Thursday, October 12, 2017

WIP Soundtrack

          Today on #WIPJoy, we're playing with soundtracks. My characters are in a fantasy world and don't generally have a way to listen to music whenever they want, so I never think of them as having a soundtrack. On the other hand, I create soundtracks for my books religiously, so here are a few songs for each of my main characters. I have way more songs than this, but this is just a sampling of songs that don't leave my playlist when I'm writing these characters.

Kuzunoha
Monster by Imagine Dragons

Deckard
Hero by Skillet

Richard
Hero by Darren Hayes


Himiko
This Life is Mine by Casey Lee Williams

Songs About the Story
Red Like Roses by Casey Lee Williams
This Isn't Love by the Birdsongs

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Keeping busy

          My tendinitis is acting up... again? Still? At any rate, I'm under doctor's orders to not abuse it and take painkillers steadily until it starts feeling better. The doctor said a week or two and it been nearly double that now, so hopefully it will be fine soon. On the one hand, I though I'd be dying without my ability to write. And while I will be soon, I have found things to keep me occupied.

1. Reading
          Okay, so this is always my first fall back and this time it came with the added bonus of allowing me to start editing it since every edit includes one full read-through to see where it currently stands. I put the second novel of my Kitsune-Ken series on my Kindle app and 5 chapters in, I can say thats its well written but I will need to rewrite/replan the beginning of it. I changed one thing in my first novel and completely killed the original conflict the novel started off with. That's why I always start off with a base level read through.
          I also picked up a few books, the Howl's Moving Castle series, Your Name and Romancing the Inventor. I haven't started the series yet, but the other two are amazing so far and I would totally recommend them. Fair warning if you do pick up Your Name; it doesn't explain the cultural context of pretty much anything and assumes you'll already know it (sort of like a book set in modern day England wouldn't explain what a biscuit was or why they were having it with tea). So if you know something about Japan, this is an awesome read. If you don't, be aware, its going to take you a bit longer to wrap your head around it.

2. Inktober
          Inktober, if you missed my last blog post, is a monthly challenge to improve your inking skills. Annoyed by my pens inability to blend at all, I went out and picked up some copic markers. They are amazing. If anything, its my art ability that limits their potential. (See pictures below).

3. #WIPJoy
          Unable to do anything by half, I am also filling my resting time with the #WIPJoy challenge. Created by an author who wanted to interact with her story a bit differently, #WIPJoy challenges you to answer questions about your current work-in-progress everyday. I didn't start it until yesterday, so I'm currently behind, but I am catching up. Check out my author page on Facebook for all of those updates.

          So, yeah... this is how I fill up my resting time. What's keeping you busy this week?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Inktober

          I'm going to divert a little from my normal track here and talk about something other than writing for a few minutes here. October has now become Inktober, with a hashtag and everything. Yes, it's another challenge month, and this one I thought was quite fun. The idea is to improve your inking skill and draw a picture in ink every day this month. Since I am a good copy artist, but not a very good artist, I've decided to take part. The drawings don't take more than 20 minutes a day for me to do, but so far, I've had fun. I'll add in the three pictures I've done so far below, but I warn you, they are laughably bad. Please let me know if you'll be joining in #Inktober with me and what your favourite picture of mine is in the comments below.

Day 1 - A character from the video game Journey. Not great, but I had fun creating one essentially from memory.


 Day 2 - Inuyasha. I was going to draw a chibi-Inuyasha, but the eyes got messed up and I decided that regular adult Inuyasha was better... also, for no discernable reason, he's naked.

Day 4 - I missed day 3 and decided today to do a Sailor Moon picture. I told you, laughably bad. I have had the most fun trying to figure out how to shade these pictures though. The pens I have do not mix together at all and most of them are too dark to be used complementarily. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Business Planning

The worst thing about September is that the cool weather starts coming in and when you're already stressed, you catch bugs every week or so. Last week, I caught a minor one that didn't do much more than kill my concentration. This week, I caught something that has taken me out for two days.

Thus, I'm a bit behind on my numbers. To get back on track, I'm updating my business plan for the next four days.

I have mentioned my business plan, yes? Basically, it's just me writing down what my goals are for the year. I write them in loose strokes, and the closer I get, the more I refine them. This month, my goal is 15,000 words, 1 short story, 8 blog posts and quite a lot of editing, 4 short stories and my novel.

As I mentioned I'm a bit behind on my writing, 2,301 words worth, as of this morning. I have finished my short story of the month, a little vignette for my husband called Nala's Tale, a story about one of his characters slaves in our Pathfinder (evil) game. So, I have just over 4k to do, in four days. Even sick, I can try to do 1,000 a day. The whole reason for leaving my current daily word count at 500 is so that if I fall a bit behind, I can still play catch up, after all.

On the blogging front, I have only completed five blog posts, if you count this one, which is a bit short of the eight I wanted. On the other hand, I should get one more this month and that will bring it up to six. Still lower than I'd like, so I'll have to try harder for next month.

The last thing on my business plan is editing. Normally, I try to separate out editing months and writing months, but I decided to put the two together this month and see how it worked out. The first thing on my list was editing my novel. I'm not done it, but since only one person has gotten back to me with comments so far, I'm taking that off my list and will move it into October. The other editing I wanted to get done was four short stories, I have looked over 2 of them and am halfway through editing one. Both of the other ones I looked at need a nearly complete rewrite, which may become a task for next month, but I should be able to finish the one story I'm halfway done before the end of the month.

So, what have I learned? Well, mostly that I need to either up my word count, or lower my editing amount, while I figure out how to increase my speed. Part of that speed will come as I do it more often. Part of that will be higher when my tendinitis isn't acting up and I don't have any sick days. However, I prefer to leave room in my plan for life to butt its nose in and mess everything up. It saves me from some of the guilt of not meeting goals since at least some of it(like my novel not being edited) was really beyond my control.

Do you have monthly goals? How do you keep track of them?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Verdict is In!!! (Kinda)

          Woot! A little over a month ago I gave my edited novel to my beta readers. They are, for the most part, still working on it, but I have gotten the first one back. I will remind everyone that the changes were quite thorough. I rewrote nearly half of the novel and added another 15,000 words or so to it. So, yeah... lots of changes. But the verdict is in!

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This is a picture of a productivity app I use. It's called Forest and it rocks. It's on Android, Apple and Windows!

          For the most part, the verdict is good. This beta reader hadn't read my alpha version and was coming at it completely new. She seemed to really enjoy it and gave me a lot of compliments as well as shared a few of her favourite lines with me. She said that the first chapter works perfectly to get you into the world and tell you exactly what type of a story you're getting. She quite liked the story in general, loved how I tied up all of my threads while still having some frayed ends to pull you into a sequel. She enjoyed seeing the characters grow and enjoyed seeing the character arcs. She even picked up on some of the secrets that I've sprinkled in that will tie into the main threads of the overall series arc. Not enough to solve it, but enough to make her wonder.

          I think my favourite quote of hers was, "It was a cheering/sense of dread moment and if that’s what you wanted to come across, it worked 100%."

         Now, while I'm super excited about this review, it wasn't all good things. She pointed out a few points where I had slipped up, identified one place where I'd cut too much (meaning parts of it are going back to the original way I'd written it) and a few places where I can tie my story and characters to make it an even more cohesive story. 

          The word from my other three beta readers is "good so far, loving the characters, and not done yet." I'm bouncing from anticipation, and can't wait to see what they all have to say. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Books and Authors you need to check out

          I was at my first ARWA meeting for the year and we got onto the discussion of authors you need to check out. Here is a list of ten that I think you need to read. 

          Patricia Briggs is writes some of the best Urban Fantasy I've ever read. Her books are well-written, easy to read and she deals with real issues as well. I've read her Mercy Thompson series multiple times and would suggest it to anyone!

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          Anne Bishop is a dark fantasy author who writes from a very feminist perspective and she isn't worried about hitting the hard questions, even if she doesn't always have an answer. Written in Red is my favourite series of hers, but her Dark Jewels series is also in my top five. If you like a touch of horror in your urban/paranormal romance, pick these up.
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          Spice & Wolf is my favourite sweet romance that I have gone back to time and time again... a feat considering that this series currently holds 18 titles in it. What may surprise you, beyond the number of books is that it's written by Isuna Hasekura, a Japanese writer and only translated into English. Don't be afraid of the size of the series or the fact that it's translated. The translation is good and the books are light novels, a newly created genre usually saved for manga translations or sweet slice of life books that come in at 50k - 60k words.
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          Laura VanArendonk Baugh won the Lummis award of 2012 for her novel, Kitsune-Tsuki and its easy to see. If you are looking for an author who steeps her fantasy in the mythologies of other cultures, check out her books.
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          If you are looking for an incredible book about a Chinese-Canadian girl dealing with mental issues and the death of her elder brother, E.L. Chen's The Good Brother is the book you want. I ranked it easily in my top five reads of last year. Check this out.
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          Molly Harper writes brilliant books... the only issue I have with them is that most of her main characters sound the same. I fully admit this is probably because she had the same reader doing all of them on audible and that is where I get them from. If nothing else, this series is comedy gold though, and I highly suggest you all pick up the Nice Girl's Don't series (or by its correct name, the Jane Jameson series) and I even more highly suggest you pick it up on Audible. 
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          Dan Wells writes horror and dystopian fantasies. Both are worth picking up. He's one of the authors on the podcast Writing Excuses, and if you aren't listening to it yet, you should be.
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          Mary Robinette Kowal's first book, Shades of Milk and Honey is a Jane Austin Tribute, Pride and Prejudice with magic. Its awesome.
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          As a final suggestion, I'll gift you with Under the Hawthorn tree by Ai Mi. Written by a blogger author in China, this has been translated into many languages, was picked up by a publishing house and I've been told there's even a movie. While the translation reads like a translation (the phrasing is a bit wooden) this takes nothing away from the story and I cried at the end. If you haven't read it, do so.
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          So, which ones have you read? Which ones are you excited to pick up? What would you suggest to somebody who says, "I'm looking for something to read"? Please leave your answers in the comments below!

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Response To Why I Write

          A friend of mine, Kate Larking, blogged earlier this week at Anxiety Ink, talking about why she writes. At the end of her blog (which I totally suggest you check out), she asked what our reason for writing was. It reminded me that it's very important to know why you write, even if your answer is only, "I like to."

          Personally, I write first and foremost, because I enjoy it. Writing is frustrating, but I apparently like frustrating things. Just look at who I married if you want a real world example. (Okay, so most of you don't know him... it's a context joke. Just laugh, trust me on this one.) I would like to say that I could stop writing if I wanted to, but I would be lying. I can give it up and distract myself with other things I enjoy, but I always go back to writing, so yeah, I don't think I could stop if I wanted to.  I write because when I write I am happier. If you want to see what I look like when I'm not writing, just look at how I am when I'm not able to work on my books.

Nanowrimo's Key to Creativity that I received for supporting their recent site upgrades by donation.

          Friends have pointed out to me that I choose everything, from my jobs to my technology choices, around what I require for my writing and that I essentially am always working on my stories in my head, even while working or doing other jobs. There is always some part of my mind working on it. I study writing, words and story and each year go to at least one convention to learn more. I also usually take part in a variety of online writing courses, purchasing the Great Courses audio books on the subject when I can't.

          The thing that surprised me to realize this year was that I have nothing in there about publishing. I have changed my life for my writing, but that does not mean that I have to publish. To be satisfied with my life, I don't need to ever publish. Sharing my writing with my friends is and will always be enough for me, even if I dream of more than that.

          I don't know about you, but there is something very freeing about that.