Sunday, December 31, 2017

Death on toast?

That's about how I feel right now. I've been very sick and struggling just to get household chores done, never mind any of the work that goes into blogging. If it weren't for the kids being on break all last week and my eldest being home sick from school the week before, I probably would have been in bed all day for the last two weeks. The doctor says it is just a virus. I've been feeling sick and having some manner of cold since the beginning of November, if not mid-October. If this doesn't clear up over the next 48 hours, I'll be going back and just glare at him until he gives me something stronger than this cough suppressant.

Book three is almost ready. I have to review proofs. The soft cover is on CreateSpace and the hard cover is on Lulu. Ordering through Lulu directly gives you a discount. I can't recall exactly what I set that to. If you want more information, look at the Books page I have set up. Then you can take a look at the cover. It came out looking rather pretty, in my opinion, for a self generated cover with their cover creator.

I'm going to attempt to resume posting again, despite feeling horrid. I apologize in advance if I happen to drop jokes as lame as the ones I make my husband suffer through in his lunch box. (Example: What was the snake's costume? A rope.) I will also attempt to post some prompts for writing. I liked doing that when I has the presence of mind to do so during NaNoWriMo.

I am going to try to get those serial stories moving again. It is likely going to be on alternate weeks. I have decided that 2018 is going to be the year that I wrap up the Iron Lily, because it is something of a prequel to some major events in books seven and eight of the Umbrel Chronicles. If I can accomplish it, I will be putting the serial stories when completed together into a short work that includes some unpublished background stories for the world as well.  That, however, is a long term project that I'm not going to start until the Iron Lily is done.

If you can donate to support my work, it would be greatly appreciated. Donors will get a thank you note. If we can break $100 in donations for the month of January, I will post a brief video of my reading an excerpt of the short story that was my very first attempt to write a novel waaay back in middle school. It is not very good, but it was the source of an idea that carries forward to today.

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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nanowrimo Day 14: Prompts for EVERYONE!

Hi there, everybody.

At first, I had this wild idea that I was going to post the number of prompts corresponding to the number for the date. And then I fell behind. I sat here trying to decide how to approach the prompts thing and it struck me that I could just post a list of prompts and not do 14! prompts. Exponential numbers of prompts only works if you do it daily and don't fall behind. So, here is a list of 10 prompts that work for just about any genre you're writing, fiction or non-fiction. (If you're writing about a character, obviously approach these from the character's point of view. Or not, whatever works for you.)

1. What is the hardest challenge you has had to face thus far?

2. What is the biggest dream that you  wish to accomplish this year? Have you done it? If so, how did you do it? If not, what stopped you?

3. Where is your 'happy place'? Is this a place you can go in real life? Is this a place you envision when you are stressed out and can't visit when life gets challenging? What makes this such a special place?

4. Who is your biggest supporter? What has been their largest contribution to your success? How have you thanked them?

5. Where is the best place to eat? What kind of food do they serve there? What is your favorite dish?

6. Why are you working on this project? What do you want to accomplish and how do you envision doing it?

7. Who do you love and what do you love about them? 

8. How do you start your day? Do you have a favorite part to your morning routine? Why is it your favorite?

9. What subject confuses you? Do you wish to learn more about it? If so, why? If not, why?

10. What is best in your life? Why is it the best and how does it effect the rest of your life?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Nanowrimo day 13: Actual post content ahead!

Hi there,

I've been sick for a week and a half now. Still sick. I have an appointment with the family doctor on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure that the string of cold, norovirus, and flu has given me an ear infection and a sinus infection. It's made getting pretty much anything done hard. Sleep doesn't work that great when you're coughing and in pain. The body aches is worse than my arthritis, and that's saying something given how the weather has been just perfect for arthritis pain.

Writing wise, I'm well behind where I wanted to be by now. For obvious reasons, naps do make it hard to write. I'm still writing by hand. I finished Glass House last week on the 8th. It will be getting sent to the recipient Wednesday. Because I'll be out of the house doing stuff. Final total word count on that project was just shy of 40K. It was the novel I started last year and had to stop because I was so sick.

My still untitled manuscript for this year is a rambling mess. I'm presently at 7.5K on that. But my working on two manuscripts at the same time slowed me down. And I've been sick. On my good days, between both projects, my average word count has been around 3.5K. On my bad days, I've been much lower. I haven't calculated what my total word count between both projects would be for this week.

If I can, I will try to get that number up tomorrow. First week of the month, my total word count was 12.3K. I know that the total for the second week of the month is going to be much lower. (Thanks, flu.) And yes, I am writing this out by hand. My writing session is two hours long, broken up into two one hour units or where ever I can catch the time to write. I am writing this year's project in a composition book. I'm using a Pilot G-2 (07) ball point gel pen. Black ink, if anyone's curious. I can't tell you off the top of my head what my average number of words per page is except that it is higher than 200. I think it is 250, but I'm not sure.

Glass House was written up in a A5 sized notebook with a canary yellow color. I used a Pilot G-2 (05) with black ink. The average number of words per page was 240. I didn't bother numbering any of the pages for either project so I have no idea how many pages that I've written. But here's the status update I was planning to do for the last week.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Nanowrimo day 3: Prompt 3

Hi folks,

I'm taking a break from writing by hand to type this up. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have killer writer's cramp by the end of the day. But I WILL get caught up on word count. (I'm presently a day behind plus today's count.) Today's prompts go with the 'dark' mood of today's weather.

Prompt 3.1 - The biggest lie I ever told was ...

Prompt 3.2 - What is the worst thing you have ever done?

Prompt 3.3 - The worst mistake in my life was ...

(Murder cat because murder cat is adorable.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NaNoRHINO day 2: Prompt 2

Hi folks,

Yesterday was not an awesome writing day due to a migraine. I hate those things. I think the weather has settled a little bit so I may be able to get a better start going. Today's prompt is two for the price of one. (I'm debating doing an increasing number of prompts for each day. I haven't decided yet.)

Prompt 2.1 - What scares you?

Prompt 2.2 - Pretend your Batman for a minute. Do you have a plan?

(Why Batman? Because you can be you, but Batman ALWAYS has a plan.)

And, obviously, Batman is property of DC Comics and I'm NOT taking ANY credit for ANYTHING of theirs. NOPE, NOT TODAY, SATAN!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 1: Prompt 1

Hi folks,

I'm going to try to post everyday here. Because I don't want to spam you with numbers and stuff, I'm going to post writing prompts. Consider it my encouragement and good will.

Prompt 1: Complete the letter following this sentence- Dear [Name], It weighs on me that I never told you ...

I'm still working on Glass House. Yesterday, in my prep for my writing today, I worked on Glass House at all stolen moments and in place of my morning pages. As a result, I wrote 3.5 k. That was by hand. Maybe I can get this thing done at the same time as I am working on my official project for this year. Both are to be done by hand. Wish me luck.

Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you!

Monday, October 23, 2017

T-9 days to NaNoWriMo, Thoughts.

NaNoWriMo is a big project. It is also my attempt to get back to writing books. Most years that I have participated, I was writing new content. It was a pleasurable event that I walked into bright eyed and filled with excitement. Last year, I struggled very much. At the end of the month, I was lucky if my word count was around 1k. It was the beginning of functionally a year long struggle with writing. A number of factors were in my way. The biggest was the fact that I was sick and it made getting any form of writing done very hard.

So, here I am getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2017 and I am nervous. Perhaps more nervous than I was the first year I attempted doing it. I know in the past I was able to write out a full 50k manuscript and a bit more over the course of the month. It was a regular thing when I had the opportunity and made a point of being disciplined about my working schedule. Now, I am afraid that my ongoing struggle with depression is going to shut this down before I get started. I am concerned about what ever may pop up over the month putting me in a position where I simply am unable to finish what I am working on. And I have all of the usual 'imposter syndrome' coming up again like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

Still, I'm going to make the attempt. If anything, to hopefully prove to myself that I actually can still do this stuff.

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 13: 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.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Flora & Fauna: Manuscript styles for Herbal & Bestiary.

From Medieval Archives.
Hi there,

I started out with this grand idea of making an illustrated manuscript. I thought it was fantastic and that I was going to use all of my artistry and skills to make something truly amazing. Then I started researching different styles of illuminated manuscripts. Did you know there is a shockingly high number of different illuminated manuscript styles just in Europe? Essentially each region has their own richly detailed styles, some getting down to the individual lineage of the scriptoriums who were putting these things together.

It's subtle, but all there. And then there is what you will find in other regions that is kinda jaw-dropping in complexity. The manuscripts of Persia are probably the ones that I find the most visually appealing. At the same time, however, the manuscripts of the lower portion of the Indian subcontinent is a kinda big thing too. We won't even get into the enormous range of the Chinese and Japanese illuminated and illustrated manuscripts. That is a tradition that has so many different nuanced elements that it literally takes multiple college classes to begin to understand it.

To say the least, I am somewhat overwhelmed by the matter. When I began turning back to look at some of my old artwork, I started seeing details from when I was much younger and not as inclined towards strict realism that was similar to the English illuminated manuscripts. I think to do the artwork for all of this, I am going to have to go back to my own artistic roots and reassess things from there. My test sketches are not that great, but they are test sketches done in pencil. I did reach a final decision on how to handle the actual work in the books proper. I'm going to use colored pencil because it is the medium I am most comfortable with and because the color saturation is a bit closer to what I'd find in the old manuscripts at the present time.

Progress is happening in fits and starts, but there is indeed progress.

Craft of Writing: Don't get too competitive.

Hi there!

Sorry this post is a day late. My boys were very active yesterday and when I finally got time to sit down at the laptop my brain was completely fried. Adhd is a hell of a thing. When I wasn't juggling one kid's temper tantrums over what the other kid was doing (and in one case an epic level meltdown over losing a game of checkers), I was thinking about what my problems had been posting. Being distracted was part of it, as was not feeling well. I was pretty sure that there was something else poisoning the well, however.

Watching that meltdown made the proverbial penny drop. I was trying to compete with EVERYBODY on the internet. It was a disappointing moment, to be honest. Still, it made me step back and look at what the problems were this created. It is something that kicks my perfectionism into high gear and for my internal critic, nothing is good enough. (I kinda wanna stick that chick in a trunk and sinking 'em into the bottom of the lake. There's caves down there, it'll be hard to find the body.) And good gods, how much is this competition with ALL THE INTERNET making me depressed and crazy, on top of the legitimate problems with depression happening.

A little competition is good. It keeps me hungry for doing more and for pushing myself to grow. Feeling like I have to compete with every last Bob, Dick, and Jane who have a website (and a Twitter feed) is something that leads to crippling self doubt. I really don't recommend it. Beloved had a good point the other day when he encouraged me to write for myself. A famous person, I can't remember their name right now, once said that if we write for ourselves, the book will find its audience when we put it out there.

It is not easy to do so. It requires heaps and heaps of courage and vulnerability. It also requires a willingness to do the super uncomfortable things to keep moving forward. (Kinda like this post, to be honest.) But, from what I can tell, the higher quality writing comes out of that place of vulnerability and openness. And that is what I am seeking. Not to edge some invisible, nameless conglomerate figure of the entire internet.

TL:DR version: Don't try to compete with everybody on this rock. It's just going to make you crazy. Compete with yourself, if you must compete. The rest comes along later, the writing is first. Focus on what you want to say and how you want to say it. Everybody and their brother are still going to be there later. Who knows, maybe they'll notice your work and say 'hey, this fits me.' because you didn't chase what other people was saying how things should be done. ♥

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rambling and nattering on.

Hi Folks,

It has been a challenging time for me. Back to school has been exhausting. The biggest hurdle, however, has been my mental health. After feeling somewhat better, but anxious, I have slipped into another depressive episode. I was talking with Beloved about how I was worried it was going to turn into the same kind of mess that last year was. I was (and, honestly, still am) very concerned that the depression was basically going to kill all of my writing projects.

I gave the bitter argument that no one wanted to read about struggling with depression. He looked at me and said that writing is one of my coping mechanisms. He also said that I should write for myself and if I choose to post it on a blog, then I should not worry about what other people had to say about it. It was something that I spent a good part of my evening thinking about last night and tonight. When things hit the point of 'I have to write SOMETHING or give up the blog.' in my head, I started transferring old reading journal posts.

I honestly can't say that the writer's group meeting on the 20th went well. I'm not sure if it is because I went in there anticipating problems and took every small sign of looking at me in askance as a sign of rejection. I'm not sure if it is because I have a legitimate reason to be anxious about some of the members. Or if it is just because I was having a bad day. Social phobia and past trauma combined with depression plays unpleasant games with your brain and your perception of the world. As such, I am going to give it one more try at the next meeting.

It is on the 4th of October. My guts are already roiling and the social phobic part of my brain is saying I should just not go because nothing good will come of it. I think part of my discomfort is the fact that I was the youngest person there by a solid 30 years. It makes my skin crawl because it brings back memories of past writing groups that were just plain creepy. (Some of them were creepy by the virtue of the excited exuberance of having a teen/young adult in the group where the median age is around 60. Others were creepy on the basis of some genuinely ... disturbing members. I left those ones in short order, where as the ones where I was the youngest person there by over 30 years were harder due to the fact that my Grandmother was so excited to have me go with her and my choice was to go or deal with some problematic stuff at home. As a teen, the way out of the house was always my choice.)

I have been finding myself extra anxious about social interaction on-line. I am fairly sure that this is just a natural extension of my anxiety about social interaction at large and the fact that a vast amount of my social interaction is via the internet right now. I am attempting to correct the inclination to basically hide with my bad feelings and bad thoughts when I can't fake being perfectly fine. It gets tough, though, because I have this idea that no one wants to read bad news or about someone's struggles. (Perverse humor in this is obvious considering my primary genre in fiction. I am not immune to irony, it seems.)

So, I am going to attempt to write more. I can't promise it is going to be what it was like before. It may be like this post today. Or, it may be something along the topics that I try to schedule for the day. Some days, there may even be things going on with format here when I feel up to wrestling with that. I have this idea in my head about how this thing should look. It is hard right now for me to translated it from brain fluff to words or even images right now. Scumbag brain is running interference right now. I kinda hate that guy.

But, I'll try to be back soon.

Book Review: Our Cosmic Habitat

Title: Our Cosmic Habitat
Author: Martin Rees
Publisher: Princston University Press Date: 2001

Already, I've finished the preface, the first chapter, and I'm half way through chapter two. This book is oriented much more towards the "lay man" physicist. It's a lower level then Hawking's work and doesn't posess the same ambitious drive to educate. It presents a more toned down and an effort to describe the current state of cosmology.

I'm a little over half way through this book and I'm rather bored. I clearly can see that this does not challenge my understanding of modern physics or cosmology. This is a primer for the newly introduced compared to Hawking's work. It's a bit of a disappointment.

I'm now 2/3rd (roughly) through the text and I'm woefully bored with it. I believe that I'm going to set this aside and work on something else.

[Note: As an introductory book, it is excellently written. If you can make it through highschool physics and a pre-calculus class, then you can get through this book easily. If you managed chemistry with out too much pain and higher level algerbra/geometry, then the book will be challenging. It seems to be a 11th grade reading level book, roughly.]

Original Publication Date: Mar. 25, 2002
Original Notation Dates: Nov. 2002

Book Review: When God Was A Woman

 Title: When God Was A Woman
Author: Merlin Stone
Publisher: Dial Press Date: 1976

This presents a pseudo-academic argument with it's political agenda clearly present. Yet, it does bespeak of a reasonable amount of scholarship. It is unfortunate that the author remains so heavily focused on the "matriarchal/matrifocal golden age" myth. It colors her work very much and takes what was very good and actually facinating archeological, anthropological, and historical research and puts a very heavy bias on the presentation. While I do agree that the Indo-Aryan invasion did bring great changes, I can not accept that the pre-invasion period was peaceful.

Also, it is very difficult for me to accept the premise that during the Paleolithic and Neolithic period that there was this Great Goddess cult, the feminine version of the Judeo-Christian religion essentially. Nor, I must say, that said cult was spread across the world. While there are varios iconographic simmilarities through out the world cultures at that stage of development, the Goddesses worshiped were clearly very different. I belive there are stages to the deveopment of human society, and with these stages there are sub-stages that they go through. The development of religion/spirituality and iconography to accompany it is clearly one.

I'm again inclined to questions the connections drawn between the various groups. The structure of the ancient Hebrews, the Indo-Aryans, and the Bramhins of Hinduism, is only simmilar on the surface. The imagry of fire-gods, storm-gods, and divine power expressed as a cataclysmic natural event/force was/is not esclusive to the Indo-Aryan race that swet through the Persian, Caracas/Balkins and Indian regions. This same structure, including an aristocratic priestly class can be foudn through out the world. It can even be found in our more "advanced" culture of the "Western" world. Hence, the rights and privilages ascribed to clergy of nationally recognized religions and the local belief systems interplay with politics. Areas where a particular branch of Christianity are of signifigant majority (or presence) will be influence to act in accordance with the ethos of said sect.

I believe that Stone is engagend in wishful thinking. Much like those who insist that the development of the theories of modern physics is dependend on the study of oriental culture and religion. I suspect the use of such arguments is due to a lack of knowledge of the philosophical and logical roots of european thought. Stone could really have built the argument better if the emphasis wasn't so heavily placed on a particular premise. A premise that the author did not state to be a primary point in her argument.

If Stone built her argument, focused it on the different points from the outset rather then developing contet, it would be a more concrete text. On the whole, a very engaging work. Well written, though I don't agree with the premises entirely. Very good research. I was disappointed that the points that cultural links between the Levite priests and the Hittites weren't developed. With how Stone presents them, it looks like they're a combination of circumstancial research and conjecture. 

It is a good start, however, in a field of writing that was just developing at the time.
Original Publication Date: Mar. 25, 2006
Original Notation Dates: Nov. 2002

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
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.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Craft of Writing: Making a Writing Schedule.

My writing Bullet Journal
So, I mentioned in my last craft of writing note that I have reworked my bullet journal. The layout is far more streamlined. It is the simplest that I have seen anywhere. (I still look through Pinterest and other places for ideas on how to improve my bullet journaling. Multiple colors assigned to different major projects is one example that I lifted from another place.)

I realized that I was attempting to go after things from a perspective of DO ALL THE THINGS! This is partly due to the fact that I am very ambitious in my thinking about my projects. And it is partly due to the fact that my initial work setting this up was a combination of a mixed episode and using it as an attempt to shift my attention from feeling awful. All together, it was just a problem to work with. I briefly considered just pitching the notebook. Then my refusal to waste paper hit me and I decided that I would just try again.

My 'pocket' Day Planner
The other thing that got influenced by the bullet journal concept wasn't just organizing my writing stuff. It was also how I approached my day planner. This originally was more like what FLYLady uses. Then I realized that format really wasn't working well for me with everything going on in my life.

Cue my setting my planner up with time blocked out as seen in the example to the left. It was almost effective. Then I realized that I needed to apply the bullet journal organization techniques towards my schedule. Add this to my finally having that damned depressive episode end and I found myself becoming better at scheduling my day. What isn't pictured in my day planner here is the time immediately after I get up. Some days, I may be up at 6, but more often, I am up at 5 am and I sit down to write my morning pages immediately after I am up for the day. (With a cup of strong coffee and my favorite pencils. I'll talk more about that next week.)

Later in the day, I block out time for writing in general. I am finding that if I give myself the same time to work in just about every day, it gets easier to write. Granted, I may just be writing rambling angry tirades about the idiots I find myself dealing with on a somewhat regular basis. (White supremacists repulse me and for some reason they seem to be regularly regurgitating the pablum of the Third Reich on platforms that I frequent on an increasing basis.) All of that writing is focused right now on just getting writing done.

My goal is to get myself to producing at a volume I want. This means effective time management techniques. The daily planner and the bullet journal are proving to be two very helpful tools. Also, I confess, I have been using a timer on my work as well. It was refreshing to find that I could still pull off writing approximately 300 words in fifteen minutes. (I have started doing prompt based writing again. I will post some of the prompts later this week. I need to pick the good ones to share with you because a lot of them are pretty lame, in my opinion.)

As my late Grandfather said, half of getting the job done is just showing up to work. A writing schedule is part of making sure that I do that. I also make sure that my schedule is one that does not get interfered with. It is hard and some days, I am not half as successful as I would like to be. But, every day is a chance to do better and do more.

Keep your chin up and keep trying to do your best, folks. ♥

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Editing whilst hypomanic?

Hi folks,

If you're keeping score, I'm still trying to get medications sorted out. I'm somewhere between hypomanic and full blown mania right now. So, what am I doing (aside from cleaning all the things and getting super frustrated with everything)? Editing stuff. It is going SO SLOWLY.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Craft of Writing: Bullet Journal stuff (again)

Hi there, everybody!

I hope you have all been doing quite well (or at least are at a place you can tolerate and find some enjoyment on a regular basis). I have been all over the place of late. There's been things happening on the health front that has given me a new perspective on things. (That depressive episode that started in the fall last year is finally gone thanks to Wellbutrin, but now I'm hypomanic and cleaning/organizing everything. It's been interesting.)

Among the new perspectives is a change to how I approach the Bullet Journal method. I had started using a kind of fancy layout for a weekly thing. It did not help me get anything done. So, I stripped all the fancy bits off and turned it into a single page. It is nothing super fancy, but my focus was to be utilitarian with the whole thing right now. Because I need less distractions right now with my attention span being a bit short.

The first line has the week noted (I used the format of : July 23 - 29  2017.). Beneath this there are two boxes with my tasks noted. On the left side is my daily tasks. As you may be able to see in the picture, I have listed only four things as stuff I MUST do everyday. This actually takes a lot of pressure off of me. On the right side is the box with my weekly tasks. Each day of the work week has two lines. The tasks for each day is noted in my own style of short hand.

Beneath this, there are two additional sections. On the left is the running tally of my daily word count for a handwritten manuscript that I started back during NaNoWriMo last year. On the right side is my tracker for the work I'm doing as I reboot (again) doing the Artist's Way exercises. My goal is to get through all of the exercises for the week. It doesn't feel like it is a super ambitious goal and I am devoting a specific time block for working on it. (It's when the kids have their 'homework' time for their summer school stuff. They hang out in the living room reading books as I sit in the kitchen and to my writing. It seems to be working well.)

I have my reminder to do my planning on Thursdays for my writing stuff as well as my regular day planner and calendar stuff. I also am going to try to keep track of my average word count on my blog posts.

At the bottom of the page in an entirely different color (so it grabs my attention), I have written down two reminders that I keep applying in other areas of my life because I tend to be a perfectionist.

  • Imperfect work is still GOOD work!
  • Goal = progress not perfection
I'm trying to be realistic in how I approach this stuff. We'll see how successful I will be this time next week. In addition to all of the writing stuff, I still have things to do like getting ready for my youngest's birthday party on Saturday and the usual work of being Mom. The kind of fun thing, honestly, about the Bullet Journal, is how the really useful parts about notation are creeping into my day planner. Which helps me stay on top of everything. So, I think I like the Bullet Journal concept. Now I'm just trying to figure out how it works best for me in multiple areas.