My Scattered Steps For a Good 2017

I feel electric right now. And sleepy. Strange combination. You obviously survived the deluge of fireworks from exuberant partiers if you are reading this. Oh My Gawd I love the neighborhood I live in. Let me tell you, those are some happy people. I do feel bad for the pets and folks who were scared. But wow! So much excitement was exploding in the ice cold sky in bright lights on New Year’s Eve.

Time to lay out the steps for a good new year. Here we go.

Step 1:

There will be no New Year’s Resolutions (NYR.) I haven’t done NYR’s in awhile. That would be farcical, being I’ve never been able to stick to any kind of big change let alone a diet. Shhhhh. Don’t tell life that, it keeps changing and I don’t want it to lose faith in me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to change. And yet, magically, not only do I not get the results I’m looking for, but it never changes who I am. You know the drill: you can’t run from yourself.

Step 2:

Get out of bed on time.

Step 3:

Stare at schedule every day for five minutes, as it’s changed AGAIN. Life, we need to talk. How’s a girl supposed to get anything done if you keep changing? NEWS FLASH: Life isn’t listening. Must adjust.

Step 4:

Get out of bed ON TIME I said. Realize with new responsibilities and schedule changes that I SHOULD have gotten out of bed an hour and forty-five minutes before I did. Oops.

Step 5:

Working and exercising are going to have to be interchangeable. No, self, don’t complain. I know it’s different. Must wait my turn in line for the treadmill and the next episode of The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce. Gawd I want to live in one of those houses. So. Bad. Almost done with season two then I’m on to a re-watch of Sense8 to see if I can get into it this time. I’m told the sex is steamy enough to keep my attention. Last time I fell asleep. Perhaps my idea of steamy is different from others. We shall see…

Step 6:

Stop capitalizing things so much. The youngest, Little Bear, told me that I don’t text/message/email right. I’m supposed to use caps and exclamation points more often. Snort. Oh yeah, and no complete sentences. So maybe step six should be: Stop listening to the kid. Or start. I’m flummoxed. Which to choose? I’ll ask Little Bear.

Step 7:

Accept that this is, in fact, a list of resolutions and I just fucked up step one. Go figure.

Step-solution 8:

Do laundry every stinking day. How the hell do you working-outside-of-the-home people get your laundry done? I’m just confused. And who does the house cleaning? Where is my house elf? Dobbie, oh Dobbie, wherefore art thou? Yes, I’m good with his ghost.

Step-solution 9:

Gosh. It stings to realize I’ve succumbed to societal dictates. Psh. Okay. FINE. Resolution 9:

I must get back to taking care of book club stuff. Currently running two book clubs, and I’m sadly behind in my reading. Read The Girl With All The Gifts twice already, currently doing a summary to find questions. Also reading Heart Shaped Box and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Must stop looking at FB so I can get on top of this. I think that was kind of number 10 mixed in there, wasn’t it?

The coffee has been consumed and my mind broadened. Awake. Ahhh. What a good feeling. I’m warm and dressed and still feeling electric. I guess I better get my ass to the gym. ‘Cause it’s gym day, even if it’s later than normal and I worked BEFORE I exercised.

I suppose I might be able to adapt to these new steps resolutions :-). Maybe. It’s a work in progress.

Happy New Year y’all.

PS: This is just a part of the actual list. The one inside of my head is long enough to keep a kid awake for days. Lets not dwell on that.

 

Hello There

Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is looming and everyone is far grumpier than usual, for some pretty big reasons. This is part of why I’ve been stumped on what to write here. Why bother adding to all of the angst out there? It’s time for action not words.

The whole thing makes me dwell on a recent get away with the girls to Canada. The Canadians were shaking their heads at the US’s dilemma, completely dumbfounded that we got ourselves into this situation at all. Here are some snapshots from that trip that might make you smile.

Despite it all, it’s not really fair to let folks take my words away. It would be a grand faux pas giving them that power. I need to write for a better tomorrow. So I’m back at it. I won’t bore you with the details (I keep my WRKITGRL updated if you’re curious) but it’s really deep stuff coming out right about now. I bet the next ever so many years will turn out some crazier stuff than any year before from all of the writers out there. I look forward to reading it :-).

Until I have some deep insightful thought that someone else isn’t blathering on about, I’ll leave you here.

Currently reading: The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey, Dialogue, by Robert McKee, When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, by Caitlyn Doughty.

Book Club The STRAIN

Here is my last book club post on this page! Let’s go out with a boom!

I very much enjoyed The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. See the full write-up on this book here. I don’t want to go into too many details and create  a spoiler if you haven’t read the book yet or you are still finishing it, so I’ll do a little bit of a sell on it instead :-).

Del Toro is known for his movies, but man oh man does he have some good books out there. Chuck Hogan is a New York Times best-selling author. The two together… wow. I’ve seen this book marked as a Thriller, Science Fiction and most notably Horror. I agree with the first and the last.

Science Fiction has a formula (this may be in my head, but I’m calling it like I see ’em.) 1/4 of the book is usually designated to “telling.” There is a lot of information that needs to be set up before the actual story can start. In some ways this did that, as it was a slow start before we started getting slammed into the action. One might argue the science is in there, and I won’t disagree. There are some rules it didn’t follow in that regard, which I’ll leave off in an effort to not bore you, but suffice it to say, I’m scratching off the Sci-Fi label right here and now.

I want to point out that the first 1/4 of the story NEVER ONCE put me off. I wanted to keep going from page one. Bravo!

Now, the story line says it’s about vampires. I don’t hate vampires, in fact I was drawn to the sexy vamps of the 50’s for a very long time. Twilight kind of squished my love for them, though I’ll be honest I LOVE GLITTER. Just not on humans. Or maybe, not on my villains. Even sexy villains. Anyhow, these are very different vampires, creepy, nasty and not at all like anything I’ve ever seen/read. Again, Bravo!

It’s a trilogy, and perhaps was written with that in mind. So a fair warning the end will leave you craving more. I am personally thrilled about this as I want to learn how they do this intoxicating pacing thing that they do. I’m off to my library’s website after I finish up here to see what formats the next books come in. Bring it on!

Lastly, I want to finish all of the books before I re-watch the series. My first attempt was abysmal. It felt like they changed the story line too much for me. I was in love with the way the writers set it up, and when it didn’t fall in line I kinda just gave up. BUT. Maybe when I’m done with the books I’ll have more patience.

Anyhow, yet another beach read for those that don’t wish to read romance all the time. Go forth and ask/answer questions!

FOR NEW COMERS THE COMMENT SECTION WILL HOLD THE QUESTIONS, AS TO NOT MAKE THE BLOG ITSELF A SPOILER. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK YOUR OWN QUESTIONS AS A SEPARATE THREAD.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

NaNo No Go Go

This one goes out to you NaNo folks! This is super long so sorry in advance.

Look at the date! I can’t believe I’ve gone this far into the month of October without shouting out about NaNoWriMo.

For the un-anointed, thats short for National Novel Writer’s Month, which is a writing event that takes place during the month of November. The intention is to give birth to 50K words, basically a novelette.There aren’t any rewards other than little images you can use on your social media, however just the process of writing is pretty rewarding in itself.

So here we are on October 22nd and I’m so buried in rough drafts of stories ready to be fleshed out, short stories that have been started, and manuscripts in their final phases of development, that I have NO SPARE TIME to devote to NaNo this year. But IF  I were to participate the badge would look like this:

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It’s almost sad. But not quite.

There is a multitude of beauty in NaNoWriMo. Not only can you use it as an excuse for alone time: Sorry, I’m busy tonight, I have to get my words in. But if you use it right, you’re creating a rough draft that is quite voluminous, so you are ready to dig in and sculpt it for the eleven months that follow, leading up to the following November. You could, if you were that kind of person, even write a new book every year, and finish it in between.

I’ve participated every year except one since 2007 or so. Sadly, they have a new website and it erased my previous contributions, so I can’t confirm the date. But I think that’s right. Some years I got crap, other years I got gold. What kept me going was not just the hope for gold, but the thrill of writing unhindered, without worry of having to edit or be judged for that matter. It’s quite exhilarating.

Anyhow, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for those of you in the thick of it. If you want to use this for plain old traditional writing, you’d have to make some variations (like pay attention to your family more for goodness sakes!) but it would work too.

So here we go:

Make a schedule. Here’s my *pretend* nano schedule. Keep in mind when I’m NaNo-ing that the writing portion is more like 1 – 2 hours a day, every stink’n day. When I first started it was 3 hours, so I shared that here, but on a good day I write on average 2000 words an uninterrupted hour now, so things have improved. As you can see there are lots of empty spots on this schedule. We’ll get to those soon.

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Set a goal for word count. For an on-time easy-peasy NaNoWriMo month, 1667 words a day will do it. More on that in a minute. Here’s a snapshot of my Excel spreadsheet.

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Write all the time, even when you’re not scheduled to. All of those blank spots? When I’m on NaNo (or yeah, on deadline,) all of those times when I’m left waiting for a kid or a dinner timer to chime? I’m writing. Constantly. Or doing the business of writing, which you are hereby relieved of for NaNo month. When you do this, you’ll get ahead in your word count. Trust me you want this. Really bad. There will be viruses. There will be whiney friends/relatives/kids/animals who need attention. There will be Thanksgiving. You will need some word padding. Find them here.

Don’t let yourself read more than the last paragraph, or the last chapter if you’re a speed reader. If you let yourself, you will get stuck in the very destructive mind frame of: this needs to be fixed before I can write more. The problem with that is that you’ll never get to the end. I have seriously met folks who have been writing their book for ten years. No joke. So do yourself a favor and just stop it already, don’t re-read unless it’s to catch you up on where you were at.

Editing is a huge no-no. See the above paragraph. Editing will slow you down and quite possibly give you writer’s block. You don’t need that.

Know your genre. I say this because once upon a time I wrote an entire story thinking I was writing Women’s Fiction. It never went anywhere. The story was flat. Years later I looked back at it and realized it was supposed to be a dark comedy/thriller. Now I can see where it was supposed to go. See? This step is hard when you’re just starting out, but try anyhow.

Know the age group you are writing for. This one might be a no brainer for you. It might not. I have a potty mouth. I write sexy and sometimes grotesque. My writing does not lend to YA. I didn’t know this about myself until I wrote quite a bit. But again, give it your best shot. Get to know yourself and you’ll know what your age group is.

For speed of writing, you’ll need these tools.

  • Thesaurus – seems like cheating, and I’ve heard those advise against it, but sometimes when you’re speed writing you just get stuck and your brain says one word but it means another. Like voluminous instead of voluptuous or vice versa. Or you keep saying something is cute and you need some more ideas. Boom.
  • Dictionary. For spelling, duh. Well, sometimes. But in this case, the pressure of writing will do funny things to your brain. What’s that thing-a-ma-jig called that you put your foot on and make the wheels go? Is it a snowboard? No?
  • Caffeine. Because duh. We could add alcohol too but it puts me the fuck to sleep. Same with marijuana. So for the sake of remaining pure, we’ll stick with this.
  • Carbs. Also a no brainer. Cookies. Cupcakes. Doughnuts. French bread. Brownies… I could go on but I’m making myself hungry. These things fuel your writing. Seriously. So you’re a health nut you say? Make them high protein with healthy sugar/fats. But still, carbs are a must.

Pantsing -vs- Plotting

There is a huge debate about who is right: Pantsers or plotters. I don’t have an answer for you here. However, promise me you won’t just stop reading this if you’re one or the other. There is some important stuff you’ll need here to start.

Character sketches. What happened to your protagonist(s) and antagonist when they were five to make them who they are today? What’s their family life like? What’s their psychological bend? Funny quirks? Favorite swear words?

Setting profile. Sometimes it will be really simple and it’s in a real place and all you have to do is look it up on Google maps. Others it’s made up. In that case you might have to draw it up so that when you’re describing a scene it makes more sense.

How does your story begin? I know I know, you’re a pantser not a plotter! You don’t need this. Well, you might not need it on paper, but you do need to be able to envision it in your brain. Repeat this to yourself as you read on. The most important part for you pantsers is that you can see each of these plot points inside of your head.

What’s the inciting incident? This is called so many different things in so many different books. It means the point where the story begins, and not page one… that’s different. The event that turns your character’s world upside down and now they have to spend the rest of the book trying to put it back to normal.

Do you know the climax? This one might be asking too much of you at this point, but if you have it the story might flow easier.

What’s the end? Secret: I often write the first scene or three, then the inciting incident, followed by the end before I go and do the rest. It feels like cheating, because then I know a lot about the story before I think I should but boy does it help.

Now for the plotters: If you could put all of this in an outline form complete with plot points on real actual paper, ala Save the Cat or any other, you are more than golden. Trust me, the outline will change a bazillion times as you write, but it’s helpful when you’re getting off track.

I want to point out there are at least 681 THOUSAND books out there on how to write a book, so my post here is extremely lean in providing information. If we really wanted to, we could get all kinds of wrapped up in a character’s, even each of the scene’s Goal(s), Motivation and Conflict. An entire book has been written on that. So we’re gonna bypass it.

But this should be enough to get you started.

If that isn’t enough homework for you, (Ye gads are you seriously asking for more? Really?) Here are some chewy books that will help, in addition to the NaNo website I’ve hot linked up on the top of this blog.

Good luck NaNo-ing!

Book Club Update

The book club, if you hadn’t noticed, is kind of a bust. Folks wanted me to set it up, so I did. Over on Facebook we have a page where we communicate and I’ve been reminding people to read their books, giving updates and such there.  But it’s been kind of one-way. Well, three or four way really? But you get the picture. I have been posting the book club posts here so that my non-FB friends can participate too, but there doesn’t seem to be any energy behind that one.

Anyhow, I’m not much into self flagellation (in public anyway,) so I’m going to give it one more chance to make this a go before I make it a FB page only thing, and leave it there, without doing the actual book club-y questions. Cheerleading all by yourself is a mute point if you know what I mean.

A note on how I pick the books that *I* bring to the table. I’ve long been a stalker of librarian blogs when I’m looking for new reads. Many of the books I’ve shared and asked if anyone wants to read came from those adventures. It’s pretty cool but I’ve yet to hear a single person complain about a book I’ve requested – including my friends who don’t read horror. Oh wait I take that back, I have one friend who doesn’t care for ghost stories and she *may* have balked at a few, but that’s okay. The folks that have actually read my picks have been very happy.

I’m currently reading the October book, Strain. It’s kind of disgusting in a good way. I was trying to explain the difference between splatter horror (it’s a thing) and what del Torro wrote, and I came up with this: He writes more clinical, less visceral when it comes to blood and guts. For me anyway, it makes it easier to read. I’m about halfway through that one, and I’m honestly shocked. Every time I sit down to read it, time disappears and huge chunks get read. Another beach read, as it turns out. Laugh if you want, but I’m enjoying it.

That’s it for now.

I expect the October 31st (ha funny, just realized we’re reading a horror story for a Halloween) to be the last thread for book club here. Do not fear I cannot stop babbling about books so there will be threads here and there about my faves over time.

See you soon.