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Friday, December 19, 2014

My First Shot at Outlining a Novel Before Writing

My general thought on outlining is that it’s beneficial. I had to force my way through the process, because I’m not an outliner. I’m an organic writer, someone who sits down with an idea and writes it twenty different ways to see which storyline sticks. That being said, it takes almost two years to get through one project. This hardly makes me prolific and one day, I’d like to have all the older storylines in my head pounded out on paper. It will make thinking a lot easier with all the extra room in there.

I wasn’t sure how to start the outline. At the top, I wrote out the plot and underneath plot, character A’s desire and under that, character B’s desire.  It was super rough, because I usually don’t find out their true desires until I’m on draft three of my organic plotting. Underneath that, I wrote One through Twenty out on the blank document so I could jump between the chapters as the events took fold in my brain. I had about four false beginnings which took me two weeks to see instead of six months and three full drafts. I changed the motivation a few times and had to mix the events in a different order. Two weeks later, at the end of the outline process, I felt like I drafted the book four times over. I usually do a load of drafts until I find the problems, but it took two weeks to see a great deal of the major issues in plotting and sequence. 

Since this process worked better than planned, I’m thinking about doing a new outline every month. That will get at least 12 stories out of my head and the next project will already have a head start. I finished early with December’s test run on the outline, so I’m starting early on January. If by some miracle I manage to get this next outline done before January, I’m hoping this means I can get at least two extra outlines squeezed in for the year. That would cover almost all the thoughts currently in my head.

My writing projects usually center on dark elements, but for my reading time, I enjoy quirky and quick. I’d like to make my Urban Fantasy series quirky, so I told my friend about this and her prompt reply was, “That’s not your style.” Me: “But it could be my new style!” Her: “You can give it a shot…” She didn’t sound convinced that I could pull this off. I’m not so sure either. Every time I think I’ve done something clever and funny, my usual beta readers hand it back saying, “Nope, still dark.” It’s just a thought right now so I need to think a little harder on it. I wanted the Urban Fantasy to be more like Stephanie Plum, but knowing my style, it’d be Sweeny Todd because the bodies pile up. It seems I have a Poe heart.  

Writing Update:

Axed the original idea for the BK outline and tried a different plot with a different lead character, keeping one of the original characters in mind. Also, I spent the entire day trying to figure out an appropriate name for this character. I was calling him Bear because he came from the mountains, but it was more like the animal he'd represent if he were a loner. Found a way better name that sounds less hairy. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Shopping and Writing

My favorite Christmas song is The Grinch; maybe, because I once had a boss that “had termites in his smile” and “garlic in his heart.” That song sums up mean people, but what do I know? I’m pretty determined to eventually live under my rock full time, because it’s just ridiculous believing I can actually merge with my computer system… it is ridiculous right? If it is possible, please note, my computer system is my first choice. 

Some of my favorite things that come out during this month: mint and vanilla hot chocolate, tons of flavored lip glosses and Chapsticks (TM?), and yummy desserts in the bakery.

What I wish the most: That more people would put up lights to celebrate the festival of lights!!
I haven’t been doing too many things worth talking about. I wanted to spend more time volunteering at the zoo, but now, I’m spending it in front of the computer trying to finish the edits for next year’s project. I have two projects for next year in various stages; one in final edits the other in its 2nd draft form. Release dates are around the corner and I’m still fiddling with last minute tweaks. Shame on me! I feel like I’m letting Virgos everywhere, down with my sloppy, ill planned survival system. 

I’m going through an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. thing with certain characters that I want to identify with in the real world. From past experience, I’ve learned that I have to let these cycles of obsession run through their phases, but until then, if you see me dressing in all black like May, well you’ve been warned. When I get an obsession it’s hard to derail it. Every time Stan Lee makes an appearance I just come unhinged, which is weird. I know he’s a celebrity by so many means to people who love comic books, but he’s like GOD in my eyes. If I listed all my idols, other creative types would totally understand where I’m coming from.

Speaking of questionable saints, I found a person on Etsy that makes holy candles with pictures of well-known authors’ setup like the Saint Mary candle. I’d buy that glass with two authors I idolize. I’d want to refill the glass and use it again. Waste not, want not. I guess cleaning out a candle glass and stuffing it with new wax and wick will be a D.I.Y. project.

Writing Update

I’ve decided to try and write a book outline every month. At the end of 2015, I should have 12 outlines. I wonder if I have that many books in my head. This is going to be challenging, but the goal is write faster and get these old ideas in motion. I like motion. Motion keeps me from insanely sulking about.

December Outline: 50% done. 

HBA 2: 10/? Finished. Spent an entire day writing scenes out of order as my brain saw fit to

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Busy Schedule and Writing

At the beginning of the year, I usually end up with 5 new calendars as Christmas gifts. Now that it’s December, I’m so tempted to go buy one; because next year is going to be nuts and I want all of December to write my schedule down. Emory is pushing that I wait. I know, I jump in too soon and it will be another year of 5 calendars and needing only 2. I saw one at the Dollar Tree with ocean animals. There were also had calendars with puppies, baby animals, birds, landscapes, etc.

My friend and I were talking about our first elements, the ones we were born under. We’re both born earth. My secondary element that I’m drawn to is water and her secondary is fire. So you can see my obsession with the ocean. I seriously thought as a child, that when I grew up, I’d be doing something more nature based. I was obsessed with the earth, growing things, exploring everything in its natural form. To date, I still hate cement, brick, cities full of unnatural things, but I’m a city girl and I need the distraction of helicopters flying over my house at night, or I can’t get to sleep. I really want that ocean calendar and if I don’t get one for Christmas, I’ll be going out the next day and getting that calendar.

I helped clean out a storage, which gave us a few extra things, like furniture and a bunch of unknown items inside boxes. Emory and I spent the night organizing and placing things where they needed to be. We had to throw a lot of strange things away. The strangest thing of all is that there are candy wrappers and Taco Bell wrappers in almost every box. A lot of the items need to be washed. I traced the source of the bad stench to a water bottle with water inside it. Strange for AZ. You put water in something and in a few days, it’s empty, but this water sat and the smell was horrible. Since the storage belonged to my bloodline, I kept a few of the items like the skeleton pajamas and these handmade throw pillows that my dad’s girlfriend made as a gift. They are gorgeous pillows. I did ask for permission before I took too many things. Emory now has a bike. We’ll be keeping that in the garage and not parking it at a campus because schools have the highest theft ratio on bikes. We need to repack the boxes of items we are going to keep. 

The moving van is still sitting outside, so we need to finish the HUGE cleanup that it is. Most of the boxes are trashed. This is an all-day thing.

I have friends who want to do Zoo Lights. I’m not sure when there will be time. We have dance practice 2 nights a week and the weekend is full of obligations. I still haven’t finished my shopping! I have a few people who need gifts.

I think Emory and I are going to bake sugar cookies. I’ve been wanting too, but I’ve been so tired lately. No Bueno when I’m still young enough to stay up and party. It’s all these obligations. Some I don’t mind, others aren’t a great deal of fun.

Writing Update:
Romance Outline: 1-3 outlined & 18-20 outlined on book
Romance 2 Outline: zilch
HBA book 2: 9/? Nearly finished.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Setting Roots and Writing with Outlines

Occasionally we look house hunt, because eventually, we’re going to buy. Out of all the homes we’ve seen, I’ve really liked only two, but both had major issues. The house by my high school, because I love that area, had wood rot and the back wall faced the street. If there were more trees blocking the wall, we might consider it, but people drive horrible out here and you always see walls facing the street, knocked down. The more recent home that we looked at two weeks ago was declared infested with termites. Termites are interesting bugs. I have nothing against them; I just don’t want them eating my property. 

Truthfully, Emory and I aren’t in the market just yet. We made this crazy goal to pay off all our debt. We’re in our last year of that goal and I’m happy to finally say last year. All that’s left is student loans. It’s hard, because there is so much going on around us and we’re scrambling mad-crazy to get debt free. We haven’t been to Vegas in forever! That’s not usual for us. I practically grew up in Las Vegas. That’s my second residence, if only spiritually. Our goal is to go after we get everything in the wallet taken care of. That’s a bummer, because nothing will get finished until mid-2015.

It’s taken three years to do this, but all the financial books suggest getting it done. How boring is it? Try cutting out major entertainment; shopping for me and movies for Emory. We cut almost everything and three years of that has finally made me stir crazy for my old lifestyle, but I have tons of books and my writing to keep me busy. I’ve actually gotten 2x productive on my writing since we started this financial goal.

Total Marvel Experience is hosted in Scottsdale, AZ. That’s only a thirty minute drive from where we are. Emory has our tickets and my “experience” is booked for Dec. 20. I’m super excited. I was trying to use the “Disney Bound” notion tweaked for Marvel Experience. I wanted to get a purple skirt and green top and be She-Hulk, but looking at the pictures of women who go as her, I feel pretty intimidated on so many levels. Second idea is Captain America. I saw Women of Stark Enterprise costumes, but again, She-Hulk costume meltdown. Even heels won’t make me that tall.

I have a friend at the Dungeon who is pretty good with all things creative, and she offered to help me make an outfit. I went to JoAnn, our fabric store in Arizona, and found a few patterns. My cousin is a huge cos-player, so I told her my favorite characters and asked for color schemes. She agreed that with the concept I have, I needed to stay with the costumes that are darker in color, so no bright young Robin costume for me. I was looking at cos-player costumes on the internet and realize that some of these outfits are awesome on other people, but not on me, so I need to modify the outfits for conservative comfort. I have a plan! I shall update with photos as I get this done. Right now, I need to cut the patterns and make sure they are in the proper envelopes so I don’t lose any parts.

Writing Update:
I’m trying my hand at outlining. I opened a blank page on the computer, listed 1-20 and above, put my plot line and the desires for my leads. I don’t outline. I write the creative draft, then outline afterwards, but I was reading a lot of blogs stating that this is a long process, and in truth, it is. It takes me almost 2 years to finish a story. I’m open for anything so I’m open to try this. This is very slow, and I think it’s because for my creative process, I start with a major event and unravel, so usually, the big event is the middle. I’m working on a story that I have one very small idea for and trying to figure it out is a huge issue. I hope that my brain takes to this, because it will give me less edits and hopefully more projects finished. So far I'm voting FAIR on the outlining project.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Secret AGENT Man! and Writing

There are two people brave enough to sing in the silent Dungeon. Once in a while, you’ll hear a laugh, no one is too silent to forgo laughter, but singing is a whole different ball park. There is one person that actually makes me smile because it’s not like he continuously does it. It’s very random when he opens his mouth and the verse is high pitched and probably on the line of something from the 80’s or 90’s. The woman who sings, I find her tactics exasperating because she does it too often and the place is far too professional for that type of ongoing. If there was more noise, the singing wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been in the trenches putting out applications for something new. I tried. I really did. I know my track record is rough. I have a two year span of interest on a given environment before I pack my bags and move on. There was one profession that I would’ve stayed far too long at despite the low pay because I loved the environment so much. I’m looking for another profession with the similar environment. People wonder why I don’t write full time since I’m constantly in the writer’s frame of mind. I can’t picture myself being a full time writer. I get my best ideas when I’m not writing and now I depend on that result.

As for the interview process, it’s been a bumpy progression. I went into one a few months ago and the hiring manager stated, “I only hire people I’ve directly worked with in the past.” I sat there staring at her thinking, “Okay…” It grew stranger when she took me around the building and introduced me to people. I was confused by the nonverbal message she was delivering. In the end, I wasn’t offered the position and I think it was best. I know the woman’s sister and if the apple doesn’t fall far from the family tree, I’d rather not be involved. 

I went on another interview with the staggering same strangeness. I didn’t come home in the best of moods, so the cake that my roommate made for me was received with open arms. It was the party confetti cake with melted sprinkles that dot the cooked cake batter. I had two pieces, which amazed her and made my sugar spike high enough to make me sick. I continued my bad mood with four pieces of gourmet chocolate followed by some left over Halloween candy. I felt physically sick, but mentally appeased by nightfall. I’m aware I could’ve had the same results with wine, but the calorie intake would probably be the same. 

I found an ad looking for an undercover investigator. The part of me that believes I’m the reincarnation of James Bond decides to click it. There is no contact name or job duties listed, but you have to be willing to travel. Intrigued, and possibly hooked, I click the link and the position is looking for someone to get physical evidence of animal abuse at factory farms or like places. Instantly, I call my best friend in all things James Bond related… and maybe not so related to anything at all, and tell her about the job. Her reaction, “I’d give myself away crying as I put the animals on a trailer.” That gave me shivers. 

I knew mentally it wasn’t something I could do, but when she said that, it drew such a strong image in my head that made me want to vomit. She’s right. It’s something that would give me nightmares and I’m not sure I’d ever get over it. I think I’d feel hostile towards everyone I know who still eats meat. 

I decided that interview would probably be as wonky as the others and will forgo the experience. Plus, I’m the only semi-vegetarian I know and I think I’m heading towards vegan in the next couple of years. I’d hate to become a recluse and hate people for their diets. There are better things to hate people for, like singing in the office. Just kidding, I actually don’t mind the occasional outburst of chorus.

Writing Update:

HBA book 2: 8/? in the process of editing

Romance: flat-line on the outline. Figured out one plot issue, but have a handful more to figure out. 1/20 chapters on the outline finished. 2 false starts for chapter one. This current start is borderline false. I can use the chapter, but I don't think it's quite the opening I'm looking for.

Monday, December 01, 2014

It's a Very Merry Palm Tree

Due to my personal beliefs, I wouldn’t kill a living tree in order to bring it into the house so I like the fake fur tree options that so many stores offer. For the last two years, I wanted a huge, black tree. I know black pine needles aren’t natural or traditional. I’d also be interested in a huge tree with pink needles. See, I can compromise.

Soon, Emory and I will have our own space. I'm pretty sure I'd like to have a new tree for our new place, something that I will like for the next 10 years. As I rounded a corner at Target, these trees were waiting for us. LED palm trees. If I had less ornaments, I would consider it, but I have too many and I need sturdy branches for all of them.

Christmas Palm Tree at Target

The Dungeon gave us three days off, and I must admit, I was suddenly thrown into a tailspin because I had no idea what I’d do with days off. I haven’t had days off since I started working for the place. I’ve worked through all the holidays and even the weekends for the last two years. So I had four days off and had no idea what people do when they aren’t working. So I filled the time by staying up until 2 a.m. in the morning, writing.

Thanksgiving was nice. I had two dinner feasts. The second house was a little easier to eat at because they had less animal byproducts in the foods than the first house. The first house had a really awesome green bean, onion and potatoes dish but when I started to dish food out, I realized that there was itty bitty strips of bacon in it too, so when backs were turned, I scooped my food onto Emory’s dish. He doesn’t have the same holdup on meat. Plus, I don’t want it to be that obvious to people who cooked all day that I’m not interested in trying everything. The second house had a bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallow toppings, traditional potatoes, etc. I actually filled up beyond bursting at the second location.

Instead of rushing out for Black Friday, which sounds like a spectator sport for Escape from LA, we packed up the nephew and headed out for the zoo. It was a very long day. I never realized how long it took to get a child through different portions of the zoo. It took us all day to do only 2 parts of the zoo. We did pet the sting rays, feed the giraffes, rode the tram, rode a camel and he rode the carousal twice. I do have a real kindled hatred towards gift shops. Those marketing skills are evil and we had to get through the gift shop as an exit. I didn’t realize how quickly a six year old can pick things up and he told me how much he needed everything. That was a downer, because I totally believed he needed everything he held, even the scorpion suckers, though he screamed when we actually looked at scorpions behind glass.
Saturday held an unexpected surprise. We went out to Scottsdale to visit with a sick friend, and for lunch, we ended up in Fountain Hills. Past that, was the Fort McDowell casino. We had the buffet, which I did double of everything meatless. I also had cheese cake, a strange chocolate pastry and yogurt for a snack. We played some games and I couldn’t find the Lord of the Rings penny slot so we went with the basic 5 in a row machine. Within twenty minutes of playing, my $20 was down to $9.14 and I hit a 5 Times Payout, which gave me $81 dollars. Not bad. Instead of gambling my winnings, I cashed out, so now I have money for Marvel Experience tickets.

We had Lady for the four day weekend. She’s a hairless dog. She’s so cute and when she looks at me with those deep, brown eyes, my heart just stops. I heard her owner was at boutiques buying her new dresses. Can’t wait to see her in one.

Writer Update:

HBA book 2: 8/? Chapters edited on draft 3. Totally found inspiration thanks to Hozer music. The bad thing about having an assassin in my head is that some of the things he’s responsible for makes me very nauseous.

NaNoWriMo: I’m up to 50,000 words!

RWA: To be on the board next year, I need to write a romance. I have an idea. I will use a brother from my HBA book and write him a sweet romance... sweet? Okay, I need to work on the sweet. I write dark.