stephaniecain
10 December 2012 @ 07:14 pm
According to my novel outline, I’m 9 scenes away from finishing the novel revision. And I’m stuck at the scene that takes place right before the major showdown. I have to get Character C and Villain A to a certain physical location and set the scene for the showdown to come… And I can’t seem to find the right entry point to this scene. Character C is at the end of his rope, heartsick at what’s been demanded of him throughout the novel, and terrified of what he’s going to have to do next. And for whatever reason, I absolutely cannot find the right tone for him in this scene.

I’m going to make another attempt at the scene tonight. I spent last night setting up a new Windows 8 laptop and playing with Skype for the first time ever. (Skype scared me. It still sort of scares me, but I think I’ll get used to it.) It just occurred to me that I’ve set the computer up with almost all my necessary software–except Skyrim–without using a single disc. Technology blows my mind.

And I managed to get Christmas cards and presents in the mail today. This is an accomplishment, since last year my Christmas presents got mailed…sometime in the summer? Yeah.

So time to knuckle down and get to writing.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
22 November 2012 @ 11:06 pm
I completed my backstory on Saturday, and on Sunday heard back with approval from my beta-reader. The story answered her questions, so now I have the opportunity to weave the backstory into my novel in several tiny snippets. I finished up somewhere between 21,000 and 22,000 words, which is a lot of writing to never see publication. But at the same time, it's invaluable to me, since it taught me so much about the characters and where each of them is coming from.

Of course, I'm not thinking about just ignoring those words. I'm considering the Writers of the Future contest, if I can tighten up the story enough to fit the word count. I think it's possible, because I always write really long on my first drafts of anything. That's probably a blessing, since I think it's easier to cut words than the alternative.

In the meantime, I'm back to work on the actual novel, have sent chapter 11 to one of my beta-readers, and am excited about moving forward again. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
06 August 2012 @ 09:13 pm
Because I have become obsessed with the time-management side of writing, I printed out a calendar of July and marked the days I didn't write. I wanted to see if there was a pattern. And I discovered there's a pretty obvious pattern.

Click to see my calendar )

See the pattern? Right up until I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, my non-writing days were almost entirely centered on the weekend. To be exact, 8 out of 12, or 66.67%, of my non-writing days were either Saturday or Sunday. The remaining four days were 3 Mondays and 1 Friday. Okay, so they aren't technically weekend days, but they're just to one side or the other of the weekend.

So what happened when I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo? No idea. Intimidation, maybe? Or rebelliousness against the idea that now I have to write? I have been enjoying it so much in July, maybe introducing the additional challenge of CampNaNo in August subconsciously threatened my enjoyment?

Who knows. Anyway, I'm GOING to write tonight, dammit! The OCD side of me is protesting the outliers that are going to show up on my August map.
 
 
Current Music: E. S. Posthumus - Arise
Current Mood: cranky
 
 
stephaniecain
25 July 2012 @ 04:16 pm
*eyes desktop warily*

My 4-year-old HP desktop is acting unhappy lately. It'll boot up, I'll start doing something, and two minutes later it just randomly shuts off and goes into the reboot cycle. O.o Or it tries to boot, then freezes and I have to do a hard reboot. *sigh* I really really can't afford to replace it right now, so I am going to sacrifice a goat later to see if that appeases it. >.> Or maybe I'll just run a few more diagnostics and pray really hard. Heh.

In the meantime, though, I've been using Rachel Aaron's method of fast writing, and I am floored with how excited I am to sit down and write every day. It's been a long time since I've felt that way, so this has basically revolutionized my life.

One thing Rachel Aaron does is track her productivity, which I had always done in a desultory sort of manner. I used a spreadsheet to track how many hours I wrote and how many words I wrote each day, but I hadn't bothered tracking much else. I do know that spending 5 hours at the Barnes & Noble cafe always means a very good writing day for me -- often between 5-8k words. But I hadn't done too much specific tracking. So on June 30 I started a spreadsheet that tracks Times (of Day) Written, # of Hours, Word Count, Words Per Hour, Location, and Medium (meaning longhand, netbook, desktop).

Since June 30 I have written for a total of 23.51 hours. In those hours, I've written 28,091 words. Most of those words have been written at home, many of them on my netbook, which has a new lease on life thanks to Xubuntu and LibreOffice. A lot of those words have also been written at Starbucks, where I go for two hours once a week to write. During that time, I've had 9 days where I was unable to write, for various reasons.

I confess, I haven't read Rachel Aaron's books, but she is officially one of my new favorite authors, simply because of what she has taught me. As soon as I have money, I plan to buy all her books.
 
 
Current Music: Luke White - Black Market Red Roses
Current Mood: excited
 
 
stephaniecain
19 June 2012 @ 05:09 pm
When I'm struggling through the nitty-gritty grind of squeezing out word after word, trying to get things just right on the page, it's really easy to forget there's a world out there, let alone other people who understand what I'm going through.

Then I see a post from someone like [profile] kosmickway, talking about some aspect or other of writing, and I'm reminded that Hey! I know other people who do this nitty-gritty grind of squeezing out word after word! And sometimes just talking to them helps you figure out what's blocking you, or why you're struggling, or what your character really wants, or how to portray what your character really wants.

So this is just a shout out to the many, many people who have been helpful to me over the years. Not necessarily people who get paid to put words on the page, but people who do it for the joy of it. People who like to read words on the page. People who ask smart questions. People like [profile] kosmickway, [personal profile] slightlyjillian, [profile] krycek_chick, [personal profile] severity_softly, [profile] resolucidity, Zardok the Amazing Beta Reader, and so many, many others.

Thank you, guys!
 
 
Current Music: Ramin Djawadi - Jon's Honor
Current Mood: excited
 
 
stephaniecain
13 June 2012 @ 10:45 pm
I finally finished chapter four and sent it off to the beta-readers. That gave me a brief sense of relief, but of course, chapter five is already underway.

Apparently having to wait at the tire repair place is good for me, or at least good for my characters, because I got the better part of a scene written there. Today was "Wild Wednesday", so Mom and I were hiking at Shades State Park and Pine Hills Nature Preserve. But I'm determined to get another scene written tonight before I sleep.

Last week I gave myself some gruesome first-hand experience to write from. I backed into the lawnmower muffler while doing yard work. I don't recommend this method to people, but now I know what a second-degree burn feels like and how it heals (or at least starts to heal, and then possibily gets infected...) I now understand why my main character, who was subjected to hot irons in the torture chamber, hates me so very, very much.

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a friend, and then, if the burn isn't healing well enough, I'll be making a stop at urgent care, I'm afraid. Cross your fingers that the antibiotic ointment keeps doing its work!
 
 
Current Mood: cranky
Current Music: Eagles - Hotel California
 
 
stephaniecain
06 April 2012 @ 02:34 am
Okay, time to guilt myself into writing more. I meant to write a bunch last night. Instead I got sucked into the first three chapters of Love Is an Orientation by Andrew Marin. Good writing, and an amazing and excellent mission. I'm having to fight to keep myself from picking it back up to read some more tonight.

But no! No reading! Tonight I need to make a second attempt at the scene that is currently giving me trouble. It never fails to astonish me how easily some scenes pour out of the pen, while others are just a long, painful struggle for each word.

So tonight I have to get inside the head of my main villain and figure out what he wants to say to his major adversary. Who is currently within his power, and basically buying time with whatever (bruises, blood, nasty invective, etc.) he can afford to spend. It's not hard to understand what the poor good guy is feeling and thinking. The bad guy, though...

What motivates him in this scene? Besides the pure enjoyment of inflicting pain on someone he's hated for a decade? I'm just not sure yet.

So time to turn off the computer (and, more importantly, the internet), and put pen to paper and learn.
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
01 April 2012 @ 04:04 pm
Chapter Three has refused to be written at the computer.

I do a heck of a lot of composition while sitting at the keyboard. I used to write longhand a lot more than I do now, but apparently Chapter Three needed to be written longhand. I cleaned out my fountain pens, discovered I'd lost my favorite one, spent three days looking for it while writing with other pens, finally found it, and wrote my way out of the first Moleskine notebook I had dedicated to this project.

Yesterday I made a VERY exciting discovery in a small town not to far from my house. Avalon Jewelry and Pens is an amazing shop with incredibly friendly and helpful owners. They're also the people who make Private Reserve Ink. So I made a visit yesterday and came home with a Chinese-made Hero 616 (something I've seen called a "workhorse" of a fountain pen) and a bottle of Black Cherry Private Reserve Ink.

Today I'm frantically typing Chapter Three in an attempt to get it to my betas before leaving on a three-day trip to Chattanooga for a quick Civil War history fix.

I'm incredibly pleased with how the pivotal scene in Chapter Three has turned out. And while it's fun to sit and type so quickly you transpose letters, there's a much more visceral thrill in trying to write fast enough to keep up with your characters when they seize the action and run with it.
 
 
Current Mood: cheerful
Current Music: Barbossa Is Hungry - Pirates of the Caribbean - Klaus Badelt
 
 
stephaniecain
19 March 2012 @ 08:18 pm
I'm almost 20,000 words into my epic fantasy novel revision, and I'm finally beating my head against a subject I have long dreaded.

Calendars.

Seems like an innocent enough idea, until you think about how in epic fantasy novels, the world is usually not our own. Okay, Middle-Earth was our world, in a sense. But in the quest for an authentic-sounding world, will it really be shaped like Earth? Will it have the same diameter and orbit and axis tilt as Earth? Will it have the same length of year and day? Even if the inhabitants of the world don't know anything about planets revolving and orbiting suns and what actually causes the seasons, an author has to know that stuff, in order for it to have any internal coherence.

So from the beginning of my fantasy world's existence in my mind, I've always held to an Earth-like calendar, with 12 months in a 365-day year. The month names are the same. It drives me crazy to have to learn an entirely new system in order to read a fantasy novel, and trying to figure out that Istvaharla is actually basically our January, and Furryday is the same as our Friday.

But isn't it just as frustrating to be immersed in this world where the names don't sound like ours, and there are magical creatures we don't have, but still call the months names that go back to Latin-based languages and days that go back to pagan gods?

So I started playing with the notion of a 400-day year, with 96-day seasons and 4-day holidays between each season. The 96-day seasons would divide neatly into 3 months of 32 days each that way, which means easy math and calendaring for me, but a slightly different feel for the reader. Then I renamed the months, using a standard -ien/-en ending to the name, to indicate months. But that would mean I needed to rename the days, as well. It might not matter, since I can't recall a single time I mention the name of the day, but that probably just means I have a dozen mentions in the novel that I don't remember.

By this time, I've only written 647 words today, and I'm tearing my hair out, especially since the only reason I need to do this right now is because I want to know how much time has passed since the start of the novel. I don't want to have people in chapter 2 scene 4 reacting to something that isn't actually going to happen for four more days.

So right now I'm giving up on the calendaring system and numbering things by what day of the book they happen on. Scene 1 happens on DAY 1. Scene 2 happens on DAY 6. Etc.

But I'm curious. When you read a fantasy novel, how much attention do you pay to the calendar? Do you have strong feelings either way about the date system an author uses? Why?
 
 
Current Music: Patrick Doyle - 'Once more unto the breach'
Current Mood: frustrated
 
 
stephaniecain
27 February 2012 @ 01:37 am
I should have realized that renaming one of the major villains in my epic fantasy novel was going to be a lot of work.

I'm one of those people who's always set great store by names. I love to know the meaning of names. I throw in little jokes about the meanings. I play with spelling. In one novel, the characters even talk about the importance of names. (To be fair, it's in the context of why you never give your name to a fairy, so it's important to the plot of the novel. But still.) Back in my creative writing program at university, one of the compliments I consistently got was about my character names.

So I should have known, going in, that renaming this guy was going to be a bitch.

The villain's name was Robert. It's a good name, but it doesn't scream EVIL GREEDY BASTARD at me. Maybe because I have a friend named Robert...oh, and, duh--my grandfather was named Robert. What on earth possessed me to name a bad guy after my grandfather? My dad tells me he wouldn't mind, but it bothered me, and the name didn't feel right anymore.

I spent two days intensely scouring baby name books and the Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon. What sort of name did I want? Robert means "bright", so I'd never really thought about the meaning of my villain's name. So what sort of names would I find if I went looking at meanings?

Oddly enough, there aren't indexes of names that mean "betrayer" or "oppressor" or "ambitious". The indexes all list nice characteristics, like "brave" and "pretty" and "strong". I suppose no one wants to name their kid something that might make them turn out to be the next serial killer. (Though all those people naming their babies Jacob? "Supplanter," y'all. Think about that. If Stephenie Meyer had been paying attention, Jacob would have stolen the girl at the end.)

But paging through on my own, I found a name that means "to oppress", one that means "loves war", and one that means "glory". Not that glory is necessarily a bad thing, but it's definitely something my villain is after. I also found a "friend of wealth", but that wasn't quite as fitting.

So I started looking at things his father might have named him. The villian's family symbol is a falcon, so I looked at names meaning "falcon". Turned out I really like one of those names, but I want to save it for one of the villain's ancestors. The villain's family is supposed to be a gatekeeper of sorts, defending the kingdom from a powerful enemy to the north. So I found names that mean "determined protector" and "nation's defender" and, yes, "brave". I really liked two of those names, and I liked the irony of naming the kingdom's betrayer something like that. The villain's family is also traditionally redheads, so I even found a name I kind of liked that meant "redhaired".

Of course, then I had to start trying out all these names. I went back and forth on three of the names in particular, but none of them quite worked. Ellard made me think of Ellery Queen every time I said it, so that was just out. (Nothing against Ellery Queen, but this isn't a mystery novel.) Ledyard is a cool name, but it sort of feels like one of those bizarro mashup relationship names, like if Logan Eckles and Edward Cullen got together. (And now that I mentioned that, I totally ship Ledyard.)

So what did I finally do? I looked down my list of names, threw out the meaning of them, played around with the spellings, and eventually picked the one closest to what I'd already had.

So Robert Perregal has officially become Rostis Perregal. Rostis, shortened from the Slavic Rostislav, meaning "glory".
 
 
 
 
stephaniecain
07 February 2012 @ 01:15 am
ARGH  
What I am supposed to be doing: working on my epic fantasy novel.

What I am doing: working on the Lovefool achievement in Warcraft, reading TaleSpin fansites, compulsively checking my friends lists, and freezing my ass off.

To be completely fair to myself, I have made a lot of progress in brainstorming changes to the epic fantasy over the past three days. And my writing style does involve a lot of what my mother the cook calls "integrating time". But this is starting to get ridiculous.

...but I really do want that Lovefool achievement. I'm only three holidays away from the Long Strange Trip and master riding.


*headdesk*
 
 
Current Music: TaleSpin theme song
Current Mood: cranky