Tag Archives: writing

Lucky Seven — A Writing Snippet

I promised yesterday that I would start blogging about things other than ROW80 updates. Here, to kick things off, is a blog hop.

I’ve been tagged by the Aussie writer Ellen Gregory to post a short snippet from my work in progress — 7 lines from page 7.

My current work in progress is the short story I’ve mentioned. It’s for the upcoming Turtleduck Press anthology — a quartet of fantasy stories with romance, all variations on the theme of women rescuing men. (And I do mean rescuing. Some of the women even have swords. But of course there are many ways to be strong and these stories explore several of them.)

I’m still editing my contribution, but here are 7 sentences from page 7 of the present draft…

(A little context: the main character is a maidservant in a raja’s palace, and has volunteered to go and work for an insane inventor who lives in a mountaintop fort.)

I woke the next morning, in the little room I had chosen behind the kitchen, to the smell of cooking vegetable curry. At first I thought I was back in the palace. Then I remembered, and sat up with a start. Was there another servant here?

When I walked into the kitchen, the madman was cooking flatbread over the fire, just as though he were a servant himself, and not a…a palace exile or whatever he was. Except that he wore a pair of thick leather gloves. His hands must be too sensitive for such work.

If that piqued your interest, stay tuned for more about the anthology and where you can buy it in just over a month from now…

And now, back to the blog hop. The rules of the Lucky Seven game are:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP… Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines—as they are!
  • Tag 7 people to do the same

I’m not going to tag people, because I’m lazy some writers don’t like sharing works in progress (WIPs). If you’d like to play, consider yourself tagged, and please leave a comment so I know to visit your blog and read your snippet!

 

ROW80: All the Things are Moving

Here’s this week’s ROW80 update!

Writing

This week I was racing to finish a short story, and it’s done! 6 hours this week, which is a rarity these days. The second draft is 6500 words, up 1500 from the first draft, and I’m finally happy with it.

It’s slated to be published in a new Turtleduck Press anthology. A few people will be reading it this month, but the rest of you will have to wait until the anthology is published on August 1. *evil grin*

Exercise

I’m continuing to ease back into my exercise regime, such as it is. This week I did 1 hour of yoga, one session of stair climbing, and some gardening, and walked 4.6 km (not counting the bits of walking I do during my commute, 5 or 10 minutes at a time).

I’ve gotta step it up, though. My goal is to go hiking in the Rockies in August with my (fitter) siblings, and I’m a long way from being fit enough for that. Two months to go….

Home Improvement

This week I’ve been doing a lot of research on shrubs and trees (because, uh, that’s how I roll). We have several garden beds that are blank slates, which is a bit daunting because I’ve never tried flower gardening before. So I bought some books, visited a garden centre and took notes, bought a landscaping program to play with help with designing, and have been doing a ton of Internet research.

(Researching plants, it turns out, is like fractals — it opens out infinitely. I know Internet research is like that normally, but this is even more so. Why? Because you do all this research, finally pick a plant that you like and that seems to fit your needs, and then you discover that it has 10 million varieties of different sizes, colours, and growing habits, so you have to research all those too. Or is that just me?)

 

We still have no actual plants in the ground, but that should change shortly. Once we’ve got the shrubs in, then we can get on to the perennials…!

Here’s what we’ve put in the vegetable garden:

  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • acorn squash
  • basil
  • several other herbs (not sure exactly what, my MIL planted them)
  • zucchini (seeds)
  • carrots (seeds)
  • cucumber (seeds — just planted today)
  • arugula (seeds — accidentally planted the zucchini over top, but the arugula have a head start and are already coming up…)

…and we still have a bit more space, so we might add a few more things before calling it quits.

How was your week?

 

Tapped Out and Outta Here

Updates from last week, ROW80 and otherwise…

In good news, my loved one who was in hospital is fine now. Huge relief.

In other good news, I’ve sort of fallen into co-creating a book club on Twitter. This month we’re doing Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s a Tam Lin retelling. Sound like your kind of thing? Use the hashtag #20reads to join in! (And by the way, I’m @Siri_Paulson over there.)

In bad news, I’ve blown an anthology deadline. Not just any anthology, either — I’m the chief editor as well as one of the submitters — and my story was due 12 days ago. I started the story in good time, but to say it’s not cooperating is an understatement. In retrospect, I should have listened to Ripley. You know,

Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Yeah. I’ve tried every possible angle. There might still be a good story in there, but if there is, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t fit the anthology theme, and I can’t shoehorn it in no matter what I try. I think I’m gonna have to write something entirely different…and fast. (And yes, I should have made that decision weeks ago.)

That’s bad. But the worse part?

This is the second short story this year that I’ve run into the ground. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened. And my novel edit-in-progress has just…stalled.

Maybe I’m too busy. I know I have trouble when there are too many projects on the go, and this year has been full of non-writing projects (notwithstanding my declaring it the Year of Making Space…) that have taken up a lot of extra brain cells and a certain amount of creativity.

On the bright side: my house now has some awesome upgrades and will shortly have an awesome backyard. It’s kinda nice to pay attention to the place I’m living in for a change. Reminds me that I own it, you know? (Well, the bank does, but I hold the deed, so there.)

On the not-so-bright side: I never meant my house to become awesome at the expense of my writing.

I badly need to make space for real.

But that will have to wait until I’m back from my hiatus. When June hits, watch out….

ROW80

Quick updates:

Writing: I spent 4.5 hours last week trying to make that damn story work. It’s not stalled for lack of time.

Exercise: Started walking again now that the weather is finally nice, went folk dancing on Saturday night, and celebrated the season’s first weeding session on Sunday. Yay?

Renovations: The deck is proceeding apace. It’s going to have two small sheds with a roofed-over space in between. Currently trying to figure out the best way to add shade to the rest of the deck — I like deep shade, don’t like extendable awnings, want something that will sort of tie in with the roofed section, am not sure if I want lattice with climbing plants (because hey, we’ve never done this before)…yeah, problems. Oh, and the backyard will shortly have sod instead of weeds!

 

Two-week blog hiatus commences as of now. In the meantime, tell me…

Your turn! What do you do when the writing is just not coming?

 

ROW80 Round 2: Goals

Hello again! I’m signing up for another Round of Words in 80 Days. This round is set to run from April 7 to June 26, and I’ll be checking in every Sunday.

This year has turned into the Year of Making My Living Space Better. Not quite what I’d intended, but it’s a good reminder that I am not, in fact, a brain in a jar attached to a keyboard.

The current round falls during an especially busy time. I am (all while working full-time):

  • dealing with the tail end of renovations
  • setting up a kitchen (luckily not a super-urgent project)
  • trying to get my house generally organized and a teeny bit decorated because I’m tired of not paying attention to it and having it look like nobody cares
  • upgrading my front and back yards from “terrible mess” to “kind of pretty and really low-maintenance” — which involves some landscaping help and some gardening effort on my part

Therefore, my focus in this round will be on the above. I’m going to report on my progress every Sunday, mostly to remind myself that I am extremely busy and therefore I am not allowed to beat myself up for not getting other things done (like writing).

And, to go along with that “not a brain in a jar” thing, I am also going to report on my exercising progress. Currently I do an hour of yoga once a week and folk dance for an evening once every two weeks. I just set up an exercise room in my attic, so I’m adding calisthenics and more yoga. And the weather is finally turning to spring, so I’d like to add walking as well (fast walking when possible). No particular goals here — anything will be an improvement.

Finally, there’s writing. I don’t want to put my writing on pause completely, because in my experience, it’s a LOT harder to get started again once I get out of the habit. (I don’t write every day — right now it’s more like 3-5 days a week — but that’s a regular, hard-won habit that I don’t want to let slip.)

So my writing goal for this round is: to write/edit/outline for 1.5 hours a week, including at least one session of half an hour or longer.

Happy writing!

ROW80 Week 11 and Final Check-In

This is it — the end of this Round of Words in 80 Days! Well, technically there are a few more days left, but I’m only doing weekly check-ins, so this will be my last. It’s longer than usual because I’m also including a recap, so bear with me….

Writing Updates

This week Real Life kicked my butt. Don’t worry, nothing horrible happened…I’ve just been really busy and haven’t had a lot of brain left over for writing.

That said, I’ve still logged over an hour and written 900 words of a new scene on the next chapter of the novel edit, which is more than can be said of some weeks when Real Life happens, so yay.

Renovation Updates

The IKEA snafu has finally been sorted, the missing piece has been delivered, and assembly will be happening this week. Kitchen appliances are also being delivered this week, which means the kitchen will in theory be usable. Next steps: move out everything that’s currently being stored in the kitchen and the cupboards, put it all somewhere else, clean the room from top to bottom, and start setting it up for actual use!

My significant other and I spent much of the weekend buying curtains and sheers for the entire house (why yes, we’ve been living here with only jury-rigged window coverings for the past two years, why do you ask?). I think we’ve bought everything we need now…just need to check them out in the rooms where they’re going, to make sure the colours work the way I thought they would in the store.

(I had blinds growing up and we had blinds in the apartment where we lived before this, so neither of us has any experience with curtains. But we like the look of curtains better, especially in an old house like ours, so that’s what we’re going for. Gotta learn sometime, right?)

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time thinking about landscaping and browsing magazines for ideas, so that’s been taking up a lot of brain cycles. But I have to say it’s nice to be dreaming about spring despite the snow still on the ground!

ROW80 Final Recap

Back in my original ROW80 post, I declared 2014 to be the Year of Priorities, AKA Project: Making Space. I wrote:

I’m taking a step back, refocusing and recommitting to what it is I really want to do with myself. Which is write.

Specifically, I want to make more space for my writing. I hear myself constantly complaining about how busy I am. My house is cluttered so there’s no room to think. The Internet is an ever-present demon. And the writing I am getting done feels like it has stagnated because I’m not sinking into it as deeply as I could be.

I think that has kind of backfired. I’m still super busy…though at least now the focus has shifted from nebulous computer-related things (like before) to making my real-life space better. My house is still cluttered, but I’m moving towards having more usable space, which has got to help eventually.

I’m also making headway on decor, which is also a worthy goal — I deserve a beautiful space! (To be clear I’m not talking about a perfectly clean and Pinterest-worthy space, but one that makes my heart happy.)

My original ROW80 writing goal was to spend 5 hours a week writing and/or editing.

I fell short of that — my average was more like 3 to 3.5 hours, and I only hit 5 hours once (last week!). But it started at around 2 to 2.5 hours, so the amount of writing gradually crept up from week to week. That’s worth something too.

What’s Next

I’m seriously thinking of signing up for ROW80 again. I found it helpful for keeping myself moving, if not always on track.

The next round (April 7 to June 26) will encompass a time when I expect to be seriously busy with Real Life stuff — mainly getting the kitchen and yard/garden up and running — so there may will not be a lot of writing. But I’d like to encourage myself to keep moving on the writing, even just a little bit.

It’s also helpful to look back on my own updates about Real Life and remind myself that hey, I really was busy and no, I’m not slacking off (take that, nasty little voice in my head).

Your turn! If you’re doing ROW80, how did this round go? If not, how about those New Year’s resolutions? Do the critical voices in your head help or hinder you?

Home Stretch on the ROW80 Week 10 Check-In

This is the second-last update I’ll be making for this Round of Words in 80 Days. Can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Regular reporting has helped keep me accountable, so I’m going to sign up for the next round as well (starts April 7). If you’re thinking of joining, let me know so I can be sure to cheer you on.

On to the updates…

Writing Updates

My original ROW80 goal was 5 hours a week of writing or editing (fiction only — not counting blogging). Due to Life, I had to revise that goal down to 3.5 (a handy goal because the math is so easy). Most weeks I managed between 3 and 4 hours. Well…this week I finally hit 5!

Even better, I finally conquered a chapter that’s had me stymied for waaaaay too long. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s good enough for now (this is the second draft, not the last draft) and I am MOVING ON. Oh, and today I got to write a really nasty cliffhanger. That was fun. Whoever said writers were nice people?

Another goal was to start putting a little more effort into this blog. I wrote two non-ROW80 posts this past week — My Writing Process and Winter Elegy — which hasn’t happened since last month, so go me!

Renovation Updates

The IKEA snafu still isn’t sorted — they were supposed to call us last week and didn’t, so we need to follow up this week.

However, we braved the cold weather to go to Home Depot (in a blizzard!) and order some appliances for the upstairs kitchen (we’re in a shared housing arrangement). Those are getting delivered in two weeks, so soon we’ll have no excuse to keep avoiding the cleaning that needs to happen in that kitchen to make it usable. I’m looking forward to having our own kitchen again and getting back to more independence.

We’re also making headway on drapes — a kind friend has offered to hem them for us (we are, sadly, about as far from DIYers as one can get), and we now know more or less what we want, so in the next couple of weeks we need to go buy all the curtains. Yay?

And finally, we’re looking into getting help with beating our front and back yards into shape come spring. More about that soon!

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

It’s blog hop time! I’ve been tagged by the lovely Aussie writer Ellen Gregory, who adores both fantasy and travel (sound familiar?). The idea with this one is to answer four questions, then tag three other awesome writers to answer the same questions on their own blogs in a week or so. If you’re the sort who loves to read about the writing process, then do be careful or you could be lost down the rabbit hole forever….

Please enjoy a picture of one of my notebooks, with bonus hand-knit socks.

Please enjoy a picture of one of my notebooks, with bonus hand-knit socks.

1. What am I working on?

I’m currently editing a YA historical fantasy novel, with plans to query agents once it’s done. I’ve also just finished a serial story set in a fantasy version of Thailand (the fifth and final part of the serial will be posted next month). My next project will be to revamp the serial into a single (longish) short story.

What I’ve mentioned so far happens to be fantasy, but I also write other types of speculative fiction — steampunk, science fiction, Gothic — and sometimes even non-genre fiction.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One answer is that I often write at the border between YA and adult. (New Adult, I guess you’d say, except that NA is usually contemporary and mine usually isn’t.) Another is that I think my writing has an essential optimism that shines through…the sense that yes, your place in the world is out there and you will find it, even if you have to cross the world or fight your way through larger events or live through years of your adult life to get there.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because speculative fiction makes my heart sing.

Because when I say “I wish I could write like that” or “As a reader, I loved that book to pieces”, it’s usually speculative fiction I’m talking about.

Because it makes my inner 12-year-old happy, and she’s important to me.

Because making up worlds, genre-bending, and mashing elements together to see what sticks…is fun.

Because I want to see more like what I write. Much as I love medieval Europe, there are whole other civilizations out there, and I want to see them in fantasy too.

Because I love the moment when I stumble on a genre mash-up, or a crazy worldbuilding thing, and think, “You can DO that?!” (Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere blew my mind back in high school. So did discovering steampunk, sometime later. So do most of my favourite writers, even now.)

Because I love the tropes of the genre.

Because the sky’s the limit.

4. How does my writing process work?

I like to say I’m a reformed pantser (seat-of-the-pants writer) or headlight writer (you can only see as far as your headlights). My short stories are often still written that way. And I’m gradually moving from longhand to typing, even in the brainstorming and outlining stages…which were the last to go.

For longer works, I usually start with a lot of brainstorming, research, backstory, and character development — not via questionnaires or “outtake” scenes or dialogues, just jotting down lots of notes. Then I develop a very broad outline with the opening/setup and major turning points (act breaks). There’ll be some one-liner descriptions for scenes in there too, mostly in the first quarter of the story, getting nebulous very quickly. Or, in other words, more or less what Ellen said.

When it comes time to start writing, I prefer to draft quickly so I don’t lose the feel of the story or the overarching plot. NaNo works great for this, even if it means that what I end up with is rough.

And what happens after that? I do have some trusted critiquers, but I’m still working on finding a process for editing that works for me. If you have any advice, please share!

Tagged

And the tagged writers are…

  • Erin Zarro — writer of science fantasy, and of poetry
  • KD Sarge — writer of science fiction romance, with shenanigans
  • Kit Campbell — writer of paranormal romance, with banter

Making Headway on the ROW80 Week 9 Check-In

We’re heading into the final stretch of ROW80! How are all of you fine folks doing?

Writing Updates

Last week, I said I wanted to start putting a little more effort into this blog. In case you missed it, I wrote a travel post about visiting Rajasthan, India — with photos taken by yours truly.

I’m also finally making headway on the novel edit, I think. I had Friday off work and put in a good 2 hours, for a total of 3 hours this week. Not as much as I wanted, but (a) I also had to deal with a furnace issue on Friday and a very full Saturday, and (b) I’m focusing on staying positive and celebrating what I do get done rather than beating myself up for what I don’t do. So…three hours, yay!

Renovation Updates

We’re still sorting out the IKEA snafu, and busy researching ranges and drapes. So nothing visible is happening, but plenty behind the scenes. Which has been true of the novel as well, come to think of it!

At least we’re making good use of the newly finished attic / exercise room…which is really the point of renovating anyway, right?

 

Upping the Ante on the ROW80 Week 8 Check-In

How are you all doing? We’re heading into the final month of this round. Anyone tackling NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) in March?

Writing Updates

I finished out February with 14.5 hours of writing/editing, mostly on my novel edit-in-progress. My February goal was either 14 or 15 hours  (I said different things in different places), so I’m calling that a win.

Last week I raised my goal slightly to 4 hours of writing/editing from 3.5, and hit it. I’m shooting for 4 hours again this week, and a goal of 20 hours by the end of March.

As for actual progress, this week I edited Part 5 of my fantasy serial, “Still Waters Run Deep”. It’ll be posted at Turtleduck Press next month.

Also, I now have my crit partners’ responses all the way through the end of the novel. I’m just starting to dig into the responses and figure out what to do with them. So there’s still a lot of outlining and brainstorming and various other forms of thinking on paper (or rather, onscreen), and not much actual prose happening. I’m still worried that this isn’t getting me anywhere fast — I can brainstorm endlessly and still not have a story — but at least I’m slowly increasing the time I spend at the keyboard.

In other news, I’ve kind of neglected the blog in the past couple of months. I’d like to start putting a little more effort into it again, with one longer post, one shorter post, and one #ROW80 update per week.

Renovation Updates

The renovating efforts have slowed down this week, but we now have the necessary electrical wiring to put in a stove and a fridge in the upstairs kitchen. The furniture assembly isn’t quite finished due to some snafus with IKEA, so that has to get straightened out before we can organize the kitchen. Cold weather has made us disinclined to go out and buy stuff, so we’re still bumbling along with everything half-finished. Grr argh.

Still…onward!

 

Chugging Along with the ROW80 Week 7 Check-In

How are you all doing this week? Did you get up early to watch the hockey game? (I didn’t, but an awful lot of people I know did. We Canadians take our hockey seriously.)

Writing Updates

Writing continues to chug along. I’ve hit 3.5 hours for the second week in a row, meaning I’m on track to hit 14 hours this month. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than I’ve done in a month since November and also more consistent than I’ve been since then, so go me!

This is my second week working on a novel edit that got shelved mid-draft, so I’m starting to dig deeper into the material. It’s only the second draft and I’m a pantser, so there’s a lot of digging still to go. I can only hope I’m getting somewhere….

This week I’m setting the bar a little higher and aiming for 4 hours.

Renovation Updates

This past week we’ve finally made some headway on getting the upstairs kitchen operational (my significant other’s parents live with us, and we’ve been sharing a kitchen). We have:

  • met with a guy about electrical upgrades (to happen this coming week) that will mean we can get a stove and fridge for the upstairs kitchen
  • started clearing out / cleaning the kitchen (which, not being in use, naturally became the “junk” room)
  • assembled some IKEA furniture, for the kitchen and elsewhere, that will help with storage (one of our biggest challenges)

Also, this is not exactly about renovations, but we’ve used the newly set up exercise room most days this week. Go us!