Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting Crafty: Writer's Blocks

We all fall victim to the dreaded writer's block now and then.

I've seen many different ways to solve this problem, but why buy one of those cute little block or sets of dice when you can make one? As a bonus, you get to pick the words. And yeah, I like to throw in some fun words to get the wheels turning again. As another bonus, you can choose words that best fit your genre or let the blocks fall where they may.

All you need is a bag of wooden blocks from the craft store.

I used 3/4 inch.

A bottle of craft paint. I like black.

Words. I used an old dictionary that I'd be saving for crafty purposes.

A small bottle of Mod Podge

A brush for paint and one for the Mod Podge

It's all downhill from here. The gathering of supplies always seems to take the longest for me. That could have something to do with the amount of supplies I have to sort through... I'm overcoming my craft supply hoarding problem. I swear.

1. Paint your blocks

2. While the paint dries, find your words. You might have to choose words that fit on your blocks or adjust your font size so they do.

3. Use the Mod Podge to affix your words onto the blocks. Working one face at a time across however many blocks you're doing allows for some dry time. Be sure to keep a dry side down as you work or your pretty word will stick to your work surface and the block. It's not a good thing. Trust me.

4. If you like an aged know to show that you combat writer's block a lot...or maybe just like to challenge yourself frequently. Yeah, that sounds better. Rub the corners and/or edges across a sheet of sandpaper.

5. Let everything dry.

6. Sort into sets. Six is a nice number. I used one bulk bag of blocks and made four sets of six. Yes, for those of your doing NaNoWriMo locally next year, you'll be seeing these.

7. Get writing!
Wondering how to use these things?
1. Consider writing a story or your next chapter.
2. Look at blinking cursor until your eyes dry out.
3. Remember you have help and toss the blocks on the table.
4. Use the words to construct your scene/chapter/plot.
Apparently my story is about a husband who is a lush hanging out too long in a restaurant in another town. This causes some sort of commotion (probably because he drunkenly tumbled into someone from this other town...the wrong someone), and now he's launched a year long battle. Way to go mystery guy. Way to go.

In the case of a scene or chapter, there's a distinct possibility that using all the words isn't going to happen, but the idea is to get your creative juices flowing again. Take inspiration where you can and get those fingers moving!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Considering going Indie?

Indie Publishing: I've been told to take the leap. I know several sucessful authors who've done it and love it. For various reasons, I'm just not ready to join them quite yet. But that doesn't mean I don't want to learn the ins and outs for future reference.

That's where this link to the upcoming IndieReCon comes in. Sign up now for this free, three day extravagaza of Indie Publishing information. What to see what's on the agenda? Here's the link. While the online conference happens Febuary 19-21, you can sign up now for reminders and giveaways.

I'm all signed up. How about you?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Slowly catching up with the world

In my quest for a me focused year, I've managed to find time to watch a few tv shows I've been meaning to watch, scarily, for a decade in one case. Since December Netflix has indulged my desire to watch:

Capricia, which I never got to watch on tv because I was mourning the end of BSG. Why do they force these related series on us faithful viewers so soon after the end of our favorite show? Give us a little time to want it again, people. I didn't need more of this (am not joining the angry throng still upset about it only lasting one season), but I did enjoy seeing how the cylons began and getting hints, that I'm more than happy to fill in myself thank you very much, as to how these events played into the series that we knew and loved.

I finally manged to wrap up my spotty year of attempting to get to the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I also totally snubbed at the time of it's original airing, though for no particular reason other than it just wasn't my thing at the time. Not that it was my thing now either, but carrying a show over that many seasons and keeping the main characters still interesting and evolving is certainly something to appreciate.

Firefly is also on my watch list. Never watched that at the time either, despite the rabid fans telling me that I should. So far the most amusing thing is seeing actors that have been in so many other shows since now in this role. Haven't become a rabid fan as of yet.

I also tried to give Lost Girl a chance because it sounded interesting, but after a couple episodes I don't have much good to say so I'll leave it at that.

Thanks to the doctor informing me that I have bronchitis, I haven't been overly active, I've spent a good deal of my evenings wiped out and in bed coughing long before actual bedtime. Since my laptop has some loose wiring in the monitor that makes it go blank every time I cough when it's on my lap, I've started watching Eureka - yet another show I meant to watch but didn't make time for. So far, this is my favorite of my tv show quest.

And with this updated, I'm off to edit some short stories, juggle a submission, and get some work done before my my medicine puts me into a nice cough-free sleep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bookstore full of stupid

A couple months ago (I'm a little behind on posting) I found myself in a bookstore killing time before my son's school band marched in a local parade. This was the little local bookstore where I spent the majority of  my childhood Saturdays, pouring over the shelves, picking out my book (or two) for the week. (Toys? Screw that, buy me books!) I don't get there much these days, due other stores located closer or buying books online, so it's always a nostalgic visit.

I was standing there, perusing the magazine's (one for writers, if you must know), when I found myself next two a pair of women. Mother and daughter, (at least they seemed to be) were looking over the long shelf of magazines, complaining about the price and quality of the available offerings. Apparently the realization that we're not pricing things in the 1970's hadn't hit dear old mom. And then I was hit by this snippet of conversation:

mom: I was going to get one of those Kindles, but they're so expensive.

daughter: They're not that bad, and they're so handy. Way easier to carry around than books.

mom: But you have to buy books to put on them!

daughter: Well yes, that's true.

mom: If I'm spending almost a hundred dollars on a Kindle, I damn well better get the books for free.

me: *mouth falls open*

daughter: Well, you can get a lot of books for .99 or some for free.

mom: I don't even know those people. The books I want all cost money. If they want to sell those things, they need to have all the books for free. I can buy a lot of books for a hundred dollars.

me: *wonders if she's seen the price of printed books lately*

mom: It's ridiculous. If I want to buy a book, I'll get the book. Why would I buy a Kindle and have to pay for the book too?

me: *walks away before causing a scene*

I wonder if she thinks her postage should all be free because she bought a mailbox?  Because she bought a car, should the gas be free? Maybe that Xbox she bought for her grandkids should have all the games for free too?


I'm sure she wouldn't consider working for free, but the rest of us should. Yeah right.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Now available: Found

I am happy to announce that the winter edition of Allegory is up and it includes my short story, Found.

For more about this story, check out my recent Next Big Thing post.

Beyond that exciting news, I'm enjoying NyQuil filled days and nights as I recover from this evil cough/cold thing that has been haunting my chest and lungs since New Year's Day. Thank you to the person who decided to come out to celebrate New Year's Eve despite the fact they weren't feeling quite right. I am now feeling quite wrong. Blech.

Beyond that, I'm making time to continue my reading spree, and I managed to edit a short and get it back out in submissions. I have two more short stories to put back into my juggling routine and then I'm set to dive into novel submissions. And revisions on several more.

One thing at a time. And right now...I think that thing is a nap.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings Blogfest

We're back on me again with making time...for blogging. Can't say as I've had much of that lately either. So as I was flitting around, catching up on blog reading, I came across the Beginnings Blogfest and thought, why not?

Almost exactly three years ago, I began this blog in hopes of pushing myself to finally get something published. Four published short stories and a host of other writing projects in the works since then, I'm happy to say that the public shove worked.

Now, if I could just get on getting one of those novels out in the big world. It's always good to have goals, right?

January 18, 2010
So, I wrote a novel.

Eventually. It didn't start out that way.

Twenty some years ago it was six pages of scrawled pen marks. Then I took a creative writing course in school and the story grew to a hundred pages on an ancient clickty clack typewriter. Barrel of liquid white out anyone?

I wrote sequels!

At this point I realized the first story needed work. I don't remember why I realized this exactly. Sanity slipped in for a second, most likely. I rewrote the whole thing and expanded it. It was the most awesomest novel ever.

I let someone read it.

They informed me that it wasn't the most awesomest novel ever.

I rewrote it again and decided to go crazy and switch the entire novel from the pov of the female main character to the male main character. This was a great move, as it turned out, but whole loads of work. I lost track of how many times I rewrote it to get the male pov firmly inserted and the female to take the back seat. She did not like that! Not one bit. She's never forgiven me for it, in fact. Oh, but I had fun exploring the new pov. He grew and flourished and made the story everything I wanted it to be. Ah, bliss.

Then I let some one read it.

They informed me that it most certainly wasn't bliss.

What? How could they not love my 385,000 word novel? How, I ask?

At this point I joined a critique group and saw the light. And the editing knife. It was shiny. And sharp.

Three more rewrites, minus 267,000 words, and a host of cut characters and their corresponding subplots later...

I wrote a novel.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reading: It does the body good

...and the overworked mind. Rather than attempt the "Calgon take me away" experience, I've taken a more reasonable approach, knowing I'm constantly interrupted by husband, kids and work. I decided to book myself on a month-long vacation from reality (in every available moment) by getting some reading done. Authors, take me away!

In the past few weeks, I've devoured:
Some of sentence structure tickled my critting urges but other than that, an enjoyable and lighthearted read. Lighthearted, by my standards that is--people died, creatures died, people had sex but nothing overly graphic. My only big complaint is the cover is deceiving. I went in expecting an adult male, but ended up with two lusty teenagers. Definitely aimed at a younger audience rather than forty-something me.

Much higher on my enjoyable scale. A good balance of violence, sex and sci-fi. Adult characters, were a definite plus. I'd somehow missed this series altogether, and now I will have to hunt the other two books down as time allows.

John Moore is one of my favorite comedic authors. If you still haven't read Heroics for Beginners, get thee to a bookstore and rectify that oversight immediately.

This book brought some much needed laughter to my high stress days. A humorous romp though fantasyland intrigue.

I'd been meaning to read something by Dave Barry for a couple years now so when this book ended up in my used book drive collection box, I decided to give it a go before sending it on it's way. The pacing was excellent and it was an entertaining twist on Peter Pan. I won't be reading the rest of the series, just for the fact that there's only so much light-hearted YA I can handle.

Next up, something darker or at least back in the adult arena.