Tag Archives: books

Learning Hurts Sometimes

Over the past year, with my writing group, I have learned so much. My writing buddies have discovered I have a hankering for terrible books and every time they run across one, they’ll tell me about it and I’ll read them. Or, at least the first third when I’ve had my fill and have to set it down shaking my head. I’ve run across some doozies.

The upside of this, I have recognized so many problems in my own writing because of it. I’m revamping my Upcoming Titles page. Those titles I just swooped off the page were pretty terrible and not just Impostor Syndrome terrible. Legit garbage.

In any case, I might have a stack of eighteen manuscripts, but most of those deserve to stay there. I wouldn’t say it hurts, quite, to scuttle them. I’ve been KonMari-ing my house and it feels so good to clean out a junk pile. It feels good to put those manuscripts aside and know they’re done. I might rewrite them someday because I still love their characters, but that’s that.

From that stack, I think six are good enough to revise. Some of that might be my Impostor Syndrome, and some of that might be “Oh, I think I read something like that in one of those terrible books my friends throw at me.”

In any case, I’ll be updating titles and teasers. I’m curious to see where my writing career is going, but until I get to it and start working at it like work, well, it’s just going to stay right here.

I’m glad you’re on this journey with me.

Deep Work and Flow and Motherhood

My husband bought Deep Work a while back. I was flipping through our Kindle library and saw it. I started to read it.

Interesting book. I’d agree that it’s hard to focus on deep work, that undistracted focus on something. It’s akin to Flow, getting so into what you’re doing you just lose track of everything and slide into that blissful work.

So, I’ve been reading this book today and at one point, the author, Cal Newport, was humblebragging that he didn’t have a smartphone.

I didn’t own my first smartphone until 2012 (when my pregnant wife gave me an ultimatum—”you have to have a phone that works before our son is born.”

Like, holy shit. Not being reachable to his pregnant wife wasn’t enough of a motivator to have a phone that worked? She had to tell him to get a phone.

So, as I pondered this, I ran into this HuffPo article on the Mental Load. (Heh, yeah, I haven’t been doing much deep work today 😂)  You Should’ve Asked is another good one.

And, as I’ve been pondering on this, I’ve been thinking about the privilege to just be the dad. To not worry about the kids so much. To not be carrying the load of the kid’s schedule, their next doctor visit, and oh yeah, the dog needs his rabies shot. And of course, not all moms are the primary caregiver, etc etc. However, I think the vast majority of stay at home mothers would fall under the primary caregiver category.

Honestly, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. My little yellow to-to book is full of house stuff and my writing stuff and our calendars and menu planning and a million little things to keep track of. I would be lost without my little planner. But to not even need it? Seriously, that blows my mind.

In college, I had a serious, passionate fling with physics. Then Calculus 2 happened. And happened again. And I tapped out. BUT during that very steamy year or two, I was in a lecture with … I don’t even remember her name. I wonder if I could even find it now. Anyway. It was about being a woman in the field. Another woman stood and said someone else (a man, of course) had said the best time to have a kid was in grad school. The speaker said she was super duper lucky because her employer was so amazing to her when she had her kids. The whole topic of children seemed like a minefield at the time.

And, it still is.

I wondered if writing this down would help me to tease any of it out, but I don’t think it did. It all comes down to being a woman in our society. Where we are so pro-life! HOORAY!! but then snarl about food stamps. Where there are so many hungry kids. When women who have chosen to be childless get badgered about when they’re having kids. There is no right answer. And I know I’ve fallen into so many of these same traps. I need to be beautiful. I need to be skinny. All this bullshit and privilege.

Anyway. Them’s my thoughts. I still have no idea how to work through it. I never got around to reading Lean In, but:

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And yes, I named my old Kindle “magic book holder.” I’m curious to see if this is enlightening. AND I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Revision

I’m back in Khazad-dûm. And it’s really not so bad. I outlined the Defiant Canary in my notebook and it’s really quite pleasing. It’s nice to have a path and know where I’m going and what I’m going to do.

The strangest thing about this book, I’ve made each POV switch its own chapter. I have a tendency to head-hop, but with three POV characters, it’s hard to keep it all straight. So, each is labeled with its respective owner.

Having the outline has made a world of difference. I cut out all the weird little half page POV snippets before I ran across them with a blue papermate. I can’t even tell you how demoralizing it is to be on a good clip with the revision and then finding there was all this weird work to do to get it into shape.

I think I have to have a set system for revision. I can’t just hack at it pell-mell as I usually do. I think the first step is to write down the outline and weed out all these weird half-page POV barfs. Do all the major structural stuff. Then use Suzanne Johnson’s excellent monster revision workshop. Like oh my god, take her workshop. It’s incredible. Her plotting workshop is rad af too. I think if I outlined, I wouldn’t have to take this first step of doing this structural step. But outlining is so meh in my brain. I’ve used her plotting ideas and melded them with my pantser ways to keep things organized better. Everything I’ve written since taking that workshopping class is in such better order and will be easier to revise. Anyway.

I’m feeling real good about this. I’ve been sending chapters as I revise them to my beta readers. It’s a fun story and there’s cultists and Cthulhu-esque whales and all manner of nonsense.

I think I have a real good chance of releasing this by June. That’s my plan. And then I think I’ll release Mort the month after. And then… I’m not sure. Probably The Washed Up Astronaut. Anyway. I have a ton of work all lined up. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m getting excited to see where this will take me. The more I write, the better I feel about what I’ve been writing. Anyway. I’m feeling super hopeful and excited and rad.

Time for some towel chucking

Well, I’ve finally accepted I’m not going to write 60k words this month. Which is way sucky because that means my word goal for October is going to be nearly 71k.

We fly out Thursday morning. That’s ohmygodohmygodohmygod less than 36 hours. I signed up for a plotting workshop. And a writing contest. You guys wanna read a hella depressing story? Here you go. And then that moment where you look at what you entered into a contest and go, “Wow, that’s really quite rubbish.” Anyway. Impostor Syndrome? Or just cold stark reality going, WTF YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO ENTER INTO A CONTEST?!

14322538_10100591737979431_1513431989361099003_nMy friend told me I had to let one thing slide. Well, I’m letting my word goal slide. I printed out my Defiant Canary manuscript. Of all my mss, I think Defiant Canary is going to be the easiest to edit and revise and get out there. Maybe that’s me just being lazy. But, maybe it’s just the nudge I need to get things rolling again. If I can get another book out and under my belt, then all the rest of the things that need finishing (I hear you manuscript pile! stfu!) can get finished too. Here’s the first chapter to The Defiant Canary. It’s… a weird story. I definitely write for myself. It’s paranormal romance with a touch of Lovecraft horror. Anyway. It’s rad and fun and sexy and has some fun characters doing some rad stuff. 😀

So, I have a little dose of failure-itis, not going to hit my goal, but… I still have October and I have November. And I have a rad book lined up for NaNoWriMo this year. I hit 85k last NaNoWriMo and I should be able to do that again.

Oh, one last discovery. I don’t value revision as highly as I value writing. A piece of me is delving into invisible work territory. Just like women’s work is undervalued because it’s invisible, maybe revision does the same? I have a blog post banging around about invisible work in my head that has been meaning to come out and I just haven’t done it yet. Anyway. I need a way to quantify my revision work. Or at least to see that it’s making a difference. Or… something.

This is probably my last post from US shores. And I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting from Okinawa. I’ll definitely be on Insta, so follow along there for sure.

And, I’ll be looking for test readers for the Defiant Canary when I get home in October. So, if you’re interested in that, email me at tremblingtrimble at gmail . com with BETA in the subject line and how you’d like your version, either pdf or for Kindle.

Snatched From The Jaws of Defeat!!

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Well well. I managed to do it. Almost, heh. Well, I will do it tomorrow.

The hubband has been out a lot lately and I’ve had a hell of a time keeping up the writing with him gone.

I was going to throw in the towel because it was too much to catch up. That was just too hard.

But my story has been whispering, “Hey. Write me. You can still hit 500k for the year as long as you write ~2k words a day. Doesn’t matter if you hit your stretch goal for the month because you just need ~2k today.”

I’m almost there. I’m going to hit the hay in a minute, but goddamn, it feels so good to be hitting 50k this month. Especially when it looked like I wouldn’t.

Something about a story finally firing on all cylinders and that moment of, “*gasp* I think [redacted] is going to die! But I love him. Oh, no! I love him!” and the sheer doggedness to get this story out. And the goal to have 4 stories written this year. (Aside. How many stories have I written this year?! I’m not even sure now. No, like legit, wtf have I written? Several half-cooked/finished stories and The Defiant Canary. At least I’ve accomplished something, heh. I feel like there was something else. No, maybe this is right.)

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.54.28 PMAnyway. I have my plan for NaNoWriMo for this year. I sent my friend the first part I wrote a few years ago. I had characters and a hook, but no plot. A few days ago a random plot dropped into my head from a plot faerie and I was, “Why, hello plot. I’d like to introduce you to my dear friends, character and hook.”

I’m getting super excited for November now.

My favorite thing with romance novels is I have the destination and some major wayposts. Fall in love. Break up. Get back together. Have some smashing hot sex along the way. But how they do those things… I have no idea. My notebook is full of story ideas and hooks and “Well, why do they break up?” I have no idea how things will happen. Sometimes my little darlings surprise me. And generally, I let them. I just follow them around and write down their exploits. Somehow, it makes me feel better to say they are the ones doing it. Not me. I don’t do mean, horrible things to people. But my characters? Some of them are fucking assholes. 😂

Anyway. Enough rambles for tonight. I’m just super excited about meeting my goal. Well, almost meeting it. Being caught up enough that I can pretty positively say I’ll hit it tomorrow. Here’s to scribbling and here’s to perseverance and here’s to just fucking doing it.

In other news, anyone know where I can find a gluten-free black and white cookie in Salt Lake?

Back on the Horse

That migraine knocked me out and off schedule. I’ve been having a hell of a time getting my shit back together.

It’s hard to maintain. It’s hard to find the motivation to wear so many hats. And maybe that’s just being whiny. I’ve always had some executive function issues. I had a hell of a time in high school. I’d always put things off until the very last minute. Same for college. The fact I was even able to put Just for Kicks up for sale is something of a miracle. It still surprises me sometimes.

So, trying to figure out how to make my brain work for me, not just get into its weird little ant trails, has been an ongoing challenge. Making rules has helped a lot. When I made the rule, I wake up early to write, I’ve woken up around six almost every day. Actually getting out of bed and writing didn’t happen, but I was awake. And goofing around on Facebook and Instagram. All the productivity stuff I follow is all about that first half hour of the day. And I’ve been frittering it away on social media nothingness.

But, I was up early this morning. Six. Without an alarm. Just Bzzzt! and I was awake. And I wanted to go back to sleep, but I just haven’t been able to fall asleep asleep after waking up. Just this shitty dozing that does nothing but make me crabby. I  figured out how my new project is going to start and I have a first chapter. That’s a real big motivator. I’ve been perseverating on it and now that I have it, I’m feeling it.

I know writing is war of attrition. I saw a presentation by Kristen Lamb a while back. She said that of everyone who wants to write a book, only 5% will actually start. Of those 5%, only 5% will finish. Of them, only 5% will edit. And on and on. Same goes with blogging. All you can do is just keep doing it.

So here I am. I’m just going to keep on keeping on.

WOOOOOOO

The Defiant Canary clocked in at 136,116 words. I hit my word goal of 63,969 for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m super excited I hit my word goal this month.

And I’m super bummed. Like mega-super-duper bummed. I really liked playing in this story. The characters were fun. The plot was all romance meets Lovecraft (well, lite. I’m missing out on all the racism and my cultists were, well, namby-pamby).

Now…. Well, I guess it’s time to start working on revising. This was a fun story. Last year’s NaNoWriMo was super fun too. I need to get these out.

Time to start doing the hard work. Time to start nibbling on that shit sandwich. Hey look! An olive!!