Sunday Roundup

Jan 16, 2011 by

Status
100 words/100 days — I’ve managed 46 days. A bunch of it is just noodling, but when I started this on December 1, it was so hard to get those words out. I’d be counting every one, avoid the use of contractions, anything to get to that count. I was so out of practice with writing that it literally hurt to do so. Now, I can spew out 100 words in a few minutes. The next step, obviously, is to turn that spewing into something that’s actually readable for people besides myself.

Knitting — I am finally about to join the sleeves of my jacket to the rest of the body. Woo hoo! I might actually finish and get to wear this thing before spring arrives.

Books — I will admit to not doing as much reading as I had hoped this past week. Do have a book for the TBR Challenge, but need to get moving on some others. Definitely need to finish The Attenbury Emeralds, which is Jill Paton Walsh’s latest continuation of Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.

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Did keep up with the blogs this week, though I didn’t do any responding and found a number of cool links. The one that made me happy today is news ITV is planning a Downton Abbey Christmas Special. If you are not watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theatre, you’re missing a real treat. Austen it ain’t, but it’s marvelously entertaining soap about an Edwardian household shortly before World War I. The series did enormously huge numbers in the UK, so it isn’t really surprising a Christmas special would be in the offing. Christmas specials are big deals in the UK, so much so that ITV and the BBC actually take turns as to where Eastenders and Coronation Street will go on Christmas Day so they don’t conflict — then they play chicken over the slot for Doctor Who and whatever ITV puts up against that. But more Downton! And more Sherlock to come as well, another show you should be watching. (This mention also gives me an excuse to use one of my Sherlock icons.)

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In the arena of “writer beware,” read through this Smart Bitches post on a contest being held by FirstOne, a new digital publisher. Also, scroll through the comments for a number of interesting links. In short FirstOne is holding a contest with a large entry fee (you can buy a Kindle for less) and some rather worrisome fine print down at the bottom of the rules:

All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.

Uh, no. I’m not paying someone money and handing them the rights to my work in perpetuity. And, yes, that is the wording on the website as of January 15, 8:38 PM Pacific Time.

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I’m taking a Time Management Class for Writers at the moment that’s being taught by Kitty Bucholtz, so that’s much on my mind. Since it’s the first of the year, time management and goal setting seem to be on a number of folks’ minds. Shonna Slayton is doing a three part series on business plans for writers, while Kelsey Browning is is starting a series on her experience with a life coach. For Beth Ciotta, it was a week to hit a speed bump and realize we can’t do it all. At least, not all the time.

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Finally, something glorious to close with. Nancy Smith, the community liaison for the Office of Letters and Lights (the folks behind NaNoWriMo spent her holiday break in Argentina, where she visited El Ateno, an old theatre that’s been turned into a bookstore. This is truly a treat and a great re-purposing of a building while retaining the original character.

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Sunday Roundup – Boxing Day Edition

Dec 26, 2010 by

Status
100 words a day/100 days — Still going, having completed 26 days as of this writing. Whereas I’m starting to see the value in not saying “I must write X number of words of fiction every day that is original and assigned to Y project,” I think the idea of letting your mind wander and writing something every single day is a good one. For one thing, it’s getting much easier at this point to sit down and bang out 100 words. After being away from the keyboard for a while, the muscles are feeling better for being exercised regularly. Which reminds me; back to the gym tomorrow after work.

Knitting
This was somewhat sidelined this week with Christmas insanity. I’m still working on the sleeves for the diagonal jacket, haven’t looked at my PI shawl at all and while I’ve made a good start on my shawlette, still haven’t touched it in a couple of days. Did manage some knitting last night when I finally managed to catch my breath for a few minutes, but that’s another thing I need to get back to this week.

Books
Have been reading this week, though the Thalberg bio has been proving very dense and Wolf Hallhasn’t seen a good chunk of time devoted to it. Am about halfway through another Christmas themed anthology, which I’m hoping to finish today.

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Aside from helping to get the muscles back in shape, my efforts at writing 100 words per day have created another side effect: a new character has popped into my head and started to come to life on the paper. I don’t know quite what to do with him yet, but he has a story to tell and I’m going to let that develop for a while and see what happens. It was Christmas Eve when I realized this was happening, that Harry Poirot (he prefers you pronounce it “Perrot”) had his own tale to tell. Usually, when this happens, I go diving in great guns, determined to get it all on paper now. This time, I’m going let him develop a little, discover who he is and what story he wants. He’s a lovely character, saddled with an unfortunate name and a con artist grandfather (who’s partially responsible for that name), who’s finding himself stuck in a situation he really doesn’t want to be in — and it’s going to be a comedy.

He’s just a small glow at the moment, though, so I’m going to let him grow and not push as I normally do.

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If you need some new wallpaper for a new iPad or computer (or just need to change your background), Enchanted Serenity of Period Films is featuring some lovely ones.

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We had rain here much of the week, which produced a gorgeous rainbow on Wednesday afternoon. Since we don’t usually have the atmospheric conditions for those here in Los Angeles, this had everyone oohing and ahhing. I was in a meeting when it happened and we all stopped to look out the window. The LAist blog has some pictures — and, yes, we could see the full curve from our meeting.

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Over on Writer Unboxed, JC Hutchins has a marvelous post on not asking your characters “why,” but “why now?” There’s some definite food for thought there, especially since I’m heading into the discovery class I’m starting in a few weeks.

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I know everyone has probably seen this already, but if you haven’t it’s worth a couple of minutes. “Silent” monks sing the Hallelujah Chorus at South Kitsap High School, Port Orchard, WA.

Have a peaceful and relaxing Boxing Day — and if you’re heading for the mall to attempt after-Christmas sales, be careful out there.

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Just 750 Words a Day

Dec 18, 2010 by

I’m a big fan of morning pages. I find that if I get up and write the first thing in the morning, it seems to do wonders for clearing my head and getting my mind going. I’m not talking about getting a scene done or contributing to my word count for the day. I’m talking good, old-fashioned, steam-of-consciousness core dump. I just sit down at the keyboard and type.

I discovered morning pages back in the 90′s when I first read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I embraced them with a ferocity — only to discover hand-writing three pages each morning didn’t take half an hour, but more like forty-five minutes or more and there were times I found myself constantly interrupted. (You try meditating or doing any action that requires concentration when a small and determined cat is setting in front of you demanding breakfast.) At the time, Cameron did not encourage doing the pages on a computer; too easy to edit yourself she felt.

Over the years, I’ve tried using the computer for my pages, but found various things standing in my way. Maybe I let them stand in my way; maybe they were pointers saying, “This isn’t for you.” I’ve had some success in using my Live Journal for the morning pages, but every time go through the posts I made, there are the entries and it’s easy to get distracted. I don’t necessarily want to read what I write over again; the whole idea is to get the thoughts out and move on.

Finally, after bouncing back and forth, a friend suggested a site called 750 Words. You log in and a blank page appears. You start typing. When you reach 750 words (three typed manuscript pages), the system lets you know and you can either keep typing or stop. No formatting, no fancy things to fill out, just a blank page ready for you every day and you type. Oh, there are cool stats based on word usage to figure out what you’re focused on and if you’re positive or negative in mindset at the moment or maybe uncertain about things — but if you’re having story ideas start to dump out of your head (“Donna is worried he doesn’t care about her.” “What if things then go horribly wrong?”), you can be happy and excited and what you’re writing will say something else.

The point is to help clear the decks in the morning, get yourself ready to face the new day. With radical life changes over the past year which often meant I didn’t know what was happening from one day to the next, being able to do this is a valuable tool. I spent yesterday’s words just coming up with variation on one-sentence descriptions of a story idea for the Storywonk Discovery class I’m starting in January. Ended up about four different ideas, each with several variations on the one sentence. Took about twenty minutes, and gave me a very positive start to the day. Those ideas are now safely copied into my Scrivener file and I need to decide which one I’m going to use for the class — and had another contender today.

This isn’t for everyone, but if you feel doing a core-dump would help you in the mornings, check it out. At the moment, the site is free, though I opted to kick in a small subscription because I find it useful — and I do mean small. He measures subscriptions in the cost of a cup of coffee, so you can kick in a cup or two if you feel like it. Give it a try.

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Sunday Roundup

Dec 12, 2010 by

Status
100 words for 100 days: Am now at 11 days straight. It’s getting surprisingly easy to get the words done, which is good; writing regularly hasn’t been a habit for a while, so these baby steps are good for getting my feet back under me.

Knitting: Blocked the Aeolian Shawl, though I think I need to re-block the edges because they aren’t pointy enough. Have finished the right front of the Diagonal Jacket and am currently working on the back.

Books: Finished A Countess By Christmas. Started another book that proved a major Did Not Finish. Am finally reading Wolf Hall, which I bought months ago.

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Signed up for the TBR Challenge for 2011. My husband has informed me this isn’t an excuse to buy more books. Of course, he’s not the one managing the Kindle library…

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Treated myself and signed up for the Discovery session of Storywonk that starts on January 16. I’ve been looking for a method to compromise between my urge to be a total and utter pantsers and the feeling I need to do something to keep myself from falling into large potholes a third of a way into a project. The workshop sounds almost exactly like what I was looking for, so I’m looking forward to it.

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When I am in the middle of a project, one of my standard pieces on my iPod is Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” as performed by Benny Goodman and his orchestra. If nothing else, the driving rhythm keeps my fingers moving. Below is a clip from the 2000 Tony Awards when the musical Fosse, which celebrated the work of the legendary director and choreographer, was up for an award.

There was a time when I used to be able to move like that and back in the day when i was young and a dancer, I remember practicing for hours to get my hands to move just so in the Fosse style.

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Sunday Round-up

Dec 5, 2010 by

Status
100 words for 100 days: Began December 1 and have done four days straight.

Knitting: Am now on the fourth section of my Shetland Pi Shawl, and about to divide for the sleeves on my Diagonal Jacket. Did start a new project because I realized everything I was knitting is in dark colors and my eyes needed a break.

Books: Finished Scandal by Amanda Quick. Read it in about five days, so I’m definitely doing okay on the book a week idea. Started A Countess by Christmas by Annie Burrows

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Ree at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman has a hysterical post about how Charlie, her Basset Hound wraps her around his front paw. Seriously, I understand. I may have cats, but mine are just as manipulative. I mean, how can you resist something that looks like this?

Where's the Beer?

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It being the holiday season, various blogs are doing give-aways. Alison Kent is doing giveaways on even days, while the ladies at Smart Bitches are sponsoring a Hanukkah giveaway.

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Courtesy Enchanted Serenity of Period Films, I found a delicious vid in period film set to the tune of “It’s Raining Men.” The usual suspects are there (I’m looking at you, Colin Firth — not that I mind), but I will give them points for including Edward Petherbridge as Lord Peter Wimsey. Clever can absolutely be sexy.

And if you love period films, check out Enchanted Serenity; I’ve learned about some lovely stuff I might not have known about otherwise.

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