NaNoWriMo 2018 – Prep

Bloggos,

I “won” National Novel Writing Month for the very first time last year thanks to The Charlatan and the Coinshot, my forthcoming fanart collaboration project. I went in with no plan, no outlines or ambitions other than to write as much as I could.

But this year, I’m taking steps to prepare myself for a hectic month of working full time (sometimes more) and writing a whole new, original novel. What does that preparation look like?

  • Research. Lots and lots of research. My Scrivener project for this novel is the most informed and resource heavy of any I’ve made so far.

    Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.07.50 PM.png
    My research files in Scrivener…
  • Outlining. Now, I’m not usually one to outline with any sort of detail, I’ll be the first to tell you that. And it’s still true. My outlines are purposefully vague, because I don’t really know what’s going to happen in any given scene, chapter, or story until it’s written. But, I made an effort to at least have a general idea of the first few chapters so that I’m not going in completely blind come November 1st.
  • Music. Each story I write has its own playlist in Spotify, and that’s what I listen to while I write. I made sure to spend some quality time building a diverse but thematically close playlist for this novel.
  • Pre-Writing. This goes along with research, but I sat down and sketched characters and settings. I gathered resources and images to refer to while writing so that I won’t have to leave the Scrivener project if I get stuck on something. And, I let myself write if the urge hit. I wrote about 1100 words of the prologue/opening scene, and I refuse to feel bad about it. And yes, I will count it toward my nano total word count, so there 😛

Typically, the goal for Nanowrimo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year I wrote just over 52k, which was no easy feat and I was working part time! Now I’m working full time, and sometimes more. I need to be realistic about my goals and my time this year. Otherwise I’ll only set myself up for failure.

NaNo 2018 Goal:

  • 800 words/day – 24k words for the month

I actually think I’ll be able to hit 25,000 words, maybe even more, but thought 800 words a day sounded doable. 1,000 seemed a little daunting, but 500 is basically nothing, so 800 it is. I also intend to go to a majority of my Nano Chapter’s events and write-ins, and I’m always game for a good Facebook sprint. With all the activity, 24k shouldn’t be a problem.

But, I really don’t believe I have the time to write 50,000 words this year. With two jobs, the Thanksgiving holiday and the various social obligations it comes with it, I just don’t see 50k happening. And I don’t want to set an unrealistic goal only to guilt trip myself into freezing up.

So that’s it. I still have a bit of research to do, and my outlines can always be more detailed, so I’ll be prepping right through to the start of National Novel Writing Month. If you want to be my Buddy on the Nanowrimo site, my username is HIMluv and I’ll be happy to add you!

I’ll talk to you all soon when I come back to talk about the month of October in the Monthly Recap.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 43

Blogland,

The weekend was too short, with social engagements and a migraine. But now it’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)
  • Research and outline NaNo project
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yep. I think it’s very close, I just need to perfect the last few sentences and really drive home the ending.
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot
    • Yes? I edited 7 chapters, out of 17. That’s a couple week’s worth of posts so it feels like success, but I’ll need to get considerably more done tonight and tomorrow before Nanowrimo starts.
  • Research and outline NaNo project
    • Yes! Got a big chunk of research done this week, and have some books waiting at the library to help me over the next two days.
  • Read A.V. submissions
    • Yep! Submissions are impressive this round and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this issue.
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue
    • Yes! I didn’t expect this to be the case, but the last half of the book was pretty compelling.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Another week of no writing, which again was the plan. I hate it. It feels wrong. Luckily, this is the last week where that will be the case. I start writing again on Thursday! Really this week was all about reading and editing. I read eight short story submissions for The Audient Void, I finished reading Rosemary and Rue, I read/edited That Which Illuminates Heaven, and I read the the first third of The Charlatan and the Coinshot.

This week will be much of the same.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Continue editing The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Barker line edits
  • Continue Research/Outlining
  • WRITE!!!!

There will be no shortage of blog posts this week, with this post, a NaNoWriMo prep post, and the monthly recap all scheduled. I have a couple sentences to tweak and perfect in That Which Illuminates Heaven, and then I think it’ll be ready to submit. I’ve already made a list of potential markets and can’t wait to share this story with the world! I’ve got 10 chapters left to edit for The Charlatan and the Coinshot, which will go quickly. I’m really just proofreading and making sure that there aren’t any glaring errors or inconsistencies. It’s a pretty clean draft, so I’m mostly just enjoying the story as I read through it one last time.

av submissions.jpg
Now through November 15th

Obadiah gave me an extra project on top of reading submissions for The Audient Void, so I’m doing line edits for him this week. I need to keep researching as much as I can before I dig into writing my new novel, and with only a few days left I am feeling the pressure.

And of course, the big goal is writing in the last half of this week! I’ll have a post up soon about what my NaNo goals are and what to expect from me over the course of November.

I have a few writing related events later this week as well, so hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to talk about them soon.

Talk to you soon, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 41

Blogland,

Mondays are loooong for me now. Morning shifts at Starbucks followed immediately by a shift at the library. Then home for a quick dinner and off to my movie night with my library friends. I’m squeezing this post in between.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read War for the Oaks

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
    • Yes! So much research. I have more to go, but I did share a little blog post with my progress so far.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Yes! 858 words and finished chapter 7!
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Nope. Thought about it last night, but we played Gloomhaven later than usual, and I was too tired to go through with it.
  • Read War for the Oaks
    • Yes! I’ll have the review up sometime this week.

Weekly Word Count: 1,980

You might notice that the word count for this week is considerably more than the 858 words I wrote for Sanctuary. That’s because I was researching for my Urban Fantasy and stumbled into the opening sequence. It was right there, demanding attention. I couldn’t tell it no.

I’m reading quite a bit already this month. Both Legion and War for the Oaks, and now I’m about 50 pages into Rosemary and Rue. I don’t think I’ll have it done this week, but maybe early next week.

Fanfic is a slow but steady sort of thing, right now, and I’m realizing that I don’t think i’ll be able to cross that goal off the yearly list. There’s just too much story to be told there and not enough motivation on my part to only work on it. I’ve got other projects I want to spend time on, and sadly that means Santa Sarita is a back burner task. I’ll work on it when the inspiration strikes or I have extra time.

I spent the majority of this week reading and researching. I finally finished listening to The Adventure Zone and that’s freed up a lot of my time, thank goodness. Granted there isn’t a whole lot of time at my disposal anymore. I’ve got to make the best of what I have.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research, round 2
  • Read Rosemary and Rue

That’s it. Straightforward and to the point this week. I need to get some quality work done on this Nano project, and I want to get That Which Illuminates Heaven ready to submit by the end of this month.

So, work work work. Read, edit, outline, lather rinse repeat. I have a few things to talk about this week on the blog, so expect to see me around a bit.

And, we have the Hozier concert on Saturday night, so that will cut into my time a bit. Oh! And I work Sunday…

Ugh.

Ok. That’s it for this Monday Blogland. I’ll be back soon!

 

BZ

On Research

Blogland,

Fun fact: researching angels is harder than you’d think.

Seraphim-2.jpg

There are so many different versions of the same doctrine, books upon books upon books of religious texts that run counter to one another. One text might name four archangels, only to be deemed apocryphal by another sect that has their own angels!

As a non-religious person delving into the worlds of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam… woof. There is a lot to wade through here.

What I’m realizing is that I may have to blend some sources and make gut decisions, because these descriptions of the angels are just the foundation. They will grow into characters in their own right and become more than just names in a book. So, while I’ll continue to gather resources and learn as much as I can, I’m probably going to have to lean on my own creativity more than research when it comes to the angels themselves.

I’ve also started gathering images of landmarks from the Phoenix metro, along with maps, street names, and businesses. I grew up in the Valley of the Sun, but I haven’t lived there in over six years. It’s going to take some time for me to get into the setting and really bring it to life.

Things left to research include:

  • Catholic rituals, prayers, and saints
  • Churches in the Phoenix Metro
  • Demons and Devils
  • Spanish

My main character is bilingual, so I need to up my understanding of Spanish, and practice writing bilingual dialogue. Thanks to fanfiction, I have some experience with this, but I will have a lot more by the time this book is done. I also have an awesome online writing community that will no doubt help me with the Spanglish. Also, this is nanowrimo. If I’m uncertain about what Spanish to use, I’ll just put a note in red and figure it out during a revision when I’ll have more time to get it right.

I just got a couple more books from the library, and they both look promising. I should be on track to have a solid research foundation by the end of the month, and maybe even a thin outline! I’m not usually big on outlines, but I think having one will really help streamline things in November, especially since I’ll be working more than I originally anticipated.

So, despite some frustrations, research is actually going well. It’s getting the creative gears turning, and will help guide me when things get… iffy.

I plan on doing a Nano-eve post where I talk about my goals for the month and my strategies to achieve them. Granted, Nano-eve is Halloween, so we’ll see if I stick to that.

I’ll be back on Monday for the usual Goals Summary post. Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 39

Blogland!

It’s Monday, and man does it feel like it. Between 13 hours of travel on Saturday and working two jobs again as of today, I am exhausted, so let’s get this show on the road!

Last Week

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

How’d I Do?

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

Yeah. This vacation was insane! And exhausting. There was so much to see, and there’s still so much left that we hope to return to Bavaria in a few years, hopefully at Christmastime.

I could go on and on and on about how delicious every meal was, or how picturesque and idyllic the alps are, but I’ll let the photos do the work for once.

What’s next? 

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

I think this is a good start to the month. I do want to keep writing, but nothing taxing and without any strict goals. This will be a good month to sprint for fun with my longfic or work on that tumblr prompt. Gotta get that sprinting muscle ready for November!

As always, reading is still a priority, with science fiction short stories and urban fantasy novels being the focus this month. I’ve also been listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, which has really eaten into my audiobook time, but it’s amazeballs so I have no regrets.

I actually have two full days off this week, and have a bit more free time than I really expected to, so I’m looking forward to getting some quality work done. Right at this moment I am so tired that this list looks awful ambitious, but hopefully I can manage some sleep tonight and wake up ready to take on my goals with renewed vigor.

I’m not one hundred percent what else I’ll have to share this week, but I’m sure something will come up.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Editing: On Research

Blogland!

It’s been a quiet week spent reading for Book Club. I just finished The Paper Magician last night, but won’t be posting the review until next Thursday, after our meeting. But, at least you have that to look forward to!

What I’ve really been focused on this week is research for The Steel Armada. Now, this is the first time I’ve ever actually done full blown research for a book. I’ve done some quick Googling on the spot to get clarity on an issue or scene, but I’ve never sat down with a text and taken notes and built up details and the world from there.

I had my first study session on Monday. For the first time in a long time, I took the manuscript out into the wild (Governor’s Cup, a local coffee shop downtown) and put in my earbuds to bring the din of espresso machines and conversations down to the comforting bustle of business.

It was a nice hour spent pouring over Sailing Ships. As previously mentioned, that book is a gold mine of info, but it’s actually a little advanced for me. It’s giving me terminology and diagrams, but it doesn’t really explain what the various parts of the ships do. So, I know where the mizzen is a on a ship, but I don’t know what function it serves.

20170223_140140
Dammit, Jim! I’m a writer, not an artist!

So, my research is leading to more research. Which is awesome! I’m taking notes, learning new things, and letting those things further develop the world. And when the world develops so do the characters who live in it.

But, I want to talk a little about research in general, in terms of writing fiction.

Those of us who took any Creative Writing courses have heard the “tried and true” advice spoken with finality: Write What You Know.

…Yeah. About that…

Funny thing for Speculative Fiction authors is that this advice falls flat. I’m writing about a desiccated planet and the small fraction of humanity that survived on a flying armada of steel ships above it. I don’t exactly know what that’s like.

But, I know what it’s like to be a seventeen year old girl falling in love with her best friend. I know what it’s like to lose your father figure. And I know what it’s like to demand more from the people and the world around you.

And anything I don’t know, like the architecture of rigged ships, I can research.

Which is really the most important thing I’ve learned so far. Speculative Fiction authors can still write what they know, they just have to know a lot about a ton of different things. The key to great world building is developing the small details that lend your world credibility. Yes, there’s much in Fantasy and even Science Fiction that is made up of things we can never truly know before we set out to write them. But, I can learn as much as I can about the things that are real, or based on reality.

Do giant sailed ships made of steel fly through the air? No. But, those ships of my creation can follow the look and feel of wooden rigged ships from human history. And the more I know about that, the more realistic I can make the ships of my creation.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to be an expert of fully rigged ships after this book is finished. And I doubt I’ll ever try my hand at sailing even the smallest of sailed craft. That actually sounds terrifying to me. But, I will be able to name the parts of a ship with clarity and confidence.

Watch out Jeopardy! I’ll wreck that ship category when the time comes!

(See what I did there? Wreck? Ship? Hah!)

 

aeroponics-vs-hydroponics
I have only the slightest idea of what any of this means…

Another big research topic I’ll be doing soon is Aeroponics versus Hydroponics. These people have food, both plant-based and livestock, which means they grow crops. How? What’s their nutrition like? Their livestock’s nutrition? These are questions that need answered.

Not because they’re vital to the plot. They aren’t. At no point does a potentially under-nourished cow play a critical role in freeing this society from its oppressors. But, if I can lay the foundation of my own understanding, I can address any questions that might come up.

For instance, now that I think about it, goats are a far more believable protein source than cows. They’re way more versatile eaters and take up less space, while providing milk, cheese, meat, and hide.

Goats.jpg
Who doesn’t love goats? Look at ’em!

But, if you haven’t noticed by now, the research spiral can be a dangerous thing. I think it’s why I’ve avoided it so far. Because questions only lead to more questions, and I have a tendency to want them all answered.

Let me tell you now, that is not necessary. You don’t have to answer every single question. Because ultimately you just need enough truth to wrinkle out any doubt from your manuscript.

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to do too much research. You just have to recognize when to rein it in and bring your focus back to what really matters: the manuscript.

So, I’m spending a lot of time doing research this round of edits. But, I still feel hopeful about an August finish. I think this round of edits will go by faster because there’s a lot of content creation happening. That’s way more interesting than going through line for line and reworking things.

But, all this content creation means I’ll probably have to do a fourth draft, to clean up the lines I’ve added in order to flesh everything out. Bummer. I still want to have all of that done by August.

I’m going to need an endless supply of coffee and snacks.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary wk 7

Hi Blogland!

Today is a new day. A day full of possibility, and it’s off to a wonderful start. A stomach full of some egg frittata concoction my husband made, and the bolstering aroma of percolating coffee hangs in the air.

I’m normally off on Mondays (for the time being) but the husband is also off thanks to its being President’s Day. I’m not letting that stop me from sequestering myself in the office and getting work done, however.

In my last post I told you all how sick we were last week, and I’m pleased to say that we’re both back to feeling relatively normal. There’s still the occasional sneeze and stuffy noses in need of tissue, but otherwise we’re well again.

So, how did last week stack up goals-wise? Not as badly as I thought.

Last week I wanted to:

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorumarcanum-unbounded
    • That did not happen. I didn’t even open Scrivener until last night. I considered writing for a tiny moment, but we had company and dinner in the works, so I decided against it.
  • Finish Arcanum Unbounded
    • Done. I don’t think I’ll do a review on this one, mainly because it would either be overly simplistic, glossing over the stories, or far too in depth as I gave each story its own review. Just know that, if you’re a Sanderson fan, you should read it.
  • Publish two blog posts
    • Barely. Last night’s little update counts, so I got to put this one into the black.
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits
    • Yep. Edited about three chapters last night. This is still technically a read through, but I’m taking a lot of notes, both on the pages and in a designated notebook. So, none of these chapters are ready to be called “Draft #3”, but the feedback I’m getting and the notes I’m taking or forcing me to do a lot of thinking and world building. I’m very excited about this editing round!

So, not too bad. Considering the week we had, and how awful I felt, I still managed to get most of my goals done. That feels damn good, and keeps the momentum going forward into this week.Print

What’s on the agenda for the next seven days?

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorum
  • Finish reading The Paper Magician
  • Publish two blog posts
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits/read through/research
    • A note on this one: As I’ve mentioned before, world building and character development are my two main focuses for this round of editing. I’ve done a lot of great work already in answering reader questions and addressing where there’s too many blanks. But, I don’t have enough knowledge about ships in general to describe them and let my characters discuss them in a convincing way. So, I’m doing research. I’ve loaned a book from the library called Sailing Ships by Björn Landström and it is full of diagrams and terminology for all kinds of rigged ships! I’m really looking forward to delving into it and learning more about the world of The Steel Armada.sailing-ships

Book club meets next week to discuss The Paper Magician, so I need to hurry up and get that done. I’m only on chapter 2, but according to fellow Clubbers, it goes pretty quick. After that I’ll need to read and write as much as possible in the two following weeks, because Mass Effect Andromeda releases on March 21st, and I will be useless for a long time after that.

In other news, I’m meeting with the creator/editor/producer of The Audient Void this evening to “discuss some things regarding books”. He and his wife operate a local indie bookstore, and since I work at a library I guess they want to meet up and chat. I’m not really sure about what, and I’m always a little nervous about vague social meetings, so I’m trying not to over-think it too much. I really like them both, so I’m sure it’ll be a fun and interesting conversation.

I’m forcing myself to look forward to it. Anxiety aside, I know I’ll enjoy myself. I’m just not good with unknowns…

Anyway, coffee is done brewing, music is playing, and there’s fiction to write and edit. I’ll talk at you all soon Blogland.

 

BZ