lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Revision generally comes to me in one of two ways. There's the reading-through of the text, when I come across something that just doesn't ring right or could be better. Those usually aren't too hard to work the new text in (though if something was wrong the first time, there's no guarantee that I can come up with the right thing now). And then there's the snippets of words that come to me when I'm not looking at the existing manuscript, in fact often nowhere near it; sometimes just a line or a phrase, sometimes half a scene of new content. These typically get scribbled down by hand on whatever paper I can reach at the time, and then fitted in later. Sometimes they actually do fit where I'd envisioned them, but more often I've misremembered the existing text just enough that the new stuff has nowhere to go, or crashes into the existing with that horrible crunching sound and shrapnel everywhere. And that's if the new stuff came with a specific spot in mind; just as often it's a bit that I like or that adds something important, and it needs to go somewhere, but I have to canvass the existing text to figure out where. And then comes the roadblock or the shrapnel....

This current revision pass of Highway of Mirrors has had plenty of both kinds. I'm now down to the last few handwritten bits that need to be fitted in, and of course these are the hard ones; the easy ones got done already. There's at least one bit that I really like that I don't think I'm going to be able to use; it would add a lovely oomph to the figuring-out-the-spy-plot part, but there's no way my characters could acquire the information in question -- and making a way would probably require another 20k words, all of which would be a distraction from what the novel's really about. So, no.

One bit is a two-parter; I came up with the perfect way to work in the set-up reference a couple days ago (when I needed to be getting ready for work, of course), and now I need to scan through the later chapters to figure out where the follow-up goes.

Another bit is adding some needed depth to the antagonist's characterization, and that too requires writing a new chunk to fit it into. But in this case, the point in the story where it really needs to go happens to coincide with one of the weaker scenes in the novel. So, as is often the case, put two problems together to create a solution. I'm having to effectively write a whole new scene to slip this into the background of, but I'll have less summarizing and more actual story when I'm done.

Doesn't mean I'm enjoying the process, though. ;-P

January Word Count

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 08:02 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Highway of Mirrors revisions: 2489
original short fiction: 16
Total new words in January: 2505

I'd have liked more, but wordcount is not the point of revision. And the revisions are going well, all things considered. I've gotten stuck into the plotty bits in the later chapters that I was afraid were a disaster; in fact, they're just... not quite there. With surprisingly small changes of actual text, I'm taking what were strands running parallel to each other and knitting them together so they converge on more or less the same point, which I think may be the difference between a handful of events and a "plot". I'd like to claim that this is what I meant all along -- I mean, the bits are all there, seemingly waiting for this -- but I can't say it with a straight face.

I've also changed one thing from being data that my characters are given, to data that they find out. It's not a big thing (just the code name of an operation), but I think it's having an impact beyond its size, making them seem much more investigate-y and clever.

The characterization tweaks I added to the earlier chapters were things I meant from the start, but now they're actually on the page for the readers to share. ;-)

I'm laughably over my mental deadline, but my deadline was laughably unrealistic -- or rather, I'd figured on a week to do the logic-fix I turned out not to need, and maybe a couple of the easier character-tweaks, and then print it out to review for plot issues and give it to the alpha-reader simultaneously. That's somehow turned into a full chapter-by-chapter review (the chapters out of order, which is an interesting focusing technique) and everything-I-can-catch overhaul, which turns out to be a lot more than I thought I could do without hard copy. Once I've got the last of the currently-handwritten bits wedged in (which have come to me variously over time), and the last of the newly-introduced brackets removed, and the knock-on changes from the above followed through, then I'll print it out for both the housemate and myself to do a full read-through. And then we'll see what we shall see.

Oh, yeah; I also got one short story submitted.

For February: Finish this revision pass and get the print-out printed out.

I'd like to get another short story finished. The idea that spun off from a library presentation on screenwriting last summer recently acquired a half-page of handwritten fix, and the main character now has an actual reason for being where she is. (That one, I think was in the back of my brain all along; it just took a while to get to the front.) That might be a good candidate.

Everything that can be in a slush pile right now, should be.

The email issue remains. I wish I could switch gears better; maybe once I get to the print-out stage of revision, I'll stop feeling like every free day has to go to that, and can catch up on some admin work.

But mainly, the revisions.

Rumble in the Box

Thursday, January 14th, 2016 06:39 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Money was tight this Christmas, and the cats are so spoiled that it's hard to find something new and different to buy them, anyway. So I took the box that the new microwave shipped in and cut a couple small doorways in it, and now the kitties have themselves a box fort.

There's something fundamentally delightful about listening to a large cardboard box purr.

...or not...

Sunday, January 10th, 2016 01:14 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Well, that's embarrassing.

Turns out the logical inconsistency that I've been stressing out about in Highway of Mirrors... doesn't exist. (Short version: It's not the existence of the Sekrit Facility that $character uses his Sooper Spy Tricks to suss out; it's who's there and when. The place itself is officially known of. So it's perfectly all right if said character shows up at said facility later on.)

I'm still digging into the revisions, though. There's a lot of stuff that I think I can do better now, and one or two things that I've never been entirely happy about. (I still don't know what to do about those, but it feels like time to give it another try.) The previously "final" version is backed up in several places, so I can dink around to my heart's content and always go back if something proves to be a bad decision.

Have not yet devolved to spending all morning taking a comma out and all afternoon putting it back in, though I expect that will come. But for now, onward.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Oh, god, why did I think I could revise this thing? Someone, please, shoot me now.

No, no, it's okay, really. Breathe. Fix the logic inconsistency, then print out a nice, clean copy and give it a read from there.

December Word Count

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 12:25 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I had meant to do some writing on the first, to start the New Year off right. Instead, I got sucked into errands and tasks, and haven't gotten unsucked yet. So it looks like the new year is carrying on true to form. ;-P

So what did December have to say for itself?

original short fiction: 1920

Total new words in December: 1920

Disappointingly low, but then I did give myself permission to go easy in December. Plus, that total represents two completed short stories, both of which were previously stuck, as well as tweaks to a third story which got it to the point that I'm willing to send it out. So actually I'm pretty darned satisfied.

No queries sent, and there won't be until I've found a new email service that doesn't randomly delete messages with the subject line "Re: Query...."

Short stories submitted: 2

So overall not bad, given the limitations and the time of year. I'll take it.

For January: The laid-back approach still seems to be working, so I'm going to carry on not stressing about word-counts for a while longer.

I did finally make a list of all the works-in-progress (credit less to willpower than to curiosity). It was not as traumatic as I'd feared; stories-started-then-stuck made up a much smaller portion of the list than I'd anticipated. And it was useful as a focusing tool. So:

January's main goal is to dig into the Highway of Mirrors revisions. At minimum, fix the logical inconsistency, and sort through the other notes I've accumulated to see what fits where. It may be worth trying to recruit fresh betas between the logic-fix and any emotion-conveying revisions. (Psst, hey, anybody wanna read an old-school-inspired spy novel with a complicated-romance sub-theme?)

Stretch goal: Finish a short story (probably "Measure", the one that needed the railroad research).

Carry on submitting stories as opportunity presents.

In a writing-related vein, get going on the email research. I've been concentrating on cleaning out my existing accounts, and not that that doesn't need to be done, but that doesn't have to happen before new accounts can be test-driven. And too much is waiting on having new accounts established.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I considered doing a round-up of all my works-in-progress (or should-be-in-progress), but it would probably just harsh my mellow. And I'm feeling pretty good about writing these days. In the past few weeks, I've finished a story that was doubly-stuck, on what-happens-next and on an indecisiveness of tone ("A Cold Day In Spells", for the record); finished another story that's been an opening in search of a story for about eight months (not sure "Dinosaurs Taste Like Chicken" lived up to the promise of the opening paragraph, but done is still good); figured out the vital Thing to un-stick the Mars novel; and, just recently, found the tweak to take a story that's been in not-quite-right limbo for several years from "this needs something" to "this could go out now" (and hit Send on it today).

(Writing is cool. Also weird. What that story's been waiting for was a better punchline. What it got instead was a line or two of character-reaction just before the end. While a better punchline still wouldn't hurt, what's there now works, because the earlier tweak refocused attention on the characters, and now the existing punchline means more. I was startled.)

And perhaps the best bit of un-sticking, which I am intermittently giddy about, is something I thought of yesterday for Highway of Mirrors. I haven't talked much about it, but my last round of revisions introduced a small but significant inconsistency. It took me an unconscionably long time to realize it was there, and once I did, I didn't have a clue what to do about it. And it's been really bumming me out. But this new idea not only doesn't involve either cutting the clever bit in Chapter 4 or mutilating the new scene in Chapter 10, it may even introduce an additional cachet of ominousness (ominousity?) to the central story issue. And it's a fairly small tweak (not that those can't be as hard to wedge in as larger changes). I still need to ponder it to make sure it'll work (and won't inadvertently introduce a new problem), but the prospect is making me excited to have another go at the manuscript, whereas before I wanted to pull the covers over my head and not come out.

So, after a year of mostly poor productivity, things are starting to look up. And that's enough of a round-up for me.
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
I'm not sure I even knew there was an Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase, let alone that I was in it.

Yeah, that's kinda cool. ;-)

New In, New Out

Monday, December 21st, 2015 02:54 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
About a month and a half ago, I started a new job. It's nothing glamorous, just a part-time gig at the local hardware store, but it's a little steady money coming in, and it's a little me getting out of the house. No question that both of those needed to happen, but I was concerned what the effect on my writing would be.

Well, within the last few weeks, I've gotten un-stuck on the current short story (figured out what the thing my characters were investigating was meant to do, figured out how it tied together with some other things I wanted to include, and worked out how it all gets resolved). I've also, and here's the bit that needs a fanfare playing in the background, gotten un-stuck on the Mars novel! It's been stalled for months because I needed my character to discover a Thing, and while I knew the general parameters and what kind of effect it needed to have, I had no idea what the Thing actually was. And now I do! It fits nicely, it has possible implications for later, and it will really mess with his head.

And I do think the job is why this inspiration is finally happening, or at least a part of it. The amelioration of a certain amount of financial stress is probably a factor (I love doing freelance/contract work, and it's great when the clients are there, but it's a fiscal crap shoot). However, I suspect most of the credit goes to simply getting new input for the brain. It's a lot easier to have new thoughts when the neurons have new things to process, even if it's only where the mouse traps are or what kind of pipe to use for gas vs. water. Like any other part of the body, the brain works better when it's exercised regularly.

On the other hand, having come up with the new idea for the Mars novel, I haven't had a chance to do anything with it beyond the 250 or so words of jotting down the main concept.

The down side is the time management issue. I know lots of writers manage to write around full-time jobs, and I don't pretend my couple of days a week ought to be a major obstacle. But I'm still having trouble finding my footing. I'm not an every-day writer anyway, so the days when I've been on my feet for seven hours are obvious choices for no-writing days. But it seems like all the other demands of life are ganging up and overwhelming the remaining time even more than they already did, and if I do manage to beat them off and declare a writing day, I come up for air to find rubble and chaos everywhere. ;-) Trying to fit in writing in less than all-day chunks hasn't been working at all. Or at least not very well; I'm getting better, but I still need a lot of boot-up time before staring at the screen turns into putting words on it.

So as far as writing is concerned, the job is a net good, because all the writing time in the world won't help if your brain is mired in stale sludge. But all the new ideas in the world won't help if you don't make time to put them to use, either.

I need to be very careful about taking on any new demands on my time (especially this time of year, when baking and crafts will Eat My Life if given half a chance). And I need to establish a better balance of life maintenance and writing.

November Word Count

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 06:47 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Gods, I need to do a wordcount post for last month. If I'm not writing anything, I can at least total up what I've already written.

original short fiction: 5721
Falling From Ground: 248

Total new words in November: 5969

Hey, that's not bad! The short fiction is entirely "Cold Day In Spells"; a chunk of it's the same chunk that's been recycling around various versions, but there's plenty of new attached to it now. The FFG bit is the solution to my extended stuck-ness (about which there'll be a proper post someday, probably), so those few words carry much weight.

No querying, because in addition to working on a new query, my email provider has decided to randomly delete emails. Or not so randomly, as all the ones I'm sure are missing have subjects starting "Re: Query: ".... I need a new email provider, obviously, and querying's on hold til I find one.

December will be taken up with baking and the usual this time of year, but I'll sneak a few words in.
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
One year ago today, our kitten disappeared, and didn't come back for two agonizing weeks.

He's been unusually jumpy about outside lately. Maybe he's just been picking it up from us. Obviously, he's a cat, and doesn't know from calendars. But if he associates the similar weather, shortness of daylight, etc. with being cold and hungry and alone, it would explain a lot.

Today, he and I went for a nice long walk. He didn't venture far into the woods, not more than twenty feet or so. At one point, he did seem interested in following the track between the neighbors' properties farther back than I was comfortable with, but I managed to dissuade him, and redirect his attention with an extended neck scritch. Mostly there was a lot of tree climbing, and pouncing on things rustling in the grass, and much returning to the human for pets and even picking up and purrrrrrrrs. At one point he did decide to investigate the other neighbor's front flower bed; not sure why the big open expanse of their lawn seemed fine to him when normally he sticks to cover, but when I caught up he turned and headed back toward home fairly agreeably.

All in all we were out about three hours, and he seemed very satisfied indeed, both with his walk and with coming home at the end of it. And I can't think of a better way to spend a morning.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Rapunzel Organic Dark with Hazelnuts (55%)

Where Bought: Foods For Living

Aroma is mild; chocolately but not pushy.

Very nice texture, smooth and melty. The chopped-up hazelnuts are a pleasant soft crunch, and well-distributed.

Nice, fulfilling flavor. Pleasantly sweet for a dark chocolate. Absolutely packed with hazelnuts, but they don't overwhelm the chocolate; everything's playing well together. As snooty chocolate goes, this is very nearly comfort-chocolate. Just the sort of whole-mouth unfolding I was in the mood for.

Overall: Yummy, in a down-to-earth non-snooty way. Rapunzel definitely goes on the would-buy-again list.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I have no idea how to count the story that I ended up with four different partial versions of, all of which are cannibalized off of each other to a considerable extent. And none of which are, I think, the keeper version, though major pieces are likely to be salvaged. For sanity's sake, I guess I'll go with the totals, but understand that about 3K of this isn't "real".

original short fiction: 4510 (or not, as the case may be)
Falling From Ground: 1145

Total new words (more or less) in October: 5655

Pretty sad, or quite decent, depending on how you look at it. At least it reflects the amount of effort I've put in, even if a lot of that effort involved applying forehead to brick wall repeatedly.

Queries sent: Let's not talk about that, eh?

Short story submissions: 5

For November: Keep the short stories out there. Figure out what the bleep to do with "A Cold Day In Spells" and do it. Figure out what's next with the Mars novel, and at least start doing it. And, um, queries, yeah.

Still here....

Sunday, November 8th, 2015 12:36 pm
lizvogel: text: I have more userpics on Dreamwidth (more userpics on Dreamwidth)
I've been neglecting this journal lately. Partly that's just me; partly it's that I've been trying to be more active on another forum, and it seems I really do have a fixed (and small) amount of social-media-izing to go around.

I recognized this on Thursday, and then my internet went out for two days. (And the phone with it, just for extra isolation.) I do not think the universe is sympathetic to my attempts to keep up.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Ocho Dark Coffee

Where Bought: Foods For Living

Bitter-sharp aroma, very dry-dark.

Texture is rather like a truffle, chocolate shell over soft filling. The "nougat" is gritty -- not unpleasantly so, but odd.

First taste impression is almost unsweetened dark chocolate and unsweetened espresso. Sweetness increases after a couple of bites, and becomes almost sugary -- not sure if the grittiness is ground coffee or sugar crystals. Seemed light at first, but a few bites in the cumulative effect is very dense and filling.

Overall: Not sure. It's not bad, but between the grittiness and the odd sweet/not-sweet imbalance, I'm not sure it's something I need to seek out more of.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
original short stories = 62
Green Ring = 2720
Falling From Ground = 2901

Total new words in September = 5683

Oh, nice! I really wasn't sure what I was going to have to show for this month. Turns out there was more nice, steady plodding than I'd realized.

Green Ring and FFG are definitely good counterpoints to have going in tandem, allowing me to switch moods when I need to.

Queries sent = 3 (plus two researched & crossed off)

Not bad! I am, if not getting back on the wagon, at least trotting along in its wheel-ruts, thanks to a little light butt-kicking from assorted quarters.

Short stories submitted = 2

For the trifecta!

Goals: More of the same. Get the other stories that are ready for it out there somewhere. Keep on with the writing.

For querying, I would really like to get through the entire list of possibles (AAR trawl + misc. bookmarks) by the end of this year. That will require a rather higher rate than I've yet done, but with that goal in mind, it seems like it should be feasible. Even if it will then leave me with a quandary for the new year. But that's next year's trouble.


Edited because the post that gets posted in October isn't October's word count as this originally said, it's September's. I knew there was something about this one that was bugging me; I'm just embarrassed it took me until nearly November to figure out what.

lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Over at Book View Cafe today, Ursula K. Le Guin is concerned that a lot of on-line critiquers are "just parrot-squawking some useless “rule” they read somewhere." (She's soliciting opinions on the matter, so if you have views on how and whether to select critiquers and how to evaluate what they provide, head on over.)

Since I've always referred to such people as "rules-parrots", this amuses me.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Dagoba Chai (37% Milk Chocolate)

Where Bought: Foods For Living

Distinct chai aroma, overwhelms the chocolate.

Firm, almost hard texture, with a little crunchy-grittiness as the chocolate melts.

Tastes very strongly of chai with a zing from the crystallized ginger. Which is a good flavor, but can't really taste the chocolate.

Overall: Good if you're in the mood for chai candy, not so much for chocolate. Could stand to be better balanced.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
So, I've finally figured out why the latest bit of Falling From Ground is going so hard (as opposed to all the other bits that've been hard). I've worked more or less up to the last scene of the Post-It noted, franken-noveled, wouldn't-it-have-been-nice-if-I'd-done-this-right-the-first-time section, in which my character researches some old records. This lets me work in a nice bit of character backstory, which I have. And then....?

That's right; I have no idea where this is going next. (I know stuff farther down the road, but not next-scene next.) Which means I have no idea what this scene should do, other than make way for the backstory. And it does need to do something. Given the way I've built up to it, it feels like my MC needs to discover something new in his research. Probably something that'll pull the rug out from under him, because he's made the mistake of being in one of my novels.

So now I have to figure out what that is. Which means brainstorming. And planning, ugh. Or trying to coax my back-brain into telling me it's had this all along, which amounts to the same thing.
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
Today was the end of Week 5 of the Couch-to-5K program, when they stop with the slow and gentle progression and start throwing you into the deep end to see if you can swim yet.

And I swam. Not at all fast, not gracefully, but I did it. Despite feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, and despite not being sure I was up to it yet. A full 20 minutes of jogging without a break.





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