October 30, 2009


Despite spending most of the day prepping for my class tomorrow, I managed nine pages. Didn't end up watching Glee last night due to wrestling with Linux trying to get Write or Die up and running on my Acer netbook. I was eventually successful but it took awhile. Doesn't help that I really don't know much about using Linux and my recollection of doing things the old DOS style way is sketchy at best. Thank goodness for Mr. Google and wiser heads than mine who have already solved the problem and shared it with the internet.

No idea how many pages it will take to get to the end of this book. By my count there's got to be at least two more sex scenes, some plotting and planning scenes, some targeted violence, a failed assassination attempt, more plotting and planning, a final confrontation and then mopping up the aftermath....but for now I shall believe my progress bar that says I'm about three quarters through.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Nine (Write or Die continues to be a page count boon)
Intriguing things - Moles
Annoyances - Drafty drafty drafty. Talking heads about. But only to be expected when mainly writing in word sprints
Linear/non-linear - Non-linear
Music - Crazy by Icehouse.
Location - Write or Die and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Nap. Soon to be physio/stretching
Muse food - Sewing, soon the delayed Glee and Burn Notice

October 29, 2009


Yay, it is the end of the day job week and a lovely lovely five day weekend looms (which, naturally, means I woke up with scratchy throat this morning but I shall take drugs and ignore that...too much to do!).

Have obtained new prescription sunnies (after optomoterist frakked up the prescription on the first attempt), hallelujah. Have sewn and written post work so now I get to sack out on the couch with glee (and Glee).

Progress - Lily

New pages - Five (and hmmh, six yesterday I think)
Intriguing things - And lo, there is really really nearly sex in this book. Or at least half a sex scene and then the aftermath written. Will ahve to jump back for the rest of the um, beforemath *g* another day after I've worked out how I want it to go.
Annoyances - Sore throat
Linear/non-linear - Non-linear
Music - Soundtrack.
Location - Write or Die and Think. I may yet write odes to Write or Die
Taking care of Mel - Stretching, physio exercises.
Muse food - Sewing, library and now, Glee.

October 26, 2009

And the progress report

Before I fall asleep on the couch....

Progress - Lily

New pages - Seven
Intriguing things - And lo, there may yet be sex in this book
Annoyances - Monday night tireds
Linear/non-linear - Non-linear
Music - Soundtrack. Though one repeated song at a time.
Location - Write or Die and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Stretching, physio exercises. Early night methinks
Muse food - Library, Big Bang, more soundtrack tinkering

For those about to Nano

I’m not doing Nanowrimo this year. The current wip is going well and (hopefully) has less than 50k to go anyway. To do a true nano I’d have to change horses midstream so to speak which I don’t want to do.

But I have done Nano successfully a couple of times in the past, so I thought I’d talk about some of the things that helped me do it. There lots of advice about pre-planning and plotting, wording up friends and family and meals/housework etc out there on the internet (for a start, there’s Heidi’s posts), so I won’t talk about that. Instead I’ll talk about how to get the 50,000 words you need (or at least how I did it).

I’m not a plotter, so each time I did Nano I just started with a soundtrack and a vague idea for a book. These days I’d probably have a collage and also have done a bit more thinking about the plot and the big turning points as my process is a bit different. Do whatever prep you need to do.

Being a Virgo and an accountant in the day job, I worked out that 50k/30 days is 1666 words a day, so I set that as my daily goal. For me, that’s one and a half to two hours of solid writing a day. My normal word count goal on my day job days is 1000 words or so, so it’s an extra 45 mins to an hour of writing time I need to find. You need to work out how many words an hour you can write comfortably and figure out your time from then.

I took the slow and steady approach (ie I could stop if I wanted to after 1666 words rather than pushing on for hours a day to get to 50k as fast as possible) but there were quite a few days I wrote extra (which gives you a buffer for the unforeseen I’m-exhausted/my-relatives-have-dropped-in/the-dogs/cats/kids-are-sick days). Other folks go hell for leather, so pick one based on how much time you have/can write per day.

So how do you sit down and produce day in/day out?

1. Don’t let the internal editor slow you down. Write fast and don’t look back. Nano is about getting a dirty draft out, not something polished and beautiful.

2. In order not to let the internal editor slow you down, tools that don’t let you edit too much are invaluable. I had an Alphasmart when I nano’d, which is brilliant, but because I also need to type on an ergonomic keyboard most of the time, I also used to make my window in Word smaller so I couldn’t see so many lines of type. These days I’d also use something like Dr Wicked’s Write or Die (I just bought the desktop version but there’s a free online one too…desktop is probably safer when you’re trying to avoid the glittering call of the internet to get words out). It’s amazing what a difference this makes. My average speed using Word the normal way is 4-6 pages an hour. With an alphie/Write or Die or a minimised page I get closer to 8-10 pages an hour. That’s a big time difference!

3. Turn off the internet and shut down any other programs you don’t need open. If you have a Mac, consider using using an app like Think (or Scrivener's full screen) that makes your desktop blank apart from the program you have open.

4. No, really turn off the internet. Check your mail/twitter etc once an hour or so for just a few minutes (use a kitchen timer) while you stretch/drink/pee.

5. Tape your favourite TV shows and use them as rewards along the way.

6. Use a kitchen timer and do word sprints where you type without stopping (as far as possible for 15 minutes etc). Or do word wars with a friend where you email at the start with how many words you want to do in a set period of time and then email at the end to report back (Write or Die desktop even has functionality for this).

7. Use friends for encouragement and support but don’t get sucked into too much time in the nano forums etc (at least not until you’ve hit word goal for the day, see 3 & 4).

8. Try and have a few different methods of writing available to you. When you get bored and/or stuck, change to a different computer, a different wordprocessor, a different location. Even write by hand (though this requires extra time to re-key which is not necessarily ideal, so if you do it, just do it for a short time until things flow again). On my computer I have Word, Pages, Scrivener and Write or Die as options. I also have a netbook and my alphie. A change of scenery often seems to fool the muse into going to work. If you don’t have multiple options then change your font, the size of the page, the background colour, the page layout etc so it feels different.

9. If you don’t have a writing ritual (like playing your soundtrack or lighting a candle or sitting in a certain chair) already, try and develop one to help trigger the words.

10. Go with whatever weirdnesses of plot and story come up. Let the muse have fun. If you get stuck, jump ahead to another bit (or jump back and insert another scene). Just keep typing.

11. Make sure you stretch and look after your hands/back/neck and eyes. Crippling yourself is not a good plan!

12. Invent the deskchair timelock release seatbelt and strap yourself in!

I use all of the above, well, not 12, in my daily writing anyway to get me around humps and doldrums and stuck bits anyway. Some of them will work for you and some won’t. Nano will teach you things about your process and your abilities.

I learned that I could quite happily write 1000 words a day but day in and day out, seven days a week for a month, 1666-2000 is pushing it for me. I can big word counts for the last week or two of a book but a month is too long. My hands get sore and the muse gets drained. Each time I’ve done Nano, I haven’t written or even been able to revise and edit much at all during December and early January. I need that recuperation time, which for me is a bit counterproductive and is the main reason I haven’t Nano’d for a few years. I also learned that I’m quite happy to pants. Some people will learn that they can’t and they have to stop and fiddle and tweak and edit as they go. Which might mean they can’t write 50k in a month. Or they might be super fast and be able to.

I learned I can write 50k (and a reasonably coherent 50k) in a month if I have to. This stood me in good stead when I got a full request from an online synopsis pitch session. None of that book was written but because I knew I could, I just knuckled down and wrote it in a month and had it on the editor’s desk in less than two from the request. In that case, it did help that I’d done the synopsis in advance and thought about the plot more than I usually would.

Anyway, that’s all I know about Nano-ing. All or some or none may work for you. For those of you about to partake, have fun! May your ninja pirate were-monkey epics be awesome and your fingers nimble! And don’t overdose on the coke and chips and m&m’s as writing fuel or you’ll spend the next few months doing WorkYourNanoButtOffMo (sadly, a lesson learned the hard way in my first nano thanks to lime doritos).

October 25, 2009

Three days down.

Busy weekend. But yay, met the writing goal despite it. Plus did friend's 40th birthday party (a surprise party that was a suprise), japanese bathhouse, sewing prep for class next week and lots of other running around.

Looking forward to relaxing on the couch for a bit (and very much looking forward to upcoming five day weekend!)

I've now hit the two thirds mark for draft word count...let's hope this book is true to form and the last third is relatively speedy!

Progress - Lily

New pages - Five (plus six on Friday) (so yay, met the weekend goal!)
Intriguing things - Evil vamp is evil
Annoyances - Not enough time to write this weekend
Linear/non-linear - Non-linear
Music - Soundtrack. Though one repeated song at a time.
Location - Friday - Word and Think at desk. Today Write or Die desktop (which is cool).
Taking care of Mel - Stretching, physio exercises.
Muse food - Sewing, soundtrack tinkering

October 22, 2009


Mel: *picks up new foam roller#, put on floor"
Orange cat: *raises head with interest*
Mel: *lies down on foam roller to commence back stretch and relax*
Orange cat: Ooo, you are on the floor, I know what that means
Mel: No, you don't.
Orange cat: Yes, I do. It means you want to pat me. *jumps down off couch, walks across Mel*
Mel: Oof. Get off!
Orange cat: But you want to pat me or else why would you lie on the floor down here with me?
Mel: I am trying to relax
Orange cat: You need to pat me. It's relaxing! *butts hand with head*
Mel: My hands are supposed to be relaxed too
Orange cat: *Butts hand with head. Nibbles fingers*
Mel: *Gives in and scritches*
Orange cat: Told you
Mel: Go away now. *breathes deep, tries to relax*
Orange cat: Bored now. *wanders around to other side* Ooh shiny, another hand. Pet me.
Mel: No.
Orange cat: *applies sandpaper tongue* See, I cleaned your fingers. Now pet me!
Mel: Still no
Orange cat: *nibbles*
Mel: Oh for Pete's sake. *scritches*
Orange cat: Heh heh heh
Alarm goes off, signalling end of stretch time
Mel: *Rolls off roller, attempts to enjoy stretched back with fur in face*
Orange cat: See, I told you pets are relaxing!
Mel: *mutters* And they wonder why I have tense muscles.

Aaaaannnnndd, scene.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Four
Intriguing things - More secrets
Annoyances - Perhaps the orange cat?
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack. Though one repeated song at a time.
Location - Word and Think at desk.
Taking care of Mel - Stretching, physio exercises. Relative healthy eating
Muse food - About to apply Glee and popcorn

# for those of you who write and don't know what a foam roller is, I can thoroughly recommend one. I've done this stretch for ages in pilates but the physio suggested it would be better to do it every day. Basically a foam roller is one of these (you want the long, fully round one), which you can get at physio/pilates supplies. To do this stretch, you lie down on the thing, with it running up your spine, head just on one end. It will be a bit uncomfortable at first but then all those tight muscles along the width of your back start to loosen (er, thoracic extension, I think?) and melt. At the end, you roll off the roller and lie flat and enjoy the weird yet strangely delightful feeling that your back is completely flat to the floor and made of floppy. Is lovely. Not the cheapest thing in the world but well worth it for us keyboard slaves.

October 19, 2009

It's only half past the point of no return

Well, it's been a pretty productive four day weekend here at Casa Mel (with interlude at Casa Mel's folks). Writing has happened. Visiting folks has happened. Doing errands has happened. Quasi organisation for the coming work week has happened. The book seems to be hitting its stride (cross fingers, throw salt over right shoulder, turn three times widdershins etc) so hopefully I can keep the pages coming over the next two relatively busy weeks. Then I might be able to Nano the ending. I won't need to do 50k and it's not a pure nano if you've already started but whatever.

Otherwise, I've been listening to Outlander on audiobook (which makes me wander around the house talking in a bad scottish accent and asking the orange cat if he kens just how silly he is, aye), watching Pink on DVD (which has inspired me to want to get fit again and therefore look forward to the inevitable pain at the physio tomorrow - one of the things stopping me doing much exercise lately apart from general slackerness is the fact my shoulder hurts after pilates or Nia), trying on wedding dresses (which is weird when you're not the bride in question but they didn't have the frock in her size in store) and, as of today, enjoying a lovely sunny day.

What's everyone else been up to?

Progress - Lily

New pages - Fourteen
Intriguing things - Secrets and more secrets and cool vampire scientist.
Annoyances - Oh the heads they do talk. Setting, exposition, actions? Who needs these?
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack. Though one repeated song at a time.
Location - Word and Think at desk.
Taking care of Mel - Booked physio to sort out shoulder. Slept in. Sushi for lunch (yum). Shall make healthy banana muffins after tea for healthy work snacks.
Muse food - Pink watching (though hmm, she's more muse food for the werewolves). Taking pictures of the sunny sky and plane trails (what do you call those, the track of smoke or whatever it is a plane leave behind across the sky?)

Blogging at Nobody Writes It Better

Hey all, I'm blogging over at Nobody Writes It Better today. I'm interviewing Keri Arthur (writer and buddy extraordinaire) and she's giving away a signed copy of Full Moon Rising to one lucky commentor, so come on over!

October 16, 2009

Happiness is a good writing day

This morning I woke up thinking "you know, if I could do 14 pages today, then I'd hit 200". Tomorrow and Sunday are going to be busy so I also knew that it's doubtful I'll get much writing done either day. As an added bonus, as I was lying there, still half asleep, the muse coughed up a few scene snippets. Bits of dialogue, an idea how to twist a relationship and a few pieces slipping into place.

So Friday was officially declared the day of the big writing push. I figured I could do fourteen pages in three hour or so sessions. But given things have been slow and sloggy writing-wise most of this year, I wasn't entirely sure that I'd hit fourteen pages at all. Luckily though, everything behaved itself and the words decided to come. And keep coming. I usually don't have days where I go much over 12 pages until the last 80 or so pages of the book but today proved an exception.

Happy writer, if somewhat tired. Now just have to work out how to keep the words coming.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Twenty one
Intriguing things - Mean Fae, bitchy heroine, and finally a kiss!
Annoyances - Very drafty but at this point I could care less
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack. Though one repeated song at a time.
Location - Word and Think at desk after work.
Taking care of Mel - Chiro. Nap. Nice bolognese on the stove for dinner.
Muse food - Well last night it was burn notice and glee and gabaldon and look where that got me. Tonight, who knows, though I'm definitely having a celebratory drink and maybe stare at that hero pic some more.

October 15, 2009

Where's my trash can?

My neck hurts, my shoulder hurts (and how the heck do you hurt your left shoulder as a righty anyway), it's cold. Whine whine whine. Call me Oscar.

But at least pages have been achieved.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Five
Intriguing things - Mean Fae
Annoyances - Plot gone all meandering. And characters trying to talk with Scottish speech patterns because I've been listening to Outlander on audiobook LOL
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack.
Location - At work at lunch, Word and Think at desk after work.
Taking care of Mel - Took drugs for sore neck and shoulder. Am about to apply a dose of Glee.
Muse food - Glee. Then who knows.

To cheer everyone up, let's see if I can post that hero pic now...

There, that's better *g*

October 13, 2009

The top of the hill

Ta-da I have reached the half-way point (well, figured as halfway in my average first draft page count)! Hopefully it's all downhill and picking up speed from here to the end.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Seven
Intriguing things - More magic
Annoyances - all very talky at the moment
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack for the evening session
Location - At work at lunch, Word and Think at desk after work.
Taking care of Mel - Ate Bircher Muesli for brekky.
Muse food - NCIS later. Big Bang Theory now for geek giggles. There may have been some hero image googling *g*

I'd share but blogger doesn't want to let me upload a pic right now...you'll just have to imagine.

NB I am in denial about the fact that I don't actually seem to be at the halfway point in the book. la la la, fingers in ears, I can't hear you. Mel, queen of denial lives.

October 12, 2009

Every little bit helps

Despite tired brain and slight headache from new glasses, did a bit of a word sprint after dinner and came up with some pages.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Four
Intriguing things - Worldbuilding
Annoyances - Too tired to write more
Linear/non-linear - Linear (sort of, slight back track)
Music - Soundtrack
Location - Word and Think at desk.
Taking care of Mel - Hmmm, made bircher muesli for next few days brekkies
Muse food - Top Gear. Have new JR Ward in house. And Burn Notice

October 11, 2009

While we're talking about noises

Ha, all that soundtrack stuff has reminded me that I wanted to blog about audiobooks.

Because I generally like listening to something while I drive or sit on the train or knit or sew etc and it isn't always music I'm in the mood for, earlier this year, I decided to try some audio books. Prior to this, my experience with audiobooks was listening to the Lord of the Rings during long family car trips (a set of way too many cassette tapes at the time), listening to a friend's book on audio because I won it (okay but I found the aussie accent weird for some reason) and listening to Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book - I would listen to Neil read The Telephone Book with pleasure because he has a lovely lovely voice and reads aloud beautifully - via the videos he had of him doing readings on the web (I just listened while sewing or doing other thing rather than watched). In fact, it was the Graveyard Book that inspired me to try out some other audio books.

I decided that I'd go the Audible.com route because you get the books slightly cheaper (audio books are expensive! particularly in Aussie dollars) and you can download straight to iTunes with no faffing around. Of course, you do still have to put up with mucho annoying geographic restrictions occasionally but geographic restrictions are another blog topic all together.

When I set out on this venture I knew the following about myself:

1. There was no way I wanted abridged audiobooks (fie on skipping parts of the story)
2. It was doubtful I would like fiction books that I'd never read before on audio because I would be getting the story way too slow for a first time given I'm a speedy reader. (I re-read favourite books heaps anyway, so listening to them was no different to me and hey, I'm happy to give my money to my fave authors)
3. Well, there wasn't really a third.

So I went out and bought some books by authors I loved that I had already read (so far Gaiman, Pratchett, Bujold and Gabaldon) and have been listening to them. (Note, in true Virgo and accountant fashion, I've gone for nice long books because you get more hours of audio for the same price (well, audible credits anyway) *g*).

Things I have learned since I started listening to audiobooks

1. The voice of the person reading is key. I have clicked on the samples for some books I have loved and known in five seconds that the voice of the reader would drive me completely up the wall. It's that rhythm thing again. So sorry, I am very, very picky on reader voice.

2. I do like audiobooks though sometimes the slower pace does drive me a little nutty. Still, having someone tell me a story while I do something mundane is nice.

3. I was right to choose books I know and like and authors I can trust because the slower pace makes writing quirks and weirdnesses stand out more to me (much like I pick writing quirks and continuity weirdnesses when I watch series on TV on DVD), so if you added bad writing, the iPod would hit the wall so to speak. Also, I like having my idea of the characters fixed in my head before someone else's voice messes around with them even though it's the same words. (I'm the same way with movie adaptations of books. Most of them drive me batty because they don't match up with the vision in my head. For the same reason I'm very meh on book trailers and pretty "oh no, no, no" on the concept of a vook but that's just me. On the flip side, I usually don't mind reading TV/movie tie-in novelisations for things I've seen if the writer gets the voice right because the sound and vision in my head will match with the book).

4. I can put up with things being pronounced differently to how I heard them in my head (given I read a lot of fantasy, this is a high likelihood with audio books. I guess the author gives the pronunciations he or she has in their head for the readers to use (at least, I hope they do) but those pronunciations do not always match up with the *correct* ; ) pronunciations in my head but it is annoying when different pronunciations are used within the same book. I'm listening to Outlander/Cross Stitch at the moment and there's a couple of gaelic words and names that are somewhat fluid and it jerks me out of the story.

5. I sometimes wish that that would use male and female readers for key characters but appreciate this is unlikely (and I'd probably find one of the two annoying lol). Given this doesn't happen I have a slight preference for male readers as for some reason a male voice doing a female doesn't jolt me as much as a female voice doing a male (ie Jamie Fraser in my head sounds way different to how he is read by Davina Porter lol).

So overall, I think I will keep listening to old faves on audio but I don't think audiobooks will ever replace reading for myself.

So what about the rest of you? Who listens to audiobooks? Who are some of your favourite readers? I'm open to recommendations.

PS, when it comes to audiobooks, it will pay to shop around and in some cases, it's just not worth it. For example, some of the Harry Potter books are priced at around $100 aussie for the audiobook (both on iTunes and Amazon). For that much, I want Stephen Fry to come to my house and read me the damn thing personally. I could buy the dvd and the book and still have lots of change from $100. Sheesh. I'm all for a paying a fair price for someone's hard work and creativity but this is one of those times where you have to say "and they wonder why people will pirate". I can accept an audiobook being more than a paper book because they are long and they have to pay the readers etc but 3 or more times the price (probably 10 times the US paperback price) is a rip-off!!!


For some reason blogger ate the first version of my "The Sound and the Process" post after saying it was published. And now that I've republished it, it doesn't seem to want to let me set the time to before the audiobook post or alter the audiobook post's time to after the soundtrack post. So the start of the audiobook post now doesn't make sense. Methinks blogger is throwing a tanty but thought I'd post this as an explanation!

Stupid technology.

PS Fixed by deleting and re-posting them. So now this post kind of doesn't make sense but I'm leaving it in case anyone else ever has a similar issue.

The sound and the process

Heidi is doing a series of posts on preparing for Nanowrimo and has just done an interesting one on making the soundtrack for your book.

I too am a soundtracker, which I've talked a bit about previously here. When Heidi said her soundtracks are around 100 songs, my first response was "whoa, long". Then I wondered why. When I check my soundtracks, they're all around 25 - 30 songs (I have one that's about 19 but that's for a book I've only done a little bit of writing on and I imagine it would grow once I got into it more and the longer ones are for books that are part of a series, so there's maybe more going on in them). So mine are about a quarter of the length of hers. Process is a funny thing. I like my soundtracks the length they are so that I get lots of repetition to trigger my world fast. And so that the music becomes almost a background sound to me over time.

Like Heidi, when I sit down to soundtrack a book (which is one of the first things I do, along with a collage), I open up iTunes. I usually have one or two songs that the girls just know are right and then I randomly throw other things into the mix by instinct. Also like Heidi, I have a good sized iTunes library plus a bunch of other cd's that I've never bothered to load into iTunes, so I have a good starting point.

A soundtrack song can be included for:
1) Mood or setting of the book
2) Sense of a character
3) Scene mood
4) Character story/background
5) A particular lyric that belongs to either the hero/heroine/antagonist or the story idea in general.

I tend to favor music with words (lots of rock and pop) but will throw in instrumental (often from movie soundtracks) or ambient as well. There's probably usually more character stuff than mood stuff, and there's always at least one song for the antagonist. Once I have my initial list, I'll write to it for awhile and see what I think. Songs get moved around so they suit the flow of the story better, they get deleted because they jar me when they come up, they get added because I hear something new that fits (usually a character song) or because something is missing. When I first started writing I used to listen to whole albums for books but these days that doesn't happen. I'll often have several songs from one album in a soundtrack because they fit but the last time I wrote to a whole album was probably six years ago.

The great things about downloadable music is that you can just buy one song if you need just one song. The previews in iTunes are also a good way of finding stuff when you're missing something (for example, for my Witch book, I needed a lot of dark electronic music. Not something I listen to very much, so I went googling on the internet then came back to iTunes. If you're not in Australia you can probably also try things like Last.fm and pandora radio to find music and the Amazon mp3 store. But if you're an Aussie, iTunes is probably the easiest way to instant music gratification (and single song purchasing), though other online music stores exist. Asking your internet peeps for recommendations is also a good way to go.

Once I've got my soundtrack pretty nailed down then I listen to it almost every time I write on that book. Somedays I just need silence (rare) and sometimes I'll use a concentration aid if I'm really tired (again rare but check out things like High Focus from BrainSync) but my soundtrack is the fastest way for me to connect with my story world. I'll even play it in the car or on the iPod at work if I'm mulling over a story problem in the back of my brain. Sometimes I listen to the whole soundtrack, sometimes, I listen to just one song over and over for a particular scene but I stick to those songs to trigger the world for me. I'm a fairly strongly aurally focused writer. I hear what the characters are saying before I see them. Some writers say it's like watching a movie in their head. For me it's like watching movie with a blindfold on. I can go back and concentrate to see what's going on but it's all about the dialogue and the rhythm of the words, which is why soundtracks work well for me I think. YMMV.

I often find towards the end of the book, that I do another soundtrack, much shorter, five or six songs and write the last 80-100 pages to that (I usually write those pages fairly fast). Those songs are usually a lot more about the mood and feeling of the last act and the build to the climax. They're often a bit left field and are more likely to be from only one or two artists or albums. My werewolf demanded chunks of Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End interspersed with Pink for the ending of the last book. And my Witch wanted Dixie Chicks from Taking the Long Way. She wanted that all the way through the revision as well which was fun. But play me one of those songs and she's there in my head, so it works.

So soundtracks are worth a try in my opinion, though for some people the thought will probably make you run away screaming. I've always listened to a lot of music, I used to play an instrument, I used to listen to music while studying (which made my parents somewhat nuts), I did various forms of dance, so I think there's a part of my brain keyed to music both as an emotional trigger and a sort of "work now" trigger (I also need music for exercise for much the same reason). As soon as I sat down to write when I decided to finally get off my butt and write a whole book, I turned on the music with the word processor. If you've never tried it, give it a go, particularly if you're going to try Nano which pretty much needs as many tricks as you can to come up with to keep producing 1600+ words a day.

October 09, 2009

Reporting in

Well, I didn't quite get 2000 words. I think it was about 1800. Eight and bit new pages and had to delete about a page and a half, so net gain of seven. Slow going though, took me hours. These characters keep doing unexpected things that require figuring out. Still words is words.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Seven
Intriguing things - Fireballs
Annoyances - Sticky situations and slow words
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack and Brain Sync High Focus
Location - Alphie sitting in bed, Word and think at desk. Word at desk. At times noise cancelling headphones for added concentration.
Taking care of Mel - Healthy pizza instead of takeaway pizza
Muse food - Pratchett. Gabaldon and Big Bang Theory last night. About to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall which will hopefully be good.

Late late late

I appear to have slept in after staying up a leetle too late reading An Echo in the Bone (the new Diana Gabaldon). Which I thoroughly enjoyed even if it does have ye big old cliffhanger ending and it will be too long until the next book.

Yesterday I also bought the new Pratchett (a phrase to warm the heart...new Pratchett...) Unseen Academicals and dipped into it but wanted to finish Claire and Jamie first.

Writing has been very slow this week as I try to figure out a plot issue. Namely realising that I had something happening too soon when the hero probably wouldn't trust the heroine enough for it to happen. But I think I have figured out an alternative which will not require much retweaking of what I've already written. So the goal for today is to get some of that written and see. Ideally about 2000 k of it. Which means I must resist Pratchett until later and the phrase "resistance is futile" pretty much describes me and new books by my fave authors so I'm turning to public confession to keep me on the straight and narrow.

In other news, I am somewhat late to the party on this but Big Bang Theory = full of the awesome sauce.

More later.

October 04, 2009


The grey cat had one of her seizures last night and giving her a cuddle afterwards made me think about my characters and personality types and nature vs nuture.

The grey cat is a rescue kitty. I got her when she was about three months old from the Cat Protection Society. She came from a litter who'd been dumped. So who knows exactly what happened to her as a tiny thing. Whatever it was, it had an impact. She's a wary, cautious cat. She pauses on thresholds and scopes the situation out. You can see her thinking and processing. She'll seek out dark hidden places when she's feeling cranky or threatened (or too annoyed by the orange cat). Her instincts are always on high alert and they run to flight rather than fight (just as well really). She does like people but she's not a lap cat because laps MOVE. She'll occasionally climb into my lap but as soon as I move at ALL, she's out of there. She likes to sit near me on the couch though.

She's not much of a fan of being picked up either. A few seconds and she wants DOWN. The only time she really likes being held is after a seizure, when it seems to calm her. Even then it's only for a few minutes while she recovers, then she's off again. She doesn't like too many people but she has gotten smoochier with people other than me over time. Still, she will hide out when there's strange people in the house or more than four or so at a time. When she goes outside it's to go and sit under the huge lavender bush in my backyard where she can enjoy the outside but is perfectly hidden away from sight. But she's not one of those "people are only good for food" cats. She likes scritchies and pats but she likes them on her terms. She's a leg smoocher. Or she'll stand next to you and stretch up on her hind legs to get pats. And she walks away when she's done.

The orange cat, on the other hand, looooves people. He's a Burmese, so yes, he has the Oriental, I'm more like a dog thing going on but it's still true that he's never met a person (other than small children) that he didn't like. He was a pampered purebred kitten, cosseted from birth. No trauma there. He's never met a lap that shouldn't be his and is perfectly happy to sprawl and sleep anywhere he thinks is comfortable. He demands affection and attention and gets jealous when I'm patting the grey cat and will muscle in. Apart from that he has a pretty relaxed attitude to life and doesn't have instincts that are anywhere near as fine tuned as the grey cat's. When he goes outside, he stalks around yowling and will fall asleep in the middle of the lawn or on a pile of dirt, exposed for all the world to see. Part of that may be that he's just not as smart *g* but also, he didn't go through that crucial young baby period in any sort of danger or with any sort of trauma. He likes to play and gets frustrated that the grey cat runs away from any sort of normal pounce and wrestle cat playing. I've never seen her really try to swipe him or bite him though, which he would do if he was really feeling threatened. So they have a fraught relationship where half the time she's running away to hide from him and half the time they seem to really like each other and will fall asleep together or groom each other.

Part of what makes them so different are just normal temperament differences in feline personalities but I think the kitten thing also plays a significant role.

Right now, these two are a pretty good study for the relationship dynamics in my wip (they're even kind of the right colors). She's wary and dangerous with a not so nice past she doesn't know how to escape or overcome. He's relaxed and relatively normal and somewhat puzzled by her (though, he knows better than to just try and pounce and wrestle her into submission and he's a lot smarter than the orange cat). I'm hoping they'll be able to figure it out and end up curled up together happily, though I think there might be a fair bit of running away with a hiss on her part before we get there. Speaking of which, back to some pages. I was thinking I might go to a movie later but need to earn my treat.

October 03, 2009

Playing nicely with others

Finally got the pages done after a day mostly spent wedding dress shopping with a friend. Lots of pretty frocks were seen but she didn't discover THE dress, so there will be more wedding dress adventures in the future. Fine by me. I like looking at the pretty frocks. One thing I will say is that there is a HUGE variation in the service mentality in these places. Most were lovely (as one should be when one is selling products that cost big dollars and dealing with folks planning what is for them, a very important event) but some left a lot to be desired. Perhaps they do not need the money. In which case, my friend is more than happy to spend it elsewhere *g*. And I shall be dis-recommending them to anyone who might be dress shopping. Seriously, how hard is it to at least be friendly and polite and seemingly interested?

I'm sure wedding dress stores get a lot of bad behaviour from brides and mothers along the way but that doesn't mean you can be pre-emptively badly behaved yourself! Professionalism is important in any job. As in smile, be nice and then if you must, rant when you're home with your post work glass of vino.

On another note, I heartily recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger if you might be looking for a funny, kind of Amelia Peabody meets Georgette Heyer meets Buffy steampunky read. I'm looking forward to the next one! I really liked Ilona Andrews' On the Edge too. Very different to the Kate books (more romancey even) but still very cool.

And on another note, I seem to have hit 40k on the book. Yay! Though that is nearly halfway on my usual first draft word count (my first drafts are short. It's the talking heads not much else factor) and somehow I don't think the plot is at the halfway point. Maybe I'm going to be long winded and rambly in this draft. Oh well, such is life as a pantser.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Five
Intriguing things - Learning more about the magic system
Annoyances - Recalcitrant brain
Linear/non-linear - Linear
Music - Soundtrack for half the time. Silence the rest.
Location - At the desk with Word and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Nap.
Muse food - The muse liked the pretty sparkly dresses today. Not sure my heroine is the pretty sparkly dress type but you never know.