wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
Did a little writing this week and a little painting. A little here, a little there still makes "not much," but at least I don't feel like I fell totally off the creative wagon. I'm still hanging on by my toenails.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that... )

I refrained from it here, but any time I post something artistic, I feel the almost overwhelming desire to criticize and pick apart what I've done, to acknowledge and point out its faults before other people can think them.  Is anyone else possessed of this need to qualify whatever he/she does?
wayfaringwordhack: (writing: plot problem)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] frigg, I'm actually going to post a snippet this week. I'm finding it hard to get back into the habit of sharing, maybe because I'm so dissatisfied with what I'm writing these days.

Ah well, this too shall pass. It always (eventually) does.

From To Be Undone, a trouble chapter:

        Though none should be able to detect my approach, the sitra does. An expanse of green covers the valley from the stony feet of Kohinoor’s mountains to the shining mere that domes Teerth. It looks like a lawn of lush grass, but it is not. It is the sitra, its skin, or fur, or tentacles, or whatever Udhr intended it to be; and through those myriad green feelers, the sitra senses all who would enter the Holy City.
        Even though I am floating through the air, more intangible than smoke, the green ripples and hummocks, and a face swells up like a cresting wave to confront me before I reach the mere.
        I halt, out of reach of the waving, questing stalks.
        “Who seeks to enter the Holy City?” the sitra asks.
wayfaringwordhack: (writing: scrabble - novel)
Argh! Yesterday was a blur for me. I was in bed by 8:30, totally wiped out, never a thought in my head about the need to post a snippet. Since I've been offline and haven't done one for so long, I'm going to post a snippet a day late.

I've been working on To Be Undone,* a novel that is about 3/4 finished. It has been languishing on my hard drive for years, and I've decided I want something f.i.n.i.s.h.e.d, like, NOW! A trilogy is not going to give me that satisfaction, so I've dusted off TBU and am tackling the ending, which has been stumping me all this time.

Toril fixes the storm of detritus that Udhanil has created around me. Fear widens his eyes, but he does not flee. Instead, he grabs his spear and charges.

“I don’t want him dead until I know why,” I snarl to the wind.

Toril jerks to a halt, his heel catching on the circle of rocks delineating the consecrated ground. At the sound of my voice, his expression shifts to surprise. He cannot see me at the wind’s center; he is just reacting in his normal fight-first-question-never manner. After regaining his balance, he plants his legs shoulder-width apart, spear raised.

* Talk about depressing. I just looked back through my journal and see an unkept promise I made to have a completed version of this ready on Sept 1st...of 2011. :-<
wayfaringwordhack: (Default)
For the past few days, we've had unseasonably hot weather, peak-of-summer hot, not your typical balmy Indian summer temperatures.  So this morning it was a surprise to wake up to a day that resembled true October.  A very nice surprise, indeed, to find out our new home is just as capable of offering me foggy goodness as Sancerre was. 

So, what should one do on a misty October morning in Le Teich?

How about pack a breakfast picnic and head to the port, which is nestled next to the ornithological park*...

...on a bicycle, of course!

We just got the bike seat for Soëlie, and I think she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Here's hoping we have some more nice weather so we can continue taking advantage of our new environs.

Tomorrow, the beach...

*This area is providing great inspiration for a locale in To Be Undone, and exploring, observing, breathing the air is getting me excited to work on the project. Sadly, the locale in question is already one of the firmest in my mind and is well-represented in the book. Still, maybe re-entering the story through this place will ground me enough to make the other locales come alive.

wayfaringwordhack: (Default)
Just got home today from a quick visit to my mother-in-law's.  Bet you didn't even realize I was gone, did you? :P

Poor N'djema realized it, all right. She snuck into the house and hid in an off-limits bedroom while I was loading the car. She was locked in since Monday afternoon with no food and no water (we always keep the toilet lid down); but she was fine, just very much in need of attention.  Our couch (um, our landlord's couch), however, is far from fine seeing as how she used it as a litter box. One crap and a whole lot of pees.  Half of the seat is drenched in cat urine.  We have two blankets on the couch to protect it from baby messes, but sadly, they did little to nothing for the cat pee. Anyone have any handy tricks for getting rid of the stench?  Please? Why oh why didn't she use the bathmat or the doormat, or even our bed, where we have a waterproof mattress cover??? ETA: The couch seat is a bench with stapled down upholstery, not removable cushions. :(

Soëlie is eleven months old today. She very much did NOT enjoy spending most of said day in the car. However, when we were almost to Bordeaux, she started clapping. A first! My mil said that she and S were clapping along to songs this morning but that S was not very adept at it. She must have been mulling over how to do it because she had the hang of it in the car. Here she is going at it in the backyard, but I didn't have time to tell her it is easier without an oak leaf in hand before the phone rang and cut the photo session short. :P

I've decided that I need to print out what I have thus far of TBU.  I work better on paper, and I think having the physical MS in hand will help me wrangle my thoughts into line about what needs to be done. I usually get excited after doing paper edits, so I'm hoping that gives an additional boost. This is going to be an "anything goes" editing pass, meaning anything in need of fixing can be fixed rather than, say, reading just to get into the story or reading for plot fails only, etc.  Since I'm doing this to generate story love, any kind of inspiration to fix or tweak is welcome.

Art journaling!  I knew I was forgetting something when I hit the post button.  I've been faithfully journaling, through the moves and all, and have only missed a few days here and there due to said moves and one spat of Funk and Fatigue.  I tried doing zentangles* for several days because I had read that some people do them for meditation. I had hoped to use them to enter a book-brainstorming-friendly zone, but that, alas, did not happen. I find it unrelaxing in the extreme** to constantly wonder if I'm doing some "approved, established" pattern correctly.  I also found doing tangles was stifling my personal creativity. For the past few days, I've been trying to do TBU-related sketches, especially creatures and artifacts from the world in order to foster book love...

I'll let you know how that goes.

* You can google zentangles to find out more about them. You might be as unimpressed as [livejournal.com profile] frigg was. :P

** I first typed "in the stream." Um, yeah. That too. :D

wayfaringwordhack: (Elmrik)
My MC from To Be Undone and her mother  )

I may have to continue using my art journaling time to work on book-related sketches. I feel better equipped to write certain scenes now that I have Phayn's and Bhinadmi's faces down on paper.


19 Jun 2011 11:24 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (pinwheel man)
 Aside from Soëlie getting sick, I feel like it has been raining blessings on our household for the past few weeks.

While I was having a wonderful time in the States, J was training for the embassy service. He did so well that his instructors invited him to participate in a second, more specialized training.

Also, he got a call from a union friend who gave him a heads up that we are MOVING TO BORDEAUX!!!!!!!! 

The "99.99%" in the subject line is because the official telegram hasn't been published yet, but still, MOVING!

I don't know if exclamation points can express how excited about this I am.  J is fed up with the place we are in now and has been saying that he refuses to spend another winter in this apartment. This official move for work means that we will a) get to find a better home, b) won't have to come back to Sancerre for a 3rd time after J returns from his embassy missions, c) will get to discover another region of France.

So hip hip hooray!

Oh, he starts work in Bordeaux Sept 1st, so that means we are going to have a very busy summer. At the end of June we'll go to Bordeaux to house hunt, and then we'll drive straight to Carcassonne for a family wedding on July 2.  Sunday the 3rd we have to come back home because from the 4th-9th, Julien has another training in Rouen. 

Between house hunting and packing, I have to apply for S's US citizenship before moving further away from Paris (just easier to get it down when Paris is only 2hr drive away).  [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume  and [info]sunflower_sky , you were both right; all I have to do is file a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.  I do have to go in in person with S, though, to get it validated.

And, remember that Sept 1st dealine I have for my finished draft of TBU?  Yeah, that too...

A promise

25 May 2011 12:07 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
Many, many years ago, my husband agreed to let me stay home and write.  Many, many years ago, after typing "The End" on my first novel, I realized that my perfectionism was going to stand in the way of me ever getting something out the door and into the hands of a possible future agent or publisher. Still, I worked vigilantly at revising and trying to improve that manuscript, until one day I decided to heed the advice of moving on.  And move on I did, to To Be Undone, my second book. And then moving on didn't seem so hard, so before even finishing To Be Undone, I moved on to a shinier idea, The Bitter River.  And when the research proved to be intensive, too intensive for me to carry out in Mayotte, I moved on yet again to Witherwilds, a trilogy.  I seem to have escalating ambitions if not an escalating desire to finish and publish. I want to finish Witherwilds--I can finish Witherwilds--but looking at the time frame needed to do so discourages me. Not for my sake but for the sake of that patient man I mentioned in the first line, my loving, generous husband.

I fall into the category of writer who would like to be published more for the sake of others than for herself.  Yes, I'd like to get my stories out there, but I'm pretty tickled just to get feedback from betas.  I know that can't compare to having one's book out there for the whole world to stumble across and, hopefully, love, but still.  However, I want to get published for Julien. I need to get published for him, for his faith in me, for the time and financial and moral support he's given me through the years. I know that unless I go the self-publishing "indie" route, getting my book out there is not something I can control.  But I can control some things, such as finishing.

And so, on our trip to the south, I promised Julien that I would have a clean, solid draft of To Be Undone finished by September 1.  I also promised that said manuscript will be ready with a query to be sent out to at least 3 agents by November 1st.

There, I've done it. Made my promise public.  Don't hesitate to help me stick to it. 

Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] frigg ; looks like you'll be waiting a while longer for volume 2 of Witherwilds...
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
Despite going to bed last night with To Be Undone firmly in my thoughts, my dreams instead turned to a meeting with an Assyriologist who wanted me to visit the Louvre* and study the Assyrian artifacts there.  She did not have a very good opinion, I deduced from her expression, of Jean Bottéro,** which seemed odd given that he was a renowned expert in the field. This dream deals directly with my ms The Bitter River, which I am keen to get wrapped up as well, but the research, the research, it is monstrous!

Then, in my waking-dozing state this morning, my thoughts were filled with Witherwilds and things I needed to remember to incorporate or things my sleepy brain found to be genius. My waking mind is not so sure.

This morning, however, I did something stupid that brought TBU back to the forebrain. I scooped a drowning wasp out of a pot of dishwater with my bare finger. I got a sting in form of thanks, and that ouchie reminded me that Phayn, the MC of TBU, is handy with a blowgun. I need to make sure she uses it a bit more in the opening chapters.

* This is a good idea actually, and a trip to Paris for research purposes is in order.

** I'm currently reading one of Bottéro's books, The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia,  by Jean Bottéro and Teresa Lavender Fagan.
wayfaringwordhack: (plot problem)
I believe I already posted about this, say, oh, three years ago, but I can find no trace of it after scouring my tags. So, you get the dilemma presented to you again, with my apologies. But my flist has evolved in those three years and perhaps one of you out there might have new insight to give me.

So, as you clever people will have deduced by now, I have a problem.  I'm returning my attention to my ms To Be Undone, and I find myself wondering, yet again, how I can tackle the pronoun issue for my genderless beings, the Fravardin. I have a very good reason for not giving them a gender, but I won't go into here so as not to muddy the thinking waters.

I don't particularly feel drawn to the idea of using "it"* to describe the Fravardin. Imagine the gymnastics and ridiculous repetitions I would have to perform to keep from sounding like the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs: It puts the lotion on its skin.

Or a less tongue-in-cheek example from the WIP: The High Fravardin trailed its fingers over each mask, lingering on the curve of the girl’s cheek. It had carved and tinted it itself, working from the memory that, Ijad willing, would be expelled today.

Yes, for the second "it" I can use mask again, but let's face it, sometimes, in a novel-length work, it is going to be downright awkward to keep repeating either character names or avoiding using direct and indirect pronouns.

A solution I had come up with before was to copy a system I came across on the net, the Spivak pronouns. This did not receive an especially warm reception when I posted a few chapters to the OWW a while back.  I know that crits are hit or miss, anyhow, but would this avant-garde pronoun system make you put down a work? How about if the sections where the pronoun use is a bit heavier are extremely short?

Have you any alternatives to offer? I'd love hearing any advice and thoughts on the matter.
* I know Neil Gaiman uses "it" to decent effect in Neverwhere in regards to his angel Islington, but I have more beings than that and I'll have to use the pronoun system more frequently.
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

Yes and no.  In The Traveler's Daughter, Bria's character is very much informed by her looks. She basically should have been given to another people to raise, a people who resembles her more closely, but her goddess had other ideas for her.  Hence she has a childhood and adolescence along The Ugly Duckling lines.

In To Be Undone, characters have different physiques according to their castes, but apart from a minor thing, appearance doesn't play a major role.

Apart from having a physical type clear in my mind, I couldn't tell you what most of my characters in Witherwilds look like. Shocking, I know.
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
18. Favorite antagonist and why!

I don't particularly like writing antagonists. I guess because of that, they don't often figure among my favorite characters. That my stories don't often have the "recommended" protag/antagonist dynamic* makes it a doubly hard-to-answer question. 
I guess I would say Behrouz of To Be Undone. He is willing to do pretty reprehensible things in order to bring about a change that is for the ultimate good of all. I think a lot of people in life go wrong in this way. They have good intentions, but they become monsters in trying to bring about the change they desire. It makes him comprehensible to me in ways that other antagonists are not (frex, Valsidire in The Traveler's Daughter, who acts out of hunger for power).

* I'm referring to the writing advice that states that the antagonist stands directly in the protag's way and the antagonist deliberately and step-by-step thwarts the protag's advance or achievement. 
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
13. What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

I would have to say the cultures--yes, plural--from To Be Undone. Each culture is very different and very connected to its place in the world. It is interesting to play with the rigidity and beliefs of each society that Phayn, the heroine, encounters.

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

The overall form of the world is dictated by the story, ie what I need to happen for the story to develop as I see it.  Frex, in The Traveler's Daughter, I wanted two continents connected by an isthmus to show the relation between the lands and inhabitants. Twin goddesses are the respective creators and patrons of these lands, yet they are still different. In To Be Undone, I took the idea of story informing world even further and there are geological differences that reflect a caste system. In Witherwilds, I had to plan two geographical features to incorporate for the plot to make sense.

So, yeah, plot is a big deal for me when designing a world. I plan on mapping out some floor plans, cities, etc. (something I don't normally do), but haven't done it yet. 

To see the maps that I have, you can check out the links in my Day 12 post.
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you'd like to share?

Hmmm. I’ve loved all the universes I’ve worked with because I love places, love going to new ones, discovering things about old ones. Maybe because I seem to have a wayfaring gene. But where did I do the best job in building my own world???

Setting has always been important to me, the creation of it more so. Each of my creations have a soft-spot in my heart.

With the planet of Trillix, in The Traveler’s Daughter, I was less adventurous with what I invented. I had a lot of fun with my map of the storyworld, but I just scratched the surface of what "place" entails. I also chose the route of being influenced by actual cultures and worlds. But because it was my first novel, I am still fond of that place and it seems very real to me.

With Shamindor, of To Be Undone, I let the world inform the story and really created some unusual things and concepts. Here and here are two different views of it. However, I haven't spent enough time there, and the things that make the storyworld different also make it challenging to write. Very challenging. I do look forward to going back to it, though, and getting to know it better.

Witherwilds is the world that I have tried to make 100% my own, even down to creating languages and writing systems (though I am still working on Soqoli) for the two principle cultures. Funnily enough, I didn’t start with a map as I did in my other worlds. I have the rough geography in mind because climate informs culture, but I feel that the places are more well-rounded because I’ve had to think them through from the ground up without modeling them on those existing in our world. I still have lots of things to figure out and that excites me. I love the discovery and planning processes, and because I'm doing them so intensely on this project, I believe I'm probably doing the best job with it.
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? That's the way I feel about how characters occur to me.  I cannot think of an instance where a character idea came to me that was devoid of any kind of situation or context. I often have what I think of as a "flash," in which a person plus action/setting stamps itself on my brain in vivid detail.

Sometimes, I have only to turn my attention to the person and their personality and past and possible future come pouring out.  Other times, I have to ask the questions: "who are you?" "what are you doing here?" "what do you want?" to help form the character in my mind. A third type of creation comes after an idea.  Meaning, a what-if or an event occurs to me, and I have to ask what kind of characters belong with those circumstances. So process really depends on how fully formed the characters and their needs are at the beginning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, characters and their more-or-less complete story arcs occur to me a LOT more easily now that I've been writing for a while.

Under the cut, I've detailed what came first character or plot for each of my WIPs and planned future novels.

Read more... )
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

I’m going to assume this question is asking how many POVs because, really, I do not feel like counting the entire cast that occupies the space between my ears in that thing that passes for my brain.

So, POVs:

The Traveler’s Daughter - four: three females, one male.
To Be Undone - three: one female, two males
The Bitter River - This one is a bit different. Male narrator, but letters, diary entries, and a manuscript-in-process make up a large part of the tale. The bulk of these are told from the perspective of two other males and one female.
Witherwilds - In book one, there are five: three females, two males.

Let’s say, then, that I have sixteen, split evenly between females and males. I don’t have a preference, and apparently my stories back that up. However, in most cases, I’ve found male characters easier to write. Whether I do them believably is another matter. For some reason, I feel less pressure when writing men. My immediate response when I wonder why is that I *know* I don’t know what it is like to be a son, a father, a bachelor, a poor man or rich. I feel freer to get in a guy’s head and just start making stuff up. 
wayfaringwordhack: (scrabble - novel)
Since my brain goes into painful convulsions any time I contemplate crafting a story (ie writing actual prose), I'm thinking now may be the time to revisit one of my shelved drafts.  In this case, To Be Undone.

I believe I'm going to try out Holly Lisle's "How To Revise Your Novel" course. I'll let you know how I find it. (If you keep up with my journal, you'll know that I loved her Language Clinic)

From what I understand, the first step in that course will be to figure out what I was trying to say in To Be Undone so that I can see how the book I wrote differs from the one I meant to write.

On Thursday, Julien and I went for a walk around a lake (well, he ran; I walked), and in the 35 minutes it took me to circle the water, I only came up with half of a logline for the story. I did see my theme pretty clearly, so I'll need to see how that measures up to what actually finished on the page.

Oy.  I've got my work cut out for me.

I've heard the course is intensive and time-consuming.  Maybe I won't be able to tackle it immediately.  And certainly not before our move.

More about that in my next post.
wayfaringwordhack: (paper flames)
I just finished the second draft of my second-ever WIP, To Be Undone, which involved a major rewrite from the first slapdash NaNo effort. The total word count is 69,010. Looks like I'll have some plumping up to do in my next draft. Never fear. It is in no danger of getting as [Poll #1029768]
wayfaringwordhack: (the reader - fragonard)
...who 2/3-3/4 of the way into a wip feels the need to stop and reread the whole project again, even if I've been working steadily on it and it should all, theoretically, still be fairly fresh in my mind (specifically because the dratted thing is under 60K)?

I have this overwhelming, paralyzing sense of *needing* to reread it because I feel l'm waffling all over the place. However, if I do reread, I may not be content to make notes of the genre, "flesh this out; remember to add detail F; make X clearer, so Y is foreshadowed," etc. I may get sucked into to polishing and I just don't want that right now. This is not the draft for that. This is the draft for forward motion, and the reread impulse seems contrary to that. I. just. want. to. finish. and. set. it. aside. YESTERDAY!

I don't believe the story is too *big*--it is rather straightforward, linear, and contained--so from whence does this I-have-to-reread-NOW! feeling come?  


wayfaringwordhack: (Default)

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