Travel, Health, Vacation

16 Jan

Sorry if I was a little Vaguebooking with the last post in terms of what and where I’m going. In a nutshell, my seniority at work is finally starting to kick in, but at the station I’m at I’m technically still pretty low-rung. I was only able to take half a tour off during the summer for the last two years, but make lemonade and I don’t mind a winter vacation.

I was being a loser and not picking anything. And of all the places I managed to squeeze for a good deal, I’m leaving for Kauai on Saturday for a week. The Garden Island has been on my bucket list for years, and I always assumed it was too expensive compared to other places I could go. Anyway, because I booked last minute and my parents have a timeshare – and they haven’t used it for a while so they had a ton of points – I’m going on the cheap.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s still going to cost and I’m blessed to be in a place where I can not only take the time to go on vacation, but I’m going to be able to focus on my health.

I picked Santa Theresa two years ago due to the fact it was a little off the beaten path and the place (besides being a party town) was what I call a Yoga and Smoothie Beach town. I wanted to be active and bike and hike and learn to surf. I think a big problem with EMS, especially my experience – is the atmosphere that almost encourages fatigue and burn out. Now, no one put a gun to my head and said I had to work a ton of OT and I chose to work at a busy station for three years, but student loans and everything weigh down on you and there’s more to life than having that unfortunate reality weigh you down. I paid off my student loan and traveled when I saved up money, and even though I’m still paying down my car loan things are way more manageable and the whole ‘buying a house’ thing is taking longer than anticipated. Part of the reason I didn’t travel last year was due to I thought I would have a house by now and needed furniture and wanted to budget accordingly.

My issue is that I can be very tunnel-minded and not necessarily do things my body needs in order to recover. I think it’s super good to be more mindful than just the cliche of eat well and exercise – and I’ve left many a really nice lunch back at the station fridge to eat something that ends up rather disappointing – but to rest, re-energize and do things you enjoy. I took my open water scuba diver when I was nineteen, and only got to use it two years ago. Planning on doing at least two dives next week, but I’m also planning on playing the rest of the week by ear. I guess it’s like all things: getting good at writing took longer than I thought it would, publishing is by far slower, and even travel and other life goals are taking longer than I thought they would.

Not for lack of planning or effort on my part. I think part of life is acknowledging what you want and what is realistic, and acknowledging it doesn’t always happen on the timeline you originally wanted.

I’m choosing to remain grateful for what I have, and the opportunities that will come. I’ll post some pictures of the trip when I get back.

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2018 Round Up

8 Jan

In January, no less!

First year I think in a long time that I haven’t finished my Goodreads reading challenge. I used to plan to read about 50 books a year, but then realized one a week was 52 books. I’m not going to say I cheated by listening to short stories – the intent was to give me inspiration for my NaNoWriMo. I was really busy up until about two days ago, and then it was like everything calmed right down, with the exception of a few minor trades here and there.

Writing-Wise I am still waiting to hear back from my editor pertaining to my two books under contract. One is mostly done and the other we’re working on. I haven’t heard anything in a while so I’m sure she’s busy with someone else. My goal is to have the edits for book 2 in the Sword and Sorcery series (series?!) edited and sent to my publisher by the end of my vacation. I’m currently on a stat day – I was doing really good with my fitness kickstart in November, and I kind of fell on and off the horse throughout December – not so much anything other than my day job really isn’t conducive to me hitting the gym after getting off of a 12 hour shift (if I’m off on time – hah!) nights are easier but I did a few swaps. We’re fully staffed and OT is at a premium, but I don’t care and am enjoying my stat day. I bruised my arm in October(?) after a blood donation went not so hot so I pretty much took the month off after. I honestly haven’t done a heck of a lot with the NaNo project in the past few weeks, but to be fair I have been editing other projects and have a few projects for anthologies I want to submit to.

Ron and Larry have us a table at Keycon Lite on February 2 – I’ll blog about it later and post some more relevant info. I’ll be there (hopefully!) because after much humming and hawing I booked travel plans! I was tempted to just go someplace within a day’s drive and things kinda fell into place. More detail to come on that, I’ll focus on the arts.

So I finished the rough draft of the sequel to Witchslayer’s Scion in May – took a lot longer than I anticipated to draft it, and I’ve been very lazily editing the hard copy Ron looked over. I haven’t heard back since I told them I did it if they were interested in turning it into a series, but anything’s possible.

After that I wrote a few shorts and a novella that takes place during Witchslayer’s Scion. I decided it would be a nice supplemental bit of material that helps flesh out the world outside the main character’s POV. I am tempted to write a few supplemental shorts, whether or not the publisher is interested is beyond me, but if they don’t want them I can finally have an excuse to learn sygil and self-pub a few ebook novellas.

When Words Collide was excellent this year, and spoiled baby got to spend a day (and an evening!) in Banff. I haven’t heard back from the publishers concerning the MG/YA books I pitched to them, but after a long pause from another publisher I’m not holding my breath on any of them. Onward and upward. I’ll be gone for the first week of my vacation, back before the end of the month and hopefully I’ll break the tasks down into manageable sizes. I’m not the most organized person when it comes to my creative works, but rather than paint-by-number it does help for me to have a general plan that allows for creativity to happen.

As for this coming year – I’m hoping both Dreams of Mariposa (Steampunk/Horror) and Witchslayer’s Scion (Sword and Sorcery) are ready to go later this year, and hopefully I can then pitch sequels and potentially other projects as well. As for the MG/YA, I’ll keep you posted. The next real focus should be finishing my NaNo and letting it breathe for a bit. I don’t know how some authors can write and submit so quickly – and my drafts are way more streamlined than when I was in junior high and high school. Maybe it’ll come with experience.

Hope you had a blessed 2018, and may your 2019 be a wonderful time for you and yours.

Thoughts on Disenchantment, Nano

29 Nov

So much for my better start. I’ve been at 35k since Monday and I haven’t had a chance to get much writing done at work or when I’m at home. We had a new drug protocol that Clinical wanted us to get on before December, so between that and just a busy few days I haven’t had a heck of a lot of downtime. So my new goal is to hit 40k by month end, but if we’re dead at work and I don’t goof off, it’s possible to hit the 50k. Down to the wire, but doable.

The project isn’t taking off as nicely as I would have liked, and I think a big part of it is once again it’s how busy I am. I typically find I get a lot of new ideas when I’m off walking or doing more monotonous work, but I’ve been reading more technical stuff and my down time has included some quantum mechanics lectures, so rather than me dreaming about what it means I’m trying to wrap my head around what I’m being told.

Didn’t stop me from watching Disenchantment. Rest of this will be about the show.

I honestly didn’t care much for King of the Hill or Futurama when they came out, but Futurama is honestly now one of my all-time favorite shows. I don’t watch the current Simpsons but it the earlier seasons were a staple after school when I was making supper for my family. My mom didn’t want me to watch it but I did anyway. I don’t watch much tv nowadays, but one of the regulars who have been acting as my partners put it on Netflix, and I was happy. I knew the art style, I recognized the names of people behind it (and who doesn’t like to hear familiar voice actors?) and I for one typically enjoy fantasy as a genre.

It felt lazy. I reminded myself I was wrong before  – that it can take time to develop any series, and first impressions are often wrong. And as I watched the series progress, I liked the sense of humor more and more. The jokes and the timing got better, but I kept thinking of humorous fantasy. It’s been done, whether it’s Fractured Fairy Tales, Discworld, or Shrek. Was I being too fussy? Was it not living up to my expectations of Futurama 2.0?

The more I think about it, it goes back to a book I read last year I think I’ll reread in December, called The Personal Heresy. In it, E.M.W. Tillyard and C.S. Lewis argue about expectation in genre. The blurb on the back is “A Vigorous Debate on the Role of the Writer’s Personality and Background in Literary Interpretation”. It got me thinking about how divisive The Last Jedi was (which I haven’t rewatched since I saw in theatres almost a year ago). In a nutshell, I’ve seen more reviews on it, and I’ll agree it felt less like a regular Star Wars movie and more like A Rian Johnson does Star Wars. The reason being, that there were questions and ideas set up in the first movie that were basically hand waived and a lot of people either ate it up or felt like they were betrayed.

I’ve said before that science fiction and fantasy are very large, encompassing genres. That means I can be the most technical, nigh tedious technical hard science fiction, or a light Other Genre with the flavor of fantasy. When I went to writer’s groups, it was with a variety of different “literary” and “genre” writers, and what they wanted to know varied from person to person. In short, because I want a character-driven story that details the struggles of survival on a planet, others are there because we want to witness a struggle and triumph from a more distant, but more mythical exposition. Neither of these are wrong; lots of writers are ‘influenced’ by landmark pieces such as Lord of the Rings, but they want to explore it in a different way. Epic Battles are enjoyable, but some people like things that are more homey. Some people want more political intreague. Some people hate that fantasy riff-raff and would prefer to talk history in which the work was inspired. In the post-modern movement, interpretations of the media are endless, but there remains the reality of what the writer intended, as well as what the audience has come to expect.

In other words, the original Fans of Star Wars are older now, and they think Star Wars is for them, and they might be okay with older characters and less shinanigans. Some fans remember it as part of their childhood, and assume Star Wars is for them. (I can’t even get into all the EU stuff, obviously that is meant for older, more specific fans). Others see Star Wars as a massive brand that they can utilize to push their political agendas. I can go on and on.

What does this have to do with the TV show Disenchantment? Well, we start off with the MC bean trying to get out of her arranged marriage. Basically every Disney Princess Plot plus some others, but the show’s cruder and made for Netflix, so the intended audience doesn’t mind the vulgarity. As the show progresses, what seems like was done quickly is fleshed out a little more. There’s a lot to establish quickly, tons of characters, and as the story starts to unfold, we learn this is not really about Bean finding herself, so much as exploration between the relationship between Bean and her father as we learn she’s partially responsible for the petrification of her mother. As a comedy… well, the jokes just don’t resound with me the way other jokes in the past have, although admittedly the last few episodes were funnier than the first few. Are they trying to play it safe? If so, Woke humor ruins everything. But as a fantasy story… it’s starting to work.

Maybe it’s the sign of the times, and the style of humor works for a demographic other than myself. I don’t expect anyone to cater a tv show to me, because I’ve admitted I put on more learning lectures and music on youtube then binge-watch. I think the show has potential and I’ll still put on old episodes of Fururama or The Simpsons and laugh and enjoy the writing, but this isn’t doing it for me. I’ll probably get around to watching Season 2 just to see if it ever picks up, but as for now, can’t say I’ll ever go back to season 1 just to get a chuckle or two.

NaNo’s off to a better start this year

14 Nov

I’ve been not working as much as I want to on the project, as I gave myself a few other challenges, both writing and personal. I’m not talking about “clean my spare room” (which I did, by the way) so much as “edit this short, clean up this draft” and “spend the money on the gym, as much fun as free youtube videos are” sort of thing. The problem I find with a creative personality is that I have tons of creative ambition, but the real good stuff comes from cleaning up and revision. I find that I can tweak a project for ever and not be satisfied.

Other authors do the three-pass rule. I think it has more to do with their writing process, because I’m usually a pretty quick writer (Dreams of Mariposa was an exception – it came slow) in terms of throwing out ideas and then trying to make sense in the narrative. I’m a lot faster than I used to be, because I think a big part of being a writer is having so many ideas that you want to utilize. Now that I’ve got several very different books and stories, I realize that the idea can be utilized – just not at that time or not in that book. I definitely can work very quickly and get things up to snuff in a shorter time than it normally takes, but I do like the idea of leaving a project alone for a few months.

As for the current WIP, I’m just under 20k, and I’m mostly concerned that the characters need a bit more personality. I have meant to put on more hard science fiction space movies, I haven’t seen Prometheus or whatever yet, my one coworker put on Disenchantment last night, which I’ll review later. Let’s say I’m not overly impressed.

But the good news is even though I’m not hitting some editing goals, I’ve been simultaneously rewriting something else, and I’m able to work on both projects more or less happily. I’m not convinced I’m going to hit all my editing goals by the end of the month, but I think barring this really like cold getting worse, I can’t see getting kicked on my butt and failing nano. It would be nice to have this revision project done by year end, but we’ll see what happens. I get vacation in January, and I’m still humming and hawing about traveling.

And if anyone’s curious how that little cat I got last year is doing – she is a sweetheart. A currently slightly bored, You Will Play With Me it’s too cold to go outside sweetheart, but Calypso is currently sleeping in her cat tree, with Dodger chilling out at my feet. All is well.

NaNoWriMo 2018, Inktober Fails, Goals

26 Oct

So I’m not sure if I mentioned it last blog post, but I hurt my arm on Oct 1. I basically let it heal, then my procrastination saw me not inking anything much at all. So basically, it’s a big fat fail. I was going to do my own art as well as from other comic pages, so I’m going to have to make it up some how.

Edits wise, let’s say I’m powering through two projects but I need to send something to my editor. I’ve also started work on the NaNoWriMo project – I know, you’re supposed to start fresh every year – but I’m a rebel and I’m less than 10k in a new novel and I’m mostly researching how to overcome obstacles in space. (Gravity, mostly) I never mind the Star Trek/Star Wars version where there’s simulated gravity in the ship, but I’m a nerd, okay?

So the first order of business is get Dreams of Mariposa back to my editor, followed by editing the sequel to Witchslayer’s Scion. I’m ironically on a stat day (shiftworker, we accumulate and I can take them much, much, much later) today so I came up with a system for me to keep track of my workouts, editing, and writing.

Basically I have a calendar which I keep updated because the shiftworker over here can’t keep track of her pick ups and swaps. The key thing for me is I have these little heart stickers on the calendar once a month for the dog’s heart worm medication. I’ve done workouts and just wrote “W” in the corner in a special marker and I’ve had basically Bingo Blackout, so I bought some shiny stickers and I’m not committing to which means which yet, but I know me and I’m going to get mad if there’s holes in my calendar.

So right now, here’s the goals:

End of Weekend: Dreams of Mariposa back to Franny

End of Month: Edits on a MG Book (Hard Edits)

November: 50K New Book

Also November: Edits on Magus’ Gambit (Soft Edits)

Year End: 2 Shorts and complete run-through on another novel that’s been sitting on the backburner.

Also do some inking some time, maybe like a once a week Ink Project.

If you’re curious what the difference between soft and hard edits are: Basically when Ron and I swap we give each other hard copies to work on. Soft edits are basically me going through the printed copy and making major sweeping changes. I then take the soft edits and make the hard (digital) edits. A “hard” edit is basically the “five times before it’s ready” edit. I’m not ashamed to show you a “hard” edit, but I know it could use tweaking. that isn’t to say that I couldn’t make some major changes afterwords, but generally speaking Ron’s job as a beta is to nitpick and find plot holes and other major issues. It’s my job to fix them.

Yes, editing its where the real magic happens.

Setting – Too often ignored?

4 Oct

One of my beta’s criticisms that I will agree with is that I tend to not take the time to describe where my characters are. In general, I try to go for the feel as opposed to waxing poetic about what the blinds are made of unless it’s a plot point. I’ve said it before that I don’t consider novels to be a predominantly visual medium, as you and I can envision very different actors for the lead with the same description.

Some authors have the gift of visual story telling, but for me: I like books that make me think, so whether or not the dress is ruby red, cherry red I’ll worry about those details when I see it transcribe to screen. In general, I adore watching science fiction movies, because quite often they revel in their fantastic sets. Fantasy, at least to me, in general feels like traveling. I think one of the main advantages that urban fantasy has is that when I say I’m in present day Paris or New York, I don’t even have to name drop iconic buildings. The tone of my narrative voice can do a lot in terms of establishing whether we’re somewhere upscale or in the dredges, but for fantasy: you can have a lot of fun with sets that should be impossible. I’ve blogged about Shadow of the Colossus before, but for a game that doesn’t tell you much, the architecture certainly begs questions from the opening scene.

But films and video games are a much more visual medium than prose. Film can show quickly show montages in what would take me long boring sentences to describe. Unless it’s something related to the plot or the overall tone, I often find myself glassing it over. I’ll set up a corridor if I need it for a fight, but if not, it’s a long hallway lit by candles – let’s get on with the plot! I’ll fill in the details upon rewrites… until the publisher tells me to cut 5k. Let’s see… is the embroidery style on the tapestries really that important?

I think even very brief shots or details can establish an area and breathe life into the world.

Paul: Apostle of Christ details the last few days of Saul of Tarsus’ days, imprisoned and awaiting execution. The movie is set almost entire in Rome. The costumes were bang on, and I thought several of the acting performances were very powerful. We were mostly in a dirty dungeon and small homes in Rome as well as the city streets.

I’m not sure if this is the right word, but it felt claustrophobic. I enjoy my Sword and Sandal epics and, majestic icons like Rome have their slums and dirty places in spades. They also have grand spectacles and trademark buildings. If I hadn’t seen other movies and documentaries depicting the iconic city in that time period, or if we were in a town outside of Rome, I would have bought it. I hate saying this, because the sets were good. You go to a Roman home, it feels different than the places the Christians are hiding out. Would quick shots, that would no doubt be more expensive assuming they’re models or paintings for a quick shot, would they matter? We were up close and personal with those awaiting martyrdom, and I know what the Coloseum looks like.

Methinks Affirm films turn a profit, but they don’t have the budget Gladiator did.

So what are your thoughts on description of setting?

Editing Update

25 Sep

So I lied – I’ll talk more about Paul: Apostle of Christ in the next update. More specifically, one of my writing weaknesses: Setting.

I’ve been a very busy little goomba and I do not yet have a publishing timeline. However, I’m just about done edits for my Steampunk-Horror Novel and after talking to my publisher, the novel I’ve entitled Witchslayer’s Scion is one whole novel. I wrote a supplemental novella in addition to the  sequel, but both of which require copious amounts of editing prior to a real editor fixing it.

Can’t blame work so much as enjoying summer. I screwed up what I want to say is my gluteus medius this January (not fun) and it’s still kinda giving me grief. I think I’ve been in denial about my ankle long enough, and if I’m right basically that means it’s screwing up my posture. Hasn’t stopped me from zipping off to the lake and getting in as much kayaking, swimming, and general shenanigans. The first day of fall was a few days ago and we got snow. Not enough to stick, and my tomato plants are safe, but still – snow! I’ve also been vigilantly looking for a house. I have the down payment, have paid down my student loans, leaving me with basically a car loan and what I’ll call “stupid spending”. I really want to be closer to family and friends in a town called Elie, but it’s been a hard deal so far – it’s a commuter town. My honest guess is I’ll throw my hands up in the air and probably buy in either Portage or Oakville in the spring

I know I probably shouldn’t be attaching myself to any more challenges, but I managed to participate in Inktober last year – mostly inking comics I photocopied. I’d like to do more of it this year, including some original art. I don’t post a lot of original art because I was forewarned not to do so when I just started writing. Typically, us young authors are masters of nothing and I’ll be honest, I kind of faked my knowledge of anatomy until about second year University. I don’t get to play around with conte and paint as much as I used to, so I figure even if I screw up and it takes me a few days to finish a piece, it’ll inspire the writing for NaNoWriMo.

Writing wise, I’m feeling science fiction for this NaNoWriMo. I have a few shorts to write for anthologies in mind, additionally to all the editing I have to do. Busy busy~