Tag Archives: wordcounts

Taking a break.

Ever since I got Alpha Female back from my beta reader (who was wonderful and quick and cool about everything), I’ve been taking a bit of a break.  There were alot of things missing, due to the wordcount limit of the antho, and while I had a feeling that might be a problem, I thought possibly that I could pull it off.  I tried, right?  I made my goal of finishing the draft on time.  However, I can’t submit it because 1) it’s too long at 27k, and 2) the story would be better served by expanding it vs. cutting 2k and then trying to fill all of the holes AND keep it at 25k. 

So here’s my plan.  I’m going to expand it to about 40k and submit it to the e-publisher’s regular submissions or another e-publisher altogether.  It’s okay — the story is far darker than the antho wanted.  Sometimes a story unfolds and as it unfolds, it mutates into something else.  Also okay.  I had a feelng that was happening, and I didn’t fight it.  I trusted my muse on this one.  And, after rewriting it 3 times, I wanted to make it work this go around. 

Am I happy with this?  Actually, I am.  I learned alot about my process and got a peek at what it’s like to write to a deadline.  Obviously, there was no contract-stipulated deadline so there were no consequences to speak of, but I took it very seriously and buckled down and got it done.

The only real variation in it is that I rewrote it 3 times before finishing the draft, something I rarely ever do.  My feeling was I didn’t want to continue to write a story that feels wrong, and then have to turn around and rewrite the entire thing.  Possibly several times.  It seemed like an exercise in futility.  Normally, I’d write straight through.  But I had a deadline, so things changed a bit.

So the next thing is to expand/rewrite/edit Alpha Female, addressing the problems that my fantastic beta reader found.  And adding a few things I couldn’t fit in this go around.  I’m thinking of cutting the death of the main character’s spouse from the entire thing, or make it already happened when the novella starts, as per the original draft.  I wanted Natasha to have a reason to be emotionless and distant, and a deceased spouse could do it.  But then while writing the ending, I thought, hmmm, what if he died in the fight that injured Natasha?  Killed by the same race as the man who wants her as his mate?  Brilliant, or so I thought.  But I had a wordcount limit, so I couldn’t let it play out the way it should have been.  I could put it back in and try to make it work, or cut it altogether.  Decisions, decisions.

And then there’s Natasha being a “latent” werewolf — aka she doesn’t — can’t — shift.  My beta reader felt it was a convenient plot device, and nothing more.  I needed Natasha to have another strong reason to allow Luke to turn her — besides dying, that is.  She’s an enemy of his race, and I would think she’d balk at it — even if it saved her life.  Stupid?  Nah.  She’s just very stubborn.  So I gave her the latent thing so the idea wouldn’t be so abhorrant.  She was already part werewolf, so going that extra mile wouldn’t be so bad.  I don’t know.  In some ways it works, but then again, my beta might be right.

So that was the idea behind my break, and to rest my brain.  I’m still really tired from dragging my cast around.  And I suspect a bit burnt out, too.  I just need to recharge the batteries, you know?  Let it come, but slowly.  This weekend, I might take a crack at it.  If I feel up to it.

But what about Pirouette?  you ask.  Well — that’s happening, too.  I actually think this “rest period” has given me alot of insights.  I have the first scene somewhat figured out and a few other things.  I’m almost ready to start the big revision.  So it’s Alpha Female next, all the way to submission (my one goal for last year and this year was to submit something to someone) and then Pirouette.  Maybe some Pirouette pre-work in between.

And as usual, I got smacked upside the head with the perfect NaNo idea — except I’m not doing NaNo and I can’t do any new stuff right now.  But, it’s a doozy, and pretty unique I think.  Oh well.  It can get into line with the rest.

So…hopefully I’ll have more to report in a few weeks.

Alpha Female is done.

I officially finished it Thursday, and it came in at 27k, just 2k over what I needed.  It is now with a trusted beta reader, who’ll give me the lowdown on what’s working and what’s not working, and I’ll have less than 2 weeks to do a revision plus a 5-page synopsis.

I must be crazy.

Actually, while I’m still actively trying to make that deadline, it’s not a huge thing.  I mainly wanted to see if I was capable of producing something on a deadline.  And I pretty much did, for the most part.  It’s going to depend on what my beta reader says, because I’ve lost all objectivity.  So, I gotta wait for that.

Pirouette is next up, particularly finishing the notecards and rewriting the first few scenes.  Beyond that, it’s just tearing through the manuscript much how I did with Alpha Female, except on a bigger scale.  I’m worried that I won’t nail it, and I simultaneously believe that I can.  Which will win out?  I has no clue.

The website is almost finished — at least the writing section, anyway.  That needs to be done before Life as a Moving Target launches on December 1st.  I have a few things planned for that so stay tuned.

Life as a Moving Target is almost ready to go on sale.  I have a second proof ordered and if it’s good, then it’ll go on sale with the other Turtleduck books on Dec. 1st.  It’s so exciting, seeing it in print, something I never thought would come true.  I’ve gotten some wonderful support and encouragement on it so far, and that’s so important as the subject is so personal to me.  All in all, I believe this is going to work out nicely.

It’s after midnight as I type this, but I still consider it Oct. 16th until I wake up in the morning.  It’s a weird quirk of mine.  So….today was not only Sweetest Day, but it was the 1-year anniversary of the day the family drama began, and my life, as I knew it, changed irrevocably.  The person who caused it still remains out of my life, although I still think about this person and what this person did almost daily.  It’s not enough to say that I’m hurt, or angry.  I’m livid.  Still a bit numb, even after all this time.  My world hasn’t quite gotten back on track and I’m still feeling pretty dark and empty inside.

I don’t even know what to say.  Except there are poems in this.  They’ve been whispering in my ears for months,waiting patiently for me to put them to paper.

In other news, I’m now in a cast because my foot doc feels that immobilization of the joint might do the trick.  I’ve never been in a cast before, so it’s been a real interesting — and frustrating — experience.  Exhausting, too.  I went downstairs to my office for the first time in 4 days and was terrified the entire trip up and down.  I did it twice today, and I feel more stable.  But dang, it’s tiring. Especially going up.

I hope this is it.

Also, I got hit with a doozy of a plotbunny.  I’m not even going to speak of it, because evey time I even think about it, it grows.  Halloween is perfect timing, but I’m standing firm on my no new projects decision for the rest of the year.  It’s going to have to wait, and so will my mini-Nano.  There’s always next year, right?

So that’s what’s happening here.  I’m so excited about everything.  I can hardly stand it. 🙂

Chapbook news.

I’m very happy to say that I received my proof copy of Life as a Moving Target yesterday and it is beautiful!  I’m so excited!  I have a few tweaks to finish up, but it’s pretty much done.  It will release through Turtleduck Press on Dec. 1st. Here’s a little preview: https://www.createspace.com/3486326 .

What is Turtleduck Press?  Well, we’re a group of writers who endeavor to publish quality fiction that skirts the edges of the standard genres.  But, you ask, what does that mean?  Well, our works don’t necessarily fit the standard conventions.  My poetry doesn’t — it’s poetry, and it’s in a niche market.   That kind of thing.  I’m so excited about this I can barely stand it!

I will also be starting on another chapbook of poetry tentatively called Broken World, Mad Dreams.  It explores the idea of family and betrayal, love and pain.  It’s funny, but I’ve wanted to start on it since last year, but the timing wasn’t quite right.  Well, now that I have a zillion things happening, I get murmurings of verse and ideas and stanzas from my muse.  Usually when I can’t write any of it down.  So, I might need to start getting these things down soon before they disappear.

In other news, Alpha Female is pretty much done.  I need an ending, but that’s it.  It’s also the first project that came close to its intended wordcount.  26k of 25k.  How about that?  So I have to cut some, add some, and edit the hell out of it.  Hopefully before Nov. 1st.  It’s going to be tight, but that’s my goal.  It’s beenan interesting process.  Rewriting it a total of three times and editing at the same time.  Kind of crazy.  But, it might just work!

So that’s what’s happening in ny crazy world.  Hopefully things calm down soon and I can breathe.

Update and future projects

Been sicky for the past few days, so not much has been accomplished.  However, before getting sick, I’d broken 11k on Alpha Female.  And, yes, I’m admitting it — this is kind of a rewrite/edit/revision.  Because I’m basically doing everything at once so I can send it to critters once the “draft” is done.  I say “draft” because I’m not really sure what to call it. 

That’s my crazy process for you.  It took me two false starts to get it right.  Put me behind, but I’m doing okay.  I’m not really worried.  I guess I’ll start worrying in two weeks when I need to have it done. 

I’ve been doing alot of thinking about future projects.  I’m definitely going to take another whack at Pirouette once Alpha Female is done and submitted.  That’s the top priority.  Next, the big question is, do I want to do a mini-NaNoWriMo in November?  I can’t do the full NaNo anymore (50 in 30 days) because of my wrists, but I’ve had some success with doing a 25k “mini-Nano.”  I’m tempted to start a new novel.  It’s one that’s been patiently waiting for oh….I want to say at least 5 years.  It was going to be my 2006 NaNo novel but I changed my mind at the last minute.  The story has been haunting me for five years.  A lot of it has changed — for example, the main characters were all vampires (“vampira”) and now they will most likely be a type of Dark Fae.  A few days ago, the phrase “a battlefield of souls” popped into my mind, and at first, it felt like a seedling of a new idea, but when I probed it deeper, I discovered that it could work with this novel, which is called Darkweaver.  A few weeks to a month ago, the first line — hell, the first damn page — came to me, again out of nowhere.  At work, no less.  I was even going to type it up before I forgot (I haven’t).  So it’s been really strong in my head.  Muse says it’s about damn time.  I’m trying to wait, because I have three unfinished projects that need to get done.  But then again, what would 25k hurt?  Of course, it’ll take another month of work out of the equation, and will leave me with a hanging manuscript, but I just don’t know.  I’m completely and utterly torn.  Broken could use another 25k (it’s sitting at 12k at the moment).  Flamebound needs a revision and most likely a rewrite. 

How does one choose?  Lately I’ve been going according to one, the market (which I heard isn’t the way to go, but hey — I don’t want the paranormal market to die while Pirouette sits for another 5 years) and where the project is in the process.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to finish my unfinished projects and get them submitted.  So far, Pirouette’s 3rd draft got done last year, and Survivor’s first draft last year as well.  Speaking of Survivor, there’s another one that’s haunting me.  It needs a rewrite.  I am toying with the idea of making it a trilogy.  Again, market considerations.  And the sheer time would be massive.  So that one is probably going to have to wait, probably until I sell something.

What to do, what to do?  There’s just not enough time anymore, you know? 

Soooooo I guess we’ll see what happens.  I’ll decide….later.

Stuck and then unstuck.

I spent 2 days being stuck on Alpha Female.  I knew what would happen in the climax, but not how to get from where I was to that.  I needed more to happen before that.  And I’m still unsure of when the physical intimacy between Natasha and Luke is going to take place.

But…..I got 1,167 words and I’m almost to 18k, the point where I was when I restarted.  I estimate I’ll need another week to finish, putting me at mid-September and giving me two extra weeks to revise.  It has to go out to beta readers first, though.

How did I get unstuck?  That’s a damn good question.  I thought about it alot.  I played out different scenarios in my head.  I let my subconscious mull it over.  But I was in the shower when it came together.  The shower is the best place for getting ideas.  At least for me.

I was considering doing some freewriting if nothing tore loose.  Since I’m on a tight deadline, I couldn’t afford to lose another day.  Luckily, I wrote over 2k and then got stuck, and today I wrote over quota (800 words) so I’m about where I should be. 

This is the dark side of pantsing.  While it’s fantastic when it works, it can be really difficult when it doesn’t.  But I’ve learned over time to not force it.  To let it percolate and gel and come together inside my head.  Some of it I can see in my head or hear like overheard conversation.  I just had to wait it out.  And I was rewarded.

If I hadn’t, then I would have started poking at it.  But luckily, it never got to that point.  Crisis averted.

I’m still a bit foggy on a few things, but I know enough to move forward.

On the website front (yeah, I’m redesigning it yet again to coincide with the launch of Life as a Moving Target), I’m looking at some new options that will make life a bit easier for me.  I’m self-taught and my skills are basically obsolete.  So it’s been fun trying to get my head around newer ideas.  But it is coming along.

Also took some pictures the other day at a lake.  First time in I don’t know how long.  I’m proud of myself.  Naturally, it all came back, and I used my black&white mode, too (even though generally I shoot true b&w — that is, film) and I think I might have a few contenders for the cover for the chapbook.  I would like to use one of my own pictures if possible.

So things are coming along, if slowly.  I’ve been incredibly tired lately, which I suspect is the fibromyalgia, and that’s been a bit of a problem.  But I persevere.  Hopefully I’ll have more things to share soon.

10k to go.

I’m up to 15k on Alpha Female and I fear that I’m stuck again (I’m also talking in Natasha’s voice…by sheer accident…oops).  I wrote 1,001 words today but it was like pulling teeth.  I think it took me 2 to 3 sessions spread over 5 hours.  Ye Gods.  I admit that I’m a bit lost on the transition from before the hunt to beginning the hunt, and I wonder if I even need it at all.  For now, it stays.  I’ll make a ruling once I start revising.

Sooooooo I know basically what happens next.  Luke and Natasha bond some more, discuss her becoming Lupi.  They talk about Meaningful Things, possibly even Natasha’s deceased nashan (husband).  They may get intimate, I’m not sure.  But then I know where to go from there.  It’s just the execution.

I’ve got 10k more to finish this.  I suspect I might go over, but hopefully not by much.

As for other things, I just finished edits on Life as a Moving Target.  It’s been approved by the others, so now I need to figure out formatting and find a cover.  I want to use one of my own pictures for that.  I actually had a concept come to me recently but it would require a really complex image.  Not sure yet if I want to go that way.

On Pirouette: unfortunately I haven’t had much extra time to work on the plotcards.  I’ll try to get some don this week.  I feel like I’m losing touch with it, and that’s not good.

The song stuck in my head today is “Lost in Life” by Sirenia.

In My Dreams With You

“In My Dreams With You” by Steve Vai is becoming Natasha and Luke’s theme in Alpha Female.  When I started it, it was one of the songs that I continuously played.  Along the way, I sort of moved away from it.  But today, once I painted myself into a corner with the plot, I put it back on and bam! It started working.  Beautifully, in fact.

Part of the reason, I believe, is this song’s personal significance to me.  Let’s just say that I have some pleasant memories associated with it, and I believe they helped fuel the process.  I find it fascinating that as a writer,  feelings evoked by a specific song and channeling that onto the page (or, the screen) is a really cool thing to be able to do.  I remember Holly Lisle saying something about using parts of yourself and your life (very little, not everything) in your fiction would make it more real to the reader.  But oftentimes, I as a writer need it to feel real to me.  And I think attaching a significant song to it made it more real, at least in my mind, enough so that I could write the scene fairly well.  It’s an interesting thing.

This is why I almost always have some type of theme song for characters, worlds, and books.  Alpha Femle reminds me a bit of Flamebound, because the music is influencing the plot in unexpected ways.  Queensryche’s “No Sanctuary” inspired an actual part of the world of Flamebound, and “Take Hold of the Flame” (also by Queensryche) inspired the entire thing.  And it’s both songs that drove the plot, drove the characters.  Music is very, very good for me and my muse.

So, that was a good writing session.  1,439 words, almost double my quota.  I’d had a migraine since last night that finally went away, and lamented to the beloved that I was out of the mindset because I’d skipped last night’s writing.  And it was a bit difficult at first, but Iron Maiden, believe it or not, got me through that part.

So I’m on my way.  My next task is to do a Tarot reading to generate a few plot twists.

Re-re-rewrite

Yeppers.  I was at about 18k on Alpha Female and it all fell apart.  I determined that the new direction I’d taken (which I believed was awesome at the time) was the wrong direction because it became a painful slog.  It didn’t feel right.  So, I decided to rewrite it from almost-scratch.  I have a few scenes I can salvage, but most of it is useless.

However, I believe that’s part of my process.  Write alot, get a feel for the story, then possibly rewrite/revise/whatever to bring the entire thing up to snuff.  Some might say that it’s horribly ineffecient, and a waste of time, but I say no.  Without that initial 18k, the story as it is becoming right now would not exist.  Ideas flow from ideas.  Maybe it wasn’t the right idea, but something triggered what came next.  If I were to take out the 18k completely out of the equation, I’d be back where I started without this better understanding of things.

The sucky part, though, is starting over.  I’m at just under 3k.  I’m now 3 weeks behind essentially, and will only have 1 month to revise versus two.  But, hey, if the story’s not right, why beat a dead horse?  Worse case, if I can’t make the deadline, I’ll submit it to their regular submissions or elsewhere.  Best case, I’ll be able to submit a story I’m proud of.  Either way I win because I’m learning how to write to a deadline.

That said, I was having major problems getting into the mindset, and problems getting the words down.  I kept writing and rewriting stuff, and deleting stuff……I know this is the right path because I feel good about it, but my muse just wasn’t on board.  Could be that on the whole I’m still feeling inadequate as a writer, and I keep telling myself otherwise….and music, which always helps, didn’t do a thing for me.  Nada.  And that never happens.

As for the Pirouette notecards, no new work for the past few days.  Not enough time, not enough energy.  I need to make the time though.  It’s important, too.

Hopefully Ill have better news in the future.

Progress?

Lately I’ve been well…..wangsting over my lack of publication.  Stupid, I know, right?  The Inner Slave Driver seems to feel that I’m not working fast enough.  18k so far on Alpha Female + 70 or so notecards done for Pirouette in one month?  That’s slow?  As Alisia would say, mercy me.

Okay, so I’m just a wee bit impatient.  I’m very competitive, and when I hear about writers being successful, I always feel a little sick inside.  The whole, well, why the hell aren’t you there yet? Huh? routine.  And I’d like to make it clear that I am happy for those lucky writers–I’m sure they worked hard for it — and feel no ill will against them.  However, it always shines the spotlight on what I haven’t done.  And that just blows.

And I’ve been working hard, not lollygagging around here.  I just feel so…..inadequate.  Like I should BE there by now.  But one thing I keep reading everywhere it that every writer’s journey is different.  Some get lucky.  Some actually have more time to devote to it, and thus progress faster than me.  Others struggle.  I think I’m in the middle.  I know I’ve improved alot over the last 6 or 7 years, and I struggle with tendonitis on occasion, which makes high wordcounts impossible.  My progress is more slow and steady.  I might be slower, but my wrists don’t die and maybe I won’t need to pull out the Dragon again. 

Furthermore, I have other things as well — full time job, chronic illness, a husband.  A family.  Relaxation (what’s that?) or reading time.  I’ve learned that even I need breaks occasionally.  Even I need to back off, which has been tough with Pirouette because my every instinct is screaming at me to get back to it, fix it, polish it, get it out the door, and I know that it needs time to gel more.  I’ve got a ton of ideas, and they’re all documented.  Notecards are in progress.  I’m constantly thinking about it.  But it needs time.  And that’s time I wish I could be querying it, but as I’ve said before, it’s not flippin’ ready yet.  And that’s the biggest bug in my butt here.  I can’t send out an inferior, crap manuscript.  Can’t do that.  So I gotta cool my heels and wait till I can make it better.  Sometimes I just wish I could work faster.  But it is what it is.

I’m still hoping to make my one HUGE goal of submitting something this year.  Will probably be Alpha Female, which is going okay, except that the story got away from me and may no longer fit with the antho I was looking to submit it to.  Oh well.  It’s one of my rules: I go where the story takes me, even if I outlined it a certain way or had a different idea in the beginning.  I can submit it elsewhere if need be, so this isn’t wasted time.  And I’m getting good practice on writing on a deadline. 

This whole go where the story takes me thing is how Hereafter went from comedy to friggin dark fantasy and how Survivor turned into a rich, complex story about several key characters versus the few I wanted to focus on.  It’s how Pirouette went from practically fanfic (and no, I’m not proud of it at all, but it did start the whole thing in motion…gulp..5 years ago) to its own world and own characters and its own plot and worldbuilding and such.  But if I hadn’t followed the story for the 11 months it took to write that critical first draft, Pirouette would not exist as it is today.  I’m positive about that one.  So, Alpha Female changed a bit.  I like the changes.  I think they are strengthening the story.  I’ll make a ruling after I’m done with the first draft whether or not I’m going to try to revise it to the antho specs, or just revise/polish it and send it elsewhere.

So I haven’t been sitting on my butt moaning my fate.  I’ve been productive.  I just need perspective, you know?  I need to believe, now more than ever, that I can succeed at this.  It’s been my dream since I was a little girl.  It’s what I am.  And I want so desparately to get my stuff out there, and maybe make a living doing it.  Just got to wait my turn.

Notecards!

So I’ve begun the notecarding process on Pirouette.  I’m on scene 43, page 230 of a 771-page document.  Yikers.  I’m already seeing some stuff that needs fixing, tweaking, and changing.  I’m using Holly Lisle’s HTRYN notecarding for this so I can get a handle on each scene.  There are a few that I’m cutting, and quite a few so far that need help.  I knew this would help me a great deal, so this will all be worth it.

I’ve done a rough draft of the timelines and Alisia and Lucien’s and Raelan’s (the villain) arcs.  Note I say rough draft.  These should help me with getting the timing and pacing down.

This is kind of exciting and terrifying at the same time.  I’m revising a novel.  A novel that I’ve been working on for 5 years.  And I’m learning alot of new, helpful things.  It’s a process.  I can’t wait to dig in and do more, make the book better. 

On Alpha Female, I’m up to 11k and there’s a chance it might run long (no kidding, with the way I write) but I’ve been able to keep the plot tight.  As for the plot, it’s pantsing all the way for me.  Last night – or the night before, I don’t remember — I couldn’t get to sleep right away so I brainstormed.  Been doing alot of that.  My hope is that it still fits the anthology theme.  If it doesn’t, it’s not a big deal.  I can submit it elsewhere.  But it would be good to submit it to the place I originally wanted to submit it to, right?

So lots going on, although my Inner Slave Driver seems to think I’m going to slow…..