DIY MFA Book Club: Prompt #5-8

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Welcome to the second installment of DIY MFA Book Club responses! This round contains Prompts 5-8. There was a Prompt #9 on January 26th, but because it depends on reading Gabriela Pereira‘s book DIY MFA (which I have not read) so I’m skipping that one. While I have posted answers to these prompts in DIY MFA’s Facebook group “Word Nerds Unite,” I’m also posting the second set of prompts and slightly more in-depth answers here on The Cat’s Cradle:

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DIY MFA Book Club: Prompt #1-4

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Being a hermit of the literary kind, I tend to not join things. But I’d enjoyed Gabriela Pereira’s panel “Rock Your Revisions” at the Writers Digest Annual Conference last August and joined the mailing the list for her online newsletter. So I got an email announcing the DIY MFA Book Club starting January 8th. I mulled it over for a while and decided, “Why not?” Get prompts to share stories about writing with other writers? Could be fun! I signed up and got the first prompt on the 8th, the second on January 10th, the third on January 12th, and the fourth on January 15th. While I have posted answers to these prompts in DIY MFA’s Facebook group “Word Nerds Unite,” I decided to include both the first set of prompts and slightly more in-depth answers here on The Cat’s Cradle:

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Post-NaNo Crash

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Hi folks! Just a short entry today. You know how most people end up in a turkey-coma after Thanksgiving? Me, I’m in a post-NaNo coma. I reached my word count goal for National Novel Writing Month (see Log #328 on my LeNoWriCha blog for details) but feel like I didn’t accomplish very much. Almost every word was a battle, and I’m not sure if it was because the story was fighting me, or because I just didn’t feel well. And, go figure, I haven’t worked any more on Seahawks and Storms since November 30th.

Okay, okay, I know, that really isn’t too bad. A few days to get my wind back from a well-deserved break. It is nice to be able to watch a movie again without feeling like I’m wasting valuable writing time. (After all, I still need to consume stories to feed my subconscious.) And I did do some writing this evening (by hand no less!) although it was not related in any way, shape, or form to Seahawks. But I must be vigilant and resist the urge to coast again, like it seems I’ve been doing for months.

Although NaNoWriMo refers to January and February as the “Now What?” months where revision takes place, I feel like it can begin sooner, depending on where you are in a project. Seahawks is still too new and unsteady to withstand editing, and I’m struggling to keep focused on writing rather than on all of the pressure towards publication that seems to have paralyzed me. So, the plan is to organize the prose that I do have into some kind of rough chronological order, reread previous notes, and do some research that I feel will help me get a better handle on what the hell is (or should be) happening. But most of all, I need to find my way back into that headspace that allows me to play and relax with my stories rather than twisting them into a predetermined shape with an eye to the future. Neither the past nor the future exist. There is only now… and words.


Blues in Week 3

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Week 3 of National Novel Writing Month has begun, and, as always around this time, I’m feeling kind of wrung out with the entire enterprise. Buckling down and pounding out words for a rough draft isn’t exactly new for me. I can’t say that it’s always been easy, but it can be done. I know because I’ve done it before. I did it for (most of) Ravens and Roses, the first book in the Mariner Sequence. I did it for my Dark Crystal novel contest entry, “Search of the Sun-Child.” I did it for the fantasy / romance / steampunk / political intrigue hybrid that is Courting the Moon.

So why is Seahawks and Storms giving me so much trouble?
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Of Prep and Prequels

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The Hundred Days by Geoff Hunt

While most people are excited for the coming of pumpkin spice, winter, or the season premiere of The Walking Dead, I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo, which begins in (gasp!) only eight days. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk since April when I finished Courting the Moon, and only nibbled at the edges of projects. But National Novel Writing Month (especially in conjunction with the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge) usually gives me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track.

So, to facilitate this imminent frenzy of vomit-typing, I picked a project that I only have the vaguest idea about: the second book in my planned Mariner Sequence series entitled Seahawks and Storms. Now, even though this is the second book I’m writing in the series, Seahawks and Storms takes place about 600 years before the events of the first book, Ravens and Roses. It will tell the story of the first Admiral of the Mariners, Samuel Tempest, his wife Amaris Seahawk, and the founding of their new home, the land eventually called “Marina.” If you’ve ever read The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, you’ll see that the relationship between my two books is in a similar style. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, in publication order, or in chronological order, and should all still make sense. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.
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2015: The Year in Review

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Okay, seriously, who keeps making off with all this time?  Feels like the year just got started and we’re already on the cusp of 2016!  (And from what I’ve heard, this sense of time distortion only gets worse… ugh.)

I am definitely in a better place at the end of 2015 than I was last year.  Many of my 2014 goals have been reached, and it feels like I’ve got a better handle on life in general, which is a massive relief!  I want to give a huge thank-you to all of my friends, readers, subscribers, and followers.  You make this all worth-while.

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False Dichotomies

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Greetings to everyone from the end of National Novel Writing Month!  Wow, it’s really hard to believe that a month has gone by and, for once, I actually have an almost complete rough draft of a novel.  It still needs work and some scenes, but I think I’ll be able to progress to the editing stage this December and January.  And I’m actually looking forward to it!  My creativity has come back, I’m eager to work, and I’ve been writing over 2,000 words a day more often than not.  Which, like, never happens.  So, I’m really pleased with my progress and hope to have a finished product to show for my effort sooner rather than later.  (Then I’ll go back to Ravens and Roses, I promise.)

Now, on to a topic that has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time:  false dichotomies.

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Checking In

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Greetings to you all from the beginning of Week 3 in NaNoWriMo!  I have to say, this month’s writing has gone a lot better than it has for quite a while.  You may have noticed that my last few entries (although few and far between) contained a note of despondency.  Or maybe a healthy dose of it.  Or perhaps entire buckets of the stuff.  At any rate, I’d essentially stalled out on Ravens and Roses, which I’ve been working on pretty much non-stop for longer than I care to remember.  I know that I swore (again) that I’d have a finished draft at the end of this year (sound familiar?) and I still might.  It just may not be the project I was expecting it to be.  

My 2015 NaNo project, “code-named” AFiLaW (pronounced A-F-I-Law), also referred to as All’s Fair, has gained a lot of momentum, despite containing two genres that I’ve never worked with before:  Romance and Steampunk.  I’ll admit that at this point the prose is a little light on both; I keep forgetting to add steampunk descriptive details and I haven’t touched the sex scenes.  In fact, I may decide not to write any of the latter at all.  Scenes with that particular kind of intimacy are alien to me, and every piece of advice I can find about writing in the romance genre says: “If you are uncomfortable writing sex scenes, then don’t write them because your discomfort will show through.”  So we’ll see.  Still, even with those quibbles, I’ve been writing at least 1,000 words each day and often pass the 1,500- and 2,000-word marks.  That’s practically unheard of for me; I don’t recall doing that well even when I began Ravens and Roses in earnest back in 2010 for my first NaNo.

I think the reason I’ve been doing so well lately is threefold:

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Happy Halloween!

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When I was a kid, I liked Halloween.  I enjoyed acquiring bags of candy and my mom always made us kick-ass costumes, but Christmas was better because presents.  Now that I’m an adult, Halloween has replaced Christmas for two reasons:

1) Any gifts acquired during Halloween are edible and therefore do not take up any real space in my house.  

2) Costumes.

Since getting into anime and cosplay, Halloween has become the best non-convention excuse to showcase some of the awesome costumes that I’ve put together over the last five years.  On Wednesday this week I wore a dark blue yukata decorated with white butterflies I bought at Katsucon, complete with a very simple white obi, tabi socks, and black wig.  On Friday I wore my latest iteration of steampunk.  (Yes, I skipped Thursday because I didn’t have anything else prepped.  My closet is in a state of disarray.)  And today I wore a lovely green and white vintage medieval-style dress that my friend Storm Elf bought for me years ago, but I’d never worn it before because it’s too fragile to survive the Renaissance Faire.

Damn, it’s fun to play dress-up.  Not only is it fun to see the expressions on people’s faces and receive compliments, but it also helps one’s writing.  Getting into clothing you normally don’t wear helps improve descriptions and enter a different head-space, even if you don’t really act like a different character.  And every visit to a thrift store because a treasure hunt of possibilities.  Part of me wishes I had more time, energy, money, and talent to create and wear better costumes more often.   Alas, it can be both expensive an exhausting after a while, so I don’t do it very often.  I’m starting to value quality over quantity.

Even though Halloween has history and traditions far older than the current (sometimes chintzy) version, for me the main draw is being able to transform into something different.  Something new.  I’m hoping that sense of excitement and adventure carries over into November as NaNoWriMo begins.

Enjoy your All Hallow’s Eve!  I’ve included a list of awesome Halloween-esque songs with links to their respective youtube videos. Enjoy!

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Awesome Halloween-esque Songs:

“Moonlight Shadow” by Mike Oldfield (Remix by Blue UltrasGE)

“All Souls’ Night” by Loreena McKennitt

“Shadow of the Moon” by Blackmore’s Night

“FullMoon” by Sonata Arctica

“Mitternacht” by E. Nomine

“Ghost Love Score” by Nightwish

“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo

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I’m Still Alive!

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Hey.

Do you know what day it is?

Yes, it’s a Tuesday.  What else?

Okay, the date is October 13th.  What happens on October 13th?

Why, the birthday of one of my favorite fictional characters:

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