Category: writing


I Never Said Goodbye…

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this.  I know I haven’t posted here in over a year.

It started with another case of blogging block. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to write about, and by the time I did, it felt like I had already been gone too long. Plus there was a bunch of things going on in my personal life that made blogging impossible. Things that I wouldn’t have felt comfortable blogging about.

My writing life changed, too. I’ve since adopted a pen name (though I’m still unpublished), and it began to feel too strange to continue under this one. I began writing more short stories, instead of focusing on my novel(s) for one thing. I can thank my experiences here for that. I’ve also settled, more or less on one definite genre, and not the one I originally imagined I would be writing in.

I started a new blog in my new name: http://jaymimizuno.wordpress.com I probably should have just changed over the address of this one, but to be honest I didn’t think of it at the time. Plus, I no longer use the e-mail address associated with this account.

I plan to find and follow all of the bloggers I enjoyed reading during my time here, with my new account. Just a quick glance tells me that I have already missed so much that was going on with them. I may never manage to catch up again completely , but I’m going to try.

Finally, I want to give a long overdue “Thank You” to everyone who supported me while I was here. I hope you know how much I appreciated your words, your support and comments.

Thank you again, everyone. I hope to see you around the blogging world soon.

Michelle

squirrel

Don’t know the answer to that, but at least he was in the crosswalk… 🙂

The increased squirrel activity is definitely a sign of fall around here.  I still remember my first fall here, 3 years ago, when I saw a veritable squirrel stampede — what looked like 20 of the critters flooding out of the window of what (I hope) was an empty house. Wish I’d had my camera with me then.  Or better yet, a video camera.

Fall is also the season for NaNoWriMo.  I signed up to participate again this year.  It may sound crazy, but it’s the only way I can justify spending time on writing during this month, when I have so many other things on my plate.  Will just have to wait and see what happens…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m heading into the busy season for my day job. Because I’m self-employed, my hours can be absolutely crazy, and I think I’ve been wearing myself too thin. Part of me wants to keep pushing, to keep working, but when I’m consuming so much caffeine that my hands begin shaking, it sort of defeats the purpose. My work requires very fine motor control on some of the more detailed pieces, so I’m not producing anything useable, by pushing on.

I’m burnt out.

So I’m going to take the day off today.  I need time for me.  I might go on a motorcycle ride — I haven’t ridden in far too long. I’m going to write. I have 2 partially finished short stories I wanted to submit to anthology calls, and the deadlines are fast approaching.  I’m going to do a read through of a couple of my novel manuscripts. Maybe do a little editing.  Definitely going to try to do a little catch up on my blog reading and commenting.

I’m feeling better already 🙂

2012 Resolutions — Progress Report #8

Still playing catch-up.  I can’t say I made any visible progress on any of my goals in August, so I’m not going to break it down here.  The good news is that I at least have something to celebrate in all of that — mainly, my story acceptance when I expected a rejection.   I’m heading into the busy season on my day job, though, so it remains to be seen how much time I will have in the next couple of months.

I think I miss reading blogs most of all right now.  Feels like I’m missing out on so much.  I’ve been using the WordPress app for Droid while on errands, so I have been reading a little, but haven’t figured out how to use it to comment yet.  Part of that is having a new phone, my old one was on its last legs.  It had a slide-out keyboard.  My new one has a virtual keyboard, so it’s taking some getting used to.

The next few months should be interesting, as far as time goes.  Too bad there can’t be a few more hours in the day.  Oh, if I could only have a time-turner! 😉

 

I Sold a Story!

When I submitted my flash fiction piece earlier this summer, I thought it would be a step towards my goal of receiving 6 rejection slips for the year. Except it didn’t quite work out that way: “Leodegraunce” accepted my story for publication! You can see it on their website for 7 days: http://www.leodegraunce.com/issue-15.html

It will also appear in their flash fiction anthology next year. 🙂

It’s just a small sale (my husband thought we’d won the lottery with the way I was bouncing off the walls, then laughed when I had to tell him the pay rate), but it’s my first official publishing credit.  I think that calls for a little celebration:

Crazy month in real life, and it was reflected in my lack of progress in my goals.  Here’s hoping the worst is over.

Resolutions #1, 3, 5, &7: Keep this blog updated.

Progress report:  I talked about this in my last post, one of only 2 I did all month.  As always, blogging remains my lowest priority, especially when my time/energy is limited.  Changing that has been hard.  It’s a mental shift that my mind just doesn’t seem to want to take.

Resolution #2:  Finally finish editing my NaNoWriMo novel from 2008

Progress report:  After working on first chapter revisions last month, I decided to cut it completely.  The second chapter was the original first chapter when I posted it for some feedback on Absolute Write years ago.  Most of the feedback said it didn’t fit the genre (fantasy romance) I thought I was writing.  I added the new first chapter to try to resolve that, but it turns out it was just back story.  I think I’ve finally made peace with the fact that this is more like a straight fantasy novel with “romantic elements,” and am no longer trying to force it to be something it isn’t, and revising has become a lot easier with that in mind.

I’ve also cut one flashback scene, and another scene is currently on the chopping block.  The manuscript is now down to 110,000 words, but I have a few new sections that have to be written out, to fill in a couple of plot holes, so we’ll see what happens.  Part of me fears that this monster will grow even larger than it was when I first started editing.

Resolution #4:  Finish the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from 2011

Progress report: It’s still sitting on the side as I work on revising some of my other manuscripts.  Haven’t even done a read-through yet.

Resolution #6: Receive one rejection slip (print or e-mail) every other month, for a total of 6 for the year.

Progress report: Still waiting on a response from my flash fiction piece.  Keeping my fingers crossed, though I know it’s a long shot.  Also, I have a good idea of how to revise that problem novella I talked about in previous “progress reports,” and hope to have it sent out by the end of the month.  I also have 2 other short novels/novellas near 1st draft completion, and hope to have at least one of them ready to send out by the end of the year.

Overall, I think of July as the month I’d prefer to forget.  Hope everyone had a better month than I did, and here’s looking forward to August!

Halfway through the year now.  Oh, how time flies when you’re having fun. 😉  Here’s how June turned out:

Resolutions #1, 3, 5, &7: Keep this blog updated.

Progress report:  Blogged a total of 6 times in June.  Exactly the same as  I posted in April and May.  I’m still having trouble with managing my writing time, and I still prefer working on my manuscripts over blogging.

Resolution #2:  Finally finish editing my NaNoWriMo novel from 2008

Progress report:  This is my 100,000+ word monster I mentioned in my previous post about word counts.  Ran a quick spell-check (gotta love those typos that completely change the meaning of a sentence) and began tightening the prose.  There are quite a few spots where I slipped into the passive voice.    I’m about half-way through the first chapter, with many, many more to go.

Resolution #4:  Finish the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from 2011

Progress report: Finally completed the first draft.  One of my antagonists has done a disappearing act halfway through the story, and is seen only in the point of view of the other antagonist, who will end up betraying her as well as my protagonists.  Makes her look silly and one-dimensional.  Must work on that, but I’m still letting the manuscript as a whole sit for the time being.

Resolution #6: Receive one rejection slip (print or e-mail) every other month, for a total of 6 for the year.

Progress report: Though I still haven’t made any progress on my longer work, I’ve managed to write my first short story in years.  A flash-fiction piece, under 200 words, for a themed submission call I saw online.  Hit the “send” button for it on Friday night, and have been trying to avoid obsessively checking my e-mail ever since. 😯 It’s the first work I’ve submitted anywhere in more than 10 years.

I’m really happy with the way June turned out.  Even though my blogging still needs a lot of work, there was good progress on the rest of my writing.

What about you? Have you been making progress on your goals for this year?

The Truth About Word Counts

Finishing the first draft of my latest manuscript left me with mixed feelings.  I was happy the story was done, but it had turned out much, much shorter than I had anticipated, just a little over 46,000 words, according to the writing software’s word counter.  Leaving it too long to be called a novella, but too short to be marketable as a novel outside of e-publishing.  To confirm my apprehension over the length, I did a Google search on word counts.  One of the links that came up was this forum thread on manuscript formatting from Absolute Write, which listed the general guidelines for length as:

Short Short: Under 2,000 words
Short story: 2,000–7,500 words
Novelette (General Fiction): 7,500–15,000 words
Novelette (SF & Fantasy): 7,500–17,500 words
Novella (General Fiction): 15,000–30,000 words
Novella (SF & Fantasy): 17,500–40,000 words
Novel (General Fiction): Over 30,000 words
Novel (SF & Fantasy): Over 40,000 words

A further breakdown by genre/sub-genre can be found on Colleen Lindsay’s blog.

Though I have several shorter stories in various stages of completion, I’d had really big plans for this one.  I have one other full-length manuscript that I’m currently polishing, hoping to submit it to agents, and expected this one to be my second.  The shorter work, I always planned to direct submit to e-publishers, in part because of the genre.  This one didn’t quite fit that mold, however.   It was disappointing, to say the least.

But on that same forum thread, there is also a discussion of different ways to calculate word counts: word processor counts, the 250 words per page/ “white space” method, and something called the “random manual” method.  The “white space” method is the one traditionally used in publishing, but I rarely used it myself.  I wrote my first novel long-hand, in pen (if you ever tried to type anything on my mother’s old manual typewriter, you’d prefer writing by hand, too) and would also count my words by hand, until I finally switched over to writing on a computer.  Then, I became more dependent on the word processor method.

Out of curiosity, I decided to try the “white space” method on my latest manuscript.  208 pages = 52,000 words.  Better, but still a little short.  Fortunately, I realized that one of my antagonists did an unintentional disappearing act in the middle of the story, so when I work on that, it should definitely be a little longer, but it may still end up being too short for what I originally intended it to be.  Only time will tell.

Since there was a pretty good-sized difference between the two counts, I decided to do a quick calculation on my full-length novel, which, at 98,000 words, is very close to the 100,000 word upper limit of acceptability.  Turns out there are 458 pages — approximately 114, 500 words — and it’s not an “epic” fantasy, which is allowed a top count of approximately 110,000 words.

Looks like I’ve got a bit of cutting and tightening to do. 😦

Another writing prompt from Ermilla’s Picture it and Write.  This one was actually the prompt from May 26, and I’ve been stubbornly trying to plug away at it ever since.  It was more difficult for me than the last.  I’m now a few weeks behind on the prompts.  Haven’t decided yet it if I’m going to try to catch up on every one, or skip ahead to the current one, after this.

“There it is.  That’s where she was born.”  The ocean breezes carried away her voice, since there was no one else to hear.  As she  took a tentative step forward, the planks of the old bridge shivered from the unexpected burden.

She was glad to be alone, and even happier that the old house was empty.  No telling how a homeowner might have reacted to a complete stranger knocking on their door, especially in a place as isolated as this.  At  the very least, they might have laughed in her face when she said, “Hey, my grandmother was born here, a hundred years ago.  Mind if I look around?”

Funny how the woman who had raised her could be such a mystery after her death.  Grandmother had never spoken of her family.  No one had even known that she had a brother until he sent a memorial wreath to her funeral.  Father had never asked about her past, saying that he’d understood from a young age that it was too painful for her to talk about.  There were  rumors of abandonment, after her mother remarried, but nothing that could be confirmed by documents.  Even the identity of Grandmother’s parents was suspect.  On her birth certificate, her father’s occupation was listed as a candy maker.  In the census records from the same time, he was listed as a gardener.

She peered into the window, through one of the tiny spots of glass not covered by cobwebs or dead bugs.  Nothing.  It was too dark to see inside.  She tried the door, and the knob spun uselessly in its seat before falling off into her hands.  There was no way in, short of breaking it down.

Back to the window.  As she tapped on the filthy glass, the debris appeared to swirl before her eyes, coalescing into images from her past.  Memories of her grandmother.  Her unyielding honesty, even if it meant paying a little more.  The way she cooked without measuring a single ingredient, yet somehow managing to pass on her recipes to anyone who truly wanted to learn.  To the very last, she had been a force of energy.  Even when she was fighting the cancer that had weakened her bones, leaving her so fragile that a small fall had resulted in a broken arm.  Arm in sling, she had still been able to outrace her sons and her grandchildren up and down the stairs, as they chased her in a desperate attempt to make her slow down and take care of herself instead of everyone else.

She turned away from the window.  Away from the house.  She no longer needed to seek the truth by going into the old building.  Everything that was important about her grandmother was inside her.  In her memories.

Interesting month overall, mainly in real life, not my writing life.  Here’s how May turned out:

Resolutions #1, 3, 5, &7: Keep this blog updated.

Progress report:  Blogged a total of 6 times in May.  Exactly the same as  I posted in April, but it could have been a lot more.  It was a continuation of what I struggled with in April, when work on my drafts became a much higher priority to me than blogging.  Perhaps its my old introvert nature rearing its ugly head again, trying to drive me back in the dark corners of the internet to resume the role of lurker rather than participant.

Resolution #2:  Finally finish editing my NaNoWriMo novel from 2008

Progress report:  Last additions completed, and just letting it sit for a while before I begin reading through it again.

Resolution #4:  Finish the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from 2011

Progress report: Nice progress here, finishing the month with 43, 676 words, an addition of over 6000 words since April.

Resolution #6: Receive one rejection slip (print or e-mail) every other month, for a total of 6 for the year.

Progress report: Beginning to think that novella may be a lost cause.  I’ve been toying with the idea of writing more short stories again, but haven’t made a decision just yet.  Also started another story that may become a novella, or may be long enough to be a novel.

Part of me hesitated to post this progress report, especially since one of my resolutions now appears to be a lost cause (#6), yet writing them help me keep more motivated than if I didn’t.  Something about being accountable, even if only to faceless strangers over the internet, has been a great boost to my productivity.

What about you? Do you feel like you need to be held accountable for your goals in order to achieve them? Or do you work best when you think no one is watching? 😉