Posts Tagged With: practice

A Change, and a Vignette

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I’m all off this week because of the holiday.  Mondays off always throw me for a loop – not that I’m complaining.  But the Thursday blog entry is now a Friday blog entry since everything is a day removed.

Speaking of which… I’ve had some time to review this year in blogging and have decided to make a change and post book reviews here MUCH less in the new year.  Caseykins.com was always meant to be an author site, and I feel like it’s getting away from its purpose if all I do is post about books that often aren’t even in the genre I’m writing in.  So… I started another blog for the reviews.  I’ll likely still post the quarterly reading list here, and blog anything I totally fall head over heels for.  But in general I’m trying to keep all things novel to Book Dragon.  And that way if you like the book reviews, you can get that almost exclusively.  And if you like these little writing process and slice of life things, you can get that almost exclusively too.  This year was the first year I didn’t see a dramatic growth in people visiting the site, and I feel like the confused image might be some of the problem…

One of my tasks for the New Year was to incorporate more practice into my writing.  I’ll most likely be trying to substitute the book posts with these little vignettes.  I wrote this after visiting the Santa Monica Pier with Brian on the 1st.  It was crazy-busy down there, but still a good trip:

 

Brian and I sat on a concrete bench on the busy, bright pier for quite a while, just watching the waves crash on the thick barnacled supports beneath us.

A family came soon after we sat and took the other end of the bench.  They weren’t speaking English. I don’t know if it was French or what (I don’t think it was French really), but they were all older people, the men with close-cropped hair and the women wearing bright floral scarves tied under their throats. One of the men was pushing an empty stroller, and in the arms of the other man was a small girl with the curliest and reddest of hair. She was wearing a pink fuzzy coat with yellow butterflies clipped all over it. Their crepe wings fluttered in the ocean breeze. The family sat down next to us, and she threw herself backward in the arms of her father? Grandfather? And squealed every time the orange roller coaster swooped past with a rattle.

Eventually she started to fuss a bit, and the man started to sing to her. I didn’t recognize all of it, but one of the verses seemed to be a question about kilometers. And then he sang her Frere Jaques. That was her favorite, because she sang it back, her little voice not making all the syllables. She squirmed to get down, and continued singing while yanking herself backward on the steel pier railings, her little feet, in white tights, still on the wood deck.

It was sweet, and it made me smile.

The family took a selfie with the waves in the background, the shoreline stretching like a crescent behind them into oblivion.  And then they bundled their things and strolled away again towards the food booths.  The little girl was probably too young to remember her trip to California. Not through anything other than pictures of herself.  But I’ll remember her now.

 

Photo credit to Brian.  Thanks, dear!

Categories: Fiction, Life, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

NaNoWriMo 2016

Well, it’s the time of the year again where I agonize over whether or not I’m going to do NaNoWriMo.  I don’t know why it’s even a debate anymore, really, except that it’s never a good time to drop whatever I’m currently working on for a new thing.  And to be honest, it’s getting a little overwhelming how many terrible first drafts of novels I have sitting around waiting for me to get to them.

Still, I’ve been doing this for six years now, and I’ve won every year.  There’s history in the game now, and I’m not going to break the streak.  Especially when I can tell myself all sorts of good stories about needing to incorporate more practice into my writing and how Nano is the ultimate practice.

On that note, I’ve decided I’m going to push through in October on getting as much done on my other projects as possible.  And then I’m going to see if I have what it takes to write a romance novel.  I’ve been reading enough of them, and I’ve been wondering for over a year now if I might make a go at writing something a bit feminist to join the immense pack of well written things that are a little bit suspect in message.  Nano is for finding things out.  If it turns out I can’t write a romance novel, then I’ve only spent a month on figuring that out.  The bonus of not being able to do it means that I also won’t have another hurt first draft of a novel sitting lonely on my computer.  The bonus of finding out that I can write one is that there will be more feminist romance out there in the world.  Maybe, eventually, if I ever get to editing it.

Because of course I’m being feminist about it.  And wildly American, surprisingly.  I’ve picked a really terrible title and am looking for better suggestions, if you have any.  It’s got to be punny, with bonus points for those that mash up second wave feminism and bawdiness (or first wave, or third… I’m not picky).  Brian came up with “Romancing The Vote” which almost works, but doesn’t quite.  Here’s my hastily scrubbed together cover and synopsis:

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In Suffrage or in Health:

Boston, 1891.  Charlotte keeps a close secret that would surely ruin her and all her marriage prospects if discovered: her pen name is Susan Catt and she’s the one behind all the incendiary suffragette articles in Frank Godwin’s Illustrated Magazine.  And with handsome but proper Henry Harcourt just about to propose it’s more dire than ever that Charlotte keep that other name from ever getting out.  After all, Henry is everything she said she wanted with plenty of gilded halls and money besides.  Isn’t he?

If only broke, uncouth Frank Godwin wasn’t so tempting… And so willing to accept her as herself.

Anyway, I’m happy I’m keeping to tradition.  I’ll have a full on outline in a few days, and then I just need November 1st to roll around so I can start cranking out the words.  It’s nice to be done with this so early in the game; quite a change from last year when I did this all without an outline 2 days before the deadline and imploded a week later. But I also know from much Nano experience that pre-planning alone is not enough to keep the implosions at bay.  Think good thoughts for me.

Need a writing buddy?  Come find me!  I’m Caseykins, and I will 100% buddy up to you back: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/caseykins

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A Busy June

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Hello Again!  I know there’s been radio silence for quite a while over here.  Sorry about that.  But in good news, the novel is finally finished!!!  Which means I’ll be slaving away on the synopsis so I can start shopping it… That’s the worst part. Ugh.

And here’s another warning that posting may not be as regular as I’d like for the next month or so, although I’ll try.  I’m traveling quite a lot in June and will probably forget that it’s Monday and there is a blog due, or Thursday, or whatever.  I shall try my best.

The novel being done means I’ll have to decide what I’m working on next.  I have 3 other novels that are currently in first draft form, and I assume I’ll pick one and start editing that one up.  But I’ve been working on a novel constantly for 5 years now, and I’m a little loathe to just dive right into another one.  Plus, I’ve been reading about the benefits of practice in artistic endeavors.  I’m taking June to have a little fun.  I’ll be using my 20 writing days to do a little practice writing with no outcome expected other than weirdness.  I’ve created sort of a Pinterest board for things I’m thinking about, if you’d like to see what I’m planning for those few stories.  It’s here.  They may or may not appear on the blog, depending.

And that’s all the shop I’ll talk today.  Brian and I went on an epic journey last weekend to see a VW Spider sculpture, visit the bearded cowboy muffler man, eat shakes at the International Banana Museum (it’s not just a banana museum… it’s international), and ended up at Salvation Mountain, which was a little like being in a Seuss book if Seuss had been rampantly Christian.  It was a lovely day, and we couldn’t stop giggling through the whole thing.

We’re off again on a secret birthday adventure this weekend.  Brian won’t tell me where we’re going.  It’s a tradition. Here are the clues I have so far: it’s an outdoorsy thing and I should pack for hiking, but we’re not actually camping.  I don’t really need to worry too much about the 100+ temperatures forcasted for Redlands and the desert areas east of us.  He’s packing breakfast and lunch fixings.   It could be anything, right?

And then we’ll be in Massachusetts next weekend for a wedding and much pilgrim goodness.  Yeah, it’s pretty crazy around here.  But it’s all fun, so I’m not complaining.

See you when I see you.  I’m sure it will be soon.

Categories: Life, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Writing, and Quantity

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I read somewhere about in a study they did with musicians in college.  They found that the amount the musician practiced determined how successful they were later in life.  1-2 hours a day, and the person usually became a music teacher or did small ensemble work.  The folks that got the prestigious Philharmonic gig were practicing 3+ hours a day in addition to all the ensemble work they were doing for class.  I’m trying to apply that to my writing, although I’m not terribly sure how well I’m succeeding.  I know I’m hitting 1-2, just not sure if I’m getting all the way to that 3 mark.

I say this, because I realized this week that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about how the writing is going.  It’s going as well as it ever goes.  Some days it feels like I’m charging along.  Other days it feels like I’m flogging myself because I need to write and I just don’t want to.  I am in the weeds of the messy last ½ of Blue Gentian, and not enjoying it.  But I am making progress.  I’m trying to tell myself that I hate it because I’ve been over it too many times, and that it’s not a reflection of the actual writing.  I’m trying to tell myself that it’s definitely not a practice novel and it’s worth it to keep going.  Brian has been bucking me up about it as needed.

I’m hopeful that when I finish this draft, I will be awfully close to being able to shop it. Brian is my alpha reader, and he will have been through it all at that point and all revisions will be made.  I’m working on my synopsis and on my pitch letter.

When Blue Gentian gets too depressing, I’ve started to put together the 2nd draft of my next book – about a girl who has to travel to the Egyptian temple in the Grand Canyon to release a goddess from bondage so that the world doesn’t implode into a thing full of nothing but h bombs, earthquakes, and polio.  It’s set in the 1950s.  That’s going well, but slowly.  I’m in love with the world, so it’s nice to be in the middle of it for a while. Even if I’m not quite sure what the next part of the story should be.

I have a couple of short stories that are also going slowly, and I am shopping around another short.  Mostly it’s a waiting game at this point.  I hope to hear this weekend from the place I have it now, and then be ready to send it to the next place if the news is bad.  Spoiler: the news is almost always bad, although I’m a little more hopeful that this mag will say yes than I am for most others.

That’s how it’s going.  I’m plugging along.  And I’m hoping that quantity will eventually turn into quality.  I think the odds are in my favor.  If I can just get to hour 3…

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