Sunday, November 09, 2008

This Blog has moved

...just in case anyone was actually still reading here.
Please come visit me at my new address: www.jenpowell.com. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

12k and counting

The 70 Days of Sweat challenge is really keeping me cranking! The new WIP is now at 12k, after only nine days - right where I wanted to be!

My plan is to write 8k/week until the end of the challenge, which would put me at 88k after 11 weeks. To hit that 8k, I want to write 1,000 words/day M-F, allowing for one day off, then 2,000 each on Saturday and Sunday. This week was a bit of a challenge - I had family stuff to do both Tuesday and Wednesday night, but managed to squeeze in 1,000k between them.

On Friday, DH threw me a bit of a monkey wrench by suggesting we invite some friends over for dinner. No problem, I like these friends and how can I protest when he's doing the cooking? And the big thing, family and friends are more important than writing. Unfortunately, I got none of my 1,000 words written that night, and I'd already used my 'bye' on Tuesday/Wednesday, so that put me 1k behind.

I wasn't sure if I could make it up, but I was determined to try. Friday sent us a massive dump of the white, fluffy, get-my-car-stuck-if-I-go-out stuff, and it continued until Saturday evening. It also cancelled my RWA chapter meeting as of Friday, for which I was kind of glad. I'd been looking really forward to the program, and it was going to highly bum me out to miss it. However, our presenter lives even farther than I do, so there was no way she'd get there, either. No one questioned our wise prez's decision as the white stuff continued to fall and clog the roads, pretty much shutting down everything from Columbus through Cincinnati and beyond. But that helped me get my writing in, too, and with long enough time that I didn't have to cram too much in.

Today DH helped me by going out to snowblow then to have lunch and watch sports with friends (aren't Sundays great?) And I wrote 3,000 words - the most I think I've ever written in one day!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

2 Days Down, 68 to Go...

First weekend of the 70 Days of Sweat challenge has gone so far, so good! My overall goal is to write 8000 words/week - half of that Monday thru Friday, then 2k on both Saturday and Sunday. This weekend wasn't bad, since I had no out of the ordinary commitments - or so I thought, until my daughter nervously called up the stairs: "Uh, mom? I think I have a virus on my computer..."

I had everything planned out. DH had to go to a funeral some distance away this afternoon, then planned to go to a bar to commiserate with other folks who knew the deceased, so I planned to use that time to get my 2000 words written. Not! It took me a good three or four hours to get the evil "Internet Speed Monitor" virus/spyware off my daughter's computer. Evil spyware that infected her system despite having Computer Associates' EZTrust Anti-spyware and Windows Defender running. An unfortunate reminder that I'd forgotten to upgrade EZTrust to the new version on her system when I upgraded it on mine.

So, off to do that now. Hopefully will avoid any more interruptions of that sort in the near future.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Next Best Thing to a Magic Bullet

Holly Lisle's Create a Character Clinic and Create a Plot Clinic are not a magic bullet for writing a book, but IMO they're the next best thing. After going through maybe half of the exercises in these two books, I ended up with notecards for over fifty scenes.

That's right, fifty. Complete with conflict that stems from the characters and their pasts, their relationships, their own hangups and so forth. Good stuff.

Well, most of it. Some of the cards are decidedly lacking in conflict, and some are just dull, boring, too-everyday kind of stuff, while others simply don't relate enough to the main story. No problem, that's why we have extras. Others need connection, still others can be combined.

I'm a little over halfway plotted, and now I'm left with about 20 notecards yet to organize.

It's going painfully slow and I'm finding myself too easily distracted, but at least it's going. And plot-finished or not, I'll begin writing this Saturday with the other 70 Days of Sweat folks. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

No, I'm not dead

I just haven't felt like blogging in, oh, six months or so. But I'm baaaaack!

This is what motivated me. Hopefully, it will motivate my fiction writing, too. Yes, I signed up for the 70 Days of Sweat writing challenge, and the timing couldn't be better. I finished last year's book, well, last year. New Year's Eve, as a matter of fact, was when I finished revisions. That book is now off with three beta readers, plus an editor and an agent from whom I won critiques in two completely separate contests. Wish me luck that not only will they provide some useful insight, but that they'd like to see more!

So what am I doing now? Well, like I wrote in my last post eons ago, I'm doing government work for the day job. Still there, it's going well, and I'm loving it!

My husband sold his business, and is now semi-retired. I say "semi" because he still finds plenty to do. We bought a 16-unit apartment building back in September, and he keeps busy taking care of things around there. And, best of all, he cleans house (sort of), and cooks. Boy does he ever. I'm not a bad cook, but DH is much better. Not only is his food tasty, he makes a real effort to make healthy meals. Between that, his reduced stress, and doing some intense workouts, he's managed to lose almost 30lbs. in the past three months. Now if only I could find the motivation to cut out the Mountain Dews (they're so readily available at work!), and get on the treadmill.

Back to the writing. I signed up for the challenge, and included my blog link, so I guess I'd better blog at least once in a while - more often than every six months, at least. The challenge starts 3/1, so I need to have my pre-writing finished by then. Right now, I am going through Holly Lisle's Create a Character Clinic to get some characterization stuff nailed down, then on to the outlining. These books are great! I used CCC for my last book, and I think the characterization aspects it makes you think through are one reason why my last book was my best work to date.

Now if only someone would buy or represent it...

Back to work. I've seen from my Sitemeter reports that this site still gets several hits a day (probably mostly from spambots, but maybe not?) so I'll try to post more regularly. If nothing else, to be accountable to myself for my progress these next few months.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dispossessed

Song stuck in my head at the moment: "Dispossessed" by Sister Machine Gun, thanks to my post title!

I have been at the new day job for a week now, and have yet to do any real work. I have no office, no computer and no email. This feels weird, like I'm a wandering pigeon that can't find a place to roost.

The main reason is that I am assigned to work at our nearby AF base, but just managed to obtain my base pass today. Right now I'm in a borrowed cube at the company office, but they tell me I'll be good to go at the base come Monday (I've seen my cube, so I know that's there ). Yay!

It's been the same way at home, with my writing. Having finished the first draft, I know I need to just let it sit, ideally for a month. Don't open the Word file. Don't think about it. Do something else. Then come back to it with fresher eyes. I suppose I could go back and dig into revisions on the second time travel novel, but the thought makes me want to go hide in a dark corner - no, wait, that's where I write.

I just can't do it – leave the current WIP alone, that is.

First, I've decided I don't have a month to do nothing on it. I won two critiques of a partial by published authors - one at a local conference, one on Brenda Novak's auction for diabetes research. Those authors are expecting my partial sometime this month. So I need to get the first three chapters in shape for these authors to critique for me - I certainly don't want to waste their time with a crappy first draft! So it gets to sit for a week, maybe two. That's it.

So I've been reviewing my WIP for research points I need to verify or find out. I haven't edited - well, nothing significant. What I did do was come up with 2-3 dozen questions that will need to be answered at some point in my book, and maybe a dozen more that are story details I haven't quite flushed out enough.

I have a plan. And if there's one thing that reduces stress, at least for me, it’s that. So hopefully I'll be settled into my new cube at work next week, and settled into my research on my WIP at home, no longer dispossessed. It's been a strange week.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Eleven Weeks

I just typed THE END on my WIP. Of course I won't leave it there when it's time to submit it, but that's a ways off. First there is my own revision and polishing to do, then there are critiques and yet more changes to make, then probably more tightening and polishing before any industry pros get to see it.

But almost any writer I talk to says those two little words feel too good not to type.

This book took me eleven weeks to write, the fastest I've ever written. Of course, not having a day job for the last eight of those weeks helped immensely. But it goes to show what I'm capable of. And folks, if I can do it, you probably can too. I'm also thrilled that it came in at less than 100k - truly an amazing feat for a writer who's struggled to get her last two books under 125k. So I'm happy for that, too. I think Holly Lisle's notecard plotting was a huge contributor to that.

It also helped that this is my fifth completed novel, and I've learned enough about my writing style and process to have figured out that my scenes average about 2000 words each - so I planned fifty scenes for this book.

So the fun's over. That rush of new writing, of not worrying if what I write is crap (and much of it is, believe me). Of not caring if I'm shortchanging the emotions, or leaving out research or letting my setting be vague and my secondary characters be cardboard.

I'm going to take a break for a week, get settled into my new job which starts tomorrow, kick back, relax, play some Nethack - and oh yes, celebrate!

I celebrated when I finished the first draft of my first book. Nothing major - I took my family out to dinner, maybe drank a glass of champagne, I don't really remember. I don't remember finishing my second book at all - that's the one that will forever remain buried on my hard drive, that I lost interest in halfway through and finished just for the sake of finishing. I know I did not celebrate that.

Nor did I celebrate Book #3, though I should have. That one was three years in the writing - just the first draft! - because I was experimenting with process (i.e., not plotting) and discovering what totally didn't work for me (not plotting). I typed THE END on that ms in the middle of a power outage that lasted two days - Thank Dog my laptop had a functioning battery at the time!

I didn't celebrate finishing Book #4 either. Don't know why – that one was a bear to write, too, though nothing like Book #3. Even more, it was the continuation of Book #3, where h/h finally got their real HEA. Don't know why I didn't celebrate that one.

Book #1 sold, albeit to an e-publisher whose readership was totally the wrong market for that type of book. Third time might be a charm, but I've heard many authors say it was their fifth book that broke in for them. So today I celebrate. There's a bottle of champagne in my refrigerator that's been there longer than I care to think, that's finally going to get broken out. Going out to dinner sounds good, too - also to celebrate starting my new job tomorrow! And finally, I'm going to get a massage Tuesday evening - using a gift certificate that's also quite old.

Eleven weeks isn't that long - or is it? We'll see once I dive into revisions.

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