Get Ready…Set…

In less than 24 hours (for me) NaNoWriMo starts. Are you ready? I’m pretty sure that I am. My characters have been walking around in my head, getting to know each other. The fantasy world is solid. My chapter plan is prepared. And I have the opening line figured out.

Tonight, I will set up the template so that tomorrow afternoon (after work) I can just open the document and start typing. However, with luck, I might even make a start at work. I rarely write at work, but every paragraph counts in November. 😀

During the last few days I’ve tried to catch up with everything else I normally do. I even tried to set up my scanner, but discovered the software isn’t compatible with XP. Whilst I can use the scanning software built into XP with my scanner, I don’t want to because it means I have to scan the photo and then open the image in another program to cut it down to size. That’s double handling and I’m too lazy to do all that, especially when I have hundreds of photos that I intend to scan. It’s too time consuming. This means, I may have to look at replacing the scanner. They are not that expensive, but I’ll have to think about it.

Anyway, tonight is the last night to relax before the storm hits. What do you plan to do in those final hours before NaNo?

Countdown is On!

At this time in three days I’ll be happily (hopefully) typing away at the first chapter of book 2 – Cat’s Paw – during my first session of NaNoWriMo for this year. In the meantime, I’m trying to get all the other things I normally do out of my system. Because November will be a full month of writing and I won’t have time for anything else.

Yesterday, I played the Playstation for hours! It was so much fun. Killing monsters, finding clues, trying to keep my characters alive long enough to get to the next save point. I did well.

G walked through the lounge room several times, shaking his head. At one stage, he said, “I was totally wrong about you.”

“What about?”

“I thought you were nice and sweet.” He shook his head again. “How did I get involved with a blood thirsty killer?”

I laughed. “I’m a good actress.” I gave him my best “innocent” smile and then turned and killed another monster.

Then, when my head was about to cave in from having television eyes, I turned my attention to a project I’m planning for 2007. The details are a secret until December, but I made excellent progress with what I was doing. Thing is, I can’t figure out why my head was about to explode with staring at the television, but when I stared at the computer instead, it was fine. I guess it’s like eating a roast dinner when you’re a kid. Eating all those vegetables fills your stomach to the brim, until you know that one more mouthful will result in something terrible happening. But when, a moment later, apricot danish and custard is put in front of you…there’s plenty of room! I used to try and explain this to my parents, “Mum, desserts go down a different hole and go to another part of the stomach. That’s why there’s always room for dessert.”

She never did believe me! 😉

The third “project” for yesterday was to start reading a new book, but I didn’t get around to that. I spent too many hours on the other two things. We ended up staying up real late (1am)…but…I forgot about daylight savings starting. The clocks (for us) went forward an hour, so it was, in fact, 2am! No wonder my eyes are hanging out of my head today.

With 48 hours of freedom left (before NaNo starts), I am torn between relaxing with that book I plan to read next (False Impression) and seeing if I can put a huge dent in the number of pages I read between now and then. Or…will I use that time to set up my scanner and scan in my photos so that I can make a DVD presentation of Barry’s life. There’s no hurry for either so I’m not pressured to make a decision. I’ll just go with the flow.

On a side note: I’m listening to The World’s Greatest by R. Kelly. It’s a song that Barry used to listen to a lot. It’s so inspirational, so uplifting. At this moment, I’m feeling positive. I feel that life is slowly improving. It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt since 18 May 2006. Life will be good again, I can feel it.

The Fog, Hagwitch and False Impression

With less than two hours sleep last night, I’m moving through a day of fog. My mind is sluggish at best, my eyes are blurry, and my stomach…you don’t want to know! I’m not sure if I’ll make it through the day (at work).

I remember thinking during the night, “this is an all-nighter without actually getting anything done”, and then squeezing my eyes shut and hoping for sleep to find me. It didn’t. I guess I’ll be having an early night tonight. It’s Friday, I like staying up late on Friday night.

Ellie and the HagwitchAnyway, at the beginning of the week, I finished reading Ellie and the Hagwitch by Helen Cresswell. It wasn’t a bad story, but it didn’t do much for me either. I think it was because the story was too much like a fairy tale. You know, “Once upon a time…” and “…they lived happily ever after”. Not my thing at all. However, the author did impress me with how she brought everything to a clear close, even what happened to the poor cat in the story. It was a good reminder for “make everything count” and, as a writer, I appreciated a good example of that.

My next reading attempt will be an adult book. Shock, horror! G has False Impression by Jeffrey Archer sitting on the shelf. I’ve read one of Archer’s books – As The Crow Flies – which kept my interest from page one to the last word. False Impression sounds interesting so I’ll see how I react to this book and then I’ll share that reaction with you.

Introduction to Podcasts

Podcasting isn’t new to the internet, but it is new to me. I was introduced to podcast through Terry at Never Was (website no longer exists). Each Friday, Terry releases the next episode of his serialised story called Shadow Hunter. So far, I’ve enjoyed every instalment and have become a regular listener.

For me, I would prefer to listen to a short piece of fiction in this way rather than try and read it onscreen. Honestly, I would soon give up on a serialised story if I had to read it every week/day, but listening to a podcast is different. I can sit back and enjoy the scene, sipping my hot cup of tea, without any effort whatsoever.

I’m yet to listen to other podcasts though. Terry features a promo each week. They always sound interesting. However, upon checking them out I have found that the episodes can be quite long, which I find off putting.

If you haven’t listened to a podcast before, why not head over to Never Was and listen to a few episodes of Shadow Hunter. And if you want to try a few others, then you should go through the list at The Podcast Directory, I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.

Losing the Plot

We go through life filling in holes. Holes in our teeth are quickly seen to by a trip to the dentist. Holes in the road are repaired by Council (sometimes and notice I didn’t say quickly either). Holes in the wall can be fixed with a bit of know-how and patience. Even holes in knitted jumpers can be stitched together. But what about the holes in our story plots? Can they be fixed as easily?

Yesterday, I started work on my chapter plan and discovered holes in my plot. They were shallow holes, but a hole is a hole and they need to be fixed. Needless to say, I went to bed feeling a bit low last night. I had worked hard on my planning all weekend, only to discover that I still hadn’t done it properly.

Today, determination set in and I set about mixing a good textured paste that would fill in those holes once and for all. It took many hours, but I succeeded. And here I am at the end of the day with a solid chapter plan for Cat’s Paw.

Thing is, now I should go back and make some amendments to the other steps in my planning. I should, but I’m not going to do it. The Snowflake method of planning a story is great. Personally, I don’t use all the steps and I don’t feel the need to go back and make changes to earlier stages. I have my characters planned, the plot is now solid and the chapter plan is ready. I no longer need those earlier steps. They served their purpose and now it’s time to think about the opening sentence…to be written on 1 November 2006.

One-Page Summary

It’s amazing how an idea can turn completely around in a matter of a week. Last week, my characters were chasing a known kidnapper, but this week a new character enters the story – Kao and the plot has gone in a new direction. This new character (notice I didn’t call him a human or a person; there’s a good reason for that) is weaker than the antagonist in Book 1. But weak doesn’t mean two dimensional; it means he is unpredictable because he’s scared and he takes unnecessary risks. Sounds like a great characteristic for a story!

The fantasy world in which the story is set has grown too. I am enjoying the turn in events here. I did some research (I’m not telling you what about, because it’s a secret) and discovered that what I planned for the setting is actually a real, but not well known, myth. Perfect!

With characters coming alive in a setting that feels real, the one-page summary of the story flew onto the page. From this summary, I will write a chapter plan, which will be a little more difficult, but come 1 November I’ll be ready. I’ll still have room to be creative, because I haven’t planned every detail. I just like a rough plan so that I know how to get from point A to point B and then to point C and so on. I will still have to make decisions along the way, but at least I’ll know where I’m heading. I never did like driving without a map.

Surprises with Every Step

I made a discovery today. I discovered that what we believe is our aim when planning a story, isn’t necessarily what we are really aiming for at all.

That makes no sense, I know. I thought the theme behind book 2 was to do with “walking in your father’s footsteps”, but it became absolutely clear to me this afternoon that the theme for this book is actually to do with “communication”.

Shocked by this, I had to rethink my earlier steps to ensure I’ve got the theme covered and what do you know…I have! Now I’m doubly shocked. Who said planning was not beneficial? It is!

With this revelation, I am pleased to announce that I’ve completed the first three steps of the Snowflake method of writing a novel. I now have a solid plot, a good theme, two exciting new characters and some existing characters with realistic problems of their own. Yeah, there’s a setting too, don’t worry.

The next step is to turn the one-paragraph summary of the story into a page. I like this step. It helps me iron out problem areas, whilst filling in the blanks. Then, after this step, I’ll write out a chapter plan and then I should be ready to write.

Full steam ahead.

It’s In the Post

Part of my day job as a secretary is chasing overdue accounts. It’s the one part of my job that I don’t enjoy, and can be stressful. One thing I hear often is, “it’s in the post” and I know that 95% of the time I’ve just been told a lie. I get so angry at that because the person may fall into the other 5%, so I have so be polite and say thank you.

One long time company who is permanently on my list has gone way past the “it’s in the post” stage. Now, as soon as I ask for the accounts department (I do ask for the person by name) I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to be told, “she’s not at her desk”. Well, on Friday, I’d been told that once too often (every day for the last week) and I decided that enough was enough. I told the reception that the person concerned was never at her desk and she should be replaced. I then went on to say that I’d come to the end of my patience and I’d no longer talk to the puppet, I wanted to talk to the puppet master. “Put me through to her boss.”

My anger came through in my voice. The receptionist knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I spoke to someone, and I spoke to someone who could make a decision…now! She put me through.

Oh, the big boss himself. That didn’t faze me. I promptly told him that his accounts clerk was never at her desk and needed sacking. Then I told him that if a cheque was not forthcoming then all future reports would be held until payment was received. (Reports that I might add are essential to their own business.) He put me on hold for almost two minutes, that annoyed me too, but when he came back he told me that a cheque would be posted that afternoon. I told him we’d hold the reports until the payment was received, and hung up.

We’ll receive the cheque on Monday.

What’s this got to do with anything? Nothing really. When I typed in the title of this post, I thought of that story (which is 100% true). It shows how words can spark emotions in us. “It’s in the post” are such words for me.

However, today it’s my turn to say “it’s in the post” and I’m not telling fibs. Cat’s Eyes is in the post to the publisher. My feelings, instead of the usual anger at hearing those words, are ones of elation. I’m so excited!

These feelings alone are different for me. In the past, with previous manuscripts, I have felt uncertainty and worry, but with this manuscript I am feeling quite positive. Maybe this publisher won’t be interested (that would be their loss, however), but this manuscript is not sagging in the middle, does not have cardboard characters and isn’t lacking a believable plot. This manuscript is solid. I’m proud of it. And yes, I am biased, but I believe this manuscript has a future.

Must run, I have a story to plan!