need much tweaking, even in later drafts. Yes, it's that powerful, and I guess that well done. I'm shocked it reached my insanely high standards for even a first draft, let alone later drafts! It isn't often that it happens like that, but I guess I can do it once in a while, especially stuff that this powerful/emotional, etc. I'm happy with it.

Now, if I can only bring the rest of the draft up that high before it goes out to publishers in time... *laughs*

Have a great weekend everyone! If you're a Whovian in Canada, like I am, there's a Doctor Who marathon on our sci-fi channel. I will be enjoying that while I'm doing housework, and of course, editing!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Moving at the Speed of Light - Again!

Yesterday was another writing day for me and I dove into it full force. 

Hubby only worked from 9 to 3 yesterday but sometimes I find those shorter writing days are the most productive and I wind up getting some great ideas during the shorter writing time. 

I knew how I was going to wrap up Chapter 30, it's another spot where more clues about the mystery in this story were answered, but a few more unanswered questions popped up at the same time. I know what the big "SAY WHAT?" will be at the end of the main part of the story is, but I wasn't sure exactly how to build up to it a little more or add to it to make the reader "get" it and the reasons why things went the way they did. 

Well, while I was working yesterday, an idea for another twist came to me and on a whim, I started working with it. It's one I was NOT expecting but it's logical. It's something I should have thought of before but didn't and I'm glad it came to me now in Draft 1 so I could add it in without having to tweak the rest of the draft! *laughs* 

The next thing I knew, the alarm for afternoon bus time was going off and I had seven pages of new stuff added to Book 2. There's a lot of dialogue in it though so it's only about 3650 words at this time. Chapter 30 was finished. The scene at the end of it is a lot longer than I had originally planned, so I may change where the chapter breaks are and put that scene in at the start of Chapter 31. The subject matter between that and the (currently) last scene of Chapter 30 are related so it would work perfectly fine. The leading lady gets a bit of a shock but in a way, it's a good thing and she'll bounce back with flying colors after things sink in. That's all I'm saying. *wink!*

The foundation is solid even if it needs polishing and maybe a few additions here and there. It's going to work, and hopefully the reader will be as perplexed and as curious to find out what was going on with certain things as the characters are!

"No Regrets" is currently in another perk cycle and I made a LOT of corrections to it. It had so many missing words or missing commas in spots, and I've tweaked it a little more to line up with Book 2 better. Again, not that much, but just enough so that readers can see the links/connections between the two stories. Maybe it's a good thing that I haven't sent "No Regrets" out yet, so I could have everything lined up perfectly. Now if I could just get the synopsis for it done perfectly... 

I have another writing day coming later this week, and I plan on adding a bit to the new twist, but not too much. I have to get more added to the build up to the gem that Sandra (Durham, author of the Keyholder's Castle series) shot at me a few months back too. As it is, this new manuscript/book is on track to beat "No Regrets" in word count... I may wind up doing a little "culling/86ing" here and there, and well, I do admit I haven't taken that stuff out of Chapter 5 yet that I think gives too much away and drags the story down a bit. I've been too darn focused on getting "No Regrets" ready for publishers and working on getting the gap between where I am in Book 2's first draft and the gem idea closed, and real life (yes, I'm still trying to learn Windows 8 - it's a complicated operating system compared to Vista sometimes!) I will say that I do like how you can hover the mouse pointer over something on the task bar and it shows you ALL open windows for the program/application... Hehehehehe.... That's a nifty and useful thing! 

I'll post another update as things happen here. Have a great week, everyone! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to It for the 2013 - 2014 School Year...

School started on September 5th in my district, and Son was happy to go back. He not only missed his teachers and the routine of the school days, he really missed his friends, a lot. However, some of his best friends are not in his class this year and he's rather ticked off about it, as are the ones who didn't get into his class with him this year. Me, being such a positive person (I'm the eternal optimist!) tossed out several reminders that he can easily see and play with his friends during recess and before lunch playtime. Son, being another optimist like myself, thought about it for a few minutes and agreed with me. Things have since calmed down about that particular problem at the start of this new year.

So... I did get a little added to Book 2 so far this new school year. I've had only 2 days so far, but I have managed to get some going even with all of the fits and starts with my concentration being off and me trying to get Book 1/No Regrets ready for publishers. I'm partway through Chapter 30 at this point, and will be diving back into trying to wrap that part up later this week. 

Friday was supposed to be a writing day but Son was home sick with a cold. It seems that the instant schools open, germs multiply and spread like wildfire and of course, Son catches everything going... And he's not shy about passing it all along to Hubby and myself. Right now, I'm fighting a major head cold - cough, sinus pressure, runny nose, sneezing, the works - and am wishing he'd bring home stuff I've already had so I don't have to put up with being sick each time he gets something nasty. 

Needless to say, the writing and editing I was planning for Friday and the rest of the weekend wasn't able to be done. Son being home meant I couldn't write and where I was sick, my concentration has been nil. I'm hoping to get more work done on both over this week, if I can shake this blasted cold and feel human again!

Yesterday I felt so rotten that I got offline around 1 p.m. and sat in the chair and watched the Doctor Who marathon on our sci-fi channel. I admit, I do like Nine and Eleven, but Ten was my favorite and they're showing the episodes from his run on Sundays right now. Despite feeling so awful, I enjoyed it and the much needed time away from the computer. Son liked it too, because he was able to play computer games AND watch the show. He's another Whovian like my husband and I are nowadays, and thinks the TARDIS is the coolest thing ever. 

I have a great kid, what can I say? 

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Computer Mayhem

The last few days have been interesting to say the least.

A few days ago, my computer started acting weird... All of you out there who read my blog on a regular basis know I had to replace the video card about 16 months ago and well, the drivers for it started acting oddly over the weekend, which messed up the entire system. It was so messed up that most of the time, I was lucky to get an hour or so before the video card stopped working the last going off and it was rather annoying, but did work again for a bit after I restarted the computer.

Hubby noticed it was having a system wide failure on Sunday evening while he was playing one of his offline games. I told him to shut it down and we discussed what to do. Rebuilding it myself was an option but I don't have the driver for the video card installed on the computer at all. Taking it to a computer tech was an option but that would be expensive and possibly only a temporary measure. He asked what are the other options and I told him the cheapest and most secure way to go about it all in the long run...

My old computer was manufactured in November of 2007. It had Vista on it and came with only 1GB of RAM at the time of purchase. It was slow, getting slower and I noticed different things about it that said it was slowly starting to wear out. Don't get me wrong, I loved that system but it was time to lay it to rest and look ahead. I told him the best option for us right now would be to get a new computer, unless he wanted to keep coughing up a ton of money on fixing the old one. He thought about it and said we'd go pricing new systems on Monday, but asked about things on the old hard drive.

Well, you see I'm a bit of a tech hound and do know a little about computers. Yeah, I took my course back in 1997 but am self taught in newer stuff like Windows XP and Vista for example, and a lot of the hardware itself hasn't changed an over amount over the last few years. Hard drives may be bigger and faster but they basically work the same as they did sixteen years ago. They still store data in files, need to be defragmented, and still need other maintenance, as all of us know! So, I told him we can use the old hard drive into the new system or if the connections do not match (which happened when I tried to install a second DVD burner into the old computer) I could try to turn the old 160GB hard drive into another external backup drive. He liked that idea and agreed to it.

We went around and priced new systems. Now, anyone who knows me knows when I get set loose in a computer store with any kind of credit card or gift card knows I tend to go a little nutso because I drool over the new stuff that's out. Needless to say I know what questions to ask, know what I'm talking about and can learn things related to computers, etc very easily. So when Hubby set me loose yesterday, it was almost a free for all! *giggles!* 

Unfortunately, Windows 7 is NOT available on new systems any more, but I think you can still get it if you want to pay extra money for it and feel like rebuilding your system on your own or pay to have it rebuilt. Since I don't have the extra cash for that, I settled with getting Windows 8 and learning it. My mom has 7 and it is TO DIE FOR to be blunt. I loved it, but at the same time, liked the idea of a challenge in learning how to use 8. 

So, I got a new system in the end. It's made by the same brand my old one was made by and since I know it's reliable (for me at least), I was very tickled.

We got the new computer home, I dismantled the old one and we set this one up. I went to add the old hard drive to it and found out it is NOT expandable. You see, this tower is a "streamlined" one... It's narrow and the DVD drive is in it SIDEWAYS as is the hard drive. I don't have room in it for the old dial up modem either. So I'm going to turn the old hard drive into an external drive, once I figure out HOW to do it. Thank the stars for friends who know how to do that and can tell me and show me what to do! LOL 

I had never seen Win 8 on startup and it was pretty odd to see something other than the "acer" screen pop up when I started it. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get into the desktop and other things but once I started getting my bearings, things were a lot smoother, but I still hit a few bumps, large and small.

For one, Windows 8 does NOT have a startup menu on the taskbar, like Windows 95-Vista does. Seriously. That really threw me off for a bit and I'm still adjusting to that. Getting the desktop wallpaper and theme set up was another challenge, and to get things saved made me a little frustrated. After messing around with it for a bit, I did get it all set up, and managed to figure out how to set up a NON administrator account for our son so he couldn't mess around with things on the hard drive so much. That kid is another tech hound like me and his uncles, I swear! Anyway, once I figured out what to do and cleaned off most of the shortcuts on the desktop (I like a clean desktop with shortcuts on the taskbar!) things started rolling a lot better.

Installing the turbo stick turned out to be a few minutes of "fun" but once it got installed and I figured out how to pin it to the taskbar, it was better. I installed that, MS Office (my paid for version, it's older but works!), a few other programs (slot machines for the guys) and then started the long task of copying things over from the external drive I purchased a couple of weeks ago. All of my pictures, most of what I had in the Documents area and a lot of other things are now on the new hard drive and so far so good. One of the first things I added were the most recent copies of both "No Regrets" and its sequel so I could jump back into the writing ASAP! Hubby laughed at that one, because he KNOWS if I don't have access to my manuscripts at home, I kinda lose it....

I got online finally and started updating things, after I downloaded and installed the updated version of my internet security program that is. Since I had a nasty virus on the old system and the one before it, I do NOT take any chances when it comes to zooming around online. The safer the better in my mind! After that was done, I started getting things like Firefox and Opera and started bookmarking and inputting the PWs, etc, for all of my most frequented sites, like here, Facebook and Sanctuary (where I'm a global moderator). It's been rough remembering all of the main spots I hang out and I KNOW I missed a few of them. I'll get them all back in time, but as long as I have the main ones I'll be okay for now! 

Most of my old programs have been installed too... I burned almost a full gigabyte of downloading on the stick to get things like GIMP, VLC Media player and other things, but after it was all set up, this new system felt more like "mine" and looks more and more like Vista did on the old one with a few upgrades and changes. That's okay, I will adjust but this stupid transition period is making me a tad wonky and I am a little more snippy than I would normally be while on the computer. I think once things settle down and I'm more used to it, I'll be a lot better and will be able to do things without having to think... Or I hope so at least!

It's been one HECK of a journey so far with this new system, and it's not over by a long shot. I still have to get a few more programs installed or downloaded, and still have to configure things a little more to my liking on my end of it and my son's end of it, but that will slowly fall into place over time. I just have to be patient, I will get it!


1.47 GHz CPU
1 TB internal hard drive
DVD/CD Burner/player
Windows 8

...And a lot I haven't discovered yet!

Have a great week everyone! I have a couple of writing days ahead of me and I plan on making the most of them. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Awesome Local Music at Local Only!

Last night, some local bands showed off their amazing talent, and I was lucky enough to be in the audience.

I didn't see the first band, Flesh Cauldron, play, but according to the guys in Whom Gods Destroy, Flesh Cauldron was awesome and they got the evening off to a great start.

I did see They and Dirt Stache perform. Both bands did a wonderful job and I really enjoyed their performances! I had seen Dirt Stache before, at Benstock a few weeks ago and they still kick it with their bass and drums only performance. I had not seen They before, but that band really rocks! Great job, guys!

The band I had gone to see finally got their turn at 9:15 p.m.... Whom Gods Destroy, which has both of my husband's brothers in it, with their friend Tim on guitars. Of course, y'all know how much I love their music and how much I love to watch them in action.

I did film their performance... Until the batteries on my camera croaked halfway through "The Woes of Atlas"... Then Tim's girlfriend filmed the rest of it. Due to having only limited MB per month, I have not uploaded the longer of the two videos, it's over 40 minutes long and almost 2 GB in size... However, I do have a shorter video uploaded on my YouTube channel and here it is... WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE ALERT... If you don't like foul language, don't watch this!

LINK: Whom Gods Destroy at Local Only!

I apologize for the sound quality. The mike on my camera is ultra sensitive and it all sounds the same, but it's "Devil on Your Shoulder" and the first part of "Warman".

I sang along with all of their songs... They were on for over an hour and really rocked the place! 

Afterwards, I went to Adam's place to meet his new furry companion, a huge cat by the name of Jerry, and to see if we could upload the videos at his place so I wouldn't burn a zillion MB. Unfortunately, his computer hated my camera so I had to upload the one video from home. That's okay, I'll just take it easy with MB usage for a while! LOL

I also have to take it easy walking around... I wore 2 inch spike heeled boots last night and I am paying for it today... I generally only wear sneakers, flat boots and shoes and am now cursing myself for picking style over being smart. Next time I'm wearing my sneakers even if I wear my leather trench coat again...

I'd like to thank They, Dirt Stache, Whom Gods Destroy and Flesh Cauldron for a wonderful night filled with amazing talented musicians. Y'all rock!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Official Launch Of...........

This is it! 

Today is the official launch of my new author's website! I'm very excited and pleased to see it go "live" to everyone around the world!

I've been thinking about doing something like this for a while, as a way to get the name out there and to showcase some of my photography from various venues that actually appear in Book 1, aka "No Regrets". So far, the site is very plain, but it includes the same banner I use on my Facebook public profile, a slideshow featuring shots of various places like Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, a brief biography and a little surprise for anyone who visits it!

The special people who got a prescreening seemed to love it and after they gave me some creative criticism, I tweaked things until they were perfect. The site looks great and I'm so happy to have my own website now, as a way to get the name out there even more and to promote my books! 

I humbly to invite all of you to visit...

V.J. Allison's Official Website

The link is permanently included in my Links area.

Thank you to all of my fans, friends, family and loved ones who supported me in the first stages of my journey to become published! I'm not quite there yet but hopefully I'll soon be able to announce I will be published one way or another, whether it's via a publishing house or self publishing of some sort! Much love to all of you who have been there for me during every single step of my journey!

On another note, my wonderful husband and I officially became a couple 22 years ago today... So it's a double celebration for me!

Happy Labor Day and have a wonderful week everyone!