Accountability Tuesdays – Week 32

As mentioned yesterday before my little excerpt, this weekend has been more than a little busy. We spent the entire weekend visiting family and taking part in various events. We even spent a chunk of time just shopping around with the baby in tow. It was all a good time, and we ended it off with the baby’s first trip to a super-wavy beach (which was a blast), but it finalized in the most exhausted me you could imagine. I slept approximately ten hours last night, and I swear I could sleep at least ten more. But the world moves on, there are more things to do, and so I’ll have to just pretend that I slept twenty hours, okay? Okay.

Health and Body Image Goal

*insert slightly insane laughter here*

I actually probably lost a pound or two over the past four days, because that seems to happen whenever we spend a chunk of time visiting down home, but for the most part I can honestly say that this goal did not even exist in my mind this week. The only exercise I did was dragging the baby around, and the only non-fatty food I ate was the vegetables that we had with our steak on Sunday. And that trend isn’t likely to end for a little while yet because I have a children’s birthday party to go to this evening (sugar sugar sugar), and then sometime over the next week and a half we are planning on a shopping trip to New Brunswick (fast food, fast food, fast food). Wish me luck in not actually gaining a bunch more weight!

Editing Goal

I’m a bit up in the air on this one. I didn’t technically do any editing for my zombie apocalypse novel, since I’m focusing on trying to transcribe my notebooks right now. But then again, I’m technically editing as I’m transcribing. The transcribed stuff will likely still be revised and edited further once I’ve gotten everything properly organized into Scrivener, but I am editing bits and pieces as I’m typing them up, so I guess you could say I’ve been doing mini-edits? Yeah, let’s go with “mini-edits”.

1,000,000 Word Goal

I didn’t get as much writing in as I was hoping, because I grossly overestimated how much time I would be able to spend on my laptop while down home visiting people, but I still managed a chunk. By counting my transcribed words (which, I have to be honest, I still feel a little skeezy about, but whatever), I managed to eek out 17166 words. A fair bit of that is also The Artist’s Way exercises and tasks, of which I have many more to do this week, so hopefully next week’s word count will be as good as this one was!

And speaking of The Artist’s Way, I’d better go work on a bit of that while I’ve got a chance, before that children’s party I mentioned earlier. Later!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 28

My blog is not what you would call a “big deal”. My readers mostly consist of close friends and family members who click on the links that I post to Facebook. I get approximately 30 views a day on average, and it’s quite rare that any of those viewers bother to comment on any of my posts. And that’s okay…I’m still just budding, after all.

But since my blog is not exactly the “next big thing” in Internet entertainment, I can’t help but get a little giddy when people actually do drop by. This week, to my surprise, I got three new blog followers, as well as a handful of Twitter followers. It was a very pleasant surprise, so I thought I’d mention it and wave, “HI!” to the newbies who are dropping in here. Love you guys! Please keep coming! I’m so lonely! 😀

Health and Body Image Goal

Hahahahaha… Over the past 28 weeks I have not dedicated myself enough to see any really decent results. If you’ve been reading, you know this. I lost maybe 1 or 2 pounds, and a (small) area or two may have toned up a bit. And over the past week I believe I have somehow managed to undo even those tiny victories. I don’t know how it happened, but without gaining any actual weight (according to the scale) I’ve somehow managed to get bigger. Half of my clothes are tight and the other half I can’t get into without breaking the seams. Even my bathing suit refused to let me into it. I feel really rotten about it, if you want to know, but you probably don’t want to know, so let’s move on, shall we?

Editing Goal

I’m still plugging away at my supernatural romance, hoping to get it finished by the end of the month. I didn’t get to look at it much this week, since I spent a good chunk of the weekend away from home for a wedding, but I’m getting there, really. I swear.

In addition, because of what I’ve been reading in craft books and some tips I’ve been stumbling across online, I’ve got lots of ideas for the revision and editing of my zombie apocalypse novel when I get to it. I feel really good about making it a better novel over all. Very exciting.

1,000,000 Word Goal

I definitely didn’t get as much writing in this week as I had originally planned (*cough*hoped), but a few words are a few words, I suppose. I managed to squeak in 4490 words, which isn’t the worst I’ve done, anyway. I’ve been finding it hard to get myself in front of a computer these days. Also, I’ve been trying to read all the craft books that I got, which is slowing me down because I’m taking my time and trying to really understand what I’m reading. On the upside, what I’ve been reading so far is giving me ideas for blog posts, so there’s a small victory. 🙂

I completely botched the 750 Words challenge as soon as I got home from out West, but things are calming down now, so I think I’m going to return to it, if only to get some ramblings out of my head each morning. What I write there probably won’t be anything worth sharing, but it will keep me writing and get my brain flowing, or so I hope. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Until next week!

Fiction Fragment Fridays: Erased (Chapter 2 – Part 1)

I thought I’d return to Erased, since it’s something I can break into easy chunks and schedule ahead of time. Please keep in mind while reading that Erased was a NaNoWriMo project and as such has not been properly formatted/revised/edited/etc.

So anyway, please enjoy part 1 of chapter 2:

Some instinct in Toreshi had her sprinting toward the scream, bare feet padding on the shiny floor. She was about to burst through the first door she came to when the scream came again, further down the hall. Three more doors down she had come right upon the shriek and practically kicked the door open.

It was another identical room, but there was a person in this one, another young woman. And she was absolutely losing her mind.

“Hey!” Toreshi called as she rushed in the room, “Calm down, calm down!”

The girl continued to scream as she pulled at her bonds and bucked on the table, so Toreshi stopped trying to reason with her and began pulling the bonds off instead. As soon as she was free the other girl scrambled across the table and soon found herself collapsing on the floor in a heap, unable to stand on her own. With a shout of pain and a small whimper, she dragged herself into the corner of the room and looked up at Toreshi with something like suspicion in her eyes. “Who the hell are you?” she demanded in a croaking, sore-sounding voice.

Toreshi examined the girl for a moment, as she was as yet unsure what to say. The other girl was similar in build, but a little taller and much bustier, from what Toreshi could tell beneath the white pyjamas. She had shoulder-length hair of a fiery red shade, and her bright, ice-blue eyes had a very cat-like distinction to them. Overall, Toreshi thought she was a very classically beautiful young lady.

“I’m…not sure who I am, exactly,” Toreshi finally replied, clearing her throat a few times to get used to speaking. “But I can promise you that I’m not the one who put you here. I woke up in a room just like this.”

The girl looked wary. “Woke up?” she asked with one eyebrow slightly raised.

Toreshi rethought her phrasing. “Well, not woke up exactly…” she admitted, “It was more like…I wasn’t, and then I was…” She made a face to herself. “Do you get what I’m saying?”

The other girl nodded slightly. “I do, actually…”

“That’s how it was for me too.”

The male voice made the two women jump in alarm. Toreshi let out a little yelp as she whirled toward the door. Standing there was a man, older than the two women, but still in the prime of life. He was holding up both of his hands as though to show that he meant them no harm. He also, was in a set of the white pyjamas.

“Sorry,” he apologized, “I didn’t mean to startle you. I heard the scream and came to investigate.”

For the second time in as many minutes Toreshi found herself taking inventory of the newcomer. He was taller than either of the women, a good ten inches taller than Toreshi, and a little larger, but fit. He had short, dark brown hair and a goatee that was in desperate need of trimming, and he was squinting his hazel eyes as though he was having trouble seeing properly.

Toreshi noticed then that he had a note board tucked under his right arm. She gestured toward it while asking simply, “Name?”

He lowered his hands and shrugged a little. “The only word I can make out is ‘Bodhi’, but I can’t remember if that’s my name or not.” He seemed exceptionally calm about the entire ordeal. Without prompting, he reached back and grabbed the note board from outside the door of the room they were currently in. He glanced at the front page and then to the girl on the floor. “It’s you,” he explained, gesturing toward the photo, “It says Kattenya.”

The girl scrunched her nose up a bit. “Kattenya?” she questioned, “Sounds…weird.” She tried to push herself up again and when she slipped Toreshi rushed forward to help her. She murmured a quiet thanks as she threw her arm around Toreshi’s shoulders. “So we’ve got names…kinda. But what the hell is going on here?”

“I just…’woke up’ a little while ago,” Bodhi offered with another shrug, “I had only just found this,” He lifted his note board. “When I heard you scream.” He took a cursory glance up and down the hallway before turning back to the women. “It’s a rather quiet facility, isn’t it?”

Toreshi raised an eyebrow and nodded.

Bodhi stepped forward and took Kattenya’s other arm. “Shall we move on together?” he asked.

The next half a dozen rooms they checked were identical, but empty. Most looked as though they’d never been inhabited, but they came across two that had loosened bonds on the tables and loose tubing hanging from the IV racks. They found no note boards.

As they walked, Kattenya’s legs became more steady and eventually she took her arms from around the others’ shoulders and began to walk of her own accord. The three were all rather quiet, but for different reasons. Bodhi seemed to be a creature of unusual calm, whereas Kattenya was looking around nervously and Toreshi was biting her tongue to keep from screaming.

Eventually they found themselves, mercifully, at the end of the hallway. There was one final door, marked with a strange phrase: Testor Cleansing Room.

With a glance first at each of the women, Bodhi turned the doorknob and pushed through.

It was similar in appearance to any sports team’s locker room, but unnaturally clean. Like the hallway and rooms behind them, the walls, ceiling, and floor were all bright white and extraordinarily pristine. To both the left and the right were rows shiny silver lockers. Toreshi counted at least twenty. At the back of the room, spanning the entire width of the room, was a frosted glass wall, about four feet high. Above the frosted glass they could see sparkling silver shower heads. There was a large shelving unit filled with fluffy white towels to the edge of the shower area. Nothing about the room indicated if it was for men, women, or whether it was unisex, but Toreshi suspected it was the latter.

Kattenya stepped cautiously up to the first locker. She examined the area where the lock would normally be; instead, there was a small name tag and what appeared to be a thumbprint analyzer. She ran her finger along the name tag. “It’s you,” she said, turning to Bodhi.

With a look of keen interest, Bodhi stepped forward and examined the name on the tag. “Hmmm,” he mumbled. After what seemed to the women like a long moment, he pressed his thumb to the analyzer. After only a second and a faint beep, the locker door popped quietly open.

Toreshi and Kattenya leaned over Bodhi’s shoulders. There wasn’t a great deal in the locker, but Bodhi couldn’t help letting out a small cry of happiness as he reached in a snagged a pair of black, square-rimmed glasses and shoved them on his face. “Oh that’s so much better,” he sighed, holding his hands out in front of his face and smiling at the women.

Toreshi gave him a cursory smile and gestured back to the locker. “Looks like there’s some clothes in there as well,” she told him. They were the only other items in the locker.

Kattenya was already examining the rest of the lockers. They all had strange names on them that didn’t quite sound like real names. In the second row she found hers, and pointed a few down to Toreshi’s. Together, the women pressed their thumbs to the analyzers and listened to the quiet beep and gentle pop as the lockers opened.

Fiction Fragment Fridays: Erased (Chapter 1 – Part 1)

For my first Fiction Fragment Friday I decided to share the first half of the first chapter of a little something that no one aside from myself has seen yet. It was my NaNovel for 2012; I barely broke the surface on it, but someday when I finish working on my current manuscript and work-in-progress, I’ll definitely be getting back to it.

Erased is a sci-fi fantasy about a group of people who are “erased” by the Galactic Militia for reasons they have yet to discover. They have to rediscover themselves while attempting to discover what was done to them, and for some of them these discoveries will not be at all pleasant.

So without further ado, and keeping in mind that this is a very rough draft that has not been revised or edited in any way, here is Part 1 of Chapter one of Erased:

It wasn’t quite like waking up. If she had to describe the feeling, it was almost as though she’d been awake the entire time, aware of a living state, and yet unaware of herself or anything around her. She had no sense of time passing, or of the world around her, but she had a vague idea of stillness, silence.

When she “woke up”, her eyes were already open, staring, unblinking. It was as though she had been blind but suddenly was able to see, and what she saw was a perfectly pristine white ceiling. There was no sound, no noise aside from a steady, constant hum.

It took a few moments (minutes? hours?) for her brain to catch up with her eyes and realize what she was seeing. She blinked a few times, thoughts muddled, and tried to shake her head, but it wouldn’t move. For a moment she thought with calm surprise that she must be paralyzed, but a few seconds later she realized that she was, in fact, tied down. She struggled against the bonds and found them quite firm. She was becoming more aware now, and as such she was beginning to panic a little. She could feel thick leather bonds at her wrists, ankles, and waist, and something else, cold and hard, around her head and over her mouth (so she couldn’t scream?). She couldn’t move her head more than half an inch, so she strained her eyes as much as she could. She couldn’t see much. She was laying on some kind of small metal table and there was an IV rack standing near her head. She could see tubes hanging from the IV bags, but couldn’t feel whether they were actually attached to her body or not. The room seemed to be otherwise empty, except for a large mirror on the wall to her left, but from this position she couldn’t see into it.

She took a deep breath to calm her rapidly accelerating heart beat. Calm down, she thought to herself, Think. Get free.

It took a while, slowly examining what she could in her prone state, but she eventually found that she could twist her right wrist just far enough to feel the buckle on her bond.

It was slow, painstaking, and several times she had to stop, take a breath, and calm her heart again, but eventually she managed to prise the leather through the buckle and free her right hand. Once one limb was free, the others came quickly. It took her a few moments to figure out the hard bond around her face, but she she finally found the small clasp and ripped herself free. She found herself practically dying to let out a good scream. She restrained herself, taking a few large gulps of air instead. It felt good to be able to breathe through her mouth.

Sitting up felt strange. Her body was stiff, sleepy, weak. Her legs, especially, felt limp and thin, as though they hadn’t been used for a while and the muscles had died away. She tried wiggling her toes. She succeeded, but they had a dull ache, as one might experience while stricken with the flu. Upon closer examination of her body, she found that the IV tubes were, in fact, jammed into her skin in several spots. She ripped two tubes out of the underside of each elbow, and three more out of her wrists. Small droplets of blood pooled at each spot, but she felt better with the tubes gone.

Tentatively, she slid herself to the edge of the steel table and reached a toe out to the floor. Gently, slowly, she eased forward, only to grab desperately at the table as her knees buckled beneath her. She could barely support her own weight between her legs and arms, so she let herself bump down to the floor.

For what seemed like a long time, she stretched her limbs, leaned them into the walls and floors, tried to make them wake up. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that, logically, if she’d been prone on the table for any length of time, she’d need extensive physiotherapy to get her muscles working properly again. But in another, further back part of her mind, somehow she knew that the rules didn’t apply to her. It was a silly, childish notion, and yet she knew it to be true. So she stretched, and pushed, and soon enough she was lifting herself back up, standing on achy legs, helping herself steady with achy arms.

It was only at this point that she finally thought to look into the mirror.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

70. Writing an ugly draft vs editing as you write.

The people behind National Novel Writing Month would have a field day with this one.

There are a lot of arguments for both sides of this conflict, but mostly it comes down to personal preference. Most writers I know tend to edit as they write because silencing your internal editor can be a herculean feat that hardly feels worth it. Then again, there are plenty of writers out there who subscribe to the NaNoWriMo method, which is basically “worry about quantity now, quality later”. I’ve also been told by fellow writers that there’s a specific way you should go about writing a novel: planning, ugly first draft, revised second draft, any number of further revised drafts until your story plays out exactly as you want it to, and final editing. I don’t know about you, but just looking at that system makes me want to gather up everything I’ve ever written and sacrifice it to the god of bonfires.

Like I said, it mostly comes down to preference. Some people can follow steps like the ones above and be perfectly happy and content. Other people completely lose the ability to move on with the story if their internal editor is screaming at them to go back and change things. Additionally, some people can revise their work a hundred times and still find stuff they want/need to change, while others manage to hit the bulls-eye with the first shot and just have to worry about editing. It all really depends on what kind of writer you are.

As for myself? I’m still working on exactly what kind of writer I am. When I was younger I could never finish anything I wrote because I would regularly find major issues with my plot or decide that I wanted to make a significant change, and instead of dealing with it as I continued to write, I would start the damn thing over from scratch. In fact, my current work in progress is a story that I’ve completely rewritten from scratch no fewer than six times over the years. I’ve never reached the end. In fact, until about a month ago I’d never even reached the middle. My internal editor is just that powerful…she is a cruel witch who should be burned for her crimes.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. So as I was saying, my default setting seems to be edit-as-you-go, but as I’ve just described that’s not always a good thing for me. What really showed me the error of my ways was when I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month. I really wanted to reach that 50,000 word goal, and I knew that my current habits would not allow for that, so for one month I let myself just write. No matter how many mistakes I made or how awful some sentences sounded, I just forced myself to keep writing. Guess what happened? No, I didn’t finish my story. But I wrote 50,000+ words toward it, which was way better than I’d ever done before.

So clearly adopting the “ugly first draft” method was good for me, but even after several more NaNoWriMo’s I determined that it wasn’t something I could strictly adhere to. These blog posts are a great example. I edit these posts as I go, and it works just fine for me. Maybe the wording isn’t always as good, my thought process as organized as it might be if I were to draft my post first and then revise it, but I’m happy with what I produce. Alternatively, I continue to force myself to (mostly) ignore my internal editor (as she screams at me from her burning stake) while I’m writing fiction because NaNoWriMo has taught me that its more important to get the full story written than to make that one chapter absolutely perfect the first time around.

So I guess the short answer is that I do ugly first drafts and I edit as I go. In this, as with many things, I am a rebel. Sexy, huh? Yeah…you know it.

Cry of the Wolf

I got an email yesterday. Not an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence, I know. But the content of that email was part of a series of emails I’ve been getting for several years now. This particular one stated that a user of FanFiction.net had added my story, “Cry of the Wolf” to their favorite list.

“Cry of the Wolf” is a Harry Potter fan fiction I wrote and published to FanFiction.net back in July of 2004. I rewrote and republished it on a newer FanFiction.net account in 2008. Over the course of the past 8 years and those two accounts this story has received a total of 286 reviews, 279 favorites, and 82 follows. Every few months, without fail, I’ll get a notification email to let me know that someone has stumbled across the story and either reviewed it, made it a favorite, or followed it in hopes of more chapters be added in the future (although the story is unofficially finished). This never ceases to amaze me because it was just something I threw together back when I first discovered fan fiction and decided to try my hand at it.

Since the string of notifications never seems to end, obviously there must be something to this story, so I thought I’d share the link here to the revised version. Please note that this story contains spoilers if you somehow have yet to read the Harry Potter series, and it is also a Remus/Sirius slash fiction (boy love) if you’d rather stay away from that kind of thing.

But if you’re interested, here you go:

Cry of the Wolf – Version 2

Enjoy!