anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
Y'all, it's been so long since I did any nitty-gritty worldbuilding stuff that I forgot how much I LOVE it.

Flying Machines (which I suspect will need a new name sooner rather than later; hopefully the outline will reveal one to me) takes place in the bowels of the City in the Sky.  Because the City is held up by gas bags underneath it (yes, I know this is not the way lighter-than-air flight really works.  Please keep in mind that I did research, seriously considered all my options, and then threw the laws of physics out the window for what would work better culturally and look the way I wanted), this meant googling airships and lighter-than-air craft till my googler was sore.  Much of the City's infrastructure is going to be involved in this story, which means I need to know more than the vague outlines of infrastructure that I put together when I was initially worldbuilding for Skywatch.

Thus, instead of working on the story outline, I bent pencil to paper and sketched out schematics of the City's Envelope, the very structures that keep it aloft.  It took three and a half hours, three sheets of paper, almost an entire lead for my mechanical pencil, and a lot of erasing and re-drawing, but I think I have the basic structures, their names, and their origins worked out.  Since this is all going to figure into the plot, I am excited!  It was a ton of fun articulating what I'd sort of known in the back of my head into specifics that I could put on a page.  Though I did wish for a 3-D modeler a couple of times.  I suspect that some of my sketches will only ever make sense to me.

Now I need to figure out what's directly under the City, between the building foundations and the Envelope.  Obviously maintenance tunnels, but what else?  So much of worldbuilding is cultural, historical and biographical that I forgot how much I love building buildings.

This feels very much like a tiny glimpse of what it's going to be like to put Moxie's city together when I get around to her books, and I think I'm going to spend way too much time on it and have a marvelous time.

Worldbuilding FTW!

anthimeria: Woman drawing a sword, the words "Sword and Sorceress XXV" (SS XXV)
It turns out that while I am still ace at writing on planes/in airports, car rides with my family and without headphones are not a productive working environment.

One chapter away from hitting the two-thirds point with Trial, and crossing my fingers that life is kind and gives me time to actually finish the damn rough.  I don't want time to edit it yet, just give me a chance to finish a draft of my 30k-ish dragon book.

But I did finish the Hidden Cities ARC, which was awesome (release date in April) and also the ARC for Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer, the sequel to last year's Cinder.  I enjoyed Cinder, as a sci-fi update on Cinderella, but there were a whole bunch of awesome sci-fi politics we only saw glimpses of in Cinder because it's almost entirely just her story.  But I like Scarlet more, because in Scarlet, the story is split equally between Cinder (who now also KNOWS a lot more) and Scarlet (who dives headlong into things), with some smatterings of Kai's POV (Cinder's love interest).  I also like Wolf, Scarlet's love interest, a lot more than Kai--personal preference.  Scarlet picked up a lot of momentum, and I can't wait for Cress.  Scarlet releases in hardback in February, so keep an eye out.

Also, I borrowed my cousin's copy of Mockingjay and read it like a boss.  I now no longer have to be worried about getting spoiled!  But I have no idea how they're going to make that into a movie.  mini-sorta-spoiler )

anthimeria: Stars in space (Starscape)
Two novel updates: First, getting the first third of Trial printed was a pain since I no longer have a printer or work in an office where 50 pages of extra printing will go completely unnoticed.  The library is my friend, even if it is my expensive friend.  I would rather pay the library to print than go to kinko's or something.  Supporting libraries and indie bookstores is pretty much the name of my game, even if I ended up printing the dang thing single-spaced to save on pages, which makes editing Fun.  I'm through the first two chapters, with seven to go.  Hopefully should get to that on Monday.

Second, in an earlier post I called the Flying Machines outline the Outline That Wouldn't, hence why I switched to writing Trial instead of pinning down the sequel to Skywatch.  I went back to see if I could get the outline up to shape and discovered what I think I subconsciously already knew: it sucks.  There was no core to build a book around.  I was missing that most integral part of a query letter: the hook.  The thing that makes you care about the mystery/quest/adventure.

So I decided to start tabula rasa.  This book has only one requirement: that the story and POV belong to Julien, Eshe's friend from Skywatch.  That's it.  I know who Julien is, he was a main character in Skywatch, you'd think getting him his own book would be easy.  BUT NO.
I really hope you're here for the writerly rambling, because some days it seems like I don't do anything else )

Going where you're not supposed to go!  Arguments!  Self-Doubt!  Discovery! Investigation!  Probably not in that order.  Possibly all at the same time.  Those are the things a plot is made of.

I don't have an outline yet, but I ended up staying up way too late on the internet last night researching, and I'm going to have to re-read all my old "this is how I'm breaking the laws of physics" notes from when I was originally worldbuilding for Skywatch, and make some more detailed maps of the City.  I don't think I'll start anything seriously until after I've finished the rough of Trial.  But this feels like I finally, finally have a workable idea for the sequel to Skywatch, and it's been a long time coming.  Huzzah!

Need a name

Dec. 6th, 2012 08:56 pm
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
So, the picture book that I accidentally wrote has a not-so-bright robot as the main character.  Right now he's named after Dummy, one of Tony Stark's bots in the Iron Man movies, but he needs a name all his own.  My Dummy helps his friend in their workshop--fetching tools, etc.

I'm looking for a two syllable name, soft, preferably ending in the -ee (e, ie, y) sound, that isn't a human name.  Think pet names.  The robotic inspirations are Dummy and WALL-E, both of which fit all the name properties I'm looking for.

(Yes, I know WALL-E/Wally is a human name, but the spelling and the rarity of the name in use make it okay.)

Any suggestions or good pet name websites would be incredibly helpful!


Crossposted on writers and wristerstorm, 'cause I need all the help I can get.  Thanks!
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
Another chapter down!  Just wrapped up chapter nine of Trial.  This marks the one-third point of the book.

Wordcount so far is 12k, a little higher than I was aiming for in the rough but only by 2k, so not bad.  And if the next two thirds are the same length, giving me a final wordcount of 36k, I won't be sad.  Not quite on target--target for dI is 30k--but not bad.

I set my dI target so low because in both the novels I've finished so far, I've added a substantial number of words during editing.  On the order of several thousand.  Given that I want this to be a quick little book, aiming for 30k seemed reasonable.

While I definitely don't want the finished product to be over 40k, I think I'll be okay with a rough of 30-37k.

Also, I'm going to try something new this time.  Since I'm writing this one so quickly, and it's such a little book, I'm going to pause here to evaluate the book so far.  I know there's a lot of editing to do, but if I go over the first third and take detailed notes of developing trends and things to work on, hopefully I'll go into the next third better prepared.  And if it works--or is at least not detrimental--I'll do it again when I hit the two-thirds mark.

I've never done that kind of in-progress assessment on a novel before, but I've never gone so long between novels before, and I've especially never had two novels stall out in a row before.  So I'm going to do everything I can to keep this one on track and make sure I nip any problems in the bud.  I was 20k into Sanctuary before I figured out I wouldn't be able to get any further with it; I'd like to prevent that from ever happening again.

And I'm not allowing myself to look at the dang picture book again for another day or two, till the full week-of-waiting is out.  In some ways, I've written these last two chapters of Trial to distract myself from the picture book, so even if it doesn't work out, it's been good for my writing.
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
. . . even when the person doing said thing is them and not a character.  For instance: I appear to have written a picture book.

It's been percolating in my brain for a month or two now, but suddenly last night I wanted to write and I wasn't feeling up to a whole chapter of Trial, so I scrolled through my story ideas file.  An idle idea I'd had about a picture book starring a not-so-bright robot proceeded to whack me upside the head, and half an hour later I had a 500-word rough draft on my hands.

Twenty-four hours later, I'm on draft iv and it's been cut to 400 words.  It's definitely aimed at a 2-5 audience, it's fun to read aloud (even the two-dozenth time, as I can already testify), and has a quest-plot, a twist at the end, and a dummy of a robot to love as the main character.

I'll give it a week to rest in my brain, and then see if I still like it.

I really had to give a go to one of the few markets harder to break into than novels, didn't I?  Le sigh.

anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
. . . my roommate's way of speaking is infectious, shut up.

AT ANY RATE, the dragon book (Trial) is going well.  Not steadily, which is weird for my usual novel-writing, but I haven't successfully full-out written a piece of any length in a while, so I hope this is just--I dunno, getting-back-on-the-horse jitters.  I'm managing a chapter every time I sit down.  Because this is a shorter book than Skywatch, a chapter's between 1000-1500 words.  I can do more in a session (witness some of my lovely word counts on here), but so far one chapter at a time seems to be working.  It's messy and flaily and I can tell it's going to take a lot of cleanup--Eva and Scorch's voices are way too similar, I'm not sure my haphazard exposition makes enough sense, and for some reason I can't get any of the other senses engaged besides sight--but such can be fixed.  I need a draft to fix,so I am making a draft.

I'm doing alright so far switching POVs every chapter, but I can tell it's going to get tricky.  I've already had to move things from one chapter to another; I know there are probably chapters later where this becomes ludicrous, but that's a problem to tackle when I get there.  And even then, it's a problem to tackle in draft two.

Probably one of the most important things I learned from my creative writing degree and in the years since is that drafting is not just important to me, its essential.

Writerly rambling. )

Five chapters down, twenty-one to go.

anthimeria: Stars in space (Starscape)
Though I will definitely save the good news for last.  I like ending on high notes.

Stress=my RL job is still with the crazy.  I got promoted a while ago, in the midst of my department being very shorthanded, and thus got off to a rocky start.  Since I'm sort of built to begin as I mean to go on, things have continued to be rocky, even though objectively they have improved.  I've been reading a lot of fanfic and sleeping a lot and not much else.  Which is depressing in and of itself, which leads to more . . . you get the idea.

Not much writing has gotten done.  I was hoping my new process--writing Horizons in a very different way than I usually write novels--would help.  Because writing always helps!  This is a truth of my existence.  (And might explain this blog.)  However, mostly what my attempt at a new process has shone me is that it doesn't work.  I've been "working" on Horizons for about two months, and have written less than 10k words.  I'm pretty sure I wrote two or three times that when I started The Novel, Skywatch, and even Sanctuary.  I might be annoyed with my current involved, long editing process, but I'll never get to the editing process if I never finish writing the first draft!

Thus, I am devoting the month of May (and what little remains of April) to short story writing.  I'm working on possible submissions for two themed anthologies, one due May 10th and the other June 1st.  I also volunteered to write a short-story-to-order for my work's charity auction, so we'll see what happens with that.

And then--the good news!--I am going to WisCon again!!!  WisCon is Memorial Day weekend (May 25-28 for non-States folks), and should cap off my month of crazy writing with a bang.

Then . . . well, we'll see.  I need to buckle down and finish putting together submission packets for Skywatch so I can send it out to agents (I've been doing this since January, on and off), I need to sit down with Horizons and beat an outline into shape so I can give it another try, and I need to start getting more serious about Moxie.  I may have spent more hours lately doing research and worldbuilding for Moxie than I have writing Horizons, so that should tell me something.
anthimeria: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)
So I've been doing a lot of fiddly things while my laptop isn't working, including drafting (and drafting and drafting) the query letter for Skywatch and thinking about a sequel and worldbuilding for Moxie.

The other project I'm working on is sort of a bridge book between Skywatch and Moxie.  Don't get me wrong--the books have NOTHING to do with each other.  It's just, making the jump from a middle grade steampunk utopia  to a borderline-adult YA superhero is fairly drastic, not to mention the fact that Moxie's still not ready to be the next rough draft in my queue and I'm in need of a book to write.  So I'm working on a sort of for-the-author bridging book: YA, but Percy Jackson-level YA instead of Hunger Games-level YA.  It's also space opera-y sci-fi, a genre I don't write much in but have recently wanted to.

Process-related rambling. )
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
The sheer irony of this subject coming after the one below is pretty much exactly what I deserve for trying to predict my own writing patterns.  Apparently I am in an on-phase!

I finished flowing the new scenes from this weekend into the rest of the book, and added three short bits to later scenes.  Two of them were for tension-related reasons, and the third was for finishing's sake.

So, since I've added four thousand gorram words to this draft, making my wordcount an incredibly-too-high-for-middlegrade 54k, I think this is it for Draft VII.

Fortunately, my plans for Draft VIII include A LOT of cutting.  I marked whole scenes with strikethrough in ms word as I went today so I would be able to find them easily next time around.  Cutting wasn't the goal of this draft, so I didn't do that actual deletions, but I figured I should make it easier for myself in the next draft.  Also, this allowed me to do an advanced find, select all the strikethrough sections, and figure out approximately the wordcount I'll be cutting in Draft VIII: 7k.  Now, I'll be rewriting some of this, so likely I won't actually be cutting 7k from my manuscript in one fell swoop, but if I make "somewhere in the neighborhood of 7k" my goal words-to-cut, it'll bring the manuscript back down to a managable-for-MG length.

I know I spent months bitching about my wordcount, but I am eating that now.  I had no idea I'd be adding so much so late in the revision process!

My outlines need to get better and more realistic.  The Novel needed a new ending, Skywatch has had more scenes added, deleted, rewritten, added, altered, and moved then I had any idea could happen, and the werewolf book imploded because of the twin hecklers of lack of time and totally wrong approach.

I thoroughly outlined all those books.  And I dislike the revision process in general--it's completely necessary, and I always like what comes out of the other end more than what I started with, but I find it painful and frustrating.  The only solution I can see, though, is to write better rough drafts, which means essentially that I need to develop a much more discerning eye for problems like "lack of tension and stakes-raising in the middle," "needs an entirely different ending," and "should start 20k words after you planned to start" in the outline stage.

Experience and continuing to write might be the only way to fix that, but BLARGH PROCESS IS NOT FUN.

anthimeria: A happy wolf pouncing on a packmate, reads "Triumph!" (Triumph!)
5k words on a new project today after work.  Am making it up as I go--no worldbuilding, no character building, no outlining, just a vague plot, three MCs, and away I go.

I have no idea if it will go anywhere, and I'm still working on Skywatch and Moxie, but it's nice to have a project in draft, even if it ends up not being anything serious.

Time to ice my wrists, methinks.
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
A friend of mine who also has an infrequently-updated but always entertaining blog (link off to the right on my sidebar) has just posted a really neat entry about advice on how to be a writer and when NOT to take it.

Check it out.

I do think that one of the things writing "rules" tend not to mention is that there's a good chance few if any of those rules will apply to everyone.  I know I have my own process that took me years to work out, and in many ways I'm still figuring it out (and I have a degree in writing).  What Elena has to say is smart and down-to-earth, and I agree with her--even if the very thought of trying to write the way she does makes me twitch.  My process is very different than hers, but we're both still writers.

anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)

I am going LOONEY.  Due to the whole death-of-compter/terrible-customer-service-cancelling-my-laptop-order debacle, I will not be recieving my new laptop until late November.  Because I have regular computer access through my job, this would not be the plight it is if all my writing wasn't trapped in compressed backup form on a memory key.  Not to mention that I don't really want to put my novels on my work computer, that seems like very sketchy legal grounds.

Point of the story being, I cannot work on ANY of my long-term projects, and IT IS DRIVING ME INSANE.

IT troubles and writing make for upsetting bedfellows. )

On a slight more random note, I found a quote I'm thinking of putting at the beginning of Sanctuary--another Kipling quote (I have an excerpt from his "The Thousandth Man" at the beginning of The Novel).  Kipling might have been, to put it mildly, a product of his time (and his race/gender/nation), but his poetry resonates regardless.

EIGHT DAYS AND COUNTING TILL SWORD AND SORCERESS XXV COMES OUT!

anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
Can't stop working on Skywatch because I'm getting published.

Okay, so I did take a day off to tell everyone who might care and maybe also to dance a lot.

Steampunk novel stuff! )

I'm also eyeing my calender and calculating how much time I have to finish Skywatch's rd if I want it finished by WisCon.  I submitted the first couple of chapters to the writing workshop, and I'd like to have the draft finished so I can take the big picture into account with everyone's critiques.  I also have to budget time for critiquing my group's work, and since we're all novelists, it has to be a serious chunk of time per person.

Somewhere in there I also have to fit looking over the programming and calling the person I'm staying with to arrange travel.  And the occasional flash of getting-published glee.

It keeps hitting me at random moments.  I'll pause for a second and grin irrepressibly, 'cause y'all, I'm getting published in Sword and Sorceress! 

anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
I've been whining a lot about Skywatch lately, so I figured I should share my happiness!

For all the trials and tribulations this books is putting me through, it's still a ton of fun to write.  I just had a good writing day.  Sanya usurped a big section, but she let me play with Eshe's reaction to her, which let me do some interesting things with Eshe's character (Eshe's the POV character; Sanya and a boy named Julien are her best friends).

Short and specific, for once! )

In other awesome news, I am going to attend WisCon this year!  WisCon, for those who don't know, is a feminist science fiction/fantasy literature convention in Madison, Wisconsin.  I've never been, but everything I've heard is fantastic.

WisCon also has a Writer's Workshop, which sped my little workshopper's heart.  I haven't participated in a proper workshop since I graduated, so I'm looking forward to it--and all my fellow group members are spec fic novelists, which is something I never had at Knox.

Exciting things afoot!

(PS: had to return Leviathan to the library, so a thorough rec will have to wait till I can check it out again.  But I did enjoy it!)

anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
The laptop is fixed!  It cost some money, but it means I probably have at least another year with my current computer, which is good because without a job my pockets are burning.  I hadn't realized how much having a wobbly screen/monitor was making me nervous.  It's a huge relief to be able to stand up without making sure I'm holding the computer correctly and gentle when I put it down.

I mean, it's still an elderly laptop, so I'm careful, but now vigorous typing is okay.  Which is good, because I have picked up Skywatch again.

On a flying steampunk City and the discrepency between outlines and final word counts )

I have also started reading Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, which is an interesting YA steampunk book.  So far I like one of the POV characters more than the other, but the worldbuilding seems both solid and intriguing.  Like all of Westerfeld's books, the writing is solid, so I'll probably post a rec soonish.