December 3, 2020

Chicken Noodle Soup and Novels

 (i wrote this post ten years ago and i'm happy for the reminder as i start to write again.)

yeah, weird title, i know but the two really do go together, or at least they did in my mind last night when i was making chicken noodle soup for dinner. i use my great grandma's noodle recipe and my daughter rolled out the noodles and cut them with a pizza cutter. they were all different shapes and sizes and i thought, "i could get a pasta machine and then they would all be uniform." but then i thought, "what's the fun of that? the soup wouldn't be the same." i love the texture of the lumpy noodles.

so then, of course, i thought about writing and how we try so hard to make our books perfect for publishers or agents, and in the end, after all the editing, etc. maybe our stories don't have the same texture they did before. 

i also noted that the soup was different last night because my husband did the cooking. the soup was fine, but it tasted different because he added more herbs than i do, and he used leftover brined turkey from Thanksgiving, whereas i always use chicken. (to me, turkey DOES NOT taste like chicken, and especially not when it's brined.) i have to say i like my version better. it reminds me of Gramma and that's half the reason i make it.

that also made me think of my writing. the story i want to write might change as i let more people get their hands on it. crit partners and beta readers are great for helping you find plot holes and broken character arcs and not enough description, but in the end, if they start telling you to change the flavor of your story, you just have to put your foot down and say, "No." it's not that their suggestions are bad, but there comes a point where you have to decide who's cooking the soup.

December 1, 2019

NanoWrimo and Eldala's sequel

so if you've been following my NanoWrimo writing progress on Facebook, you may be wondering what comes next after writing 31,000 words. (if you haven't followed me on Facebook, you didn't even know i was writing this month. surprise. i wrote 31,203 words in 30 days.)

first, let me define NanoWrimo with this blurb i found from the internet:

National Novel Writing Month is an annual Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. 

i used Nano to write my first novel back in 2005, and it will always have a special place in my writing journey. the event has been around for about 20 years and has evolved over that time. most participants use it to start a new novel, whether they're brand new to it or seasoned veterans. others use it to finish a novel they started before November. this year i used it to add fresh material to a story that i've been trying to finish for a long time.  

i started Black Heart (the sequel to Eldala) ten years ago. over the course of the last ten years, i finished a first draft and a second draft-- and then we moved to Montana in 2011. there have been major life adjustments, a second move into our new house, depression, and health issues. i've tried on and off to finish the sequel, or at least make progress on it. 

i have files labeled Black Heart 1, 1.1, 2.0 - 2.5, 3.0, 3.1, 4, 6 (i don't know what happened to 5), BH Nov 2018, BH 2019, and BH July 2019. I also have Eldala 2, Eldala 2 2016, and Eldala 2 2018. Under those labels, i have 2126 different files that amount to 194 MB of data.  

my son started helping me with the villain and the new plot a few years ago, so some of those files are typed-out brainstorming sessions we've had together. thankfully, he's really good at remembering all the details so i don't have to keep them all straight, but i still need to find a way to keep them straight so i can write the novel when he's not around.  

participating in NanoWrimo this year gave me 30 more documents, labeled Nov. 1, 2019 - Nov. 30, 2019. the words were important because they gave me some new information about characters and plot points, and how it all fits together. more importantly, it got me back into the habit of writing every day because i hadn't written in a very long time. 30 days later and i don't like the idea of not writing. i've remembered what it's like to let myself write badly so i can get the words out. 

so you might be wondering, with all this new material, how close am i now to finishing the sequel? well, that's a good question, and it's one my friends (who read Eldala when i first published it in 2007) have been asking for ten years. 

at this point, i still don't know, but i'm a lot closer to finishing than i was before. i still have to weed through at least a third of those 2100 files to find the things i want to keep, and write new material to fit into a plot change we decided on a few months ago. they aren't major changes, but they're fiddly changes, and they take time. so that will be another draft in a long list of drafts. 

after that, there's the process of editing, proofreading, getting a few friends to read through it to make sure there aren't huge plot holes or inconsistencies, more editing and proofreading, and then getting it formatted to publish through and Kindle. 

i hate to put a date to when it will be finished because i've done that so many times and then didn't make the date. i hope to have it published by the end of 2020, but it's very hard to tell. 

how ever long it takes, i appreciate all of my friends (old and new) who are cheering me on as i take this writing journey once again. thank you for your patience and encouragement.

---> as a side note, a friend asked me how many pages 31,000 words make and how many do i have to go -- if i remember right, my first novel is 132,000 words and 511 pages (double spaced in a Word document - i think that's 412 in a book). 31,203 words in a Word document, double spaced make 129 pages.

that being said, i don't know how many pages those 31,000 words will make because not all of those words will go into the novel. and i don't really know how many i have now from other versions that will go into the novel. 

April 14, 2018

first draft humor

i found this on facebook, and it looks like it originally came from

this could also be a chart for any of my subsequent drafts. i think i'm on 6 now. or is it 7? i don't know whether to laugh or cry. 

February 13, 2018

if you fear the semi-colon...

i do not, in fact, fear semi-colons. i actually love using them. one reader of my original novel said i didn't know how to use them, and that i used them too much. he didn't know what he was talking about. but anyway, i didn't come here to rant about that moment in my novel's history.

here is a link i found 8 years ago and it just popped up on my facebook feed. i thought i'd share it, if for no other reason than to allay the fears of my fellow writers, and perhaps give you a good laugh. goodness knows we need more of those.

"How to Use a Semi-Colon (the most feared punctuation mark on earth)"

now, if you come back another day, i might start ranting about how commas are slowly taking the place of periods.

February 6, 2018

IWSG - a post about not writing

i'm tired of not writing. it's been a year since i worked on my novel. i haven't really been blogging. in both cases, i've tried. i've sat down, opened up my laptop, opened my Word program or Blogger, and then there's nothing. nada. zilch.

it feels like there's nothing in my brain worth putting in a story or a blog post. nothing worth really saying. that's sad and scary, because i love writing. even this post feels like a stretch and partly a waste of time. like i'm just venting and then sharing. "oh boy! what a great thing to post about."

but we're the Insecure Writers' Support Group. we can post about anything we want, as long as it fits the theme of helping other insecure writers. and let me tell you, i feel pretty qualified to share this. after a year of not writing, i'm a little insecure.

make that I'M VERY INSECURE.

but the other part of posting in this group, or at least how i feel about it, is to share something encouraging. i'm not sure that's going to happen today. that's kind of sad to me too. i started this blog a long time ago because i wanted to be encouraging. now i know that isn't always going to happen.

maybe this post is just here to say, "if you're not writing, i kind of know what you're going through--maybe not the exact circumstances, but i feel your frustration and pain. and maybe i have some things to share that i've learned in this year of not writing."

we're writers, but we don't always write. we miss a day, a week, a month. sometimes we don't write for a long time. but we're still writers. somewhere in us there is still something to say. we just don't know what it is.

we're writers, but sometimes we're afraid to write our stories or say what we need to say. we're probably afraid our writing is drivel or garbage. 

we're writers, but our worth IS NOT tied to how much we produce or what kind of response we get from what we write. we haven't failed. 

we're writers. sometimes we just write for ourselves and no one else. sometimes we can't even do that. we're still writers. 

we're writers. but we're also humans with messy lives. many of us have a family, a spouse, kids. maybe we have financial problems, health problems, marital problems. maybe we've gone through major surgery, lost family members, lost a job. maybe we're just tired of life. 

we're writers. sometimes we try to write to escape. sometimes we try to write and we can't. we're still writers.

well, in conclusion... it was pretty disjointed and rambling, but i wrote it and it felt really good to write and be an IWSG participant again. maybe someone read it. maybe someone was even encouraged. i don't think it was complete drivel. whatever the case, i'm still a writer.