My Dad, the Artist…

While I’ve been VERY busy not finishing my book(s), I’ve once again been excessively busy filling my life with lots of other things. I’ve decided I do this on purpose. I’m an avoider. I’m also someone who makes up new words.

One of those avoider-y things was a city-wide art tour that I took my newly retired father on. We had a blast exploring the Austin, Texas art scene. I think he’d forgotten he wasn’t the only artist out there. He loved it.

It reminded him very pointedly that he’d been neglecting his art though. Now that he has a little time to do something for himself, he’s been able to re-focus on it again. Which is awesome. He’s a great metal and wood sculptor (he makes all sort of historical and imaginative weapons and other creations.) He never really managed to make a business go of it though. His skills are more on the ‘art’ side of it.

We wandered through all manner of art studio and all kinds of art, driving all over South Austin. When the other artists found out he was an artist too, they would ask for his card, for his website, and he had to admit he didn’t have one. Oh, so he wasn’t a ‘real’ artist then. Ok, ok, nobody said that – everybody was really nice, but still, if you can’t show your stuff, then it might as well not exist. At least that’s my take on it. (Sort of. Not really. Ok, maybe a little. … Wait. Maybe this is why I clearly don’t want to finish my book? So I don’t have to put it out there to be judged? Nope. That can’t be it. I love being judged. Yep.)

Anyway, after the tour I was revved up. Actually, we hadn’t even finished the tour before I’d started his website for him from my phone. And then there were the pictures I needed to take, and the content we needed to write, the business cards to design, etc, etc. Just so he can hand other artist’s a card and show that he’s the real deal. (And he is, really.)

I’m whining, but really, I am excited about this for him – and for our family. He has such a history behind him, such a huge amount of knowledge, of expertise, of art, that will mean so much less to his family, and to the world if he doesn’t do something with it. If he doesn’t write it down. So I’m making him do that. And then I’m spending my writing time editing him. Which is actually great fun. In a way, I guess I am writing after all.

PS. If you want to take a look – keeping in mind I’ve only posted a few pictures so far, and no videos yet, and that I am very far from being a great picture-taker, then here it is:  Swordyz Live Steel

And now I must get back to avoiding writing some more. I think I will go clean something.

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Climax Maybe?

The last few months have been a bit more chaotic than I’d have liked. That’s an excuse. *Sigh*. My writing schedule has been just about zero fulfilled. Not done. Kaput. On the other hand, I’ve finally plotted my way through a really complicated bit at the end. Ok, maybe not so complicated, but for some reason it was really giving me more trouble than it really should have. In my opinion. Which this is. ARghh. Why can’t I communicate today. This probably explains a bit of why I haven’t been writing all that much lately. I need to get back on track though. I know the plot, I know basically how the book ends. Now I just need to write it. And I will. I’ve even done a couple thousand words of it already. Yay. 

I think I’m just having book climax doldrums. That’s a thing, right? Where you’re right there, right at the end, and you just can’t complete. Can’t culminate. Ok, you know what I mean. Right. 

Trouble 1.  I already know how it ends so I’m not as excited about it as I should be. Maybe I need to make it more exciting. I think it’s pretty exciting though. There’s semi trucks and attacks and a race against time and the big fight with the bad guy, etc, etc. I like it. So I should be excited. I think it’s more exciting to write about it than to think about writing it, so I should start doing that. Right?

Trouble 2. Lots of other things to do that seem a lot more exciting than finishing my book. They aren’t. But they seem like it right now. Like building a website for my dad (swordyzone.wordpress.com), or for me (mayloomis.com) or refinishing my old wooden lawn furniture. That came out really nice though, so maybe it was worth it. Or working out a probate. Or protesting my ridiculous property taxes increase. Or going to the farm. Of course, I ‘m here at the farm right now, and I’m typing, sitting out on the back porch, looking out at the beautiful fields with a wonderful breeze at my back. So maybe that one’s ok.

Trouble 3. Ok, I can’t really think of a ‘trouble 3’.

Trouble 3 used to be that I didn’t really know what was going to happen next. But that excuse has sailed. Time to get moving. 

About a month ago I spent a few really awesome hours grilling my brother and his friends to figure out what the best way to block a bridge and spy on a house was. They came up with some super fun stuff, so trouble 3 is definitely toast. 

Time to get writing.

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151,971 of 156,000 ??!?

So, somehow, in a month of not writing, I managed to increase my wordcount by four thousand words. Not sure how I did that. I might have inserted a tiny bit of my plotting notes into the pages somewhere. Hmm. Got to weed that stuff out. Darn it.

In other news – I finally started a book website. I know, this is a writing website, right? Nope. It’s just me, goofing around. The other one’s the real deal. Now I just have to finish something and hit publish on it so there’s something to put on the site. Yeah. Like that’s easy. Right now it’s just sitting there, an empty framework, waiting.

I’ve been hearing for years now that if you’re ever going to publish, you need to start your website as soon as possible. I always thought that was a little silly. I mean, if I don’t have a book yet, then why have a website to showcase the book? Well, finally someone said it in a way I could understand a little better. Well, kind of understand. It’s something about search engines giving preference for older websites. With content. So now I have to generate meaningful content. Oh, dear. Don’t even get me started on the need for a mailing list. I don’t have a book yet – how am I supposed to get a mailing list???

Anyway. There was a pretty steep learning curve in putting together the website. And I’m still figuring it out. Why does it all have to be so complicated? I can definitely see why someone would pay to get it done for them. Apparently I’m not that great at wordpress. Even though I’ve been using it for years. Who knew? I’ve been fiddling with it all week. Which is kind of fun actually. I need to get back to writing though.

What else did I do…

Christmas… stress… dog… yard work… family…

And I drafted a blurb for the current project. I thought it would be a lot harder to frame up, but I tossed it off pretty quick. Which makes me a little nervous. Probably I will rip it apart and do it a few more times. Is it melodramatic? Yes! I love that stuff. Ok, fine, I may have to tone it down eventually, but for now, here it is (picture the scary movie voice over guy reading it):

“Humans co-exist in a world rife with fantastic creatures – some with great power, some without. And as the battles for dominance and freedom among the powerful spills from shadowed hidden places and into the streets, the few humans aware of the truth of their world will fight to survive on their own terms.

Jane has hidden in the shadows since she was a child – hunting those who ripped her family away from her, she is determined to beat them at their own game even as she is drawn deeper into their world, out of the shadows that have protected her for so long. The earth itself will feel her wrath. And the face of power will be forever changed.”

Remember – first draft – no judging. The process was cool though. I did it in seven steps (that I made up), one part of a line per step – with a space in the middle (step 4). Possibly it’s a bit short and sparse on detail. I’ve got to do some thinking about that. Is it gripping? Is it dull? I don’t know. I’m going to make a few victims read it and give me their knee jerk reactions on it. We’ll see how that goes.

…maybe I should get rid of the word “rife”…?

Until next time!

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148,145 of 156,000 Back on track

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146,660 of 156,000 …bother.

Thanksgiving rocked. Routine complete fail. I’m getting back on track as of now. More later.

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146,385 of 156,000… Spatchcock! My new favorite word!

Keeping on keeping on. I think my dad used to say this. Slow but steady. Yeah. I would much rather be fast. Fast and finished. Oh well. I’m so darn close.

My hero’s are creeping up on the bad guys, which will fail, but then they’ll regroup and battle it out to the end. And then the book will be done. And on to the next. That’s the plan.

Let’s see if I can make it happen before Nanowrimo is over.

The next book will go faster. It will. Really.

And on to the two truly important bits of news.

One. I just bought an Ipad on sale for Black Friday early sales. I’m excited. In theory, this means something light enough that I can carry it around constantly so I’ll always have Scrivener and my book file with me. On the cloud. Maybe this will encourage me to write all the time, anywhere. And maybe it won’t. It’s my new toy though, and I can’t wait to meet it. Supposedly it will be here on Friday. I got my current hp laptop thinking it would be easier to haul around than my old clunker, but even though it’s just about as small as you can get and still type comfortably, it’s still to darn heavy to carry out very often.

Plus, I can draw on this one, which means designing book covers, which is just super exciting. Photoshop on my laptop is great, really, but I feel so limited since I can’t really draw on it. Now I can. Yes, I know the Surface Pro is supposed to be better, but you know what? It’s heavy. I picked it up. Ipad was way lighter. So ipad it is.

Two. I’m seriously considering Spatchcocking a turkey for Thanksgiving. It won’t be the only turkey this year, so no one gets to complain if I maul it or fail terribly. I’m very excited about this. For those not in the know, to spatchcock means to flatten the turkey and cook it that way. Sometimes with a brick on top of it. I’m going to put mine on top of my stuffing. Very exciting. Assuming I can figure out how to flatten it. We’ll see how that goes. Yay Thanksgiving!

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144,729 of 156,000 I love deadlines. Not.

“…I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by…”  Yeah. Douglas Adams was weird. But so, so right.

Two days of plotting, and then two days of recovering from plotting / sleeping a lot did not leave a lot of excess writing time. No, that’s an excuse. I did stick to my ongoing routine – 9pm, every weekday, 11am on Saturday – except this Saturday became my designated goof-off day for the week, and I don’t have a routine set for Sunday. So this weekend became one big writing holiday – minus a bit of quickly interrupted writing here and there. Thanksgiving prep is so darn time consuming. Sigh.

I did read two books though. Which was nice. I haven’t done that in a while. I think I needed it. Still. I will not be meeting the deadline of the 22nd. There is no way I am working full time tomorrow, and still writing another 10k. Not happening. I think I overestimated my available extra Nanowrimo energy.

I did stick to the routine though, pretty much. I may need to rethink the extra goof-off day, and just stick to Sunday, and that’s it. But what about real emergencies though? What if I need a sick day? Or a ‘taking care of my family’ day?

Right. Ok, let’s give myself one allowed ‘sick day’ per week, only to be used in case of actual sickness or emergency. Not laziness.

I’m determined to stick to my routine, so this can’t just be about Nanowrimo. I love Nano – it gives me a jolt of extra writing energy every November. But I can’t let it just fizzle after November, and I can’t let other things keep this from happening. I want this. I’m close to figuring out what really works for me. I just need to keep tinkering till I have it. I will get this thing done!

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140,271…still… Oh, bother.

Sigh. I stuck to the plan, kept to my 9pm half hour, and instead of writing, found myself spending the next two hours re-plotting my remaining plot. There were just so darn many holes in the last bit of plot I had worked up so many ages ago. It definitely needed it. I promise. It may have been a somewhat torturous 2 hours, but very productive. I think. Hopefully.

Maybe.

I’m just hoping that the re-vamped plot (which still needs quite a bit of work) will function better, and that I won’t have to go through this whole thing yet again. Right now I’m really feeling the pressure of the darn self-imposed deadline. If I can’t work out this plot issue, I may need to give myself an extension. Wait. No. Stay positive! I’m doing it! Probably!

Also, in unfortunately related news, I may need to go back through my entire plot during editing and add a lot of ‘pipe’ I wasn’t expecting to need to be able to support the new and improved climax. For the uninformed, ‘pipe’ is basically foreshadowing, but without the goofy silliness. For instance, if you need a character to have access to a car, then at some previous point, you have to make it clear how they have that car. Did it just appear mysteriously out of no-where? No! That’s ‘laying pipe’. Like in plumbing, water doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, you have to get it to that point. And you have to warn the reader while you’re doing it, or they’ll be irritated with you when the bad guy is suddenly vanquished with a mysterious car they’ve never seen or heard anything about.

This is seriously annoying to have to add after the fact. I was supposed to be avoiding just that situation by plotting everything ahead of time! Next time I won’t hurry so fast through that last bit of plotting. For some reason I had thought I could just ‘wing it’ through to the climax. I had the actual climax scene plotted pretty tightly, but the lead-in was nearly non-existent, and I just found out that if my characters have no reason to do fabulous stuff and wallop the bad guys, then there’s no way to just ‘make them do it’.

I really wanted my team of good guys to just hare off to the middle of nowhere and discover the fabulous and dreadful issue that was causing all the trouble.

Problem 1:  They had no reason to go.

Problem 2:  What did that issue have to do with the fabulous climax that I plotted? I didn’t know. Maybe nothing? Maybe everything? If I don’t know myself, then how can my characters figure it out?

Reality checks are really annoying.

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140,271 of 156,000!!! Goal’s Rock!

Today was the deadline I gave myself to hit 140,000 – and I made it!! Now on to the next goal: 150,000 by Sunday, and then 156,000 by next Wednesday. Assuming that is actually how many words it takes to get to the end. We’ll see. Here’s crossing my fingers.

The appointment I’ve set for myself – 9 pm for a half half hour every evening (or 11 am on the weekends)- actually seems to be working for me so far. At least for the few days I’ve been doing it. I’ve heard of all sorts of ways to make yourself write productively. Bribing yourself with TV or treats. Writing first thing in the morning, every day. Not eating until you’ve hit your daily word count – and setting a daily word count you have to hit. Graphing your daily and by project word count down to the last detail, by time, date and day. Writing in groups. Writing in coffee shops. Doing Nanowrimo… etc, etc…

Everybody seems to have something different that works for them, but none of those things has quite managed to work to make me get my fingers on that keyboard. Every. Single. Day. I admit, after all day concentrating at work, I have a few concentration issues at home. I do love those multiple projects I always seem to have going, but they take away horribly from my writing time!

This way, I give myself time to get those projects done, to relax from work. I give myself permission to goof off or to watch TV for a little while and eat or make dinner, play with my dog. Vacuum, whatever. To not think about writing. And then I get back down to business. I think, figuring out how my own brain works is the key. What ways does my brain have to keep me from getting this done. For me, I’ve had to acknowledge that I place a value on all those other things, even the goofing off watching TV. They’ve been wriggling themselves into first place. So, now I’ve actually scheduled them to come first. And then I go back to work after. Done deal.

Everyone is different. I think that’s the key point I’ve been missing. What works for everyone else doesn’t have to work for me. I just have to figure out what does. So, now I feel like I’m a little closer to understanding how to get myself working on a schedule. I write for my half hour, and usually by then I’m ready to keep writing. I’m not done yet. I want more. If not, no big deal – I achieved my routine. And my goals are set within that routine. I know if I keep to the routine, I’ll make the goals, which helps me stick to it.

So far.

My next big, very long-term goal – re-arranging my life so I can write starting at 11 am every single day instead of waiting till 9 pm. I’m not a morning person, I just have to accept that. My brain does not work before 9:30 am. However, the one Saturday so far I did my 11 am appointment, I wrote more than 4000 words. I’m pretty sure that’s my sweet spot. 11 to 3, in half hour increments. That’s the theory anyway. We’ll see how it goes next weekend.

I can do this, I know it. Onward!

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138,833 of 156,000

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