Friday, November 29, 2013

Whatcha Readin'?

With two days left in the month of November, I'm a little sick of talking about writing.  (Not sick of writing, just of talking about it.) So, let's talk about something entirely different - READING!

Yeah, if you're my Goodreads friend, you may notice that I started reading Les Miserables.  I know, I know... it's a monster of a book.  And chances are I won't reach my updated goal of 110 books this year because I'm reading this.  But through some error in my youth, I've never read it before.  (Maybe because instead of assigning great books like this, I got stuck reading Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies.  Bleh.)

I also know good ol' Mr. Hugo can be as dry as dust sometimes.  Thanks to my awesome husband, though, I managed to get through Ninety-Three with no problems.  (And I cried which means I definitely was not bored.)  When we first got married, he handed me his copy of Ninety-Three, warned me about Hugo's penchant for over-describing every little freakin' thing, and told me to flip past those parts.  It made reading Hugo so much less daunting.

So yesterday, we were flipping through the channels and noticed the movie was on a premium channel (which we're getting for free this weekend).  It was near the end, but we watched it anyway.  OMG.  Afterwards, I found a Kindle copy for free at Amazon (because there was no way I was going to be able to sit through a hardcopy of this) and started reading it last night after I finished my writing.  So far, it's pretty bland, but I know amazing things are coming.

I also picked up several other books (all for free) I've somehow missed over the years, but that I always wanted to read - Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers, Tom Sawyer, etc.   With the Kindle, I should be able to knock those out a whole lot quicker than in paper form.

Anyway, that's what I'm reading these days.  What are you reading?  Ever read Les Mis?  What have you always wanted to read, but haven't yet?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Loves and Hates of Writing Fantasy for the First Time

Yes, I am writing a fantasy novel for the first time in my life (if you don't count that SF/F thing I did in high school).  And as I'm about 35K words in, I've learned some things...

I love the fact that when I'm feeling like the book is dragging, all I have to do is insert a mythical beast and mayhem ensues.

I hate that I have to make up every single freakin' name.  It's not like I can have Susans and Bobs and Larrys and Lauras running around.  And they each have to be unique.  And every single person they meet has a goddamn name.

I love that I have to make up pretty much everything else.

I hate that I'm going to have to go back and research all the little things - like what the hell they'd be wearing in what is basically medieval-ish times. 

I love that I can let my imagination free.

I hate that I can't let it totally free or no one would understand what the hell I'm writing about.  You say 'dragon' and people know what you're talking about.  You make some beast up totally from your imagination and call it say 'a hurchess'*, and people would be all like 'WTF?'

I love that I spent my formative years reading fantasy and playing D&D**.

I hate that I can't remember everything I read in the Monster Manual, and I gave my copy to my nephew years ago, so now I have to resort to more research.

I love research - just not when I'm trying to sprint to 50K words.

Sure, some of this stuff I encountered when I was writing urban fantasy.  And some of these problems can crop up in dystopian - especially if there's been a nuclear holocaust in the past.  But this still feels like I'm learning how to write all over again.

Heh.  It's kinda awesome.

Ever step totally out of your comfortable box and try a new-to-you genre?  How'd that work out?

* There's no such thing as a hurchess - even in this book.  I just threw a made-up word out there. 

** A great many D&D monsters come from various well-known mythologies, so I'm not writing a D&D fan fiction novel here.  I'm just wishing I could access my old Monster Manual as a reference.  The book I have - The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures - is jam packed with every critter every conceived and it's a bitch to wade through.  And since this is set kinda in a mythical Scotland, I can't use creatures from Indian, Native American, Japanese, etc. mythos.  That would be too weird.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Internet Difficulties

Something is weird with CenturyLink in the state of Missouri (at least that's what the tech guy told me).  Earlier I could still get on FB, at least, then that went away, too.  At least I still have some of the blogs I read - the ones held by blogger - and my gmail.  I can Google stuff, too... just hardly any of the links take me anywhere. 

So, anyway, if you need me, email me.  I'm still alive.  I just can't reach Pandora or the NaNoWriMo site or my friend Silver's blog or Twitter or... :sob: Facebook. 

I watched UP! instead of being online.  It made me cry.  Twice.

What are you up to tonight?

(And yes, I know... this should be the perfect time to write, but I've lost the will this evening.  And :whine: I can't play my Pandora station I created just for this book - the one with the kind of music I don't have on CD.  Well, except for that one CD, but I refuse to listen to the same CD on repeat.  Blame my brother who listened to the same three records on repeat ad nauseum when I was a kid.  I still can't listen to John Denver without cringing.  Anyway, I'll make up the words tomorrow or over the weekend or something.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Movies I Wish I'd Never Watched

I wish when I was younger someone had told me to be cautious about what I put up in my head, because it'll be there forever.  In honor of that, here's a list of movies I wish I'd never watched.

Sybil - I stumbled into the TV room in my dorm one weekday afternoon to find a bunch of the gals watching this.  It had just started, so I sat down.  Watched the whole damn thing.  I couldn't look away.  And I've been totally squeebed out about it for 20+ years.

Hellraiser & Hellraiser 2 - I did not do this to myself - other than remaining in front of the movie after the guy I was with convinced me to start watching it.  Okay, so I knew going into the sequel how much it would freak me out.  But all my friends were watching it.  Peer pressure is an evil thing.

Leaving Las Vegas - I didn't know going in that this sucker would be so damn depressing and fill me with a hopelessness it took weeks to get over.

Pay it Forward - This one was a total sucker punch.  I honestly thought it was going to be a feel-good movie.  And it was, right up until the end.  Bastards didn't have to kill the little boy - unless they were trying to make the point that life is senseless and no matter how hard you try, you're still going to be murdered.  I should've known better, though.  I hate Kevin Spacey in just about everything except Outbreak, and he dies horribly in that one.

The Fly - I blame my siblings for this.  To this day, I still can't hear someone whisper 'Help me' in a high-pitched, squeaky voice without having a little panic attack.

Ferngully - Way to take innocent minds and warp them into thinking mankind and machinery are inherently bad.  Took me years to convince my daughter that bulldozers weren't evil.

I'm Gonna Get You Sucka - because I will never get those two hours of my life back.

And yes, I guess I was a little crabby this morning.  Since venting this negativity out, though, I'm much better. 

What movies have you watched that you wish you hadn't?


Event Horizon - I'd repressed this one until it was mentioned in the comments here.  Ugh.  Now I have to go back to repressing it again, so I can scrub that skinless guy out of my head for another 20 years.

Oh, and I just remembered another one... SE7EN.  OMG, what a horrible movie.  Still gives me nightmares.   And I just realized, Spacey's in this one, too.  Figures.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why I Didn't Write Last Night

Yesterday, Hubs and I looked at each other and decided to go rake leaves.  Now, we have an acre and a quarter of land - about a third of which is yard.  This land is what the realtors call a 'treed lot'.  I figured it out and there are 28 trees in the yard - oaks, walnuts, hickory, sycamore and the cedars (which are my favorites right now because they don't drop leaves).  Lots of trees = lots of leaves. 

We started about 1pm with the idea that we would take it leisurely.  We'd spread the raking over the course of 3-4 days.  Yeah, like that was going to work.  We're not the kind of people who do jobs as half-measures.  Soooo, we got slammin' and jammin'. 

Early on it was decided that we wouldn't make piles here and there to cart with the wheelbarrow.  No, we were going to rake the piles down toward the back.   You know, to make it easier... heh.

By 3:15 we could rake no more.  Here's the result:

(Taken from our back sunroom, looking down at the piles.  From this vantage, they actually look kinda small, but trust me, they aren't.)

We're maybe half done.  Still have to do the south side and the back, plus cart all those leaves into the woods.  

Needless to say, I was bushed.  I did nothing for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Dinner was slapped together grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.  The only thing I did after the raking was read. 

Today?  Well, the rest of the leaves aren't going to rake themselves.  But I'll try to take it easier because this book ain't gonna write itself either. 

Did you write yesterday?  If not, what's your excuse?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNo Update #1

Okay, so despite my grousing and the occasional comment that I may be insane, this year's NaNoWriMo is actually going well.  Here's how the first week broke down:

11/1 - 2735
11/2 - 2556
11/3 - 1183
11/4 - 1491
11/5 - 1014
11/6 - 2515
11/7 - 2136

Which left me at 13360 for the first week with an average of 1947 a day.  Since I needed to be at 11669 and average 1667 a day, I'm pretty pleased.  Getting ahead early really takes the pressure off.  And I'm proving to myself how committed I am to this project by not sitting back on my ass when I'm ahead.  Not that I haven't wanted to.  Thursday I felt like warmed-over, leftover goat excrement for most of the day. 

As an added bonus, I'm getting a lot done around the house because I'm trying to make myself stick to the schedule of writing at night.  So when I feel the urge to write in the morning, I go do chores.  Sure, I could be farther ahead.  I could also be burned to a crisp right now and dreading the weeks ahead.  Slow and steady wins the race.  You won't catch me so far ahead I'm napping under a tree while the tortoise crosses the finish line.  No sirree bob.

With yesterday's additional 2222 words (totally didn't plan to hit the all 2s, but hey, cool), I'm sitting at 15852 NaNo words for this project.  That puts me 2516 words ahead. 

Not sure what the weekend will bring.  I might write during the day on weekends... or not.  We'll see how it goes.  I do know as soon as it warms up, I'm going outside to rake leaves.  I love our new big, treed yard, but having it means a lot of leaves on the ground right now.  ;o)

How's the writing going for you?  Are you participating in NaNo (and if so, are we friends on there)?  If you're not, that's cool, too.  NaNo's not for everyone.  Hell, I haven't officially done it since 2010.  If you're not writing, how's life in general? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 6: Wherein I Lose My Grip


I sat down to write my 1667+ yesterday evening.  I was being so good.  I cooked chili in the crock pot so I wouldn't be bothered with dinner. We even ate early so I could get right to work after Jeopardy.  (Cuz I gots to flex the brain muscles, donchaknow.)  Problem was when I sat down and tried to pick up the thread of the story, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember some of the characters I'd already dropped into the story.

So I went back over the text, scanning for people names, in order to make a character sheet.  Easy enough. 

It was at that point that a little lightbulb went off over my head.  It's possible I have taken a way larger bite than I could possibly chew. You know, since I picked the hardest possible genre to write quickly - especially when you consider I didn't do any pre-planning.  I mean, seriously... fantasy?  With all its inherent world-building?  "Are you freakin' nuts?" I said to myself.  "Of course," I replied.

I can't even keep the freakin' names straight and I'm supposed to keep a whole new system of magic, within a whole different world, all up in my head???  WTF was I thinking??

But I am forging ahead.  Oh, there are definite flaws.  Like getting one character mixed up with another character and giving girl #2 the traits meant for girl #1 while totally forgetting I even named girl #1 several chapters earlier.  And what the hell did I mean when I said X back in chapter 2 only to have it be completely weird by chapter 5?

But I am forging ahead.  Even though I have no firm idea where any of this is headed.

Sure, as I was laying down for a nap, I had a great idea pop into my head for a whole new beginning which would make the goals and motivations so much clearer.  When I woke up a little later, it occurred to me that no matter how I write my 'great idea', it's going to look like a total ripoff of part of Terry Brooks' Elfstones of Shannara.  Good thing I caught that before I wrote several thousand words toward down that path.  Sheesh.

But I'm forging ahead.  Not sure how firm my grip on sanity is at this moment. 

Heh.  That's NaNo, I guess. 

:wanders away to pick flowers off the wallpaper:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Procrastination Tactics

So, procrastination tactics... because it's NaNo time and who doesn't have procrastination tactics that jump out when you really ought to be writing? 

Sunday I helped the Hubs pick up the big piles of leaves he raked together on Saturday.  We carted them into the forest and dumped them where they wouldn't be noticeable from the house.  'Out of sight, out of mind' works for me.

Yesterday, I changed out all the faceplates on my kitchen outlets from dingy cheap-ass wood to tidy cheap-ass almond plastic.  Looks much nicer.

Today?  Well, I've already taken that drywall patching kit I bought back in April... yeah, I used something I procrastinated over to procrastinate - sue me... and begun the job of mending the holes in the kitchen wall above the stove.  The moro...people who lived here hung a microwave there and made an unholy mess when they removed it.  So, I patched the biggest holes with the kit and then filled in all the little holes with that spackling compound that goes on purple and then turns white as it dries.  It was like cake decorating!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  If I get crazy enough, I may drive into town, pick up some paint and start doing the kitchen.  (Because now the patchy places will be white on off white, and we just can't have that.)

How are you procrastinating these days?  Or are you being good and doing what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it?  If you're one of the latter, I salute you.