Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'm going to do WHAT?

So, the social phobe author is going on an adventure right in her own backyard. The Livingston County Writers and Poets club is meeting tomorrow at the Chip Holt Nature Center. This is literally right around the corner from my house. I'm more than a little nervous about this. That said, I recognize it would really do me a great deal of good to go and have something resembling a social life.

I am planning on bringing my bullet journal and my writing journal. I'm leaving the morning pages stuff at home because that is the sort of thing I'm supposed to not share with people. It's like my daily journal (and interestingly the content is shifting in that direction too despite my efforts to stay focused on writing in there). Both are private and generally not something to let most anyone view.

Wish me luck or something. If it goes well, I'll be attending both meetings on a given month (first and third Wednesday of the month). I just worry that it is going to be a situation where I'm the youngest person in the room and I completely don't fit in at all. Because social phobia says this would be a horrible thing and I should just give up before I try. Scumbag brain is getting medicated for this jaunt.

My work on rebuilding plot maps is slowly progressing. Other things have been getting in the way today, like paying bills and dealing with papers. Because not everything is going to be about writing, yanno? Next Tuesday, I will have the next installment of The Iron Lily up. The following Tuesday, I should have the next installment of Dacia's War, provided everything goes according to plan.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Craft of Writing: Organize and Attack with Mind Bullets!

I am adjusting my bullet journal and how I approach writing again. It seems to be a thing that I am going to do regularly. This is not a bad thing, just time consuming. Still, as I work on this, I am finding the creative well is beginning to fill up again. Perhaps the biggest change that I have made over the last few weeks is just making a point of dedicating a solid two hours everyday to journal writing. Spending that time focusing on myself is actually helping me find my voice again. A fantastic thing when you have been in a writing slump, to be honest.

In the pic below, I changed my layout a little bit. The weekly work log is divided up into three sections. The one at the extreme left is morning, the middle is afternoon, and the final is evening. I am also now adding appointments in so that I can keep better track of time spent on things. I also deliberately added blogging to my list of daily tasks. As I am having some difficulty staying on top of work for different books, I added a section noting my major things to get done this week on that front as well.

I am still in the process of getting plot maps done. It has been frustrating work, but this is what happens when I don't write down what I was planning and I have to back track to figure out what to do. I did have a brainstorm Friday night when I was out picking up takeout for dinner and found my way out of one plot hole. Maybe I'll get lucky and find another bolt of inspiration to resolve other plot holes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Summer's End: Harvest Festivals of Evandar

Image from Pexels.com
The autumn is a season of harvest. While the harvest of the world of Evandar is far more labor intensive than harvest in much of the real world, it is a time of largess and celebration (when the harvest is good). For the people of Evandar, autumn is considered to begin with the first major harvest of the major crop of the region.

Generally, this is the wheat or other grains that were planted as late in the last year as possible so that there is grain growing as soon as all is thawed. The practice was one that the people of northern Evandar developed to compensate for the challenges of the growing season in that mountainous region.

The first harvest celebration is known only as First Harvest. It is celebrated when the final field of early, ripe grain is harvested. A corn dolly is made and left standing in the field to draw the attention of mischievous spirits to the field rather than the places where the grain is stored. Sometimes, the corn dolly will be paraded around the field with great ceremony and people trying to douse the dolly with water. The general tone of the celebration is joyful. This is also a time when many marriages take place because the harvest is considered to be an auspicious time for weddings and they have no reached the time where multiple things are due for harvesting.

The second harvest celebration is a few weeks later. The second full moon of autumn is known as the Harvest Moon and under the light of it (and by the light of bonfires) there will be harvesting done out in the fields. At the same time, however, there are races, feasting, and celebrating. The Harvest Moon celebration is also one of the ones that is focused on fertility. A pregnant woman will be chosen as the Harvest Queen and sit upon a throne of sorts. She will for the evening outrank local nobility and, later, rule the time between Harvest Moon and the final celebration. The Harvest Queen is housed in the local noble's home as an important guest. When the final celebration comes, the Harvest Queen is sent back to her home with a chest that holds the donations and gifts of homage that she received. (Most often, the gifts and such are things that she would need to care for her child and manage her household.)

The final harvest celebration comes after the first frost that lasts beyond sunrise. This is known as the Cold Harvest. Some also call it the Blood Harvest. During this final harvest time, herds are thinned and meat is prepared for storage. Where the other celebrations are filled with joy and excitement, the Cold Harvest is a time of great solemnness. The Harvest Queen kills the first fatted stock animal with an invocation that the animal's death be taken by the bane-workers (the deamons) and the animal's blood keep their thirsty lips away from human throats.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Serial Stories Update!

Hi folks!

The major depressive episode that was approximately a year long is finally gone. Unfortunately, I've rather lost the thread of where I was going with both of the stories. This week, I am in the process of back tracking through the past installments. My goals are to reestablish what the plot was that I had been working on and to build upon it to get things moving forward again.

It may sound odd but these two very different stories are connected. And they connect to the main stories of the Umbrel Chronicles. In fact, there are going to be two major characters from books six and seven showing up once I reach the place that it makes sense for it to happen. There will be some other easter eggs between the serial stories and the novels. This is something that I do have fairly clear recollection of planning on doing.

The challenge is to recover what the mechanics of said eggs was going to be. Right now, they're scrambled. They say you can't unscramble an egg. A chemist once told me that with sufficient resources, it would be entirely possible to do so by way of breaking protein bonds. Now, what does this have to do with my stories? Precious little, because advanced chemistry is not a thing yet in this fictional world. But, if it is possible to unscramble an egg with proper resources and time, it is possible for me to unscramble my plot lines too.

I do have one other thing to add to today's post. I want to apologize for how whiny Halthor has been. It wasn't my plan for him to be at that point, but the character is morphing. I am realizing that there are some deeper unresolved issues that he is going to be struggling with along side the original adventure/mischief of fate plot line. Hopefully, I will get a better handle on it and try to move Halthor from the 'teenage angst' position to 'struggling adult' position instead. Because he's not a youth and his personality was supposed to be more goal oriented and classic hero stature, with a few twists. This take on the Hero's Journey is not quite going as I planned.

Oh, before I forget, y'all are going to love to hate Al-Uzza. She is based on some individuals I have known in the past with their worst traits mashed into one person. But, don't worry, unlike some others in this universe, she is going to get exactly what she deserves for her malarkey.

Have a wonderful evening!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Flora et Fauna: Bestiary & Herbal.

Hi folks!

I have vaguely talked about how I wanted to make an herbal manuscript in the style of the Voynich manuscript and other medieval documents. I have made similar statements regarding a bestiary. Today, I have begun assembling my supplies and making decisions on how to work things. The bestiary and the herbal are going to be in two basic black bound sketchbooks that you can pick up pretty much anywhere art supplies are sold.

I am still deciding between the different types of tools I want to use for illustration. While I love the vividness of the pens I have, I feel like they would not blend well with the medieval style. I have pencils, but I feel that they are too soft in coloration. I am still trying to pick the best way to put the color to the images. I have some very rough ideas of how to approach this. I am tempted to get my hands on some tempera paints and use them. After all,when the medieval documents were created, the colors were very vivid.

I know how to handle the text. I am going to be using a dip pen for this. The text is going to be written up in a script that I am in the process of developing. I think that the text is going to be the hardest part of this project. I will, however, be putting it forth in English. Specifically, it is going to be a polyglot of English from multiple eras, up to and including Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, and early Modern English. This is going to be challenging, but I think it is going to ultimately be easier than using the language that I am still in the process of developing.

I will be adding to the images I post of these things a 'translation' of the text pictured. It will be using the spellings as fitting for the period that I am drawing from and include at times some lesser known letters such as thorn ( Þ ). Incidents where I am using unfamiliar to modern eyes spellings, I will include the modern spelling beside it in brackets and different colored font.

This is going to be a huge project. But, I think it will serve me well to get me back into the swing of describing this world. First images, ideally, will be done some time next week.This will be accredited to a character in the series and I will be the 'translator' of the document. Because I am a dork like that.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Craft of Writing: Bullet Journal manipulation & stuff.

So, the last several weeks have been exhausting and chaos. Having both boys going back to school on Wednesday is a glorious thing and I hope to get a lot of stuff done. This hope has lead me to sit down and revise my Bullet Journal layout for the week. It still has the essential elements from the last two I shared.

I have added, however, a second page. The page is divided up into seven sections. Obviously, one section for each day. It is where I am going to use the 'rapid logging' technique from standard Bullet Journal practices to note what writing I get done on a given day. This is to keep track of two things. First, I want to keep some kind of record how much writing I am doing on a given day. I want to get an idea as to where my writing time is getting spent. If I am spending my writing session derping around on Facebook and Pinterest, I really want to catch that and correct it.

Secondly, I want to get a picture of what writing I am doing. I know this sounds just about the same as what I just said. The thing here is that I have a really wide range of topics that I am writing about. It is hard right now for me to tell where I need to do more work and where I can trim back my word count expectations. My goal is three fold on adjusting blog posts. First, I want to get back to posting consistently across all of my blogs. Second, I want to have my posts be of higher quality. And, finally, I want my blog posts to be a more efficient means of expressing what I have in mind.

So, this is why I made the adjustments to my weekly set up in my Bullet Journal. It is a small thing but it seems to be small changes that are allowing me to make forward progress. I am trying to focus on progress instead of perfection. I saw a thing on Facebook where they were encouraging people to focus on just 'do the thing' instead of trying to make it meet some nebulous idea of perfection. The argument is that perfection is not possible. Improvement, however, only happens when we do the thing many times and focus on completing the task.

I am shifting how I have my planning pages for my blogs set up. Up until today, I had them all together in one binder. Each one had its own set of colored pages and was divided into their own sections. Theoretically, this was the most organized method that I could have. Unfortunately, that big binder was big enough to be difficult to use. This resulted in little to no planning. I considered shifting blog planning into my Bullet Journal but remembered, again, that having everything together in some kind of mishmash really was the reason why I was separating things out.

Now, we have a bit of a glut of school supplies at my place. I took my multicolored paper and put it into folders for each individual little stack. Next, I am going to sit down and make a few adjustments to how I am planning on those stacks of paper. Right now, everything is just listed on the page. There is no outlines. Just vague topic notes. I have come to the conclusion that outlines are going to be necessary if I am going to actually get anything done. (By the way, this means more material coming for Dacia's War and the Iron Lily over the next few weeks. This week is a set-up week where I am trying to make things more user friendly.)

The biggest irony right now, however, is that I look at my stock pile of notebooks and I feel torn as to if I should grab one to start writing down a 'book bible' for the series that I am writing. I catch myself worrying some about this turning into a fiasco with a random pile of notebooks with a few entries in there and nothing more. This was sort of how things turned out the last time I attempted this level of organization. That, however, was almost 20 years ago and I was in the middle of figuring out what the hell I was doing at college.

I have obviously learned some things. My anxiety is understandable given how the last year has been for me. I am not going to give up. I have worked too hard to get to where I am now. And I still have a story to finish. (A story that is going to be approximately 20 books if I keep going at the rate I am with these books thus far.) I am turning 37 this year. I can't afford to let myself run in circles going 'what if I screw [XYZ] up?' and coming up with as many catastrophic images of disaster as I can think of. The last year was full of that. A good amount of it came from brain chemistry being off kilter. That's been addressed now. So, it is time to get back to work.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Flora et Fauna: Update note.

I have been lax in my updates and writing. I apologize for this. I have finally found my colored pencils and picked up a set of watercolor pencils. This may not seem a big deal, but my primary medium for drawing natural themes are pencils. I've tried with markers and what I posted most recently is one of the better results. I also found one of my extra sketchbooks. This one is fairly small, but that actually works in my favor.

It allows me to put something together that more closely resembles the herbals of antiquity than the work of John James Audubon. (Not that I don't love Audubon's Birds of America and other works, it is just a level of work that is beyond me.) I tried with the larger paper but I simply couldn't get to where I had the organization and groundwork laid out for it. Now, I will attempt to keep my sketches detailed.

They will, however, be more like what you would find in this English herbal. It is also my plan to write notes with my sketches. I will be reworking the sketches I already have completed. I am looking for my other blank mini-sketchbook to create a bestiary. I may wind up just buying another one. (And I may even have it with different cover designs on it too.)

As the kids will be going back to school in a week and a half, I may not have a whole host of sketches and such for you. After school starts up again, though, I will be working on getting back to that previous level of work produced from before that terrible depressive episode started.