Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Writing Time, 2014: Part One

Here we go... Summer writing time, 2014.

So far, it's been interesting. I haven't had much time to work on Ten since my last writing day of the 2013 - 2014 school year, other than a few quick rereads/edits of the last couple of chapters. I did have some quiet time the other day, but I wound up doing a read through of it and edit instead.

I was up till 3:30 a.m. the other night, working, but not on Ten as everyone would assume. You see, things have changed up with getting "Away to Me" ready for future publication - IF my Alpha and Beta teams think its story and how it is written will be perfect for it, either by a publishing house or going Indie (self/independent) publishing - with a lot of editing, of course.

Things changed with it because well, who says I can't change it up once in a while? I know my best friend, who is also a member of my awesome beta team, won't be ready to read it until very late this summer at the earliest, but I also have an amazing Alpha team, who are getting it first. There are three members of it, my local pal D - who was originally a beta reader, my BIL's girlfriend, and Sandra. All have their strengths in picking out different things, and all are either avid readers or writers like myself.

I thought where Bestie won't be ready for it for a bit, why not have a few others look at it while I'm waiting? She's good at both seeing the storyline AND any mistakes in grammar and sentence structure, etc., so she'll be one of the last ones to get it... And where the Alpha team needs some time to read it, give me their commentary/opinion on it, and I need time to make any necessary corrections in it, doing it during the summer months seems to be the perfect time to get it all out of the way.

It came out of stasis at 9:31 p.m. Atlantic time on June 25th, and its first read through as a second draft was finished last evening around 6:30 p.m. Atlantic time.

I did notice a few typos here and there, and those have been fixed. So far, so good with that part, at least! I probably missed a few but those will be picked up and corrected in time, between me and my amazing teams. I've compressed a few areas, taken out some repetitive stuff, added a word or two here and there if I thought it needed it and reworded a few things to make it easier to read.

It's back in stasis again, for a few more days. The next step is highlighting any areas that I think are "problem spots", like passive scenes or areas that seem too wordy in my opinion, so the Alpha team knows I've picked up a few areas like that already.

My deadline to get this round done and out to them is July 20th. In return, their deadline to read it and get back to me with comments, necessary edits, and their opinion on the entire story is August 19th.

As for the Beta team - my best friend, and my brother's wife, or the "Grammar Nazis" as I call them - the schedule with them depends on when my best friend is ready for it. When she tells me she's just about ready to go over it, I will dig it out again then, and do one last edit on it before I sent it to her and my SIL. Hopefully that will be sometime in September or early October at the latest.

You know, when I was reading it, I was comparing the set up of it to that of the Legacies series - "No Regrets" and "Family Portraits". It is very bare bones compared to those two... I do some detailed descriptions in it, but even those tend to be short and power packed, and I hardly describe the characters' physical attributes at all. I may mention the LF's eye color once, maybe twice, in the entire story, and there are hardly any repetitive character descriptions at all. The two "epics" have multiple descriptions of the mains, and well, I've learned that it can be ultra boring to most readers out there. Once is fine in some cases, but not much more than that.

"Away to Me" is my shortest novel length book to date, due to it being so bare boned. It's less than 78K long, which is in the right range for publishing via most romance publishers.

The question is, "Will it be up to publishing house standards, even after it's edited to perfection?"

I know it isn't now, and I'm not sure it ever will be. I'd like to think so, but it's only my first attempt to write a shorter, less complicated story, and I'm still learning. It may never be up to the publishing house standards, even after a thorough edit by everyone. I'll have to see what my Alpha and Beta teams say about it before I decide to send it out or not.

I know it's far from being perfect to be Indie published right now, and not sure if it ever will be good enough for an Indie publication. It has to be so perfect that not even a Grammar Nazi can find fault with it, and the storyline has to be dead on, unique and well written.

It's so far from being that good and that perfect grammar wise right now, I may as well be orbiting Eris!

I may never be good enough for an Indie publication for all I know. I know I'm far from ready for it now.

So glad I decided NOT to put the Legacies series out as Indie publications after I got rejections for "No Regrets" as it is, like some people out there suggested to me... That would have been a disaster. They are not ready for being published period, and may never be, even after being revamped.

As for Ten, I'm hoping to get a few hours to work on it here and there over the next week or two. I'd like to get at least the equivalent of a chapter written into it over summer vacation.

This summer is going to be crazy... And of course, I'm still wanting that salad dressing.... My words taste horrible by the way.

Have a great weekend everyone, and if you're in Canada, have a safe and fun Canada/Dominion Day on July 1st!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

And a Cup of Salad Dressing For Me Please...

I need it so my words taste better. *SIGH*

Remember how a couple of weeks ago, I said I would "not" have a manuscript nagging at me this summer? Well, I'm eating my words... Again. I should know better than to say I'm "not" doing something or "don't have any current WIPs waiting to be finished for a while", because the universe always seems to find the perfect way to made me realize that sometimes, things cannot be controlled.

My writing is one of those things. I had planned not to get into another manuscript this late in the school year, especially since my past experiences showed it takes me a few months to come out of one manuscript's story enough to get into a new one. "Away to Me" was finished less than a month ago, and here I am, deep into writing another first draft.

Ten is progressing better than I hoped it would this soon after wrapping up another story that had me by the throat, like "Away to Me" did for only a couple of short months. It's picking up speed, and the story itself is starting to really take over my mind, just like the other finished first drafts had when I was deep into writing them.

I thought I had three writing days this week, but due to a change in Hubby's schedule, it was only two, Wednesday and yesterday. I'm glad I set only daily goals this week, just to be safe.

Either way, I beat both day's goal of 1500 words each. I went low, I know, but I didn't think I'd be setting fire to the keyboard with this one so soon.

Wednesday was almost 3600 words and the majority of Chapter 5 was written up.

Yesterday was over 3800 words... I wasn't expecting things to go the way they did in the main file for a very pivotal scene, but geez... Once the idea hit me, I ran with it and I think it's better this way than the original way. It fits in more with the characters' personalities and experiences too. Chapter 5 was finished, and the majority of Chapter 6 was written yesterday too.

I'm also now officially on "Summer Writing Time", and anyone who has been following me for a while knows what that means. With summer vacation just about here, I don't have any days that I will be alone for hours on end, setting fire to the keyboard. This means that for the next two months, I will be nabbing whatever writing time I can get, whether it's an hour or so here and there while Son is being quiet or gone to run errands with his father, or the late nights - which wind up resulting in a rewrite the majority of the time.

I'm not feeling the effects of not having at least one day per week of writing time yet. My last official writing day of the 2013-2014 school year was only yesterday, so the "gnawing on the monitor" feeling won't hit me until either next week or after the final report cards come out on June 30th.

I'm not looking forward to going through that for the third summer in a row. 2012, it was "No Regrets", last year it was "Family Portraits", and now this year, it's "Ten" or whatever its title will finally be.

I suppose the silver lining in this breaking for two months thing is that I managed to get one full manuscript written without having to take more than a week or a few days off from writing it during a school break. I am glad that I finished "Away to Me" in record time, and I think my keyboard is still smoking somewhat from how fast I went through that one's first draft. If I hadn't gotten it done before now, I would have gone completely bananas this summer. Bad enough Ten is going to drive me a little crazy, and I'm not fully into this one - YET. I'm almost there though, and when it fully takes over my mind, watch out everyone.

"Away to Me" is still in stasis, but it may come out once over the summer, for a full read through and edit. Things are changing on one end, and it may be sent out to the Alpha and Beta Teams early, depending on what's happening over the summer in a certain area. We'll see how things go, and I'll keep everyone on both teams updated if anything changes.

Both teams can't say I didn't warn them... Buwahahahahahaha!

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and HELLO SUMMER! A very happy Litha to all of my friends who celebrate it in the northern hemisphere, and a very happy winter solstice to all in the southern hemisphere. Enjoy the season, whatever it may be, everyone!

I'll post updates over the summer as things progress.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Closing in on Summer Writing Time...

Progress in Ten is starting to pick up speed a little, even with idiots abound in certain spots that allow trolls and jerks to flourish. (NOT saying where though, just glad it's not any forums I frequent!)

This week had two writing days... Wednesday and of course, today. I didn't set a goal for the entire week, I wound up setting a goal of 1500 for each day, just to change things up a bit. I'm still not fully absorbed by this story yet, so I'm playing it safe and keeping the daily/weekly goals sort of minimized for now.

Wednesday was over 2200 words, and I was happy to get it. I was running into more speed bumps with some of it than I can count, but determinedly pushed myself over each of them and kept going.

Today's word count was slightly higher, at 2445 words, which isn't bad considering it's Friday the 13th combined with a full moon, and Mercury Retrograde on top of it. Idiots galore is an understatement! (GEEZ!)

So if anyone was hoping to deliberately throw me off the writing curve, or hoping to see me not write for some stupid and nasty reason, they're going to be sorely disappointed. *SMUG GRIN*

I'm now partway into Chapter 5, and getting into stuff that's making me think it's probably time to put password protection onto the file - Son knows how to use the computer, probably better than I do, and I'm the family's computer tech! *THUD!*

For the record, the main characters haven't gotten to "that" point yet, but this story seems to be flowing more toward the "adult" stuff being in it from the very start, unlike my other manuscripts. What it is and other things are "top secret" until this one's published. *NYAH*

Oh well, gotta change it up to keep my writing fresh and exciting, right? *WINK!*

And in other news, I found out when schools start in my district this coming fall. It's September 4th, so it looks like "Away to Me" will be coming out of stasis on that day - unless I'm so deep into Ten that I don't want to set it aside for a day or so.

We'll just have to see how it goes, I guess. I will have a month to get it ready for the Alpha and Betas when it comes out of stasis, so I'll have plenty of time to get moving on that round of edits.

Speaking of summer........

Yesterday, Hubby and I took a drive along the shore, to one of our favorite spots.

It's a 1.7 km (one mile) long beach named Crescent Beach. I am not sure, but I think it was named after its shape. It's like a half moon, or crescent, and loops northward from west to southward on the eastern end, poking out into the Atlantic, and the road between it and the salt water marsh to the north is used to connect the LaHave Islands to the mainland.

It's one of my old childhood haunts. My family and I were at that beach a lot when I was a child, and I still love it down there to this day.

Hubby and I parked in one of the spots for that purpose on the back side of the dunes, climbed over a lot of boulders, and hit the beach. I took over 200 photos, a few videos and wound up uploading almost 150 of them to Facebook, along with five of the videos.

Here's a sample of some of the photos:

Facing eastward, toward the LaHave Islands.

Facing west, toward Petite Riviere and West Dublin.

Periwinkles on rocks at the east end of the beach.

At the east end of the beach, facing the open ocean.

East end of Crescent Beach.

Here's a video from down there, just waves hitting the shore. So peaceful!

And another one, while facing the LaHave Islands, eastward.

And look, there's a beach bum!

((Yes, this is really me!))
I hope you enjoyed the photos and videos of one of my favorite spots in the world.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pray for Moncton and an Update

Before I bore my readers with one of my writing updates, I'd like to say something regarding the events of this week.

I ask that no one mentions the name of the Moncton NB suspect/perpetrator anywhere on my areas, out of respect for the RCMP and their families. This is for my Facebook page, my author's profile, my Twitter posts and shares/retweets, my real name profile, and in the comments section here on my blog.

I have a lot of respect for the men and women in every tier of the RCMP, and I do not tolerate any disrespect for the Mounties. Mentioning his name at all is disrespecting them in my opinion. He's had his 15 seconds, and didn't deserve any of it, nor does he deserve to be remembered.

Remember those who serve to protect our nation and its citizens, not those who coldly and deliberately hurt or kill others. Simple as that.

My thoughts and prayers are with all RCMP officers across Canada, no matter where they are stationed, and their families. I'd also like to thank ALL of our Mounties, still commissioned or retired, in every detachment across the country, for making sure the civilians in our beautiful and vast nation are safe, and for putting their lives on the line daily.

Thanks to all Mounties, from an aspiring author in southwest Nova Scotia. 

My author's page will continue to have the #PrayForMoncton banner for the rest of the month, to show my support for the city of Moncton New Brunswick, and respect for all RCMP officers and their families. 

#PrayforMoncton #RCMP #RCMPNB


Writing Update:

Some progress has been made in my writing world.

"Away to Me" went into stasis for the summer on Monday, June 2, 2014 at 6:28 p.m. ADT. It will remain there until September 5th or 6th, depending on when my first writing day of the 2014-2015 school year is. It will be coming out for another read-through and round of massive editing before my alpha reader and beta team get it. Due date to send it off to them is October 13, which is the Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day in the US. My best friend is on the beta team, and won't be ready to sit down and enjoy it while she's covering it with red marks until then, hence the long stasis period and four month wait.

The "squirrel on speed" feeling I normally get was bad on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I had to do something to stop it. I know what I did was bad, but it was either do it or lose it!

I know I'm supposed to be recharging my writing batteries over the summer, and was going to set things aside until September so I wouldn't have a story driving me nuts during July and August, but I am writing again. I know, it's been just over a week since the first draft of "Away to Me" was finished and I should take a short break, but I'm still fired up writing wise, and hate leaving an unfinished work on my desktop.

So, I'm back to working on Ten for the time being. I had two full days this week, and although it was slow going, managed to get Chapter 2 finished and Chapter 3 almost there in the rough draft. I've made a few modifications to the timeline and storyline to make it more plausible and to get things moving faster. I'm slowly getting into the habit of having a story happen over the course of three to nine months, tops, instead of over the course of years or decades.

I don't know if I'll finish this one before another one comes to me. We'll just have to see how it goes. I'd love to finish it sometime, preferably before 2015 rings in, but if I don't and another story gets written in the meantime, fine with me. I'll just plug away at it when I can, and as long as the story is there in my brain somewhere, it will get done somehow.

I know I no longer feel like a squirrel on speed, so that's good. I'm not driving myself and so many others crazy with me bouncing off the walls because I don't know what to work on next!

In other writing news... My local beta reader, D, the one with the dog leashes, now has Family Portraits waiting for her to read, along with a bunch of frying pans to hit me with. It's filled with mistakes, passive areas and so much JUNK. I'm going to be lucky if I'm still able to write when she's done clocking me for sending her such a horribly edited manuscript!

I have a couple of writing days ahead of me this coming week, and I hope to make more progress in Ten. I'm now starting to build up a relationship between the two main characters, and a key event will be happening sometime soon. I just have to find the right balance between not boring the reader and not making things move too fast. I'm still learning how to do that, and wind up going to one extreme to the other. Hopefully I can get it right in this story without a million rewrites.

Have a great weekend everyone. Namaste.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The "Fun" Has Begun...

Editing is not my favorite thing to do, especially when it comes to my own stuff. I like perfection in my work, and previous experiences tell me I'm not perfect at picking out the inconsistencies, passive and wordy areas and everything else an editor at a publishing house doesn't want to see in a submitted manuscript for their consideration. I really have to get out of that mindset and don't expect much when it comes to me editing my own stories, even though I've learned a lot in the last five months, since I've joined two writing forums and am getting advice from some of the best - authors right over to the editors, etc - in the entire writing business.

The "necessary evil" of the editing and proofing have started on "Away to Me" and it's worse than I imagined. Passive areas, repetitive stuff and glaring inconsistencies everywhere. It's going to take another week or so working on it full time to get it up to snuff before it goes into stasis for the summer. I was hoping even with keeping it bare bones that it would be a lot better than this, and I'm really ticked off at myself for not doing a better job at it. Then I remember I'm still learning and I'm not as ticked. I'm still kicking myself, but not so badly, and I start prepping the frying pans I'll be giving to my betas with their copies of "Away To Me" this coming autumn. I'm expecting a LOT of cracks on the head for all of the mistakes, and other things in the second draft, even after I get the worst ones out of it.

I'm slowly getting things cleaned up though. Friday would have been another writing day for me if I was into another story, so I used the entire day to work on getting the first edit/reread of "Away to Me" in its entirety. 

Here's what I did:
  • Took out a few passive areas.
  • Compressing of timeline started.
  • Started putting chapter breaks at the beginning of a new page.
  • Began removing repetitive stuff.
  • Compressions of wordier areas started.
  • Started smoothing out choppier areas.

My local beta and longtime friend D asked me how long of a time period "ATM" took place... It was originally about 15 months. She suggested I compress it to six months. 

That was "fun". I went back, checked things over and managed to squeeze it into a bare nine months over all. Not bad, could be better though. I don't think I can get it more squashed than that. I'll have to see.

Yes, I got a lot done but still have a long way to go before it's ready for stasis, round one. I have a couple of hours here and there and a day or two to get back to the editing this week, and I'll be deep into things when I have the chance. It's slow going but it's getting there, one step at a time. I'm learning as I go too. And boy have I learned a lot in the last six months, more than I could have imagined!

I thought I knew a lot but didn't know squat about the REAL writing world, even with two finished first drafts under my belt. I'm shocked at how far I've come in only a couple of years, since I first sat down, dug out "No Regrets" initial idea and its few components at the end of 2011 and tried to see what wasn't working with that manuscript, once that I had the time to do something with it.

"No Regrets" was "hell" to write by times, and if it hadn't been for me talking with various people, thinking about it CONSTANTLY, rereading everything I had written, brainstorming, countless hours researching and all of the other stuff entailed with writing a unique and interesting story, I would have tossed it aside, given up on it and tried to find something else to amuse me, while making excuses why I wasn't trying to get past the speed bumps and other nasty things I encountered while working on it. Rewrites - UGH! So many... *Shudders!* Passive areas: galore! *GAG* Repetitive stuff.... I think I lost about 2000 words just with taking THAT stuff out, and I think there's more to be removed! *THUD!* Sent it out, got rejections for it. My own stupidity and overconfidence, in my writing skills and editing. Lesson learned, big time! Will be revamped before it's published, probably via a self publisher in a few years.

"Family Portraits" presented its own unique set of problems, and other nasty things, despite it being the follow up to "No Regrets". Even though I flew through that one too, I still had problems and had to do a zillion rewrites. More rewrites. Passive areas. Wordy areas. Choppy scenes. The list is LONG in that one, and it needs more work than even "Away to Me" in its current condition. Will be published via self publishing in a few years, after it's cleaned up and if "No Regrets" sells at all. (DOUBTFUL!)

"Away to Me": the first completed manuscript that is NOT related to the Legacies series and well under 100K word wise. I still had a lot of problems getting over speed bumps and other things in it, despite it being bare boned. It needs a lot of work, but not as much as "Family Portraits". Will have five people reading it and whapping me over the head with frying pans after they see the errors in it this time.

What I'm trying to say is that I DID NOT GIVE UP. At all. I've hit more speedbumps writing and editing than I can keep track of, and I have a great memory! If I gave up each time I hit a roadblock, a problem I can't figure out right away, a bout of writer's block or anything else we writers/authors wind up running into on a daily basis with our work, I would have NEVER finished one manuscript's first draft, let alone THREE! 

If you run into a roadblock and are SERIOUS about writing, you won't give up on it. You'll find a way around it, over it or through it and KEEP GOING. NO EXCUSES. If there's a will, there is a way.

Keep in mind that I write only PART TIME, I have two neurological conditions that hinder me sometimes (occipital neuralgia and carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the HANDS), and I have a special needs child that needs constant attention when he's home.

If *I* can write without any excuses, anyone who is serious about it can do it too. If you can't, you're not serious about it at all, and will keep making excuses not to continue while you put down us really serious writers, which is really nasty and petty.

Simple as that.

On a side note, congrats to WHOM GODS DESTROY for finally getting onto the radio! They're being played on CKDU, which is Dalhousie University in Halifax own radio station. They have a live stream on their site and if you live in Halifax-Dartmouth, you can catch them at 88.1 on the FM dial. Great job, Tim, Eli and Adam... I knew you could do it, and it's the first step toward getting on stations across our beautiful nation!

Have a great week everyone! I'll post another update when more progress is made, either editing "Away to Me" or anything else in my writing world!