Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fuzzy outlines

Picture: The dolphin statue at Fort Crockett Park on the seawall. Hurricane Ike washed out the sand and rocks supporting the concrete here, and you see the result. They're going to be re-doing it sometime in the sort of near future, so I wanted to get a picture of it in its deconstruction. You can see how so much was knocked down and around and, well, ruined... and hasn't been fixed yet.

Mostly I write blogs about my life. Because I don't often think profound thoughts, or if I do, I'm nowhere near a computer and by the time I reach mine, I have forgotten what I thought of. I forget to write the thought down anywhere else too, like my "notebook-o-lists" or whatever else I might have.

Anyway, a lot of times, thoughts are springboarded from other blogs, which I haven't been reading much, while I have been in the deadline cave (and with it being so cloudy outside, Boy is it Cavelike today). But I read one today. It's a week or two old, and it's a good blog by one Ali Hale on Three Words That Will Help You Finish Any Writing Project.

Her words--which I am now going to take and riff on--are: Outline, Deadline, and Lifeline.

Ali apparently mostly writes short things. Articles, blog posts, that sort of thing.

I suck at writing short things, except for blog posts (and even then they tend to be long) and newspaper columns. Mostly I write novels. I just finished (on Saturday!) my 8th.

The process has taught me yet again, the importance of these three things.

FYI, I hate those outline things we had to do back in school, with the Roman numerals and letters and numbers and such. But I really discovered with this book, Heart's Magic, when I was struggling so hard with the plot, that I cannot just fly into the mist. I have to have something.

I've used a lot of different frameworks for outlining. The Hero's Journey (from Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey); Syd Fields' turning points method. I had just bought Save the Cat by Blake Snyder when I learned I didn't have to complete the entire story cycle in HM and pulled out the extra book's worth of plot, so I used his outline format. Pretty much the same as the others, but a little different way of thinking, which seemed to unstick me.

All I had, when I started putting the story back together, was one page of notes. One loose-leaf notebook page, one side only. It's not particularly neat. In some places, all I had was a question mark, that I filled in with a tiny note later. That didn't even turn out to be what I did in that slot. And later, I did add another sheet (of printer paper) where I wrote down scenes that could fit in each section. (these are my pages-the scene list on left, & "outline" on the right) I didn't put all of those in. But whenever I got stuck, I had that page in my file folder that I could look at and see where I might/needed to go next.

I essentially wrote this book in 10 weeks, people. I struggled with it for twice that long. Because I didn't have a decent outline. (Which was because I was trying to squeeze too much in.) There are some people who can't work from an outline. I don't know many of them, and I now know that I am definitely one of them. It's not much of an outline. Fuzzy and amorphous-blob outlines will work too. But they're outlines.

I'm going to have to riff on Deadlines & Lifelines another day... Have to go work. My deadline is tomorrow. Plan to e-mail it today.

Blogging while Printing

I am printing out the book now, and have to babysit the printer, in case the ink runs out, or the paper runs out, or it jams. So I figured I would blog while I printed.

I print the ms out to revise, because I miss less stuff that way. Problem is, it's printing back to front, so I can't start reading it from the beginning, (which is where you need to start, if you're reading for continuity) until it finishes. Oh well.

I went for a walk this a.m., actually climbed down the steps to walk on the beach, in the water, and got out there before 8. (Usually I'm a little after.) I had to wait for a lot of traffic to pass before I could get out of the car, because I was so early. (I don't like walking long distances in flipflops, and I wanted to walk in the water, so I drove. If you can follow my logic here.) And the first thing I saw when I got out on the seawall was these guys here, lying on the bare pink granite of the jetty, (hold on--paper reload) exercising.

I thought at first they might be some of the beach patrol lifeguards, but they never got in the water, and the guards always swim as part of their workout. Plus, they usually work out carrying those floaty lifesaver belts. Now I'm thinking these guys might be part of a Marine reserve detachment that got back from Iraq on Monday, running to stay in shape.

It's still cloudy this a.m. There was just that one line of pink-tinged sky while I was out. Lots of wind blowing onshore, making a fair bit of surf. (We never have a LOT.) Water's green almost all the way in--means good fishing.

I did see all the usual culprits in the bird kingdom while I was out. Laughing gulls, all white-headed since it's fall. They were already mostly white-headed in August, though. (They have black heads during mating season.) There were willets and a couple of sanderlings (tall and short sandpiper birds, respectively). I saw cormorants and pelicans fishing. But I was very excited to see not just one snowy egret, but two out surf fishing.

You can just see, I think, on the legs of the single egret, that they turn yellow about halfway down. That's the snowy's "golden slippers." The original egret, in the first pic, is the one in the back in the other pic. Don't know if they're parent/child or "just friends."

Another stop for putting in more paper. Had to go get more out of the box. I'm almost out of paper to recycle...you know, print on the back after it's been printed on the front.

I have to fill in some more here, because I'm having trouble fitting all the pictures in, and I wanted to show you the picture of the TWO egrets. They don't come to the beach side of the island very often, though I've seen them a lot over by the bay and port. They like to perch on the lines tying boats up to the docks, and watch the fish. I don't know that I've ever seen one jump off into the water to catch one, though.

And there is my foot in the water. See? I was out there, walking, in the water with no shoes. The water's still very warm, and it was nice and cool with the strong breeze. Humidity was still about 900%, but that's pretty much a given. It's an island.

And this is my other foot, in its flipflop, crossing the pink granite jetty--the one west of the one the guys were exercising on. I picked this particular rock to stick my foot on, because it's Very red. The rocks are all shades of pink, but they are all pink. Makes it purty. You will note the crevices between rocks. Some are larger than others. These rocks have had sand piled on them, so their crevices aren't deep, but I have lost my whole leg down one of those things... Not like broke it off or anything-- (look! They're still attached), but like--sank it up to my hip in a crevice. One closer to the water, right after they piled sand on top and the water washed it out underneath...

Almost all of the ms. is printed out now, and I'm just driveling on. I do have more pictures, but I'm having trouble squeezing them all in. The "preview" doesn't really show how they will actually come through on the blog, so I'm going to have to post and edit, post and edit, I think.

I have more. Will definitely post them. Or maybe will post them on my twitter thing. Come by and tweet me. I'm @GailDayton

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Official Title for Harry & Elinor

It is official. The editor and I have just agreed. The title of this new book in my blood magic Victorian steampunk series, the one starring Harry & Elinor, will be HEART'S MAGIC. Because that's the kind of magic that brings about the happy ending...

Also, Twitter is very bad for me.

I am there, since ... Tuesday? I think so. Look for me. GailDayton. One word. Easy-peasy.

Have to go kill the Monster-Kitty!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First time in four years

I'm excited. It may seem dumb, but I'm excited anyway.

For the first time in four years, I have entered the Romance Writers of America RITA contest. It may be longer than that...more like 6 years. But it may not be. You all do understand that math is not my strong suit, even when it comes to simple math like counting stuff.

I entered my first two published books--my Silhouette Desires--in the RITAs. (Why is it in all caps? Is there a reason? I don't know.) And made the finals for Best First Book the first year I entered. No, I did not win. But I finaled. I cling to that, on the bad days.

Anyway, the reason I haven't entered in a while is because I didn't really consider the Rose books, the three books I wrote before New Blood, to be romance. They were romantic, but not really romance. I know I could have entered them in the "Novel with Romantic Elements" category, but I'm kind of in the camp of "It's Romance Writers of America. Why have a category that isn't romance in the RITA, which is to recognize romance novels?" So I didn't enter partly out of principal, and partly because I didn't really think the books would do that well against all the women's fiction, suspense and urban fantasy books in the category. Yeah, I'm a coward.

I did enter the books in the Prism Awards, which are for romantic fantasy, futuristic and paranormal books--in other words, a contest where the judges would be people who prefer the kind of books the Rose books were. And I won my category twice, and came in second the third time. (Actually the first time. The Compass Rose came in second to The Smoke Thief. The other two won.) I cling to this too. And yeah, this is kind of sounding like a "Shameless Bragging" post. Sorry about that.

But New Blood is a romance. Unabashedly. I even got a review that complained about all the mushy romance in it. (I bask in that review, because--you know--that's what it was supposed to be.) So this year, since it's eligible, I entered. I mailed off the copies of the book this afternoon. Right now, everything is all possibility. I'm going to enjoy the moment while trying not to build up expectations. I have no expectations. Hopes, maybe, but no expectations.

I'm going to try to post a picture with every blog post. So I went out Monday with the camera to walk along the seawall, and take a bunch of pictures I could use in case I don't get around to taking a fresh picture every week. This is just a shot of the beach from the top of the seawall, looking toward Fort Crockett Park.

Yeah, yeah, so it's tough to remember to take them, and it's tough to remember to download them. It took me 3 days to find the connector cord. (In my nightstand, but in the top drawer...)

I also took all the pictures off the camera and put them on my firefly flash drive because the fella has not been downloading the pictures to his computer either, and I'm sick of un-checking each picture one at a time (it won't do multiple unchecks, unless I want to uncheck ALL) so I only download the new ones. He can just take them off the firefly. Okay. That is my rant for the week.

Back to typing. I am up to p. 381. Having to make notes to make my monsters scarier...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Posted Elsewhere

I will post a separate blog here, as soon as I find/remember where I put the cord to download pictures from my new camera. Meanwhile, I posted a blog at the 2 B Read authors blogsite. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Still plodding, after all these...weeks

Last week, it rained. Every day. For most of the day. A lot. It was great, since we've been in something of a drought. There are mushrooms sprouting all over the neighborhood. There were a few days I had trouble getting much writing done, because it was dark and raining and it made me sleepy. (Of course, staying up late goofing off didn't help any.)

I think I'm in a better swing of things now, finally. Should have been here earlier, but it's working now, and ought to come in right on deadline. I'm into the final battle. Hoping the heroine hasn't repeated herself too terribly much--I'm going to have to print it all out and go back through and check on that... I think I'm going to raise hope, and then dash it again, oh--two or three times. (maybe) I just keep trying to figure out how to raise the stakes higher. I don't feel like they're high enough yet, so I'll goose them again. Elinor's being a horse's patoot at the moment, actually. Somebody's going to have to knock her upside the head, I think. Maybe Harry. Maybe Nigel. Maybe... well, we will see. I just need to make sure she's not being a repetitious horse's patoot. :)

I did go hit the sales at Macy's yesterday, before the local RWA chapter meeting, and spent my birthday money. They were having some pretty good sales--I got three shirts and a pair of dressy black pants for just over $50. (I paid the tax.) I have clothes to wear. I wanted to go to another store to buy a pair of jeans--I went, but they didn't have any that were long enough. Maybe next time.

I'll have to get somebody to take my picture in my new "finery" so I can show you. I was going to post a picture, but I don't have any new ones. I don't think I can do a "take a picture every day" thing, but surely I can manage "take a picture once a week." Then I'd have to download it, though... I'll try.

Off to type in story.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Plodder's Progress

I am a plodder. This has nothing to do with plotting, mind--though it sounds a lot alike when spoken aloud. And plotting issues can make me plod slower than usual--but my point is that in my writing, I am a tortoise, rather than a hare. I get the most done when I sit down every day and just keep plugging.

That said, the plodding and plugging is coming along nicely. I've hit the "All Is Lost" moment. The bad guys have struck back. The hero has inserted his foot in his mouth and done himself in. The heroine is throwing hissy fits. And it's time for me to figure out how to get them down to the grand finale, catch at least most of the bad guys and win the day. I mostly know what will happen, but I'm not quite sure how I'm going to maneuver them into the situation where it can happen. I know what the closing scene will be too. It's just moving really slow right this minute. But it's moving. It's pretty much on schedule to finish on time. By hook or by crook. I just have to keep plodding along...

Want to share a picture that amused me. The grownups played Twister at the beach house last month. It was funny. :)

I've been a total slug this past week. It has been wonderful. We did go do some shopping. Since the fella's birthday was last Monday (we went to the Saltwater Grill for his birthday--I had barbecued redfish. Yum.), and mine is today (happy birthday to me--I am now officially a senior citizen, sigh), we went out yesterday to get our birthday present. When we bought our new sofa, the designer at the store showed us a lamp table we really liked, which we didn't buy then. We bought it yesterday. Who knows when it will be delivered, but it will be beautimous, whenever it gets here.

We also bought a new amp for the keyboard, because the sound system went out at church last week, and the fella's keyboard went totally silent. It's not a big amp, light enough to carry, and has extra channels to plug in mikes if we need to. Then we hit the Labor Day sales at the mall--I got a T-shirt, a pair of pants and some shorts. The fella got a suit, dress shirts and two Hawaiian shirts, all on sale. I'd think he got more for my birthday than I did, but really, it was just stuff he needed. (Hawaiian shirts are almost required dress here.)

I get to have dinner out tonight--haven't quite decided where to go. Fisherman's Wharf maybe. I'll try to remember to tell y'all where.

Dolly is a very, very good dog, yes. She is also the wussiest princess dog in the state. We had a rainstorm this morning. We've been letting her in at night, so if she escapes the fence, we don't have to go find her at 4 a.m. I let her out this morning after the sun came out again, and the ground was all wet and puddly. She walked with me to take the trash out front--and when I was heading back in the house, she ran in ahead of me and went to her cubby hole. She didn't want to stay out in all that wet! And I'm the softest touch in the state, because I let her come in. Sigh.

Back to work. Y'all have fun.