Apologies for Silence

I apologize for my silence over the last few weeks. 2013 isn’t starting off as promising as I’d hoped and we’re dealing with a not-so-pleasant situation, that I have no idea when will be resolved.apology

But I know you all understand. Family and health come first.

Sadly, this also means I haven’t been able to write much either. If it weren’t for the Writer’s Retreat I participated in the second weekend of January, my word count for the month would be a big fat ZERO.

Speaking of writer’s retreats, I highly recommend one for you fellow writers out there. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money or be too far from home, so we went to a local lake and rented a small cabin. January and February are off-season for those places, so you can get some INSANE deals, which we did. Over half off.

So wherever you are, you can always find those kinds of tucked-away places to get you away from your normal grind, without spending too much or being too far away if an emergency pops up.

Thanks to the two incredible ladies who joined me~ I hope to partake in another one soon!

God willing.

Rules of Fiction Writing

A friend’s daughter recently asked for help on a report for school. She needed to asked a writer about their profession. It brought to mind some of the various ‘rules’ I learned over the last several years of being a fiction writer.

Oh wait, this is an entirely different lesson 😛

I know there are dozens of subjective ‘rules’ out there, including every genre maintaining their own unique set of laws, but here’s what I’ve found to be universal. These are rules I’ve learned either the hard way or being in the right place with the right people.

* Say as much as you can in as few words as possible. Then cut the word count by half.

* Adverbs are spawns of Satan. Don’t use them. Find the right verb.

* Adjectives aren’t evil, but they are sinful. Use sparingly. (Damn, I used an adverb!)

* Head-hopping is just as confusing as it sounds. Keep to one point of view at a time. If you have to change heads, best option is to only do it by chapter.

* Likewise, stay in one tense: past or present. Otherwise, it becomes too ‘Back to the Future‘ for people.

* Clichés are such a cliché. Originality is the only way. Ya feel me?

* Showing is better than telling. Showing makes things more active, better paced, and easier to read. Telling has its uses at times, but again, only sparingly.

* Info dumps (also called backstory dumps) belong in the dump themselves. Filter in the backstory in small bits throughout many chapters.

* Most importantly, forget everything I just wrote and do what works for you and your voice. Fiction is subjective.

Can you think of any other rules I’ve missed? That we can throw out together?

Checking My Goals and Cringe

I checked on my goals that I created earlier this year, knowing the progress wasn’t going to be pretty. Then why did I do it? Several reasons came to mind.

Self-punishment addict? 

Clicked on the file by mistake?

Needed to change them entirely to make myself feel less of a failure?

Reinvigorate my motivation?

Maybe a little bit of all the above. Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve hardly reached any word count goals per day or per week. Blogging has fallen off the radar. I threw the calorie-counting out the window. And my exercise goals? Ha!

But I need to cut myself some slack. I’ve been sick. A LOT. 2012 has started off much the same as 2011 ended.  And will probably remain so as long as my son remains in preschool, thereby bringing home every ailment known to toddlers. And giving it to both his exhausted mother and over-worked father. It’s hard to go to the gym carrying an entire box of tissues and toting along my coughing, pink-eye infested son into their daycare while I hack out a lung in the middle of Zumba. Hardly health-conscious. Or attractive. (Not that women go to the gym to look attractive WHILE they’re there. Unless you’re in college.)

Which means I haven’t had much time to write. Or plot. Or think about writing. Or blog. But I’ve been able to read a bit. So here’s what I’ve been reading over the last several weeks (other than books and medication directions):

As We Were Saying…

Babbles from Scott Eagan

I Make Stuff Up from Kim Packard

Short Stories from CA Szarek

A Lucid Reality

Miss Snark’s First Victim

The Artist’s Road

The Creative Penn

Janet Reid Literary Agent

Jeff Goins

And a ga-gillion other writer/publisher/agent websites. I can’t list them all here, or you’d be stuck on my blog for hours (*wink*). Not that you’d want to go anywhere else.

Juggling Act of Life… Not Always Successful

Life is juggling. At least when you’re a parent. Even though I have only one child, I’ve learned that much. And it makes me wonder for those with multiple kids, especially if close in age like several friends of mine have, how the heck they do it?

Now, I’m not saying that only parents have to juggle and balance life. I know plenty of people who seem much more busy than me who don’t have children.

But this is a different kind of juggling. And trying to write, plot, research, finish my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), AND take care of my son and help him with his development, behavior issues, constant sickness, etc. etc, can at times make me feel like I have a billion balls in the air and I’m dropping a lot of them. Thankfully, most of them are rubber or plastic, so they bounce right back or at least don’t break when they hit the floor.

Unlike my oven this week.

Or the backyard fence last week.

When you throw in expensive repairs like this (on an already somewhat tight budget), I feel like letting all the freakin’ balls drop and I don’t care how many break in the process.

So let’s just say this week was a more disastrous attempt at juggling than most. Already fragile feelings from the week before regarding my son’s development in preschool, combined with little sleep (sick kids don’t sleep, so neither do parents), and it just made the perfect storm of juggling balls.

But on the plus side, I’m 30% done with my NaNoWriMo novel. I hope most NaNo’ers are doing well, and according to Twitter it seems like they’re either kicking my butt or haven’t started. Either way, I wish them luck. Hopefully I’ll achieve one of my 2011 goals I set for myself in January. And not broken too many juggling balls in the process.

Writer’s Block? More Like Writer’s Verbal Diarrhea

I started my third manuscript the other week, the one I’m supposed to be saving for NaNoWriMo in November, and have been flying through the first chapters. I’m so excited to be seeing these characters develop on the page and their querky habits come to life.

Frying Pan? Maybe a Pen is the best weapon

Too much fun!

I figured since NaNoWriMo aims for 50,000 words in a month, that leaves me an additional 25,000-30,000 words to finish my manuscript. So that means I could get started on it ahead of time. But now I’m almost half-way to that word count threshold and we’re not even halfway through October.

In comparison to the other problems I’ve had in writing over the last few years, I think this is a dilemma I’ll love having. Writers block sucks the big one. So Writers Diarrhea is a gift (forgive the image).

I have no idea how I’ll respond if I’m ever a published author with deadlines looming ahead of me from a prized book contract. But if that were the case right now, I’d be one of the most treasured authors of any agent or editor’s lineup!

Fall Season Means Reviewing My Goals

For many people, fall season means taking kids back to school, football games, World Series, changing out your wardrobe, and winterizing your lawn. For me, it means reviewing the goals I made in January. Writing goals, specifically. And determining how I’ve done so far, and if I’m on track to complete those goals in the last 3 months of the year.

My most challenging goal for the year is participating in NaNoWriMo. This starts in November, but I’m definitely prepared. Everything is plotted, the characters are completely mapped out. The word count per week goal is lofty, and makes me nervous.

But I finished the first draft of my last manuscript, I’ve averaged 2 blog posts per week, and I’m on track to have revisions completed by the end of the year.  Hopefully to start submissions by January.

Overall, it was a great year of learning and getting used to a lifestyle change. For the first time since I was 16, I don’t have a paycheck in my name. All so I can focus on writing and trying to make my first published debut. Reading blogs, receiving critiques, and reading a bajillion books all helped me improve my style. All necessary to help find your own voice.

So for the start of fall season for me, yes it means taking my son to school and enjoying college football with my hubby, it also means the continuation of a very fun and challenging time in my life.

On a Roll…

The last three days have been exactly that- on a roll. And I’m lovin’ it!

Vacations really do work wonders. Before my vacation I averaged about 500 words a week on my WIP. In two days I wrote 1700 words. The following day I wrote another 3000. The story just flows from my fingertips, I can see my characters so clearly, it feels great. For months I struggled through scenes because I couldn’t see my characters, couldn’t follow which themes were most prevalent and back tracked time and time again.

Now my WIP is at over 75,000 words, and I’m expecting to end around 85,000 (first draft).

Now I feel like an Olympic runner, or swimmer (yes, let’s keep this water-based since my WIP is based on a water sport) in the middle of the Individual Medley, in the zone, and surpassing their best personal record.

I’m all giddy when I get to update the word count meter on my blog page, even if there’s only a 100 word difference since my last update. Seeing that bluish-purple bar approach the end is fantabulous and self-affirming.

Now I’m off to take a break and go swimming with my son, hubby, and parents. It’s a great way to relax my brain, beat the record heat wave hitting Texas and share my accomplishments with the main supporters in my life.

I hope everyone has such an awesome cheering section as I do because it makes all the difference.

Take it easy, stay cool, and keep writing forward!