Things I Love Thursday

New hair, OK so it’s not that new, because I just got a trim, but I do have new and exciting colours in my hair: streaks of pink and deep blue/purple. I love them to bits. I have figured out the best way to show off my streaks, which is a precise little half ponytail kind of thing. It makes me want to get all my hair dyed one of these colours…No photos because I still don’t have a camera, sorry!

Books, books, comics, books. So I’ve been ordering books again, and they keep arriving and they’re freaking awesome. I got a super cheap colour plate illustrated copy of Bill Bryson’s biography of William Shakespeare in the Mighty Ape marathon the other day. I got a copy of Teen Titans Year 1 which is super adorable and has stunning art as well. I’m slowly collecting up Batman books too, and I’m really enjoying the Under the Hood story. It’s surprisingly funny. The problem with collecting Batman of course, is that there is so much of it. I basically need (as I said on Twitter yesterday) ALL the comics. Which is expensive and also not practical at all.

Star Wars/Pooh Bear crossover art wins everything. Seriously, I think I have to buy some of these and then give them to people. They are so heart warming and geeky!

My Writing/editing mojo is going strong still, I submitted like, a zillion stories last week and over the weekend. I’m looking forward to getting responses (hopefully positive) from magazines and webzines soonish. I’m nearly up to page 100 in my rewrite of What’s the Worst That Could Happen?, which used to mean I was nearly done, but I’ve added in a bunch of dialogue and stuff so I still have something like 58 pages to go. It’s all good. I am motivated and enjoying it.

I had the best ever visit to the video shop the other day. I went in thinking I’d get some kind of chick-flick ish movie, hoping for Raising Helen because I love Kate Hudson and planned to just browse for other stuff. Well, Raising Helen was staring me in the face, so I picked that up and then I went to check for Shark Attack 3: Megalodon in the action section even though it’s been missing for weeks and weeks. And not like, someone has it out, but it’s meant to be on the shelf but it just isn’t. And it’s not under M for Megalodon, or Horror or Comedy and in fact, it’s gone, was there anything else you’re interested in? I told myself this would be the last time. If SA3:M wasn’t there this time I’d give up my search. Well, it was there. I grabbed it before someone else could (since it’s clearly in high demand) and gently and quietly squeeed to myself. Then I managed to get Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist to top off the lot. A film I’ve been meaning to see for ages. And all for three dollars! I ❤ you Civic Video, Courtenay Place.

Honourable Mentions: Another session of Fall tonight, looking forward to the Superhero LARP and loving having people telling me that they’re excited about it, new work t shirt is excellent; good colour, perfect fit, nice heavy cotton. Our cleaner who cleans and tidies; so much love. The weather may not be getting warmer, but the days are getting longer. This means that summer is coming and I love summer and SQUEEEE! Also, it’s nearly my birthday. In like, a month. Huh. Also Wonka’s chewable gobstoppers, a certain creepy vampire on facebook, D&D themed improv comedy, warm feet, little notebooks, meeting people’s mothers and new Empire magazine in the mail.

Writing Wednesday

So with my new hours and my new life schedule I had to find time to write. I can’t be giving up on sleep, and I have to work a regular 40 hour week in my new job. It doesn’t help that the film festival is on at the moment as well, eating up my evenings and weekends. This will not be a problem after Sunday, but I like to have a routine if I can…

What I’ve done is keep my wake up time the same, even though I start work a half hour later. I get up like normal, have breakfast and get ready to go. Then I have (depending on how slothful a particular morning is) 20-40 minutes to write. Or rather, edit/rewrite, because I’m working through WtWTCH? as you recall.

It’s been very productive. I’ve noticed before that I’m best at editing when I’ve just woken up (hence how many naps I’ve taken on designated writing time), (no really, that’s the only reason I ever napped on those free afternoons), (seriously) and I feel good having done it when I leave for work. Starting the day doing what you love is the way to go. It’s only a little bit each day, but it adds up and it’s way better than just sleeping for an extra half hour.

Besides that I’ve found time before movies and while Lee reads the paper at brunch to write short stories. My ideas have been flowing thick and fast ever since my Auckland holiday and I am very thankful for that. I have a few half completed though, one because it’s threatening to become a novella, but a couple just because I started something new rather than finish the old one. I hate doing that, so I’m gonna set aside some time to finish things off. Then I’ll need to type ’em all up as well, because I’ve been filling up my notebook all long-handy. I love writing long hand. It’s the best.

Linky:

A great article about Boys and YA, with some very good points about the stereotypes that boys are in YA lit. Although I’m not sure that boys have been weakened by the empowerment of female characters. I believe that in good stories boys and girls can both be bad-ass 🙂

An awesome list of 20 questions to ask yourself before submitting a short story. Me likey.

Very relevant to my superhero chick lit is this article on 13 ways police can help superheroes, if they are so inclined. (Awesome blog, must return and read more.)

What makes a bad guy bad? is a great run down of how to make a compelling villain.

Writing

For the foreseeable future, it’s my last Wednesday afternoon off to spend writing. Nothing’s certain in this world though, and someday I may be back, on the couch typing away while everyone else is at work earning money. At any rate I have had a very productive week.

On holiday I wrote two and a half new short stories. The first one is a very dark little thing called “Mabel cleans the hotel bathroom” and if anyone is interested in taking a look at it and offering me some critique in return please let me know. Warning: includes feminist themes, content may offend.

The second is an experiment in withholding information and exploring the little ways couples needle each other. I wrote it in Borders, Queen St using one of the prompts I got at Te Papa the other week. I rather like it, but I’m not sure if it finishes too abruptly or not. I shall have to take a look at the structure when I type it up.

The third is just a fragment so far but it’s a post apocalyptic Victorian-ish thing answering the question ‘what if the common cold didn’t kill the Martians in War of the Worlds?’ I think it shows promise, if I can wrangle an actual plot out of the idea.

I also did some very good editing on WtWTCH? being as I am, much inspired by the feedback Steve has given me. I have been amping up the worrying that my protag does about stuff and I think it’s making things pop a bit more. I’m quite excited about how this edit is looking so far and it’s increased my confidence in the manuscript no end.

Linky:

Very good point about being an extrovert and a writer from Doyce Testerman. I think I have this issue too, look at all the work I’ve had done since the feedback session with Steve.

In praise of reading aloud as an editing tool. I do this for short stories mostly, or chapters of novels that are giving me trouble.

Great interview Steve sent me the link to a couple weeks back with Cat Rambo, about editing, writing, steampunk and speculative fiction.

“You write what only you could write”
~ from You know you’re a writer when…

and just to contrast that….

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by MĂ©moires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

That was for a chunk of text from WtWTCH? I tried again with text from a short story ‘One man hide and seek’ and got this one:

I write like
Margaret Atwood

I Write Like by MĂ©moires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Writing Wednesday

This entry is about the excuses we give ourselves and how it can stop you achieving. With real life examples!

I had been telling myself that What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Was as good as it was going to get. When Steve offered to review it and give me feedback I nearly told him no, because I’ve already been over it so many times. In actuality it was a lie I was telling myself so I could continue to ignore the manuscript. Basically, I was lying to myself so I could be lazy.

I was focussing on other things, I told myself. Really important things, like zoo world on Facebook. So very important. Sure I’ve been writing some short stories and Rain, but I do believe in WtWTCH? I think it’s a good, marketable book. So why had I stopped shopping it around agents? I knew it needed a re-write and I couldn’t be bothered doing that.

How do you solve this desire to be lazy? By getting motivated.

In my case it was Guardian Angel of Writing Steve coming over and giving me enthusiastic feedback that did it. Other times I have become motivated by re-reading the manuscript and seeing that it had room for improvement. Visiting the museum also helps me. You have to find your own inspiration and stop giving yourself excuses to do nothing.

No more doing nothing, says I. More writing and working towards publication.

I do have one problem this week though. Matt suggested my Halloween Video short story would be good for everydayfiction.com if I can get it under 1000 words, but at 1200 I’ve stopped cutting. I have to cut proper content from the story and I can’t see how to do it…Frustration!

Some good linky on writing:

On Twitter the other day Cory Doctorow engaged in a YA lit chat in which an author answers as many writing/book related questions as they can over a certain period of time. There was lots of awesome on display but these two tweets struck a chord with me:

* Keep writing. What you write and how you feel when you write are are largely unrelated
* Secret to writers block: write even when you’re blocked, even when it feels forced. Inspiration sucks, working rules

Pay attention and follow the yellow brick rules.

Some tips on writing a fight scene. Of which there are many in WtWTCH? and in fact, in all my books. I use my roleplaying experience to write fights. It’s awesome.

Recommended via Dan R on Twitter some good thoughts and tips on writing first paragraphs for short stories. (GHOSTPIGS).

An excellent article and example of manuscript format.

And finally the best ever thing I have ever read in regards to rejections i found this week on the Apex publications contributor guidelines page.

Keep in mind that the search for awesome stories is as difficult as writing them. If you are rejected, don’t get angry—instead, become more awesome. Write something better, and better, until we have to accept you, because we have been laid low by your tale. It really is that simple.

Wednesday with some Writing stuff.

My writing mojo is finally back, I have successfully beaten back my cold. Woo!

My writing this week isn’t particularly newsworthy though. I have edited a short story, written a bunch of characters for the superhero LARP (date is set for that BTW: Sept 18th) and had an awesome session with Steve where he gave me much constructive criticism for What’s the Worst That Could Happen? I realised during the session that I have forgotten a fair bit about the book so it seems like a good time to pick it up again and give it an overhaul. The best thing about the session was how positive Steve was about my book and the characters and the way I write. I is inspired. Cheerleaders are awesome.

I didn’t really spend any time reading interesting blog entries this week, so to pad out the rest of this post here’s my answers to Gala Darling’s Curious Tuesday.

1. If it was your birthday tomorrow, what would be on your wishlist?

Time off work to attend day time sessions of the film festival. Cash to go shopping for clothes with (I am currently addicted to clothes shopping), or I guess vouchers would work. Chocolates and a trip overseas.

2. Do you look after your nails? Do you paint them? If so, do you have a colour that you keep returning to again & again?

No, not really. I sometimes get a manicure but it bugs me how quickly the paint gets chipped or ruined so I don’t do it often. I used to be fond of painting my nails camouflage style but I haven’t been bothered with that since university.

3. What star sign are you, & do you think it is accurate?

I’m Libra, and I think it’s fairly accurate. At least I think I display these typical Libran traits: artistic and drawn to beauty, unable to make a decision (constantly weighing up all options), easy going, charming, self indulgent and flirtatious.

4. What is something you have recently learned to appreciate?

This is a tough one, but my recent sickness has given me a real appreciation of my ability to write and make up stories. For so many days I simply *couldn’t*. On my darkest night I told Lee sadly that I was in fact, never writing again and I should stop even trying to pretend to be a writer. He was characteristically unmoved by my melodrama and told me to stop being stupid. Now that the cold bugs have evacuated my brain, I’m loving how I can write, and think, and create. Love.

5. What is your favourite city in the world, & why?

Well, Wellington is the best city that I know well. But then, I haven’t been to very many cities and only one or two outside of New Zealand. So I guess I’m biased.

I love Wellington because it’s small enough that there’s a lot of crossover between groups of people. There’s lots of stuff going on (quiz nights, improv comedy, film festivals, etc) so you don’t get bored. Living in the middle of Wellington has given me a feel for the rhythm of the place. I went out one Tuesday night and handed my bag of recycling to a very friendly recycling collector. When we have a fire drill we can just go to the dairy and get an ice-cream, or over the road to Burger Fuel. People get loud and drunk on Fridays and Saturdays. This morning there was screaming when I work up, which I placed as people watching the World Cup match over at Four Kings with the windows open. (My first thought was zombie apocalypse.) Besides all this, you can drive for 15 minutes from the centre of town and find yourself in the country side.
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I do have one writing related link for you though. The lovely Ellen, who I have roleplayed with and is a frequent commenter here, has been writing flash fictions on demand and posting them on her blog. There’s even a longer one that I suggested the title and word for, which I like very much. There’s something about having fiction written *for you* isn’t there? Anyway, her stuff is weird and funny and spec ficcy and you should read it.

Finally, in honour of my twitter buddy Andrew Jack…

Wednesday Writing

My own writing has been taking a bit of a break. After ostensibly finishing the type-up section of my edit of Rain I have given myself leeway to do other stuff.

I’m relieved to have my head back from Rain. I have a fear that I need to read through the draft again and give it one more whack but for the most part she’s letting me be. I like suddenly having ideas for short stories. I wrote half of one yesterday and I am gonna try and get that finished soon. I also wrote a fic for my Buffy game, but that doesn’t really count. And no, you can’t see it. So don’t ask.

I had a rejection this week for What’s the Worst That Could Happen? from an American agency. I was beginning to think it hadn’t got through, but the rejection indicates it did. I don’t mind it much, after all, that’s what it’s meant to be doing (getting rejections) but I did have the false hope when I saw the reply to my enquiry that it would be an acceptance. Ah well.

Lotsalinky:

I really enjoy this article from Gabrielle Edits called writing invisibly, giving tips to ensure readers become immersed in your story. Plus some good basic things to watch out for, such as consistent tense, etc.

A little never give up reminder. (Although I cringe a little at the number of rewrites, I know that this can be true.)

I also liked this writer identity vs career article.

Someone new to follow on Twitter, especially if you write for the Young Adult market…@elizabethscraig, mystery author with her pulse on the awesome posts.

Speaking of which, check out this article on the five main characters in YA. I think Rain’s a Scarface. No, I mean, she definitely is. And Rachel (her best friend) is the Queen of Snark facet of the Comedian. Heh. Fun times.

Writing

I came to the realisation that although it’s awesome that I’m so into working on Rain and giving her all my attention, I shouldn’t actually stop doing everything else writerly.

So I dedicated Tuesday afternoon to my ‘other projects’. This meant sending agent queries out for WtWTCH? Which took a wee while, because I adjusted the query for each agent and had to make sure I was including exactly the right thing for each.

Then I spent a fair chunk of time reworking the first three chapters of Kiki. It’s not quite at the stage where I want to send it out again but it’s getting close. I think one more hardcore session of editing and I’ll be ready to submit it again. I am again astounded at how much better my writing has got since I first wrote Kiki.

The manuscript slog portion of editing Rain is going really well. I have it set up on the dining table, which makes it really easy to dip into first thing in the morning or during my lunch break. Asking myself the questions constantly as I do it has proved to be really helpful.

Today after lunch with Sophie and a nap I got to page 45 on my MS slog. I am quite distractible today. I sort of intended to get more done but it didn’t work out. I might give it another go this evening. It’s such a pretty day though, and I my sleep’s been pretty broken given Lee’s ongoing migraine so I’m snoozy too.

Linky:

I really really loved Johnny B Truant’s article on how I’m not normal. It’s inspiring.

Lateral Action”s series of ways to work around creative block is quite good. I especially enjoyed Getting it wrong.

Author Intrusion and how to avoid it.