Critiques

Here’s what I love about my critique groups:

  1. We have so many kinds of writers, so everyone has a different way of looking at stories.
  2. Everyone has a different thing they’re serious about, too. One hates adverbs, one obsesses with having enough romance, another is super descriptive about what she likes and what doesn’t work, one loves my sticky words, another one tells me every time I have a good hook…
  3. I can go through all four critiques and still have things to work on by the time I’m on the fourth one. It’s amazing how that works.
  4. No one can tell me why transferring from Scrivener to Word destroys half my apostrophes and half my italics. No one knows. It’s a mystery. I look at it in Scrivener, and they’re fine. Move stuff into Word, they’re not. WHAT EVEN IS GOING ON?!?!?!
  5. They would all get onto me about my excessive use of exclamation points and all caps in the last point. I can’t help it –I’m excitable.
  6. People in my groups know the difference between all three dashes and can talk about it. I have to have it in a file on my desktop and remind myself every day. I still don’t remember. Also, the shortcuts for them vary across apps and that drives me insane.
  7. Sometimes people draw pictures on my critiques. I love that.

Trying to Keep Up

I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately. Here’s the scoop:

Toward the end of 2018, just before my mother passed away, I joined a local professional writing group. I’ve spent the last year waiting for a spot in one of their critique groups to open up, and meantime I (and my friend E from NANOWRIMO2018) started attending a weekly writing group at the public library as well. The library group has writers from many genres, but doesn’t critique the work we bring in. Mostly we do several writing prompts for 10 minutes each. It’s been fun stretching my writing skills with them.

In December, a spot finally opened up. Two, actually. I brought my friend E with me to this group. We got started and then a week later, our library group started an off-shoot group for critiquing as well. E and I both have multiple novels in our back pocket needing critique work, so we joined this group as well. Both groups meet every other week. One group has five ladies and one has just three for now. One group has no other speculative fiction writers, the other is all about that.

I also joined two book clubs. One with the Unitarian Universalist church my mid-kid and I have been attending. It meets in person once a month and they have a full 12 month schedule plotted out—most of the books are some historical fiction or something similar. Last month it was The Secrets We Kept. This month it is Rules of Civility.The other book club is a feminist book club with an old college friend and some of her other friends. It meets online twice a month, and is covering an Audible book Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women Before 1400.

In between all that, there’s been the usual PTA/BPA stuff, family events (Board Game Extravaganza! SuperBowl!), and the kids had band All Region events. We visited an event at NASA that my dad’s cousin spoke at (he was one of the Gallaudet Eleven) and got to spend time with him, then went back to BCS and visited with my sister, her new girlfriend, and my best friend.

I lost my planner sometime in the middle there. Finally gave in and bought a new one, so now I’m back on schedule. Literally. I wrote out a new schedule. Expect more blog posts, FB, IG, and Twitter from my author accounts. I even set up Hootsuite to help me keep track of it all.

Hope everyone’s doing well out there. Drop me a comment if you’re interested in seeing any photos from the NASA event. 🙂

NANOWRIMO WINNER

I spent the last week of November feverishly writing. I got up at 5am every day and wrote straight through until 7am, when I took a short break to go out and kiss my kids and help them find breakfast. Then I went back most mornings and wrote for another hour or two until it was time to visit my dad and sister, who were here for the week of Thanksgiving. Some evenings, I would come back and write even more. I had so much to catch up on. The last three days I wrote nearly 20,000 words, which is a huge stretch for me. I know I’m probably going to throw out the whole first chapter in edits, but right now I’m going to sit here and glow about having finished the first 50,000 words of this novel.

So what does it mean to sit at home and write, anyway?

A newish sort of friend <insert long, complicated story here> wanted to know what I do with my time at home writing. I felt like snarkily showing her one of those writing memes like this:

Clock with the phrase "Writer's Clock on it" with "Write" at 12, "Coffee" at 1, "Review" at 2, "Edit" at 3, "Start over" at 4, "Drink Heavily" at 5, "Cry" at 6, "Consider a new career" at 7, "More coffee" at 8, "Write" at 9, "Submit" at 10, and "Wait" at 11.
Text that reads:
Writing-is-a-bitch wrote: "writing is the worst. u wanna write a single, passing line of dialogue so u fact check it to make sure it's historically accurate, then suddenly you've lost track of time, space,, urself. for intstance: I wanted to know how frequently fighter planes were used in WWI and now I'm several pages deep into the history of witchcraft in Ireland."

brieflywritingwolf replied: "this is it. this is what writing is like." 

source: writing-is-a-bitch

Instead I’ll just say it here. Some days “writing” is character sketching on an iPad version of a worksheet I like with an Apple pencil, some days “writing” is world building like literally making maps on a really cool website someone from writers group suggested, some days “writing” the world building looks more like answering a questionnaire about your imaginary country, some days “writing” is actually literally just writing on the novel, some days “writing” is doing a tarot spread for a character or Meyers-Briggs tests for recalcitrant characters that refuse to do anything useful, some days “writing” is writing poetry to use as hymns to be sung in the background of a scene that you wrote last year and put <insert words from hymn here>, sometimes “writing” is gathering up all my notes from my desk & purse notebook & van notebook & husband’s car & the table by my favorite green chair & the back of the kids band calendar & a bulletin from church and typing it all in or doing voice transcriptions because my hands hurt that day, some times “writing” is reading up on things I know I don’t do well enough or things that I see other people doing awesomely that I want to emulate or just re-reading my own stuff because I don’t remember where I was going with that bit of something in Chapter 3, sometimes “writing” is making the perfect playlist on Spotify for upcoming scenes that you know you won’t be able to write without intense music, sometimes “writing” is searching for stock photos of interesting people so you’ll know what a character looks like later on, some times writing is going to writer’s group or writing class and doing silly prompts and listening to other writers talk about their novels and writing and sharing tips and resources and lending each other books, and sometimes it’s just starting out the window for an hour daydreaming about leaves falling from trees because my mind refuses to tell me what the next thing I need to write looks like.

There ya go… that’s why I’m spending so much time “writing” and that’s why I need a planner for just “writing stuff.” 🙂

Onwards

After I wrote all that yesterday about not being able to write, I ended up adding a couple thousand words to my count. This morning I got up and did some more character building for a character that is going on a quest with my main character, as well as the main antagonist. I was hoping to get more done, but it is time to move on with the day. We’re having a birthday party for my 16-year-old this afternoon and there’s still cleaning and decorating to do.

My 16-year-old and his giant pile of 800+ paged birthday books standing in a sunbeam at Barnes and Noble.
My 16-year-old and his giant pile of birthday books.

Nano Struggles

I’m really struggling with Nanowrimo this year. I have zero energy, very little in the way of time for writing, and since I spent time working on writing classwork instead of planning this years nano novel, every time I sit down to write, I instead end up spending 3/4 of the time working on background info and character sketches. So for every 2 hour block of writing time, I get maybe 30 minutes of good writing in, which gets me about 500 words a day. But I haven’t had time every day because of days like Tuesday, where I spent all morning working on PTA stuff, went to the meeting, had to stay late to work on yet more stuff, and that used up all my free time and energy for the day. Or days like Wednesday, where I spent time writing for class, went to class, and only got real words on the book done during the Write-in that I could only stay an hour for (because they scheduled them during school pick-up time.).

By Friday this week I really just gave up. There was no way to get ahead with the way things were going. I sat down to write and spent an hour doing background planning again and while I got a lot of good information out of that session (and got to use my son’s new Apple Pencil, which is how I convinced myself to do it in the first place), I just couldn’t see how I was going to finish.

But then this morning, my sweet spouse asked how it was going and if I was 1/3 of the way through my novel like I should be. I told him about my struggles and he encouraged me to spend more time writing, to put it all into the calendar and enforce those times, and that he’d get me up every morning at 4am if that’s what needed to happen so I’d get my time in.

So here I am, blogging instead of writing. I can’t get into novel-mode with as short a time period as I have until breakfast, plus two of my sons have wandered through since I started typing (and in the time it took to start and end that part of the sentence, one of them wandered back in a second time, but it’s his birthday, so I’m indulging his wandering-ins because he’s showing me photos from his friends celebrating him at midnight last night.).

Here’s my writing schedule for the next three weeks (barring disaster):

  • Sundays: 7-9am at home, 2-4pm at the library write-in
  • Mondays: 9-11am and 1-3pm at home
  • Tuesdays: 9-11am and 1-3pm at home
  • Wednesdays: 2-3:15pm at the library write-in (will also write for classwork 9-11am, but it doesn’t count towards nanowrimo)
  • Thursdays: 9-11am at home
  • Fridays: 9-11am and 1-3pm at home
  • Saturdays: 3-5pm at the Barnes & Noble write-in

Mathematically, if I get 30 good minutes writing for every two hours spent times 500 words per session times three weeks like that, I should be at 50,000 words by Christmas. *sigh* Maybe I’ll have to start writing in the early mornings and late nights, too.

Welcome new visitors, plus site updates for regulars

Howdy my peeps! It’s NANOWRIMO, so I know this time of year I usually get an upswing in visitors from new writing friends, so welcome to all of y’all! This blog is a combination of my online diary/way to kept in contact with far away family/ place to blather on about writing/ health journal. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, so there’s quite a lot of backlog that’s kept under lock and key as my kids have gotten older and wanted to have less of their baby pictures and stories online. I’ve tried to make the writing and health posts more available because I have a lot of readers for those things. 🙂

Sometime late this summer I started posting and saving things as drafts, meaning to go back and add photos or links and then totally forgot about all of that as school got busy, PTA got busy, and I got sick once again. So this morning I went back and updated all 20 or 30 or those entries with photos or links and set them free from the WordPress jail (aka: published them). SO if you’re a regular here and have not been reading along feeling like you’ve been missing something: the posts in between are there now. Go, read, catch up on my weirdness.

As always, love to all of you. Hope everyone is doing well! 🙂

NANOWRIMO Write-In at the Tyler Public Library

We had a great first Write-In at the Tyler Public Library today! Well, a little chaotic because we were moved to an area that had no places to plug in our computers, but I found us some help. The rest was really good! We had 7 writers total, six that stayed and chatted and one that zipped in late and out early. Met some very lovely ladies that I’m looking forward to seeing again later this week! 🙂

TPL Writer’s Group Halloween

Here’s how me and my friend Elizabeth dressed up for our Tyler Public Library Writer’s Class Halloween meeting. We went to the coffee house like this first and people were amused. Only one other person at the group dressed up, but we got candy and read spooky stories that we wrote. 🙂 D6EF37DA-964D-4DB3-9DFF-36A754FB02E8

Things I Do When I Cannot Write

I wrote 7 scenes yesterday, but my brain could not be bothered to come up with more than 500 words today, which is the lowest limit I allow myself for productivity these days. So I made this list of things I could do that are mostly Writing Adjacent on those days:

  • Make list of things to be done
    • Scenes
    • Outlines
    • Character sheets
    • Research
  • Research things off my Research list
  • Write “daily pages”
  •  Update Writing folders on computer
  • Read “Downloaded-yet-Unread Writing Related Articles”
  • Sort “Prompts” file by type of prompt for later use
  •  Figure out what topics I want more info on for the next writing group meeting
  • Prepare my 2-page item for sharing at TPL’s Writing Club
  • Do coursework for online writing classes
  • Help someone else with their writing

 

So then I did, yay verily, sort all my prompts. Also, dyed my hair teal. It didn’t come out quite how I hoped, but that’s how my whole week has gone.

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