Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Starting Fresh

So I'm starting over on the old novel in the hopes of making something salvageable enough to take to Write By The Lake. I think I'm making good progress, but frankly it's hard to tell. I spent most of Monday working on it, but only got about 2500 words done in 8+ hours. Of course, there were a lot of interruptions (The Bulldog did not like me ignoring him all day, especially as the yard and the sidewalks are all covered in ice), but I had really hoped to get more done. Still, I have a brand new chapter one, so I can't complain too much. All new stuff that wasn't in the old draft. I'm hoping the parts that are more re-writey will go faster.

I took a break at one point to read a couple of my short stories to try and get into the mood a bit better. It's kind of frustrating. I know how long I spent on those stories, and how many drafts they were. Not to toot my own horn too much, but some of them are freaking good. How can my short stories turn out so well and my novel attempts make me want to claw my eyes out?

One thing that helped was grabbing four novels off my bookshelf and reading the first twenty pages of each. In the short form there usually isn't a lot of room for setup, which is what I was working on. How much setting? How is it introduced? How quickly does the main character collide with the main conflict? How do we get to know the main character before the conflict? I'd recommend this approach to any writer - it's very instructive. The trick is to stop reading after twenty pages and not get sucked into the whole book.

Friday, February 18, 2011

100 Words About: Bless Your Heart

Bless your heart is an idiom that means different things depending on where you're from. Here in Wisconsin I hear people using it as a sort of quaint way of saying "you're sweet" or "what a nice thing to have done."

What a lot of them don't seem to realize is that, in the South, it means "you're an idiot." It's just a very polite way of saying it, usually used either with Yankees who don't realize they're being insulted, or used when talking about someone who isn't present.

If you're going to use this phrase (in writing or otherwise), be mindful of your audience.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring is in the Air

Or at least it is this week. Next week it's supposed to get cold again.

(Of course, you know you're in Wisconsin when it's 42 degrees out and everyone has their windows rolled down.)

I don't know if I've ever looked forward to spring so much. Why? Because The Bulldog likes to jog. He jogs beautifully, whereas when walking he tends to pull, even after months of loose-leash training. Plus I've been wanting to work up to jogging eventually, and jogging on ice is such a precarious business.

(I don't understand people who bike on it. I mean, really, people.)

He's really put on weight since we got him--89 pounds versus 71 pounds. Nearly all of it's muscle, and we think we could put on another 4-5 pounds of muscle once the weather gets nicer.

I'm also hoping that once he's getting more exercise he'll stop being quite so jealous of my computer. If I'm in the kitchen doing dishes he's happy to hang out quietly and watch me, but when I'm staring at the computer screen and typing on the keyboard he seems to think I'm not actually doing anything, and therefore should be paying attention to him. And he doesn't believe me when I tell him, "No, buddy, this is work too."

Friday, February 11, 2011

100 Words About: Bum Shoulder

I wish I knew what I did to my shoulder. I've never actually injured it, but it's pretty cranky about something the last few days. When I try to lever myself up on it, from laying in bed or on the couch, it hurts like the Dickens. And yet, it doesn't hurt when I roll it or do windmills with my arms.

Of course, my body refers pain in strange ways. One time I had a terrible muscle knot on my left shoulder blade, but the pain was all in the right one. Another time I had injured the cartilage between two ribs, but the pain manifested right over my kidney. So I suppose it's possible the wacky shoulder is from a pinched nerve in my neck or something. I just wish there was an easier way to find out what's wrong than to start poking around looking for spots that hurt worse.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Workin' Workin'

My eldest niece has started texting me. I feel sort of honored - I must be cool if the 12-year-old takes the time to drop me a line now and again. :) Good thing I speak 1337.

I've started writing over my lunch breaks again. Well, at least when the TV in the breakroom isn't on. (I don't understand how people can ignore TVs. I can't even when I have no interest in what's on them.) I don't get a lot of words, but I feel better about things. And it sort of primes the pump for my after work writing time.

Like today, I sat down after work and thought, "Ugh! I don't want to write!" But I made myself plug in anyway. "You have to do at least 100 words," I said to myself. Of course, once I got started I got rolling and had 400 words by the time The Husband came to pick me up. Again, not huge, but it's progress.

I haven't been writing short stories at all, but I have been working on a non-fiction proposal. The overview and chapter outline are done: now for market research and sample chapters. It's a nice balance, because if I don't feel like working on the fiction I can work on the non-fiction, and vice versa.

Part of the problem with the short stories is most of the anthologies I'm looking at close in April, so I'm not feeling rushed. There's one that closes this week, so maybe I'll try and come up with a good idea. Problem is, it's a steampunk anthology and for some reason that setting doesn't spark for me. I enjoy watching steampunky movies, but something about it doesn't gel for me. Maybe it'll be a good exercise.

Top Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bottom Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, February 4, 2011

100 Words About: Gotta Have It

Yes, I'm cheating. But Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex has released early (or at least Amazon has it in stock), so I'd be remiss in my authorly duties if I didn't let y'all know!

This anthology of 69 stories of 1200 words or less includes one of my stories, "Good Neighbors." All the narrator wants is some sleep, until she hears her neighbors through the motel room wall.

I only got my author copy a few days ago, so I've only read a handful of the stories, but wow! This is shaping up to be an awesome anthology! Absolutely perfect when you just want a little something to get you in the mood without a lot of time investment.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzards and Bulldogs

So I was expecting the snow to start much earlier today. We had some last night, but it wasn't that bad. Unfortunately I'd already decided I was taking today off instead of tomorrow. Not that I didn't have a nice relaxing day, but tomorrow may be pretty nasty.

The Bulldog had a vet appt at 7pm, but we were able to move it to 3pm instead. Of course, it was snowing pretty good by the time we left the vet, but the trip only took about 45min instead of 25, so I can't complain too much.

(Prognosis: probable food allergy. And a couple probably-related infections. All in all, not too bad if we can find a beef-based dog food. I'm hoping he's not allergic to beef: just about everything that entertains him for more than 5 minutes is beef related.)

But we're home for the night, and not a moment too soon. The wind's picking up and the snow is blowing something fierce, and I'm glad that I'm not still trying to get home from work.