Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Day of NaNo...with Goo Goo Dolls?

Last day of NaNo today, and by their count I need 1985 words to get the 50k. I'm going for it. Will I get it? That's the plan, but if I don't, it's not the end of the world. I played with pirates for a month, learned I can produce at this rate and as an added bonus (or two) I'm blogging more and stretching my graphic art muscles. All good stuff right there.

Text in today's art comes from "Still Your Song" by Goo Goo Dolls. I've been listening to this song on pretty much a continuous loop lately, and there's a story in there somewhere. Lyrics here and listen here:

Honestly, start a song with "Called you up ten years too late" and play it to a romance writer, and you know you're starting something. Music is often a point of entry into the creative quagmire area of my story brain, so this does not surprise me at all. Never mind that I write historicals - it's even better that way, as communications that can only travel by written word via foot, hoof or sail make for some tremendous drama. This song touches a lot for me, as I'm of the firm belief that the lower the valley, the higher the mountain, and I love putting my characters through all of that. Which is exactly where this song and NaNo dovetail rather nicely for me

The lines in the graphic leapt out at me when thinking of what NaNo has been this year. Worn down? Yep. Not gonna lie about that. Are Alec and Tamsen real people? Yep again. Sure, they live in my head, and they need more time to marinate before they trust me with something as intimate as their love story. Still, we felt each other out this month and when the time is right, we will complete our journey together.

Do I know when that will be? Not right now, but this is still their, story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One (NaNo) Day More

Some days have theme songs. Those that don't probably should, but then again I'm the type who generally has one running in my head anyway. For those participating in National Novel Writing Month, I suggest this:

This is the last full day of NaNo and according to their counter, I have 1978 words per day for today and tomorrow to make it. Since I did make over 2k yesterday, it is possible I could do the same today and tomorrow, but at the same time it's possible that I won't. I'm okay either way.

I've been asked if I'll be working on this story during December and the answer as I see it right now is 'no.' My intent is to put this away, focus on editing and polishing other mss that are ready to go out and earn their keep and let this one marinate for a while. What I have in this file isn't so much a book as background material, and an object lesson in knowing what my process is and how well it works for me. All good stuff. I like pirates and Port Royal and Alec and Tamsen and Cornelis and Lydia, and when we all have a chance to get to know each other in more depth, then maybe we can get together and make this happen.

Being an extrovert, talking my story out doesn't detract from ability to write it; it's more likely to unlock things the more I go over it with trusted writer friends. I need to know far more than will ever make it into the actual manuscript. Rushing the process, like trying to microwave a whole turkey half an hour before Thanksgiving dinner, is not something that's good for me, but when I embrace what works for me, as I did with last year's NaNo, the whole journey is a lot smoother. Lesson learned, and on we go.

I'm looking forward to closing out November and returning to other projects, and the new idea slot will be open for other characters to come find me. When they do, we'll take our time and get to know each other and wherever the story takes us, we'll get there together.

Monday, November 28, 2011

There's a PE teacher in my head, and it's writing related.

Only three days left in NaNo, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make the goal. This is not a whine, but an observation. Right now, before today's session, I am at 43833 words, and if I write 2056 words per day for the next three days, I'll sneak in under the wire. Do I see that happening? To be totally honest, no, I don't. What I've learned the most from this year's NaNo is that I do best when I keep to my process. Blorch first, then highlighters, sticky notes and numbered scenes, then outline, then flesh. Assemble story notebook with sections for hero, heroine, villain if needed, history and plot. Images of important things. Soundtracks.

That's what I did last year, and I won. That month spent in Georgian England with Slate and Melanie, two wounded souls with tragic pasts, who find wholeness and healing in each other, and Master, the only villain I've created so far who made me have to get up and walk away from the keyboard because he creeped me out too much, flew by. I still have the notebook at the ready, and as soon as I get the current ms polished and making its rounds, they're up next for front burner treatment.

This year, well, not so much. It's not that I don't like Tamsen and Alec, because I do. It's that I don't know them well enough to tell their story yet, so it's like trying to give a guided tour of a place I've never been to myself. Sure, I had a quick look at the brochure; I know that Tamsen tells far more than she thinks she does by the rings she wears on all fingers, I can see the rolling swagger of her walk and I know that she and Alec are destined to spend their lives together on the high seas in a matter more lawful than she might choose and more risky than he might pick on his own. I do know that they are each other's perfect mate in the nautical as well as romantic sense. I know Tamsen's parents, Cornelis and Lydia, are what I envision as living their happily ever after...and after. I know what a pirate ship is. I know what Port Royal is, and the events of the climactic earthquake...keep eyes peeled for an Unusual Historicals blog post on that for November 30th.

I know the events of the story, and I can pound out the plot points (and dear bullet points, how I miss you with the heat of a thousand suns) but how the romance develops? No, I don't know that yet. I have to live it along with them. With the large amount of words (and I will be thrilled to go back to counting pages in December) left to write and the short amount of time, what keeps me from throwing in the towel and sparing myself the misery? My high school PE teacher, Diane Nappier.

High school was not my favorite part of life, and PE was pretty much tied with math as most dreaded course, as I was not built for either one. Ms. Nappier came at her job with all the passion of someone who's found their calling, and I admired her for that. Though I lagged badly at the lone cross country run our class attempted, I still remember Ms. Nappier pointing something important out to the miserable group of us struggling in the back; the finish line was in sight, and we weren't allowed to quit if we could see the finish line. We could pace ourselves, we could walk if we had to -I did- but once we could see the finish line, quitting was no longer an option.

Every time I think about hitting the delete key and settling into a comfy chair with my e-reader or selections from my TBR shelf, it's Ms. Nappier's voice I hear in my head, and I keep on going. Can't quit when the finish line is right in front of me, no matter how far it seems.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #74 - There's Always Next Year

funny pictures - Fud coma  we haz it
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Climbing back into consciousness after Second Thanksgiving and tree trimming with friends, which acutally, wonder of wonders, included movie viewing. Love Actually, which has to be my favorite Christmas movie and favorite comedy at the same time. As one can expect, discussion of movies ensused. During an ideal holiday season, I'd get in a few good movies, but this year, I'm not seeing too much in theaters that appeals. Next year, though, looks very promising. YouTube still not cooperating, so apologies for flubs in advance.

Let's start out with Sean Bean in a historical horror story that adds a supernatural twist to the Black Death (because the plague wasn't horriffic enough?)

For those who can't get enough winter adventures, follow Liam Neeson to Alaska in The Grey

The Woman in Black looks spooky and gorgeous, with an adult Daniel Radcliffe in the lead.

Tanner Hall's release date seems elusive, but coming of age story at a private school? I am there, whenever it's available.

What movies are you looking forward to this holiday season or into 2012?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #74 - Ricky Martin on Black Friday

Happy Black Friday, the high holiday for extroverts. I'm one of those obnoxious people who can't wait to get into the crowds and snatch the insane bargains. If that means getting up at 4AM to bang out my daily NaNo words, then so be it. I have a gingerbread man and a home office, so lock and load. Done and done.

Taking it on faith that I'm posting the right links again, since my poor abused laptop is in need of defragging and videos are taking a long time to load, and I have minutes before I'm out the door to a friend's post-Thanksgiving leftovers and tree trimming, but couldn't go without posting here. Random bit of my graphic art -must do a resource post soon- as Icanhascheezburger isn't loading either. Possible chance of NSFW images in videos, if that matters to anyone.

When I thought about what to share for a Black Friday happy dance, the insane energy of Latin dance music came to mind right away. Is it crazy to go shopping on Black Friday? Maybe, but friends and family won't be complaining when they unwrap gifts next month, now, will they? Didn't think so.

Ohhhkay, preivew function isn't working either, so I'm trusting things look okay. Some have compared Black Friday shopping to a contact sport, so this high energy classic, once used for the World Cup seemed appropriate:

For those who prefer to stay home and get first dibs on the leftovers instead of fighting the crowds, but will cheer on the more bloodthirsty shoppers, perhaps something like this would work to express your virtual support:

What about you? Are you out there on Black Friday, or do you prefer to wait for things to calm down? If you're one of those who has been sitting on a pile of everything purchased last December 26th, you get extra points. Maybe this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heroines Don't Get To Quit

It's after ten, and I am only now opening my NaNo file. First, I had to make some art. Having one of those days over here, and it started last night, so things are bound to improve, but my goal in talking about writing in this blog, and the creative process in general, is to be honest. Lay it all out, the good, the bad, and the ugly, because it's all needed to make the end product.

We are now in the last official week of NaNo, and even though some days have a rocky start, each day does find my bottom in the chair and fingers on the keyboard. Normally, I'm beyond excited to get to a project like this, but here's something I've been struggling with whether or not to share. Every single day in this year's NaNo, I've wanted to quit. Every one. I see others zooming on by with higher word counts while my goal is re-teaching myself to produce a certain amount a day, weekends included, and so far, I've been successful. I've also been successful in learning that, for best results, I need to follow my process and come to exercises like NaNo and BISW with my story notebook ready for reference, having ample time to spend following my hero and heroine through the mist and then shaping things into a blorch, and then I'm good to go. Not better or worse than anybody else, but what works for me.

I have also learned that comparison to others is bad and best avoided. Anybody else's goal is not my goal, so if I'm doing what I set out to do, yay me. They're not writing my book, I'm not writing their book, and everybody's life is different. While it's true that at some point during every day this month, I've thought about quitting NaNo, I'm competitive. I need the bragging rights. I get a graphic badge if I finish? Allrighty, then. Lock and load. It's on, baby.

There may come a point in every NaNo writing day when I want to cash in my chips, say 'good enough, this is as far as I go' but writing isn't a matter of want to. It's a matter of have to. Trust me, I've tried not writing and it doesn't work. I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life. November is one month. One month. When I let Alec and Tamsen rest for at least December, there's still Angus and Summer who need my attention so they can get all sparkly shiny polished to go see agents. John and Aline who need their romance emphasized so the wake of the Black Plague doesn't overtake the love story. Last year's couple, Slate and Melanie, are quite insistent that they're ready for me to pay them some attention again, and I am excited for all of the above. Tired from heading into NaNo with insufficient-for-me ammunition, but hey, that's how we learn.

So, is there likely going to be some point in today's writing where toy with flipping over the metaphorical table, muttering an epithet and spending the rest of the day looking for graphic art resources and playing Sims 3? I'm counting on it. I'm also counting on hitting the magic number of words for the day, announcing "Done!" and collecting my Awesome Writer Chocolate Truffle that is reserved only for days that goals are made, and then sticking my nose in a good book.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week three of NaNo -where's my brain?

funny pictures - My  official  Monday  face
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Normally, I love Mondays. Seriously. Specifically Monday Mornings. Sure, Monday evening brings How I Met Your Mother, but it's the mornings that get me going. I am the dreaded morning person, up and doing stuff before the sun, so by the time evening rolls around, it's not uncommon for me to turn into a pumpkin somewhere in the middle of dinner, fighting valiantly to stay awake until the end of a favorite program, and then crash. Mornings, though, I can spring out of bed, head to a local coffee shop, obtain beverage and bagel and start pounding keys.

The difference here is that we're in week three (or four? Are there five weeks in November? Is it really Monday?) of NaNoWriMo. Although my stats page says that if I stick with my current pace, I will finish on time, there's still the anxiety of chipper posts from people announcing they wrote the entire fifty thousand words on their lunch break and want to keep going. New ideas are exploding everywhere and it's oh so fun and oh so fabulous and...yeeeah, about that.

Honestly, if you're reading this and the above applies to you, I will shake pompoms for you with great enthusiasm and if you catch me at the right moment, I will even include a marching band. I greatly admire the super productive and they deserve every bit of acclaim. Maybe some other year, that will be me, but this year, I'm the kitty above. Today, for example (or more specifically yesterday) I left my travel mug in a friend's car, which meant this morning found me rifling through conference tote bags because I thought I remembered a promotional sport bottle in there somewhere. The staff at the coffee shop have my traditional bagel and travel refill order down to a science and I am a creature of routine when it comes to starting the morning's work.

There have been days when I've found myself looking blankly at a friend, only to be told with a fond chuckle that it's okay; I've obviously used all my words for the day. Not, I should mention, because my head is that deep in the book -I love when that happens, though- but because pounding out my daily word quota (and note, I normally count pages, not words) is sucking my brain. I will admit that the discipline is my main reason for doing NaNo this year. Will the NaNo story live past December? Maybe. Too soon to say at this point, but I'm in it for the discipline, so I will do today's words today and deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes. I have learned that I need to do my blorch first, then make my outline, then it's time for actual readable writing. I need to be able to talk to other writers, online and in person, about my characters and story the same as I talk about people we know in real life. My characters are real; they may live in my head, but they are alive, and I need to talk about them. None of this is better or worse than anybody else's process, but it's mine and I embrace it and dance with it, even if it does end up looking like Victor Frankenstein dancing with the reanimated corpse of his beloved in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #73 - Reading the Movies

funny pictures - jumpy?
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We've all seen books adapted for the big screen, some successfully, sometimes not, but this week, we're looking at something different here. Namely, reading scripts or screenplay. When I was in high school and college, I did a lot of theater, so reading in the script format is very natural for me. I have had plays of my own performed, and it's something special to see the written word come to life through the interpretations of actors and director. Give two different actors the same script, or the same actor and the same script with a different director, and you'll come away with two totally different results. For that matter, different set design or costume choices will create yet different environments for the actors and spur the director to steer his/her ship in an entirely different direction. So, for me, reading a script or screenplay shows me the writer's vision at a purer form, like an acoustic performance of a song with an elaborate music video.

I spent the morning at a library book sale, where I picked up, among other items, a book covering the Kenneth Branagh film adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

While this dovetails nicely with my acquisition of Rowing Into the Wind, a film about Mrs. Shelley's writing of her famous work, and there will be a post on that later, but since the book includes the actual screenplay, I'll need to read that first. It got me thinking, though. I have the screenplay for my all time favorite romantic comedy, Love Actually, and read it about as frequently as I watch the movie.

During the time I spent in Star Trek: The Next Generation fandom, I bought several fanzines, many of the licensed novels, but only two scripts, and they are parts of my collection that I will not be parting with anytime soon. Both have romantic plots. but since they are main character/guest character pairings, neither can end well.

"The Outcast" provides, hands down, my favorite canonical relationship for the dashing Commander Riker.

While the complex romantic geometry of "The Host" means beautifully written heartbreak for all involved:

I do reread the scripts that I have, and have found that when I write my blorches (first very rough drafts)they follow screenplay format very closely. Since I always made notes in the margins on the scripts that I used, I'd love to have a peek at a script used by one of my favorite actors - what stood out to them, and what did they question? What did they want to change? Where did they need to give themselves reminders and why?

What about you? Have you read any scripts or screenplays? If you could have any script used by a favorite actor in a tv or movie productions, which one would you choose?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #73 - All in The Family

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Here in the USA, we're only days away from Thanksgiving, when families gather from far and wide to partake of culinary bounty and spend time in (or avoiding) each other's company. When I was growing up, such gatherings with more than one person under the age of twelve invoked the time honored tradition of putting on a show for the grownups. In some cases, to the extent of certain adults informing certain combinations of children that there will be no shows this time. Harumph. No, I am not over that, thank you for asking. Perhaps with the proper encouragement, my cousins and I could have followed in the footsteps of some of these famous families.

There's the brother/sister act of Derek and Julianne Hough:

More sibling action with Benji and Lacey Schwimmer:

Or Benji with cousin Heidi Groskreutz:

Who's their daddy? (or uncle?) This guy:

It's like father, like son when it comes to talent in the Ballas family with Corky and Mark:

Since I can name family members of mine who would do me bodily harm if I left out the Chmerkovskiy brothers, here they are:

I know I'm thankful for all of the families above. How about you?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #72 - Four Historical Hugh Grant Films...I think

funny pictures - I SED NO PEEKING  MAI PROJEKT!
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My husband sums up 'every movie Anna loves' as "Blah, blah, blah. This horrible war is ruining my love life. Oh look, here comes Hugh Grant. Let's have tea." He is not that far off. Which is why it was a very pleasant surprise to find the Miramax Critic's Choice four in one edition of four Hugh Grant films, all historical.

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain has been on my to-be-purchased list for quite some time now, so that would have been worth the price of admission alone, and I'd actually forgotten exactly who was in Restoration, but Hugh Grant and the court of Charles II? Pop the corn, dim the lights and no talking during the movie, please. Rowing With the Wind has Hugh Grant as Byron (hey, he played Chopin, so he can play Byron)in a story set during the conception of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Rounding out the collection is Sirens, which A) I had not known Hugh Grant was even in, B)I did know had Portia DiRossi in it, and C)is set in Australia in the 1920s, so bonus points for unusual setting.

Today's technical difficulties are brought to us by the internet and YouTube, possibly my laptop as well, so I can't vouch for the trailers embedded below, and Blogger doesn't think I need to see previews of my post. I do have popcorn at the ready, DH's schedule says he's working tonight, and four historical movies are at my disposal, so how -especially when trailers refuse to cooperate- does a person choose? I'll see a performance from a favorite actor no matter which I pick, and I'm interested in all four different settings. Old favorite first, or new discovery? Historical chronological order? Supporting role to starring role? Order in which films were, well, filmed? Alphabetical by title? Costumes? Atmospheres?

Sirens trailer:


Probably trailer or scenes from Rowing with the Wind...I think...

No trailer could be found for The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain, but click here for Wikipedia page.

How do you pick when faced with multiple films you want to see equally?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #72 -It's Electric

funny pictures - The Electric Mayhem almost broke up when Animal OD'd on Pixy Stix. Then they found Eugene.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

For those of us who lost power during Octsnowber/Snowtober/Winter Storm Alfred/other words not printable here but referring to the giant amount of snow that descended upon the northeast US in the last week of October, there was a great deal of happy dancing when our power came back on.

I will admit that Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" did indeed pop into my head when power was restored in our neck of the woods, and for a bit of Sims trivia, if I make an electronics store in my game, it is always called Electric Avenue. Always.

I don't remember being much into this song when it first came out (too busy walking my dinosaur) but I do love the lead singer's optimistic attitude:

To keep with the theme, there's Electric Light Orchestra:

and Electric Mayhem:

And dancers of electric boogie have some impressive moves:

IHere's hoping the winter will be warm and bright inside our house and all others.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Of Nor'easters and NaNo

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. Storm, aftermath of storm, recovery from storm, all in time for the month long exercise in creative insanity known as National Novel Writing Month. Last year was my first, and because of reasons above -and others- I had debated sitting this one out.

Normally, I like to have my story notebook all planned out, a detailed outline, sections for hero, heroine, villain if applicable, history, research notes, pertinent pictures, etc. This year? That didn't happen, and in many ways, it feels like I'm doing the detailed outline for my daily words. I miss my blorch.

Blorch is a word of my own creation, and it means the basic slapping of jumbly words on a page, exactly as it comes to me in my mind. Present tense, hither and yon, jumping around in the story timeline, in and out of POV, talking to myself, referencing (warning, do not click if you expect to get anything done for the next several hours)A blorch comes before an actual draft and allows me to then go through it with my collection of highlighters, sticky notes and define and number scenes, which then becomes my outline, and then I write. Life is funny sometimes and this year, all I came to NaNo with was a large spiral bound sketchbook with random notes scrawled freeform in multiple colors of Sharpie.

Hence the image you see above. That's a rough concept design of one of a pair of handwarmers (aka mitts, aka fingerless gloves) and it's appropriate for a number of reasons. I am tackling a pirate story this year, so the skull and crossbones is appropriate. The "Deal," though, that's a reminder that no matter how crazy things may seem, we get through them. Appropriate for this fumbling about in the mist of NaNo and recovering from a whomping nor'easter. So far, I'm making my daily word goal and should hit the requisite fifty thousand words by December 1st. Taking this one day at a time and seeing how it goes. If I end up turning out fifty thousand words of horrible trash, well, nobody has to see it but me, and I'll have done the equivalant of half a manuscript in one month. Pretty nifty right there.

So, the whole "deal" part...yeah, that's the thing. Show up at the keyboard. Open the document. Pound keys until the daily goal has been reached (to get 50k by the end of the month, I'm shooting for about 1660ish words per day, which is again different, since I normally count pages instead of words)- then I get a reward. I have found that I am eminently self-bribable. This time of year, cocoa is good. I don't know exactly where I'm going when I start the day's journey, but I have somewhat of an idea. Most likely, this will turn into the blorch, if I can convince myself it's okay to do that here - yes, I know nobody but me is going to see this, but head knowledge vs heart knowledge, mmkay? I'm getting there.

Are you NaNoing? Would you? Have you?