6/2/2019

Man, where did May go?

Over the course of the month, I've written a short story every week, all at https://andybrokaw-stories.blogspot.com if you want to read them and haven't. The one I wrote Friday left me shaking, which I hope means it was good. It was set in a world that I already know fairly well as I have placed two unfinished novels in it. I dreamt about one of those last night and there's a decent chance that when I finish Faerie Story I will want to return to my dragonverse.

As for Faerie Story... I still haven't finished this round of Book One. I am another chapter or two from done, but like the way it's shaping up in my mind. When I finish those chapters, I'm going to jump straight into another revision because I already have a list of alterations and additions. There's only one more week left in this season of short stories, so I'm actually optimistic I'll finally have something to send the betas by the end of the month.

5/16/19

I finished the rough for the story I started this morning. It's over 3k words and I wrote them all today, so I'm trying to feel accomplished. What I'm actually feeling is lazy because I'm not editing it this evening, but it's honestly better to let it sit a while anyway.

I have been writing and not updating this blog for the last few weeks. Although I have been stalled again with Faerie Story, this is the third short story I've completed since posting here. With the last two, I spent a day writing what could either be an introduction or a full piece if I wanted to stop, then another day or two continuing. Today's story had an obvious early place to stop, but I rushed right past it because I knew the main story already and knew we hadn't gotten to it yet.

I'm also behind on my book blog. I've been reading, but not reviewing promptly. I'm thinking I may abandon my reviewing my queue and just start over with the next book I finish.

Right now, I'm going to watch something with my husband. I'd tell you what, but that hasn't been determined yet. :)

4/14/2019

Today I wrote 2,211 words. And feel frustrated with my lack of progress because they ended in such as way that commits Faerie Story Book 1 to at least two extra chapters. Clearly, I need to work on how I define accomplishment. I created multiple pages of text! (About five or six when formatted for printing.) And yes, I went in a direction that's adding material, but it's doing it in such as a way that will make the book stronger and more rememberable. So I should be happy with myself, right?

I also have a list of things to add into the book before handing it off to the betas. This means I'll probably not be handing it over before the end of the month, which puts me a month behind the imaginary schedule in my head. Again, this is not something to be upset about. I spotted things to add on my own, which implies I know what I should be doing even if I didn't do it already, and, once again, the changes will make the book better. So, yeah, spotting the problems means more work, but it's still a good thing!

In other news, I'm still on hiatus from short stories, but have decided on a theme for the official first season of the new Wording Wednesday format. It shall be Beginnings. I'll be hunting down my six prompts over the next fortnight so I'll be certain they work well together. If you have recommendations for artwork or artists, please let me know! (If the piece is by you, all the better!)

Wording Wednesday is currently on MeWe and Openbook, but I am thinking I may create a blog for it to allow people not on those networks to follow along and contribute if they wish. Eventually, Openbook communities will be visible to people without Openbook accounts, but I have no idea how far away we are from that. At present, Openbook is in alpha and still lacking a lot of features like free accounts and true public visibility.

I'm going to try to relax for the rest of today and get a jump on those new chapters tomorrow. Wish me luck!

4/8/2019

I've had a frustrating week since last I posted. I lost a day to anxiety about someone coming to fix a leaking faucet line. Then I lost a second day to the same thing because he didn't show up on the first day. Then I had a severe headache. And then I simply decided I'd rather play Smash Brothers with my son than work, because he's seventeen and doesn't ask to play with me very often anymore.

Today, most of the day was eaten by a trip to the grocery store. Yes, really. No, the trip didn't take more than an hour. But I had to gear myself up to go, then I had to decompress after unpacking everything. Then I felt I should write my newsletter, so I still haven't done any work on finishing up Faerie Story Book 1. I'm about to to do that as soon as I finish the newsletter... Although I'm feeling a little dizzy all of a sudden, so maybe not...

The bit of the newsletter that doesn't involve the stuff you can see on my other blogs is reprinted below. Cheers!

Happy Spring! (Or Autumn if you're in the Southern hemisphere...)

Spring is hard for me. It's difficult to say if it's better or worse than summer, but it's certainly in my least favorite half of the year. Between hating heat and being allergic to sunlight as well a very long list of plants, spring tends to lead to sniffling and depression. So far this year hasn't been so bad. I have lost days in the last few weeks to sinus headaches, but my mood hasn't crashed, so I'm not going to complain too much.

Clearly, I'm already having problems keeping this up weekly and that's not going to get easier as the year progresses. Therefore, my weekly newsletter is now officially a fortnightly newsletter. I'll be aiming for the second and fourth Mondays of each month.

I have also changed from a goal to write a new piece of short fiction every week. Now I am planning to do "seasons" of six weeks where I write weekly short fiction followed by six weeks in which I focus more on my novels. I'm doing this because while I was enjoying creating a new story every week, it was not the one day a week endeavor I had aimed for but something that takes up at least two or three days, which had a significant impact on my progress in my novels.

Speaking of my novels, I am very close to completing my current revision of Faerie Story Book 1. When that's done, I'll send it back to my betas. I'm debating whether I am then going to try to jump into Book 3's rough draft for the second half of Camp NaNoWriMo (it's like National Novel Writing Month except not in November) or start revising the second book. Since I want to release all three books in very close proximity to each other, I will not be publishing Book 1 until I have at least a solid second draft of the third book. I'm not going to rush all of this. It's been seventeen years in the making to get as far as I have, so another year or so isn't the end of the world but could mean producing a much superior product.

The only other thing I have to report is that my beloved Washington Capitals are heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs again. If you don't have a favorite hockey team, or if yours didn't make the post-season, I invite you to follow the boys from DC. I'll give you two reasons. 1.) It would make me happy for them to win. And 2.) These guys known how to party every bit as awesomely as they know how to play hockey. The headlines of their madcap adventures after their first Stanley Cup win were epic, and I have no reason to believe they won't be just as stoked to do it again. Oh! And bonus reason 3.) Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest players of all time (that's not just me being a fan, you can check out his stats) and telling future hockey-watching generations that you remember seeing him play will earn you some cred.

I'm off to write some more for you. Rock on!

4/1/2019

So... I didn't start Camp NaNo WriMo today. I need to finish this revision of Faerie Story book 1 first. I thought Saturday I'd be able to pull it off. Then Sunday I started working on the last three chapters and realized that while the final one is fine, the other two were in desperate need of being replaced by something that sucks less.

Writing is actually really easy. Writing something decent is what's hard.

So, yeah... I spent the day working on part of what will replace those chapters. It felt like it was going slowly, although I wrote 2,022 words, which isn't bad at all. My brain hasn't been working too well today and there's a leak in my kitchen that was somewhat distracting. And will be distracting tomorrow when someone shows up to repair it...

So I'm probably spending the first week of camp finishing the project that needs to be done before I can start my camp project. But my husband's planning to go on a business trip mid-month, so I'll probably manage some extra-long days later.

3/30/2019

I haven't been updating this lately because I've felt underwhelmed by my progress. There has been progress though! I've added an entire chapter and several scenes to the first book of Faerie Story and am hoping to wrap up this revision tomorrow so that I'll be free to start on a new project Monday.

Over the last two days, I've written over 3,500 words, split almost evenly between the two days. The current word count of the novel sits at 67,627. I have two more scenes to add in the next six and a half chapters along with several more sentences of description and will then be able to say I'm done with another revision.

I am still debating what I am going to do Monday. I definitely want to start something for Camp NaNoWriMo. What I'm debating is whether I really want to do the novel inspired by the floating ice bears or if I want to tackle Faerie Story Book 3.

The main argument against Faerie Story Book 3 is that I haven't revised Book 2 yet, and there's a lot about the ending that might change. But I'm thinking maybe what I need to do is go ahead and start Book 3, pretend I made changes as needed, and then revise Book 2 to contain those changes. It really doesn't seem any more muddled that way to me. In fact, it might be more clear because that will mean tackling Book 2 with a more concrete understanding of what needs to happen in it.

The main arguments for doing Book 3 are the one I just mentioned (that it would give me more clarity on what Book 2 needs to achieve) and that it's a way to make sure I don't lose Maggie's voice. Historically, I've been unable to go back to voices of characters after I've moved on from them, so that's a daunting possibility. To help combat that, I've been thinking the ice bear story would actually be written in third person, but I'm not sure if that would be enough.

Also, I've realized the ice bear story takes place in the faerielands. So the end of the entire Fairy Story trilogy could be important. (Although it takes place in another country, so maybe not.) I think I actually know the over all ending well enough to feel confident writing something that happens after it, though, especially since if any of the Faerie Story characters appear the appearances will probably be more like cameos than anything big.

I've got an entire day to think about this, so no rush...


3/19/2019

I finished a short story today, after having started it Saturday and not touched it yesterday. It's the last short story I'll be writing until May. It's a little different from my usual style, being written in third person rather than first. I enjoyed writing it though, to the point that I'm considering doing the book I'm giving next month over to in third.



You can see it over on my story blog at Andy's Stories: A Gift Returned.





I also plan to get some revising done on Faerie Story Book 1 today. I'm going back to the start to add some things that Chapter 23 made me realize I needed to add. My hope is to get through this revision of the whole book by the end of the month so that I'll be free to participate in Camp NaNo WriMo with a completely different project.



Overall, I'm feeling good about today, and that's always something to take note of and be happy about.

3/12/2019

I just added 1229 words to my current "short story." It's now at 2895 and less than halfway done at most. Thing is, I'm thinking that I don't want to come up with a quick resolution here. I think I might want it to be an actual novel.

If it is a novel, then I may have been moving too quickly so far because I've already solved the most major understanding my main character had with the love interest. But if it's a short story, then I'm taking too long to solve the problem of the approaching giant ice creatures that my characters are currently sailing out to try to talk to. And I'm still not sure what the ice creature's problem is if it's something that can be dealt with quickly... (It doesn't have to be resolved, just reach a point where the resolution is a clear path forward. But still...) I'm thinking it seems a lot easier to make this the opening of something at least novella length than to try to cram it down.

The first novel I ever wrote was supposed to be a short story, so it's not like I've never done this before. It's one of the downsides to writing things without an outline.

So... Yeah... My current leaning it to put this aside until after I can get Faerie Story Book 1 fully revised, then maybe letting myself spend April doing Camp NaNo WriMo making this ice creature story a novel. I'm even giving the novel a working title: Polar Currents.

In the meantime, here's the picture that spawned all this:


It's called "Icebearg" and is by Jerry LoFaro.

3/11//2019

I've been very bad about updating the world on my writing progress. Luckily, this isn't because there hasn't been in. However, what there has been has mostly occurred in small sporadic doses that left not much to show for them. For example, today I worked for over an hour, but as I only wrote a few hundred words, it wouldn't really seem like much to talk about. But I did make several significant small changes to my current short story that I shouldn't dismiss as quickly as the voice that tell me I'm a chronic underachiever want me to.

I have been writing some reviews and have composed a few short stories that didn't get mentioned on this blog as they have their own places to be posted. This week's short story is actually last week's carried over, but the one I wrote the week before that turned out rather interesting and quite different than I thought it would when I started it. This week's is fighting to be allowed to be an entire novel. I'm trying not to let it.

The weekly short stories are things I'm enjoying doing, but I am considering discontinuing them in favor of monthly stories. In the past, I was able to spend a day and have something I was happy enough with. But lately, I've been spending much more time on them. Yes, the end results are much better, but it's interfering with my work on my novels. I haven't made a decision yet, so if you wish to influence it, feel free to comment.

As to novels, I spent most of the last few weeks suffering a mental block in the Faerie Story revision. I made it to the point I was supposed to add a new chapter and froze. Friday, I figured out what the hold up was about and managed to solve it in time to write the new chapter on Saturday. It establishes a few things that I'll need to go over the earlier chapters to alter for compliance, such as the faeries are now all vegan by evolutionary design, and I have one other issue I wanted to add earlier mention of, so I may go back to the beginning for a very quick pass through it all. Or I may just skip to the parts that need changing. I haven't quite decided yet.

The new chapter introduces a new arc that's going to translate into several new scenes needing to be added later in the book, so I'm really not sure if I'll make it through this before the end of the month. A girl can hope though.


2/14/2019

The snow-based excitement has died down now, so while I revised very slowly over the first half of the week, I made a massive jump today and am facing the beginning of Chapter 20.

I had thought I'd knock 20 out today, but there was a comment from a beta reader on the first page asking what the Oak and Ashe College mascot is. I was absolutely stunned to find that I'd never determined that. What kind of school doesn't have a mascot? Even schools without athletic programs have mascots!

So I asked myself, what would a tiny liberal arts school in Washington chose to be represented by? I asked Google what was already taken... We have a college that's repped by geoducks (that's a type of shellfish...) and a bunch of dogs, cats, and birds. There are bears. There's a school with orcas. But you know what's stunningly missing? The Sasquatch!

So I darted back through the first 19 chapters and added a handful of references to Sassy the Sasquatch and the Oak and Ashe Sasquatches. And I won't lie, I now find myself in the situation where I really want swag from my fictitious college.

(Image is "Forest Bro" by RedBubble user robowtie. There's a bunch of stuff one could buy featuring it, and I may just...)

2/8/2019

While watching the snow fall, I revised three chapters today. The first two went quickly because I didn't change much, but the third took a while because I completely ripped it apart.

I've been slacking this week, but knocking out three chapters in one day means I should make my goal of the week, which was getting to the end of Chapter 12.

Tomorrow, I plan on working on my weekly short story and sending out a newsletter. If there's time, I'll also look at Chapter 12, but if that gets put off until Sunday, that's cool too.

2/3/2019

I haven't done any revising in my novel this weekend and with the Super Bowl starting soon, I can't imagine that I will. HOWEVER, I did write a three thousand word short story yesterday and revised it today.

For people who don't speak word-count, let me just say that three thousand is the longest short story I've ever written. Some authors have chapters in novels that run that long, but I don't think I ever have. It's not something that will take you all afternoon to read, but it's still a sizable chunk of words. And, yes, I honestly do think I needed them all.

The story follows a senior Enchantments major at a fantasy-world college, and I have to say I'm in love with her world. Humans don't have magic, so they channel dragon magic through familiars. Over time, the dragons change to reflect their connection to their humans, and I suspect that works both ways even though it's not established in this piece. I'm really thinking I want to think up a larger project to set in this world, although I'm not sure if I'd use these characters are not.

The story, if you wish to read it, is over on my stories blog and entitled A Tale of Two Enchanters.

1/31/19

I have now edited up through Chapter 8. A higher than normal level of tension is slowing me down considerably. I think part of it comes from focusing so heavily on Maggie's anxiety, because that involves invoking my own anxiety. It's not necessarily an unhealthy thing to do; in fact it's a valid form of therapy to imagine going through stressful situations, letting yourself feel your distress and then calming it. It's a method of making the calming techniques automatic and hopefully getting to a point where you learn to skip the distress step. It's exhausting though.

At any rate... In addition to adding a few anxiety tells, I also tweaked a few details to get the narrative to make more sense, and turned a faerie vet into a human. Several of the betas felt I had too many faeries in my town and I realized that the vet was only one so that she could explain how Maggie's spayed cat could be pregnant. I decided it was okay to have the vet just assume Maggie was wrong about the cat being spayed and to let someone else explain that there are faerie cats who could have regrown her reproductive bits. While I was doing that, I came up with a name for the faerie cat species and established that the full-blooded ones are both healers and shapeshifters. We're told hybrids aren't usually shifters but that healing powers are a strong possibility.

I'm not going to work tomorrow because I'm going to Seattle to talk to some people about the house my family is building and Saturday I plan to focus first on composing my weekly short-story, but hope to get a little bit of revising done afterward.

And now I'm going clean my floors and walk through the woods in hopes that one of these things will help release some of this tension.

1/29/19

Made some relatively minor changes today. I adjusted the scene that introduces Quin slightly to mention that they draw manga, went back to Chapter 4 to send someone on a business trip to Arizona, and improved Chapter 6 a hair.

It's another day when I feel I should do more, but I'm overly tense from going Outside today to run errands. I peopled myself out to the point that even writing about people is seeming like a strain.

1/28/19

I tackled the fifth chapter today. I would have liked to do a little more, but I'm fighting off a plague virus and am limited in how much energy I can put into anything other than not getting more sick.

As in previous chapters, I added more about anxiety. I also hit upon a character I'm planning to change quite a bit about.

This character was previously named Chris. Somethings about them haven't changed. They're still nonbinary, still faerie, and still one of the other character's exes. But they're named Quin now because I decided Chris was too generic a non-gendered name. This person has too much personality to have chosen the name Chris. (And they did chose their name. At birth they were given a name which was very gendered. I'm not telling you what it was, though.) Having picked their new name, I started to realize all sorts of nifty things about them that I think will make them much more interesting and vibrant. And I have always known they'd do something rad in Book 3, but now I know what that thing is! And all because I found their real name. It's like I wasn't really seeing them before, but now I am.

I had already decided on some changes to Quin's arc, having realized that I can know they'll be awesome in Book 3 all I want but that doesn't mean it's okay for them to exist in Book 1 solely to be victimized and make other people look caring. (Which isn't what I intended when outlining Book 1 but is pretty much what I wound up with.) I was simply going to take one of these victimizing incidents and have them kick ass during it, but I've now hit on a series of cool things that they get to do.

Current word count is 56,638 and growing.

1/26/19

I'm not sure whether I should be saying that I worked on Chapter 3 today or that I worked on 4. This chapter used to be Chapter 3, but then Chapter 2 got split, and now it's Chapter 4... I think I'll call it 4 because that seems like the way least likely to lead to madness.

I added quite a few words. 1,371 words, to be exact. It was nearly enough for me to say this chapter needs splitting too, but I don't think I need to. As it stands, it's a little longer than I think most of my chapters were. But splitting it would make two chapters that are a little short.

Most of the additions come from adding descriptions of anxiety and from Maggie finding a tool that helps control it some. I think they are good words.

When most writers revise, they try to cut things, to make the writing tighter. But my rough drafts always lack description. They focus on dialogue and quick depictions of action, so I then need to go in and add things like what the speaker's expression looked like as he spoke, and what it felt like when the love interest brushed up against the main character, and whether the rain was a light drizzle or a downpour that soaked all the way through everyone's coats. I don't usually add as much as I'm adding this time, but most of my revisions do result in longer stories. Since most of my rough drafts are pretty short, this isn't something that bothers me even though I recognize that bloated word counts are a thing to avoid. So far this revision, I've gone from to 52,010 words to 55,807 words. I doubt the entire book is going to grow at the same rapid rate, though.

1/22/19

Sometimes an early reader will say something that has more consequences than they intended. When I was told that Maggie didn't seem upset in my original opening, it came with advice to cut the bit where she claims she's alarmed as she clearly wasn't acting that way. That would have been easy enough to do. But instead, I altered things so that she did act upset. Not only that, but now I'm doing a rewrite with one of my objectives being to do that to the entire book, to turn Maggie's anxiety disorder from something she mentions a few times into one of the main characters of the book.

Similarly, it was established in my previous drafts that the two types of faerie are light and dark, and that they tend to be either pale or dark-skinned depending on which they are. One of my betas has made several comments along the lines of "How often has Maggie met a pale faerie?" that got me thinking more about this. One of the things that came up during this pondering was that I had taken Earth racism and reversed it (the dark faeries consider themselves above the light ones, who are politically disenfranchised), but that I wasn't sure that's really what I wanted to do. Might it be more interesting to base faerie racism on something that doesn't have a physical tell?

After some consideration, I realized I only went with light and dark in the first place because of the concept of seelie versus unseelie, which tend to be referred to as light and dark. (In fact, in the original rendition of this story, I actually used the words seelie and unseelie.) But.... Those courts aren't defined by skin tone in most approaches. It has more to do with culture or heritage or some other thing that humans don't always grasp easily.

I've decided that my faeries are still from two races, but in most cases it's not obvious from appearance which they are. You need to feel their magic to know. One race's magic is warm, the other cold. This is seen in some faerie literature, summer and winter courts being used rather than light and dark. I've decided I prefer it here because it allows the faeries to continue to be racist themselves but act confused by human varieties of racism.

I went through Chapter One again today and made appropriate alterations. I'm hoping to get through the first six chapters this week, but will be reminding myself that right is better than quick, so won't be too upset with myself if I don't get that far.

1/15/19

Between the last two days, I've done a good day's worth of work. That's a little frustrating... Yesterday I got started on work late due to things like being lost in the woods, then had to stop early because a family member wanted to talk. I can't really regret those things happening, but it meant my "work for three hours" became "can you squeeze in an hour?"

I thought to make up for lost time today, but there was unexpected turmoil because the clinic that manages my mental health care is spontaneously going out of business. They gave two weeks notice, even they surely know that isn't enough time to find new care. I'll be fine; I'm actually in a pretty solid and stable place right now. But the announcement caused no small amount of excitement and I find myself tense and exhausted now.

It also probably doesn't help my speed that I'm actually adding a lot of stuff, nor that most of the that stuff is draining to write. Trying to portray Maggie's anxieties in a more elaborate and realistic way means I have to think about being in such situation myself, so I'm feeling anxious along with her. That hopefully means I'm doing a good job of it, but definitely means I fatigue faster than I normally do while revising.

So I've made less progress thus far this week than I wanted, but I did make progress. And every little bit counts.

Below is an unrelated image taken after I returned from being lost in the woods to discover that the Post Office had left me an empty envelope with stamps claiming it got to them that way. It seems somehow appropriate.


1/12/19 - Revising Again


Today, I finally started going over the notes my lovely betas made on Faerie Story book 1. Between those and the things I have listed to change, the story is getting better. Longer too, and it was short enough I don’t have a problem with that. I tend to add more description on each revision and I’m doing a lot of that. I added so much to the second chapter that it is now the second and third chapters.
One of the things I’m adding is more details about Maggie’s anxiety disorder. In the early drafts, she said she had one but seldom showed it even in the scenes she claimed to be distressed during. Now she’s showing it a lot. Enough I’m nervous people will think I’m dwelling on it. That’s kinda how anxiety disorders work though. The anxiety isn’t just there when it shouldn’t be, it screams for attention like a toddler demanding his mother’s focus.
Made it through two chapters in my allotted time today. Kinda. The page I’ll be starting on next workday says “Chapter Three” at the top, but we’ve already covered how that’s part of the old Chapter Two.
I have shied away from trying to guess when I’ll be done with this revision. I don’t want to rush and feel making a deadline would lead me to do that.