Saturday, December 31, 2011

Internet wanderings

Wow....suddenly I feel like I have no artistic talent whatsoever.... O.O

I've tried sculpture work. I really have. I suck at it. I've never seen anything like this artist's work before. It just blows me away.

I love vacations

One of the things I love about the military is they give you a lot of days for taking off on vacation. Except for when they call you in twice during your break, but that's another story.

I'm getting so much writing and painting done. I feel like I'm in a creative glut right now that I never want to end.  I've finished editing FINDING THE CHOSEN. I've finished writing the first draft of THE REVENANT. I've started writing THE OMEGA (sequel to THE REVENANT). I've written about four novellas and short stories  and am on the second draft of one that I'm selling to a friend who's starting up his own online publishing house. I've painted a lot. I've knitted a lot. I'm more than 2/3rds of the way through Asssassin's Creed II and nearly to season three of watching Xena on Netflix.

I don't want to go back to work.  :D

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays to all my readers! Whatever beliefs you hold, I hope you have a very good day.

In writing news, I've finally finished putting in the red pen edit changes for FINDING THE CHOSEN. That took the book from 93,000 words to 101,000 words. Now I read it over one more time and send it off to my betas.

For those who've forgotten, FINDING THE CHOSEN is the prelude for a massively long book I wrote a number of years ago titled HUNTING THE RAPTURE. My agent sent Hunting off to Del Rey to look at and they liked it, but they wanted me to A: Take this 200,00+ word book and make it shorter, and B: Take this flashback scene midway through the book, make it longer, and stick it at the start. Instead, I suggested that I take Hunting and split it into two novels and take the flashback scene and expand it into a new book. So by the end of it, I'll have FINDING THE CHOSEN, HUNTING THE RAPTURE, and BREAKING THE LIMITS. Hopefully my Christmas present will end up being Del Rey buying all three.

It was actually interesting going back to a world I created about ten or more years ago. If I didn't think making this change wouldn't improve the book, I wouldn't have done it, but as it is, I enjoyed the process a lot more than I originally thought I would.

BTW, have a painting. Merry whatever. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Books, books, and more books

I was wandering the web and found this list. Apparently the BBC feels that most people will only have read six of the hundred books listed here.
Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchel
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
So I've read thirty-three of them. Not too bad. I found myself wondering why some books made it and some didn't. What about Bambi? Or Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Or King of the Wind? I also kind of wonder if they don't know that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is part of the Narnia Chronicles.
I notice I never did finish an Alexandre Dumas, that guy's writing is dry...
I also see a list of books here I really need to give a looksie at.  I so have the urge to read Oliver now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Unclogging the mental log jam

Right now, I'm writing a series I call The Cuckoo series. I'm on book three of four. No, I haven't sold it yet. I'm working on that.

Writing this series has been like pulling teeth. I think it's very good, but the plot has been fighting me like a rabid weasel. I had to put book one aside for six months until I figured out what to do with one of the plot points (the answer was toss it out and do something different).

Book two went quite easily, but book three turned into another slog at about the 85,000 word point. The other two are about 100,000, which left me with 15,000 words to decide what to do with this one jackass of a character that I needed to resolve before book four starts. I've been stuck at this point for about a month now and I've been dreading the thought that I was going to end up with another six months or more of writer's block on it. Or worse, that the whole thing would die on me.

This last week, I've been in Toronto for professional development with my coworkers. It was a good time. One of the seminars we attended, however, turned out to be a lot more relevant than I'd thought it would be. It was a seminar on creative thinking offered by the Fred Pryor Institute and taught by a woman named Glynis Devine, who was an awesome instructor. She taught us different ways of looking at a problem and finding a solution.

One of the techniques she taught us was to take a problem you're stuck on a solution for, like say a stalled plot line, and write down whatever you do know about it. The information you have, that is. Then write down what resolution you want. You do this right before your nightly ablutions, and then you go to bed. You literally sleep on it.

I forgot to do this the first night, but I did try it on the second. I know how I need the book to end, after all. I just hadn't figured out how to get there. That's normal for how I write. I know the beginning, I know the end, and I sort of discover the middle when I write.

At any rate, my phone died during the night, and I found out I'd slept in when my boss knocked on my hotel room door. This was our checkout day, so I had to frantically run around packing and trying to wake up and didn't think at all about my little experiment. Not until I was sitting in the car on the way back, reading a book on my kindle, and bemoaning the lack of coffee.

The plot for the book just dropped into my lap. Suddenly, I thought of something I hadn't considered before and the entire remainder of the book just came together. It was fantastic. I hauled out my Mac Air and typed on it until the battery died (forgot to charge it the night before too) and then I wrote in a notebook. Since I've been home, I've written 4000 words and it's flowing out of me as easily as anything else I've ever written, and it feels good.

My long, rambling point is, I highly recommend this as a technique to clear out a mental log jam. I know I'm certainly going to use it in future.  Thank you, Glynis.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ongoing as ever

I've been working on typing in the red pen edit changes on one of my novels. This unfortunately gives me an absolute splitting headache, so the process takes forever. I have over 150 pages to go and my brain hurts.

So, I've been doing other writing and art. I've written several short stories in the last week or so (writing with a fountain pen on moleskine paper is to die for) and created some digital paintings. I'm using CS5 for it and I think I've found my painting medium.

I've tossed some of my pieces up onto My Art page, but here's my latest. I quite like it.