Well, Aren’t You Special?

So…a few years ago, just before I began the fake family reunions, and I was dealing with my decision to no longer see my family, I asked many good friends to write reports about what they liked about me. One of the more uncomfortable moments of my life, being a Midwesterner and all, but they came through with shining aplomb, and I have used that document during dark times to buoy myself up, especially around the holidays when I’m missing a family and cursing Norman Rockwell in the dark.

***

Today’s task is even harder. Today I am going to write good things about myself, the things that I think. And, by God, you think asking other people to write things about you is hard!!! I mean, we Midwesterners, we just don’t go in for this stuff. Might be all right for some…

But it must be done. And I will use for my spring board the fact that David said he liked the energy he was seeing in me yesterday, as I’ve started to take better care of myself, and stopped focusing on expectations and proof of my worth.

Yes, okay, if you’re not interested, get off the boat now. Take small children firmly by the hand, etc. etc.

Continue reading “Well, Aren’t You Special?”

I’m Melting!

And some stats, just before I go off to weigh in. I’ll finish this after I get back. It was a good week.

Exercise Points Goal: 14
Achieved Points: 24 (woot!)

Wii Weight on 2-22-13: 220.7
Wii Weight on 2-29-13: 217.4
Total: 3.3 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on 2-22-13: 224
Weight Watchers on 2-29-13: 220.2
Total: 3.8 pounds LOST

Never expect this much droppage again. This is fairly typical during Weight Watchers Week One, but once your body figures out something’s going on, it slows down to 1/2 to 2 a week, depending. And then, there will be the plateaus.

Anyway, much happiness. Let’s celebrate by getting some ice cream.

JUST kidding!

***

This afternoon, off to see David. Yay.

Egyptian Painting; Venetian Writing

Got those I’m staying at work today until 5 pm blues….oh I got them staying at work today until 5 pm blues!

Gonna type and register for TESOL, and maybe watch a student video or two!

***

This Monday has TEETH! Usually my late night is Tuesday, but I see David probably for the last time tomorrow (EAP=finite) and Thursday is the big freakin’ Halloween Egyptian tomb extravaganza (why yes, Bryon has been painting a cardboard sarcophagus for most of the weekend.) So Monday had to be it, kiddos. And I stair stepped like a puffin’ banshee today–half an hour of the sweatiest. So, the first week of Weight Watchers they wanted us to put in 14 points of movement and I managed 24. Wimpy stuff, but everyone’s gotta start wimpy.

***

Writing. That went pretty well. There was none on Saturday, but there was some good stuff on Friday and Sunday. Here’s just a taste.

Continue reading “Egyptian Painting; Venetian Writing”

Accountability Begins; Celebrate Mole Day; Summertime

New Post Format! Valkyrie Stats first.

Weight Watchers Goal: Gather 14 activity points this week.
Tuesday: 3 activity points 1/2 hour Wii biking
Weight Watchers Goal: Track food and stay on program.
Tuesday: Done and done.
Weight Watchers Goal: Work in Mindfulness Journal.
Tuesday: Took body measurements for first week. (45, 41.5, 50.5)
Current Wii Weight: 220.2

Writing Goal: Work on Paradise Icon Readings.
Tuesday: Two stories down.
Writing Goal: Venice research.
Monday: Watched Summertime and finished The Thief Lord

So much for accountability.

***

Now, today is Mole Day. It’s the International Chemistry holiday when 6.02 X 10 to the 23rd is celebrated. Bryon’s class will be celebrating today, singing mole carols (you really don’t want to hear them!) and eating mole treats.

I am also having a mole removed. Slice! That’s at 9:20. Well, when I celebrate Mole Day, I go all out.

***

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Summertime, you really should take a moment. It’s a David Lean film, which means the cinematography is beautiful. The film captures Venice in a much more bright way than some films, but it still paints an accurate view of a vibrant city, circa 1955.

Hepburn is an older, single woman in the film, who feels that life has left her behind. She has an affair in Venice. Not your usual treatise on how I spent my summer vacation, but it is a tale of the different values of culture, as well as about love and living your dreams. The performances on all fronts are excellent, and the clothes? Well, retro my friends. Retro.

A good film for both research and emotional tension. I enjoyed it.

Some Big Decisions about Writing, and Other Things

I am sorry that I haven’t been here in a week. It turns out that living mindfully in the moment means that you are involved in the life you can see around you, rather than the intellectual, virtual life. I have been…resting more, and doing things that give me delight, trying to be here, rather than somewhere else in my head. So, I don’t get here as much as I did, and I’m okay with that.

I did promise you a post where I praise myself. For those of you just tuning in, this is good therapy for someone like me, who measures herself by accomplishments, but I am sorry, I will be letting you down. I’ve been doing some thinking about where I am now, and what I look like, what my health and energy is like, and how much stress I put myself under.

This has all led me to some interesting thoughts, none of which are carved in stone, because I’m getting away from that sort of thing, but still, interesting thoughts to me.

But, if not to you, here’s a cut.

Continue reading “Some Big Decisions about Writing, and Other Things”

Post Weekend Post and I Bend Avatar Just a Bit

My cold, which isn’t really much of a cold at all, did have the effect of canceling my Saturday. Saturday was International Bear Hibernation Day, in which I slept…a lot. This seems, however, to have taken care of the darned thing. I am barely sniffy at all today, and so exercise will resume tomorrow. Hoo and ha.

***

Icon fast approaches. I have received all the Paradise Icon readings, and drop boxed them, so we are good to go. Between a novel for a friend and the workshop pieces, I shall be busy being critique girl for a while. I have also my own writing to worry about.

***

So. I’ve been watching Legend of Korra on the weekends. And I have to tell you…it was a hard sell for me last time. I found the show a lot more shallow than the previous Avatar (yes, okay, it was only 13 episodes, as opposed to a billion, but bad pacing is bad pacing is bad pacing.) That said, this incarnation is plenty more objectionable. Korra is back, and she’s more obnoxious than ever. I don’t know how the writers have done it, but they’ve made one of the most likeable characters on the show, Bolin, kind of…a jerk. So much is wrong this season. If I were Mako, I’d just take Asami and get off the show, maybe head over for Cartoon Network and start my own gig.

They might not get me to finish this.

***

So, tomorrow, not for the faint of heart, I am going to try my psychologically sound I like me post. Because, as Stuart Smalley would say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

First Act Done; Venice Resources Gathering

The first act rough draft of what is still called The Poison of thy Flesh, actually a better title for its sequel book, is still needing a lot of expansion, description, and adding of depth, comes in just a tad under 100 pages. I am pleased. Characterization wise Drusus is still the most elusive, and the Isis introduction is just plain bad and needs more revision. Still, it is not as bad as it was in the zero draft. But Lucy and Octavia are kicking, and by the time I get them polished up, they should be Klarion worthy. The Borgias, strangely enough, came out of Zeus’ head mostly fully formed. No, I am not writing a Borgia story. That’s for the fan fiction, later. I expect a lot of Paolo/Isis fan fiction that I just don’t want to see. πŸ˜›

***

Where from here? Well, I am of two minds. I could take a leaf from Beth Bernobich’s book and write the ending, which was my original plan. I know what has to happen there, and who has to do what. The flavor of it will be changed because of the middle, but what has to happen for the plot has to happen. And it will. Because of all the goop I’ve set up in the first act.

Or, and this is what I’m leaning toward at the moment, I can keep pressing forward until I get stuck in the middle, and then pen the ending. BUT things are cooking along. I have finally broke the 30K word mark, because I’ve been futzing with the introduction, but I realized as I started to move into the second act that I had not built an emotional engine that would keep the sotry moving forward. Now I have.

***

On other fronts, in the olden days, I would have just decided to spend some money on going to Venice to get the city for the novel. My Vietnam travels of late have sort of taught me that I am now a fragile traveller. If the acid reflux wasn’t enough, after the bronchitis episode of 2013, I am advised for now to choose my foreign air carefully. I do not want to go loads of countries, flying long distances on planes, to continually give myself bronchitis. Well, we all have these sorts of things. It’s just another paper cut toward my mortality. Wow. There’s an OCD thought for you. Working on that.

So, Venice. I’m gathering pictures and reading loads and loads. If you know anything good about Venice in 1837, I’m your willing recipient of shared knowledge. I’m also up for movies and visual data.

***

Needless to say, the writing is going well. I’m laying down some sturdy tracks, and I will tart this story up with good make up and hair come revision.

The Writing Process and Beth Bernobich

Here’s Beth Bernobich giving us a very different take on the writing process. I’m stealing some of this stuff…

Tamago: Do you have a regular drafting process, or does your drafting process vary from book to book. Can you describe it to us generally, or at least for one project?

Beth: For the first draft, I tend to use a mixture of outlining and seat-of-the-pants. I have a general idea where and how the book should start–an image of characters in action–so when I sit down for the first time to write, I write that scene, letting the words spill out however they please.
Then I make a document that’s a combination of notes and outline. I write a paragraph each for the beginning and the ending. Then I fill in milestone markers to get the story from that opening scene to the ending. Each “marker” might be as short as a single sentence, or long as a page, with dialog and other bits of real prose. I also add notes from any research, or summaries of certain plot arcs I want to include. This phase can take as little as a few days, or it can take several months.

Once I think the plot hangs together, I write the first draft. I pick whichever section is clearest to me at the moment and write the same way as I wrote the opening scene, just letting the words spill out. Eventually I fill in all the pieces and have a complete draft.

From there, I make a printed copy and read that through with pen in hand. If I find a problem, I draw a line in the margin and keep reading. That way I get a sense of how the story flows. I repeat the process for one or two drafts. When I think it’s done, I print another copy and read the whole thing out loud to catch prose issues and any remaining glitches.

Tamago: Which part of writing–drafting, revising, critique from others–do you enjoy the most? Why? The least? Why?

Beth: Heh. My feelings usually depend on which part of the book I’m writing. I love drafting the beginning and the end because those are the parts where I have the clearest full-sensory picture of I want to write. The middle is a horrible slog because I only know a handful of plot points and I have to flounder through the waist high mud of doubts and second-guesses. Revising is a different animal. I love figuring out how to fix things, but sometimes the task itself is daunting. Critique is briefly painful, but absolutely rewarding and exhilarating. There’s that amazing moment when someone points out a flaw in your work, and you immediately see not only how to fix the flaw, but how that fix makes the whole book stronger.

Tamago: Is your writing process the same for your shorter works as it is for your novels?

Beth: Short story writing, for me, is a more tentative process. I follow much the same pattern as I do with novels, but each phase takes longer and requires many more rewrites.

Tamago: Your universe and books are very intertwined, over a series of several lifetimes. How do you keep track of so many timelines, characters, and so forth?

Beth: I started off trying to keep everything in memory, but that soon became impossible. So I wrote up a document listing the main characters by their names in the “current” time period. Underneath each main entry, I have the list of their names and roles in past lives and the time period for that life.
I keep a second document for the world itself. When I started writing the series, I had a general idea about the history and geography of the world, but as the story expanded, I realized I needed a clearer picture of the wider world and of its past. So I wrote a five or six page overview of the key elements–geography, politics, religions, etc.–and how they’ve changed over the past five hundred years.

Continue reading “The Writing Process and Beth Bernobich”

And Just Who Are You Again?

I’ve been writing this novel. I know, you say, you’re always writing a novel.

Fair enough.

So, I’ve been writing this novel. πŸ™‚ This novel is the first novel of the Klarion cycle. This book is supposed to tell the all important story of the sister that goes bad, and how that sister sticks around through a number of books being an enemy of the family, which is supposed to be basically good.

Sounds pretty darned formulaic so far.

I started along those lines, and I did some thinking and writing and plotting and rewriting, and I discovered that the characters had their own ideas about who was bad and who was good and who was the real problem. The characters have become complicated, multi-faceted, and well, problematic in a good way.

In the past couple of years, I have converted from being a pantser to being a plotter, but one of the things that I can never change is the journey of discovery regarding the characters. As I write, I find that the characters reveal themselves. When I started this book, for example, Octavia, the oldest sister, was a perfect young woman in love with the boy she was destined to marry from childhood, and in the end screwed by her younger sister’s mistakes.

And now? Octavia doesn’t get along with the man she had to marry, feels responsible for her family’s problems, suspects that she will have to murder her less than perfect sister when she inevitably fails, is vain, spoiled, somewhat attracted to her demon familiar, and believes that if she’s going to have all this responsibility on her shoulders, why didn’t she get to partner with the cooler, stronger demon?

This Octavia? She hasn’t become the villain. She has to still be, in the end, a “good guy,” but frankly, I like the “villain” character of the piece more.

That would be Lucy, who is a little person saddled with Ra as a familiar. Painfully shy and in her sister’s shadow, Lucy has accepted the family mythology that during the inevitable trial between her and Ra on Lucy’s sixteenth birthday, Lucy will lose, and the family will have no choice but to kill her. Lucy’s solution is to kill herself first and save them the trouble. That doesn’t work out, so Lucy thinks outside the box. Why not dissolve the partnership with Ra? Can she find a way to do it?

This becomes a battle of tradition versus innovation. And yes, Lucy is still destined to be a problem. But the romantic lead of the piece? The husband? Which sister does he like more? And how do I move these two characters back toward their more plot oriented roles as the books (2) progress? Well, I know that, and you don’t, and in around 3 years, maybe you will.

But the coolest thing about all this is how characters take on their own aspects. Many authors do not like that idea. I know that characters come from inside, and I do all the work. So, if you ascribe to that school of thought, I like my subconscious for all the twists it delivers. I prefer to enjoy my characters as surprises. They are the most important engine for plot, and well thought through scenes doing what those characters want to do is to me, the most enjoyable kind of story to read and write.