Editing, Process, Random, Uncategorized

Work In Process: Dragonfly

DFL - WIP

It’s Friday!  But where’s Friday Fare?  Well, I planned to publish this on Tuesday and then thought … oh I’ll do that on Wednesday.  Well, Wednesday came and went, so instead of Friday Fare, you get to hear about my latest madness.  xo!

Now that Afterlife (AL) is hanging out and getting itself ready for the next round of edits (October 1st, baby!), my attention is turning to another project that I’ve worked on intermittently over the past few years.  The working title on this one is Dragonfly and it’s a romantic suspense novel that’s set near a lake in Minnesota.  (Because, well, we have 10,000 of them … might as well set a story near one.)

At the beginning of this month, I envisioned a pretty ambitious goal.  The story already has about 53,000 words.  I took a few days at the beginning of the month to re-familiarize myself with these old friends and was pleased that my characters are at least upright and not totally inconsistent shells of fictional behavior.  I finished an outline for the story over Labor Day weekend and now I’m trying to make hay on my goal:  An additional 50K by October 1st.  Or basically, the creation of another SFD. 

Fifty thousand words over the course of a month roughly translates to about 1,600 words per day.  To make up for the week (or so) that I missed due to the holiday, I’m aiming for 3,000 words per day. (Cue maniacal laughter.)

Three thousand words is hard, but it’s doable.  And honestly – I’m not quite there yet.  I’ve been averaging 1,500 a day and got derailed over the weekend, but as I’m tweaking my process and scheduling longer afternoons / evenings where I can write, I think that 3,000 is in reach.

BUT … what I’ve struggled with is establishing a regular writing routine in my life.  (Hell, I’m still struggling.)  Getting into this habit and chasing daily word count goals has felt fabulous in terms of measuring concrete progress on my novel.  So, even if I’m only getting halfway to my goal – that’s still words on paper.  Those are still chapters that I can eventually edit.

Beyond writing this post for some accountability, I also have a weekly phone call with one of my fellow writer buddies on Fridays.  My friend Jeff is trying to get into a writing routine with his work-in-progress.  So we talk on Friday – we discuss what went well, what didn’t, and what we can do to change direction in the upcoming week and get closer to our individual goals.  It’s a little woo-woo, but it works.

I’m hopeful that the practice I establish for Dragonfly seeps over to my writing life in general – through the upcoming Afterlife edits and beyond.  I’ll keep my progress posted in upcoming Friday Fares!

P.S. – Since it’s not Friday without a little bit of rambling from me, please check out this YouTube concert from Sylvan Esso.  It’s the latest thing I’ve been listening to lately and although it’s totally out of my usual milieu, I. Love. It.

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Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: Dreaming of spring

Friday FareFriday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

I guess the biggest news of my week is that in August, I’m going to be caravan-ing with some fellow members of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime and will be attending the Writers Police Academy in Green Bay, WI.  Or, as one of my fellow toddler moms/writers IM’d me: writers + guns + weekend without kids = AWESOME.

Have you written a good short story and want to submit it somewhere?  Check out this article from the Mystery Writers of America – New York Chapter. (While this is from an MWA chapter, there are some listings that aren’t limited to the mystery genre.)

If all goes well today, I plan on visiting this old coot tonight (Friday, 2/26/16) and cheer him on at his latest book signing.

Why yes, Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook has nothing to do with writing, but this cookbook is going to make its way into my collection soon.  I just love her philosophy on food and her smackdowns on social media typically border on awesome, if not epic.

***

Listening to: I’ve become something of a YouTube junkie.  I love to listen to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and shows from KEXP, a Seattle radio station.  This song from the Dave Rawlings Machine has been in pretty heavy rotation lately.

Reading: I read another J.D. Horn book in a day.  Then I revisited childhood with some a recent Christopher Pike novel.  (I was OBSESSED with him when I was a teenager.  I actually ordered one of my favorite books of his to rediscover why I liked him so much.)

Fiction Update: I finished my short story and I feel pretty good about it.  Even if it doesn’t make it to the anthology I’m pitching it for, I think it has legs and a chance elsewhere.  I really enjoyed the process of discovery with the story and characters.  I also enjoyed the discipline of taking something that started out at 5,700 words and trimming that down to a lean 3,900.  In terms of my larger projects, I ordered this book in preparation to start editing the next draft of AL.  That’s been on the back burner since July – I think it’s past time that I revisited it.

Editing, Fiction, Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFare On Fridays, I post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

Kristi Belcamino, a fellow Minnesota author, gave a shout out to this website for creating graphics.  I’m looking forward to trying this out and integrating into my social media efforts.

Fidgeting = productivity?  The Wall Street Journal had this article regarding how “creative playtime” may spark new ideas.  The note that I made to myself after reading this was that while I didn’t necessarily agree with this idea (I don’t think that I can play with a Slinky and still type at the same time –  not that coordinated), I have found that music is important for sparking creativity.  If I feel like I’m in a slump, changing a playlist can make my mind skip in a productive direction.

And because I’ve re-discovered that my other creative outlet is cooking and because my sons and I are all getting over colds, I riffed on this chicken noodle soup recipe this week.  It was pretty damn good.

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Listening to: As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a playlist of Alison Krauss from YouTube, starting with her duet with Robert Plant (“Killing the Blues”), wanting to listen to this song on constant repeat, and then getting some gratification that I’m not the only one who appreciates Gordon Lightfoot.

Reading:  Truthfully?  I’m reading some Highlander/time-traveling smut right now, so I’m not going to be proud about announcing my reading choice right now.  I’m working on a Dean Koontz novel, still need to finish “Skellig” (heading to Chicago and spending an unexpected extra night has thrown a lot of my life off).  Stay tuned … on Tuesday, I’m going to share a shot of my TBR (to be read) pile.

Fiction update:  My work life is ramping up again and it’s causing me a little bit of anxiety.  I have five proposals due before April 13th.  How do I balance this with my own internal deadline (pages in the hands of beta readers by April 1st?).  What I did was print out a fresh copy of my manuscript and I’m taking another run at reading and making edits as I go.  Mentally, I liken this process to my winter driving adventures during my 16th year of life, when I would have to back my Pontiac Sunbird into the field approach across the road from my parents’ farm and take the driveway at a run if I hoped to get up to the top of the drive.  I usually had about a 50% success rate.  Let’s hope that I’m more adept at driving / editing some 20 years later.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareConfession:  I love the Internet (affectionately known in my household as “the Interwebs.”).  On Fridays, I’m going to post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

I am about 40% through the latest round of edits on Afterlife (AL) and I’m really excited with how it’s going.  I feel like the edits I’m making are helping to make a more cohesive story and it’s getting the story closer to beta readers.

Articles like this  help:  http://latenightnovelwriting.tumblr.com/post/101646227591/8-words-to-seek-and-destroy-in-your-writing

J.K. Rowling’s notes!  (I came across this a few years back and I loved how she did this – I’ve used something similar and really like how it helps track characters.)

And here I thought I was just lazy: http://elitedaily.com/money/science-simplicity-successful-people-wear-thing-every-day/849141/

I thought that this looked like a useful tool:  http://writerswrite.co.za/cheat-sheets-translate-emotions-into-written-body-language

And because I like to add a recipe onto these round-ups, here‘s what I am hoping to bake this afternoon.

***

Listening to:  I had a couple recent road trips lately.  While I usually have some mixed CDs on hand to help the miles go by, I also like to listen to radio stations and see what’s new.  This song by Hosier is haunting and the YouTube video gave me absolute chills.

Otherwise, my musical tastes reveal how late I am to the game … I’ve just discovered Old Crow Medicine Show.  My eldest loves “Wagon Wheel” and that’s on frequent rotation, along with “Fuzzy and Blue” and “C is for Cookie.”

Reading:  When I originally started drafting this post, I was re-reading Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones.” I was reminded once again why I want to be a writer.  And because it’s brain candy, I’m re-reading Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  (This might be the fourth time through??)

Fiction update:  Again, when I originally drafted this blog post, I was in the midst of letting AL marinate (I let my drafts rest between edits so they have a little bit of time to rest).  During that time, I started outlining another story that I had started (and abandoned) a few years back.  My thought process was that I’d have a decent outline ready for when my next round of edits on AL are done and while AL is out with beta readers, I’d start getting more words on the page for my next project.

While I didn’t completely finish my outline, I made some great progress on that project.  But, as it turned out – this past week has been a quiet one at work.  Since I never know when things are going to be quiet on the work front, I decided to go ahead and jump into edits.  (If I wait until there’s a “perfect” time to write / edit, I will never pen another word again.)

I am hoping that this finds you all well!

Editing, Fiction, Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareHere is my random group of random Internet musings and links that I’ve discovered
recently and want to curate for the rest of the world:

Ha!  I knew there was a reason beyond the fact that I’m the mother of two toddlers that I wear the same thing everyday.  I’m trying to achieve simplicity!

I’m a huge Stephen King fan.  The recent articles in Rolling Stone magazine are lush with details and research. (As a bonus, the first sidebar linked to this story about King’s sons Owen King and Joe Hill.  I’ve read Joe Hill and have enjoyed his work, need to read Owen King’s debut novel.)

I only caught the tail end of the whole “Alex from Target” … phenomenon … thing?  New York Times takes a look at the flip side of achieving viral fame.  I said this in a Facebook comment – I will never understand death threats.  You hate a guy because he’s on the Interwebs.  So you make a death threat?  Seems a little irrational.

And because no Friday Fare is complete without some offering to foods that I hope to cook someday (see my note about being the mother of two toddlers above), here’s something that could make a great addition to any Thanksgiving table.

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Listening to: I’ve been binge watching/listening to YouTube playlists.  Alan Jackson singing at George Jones’ funeral?  Old 1990s country music videos (think Reba McEntire with BIG HAIR, Vince Gill with a pseudo-mullet, and Mama Judd herself in what looks like a cross between pleather and latex.)  Why 1990s country music?  Well, this happened:

Garth Brooks. Minneapolis. Fourth Row Seats.

After seeing Garth Brooks and attending one of the best concerts of my life, I’m feeling pretty nostalgic for the music I used to hear on the radio – on the school bus, while busing dishes at my great-aunt’s diner, in my dad’s barn …

Reading:  Just finished the final book in Nora Roberts’ “Dark Witch / Cousins O’Dwyer” trilogy.  I read it in a day, so it must have been good.

Fiction update:  I’ve hit something of a wall.  After reading this blog post from Chuck Wendig, I’m taking these words to heart:  “And that, I think, is one of the things that separates the Aspiring Not-Really-Writers from the Really Real Writers — the latter group writes even when it’s hard, even when the motivation is a dry well, even when the inspiration seems like a dead or dying thing. They hook the car battery jumper cables up to the coyote’s car-struck carcass and rev the engine and make the damn thing dance yet again. Seems dead, but isn’t. Every day then is an act of revivifying your own abilities and motivations. The act of writing becomes clarifying to the act of writing. To restate the principle for the third time: momentum begets momentum.”  I work to be a Really Real Writer, even when that means I have a little voice parroting in my head: “This is shit.  These words … shit.  You are shit.  Still shitty.”  One foot in front of the other.  One word at a time.

I’ve had some incredible moments during revisions – I’m not currently experiencing that.  But I can do this.  And if I show up every day, I’ll make progress.  Progress can be revised.  Progress is the goal.  Completion is the goal.

Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Process, Random

Friday Fare: Links from the around the ‘Net

FridayFareConfession:  I love the Internet (affectionately known in my household as “the Interwebs.”).  On Fridays, I’m going to post a round up of the various posts and articles that have been of interest to me during the week:

Over the past year, I’ve been intentionally seeking out the mystery writing community.  I’ve joined a couple of writing associations (Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers Association) and follow various listservs and blogs that are devoted to the craft, research, etc.  D.P. Lyle’s blog has become one of my favorites and there are times where I just feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have a legitimate reason to read these things. 🙂  This recent Q&A blog is no exception to this rule.

I’m a huge Deborah Harkness fan – these articles were a delight to read.  And timely too since the first book of the All Souls Trilogy and its intro is set during this time of year. (Also – I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Harkness earlier this year.  If she is at a book signing in a community near you – go.  She is a wonderful speaker and just a warm person.)

And this has nothing to do with writing, but it’s soup season.  Here are a couple of recipes that will be making their appearance in my kitchen very, very soon!

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Listening to: Busted … a conference call.  I’m multitasking.  In terms of music, I’ve been digging playlists on YouTube lately – listening to old favorites and discovering bands that are new to me.

Reading:  I am a proud owner of a Kindle, but I also love physical copies of books.  And thus far, the only duplicates that I have in electronic and physical form have been strategic buys.  (i.e. – I love Deborah Harkness’s books.  But dragging around my hardcover versions of her books around my house with two toddlers is akin to throwing a plugged in toaster into a bathtub.  Not the smartest idea that I’ve ever had.  So when her books have been on sale in the electronic format, I’ve bought them.)  But earlier this week as I picked up the “latest” Sam Owens novel from J.T. Ellison, I kept thinking to myself … “why do I feel like I’ve read this before?”  And not intentionally, I had purchased a paperback version and the ebook.  Sigh!

Fiction update: Plugging along.  I’m getting to a scary part of my WIP that I know is not well written, so … let’s hope that the luck and muse that have been with me so far don’t abandon me in this crucial part of the journey!

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Finally … Happy Halloween!   My husband and I are going to be escorting a mini-Batman and a garden gnome (sans hat and faux beard) for trick-or-treating tonight.