Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Master Writer Plan Update: April

The 2014 Master Writer Plan is going...alright.

So far I've been consistent in reaching my weekly word count goals, which is FAN-FRICKIN-TASTIC! As I expected, I didn't get a book published or cover done in March, which was fine.

Here is where I am in April:
  • 2 covers finished (for the first 2 books)
  • Consistent blog posting and better interaction with readers/fans/followers
  • 2 books edited, proofed, and formatted
  • 2 other books are approximately half-way written (one non-fiction and another fiction)
  • Weekly word count goals have been met/exceeded since declared plan even if some days are slightly lacking which means...
  • Monthly word count goals have been met/exceeded
First I'd like to say that I am thrilled with my progress. I'm half-way through the writing portion of my goal (at least by book, by word...the biggest slog will be Khloe...*cringe*). I've started a non-fiction series which I think will be a great success (tied directly to my parenting blog).

There have been some bumps along the way. I've been working to add navigation to my books and I'm having trouble doing so. Needless to say, this has been incredibly frustrating and in order to get it right, I need a block of several hours to go through the book and write out all the section titles and assign hyperlinks to them and bookmarks. It's a pain in the ass (especially for the 52 Lists you can imagine). That said, it's a good idea to do things like this because it makes it a lot easier on readers and the easier things are on readers, the more likely they will enjoy the book and recommend them to friends. So I cross my fingers and hope this is appreciated and not taken for granted (though if it was me, I'd probably take it for granted so...).

The nice thing is, the more I do these things, the easier they get. Writing more books? Easy peasy. Editing and proofing? Getting easier. Cover art? Easy. Formatting? Definitely getting easier and more streamlined (phew!). Publishing? Much easier.

Now I just have to get this mothering thing under wraps...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The House, The City: The Crunchy Hipster Dream

Mom, Dad, Baby & kitty? (wikipedia)
Lately Christian and I have been thinking a lot about where we want to go and how we want to live. It's a question that colors our thoughts daily especially as we've been living with my parents since late October. I love my parents and I love having our family close to them and to my in-laws - especially for our baby's sake; but it's also increased some stress levels for everyone (Yesterday I actually saw lights, my blood pressure spiked so high - not good!).

We have to decide where we want to go long term and how we want to live when we get there. In short, we have to have plans (seeing a trend with me these days?).

Because of Christian's job situation and me being at home, writing with our baby, Southern California (or rather California generally) hasn't really been very hospitable. California has 13 of the top 15 most unaffordable real estate markets in the country. Several of them were areas where we have lived because that's where the jobs were. The others in the state that had work for Christian had something else really unappealing (like horrible air quality or ridiculously high temperatures and no water ANYWHERE). Plus, there are some cultural things in Southern California that we're not interested in having our children exposed to.

Needless to say, California really doesn't feel like a place we can stay without increasing our stress levels enormously. But I also don't want our kids to be far from family...

That means the west coast is the best coast (though I wouldn't mind being back east, I think that wouldn't sit well with either set of grandparents). So where can we go and feel good (financially and otherwise) in the west?

Well seeing as we eat salad and recycle, and think brown people should have rights we can't move anywhere in Arizona (crossed off list). Nevada feels like the same kind of situation, if a little more...uh...seedy organized crime and less vigilante. Idaho...has some possibilities, but it's also pretty conservative politically and I'd rather not live anywhere where accidental eavesdropping could make Christian get into a brawl.

So...that leaves Oregon and Washington.

I love seasons. I love snow (especially when I can cross-country ski in it). I love apples and wool sweaters and fireplaces. I'm not a huge fan of gray, BUT if I have some awesome things to focus on, I can love a place despite gray. Christian hasn't lived in snow, or seasons, but he hates heat. He's a sweatball, and our son takes after him, so I think snow and rain is a better choice for our family than dirt and 120 F.

Plus, we have some friends up there, which is appealing to both of us.

We've played around with different locations and researched things and so far our top two choices are Bellingham WA and Corvalis OR. The question is when and how.

At this point we're thinking around a year and a half from now, or something like that will be a good time to move. This will give us some time to pay off our educational loans (or at least pay them down) and create a nest egg of sorts. Right now that nest egg could be either a micro house on a trailer base (a serious interest for both Christian and me), or a savings account for moving/down payment, or both (ideally both, but we may be able to swing things with one or the other).

If we can pull this off, we'll be in really good shape. We'll have a mountain of debt off our shoulders. We'll own our home (if not the land it's on...yet) and we'll be in our dream location (at least for this part of life). We're focusing on it, which means it will happen, for sure, right? :-D

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Imaginative Subconscious Mind

Where will this dream lead?
My current project is loosely based on the worlds created by my delightfully overactive subconscious mind (I'm actually using this post to help generate some specific details for the next installment of the novel...crossing my fingers!).

I have, for as long as I can remember, the most emotionally intense, vividly detailed, saga length dreams. Whenever I describe my dreams to other people they look at me like I'm crazy.

You know Game of Thrones?
You know the Xanth books?
How about the Valdemar books?
What about Malazan?

Yeah. Like that.

That's how I dream. Every night that I remember my dreams, it's like I've read through an entire fantasy series. Sometimes I get "best of" repeats of themes or locations. Very rarely do people repeat. Very rarely do specific situations repeat.

I dream about wars. Battles are fought between good and evil in my dreams. Philosophies are squabbled over. Demons come to claim the souls of champions who must fight them back into the pits of hell.

Loves are star-crossed. Some are unrequited. Resolution comes with a bittersweet price.

Sometimes I lucid dream. I usually think about what I'm dreaming of as I'm dreaming, but occasionally I'll actively change something. If a character from my dream thinks I need to know something, they'll respond directly to me about a thought I'm having - this always freaks me out because I'm almost never talking to them.

When I make an effort to lucid dream and I'm worried there will be a battle or a monster or something, I carry a claymore across my back (I am Scottish!). It's nearly the size of me, but I'm dreaming so I can carry it and wield it easily.  Then I kill whatever I don't like with my giant sword. When something dies, it turns to a sort of gray vapor and dissipates. I get the best of both worlds this way - no mess or gross, and satisfying destruction of whatever is bothering me.

Sometimes I dream about the future, and it comes true. This is a little unnerving and unfortunately I've never been able to really keep track of things or dream of something useful (i.e. I can't do the whole, "beware, this is a bad idea! steer clear!" or tell someone who they're going to marry, so don't bother asking.). Usually it's just a moment in time, like eating dinner at a diner or sitting in church, or knowing a conversation before it happens (Once I even dreamed an episode of Castle before it was shown - so useless.).

Typically I dream of a cluster of moments surrounding a major crossroads or life event (such as when my husband lost his job or when my son was born - both happening in the span of 2 months). And these dreams usually occur anywhere from six months to a year beforehand from what I've observed. The moments show up disguised in my crazy epic dreams, a way of thinking about things - like seeing a chessboard with people instead of pieces. Then I see them play out in real life...that's as best as I can explain it.

Yeah. My dream life is...intense.

This is how I'm able to create such crazy worlds and complex relationships in my novels. I imagine all kinds of possibilities in my subconscious mind. The more I learn, the more I incorporate.

I play out all kinds of concepts, ideas, and choices. My dreamscape is a place where I can determine where my heart really lies or come to a decision (I married my husband because of a dream. No joke. Call me crazy.).

Dream are a curious thing. Some symbols are universal, others cultural, while still others are personal. They are a point of fascination for many people, and have been a point of study for psychologists (even spawning areas like depth psychology). Needless to say, dreamscapes are a fantasy/sci-fi writer's candy factory. In the case of my current project, they (combined with my strange fascination for the paranormal) have directed many aspects of my writing.

It will be interesting to see exactly how this novel manifests itself - and even more so, what you think of it. ;-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Changing the Writing Process

I feel pretty good about this plan thing - still.

I have 2 nonfiction books close to done (just a few tweaks here and there and then they can be published! Woohoo!).

Currently I'm working on my third book in my 2014 master writer plan, which has been a real learning experience. The nonfiction books were easy for me to write because they were based on real life experience. This fiction book, while not difficult, has stretched me as a writer.

Typically when I write fiction I don't know what's going to happen. In fact, if I know what's going to happen (i.e. outline the story in advance) I can't write it. I don't care. it's one of the reasons I've put off finishing Khloe's final book and the third in the ROLLINS PACK. I already know the answer to the question I'm asking and I'd much rather be surprised by the direction of the story than know exactly what I'm getting.

There are serious disadvantages to such a process. For example, I never know what's going to happen. It means that I can sometimes get lost in weird details and then in the rewriting process I have to go back and rework significant portions of the story. Often I get stuck on a part. The characters end up at a point which should be easy to write (this happens, so x follows) but instead I get blocked and I have no idea what happens next.

I become a slave to my creative inspiration with this type of process. But it's not all bad.

The major benefit of this process style is that I'm motivated to finish. It's how I wrote THE BROTHERS in 2 weeks time. It's how I wrote JAMES in less than a month. When I'm on, I'm really on. I'm manic.

This current book however, is too complicated for that. It's a single narrative, and yet it's episodic. There are themes and hidden gems in every chapter. There are connections and layers upon layers. There are a lot of things that have to happen at the right time in the right order for it to work as a book. Everything has to be just right. On top of that, everything in the writing changes from chapter to chapter so it makes it difficult to navigate without some kind of road map. I can't rely on my creative muse of the moment. I had to change my process.

While I didn't create an outline as such, I did make a list of plot points. I also have another list I'm using as direction for each chapter (though I won't explain what the list is because I don't want to spoil the book for you when you read it). I have to consult this every time I work on it. This is in part so that I keep in mind the general direction of the book, but also to get my mind back into gear. If I didn't, I really would get lost in the writing.

Because of this process, I could still finish writing this in a week as long as I figure out how everything fits together (and I have enough writing time with caring for the baby). I want to finish it in a week, but we'll see.

By way of letting you know a little more, I will say this: the current project is for adults - VERY much for adults. The themes are sometimes gruesome, sometimes sexual, very philosophical, sometimes spiritual and things get pretty graphic. This is the book I've always wanted to write but couldn't until now. I didn't realize I wanted to write it until now (sounds weird, but it's a process, so bear with me). It's home is somewhere between fantasy and science-fiction with a dose of literary fiction.

If it ends up being the length I expect, then I'm a third done with the first draft.

I know. That told you hardly anything. But I promise my next post will be less of a tease. Really. In the mean time, send me positive vibes and hopefully I'll get an average of 4x my daily goal written in the next 7 days.

That would mean I'd be finished with writing this current project. And I could get to rewriting. And coverart. And publishing.

And that would be awesome.