Category Archives: Works-In-Progress

Disasters and Drama–Take Your Pick

For those who’ve wondered what happened to me, here’s the long and short of it.

My desktop PC went into death throes and left me stranded with only an older laptop which wasn’t anti-virus protected. I had to buy a new computer. I got a new laptop, which had Windows 10, of course. The data from my desktop was in the hands of the Geeks, trying to recover as much as possible. My writing life was on that hard drive.

Well, poor, apologetic Geeks saved as much as possible to my external hard drive, but of my dozens of file folders, they could only retrieve A thru C. That meant I only had one novel, out of five, saved in its entirety. Four novels existed now in bits and pieces on flash drives or  in hard copy.

That’s four FINISHED novels awaiting final revisions, plus the entire plotline arc of the Wisher’s World Series.

Now you know why I’ve ben MIA. But, it gets better. Because of the new laptop and the old one, we had to get a new WiFi package upgrade (at a reduced price thought), a new modem and new router. It didn’t work. We had to wait several days for a tech to come to the house.

After that glitch was fixed (the new router was no good and had to be replaced), my new laptop decided to scare me half to death and go into hide mode where I could neither turn it off or turn it on. Yes, the gremlins had taken over my office and were playing hardball. A quick trip back to the Geeks had me up and running again. It seems that my computer has a major hibernation moe that required determination for circumvention of internal sleep mode.

That brought me to a few days ago. I was so stressed out by then and so fed up with trying to decipher Windows 10 that I let the new laptop sit and wait for me to deal with it. I went into distraction and escape mode for a few days. Today, I began tackling the arduous process of learning Windows 10, installing Office 10 again, and trying to get the app installed that will allow me to listen to music and watch movies on this new computer.

Oh, yes, that’s the other frustration. It seems that many of the new computers don’t come with media player anymore. You have to purchase one so you can use the DVD drive on said machine.

Now can you understand why communications hae been so difficulty for me lately? I pray you don’t have the problems I’ve had to deal with lately. Hopefully you won’t have to customize vision/audio settings to accommodate needs. Just finding the settings on Win10 that you want is a visual nightmare. It was not really designed to be user-friendly for the visually impaired.

So, that’s my current tale. Disaster in terms of time and data lost. Drama for the frustration and hair-pulling I’ve been faced with.

So, I’ve had my rant. I’ve gotten little done beyond that. I’ve gotten one short story revised–one written as part of a novel during November’s NaNo. I’ll be subbing it shortly to one of those lovely markets that actually pay for stories.

In the meantime, I’ll kep working on learning this new computer and its infuriating system. I’ll try hard to get back to you sometimes during this coming week with something other than grumbling.

It you have personal horror stories of your journey through Computerland, drop them into a comment below.

Have a great week, folks.

FLAFIWRIMO Flash Fiction Update

WSS-logo-260x260

Yes, there are two February challenges on my calendar; the FLAFIWRIMO flash fiction story-a-day challenge over at Wordsmith Studio and my write-in group’s annual February Writing Dash of 15K words new writing or thirty hours revision/editing work on previous material.

Each day is a sprint, especially when there’s also a six-member critique group in the mix working on something totally separate from the challenges. Today has been a major writing day for me.

Four flash fiction stories were done today because I got behind on that challenge. I still managed 2700 words on those four. This post will add a few more. Revision work will be for later and I’ll get an hour’s worth done before bed.

Tomorrow is critique work, another ff story, and more revision. On top of that is a study session to learn a new voice recognition program and time to put the finishing touches on my newsletter for the month.

Yes, I know it’s running a bit behind. It will get done and sent out shortly and then will come once a month, every month.

Just so that you’ll know that I’m really writing, I’m gone to give you tiny excerpts from the rough draft stories I did today. Here you go.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 5 Story

… I’m ready. Nothing can stop me taking my position in the middle of the pack. My teammates, helmets back in place, give me a small bow as I join them. The defensive players shake their heads and begin to laugh.

They don’t laugh long.

As the defense moves onto the scrimmage line, I wave at each player. That’s always my first engagement with the enemy.

It generally causes confusion. The action makes them wonder why I’m being so friendly. They don’t notice the slight air current rolling their way from my fingertips.

By the time my helmet is secured, the first rank of opponents have elbowed each other. The distraction gains momentum. Slurs and snarls begin to pass back and forth down the line ,,.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 6 Story

Being cursed isn’t the worst thing in the world. Believe me. I know.

About a year ago, I bought a lottery ticket. One of the big jackpots was up for the taking and I was feeling lucky that week. I bought only the one ticket. And it had all the numbers.

I’d signed an anonymity request to keep my name out of the media, as well.

To be honest, however, I think it was that request that did me in. I wasn’t worried about getting taken to the cleaners financially by friends and family. I worked for the IRS as an auditor. I knew about how much that agency would try to skim off the top and every year thereafter …

 FLAFIWRIMO Day 7 Story

The corpse lay, stiff and smelly, on the back porch of the Layton’s house. Mr. Layton had found it a half hour before. The man seemed most distressed about the situation.

“I can’t even salvage the meat,” the fisherman grated between clenched teeth. “Who, or whatever, stripped it, left all the fresh and took only bony parts and the scales.”

Sheriff Westle was known for being a stickler for detail.

“Well, Lester, I don’t think this has a high enough priority to warrant wasting my time on it.”

Three days after the fish carcass fiasco on the Layton- porch, Sheriff Westle was called to the home of Jasper Connors. In the Connors backyard were the remains of a large boar raccoon. The carcass had been expertly skinned, leaving behind undisturbed flash, supported by the entire skeleton …

FLAFIWRIMO Day 8 Story

Red-soled shoes—they’re all the rage, right? Okay, so they’re expensive and subtly ostentatious.  For some of me, though, they’re camouflage.

I can take my entertainment almost anywhere now without comment or suspicion. Especially, if I add a sleek briefcase to my ensemble. I’m in public relations during the day. I’m into self-gratification on my own time.

… Throughout dinner he laughed lightly at my witticisms, flirted undercover of his banter, and generally made me feel very female.

Of course, his flirtation was his downfall, too. I don’t get roused lightly, but he’d managed to rouse me easily and kept it up after his business partner left us for the evening. It didn’t take much persuasion on my part to convince the young man to escort me home.

When he left my place on the upper West Side, his memory had been cleaned of any unpleasantness. He would be a bit weak for a few days, but his contribution to my health would be replenished.

Now before you even think it, that last one has nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with those red-soled shoes. Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that, but you take my meaning.

And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. Take a break. Write something totally outside your comfort zone. Me, I don’t often move into the macabre, but it’s refreshing when I do and recharges my Muse.

If you’d like to share an excerpt here from one of your own stories, drop it in a comment below.

Enjoy the rest of the week and I’ll see you again soon. TTFN

 

 

 

Resolutions, Intentions, Challenges, and Reality

Mistakes photo

Are you on the New Year’s Resolution band wagon? Did you make resolutions and already break them? Yeah, I hear ya.

I set all of my goals for 2016 in December and was actually proud of them.  All of 2016 was mapped out. It’s funny how that calendar’s worth of work flies out the window of reality,

Life happens to all of us. Thank the heavens we still have one. Realizing that our desires and plans are just that, not life and death decisions, is part of coping with reality.

Circumstances change and we must adapt or perish.

Western MontanaMost people know that my vision was very limited to begin with. I had adapted to continually diminishing visual abilities. December changed all.

But my attitude and adaptive skills were rusty from complacency and habit. The past several weeks forced me to step back and regroup.

Progressive macular degeneration drives in the express lane. My central vision is rapidly disappearing. I must now unpack all of those voc rehab skills I tucked away in the closet labeled “Learned” and dust them off for renewed use.

My nemesis is the need to slow down and map out movements before the muscles leap into action. That hesitation is more necessary than ever.

But most of all, the mental processes needs to take center stage. So many factors influence every decision, every plan. Also the possibility of dependence on others takes on monster proportions for a normally strong, independent person.

Time is money concept with clock and coins

The mystery novel that should’ve been ready for final edit and a February release isn’t through  revision yet. The work takes tons more time and effort than ever before.

If work slows down that much, what about the three other manuscripts waiting in the wings for their revisions and editing? How long will it take to do those?

Fear of never getting my other stories ready for launch haunts me. And I have so much new work done last November to think about, too.

Enter common sense and calm reflection

abstract_2008012903-1113int.epsAfter much deep breathing and meditation, only one conclusion surfaced.

As is true of everyone, I can do only what I can do. If it takes three times as long to finish a book, that’s what it takes. Trying to push harder, work longer hours, etc. only creates strain, frustration, and burnout.

Tools are available to aid in this journey’s next stage. Practicing with those tools while working on each project can bring completion.

Perfectionism and self-expectations may rear its nasty head, but patience and constant reality checks can tame that beast. Patience doesn’t always dispel the frustration, but it can help make it bearable.

English Knight Fighting Dragon England Flag RetroThe new intentions are simple. I will attack  revision work on the mystery—two hours per day. Another novel will also get an obligatory two hours work. One hour will go toward getting a short story ready for submission to contests or magazines each week.

The rest of the day will be devoted to learning new tools and realigning my daily life. A blog post per week for each website will find its way into the mix. Everything else is gravy.

All of my former intentions—better known as “goals”—are out the window for now. Once I’ve made more progress with adjusting work and life to fit in the new visual challenge, I’ll know how to plan for the rest of the year.

So, tell me. Have new challenges cropped up to wreak havoc with your 2016 goals, resolutions, or intentions? If so, drop a comment below and share. It always helps to lessen a burden or concern.

 

 

\ Writers’ Holidays and Year’s End

NaNoWriMo SWinner Badge won_earned

The annual writers’ holidays have begun. Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as always, divided November into days of humming along nicely on NaNoWriMo projects and those days of panicked scrambling to finish a planned novel by the end of the month. Turkey Day sneaks up on writers much of the time, due to the writing frenzy.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-004Once that frenzy ends in success or a learning exercise, eyes and minds look ahead to tree trimming, Christmas carols, egg nog, and gift wrapping. Between those activities are the actual shopping trips, decision-making sessions on when guests are coming to town, where everyone will sleep, and who’s cooking what for the groaning board.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-009Let’s face it. From Thanksgiving past New Year’s Day come a series of weeks that many writers might want to ignore or run from. Others revel in the idea of having the perfect excuse to turn off the creative brain and the computer in favor of diving into festivities that have nothing to do with writing. Regardless of which camp you’ve joined this year, preparations are being made on the editorial calendars of editors and writers everywhere.

The end of the year marks a point of reviewing accomplishments. Questions are asked. Did I get the projects done that I really wanted to? Did I expand my market reach? Could I have submitted more fiction or articles? The list can get really long.

Analysis

I decided to go through my list here. Otherwise, I probably won’t get to it.

  1. Did I accomplish the fiction projects I wanted to? No. I didn’t get Dreamie’s Box revised and edited. I now must wrangle with it in December. I also didn’t get another chapbook done and published on Kindle or get the cookbook done.
  2. Was I satisfied with what I did accomplish? Yes. I enjoyed my chapbooks that went onto Kindle and I really like the first volume of Wisher’s World.
  3. Are projects going as quickly as I’d anticipated? No, definitely not. I feel like I’m wading in thick mud most of the time, which encourages me to feel like I’m fighting a constant battle.
  4. Did I accomplish all of the article writing and submissions that I’d planned? Yes. I got out all planned articles and continue to contribute three pieces each month to Working Writers Club.
  5. Have I expanded my horizons with either fiction or non-fiction? Yes. I now have several fiction projects to revise and edit in the coming months—novella/novel length, plus short stories for magazine/competition submission. I’ve also gathered a long list of new magazine and journal markets, plus small presses.
  6. Have I developed my 2016 Editorial Calendar properly? No, not yet. I still have to go through the new markets (with their guidelines) and flag those I have material for already and those that require major pitches.
  7. Have I gathered all of the new tools I will need for the next year and begun the learning curve? Yes, I’ve gathered, but I have barely scratched the surface of that learning process.

5b6-052714-akpNow, I can move on to prepping for any holiday activity that needs it and take care of obligations for the month.

I have one assignment done already—I whipped it out during NaNo. I have two planned articles to write before Monday. I have titles and outlines for them. The same goes for all the articles due through April. My calendar will help me fill in the rest for 2016.

Fiction is something else. Again this year, I’ll concentrate on what I already have on the hard drive. That alone will keep me busy for the year. I will also work on more poetry in coming months. I’m planning two revision jobs per month—a long and a short, plus a poetry chapbook every other month. Some will go to Kindle, while others go to publishers. I plan on doing at least one extra article per week as well.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019We’ll see how that goes. I’ve already decided to plan relaxation time and a fluid enough calendar to allow for spontaneous relaxation, like daytrips. And there you have it.

That’s my current plan. What’s yours? Have you decided how you’re going to work for the next year? Have you looked back at where you’ve been and how you traveled the road from there to where you are now?

Drop a comment below and share with the rest of us. Until next time, have a fantastic rest of the week. I’ll be back.

3 Steps Fiction Writers Should Take

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Worker

Always take time to check these 3 steps before declaring a project ready for edit. They save so much time for the fiction writer.

  1. Whether you’re an outliner or not, create a list of all the major plot points which must be in place before the conclusion.
  2. Each time you finish a revision session, save the manuscript in at least two places.
  3. Always run your final copy through beta readers.

Let’s look at the logic behind each of these steps individually.

Plot Points

Outlines consist only of a story’s signposts; a series of events which must occur between the opening sentence and the last words of the story. It really is that simple. You don’t need details of how, where, why, etc. You need only those signposts in your outline. The list helps keep your story train on its timeline track.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OFor instance, the movie Ghostbusters was very simple from an outline perspective. Premise: scientists/researchers come together because of a flurry of apparition sightings in New York City.

Outline:

  • Researchers create special equipment for use at sightings if needed.
  • Scientists verify a sighting in a public library.
  • More sightings occur.
  • They hang out their shingle and go to work as independent contractors in ghostbusting
  • EPA steps in to control researchers’ activity
  • Situation with EPA devolves until the city’s government is involved
  • Researcher’s love interest is taken over by evil entity, along with another person
  • Researchers must discover identity of evil entity and devise way to dispel evil’s control
  • Researchers fight entity and entity’s minions in the Empire State Building, climaxing with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and win.
  • Possessed humans are released and rescued
  • Boy and girl declare their love
  • Everyone prospers

An outline can get even simpler, but doesn’t have to. You only need an intro, an middle with action development and a climax/conclusion. The twelve outline points above don’t take up much space on paper, but getting from the first point to the last gets filled with tiny details that take up two hours of viewing time.

Revising for Results

Once your rough draft is done, the fun begins. Mistakes photoRevising allows the writer to catch and fill in all of those amorphous details that color the story with rainbows and leave the scent of fresh-baked bread behind. And that’s what many readers look for. Unless, of course, you’re dealing in horror.

Before beginning your revision, make a copy of that rough draft, with a new title, to work from. Then, each time you finish a revision session, be it an hour’s worth or a day’s, save that baby in at least two places. Try on your hard drive and a flash drive, or the cloud and a flash drive. Whichever method you use, do it. Don’t forget.

It only takes one glitch to leave you with nothing but sunshine and a rough draft. It happens all the time to writers everywhere. You don’t want to have to begin a revision from scratch from the rough draft again. The frustration and lost hours aren’t worth the risk.

Use Beta Readers

Book and knowledge conceptUnless your story is flash fiction, send your baby to a solid list of beta readers for review. Try to get a mix of “strictly” readers and a few actual writers. You get something special from each side of the house.

The beta reader can find all those flaws that the writer misses during revision and edit. You can guess the ones; continuity errors, name changes, characters’ unexplained dialect shifts, timeline anomalies, word misuse, the dreaded word-of-the-day, and more. (Word-of-the-day refers to those common words we end to use unconsciously far more often than necessary.)

Once you get those copies back with comments, corrections, and suggestions, you’re ready to tackle the final edit and spell check. You editing task will take less time and be more accurate after having so many sets of eyes on it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The writer who takes these three steps to do each of these steps eliminates greater timewasters and frustration in the long run. A brief but pointed outline is your train’s engineer and keeps you on your time table. The revision conductor makes sure you always have a second secured, current revision copy to safeguard your work. Beta readers act as brakemen to keep you accountable for the quality of your work. Your manuscript is better for the steps taken throughout the process.

At Home—Balance With Focus

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

while your feet keep the board balanced on its single, central roller. Some jugglers and acrobats use this technique all the time. And so do writers and other creative artists. Personal teeter-totters are tricky.

Back in the day, I could standing on that rolling board indefinitely and never need to think about what I was doing. The virtual equivalent isn’t always as easy. The reason is simple.

We’re constantly bombarded by more and more extraneous gibberish vying for our attention, demanding we focus on it instead of our desired focal point.

Take this last two weeks, for instance. I needed to concentrate on doing a full revision on the first volume of my Wisher’s World Series. I had my calendar set up to allow for submissions, revision time, and a bit of down time to decompress.

Then, WHAM, every distraction, unimportant call to action, and personal ‘need’ descended to throw balance out the window.

Sudden doctor’s appointments, Requests for favors from other 004-stock-photo-owriters, etc., came into the mix. Obviously I survived. I haven’t yet finished my revision, though.

I have another week’s worth of hard slog to get it to the edit stage. It should already have been on the edit board. I got one submission out. I have two more to get through edit and out before the end of the month. I’m behind on my posts here and on 2Voices1Song.

In other words, I’m way out of balance—again. And I was doing so well there for a while.

I will admit disappointment in myself—I couldn’t stem the landslide and fell off my balance board. I slid only two weeks, however. That’s better that ever before. And the trick was in how I refocused.

Ewam PoolMy  re-focus technique was fairly simple. I mirrored what others were asking of me. I sent impending work out to nonlocal writers for critique.  That gave me a quicker evaluation to use for edits when I got to them this week. I used every spare moment of quiet time to consider where my novella manuscript needed certain attention and jotted down thoughts and solutions. Doctor’s waiting rooms are great for that.

I did a minimum to satisfy every other demand, while still getting a chapter or two reworked in Wisher’s World each day.

Most of all, I threw perfectionism out the window and allowed myself the downtime I really needed.

Digital composition of a female face / one of four elements: fire

Digital composition of a female face / one of four elements: fire

The result wasn’t stellar, but it got the jobs done. I got the first short story out to its competition, I revised thirteen chapters in Wisher’s World and added a new chapter. I wrote some good poetry for five days and created modified Haiga posters. Along the way, I made a few new friends and picked up a large, new project to be developed soon.

007-stock-photo-wI’ve been hiking, went along on a short fishing expedition this morning, enjoyed the company of others, and kept as decompressed as I could. A day away, once a week, has become necessary.

My focus is back. The balance board is on its roller. My calendar needs tweaking because of projects rearranged or modified. But I’m not stressed over any of it anymore.

The only things left on my docket for today is a quick revision of one chapter, pulling out another short story to begin edit work on for submission, and working on a cover for my next chapbook. It’s slated to for release at the end of the month.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m still only working on material I have in backlog. That’s my only solid goal for the year and maybe even into next year.

If you have similar problems keeping your focus, share with others. Drop a comment below and tell me about your struggle with focus. We’re all rowing boats on the ocean.

Have a great rest of the week, peeps, and a fantastic weekend ahead.

 

 

 

At Home Update to Launch Date

Book Cover 02

Yep, another week’s flown by. I worked hard getting my chapbook, Short Tales of Twisted Wishes, fully edited, formatted, and uploaded for launch on Kindle Singles.

With everything ready, technical difficulties of the writerly variety curbed the launch. In the end, and after working late last night to try to get them resolved, the only acceptable option was to take a slightly different route and another week. How, you ask? And why?

Length, time, and patience were the culprits. The book was too short in word count. The time needed for vetting the project was too long to do Singles. And my patience level—with self as much as anything—had approached the breaking point; hence, the new direction and an additional week.

One of the things writers learn over time is the flexibility in thought, planning, and execution is crucial to getting things done. And success, too, on whatever level one anticipates. Well, I flexed to loosen those mental muscles of mine. This is my solution.

Another group of flash fiction stories, using the same theme and the original chapbook, will be added. The difference between the two groups is old world vs. modern world. The pairing can work. The only reason the chapbook hadn’t used that formula to begin with was a desire on my part to put each grouping in its own book.

So there you have it, peeps; a longer chapbook for priced slightly higher and a week later than projected. It will go through KDP Select instead of Singles.

Plans are in the works to launch a new chapbook of flash fiction every six to eight weeks in series. Those small volumes will run counter months to the episodes of Wisher’s World, another fantasy story in the works for a while.

Also, now you all have a broader glimpse of some changes being made to my platform and my working life. Speaking of which, I just had a literary short story accepted at an Australian e-zine, Cats With Thumbs. I’ll stop in and post a link to it when it goes live.

U.S.A.My book, How to Slay a Writer’s Dragon, is due for an update in the next couple of weeks, as well. It’s slated to have a new cover, title, and additional text. So, get those cursor’s ready for some serious clicking, folks.

That’s it for today. Stand by for other announcements in future. Have a terrific week and keep the words flowing.

At Home with Prepping

 

5b6-052714-akp

A while back I talked about what I planned to do this year with regards to writing. Last time around I showed everyone what I’d done with a piece of micro fiction. And there things have stayed.

This time, though, I’m reporting what’s been going on for the past two weeks. I’ve been prepping for a big push. I’ve been pulling out stories, flash fiction, memoir pieces, poetry, etc. for the sake of getting the best revised and submitted.

Some of what’s been brought back to light will go into short chapbooks for release on Kindle. I have some surprises there. Some are stories which will be submitted to journals or publishing houses for anthologies that have deadline dates. And some will be piled into full length efforts for publication.

Castle Fantasy BackdropAlong the way I also did some serious research into setting aspects for one episodic fantasy series, as well as a few things that will deepen the mystery I’m finishing.

As you can see, I’ve not been idle, though I haven’t been around here to keep everyone company. I study my coursework, do a bit of research, and find time for my critique group and my write-in group and the meetings that go along with those. I’m also taking the time to play on the weekends now.

Play is such a vital piece of a healthier lifestyle. That’s what I needed and what I’m working toward. I have plenty of work to Happy Girl Making A Wish And Making Bubbleskeep me occupied, without having to create any more. My focus is now on finishing and shopping the writing I’ve already got underway.

If I keep harping on marketing from time to time, it’s because I’ll be hip-deep in it every week. If I write about editing and what a write can learn by tearing apart a paragraph and rebuilding it, it’s because my time is spent doing that each day. A case in point—I’m doing a full rewrite and edit of my mystery “Dreamie’s Box” at the moment. I should have it finished completely by the end of February so that it can go to the copywriter and then the formatter.

What I’ve found, though, during this editing process, is that a third of what I wrote for the first draft and its progeny is now in the recycle bin. Why? Because anytime you can trash a complete chapter and not miss any of it in the next reading, tells me that it wasn’t necessary in the first place. And that’s what’s happened. So far, I’ve chucked four full chapters and the majority of two others. Even my critique group—who’ve been through the whole process with me—can’t tell what’s missing.

That, my friends, constitutes a major success in my book—literally.

Now you know what’s been keeping me away and up to my eyeballs during the day. Evenings I’m taking for my own, as well as the weekends. Life’s too short to do it any other way. At least for me.

Take the time to evaluate your own situation. Have you given yourself permission to enjoy your life as well as the things with which you fill it? Do you give yourself time and opportunity to laugh with friends and family and care about the time you devote to them? And do you come back to your vocation/avocation with recharged batteries and a positive attitude?

Let me know. Tell me about it. We all have the same opportunities to screw up. Why keep them to yourselves and feel guilty about them. Hang ‘em on the clothesline and air them out. They always smell fresher after a good airing.

‘Til next week, create something no one else has ever done and enjoy.

 

At Home with December’s Wintry Season and Writing

Heavy Forest Snow 1

It’s snowing here again—at least two inches of fresh whiteness with more on the way has cars slipping and snowplows scraping. How is it where you are?

It’s taken this long to get through the worst of burn-out and back into active writing mode. NaNoWriMo helped with boost me out of my shell. And, thankfully, NaNo is over. The pace can slacken off now.

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

For those who picked up the NaNo challenge, my congratulations. Those who’ve done it for a few years know the story draft is always horrendous. That’s its purpose. Now you have the kernel from which to grow a great story. Muse gave you the bones of it. All you have to do is flesh it out the way your want.

I have one piece of advice for that revision process. Let the thing lay unattended for a while. Ignore the pulsing drive to go back and really dig into it. If you have a beginning outline for it, great! If you don’t, that’s okay too.

Take an hour or two to review your outline or create a new one. When you go back to the story in a few weeks or more, you’ll have something to hang on to while you read through it again. Your perspective will be clearer. Also, in the interim, Muse will tweak your brain with tiny tidbits of additional business or a subplot twist that helps explain/intensify the backstory or plot subtleties. 001-bonus-things-j

Instead of plunging into something new to offset that continuing push to write, consider going back to something that’s sitting on your hard drive or out in a Cloud somewhere. Pull out something old, do a rewrite and edit and send that puppy out to a market. Use NaNo’s momentum to keep you focused on production. After all, it doesn’t have to be anything more grandiose than a poem submission to an online magazine/journal.

It’s something submitted. The confidence boost will do you good. Think of it as a present to yourself.

You might ask what I wrote for NaNo. Believe it or not, it was a women’s fiction novel. I wasn’t a rebel this year. The story doesn’t fit into any one genre specifically. It has a bit of western, some romance, a texture-1crime mystery, and other bits to keep it interesting. I hope. It’s also resting now. I’ll deal with it sometime in next year.

At the moment I’m finishing a complete revision and edit of Dreamie’s Box, my women’s cozy mystery. That will keep me occupied this month. January has a couple of complete revisions to do on shorter pieces. In fact, that’s my plan for much of next year—revisions and submissions of my backlog fiction.

Plans are to show up here and on my other website every week from now on. I’m through being a victim to unrelenting 004-stock-photo-owriting. Instead, I’m moving toward a balance in my life that includes more non-writing activity. I’ve learned, once and for all, that ambition and aspiration can bring you to your knees or worse. I’m taking lessons in tempered living with mindful focus.

So, there you have it. Much of this year has been a trial, but I came through. Here’s a tidbit for you, if you haven’t experienced it before.

The hardest thing I’ve had to do in the past few months is create a post for this website. Obstacles of guilt and other 010-texture-008unpleasant emotions keep throwing up walls to keep me away. It’s become a habit to carry a sledgehammer with me for use on those walls.

Take care, peeps. Write a little bit each day, even if it’s only a clever shopping list for the holiday. Tell someone you love how you feel and that you appreciate them, and enjoy life while you have it and keep safe.

I’ll be back in a few days, I promise. It’s on my to do list each week now in big RED letters. Later!

At Home with Malaise

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These past weeks, since the middle of July, have been difficult ones. If you’ve never suffered from burnout, you’ve been blessed beyond measure.

Where does malaise come into it? Well, for me, malaise is my first real symptom of burnout. When a hermitage in the deep forest forms as my strongest desire, I’m in trouble. I’ve been here a few times. Experience has taught me the depths and stages of the condition. I can survive this episode without much damage. I don’t have to seek the forest this time.

I do have to make changes to my routine and my lifestyles, though, if I’m going to continue with a writing career. That much is certain.

And that, peeps, is what I’ve been dealing with while away from here. Family pressures have added to the mix, but then, everyone has those. Right? Right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that I’ve acknowledged the real situation, determined the culprit/causal factors, and chosen to attack the problem, I can make positive changes. You see, one of the major difficulties with burnout is that the sufferer doesn’t recognize the situation until it’s well-advanced. Others may see the problem, but convincing the sufferer isn’t easy—especially when that person is as stubborn as I am.

Yep, you guessed it. I’m one of those who’s been taught that I can conquer anything given enough time and dedication. As a result, my competitive streak eggs me on to take on more and more work, more interests, and less sleep than is good for me. I just know that I can cram in a bit more of something into my work schedule if I push a wee bit harder.

As a result of that attitude, I’m sitting here, having to force myself to write anything and connect with anyone, etc. I can’t afford to take that attitude. Establishing a new normal for me will take time—time I don’t want to take. Patience with myself must be established.

You now know why I’ve been absent. Not just from here and my other website, but from media in general. Coming out of hibernation is slow and painful. Personal reinvention is never easy, but it can be done.

stock-002-017You might ask how I’ve begun the process. I’ve chosen to take a focused, deliberate route to burnout recovery. I’ll continue with my face-to-face critique group each week. Being with those fantastic people each week has held me together for nearly two months. I’m working on one small story for them at the moment, one written with agonizing slowness. Oddly enough, it’s one of my best efforts ever.

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Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

I’ve taken the time to sit and read—really read, as both writer and reader. The activity keeps me in the literature groove but demands little of me. I’ve needed to make this particular connection again for a long time. I have to say that getting a Kindle and taking advantage of special websites has giving me more than sufficient selection of reading material and kept my costs to a minimum.

I’ve advanced and expanded my interests through YouTube—for music and documentary-style information gathering—and reading in unexplored genres. Story ideas are sparking constantly now and allowing Muse to integrate and extrapolate from all the input. Those ideas go in a folder for consideration sometime later, probably as flash fiction.

Several projects await completion, as well. Those will be covered one at a time. I’ve decided to focus only on one current story and one revision each month. Anything else is speculation and not meant for serious work.

This is the only way I can pull myself out of burnout and reduce my malaise. I can’t afford to spiral further down and refuse to give up and become a hermit. I have too many friends, many of them here, who won’t let me give up. Bless them all.

stock-003-025So there you have it—my reason for disappearance. What will I do here on the site? Let’s see.

I have something percolating in the hind-brain—something for later and which has floated in Muse’s lotus pond for a few years. I’ll talk about that at a later date. I need some additional recupe time and preparations before I outline it.

I will be doing a few book reviews in the coming weeks. Fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I will also do a few articles about aspects of writing that might not get talked about very often. I’m not up to contest standards and won’t be for a while, I’m afraid.

For many of you, this situation comes with little surprise. Some of you have mentioned my self-imposed workload throughout the year. I’m so glad you stuck with me.

004-stock-photo-oExpect something on the site at least once a week from now on. It could be anything, including an excerpt from whatever I happen to be working on at the moment. I have two novellas that are in revision stages right now—slow revisions.

stock-003-006Take care all. Don’t follow in my footsteps too closely. Give yourself a break at least a couple of times a day to relax, laugh, and talk with friends/family. Go outside and see the sky, if for no other reason than to get an accurate weather report. I’ll see you again soon. Happy writing.