Letters to my Muse (a NaNoWriMo update)

Dear Muse,

You know, I think this is the year that you and I will get along swimmingly. You may have been quite slow in baking up a plot for me, but – and I will not deny a little bit of help from a friend, as well as the friend named caffeine – this is beginning to seriously evolve rapid-fire. I will likely have difficulties as things go along, I may even combine two books into one just to finish the arc with any sort of a decent ending and springboard into Origins, but this is coming out to be a fantastic little arc.

But let’s keep it going, shall we? It’s not as funny a couple of books as #3 had been, but I have to get 20,890 words more. Within about a week and change.




Yes, this means that NaNo is going well. And, what seemed like a plot that’s just trawling along had evolved into an interesting direction, almost to the point where the segue into the Origins arc, which tells the back stories to some of the favorite characters, and which also gives a major basis to the arc that will follow, will have to be told in a mostly-flashback sort of style. That is to say, I would have the bulk of the “past” story get told as one of the characters in the present day and time is exploring it.

Maybe? Possibly?

It definitely has room for thought.

I’m wondering how to tell some of the sub-characters’ stories, truth be told. It’s not a matter of leaving anyone out, but it’s a matter of telling it well. That and the character of Jason Watson is interesting enough to dig into a little further, no? :)


On Expanding Ventures

This is a little bit of new territory, I will confess, but I think it’s a good thing that I’m doing for my business: learning photography.

The way I see it, it’s something that had to happen. As a graphic designer, I use stock photography taken by others, usually via a stock-pic exchange site like iStockPhoto. Far as the artists’ photos, I ask the artists themselves, or their management. But, and especially when it comes to live shots, it comes to working with fellow photographers. While often a great thing, it also puts into question copyright.

Now, I credit photographers when and where I can. But a lot of my work usually comes with a stipulation that I keep my logo, or the photographer’s name (or logo, sometimes) off the finished product. So how would I deal with the copyright issues then?

There hadn’t been any issues that had cropped up so far. However, it’s something that’s perfectly avoidable and something that would also give my creative side a whole new outlet. Solution: do my own photographing.

For those of you who have been on my Facebook page, you may’ve seen the virtual whoop of delight when I caved to temptation (and business requirements!) and bought my camera, a Nikon D5100. I figured out pretty damn quick that kit lenses have major limitations, and high-octane lenses are exorbitant enough to make me think twice about changing day jobs. However, I did receive an early Christmas gift in the form of a Sigma lens that I’ve had the chance to shoot with before (hat-tip to the awesome MJ Jones, who had provided me with the opportunity to shoot with it), and that’s a start.

I am still getting used to the cam itself. The one flaw in the D5100 is that it’s “user friendly” – and yes, it’s a flaw. The camera settings are pre-set by choice of scene, which is great, except that concert photography is a gamble. You don’t know how well the stages are lit, and that can and does make or break the shot. This renders most “scene” modes useless, unless you study each one and work through them on a trial-and-error basis. The thing is, I want to shoot manual, but doing so in iffy lighting (and not yet with my good lens) is a challenge.

But I’m learning. That’s the best part. There’s always something to learn.

And yes, I’m doing plenty of reading. Photography and graphic design always go hand-in-hand, and as I improve, I want to be able to see where I’m going to need more  work.

Truth be told, though, I’m pretty damn excited about it. I’ve always liked to tool around with images, so taking my own, to me, is a perfectly logical next step in Getting Better At What I Do.


NaNoWriMo Update – Wrapping up Week 2, and other, non-writerly things

The end of week two is bringing me closer to the half-point mark, and I will confess myself pleasantly surprised at both my time management and my story management. The plot had come out of this place in the recess of my brain which I wholly attribute to the years that I had spent in college studying legal procedure and jurisprudence. That and, considering part of my day job is knowing about trusts and estates….yeah. Slight spoiler there, considering another main character had kicked the bucket, but there we go.

And I’m definitely ahead of schedule. I will be able to, if I keep writing at the pace that I’m writing, to wrap it up on November 24th. And that would make me very happy indeed, because it means that after the writing frenzy is done, I can use the Thanksgiving Week to actually relax.


Which will be awesome, really, but I learned from the misadventure of Book 5: finish quickly, and the rest can always be edited. This manuscript I aim to wrap up in full by December 31st.

In other news, music! Music everywhere! I had a wonderful time seeing Jeff Lorber Fusion on Monday, and will write about it as soon as I get back from Steve Cole’s show tonight, and the incomparable Acoustic Alchemy tomorrow afternoon. Lots of music for Christmas…just the way I like it.

Shout-out to my people in NY and everywhere, and to everyone who, like me, is in NaNoWriMo.


NaNoWriMo Update – Week 2

Or, as I call it, the “preliminary block” phase.

Gods, if it weren’t difficult before, I’m certainly getting there now.

I got the storyline down somewhere at the end of Week 1. I like the story; it may expand a little further, develop the subplots some more at a later time, and I definitely need to inset a few kicking-ass scenes there, but it can happen at a different time. This is taking shape to be more of a mix of neo-political, in addition to the usual high-flying action my books are rife with, and while I desperately wish I could watch some Law & Order for inspiration, my time home is limited, and my to-do list is overwhelming.

But! The plot is there. While it’s in bits and pieces in my head, it exists. Which gives me hope.

In non-NaNo news, I got my good camera at last!! Now to get it a decent lens and a 16GB SDHC card. People, order some graphic design from me!!!! Commemorative orders welcome. I want to earn something for my photography supplies here!

Oh, and have a widget.


It’s coming along… :)


Fellow Authors’ Books

Another quick break from NaNo, my eyes are crossing… I’m at 9100-and-change words, but I need to break.

For a while now, I’ve been frequenting the NaNo forums looking for new reads by fellow self-pubs, and have stumbled on a veritable treasure trove. Yes, there’s plenty more waiting for me, because I know I’ve Kindled more than I got to read just yet. But man, this is fun.

Ellie Burmeister – How to Get A Literary Agent in Two Murders or Less

I’m telling you right now, if you’re an aspiring author, you will be able to relate to this book, and even if you’re not, you will laugh uproariously at Amanda Anderson’s attempts to get her name seen in the literary world. But the way that Ellie Burmeister has her character go from aspiring to published author is, to say the least, unconventional. I started cracking up in the beginning, and didn’t stop until the last few pages. Worth a buy, worth a read, and definitely worth the smile you’ll have as Amanda works through the story to make her dream come to fruition.

Jessica Elliott – Charming Academy

We’ve all grown up with the fairy tales. We’ve all known that Prince Charming has to kiss Cinderella. But have you ever asked yourself how Prince Charming knew that that was the way to break the spell? And have you ever wondered how the Beast became a beast to begin with?

Well, look no further as Elliott retells every kid’s classic stories in a fun, refreshing behind-the-scenes twist.

Gayle F. Moffet – 12 Months of Trying

Not just because this is my editor’s writing, but because this is an anthology that blends a little fiction, a little non, a little poetry, all in Gayle’s inimitable direct, semi-sarcastic style. The anthology is a collection of all the works that she had submitted over the course of a year, whether successfully or not, and it gives a great inside view to her versatility as a writer.

Happy reading!!


Again on the “diets”…

Taking a quick break from NaNoWriMo to bring you a quick little spotlight.

Read this article debunking the Special K Challenge.

Let’s start with a little statement. It’s a statement that doctors everywhere will fight tooth and nail to ignore, and it is a statement that many women who have been harangued by insecurity that’s been pushed on them from every side need to hear:

Most diets don’t work.

If you don’t want to bother clicking on the link, I’ll sum up the article. Someone took a good look at the Special K challenge, which is a two-week diet that is supposed to bring about a quick weight loss. Except it’s seriously not healthy. Considering that an average woman’s basal metabolic rate – in other words, the calories needed to just stay alive and function – is about 1550, the Special K diet has a daily calorie limit of 829. Basically, about half of what’s considered healthy.

Adorable. So the good folks of Special K don’t consider that in trying their little “diet”, someone can seriously damage their health if the body enters starvation mode? When the body enters starvation, it slowly begins to destroy itself.  The weight loss will not happen, because when the body is shocked into starvation, it will cling to its fat to protect itself. Oh, and as a quirky little side effect, the body begins to destroy muscles and internal organs when in starvation. When you hear people on a diet complain how tired and weak they feel all the time, they’re already seriously malnourished, and their body is saying, loud and clear, “Stop this shit NOW and EAT FOOD.” They will not lose weight. They will, however, wreck their health.

Special K fails to mention the HFCS content of their cereals. Regardless of what the commercials say, “corn sugar” is not broken down the same way as cane sugar. Stop the lies already; the people’s health tells the tale much louder than any commercial can.

So in other words, the “Special K Challenge” consists of deliberately starving the body on a caloric basis, while the only allowed foods are those that contain a chemical that has been found time and again to completely wreck bio function.

And this is healthy how, exactly?

Oh yeah, I forgot, it doesn’t really mater how healthy someone is, but how thin they are. Which, honestly, is hogwash. Last time I checked, my talents as a writer and graphic designer have absolutely nothing to do with what size of clothes I wear. I can use Photoshop and MS Word in my pajamas, for all anyone gives a damn. I also know that if I’m craving a medium-rare steak for a week straight, then my iron has been low lately, and maybe I should pay the butcher a visit.

And the whole “calories in, calories out” crap? Fails to account for the simple fact that no two people have the same metabolism.  This is how you have people who can gain weight even if they’re eating nothing but salad, or people who consume inordinate amounts of junk food and never gain an ounce. Because metabolism, weight, and health are not the same across the board, which is another thing that doctors tend to ignore.

Really. The Weight Watchers and Atkins diet systems ares probably the more “sound” diets that I know of, but even they tend to restrict certain aspects of nutrition. The best way to diet is to follow the body’s lead and focus on nutrients, not on calories. Your body will thank you for the whole grain, the vitamin-laden vegetables, the complex sugars in fruits, the lean meat proteins, the whole milk, the “good fats” found in fish and nuts. It will not thank you for being deprived of any of the above for any length of time, and here’s a hint: sometimes what you crave tells you what you’re lacking. And even if you’re not a gym rat and your exercise is dodging commuters (which, trust me, is a contact sport), if your body gets enough of the nutrients into itself, it will be healthy. Which is a hell of a lot more beneficial than being thin will ever be.

And now if the media would quit bombarding women with messages like “How much will you gain when you lose?” and how being thin will make everything magically okay in their worlds, I would be quite a happy camper, but that’s really too much to ask. People profit off insecurities a little too much.


NaNoWriMo, 1st Day.

Well, it finally started. I’m approaching the 2,000-word mark, which puts me a little ways ahead of my goal for today, but it doesn’t change the fact that, quite effectively, I have to write a book in a month.

And you may say, “Well, it’s not like you’ve never done this before!”

Okay, got me there. This is the sixth time I’m doing this, but in the past, I think I always had at least an idea of where I want the storyline to go. This time, I don’t. I’m effectively “winging it” when it comes to the plot, and I’ve allowed myself to shift focus from the original plot (lookalikes…can’t tell you more than that!) and the subplot (succession) had taken center stage. I may well have no choice but to go with it and hope for the best.

That and the exposition. Gayle, you’re going to hate me come Book 6. It’s just seriously getting bad. But if it’s word count, then my inner editor can go back under the rock. For now, anyway.

And onwards, to the next noveling adventure!