Thursday, October 19, 2017

Novel writing progress report: NaNoWriMo prep

Hi there,

I have started the process of collecting all of my notes together in preparation for NaNoWriMo this year. To be honest, I am somewhat intimidated by it this year. Last few years, it was a fun time where even if I had some writer's block, I was still getting things done. I had a couple of years where I managed to write double the target word count. It was exciting and I was quite proud of it.

Then last year happened. I was sick and I was severely depressed. As a result, I didn't get even halfway through my word count goals. I had adjusted them down because I was writing by hand. I knew that I was slower writing by hand. I thought, however, that the notebook's portability would counterbalance my slowness. I didn't realize how much of an influence being sick was going to have on it all. I still have the manuscript unfinished. (One of my goals for this month is to finish the manuscript. I have about two weeks worth of work left to get done in a week and a half. Think happy thoughts for me on this one.)

Since all of that frustration and trouble last year, I have been having a hard time writing. I sit down to work and my anxiety slams into me like a truck. This year, I'm not writing something new. I'm going to attempt to finish book seven of the Umbriel Chronicles. It's been languishing three chapters in because I wrote myself into a corner. A big and difficult one that I can't just skip a head in the plot and come back to fix later. It is one of those problems that could change one of the major characters of the story and completely alter the trajectory of not only one book but the whole series.

Frustrating and intimidating doesn't feel quite strong enough to describe the feelings I'm dealing with right now. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Serial Stories - An Update.

Hi folks,

If you are looking for the latest installment of The Iron Lily or of Dacia's War, I must inform you that they are going to be on hiatus for a while. I am presently working on getting ready for NaNoWriMo. As such, the next few weeks are going to be full of my going over notes and working on plot outlines. I want to avoid the disaster of last year where I tried to just wing it when I was really, really sick. It made it just this side of impossible to work on it.

Strong pain medication makes it hard to remember things. Being in lots of pain also made it hard to remember things. I was very sick this time last year and things didn't start getting resolved until the end of December. Having learned from that experience, I am working on planning out everything for NaNoWriMo, this way if I am having health problems, I don't completely lose the plot of what I was working on.

When I have free time, I will be slowly adding to those serial stories. I'm just not sure how much free time I am going to have. Because I also have Yule gifts to finish up. I am trying to avoid paying tons of money for presents. As a result, I am quite busy crafting things and I'm just going to get busier as it gets closer to the end of December.

I will try to post on here about more than just the frustrations of NaNoWriMo. Daily word counts are not going to be a thing on here. It is going to be a weekly thing. It is my plan to keep my daily word counts in my bullet journal and then total them up for the weekly ones to be posted on Fridays. I will be posting some of my organization stuff for NaNoWriMo next week. You may find it a little interesting. I was inspired by Neil Gaiman's notebooks.

Flora et Fauna: Herbal/Beastiary Project

Hi there,

I'm sorry this post is a day late. I wasn't feeling well at all yesterday. I have the supplies. I have begun practice sketches in a separate notebook (this one was done at the park up the road, it is ornamental grasses at a fountain). Now I'm having a hard time where to begin.

A part of me says I should attempt alphabetic order. Another part says NOPE and I should do it in the order it got put up on here. Any requests or ideas?

(I am thinking about pushing to get 3 sketches done a day until I'm all caught up for the Inktober thing that's going on right now. Does it count if I'm using pencils?)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Craft of Writing: Schedules and goals.

Hi folks,

It's a day late, but here's my craft of writing post for this week. It's been hard to organize my different projects against the stuff happening in my life. As a result, my day planner is changing and my bullet journal is in the process of changes. My goal is to get both to where I can use them together to get my stuff working better. If I can pull this off by November, that'd be great. It would make finishing book seven a lot easier (which is what I'm slating for this year's project).

My day planner started out as just a page with times written down for a given day and a note as to
what day it was. Then I started adding notes about what I was making for dinner that night and reminders. Somehow, it has gone from a one page affair to a two page one with a couple of trackers and note sections on the second page as well as my To Do list for the day.

It now also has colored blocks for things I have ideally booked for that time slot. I am trying to keep my colored blocks in the same scheme as the writing projects I have. And I am also trying to pick out alternate colors for stuff like social events and school related stuff for the kids. This is because I am basically the person who manages the scheduling for everyone. That was where I got started with multiple calendars.

The writing bullet journal was an outgrowth from this work. My most recent entries in the bullet journal are not half as organized as I wanted them to be, to be honest. As a result, I started work on revising the process.

My first step was figuring out what projects were past due and when the other major projects were coming up due. This is still something I'm sifting and sorting out as I go through piles of papers here.

My second step was figuring out my goals for the remainder of the month. The third logical step is figuring out how I am going to keep my log of work. I'm thinking about transitioning to a process that is a combination of how I keep my mental health bullet journal and my daily planner. I'd start out with a page for the month with deadlines and such noted. Also, a 'habit tracker' to help me stay on top of blog posts and journal writing.

I may even also include something along the lines of tracking what I am reading at a given time. (I'm currently working on finishing up Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos. It's a really pleasant read about complex physics. Yes, I am a nerd. If you haven't figured it out yet, I apologize for not being more obvious.) After the monthly page with it's trackers, I would do a weekly page. It gives greater detail to what is planned for the week. In this, I would put down details about events that happen during the week, like if my eldest has a band recital or if I have a scheduled appointment. After the weekly page, there would be daily pages for each day of that week. The next group of pages would be the next week at a glance followed by daily pages. At the end of the month, I'd restart the whole cycle again for the next month.

That's the plan for keeping my log of work. I am also thinking that I need to keep some kind of page for tracking progress on projects. I have three different things I'm working on getting ready to self-publish and I'm at various points in the process. I got a bit confused as to how far along I was on different ones. Thus, I have to make something I can look at and be able to tell what I need to do next for a given project. I'm not quite sure how to do that one though. I've come to realize, however, that the bullet journal layouts that I have been looking at through Pinterest are not really doing a good job of fitting what I need. Good thing I'm crafty.

Friday, October 13, 2017


Hi folks,

Guess who has two thumbs and is losing their mind right now? That's me alright. My ancient and venerable notebook aka novel/series bible finally fell apart. So, what did I do, I grabbed the nearest big notebook and got right to sectioning it out to finally organize all my notes. At which point I then realized I had editing projects to finish. And then I remembered I had manuscripts unfinished. The list goes on and on.

I'd share a picture of the mess with you but it is spread out over about half the living room. Considering that the kids have been playing legos and with a train set all afternoon, it is pretty clear that this mess is mine. And I am overwhelmed trying to figure out just what to do first. I'm having the same problem with trying to get that bullet journal to work for me.

My problem boils down to one simple one: how to I prioritize everything when everything is SUPER IMPORTANT!!1!elventyone! Throw a heaping serving of depression casserole on top (not nearly as tasty as depression cake) and some exhaustion in the mix for spice, well, you just have a mess nearly as epic as my kitchen this morning.

Here's a non-sequitor that actually isn't. The best process for peeling hard boiled eggs is to take a spoon and get it damp. Then lever it between the shell and the cooked white, underneath the film inside the shell. Carefully and patiently, run it underneath the pre-cracked shell with a gentle hand. This will allow you to peel off large sections of shell with a smooth motion that doesn't damage your egg. After you get most of that shell off, it will actually often happen that the rest will slip off with it. Take your time and do it gently, though, so you are not digging into the egg itself.

I just finished peeling a half dozen eggs and making egg salad at 9:30 pm. Sounds a bit off kilter, considering that this is Friday night and no one has to take a bag lunch anywhere. But, Beloved is asleep on the couch and missed dinner. Like those eggs, I want to take care of things carefully. That means if you love someone, you take care of them as much as they let you. Which may mean making egg salad for when he wakes up at 3 am hungry for a snack before getting into bed. How does this relate to my novelistic troubles?

I can't manage to pick which egg to peel first because they all look like the right one to begin with. So, instead of getting down to the task of peeling eggs (pre-writing work and such) so that I can make that egg salad (write my drafts) to make the sandwich (edit and finish a project), I am standing here with a dripping spoon in hand, wondering if what I really need is a fork and feeling like maybe I need to clean the whole kitchen to find JUST THE RIGHT ONE. Because anxiety is a harsh row to hoe.

I know I need to pick just one thing and do it. Maybe I should bust out a die and make a numbered list. Do the first task rolled or something. Goodness knows I am not using my d-20 anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Say what?

So, the picture at the right does a really good job summarizing where I'm at right now on everything. The only thing I feel like I'm doing confidently is metabolizing oxygen into carbon dioxide and producing gas. (So much kale and veggies... I feel like I'm contributing to the world via global warming.)

I keep trying to sit down and write stuff or draw stuff. Just do SOMETHING for this blog. And interruptions pop up all the time when the kids are home. That was the last four days. Today, I find myself struggling with massive anxiety over writing anything. (Even a list of chores was bothering me. It was awkward and unpleasant.)

This difficulty and crisis in confidence is making me dread Nanowrimo this year. I'm trying to finish my project from last year. I only need to write a week's worth of pages. But I can't seem to bring myself to do it. It's awful. And then there is my desire to do the Inktober thing but I flail about that my sketches are not good enough. So, I guess I am going to have to just accept the fact that my work is not going to be 'good enough' and just try to produce something. Hence this post, you see.

Now, I'm going to go back to dealing with this massive pile of laundry and try to figure out just how I'm going to find my way out of the box I wrote myself into on a few things. And attempt to find the energy to finish some edits. I have to get book three out there before Nano, I just have to do it. Or at least get it done before the end of Nano. I've got people who need to get copies for Yule, after all.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Iron Lily Part 14: Rider of Darkness

As they rounded the bend of the path towards the traveler's rest, they found the door standing wide open. Ewen's cousin waved an arm at them, motioning them to hurry. As they did so, Halthor heard a scream above them. "Don't look up," Ewen ordered as he grabbed Halthor's arm and dragged him forward after he had paused to look around. "Run!" Ewen demanded when a second and a third inhuman scream came from the sky. Halthor dipped his head and ran as fast as his legs would let him. As he ran for the threshold of the traveler's rest, Ewen's cousin came out with a pair of torches.

The axe at Halthor's side began to grow warm as it bounced against his leg. Halthor reached the traveler's rest when Ewen's cousin threw one of the torches. It tumbled through the air, just barely not lighting Halthor's hair on fire. Above the builder, the torch struck a creature moving on the night's currents. The scream returned, nearly deafening Halthor as he ducked and drew the hand axe. Above him, a figure that looked to be a man wrapped in a shroud writhed as it lifted up into the darkness of the night away from the light spilling out of the open doorway.

Another figure of shadow against the darkness screamed as it rushed down at him. The eerie cry was echoed to a point where the clearing rang with it. The hooded figure was nearly upon him, long taloned fingers reaching for him. Halthor swung his axe and the place where the face should have been took the blow. The shadow rose, its grasping hands almost gripping Halthor by the neck. The axe flashed and the hands came off at the wrist. After a moment, Halthor saw the shadow's hands reform, though they now looked to be the hands of a mere human, if humans were made of pure darkness.

The floating figures were not only after Halthor but troubling his companions. Halthor glanced over to see Ewen wrestling with his spear in hand, a cold light shining from the head of it like sunlight on a knife's edge. The shadowy assailiant was attempting to wrench the spear from Ewen's grasp. Ewen, however, was not having such nonsense. His cousin at the doorway to the traveler's rest was waving his other torch around and chasing the shadows back into the darkness. Two of the shadow creatures were approaching Halthor as he was taking his quick look at his companions.

Out of some reflex, Halthor tossed the axe into his off hand and slipped his hammer from the loop he carried it on. As the hammer came up, a noise split the air that was not the screams of monsters. It was a sound like thunder. Halthor threw his axe into the creature approaching him from the left. As it hit the night was illuminated with a sudden blast of light. The creature struck by the axe didn't even scream. It slammed into the ground and then vanished as lightning struck it. The creature approaching from the right hesitated and Halthor smashed his heavy hammer into the face of his monstrous opponent.

Light that should have blinded him filled his senses. Thunder that should have deafened him rolled. Beneath his tunic, the crystal in the filigree stag crown grew warm as if it were sitting in the sun on a summer's day. Hewen and his cousin had been thrown to the ground by the almost simultaneous blasts of lightning from the sky where there should have been none. Two other creatures were looming over them to attack them. In three great strides, Halthor reached Ewen's cousin. Again the hammer struck and again there was thunder and lightning. When Halthor turned his gaze to the creature threatening Hewen, the creature fled. Halthor looked down at Ewen's cousin and offered him a hand.

The man was breathless but he took Halthor's offered hand. As he got up to his feet he went to Ewen. Halthor looked around them, listening for any noises of danger. He stooped to pick up the axe when Hewen walked up to him. Ewen was half shouting when he said, "Father's light, what happened?" Halthor raised the axe up. Ewen's eyes narrowed slightly. His cousin, who was standing just behind Halthor nodded with a look of mute amazement. Hewen stuck the knuckle of his right index finger in his ear and rubbed it. His ears rang. His vision was spotty with after images of lightning and the scene of a man standing where it struck. The ferryman shook his head with astoundment. "Grandfather gave me the temple spear. The other arms are hidden around the town. If the riders go back and attack the temple, it will be bloody," Ewen said.

"Then we go to defend them," said Halthor. Ewen shook his head.

"It's too dangerous. Those four are nothing compared to the ones who send them. And they are coming to Wye and then onward to here. You are being hunted," Ewen said. "The riders will come back again later if we remain outside. Their power is stronger past a threshold and in deep dark.We must go inside. It is very late and the darkest hours of the night are ahead of us. At dawn, we will part."

"What about my pony, and the dog?" Halthor said. Ewen smirked. Halthor glowered at him.

"Elfstock pony and dog are not on the list of what the riders like to eat. I think they'll be safe. Too much light in them," Ewen said, showing the first note of humor since setting out from the temple, "You'll find them nosing around the door at dawn."

Halthor and the other two men entered the traveler's rest and threw the latch. "Apparently the arms need to be cast or stricken against the foe as per how they'd be used in pitched and desperate battle," the weary ferryman said as he sat down heavily beside the fire. "This is something I suspected and Grandfather suggested may have been the case. It is, however, unclear why when you struck the rider with the axe in your hand that it did not do whatever it just did."

"Who and what are the riders?" Halthor asked.

"The hungry dead," Ewen's cousin answered, "They are the souls who were consumed incompletely by the dark children and left to ride the wind and night. They chase the souls of living people to feed on them and fill the void left by the dark ones. That is a void that can never be filled, though, because their food feeds the ones who set them loose. Truly powerful ones move by daylight."

Ewen shot his cousin an angry look. "He leaves at dawn," his cousin said sharply, "He must know what is hunting him. Speaking about it at dark is something unavoidable. As long as we ignore the voices on the wind and keep the fire burning until daylight, we will be fine. Sleep in shifts and tend the flame. You know that is what Grandfather would tell us." Ewen sighed.