What Happened in June?

My state has been burning, both in terms of fire and record-breaking temperatures. This has made for an interesting start of summer, although one that requires this pregnant writer–who, along with many people in her typically cool climate, doesn’t have air conditioning–to lie around like a half-drugged bum during the hottest periods of the day.

My pregnancy is going well. A minor health concern (on my part, not the fetus’s) seems to be resolving itself with doses of willpower, and we’ve acquired many of the supplies we’re told we’ll need once our baby is out in the world. In the meantime, my husband and I are listening to bits of advice from other parents and caretakers, and enjoying the newly converted nursery, especially the lovely room-wrapping mural painted by a friend of ours.

I’ve continued working out of town, though I’ll soon have to cut my hours. Working a full shift has become more difficult as my belly expands so far that I can’t even look at my own knees without contorting.

At home, there are more challenges. The nursery was easy; my husband cleared the piles of fabric, stacks of sewing and art supplies, medieval-style clothing, miscellaneous mementos, and furniture out of the room, our friend painted the walls and ceiling, then my husband and I arranged new furniture and supplies into the neatest and best decorated room in the house–an admirable state that lasted for less than a day.

My sister and her family moved into our house later that day. My toddler nephew is now occupied in our nursery, and our entire home has been overtaken by piles of stuff that needs sorting and storing.

With regards to writing…well, progress has been measured in terms of plot-directing thoughts, stylistic realizations, and temporary sentences jotted down before I fall asleep atop the page. Maybe after our baby’s birth, I’ll produce more?

Here’s hoping.

Is there anything you want to share about June?


Living and Writing Through the Holidays

It’s December and time for an update!


Since my last post, I said good-bye to my wonderful coworkers at my temporary job, agonized through a week and a half of unemployment, and then accepted a permanent full-time job–directly across the street from my previous office.

Thanksgiving Day Guests and Thoughts

Thanksgiving Turkey
CC by tuchodi

My mom, aunt, sister, and brother-in-law visited for Thanksgiving Day and related activities.

While they were here, they reminded me that all of the house is usable space. Certain areas such as the “living room” are rarely used. Guests want to see and use every area they can, but we usually stuck to the four most important rooms: the “library”, kitchen, bathroom, and primary bedroom.

Oddly, we don’t own a large home; we just spend most of our time on the computer or out of the house. For example, I’m away for my paying job more than I’m at home, even counting hours of sleep.

Relief and Accolade from the SCA

I enthusiastically handed my position in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) over to a friend. Later that day, my baron and baroness (the ceremonial heads of our local group) awarded me for “outstanding service to the barony, above and beyond that normally expected.”

‘Tis the Season

My pets got sick from an annual trip to the vets, I got sick from my new coworkers, and my husband is currently dealing with a cold. Treat this as a reminder to stay healthy, please!


The free writing software yWriter is helping me to identify and correct the gaps in DeCo. Look here for my review of yWriter in a few weeks.

Short stories went on the back burner this month. I only managed to produce a couple pages for a fantasy undergoing a rewrite. My goal is to complete the current version this week and immediately give it to a test reader. Maybe it will make the 2011 first quarter deadline for the Writers of the Future (WOTF) contest.

By the way, the contest director probably won’t start announcing the WOTF fourth quarter results until after New Year’s.


Watch the sky on the start of Tuesday, December 21 for an early morning eclipse (link to Science Daily article) of a full moon. Happy Yule!

Fizzles and Sparks

The exciting blog post ideas that form during the day manage without fail to fizzle out by the time I reach home.

Yet story ideas cling to the forefront of my mind.

Fireworks - Click for source
© Amyn Kassam

I’m worldbuilding for my short sci-fi–it has alien hand-to-hand combat and conflict between social values–while I complete the first draft.

Although the draft was due yesterday, no one else in the writing group is ready with their stories. The group won’t mind, or maybe they’ll appreciate, that I’m taking a few extra days to submit.

After I send off that story to be  scrutinized by online friends, I’ll focus again on my current short fantasy.

The latest reader of the fantasy noticed a few minor issues that I can correct quickly. I’m hoping to the same happens with my final reader, who took my story with her on vacation and promised to give me her feedback when she returns.

She also promised to give me a copy of her novel. So, I’ll be critiquing a novel and five short stories in the next couple weeks. Yay! (I mean that. Yay!)

And DeCo… somehow I WILL carve out enough space to make serious progress. I’m feeling confident in the novel plan again, but the main character has been pushing into my thoughts with the reminder that he’d like attention, too.

What has and hasn’t kept YOUR attention this week?

July Began With a Bang

Writing Updates

Test readers are supposedly analyzing a fantasy short story I completed a couple weeks ago. I’ve promised to hand over another short–an action sci-fi–later this week. In the meantime, I’m considering my novel-in-progress, DeCo, in less than favorable ways. (How is the story so disorganized? There’s too much! Too much!)

Life Updates

I’m still working an 8 to 5 job, still trying to keep up with the paperwork and scheduling for a martial arts school, and still taking part in the filming of a dark fantasy / horror short film. An early trailer for the short film is available on YouTube:

Vaughn on Tour

Discord's Apple by Carrie VaughnI’ve mentioned Carrie Vaughn on this blog before. She’s the bestselling author of the Kitty Norville series, including the newly-released Kitty Goes to War, and the young adult novel Voices of Dragons.

Tor just released her first adult stand-alone novel, Discord’s Apple, and to celebrate, she’s going on tour. Here’s her official schedule for the month, altered from the information cheerfully stolen off of her blog.

If you have the opportunity to meet her, I recommend that you go for it. She always has good information for fans and aspiring writers.


July 28: Phoenix, Poisoned Pen at 7:00 pm


July 24: San Francisco, Borderlands at 3:00 pm

July 26: San Diego, Mysterious Galaxy at 7:00 pm

July 27: Burbank, Dark Delicacies at 7:00 pm


July 10Romcon 2010 in Denver

July 31:  Denver, Broadway Book Mall at 3:00 pm

New Mexico

July 20: Albuquerque, Bookworks, at 7:00 pm


July 21: Portland, Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing, at 7:00 pm


July 29: Seattle, University Bookstore at 7:00 pm

Practicing Faith in Oneself as a Writer

I’m cutting while I’m adding new material to DeCo. That popular advice to refrain from rewriting until a draft is complete? Yeah, I’m completely ignoring that. Minor edits, major edits, re-structures. I’m doing it all.

My word count still hovers about 30,000 words; fortunately, I no longer care, because I’m making changes that bring the draft closer to a completed novel.

By moving and adding scenes, cutting passages that kill a scene, and moving notes into separate documents, I’m building a better foundation for the rest of the story. I’m strengthening connections, giving characters more time to develop relationships and ensuring that action does more than provide immediate conflict.

It feels good!

Except when a passage I love must go into the Cutting Room Floor folder (if electronic). I’ve learned to make minimal revisions to an unfinished scene; otherwise, I’m so attached that I don’t want to cut large, irrelevant passages.

Another lesson I’ve learned this week is that talking to a friend about my plot issues really does help. In the comments to my Break! post, Jennifer Neri suggested I try this.

That kind of divulgence scares me so much that my mind usually blanks when I attempt it, but I couldn’t keep from thinking about the advantages. A friend might see solutions that I’ve overlooked, support an approach I’m considering, provide useful feedback on my ideas, etc. In addition, I could prove I’m not a slave to old fears.

One of my friends hinted a while ago that she’d help me with my novel, and yesterday, I finally took her up on her vague offer. In a few minutes, she circumvented hours of me trying to determine the biggest error in a couple of my scenes. From now on, she’s my Magic Eight Ball for plotting.

Thank you, Jennifer, for encouraging me to take this approach!


Don’t edit during the draft phase.

Take a break every hour or so.

Save electronic material as you work.

Pencil sketch © Ann M. Lynn
L.B., a minor character in DeCo


On Monday, I forgot all of this advice while working on DeCo. Fortunately, I wrote notes in longhand during the first two and a half hours of analyzing, minor edits, and scene reorganization and so could duplicate my work in a fifth of the time.

On Wednesday, I fled to the house of two of my friends so I could pick apart more plot holes. There are so many! Until I’m confident in my outline again, I doubt I’ll expand the current story draft by much.

For the record, the current draft of DeCo has hovered around 30,000 words for the past month or two.

This weekend is all about brainstorming. I plan to do some more before going to bed tonight. À tout à l’heure!

More on the Novel-in-Progress, DeCo

My regular readers probably know this already, but the novel I struggled to write before AnNoWriMo, RITN, is on hold until I finish a draft of DeCo.

It’s funny that when I would sit down to write RITN, I thought of DeCo. The reverse isn’t happening while working on DeCo. Perhaps RITN doesn’t matter as much to me.

The basic premise of DeCo developed in 2006 (almost two years before I dreamt the RITN characters) as a “personal story” used to ward off boredom on my walks to and from work. At that time, I didn’t think of myself as a writer and refused to write more than a paragraph summary of the story.

Over the years, the characters have grown until there’s little room left in my head to contain them. They need to live on paper instead. And they’re much pushier than the RITN characters.

During AnNoWriMo, I enjoyed updating the status bar, so I’m going to include my draft’s status with posts (as below).

Notice, though, that the goal has changed from 60,000 words to 75,000 words–my projected rough estimate of the finished draft. Both numbers represent actual words, not number of pages divided by 250.

Current Draft

26,000 of 75,000 words (35%)