Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review: How to Pray

Title: How To Pray
Author: Rev. Joseph Nassal & Nancy Burke
Publisher: Philip Lief Group, Inc. Date: 1998

I'm amazed this wasn't one of my textbooks for any of the religion courses I took at CND. The author's tone was incredibly familiar, as was the approach taken in the development of the text. It provided an unexpectedly simple, yet powerful, clarification of the concept of prayer. One that I"m not sure quite how to put into wrods without using metaphores and such.

The interfaith perspective and the humanistic language took the arcane concept of prayer and clarified. it. Prayer is not a riatual, an action, a series of words, or some mandate of dogma. it is the expression of one's spirituality and one's relationship with their world and all in it/of it/etc. This is including, but not limited to, the Divine.

I believe this book or one like it should be included in one of the religion courses. Maeby I'll email Sr. Sharon and tell her about it.

[Note: I'm still convinced this is an amazing and very helpful book for anyone that is struggling with the concept of prayer.]

Originally Posted 3/25/06 from an Nov. 2002 entry in my paper journal

Book Review: The Otherside and Back: A Psychic's Guide to Our World and Beyond

Title: The Otherside and Back: A Psychic's Guide to Our World and Beyond
Author: Sylvia Brown & Lindsay Harrison
Publisher: Penguin Group
Date: 1999

 I'm writing this entry after the fact. Mainly because when I had time to read, I simply couldn't put this book down. The blunt honesty, the charm and sincerity of Sylvia's book is refreshing. It is also very educational. In some respects, it is almost like a toned down version of Mom. It's a very good, unpretentious and educational book. Full of warmth, humor, and humanity. I'd say this is one of the best books I've read in a long time about the psychic arts.

Originally Posted: 3/25/2006 from an entry Nov. 2002 in my paper journal

Book progress is happening.

Hi there, Dear Reader!

I'm presently in the final editing stages on book four of the Umbrel Chronicles. I'm ready to throw the laptop out a window from frustration. Some of this frustration is because I feel like I am Sisyphus and some of it is because my editing notes from last summer make NO sense to me now. Hence murder cat's picture again.

I am also in the beginnings of the self publication process on book three. This is equally vexing. It seems like the site is just running slow on purpose right now. And it doesn't help to have the weather get weird and then my internet go funny. I had to have my technomancer husband threaten things to make stuff work right last time. May be time to have him do so again.

But, stuff is happening. I'm hoping to post links and synopsises (synopsi? synoptici? what is the proper pluralization here?) some time next week. Provided I can actually get that accomplished. Life's been weird over here. Had some mental health stuff triggered and made for a very WTF week. And I have one present to finish making. PROTIP: Crocheting in the round will make you insane if you forget to use stitch markers at your increase points. ALWAYS USE THEM!!1!elventyone

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Migraine cures?

Hi there folks,

I really wish that magic was more effective in our world. That is, I wish that I could just wave a wand and have this stupid migraine go away. I had one Monday. Then yesterday and Tuesday were just ok. I thought that I had maybe dodged a bullet by the fact that I was only dealing with arthritis and cramps. (Eat bananas, y'all, they help.)

This morning, as I was going to put the wee heathens on the bus, migraine number two hit. I'm not fully over it. I have the blinds drawn to filter the light to keep my headache from being terribly painful. I've been alternating between generic Tylenol and pain pretty much all day. Coffee helps some, but only as a vehicle to help get that pain killer into my system. If this migraine business doesn't ease up over the next couple days (because I had a 3 day migraine last month and don't want to do it again), I will probably be going to my family doctor.

Migraines suck. I'm running out of ideas for how to work whilst dealing with this garbage. If you have any suggestions, that would be awesome. In the meantime, I think I have earned a gold star for getting through this post with out major typos despite the fact that my vision is a little off right now.

Writing wise, I haven't gotten much done because I'm working on presents for people. I am also working on setting up my bullet journal for next year. I'll be sharing some layout pages soon. Oh! I almost forgot, book three of the Umbrel Chronicles should be up and available for purchase soon. I just finished the editing process and I'm now working on getting it through the publication process on CreateSpage and Lulu. I'll keep you updated on that over the next few weeks.

Have a good day.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Craft of Writing: Planning & Plotting

Hi there, dear Reader.

I'm glad you could join me. The holiday season is already a really busy time of year. Throw in things like managing getting ill, random stuff that pops up because life is unpredictable, and the fact that people tend to be more likely to just interrupt you if you're sitting still this time of year, it is pretty hard to squeeze in time for writing of any sort. Schedules help as much as it may any time of the year. And getting up a bit early to work on it is helpful, if you are able to sacrifice some sleep to make it happen. On the other hand, staying up late could possibly achieve the same effect.

The key to making it through any busy time and getting any writing done at all is to plan. I like my bullet journal and my multiple planners (4 calendars, a weekly planner, and a daily planner are what get me through). It is a good amount of work for me to reconcile everything. Part of the problem is I am drawing up my pages by hand. It is something I'm going to fix next year by getting the pre-printed weekly and daily pages if I can get away with it. I'm undecided, because it is going to be difficult to find something with a lay out similar to what I'm doing right now. Take out all of that drawing of boxes and labeling of dates, I spend around 30 minutes a week cross referencing all of my calendars and stuff to make sure everything matches.

I'm not telling you that you need to go at things like this. I was raised to approach pretty much all planning as though you were planning the invasion of Normandy ala World War II. This carries over into how I plan my writing. I start with a general sense of where I want to go with my work. In the case of my day planner and such, this is like knowing what month I am in and the major events of the month. I then try to assess what the significant events are that mark progression to the final goal. This is the equivalent of putting dates to those major events.

Obviously, who, what, and where are crucial to the plot events and the events on my calendar. Usually, I have a few bullet points when I'm at the initial planning stage for my plot that summarize these things in as few words as possible. That minimal level of notation is what goes into my weekly planner for events in my month. I then try to break the major events into a series of smaller sequential events that form the basis of them. Those get their own sets of bullet points. This is the equivalent of my daily plans for a given week. Sometimes those bullet points get broken down into individual scenes. Those are the hours of that day. (In some cases, this is a literal thing depending on the writing project in question.)

Now, my calendar is my overarching plot of the project. The months are the major divisions of the project. The weeks are the major sub-plots for each division. And the days are minor sub-plots with hours broken up for scenes. This practice is not one that evolved out of my calendar but one that started with how I was taught to write a research paper. It's kinda wild how you can apply nonfiction techniques for some of the driest forms of writing to fiction and get really good results.

When I was writing research papers, I was taught to make my outline as detailed as possible so that I was left with essentially taking my notes and plugging them in to make paragraphs out of the bullet points. It is a lot of prep work. I am not going to lie, it is tempting to just say 'Nope, not today!' when I sit down to organize notes. The end result of all of that preparation, however, gives you not only the structure of what you are writing but the ability to completely rearrange the whole document before you have written the first paragraph and have to figure out later in the first round of edits how to make chapter three and chapter thirteen switch places with out breaking your narrative.

Trust me, it is a whole lot easier to make those changes on the drafting board of your outline and pre-writing work than when you are editing a draft. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it will happen less. This makes for a happier and less stressed author and editor. It also helps make the final product flow better because you have been polishing your plot and transitions from day one. It works for pretty much any genre of prose. Poetry is its own beast and planning is done entirely differently.

Even one day spent planning saves countless hours of frustration. If I learned anything from my NaNoWriMo failure this year, it was that. I don't know if I would have hit 50K words if I did my planning properly. I do know, however, I would have had a much higher word count as of November 30th if I did. Learn from my mistake! ♥

Saturday, December 2, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 recap.

Hi there,

I can say I did not 'win' this year. This year and last year were just really bad years for me. For some reason, I was sick most of the time and when I wasn't sick I had other obligations taking me away from writing, like parent teacher conferences. (Proud parent moment: both of the wee heathens have taken an interest in writing. The eldest wants to write for a newspaper and the youngest wants to make comic books, aka graphic novels. So I'm super excited about this.)

I have no idea what my final word count is. I have been so caught up in trying to get holiday presents finished and things like my bullet journal ready for next year that I just haven't stopped to count words. I am going to keep working on this thing. I have a nifty pin that I'm going to wear after I finish it. And when I reach the halfway point, I have a new set of earrings. (Total cost of jewelry was $6.00 because I get stuff on sale and go to weird places to buy stuff. Art pieces that are jewelry are just awesome. I'll share that pin when I finish this thing.)

The project for this year never got a title. It probably won't get one until much later in the process. I know that this is a work that is going to require heavy revision for it to make any sense. Right now it is just a rambling heap of words that are sort of connected. I wrote just about every day of the month. So, my little calendar for November has a whole bunch of sparkly star stickers. I got one for each day I wrote.

What I take away from NaNo this year is that I need to plan nonfiction, even if it is something autobiographical in nature. I also have learned that a strict writing schedule only works if you're not sick in bed half the day and parenting the other half. Writing in a notebook is useful when I can't sit at the computer, even if the laptop is infinitely more portable than a desktop computer. I think I'm going to resume my old habit of carrying a notebook for jotting down ideas in. And I think that is going to be my writing bullet journal, actually.

This month, I really did use the bullet journal and I think that my weekly trackers need to be tweaked a little bit. I am going to start using it for more than a weekly log of my writing time. Because the bullet journal is applied to all of my writing stuff, I am not going to be using it to draft out ideas. I will be using separate paper for that. I am going to make collections in it, though, for things like titles and stuff that I want to read. I think that I'm not going to go whole hog into making doodles, though it may happen from time to time. I will be using stickers and rewards, though, because that little star for effort really did boost more morale.

As for this year's project, I am thinking that I'm going to just write as I have been. Use that notebook as a brain dump for this project. Then sit down and do a more serious job of picking what exactly is my focus and planning how to get it done. I also am going to read more memoirs and related things in that style to get a better grip on the process. Beloved says I should write for myself. I think this is great, but I think that this may need a little more help to make sense. Which means learning more about the style I am going to be writing in.

Writing nonfiction is a huge departure from fiction. I forgot how big of a change it was. Not good of me to get rusty on that front. Expect things to get a little more crunchy in the craft of writing posts. And for there to be more interesting recipes or research notes popping up.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Nanowrimo Day 25: I have no idea what I'm doing.

Hi folks,

I have absolutely no idea what my word count is right now. I have no idea what is going on with my
manuscript. I've been writing almost everyday but it has been very hard to do so. I didn't write yesterday or on turkey day. It has been exhausting and I feel rather defeated. I suspect this is going to be like Glass House or The Red Chair, a manuscript I don't finish until at least a year later.

I have five days to cram in as much writing as I can. I don't think I'm going to get much done because I have a busy day tomorrow minding the wee heathens and appointments to deal with at least on Monday. Not to mention, I have housework to catch up on and stuff for Yule to finish. I am feeling disappointed with myself because I am just not putting up the word count goals I had set for myself. I tried to be modest in my expectations.

I am not sure how to feel about NaNoWriMo right now. I've been trying. I've been sick a lot this year. I also have had things just get busy. I find myself wondering if NaNoWriMo is just harder for me because I'm having an off couple of years or because I'm just losing my taste for it. It could also be the fact that this is the second year in a row that I attempted to do a manuscript by hand. You know, a literal manuscript. Perhaps I will attempt that at another time when I am not dealing with the stress of the holidays, school conferences, and cold/flu season.

I am also of the mind to say that my next hand written manuscript attempt is going to be generated from the most detailed plot map and researched set of notes that I an accomplish. This spending a few weeks to prepare was a bad decision for this project. And that I am going to probably not try to work on two separate novels by hand at the same time for the actual writing of the novel.

TL:DR - No idea what my word count is or what I'm doing. I'm contemplating running up the black flag on NaNoWriMo '17 but will likely go down with the ship.


Random nerd note: white flag was for parley, black flag was surrender on the medieval battle field for a good percentage of Europe prior to influence from others.