Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Eyes Have Been Busy

After diving into making up my missing words and driving full force forward, my creative juices demanded a little recharge. Not to mention I spent most of the week working out of the office. So it's been a busy week for watching and reading.

We finished the Making a Murderer documentary. And let me just sum this up with: wow. If I tried to write a murder mystery this shoddily, I'd be raked over the coals in critiques, but somehow, this utter farce of a trial flies in real life. Whether the man is guilty or not, and I'm leaning toward not, he shouldn't have been convicted in that trial. And yes, I still fell asleep during every episode, yet managed to keep up with what was going on. Maybe the jury should have taken some naps during the trial.

We blew through the first season of Sense 8. I'd heard good things about this series from a couple friends and was not disappointed. A cluster of eight people all born at the same time who are awakened to each other's minds later in their lives. Hunted by paranoid plain humans who are led by don't-look-him-in-the-eyes-Whispers, they must learn to use each others assets to survive. Yes, there are plot holes and the rules of the whole sense sharing thing are quite sketchy, but the character stories are compelling and binge-watch-worthy.

American Horror Story Hotel wrapped up. After a shaky start wherein I almost didn't start at all for the fact that the cast included Lady Gaga, the plot rose above gore and things that go bump in the night to weave together interesting characters and even threw in a couple twists. The end of the season was my favorite as far as AHS endings go. Yes, everyone dies. They always do, no spoilers there. But I enjoyed how they're plotlines were all pulled together and folded up in a neat pile that would have made the laundress proud.

I read The Red Church by Scott Nicholson. It's been a long time since I've indulged my love for a good scary story. Now that life has calmed down to the point where I can concentrate on written words again, I figured it was high time. And this one was on top of one of my many TBR stacks. If you ever watched the Poltergeist movie and were weirded out by that creepy ass preacher? Yeah, that's the same feeling in this book. Not for the devout Christian, because there's a lot of religious stuff thrown about in these pages. While I enjoyed the interplay between the father and cult-stricken mother, the sheriff who finds love too late and a young boy who had the worst Sunday school teacher ever, the ending felt a little off. The big bad didn't follow through quite enough for my taste, but it was still an enjoyable read.

Yesterday, I stopped by my local bookstore while out picking up bagels, and two books called out to me. Yeah, I read one from my stack and add two more. There might be a problem there... But one was Sherrilyn Kenyon's Son of No One, and if you've been hanging out here, you know this is my book crack. So, uhh, I read that today. I may have gotten up early on a Sunday to read and finished the book by lunch. No, I do not have a paranormal romance reading problem.

And to wrap up the week of distractions, I started watching the Shannara Chronicles. I have not read the books, but my son assured me the series was good. Having reached episode three, I will honestly say I'm really only still there to watch Manu Bennet because: Spartacus. The main characters are probably exciting to younger people, but they're young and keep making stupid mistakes like young people do and they're the chosen ones, and well, that's all I have to say about that.

Not to say I've been neglecting my writing, Book 3 of The Narvan currently sits at 43K and I started reworking a short story for an themed anthology submission. Then to be even more productive, I finally made it to a meeting for the local writing group I joined nearly three months ago.  I can't say that the planets will align often as the timing of the meeting doesn't quite jive with my schedule but it was good to finally meet the gang in person.

Onward into another hopefully productive week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Productive Turns to Terror

In my last post I mentioned how writing was going so well. I was thrilled with how the book was progressing, excited to work on each new scene, and even snuck away from work several times to jot down a few sentences here and there as they came to me while I was working my day job.

I'd just finished one such little writing break and was gleefully pondering the next scene while working when I noticed a flash of light on my writing computer. Time to reboot and install windows updates. Yes, I have this scheduled. It's supposed to happen at 3am when I'm not in the middle of anything. But apparently the computer gremlins were having a heyday and demanded to do that right now.

I let it finish and reboot and then sat down to reopen my word document so I could type the next few lines I had in my head. Aaaaand, cue the screaming and gnashing of teeth. Not only had word not auto saved ten minutes before as it is set to do, it had no record of the manual saves I'd made over the past entire freaking week. Nor was the save I'd made to my off site drive two days before in existence. No sir, everything I'd poured out all week, all my sparkly words of awesome, had gone poof. Not cool, windows. Not cool.

In the past I've been able to resurrect missing documents from auto recovery files, but alas, there were none because windows doesn't acknowledge that it's random urge to restart might close files you might want to recover. And the restore files feature had never been turned on with this computer or the off site hourly back up - which would have been really damn handy about then.

Thank goodness I'd done a back up to yet another drive a week before. So yay, all was not lost... only about 6K of new words and several chapters of editing.

Ever notice that when you rewrite something it's never quite the same? Though I've since gone through those last couple chapters again, and rewritten all my missing words, they're not the same. Tones have changed and dialogue went in different directions. I'm pretty sure I'm missing a scene but I can't put my finger on what it was. I put the plot back, but it's not as sparkly as it was the first time around.

On a happy note, I'm back to making progress again. I also have my hourly off hard drive backups set up, been manically manually saving, verified that auto save is again functioning, and have vowed to make more frequent secondary backups when I'm in the midst of productive writing.

And I wrote some very sparkly words over the weekend. Okay, they were only sparkly in the sense that that their (rough draft) awesome and I was excited to write them. In reality, the scene was so graphically traumatic, that I ended up giving myself nightmares. Oops.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Off To A Productive Start

It's a new year...where to begin?

I've been writing! Every day even! It's a wonderful feeling. I love my new chair that helps block out all the aching distractions so I can get lost in words. The third unnamed book in my as of yet unnamed series is sitting at 32K fairly as of today. I went back and took notes and added several new opening chapters until I got the story starting at what feels like the right place. I've got a fairly clean draft now going forward, and I'm loving the story so far.

My daughter is giving me crap about not working on Interface, but I will get back to it, just not right now. I need to stick with one world at a time this deep into the draft.

I have a social life again! I've forgotten what that feels like, to just pop over to the brewery down the road after work, to meet friends for lunch, to have friends over for dinner. All those casual encounters that got shoved aside with an overwhelming workload, building, and settling in. I've even started volunteering at school again. Only for one thing, okay, two, but they are on my own terms and only one is more of a long term after school thing.

With time to write in the morning before work and after work before dinner, I'm more flexible about taking time to watch frivolous TV during and being a couple time. We recently finished watching Orphan Black (clones!) and can't wait for the new season to start. We're currently watching Making A Murderer (with everyone else on my Facebook feed), and while it's interesting, the slow shots of the scenery and soft voices put me to sleep every damn episode. It's like Forensic Files. I love that show, but it also has the voices that lull me to sleep. Maybe murder just makes me tired?

I've been reading too, because that's apparently a thing this year. When resolutions flooded my Facebook feed, reading more seemed to be high on the list. It seems like a good goal, so I figured I'd tag along. Last week I finished Brewed Awakenings I, an anthology featuring some of my local writing friends. My favorite by far was Amy Jo Johnson's, She's My Favorite, which is about...clones. I think I might have a clone fan thing going on. But really, it was a haunting story and I couldn't put it down.

Not only reading and writing and watching, I even managed to squeeze in two critiques! One for a friend and one for a stranger. Getting back into that mindset helped with the cleaning up of the draft I'm working on as well.

We spent Christmas Break trying to squeeze in watching all six episodes of Star Wars because the kids hadn't seen all of them, and we'd never watched them all in order. Then we topped it off with a trip to the newly renovated local theatre featuring all recliner seating (which was so freaking awesome- no heads in front of you, all the foot room you could ask for and comfortable!) and saw the new one in 3-D, because why not? It was probably the best behaved theatre audience I've ever been a part of, and the movie was enjoyable, though I had several snarky comments to save for when we got in the car and that last scene? It just went on too long to the point where I wanted to laugh, but overall, a massive improvement over the prequel casting and acting and script.

Our house is also home to a new cockatiel. My daughter's previous one died, which is a story fraught with things I'd do differently and gritting my teeth. We'll skip that because it makes me angry, and I'm relaxing this year. Let's instead focus on the new one, who is a couple months old and great fun. Pepper makes all kinds of noises and loves hanging out with my daughter. She's also happy to ride around on our shoulders and pick at anything in reach. Today we built a ladder for her so if she happens to land on the floor (her wings are clipped), she can get back up to her cage and out of the reach of the dogs, who think she looks really tasty.

And I'll close out this rambling update with this week's Author's Answer, where we talk about our favorite characters we've created.