Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Obsessing Over Word Counts

A fellow writer friend asked me the other day how many words I average an hour when writing.  I had never really thought about it before.  I don't usually focus on my word counts until I feel a story is dragging on and I need to check myself.  But ever since she asked me the question, I've been paying more attention and ending my writing sessions with a tweet about how many words I managed during that time.

I think there are pros and cons to keeping track of your daily word counts.  On the pros side, it's great to keep a record of your progress and quantify just how much you accomplished.  Yesterday I felt I had an unproductive writing night because I was having a tough time with a scene, but when I checked my word count at the end of it, I had ended up writing 1,000 words.  Not so unproductive after all.

On the flip side, a writer should focus on quality over quantity, so instead of trying to just reach a goal of writing a lot of words, it's more important to just choose the right words and make sure you're conveying your story correctly.  Not to mention, that research is as much of the writing process as writing itself, so if you spent an hour of your allotted writing time looking up baseball terminology or the holidays on a Pagan calendar, your word count will be lower that day, but your story will be richer for it.  (Admit it, now you want to write a story of a baseball player who observes Pagan holidays thinking it'll help his stats.  Go for it!)

In truth, once inspiration kicks in, you'll be less inclined to worry about word count because you'll be too busy typing as fast as your thoughts are coming to you. Before you know it, you'll have written more than you realize.  So ultimately, go ahead and keep track, even setting some daily or weekly word count goals for yourself if you like, but don't freak out if you don't hit them.  Just write every day and use those writer block moments to do research for your story!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writing Clothes

Yesterday I accompanied my friend to a cute clothing store down in El Segundo.  She needed a dress for a last minute club invite, and I was more than happy to get out of the office for a lunch adventure.  The entire time I was in there, all I kept thinking was, "Which one of my characters would wear these adorable clothes?!"  There were so many cute dresses, fun patterns, and sassy accessories that I knew at least one of my girls in Winter Lakes would have had a field day in there.

But then I think about the struggle of describing a character's attire when writing.  I remember in my fan fiction days receiving a comment from a reader who complained that she hated when writers described what characters wore.  This seems to be a common sentiment, even in critique groups where other writers shake their heads when people spend too much time talking about how their protagonist wore a leather jacket with his faded Levi's and steel-tipped motorcycle boots.  I've always thought the old adage of "the clothes make the man" rang true, especially in fiction where what someone wears could tell you just about everything you need to know about them. But apparently this isn't the case, and usually the description feels trivial and ends up making the reader disinterested.

During a crit group meeting, I was given a great suggestion on intertwining clothing into a scene so that it revealed mood and action.  So I went from a sentence like this:

He stood behind the country club in his black T-shirt.
To this:

He tugged the bottom of his black T-shirt that had become stuck to his skin from the humidity. 

With the adjustment, not only have I told you what he's wearing, but I've also made the sentence active and gave you a sense of the atmosphere.  Now I'm going to try to do the same with the inspiration I got from the clothes at this store!

If you have any other great tips for writing clothes, share it in my comments!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Like Subway, But With Pizza!

Today was a fun food adventure day.  My friend and I headed to this new pizza place called Pizza Rev for lunch.  We didn't know what to expect, but it turns out the place is like Subway.  Only instead of a sandwich, you get a pizza!  You pick your sauce, then move down the line and start picking your toppings, and the best part is that all the pizzas are one price.  So if you want to get a pizza with pepperoni, meatball, sausage, bacon, peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and buffalo chicken on it, it's the same price as your friend's who got a plain pizza with cheese and sauce.  I went with a plain red sauce, cheese, pepperoni, half Italian sausage, half sweet sausage, tomatoes, and garlic.  It. tasted. amazing!  And it looked good too.  Check it out!
Needless to say, I highly recommend.

Speaking of great food, over the weekend, the roomies and I hit up the LA County Fair.  We were greeted with booths upon booths of absolutely ridiculous food items that were either a) fried or b) wrapped in bacon.  We witnessed a man eating fried watermelon, a woman eating a fried Klondike bar, and a sign for such apparently delectable items as fried upside down pineapple cake and fried bacon wrapped shrimp.  The most amazing one I saw, however, was the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe.  No, I didn't try it, but our friend did try the Krispy Kreme Double Cheeseburger and gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.  I, however, stuck with my favorite food group...
It's like the fair knew I was coming and put this booth up just for me.  French fries = food of the gods.On the writing front, Winter Lakes book 2 is coming along swimmingly.  It's actually freaking me out how well it's coming along.  It's in a massive stream of consciousness state at the moment, but once it's done I can go through and edit it into a discernible story ready for reader consumption.  I feel bad that I haven't shared any of it yet, so I'll give you guys a random line I wrote last night.  I'll just close my eyes, point at the screen, and see where it lands:

They didn’t want to be here in this strange world, trapped against their will.

Intrigued?  You should be!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Contemplating POVs in the City of Angels

Guess who's back in LA?  In a whirlwind of events that occurred in the past three to four months, I've found myself back on the West Coast, and I couldn't be happier about it.  If you had asked me in July if I'd be back here and trying to make things happen, I would've laughed.  But life is funny and so here I am!  I don't know why, I don't know what's in store, but I know that I'm ready for this fun adventure.

The most important thing about this move is that it's helping me immensely with my Winter Lakes writing.  That's something else I never could've predicted.  I've been steadily writing and really seeing it move in the direction I wanted.  I haven't been this inspired in awhile so I'm running with it.  Winter Lakes!

Speaking of the Winter Lakes journey, I received great feedback from an agent on it!  She liked the first 15 pages I sent, but ultimately passed on it.  However, she did give me amazing and detailed feedback, which is a first.  Usually an agent just sends a form rejection back, so the fact that she took the time to really tell me what worked for her and what didn't is a huge deal.  I seriously can't thank her enough.  What she ultimately had a problem with is something that's a unique issue for this story.  As you guys who have been with the story since the beginning know, the story is told from multiple POVs.  This is something that is generally frowned upon or makes agents and editors roll their eyes.  Which makes me ask: Do multiple POVs really turn you off to a story?  And if so, how many POVs is too many?  I know what people "think" the right answer is because we've all been told to not do it, but in the practical sense, have you ever stopped reading a story because it was told from 3-4 people's points of view?

Also, is this a YA thing?  Because I feel that YA has so many more "rules" than general literary fiction, and I personally don't care for any of them.  I'm a fan of telling your story the way it needs to be told.  That certainly doesn't mean you just write something and throw it out there, but I think if you know, after revisiting and rewriting and reevaluating the story you're telling, that the way you've written it is the way the story works, then you should stand by it.  At least to a certain extent.

On that note, I'll leave you guys with a Vine of one of our first adventures in LA.  This is why you can't take me and my friends anywhere.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring Is Here

Nothing says spring like allergies.  I'm deep into allergy season which is rather obnoxious.  The pretty flowers only serve as a reminder of the distress I'm about to endure.  Bah humbug.

On the bright side, I did manage to see the cherry blossoms bloom in DC before they disappeared for another year.  You only get a small window of opportunity to catch them in full bloom and in previous years I never bothered to take the chance, but this year I knew it was time.  So I headed out with the roomies and caught some pretty fun shots on Instagram.

Picture
Overall it was really pretty and I wished I had thought to pack a picnic and sit among the trees while the small pink flower petals fell all around me.  It reminded me of those great mood shots you see in anime films.  It's clear how inspiring seeing such pretty things can be.

Outside of taking pictures of flowers, I've been slowly uploading my stories to a new writing site called ReadWave.  I thought I'd try it out and I really love the interface and interactive properties of it.  I've only uploaded two stories so far, but I'm going to upload a new one today.  Check it out and leave your comments.  Also, don't forget to Like the story you read!

My ReadWave Profile

That's it for this update.  Winter Lakes continues to come along.  As it does.  I've determined what each book in the Trilogy will be called, so overall it will be called The Winter Lakes Series or The Winter Lakes Trilogy, but each book will have a unique name.  I don't want to unveil them just yet, but I think they're perfect and you guys will approve!

On that note, I'll leave you guys with a selfie from the Cherry Blossom Fest.
P.S. I got Vine and Keek accounts but I have no idea what to do with them. Stay tuned.  Insanity is sure to prevail.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Comcast Rant

I've just spent two hours trying to resolve my Internet issues with Comcast.  I normally just let things be and don't complain, but they had me do an online survey....

Needless to say, since I was on the phone with them for 2 hours, I had the chance to write all this in their survey while I waited for them to resolve everything.  Oh, Comcast.  Maybe I should break this up into strands and call it Ode to Comcast.

I've had to call Comcast for two separate issues in the past 2 weeks, and
both times I waited through all the menu options, pressed the correct options,
and was disconnected.  It's been impossible to speak to anyone so I've had
to use the online chat, which is a huge problem when my issues is Internet
connectivity. 


Today the first representative that I got through to finally was very curt
and did not completely resolve the issue, telling me to call another
department.  I tried but ended up being disconnected yet again.  After
that I went to the online chat.  This person was helpful and I had no
issues with her, unfortunately in order to resolve my issue, I have to call
another Comcast number for my local Comcast. 


I am now waiting for them to pick up and hoping I don't get disconnected
again.  In order to handle this one issue, I have dealt with 2 people,
hopefully about to be 3, called 3 different numbers, did an online chat with a
customer service rep, had to go through the menu more times than I can count,
and it has been well over an hour of my time that I'm not getting back. 
And my issue has yet to be resolved.


Update: I got through to the 3rd person and it turns out that she's not the
right person because the number given to me was the wrong number and just took
me back to the general Comcast number.  She referred me to the local
office, which I told her is who I had been trying to call when I got to
her.  I read her the phone number and she confirmed that the number doesn't
appear to be working.  She is currently trying to help resolve my
issue.


Update: Just when I was on the verge of thinking this issue was resolved, I
got hung up on.  Seriously?  Here I go to call again, and go through
the menu system again, and ...


Update: The fourth lady I spoke to was cheery, courteous, understanding, and
very helpful.  She finally resolved my issue!  However, I feel the
need to point out that she did what the first guy I talked to didn't do. 
If he had just done what this lady did, instead of saying he couldn't, and
telling me to call another department, this would've been resolved over an hour
ago.  I've never had anyone at Comcast before tell me they couldn't help
resolve my issues, so this guy was a definite first.  I didn't have a
chance to get his name, but I called in around 6:34 on April 10, 2013 if that's
helpful.


In closing, it's now 8:38.  I have been dealing with this for the past 2
hours.  That's 2 hours that I wasn't doing what I had originally planned to
do.  Needless to say, I'm not amused at the moment, but I do hope that my
Internet starts to work better, and if it doesn't, I imagine I'll be going
through this all over again.  If I may make a suggestion, please fix your
phones and update your phone number registry for the local offices, possibly all
the offices.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Balance of Information

It's been awhile since I've updated, but I've been busy trying to get a handle on the second book of Winter Lakes.  A lot of the history of what the town is going through is revealed in this book, so I'm trying to strike that balance when dealing with information so I don't give it all away at the beginning, or all in one shot, because I'm so excited to be sharing it.  Information is best disseminated to the audience in bits and pieces, so they can retain the information and keep up with what's going on.  If you throw it all out there at once, you chance the reader being overwhelmed with information and losing interest.

Aside from that, Book 2 is coming along really well.  There is a lot of relationship building going on, which is always fun to write.  I have to continue to thank you guys for your patience.  It's already been such a long journey, and I wish I could give you guys snippets along the way, but it's just not ready yet.  Keep holding on!

My first sci-fi novel is also coming along in an interesting way.  I've been running it through the critique group ringer, especially since I've never written a sci-fi before, and it's nice to know I have a great group of writers who are willing to hold my hand through this scary journey.

When not writing, I've been playing around with Photoshop which I finally managed to get my hands on.  I'm too excited about having Photoshop back in my life.  It's taking me a bit to get back into the groove of it, but any little thing I do create, I'll be posting on my tumblr, so check it out and follow me if you have a tumblr of your own.  My first attempt at doing anything creative was an umbrella photoset because I love umbrellas.  Let me know what you think!

Umbrellas

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Behind the Scenes of "Birds of Prey"

Continuing my “backer stories,” this one was for Marleen who gave me the following to work with:

Who are some of your favorite authors? Troy Denning, Aaron Allston, JK Rowling, Michael Stackpole, John Steinbeck, Stephen King
What story element makes you turn the page the most? stories with a fast pace and good dialogue
Who’s getting the most play on your iPod right now? Adele, Adam Lambert, Christina
What’s your favorite food? Chicken Fettucini Alfredo and Quesadillas

She gave me a lot of other stuff to work with as well, but these are the four areas that I focused on for this particularly story.  It was all because I came across this Baby!LiLo gif:

(As an aside, I appear to have a Louis problem.  This is twice now his face has inspired a story, and I already came across the perfect picture of him for the 3rd story.  This is an issue…)

But anyway, so I saw this gif and it reminded me of these two boys that I used to go to school with.  I distinctly remember that they were best friends and I was always rather fascinated by their relationship.  Clearly I spent way too much time observing them instead of paying attention in class….

At this school there was a “racial” incident, which somehow I connected to these boys.  To be honest, I have no idea if they were related to it or not, but over the years all of this had manifested itself into a story that had always been in the back of my mind to write.  When I read over this backer’s criteria for her story, I started thinking that maybe I could pull off writing this story for her instead.

I took her love for Stephen King and decided to set up a Stand by Me sort of atmosphere, throwing in a mystery for this coming of age story.  I also tossed in a little bit of a Steinbeck feel with the location.  Then I went looking through Adele and Christina Aguilera songs for some more inspiration and found “Birds of Prey.”  It was the perfect song for the story that was in my head, and since I couldn’t come up with a title for the story, I went ahead and used the song title because it actually fits perfectly.

Suddenly lost inside a fantasy
Everything not quite what it seems to be
Slipping and falling through the looking glass
Catching a glimpse at all that lies behind the masks

You disappear with the dawn
You only see what you want

When you’re out with the birds of prey (prey, prey, prey)
When you’re out with the birds of prey

They watch and they feed
They take what they need
They bite as you bleed
The birds of prey

Taking the blue pill only made you cry
And all that the red pill did was make you forget why
There is no right, there’s no wrong
You only see what you want

When you’re out with the birds of prey

They watch and they feed
They take what they need
They bite as you bleed
The birds of prey

So I put these things together and ran with it.  The story came out a little differently than how I had imagined it all these years in my head, but I think it came out exactly as it should.  It’s got drama, mystery, social commentary, and a bit of romance thrown in.  Enjoy!