Writing, Reading, and Procrastination

books stack old antique
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Currently, I am coming to the end of chapter two in a book I am writing. At least I think it will be a book. (I have been mistaken before.)  I would be much further along if it wasn’t for Mercedes Lackey.

For Christmas, I received an eagerly anticipated trilogy of books. I knew I would get them. I had asked for them specifically when people inquired what I wanted for Christmas. Mercedes Lackey has been one of my favorite writers for a long time. I picked up one of her Valdemar books at a thrift store when I was too young to appreciate it and hated the book.

Then I discovered the Bedlam Bard books and fell in love. They were rare treasures I mandolin-3017726_1280.pngwould search shelves for. That was how I discovered the Serrated Edge series. I loved those too but I hated them as well. Those books turned a flashlight on the dark corners of humanity. They absorbed you as you read them, immersing you in the story until you felt all of the horror and pain but also the hope. It was wonderful and awful at the same time. I read some of them over and over.

horse-175188_1920Years after my first introduction to Valdemar my sister started telling about this book she was reading. It sounded awesome. It had magic, adventure, and was written by one of my favorite authors. Then I found it out it was a Valdemar book. By then I knew Valdemar had quite a large fan base but I don’t like jumping on bandwagons. I honestly thought the Bedlam Bard series was better and that people were fans of the wrong series, even though I had never really given the Valdemar books a chance.

My sister can be quietly demanding when she wants to be. She gives you unspoken orders and you hop to, only later realizing what happened. I don’t think she even realizes that she does it. Which was how I was presented with a stack of Valdemar books from her collection and told to familiarize myself with this world she was always talking about. I devoured them all and came back for more. The storytelling was great. Later as I learned to read as a writer, I picked out a couple of things I thought could have been done differently and made a few of the books better. (In my opinion of course.) I was fool enough to mention these thoughts out loud.

Learn from my mistakes. If you are discussing books with someone who showers a story martial-arts-291049_1280.jpgworld with complete adoration, never ever ever suggest that there is something wrote with it. Ever. Not even if it is just saying that the ending felt a little rushed and you wonder if the author had to hurry through it to make a deadline. Don’t do it. You will regret it. (Unless of course, you are trying to start a fight or have odd compulsion to have the skin ripped from your body with words. If that is your goal then insulting a favored author or book series is an easy way to accomplish it. Even if the slight is only perceived, it will do the job.)

library-425730_1920So after eight books or so I wandered away from Valdemar and on to something else. Then this Winter I was poking around on Amazon, looking for gifts for others when I stumbled across something called “The Herald Spy Trilogy”. I am a sucker for rogues and I enjoy Lackey’s writing so I asked for them for Christmas. I received them, eagerly sat down to read after the holiday craziness was complete, and discovered I had no idea what was going on. References were made to characters I had never heard of. Confused I contacted my local Valdemar informant, A.K.A my sister. She did some google-fu and produced a list of books that come before the trilogy I wanted to read. And to her surprise, she only owned three of the five and they were in storage. (Another long story.)

So I set out to acquire the five books that came before the trilogy I got for Christmas. Then I had to wait for them to be shipped because I bought them online. In the meantime, I got an idea for a book of my own after speaking to a friend and started writing. I managed to get a chapter and a half in when my books acquisitions arrived. I ignored them for a few days but then the person who got me the trilogy started asking questions about if I had read them yet and if I liked them. So feeling guilty for ignoring my gift, I started on the Collegium Chronicles and am now on the fourth book. However, I have only written a couple of paragraphs over the past few days since reading has taken over my writing time.coffee-690421_1920

My writing is suffering from my lack of focus, concentration, and sleep. If Mercedes Lackey wasn’t such a hell of a storyteller I wouldn’t have this problem. The compulsion I feel to read and purchase these books because I enjoy them so much is fascinating. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could be like that one day?

(By the way, during the writing of this blog post I stumbled upon another book in one of Lackey’s series that I haven’t read and ended up buying it too.)

 

 

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Writing in November

dream timeLife is weird. Life is also busy. It is now November. I have two sick kids who are on the mend and I really just want to take a nap right now. I slept well last night, aside from strange dreams, but I feel like I need an extra thirty-minute nap or something to reach fully recharged. I think these days that is a permanent feeling. I am always a nap away from not being tired but I never actually get the nap.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Three days ago NanoWriMo kicked off and thousands of people out there are furiously writing away at what will hopefully be a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. My friend Lori is giving it a shot. I have competed against time and life to write that 50,000-word novel in a month before too. I am considering doing it again. Only this time I think I will give myself a break. I mean I did just finish a book. Not quite a 50,000-word novel, but a book none the less.

I think I will write a book of short stories. There are hundreds of writing prompts you_fail_only_if_you_stop_writingfloating around out there so I can just pick one or two a day and write a bunch of short fictional narrations that will eventually add up to the necessary word count.  That is the tentative plan. I also have another book idea but I have so many writing irons in the fire I really don’t want to chase after another long project right now.

If anyone out there wants to hop on board the National Novel Writing Month train, I have provided links to the website. It is fun and challenging, especially if you have never done it before. I am just giving it a shot for fun. I know I can write a novel in a month if I need to so I am not as worried about if  I can. I am just writing to support my friend in her endeavors as she runs the race and to enjoy writing just for writing’s sake. Who knows, maybe I can churn out something useful by the end.

The month for lightbulbs

I know, long time no post. I did mention back in August (I think) that I wouldn’t be posting
as often because of school and such. Life is still as crazy and busy as ever. However, I thought I would take a moment to let everyone know what I am working on. It is for school but I think it will have added benefits by the time I am done.

I didn’t come to that conclusion by myself, mind you. It took a comment from one of my classmates to make me see the potential. Thanks again Emily.

lights-1088141_640“…You could add links to your possible ideas and rough drafts so others can get an idea of your writing style and interests!”  I read this will drinking coffee
and the thoughts exploded in my brain like Christmas lights coming to life. I’ve had some complaints here and there that I don’t write enough about my writing. There are several reasons for that.

One is because I often use this blog to empty my brain of all the other things that get in the way when I try to write. It is my freedom space. All of those thoughts or ideas that have to go some place usually go here, with exceptions of course. This blog is me talking to myself in a crowded room. Yet, no one looks at me funny because if you are reading this you came here to see me talk to myself.

Now I have to create a new blog for school. I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I mean I 6a00d8341c630a53ef013488af5745970c-800wihave this one, amazontwitter, a facebook page, and I have a web page. I don’t update those anywhere near often enough. Why would I want to add one more to the mix? Why would I want to do all of that work for just a grade?

Then Emily commented on my post in our discussion area, (I am going to MTSU online) and it was like the scene from Dead mc2_robinwilliamsPoet’s Society when Robin Williams stands on his desk to gain a different point of view. My eyes were opened to the possibilities. I have needed a place to stash links to things I find online that I want to revisit. I am focusing on History and Literature at school, which is pretty much regular life for a grade and a bit more structured.

(I seriously should get my kids to guest post aboutIMG_20160409_144243004 how many museums and historical sites I drag them to and the documentaries we watch.)

So, coming soon: Back Stories: History in Fiction. It will be on blog spot because I like to spread myself around like that and it is something new to poke at. I will post a link here when I get it up and running.

 

Change of Plans

Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way you would like. Okay, most of the time. I had plans this weekend. I was going to carve pumpkins with the kids, take my daughter to a haunted house, and go to the movie theater to check out Crimson Peak.

One of those things happened.

its-the-great-pumpkin-charlie-brown-slateMy son went to bed Thursday with a scratchy throat and woke up Friday with a fever. He was sick all weekend. So instead of carving pumpkins we cuddled in pjs and watched Halloween cartoons. (He is feeling much better now.)

Friday night my daughter went to a friend’s birthday party. She had a blast but didn’t get to sleep over, because on Saturday we had planned to take her to a haunted house. The forecast had called for clear skies on Saturday and rain on Sunday. Mother nature decided to change it up and give us rain Saturday and a drizzle Sunday.

Taking the weather into account, we rescheduled the haunted house for Sunday.  My son was still sick but my mom could came over to keep an eye on him. (And feed him fried chicken at his request.) Unfortunately, when we checked the website we found that the haunted house had been closed down due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

So on Sunday we went to watch Crimson Peak instead. It was a pretty good movie, tom-hiddleston-crimson-peak-postereven if I did have to hold my hand over my daughter’s eyes for certain adult situations. The problem was we really didn’t look into the movie beyond: “Hey, creepy stuff in the preview and Tom Hiddleston.”  

It wasn’t exactly the type of movie we were going for; Gothic Horror rather than just plain old Horror. So while the movie was good for its genre, we should have dug a little deeper to discover what that genre was. If we had, my daughter wouldn’t have been making snide Alice in Wonderland/Loki fanfiction comments throughout the entire movie.

Vacations

As many of you probably noticed this is Wednesday not Monday. Yes I missed my normal Monday post again. This time it was because I went on vacation.

chewie 2In my experience, vacation in American means that you drive ten hours in a car,often with children, to a place you where you spend way too much money. You walk as much in one day as you normally would in two weeks, until your clothes are more sweat than cloth. Then you eat huge rich meals that you wouldn’t normally go near. You buy souvenirs that are three 11406441_10203011304642809_3977214550038472640_ntimes the price you could order them for. Then you return to a bed made of concrete that, by the end of the day, you are convinced is the best thing in existence. You repeat this for a couple of days and call it fun.

This is followed by another ten hour car ride home. Once you reach that blessed place, you unload the car and then stumble for your soft sweet bed. After sleeping twelve hours straight, you get back up to sort the luggage and the house before going back to work that night.

11403334_10203011345603833_8196920797471341563_nVacation exists to make you realize how wonderful home really is. Vacation pictures exist to remind you that the vacation really was a lot of fun if you discount the drive and the walking.

Good Weekends

snoopyI would just like to say that if this post reads like it was written by a drooling two fingered alien, with only a tenth of the mental capacity of the average human…well that’s not too far off.  At least that’s how I feel this morning.  I have a hot cup of coffee sitting here.  I am waiting for it to cool enough for me to drink it.  (It’s instant.  I couldn’t wait long enough for the real stuff.)

Anyway, now that I have the disclaimer out of the way, I had a great weekend.  The kids were out of school all last week for Fall Break, but I had to work until Wednesday so I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked.  Wednesday and Thursday are kind of a blur for me because I was still adjusting back to being awake during the day.  Friday afternoon we went to the library, came home, ate dinner, read a book, and went to bed.

Then Saturday dawned.  My cousin, who is something between a craftsman and a mad scientist, had a booth at a tractor show in the next town over.  I had never been to a tractortractors show so we decided to check it out.  I even donned overalls for the occasion, much to the embarrassment of the kids.  (Picking on my kids is one of main reason I own overalls to begin with.  I am a terrible gardener, I don’t own any live stock, and I rarely work on cars.  Even when I do, it is more of handing my brother the appropriate wrench type of thing.  I do love all of the pockets in overalls though.)

My daughter’s best friend came along and we had good time viewing tractors, petting cows, and climbing on trailers for hay rides.  My daughter’s friend decided to spend the night, so I took all three kids hojack o lanternme to carve pumpkins and roast hot dogs.  The girls stayed outside well after dark and only came in near bed time.

Sunday morning we drug ourselves out of bed for the country fair at Prater’s Mill.  It was a lot like the tractor show but with more booths, less tractors, and more clog dancers.  There were canoes to paddle as well, but with three kids I decided I didn’t want to chance it.  (I know my two are good swimmers but I wasn’t sure about the blacksmithother girl.)  We ate barbeque sandwiches, got faces painted, bought random trinkets and learned about blacksmithing, spinning and weaving wool, and carving wooden bowls.   (We also came home with sunburns, because it is the middle of October and I didn’t think about sunscreen.)

I met some interesting people and decided I really need to invest in a digital recorder.  (Many writers have them to record ideas or to keep notes.)  Murray County Paranormal Investigations had a booth near the face painters.   So while waiting on the kids to be ghost giggleturned into dragons, I introduced myself and had a pleasant conversation. If I had carried a digital recorder with me then I could have interviewed them for my blog.  They were kind enough to answer my questions and informed me that they do ghost tours.

Now I am the first to admit that I am a coward. I do believe there is more out there that what can be seen with the human eye.  I also firmly believe that if whatever it is will stay away from me, then I will stay away from it.

That being said, they are doing a ghost tour this coming Saturday at the Historic Wright wright hotelHotel in Chatsworth, Georgia.  This would not be too far of a drive for me and they said if I come they would be happy to do an interview before the tour.  I would find it tempting except I have to work Saturday.  I may try to go anyway depending on what time it starts.

Another fascinating person I met at the country fair, was an artist by the name of Roland J Rankin.  I fell in love with his paintings.  They were amazing.  You could almost mistake them for photographs.

roland j rankinI spoke with Mr. Rankin for a little while and exchanged contact information.  After I told him I was a writer, he smiled at me and told me to “keep at it” and to not give up.  Words from an almost stranger, but they hit me hard.  I think it was because of the fact that I don’t really know him that the words meant a lot to me.  It’s funny how encouragement comes to us sometimes.

Before I left his booth, he gifted me with some note card prints with some of his work on the front.  I intend to frame and hang them on the wall where I can see them while I write.  roald-dahl-inspiration-quote-motivation-life-advice-believe-in-magic-glittering-eyes-childrens-author-writer

Conventions, The Day After

homeThere is something to be said about having your feet propped up, sipping coffee from your own cup in your own home.  Hotels can be nice and Conventions can be fun but it feels wonderful to sleep in your own bed that first night back.  Maybe it is my age showing but I find that I take Cons slower now.  I used to rush around trying to do everything and then have to fight major Con-lag for the week afterwards.  (Or maybe it was because there were not a lot of panels I was interested in.)

Now I am tired but it’s more of the I-need-a-nap tired, rather than shifting-dimensional-worlds tired.  (Trust me, coming from some Conventions is like shifting dimensions.  There is the Con world and the Mundane world.  This can also be true of Renaissance Festivals, only then you have to throw in time travel too.)

I spent roughly four days at Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA).  It was a fun Con.  (As in, I basarahad fun but also as in I wasn’t attempting to “work”.)   Science Fiction Conventions, while also loads of fun, are more like course work for me.  Often there are writers and other members of the publishing field in attendance.  I do my best to ask questions and take notes.  I go to writing and publishing panels.  I talk to people.  I hand out business cards.  I use them as opportunities to better myself and my writing because Science Fiction and Fantasy is what I write.  (BTW  The above picture is me and my crew.  I am the one with feathers on my head in the back.  The three in the front are my beta readers. And yes we mostly made these costumes ourselves.)

taiko drumsAWA  is different.  I go there to wear weird costumes, hang out with friends, and read bad subtitles.  We walk up and down too many stairs, wait in ridiculously long lines to get into panels about candy or to get on the elevator.  You can’t walk a dozen feet without pausing to get a picture of your costume taken or to take pictures of other costumes.   It’s loud Japanese music and too little sleep.  But it is fun. 

I don’t worry about the two short stories I need to run through and then find markets for.  I don’t worry about the tricky re-write I need to do for chapter 10.  I don’t worry about my skill or lack there of.  I don’t worry about the work that I love to do, but that can still be so stressful.  I don’t worry.

I didn’t open my computer even once this weekend.  I did bring work with me.  I often wake up before everyone else and slip down to the hotel lobby for coffee, so I thought I might get a chance to work on a couple of things.  I didn’t.  I read a book instead.  I walked around.  I enjoyed the early morning peace.  Maybe that is the reason I am not feeling the Con-lag.

At any rate, I did have a wonderful time and I did speak with a couple of writers and some dalekphenomenal artists.  But mostly, I took the weekend off.  However, now it is Monday and time to get back to work. 

(The Dalek in this picture really moved.)