Another NaNoWriMo Fail – but we’re not done with 2016 Yet

7 Dec

 

 

 

winterwheatposter_2016

Remember when I was kvetching about my inability to print anything for the conference? I ran into the local library to print, and it led to conspiring. If you happen to be in the Portage la Prairie area this Saturday, come down to the library for an afternoon of talking about books. Not only will you be able to talk to local authors and learn about the creative process, but you get food!

So excuses aside – when I got the contract for Witchslayer’s Scion, I spent the next bits of free time going over it to make it as good as I possibly could. The problem with the whole “make it as good as you can, then write the next book” is that even though I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much better over time, you do notice the small bits to nitpick over. Plus at over 130k, it took me a bit of time to not only read through it, but reacquaint myself with the rules of the universe. The perk though, is any glaring inconsistency, like a character’s motivation or whatever, was staring me in the face, so I could allude to an issue a little stronger.

But I did do some actual writing for nano – I wrote a short for an anthology I missed the deadline for. I like the story, but it’s not the way I want it to be, so I’ll probably go back to it. I’m almost almost done this YA Steampunk (pretty much just a battle scene – which is usually easy but for whatever reason, this one not so much) and then I got quite a bit done on a new project. Not as much as I’d like to be done, I think the focus needs to be getting this YA book done and dealt with. And, seeing how it’s day 2 of a blizzard (I switched the day because a coworker pleaded with me to go to Hockey on Saturday night – bwahahahaha) seems like an excellent day for tea and finishing. Because it certainly doesn’t make any sense for me to be shoveling snow, right now…

New Contract and NaNoWriMO

7 Nov

I mentioned on facebook that I had a new novel accepted for publication, but I’ll elaborate – it’s actually older than when I wrote Tower of Obsidian. It’s a prequel to a series I started in Junior High (and believe me – if you don’t like my writing now, you should have seen it then). When I first got signed to Champagne, I was encouraged to send in other completed novels. I wasn’t sure if the older stuff suited Burst’s Imprint, so it wasn’t until I was at WWC that I asked Ellen in person if she objected to a longer book (about 132k) let’s just say once upon a time in my fervor, I once managed to write a 300k brick, which I know is actually not that bad if you happen to be good. I like epic bricks, but even I knew it needed work. So that book is sold, and I sent in another novel. I’ll give it a wait before I send in the main course of the series, mostly because I’m slowly editing through something I’ve had edited… lots.

I blame work. I keep having slow days and then I drive all night. Thing is, I pop open my laptop to work at work, and we get assigned on something usually not serious, but time consuming. The good news, though, is that the casuals are quite happy to pick up the extra shifts, so I haven’t had any OT in about two weeks now. It feels great to go in for normal shift hours.

So if you’re friends with me on NANOWRIMO website and are all like, “And you haven’t updated why?” It’s because I’ve been editing. And I know I overthink things and it’s no one’s fault but my own. I think a big part of my problem with writing is that I find it hard to consistently get my work to a quality I like. I talked to my sister about it – the two types of readers tend to either not even notice or get self righteous over small things. I think a big part of it stems from that most media isn’t directed to people like me – books and movies for women and girls tend to be light-hearted and usually focus on relationships, whereas I like quests and adventures and characters I can relate to. So I want to do the media right, all the while knowing nothing is perfect.

So what’s it about?

It’s a sword-and–sorcery novel entitled Witchslayer’s Scion, which follows a young man’s quest for vengeance when his brother is ritually murdered. Cue a more complicating factor (my cliche, among backstory for backstory) that shows his bloodline is tied into the men that targeted his family. I originally wrote the story to flesh out the main series’ anti-hero old guy (who, very early on, started out as a villain), because I was concerned his backstory was too similar to another character’s, but while there are similarities, I was able to flesh out a very different motive for a very different character, and because the focus is different (and we go to a very different time and place) it has a very different feel. So after I send this bad boy in, I have a short to finish, a nanowrimo to start, then I guess I wait until I hear back from the other novel (I do hate flooding publishers) to get the other book sent. Then I suppose I have enough life experience to rethink Terran, my cyberpunk novel from a few years ago.

My niece is finally reading that kid’s book I wrote her. She likes it, and has decided she wants to write ‘chapter books’ when she’s older.

Love that kid.

 

Oh, and it turns out I *did* finish a book by a Canadian Author in October. I’m pretty sure I met Brenda at Canadian Mennonite University’s YA writing week back in 2010. I suspect this, because this is bang on to a segment of a story we talked about then. It’s not my normal read, but give The Art of Rebellion a Shot. So far, I’m the jerk who has given it the lowest rating.

NaNoWriMo, And the Year Thus Far

1 Nov

It’s that time of year again – when everyone is busy shucking out 1700 words a day. As for me, I was going to start a new science fiction novel – and still might, but I have a short story to finish, and, I haven’t announced it on FB yet, but one of my novels just got picked up by Champagne Books, and will be available in June of 2017.

On top of that, if you are writing and want to go to a literary event, I have been planning one for several months with the Portage la Prairie Library. The hard part, it turns out, isn’t coordinating everyone or my lack of time, but getting a laptop that works and me getting comfortable on it. I thought I’d be fine without a DVD-Rom, but apparently, this is still a learning curve. My old laptop has some of the documents I want on it, so I can just get stuff that way, but still!

So if you are wanting to talk books in December (or just check out some local authors!) I’m still confirming the guest list, but come on down December 9 to the Portage la Prairie Library.

Friend me on the official NaNoWriMo site, my user name is Ciage. I probably will get to that science fiction novel, but now my thoughts are turning back to my series. So my best guess is instead of one story, I’ll be working on three very different projects, but I’ve done different projects before, and every little bit of work helps.

In the meantime, taking a break from the OT (Like I said I was going to do in August – ha!) and focusing on my health and fitness. I have been pretty consistent with the stationary bike now that the weather’s getting cold for regular cycling, but the plantar fasciitis is generally getting better, so I’m thinking of stepping it up a notch. I am nervous about spraining my ankle again, but I can’t worry about it too much – the whole ‘deal with it’ but my foot is feeling better from all the AT I’ve been throwing at it, so yay.

As for reading – yeah, I finished two books (one was an audio book) but nothing Canadian last month, unless you could me finishing The Art of Rebellion on the first of the month. I know, I suck – but to be fair, I did read most of Cat’s Eye. Sometimes the amount of work I need to do can be overwhelming, but the way I see it, is one step at a time, and you’ll get where you’re going eventually.

September Canadian Author Round Up / Writing Plans and NANOWRIMO

3 Oct

I know I should have finished Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood – after months of whining about no ereader (broken, now fixed) I have left it behind at my parent’s house. And after all that “I’m not doing any overtime” I basically was involved with work in some way every day off (I should be at work today, but I worked last night).

Anyway – here’s a list of the Canadian I read in September

Scandal and Secrets by Christopher Hoare

I’ll also throw out The Tattooed Witch by Susan MacGregor finished end of September and I just finished The Queen’s Game on the First of October, on account that I don’t think I talked about those books yet, and I’m currently reading two books by Canadian authors now.

As for where I am writing-wise – well, I haven’t gotten that steampunk horror novel sent off yet, so the plan is to do that before Nano. My plan was before October, but not there yet. Checked to see how the other various submissions are going. The other plan is to write two short stories for an anthology and ask Ron which one he likes better and send them out. Get this kid’s book finished before NANO (or at least mostly done – I’m not above finishing it later)and I’m thinking that I would like to try a space opera this time around. This might change a dozen times before that; if I manage to get everything done my next plan is to get back to editing that Cyberpunk novel I wrote five (5!) years ago. I was really editing it, and then I felt like it just wasn’t good enough, so I figured let it percolate and get back to it. And hey, it’s set on Mars, and now that I think we’re officially going to colonize and everything, it’ll at least by timely if and when the book ever finds a home.

Anyhew, gorgeous weather where I am, and now that I have a nice thing of tea besides me, I suppose it’s time to get started on that first short story.

Banned Books Week: September 25-Oct 1

25 Sep

Google it, or check out this sight.

Normally I am way behind on things, but I’m in the middle of a sick day. I know posted that I was going down to ‘normal’ working hours, which was followed by quite a bit of OT. It is starting to take a toll on my body, so I’m going to keep updating to keep myself accountable.

I have not yet decided what I’ll be reading, as I look at the reasons why things are banned or challenged, and sometimes it makes my head spin. I totally understand not wanting a book personally, but the more I stare at social media, the more I realize that beyond the narcissism that perpetually plagues us, there’s always the warring ideologies and the danger of ideas in general. I’m a big believer that one can entertain an idea without ascribing to it, but I also read a lot and try to get a good variety going.

If you’re following what I read on goodreads, you will probably see more Margaret Atwood than normal in the next few months; it’s nothing to do with going on a binge so much as studying her voice.

Fun with Technology

2 Sep

I have a laptop again – and there’s a bit of a learning curve, so here’s hoping that it’s a relatively smooth one. This is basically a survival 101 for when technology fails and you have important things to get out there. Obviously there isn’t any time for lengthy editing or what have you. For the sake of this – it’s obviously great if you have trusted friends or family members who can loan you equipment for the time you need, and that’s probably your best choice. However, there may come a time when you don’t know people well enough to ask them a huge favour (and by the way – another huge shout out and thank you to my coworker Joanna, who let me use her computer and internet to do important emails) plus, I always feel bad if I need to do a lot of printing on anyone else’s printer. It’s a writer thing.

I work quite often involving long shifts – there’s a certain amount of flexibility (I’m able to write at work when the pager isn’t going off) but it also means that I’m designated to respond, and can’t necessarily go to places if I’m stuck in an area without one for any length of time. Sometimes, you have to get creative – obviously if you are in a small town with zero tech support, it’s going to be harder, and you’ll have to rely on other people or a lucky break that takes you to an area with what you need. Most people are pretty much free agents once their shift is done, but if you are a shift worker and especially if you are doing on call with a pager on your hip, plan your days out strategically. Since I’ve handled situations like this before, I didn’t feel the need to run to the nearest Best Buy and buy ANYTHING to get me through the next days, I was able to research my options and pull a few extra shifts to pay for the laptop I wanted and ordered in.

Protecting Your Work – Back It Up

I’m bad for this – I’ve had older works backed up, but then again, when I ordered this new computer I didn’t notice it didn’t come with a CD drive until my dad pointed it out, and we’d had it out of the packaging for almost an hour. I have some back-ups on old flash drives, so for me, it isn’t bad for some of my older projects but for some of my newer works, let’s just say that I have a spare… hard copy. When R.J. Hore and I swap, we usually print out hard copies (occasionally we send each other word documents if we’re in a pinch) but I sort of abuse my hard copy prints, once the editing happens, I usually use the other side for sketches, notes or whatever. So assuming I even still have copies in my craft desk, even if I was going to rewrite, word for word on the hard copy – yeah, I’d be an unhappy camper. One book I can handle – I’m imagining doing 4, meanwhile neglecting my new writing.

In short, my old laptop is still functional, so I’m going to be backing everything onto it. But what is great in the meantime? Flash drives are great. Unless…

20160902_102527

My Fail-Safes have… Failed?

The issue plaguing me was my keyboard stopped working. I am not super technical, but I knew enough to trouble-shoot the likely issues. The first thing you want to do is utilize the on screen keyboard, which only works if you have a touchpad or an external mouse. If you can’t access the computer at all, you need to start accessing the computer from an external source – and usually if you can turn your computer on, you can plug in a cable or use the internet to go into the system memory and start retrieving. I highly recommend getting someone technically inclined for all of this, but it’s honestly not as scary as it sounds. If you don’t have an IT guy, it will cost you – but I look at how many hours it takes me to produce a book, and I think it’s piece of mind and money well spent. When I tried reinstalling the software and checking function, I took it both to a tech store and got a quote to fix it, and let my dad trouble shoot. I remember helping my dad build desktop towers when I was a kid, and while he’s not qualified to pull apart a laptop, he’s better than average in the hardware/software department. When he says the hardware is pooched, I trust him.

So I transferred everything to a flashdrive. If I was smart, I would have transferred it onto two flashdrives. Because the picture above happened.
I was doing the “This is a sign I should stop writing” and for two minutes before I put on my big girl panties and started to research. I knew that I needed to get the files off the flashdrive, and that it wasn’t completely pooched… yet. I also knew I didn’t have anything to put the info onto… or did I? I changed over from Iphone to an LG G4 last year. Let’s just say it was a good call, because I knew I could edit documents on it no problem.

This is only an option on certain phones, so figure out what yours can do before you rush out and try this. If I had the time, I would have driven to the tech shop and got them to upload it and I was borderlining on driving to Winnipeg to get a new laptop. Don’t try this if it involves breaking ANYTHING without someone who knows what they’re doing. I finagled the flashdrive and went to Wal-Mart, and tried to get a device that would let me upload it onto my phone. Wal-Mart didn’t have the part I needed, so I got sent to “The Source” to get a specific converter.

20160902_102517

I uploaded everything to my phone, and I’m currently moving everything to the new computer.

But I need stuff… soon.

Okay – let’s pretend you have a conference to go to or you just got back from one and someone wants to see your work. You’re without technology to send stuff to blue pencil sessions or you need prose printed. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this part – but many hotels I’ve been to have ‘offices’ where you can do minor editing and printing, if you’re staying. I for one would rather have as much stuff taken care of prior to arriving for the conference.

My main advice is that once you have the files accessible via something like a flashdrive or email, you need to utilize either a printer or a computer, depending on what you need. If the library has a 1-hour daily limit for you to use their computer, prioritize what you need done before you sit down on the computer, so if you do max out on time, you can get the important files taken care of first. If you’re going to a blue pencil session, they may ask to see your work ahead of time and emailing them a sample. Usually, you can go to an office like Staples or use a public library to do editing or printing. I have been living at my current place for two years, and it cost me a free membership to use their computers for a few weeks, the only thing it cost me was when I wanted pages printed.

In Closing

Sometimes sucky things happen, but it’s not the end of the world. Gone are the days when I thought I just had to work hard and things would turn out alright – and sometimes, you will run into technical difficulties that you can’t forsee and you won’t be able to finish your product on time. The important thing is to keep calm, and think about how you’re going to solve the issue rather than saying ‘it always happens to me!’.

If you’re not sure how the phone document will reformat your book, don’t send it to a potential publisher – they don’t want a garbled mess, it looks unprofessional. At the very worst, cite some technical difficulties but follow up when you have the time to send them the projects you discussed earlier. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – I don’t consider myself unskilled with computers, but I know plenty of people just on Facebook who have been there, done that, and your problems probably aren’t unique enough that you can’t ask someone how they dealt with damaged hardware or corrupt files. And hey – each project you save is one less you’ll have to contemplate whether or not you want to rewrite it.

WWC Round Up

18 Aug

I’m writing this from the Portage la Prairie Library, so I shall be brief. My HP keyboard is, shall we say, Kaput, so it seems to me rather than fixing something I didn’t like as much as my Acer, to spend the extra $$ and get a new laptop. This would normally be something that was done and done, but I switched shifts to help a coworker weekend before last, and I haven’t had a lot of time to go shopping. My tech-guy (dad) has likewise been busy so even if I ran out and bought a laptop, I need to get word on it so I can get to editing what I need.

But anyway, WWC was once again a blast. It went by too fast, and while I tried to do Ron justice when I was in on his panels, the first one (Series, Trilogy or Sequel) I honestly felt nervous, until I started to talk. Granted I’m next to the guy who never had to pitch and has a 14 book contract, and I can’t get anyone to look at my middle grade without condescending looks (who knew kids’ books were the true gatekeepers?) but I kept myself pretty busy, and learning from the previous year, I didn’t want to miss anything so I snuck out during keynotes 1) To go to the gym 2) To go to Safeway and get food. Don’t get me wrong: I love eating pub food and it’s delish at Boomtown, but 1) I need quick food on the go and 2) I’m sitting in a conference all weekend. Going to the gym keeps me from fidgeting; I don’t need as big a meal as they provide unless we’re being active.

Friday saw me mostly getting settled and hanging out with my Publisher, and I got my hard copies of Ron’s books (which I have given him; I have ebooks and they’re easier to read at work, on account that most medics apparently like to live in darkness) he’ll sign ’em and I’ll be able to proudly put them on display. I then went to panels, I focused on horror, because I didn’t really grow up with the stuff and I’m curious about huge fans of the market, on account that if anything, I’d fit into somewhere along the lines of rough sci-fi and the more epic fantasy. I don’t have time to go into each panel (I have a max of an hour on this thing and have a schwack of business emails I need to do) so that’ll hopefully be next post which ideally won’t take forever. Friday I was tired, as I came off a night shift and one of my coworkers was kind enough to come in early so I could sneak off and not get saddled with like, a last minute call. I crashed and got up early to go to the gym, because I knew that my internal clock was set for night work and the hour time difference didn’t help.

So two of the panels I was on took place on Saturday, and I got better after the first one. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the steampunk banquet (other than my shirt I ordered online just apparently is shipping now, grumble) but I wanted to see the Aurora Awards. Have to admit, I rather enjoyed the costumes and parasol dueling. I’m still trying to get a stain out of my silk blouse (is it whisky? Is it au jus?) but I met a bunch of authors for the multi-group signing, and once again, got up early for the gym. Final panel was first thing in Sunday morning, and then I was a free agent. Got some great feedback on some of my latest projects in Blue Pencil, and did my best to pitch projects that aren’t right for Champagne. Went to the Dead Dog afterwards, and I was pretty zonked by the end of it, because it seemed like people cleared out of the con early on Sunday, I probably would have spent time in the hot tub or waterslide, but I went for a walk and showed up in time to chat and grab some pub food with the remaining authors.

Monday I didn’t go to the gym because I was getting back early enough that I thought I’d be able to squeeze in a cycle to the Assiniboine Park. Serves me right when the weather turned foul in Winnipeg! It’s been really touchy, hot days with nice storms preceding (we lost power for a few hours last night) and I had to get up early to cover another shift first thing in the morning, so I didn’t hop on my stationary by the time I showed up at my house.

All in all, busy busy – and I don’t like that I’m so busy all the time, especially with work. So I decided I’m cutting back to regular full time hours (which still works out to 84 hours biweekly) at least until I get better, because when even the grocery clerk says “you look tired” after I just got back from four days off, something’s gotta change. I’m back on nights tonight and the next, and then I’m off to Moosejaw until Monday, so Tuesday will see me probably getting a laptop from Costco. But I’m thinking I haven’t done P90X in a while, I should get back on that, my ‘rest day’ can be Day 1 of work (the sad part about EMS is that if you work out right when you get home, you can be wired and not sleep properly at night) and once I’m caught up on my sleep, I can try waking up early to bang off a quick 20 minute cycle. The weather has been beautiful so if I can workout outside I think I will, but I think it’s time for a bit of varied fitness and in general, focusing on art, not work.

So that was a bit of a meandering post. Here’s what I’m reading, Spies and Subterfuge, The Queen’s Man, and The Tattooed Witch. All Canadian.

I’ll post on a few of the panels I was in in another post, but I’m gonna wrap this up. ‘Til next time.