Rhymes With Smash!

The musings of Megan Paasch, and other stuff.

Bubbles

First Time Bubble – Serge Melki https://flic.kr/p/8bXLT6

Do you like bubbles? I do.

But they’re fragile little things, aren’t they? Tap them too hard and they pop. Usually. But sometimes one will land on something and instead of bursting, it will sit there, and you poke at it, and it wobbles but still sits there…and sits…and sits… A ticking time bomb. And then the breeze hits it just right, or you blow on it, or maybe you just go right out and smack it, or maybe…maybe you don’t do anything at all, and suddenly – pop! – it’s gone.

The last year or so, I’ve felt like a bubble. The kind that doesn’t pop but probably will any minute. I’ve been reluctant to talk about it much because nothing bad has happened. I know a lot of people who have really huge stressors in their lives right now, and I feel I have no right to complain. But you know what? I’m stressed. I’m really, really stressed. It’s the little stressors, you know? Just one thing after another. And they add up.

Most of it I bring upon myself. I have a penchant for freaking out over things that I don’t need to. And I’m a procrastinator – I’m easily overwhelmed and I deal with that by ignoring things until the last minute, and then OH MY GOD I HAVE TO DO THIS THING RIGHT NOW AND IT’S SO HARD AND I CAN’T EVEN THINK! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?! This may be something as big as prepping for a vacation, or something as tiny as making a phone call. It doesn’t matter. I will have ALL the anxiety.

So here’s the thing about stress. When you’re stressed much of the time, it tends to put you in a bad mood. And when you’re in a bad mood much of the time, you tend to think of things in a negative light, which stresses you out, which puts you in a bad mood, which causes you to think negatively about things, and so on, and so on.

I used to be a super positive person. I always saw the glass as half full and I always felt that I was a very lucky person. I still feel like a very lucky person. Heck, I know I’m a very lucky person. I’ve just been forgetting to remember that lately.

This next bit is going to sound whiny, but bear with me:

Today was yet another day where it seemed like all the little things that could go wrong, did. I didn’t get enough sleep even though this time, I actually made it a point to go to bed at a decent hour. The kids were hyper-active and cranky. I was cranky. My husband was sick – still. The sky was gray, the cat puked, I forgot to throw wet clothes in the dryer last night, the three year old peed through several pairs of pants, we were out of spoons, etc, etc. Little things. Normal little things. But I woke up in a negative mindset and I kept at it all day, through tantrums and time-outs, and through finding that freaking spider in the laundry basket. Holy crap that spider.

And yet again, I forgot to plan dinner and was too tired and grouchy to cook anyway. So I told everyone I’d go pick up something delicious and asked what everyone wanted. We decided on Thai food for the adults and McDonalds for the kids because the two restaurants are right next to each other. Boom. Easy-peasy.

On the way to pick up food, I stopped to get gas. I put the nozzle in the gas tank, hit the button, and stood there for a few minutes before I realized no gas was actually being pumped, then hoped no one noticed I’d just been standing there looking stupid and tried again, this time with success. I got back on the road, and was about halfway to the restaurant when a pick-up truck crossed the center line on a very steep, very curvy bit of road that also happens to butt up against a cliff, and nearly hit me head-on. I was lucky – I happened to be at one of the few sections of road with room to swerve, and I did so while rattling off a string of profanities that would make a sailor blush.

In other words, my day was still not going well.

But then on the way back home, driving along, angry music blaring, I saw a bubble. That’s right, a bubble, just like the kind the kids make by blowing soapy water through a wand. It was floating along by itself, no houses or kids in sight. On either side of the road was forest, so the bubble must have traveled quite a ways, and all that time without popping.

It made me smile. And oddly, it made me feel calm. And for some reason that I really can’t explain, that one little thing, that small pocket of air trapped within a film of soap, made me rethink my attitude.

I was almost in a horrible car accident. Almost. But I wasn’t. I was lucky. I almost folded a spider into my seven year old’s pajamas, but I saw it at the last minute and relocated it outside. That was also lucky. My potty training three year old went through a few pairs of pants today, but he also made it to the bathroom several times as well. That’s progress. And all the chores I’ve been stressing out over? They’re in preparation for a visit from family members that we haven’t seen in over a year. That? That’s awesome.

And being in just the right place at just the right time to see that bubble in the middle of nowhere? That’s amazing.

More stuff happened. There was plastic in my food and a piece of blue chicken (yes you read that right) in my husband’s. The kids fought bedtime as usual. I didn’t get three-quarters of the things done that I wanted to do today. But I didn’t choke on the plastic, my husband didn’t eat the chicken (and the fresh rolls were delicious and had nothing strange or dangerous about them as far as I could tell), the kids calmed down and went to sleep, and I…well I still didn’t get stuff done, but I’m ok with it. I was reminded today that yes, I’m busy and I’m stressed, but I’m also very lucky and I need to make it a point to remind myself of that more often.

And you know what else? The forecast tomorrow calls for sun. I think I’ll go outside and blow some bubbles. Maybe one of mine will be carried off on the breeze and go on an adventure like the one I saw today. And maybe it in turn will make someone else’s day. I’d like to think so. Wouldn’t you?

Plan of Attack for 2014

I’m always a bit nervous making New Year’s Resolutions. I start off gung-ho with high expectations for myself, and they rarely pan out. “This’ll be the year!” I say. “This’ll be the year that I accomplish my goals! Or at least half of them! Or maybe one or two! Some! I’ll be happy with some!”

And of course, that lasts for about a week, then one by one, the goals start dropping off. So I’m not going to make resolutions this year. I am, however, going to reflect on some things that I’d like to do differently, and I’m going to lay out some ideas on how to go about it. How is that different than resolutions? Well, it’s not really, but I’m not going to use that word anymore because the amount of pressure it carries behind it is self-defeating. Words are important. They have more weight than you would think for something that’s made of nothing more than scratches on paper or sound-waves in the air. 

I’m going to list four things – just four – that I’d like to work towards, and ideas for how to successfully go about it. Here they are:

 

Read More Books

Last year, I set up a Goodreads book challenge of 50 books. It seemed like a small number compared to the 100 book challenges I was seeing other people set up, and therefore pretty attainable. Then about halfway through the year, I changed it to 30. I could do that, no problem. I mean, I love to read. How could I not get through 30 books in an entire year? You know how many I’ve read? I’m too embarrassed to tell you actually (*cough* 16 *cough* soon to be 17 *cough*)

What’s wrong with me? I love books! And I’m a writer, and part of writing is reading! Shame on me! Honestly, I don’t know. For some reason I found it difficult to focus on reading this year, and not for lack of wanting to. I have stacks of books sitting here waiting for me to read them – all books that I bought this year, mind you, and have been very excited about. But I haven’t opened them. 

I’ve been given an ultimatum that I can’t buy any new books until I’ve read at least half the stack that I have. And guess what? I got a bunch of Amazon gift certificates for Christmas that I’m itching to use. So I need to get reading, don’t I? So I’ve come up with a system. Here’s what I’m going to do: Each time I pick up a new book, I’ll take the page count and divide it by fourteen. That number will be my page goal for each day. That’s a book every two weeks. If it’s a short book, I’ll divide the pages by seven. If it’s long, twenty-one. If I don’t make my page count for the day, big deal – so I take a little longer to finish the book, who cares? There’s no pressure here, just a general goal. Reading, after all, should be fun.

 

Write or Revise Everyday… 

…Even if it’s just for five minutes. I’m done setting up target dates for this novel – I blow right past every one, so apparently that’s not my best way to work. Instead, I’m just going to try to work on it every day. I think in the end, that will be more productive than stressing myself out trying to meet my deadline and then not touching the manuscript for days, sometimes weeks because I get burned out and depressed each time I fail to meet my goal. “Slow and steady wins the race,” am I right? Of course someday I’m going to have real, actual, editor-induced deadlines (fingers crossed!) and I’ll need to know how to meet them, but in order to do that, I need to learn good work habits first. I’ll revisit the idea of setting deadlines for myself as motivation once I get a better feel for what speed I work best at.

 

Get Stronger

Notice I didn’t say “lose weight,” or “drop a pants-size.” I’d like to do those things of course, but what I really want is strength – both physical and mental. I mean, I’m no weakling, but I feel I could do better. I want to lift more weights. I want to keep up with my healthier friends on all the hikes we want to go on this summer. I want better willpower to accomplish difficult tasks. I want to be more patient. All these things take either physical or mental muscle, so how about I work towards increasing what I’ve already got? The only plan I can come up with for this is to just do it. Lift weights, do pushups, climb stairs, get back into yoga, meditate, etc.

 

Minimize

I want to get rid of stuff. We have so much stuff. So much clutter. Baby things we’ve been hanging onto. Paperwork we no longer need. Books we no longer read, and likely never will again (that one’s going to be tough). Electronics that don’t work anymore (I’d blame my husband for that one, but I just thought of a few that I’ve tossed in my nightstand so I guess I’m part of the problem too). Toys the kids have grown out of. Old clothes.

It’s not that we’ve been hoarding. It’s not THAT bad. But we’ve been slack about going through stuff the last few years and it’s starting to show. So I think the plan is going to be to take a box, and everyday put some things in it, then every week, take that box to a local charity. Easy-peasy, just gotta do it.

And that’s it. Four things I’d like to work on. There are others too, but I’m sticking with four. Four is attainable. Four is realistic. All the other things that I can think of go back to improving on those four areas first. For instance, I want to be better organized – that’s easier to do with less stuff. I want to be better about getting things done in a timely manner – that goes with mental strength/willpower, and also is related to my reading and writing habits. I just need to apply the same principles.

So there you have it. How about you? Anything you’d like to work on this year? Feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Oh yeah, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’m Ba-ack…Early

I’m writing this late at night, awake due to a nasty cold, and feeling pretty darn discouraged. So if this post is a bit rambly, that’s why.

I’m ending my social media hiatus* a week early. And it’s not because I’m done revising. Because I’m not. Not even close.

Don’t get me wrong, I got a TON of work done these last few weeks – way more than I probably would have otherwise.

But…..

As I’ve been tackling these revisions, I’ve realized that this is turning into much, much more than smoothing sentences and changing a few things here and there. I mean, I knew that, but for some reason the magnitude of it still hadn’t sunk in until today. I have a bunch of new scenes that I still need to add. I’m also still not solid with how I want to fix my ending. I have several chapters that are so messed up they’re going to need to be completely overhauled. In other words, this is going to take a heck of a lot more time than I thought**, and I’ve been working on it pretty much constantly throughout the day, everyday, and today my brain hit a wall and I couldn’t do more than a paragraph, and I realized I’m really close to burning out. And that’s a lot of “ands.”

When my revision notes turn into a string of curses (yeah, that happened today. I’m not proud of it, but it felt good), it’s probably time to slow down a bit.

That’s the beauty of self-imposed deadlines. I’m the only one depending on me to finish, so I can push that deadline back without it affecting anyone else. This is my first book. It’s a HUGE learning curve. This is the book where I figure out how I work. It’s where I learn my lessons. It’s where… ok, you get it.

And you know what else? I want to ENJOY this time. I want to have FUN with these revisions. Because someday, hopefully, if I’m lucky, I’ll have REAL deadlines hanging over my head and THAT will be the appropriate time to stress. Right now, I can choose my stress level, and I choose to turn that knob to low again.

So what I’m saying is, I could finish out this last week of my sort-of-kind-of social media hiatus – I know I could because I’ve done it for two weeks already – but what would be the point? I miss everyone. I miss getting support and giving it. So yes, I could do it. But I don’t want to.

I’m back. Hi! I missed you!

* OK, I did pop on Twitter and Facebook a few times – just a few. And I’ve been on Tumblr (initially for writing inspiration, but let’s face it, who can resist a funny Sherlock gif or two…or three…or, hey look, some Dr. Who stuff, and…..ANYWAY, it still wasn’t TOO distracting and I still got a lot done. Mostly I’ve been pretty good.

** I’ve said this before, haven’t I? Yup, several times, I think. Maybe I can learn something from this?

Drastic Measures

I have a big red tile on my phone with a big white number on it that gets smaller every day. It’s counting down to the day I want to be finished with my first revisions pass. Today, that number is a glaring 25. Twenty-five. Less than four weeks.

At the rate things are going, there’s absolutely no way. But I’m going to continue trying. I’m not going to call it a failure until I’ve hit Day -1, because until I haven’t made it, there’s always a chance that I can.

Here’s the thing though: I think it’s going to take something drastic. I think…wow, I’m even having trouble typing it…I think I’m…

*deep breath*

OK. I think I’m going to have to go into full on hermit mode until I’m finished. That means no social media. Let me emphasize that: NO TWITTER OR FACEBOOK FOR TWENTY FIVE DAYS.

None.

Nada.

Oh man, I just don’t know. I mean, I LOVE you guys. Really, really a lot. I love your camaraderie, your encouragement, your capacity for outright hilarity. You’re all amazing, and you’re all what keeps me checking in when I should be hyper-focused on my work. And that’s why I’m going to have to go into this little anti-social cave here for a bit if I’m going to finish what I need to do before the holiday season begins.

I’ll try to write a blog post once a week (I said try, no promises) to update my progress and hold myself accountable. And of course I’ll keep up with email. You might see me on Pinterest now and again too because, let’s face it, I have to do something while I wake up with my morning coffee.

Then, on Halloween, I’ll be back to PARTAY because hopefully I’ll be all finished! And also because it will be Halloween and you know, Halloween = PARTAY. It’s like a law or something.

I’ll give myself tomorrow to wind things down (but I won’t be on much), and then Tuesday I’ll go *poof* until the 31st.

Do you think I can do it? We’ll see!

…But It’s OK Because I Like Your Stuff!

Hello everyone!

Want to hear me go off on a little rant? You DO? Well good, because something I saw this morning really hit a nerve, and…*deep sigh*… I have to share my feelings.

So here’s the thing. I’m not against letting my kids, 6.5 and almost 3, watch TV. I do, however, try to be careful about what I let them watch. Maybe I’m a little too careful sometimes, but I know my kids and the kinds of things they will imitate, and yeah…they’re little mimics. Generally, I find the early morning animated shows on The Disney Channel to be fine. Most of them are pretty good about teaching social skills: how to be a good friend, how to be polite, how not to be a sore loser, etc. Good stuff to know! I have a tendency to zone out during these shows while I drink my coffee and try to wake my groggy self up for the day. Besides, I’ve seen most of them many times, and come on! They’re Disney! Not much to worry about there, right?

Henry Hugglemonster is a newer show. It’s cute and centers around a town full of colorful monsters who are nice to each other and get along, and there’s harmony, and fun, and roaring – but cute roaring – and blah, blah, blah, you get it. Pretty innocuous. But I’m glad I was paying closer attention this morning, because today’s episode basically said this:

“Hey everybody! Don’t worry about it when someone copies your work, because copying is totally fine.”

Wait. Whaaaaat?

So here’s how it all goes down:

Henry Hugglemonster builds a race car out of spare parts for his scouting group’s race so he can earn his racing badge. Another monster scout watches him, and you know what he does? He makes his own car exactly like Henry’s. He even gives it the same name. Understandably, Henry gets angry. He goes storming off. But then he thinks about it for a minute. He realizes that the other monster did what he did because he really likes Henry’s car.

Now at this point in the story, the writers have the perfect opportunity to teach the audience that, despite the saying “imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery” (Charles Caleb Colton), it’s 1) wrong to copy, and 2) we are all creative individuals, and it’s much more satisfying to come up with your own work.

Unfortunately, the writers of the show went a different direction. Henry tells himself that he is a nice monster, and he should therefore be nice to the monster that copied him (ok yes, true, we should always strive to be nice). So he tells Monsieur Copycat that, you know what? It’s ok, and it actually makes him feel really good and, hey! They should both paint the same color stripes on their cars as well so they can still look exactly the same! I’ll give it to the writers of the show that they did, at least, have the other monster decide to use a different color than Henry for his stripes… but still.

Then they all cheerfully take their cars on the race and (spoilers!) Henry wins. Woohoo!

So why did I find this episode so irritating? Is it really a big deal? Yes. Yes it is. Because it’s basically dismissing plagiarism. It’s saying that a person who is plagiarized should be flattered, because it means their work is really good. I’ve also heard this argument used in defense of pirating: “Why you mad, bro? I stole your stuff because I LIKE it! This should make you HAPPY!”

The other part about this episode that really gets to me is how it’s also sending the message that, by being angry about his work being copied, Henry Hugglemonster isn’t being nice. He shouldn’t be angry, even when he’s been wronged, because that would mean he’s not a nice kid …er, monster.

What?!

It’s not wrong to get angry, kids. It’s wrong when you express your anger inappropriately. Big difference.

Am I reading too much into a children’s program? I don’t think so. I mean, I’m sure the delivered message was not the one intended. I’m sure the show wasn’t written with the purpose of teaching kids that plagiarism is ok. But that’s the message that comes through. Kids pick up on these things so easily.

And that’s why mine will no longer be watching this show.

End Rant.

WIPMarathon Check-In #4 – The LAST ONE

It has arrived – the last day of WIPMarathon. My goal was to put a good dent in my revisions so that I can be finished with them by the end of September. Wellll, I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but I’m ok with it. The important thing was that the marathon kept me focused. Having a daily goal was good for me, and I’m going to try to keep that up on my own.

I’m going to miss it though, and everyone else that was involved. I may not have chatted much on the #WIPMarathon Twitter tag, but I was there, lurking – sometimes when I was supposed to be revising…

Aaaaaanyway…

Ifeoma Dennis had a great idea putting all of this together and everyone was fantastic. Good job, everyone!

And now, here is my very last check-in *sniff*:

Last Check-in’s Added Word Count + Current Added Words + Chapters Revised: -107 words added + -60 words added + 9 Chapters (total) revised.

Current Word Count: Overall draft word count 57655 (Goal is around 80k-90k)

WIP Issues this week: This chapter was a mess, one of the first that was pure rough draft. The chapters before this had been redrafted at least once already (some of them more than that) before I started these revisions and were a little easier to fix. This one was a big rambling disaster, so it took a lot more work. I like it now though. Actually, I kind of really love it.

What I learned this week in writing: The lesson I learned this week was not so much about technique, but perseverance. Like I said, this chapter was awful. It hurt my head just to look at it and at one point I was tempted to cut it completely. But it really does need to be there. Not only does it have information that the reader’s going to need, but it also works towards furthering the development of Liel and Charlotte’s relationship. So I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did, because I’m very happy with the results.

What distracted me this week while writing: Not Twitter! I used the site-blocking app that I downloaded last week (Read about it here if you’re interested) and remembered (for the most part) to keep my phone out of reach so I wouldn’t be tempted to take a peek whenever I hit a sticking point in my WIP. Yay! I did however lose a day to a nasty migraine. Boo.

Last 200 words: Since it’s the last check-in, and because I didn’t really want to break this excerpt up, I’m sharing 400 words instead. (Remember, this is only after one revisions pass. I’ll be going over it again later for grammar and punctuation and any other fixes it may need.)

“Am I becoming one of the Fae, like you?”

“Are you becoming Fae…” Liel mulled the idea over for a minute, his brows knit and lips pulled to the side. “No, I don’t think so. We used to be human, you know, thousands of years ago. But to my knowledge, no human has ever spontaneously become one of us. It occurred gradually, through generations.” His tone darkened. “No. That’s not what’s at work here.”

“It’s that thing in my head, isn’t it?”

He’d said something about a host the day before when – she hugged her arms around herself – when he was arguing about whether or not he should kill her. The dispute between Liel and his sister hadn’t made much sense while Charlotte was panicking, but now it did. The intrusive thoughts, the strange things that happened when she was startled or scared, the blackouts and behavior that she had no memory or control of – it wasn’t her. It was something inside her.

Liel’s face fell, confirming her deduction. “Yes.”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“But you suspect.”

Liel didn’t answer, concentrating with intense ferocity at the road in front of him. They’d reached the end of the freeway and were on the outskirts of suburbia, headed towards the countryside. The rain came down in sheets now; the windshield wipers flicked back and forth with such violence that Charlotte half expected them to detach and fly into oncoming traffic.

She tried a different question. “Alright then, who’s this guy we’re meeting?”

Liel took a deep breath. “Daelin.”

“You don’t trust him.” Charlotte jumped at her own words. They came out before she’d had time to process the weariness with which Liel had said the name. That thing in her head….

Liel was too busy squinting into the downpour to notice. “I do not.”

“Then why are we going to see him?”

“He’s the most likely to know how to help you. It also doesn’t hurt that he has no love for the Elders.”

“The Elders?”

Liel shot her a startled glance, then shook his head at his forgetfulness. “I’m sorry. The Elders are our governing council. They are, quite literally, the eldest of the Fae. Daelin used to be one of them.”

“But not anymore…” Charlotte prompted.

“No. Not anymore.” He didn’t elaborate.

WIPMarathon Check-In #3

Time for my third WIPMarathon Check-In! Read all the way to the end for another excerpt from “Charlotte Elemental.” You can read last week’s check-in & excerpt here, the previous week’s here, and my WIPMarathon Intro post here.

Last Check-in’s Added Word count + Current Added Words + Chapters Revised: -271 added words + -107 words added + 8 chapters (total) revised (This is the same number of chapters as last week, HOWEVER, I added chapter 9 to the end of chapter 8, so there actually has been some progress.)

Current Word Count: Overall draft word count 57655 (Goal is around 80k-90k)

WIP Issues this week: Revising a crime scene without much knowledge on how such a scene should play out. I did some research, but I’m still not sure if I got it right. I’m moving on for now. I’ll have to double check it with someone who knows before the book is finished.

What I learned this week in writing: I learned that a character’s thoughts are more effective when mixed into the prose. For instance, instead of typing “‘What a crazy week,’ she thought. ‘at this point, I’ll believe anything,’” write: “After the week she’d had, the other possibility wasn’t all that far-fetched.” In my excerpt below, I do have one thought separated out with italics, however, (spoiler) it’s not really a thought so much as the entity in Charlotte’s head communicating with her via her thoughts. It’s more obvious when you’ve read the preceding chapters. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

What distracted me this week while writing: Kids and Twitter, of course. I have this nasty habit of checking Twitter whenever I get stuck for words. Because it’s right there! I think I’ve found a solution though. It’s a program called “Cold Turkey,” and I found out about it here.

Last 200 words: Again, remember this is just the first revisions pass. I’ll be going over this again one or two more times at the very least.

(Set-up for this excerpt – Liel’s apartment is decked out in 1930’s style, down to every last detail, including the toiletries and medicines in his medicine cabinet, which Charlotte just riffled through on a search for aspirin.)

Well. Liel was certainly thorough. And crazy, obviously. Or…

After the week she’d had, the other possibility wasn’t all that far-fetched. Maybe these things weren’t actually antique…

She left the bathroom and gave the ring on the bottom of the window shade a sharp tug to release the catch, flinching at the assault on her head from the daylight. The hustle and bustle of The Ave spread out about three stories below her. Modern cars, city busses, students, teen-aged loiterers – or Ave Rats, as they were often called – all were present and accounted for. Well that was a relief.
Charlotte leaned on the window sill and massaged the bridge of her nose. What day was it? What time? Afternoon, it looked like, from the activity on the street below. She was probably supposed to be at work or class right now. Amy might even be back from her parents’. People were going to worry. As soon as Liel got back…did she really want to wait for him? After what he did?

You mean saved your life?

Bullshit.

And according to his note, he was at her house right now gathering up her things to bring to his place? What the hell was really going on here? She should go head him off; she wasn’t staying here. She grabbed the note… “do not leave under any circumstances…” and shoved it in her pocket, then stepped out into the hallway.

WIPMarathon Check -In #2

Hi everyone, I’m back with my second WIPMarathon Check-In! You can read last week’s check-in here, and my WIPMarathon Intro post here.

Last Check-in’s Added Word Count + Current Added Words + Chapters Revised: 4075 added words + -271 words added + 8 chapters (total) revised

Current Word Count: Overall draft word count 57762 (Goal is around 80k-90k)

WIP Issues this week: Finding the balance between melodrama and not being dramatic enough. The chapter I worked on this week was the first major turning point in the story. It had some heavy, emotional stuff going on. It was tricky trying to pull that off in a way that had impact without becoming over-dramatic or sappy.

What I learned this week in writing: Though I didn’t get as far in revisions this week as I would have liked, I do think I found my ideal revising method. I have several steps that I go through when marking up and revising a chapter, and each forces me to look at the words in a new way. First, I go through my document on my laptop and use Word’s “add note” feature to comment on things that I think need to change. Then I print it out, with notes showing, and mark it up even further with my red pen. Then I handwrite a new version of the chapter using my heavily marked print-out as a guide. This is the most important step, I’ve found, because for some reason I tend to get stuck changing words that are already on the screen when I try to revise on the computer. If I’m handwriting, I’m forced to look away from the pre-existing words now and then, which makes it easier to be flexible about what’s going down on the paper. After I’ve rewritten the chapter by hand, I type it up again, refining as I go. Lastly, I read it out loud, refining even further. It seems like a lot of steps to go through for a single chapter, and it takes a while, but it works wonderfully for me.

What distracted me this week while writing: Twitter, kids, appointments, and a nasty mood on Thursday that I just couldn’t seem to shake.

Last 200 words: Eek, ok. But keep in mind, this is just the first revisions pass. If it’s still a little choppy, remember I’ll be going back over it again. Here goes:

Wet leaves squelched under her bare feet. A veil of white mist danced and swirled with every step. The heady scent of damp earth, saturated her lungs…hard to breathe…

Sheets damp with sweat stuck to Charlotte’s skin. She shifted and groaned as pain seared through her shoulder and down her arm, like the aftermath of a Tetanus shot times ten, so she used her legs to kick the covers down instead. Her eyelids were heavy. Too heavy to open. She gave up trying and allowed herself to slip back into unconsciousness…

Insects buzzed in the sweltering heat, growing louder and louder. Cracks formed beneath her feet with every step, drawing water to the surface of the parched earth. The ground rumbled; hot steam rose around her…

Charlotte woke again to the covers being pulled back over her.

“Too hot.” The mumbled words burned her throat. And her head – God, her head was near to splitting open.

Her visitor stopped and folded the covers back down. “Sorry,” he said.

Liel’s voice sent a twinge of anxiety through the pit of her stomach. In her muddled state, she forced her muscles to respond and tried to sit up, but Liel prevented her with a hand to her shoulder, gently nudging her back down with a soft “Shhh.” She winced and sucked in her breath.

“Sorry,” he said again, and quickly removed his hand.

WIPMarathon Check -In #1

I’m here with my first WIPMarathon check-in! In case you’re wondering what WIPMarathon is, please see my last post here, and Ifeoma Dennis’ post here.

Word Count since Intro Post + Chapters revised: 4075 words added. 7 chapters revised

Current Word Count: Overall draft word count (including revised chapters) = 58,033 (Goal is around 80k-90k)

WIP Issues this week: Awkward wording, telling rather than showing, etc. I smoothed things out & found ways to show what characters are thinking through their expressions and actions.

What I learned this week in writing: This Writing Advice From Chuck Palahniuk helped me a lot. I can’t say that I got rid of all telling words, but I’ve reduced them significantly. I plan to make another pass through later specifically for instances of too much telling.

What distracted me this week while writing: Well, there’s Twitter. Also just figuring out how to work around my kids’ schedules. Shiny things too.

And Squirrels. Always with the squirrels.


Last 200 words: Nope, not this time. Too many spoilers. ;) Maybe next time. We’ll see.

WIPMarathon Intro, or How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating and Love the Bomb. Or Something Like That.

I’m baa-aack!

Did you miss me?

Summer break isn’t over for my kids yet, but we’ve found our rhythm now and I’ve cannon-balled off the high dive back into revisions. Oh man. I have SO much to fix. So, so much to fix. Like, wow, so much.

Anyway, I was on Twitter, like I always am, and I saw this hashtag go flying by: #WIPMarathon. So I asked about it. It turns out, through the month of August, Ifeoma Dennis is running a writing/revising/editing/whatever-step-you’re-on marathon so that we can all encourage each other and keep ourselves focused and on track. In the morning, we state our writing goals of the day using the hashtag, and at the end of the day, we report on whether or not we’ve managed to meet our goal. Besides that, there are words of encouragement, writing sprints, etc. Then, every Saturday, we post progress reports on our blogs. It’s great, and exactly what I need to get myself moving. You can read more about it & see who’s participating here: http://ifeomadennis.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/hello-august-writing-marathon/

I was supposed to have done a WIP Marathon Introduction post back when I started a week ago, but um, I’m just getting to it now. Hey, I’ve been revising! Don’t give me that look.

So here you go:

Marathon Goal: I’m looking to finish my first round of revisions on “Charlotte Elemental” by the end of September. A more realistic goal is the end of October though. I’ll be happy with either.

Stage of writing: Right now I’m working on the (for me) really tough revisions – filling plot holes, world building, enriching characters and character relationships, etc.

What inspired my current project: Oh my, it’s been so long, I don’t even remember anymore. I came up with the two main characters back in college, over *cough* ten *cough* years ago and they’ve been swimming around in my neural fluids ever since. That sounds gross.

Oooookay

What might slow down my marathon goal: The big one is kids. I stay at home full time, and my kids’ needs obviously come first. The other thing that might slow me down is my own uber leet ability to procrastinate. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but if there was an International Procrastination Contest, I’d probably make the finals. The only way around this is to, well, stop procrastinating. So I guess I’d better give that a try.

Well there you have it. I’ll see you tomorrow when I post my first check-in!

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