Trying Something New

I’m trying something new, and it seems to be working!

With my OCD, I usually prefer to concentrate on one thing for an extended period of time. I need to finish one WIP before I begin another. This is part of why I love NaNoWriMo so much; getting an entire novel out in just one month!

However, when I stalled on 21st Century Airship Princess and put it on the shelf, I moved on to not just one, but two new stories. They use the same setting and theme as 21CAP, so I’m not switching genre or tone. One story will probably be novella length, and I’m typing it into the computer (as is the norm for most authors, myself included.) The other, which will probably be full novel-length, I’m writing into notebooks like I did with 21CAP.

Surprisingly, it seems to be working! Typing on the computer is fast, and I instantly know my wordcount, but I need to be home on my laptop (which is large and not easy to take places) in order to work on it. Handwriting is slower, but has the advantage that I only need my notebook and a pen. I can write sitting in the school parking lot waiting for my daughter to come out. It gets problematic when I forget how long ago some event in backstory happened or what name I gave a restaurant, but it lets me put long rambling notes to myself next to the text.

There are two deadlines coming up. Noon on November 1st is the deadline to enter the Zebulon, a local writing contest that mimics the process of querying an agent. November 2st is also the beginning of NaNoWriMo. That gives me about five weeks to finish up what I’m working on and prep for the new story.

Realistically, finishing a novel and a novella in five weeks is highly unlikely. I’m not sure whether I’ll just set them aside for November, or whether I’ll come up with some intriguing solution.

And who knows? I may surprise myself.

 

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Floodgates

The family at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, my happy place.

I just figured out that we have eight days left in this Round of Words in 80 Days.

I’m okay with that. I didn’t do so well this round, and unfortunately that’s been my refrain for over a year now. Yes… “real life” does get in the way and our family faced some hefty challenges since the move in early 2016. But hubby has been in a new, much better job for a month now, Bunny finally got into the GREAT charter school she’d been on the waiting list for, and Tallchild is doing her Senior year of high school. There is still more transition to go… we hope to move out of this tiny apartment in a few months, but we won’t be able to buy yet so it will probably still be a temporary rental. Tallchild will move on to a transitional program for young adults with special needs after graduation.

With all three of my immediate family ensconced in safe, nurturing places all day, I’ve finally been able to get the writing time I need. It’s been a little like floodgates opening, with the number of words that came rushing out over a few days! I came to a revelation regarding Twenty-First Century Airship Princess that I can’t resolve the conflict without a Deus ex Machina, and I desperately do not want to do that. Also, the pacing is off and I switched from single POV to dual about 10k in. It is temporarily on the shelf, but I plan to rewrite it after it steeps a while.

I have two new WIPs in the same vein as 21CAP. One will probably be a novella, and the other is a novel. Hopefully, since the two stories are in the same universe and time as 21CAP, they won’t compete against each other in my head and writing simultaneously will work. The novella is being typed into the computer, as is “normal” these days. That means I have to be home near my laptop (Yeah, I can move it or access the story online through Dropbox, but…) to work on that one. The novel is being handwritten, as was 21CAP. I want and need to get both stories out of me as quickly as possible. That is one thing I have learned about myself as an author; if I don’t get the story out in a reasonably short time, it crashes and burns and sometimes isn’t worth cleaning up.

21CAP is worth cleaning up. And there is a deadline, if I want to enter it in a certain contest this fall.

So…who’s got deadlines?

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I Swear I Had it All Together at One Point

Hemi and I on Pikes Peak this Labor Day. The family made it to the top this time!

The best laid plans sometimes go to hell in a handbasket for good reasons.

Someday I will look back at 2016-2019 as “the transition years” but at the moment it’s just damned inconvenient. But it’s all for good reason, and we will emerge stronger.

Bunny spent three days of Fourth Grade in online school, as planned. Then we got the call that there was an opening at the school of fabulousness for which she had been on the waiting list for three years! After doing all the prep to get her started with online school, we scrambled to get all the different things we needed for the new school. It’s a good change… a FANTASTIC change but it took some chaotic creativity to make it work.

Next year Tallchild will transition from being a high-schooler with special needs to an adult with special needs. More scrambling. More unknown. All with the bonus of teenage hormones.

Writing has too often taken a back seat, and probably will for just a little while longer. I want to finish Twenty-first Century Airship Princess but I haven’t added words in a few weeks. I still intend to enter it in the Zebulon this year, though, so I will be working on it and getting the rough draft and revision one done by…. OMG I’m running out of time!

Meanwhile I connected with a couple of local real-life writer-friends who were looking for some short-shorts to add into their anthology. They liked what I gave them, so…yeah! More details later when things are more official. I still need a few more Cthulhu limericks…

For my ROW80 update I have no idea where we are in the round. Still struggling to carve the time I need for writing and writing-related stuff.

T’aint easy.

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The Changing Times

Fanny Eaton, Pre Raphaelite model and inspiration for the MC in MOSTLY HARMONIOUS

I avoid writing contemporary because it’s too easy to get some detail wrong and have it take people out of the story. When I write about the past, it’s an alternative Steampunk world where I can make up whatever details I want. My strength is in writing the future, especially worlds and societies I would like to see come to fruition.

Looking at finishing projects I’ve started (as well as knowing what to discard) I’ve been thinking a lot about my Pangalactic Sojourner series. A couple of the stories are just vague outlines in my head, but others are more fleshed out.

They are contemporary.

Although it is possible to set a story vaguely somewhere-in-a-certain-decade, the theme of these make certain historical/newsworthy events important. The main character of each novel has a different sexual orientation. The faith-based romances are not written as some struggle to fit a unique sexual orientation into a Christian life; they are stories of how these five unique Christians found their happily-ever-afters. Their sexual orientation is part of that, but not the overwhelming aspect of their humanity.

When I started writing these stories, a few states had stepped up and legalized same-sex marriage. Step by step, the LGBTQ (and I know there are more letters in the acronym, but there’s a point at which it gets ridiculous) community gained more freedoms and equality. Whereas some of my characters simply and quietly live their lives and do not experience a great deal of oppression or harassment, other characters are more vocal and active in the support of their fellow LGBTQ persons. The many events, big and small, that have marked the last five or ten years do affect my characters, and I want to do justice to the details.

I intend to choose a period of a few years for these stories to take place. If I choose a time more than, say, five years ago, I will be able to look back and get a fairly clear view of the changes in LGBTQ rights. However this also makes a story feel out-of-date, stuck between present day and history. If I set the stories in a very recent year, I can’t see the big picture as clearly because I’m living it. We’ve made forward steps and backwards leaps. And in the end, if it takes several years before the stories are published, it might still feel dated.

The series is currently on the shelf, even though it is on my mind. I have other projects to finish first. When I do return to it, I need to outline the five stories and understand how they intertwine as well as how the real-life timeline affects them.

And I might choose 2016, because Pokemon Go is…strangely…relevant to one particular plot.

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Summer is Drawing to a Close

Brief update post today.

Summer has passed quickly. I haven’t done as much writing as I hoped, but I did send in a submission or two. I’m still waiting to hear whether my stories were accepted.

Next week my hubby starts a new job! He’s been stuck in a low-paying, awful job for the past year, and although this new job isn’t absolutely fantastic, it is a good job in his field with a reputable company.

The week after that, the girls go back to school. My teen NEEDS to be in school because she craves structure. My 4th grader is doing online school this year. I think it will be an awesome fit! Although this means she’ll be stuck near me all day every day, in some ways that’s easier because we don’t need to worry about transporting her to and from school except for special activities.

I’m looking forward to getting into a routine again, and seeing where writing-time can fit in.

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Getting It All Out

Hemi and I with messy morning hair, watching the girls go off in the carpool for a morning at church camp.
I should take advantage of this time and write a blog post…

As I grow as an author, I struggle with the difference between bad habits and personal idiosyncrasies. I’ve read the chastising advice that a professional writer should be able to work in spite of distractions, interruptions, and other impediments. Yet most mothers who write search for time without kids to get their words out. I prefer to work in a place and time when I know that I won’t be interrupted. But can I make use of those tiny pockets of unpredictable time?

I’ve teetered between plotter and pantser. I usually end up with a good story if I can pants the whole thing from beginning to end in a short amount of time. For a novel-length-work, however, this isn’t easy to do. By the time I’m a few chapters in, my mind is racing ahead and I switch from pantsing to plotting and at least making a few notes if not a complete outline.

Since my first NaNoWriMo in 2010, I have loved the productivity of getting a large number of words out in a short time span. However this requires a good support system and a lot of preparation. For NaNo, I usually make several dinners ahead of time that I can put in the freezer and just pop in the oven when I need one. My hubby has stepped up and distracted the kids so I could write without interruption.

Last year and this year we live in a tiny apartment with a freezer that can barely hold the week’s frozen food. I might be able to fit one or two casseroles, but it would be tight. Hubby has been working graveyards, which makes it hard for him to find time to take the kids off my hands. We definitely don’t have enough money to splurge on dinner out. I failed miserably at NaNo last year. I’m not sure what’s going to happen this year.

Labor Day weekend is the 3 Day Novel Contest.  This event is a bit loose in its definition of “novel” unlike NaNo’s 50k goal. A few years ago, hubby and I were both working at a place that closed for holidays, but many employees had keys so we could go in and work at odd hours. I prepped ahead of time by outlining my story and choosing inspirational pics. Hubby took charge of the girls, and I holed up in a small workroom near the employee kitchen. I had no distractions or interruptions, and I could stop any time I felt like it to nuke a meal. I successfully completed a 20k+ novella that weekend.

Umm… I’ve never polished it up or queried it… that’s something else on the list of author chores…

I’m planning to do both NaNo and 3Day this year. (I won’t register for 3Day… I don’t want to pay the fee and if my novel is good enough to win, it’s good enough to shop to a larger publisher.) I have a lot of unfinished projects I could finish, or I could do something all new. I don’t know what I’ll choose this time. We are still in the tiny apartment with no freezer space, but hubby is starting a better job with decent pay and no more graveyards. I will do all the prep I can, including outlining the novel ahead of time.

Someday, maybe this will be my norm. Prepping a project, arranging for all the household stuff like childcare and meals to be taken care of, then getting the story out in as short a time as possible. I think that would work really well for me, if I can make it happen.

Meanwhile, we’re off and running on another Round of Words in 80 Days. It’s time to set goals…but I’m not ready. I’m going to put that off until hubby starts getting paychecks from the new job.

This is the only week this summer when the girls have a structured activity. I plan to use those few precious hours each day to catch up on writing projects. I have a couple of shorts for markets with upcoming deadlines, not to mention the novel WIP.

Wish me luck.

 

 

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The Future

It frustrates me to look back on my posts for the last year and a half and see the repeated theme of “…this is a transition time…I’m not where I want to be…it will get better soon…” When we moved from Vermont to Colorado, I knew there would be a chunk of time when my writing had to take a back seat to the logistics of relocation. In my mind, though, I thought it would be no longer than a year.

Hubby has been working a low-paying job since we moved, and I’ve put my energy into taking care of our girls. Our youngest is now nine, and our oldest is eighteen. She has special needs, and is about to do her Senior year of high school before going into a transition program.

In August, the hubs will start a new job that brings us up into a living wage, with opportunity for advancement. Hopefully this means I will be able to breathe again, and put more energy into writing.

My ROW80 Goals:

I’m doing some writing every week, but not as much as I’d like. Today, hubby took the girls to the park so I could have some time, but an hour later they came home because Bunny got a boo-boo. I’m still working, just not doing as much as I’d hoped.

Good news! The Futurescapes Anthology is finally out! Futurescapes challenged writers to imagine how a city of the future would be inclusive of citizens with disabilities. As a mom to a disabled teenager preparing to navigate the world as a young adult, this theme spoke to me.

My story With Her Blessing appears in this anthology alongside stories from Fran Wilde, David Bruns, Amy Mrotek, Kevin Jesse, David Brin, Malka Older, Anjali Sachdeva, and Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s available in both e and print formats on Amazon. 

Fyodor grew up as the child of a martyr. His father, one of the early space pioneers, died while working to make space accessible to all of humanity. Now that his own children are grown, Fyodor’s career is leading him in his father’s footsteps. Although he knows this is the right step for him and the company he has helped run all his adult life, his family have their own feelings on the matter. He may never have his mother’s blessing; she can not forgive Fyodor’s father for leaving them.

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Too Much Waste

A family friend took photos for us at Garden of the Gods.

It’s the summer!

The girls and I are catching up on sleep, which is a very good thing. I think we all suffered through the school year never getting enough and it negatively impacted our health. We have a mostly-unscheduled summer, and there are a lot of things to do in Colorado Springs. I’m trying to strike a balance between quiet rest days and active time about town.

Some activities, like going to the library, allow me to get in some writing time while they amuse themselves. Most activities, like going to the zoo, mean I’m getting some great mother-daughter time, fresh air, and exercise, but no writing.

Balance is hard.

My 9yo is perfectly happy spending long hours on her computer. Although she sometimes wants to show me every interesting thing she looks at, she is also capable of leaving me alone and letting me work.

My 18yo has special needs. She requires supervision, and tends to go stir crazy because she can’t go out and socialize like other kids her age. She is making a great effort this summer to enjoy the quiet days as much as the active days.

We’re still figuring out how this new summer schedule works. I’m letting too many little things (and big things) get in the way of my productivity. Too much wasted time.

I am still plugging away on the novel, and I have a couple of short stories in the works for specific calls. I’ll let you know if any of them are accepted!

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Writing by Hand

Three notebooks should be enough to contain 21st Century Airship Princess

I can type much faster than I can write. But I’ve been enjoying writing my latest WIP by hand. I’ve done that before with short stories, but this is the first time I’ve attempted a novel.

The notebooks I used before perfectly held a story between five and ten thousand words, my target zone for The Cities of Luna. I only write on one side of the page, and I add notes and such to the back sides. I love how I can add random gibberish as well as considerate notes to myself. I also make a note about where and when I’m writing, whether at home, poolside at our apartment, at the library, or wherever. I look forward to looking back over this rough draft someday.

I’ve almost finished notebook two, and I noticed something odd. I thought I’d have to use five notebooks to make a fifty thousand word novel, but apparently these notebooks are longer than the ones I used before. They can fit around thirty thousand words, which means I’m probably already close to the fifty thousand mark if not well beyond it.

That’s good and bad. I feel my pacing is way off, something that can be fixed in edits. Plot wise, I’m only about halfway there. I have a list off stuff that needs to happen, but I think I’m including way too much filler in between. I’m going to use notebook three to get all those scenes out, even if it’s a hot mess. The next step is to set it aside for a bit, preferably at least a month or two, then I will do revision two as I transcribe.

So that’s been my writing update for the week…I know I’m not being specific about my goals, but I’m just happy (for now) that I am getting some writing in and making some progress.

Question for the rest of you: Is there something about your writing method that changed as you grew?

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Options…So Many Options

When I put a pause on the monthly releases in The Cities of Luna in January, I took a deep breath and took a good look at all my options. I have a couple of different series on the shelf, waiting for me to finish them. In both Pangalactic Sojourners and Victoria Pontifex I want an overall arc for the series. Both are five books, but I already have more ideas for a second set of five in the Steampunk. My brain really wants to go back to Steampunk, and I’ve promised myself I can go back to it after I finish the rough draft of Twenty-First Century Airship Princess.

At the Pikes Peak Writers Conference last weekend, Kevin Ikenberry mentioned that he’d had some fun with Kindle Worlds. It’s not a path to fame and fortune, and Amazon owns the rights so you can’t take your story and run elsewhere with it, but there are advantages to writing in a world that has already been created and promoted. I looked around today and saw a couple that looked interesting.

And then there’s the Paradisi Chronicles… another shared world I’d like to dive into…

I promised my brain I could go back to Steampunk next. I don’t know whether I’ll just work out the overall arc, or whether I’ll go on and do the rough drafts (rewriting some, fleshing out the outline for others) before I go back to Airship Princess. I want to enter it in a contest, and I think the deadline is in the fall.

I already have the sparkle of an idea for a sequel to Airship Princess as well as for a sequel to my short story With Her Blessing which comes out in the Futurescapes anthology soon. Both stories use the theme of how family relationships are affected when one member takes the leap to work and live in space. I also have a short story called Space Squid that I need to submit somewhere…

Career Goal: Make enough money that I can concentrate mostly on the actual writing/revising process, getting all these ideas out, without having to worry about the real life difficulties of juggling one car with a family of four or stretching leftovers into something that my kids will actually eat.

Anyone else out there trying to decide which projects to give their attention to?

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