I listed WHAT I want to accomplish this year, but in the meantime I've been going through my calendar to figure out *when* and in *what order* to do these things. The Camp NaNo's are giving me some structural goals. 

The Camp NaNo's are in April and July and NaNoWriMo is in November, of course. Right now I'm stuck with Blue&Bronze Book 3. I know what I think I want the story to be, but it's not coming together in my head. Sitting there with a notebook and pen isn't helping, and neither was my personal deadline of starting it in the next couple of weeks. My brain has noped out of that pressure. So instead I'm going to work on either DireWolf&Coyote's sequel OR finish Diary of a Were-Dog which is where Dire Wolf come from. 

So, here the possible schedule:

Jan - work on story and outline for DIre Wolf - and revision for Blue&Bronze Book 1
Feb - start writing Dire Wolf sequel - continue revision of Book 1
Mar - Dire Wolf sequel writing - Book 1 revision (however long it takes)
Apr - Camp NaNo - power through the last 50,000 words of sequel (and revision of Book 1)
May - finish up sequel, let it sit. Work at finishing story for Were-Dog
June - Were-Dog writing - revision continued for Book 1, maybe some story work on Book 3
July - Camp NaNo finish up Were-Dog if it's not done yet. If it is power through the revision
Aug - Start writing Book 3 of Blue&Bronze
Sept - repeat, and work on Book 1 revision if not finished by this time 
Oct - repeat. And same on through November and December. 

The interface for this is funky - on DreamWidth I'm only getting part of the writing box showing, and the text is not scrolling down so I can see what I'm writing. Frustrating and strange. 

I'm looking for up to 10 Cabin Mates in April's Camp NaNo for next month!

Any one want to join the cabin? The rules are lax for Camp Nano - you can start with what you have, or with an outline, or whatever. I'm going to be pushing to finish my Novel that I started back last...Holy Moly - last May!

I want to finish this sucker. If you're in the revision stage or rewriting or whatever, it doesn't matter to me. Join up! (Please?)

Let me know if you're interested.
I can't believe I'm actually 10% considering doing NaNo this year. Why? Because I've been wanting to write some end-of-the-world apocalyptical zombie thing, but I just...I can't even get characters in my head or anything like that. And I know it would be derivative, so why bother? (not that a lot of the books out there right now aren't derivative either, but anyway). And I'm focusing a lot of my attention on digital pages using PSE.

I'm not sure I want to get in that NaNo swirl, either. It's been a couple of years since I wrote anything fictional. It's like I'm back to the way I was before Stargate hit me hard and I got my mojo back, such as it was. I'm not a prolific writer when I do write. It's not like I don't have the time.  *sighs*
Just thought I'd mention this product. It's aimed at homeschooling families, but it just occurred to me that it might benefit writers with complicated timelines, too.  http://www.addacentury.com/ ; and http://www.addacentury.com/product-faqs.html ; There are stickers for different categories, too (war, art, science & tech, etc) that can be applied.

It's a time line book (looks like a scrapbook adapt) where you can make as detailed notes as you'd like. It doesn't have to be earth-based, either, and I think the dates could easily be fudged or something for a completely imaginary world. Excellent product for writers with very complicated worlds, or who are writing a series and need to see connections between different aspects of their society, and what's important to that society.

I think I'm going to start using this during the summer--except when I'm traveling, of course. When I'm traveling, I'll have to use my old back-up of a steno pad (the kind with two columns and lined paper. not the steno machine) and favorite pen.

Considering I've got what I feel is a decent idea, I should start carving away even a little bit of time to write. Even 10 minutes a day can help!
gategrrl: (Shells Striped)
Hi everyone!

I'm trying to write a short article on a subject some of you brought up when Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series came up in conversation (as a group, you converted me, and I really like the series) a few months ago. It's been in my head ever since. The brief subject was, "I will never read a book with a female lead character and only read books with male lead characters."

Can you tell me more about this? Why this is so? Have you ever broken your own rule, and regretted it, or did not regret reading a female protag lead book but figured it was a fluke and you wouldn't do it again? Or the female POV just isn't interesting to you, even if the male POV is written by a woman (which you'd figure, is filtered through a female's POV anyhow).

All I have to go on are the reasons *I* think why, but I'd like to hear your own reasons, if you wouldn't mind telling me more about it. I think it's fascinating. I'm kind of in the same camp, but I have my own biases.

I'm a big fan of humor. Who isn't? Who doesn't love to laugh, cry and generally have a very emotive experience over their favorite characters? A few days ago I asked about SG-1 fics because that's the only fandom I've gotten into that deep for.

One of my favorite writers EVER in the humor genre (of the tongue in cheek variety) is Tiffany Park. She also specializes in writing about SG-3, whose commander of Colonel Makepeace who has a healthy and unrepentant rivalry with Colonel O'Neill of SG-1. And that SG-1-- they have the weirdest experiences that makes a red-blooded marine just roll his eyes...until he's in the middle of a genuine, off-beat SG-1 adventure centered in a Amazonian medieval culture. You never know who, or what, is going to be in the Gift Exchange. Every member of the team, SG-1 and SG-3 gets a fun characterization in this gem.

If you like horror, and the feeling that not everything was always so safe and mild going through the Stargate, check out River Run, wherein the stalwart SG-3 lead by Makepeace gets to battle a vicious, sneaky...well, you have to read it to believe it. SG-1 makes an appearance, too.

Watch O'Neill outmaneuver Makepeace in a battle of the ...bunnies? But, who really wins here? Just in time for Easter, too!

If you hate Spiders, you won't want to read this one. It reminds me a very creepy television episode of The Outer Limits (the new version) from a few years ago. Brrr. Makepeace and O'Neill battle spiders that have invaded the SGC. Eeek!

Check out the rest! And remember: set your tongue in cheek (except for the serious fics in there-and they are in there) and enjoy!

She's even got a couple of short Supernatural fics, and some Starsky and Hutch and Andromeda going on in there, too.

I'm sure ever since Twilight emerged from the depths of its originator's imagination, there have been articles about the main theme? premise? of Twilight, which is this: a girl is not complete until she has her man; and she will have nothing else in her inner life except her life with her man, who may treat her as he will, because she belongs to him.

Huh. I started to feel like I was talking about a Nun's relationship with her god. But I'm not.

Beauty and the Beast. Sleeping Beauty. Little Red Riding Hood. Cinderella. Just about all of these old, vicious fairy tales are wrapped up into the type of story that Twlight is.

But it's not only Twilight that treats it main female character as a commodity, belonging to the One Man she is Destined for. The supernatural romance books that parade around as Urban Fantasy these days are rife with them. Some of these books are marketed as Paranormal Romance, and others are marketed as Urban Fantasy, but the designation the book sellers use for them have no bearing at all on this.

Take...Christine Feehan's Dark Series, which also features vampires and a woman destined to be the man's One Mate. Almost without exception, the heroines of these books are owned by their males. The woman is also the male's keeper of life (or something similar) which reinforces her isolation. But the woman in these stories never feels abused, isolated or cut off from her life. The trope of Romantic Love dictates that she be happy when her circumstances are explained and *understood* by her to be her lot in life. She's supposed to happy as a slave working the fields...but that's okay, cuz the sex makes up for it all!

Other series also play on this domination trope. More than I care for, truthfully, and it's why I'm careful and picky when I head into these aisles. I suppose when you're a member of an underclass, or considered to be in one, it makes sense to invest in fantasies where someone who resembles you fights to the top of the hierarchy. Some of these writers make an attempt to counter heirarchy in their books-Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books come to mind, the ones that feature the Amazons. Susan Krinard (going way back) also plays with hierarchy within the confines of a werewolf pack. Most of her women are strong, as strong as the men they end up with-and almost always, they are *equals* by the end of the story. A romance like that is one hundred times sexier than one where the woman lies back and takes it and loves it because she doesn't know better.

It's the unconscious application of this trope-Me Man, You My Woman-and the blind acceptance of it, or the *calculated use of it* that infuriates me. Stories aren't just stories, even when, especially when, they're romance and supposedly a lower level of fiction because it's written for girls and women. They're still significant. And I think it's scary how large the market apparently is for this trope.

There's an interesting Peter Straub interview here. One of the quotes that stuck out as I read it was this one:

"That gave me the opportunity to wake up Tim Underhill from the dream world and bring him back into my real world, so l could spend more time with him and enjoy myself in the way you do when you see someone you've been missing. It sounds a little like The Twilight Zone, but the people a writer makes up have a great deal of reality to their inventor."

That seems to be true for many writers-is it true for you? It's certainly true for readers, who love series of books that revisit their favorite characters time and again.
It wasn't that the door felt like rough tree bark, nor that it was curved just like a tree, that freaked Jake out. No, it was when he turned around to make sure that his room was still there and it wasn't that got him panicking.

He slid down the surface of what used to be door. His butt landed on hard packed loamy soil, nice and moist, that soaked through his jeans. He ignored that. His gaze when up. And up. And up. Sherman Sequioa? Had nothing on this tree.

"Pssst." He swatted at his ears as if a fly buzzed his face. "PSST," it went louder.

He thought he heard a sigh, and screamed like a 3 year old when a hand shook his shoulder.

"There! Hello! Do you see me now?" A girl about his age stood in front of him, her arms crossed, her mouth drawn up in a puzzled one sided what-the-heck expression.

"I-" he started. He closed his eyes, drew a deep breath of moist foresty green air and let it out a minute later. "Where is this? And who are you?"

The girl brushed dark dirt off of her jeans. "You answer my question first: how did you get here? I turned around, and there you were, looking like Princess Leia right after she was dumped off her forest speeder."

"I don't know. I was in my room, my door changed, I touched it, and...here I am." He gazed at her intently and jerked his head expectantly.

She squatted down in front of him. Her face looked green in the filtered light. "I don't know where this is. I don't know how I got here, either. I was sneaking out of the house, the bushes next to it got larger and larger and larger and-here I am."

Jake darted his eyes about. "Have you seen any elves? You know. Like in Lothlorien? Or orcs?"

"Uh, no. If I'd seen Orlando Bloom running around, I'd have remembered that." She stood up, stretching. "Want to look around? Maybe we'll see a street light or something. Or meet a witch. Or what the heck-maybe an Ewok!"

Jake's lip lifted at the top. "I hope not. My luck I'll run into a Gingerbread House run by a cannibal witch. What's your name?"

"Kalpana, dork." She glared, challenging him to make a comment.

He stuffed his hands in his pockets, ignoring his soaked behind. "Jake. And I'm not a fan of the Ewoks."

She jumped over a root. "Don't care. Luke's a wuss."

He had to take his hands out of his pockets. It wasn't easy following her over roots and rocks, split like clay balls, without using his arms for balance. The trees were spaced at least a block apart, but considering they were each the size of a skyscraper, that didn't surprise him. "Hey, look!" He caught up to Kalpana. "Over there. Do you see it?"

Kalpana followed the direction his finger pointed and peered for a moment. "Stairs?"

"Yeah. Carved into the side of the tree."

"They start kinda high up, though," she said. "But the bark's pretty rough. Do you think you can climb it?"

"Can you?"

ten minute exercise TBC
Wow. The year I decide I can't do NaNo, all the flisters on my list who couldn't before, suddenly can, and do.

/whine and pity party
 Wow, I can't believe I wrote that much! Over 5,000 words! Rewriting my old manuscript! It's weird how, even though I'd write without it in front of me, the same ideas cropped up about the characters doing them in roughly the same order, only with new words. Very strange. It's like my head really does lock into one way of 'seeing' a story and putting it down, unless I go ahead and consciously try to gussy it up. Of course, I did reread the original manuscript a couple of days ago, and probably got the memes in my head that way, but still...

Anyway! Yay, going to write more on it and figure out a way to finish it. I mean, I actually DO think I know how it's going to end (there's currently no ending in the written story). It's like I never left it.
Okay, perhaps as a subgenre, it really isn't THAT new. After all, fictional dog stories have been around forever, since before Anubis or Cerebus poked their heads out of the collective human imagination.

I was in Target this morning, gathering Valentines Day treats and cards for the kids, the Guy, and one of the kids' classes, and wandered over to the book section. And I was amazed at the number of Dog Memoir books that were on the shelf. It's not as apparent to me in a Barnes and Noble because of the size of the store. But at Target? Wow. I counted at least nine books with dogs on the covers. They varied in focus from the dog being the main focus, or the dog being a featured part of someone's life, but still, more or less as part of their life. 

It's an interesting phenomenon. After all, I don't see reams of books centered on pet cats, lolling on their owner's laps and uplifting their lives. Could just be the nature of the beast (so to speak). Most of the books I've skimmed through center on the life, and then eventual death, of the family's dog, going into great detail of the grief process, and how the dog affected not only their, but other's lives, through their very existence.

I suppose Dog Memoir books help their readers get through or remember their OWN dog experiences, and the sadness of their pet's passing. Heck, I was tearing up at the description of the after effects of one memoir dog's death. It brought back the death of my own favorite dog. He died over twenty years ago. Did his life fit within the formula I see in these books? (after all, how different can all these dogs' lives be, except for their owners' lives?)  Most likely, yeah, his life did. Is it enough to write a memoir about? I've no idea. 

What about you? And your pets? Could you write a succesfull memoir featuring them?

Are their other subgenres that you know about, that others might not have realized are out there? Speak out!
 Duma Key rocks. Big time. It's first person (told the entire way through) and like Dolores Claiborne, King's other first person novel, is really really good. It's about a lot of things; recovering from injuries of the mind as well as body; reaching out; and mingled in with that, how a family in the past recovered (or didn't) from traumatic incidents of a supernatural nature (or are they?).  It's not vague like Haunting of Hill House, where you're never sure if the main character is crazy, if the house is crazy, or what - but it owes a fair amount of its atmosphere to Shirley Jackson's famous haunted house tale.

The walking wounded abound in this story - about the only person who isn't, is Edgar (Allan Poe's) daughter. Edgar shares his last name with Abigail Freemantle, of The Stand, and it's apparent that in a slight, narrow way, this novel is connected with The Dark Tower series, although not directly. King has said in interviews that this book is his version of Divorce. In a way it is. Divorce from your old life, your wife, your former way of being, and into another stage where you might change, but perhaps not altogether willingly.

Yeah, I highly recommend this one. Even if you're not a King fan. He avoids a fair number of his worst tropes (the Wise Black Man/Woman) for the most part, and the pay off at the end is worth it. And if you're the least bit creative with art, writing, photography, I think you can understand what he gets at when Edgar, the main character, talks about what it feels like to be in the midst of a creative rush.
By the Waters of Babylon is one of the earliest SF short stories I ever read, and it's stuck with me through the years. I first read it because it was in my big sister's 9th grade reader (I'm 5 years younger, give or take, which means I first read it when I was in fourth grade). After the first read, time passed, and I couldn't remember where I'd read that story. Then *I* went into 9th grade, and there it was! Yay!

And now, years later, I found it on Wiki, which has a book repository of out-of-copyright books and short stories. Very cool. I now have that elusive story stored on my computer. Yup. Still a great story - and it fits in GREAT with the TV special on the History Channel, "Life After People", which just aired.

 Er... sort of what I mean.  :-)

Meaning, and I *know* this is piddly to those Excel experts amongst my flist, but I *finally* learned how to make a subtraction formula, and place it in the correct cell, in order to get the result I wanted!

What I did was translate a Food Diary book (Calorie King's) into my PDA Pocket Excel. It mimics the paper Diary's pages *exactly (down to the line count) BUT I added in sum columns for the calory counts and for the Exercise column, too. And from there I added a Net Calorie cell which subtracted the total exercise negative calories from the food calories, to get my total result! Whee!

I'm going to make enough copies of that spreadsheet to take me through to the end of March. Is there an upper limit to how many pages of worksheets there can be?

Oh, and I *also* killed some time while the kids were playing in an indoor playground with a bounce house in it (yay!) by creating an Excel Month Calender. Oh, sure sure, the PDA has a calender for appointments and stuff like that, but I needed an undated calender to create a Food Planner/Scheduler. I'm sure there's a lot I can do with it, like hyper link from the cell to the recipe list I need...I just don't know how to do that.

And now I should get writing on my new project, The Sandbox...or maybe In The Box, whatever. I'm spinning the characters out of the air right now, trying to figure out who the kids are, and what it is they find, and if it's SF or F or what!

Oh, and Tiv? My trigger finger is sooo itchy. It's still hovering over that buy button on Amazon. The Asus is even on the Buy List, just waiting, waiting, waiting...  ::::finger twitches::::
An article by Elizabeth Moon, and excellent writer who is fantastic at hooks in her stories. Read it!  And no, I don't care if I've mentioned this article before on my LJ. It's well worth rereading.

Here's the URL: http://www.westhollywoodbookfair.org/

Lots of guest authors (some names I recognized), a few genre SF/Horror/manga panels, tons of vendors and performances and readings, including one with Barbara Bain, she of Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999 fame. Gore Vidal is there.  

Sunday September 30th from 10am to 6pm. And yeah, I'm planning on being there. There are also workshops for screenwriters and plenty of things going on!

There's a California Writers Club with 14 branches all over California. Here's their URL, if anyone is interested: http://www.calwriterssfv.com/

The SFV branch has meetings every second Saturday of the month with guest speakers. October's speaker is an active screenwriter named Michael Titch, I believe. It's $45 to join (with a $20 registration fee). Anyone in the area want to go with me in October to their meeting?  

Oh: and here's a thought for the day: Never drink most of a can of Java Monster at nighttime. You might find yourself up until the wee hours of the morning (say, like 5am) watching 8 Below and not feeling the least bit sleepy. Argh!
gategrrl: (Bhuddist Rock in Nepal)
Not much up these days. I did go on a book-binge, though, and bought two books (with 40-50% coupons) about page design and one with prompts in it about writing about yourself (that has beyond-crappy page designs in it).

Book of Me - This is the one a bunch of folks on my scrapbooking list were going on and on about, so I went to Borders and ordered it, which was a dumb thing to do. I *should* have gone to Amazon *first*, and looked through the pages. Although the personal prompts in it are fine, there really isn't a wealth of self-questions and thought provokers. And more than that, although I know the scrapbook design isn't the main thrust of the book, the examples given are just awful, badly designed and done in some sort of Midwestern Unsophisticated design philosophy.

What About the Words? - This is an interesting book. It's full of ways to integrate text/thoughts/emotions/details in word form into your scrapbook page. There are lots of examples by different people with a wide-ranging variety of styles. The pages shown hang together a lot better than the ones in the Book of Me. The examples are funky, balanced; and the ideas within them are good ones. 

Clean and Simple (the sequel) - This book turns out to be an epiphany of clean graphic design coupled with great ideas for writing about yourself and the moments that actually mean something to you - and that it's okay to NOT scrapbook every single photo you take from an event. (that's my biggest failing) and that you don't have to use tons of junk on your page. All that stuff (tages, doodads, stickers, etc) is purely stylistic, and not really necessary. (but I know of people who live for that stuff). I've already starting thinking of a few great ideas for the *details* in my life that I can document - like The Search for the Perfect Purse. I mean, who *hasn't* gone on that quest?  

For scrapbooking, there seem to be a few schools of thought. One school of thought is to use scrapbooks as a documenter of one's family, with little cute notations and quotes, but with little genuine emotional content. The other school of thought treats scrapbooking journalistically - basically as biography with photographs and design and tons of emotional content.

I've done it both ways - with family albums (two so far) that detail events, mainly, but little of my actual presence. And in another book, about the Fandom Nomads and our adventures. But I didn't really write too much about how I felt about it all; mostly about the events.

On another related front, I bought a book called The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman. He's an agent in NYC. The book's subtitle is "8 Ways to Bring Your Fiction to Life". It's got some interesting stuff in it mostly in the form of questions about character, ratcheting up suspense. I haven't gone into the book deeply yet; it's not really an instruction manual like many of the other "how to" books I own - it's more of a "Here are some things to think about when you're designing your characters, and why you should think about these things" kind of book.



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