Thursday, May 29, 2014

Breaking the Tape...

Today I am like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of a raging blaze, and I refused to let unrealities mess up my writing vibe despite everything that happened!

To quote Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, "VICTORY IS MINE!".

It's official:

I have completed my THIRD manuscript in less than three years!

Y'all read that right.

Eleven's first draft was finished at 1:44 p.m. ADT today!

And it's my son's 10th birthday, so that makes today a doubly special day for me!

Wow. Was it only just over 3 months ago that the initial idea for this one was conceived and the main file started? I can't believe it took less than six months to get into it and really get moving!

I'm in shock. It took me longer to get into writing "Family Portraits" than it took me to write Eleven in its entirety! *THUD!*

Other than that, I'm not sure how I feel. I'm still in the writing fog, and where it's still open on the desktop in Draft One, the wackiness hasn't started yet, and I haven't crashed back to earth yet.

That may not happen until sometime next week though... I'm taking what would have been my normal writing day to go over the manuscript with a fine toothed comb - adding a few things I forgot to slap in during the first part of it, and taking out any passive/repetitive stuff I can see.

After that, it's going into stasis for the summer and won't be touched until school starts in September.

That's when I'll start going loopy-doopy and bounce around like a squirrel on speed. It's the post finishing a first draft let down, and I hope I don't completely lose it this time like I did in 2012 after No Regrets was finished.

Speaking of No Regrets, it's going to be my saving grace - again.

Yes, the revamp will start once Eleven goes into stasis, just so I have something productive to do while I'm waiting for Eleven to fade from my mind and a new story to suck me in. It will be put aside when Ten or a new idea gets going, or if school starts before it's done. Eleven is my priority now, and it will be worked on until it's as perfect as it will be for editors and publishers.

Writing this simpler, shorter story has taught me a lot. Each time I put in a passive area and reread it, I took it out and put something else in that would move the story forward a little faster. I've done my best not to be so repetitive this time, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of stories like this one. I don't know if Eleven is the one that will see me get published or not, but that's okay. I wrote it, learned so much from it and will keep going until I hit gold.

To me, success isn't if you're published or not. It's starting a project and finishing it, even if it takes years.

I have three finished first drafts. That's gold threefold. Not bad for a girl who writes only part time, not at all for two months of the year, AND with a special needs child to boot.

No excuses for me. As difficult as it is for me to work a lot of the time, not writing is NOT an option. It's as vital to me as my son, my husband and breathing!

I'd like to thank everyone who was behind me during this journey... My wonderful husband and son, my writing pals in Facebook and Sanctuary, the Water Cooler gang, my alpha and beta teams (Bestie, D, S, and A), my local friend D who taught me a lot about a special breed of dog and who is one of my betas, my brother and his wife, my longtime pal Sandra Durham, other pals who were behind me, my best friend H/Tabby, and my husband's family members. Finally, the gang in Romance Divas, who seemed to light a fire under my chair... I learned a lot from the wonderful people in that forum, and I'm grateful for everything they've done to help me and motivate me to go, go, GO and finish this manuscript!

And if I forgot anyone, my apologies. Namaste!

Happy 10th birthday and lots of love to my beloved son!

ELEVEN'S FIRST DRAFT STATS:

Name: "Away to Me"
Length: 135 pages
Word Count: 77 477
Chapters: 17
Started: February 20, 2014.
Finished: May 29, 2014.
Length of time from starting main file to finishing: 3 months, 9 days, writing part time.


Noted date and time of finishing "Away To Me"
May 29, 2014 screenshot


Have a great weekend everyone, and I hope all of you enjoyed this particular writing journey!

On to the next one with happy hearts, a dance in our step and tons of optimism!

An ending is only a beginning of something just as good or better... 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Look Ahead to Summer 2014...

Even though it doesn't feel like it in my area, summer vacation will soon be upon us, and that means the writing will be put on the back burner until school starts again in September.

For the first time in two years, since 2011, I will not have a manuscript waiting to be finished over summer vacation.

It's official: Eleven's first draft will be done before June 20, just as I had hoped.

I'm not sure if it will be finished this week or next week though. It all depends on various factors - like if I can get my brain to concentrate on just writing instead of editing while writing, and real life stuff - and if I can get Chapters 16 and 17 to go the way I want them to. I'm at the most intense part of the story at the moment and sometimes those take me a little longer to write and get up to par for a rough draft or first draft.

When Eleven's first draft is finished, I will be taking at least one or two days that would have been "writing days" to go over it with a fine toothed comb, to check for errors, compress a few things and to add in anything I may have missed.

After that's done, it will go into the first round of stasis, and will stay there all summer. I will reopen it on my first "writing day" after school starts in September and do another round of edits before it goes into stasis, round two. When round two is over, Sandra and my betas get their paws on it.

So, I need a few projects to keep me busy over the summer, once Eleven is in stasis and the full blown "I have finished my latest manuscript and have nothing to work on/write! squirrel on speed mode" settles in.

One project that's been driving me nuts is Ten. It was started before I even had Eleven's idea, and I would like to try to finish it. I'm probably going to go over all of its parts, try to see what's wrong with it and correct it, if I have to because I can't get back into it. I wasn't really "in" to that story anyway, so that could be why Eleven happened to take over once I got its initial idea. If I have to, I will do a complete revamp on how the two mains meet and get to know each other. It's something I'd rather not do, but it could be necessary for me to finish its first draft. Not sure if this one will be published sometime even if it is finished, but we'll see.

Another thing I'm planning on doing is more photography. I suck at it, but practice makes better, right? I want some new, original photographs for my sites, and for a friend of mine, if she wants me to do some more for her.

I've also been thinking about looking through my "dead manuscripts" and seeing if any of them may be salvageable. If they're not at this time (that can change as I hone the writing skills), I may "steal" ideas from their ideas files for another project, like Ten for example. I've already stolen one from one in that folder for Eleven, and it works pretty darn good in that manuscript. I was going to use the idea for Ten, but went in another direction instead with those characters and their personalities. This idea fits Eleven a lot better.

I have an idea for a new story waiting in the wings... It's one I thought of two weeks ago, and although I haven't done anything other than jot down the initial idea for it, I may start mapping it out over the summer... Searching for character names, figuring out their ages, their personalities, where the bulk of the story is going to take place, and all of the "fun stuff" one has to do in order to prepare to write a story. I can do that easily with both guys home. All I have to do is plug in the earbuds and crank up the music, and I will be set. It's not like actual writing so it doesn't need my full concentration or complete silence, thank the stars!

The question is, will I get into that one or not? I honestly don't know. I never know if a story is going to consume my mind like "No Regrets", "Family Portraits" and Eleven had when I was writing them. It's hit or miss with me, and I guess I just got lucky with those three particular manuscripts. What story I'll finish next is anyone's guess, and it could be another year or more before I find the right one, or the right one finds me. I hope I have at least one more in me, because I want to continue writing, even if I never get published.

And if any of those projects do not keep me busy, there's always going over "No Regrets" and getting that story's revamp going full tilt. That is going to take me a long time to do, because I will be working on it only until I get into a new story, whenever that will be, and when Eleven isn't in stasis or being looked at by the betas.

I also have to consult with my best friend on that one about certain things, and hopefully we'll be able to start talking about it sometime this coming fall or winter. She knows my style, knows what I want to keep in that manuscript, and is one heck of a tough taskmaster when it comes to getting everything perfect. She and I will probably clean up Eleven first so that's ready for publishers' eyes (read: to reject!) sometime early next year, then get cracking on "No Regrets" and eventually, "Family Portraits" in between me writing other stories and the pair of us along with the rest of my betas cleaning up anything else I write.

It looks like I'll have plenty to keep me busy and AWAY from Eleven's file this summer once it goes into stasis for the first time. I just hope that when this story's first draft is finished and finally put away for those two months, that I don't completely lose it like I did when No Regrets was in its first stasis cycle. Oh, I was sooooooooooooooo bad............ Maybe the fact that Eleven took only a few months between its conception date and putting "THE END" into its first draft file will help. I had the characters from No Regrets living in my brain for over 2 years after its idea came to me, and for another full year after that, while I was writing its sequel (Family Portraits)... That could be a factor to why I went so loopy-doopy after the duology was finished, after all.

I just hope I don't chomp on the monitor TOO much this summer... Of course, not having a manuscript waiting to be finished may turn out to be a good thing in that respect!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Scam Warning for Windows Users and A Writing Update

WARNING TO ALL WINDOWS USERS:

There's a new scam happening, and boy does it sound legit.

It's so good I was almost taken in by it.

What happened was I got a phone call from this gentleman with a Middle Eastern accent. He asked for me, and said he was from Microsoft Tech Support.

Now I've had calls like this in the past... But without being asked for by name, so I thought I may as well see how legit this guy really is. I let him ramble on about how hackers had gotten into my computer and email, and my computer could crash at any second. He even mentioned the date that my computer sent in a "report" about it, which was about right... I had a Trojan Horse on the computer which has since been removed, thanks to some help from a few of my tech buddies. (Love ya L!)

I interrupted him (rude, I know, but better safe than sorry!) and asked him what version of Windows I was using, and warned him I'm a tech person. I admit I kind of let him think I have certification for it, just to see what he'd say next. Bad... Yes. Safety over sorry? Definitely.

He said the correct version of Windows and I started thinking maybe this guy is legit. So, I let him ramble on a little more, asked him a few tech questions, and he gave me the right replies for everything...

Until I asked him WHICH email address sent the "report". He said "Your gmail account sent it to us."

That sent up a few red flags... I asked him WHICH gmail address and he sputtered a bit.

You see, I don't have just this one, I have another one for backup in case this account ever gets hacked.

He finally came up with "I can't confirm that, it's not in my records" and more red flags went up.

I don't use either of my gmails as a contact email address for Windows. I use another free email provider.

I listened to him go on and on again for a while and finally asked him exactly "what" exactly I had to do to "clean" the computer. He said to minimize everything on my desktop, look by the Ctrl key and hit the four paned Windows key on the keyboard while holding down the Ctrl and R keys.

I didn't do it. That sounded pretty darn odd. You would think if Microsoft itself was really calling you, they'd tell you to go to their legit site instead of doing that.

I finally had enough of his crap and said, "I don't trust this, it smells too damn much like a scam, sorry!" and hung up on him.

I did a reverse number check and it said the number was "Unavailable".

You'd think if it really was Microsoft calling, they'd show the number from which they were calling.

I did download a security/malware checker from Microsoft's legit site and contacted their digital crimes unit. Nothing appeared on the scan. My computer is clean.

The digital crimes unit replied to me without delays and told me I did the right thing.

Yup, it was definitely a scammer, and one hell of a convincing one. Rotten jerk. *SIGH*

I'm so glad I listened to my gut instead of believing that. If I hadn't, hackers would have had the rest of my personal information and I would have lost a lot of money or other stuff.

So, to all of you Windows users, BE CAREFUL. Windows does NOT call you for anything other than reasons specified on their site. Only scammers call for things like "your computer was hacked" for example.

For more information, and to help you understand the difference between a scam and the real thing, visit the Microsoft Safety and Security Center.

WRITING UPDATE, ELEVEN'S PROGRESS:

This week was productive writing wise. I had two hours to work on each Monday and Wednesday, and things are moving fast in Eleven, faster than I could have dreamed...

Monday wasn't an overly great day writing wise, only 1200 words. I had a few problems and wound up coming up with the right way to get things rolling. I spent most of the writing time jotting down ideas instead.

Wednesday was a huge day for me... Only 2080 words of new stuff was added, BUT I finally spliced in a scene that had been waiting in the wings since the end of February! That was over 3000 words, even with compressions (some stuff had already been mentioned earlier in the manuscript, didn't want to repeat it!).

Today, however, was the biggest day of all... I was in the middle of Chapter 15, and an intense scene was on the way... So I was at it pretty much as soon as the bus went around the corner this morning!

The next thing I knew, it was 2 p.m. and time to stop. I had just gotten into a very intense part of the story and it was either stop or keep going, even though Son was getting off the bus in a few minutes and I have plans for the evening.

Today's word count was over 5600 words... Chapter 15 was finished and I'm now in the middle of Chapter 16.

If I had another four or five hours to write... Well... Y'all know I would have kept going!

Maybe later tonight... I know exactly how things are going to play out, so I may get moving again once things settle down here.

I'm so close to the "finishing line" of this one I can smell it. WOOT!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Catching Up...

Ever have one of those weeks when you did something and don't really remember how you got from Point A to Point B?

*waves* I had one this past week, and I'm shaking my head at how fast things progressed, yet I don't remember doing all of it!

My husband worked a couple of evening shifts this week, so while he was upstairs napping each morning, I dove into the writing. Although it wasn't easy, I managed to get Chapter 12 on the go, clean up bits of Chapter 1 that were bugging me, and keep going.

Friday was the best day this week, it was a full day and I just wrote.

4800 words later, I came out of the fog long enough to get my son off the bus and went back to it. Chapter 13 was done in completion that day and I still can't believe how easy it was once I got into it... And the content of it. I know some of you out there are not going to believe I wrote this stuff when you finally get to read it, but I did... Yes, this seemingly sweet and innocent, vertically challenged rocker chick with a hidden geeky side knows how to write "that" kind of thing.

Y'all will find out what I mean when it finally comes out, whenever that happens.

I also did a word count on Eleven this past week, the first one since March. I was blown away by the progress in the last two months... I knew I was progressing quickly, but not this quickly with it!




As you can see in the photo (screenshot of MS Excel XP Pro, which is what I use to keep track of things like this), I had almost 53K on Thursday, before Friday's big addition. Combine that with Friday's work and it's almost 58K.

I'm over halfway to the maximum of 100K that most publishers in my genre prefer.

The thing is, I may not come close to hitting that. Eleven is over halfway finished, plot wise, and depending on how things go in Chapter 14, I may be splicing in a huge key event that takes place not long before the lead-in to the final scenes of the story.

Yes, I am that close everyone.

It feels weird to be seeing the light at the end of the writing tunnel with a WIP barely three months after the initial idea was conceived... I'm sure my longtime readers and friends remember the four month drought I had between the initial idea of Family Portraits and when I finally got into writing that story... It was over three months. No Regrets (both books/parts) took well over a year for me to really get moving in it (close to two years in reality).

I don't know... Maybe the simpler, shorter and lighter stories aren't that hard for me to write, now that I know how to do it. I am still learning though, and Eleven has been quite a learning experience for me so far.

I'm not going to say that Eleven is "the one" that will see me finally published somehow, but even if only me and my beta team are the only ones who ever read it, at least I tried and will keep trying with different stories and projects until I hit the jackpot.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Moving Along--Wait! Was That a Speed Bump or a Bloody Mountain?

It's been one of those weeks where real life, the writing life and everything else just seemed to throw whatever it wanted at a lot of people I know.

I am keeping all who lost loved ones this week in my thoughts and prayers.

Canada's literary world lost one of its greats this past week also. Mr. Farley Mowat, author of "Never Cry Wolf" and "Lost in the Barrens", among so many other great books, passed away this week, only days before his 93rd birthday. I remember reading "Lost in the Barrens" and its sequel, "Curse of the Viking Grave", in elementary school, and loved both books.

My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Mowat's family and loved ones. He is going to be missed.

My Writing World...

I managed to get in a little writing time earlier this week, but after that, not much was going on until today. I'm not saying why publicly either.

Hubby didn't work a full daytime shift this week, not even today. His schedule got changed around, which meant I had only a couple of hours to work, with an hour break in between things today.

That said, between 2 two-hour writing sprees, I managed to get 2400 words added to Eleven, even with a rewrite of the last part of the scene I was working on last week and on Monday. (The scene was going down the exact road that a scene from another manuscript some publishers saw prematurely and I do NOT want to get stuck in a rut writing wise, so I changed it!) Things look better now and I'm "finally" into the full blown over 18 stuff.

It's a relief to finally get there. I wasn't sure on how things in this one would progress in that particular arena other than there would be at least one or two graphic ones in the story. Not knowing kind of annoyed me too, because I like to have the majority of a story "mapped out" in regards to scene ideas by the time I'm halfway through it.

I'm about halfway through Eleven now, if not more than that with the scenes that need to be spliced in. Not bad for less than three months of writing part time.

I still wish I was one of the lucky ones that can write more than one book a year. Maybe someday....

Chapter 11's first draft is finished, and so far it looks okay for a first draft. I know it needs to be edited by someone other than me, and boy am I expecting a lot of creative/constructive criticism from my betas once they get it!

That's okay with me. My editing STINKS to high heaven!

I'm not sure what's happening next week, but I hope to have at least one full day... Or if that doesn't happen, Hubby being a sweetie pie and leaving the house for a couple of hours one or two days this week so I can work. I tend to get ultra grumpy if I don't work on things here and there after all... *whistling innocently!*

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Setting Fire to the Keyboard and Word Processor....

I look at my most recent blog entry before this one and I'm amazed at my progress since I posted that (April 25th).

Was it only a bare week ago that I was in the middle of Chapter 8? It feels like more time has gone by since then... I must have had a bigger writing fog encompass my brain than I thought. Sheesh.

Well, things have been ultra nuts here this week. Hubby worked Monday, Wednesday and Friday daytimes, and was gone most of the day on Tuesday... So y'all know what I was doing. Ha.

I can't remember my word counts from Monday through Wednesday without checking my writing thread in one of my forums and I'm too out of it to go back in there now, but I know before today, I had a 6400 word week, which isn't that bad.

General synopsis for the week:

Monday: 2200 words added.

Tuesday: Finished Chapter 8, started Chapter 9.

Wednesday: Chapter 9 done, started Chapter 10.

Thursday: Rest and regroup day. Didn't do much other than chat with the local beta reader, play a few games in Facebook and mulled over the latest speed bump in the writing.

Friday: Figured out how to get past it, but thanks to some technical difficulties with my computer, got thrown off the curve and had only an 1800 word day before afternoon bus time. Wrote a short scene in main file and started a scene that would be spliced into the main file pretty soon. Wanted to get the basics of the start of it down before I forgot it!!!

After school total: 8K for the week.

Friday evening: Son had an activity evening and Hubby went with him. I stayed home and wrote. Chapter 10 finished and started Chapter 11. Now heavily into the "over 18" stuff finally. Word count total for the entire day: over 4800 words.

Those extra hours put me up to an 11K word week. Pretty darn good considering all of the problems I've been having hitting speed bumps and the stupid computer going ballistic on me by times!

I'm so foggy right now that a bomb could go off in my face and I probably wouldn't notice it. I've been going faster than the speed of light with this one, much faster than I was writing Family Portraits last year.

This is nuts. When the writing bug bites and a story gets you in its grip, you're a goner.

It's a great feeling, knowing you're creating something, and the high I get from a great writing day or week has no comparison. If the side effects didn't include walking into walls or the brain getting confused at everything, I'd love it even more...

It's worth it though. :)

Backups were done at 10 p.m. ADT on external drive for the record. After this week's amount of words added, I'm NOT going to risk losing all of it!

Next on the agenda: Finish that scene I started and spliced in today and figure out how to get from the end of that one to another one I started a while back!

Have a great weekend everyone! I'm relaxing tomorrow, and we'll be watching Doctor Who reruns tomorrow afternoon. Gotta get my man in the blue box fix! Hehehehehehee!