Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You Call It Quitting, I Call It Stopping (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Once again, I am assuming that all who visit this blog are already familiar with the IWSG and all that it does, but for anyone needing or wanting for information, including a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's amazing co-hosts are: JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"


I quit a lot. Yearly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. Even hourly, on occasion.



Because there are days when I can't remember how to construct a sentence. There are days when any sentence I do construct would make a Dick and Jane story look sophisticated. Yesterday, it took me eight hours to write a single paragraph that was only two lines long. There are days when I can't even manage that much. And there are a lot of days when I can't stop thinking that I simply cannot do this writing thing.

So I quit.



I plan to run away and join the circus (even though I have absolutely no skills that could be useful in a circus environment). I plan to be a tap dancer (even though I can't dance). I plan to go back to retail. I plan to do anything other than be a writer (even if my only even remotely marketable skill involves precision folding).

But then—and this is the most important part, I think—I pick up my pen and go back to work.

Because, love it or hate it, writing is what I do.



For anyone who wondered, the title of today's post came from an episode of Survivor. I don't remember the season, but there was this one contestant who decided to quit the game. I think he was the first contestant to just outright quit the game. When pressed by Jeff Probst about his decision, the contestant replied, "You call it quitting, I call it stopping." Which, for some reason, became an oft-quoted line in our household. It just seemed to fit this post.

Of course, it's possible that no one wondered where the title of today's post came from. If that's the case, sorry—my bad.

So what about you? Are you a quitter (or a stopper)? What do you do afterward?



Thanks for stopping by today!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Curious Case of the Missing Character

I mentioned this on social media a while ago—because apparently, this is Stuff I've Already Posted On Social Media week on My Pet Blog—so some of you may already be aware of this, but I seem to have lost a character.

Somewhere in between the end of Second Nature and the start of Full Circle, this character just...disappeared.

And not some random, background player, either, but a POV character. A character who has played a pretty significant role in the first two books.

It's weird.

I'm just under 50k in Full Circle's word count (I was over 50k, but deleted a bunch of stuff because I'm me, and that's what I do), and while scrolling through the document, it occurred to me that in those nearly 50k words that this character just...wasn't there.

No scenes. No lines. He's barely even mentioned. I think he's only mentioned once. In the first chapter. Oh no—twice. He's mentioned twice. The second time, in a later chapter, because two other characters are wondering where he went, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that he's gone missing, but missing he is.

And it worries me. I don't quite know what it means. If anything. Maybe it means absolutely nothing. I honestly don't know. I just find it strange that he's gone.

I would be less concerned with his absence if I had any idea at all about where he went and what he was doing there. I had such a careful(ish) plan for Full Circle way back when before I actually had finished writing Second Nature. And when the ending of that book obliterated said plan, I developed a new plan for Full Circle, or at the very least, part of a new plan (I admit Act Three is currently lacking), but here's the thing about those plans— my missing character didn't figure in to either one.

The character the plot forgot.

So where did he go? Did he take a look at the plot I have figured out and decide it was time for an extended vacation? Did I kill him off and just forget (which, as it was pointed out, would be a total MJ thing to do)? Is he off working behind the scenes in this book and just hasn't yet revealed to me there wheres and whys of it all?

I'm hoping for Door #3.

Of course, Full Circle is deep within First Draft territory, and will be languishing there for a good long while, so all this worry and fussing may be for nothing. Hell, because I'm talking about it here, I'll probably realize right where that character is and then have to kick myself repeatedly because it was so obvious.

Which, I would totally be okay with.

In the meantime, however, let's just hope no other characters decide to join him.


Have you ever lost a character? If so, how did you go about finding him/her/it?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Goal Post

Happy Monday, all!

You may have already seen this on various social media sites, but in case you missed it, I had one of those mythical, magical mornings over the weekend where ideas for both of my current projects were flowing fast and furious, leaving my hand cramping in my attempt to record them all.



It was amazing. It's been a good long while since I've have such an experience, and I owe it all to two people: one of my critique partners and my brother. They were gracious enough to spend some time talking story with me, and in doing so helped me get unstuck on that one remaining trouble scene in Second Nature, and gave me a potential solution for a problem scene in Full Circle.

Which made me feel a little bit like this:



But that's not all...I even had this...moment where a potentially not-awful hook for Second Nature's blurb popped into my head. Just...boom. There it was, and I wrote the first draft of a blurb just like that.



I still can't believe it. It's just so crazy that it could happen so quickly—especially when you know how damn long it took me to write a blurb for Effigy—but it did, and I have this workable blurb that I'm actually willing to show to other people. Sure, those people will tear it to shreds (and I will thank them for it), but it's nice to have something to show them in the first place.

So, in light of my moderately-productive weekend, here are my goals for the week:

1. Finish that page of Second Nature edits you found tucked into your notebook.

Yep. That's right. I found another set of editing notes. I don't think it's a particularly difficult set of revisions—mostly questions of word choice and frequency of word usage—so I think it's entirely possible that I'll finish this week. Of course, I say that all the time, so who knows?

2. Prep submission for critique group...including, but not limited to, the dreaded blurb.

We submit about 10-15 pages in our group, and right now my plan is to submit the blurb and possibly my first completed scene for Full Circle. Of course, at the moment there are no completed Full Circle scenes, so part of this goal will be to complete said scene. If I don't get it finished, I'll just submit the blurb. My critique partners will think it's Christmas.

3. Read a damn book already.

My reading progress has slowed dramatically as the year has progressed. I've only managed to read one book thus far this month. I'm currently working my way through two books: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas and The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. I'd like to be finished with at least one of them by the end of the week.

4. Complete at least three thirty minute work-outs.

I used to do this religiously. Yoga, strength training, and aerobics, at least three times a week. And then I fell out of the habit. Strangely, I miss it, so this week, I will be attempting to reestablish that habit.



What's on your To-Do List this week?

Thanks for stopping by today. See y'all next time!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Coming Full Circle

In my last post, I talked about my new-ish computer set-up. Part of this set-up was a brand-spankin' new word processing program, which was one of the reasons why I had held out for so long.

I liked my old word processor. Sure, it was from the late 1990's (Yes, you read that correctly), but I actually knew how to use it, and I didn't want to exchange it for something new because I hate change.

I am Sheldon. Sheldon is me.


But technology seems to love it (Whatever, technology), so with the new-ish faster computer came the new word processor and my idea to transcribe Book Three.

For those who may not know, Book Three, otherwise known as Full Circle, is my new project, the third intended installment in my fantasy series. Not that I can do anything with it until I actually do something with Second Nature, but sitting around and not writing anything makes me crazier than I already am. Besides, given how long it takes me to actually write a novel, I really should have started years ago.

Anyway, I've been working on Full Circle. My original plan for it fell by the wayside, as my plans often do, so I've been building a new plan, with varying degrees of success. Thus far, this novel has been a combination of plotting and pantsing. Mostly, I've been writing down everything that pops into my head. I have no idea how much of it I'll actually keep (I'm thinking not much), but the new plan is to throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.

I'm getting off track again, as I often do. The point is, at the time I converted to the new computer, I had nearly 60,000 words. No completed chapters—hell, there aren't even any completed scenes. It's just 60,000 words worth of possible plot.

When I get stuck on a scene, one of the ways I attempt to get unstuck is to rewrite it. Meaning, I break out my spiral-bound notebook, choose a pen, and physically write it out, and then as soon as any change (no matter how minor) pops into my head, I write it down and follow it to the end. Often, it ends up some place pretty damn good.

Which is why I thought I'd try it with all of Full Circle.

It didn't work out the way I had hoped it would—with me adding a ton more words to the story. Mostly, I just second guessed every plot point I've come up with and went from "I'm so excited to be writing this story at last!" to "How did I manage to screw it all up so quickly?!?"

Doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I know.
I'm just in love with Baby Groot.


Good thing it's a first draft.

So I may not know what it's supposed to be yet, or how to go about writing it, but somewhere in there must be the start of the story I want to tell, right?

Plus, I have plenty of time to figure it out. I still (technically) haven't finished the second book yet.

But that's another post for another day.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all. I'm pretty sure this will end up being my last post for the week, but perhaps I'll be back next week.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and your weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 15, 2017

What's Up

This has been my Sunday night routine of late:

Me: I'm going to write a blog post!

Me: *boots up computer and logs into Blogger*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: Ugh. Never mind. I'm not going to write a blog post.


And this is my attempt to break that pattern. I don't exactly know what to write about because I don't exactly live a super exciting existence (and thank goodness for that!) and I seem to have forgotten how to write a blog. So here in bullet point format (because full and complete paragraphs are beyond me) are the highlights (or, what passes for them, anyway) of what's .


—Last month, I flew home to Maine only to get into a car and drive back to Florida with my sister and niece. Highlights of our road trip included our traditional Les Miserables sing-along and our inaugural Hamilton sing-along, both of which delighted my niece to no end. (Translation: she was not delighted to any end.)



—On our way back to Maine from Florida, there was the super fun moment in North Carolina when I received a text from The Man saying that one of those super fun Florida wildfires had started super near our house (Seriously, it was so close), and the neighbors were preparing to evacuate. Which is exactly the text one wants to receive when one is an OCD-ridden control freak who has no confidence that anyone other than her can properly prepare a go-bag for her pets. Fortunately, the fire department, with an assist from the army reserve people, got things under control, so no evacuation was ultimately necessary. Thank you, Fire Department and Army Reservists! We salute you!



—After my road trip/vacation, I did the unthinkable: I told The Man it was time to upgrade my computer system. He's been pushing for that for a while now—something about my old laptop needing a good thirty minutes to actually boot up?—so he was delighted (perhaps actually so). I am now working on an older laptop of his. It's newer than mine (every computer, with the exception of the one on which George R.R. Martin does his writing is newer than mine) and much faster. I no longer have time to do my best Cave Buffy impression in between pushing the power button and actually being able to use the damn thing.




—Which leads us to writing. Second Nature has more or less stalled. I submitted what I believe to be my last problem scene (of course, I say that about every scene I submit) to my critique partners to get their take on it. We meet tomorrow, and I hope they can help me shed a little light on what's bugging me so very much about it. Fingers crossed.



—I'm also using my shiny, newish laptop to work on my new novel, Full Circle (aka, Book Three in my fantasy series). I'm not going to say too much about it at this point in time because I'm planning to  make it the feature of my next post (maybe on Wednesday, maybe never if my current blogging patterns hold), but I at least wanted to mention that I am writing and working—even if it's not the book on which I should be working.


On that note, I'm outta here. Thanks for stopping by today! And I hope that the mothers among you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

And, also because I love him more than life itself, I will be ending this post with Baby Groot:



See you Wednesday. Probably.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Lost Hero...Or Two?

Today on My Pet Blog, we're (is it weird how I'm always referring to myself as 'we' in these intros?) welcoming author Sarah Foster, one of the amazing contributors to the latest anthology from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Take it away, Sarah!


One Lost Hero…or Two?
by Sarah Foster


When I first approached the idea of a lost hero, I always had it in my head that this hero was someone being looked for. As the characters and plot became more concrete in my mind, it was clear to me that the actual “hero” I had created wasn’t the protagonist of my story. The narrator, Raynor, was the one telling the tale. He and his twin sister Illy are searching for their long-lost uncle in order to stop an evil group known as the Black Cloaks from kidnapping people with special powers.

So the hero of my story is literally lost, and the main characters are trying to find him. Mikah is a lost hero because he does not want to be found. He no longer wants to be the hero he once was. A big part of the story is learning about his backstory and what happened to him that made him decide to stop fighting evil and disappear. It was always obvious to me that Mikah was my “lost hero.” But was he the only one?

Finding their uncle is the main goal for Raynor and Illy; they and the reader don’t know what will happen once they do. For Raynor, his priority is protecting his sister. She’s the one determined to locate their uncle and defeat the Black Cloaks. Raynor, on the other hand, is reluctant to go on this journey, but he knows there is no arguing with his twin and so he must go with her.

Raynor spends most of the story worrying about what could happen, and revealing to the reader how truly frightened he is of the results of this journey. At some point it occurred to me, isn’t Raynor a bit of a lost hero as well? Not in the sense that he is literally lost, but that he is reluctant to become a hero. He seems to know that he must become one, but wants no part of it. It’s only when things are at their worst and he is forced to protect his sister that his own truth is revealed to him and he can accept his role as a hero.

It was funny to suddenly realize that my narrator was also a lost hero in this story. The fact that Raynor and his uncle have a particular trait in common (something revealed at the very end of the story) ties this idea together. So while I thought I was creating one lost hero, another one was telling the story the entire time. But as with most things I write, my characters are usually the ones in control.


Sarah Foster is a blogger and an aspiring novelist and poet. She lives with her stand-up comedian husband and an overweight cat in a studio apartment above a movie theater just south of Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not obsessing over Broadway musicals or baking cupcakes, she is usually working on finishing—and hopefully someday publishing—her debut novel. You can read about her writing adventures (and the love/hate relationships with her characters) on her blog, The Faux Fountain Pen.

Blog | Twitter | Instagram 

The Last Dragon

In a land free from dragons, a new evil rises to take their place. The Gifted—those with special powers—are being collected by a mysterious group with a sinister purpose. With little hope in sight, Raynor and his twin sister, Irillya, seek out their long-lost uncle—a once great warrior who disappeared without a trace or a reason.



Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I'm A Writer (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means that it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

(Once again, I'm assuming any visitors today are already familiar with the IWSG, but if you want for instruction, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's co-hosts are: Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone.

As my writing has completely come to a stand-still (Yay!), I'm taking advantage of the optional question of the month, which asks...

"What's the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for a story?"

So, as you may know, I primarily (though these days I feel as though I should say 'theoretically') write fantasy. Medieval-esque, and occasionally a little dark. And occasionally a lot dark because I am a horrible person who enjoys torturing her characters. Which means that, like many writers, my research is a little...odd. And possibly has me on some government watch lists.

Whatever.

I mean, yeah, sure, I routinely research topics such (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!) as "the best places to stab people" or "burning people alive" but it's not like I'm actually planning to do any of those things to anyone other than the aforementioned characters.

I'm not. I swear.

So let's focus on what I personally think is the coolest:

I like weapons. And weaponry. A lot. Possibly more than I should. And by weaponry, I mean swords and daggers and double-bladed battle axes, and bows and arrows and the like. (Note: while I think this is totally cool, I do recognize the fact that not everyone will share in this opinion. For example, my sister, who once exclaimed, "What is wrong with you?" when I expressed interest in visiting a sword shop (or what at least looked like a sword shop. I suppose it could have just been some other kind of shop that just happened to have swords in the window.) we came across while on a trip.)

So, to recap, I like weapons. And weaponry. Any time I get to research weapons or weaponry, or their use, I am a happy camper.

And because I am a method writer, I actually want to hold these weapons in my hand and really understand their use (As best I can anyway. I honestly have very little talent for these things, as evidenced by all those lamps I have killed and walls I have stabbed in my many attempts to master these tools.) My most recent acquisitions were a set of throwing knives and a book on how to throw said throwing knives. Y'all, they are just so cool. Look!


My greatest achievement with these knives and this new hobby thus far is that I, and all those around me, still have all our fingers, toes, and eyes.



Sure, I may have accidentally stabbed myself that one time when I may have flipped the knife in the air (all cool like Buffy would) and may have caught the wrong end, but how else am I suppose to learn, right?

I'm certain that with just a little more practice, I will fully master this sport.

(Pauses for laughter.)

All right, so that's gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. See y'all again next week. (There's no way I'll get another post written this week.)

Unless I forget.

Again.