Sunday, January 29, 2012

Resolutions - An Update

    There are still two days left in January, but my word-count spreadsheet is set up by the week, so I’m calling it over a little early. So far, my goal to write every day has been very fruitful. There were only three days when I didn’t write at all. There were a couple days where I wrote only a few words (42, 50, and 136 were the lowest daily totals). But I also had some really productive days. My highest daily total was 4,078. My monthly total, from Jan. 1 to today, is 20,599 words.
    What makes me so happy about this total is that it wasn’t the product of a few completely crazed writing frenzies, but it was the 500-word and 700-word days that added up. Last week my average daily word count was just under 400 words, but when you do that seven days in a row, it adds up. It also keeps my head in the story, so it’s easier to drop in and write a few hundred words when I have a small bit of time.
    I’ve been better about focusing on the two projects that I singled out as my 2012 priorities, though the longer romantic suspense is kinda kicking my ass these days. When it gets too difficult, I jump into the novella and I added nearly 13,000 words to that project this month. It’s nearly to the point where I can see myself finishing the book and I probably won’t know what to do when that happens. Well, except come here and tell my faithful Russian spam-bots the good news. (I know, some humans are now following me, too. Hi, humans! Welcome!).
    So, that’s what I’ve accomplished this month. Anything you want to share? (Not you, spam-bots.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Old Nemesis, The Blank Screen

Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club. – Jack London
      I have a day with no distractions. No chores to do (that can't be ignored), no errands to run. Nobody in the house asking me where that tax document was filed or how many scoops of coffee to use in the new coffee pot.
     It's a good day to write, but I have so far managed to produce a mere 136 words.
     Yet, earlier this week, when I worked five eight-hour-plus days and had so many things on my schedule that I thought Google calendar was going to cry for mercy, I managed to get about 400 words each day. Maybe this means I shouldn't be a full-time writer, since I don't know what to do with a blank page and a blank calendar at the same time.
     Unfortunately, when looking for inspiration, I opened some old WIPs and started tinkering with those stories, which is not what I need to be doing. My resolution for this year is to complete one of the two WIPs that I made my priorities. My brain, however, is fickle and wants to flirt with other stories.
     It may be time to get away from the computer and take a walk. With my club, in case I come across inspiration.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Remember You...

I just went on a small music binge and came back with CDs from two artists who are new to me. The first is Amy LaVere's Stranger Me, which is a rocking good time. I love her style and her song writing. She starts off by telling a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend "Here's your damn love song," and how can you not love that?
The second is Eilen Jewell's Queen of the Minor Key. One of her songs, "I Remember You," was recently featured on Sons of Anarchy (another fave). I have been listening to this nonstop for several days now and it just keeps getting better. CD Baby says that Eilen Jewell is recommended if you like Loretta Lynn, Billie Holliday, and Lucinda Williams. Yep, that sums it up well. I love all those ladies, so this is right up my alley. I expect that her previous CDs will soon be joining my music collection.
I have a lot of writing to do at work this week and these two artists are going to keep me motivated and happily typing away.
So, heard any good music lately?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Tides Are In Our Veins

The title of this post is from the poet Robinson Jeffers. The picture is from a tiny town in Mexico that I can't find on any maps.
   I'm running low on vacation photographs on my hard drive, so I'll have to start writing blog entries again soon. But in the meantime, it's a good day to write, so I'm updating here with a short entry so I can still say I'm updating weekly (or weakly).

Monday, January 16, 2012

He Said, She Said, I Said

    Last night, the scene I was working on felt distant, which normally wouldn’t worry me because this is a first draft and I can go back and tweak things later. But I started to think that maybe this story should be told from the heroine’s POV and as first-person. So I started drafting a scene in first person.
    Two thousand words later and I’m still not sure this is going to work.
    When reading, I tend to favor third-person and so this is also the style I’ve used in everything I’ve written so far. But several of my favorite books from last year were in first-person and I loved the hell out of those books.
    An audio book that I started to listen to last year tried to have it both ways – chapters in the heroine’s POV were in first person, but chapters in anyone else’s POV were in third-person. This had the effect of making me wonder if I’d hit a button on my iPod and had accidentally switched to a different book. I’m sure this was not the author’s intent. I listened to about five chapters, but was so distracted by the switch between first- and third-person that I couldn’t finish the book.
    I like being able to read a story from a couple different points of view, learning the motivation from the characters’ thoughts in addition to their actions. But hearing someone tell a story as they perceive it, trying to figure out another character’s agenda through the prism of a first-person character is also fascinating.
    How do you know how to tell a story? As a writer, do you choose a certain style? Does it depend on the type of story you’re telling? Do you ever doubt your decision?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another Sunny Day

   This beautiful weather is all well and good, but I'm pretty sure we're supposed to have rain around now. I am working from home today and spent an hour with my laptop out on my backyard patio. It's lovely, but honestly, how am I supposed to get any work done when it's so nice outside?
   I did manage to work through the impulse to do anything else. Then, I added another 1,500 words to my WIP, which takes place in Minnesota, in the middle of winter. This weather is giving my imagination a work out. 
   Maybe it's time to go wash my car. That always seems to make it rain.
   So, yeah. This was a post about the weather. Sorry.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pucker up!

     This is a terrible thing to complain about, but here goes. I am swimming in lemons. Citrus grows well in this region, and I did not realize how well when I planted two lemon trees in my backyard 10 years ago.
     I have tried giving them away to friends, but all local friends are full up on lemons themselves. I did trade a bag of lemons for a large box of oranges from a friend in a similar situation. But basically, lemons are the zucchini of California winters.
     At least I had the foresight to plant two different kinds of lemon trees. Eureka lemons, pictured above, are the most common type. Meyer lemons are smaller, with a smoother rind, and are less sour and slightly sweeter. They're still lemons, so you probably won't want to eat them straight, but they're great for baking.
     This morning I dug through my recipe files for more lemon recipes - lemon pasta, lemon pancakes, lemon bars (which, though delicious, take a disappointingly small amount of lemon). I'm pretty sure I have a recipe somewhere for limoncello. 
     So before I run off to buy vodka in bulk, here's one of the simpler recipes I culled from the files. And if anyone has a favorite recipe that will use up a lemon or two, please share.

Meyer Lemon Margarita Recipe

1-1/2 oz. fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
1-1/2 oz. Tequila
1 oz. Triple Sec (or Cointreau if you want to go “top-shelf”)
sea salt for rimming glass

1. Rub the rim of an old fashioned glass (or whatever similar vessel you prefer) with a meyer lemon slice. Swirl the rim through a small pile of kosher or sea salt to salt the rim.
2. Put the meyer lemon juice, tequila, and triple sec in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake for 15 seconds.
3. Put a few cubes of ice in your glass. Strain the cocktail into the glass and enjoy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolutions Update

This has nothing to do with anything.
     Six days into my commitment to writing every day and I missed one day, yesterday. But I'm also now at just over 8,000 words for January, so I'm going to forgive myself. Plus, it wasn't possible to secretly write during a very long meeting with four other people. If it were possible, I'd have probably given it a shot.
     I'm also doing better at focusing on the novel, though the damn novella trilogy keeps waking me up with new scenes. If my mind wanders over there, I make a note of the scene or character and get back to the bitter cold Minnesota setting of the novel.
     In fact, since I have a tiny bit of time to myself this afternoon, I should get back there now. I need to go run a car off the road and into a frozen pond. Now that sounds like a fun afternoon, doesn't it.
     Maybe I should make some hot chocolate first. You know, to stave off any frostbite.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Up All Night (Again)

    Sometimes, a scene simply comes to life in your mind, the characters just sing their witty dialogue and they explain how the story moves forward. At those times, what’s a writer to do but get out of bed and write 2,500 words?
    Now, unfortunately, the middle-of-the-night word binge means that I am currently running on little sleep and I expect it will eventually rob me of several necessary IQ points. And since today is my first day back to work after a week and a half away, I suspect I’ll be missing those IQ points later today.
    Before I got out of bed and turned on my laptop, I debated waiting until morning to write the ideas down. But the characters were so real, and well, pushy. I knew if I didn’t write it down, I would miss that spark and any attempt to recreate the scenes later would fall flat. The price for the two scenes may be my clarity later, but it’s probably a price I’d pay again.
    Does this happen to you? What do you do? Get up and write or go back to sleep?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Setting Sail in 2012

     I realized recently that I had allowed my passport to expire and the thought made me nervous. Not that I need to flee the country at a moment’s notice, but still, it’s good to have that option, right? No problem, I can get the renewal process underway. And I’ll finally get a new photograph, which is great news.
    In the meantime, I’m looking around at all the places I can travel without a passport (assuming I’ll have time to get away in the near future — which isn’t very likely). A good friend just moved to upstate New York, and though I adore her, I’ll be visiting her in the spring or summer. I’ve seen her winter photos. I have lived in mountain climates where shoveling snow and putting on chains were required skills. I can do those things. I choose not to do those things on my vacation.
    Other places on my to-go list in the next year:  Santa Fe, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; and my favorite city, San Francisco. It feels like cheating to put San Francisco on my list because it’s relatively close to me. But it’s such a unique city, it feels like a world away. And I won’t need to worry about getting my passport renewed in time. 
    So, amuse me while I await the bureaucratic process:  Where are you going this year? How will you get there? What will you do when you arrive?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Year of "The End"

    No, not the Mayan prophecy. I’m referring to making 2012 about finishing what I’ve started. Last year, I wrote just under 106,000 words. And finished nothing. This year, that is going to change.
    I’m trying to keep my goals simple, so that I can knock a few items off this list and maybe even add others if time permits. This list is also for my writing goals, not personal ones. Of course, I’m making the annual “make healthier choices, exercise more, be more patient” resolutions. Here, though, are what I want to accomplish while wearing my writer hat (it’s a fedora, of course).
    1.  Write. Every day.
    Even if it’s just a sentence, or a phrase. Write something that relates to the novel that I am working on at that time. An idea that wakes me up, a description, a potential title. That will work. Ideally, it will be many sentences or even a completed scene for the work in progress, but any fiction will count toward this.
    2.  Finish You, Again.
    I want to finish this novel so very much. It feels like I’m wandering aimlessly around the middle third of the book, trying to figure out how to get to the end. I can see it from here, but I’m not sure how to get there. My primary goal for this year is to find that path. I’m currently at about 60,000 words.
    3.  Finish first novella in the trilogy.
    This is a story that makes me happy to write. I just really like it. The characters make me laugh, it’s not overly complicated so I don’t have the same structure issues as the novel. Plus, I have an awesome title. I want to finish this one and get to my critique partner for her thoughts. I’m currently at just under 24,000 words.
    4.  Outline second and third novellas in the trilogy.
    Not only does the first novella make me smile when I’m writing it, the plans for the second two in the series do also. I’m looking forward to writing the two stories that follow, but I’m settling for outlines in 2012.
    5.  Submit something.
    Lower on the list because I need to have completed something first. This is here because I need to make that leap of faith and share my work with someone other than my critique partner (who is incredible, by the way). It could be a submission to a contest, an agent, or a publisher – but as soon as I have something done, I will be looking for places to submit. 

    So, that’s it. I have some reserve goals that I can move up the list, if I accomplish these, but I want to focus on one project at a time. If 2011 taught me anything, it’s that I am not capable of finishing anything if my attention is diverted to a half-dozen projects. This means that I’m mothballing a couple beloved stories – for now. But they will still be there when I finish this list.
    I have my 2012 word-count spreadsheet ready to go, a fresh cup of coffee, and two days before I have to return to work. Let's get to writing.