NaNoWriMo 2016

Yes, I am ignoring the fact that it’s Halloween. That I will most likely be spending the evening trudging through the brutal cold of the Great Lakes region at the end of October with a child dressed in a costume designed for Florida.

Instead, I’m focusing on this being the eve of NaNoWriMo 2016. This stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is the month were writers attempt to produce 50,000 new words in 30 days. That’s roughly 1,700 words a day.

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Many who will take part in the challenge have already begin plotting. Putting together their outlines, character sketches, and world maps to be ready for tomorrow. Some even clean the house, do laundry, and stash away frozen meals in preparation for being devoted to writing for the month.

I, however, have done none of those things. And not just because I have a spouse and two small children.

I will not be joining you this year.

I will be finishing up my last project which will equate to about 60,000 words in 6 weeks. Roughly 1.4k words a day versus the 1.7k NaNoWriMo wants. Might not be at the NaNoWriMo pace, but not too bad. And I kept my sanity.

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Instead, I will be making a concerted effort to rewrite and revise the three (yes three) novels I’ve completed and make them publication ready. My goal is to try to take these the traditional route through an agent and a publishing line like Avon.

I really want to join NaNoWriMo. I want to experience the camaraderie. The joy of making something new. But I also need to get this editing done. I need to have my books in a state where I can query them and try to get them out into the world.

What I really need is NaNoEdiMo National Novel Editing Month!

 

Loving a Mage Lord: 2

It’s Friday!  As promised, here’s the next post of the story started here.

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Dryden cursed as he pushed through the crush of silk-clad guests. What had convinced him to study Duchess Escadia Lockheart in her “natural” environment?

While possession by a demon of Rashallee seemed the most logical reason, the truth was he didn’t believe Escadia was nearly as gifted in magic as the Mage Council thought. Before he accepted her as an apprentice, he needed to see her true capabilities when she didn’t know he was looking for them.

He wasn’t about to be saddled with another politically connected but unskilled apprentice. Not when the Night of Ursius was within two solar cycles.

The archmage couldn’t waste any more time with idiots and dabblers. He had to find a true wizard. Not just capable, but gifted. Someone that could help him channel and mold the raw power they’d need to complete the spell. And he had to find them soon.

Two nobles pranced past wearing ridiculous mage robes strewn with jewels and embroidery. He doubted either could cast more than a rudimentary spell, and their personal wards were lackadaisical.

Snorting in disgust, Dryden had no doubt why the Elven empire was crumbling. They were too busy playing wizard to train as one. They spent their time longing for what was lost rather than doing the hard things that were needed.

Might be heresy to even think such a thing, but Dryden knew the humans could teach his people a lot about getting things done.

He sucked in a breath, and the archmage grimaced and buried his nose in his sleeve. The thick scent of too much perfume, poorly crafted magical wards, and sweet wine was amplified by the heat of a thousand bodies.

At least Lord Oakenvale’s cavernous ballroom accommodated the crowd. From the gilded crystal chandeliers, to the rare orchids in jeweled vases, and the heavy marble floors, it was designed for ostentation and massive gatherings.

Good thing, as it appeared half the elven nobility was at the ball.

Dryden reinforced his personal wards. Even at the edge of gathering, he felt exposed.

By Ionex’s third eye, how he longed for the quiet of his tower. The birdsong. The wind. The rising and setting of the sun and moon. He couldn’t even see the stars from within the ballroom.

Elven homes looked more and more like dwarven dwellings, or even human ones, as they walled themselves off with brick and stone.

Perhaps that’s why wizards were increasingly rare. The elves were losing their connection to the flow of magic and replacing it with false promises of security after the Great Cataclysm.

A giggle to his left focused him on a debutante and her mother. One scowl had them backing away, but several other elves stared at him and started to approach. A quick teleportation spell saw him across the room and beside the wide doors that led out to the expansive gardens.

Such a raw display of magical power was gouache, perhaps, but he no longer cared. He was there for one thing, and being married off to a nitwit wasn’t it. Dryden was again reminded why he hadn’t attended a social function in decades.

Glancing back towards the receiving line, he didn’t yet see the duchess. Escadia Lockheart was known for many things, but punctuality wasn’t one of them. She was proving the rumors correct on that account, at least.

Having enough of the heat and crowds, Dryden excused himself to the gardens. None were foolish enough to stand in an archmage’s way, and he was left alone to prowl the pathways.

As he rounded an exotic tree heavy with crystalline flowers, he caught sight of the line of carriages waiting to drop off yet more guests. Dryden almost turned and walked away when he saw two women disembark from an especially elaborate conveyance. Looking closer, he realized it bore the Lockheart crest.

Pausing, he studied the young women. Their magical wards were impeccable, but even through them, he felt the thrum of her magic. It’s faint whisper a heady concoction that had his own heart beating faster.

His derision at her tardiness fell away. She was everything the Mage Council had said. Everything and more.

Top 4 Reasons Why We Think We Procrastinate (and the 3 Reasons Why We Really Do)

 

As I’ve been writing this past week, I’ve discovered myself spending way too much time poking around social media, writing future blog posts, and just generally looking for excuses not to use my writing time to write.

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This is odd for me. I am not a procrastinator by nature. As a matter-of-fact, I surprised more than one professor by turning in term papers weeks early. So, why am I procrastinating now?

As part of my procrastination, I decided to investigate and share with you.

 

4 Reasons I’ve Heard for Why I Procrastinate

1. Overconfidence – Maybe for some people. Possibly. But I’m not confident in my ability to put a solid ending on my current work-in-progress. I’m not oblivious to this fact, as here I am, admitting it to you! Do I think I can do it? With enough work, yes. So why am I procrastinating rather than putting in the work?

2. Lazy – Lazy is not an adjective I’ve ever applied to myself. Writing is a hobby, yes, but I’ve already managed to plunk down 55,000 words in 6 weeks while working a full-time job, dealing with 2 children’s birthday parties, Halloween, blogging, etc. So no, not lazy.

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3. Not Believing the Task is Important – This definitely doesn’t apply. I feel like the endings are very important. I may struggle with them, but I want the reader to feel like the build-up was worth it and the ending sufficiently epic. I want a mental fist pump at the end. I want my reader to have that happy grin when you’ve come to the end of a particularly good romance novel.

4. Not Knowing Where to Begin – Well, maybe this is the case. I’m a Panster when I write, so I don’t have the whole thing plotted out (which is very odd for me, but I’ve found it necessary if I want to keep my creativity engaged). I need to continue the story from where it is and get to it the end. Not sure the final product will be spectacular. Okay, pretty sure it won’t be, but that’s normal. That’s what editing and revisions are all about.

 

 

3 Reasons Science Says is Why I Procrastinate

You can take a look here and here if you’d like, but the gist of the articles is:

1. Avoidance Behavior – If you dread the task ahead of you, you may avoid doing it in the short-term. You know, procrastinate. This can cause a vicious cycle, but it does play into #3 below in that it gives a temporary feel-good emotion while you’re doing something other than what you dread. But I don’t really dread writing the ending. It’s a bit more difficult to write, sure, and I’ll be a little sad when the story ends. But I learned a long time ago that there’s another story in my head, so this isn’t the end.

2. Lack of Motivation – People are known to procrastinate when there’s very little motivation to do a hard task.  Now, we’re getting closer. Even if I complete writing the ending of my story, I have yet to start the long and difficult process of revisions. Furthermore, I have no leads on getting it agented and published so that I can get it to readers. So, yeah, motivation might be a little bit lacking. Yes, I want to finish the book. Yes, it’s important to me, but the real issue is when you combine this with the next point.

3. Present Emotions vs Future Emotions – There’s a very real emotional punch you get when you accomplish something. While finishing the book will be accomplishing something, any benefits are in the far distant future. If there are benefits.

Replacing my computer however… My computer has been acting up for almost a year now. It finally hit the wall with me when a “glitch” cost me 3,000 words or a full weekend’s worth of writing. So, I’m actively pricing out new computers, looking at their specs, etc. I will certainly purchase a new computer before I get anything published.

This feels more like I am getting something done, and I will certainly reap the benefits sooner. Just like the little laugh I get reading stuff on Twitter or Facebook. Instant and immediate gratification, versus one day, maybe, selling a book and getting it into the hands of readers who may or may not like it . . . .When I put it that way, it does make me wonder about the sanity of writers!

 

How about you? Do you procrastinate? What do you procrastinate doing? What’s your fix for it?

Too Fast

Fall came a little too fast this year. We were enjoying a warm summer  that stretched well past when it’s normally gone. While some lamented the lack of cool fall days, we were making the most of an extended summer.

Then wham!  Fall. Not the beautiful mild fall of mid-September, but the tree-baring cold of late October. Not that it’s ever so very beautiful around here in the fall.

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It was 32F when I got up this morning, and there was a thick blanket of frost on our too-long grass (mowing this time of year is really tough between the rain and the dwindling sunlight).

We have to start getting ready to leave for school earlier as we now need to bundle the kids up before we go. As you can imagine, that goes over well with a toddler.

But the afternoons when it’s not raining are lovely, especially if you have the chance to get outside before the creeping darkness. It’s now dark by 6pm here, and the sun is coming up later and later.

Even through all of this, I like autumn, but it does mean one very awful thing: Winter is Coming.

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Yes it is.

It’s sorta like Game of Thrones encapsulated the entire Great Lakes region take on winter. We live in dread of it through all of the other seasons. Especially this year when the weathermen are predicting an especially cold and snowy winter.

When I first moved to the Midwest, I didn’t understand this dread. I had lived in Seattle and New Orleans previously. Winter was a thing, but not like it is here.

In Seattle, you know the clouds are going to roll in. You know October is the last time you’re going to see the sun until May. April if you’re lucky. The temperatures are mild and snow is something you go to the mountains to see.

In New Orleans, winter is great. The humidity becomes bearable, and the heat eases up. Yeah, you might need a heavy sweatshirt now and again, but I found January through March to be some of the nicest months in New Orleans.

Then, I moved to the Midwest. First, I didn’t understand that fall is short and bitter-sweet. Gorgeous weather, beautiful leaves, but that hanging threat. Winter is Coming.

Get your winter gear together. You are going to need it. And the pretty little coats you see in magazines have no place here. You shop at stores that rate their jackets for warmth. Because a 30F jacket is of little use when you’re on day 66 of it not getting above 15F.

Just getting to work or the store becomes an adventure.

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And, winter doesn’t end in March like it does on the calendar or in other locations. This past May (yes, May), a birthday party my daughter attended was relocated from the park to the child’s home because it was so cold it was spitting snow and hail.

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How about you? Are you loving the fall weather?  Getting out and doing stuff? Do you dread the winter? Or maybe you love it for the snowmobiling and ice fishing? Do the shorter days bother you? Are you preparing to dress like you’re on Hoth just to go to the store?

 

Loving a Mage Lord: 1

I received some feedback on the blog that people wanted to see little more of my fiction writing, so I thought I’d give it a try. This is supposed to be an author’s website, and I really do write. A lot, actually.

I figure I’ll post a little fiction on Fridays. Something fun before the weekend.

Let me kow what you think in the comments section. Figure if the experiment doesn’t work, it’s easy enough to return to my previous ramblings and ruminations.

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Loving a Mage Lord: 1

Aenwyn focused on her magical tome as a maid tugged on her hair. Wincing, Aenwyn tried to ignore the maid and concentrate on the arcane symbols. The young wizard didn’t much care what she looked like for the Oakenvale ball, but figuring out the nuanced spell dancing across the pages captured her complete attention as she tried to learn it.

Escadia closed Aenwyn’s book. “How do you expect to marry an earl when you won’t hold still to get your hair done?”

Aenwyn glanced up at the duchess. “I was studying that, Your Grace.”

“You’re getting ready for a ball.”

Sitting up straight, Aenwyn sucked in a breath and her lungs filled with the tang of magic and beeswax. She glanced up toward the towering ceiling with its swooping curves and large windows as massive crystal chandeliers illuminated the room with magelight so bright it made evening feel like afternoon.

Aenwyn grimaced as the maid coiled her hair. “I’m not interested in marrying an earl.”

“You should be,” Escadia said. “Then you wouldn’t have to hide from my mother.”

“Are the rumors true?”

“Don’t know, and I’m smart enough not to find out.”

Aenwyn stroked the cover of the tome. “I don’t want to marry. I want to study magic.”

Escadia took both of Aenwyn’s hands in her own, the duchess looked unusually serious. “The Empire needs more wizards like you, and I know you love spending time with those dusty old books. Caewyn Oakenvale can give you unimaginable opportunities, and his family has one of the best, one of the oldest, libraries in the Empire.”

“So do you.”

“Mine comes complete with my mother.”

Aenwyn pressed her lips together. “I don’t know him.”

“We’re going to fix that.”

“What if I don’t like him? What if I don’t fall in love with him?”

Escadia squeezed her fingers. “Marriage is not about love.”

“It should be.”

“Caewyn is smart, wealthy and capable,” Escadia said. “He’s also a decent elf, and there’s few enough of those.”

“If he’s all that, why would he want me?”

“Because you’re amazing, and you’re a mage. His family needs him to make a match with magic. That’ll smooth over any issues with you not being nobility.”

“You have a strong magical talent, Your Grace” Aenwyn said. “You’d be even better at magic if you tried a little more.”

“And you’d be better at dancing. Now stop all that ‘your grace’ nonsense. You only do it when you’re mad at me, and you should be happy I’m helping you.”

Aenwyn resisted rolling her eyes. “If Lord Caewyn is so wonderful, why don’t you marry him?”

“Because I would never give my mother the satisfaction of me making a suitable match, much less a desirable one.”

Aenwyn glanced up at her reflection as the maid twined her thick red hair into an elegant coif. She reached a hand toward a brilliant white orchid woven into a braid, but the maid stopped her.

“Miss mustn’t touch,” the maid said.

Aenwyn sighed and endured the rest of the torture the maid inflicted on her, including cinching her into one of Escadia’s silk gowns. The fine silk slid over Aenwyn’s lithe curves and made a soft shushing noise as she moved.

“How do you breathe in these?”

Escadia smiled and liked arms with Aenwyn then spun her around the room. While the duchess’s steps were graceful and fluid, Aenwyn stumbled after her. The wizard mumbled something about the cold marble floors on her slippered feet then yanked back her hands and let herself fall onto the over-stuffed silk cushions of a white chaise.

“Remember to let Caewyn lead,” Escadia said. “And ease into sitting. Think of yourself as a haughty cat rather than a farmer’s hound.”

Color crept over Aenwyn’s cheeks, and she pressed her lips together. Even after years of taking dance lessons with Escadia, Aenwyn moved like a human rather than one of her own kind. But then, she’d never much liked dancing and had only done the minimum the tutors required. Like Escadia and magic.

“You look stunning,” Escadia said as she pulled Aenwyn back to her feet and turned her towards a mirror.

Aenwyn smoothed out the emerald silk of her borrowed gown and peered into the silvered glass. While Escadia looked as stunning and regal as she always did, Aenwyn barely recognized the woman standing beside the duchess.

Her over-sized mage robes had been replaced by a gown of the latest fashion that bared her neck, shoulders, and a generous amount of décolletage. The dress made her eyes look greener, and the maid had tamed her unruly red hair into an elaborate and elegant coif.

Aenwyn could pass as one of the noble ladies that moved in Escadia’s rarified circles. As long as she remembered to say little, smile often, and ignore the servants.

Escadia dropped an ermine cloak over Aenwyn’s shoulders. “Caewyn is going to be smitten.”

“I think he already is.” Aenwyn raised a brow at the duchess.

“Stop being silly and come along. We’re already fashionably late.”

Aenwyn shook her head but followed Escadia down to the waiting carriage.

Halloween for the Craft Impaired

I was a child of the 80s with uncrafty parents. My costumes looked much like the ones below:

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I didn’t care as all the other kids had similar costumes, so we all felt pretty cool despite being swathed in cheap plastic. My father-in-law, however, was an art teacher. Not only did he get the “crafty” gene, he got the artist crafty gene. While I may think of myself as an artist through my writing, my father-in-law is the making stuff artist. My husband’s looked more like the little girl’s below:

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This is totally DD2

Now, I have children of my own. And the 80s costumes have been replaced with stuff I’d never have imagined you could buy at a store. And, of course, my crafty gene hasn’t exactly kicked in. So, when my daughter announced she wanted to be vampire Sleeping Beauty, well, me and the Disney StoreDisney Store had a solution to that:

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And some vampire fangs, a crown, and score!  While Disney Store prices aren’t exactly reasonable most of the year, they’ve been running sales that suddenly bring them close enough to Target pricing that I’ll spring for it. However, the matching crown looked nothing what like Sleeping Beauty wore in the movie, and my daughter was quick to point out sleeping beauty definitely didn’t wear a crown with her picture on it.

Of course she didn’t. And, of course they have no other crowns avaialble.

So, I figure I’ll pick one up somewhere else, no big deal. I mean, it’s not like this is some little-known character or anything.

Except, the crown is basically the same everywhere. No one has a crown that looks like Sleeping Beauty’s. Because of course they don’t.

After checking the internet, lots of moms talk about making the crown.

Uh-oh.

So not my cup of tea, but amazing what you’ll do for your kid. So, after talking to a crafty co-worker, I sent myself down to the craft store. I eventually found shiny gold tag board. I mean shiny. I found a Sleeping Beauty crown pattern on the internet (what did parents do before the internet?!?). I figured I’d trace the pattern, cut it out, punch a hole on either side so I can hold it onto her head with bobby pins.

What I imagined, because, Pinterest gives such high hopes:

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What I got:

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And yes, that is, indeed, duct tape holding it together. After I got the crown bit cut out, I had do idea how to put it on her head. DH went out and got her a headband and duct taped the crown to it. So not what a crafty mom would do, but at least DD will wear it.

Not a total loss.

6 Reasons We Don’t Take Good Advice

Whether romantic advice, career advice, or financial advice, there are a a slew of professionals out there that offer it . Some free of charge. Some we pay for. Yet, I (and I suspect many of us) are not always good at taking it.  Even advice we’ve paid for.

How many stories revolve around a hero or heroine not wanting to listen to their aunt, brother, sister, mother, uncle about who the right person is for them? Especially if it turns out that person was right?

After doing some digging, here are the reasons I’ve come up with:

1. The Advice is Bad – We’ve all been given bad advice, even by a professional.Sometimes it’s because we haven’t given them the whole story. Sometimes because they don’t understand. And perhaps sometimes because they really don’t know.

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Tried this. It didn’t work. Co-workers looked at me like I was from Mars.

2. The Advice Conflicts With What We Want – I know i’m guilty of this. Not one, but two financial advisers told me not to try to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to hear them. I lived through the Great Recession and remember how much belt-tightening we had to do to get through it when our primary income was cut by 50%. I don’t ever want to go through that again.

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3. Discouraging –  You see this less with professional advice as they are (usually) in the business to help you succeed.

4. Gut Instinct Takes You Another Direction – This is so nebulous, but sometimes, you just know something is wrong. It intrudes on your thoughts during quiet times. You find yourself mulling it over again and again. I have no idea what gut instinct is, (although I suspect it’s your brain working on a problem in the background) but it seems to be right most of the time.

5. It Differs From Other Advice You’ve Gotten – This is always difficult, especially when you’ve gotten advice from two professionals or two very trusted friends/family members.

6. Anger – Or other negative emotions make us much less likely to take even good advice. Here are other good reasons from real psychologists. Granted, these are mostly work related, but they could be applicable.

 

I guess this means I need to look at Point #2 and reconsider the advice an editor gave me on my manuscript. Just because I don’t want it to be true, doesn’t make it wrong.

 

 

How about you? How willing are you to take advice? What makes you willing or unwilling to take advice? How about offer it?