Journal

Spoiler Alert! I write this as a running 'warm-up' for working on creative fiction, which means I end up putting in a lot of details about whatever story I'm working on at the time, among all the other emo blather.
If you'd rather have the inner workings of your fictional worlds unsullied, I'd suggest hurrying off this page. Otherwise, enjoy the chaos...

    Day 221

    20 Jul 2017

    News to no one, but yeah, definitely falling behind due to my Twitter addiction and obsession with everything #pitchwars right now. Which, I mean, priorities I guess? ‘Cause technically BtE is in pretty good shape and the best thing I can do right now is widen my community/audience/reach and get all the query and pitch material shined up, but it’s eating at me that I might not get the rewrites I want to done in time. I mean, not enough to actually motivate me to prioritize them, but… lol.

    I agreed to cat sit for someone next week, before all this, and now I’m deeply regretting it, as they only wanted daytime but they’re an hours walk away or !40m by bus because local transit sucks and I’d spend 1/3 of what I’ll bring in on it just on the bus rides each day b/c it’s not overnight and why did I agree to this? So I have to go over there tonight and do the whole meet n greet orientation thing and I’m just annoyed that it’s taking away from writing/revising/Twitter time (but really: I said yes b/c it’d force me to actually go outside on a regular basis… plus spare change.)

    Drowning under the flood of resources Pitchwars is stirring up, including a SUPER depressing one on how you should really only expect to get offered around $10-$20 for your book and even if you’re super lucky and get 6 figures for a two book deal it breaks down to about $20k/year. Which, I mean, I did know and it’s part of why I was moving towards the whole indie publishing thing, but still, the details had thankfully faded in my mind and I was having fantasies of my future actually working out, lol. It really is a super crowded field; my TBR pile is as long as all the books I’ve marked done on Goodreads and only getting longer (1k+) with amazing sounding stories, so I can see how it’s a stretch for everyone to get paid, but it’s pretty insane when compared to the amount of work put in. Justine Larbaleister had a thread about how working writers should get businesslike with it and stop bleeding onto the page, but I can’t imagine cranking out material so cynically (not to mention productively.)

    Anyways, got the first draft hooks and comp titles off to my editor yesterday, and she hasn’t chucked ‘em back, so I’m gonna take advantage of the couple hours I can grab to dive back in on rewrites!

    Thursday

    Start Time: 2:15 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair


    Day 220

    19 Jul 2017

    Huh. That was interesting. So I got back my first query critique from the #pitchwars pre-competition micro contest. The mentor who offered it is an assistant editor at a big 5 publisher.

    It was… really different than I expected, so I guess probably my business background has been showing too much, ‘cause she tweaked things to sound quite a bit younger and less… polished? Direct? More, like, conversational or something. Which is probably more YA. She did push the hook that I’ve been using to the front again after I’d buried it in the extended synopsis b/c one of the #askmentor comments was that the letter should frontline your MC, so that was a plus. And in hindsight, it’s probably not surprising that she shifted it all around to feature more of the character’s journey at the forefront. So, lots to think about on it and clearly lots of revisions in my future, lol.

    It’ll be really interesting to see where my editor comes out on things now that I’ve booked a query package with her - and I should probably post it to the #pitchwars forums as well to collect any other feedback. Frustratingly, the whole thing seems to be a lot like sending a book draft out to readers; conflicting feedback b/c everyone has different preferences, and you have to piece it apart to see if you can find what’s not working at the heart of the comments, lol. But everyone has pointed out that this whole process is hard, so it’s all to be expected.

    I’m having trouble prioritizing and making progress between social media (so addicted to Twitter) and Pitchwars and rewrites and life… I mean, I could basically be on Twitter all day, just learning and interacting with the massive writer community there, and then Pitchwars posted a forum where you can give and get feedback on genre-specifics, and I also need to scour the blogs, tweets and comments of all the mentors to find which ones to submit to and then start interacting with them…

    On the work front, I’m definitely trying to protect my time and get at least a few hours in of uninterrupted writing sprints a day, but probably shifting gears from prioritizing the rewrites to getting the query material done first, maybe with a split of daily work between the two, in case I can’t get through both in the next… whoa. Week and a half. Yikes! And my editor’s booking up into next year, so I should really be scheduling stuff for book 2, but without any sales or even a sense of whether I can afford to keep doing this from a financial or a time perspective, it’s hard to make that commitment right now… Probably gonna myopically focus on what’s right in front of me in order not to get sidetracked! And on that note, the author that was in touch wanting a sequel audiobook produced responded with sales from the first audiobook and… yeah, I just really think there’s no way I’d make any money on it. Like, maybe $5 for a month’s work, lol. So I should probably get back to her and say no, but… if it pads out my experience and gets me more work in general, will it be worth it? Possibly? There’s so many things like that right now, where I could gamble on them paying off down the line, but then they take away from investing in anything that would pay off sooner, so… yeah, lots to think about! But I’m not gonna because whee! time to revise and get some work done!!

    Part 2

    Right, so I’ve got a handful of loglines/hooks worked out for my editor to review, on to comp. titles! Which is both harder and easier than it sounds; I’ve got a long list of authors and books I’d like it to be like… whether it is or not is another question, lol. Tweeted out the hooks for opinions too, and I tried a FB live video by hated it & deleted immediately so no exposure via that route. Getting so, so addicted to Twitter. Also need to get back to my editor re: next book editing slots for next year; I hadn’t realized you book the first full edit at the same time, and I have no idea when I can be read for that!! But anyways, I need to power through and get some actual rewrites in today!!!

    Revision notes: Need to set up the alien idea of friendship earlier between Cole and Cadence. Then have her push against it, reconcile to it, transfer it to others. Demonstrates her innocence or cluelessness when it comes to relationships and human interaction.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 10 am & 2:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: water & Yorkshire black tea with milk


    Day 219

    18 Jul 2017

    Wow that happened fast. So I decided I definitely should enter #pitchwars and participated in my first Twitter Live event where the YA mentors did sort of Q&A, and then in post-event questions ended up winning a query critique. Which is awesome because already I’m building connections and exposure and getting help and all that good stuff, but… now I really need to write/rewrite a query, which kind of sucks timing-wise, because I’m paying my editor to help me with it too, but in, like, a week or two. However! This is all moving in the right direction, so yay! And I now have so much work/deadlines that I’ll have to force myself to be more productive again, so bleh & yay at the same time!

    Rewriting yesterday was good in the sense that I actually did some, and terrible in that I’m moving through the manuscript slow as mud. So again, pushing for more hours and more progress will be the main target for this next two week stretch. Today’s plan: draft up some sort of query to send for early review. Then solve the plot holes around eavesdropping and switch gears to do the condensing of early chapters in case someone asks to see them!

    Part 2

    Drinking: Yorkshire black tea with milk

    Ugh, so that took forever. 2 hours of research and rewrites and I’m STILL not sure if my query letter works or not - but I think I’m picking up on a bit more than I did before, and thank goodness I actually have quite a lot of support through this part of the process between my editor & #pitchwars, so yay! Now to do the extended synopsis, and hopefully actually complete some novel rewrites at some point!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10 am & 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: water & Yorkshire black tea with milk


    Day 218

    17 Jul 2017

    Getting started considerably later than I meant to today, but TWITTER, lol. It’s hard to balance author platform early marketing stuff with, like, accomplishing anything else in a day - I pretty much just flitted from FB to Twitter to IG back to Twitter to Goodreads to FB to more Twitter, and then more and more and and and… yeah. So #pitchwars is coming up and I’m 98% committed to diving into that wormhole. The 2% concern is that if I don’t tone down the social media and other distractions, I’ll never actually finish rewrites in time. And I’ll probably simultaneously query agents during the process. And it could drag things out a fair bit longer, but! It seems to be a great way to build connections within the YA community and be part of the sort of cohort and critique partnerships that all the YA stars seem to be in, not to mention if it actually contributes to a better book and/or getting an agent, that’s a definite plus. The major downsides being, more opinions mean more changes mean more rewrites mean more angsting and time spent and deadlines pushed and… I’m possibly not enthusiastic/outspoken/interactive/social enough for the whole thing. IDK, I mean, everyone has a digital persona, so I’m probably ok, but I definitely feel insecure about the social aspect of being a YA writer and being engaging/exciting/fun/funny enough… but yeah, like with any career there’s the stuff you’re sure you’ll suck at that you have to do anyways, so here we go!

    On a writing note, if I can just master my schedule a bit (a lot) better, I’ve regained quite a bit of confidence for the actual rewriting. I don’t agree with the “write every day” maxim; it’s too absolute, rigid, and in my mind, unhealthy, but… too long away from writing, and I forget that I can actually, you know, do it. So getting in there and back at it tends to be a tough hurdle to cross, but really affirming and encouraging once I push through. And while there’s a lot to integrate at every stage of editing and rewrites, it’s pretty cool to have the tools to take another pass and improve. One of the bigger problems for me being that I can’t resist tangling my fingers all up in the entire draft again! This is the first time I’ve really tried to spot target different sections, and while it’s good practice for zapping out big plot stuff that needs to be resolved, I’m almost certain that I’ll be sifting down to a word-by-word, line-by-line rewrite before this is all through. Super hard to get an objective view when you’re down mucking around in the language though, so I’ll do what I can to be strategic!

    Monday

    Start Time: 8 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: water


    Day 217

    14 Jul 2017

    Still working through renaming and sidling up to the larger changes, lol. Lots going on in the real world; major fires in the interior and some family members getting new jobs, which may or may not mean lots of change in my world over the next little while. Allergies aren’t so bad today, though, so that’s a plus! I need to get this month’s newsletter written up and do a bit of a push on IG, my FB Beta group, and a proper news blog post ‘cause otherwise these journal entries end up being the world’s most boring, worst written blog, lol, but also it all contributes to general procrastination and not moving BtE forward, so… yeah. Priorities.

    Been more involved on Twitter lately, which I enjoy the most out of the various channels, but which is also the most inflammatory (closely followed by FB comments section!) Particularly concerned about discourse issues lately; seems to be a lot of hyper ‘woke’ peeps out there railing against authors for failing various litmus tests, and it’s getting so they seem just as bigoted as the original hyper conservative crowd. Writing’s hard, kids. Seeing your own prejudice and breaking out of the lanes the whole industry’s been running in (and you’ve been familiarized with/reading in) your whole life is hard. Getting published and/or getting anyone to read your book is hard. Which isn’t to excuse bad behaviour or bad content, but generally empathy and understanding work toward change more than accusations and attacks. Want to see more #ownvoices diverse authors and stories? That’s awesome, but maybe don’t go around screaming at authors for not going far enough (oh, dark skin but no ethnic backstory? shame!!) and recognize that there are a lot of ‘privileged’ white authors too that aren’t making a living and are desperate to even get a ghost of a career out of their work. I understand that anger is a big part of discrimination (um, woman in business?), but it really looks terrible when the strongest voices on attack are white kids too; like it’s one thing to get upset over your friend’s raw treatment, but don’t go making things worse for them out of your own privileged sense of outrage. Keep discourse open, help people learn, don’t shame them for ignorance. And respect that your opinion isn’t necessarily truth whether or not society applauds you for it at the moment. Also it seems offensive that the push for racial equality and diversity has so quickly been coopted for gender/identity/sexuality diversity - like, I understand if you feel like you got a raw deal within your lifetime, but that’s not the same as multi-generational disadvantages and discrimination. Especially with orientation, you may not feel like you should have to hide your preferences to be treated equally, but that entirely discounts that you have the remarkable privilege of being able to, where the instant, long-standing discrimination towards visible minorities is something they have no capacity to opt out of or put on hold, whether or not they’d be willing to make that sacrifice.

    I dunno, for the most part I don’t want to get into the unending battle royale of this stuff online, but on the other hand it gets scary when you look at the way America’s headed and see extremist behaviours and a lack of true seeking to understand on both sides of the equation… I get that you’ll be creamed for proposing a ‘moderate’ voice, and I’m kind of a crusader by nature, but really, seems like we all need to be reminded that it’s both ok to disagree and fight for what you believe in, while at the same time required not to just try to obliterate your opponent. Seems like there’s quite a bit of historical precedent for letting both sides keep some dignity in the fight, for one thing… #worldhistory

    Anyways, today’s project: deal with naming conventions/renaming for Refuge costuming sp. uniform, headbands, hood & mask. Justification? Binding? Trade? Sub? …brainstorm, lol. And then maybe actually do the bigger rewrites like I desperately need to…

    Friday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: water


    Day 216

    13 Jul 2017

    Probably gonna end up pushing this deadline as well; it takes a surprising amount of time to do even simple things like find>replace updated names/terms, of which there seem to be an increasing number, and I could stand to put more time in tbh. The flip side of that is that time away from the computer triggers the creative problem solving side of my brain, so my subconscious can worry away at all the little issues that need to be ironed over and come up with brilliant solutions (lol) that I’d never be able to brute-force my way to. ‘Course then I have to actually plant my butt and do the work, but hey, one thing at a time. Spoilery revelation for today:

    Move overhearing Morristu being abducted to an encounter at the bottom of the stairs; Morristu covers for Cole to escape (background, Ange was trying to reach Morriswan and that’s why she’s available to help Cole. Confused at first - wasn’t paying attention to the code on her uniform?

    Thursday

    Start Time: 7:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: water


    Day 215

    12 Jul 2017

    So my major accomplishment yesterday was rereading the editorial report and Googling forms of headcoverings for a couple hours, lol. It really feels like past time to tweak the terminology and world building to be a little more meaningful than just upper case versions of mundane nouns, so, yeah. And also anything that needed researching to flesh out, it’s really time to get on that. But it’s also a form of procrastination, in that I’m trying to digest suggestions, wrap my head around the story again after a month away, and generally work my way back up to some forward momentum.

    Watched the final Sherlock episode yesterday, which was inspiring from a drama-storytelling perspective. I think the villain in particular offers some characteristics to both Serovate and Ravel. Moriarty’s tics and over-expressiveness just the wrong side of appealing are so creepily weird. I’m insecure about my villains, since I have a track record of not writing them well, and I’ve never liked them much. At least the editorial feedback really affirmed that I fixed the structural and plot issues around having the villains/antagonists hanging around in the background without doing enough. Actually, on a second reading, I do feel more confident in the upcoming rewrites. Everything always seems so overwhelming at first, and then I just have to grit my teeth and dive in and make it to the other side. So, here goes nothing! Plan of attack:

    • Terminology issues: find-replace for all terms that need updating
    • Plot issues: address items of confusion
    • Pacing issues: condense or expand indicated scenes
    • Language issues: rewrites/review edits to slow/speed pacing as necessary, improve power and clarity

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: water


    Day 214

    11 Jul 2017

    As chronicled ad nauseam before, getting back into the swing of things with a book is miserable and near impossible. However! The great thing about walking away for a month at a time is that I get a little more distance from the work and a smidge more perspective. Which is good, because I love to fight and wrestle with every round of edits and feedback. And by love I mean hate but can’t leave alone…

    My excuse for distraction today was good though; woken up a couple hours early, and then glued to the computer tracking forest fire news - crazy year with flooding and fires in the interior of BC. But since there’s not actually anything to, you know, do about it, I mostly just Googled, tweeted and then, of course, needed a nap. So. Here we are post-supper and I’m finally forcing myself to log a couple hours doing what I apparently really want-but-don’t-want to do.

    Editorial feedback was awesome…and as per usual, challenging and disappointing. Amidst effusive, ornate praise, I think I detect a warning signs that more needs to be done. On a story level, I’ve solved the major problems set forth by previous rounds of editing - the plot is tighter, motivations clearer, tension higher, characters more engaging… but. But. Always with the but. There are still some problems with what I think of as pretty key plot points that need a fix - and though my editor seems to think that’s a quick and easy thing, inevitably I seem to see those quick fixes as an opportunity to radically overhaul and come up with new and exciting twists. Which is hopefully long-term good, but means some short-term misery for me. And since there was a line edit kind of snuck in on the side of this round, I’ve got quite a lot of work to do shrinking scenes, simplifying the language and trying to figure out when I’ve over explained and left readers lost in a sea of words, and when it’s just confusing to cut any further. So, yeah, lots of work and the promise that, if I do go with trad pub, agents will probably want to see major rewrites. Which is not terribly surprising given how different people are, but is concerning if it’s an indicator that the story’s not there yet, and doesn’t bode well for my hopes of being nearly done this process, lol.

    So yeah, I tend to ignore praise and dig straight into the warning signs beneath the surface, which is unnecessarily dark and anxiety-ridden, but also very pragmatic as there’s always more work to do. The good news is, the story is getting awesome and closer all the time to being in the hands of readers (and freeing me up for future projects!) …the not so good news is, I still don’t know when that time will come exactly, or what-all needs to come in the intervening period. But hey, at least I managed to get around to rewrites today. Small victories!

    Before I let go of the story for the month of editing, I made a bunch of potentially spoilerriffic notes on what needed work. Now I can’t quite remember what they meant, but for posterity:

    • Reveal earlier, Cole resist identity, come to terms during climax

    • Ash pushes Serovate in? Or otherwise contributes

    • Repeat remember lessons

    • Revise the Tower or the Towers of Refuge to just Refuge. Name the uniform and masks and headbands with meaning. Justification? Protections? Modesty?

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 6:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: water


    Day 213

    10 Jul 2017

    This is it! (I think, lol.) Final edits are in, and apparently have a blend of developmental and line edit involved, but either way are intended as the final round before querying/proofreading & publishing unless BtE gets picked up by a trad pub. So of course I’m looking for ANYTHING else to do this morning, lol. Part of the angsting is traditional (it’s what I’ve done at every stage), part is confusion, since I had it in my head that the edits weren’t coming in until next week and apparently I haven’t learned to use a calendar again. But it’s great timing ‘cause I might actually get through everything I need to do this month on the book after all! Ish… If I can get queries out before the end of the month, I should still have enough time to wait for responses and pivot to self-pub before the end of the year if I don’t get any offers I like. Not quite full steam ahead, but still, better news than in a long time! And my editor’s email was certainly encouraging too, so hopefully any actual rewrites won’t be as intense as the last few rounds, lol. ‘Course that doesn’t stop me being scared to open the report… Gah…

    Got a potentially exciting invite to record narration on a YA fantasy overnight too, so more on that later if it goes anywhere. I’ve also just got papers signed with another emerging audiobook service, so there remains a chance that my world may centre 100% around books going forward - yay! On the other hand, I’m still toying with a bunch of other plans on the side - starting in about August, the major work on actually creating BtE should be done and it’ll be time to move on. Lots of startup ideas, but I might take a local job instead for a little while and either write the sequel more slowly or save up to finance another writing stretch. The future is coming! Anyways, time to stop procrastinating and actually dive into the edits. Wish me luck, lol.

    Monday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: Iced tea


    Day 212

    04 Jun 2017

    It’s always terrifying looking back at the last day’s work, especially when I think I’ve done something brilliant, something that had flow or inspiration attached, mainly due to the risk that I’ll discover it was useless tripe that needs to be redone. ‘Cause that’s never happened before…

    Anyways. Working through the plot in another format proved to be the right move, even if it was retreading ground I’ve passed over before. I’d like to think that I’d be smarter next time, more efficient, more streamlined… but I’m suspicious that the process has to be like this, iterative, a redoing and rehearsing, a niggling of elements and thoughts and tiny and great changes again and again and again… Or maybe I’ve just been making trouble for myself. Hard to say. Either way, it seemed to finally come together this time. I was able to state the story in as close to brief point form as I ever have done. There’s an arc, a continuity of motivation and resolution that I couldn’t quite purify out of the mass of complexity before. Irritatingly, it’s at the final hour, so the actual draft probably still has a great deal of confusing, but part of the trouble all along has been that I refuse to simplify right down to a single motive force. There’s always more complexity in people, in stories, in life, than that. However, distilling and teasing out the main story thread for readers is almost beyond me; it’s in there, but making it easy to see amongst all the words and switchbacks and angst in general is… well, it may or may not have actually happened. Planning to review the plot and story forms today, do a last scan over the last 10 chapters to refine things one last time, and I should probably go through and do a form for every scene, or even macro scene (shudders), but we’ll see. The appeal of just shipping it all off to the editor is immense at this point, but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that, indispensable as they are, editors are not magic and they don’t do all (or, really, any) of the work for you. Such disappointment. Sigh.

    I’ve written these things several times now, the ‘here we go again’ and ‘thank goodness it’s done’ journal entries. This won’t be the last - but it’s bittersweet and painful and joyous each time. It’s nearly done. I have a list of dozens of things to accomplish this month, at least two thirds of which, if past lists are anything to go by, won’t even come close to getting done. I need to freelance and make money. There’s that stupid side business that I should really actually launch. I need to record an audiobook preview of BtE and get it up as a newsletter incentive - and get back on track with the marketing and platform building. I really ought to plot out the BtE sequel and my sadly neglected Wattpad WIP pile as well, but most likely I’ll try to see friends and family, maybe get a tiny bit of a breather, angst about turning 30 because there’s a whole new load of trauma, and muddle around until the next deadline starts breathing down my neck. #writerslife, lol.

    Sunday

    Start Time: 3:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: Nettle, mint & chamomile tea


    Day 211

    03 Jun 2017

    Basically failed yesterday; going out for some fresh air turned out to be a brutally pointless exercise as the cottonwood poison is out in full force and I spent the rest of the day barely able to keep my eyes open. I know it’s not very artistic or environmentalist to hate trees and nature, but… evil, evil stuff, it is.

    I’d hoped to finish substantial rewrites yesterday and do a last quick once-through today, but stalled out again just heading into the climax. There are lots of ways to end it, most of them emotionally involving, but whether it’s that I haven’t quite hit on the right one, or the plot and story arc are too clouded by all the revisions, it doesn’t quite flow through the way I think it needs to. So I pulled back and filled out the plot worksheet, which I have worked through something like in the past, repeatedly, but since I change it every single time… yeah. It helped, maybe? This time round I came up with a whole revenge angle, which is interesting, but also derails things and would make for a major revision that I don’t have time for. I think I need to cut some ideas, or at least get clear on what’s primary vs. subplot, but agh! I thought I was way past this point and nearly finished!

    Interestingly, this time round I was able to see more clearly how Cole’s initial goals and damage (driven by the desire to be accepted/good enough/not a failure) do actually feed into the entire plot, despite a ‘story goal’ of bringing down the Tower. Thus the revenge angle; I think it could be very emotionally honest for her to work out at some level that her motivation to save people (altruism) is really selfishness and essentially a desire for revenge or to take down the system she can’t ever win under. But then I have this whole thing about connection woven in, which is related but maybe too tangential? And all the threads don’t quite weave together for the ending. So she’s realized her motivation is selfish, despite looking good on the surface, but then she committed to it for more altruistic reasons? To the point of being self-sacrificing? But realizes things aren’t that simple, that self-sacrifice hurts others?

    And then there’s the issue of rising stakes, where it’s as clear as it should be how things get worse as they go…

    Saturday

    Start Time: 11 am

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair


    Day 210

    02 Jun 2017

    The redirection is set; a third round of developmental edit starts Monday and runs to the end of the first week of July. I’m (just barely) on track to finish substantial rewrites today, covering the major climax and closing, which may be a big job and leech into tomorrow if I get stuck/tired. However, part of the course redirect is some paperwork to fill out around concept and plot, so I’d like to get that out tomorrow, as well as a final pass at the editorial comments to ensure everything’s been dealt with as comprehensively and neatly as possible. Interestingly enough, my editor seems surprised at how much rewriting and replotting I do between rounds, which shocks me in turn, as I can’t imagine resolving the things she points out with only minor adjustments. So either that’s insecurity making my life difficult, or or change my mind about what I’m trying to accomplish drastically every couple months… which seems probable, actually.

    So, second week of July to review final report and come up with any additional changes, then about two weeks to hash out a strong query letter and synopsis, and that leaves only two months (Aug-Sep) for querying agents before I need to kick things back into gear for self publishing if I want to target the holidays at the end of November. I may extend the timeline slightly, publishing for the following June, but I really can’t let it sit any longer.

    Here we go; last 5 chapters (fingers crossed!)

    Friday

    Start Time: 1:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 209

    01 Jun 2017

    Major change of plan alert! After mentioning the possibility of doing the traditional publication route (query agents, agents sell manuscript to publisher, fresh round of editing…), my editor pointed out that my writing is pretty good at a line level, and the best approach in such a case would be another round of developmental editing to tighten up the story, and a little help with query letter drafting. Which, to me, says that’s the right thing to do either way; if the story needs more work to be up to traditional standards, then it needs more work, period. Which is a horrible thought, on the one hand, as I’m potentially sinking in another close to CAN$2k in the process with the remote hope that I can make it back, but… this far in, I really don’t want to back down. So, new plan. The budget for line editing is going into another round of developmental on the same timeline (due Monday, back in three weeks-ish). That gives me a few weeks to try to make some money through other avenues without as much marketing pressure, although I should really get a multi-chapter epub and audiobook preview polished up and start offering that as a newsletter incentive, along with a comprehensive brand, website and platform refresh. Theoretically, the following rewrite should be faster and tighter (here’s hoping!) if I’ve done a good job on this one, and I’m crossing my fingers that drafting the query letters will also be a relatively quick job. The plan from there is to get the queries out as quick as possible to, at a minimum, the agents I think are the strongest bets, mainly those that represent authors with similar genres, recent breakouts and the like, and then take a step back for a few months, focus on building up the freelancing and keep pushing the social marketing channels to higher visibility. I’m thinking I’ll set an intention to publish by the end of the year - or rather, the Christmas season, so December, unless I have a deal in hand or a close approximation of one by that point, so I’ll have to get back on the line edit, proofread and any additional design materials by, oh, beginning of October at the latest… but that gives 2-3 months for a miracle to happen, lol. And a couple months to make enough to cover additional costs, which is also important. At this point, even if I could get an agent on board that quickly, and hear back from a publisher, it’s debatable whether I could get a strong enough offer to make it worthwhile. I figure, if the advance isn’t enough to cover the costs I’ve already invested and make it possible to finish off this book and write the next, I’m better off doing it myself. Not to mention, a small advance seems to indicate the publisher’s lack of intention to back the book in a way that will help it be successful in the first place! And a restrictive contract that gives open-ended right of refusal on additional works, restricts my ability to freelance and write other books to be self-published, or grabs too many additional rights (regions, film etc.) won’t be worth it, so despite having polished the book to a point where I think it’s become much more competitive, I’m still not sure if I’d be better off pushing forward and self publishing either way… but a few months’ break to get the freelancing side of my career growing again seems like a good thing, as does another round of effort to polish the story up even more. So, here we are again, lol. Keep grinding along…

    Thoughts on writing the climax & story arc/theme:

    Because the Tower is about disconnection and obedience and Cole’s never disconnected, she’s able to break free. The resolution has to tie back to connection and obedience; Freedom is about shallow, disordered connection and no rules. You can survive without connection, but you can’t overcome. Cadence has to help with the Climax somehow. And Ange and Ash? Ravel? Cole thinks she can support connection for others without being a part of it? Denial gives death an opening? Then seeks out/admits connection on her terms?? Needs some sort of critique, opposition or response to the Tower by the end. What’s the story arc resolution? What questions are answered?

    Thursday

    Start Time: 12:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 208

    31 May 2017

    So my editor raised the question, yet again, of doing another brief story review before the line edit and now I’m second guessing everything, lol. While it’s a less intensive and expensive service at this stage of the game, the terrible CAD>USD exchange rate means it would be over $500 CAD and push back the schedule at least a couple weeks, so I’m inclined not to go there… but on the other hand, I’d hate to miss a chance to refine and improve the story as much as it needs, and it has occurred to me that, if I wanted to try submitting to agents, there might be some benefit in refining the developmental edits and putting the line edit to the side for a bit. Cost savings, too, if I went that route, but in exchange it becomes a drastically longer timeline and I probably need to map out and write book 2 in the interim, which screws with my schedule for the next year and impacts my freelancing/career/travel choices. So, ugh. Choices. As far as I can figure, there’s not much point going the whole agent-publisher traditional route unless you’re a candidate for breakout success of the year, and… I don’t know. With every revision, I think this story gets stronger and more commercially viable, but… Agh. I hate working with so many unknowns! Makes it harder to focus on the things at hand, if nothing else.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 11:30 am & 1 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: earl grey tea


    Day 207

    30 May 2017

    Overnight musings for today’s rewrites: pull back on the whole romance angle with Ash; it’s not really natural. Cole can maybe experience some jealousy, curiosity etc., but she probably can’t navigate or at least admit to herself the whole attraction/falling in love thing. Maybe lean into her being interested in Ash as a ‘saviour’, his driven-ness, ability appeal to her. Also, I only just worked out: Cole & Ash. (Coal & Ash). It’s like before & after, fuel and remnant, but neither is flame. I wonder if I’m going somewhere with that, or if it’s just a coincidence… the subconscious is a scary and wonderful place, kids.

    In other news, it was a hard slog, but I did manage to get back on my 5 chapter/day schedule yesterday with a huge push to chapter 40, which puts me back on target to reach the end (ch60) by Friday with a couple days to spare for the inevitable overflow. In hindsight, I should have been a little less freaked by pushing the schedule along and left myself two months for this phase, but then again, it’s been good motivation and I can’t afford to just keep pushing the publishing date back forever and not making money. Interesting to realize that Rin Chupeco is a self-published; need to do some digging and see how she’s done it and where she’s at. Her latest book (The Bone Witch) looks miles ahead of her first two in terms of design and also marketing buzz, IG bookstagram posts etc., so it seems like she’s worked her way up to that point, but I’m impressed that she’s done it within three books or so, and has wide library circulation etc. Gives me some hope, after the disappointment of Melissa Marr’s One Blood Ruby. Poorly proofread with typos and awkward language choices in several spots. Seems like her publisher is maybe pulling the best resources back, which is brutal to see after a successful launch series and several additional books out there, all quite enjoyable and brilliant. It’s a terrible field that way, especially, it seems, in YA where there’s always a new trend and debut author to look at.

    Part 2

    So yeah, 2 hours just for review and minimal changes, but I think doing it this way is going to be better than trying for a last minute lightning edit the day before deadline. Little bit brutal facing up to a five chapter window starting, well, now, but hey, if that’s what it takes… Cross my fingers that edits on this segment are minimal and easier to whip through!!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 11 am & 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair


    Day 206

    29 May 2017

    Didn’t get as far as I wanted to on Saturday, but I finally knocked off that one outstanding freelance project, clearing my schedule for all of a week, lol, and hitting my targets for the month on at least one line item. Also renaming Itri to Ash (alternates: Lash, Tam, Tamb, Eladon, Eldon) last name Herne/Hearne or Faa. There’s a thing with true names and daily use names, so Ash may be more of a common name, maybe Eladon or Itri will surface later? I choose names as a combination of meaning and sound, taking into account appropriate heritage/background, but while I originally wanted to draw the connections between light-silver-starlight and what I now call the Travellers (Dreamwalkers), I’ve realized that Itri just doesn’t have good flow or recognition attached, which is a bigger deal now that I’m planning to record.

    Feeling justified in taking Sunday off as per usual; made a bunch of notes when I should have been falling asleep last night. The extra brain space freed up generally seems to pay off, even if it is hard to let go and harder to get back into it after the break. Unfortunately, these notes mean I’ll need to loop back and close some plot holes in already-rewritten chapters, but I’m hoping to spin through those and still hit my 5 +3 chapter catchup target (to c40, getting me to c60 on Friday at a pace of 5/day for an extra day+ of buffer) today. There’s some slim chance that the overall chapter count could drop (very, very slim), giving me a bit more margin, and there’s also a developing situation that may call the family away for a few days, giving me unbroken space for the last couple days of deadline and the collapse/catchup period immediately following. So, onward to try to tighten things up and make sense of the maelstrom!

    Inconsistencies: rooftop dream, if Cole thinks silver presence that saves her is cadence, doesn’t that mess with feeling abandoned by cadence and angry at her after? Make Itri more grim, driven, mission oriented. Get to the action personality, problem solver. Cole drawn to his sense of mission, buys in to making change as opposed to Ravels mercurial hot air approach. Reconciles to the idea of cadence showing her visions of Itri as a strategy to keep her motivated. Skip Cass episode? Or rather she’s already decided to commit to getting back to her mission, before she realizes cadence is straight up and Itri’s real.

    Insert slowdown of multiple days nights dancing in freedom at first, distracted by getting oriented in the new world before she stumbles across Ravels meeting and gets pulled into the Exchange. Uneasy sleep, restless, over sleeps often and finally starts to wonder why nothing’s really happening besides keeping ravel happy on the dance floor. Waking from uneasy sleep, feels remorse for sinking into mindlessness, ventures out in search of ravel? Dreams don’t start until she loses her mask, wears less gold.

    Monday

    Start Time: 12 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair


    Day 204

    26 May 2017

    Ugh, so far behind on everything! On the plus side, I get an extra day of alone time to try to knock some more out. Not nearly enough, but I’ll take what I can get. Dropping more things every day to try and get more focused and stay on deadline (lol social media), which is not good for my long-range marketing efforts, but possibly maybe helps? Oh yeah, chores and contracts and human interaction also goes poof for at least one more week. The weather is turning miserably sunny and warm though, so it’s not like I actually want to go outside - even the evil cotton fluff is out in force. Nightmarish. Despite all that trimming the fat, so to speak, I did finally get around to dumping a handful of journal entries onto the website in the hopes of ensuring it doesn’t become totally without value. And renewing it - can you believe it’s been a year? And I’ve only redesigned it, what, a half-dozen times? Not that it isn’t due for another overhaul soon…

    Slow going yesterday, but some great forward momentum at the same time. Wrote in the exchange scene, which really adds a dimension to the story, but also snarls up the flow of the middle/early second act big time. It’s tough going, trying to piece together continuity and emotional honesty, and even just flow at this point, but at least it feels like it’s going in the right direction. Like every previous stage, the last act is probably gonna get short shrift and be rewritten in, like a day or something because DEADLINES!!! Gah. But needs must. Speaking of needs, I also need to crank out my chapters today and finish off that one horrible outstanding freelance project so it’s not hanging over me. Audiobooks are at a standstill at the moment and I’m only just over a week out from needing to dive back into the freelancing and make some money, so I probably shouldn’t be ignoring them so much, but… yeah. I don’t seem to have much capacity to write and work at the same time. Or at all. But hey, I have a possibly awesome book coming out…

    Friday

    Start Time: 3:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    drinking: Cabernet Sauvignon


    Day 203

    25 May 2017

    Slowly but surely catching up and getting back on track with stuff. Put in a long day yesterday and clawed my way up to Chapter 20 (1/3 done!), so if I can keep up a pace of 5 chapters/day until next Saturday and excluding Sundays, I’ll (just) make deadline. Which isn’t optimal, as that’s really just a thorough once-through, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s not how all books get published; less-than-optimally. And if, given more time, I’d really make much progress anyways…

    I did rejig the bookmap for plot issues, so hopefully following that as closely as possible will make a big difference, and pay off as a worthwhile balance of investment, since it did take me weeks longer than I’d planned. Also sent off what I think are the final edits to my cover artist today, though it was super hard deciding on the fine-tuned direction. Struggling with the best blurb (and the inability to just go in and change it myself!!) as well as some art direction-y stuff. More brightness or less? Spikier tower or streamlined? Negative space ‘i’ or starburst? Head-spinning stuff, I tell ya.

    Also finished Libba Bray’s brilliant second entry in the Diviners series. Makes me sad I’m not going more epic with a wider cast, but I do see how the added complexity could really sink me. After the overhyped debut of Caraval, I’m pretty aware of how hard writing something that will garner great reviews is going to be. Also read Scott Westerfeld’s Spill Zone, and was reminded yet again of how I wish writers would stick to novels. It’s cool and all, but the whole time I’m just thinking how much more enjoyable it would be as a novel, or even TV. While I enjoy the freedom of being home alone and doing things at my own pace, in my own way, at this stage I pretty much have worked out that there’s no benefit in productivity either way. Though, less distractions once I do force myself to get on the keyboard are a plus. As is the cat hyper-affection; I’d have gotten started hours earlier today if Soul hadn’t decided to climb into my lap first thing this morning and nuzzle his head and forepaws into my hand, effectively pinning me down for hours. Because of course.

    So, here we go again. I’ll backtrack a chapter or two to make sure I didn’t rush past anything critical, than push for 5+ chapters today. The word count is still climbing, so that needs some attention, and I’m stuck with characterization for Ravel in particular - I think he needs to become more appealing, less disturbing early on, but getting that across is a whole ‘nother matter. Plus there’s something about reacting in the moment that I don’t think I’ve quite got down… or got down at all, lol. However, there have been a few good scenes that I was able to flesh out for world- and character-building purposes, as well as advancing the plot, so at least some good is coming of all this.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 3:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    drinking: Cabernet Sauvignon


    Day 202

    24 May 2017

    So um, yeah. A long weekend to escort mom to family up north turned into a week. Not… not quite sure how that happened. Other than, my ability to focus is apparently connected very little or not at all to the urgency of deadlines. Ugh. I had hoped to squeeze some work in on the drive up or while we were out there, even if just to knock off that one outstanding freelance assignment, but while 5 hours feels like ages to sit in a car, it’s apparently not long enough for me to pull out the laptop. And then, once up there it was just… yeah, focus. Don’t have much of it.

    And then coming back, one thing led to another and… yup. Two days blown on catching up on stuff without actually getting the main things taken care of. In my defence, I’d probably have churned out something yesterday if we hadn’t had a storm front moving in and I hadn’t had a passed out/nap afternoon because I’m too much of a wimp to work through atmospheric pressure changes. So that was… well, actually it was kinda fun, but also frustrating because PRESSURE and DEADLINES!!! I had this awesome fever dream where there was a leech in my mouth attached somewhere in the back of my throat and at first I didn’t realize it was there, and then I knew it was there and couldn’t get it out until I convinced somebody to just yank it… yeah. Awesomely messed up. And creepy but not in a night-terror-y sort of way. I mostly don’t get scared when I’m lucid-dreaming, even if they’re situations that I should be scared of. Which is perhaps why I don’t write good horror.

    I’m reading the second book in Libba Bray’s Diviners series and annoyed at the dream walkers. I can’t decide if I’m on-trend or just boringly derivative. I didn’t think I’d lifted the idea from anyone, but maybe subconsciously…? At least it’s not shifters, lol.

    Of course, all this lack of productivity is probably just a smoke screen so I can keep myself from realizing how terrifying it is that I’m pretty much down to the wire with story changes and I’ll be judged but good on what I come out with past this point… I totally believe in no-mercy reviews, but it does give one pause… especially how every indie author out there seems to think they’ve done a great job and all due diligence… yikes.

    I’m not the biggest Maggie Stiefvater fan ever; she’s a good writer, I just can’t get into her stuff. But some of her comments on writing have been very helpful. Particularly her article (blog?) on drawing and characterization in storytelling. (Unless that was Julianna Baggott… who it totally could have been…) Anyways, the idea is we tend to have levels of clarity and quality in literary portrayal that can be broken down like stick figure > comic art > realistic art > photorealistic art, roughly. Like the difference between drawing lollipop trees to sketching off of reference to a line drawing that’s indistinguishable from a photograph. And beginner writers start somewhere in the stick-figure to comic art range with first drafts. It’s maybe identifiable as a person - possibly because you told us, proudly, that that’s what you meant to create. But it lacks depth, dimension, realism. So you flesh it out, after a tough reader or your editor gives you a poke. And it looks more human. But often you don’t make it to the photorealistic level. And, arguably, that might be ok. You might choose to make artistic decisions that take you away from a perfect image to craft a better reading experience. But if characters stay two-dimensional, you probably haven’t learned to flesh them out properly. Which is all to say, I probably struggle with characterization, but my male characters and villains in particular are barely past stick-figure level and it’s a problem. Partly, being caught in Cole’s POV feeds that issue, because she doesn’t relate to others enough to be perceptive yet, but I’m trying to remember that making artistic choices that aren’t in the service of the story is gonna hurt down the road. So there’s that.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    drinking: Cabernet Sauvignon


    Day 201

    17 May 2017

    So I feel slightly better about how much of a struggle getting through yesterday’s five chapters was now that I realize the word count was a full third longer than the first batch. Hoping that was unusually extensive, ‘cause man it sucked. Of course, trying to cram the work into a few hours didn’t help…

    Generally angsting over how hard it is to get characterization and plot reveals right in-flow. And how my book map always ends up needlessly and confusingly complex. And also how the word count keeps inflating instead of being trimmed. I even cut whole phrases!

    Also, I’m tired. Also, I’m hooked on Narbonic and finding it difficult to focus. Also, it’s mid afternoon and I’d really love a nap. Bleargh.

    Rewrites notes:

    Focus on making Ravel more relatable, appealing (gentle, aware of her fears), frame Cadence’s refusal as more “you don’t need this” + childish disinterest.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 3 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 200

    16 May 2017

    Read a blog post by Neil Gaiman on George R.R. Martin, among other things, and was pleasantly surprised at the casual daily-life approach he took. Just like mine, except with first class flights, personal assistants and questions from readers on international celebrities. But other than that, y’know, so like mine. Lol.

    Webcomics update: currently following Skin Horse, Questionable Content, Narbonics (Director’s Cut) & Sinfest, with occasional catchups on Gunnerkrig Court. This is what I spend time on when I’m not writing, lol.

    Life update: I really need to sort out my meds and figure out what country my healthcare should be in… it’s like being 15 again just now. Shitty skin, gross hair, fat ’n pimply and generally unfit for public. I know it’s all ‘in’ to be body positive in 2017, but bleagh. Fortunately, I currently hardly have to go out in public; working from the couch in sweatpants and hoodies is totally my speed. Unfortunately, there’s a family wedding this weekend, so obviously it must be time for my skin to break out like it’s 2003. Hooray.

    In other news, made it through 5 chapters yesterday with more text-level rewrites than I’d expected, so although that was my minimum target… yay, I made my target! And also spent the morning working on the book map! And the evening doing research and rewriting the same chapters to switch the dream/nightmare monsters to ‘Mara’, which comes out with a nicer effect. Spent most of the time streamlining language (who am I kidding, it’s still way too wordy, but anyways) and trying to boost the world-building orienting language, which seems clunky to me, but since readers all seem confused as to what’s going on all. the. time. it’s probably necessary.

    Today I really get into rewriting Ravel for the first time since I wrote his backstory long form, so that should be challenging. So hard to rework existing text without ruining the flow, but the way he’s being portrayed just isn’t working. Today will also hit a bunch of challenging points where information needs to be conveyed without breaking point of view or characterization, so yay. 5 chapters minimum, 10 optimal, 15 ambitious, and… go!

    Part 2

    Well, so much for productivity and exceeding targets today. Decided to go along for a run by the river. Not to actually run, mind you, just as a chance to skip out on work, kill time that I don’t have, collect some allergens and generally shoot myself in the foot. Ate too much for lunch, I guess, or the fresh air knocked me out as I pretty much passed out for the early afternoon. So. Back at it. I’m running into the usual problem in this stretch, which can be summed up as: communicating information and characterization through dialogue is hard. People interact. It’s confusing and nuanced and not at all straightforward. I feel clever and readers feel confused. facepalm So, back at it…

    Part 3

    Ugh, so definitely pushing to hit the minimum targets of 5 chapters/day, which probably means I’m gonna be pulling late nights and scrambling at the end of this period, but assuming I don’t have major mid-stream changes, at least the deadline is still doable.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10 am, 3:30 & 7:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Iced Green Tea


    Day 199

    15 May 2017

    So Mothers Day went well enough; food I made turned out more or less ok, no big parties so cooking and cleanup wasn’t a nightmare, and we made it out to a movie - The Circle, with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson and some other folks whose names I should probably know. The downside being that now I’m feeling like the SF-dystopia angle of Blind the Eyes is strong and cohesive enough and should really be dealt with. Which would be fine if this was like a year ago. Or a few months ago. Or even last week. But today is my must-start date for the actual rewrites, as opposed to plot angsting. So, yikes. Also, consistent feedback seems to be nearly everyone is just confused by the story, which is frustrating on multiple levels. It ruins flow to spell everything out, plus info dumps and too much backstory and worldbuilding weigh things down and are generally unartistic. But no one being able to figure out what’s going on is not exactly what you want to be known for starting out in your career, so… I’ll try to be brutal in rewrites and pin things down more explicitly and less artistically… maybe… Or maybe I’ll hope line-edits are magical solutions to everything!

    In other news, we completely failed to drink gin and tonics yesterday, which is something of a let down. But the movie was good, so that was nice. Also, no sales of the first audiobook out so far, so that’s a little frightening. I’m gonna blame it on the awkward cover art and almost complete lack of marketing plan and hope it’s not my performance that sunk it, lol. I’ve also sent in a request for the giveaway copies, so maybe I can stir up some interest that way. Maybe. Also have one article left hanging over my head, as if I needed more pressure this month, and apparently that client hasn’t returned any feedback either, so that’s a little disturbing. Gonna try to forget all that and start producing, though, as I’m down to 3 weeks, which is terrifying…

    For interests’ sake, these are my post-The Circle comments on necessary edits to myself: Because the Tower is about disconnection and obedience and Cole’s never disconnected, she’s able to break free. The resolution has to tie back to connection and obedience; Freedom is about shallow, disordered connection and no rules. You can survive without connection, but you can’t overcome. Cadence has to help with the Climax somehow. And Ange and Itri? Ravel? Cole thinks she can support connection for others without being a part of it? Denial gives death an opening? Then seeks out/admits connection on her terms?? Needs some sort of critique, opposition or response to the Tower by the end. What’s the story arc resolution? What questions are answered?

    Part 2

    OK, I think maybe possibly I’ve got the map sorted and the continuity of plot in place from a character/world/quest perspective. Man do I love to complicate things for myself. Anyways. Despite instructions, gonna try to edit straight through from beginning to end with rewrites to ensure continuity, coherency and simply have some goal benchmarking so I can make sure I’m on track with the deadline. High goal is 10 chapters per day (out of ~60 = done in 1.5-2 weeks), low goal is 5/day (barely makes it by deadline assuming under 5 days/week solid work + setbacks when I inevitably realize I’ve got something else that needs changing and/or throw the whole plot and character arc out again. Onwards.

    Part 3

    Research into nightmare, dream-eating and water monsters. The Japanese Baku turns out to be a shockingly good fit, and along with some variation of kelpie a dream-eating sea monster is a surprisingly logical choice. Wanted to use some Roma or local First Nations legends and language, but I’m coming up blank on the research and don’t have a lot of time for it, so maybe I’ll weave that in later. For now, I’ve re-edited the first 5 chapters to swap in references to the Mara, which translates to useful things in a number of Indo-European languages. Unfortunately means penis in Japanese, so hopefully most readers don’t catch on. The Hebraic ‘bitter’ and Gaelic ‘sea’ as well as the use of Mare or Mara and variations thereof as words literally for nightmares works out quite neatly.

    Monday

    Start Time: 10 am, 1 & 6:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Peppermint tea


    Day 198

    13 May 2017

    It’s terrible for measurable progress and productivity, but the best thing I’ve found to do while working on plot and creative changes to the book map, themes, character arcs etc. is to… not work. It’s a very delicate balance, though. Too much time away from it, and I make no forward momentum. But stepping away for five minutes, or twenty, to watch a movie or take a bath or read a book, or even just sit down and sketch seems to give my brain the breathing room it needs to solve seemingly impossible problems.

    The downside being that I keep coming up with more stuff to weave in which may or may not actually get me closer to being done and having a cohesive, appealing finished product. And also it keeps taking me longer to do things than I think. But in case anyone wondered, that’s why I can’t do much freelancing or work a traditional job or even hang out with people or pursue hobbies and write on the side; the creative problem solving doesn’t have enough space to work.

    Thinking of tilting the direction for Cole (again…) Even though the ‘romance quotient’ seems to grow with each draft, it’s never felt like the central element to me (despite the demands of genre conventions…) So, although Cole explores what she thinks and wants out of a relationship with Ravel, with Itri, to a certain extent even with Cass, it’s never that important or central to her. What is core is her relationship with Cadence, which major spoiler of course, is her. So it’s really all identity, knowing and reconciling with oneself… but then they’re very different characters in the first book especially, so it comes off more as a sister or friend story of trust and rivalry. But I kind of like the girls’ relationship being the key element of the story, rather than the guy stuff. Even though dark fantasy and coming of age both dictate romance.

    So that’ll be something to explore. But I keep coming up with cool ideas and then struggling to weave them in… and I still don’t really get how to do character development with only one POV, so there’s that… and apparently subtlety just ended up making everything confusing for readers, but it’s not good to explain too much, and also Cole needs to be more of a proactive character with more challenges to struggle against in order to move the plot forward. So basically can there be more action, less reflecting and a shorter word count? Man, if it weren’t a sure ticket to poverty, I really ought to have gone into literary fiction…

    Saturday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair


    Day 197

    12 May 2017

    Thinking I’m gonna give up the regular Fri-Sat trip to Vancouver to see the nephew to keep pushing forward with work (and hopefully get around to that freakin’ last few freelance projects), which kinda sucks as I won’t get to see them next weekend either, but given the timeline I’m on and how much harder I find each round of rewrites, it seems worth it. Story mapping is hard - every time, I start to stumble at around the halfway point, and moving forward character development and reveals at a cohesive and comprehensible rate feels near impossible. Yeah, I make progress each time, and there are traditional books and TV and film that stumble over this stuff too, but… it’s a competitive marketplace and good-enough just isn’t. Plus I’m a crazy perfectionist high-achiever who’s never happy with what I can put out, so there’s that. Internal and external motivation! Also known as endless anxiety and depression! Hooray for the arts!

    Seriously, though; it’s annoying to have all this cool backstory worked out, and almost no place to refer to it or use it in any meaningful way. And how do you have secondary character development with only one POV? So many mysteries in the background that Cole can’t know about. Frickin sucks. Of course, it would make the story like 800 pages long, but I really want to bring back in those other POV. Probably it’s some level of writing skill that I need to learn to fix the whole thing, but gah, deadlines! Onward…

    Also not particularly surprising that the Audible book hasn’t moved any copies yet, but I had hoped that would emerge into a reasonable income stream in the background, and realistically I probably need to sink some time and energy into promoting that as well… yet another thing I don’t have time for, lol. Plus the chocolate startup needs some attention that I can’t really give it, and I’m concerned about its feasibility as a business in the first place… It has potential, but without a concerted effort and not an insignificant amount of gambling… yeah. But also I’m just feeling a little overwhelmed again, so things probably aren’t as rough as they feel. On the bright side, I’m in line for some non-writing freelance work in June, which could be a good way to shift gears, as well as cash in CAD$, which is something I’m getting short on what with all the international freelancing. I think it’s a better move to leave things in original currencies if at all possible, but it does get disturbing to watch my primary Canadian account dwindle since spending is all local for the moment. So yeah, I have a feeling the rates still won’t be what they should be, but better than nothing, and nice to have some work lined up for my next post-deadline stint without needing to hustle to get it!

    Part 2

    Right, time to suck it up and get stuff done! I’m still struggling more than I’d like to admit with the final emotional payoff in the climax; don’t want to go for the sappy cliche ending, but any time I try to step away from that I get pushback, so… hopefully teasing out the second half of the book map will inspire some next-level brilliance…

    Part 3

    Well, that went differently than expected. Thunderstorm knocked me out, almost literally, for a couple hours. No focus. No, like… awakeness. So. Tired. But I’m back (mostly) now, and I’d better get some solid work in to make up for giving up on family time today! Lol motivation…

    Friday

    Start Time: 10 am, 2 & 6 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Homebrewed ginger beer with cardamom


    Day 196

    11 May 2017

    So I made pretty great progress yesterday, capping off backstory for the Asheras, the Travellers, the Morrises and associated parties in well over 8k words and 16 pages, so go me. At which point I knocked off early and went to take pictures of potential bookish chocolate shop products at Costco and otherwise be questionably productive for the remainder of the day. Oh, but I made pretty kick-ass dinner with a bunch of Middle Eastern dishes, so that was cool. What I did not do was rejig the plot (technical jargon alert, lol) so as to stay on track for the next editorial deadline. Nor did I complete the outstanding freelance projects that are hanging over me. But hey, at least I went to bed earlyish!

    Back to chocolate. I spontaneously came up with a name while waiting around for errands to be over with. I think it should be called Media Bites (or Bytes?) and then have product lines within that like Story Bites, Cinema Bites, Sound Bites (for classic albums/artists) and Cocktail Bites because of course we need to do an alcoholic line. Now, the downsides to all this are, we’re talking hot chocolate, which isn’t a bite so much as like a sip or a guzzle or something… and also I haven’t done any research into how original or not that branding might be, and also it doesn’t allow for anything that’s not food… but it’s an idea. There’s also the issue of marketing/branding and visual identity, which I can sort of half-ass my way through, but which should really be done right. But startup funds… Augh. Anyways, that’s a nice distraction that I don’t need but should keep pushing forward regardless. Fun times!

    Part 2

    Plot mapping is slow and painful work. That is all. (also, my first Audible book is up for sale! Go check out Conor Kostick’s The Book of Curses for some pretty amusing narration, lol.)

    Thursday

    Start Time: 10 am & 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: yerba mate nettle tea


    Day 195

    10 May 2017

    Man, I always forget how much time chores take up. Spent yesterday voting, cooking, doing dishes, laundry, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, going to the store, the library, doing more dishes… I mean, yes I was having a hard time sitting down and focusing, but still! I’d even cooked and done laundry on the weekend, so it wasn’t like the chores had all stacked up or anything!

    I guess I just like to increasing the pressure and anxiety by putting off the things that really need doing like, I dunno, finishing this book and doing freelancing, lol.

    Anyways, still stuck in backstory-land, but hoping to actually get down to work on the plot in the book map today. My working plan is to get the structure set as of this week (and polish off the last couple outstanding freelance assignments), and then have the remaining three weeks for rewrites… which is not a lot of time, but meh, here’s hoping.

    On the plus side, one of the two complete audiobooks is approved for sale and being set up on Amazon, Audible and iTunes, while the other just came back yesterday with the same feedback as the first (boost average volume), and I’ve finished that correction and sent it out, so those won’t be hanging over me, ready to clamour for attention at some inopportune, deadline-approaching time. Also sent out three more auditions, for both flat-fee and royalty-share opportunities, so I’m free from recording requirements for a few weeks at least, unless I get on with recording a sample from BtE… which I really should do, as someone else signed up for my mailing list and I should actually start promoting and sending messages to those folks, lol.

    Part 2

    So I think I’ve got backstory and plot done for the Maria/Ravel angle with hints at Cole & family history… gonna take a stab at some more detailed backstory for Itri - who really ought to be renamed - because he really needs some more depth too, and then hopefully get on to stitching the plot book map back together today. Here’s hoping!

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 10 am & 1 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: cardamom iced coffee


    Day 194

    08 May 2017

    Four weeks to go in rewrites! Yikes!

    So I had a great time catching up with a friend over the weekend and being almost totally unproductive. (I did cook a crazy amount of food for no real reason, do a bunch of loads of laundry, jot down some more ideas, kill a spider, and thoroughly determine that there was no point in finishing some show in my queue). But of course I didn’t actually get much done, so I’m paying for that now, lol. Couple outstanding articles with one of the content platforms that I’m really not sure when I’ll have time to get to, although yesterday would have been ideal. Polished off another audition for ACX and need to process another couple raw files to see if I can’t line something up for June when I actually have a little bit of time again. Just saw that one out of the two under-review ACX titles is now fully approved, QCd & on its way to publication after only a minor clean-up job to bring the average volume up a touch, so that’s encouraging that I won’t have to sink any more time into getting the files out, affirming that I was able to produce to the necessary quality without much trouble, and exciting that I may perhaps one day make some money off of that work!

    Sent off feedback to my cover artist this morning on her first drafts; they’re pretty spectacular and so much more artistic and well-designed than my own (though that one beta readers’ edition was getting pretty good). Really clever stuff happening with the gold and silver and threads and stuff… though come to think of it, I guess I could have tried to weave some backstory in by letting the designer know using west coast, first nations and Romani/gypsy motifs was an option… oh well, that’s probably just unnecessary complexity at this point, and a hazard of designing the covers before the story’s fully edited. From an upfront costs perspective, I’d really love to spend less on editing and cover art, especially with the way the US dollar is rocketing off ahead, but… I’m also seeing the value and quality that investment in solid production brings. I see indie authors making lots of noise about how great their cheap editors and designers are, but… usually the lack of quality is there at a glance. Which, I guess the take home lesson is, just because it’s better than what you can produce on your own doesn’t mean it’s, you know, actually good on a competitive marketplace scale.

    Speaking of design feedback, I was lucid dreaming this whole extended scenario this morning and woke up all disappointed that the graphic novel art was a little too rounded and youthful looking for the gritty SF-dystopia I wrote - and the urban futuristic train station setting somehow turned into a steampunk flying galleon with full 3D rendering, and I was stressing about telling the designer she got it wrong even though she did so much work and wondering if I could somehow recast the story to make it work… Man, lucid dreaming’s cool. So much more detail than I ever pick up on when I’m awake.

    …and now I’m just procrastinating because I’m scared I don’t have enough time to do this round of rewrites, so of course the obvious thing to do is just put off getting started for as long as possible. My brain is coolest when asleep; awake, it makes very little sense.

    Monday

    Start Time: 3 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair

    Drinking: crappy lukewarm black tea with milk because I’ve been too lazy/cheap to go out and get some proper tea and it’s a little late for cardamom coffee and I want to sleep more than six hours a night and I don’t particularly feel like drinking at the moment…


    Day 193

    03 May 2017

    I’ve written on this subject ad nauseam, which by the way is totally spelled differently than I assumed, but anyways, wow is it hard to sit down and write. Or do anything related to the actual writing of a story, such as plotting, reviewing edits, typing, deleting etc. Writing is hard, you guys. (Inspired by Narbonic: Director’s Cut, which I have been devotedly reading instead of rewriting.)

    Yes, I know this journal is 98% about procrastination. Deal with it. Also, if anyone’s actually read all the entries so far, you need to get a life harder than I do. Hah!

    So. Back on subject. I can’t remember if I’ve written on the subject before, but when it comes to indie-producing a book and finances, there’s a whole range of options. A lot of folks will decry DIY approaches to editing and cover design, but then point you in the direction of fivrr or whatever that site is with rock bottom freelance prices. I figured my own efforts were at least as good as dirt-cheap outsourcing and went the high road with cover art and editorial freelancers who charge on the higher end of the spectrum. Now, as much as my Jewish/Scottish/German/poorfolks genetics wail at me to find a better deal, I do think it’s worthwhile funding the industry of folks with talent, skill and hard work who want to put out good books, plus the part of me with a background in business and marketing figures there’s some fraction of a possibility that investment in producing a book the right way may pay off down the line. Anything else is basically a vanity project, whatever else folks tell you. But lately I’ve been more active in the Facebook ecosystem of indie author groups and exposed to a wider range of freelancers, some of whom offer fairly decent services for a significant chunk less than I’m spending, and that was getting me down for sure. That and the fact that the US dollar keeps climbing against Canadian, so I’m paying 25%+ more than list prices on everything - terrifying! Anyways. This round of editing really brought home to me the value of having top notch team members. None of this is magic, kids. Except for all of it. And therein lies the rub, as far more articulate peeps have said before me. Which is an exceedingly strange phrase, but anyways. Getting words on paper is hard work. Editorial reports are awkward documents pointing out the issues you already knew were there but were hoping were invisible to everyone but you. Cover artists need you to think through everything before they can produce anything worthwhile. But they add something more than the sum of the parts going in - skill, experience, inspiration that you just don’t have, and can’t afford to acquire.

    All that to say, one of the first comments on this last editorial report really struck a chord and made me glad I chose the editor I did, because as soon as I read it, I was like: of course. Of course that’s the obvious solution to so many (seemingly huge) issues. Of course that needs to happen. Of course Ravel is actively at work against Cole from the beginning and throughout. Why have an antagonist who doesn’t make things harder for the protagonist and give her things to push against? Oh, right. Because I suck at villains and he’s also a sort of love interest, and boosting his role is gonna force me to admit that this is probably destined to be a paranormal romance, which I feel super awkward about writing, but it still is and there’s no way around that.

    So here’s what I’ve got to navigate - and double time, ‘cause I’ve got less than a month until line edits and my freelancing work is a nightmare at the moment. Ravel knows more than Cole realizes, from (before) the start. He’s the one working behind the scenes to force her along, though there are some other, lesser tormentors as red herrings into the mix. In particular, Cole has to trust him earlier so he can be gas lighting her throughout her time in Freedom, actively trying to dismiss and suppress her fears, concerns, her understanding of her own power so she doesn’t realize how she’s connected to the dreams.

    Why and how is he doing this? Meh. I haven’t really found out yet either. Wish me luck!

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Cabernet Sauvignon


    Day 192

    02 May 2017

    So in typical fashion, I’ve been putting off diving back in until the last possible moment, lol. Mostly good stuff; I definitely didn’t get through my full list for last month, but I probably knocked off nearly half of it, and that’s saying something, considering I kept on adding stuff.

    The biggest addition has been a nascent startup plan! The bookish chocolate shop is gaining steam, and I’ve been distracted with correspondence, sourcing trips, research, and building intricately detailed spreadsheets. Still a ways from launch, or even really knowing if it’s feasible or not, but that’s one more thing to have on the go!

    Totally haven’t done any trip planning, or even let people on the other side of the pond know where I’m at, so bad on me for that, but wow it’s been busy. Freelancing was also irritatingly slow to pick up - I’m up and running with two new copywriting services, I have two audiobooks under review with ACX (by award-winning Irish author Conor Kostick!) and a few more raw files that I should clean up for auditions on my hard drive - but of course it all came together only last week, so most of the month was spent in chasing work, angsting about working, and generally not making money. The good news is, I should have enough traction to hit it hard in June, which is when Blind the Eyes next goes out for editing. The bad news is, I don’t really have time this month for everything…

    On the marketing front, I’ve been only moderately lazy; my IG is now over 1.5K and gaining ground slowly - probably because I haven’t actually learned to improve my photos and I haven’t been particularly consistent or interactive. My FB is slooooowly gaining ground, mostly by way of author groups, but hey, at least I got enough followers to have my own shortlink! And metrics! Which reminds me, I really need to update my website links… And speaking of website, I managed to do a bit of minor redesign to tie in the graphic banners I made for FB and Twitter back to the site and headline BtE over the Wattpad stories that - I know! - I haven’t updated in like two months and counting… But I’ve got the first beta edition of Blind the Eyes up and running on Wattpad with daily releases that no one’s reading, so at least I’m active? Promises to blog on my own site have, of course, gone nowhere at all, but it’s not like anyone’s complaining, and I still haven’t launched a newsletter, but my mailing list has a whole four subscribers (thanks guys!) so that’s cool. Mostly it’s because I know I should offer some actual content and sign-up freebies on the newsletter, and in the absence of those I really don’t see the point of spamming people, lol. Planned to record the first 1, 10, 5, or some random number of chapters of the current edition as a freebie preview ebook, but got busy and a little discouraged and never did it. May still do it. Depends on how bad the editorial feedback is that I’m resisting reading, lol. Also need to plot and write short stories/novellas as freebies. Some good ideas that have gone nowhere… but I saw my nephew lots, read a bunch of books, improved my freelancing standing and generally had a pretty decent month, so there!

    On the writing front. Ok, deep breath. Yeah. It’s ok, I think. I was super encouraged to have beta readers for the first time from my social media channels - two responded to the call on IG, and one from an author group on FB that I participate in. Only one response so far, which was crushingly bad actually, so that was terrifying, since she’s probably one of the readers most in the target demographic… but other responses have been shining, including my editor’s emails (again, haven’t read her full reports yet)… so I’m gonna have faith in this process and my own stubbornness and keep pushing forward. Despite the crushing, panic-attack-inducing effect of less-than-glowing feedback, it is super valuable in helping me see things from a reader’s perspective and at least flags things I may want to pay more attention to. Hopefully a few of the other beta readers get back to me with their detailed feedback within the next week or two and I can collate responses to get a better idea of how the book will be received. Oh, and there’s someone on FB putting out feelers about issuing an Indie-author specific book box, so that’s hugely exciting. I’m a little concerned, because startup lol, and also they don’t seem to be screening the authors/books very closely, at least at this stage, but if it actually makes it to production and is well coordinated, I think it’ll be totally awesome, and it’d be amazing to have my books and/or the bookish shop involved!

    M’kay, I think I’ve killed about as much time as I can before taking the plunge. Time to find out just what I’m in for on this round of rewrites. Wish me luck!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 4:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 191

    02 Apr 2017

    It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m resisting finishing this up, lol. Partly, I’m afraid to look at the 8 (!) chapters I wrote yesterday; hitting the build-up, climax and cleanup all in one go sort of makes sense, in the same way that drinking while writing does. It can go very right, or embarrassingly wrong.

    But actually, I have a pretty good feeling about the ending - it’s been the hardest part to stick, and I tend to like my endings until I reread them, sleep on them, and realize they’re emotional, nonsensical, and lacking in clear explanations or any continuity with the rest of the book. But, still - it seemed good last night. And I was super impressed at myself for producing over 8 chapters and 10K words of ‘fresh’ writing over 7 hours all in one go; that’s a new record by… a lot. I could work it out if I cared; honest I could.

    Another advantage to plowing right through to the end is having an extra day to do cleanup, tweaks, and paperwork before submission tomorrow. Which I should be grateful for, but mostly I just want to be done now, so I’m resisting the final push. That, and I was so hyped up last night that I didn’t actually fall asleep until well after 2am. (Thanks SJMaas, btw!) Seriously, I’m pretty sure I’m the same person I was in the 4th grade, which is a scary thought.

    But on the energizing side of things, I casually mentioned that this would be a good time for any prospective beta readers to get in touch in my social media updates last night, and got 3 (!) IG followers asking to read. Super exciting stuff; not only has my IG marketing experiment managed to connect with real human beings, they like the bits and pieces I’ve shared and are actually in my target audience, unlike most of the first round readers (You’re all awesome though!) It’s sort of amazing the progression with this project - from trying to wrap my head around even getting started, much less finishing a full draft, to trying to connect with an audience, and now things are really starting to take shape!

    So where do we go from here? This will probably be the last ‘journal’ update for a while (until May), but I’ve finally got a News section up, so I’ll make an effort to keep that updated with anything that goes on over the next month. I’ve promised to keep my hands off Blind the Eyes whenever my editor’s working on it, but I’ll pick up both of the webserials on Wattpad etc., and I’m contemplating putting up the first version of Blind the Eyes as well starting sometime this month. I’m also considering relaunching the publishing section that I hid early on with more coherent (lol) details of what this process has looked like for me and will look like, and maybe get a reviews, suggested reading or Indie author feature segment going, in addition to cleaning up the website (yet again), growing all social media channels, and launching a newsletter. I’ll also put some more thought (and, optimistically, work) into freebie incentives for engagement, maybe get a poll up on what people would like to see.

    Oh, and I want to watch Netflix, make some money freelancing, see friends, be lazy, go outside the house on occasion… yeah, the next month’ll be gone in no time at all! Until Phase 3~

    Sunday

    Start Time: 3:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Honey spiced old fashioned


    Day 190

    01 Apr 2017

    So, this is it (maybe, lol). Gotta write that climax today. Or possibly tomorrow night. But a final edit/run through tomorrow night/Monday really is in order, and some updated character notes would be good, so today really should be it. Yikes. Guess we’ll see how that goes…

    Had an idea for my website/promotions - I wonder if a section called ‘Read Indie’, where I curate a quality list of Indie novels (prob. YA Fantasy), would be of value? Then I could do a newsletter featuring that, and possibly bring in some cash for ads or ask for cross promotions or at least drive some traffic to my site or something… I can’t be the first person to have thought of this, but it seems like a good idea, if only because someone needs to cut through all the shit and help readers find the gems.

    I’ve noticed a fair number of Indie author newsletters that I follow include works by other authors, so it’s pretty much just an extension of that idea. The key stumbling block, as I see it, is finding the time to actually read enough Indie books to find some worth recommending, sadly.

    It’s stressing me out that there are more excellent and super-hyped YA books coming out every month than I can possibly keep up with. For that reason alone, I may try to query some agents next month and get on with trad. publishers instead of just going Indie.

    Saturday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 189

    31 Mar 2017

    What’s your obsessive thing that you do when you’re avoiding what you should be doing? Right now, all I can think about is making chocolate chip cookies. Which is bizarre, because I don’t particularly care for cookies, and I really don’t like chocolate chip. But my sound equipment already arrived, so I guess my brain had to move on to some other purposeless or slightly negative desire. Sigh.

    I’m being (characteristically) angsty about having to write today. I’ve reached the end of content that needs to be rewritten, and now we’re into sketched out area only detailed in the book map to date. Which shouldn’t be that big a deal as I’ve already written well over 100K words, but… yeah. Logic. Not a friend to writers. And so, instead of getting down to it and pushing through so I can meet my deadline on Monday(!!), I’m putzing around wasting time. Lol. I wonder if I’ll ever get to the point where it’s easy to just sit down and write, or if it’ll always be this sort of internal battle to convince myself that yes, this really is what I want to be doing, and yes, it is worth my time, and yes, I can do this…

    Friday

    Start Time: 3:15 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 188

    30 Mar 2017

    Oops. So I thought I had until the end of next week until my editorial deadline, and it turns out it’s MONDAY! I think I was looking at the June day instead or something… so anyways, that’s like the difference between having a week to write the last third of Blind the Eyes and, like, a day or two? Eeek! Definitely shouldn’t have gone to Whistler (especially because I never really even made it outdoors)

    …but I think it’s probably still doable. Struggling with the pressure to bring in work fast next month, and the sneaking suspicion that it’s just not going to happen, between learning audiobook narration and marketing, but also trying to let that go and get down to work. Lots of distraction in the immediate environment as family go through round after round of interviews, and all the associated questions related to that. Am I going back to the UK? To Ontario? Alberta? The US? Staying put? And where the heck am I going to get my meds from, living without any healthcare?! Also looking forward next month to doing things like playing music and getting off my ass/the couch on occasion. Here’s hoping!

    Thursday

    Start Time: 2:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 187

    29 Mar 2017

    In typical fashion, immediately after hyper-productivity, I get next to nothing done. Which is cool and all; I had a few hours alone in the house, so a little indulgence was in order. And not entirely true; ended up doing quite a bit of marketing research. Interesting that it is actually possible to have hardcovers printed up. Yet another thing to debate… Also saw some numbers on Kindle Publishing - yikes! In around $10K in one year is… better than a few hundred dollers/not earning out outsourced investment, but still… absolutely no one is living off this stuff, even the ‘success’ stories, which is insane when you think about how much work, time, money etc. goes in. Learned a little on how to get books into distribution for stores, and in particular, libraries, so that’s a promising lead… and considering staying in this location, or Canada at least, until after publication, which opens up better doors for promotion and sales, but is of course a huge about-face…

    Curious about the sound equipment coming in next week and if that’ll prove to open any doors or add any value. I’m seeing some stuff that reiterates the value of video for younger segments of the population, which is a terrifying thought, and came across a platform where you submit query letters to agents. Though it’s yet another distraction, I think I’ll muck around in that world for a bit too. YA seems to be one of those borderline things where the value of going Indie and e-book-first is questionable, and apparently some agents do work with Indies and feel like they can both provide and receive enough value in that to make a go of it.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 3 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: spiced honey Old Fashioned


    Day 186

    23 Mar 2017

    New record; 7 chapters, 10K+ words yesterday. This round of rewrites is mostly reading through and tweaking, with some heavier rewriting every 5-10 chapters to add scenes. So, definitely not producing 10K words in like 4 hours, lol. The timeline will be tight, but I’m wavering between feeling like I can totally make it, and dreading how much refining I’ll have to skip over to meet deadline.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 185

    22 Mar 2017

    Sound equipment is in the mail; maybe I can record the first chapter of BtE and offer that as a freebie? A lot of indie authors - including some established, quality ones, not just the wannabes - really rely heavily on free content as an incentive. The trouble is, with so much free content out there, it’s pretty easy for people to surf around collecting it without caring to go any further. Or just dismiss it entirely as valueless. So I’m just not sure about return on investment for putting in the effort, time, finances into polishing up some additional form of media for that purpose. I’m more inclined to agree with the authors who refuse to give away full novels and offer previews, novellas and alternate media instead… but Wattpad stories don’t seem to really be of interest, and mine aren’t really up to full polish yet at the moment, and won’t be for some time… and the problem remains, as a debut artist, no one actually wants what you’re offering yet. How to play the game - and how to create something that’s so valuable that you don’t have to play the game… For today, I keep up with the existing social media and press onward with BtE hoping to make something worth something to someone. Lol.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 184

    21 Mar 2017

    Shoved through the first 5 chapters with some significant improvements to the first two yesterday. There’s maybe still too much narrative worldbuilding at the front, but at least it’s interspersed with some dialogue-based action now! In some ways, I have such a hard time cutting my own text that I’d be better of writing fresh, but I cling to the idea that it’s faster to rework existing text (plus I can’t bear to delete any of those precious words, lol).

    I figure I need to keep up a pace of at least 5 chapters/day for the remaining three weeks to hit my April 5 deadline - 5 chapters times ~15 days leaves adequate time for the inevitable slowdown near the end where the third act needs to be written fresh… except that the pattern of baby visits has sliced most weeks down to 4 (or less) working days, and I should probably do another spin through the whole thing at the end to clean up, capture any late changes, and strategize at the scene level. So I’d be better off completing in excess of 5 chapters a day - 7 or more; 10, ideally. Yeah, not likely, I know. Also pretty much dropping everything else for three weeks, which doesn’t set me up for a good April - international travel, mad consulting/freelance, and learning voiceover narration in three weeks or less? Wish me luck, lol.

    Part 2

    Just saw more people bashing Carve the Mark on IG and finally felt the need to comment. Now, it may be horribly racist and discriminatory in multiple ways; I haven’t read it, or anything by Veronica Roth, actually, but it was the way things were being approached. People encouraging each other not to read, upset that they’d bought the book, congratulating each other on scorning it… Just, really sad to see, in a forum for book lovers that encourages reading. It was like a far-left variety of book-banning; we don’t like this story, so let’s condemn it and its author. Even if Veronica Roth or her publisher holds the discriminatory views others say they’ve detected in her work, intelligent discourse and, idk, maybe thinking for ourselves? is desperately needed. The comments I’m seeing are horrifying not because of the platforms (racism=bad isn’t that controversial, though some of the comments are…), but because people are vociferously trying to censor others. A fair warning on content is fair; unqualified attacks are not. So now I’m off to get that book in protest, even though I’ll probably hate it…

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 4 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 183

    20 Mar 2017

    I really failed to log the work last week; no actual writing progress, but lots of broad book progress… 7.5 hours of redoing the plot Monday, another 5 on Tuesday to fill it out and refine, another 4 on Wednesday to transfer it all to Excel and tweak, and then another 4 on Thursday to write up 10 pages of cover art notes.

    But no, like, chapters finished or word count momentum, and still the whole climax-resolution, basically the last third needs to be written. And the whole thing rewritten to match the new plot. And I was out in Vancouver F/S, so there’s a week gone. Plus, obsessively distracted by the remote possibility of getting into audiobook narration. So yeah, it’s going to be an insane push to get through by deadline!

    But I finally updated Wattpad etc. that the serials are on hold (after missing 2 weeks of posts) until after the editorial deadline, and I think the cover art stuff is out of the way until mid April or later, and I feel like I’ve got a pretty clear idea of what I’m doing with the story and can maybe push through the rest quickly… Maybe. So here goes…

    Monday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Nettle tea


    Day 181

    15 Mar 2017

    And after 7.5 hours on plot last night, still not done. But getting there. Some good improvements, but it’s such a monumental, complex beast to deal with. Now I’ll waste time yet again converting it to Excel, and then running through the draft to bring discrepancies in line… sigh. Oh, and my cover art homework is due tomorrow, which is a terrifying thought. And I’m out to Vancouver Friday to Saturday again, so… kind of a write-off on the forward momentum this week. Bleargh.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 6 & 11 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Gear: flipchart/taped tags

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 180

    14 Mar 2017

    After all my crowing about how I’ve gotten so much faster and more productive, this final quarter of the book is turning out to be a slow, painful, fight for every minute push. Some of that is valid distraction. Some of it is spring, allergies, increasing outside pressures as the world tries to break in on me again. Lots of it is panic about what I’m doing - is it good enough, is it going in the right direction, will I be able to take it where I need to go…

    I just finished Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury, and wow. Just, wow. I’m so challenged by these excellent books that deal with all sorts of messy, complex issues, and tell a compelling, exciting, fast-paced, high-stakes story along with it. I don’t want to just throw up my hands and go, oh well, it’s my debut novel and I’ll do better later in my career, oh well, I don’t have a big publisher or pro editor to push me, oh well, I just tell weird, indulgent tales that are literary and weakly plotted. But despite my prideful determination, I don’t have much more than self-aggrandizing assertions behind the push for better, more, faster. I spend the whole day thinking about how I should do something about my plot, and then can’t get more than two minutes into it before cringing and turning away in exhausted confusion. Damn plot. Damn character arcs. Damn artistic undisciplined mindset that fails to think in a structured manner. Also, damn distractions, people bopping around constantly, and reality that expects me to be responsible for anything beyond creative output.

    Ok, rage over. Here’s today’s plan; make use of the pathetic amount of time left to push further on with the draft built on shaky plot and characterization and worry about fixing it at a later date. Now that I’ve fully established that hiring an editor does not magically push things in the right direction, I have to hold the tension of knowing things need to be done, and making myself remember and do them or suffer. So, yay.

    What lots of it comes down to; be nastier to Cole. Demand more from plot. Make it less about emo-ness, more about action. Which means yet another whole draft that I don’t have time to write. For a completely different book. In, oh, about two weeks. Bleagh. I want to stab something. Or blow it up. Etc.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 3:45 & 7 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Gear: flipchart/taped tags

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 179

    13 Mar 2017

    Time change is an evil, evil invention that ought to be erased from human existence.

    In other news, I hired a cover artist! Which I’m kinda panicking about b/c it’s yet another significant investment that I’ve got to make worthwhile, and I’ve had several days of not being that productive and still have some concerns over the plot coherency, but panic is apparently my natural state.

    Reading Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury and impressed with the incredible (feminist) character growth, despite how much I don’t agree with some of her premises. And feeling inadequate, yet again, as a result, lol. I really admire the messiness of Feyre’s character, but I struggle to tell a coherent and inspiring story without making it too simplistic. Or incoherently full of every possible thing. Tried to spend some more time on plot today, but between Monday-ness and time-changeless and a death in the extended family and travel planning getting closer and all, I basically made no progress. Also, I only just figured out (yesterday) that the Christian perspective on women and specifically women in the church, is a massive mostly un-grounded mess, so that’s been fun. Lol. You think you’ve mastered the critical thinking stuff, and then you find gaping holes that you’ve conveniently just taken on board. Yeah. Awesome. So there’s that.

    But mostly I’m just feeling lazy and distracted and dissatisfied, and having trouble thinking coherent thoughts, which doesn’t translate well to brilliant writing. Oh well, back at it, for what that’s worth!

    Monday

    Start Time: 4:15 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 178

    09 Mar 2017

    So I think I found a cover artist! Man, that happened fast! The paper artist from the UK never got back to me, so no original art, but there’s someone with really pro work (up to and including custom photo shoots!) - sadly, from the states so exchange, but I haven’t seen any freelancers with the quality she offers. It was one of those power-of-social-media things, where she liked something of mine, then I checked her out and she was running a promotion, then talks, then there’s a contract waiting and homework to do! I’m putting off sealing the deal until tonight b/c distractions, but it’s looking like a pretty sure thing. And the price is a little on the high range, but I didn’t want to go cheap and ‘Indie-looking’. So around $700 USD for a full cover that I can use for ebooks and print (fingers crossed). Exciting how real stuff is getting, but also scary! Like, now I have to write something worthy of real pro cover art, lol. And probably step up my branding game… One of the real hard things about all of this is the level of investment, both time and money. Without any additional marketing investment, the bill for prepaid services will run well to around $5K, plus 3 years of my time basically full time, plus I’m sure I’ll have to spend something on marketing at some point here, and I totally haven’t looked into printing costs, in case I want to have an alternative to CreateSpace to work with… so yeah, motivation to write an excellent book that people will love and want to buy and talk about, but also mad pressure!

    Couldn’t fall asleep last night for some reason, so I polished off Garth Nix’s Goldenhand, which was typically excellent and inspired me to write better fantasy (not that I actually have any high fantasy on the books, but still), and also made me glad I couldn’t remember much about that first book in the Abhorsen series. Because, spoilers. In fact, just don’t read this paragraph. Anyways, so I finished it and wasn’t tired, so I decided to take the plunge on The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia, which was absolutely amazing. I read 3/4 of it or more last night, and finished up this morning. Loved it, and I’m not usually that into contemporary fiction. It just had great atmosphere. The romance stuff wasn’t too gushy, but it was appealing, and really explained the whole bad-boy context well (with probably some idealistic spin, but whatever), and all the story line threads came together masterfully at the end.

    Speaking of masterful writing (lol), I’m definitely not finishing rewrites this week, but I was pretty pleased with yesterday’s progress. A new record: over 6K words in 3 chapters! With lots and lots of recycling, of course, but still. Given my track record, and start time today, that means I’ll get next to nothing done today, but still! Sneaking up on that climax and ending, so maybe I’ll actually get through this and have a chance to clean it up and check for something that makes sense (fingers crossed) before deadline! Which is good, ‘cause my editor checked in with me today and I think we’re go for the original timeline. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty nervous to get back into trying to sort things out by the book map, but it’s the best/only way to get everything lining up, and I think there may still be too many themes/storylines and ideas floating around muddying the waters. So that’ll be fun. And I’m probably done for this week after today; out to see family on Friday/Sat, so it’ll be amazing if I can even get my webserial TGOoH out on time…

    Isn’t funny how some days, nothing changes, and then others, there’s a ton going on? In addition to correspondence with my editor and cover artist, there was a recruiter getting in touch (so, hasty resume polishing) this morning. Would be a massive change of plans to take a FT day job in Vancouver again at this stage of the game, but might be worth looking at funding my adventures…

    Thursday

    Start Time: 3:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 177

    08 Mar 2017

    Some encouraging developments on the book marketing front; slow growth on FB, but growth nonetheless, another person reaching out on IG and joining the mailing list (thanks!), and dialing the website in to feature the mailing list more prominently. Gotta keep believing every bit helps! And more good news; I either fought off that cold that was coming on, it’s taking a bit of a break, or it was just a bad run of allergies, ‘cause I’m doing way better today. Probably not on track for finishing the rewrites this week, which is a shame, but I’ll at least write my way to the climax scenes before next week now.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 1:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Tulsi tea


    Day 176

    07 Mar 2017

    Yesterday was pretty much a wash, and today’s not looking great either, but in the interest of not just totally dropping out of writing to nurse a cold, I’ll see if I can’t generate a little something while being hit by fever-induced hot flashes. Who knows, it could be the greatest writing yet!

    In other news, my first giveaway experiment doesn’t seem to be of interest, but my new FB page is doing not terrible, and by that I mean that sharing it as myself not only got a little interest from FB friends, but there’s some other mystery folks following too, so that’s a plus. Will have to think about some custom content for it as it grows and experiment with what sort of interactions generate interest.

    Another thought that I really don’t have time for right now; I wonder if I could rally some other indie authors, debut or otherwise, and put together a sort of compilation book as a giveaway, incentive sort of deal? First chapters of all debut books or short stories around a theme or something? Might be more work than its worth, but I keep hearing about the value of alliances and cross-promotion, and there’s a potentially altruistic bent that appeals to me… of course, it would be better if I’d just get into a writers group and make some actual connections first…

    Also put in a proposal on a fairly significant SEO copywriting project that could generate income for next month. I feel like my chances aren’t great, since it was posted on a network that’s mostly full of low-rate second-language freelancers, but hey, it was good practice in writing proposals, since it’s been a while (lol). Yet another thing I need to get on; start bidding on projects for next month so my entire income isn’t riding on a book that I’ve yet to actually publish!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 4 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 175

    06 Mar 2017

    So we’ll have to see how this goes. Took it pretty easy (somewhat/kinda/sorta) over the weekend, feeling like I needed more of a break to refuel and have the creativity to get through the critical ending this week… but then spent most of the time on marketing stuff, getting FB, website & that giveaway up and running, though I may have missed the mark anyways with it, and couldn’t fall asleep until after 3am and now I’m either coming down with a cold or allergies are hitting as hard as one so yeah, plan: rest & recharge was kinda a failure. But! I’m feeling moderately clearheaded at the moment, it’s quiet, and I’m committed. Let’s do this thing!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 3:15 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 174

    03 Mar 2017

    Didn’t even bother posting a progress update yesterday; barely made it to half a chapter, if that, and I’m pretty sure I’ll need to rewrite it all today anyways. Allergy-induced foggy-head isn’t helping. Taking a pass on IG updates and general forward momentum, but I kinda wished I’d just gone all-in on the laziness and enjoyed the day instead of banging my head (figuratively) against the keyboard…

    Friday

    Start Time: 1:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 173

    02 Mar 2017

    Getting there. If I can keep from psyching myself out with how important the next several scenes are, I should finish up this round of rewrites sometime next week. Early, if I keep it together. There’s still bits of recyclable content cropping up here and there.

    Part 2

    Ugh tough slogging tonight. It’s at least partially allergies to blame, but blech. Like thinking through mud.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 3:30 & 6:15 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 172

    01 Mar 2017

    Today I feel totally unproductive and like going back to bed, but actually it’s only mid afternoon (=still time for writing!) and I got my tax returns submitted, and they turned out to be way more in my favour than I expected, so sunshine and unicorns all ‘round! Did some solid work on updating cover art and promo posts yesterday; after sleeping on it and seeing the results in the cold light of day, I think there’s still a few tweaks to be done, but the final product is serviceable and comparable or better with what I’m seeing from other authors. I feel like some indie authors are really challenging establishment marketing and presentation standards, probably because authors don’t invest in it the same way once they’re making money and can afford to focus on the stuff they care about (not marketing…)

    If I weren’t about to be travelling again, I’d seriously consider opening a bookish Etsy store. I think I’m starting to have a strong enough grasp of the marketing factors and trend-awareness to do well, but I’m not sure it’s possible to make high enough margins to make it worth my time… Best idea so far? Make custom hot chocolate based on characters/locations/books by adding spices n stuff. I’ve seen lots of bath and paper products, wearables, candles and even tea, but not really hot chocolate, so I feel like that’s a strong untapped market. But again, cost/benefit needs to be run and I definitely can’t lug supplies around while travelling. So, file under future desperate moves.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: spiced hot cocoa


    Day 171

    28 Feb 2017

    Still procrastinating on the travel plans; some exciting developments on the home front that could really impact the choices I make… although if past experience has anything to say about it, I’m likely to end up waiting around for ages and nothing much happening, lol. If things do go ahead, it’ll take away from overall travel/digital nomadism fun, and also writing time, but offer more financial stability. Also, it’ll be something very worth doing, so I’m tentatively excited about the prospect. But while it’s interesting to think about, it’s also a huge distraction from getting on with the writing, and I’m finishing this book darnit (and probably a few to several to dozens after it…) so onwards!

    The trickle of IG love is still dripping along, which is a huge encouragement and motivation. Thanks again for the love guys; your comments, likes and messages really help me stay engaged, have hope and keep pushing forward! I worked some more on graphics last night, and I’m going to keep trying to pull together the last few threads to get that giveaway up and running as soon as I possibly can!

    But yeah, focus is hard, y’all. In more good news, I think I’m moving toward the end at a good clip and may only have a third to a quarter of this draft left to write! …the bad news being, plot-wise I only just hit the midpoint, so something about the balance is a bit iffy (lol). I really hope I don’t have 50% left to write though…

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 1:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: water


    Day 170

    27 Feb 2017

    So every night I’m like; ok, so tomorrow I’ll just sit down and get right to work early and get in a crazy amount and totally rock this rewrite and finish early… and then it’s midafternoon and I finally force myself to get started…

    lol. In other news, I think I’m a definite late-in-the-day/night-writer.

    Finally got to work on pulling together and photographing my giveaways, though I’m not entirely happy with the results. Made some custom corner book marks b/c I was wasting way too much time surfing Etsy and trying to find some good ones that would ship in a reasonable amount of time and also match my themes. The results aren’t epic, but they’re not absolutely terrible, so I feel like that’s a win, and actually, the packages are better than I expected once I got them all together. Now I just have to finish pulling together my FB page, making custom graphics for it and my website, sort out some rules and get this show on the road.

    Ugh, graphics. So that’s going to take forever and still be unsatisfying… So maybe I’ll just dive in and get my writing done first and keep procrastinating on that one…

    I also need to do another spin through the plot and refine the updated plan so I can (hopefully) speed through the rewrites-to-date and adjust for what the ending necessitates. And I should really take the day off tomorrow and go in to Van to catch up with friends and see baby Jasper, but then I’d have to get my FotC serial chapter done today… and I should get on with booking flights and trip planning, so… Yeah, I think I’ll just write and pretend none of that other stuff is happening! :)

    Part 2

    So. Hard. To. Focus. Also, thanks a lot to the guy who posted giant Australian spiders to IG. I appreciate the reminder that I never want to go to Australia.

    Monday

    Start Time: 3:15 & 8 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: spiced cinnamon hot cocoa & malbec


    Day 169

    25 Feb 2017

    So yesterday actually went really well. Despite losing 3.5 hours on plot, I think it was worth it; I’m tightening things up, and really was able to get a better handle on the climax and how that ties things up. Unfortunately, I really need to backtrack and refine everything else now to support that ending, but at least now I have a clear(er) target to aim for. I seem to be bad at endings.

    I also think I’ve still got too much of an ‘internal development’ thing going on with the plot and character arc. Character development is great, but without the external action, it gets too slow and literary-fiction-y, and as much as I kind of love doing things that way, its not what I love reading (at least, probably maybe not…? I like well plotted stuff as well as the weird…) and I’m pretty sure it’s not what people want to read. I’m having a terrible time seeing where to make those changes, though, without just losing what I’ve created/the value of what’s been done/the uniqueness etc. I’d hoped that hiring an editor would really give me that insight and perspective to shape it appropriately, but I’m frustrated with the process. Obviously I don’t have recent experience of what it’s like with a major publisher, but the arrangement I have just doesn’t seem close or allow for a great deal of back and forth. There’s no ‘getting-to-know-you’ process, and I’m not clear on my editor’s reading/familiarity in YA besides that she says she does it… I have a feeling we’re talking about different things a lot, but maybe I’m just being defensive about my work and not wanting to see what she tries to point out…

    In any case, good things were done and I kept at it for 8+ hours between one thing and the other, which I think is record breaking for me, if we exclude research and marketing efforts. That also includes my serial chapter for Things Got Out of Hand, which I hammered out at the end of the night in no time flat, as if I were flying (or drunk, which I wasn’t). I basically hopped up and down in place for a while after it was done, so jazzed and energized. The tone, the plot, the banter, it just flowed. So in the zone. And no, I don’t want to think about how it took me like 7 hours to get there… but anyways, TGOoH is looking kinda supernatural rom-com at the moment, with bitchy antisocial sarcasm, so a bit like Sherlock (tv), now that I think of it, but less brilliant. Anyways, I’m feeling good about it, even though it’s kinda directionless and steering super far away, yet again, from where I wanted to take it. I may need to just face up to the fact that I can’t recapture, or more to the point, rewrite the story and feelings that I put into it as a teen. I’m just not in a place to do heartrendingly sweet romance. Plus, it was never a proper story, just a bit of a set-up. No tension. No issues. So I’d have to start from a different place, or use it as backstory or something to make that work (see, I’m learning! I may not be putting it into practice properly yet, but I’m learning!)

    Which led into today’s marketing efforts. WAY too much time spent on IG again, and on browsing Etsy for bookish giveaway products. Thankfully or problematically, with everyone else out of the house, I could have Buffy the Vampire Slayer on in the background. Which contributed to me not actually doing any writing until 6 pm, but anyways… the good news is, I signed up my first person to my mailing list! Let’s all stop and admire that triumph for a moment… and then shake our heads at how long its taking me to actually get the rest of my book marketing rolling. Baby steps. It’s partly graphics; they take me forever, aren’t shameful, but aren’t stellar either, and hold me back from just getting stuff rolling. Maybe tomorrow… but! Posting my daily updates continues to connect with a trickle of fans impressed with the innovative form and the content itself, and TGOoH made an impression today as well as BtE, so if I can keep it together and find the time while financially keeping my head above water, I may be able to publish 3 books in the next 12-15 months! Which could get me to the place in my publishing career that I need to be to pull this off! Although, I probably don’t have a prayer of having enough funds to keep up that pace and will have to take a time-out to earn cash… Still, it’s a surprisingly hopeful place to be! Keep doing what I’m doing, and do it a little better, a little longer, and a little faster all the time, and I may make it! Assuming people don’t hate my books once they’re out. Or ignore them. Or…

    Right, better get on with the writing before I talk myself into a slump, lol. Anyways, I’ve been treating Sundays as a ‘day of rest’ b/c commandments and gifts of God and creative renewal and general laziness and all that, but I also know a lot of writing advice really pushes the whole write every day thing, plus I am feeling that disconnect where I get my head into it, and then stop almost immediately, so marathon writing sessions might actually be good if I could pull them off. Anyways, I’m not going to try to write/rewrite BtE on Sundays, but I’m considering using them as marketing day (although that seems a little off - maybe more like creative (graphic) design day?) and also starting short story or micro fiction challenges, something short and different… I’m not sure if I can/should schedule myself every day with expectations, but I could really use some experience crafting complete story arcs, and I can’t do 2-3 a year, so I need to get into shorter fiction for practice. I can’t believe I just wrote that, but there it is. I think that’s the only way to really get a handle on the way I can’t plot endings, or, you know, plots. So there’s that. One more thing to work into the rotation. I’ve been impressed at how motivating targets are; I stress about them, which leads to procrastinating, but I also meet them; I haven’t missed a weekly serial release yet (there are 2), and that consistent 2-chapter thing in my daily updates on IG keeps me pushing longer than I otherwise would. What I’m not clear on is, do the additional targets take away from what I put into BtE, or do they exist in a separate place in my head and creative energy and stuff? It’s not like I work on BtE for ten hours a day or anything (not even close…) So yeah, thoughts and stuff to do…

    Saturday

    Start Time: 7:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Hermannator Ice Bock


    Day 168

    24 Feb 2017

    Yay - first ‘real’ author comment! Unsurprisingly, it was on a glowing review, but still. Thanks for the interaction Kendare Blake! Made my day :) And seriously guys, go check out her work. Anna Dressed in Blood wowed me, the Goddess Wars were epic, and now with Three Dark Crowns? She’s like the James Patterson of YA, except with better writing, fantasy, character insight, complexity… ok, so they’re nothing alike, other than she’s the plotting queen. Mind. Blown. I can’t even-

    So, let’s talk about plot. I kinda suck at it. Or maybe it’s characterization, specifically character motivation and arcs. I’m not doing it right. I’m having a great old time pushing forward, with more action and dark twistiness and all sorts of great stuff, but I cannot map a proper plan for the life of me! Yet again, I get partway through things and realize that Cole is meandering with only the flimsiest excuse for a goal, engaging in all sorts of musings and personality conflicts and trauma, but not actually, you know, doing anything. Specifically her time in Freedom, where she confused herself by thinking her visions are harassment by Cadence. It’s a repetitive cycle of her getting yanked out of trying to navigate a new world and get Ravel’s help, to learn all sorts of good stuff like empathy, love, longing, and worldbuilding factoids. So it’s pretty much an author-crutch that weighs down the forward momentum of the plot.

    Well, crap. And I was having such fun with it, too… Thing is, do I want to write a self-indulgent bloated story that only the chosen worthies slog through, or do I want to take a shot at the big leagues and be able to face some of these ladies who are absolutely killing it out there?

    Why does that feel like a trick question? K, here’s the plan. Stop. Write down a lean plot, synopsis style (yet again) based just on major action and Cole’s motivation. Focus on; what did Cole do and what did it change for her (consequences for actions) plus what did Cole want at the time and how was she prevented from getting it (forward momentum/dramatic tension).

    And… go!

    Friday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair & couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 167

    23 Feb 2017

    Still avoiding lots of things that I probably shouldn’t be (lol?) - although I’ve come up with a better excuse for not making plans; my parents my be interviewing for jobs in the States and it would be better for me to be around to cat-sit. Also, I’m definitely not booking anything until the end of next month/editorial deadline b/c let’s face it, I’m gonna need the time to work on this draft anyways. Although I keep saying it takes just as long to recut/edit existing text as write new, I’m now at the point where I have to put that to the test, and if it doesn’t take any longer (which may not actually be accurate), it does take more out of me. I think I’m one of those writers that hates to write/loves to have written/needs to write, lol. Like, it does feel good when I’m in the zone (which doesn’t last long at all), and after, and when I think about doing it but really have no intention of actually doing it, but the worst part is sitting down and getting to it. And also starting doing it. And continuing while doing it. And having to stop and go to the bathroom when I’m in the middle of it. Writing, man. Such love-hateness. And I’m sore from, like, sitting all day trying to convince myself to write, but I don’t want to give up writing time to get out and, like, move. Like, whatever. (lol, I don’t know why that had to be said Valley-girl style, but it did.) I had coffee this morning. I think it’s doing something to my brain. Specifically the language-processing and coordination bits. And now, I think, I need to stop and IG instead of write, which is dumb but anyways…

    Thursday

    Start Time: 3:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; chair & couch

    Drinking: GT w/ homemade/bathtub gin


    Day 166

    22 Feb 2017

    Still plugging along at a snail’s pace… well, that’s not entirely fair; I’m keeping up roughly 4 hours a day/3K-ish words/2 chapters, but it feels like slogging. Only got my Wattpad chapter out with 30min. to go yesterday. The idea of worrying about what comes next (travel/work, even marketing/sales) is overwhelming, so I’m just not dealing with it, which is going to bite me down the road, but I can’t bring myself to really care just now. Which makes things out to sound worse than they are; I’m continuing to be productive, moving towards a goal and wishing I were more successful already doesn’t help anything. So, back into the grind.

    Part 2

    Still plugging; thanks for the encouraging comments, IG/bookstagram followers! It helps! Feeling a little depressed b/c my parents are looking at jobs in the states and I’d either have to take a FT job or make it absolutely huge with this book immediately to be able to be close to them… and also have to leave my new nephew and his family behind… lame. But also potentially cool, ‘cause they’re looking at the Oregon coast or New York area, and I like coastal foggy areas and cliffs, and NY is the heart of publishing so that’d be rad… Trying not to worry about the future and do the best I can now, but it’s hard not to freak out sometimes and just keep focusing!

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 10 am & 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; bed & couch

    Drinking: Nettle Yerba Mate tea

    Listening: Chris Cornell Higher Truth album


    Day 165

    21 Feb 2017

    Good news; cheap flights show up later in the day. Bad news; I’m still not motivated to make a call and get a plan in place. Hoping to be at the 50% mark or past in the draft by the end of the week… which actually isn’t great, in that it’s nearly the end of the month and I’d hoped to be done by now. It’s still super speed compared to how long I took on the first draft, but if I work on the draft right up to my April deadline, I only have a month (or slightly less, really) to travel, make money, market etc. until the next push. Which is not a lot of time for all that needs to happen during it. Particularly the part where I have to make about five months worth of money in one while also traveling and being marginally more active b/c I seriously cannot sit still for entire days for months on end…

    So yeah, just kinda super unmotivated at the moment… not really pressing onward with the marketing stuff, and slogging along with the writing, making progress but feeling emo about it. Blech.

    Part 2

    lol focus, just wasn’t happening this morning. Which sucks, ‘cause the sun came out and it’s been too many days since I was outdoors, plus I’ve got a serial chapter to push out today too, but… yeah. Choices.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 11 am & 3 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; bed & couch

    Drinking: G&T w/ homemade bathtub gin


    Day 164

    20 Feb 2017

    Unsurprisingly, didn’t get much of anything done over the weekend - slept for half of yesterday with a headache of all things, which is what I get for slowing down on the allergy meds. I’m past due to get on with the travel planning, as flights really only have great prices about 3 months in advance, but I can get so one-track-mind with things. It’s hard to care about travel and making plans for the future (most of which involves me tracking down more work!) when I’ve got a book not quite half-rewritten and a new baby to bond with and a bunch of friends to catch up with as well… And as soon as I start caring about travel stuff, it’s near impossible to get on with the writing. Ugh, balance! And foggy hayfever-head helps none of it at all! But here we go again; sitting down to work and trying to let the rest of it go for a few more hours…

    Monday

    Start Time: 1 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 163

    17 Feb 2017

    Just a lot going on around me which is not helping with the concentration and productivity. I’m actually pretty impressed with how much I’ve been able to push forward in the midst of the whirlwind! Set up with a house/pet-sitting network and applied to a place in the Cornwall region to cat-sit for like two months this summer, which could be awesome. Looked at some Help-x places too, but most want too much work for what’s being offered. Probably won’t produce tomorrow, as we have baby visit scheduled, but I think I’ll take the computer in case it’s quiet and a good opportunity (hah! as if, lol)

    Friday

    Start Time: 4:15 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 162

    16 Feb 2017

    Progress; despite struggling to just sit down and work, dammit, I’m pushing forward again with the draft. Getting closer and closer to the point that I run out of content to recycle, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the word count seems to run about the same regardless of whether it’s fresh or edited. Still not totally happy with Ravel’s treatment; I think he needs to be more sympathetic and appealing, but Cole and Cadence’s reactions to him are so wary early on that it tips the hand against him. Recycling content is a little bit dangerous in that I slip into the flow of things and it’s hard to break it up and insert the meaningful changes that inform the plot direction and fresh characterization since the original draft, but sometimes I’m so in love with my own words that it seems a real shame to just let them wither in obscurity (lol).

    I think this early middle section (life in Freedom) is running the risk of being too low on Cole’s motivation and too high on world building, which may feel slow and unexciting to readers despite the inherent interest in the new setting and situation, so that’s something to circle back to and enhance. Gonna try to keep pushing forward on the same basis; review/refresh/edit last two chapters or so, then push forward two (or more? #goals…) chapters.

    Baby visitation over the weekend, so my actual work days are getting squeezed somewhat - all the more reason to buckle down and produce while I can! It’s bizarre to feel like I should be holding a baby, when it’s so new and totally unnecessary; there are other people to do that, after all, but it does feel like, I don’t know, like my arms are empty a lot or something. Which is hilarious, ‘cause I’ve held him for maybe total 20 minutes in his life, lol. It’s pretty cool to see family and stuff in action though; just the reality that something, someone can be so intrinsically precious without doing or being anything of their own volition. So yeah. Stuff n things…

    Part 2

    Man, it’s almost kind of pointless trying to get started in the morning; so many interruptions! And I just hit 1K followers on my bookstagram/IG account, so then I did a follow train and asked about giveaway preferences to gear up for the first one, so then I’ve been busy with that for like an hour setting it up and responding etc. So yeah, slow progress on the writing; slightly better on the marketing side! Must remember to ask questions in posts and interact more in future; great to have the feedback and I think it really builds more of a connection too! Market research, lol. Anyways, back at it!

    Thursday

    Start Time: 11:30 am & 2:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch


    Day 161

    15 Feb 2017

    So baby made it and all is well and it’s been super distracting even though I really haven’t actually needed to do much of anything, lol. It’s pretty amazing to experience newborns up close and personal; it’s like they’re an idea, a concept, a cartoon, and then you’re just blown over by how much detail, how much realness they have. Like, fingernails. Fingers in general. They’re amazing! How is it possible for them to come in that size? And it breathes and moves on its own. Shocking.

    Lol. So yeah, it’s been cool and crazy and overwhelming and underwhelming and everything at once and I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in all of it. I’m a little stressed about writing and now having a child in the family. It’s one thing to get past your image and impact on other adults, but wondering how my words could impact a child (who knows me!) is another thing entirely. It’s making me do some soul-searching over my depiction of male characters and my handling of ethnicity for sure. But on the other hand, despite whatever pretensions to culture and maturity I might have, it is teen/YA fantasy romancy stuff, and that comes with a whole set of norms…

    At this stage, I think I need to press forward and try not to get too caught up in reworking things - especially in indie publishing, though it probably stands true for traditional publishing as well, the need to continue publishing new material has to impact how much you polish each piece. On the other hand… yeah, quality is not a small issue.

    In sum, feeling kinda stuck and unmotivated, while at the same time feeling more pressure than ever to succeed. So there’s that. And it’s rainy and grey out, which is actually great writing weather, but doesn’t help me feel driven and like getting on with things. Think I’m gonna pour a glass of wine and try to hunker down and produce for a bit, and then worry about whatever else afterwards!

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 160

    10 Feb 2017

    Rewrites progress! #blindtheeyes

    A photo posted by KAIE | 🇨🇦 author & bookaholic (@kaie.space_author) on

    More recycling content yesterday, which is nice because there’s some plot and characterization stuff coming up that definitely didn’t show up in the earlier drafts. I’m still conflicted over Ravel’s characterization; I’m not sure I’m getting him right. It’s all from Cole’s perspective, after all, which adds to the complexity, but at this early stage at the very least, he should be more appealing, despite the way that Cole finds him scary. Which is hard to communicate, like how do you write charisma from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really buy into it? The weight of world-building heading into the second act is huge as well, so it’s not fast going even when I can recycle large chunks of text. I think I need to circle back again today and look at Cole’s obsession with death. I have a feeling I’ve focused too much on the corporeal, when it’s important to communicate that what she’s really drawn to is the internal, the emotive sensation and curiosity about others that she can’t openly indulge in. So that’ll be interesting and time consuming. And, oh yeah, a fresh chapter of TGOoH is due today, which needs to both explain some stuff and move the action and character development/relationships forward. So, yay Fridays, lol.

    I’m feeling more motivated again, though, after great feedback and interaction on IG/bookstagram! So exciting and hopeful to see people respond positively to my work! I should probably sit down and carve out some time soon to revisit my marketing plan and plot out what to do when - I have a feeling it’s past time to get Facebook launched, and putting some more focus into Twitter and Wattpad couldn’t hurt either. Goodreads is nearing 200 followers, which I feel like is pretty solid, and I could take another look at putting a page up for the book as soon as I sort out graphics and update the synopsis. Which is a crazy word, now that I look at it… and that’s my cue to get back to work!

    Part 2

    Spending the first of four hours on editing/revision of the last two+ chapters, then the rest of the time on an additional two seems to be a workable pattern (that eats up most of the day). Diving into Freedom and worldbuilding, plot development and angsty goodness!

    Part 3

    Yeah, it’s pretty much as slow working with existing text as writing fresh, but I’m impressed with how much more meaning I can pack into a scene with a plan in place! Making my bookmap was painful, and it’s probably still a little too vague, but I definitely appreciate having it at this point.

    Friday

    Start Time: 11 am, 1 & 3:45 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Yorkshire black tea with spices & milk


    Day 159

    09 Feb 2017

    Rewrites progress!

    A photo posted by KAIE | 🇨🇦 author & bookaholic (@kaie.space_author) on

    Pretty cool that I was able to recycle almost two whole chapters from the last draft in yesterday’s rewrites, but apparently editing and rewriting existing text to work takes about as much time as creating new text, so it’s not like I’m really further ahead. I must be 25-30% through the book, if I’m actually on track with the book map, which is pretty pro for just over a week’s worth of work, but I’m suspicious of that estimate for various reasons… I think the middle/early Act 2 sequence of scenes and chapters may eat up a more-than-fair percentage of the wordcount because worldbuilding (though I could be wrong and there’s definitely some recycling opportunities there). Also, there’s a baby coming in a couple days, which may or may not change everything. So I haven’t made any travel plans, despite time racing on, and I haven’t really invested anything in the world outside of writing and reading and book-marketing. Haven’t gone to see my brother and pregnant sister-in-law. Haven’t met up with all my friends (and beta readers!) Haven’t even gone out for drinks and music or exercise or shopping or anything, hardly. Haven’t tracked down some freelance work because money. Which is actually pretty cool, in that I’ve been able to be so focused and productive, but I do feel guilty about just checking out of the world in order to do so.

    However, the response to my ‘rewrites progress’ bookstagram yesterday was super amazing! Overall ‘likes’ are up across the board, and yesterday’s chapter 7 quote started some really encouraging comment discussions and faster, higher volume likes than any previously. I’d been worried about how little impact my organic marketing efforts and time investment in IG has had, so it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel to get encouragement like that. Maybe someone will read my book and enjoy it! Maybe I have a shot at recovering the costs that went into making it better! Maybe I’ll even make enough money to survive and write more in the future! Trying not to get ahead of myself, lol, but yay!

    Part 2 Sooo hard to focus, and working with existing text definitely has its own challenges. Keep wanting to do other stuff and having to force myself to get back into it! Posting the daily progress is great in that sense, since I don’t want to admit to completing less than 2 chapters and 2-3K words on a weekday, so that’s a plus…

    Thursday

    Start Time: 11:45 am & 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Yorkshire black tea with spices & milk, Malbec


    Day 158

    08 Feb 2017

    Rewrites progress!

    A photo posted by KAIE | 🇨🇦 author & bookaholic (@kaie.space_author) on

    Still kinda tough slogging. Characterization is hard! I have ideas of what I want to communicate for characters like Ravel, Serovate, Haynfyv, but it doesn’t seem to flow that way. And Cole and Cadence in this draft are so distinct from the last draft’s Cole and Cadence that it’s hard to keep tone straight. Finding the balance between simply moving forward and having some standards is brutal. Or something. Onward.

    Actually, what I wrote yesterday makes more sense than I was afraid it didn’t. Which, as a sentence really doesn’t work, but is true. Trying to do some major recycling of content for the next bit, as we’re getting into stage 1 of Cole’s adventures in proactivity, so it’ll be more like a deep edit than straight writing if all goes well. If all doesn’t… well, let’s leave it at that.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 10:30 am & 2:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Old Abbey Ales Scottish Monk & Malbec


    Day 157

    07 Feb 2017

    Rewrites progress!

    A photo posted by KAIE | 🇨🇦 author & bookaholic (@kaie.space_author) on

    So turning points seem to be dense, painful affairs. Or maybe it’s just the first one. I found it really hard to write in a linear fashion; kept circling back and filling in what I’d just done, trying to integrate character building, or at least character- and situation-appropriate text while getting across what I needed to. Mostly having a detailed book map seems to have made me more efficient and more able to sit down and churn out work, but sometimes it really slows things down having requirements for what needs to be conveyed at any given point. Which is probably a good and necessary thing, but agh!

    Pressing onward nonetheless; I need to look back over yesterday’s work and try to make sense of it, as well as push forward. I should also look at the travel plans again soon, like yesterday soon, but it feels like too much, but if I leave it alone too long, I’ll be here all summer. There’s only a month (or less) of downtime when my editor is working on her input, so I’ve got to come to terms with working on this thing and traveling/having a life at some point here… Yeah, sounds impossible.

    Part 2

    Ouch. So an hour of sifting through text later and still haven’t finished editing yesterday’s text, never mind writing another couple chapters. Oh yeah, and I’ve got a web serial chapter due today too. Mostly my computer was crashy though, so not entirely my fault. But mostly. Sloooownessssss.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10:45 am & 1:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Malbec


    Day 156

    06 Feb 2017

    Oops, forgot to mark it, but that's he best line imho from ch5

    A photo posted by KAIE | 🇨🇦 author & bookaholic (@kaie.space_author) on

    I think my own targets are negatively impacting output. Apparently I’m not that motivated by a production schedule, or I am, but I have to balance the motivation with the anxiety it causes or something… my brain is weird stuff, kids. Get close at your own peril.

    Still conflicted over plot and characterization; It works better now, but I need to be aware of making sure there’s more to the story than Cole’s issues, I think. After seeing how well Maggie Steifvater weaves a lot of the same issues into a much broader, more diffuse storyline, I’m inspired to try to back off of the psychological issues to ensure there’s good development and rising action. The Raven Cycle hasn’t been one of my all-time faves; I just don’t feel that connected or excited by it, but it’s extremely well done.

    In social media world, I’m over 800 followers on my bookstagram account, slowly growing on my novel-specific IG account and creeping upwards on Goodreads as well. Tumblr seems to be a lost cause, but I keep flogging it anyways for no reason except that I’ve invested so much time into it it seems a shame to shut it down now. I really ought to get a FB page going, invest some time in curating my Twitter feed and refresh my website with emphasis on a mailing list. Which also means some time working on synopses, artwork and maybe giveaway investment. I’m really hesitant to spend much more than my own time on any of this at the moment, since I don’t want to divert energy to freelance work and making money that will take away from this effort, but I don’t know how hard-line to be; strategic investment is meant to generate increased sales down the road. I’m not a real gambling-type personality, so I’ll probably toe a conservative line on that front if nothing changes, but that may prove shortsighted in hindsight…

    Getting into the thick of things in the plot as I round the 25%/turning point mark to the main conflict… assuming I’ve set my book map and plot up correctly. Word count seems more like around 15% of total, which is still crazy good for just a few days last week, so as long as I don’t choke and everything’s actually flowing in the right direction, this could be back on track. I’m getting the impression I won’t be able to actually reuse much text from the original draft, which is unspeakably tragic, but even though the main thrust of the plot is the same, the meaning behind everything starts to shift the scenes and reactions a little too much… but we’ll see… it looks like I can keep the ‘ghost stories’ chapters almost untouched, which is cool. I’m stressed about the intrigue setup stuff; communicating Haynfyv and Serov seems important, and also really challenging to me. I’m going to go back and try to rewrite Ravel to be more something… he should be more appealing early on, more charismatic, if I can figure out a way to convey that. And then I’ll need to take another look at Haynfyv and Serov and make that characteristically accurate as well as informative and tense/threatening.

    Considering changing the wider setting a bit. What if the Tower was just a locked-down building in Vancouver? Like, contemporary, actual Vancouver? Maybe it changes too many things, but the idea has some intrigue to me… We’ll see.

    Monday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: water

    Listening: Higher Truth, Chris Cornell


    Day 155

    04 Feb 2017

    This morning I had myself convinced I was going to work today. Then it was a snowy Saturday morning and I decided to spoil myself and finish the second book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Then I had so many ideas from her cleverness that I was going to sit down and work on the book for the afternoon. Then I got distracted by Instagram and a couple hours went by… and here I am deciding to at least get some work done.

    As usual, I am both inspired and depressed by reading other people’s brilliance. And I my daily progress posts are lagging on IG, so it’s clear not everyone is impressed by my brilliance, such as it is or is not… Came across somebody just starting to create bookmarks and thinking if launching on Easy. I wonder if there’s a cross-promotion/partnership/commission thing there that I should pursue? Incentives for… something. Joining a mailing list. Ordering. Pre-ordering. A well-known and popular creator would bring more reach, but would come with less flexibility and more expense (probably). Still feels too soon to worry about. And I don’t even want to think about budgets and financing promotions… ugh.

    In storytelling world, I’m still less than confident about my plot. It’s better (probably) than the original, but feels simultaneously too simplistic and too complex. Cole’s more proactive, but the whole thing is so internalized… in Stiefvater’s books, she really confronts issues of wanting, what we want, when we don’t know, when it hurts us, when we don’t get it, but it’s within a larger framework. I’m weak on the larger framework and deep into the internal character issues. Which is maybe the difference between a Stiefvater and a Yovanoff, but I’m worried that it’s actually the difference between a pro and an amateur. So off I go to tangle myself up in my plot again and lose track of the ends of the string.

    Part 2

    Oof, it’s hard working on a Friday. Or maybe it’s just the stretch I’m working on or something. Slow going! I think I’m subconsciously (now consciously?) afraid of writing the big reveal bit with the Tower agents ‘cause it’s too thriller/mystery/grand reveal weighty. But on the ego-boosting side, someone on IG asked if I had anything up on Kindle, so there’s at least one person out there who might be willing to consider spending money for my words! Maybe I’m doing something right after all?

    Saturday

    Start Time: 2:30 & 6 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Ginger & Crown Northern Harvest


    Day 154

    03 Feb 2017

    Struggling to push ahead and not get bogged down, although so far my production rate has been up quite a bit. It’s hard to find the right balance between intentionality and creativity; if I get too caught up in whether or not what I’m putting down on paper fits the plan, I get stuck, but if I just write, I lose plot threads and start taking things in different directions. It’s amazing how a crippling fear of inadequacy pops up the second you go to put words down!

    Not sure yet if daily progress photos are working or not; there’s good engagement with them, but my overall forward momentum seems to be lagging versus when I was just doing straight bookstagrams. There may also be a slowing factor as you grow, instead of gaining steam, as I’d originally imagined. Still trying to dial in on what creates value for people; if I get too far off from what I’m actually creating, there’s too little correlation between my goals (sell my books) and what I’ve built community around (pretty book pictures), but if I get too focused on what I want (get people excited about what I’m creating) it narrows the group of people that care to look and starts connecting with other book marketers as opposed to readers… will continue for a few more days and reassess. Throwing it up on Twitter seemed to have a surprisingly strong effect, so I may focus more on cross-platform. I really ought to get a FB page up and running soon as well…

    Friday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; bed


    Day 153

    02 Feb 2017

    Rewrites progress!

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    Yesterday was… actually, not a total loss. I did get bogged down in plot changes, but pushed away from the book map and wrote/cut together the first two chapters with a total work time of around 6 hours counting distractions (lol). It’s kind of hard writing to a specific purpose, but not as hard as trying to figure out the purpose and what happens next as I write, so that’s a plus. Into the second chapter, I was able to incorporate quite a lot of text from the last draft, which was either horribly lazy or a lovely bonus depending on how kind my editor is about it…

    Also tried using the work as a promotional component for social media, with moderate success. I’ll keep that up for a few days and see how it goes; more than one post a day seems to net greater interaction and more follower acquisition on IG, but it’s a step away from a nicely curated bookstagram account, which is what the followers are there for, and I don’t want to drive down the value of the interaction by pushing self-promotion too hard.

    I’ll try to repeat this pattern for a few days and see where it takes me: updated/adjust book map, review yesterday’s writing and tweak, write a couple thousand words or a couple chapters.

    At a rate of two solid chapters a day, I might actually get back on track. As long as I can resist getting bogged down in high-level plot changes, keep to a daily high output schedule (while continuing self-promotion and web serials), create original content at the same rate and not get distracted by soon-to-be baby. Or that it’s been nearly a month since I actually brought in any money. Life stuff.

    Anyways, off to the races again!

    Part 2

    Ugh trying to stay on topic is hard! Also, research.

    Part 3

    So, definitely getting bogged down, with relatively little recycled content, which could make things take absolutely ages. Gonna keep pushing for a two-chapter/scene per day pace though!

    Thursday

    Start Time: 11:45 am, 1:30 & 4:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Yorkshire tea & wine

    Listening: Higher Truth, Chris Cornell


    Day 152

    01 Feb 2017

    My #februarytbr is devoted to #maggiestiefvater marathoning! So much to catch up

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    So I know I said I was gonna start on rewrites today, but I was thinking about how the causation of the plot and primary character arc motivation had been getting blurred and… yeah. So. Less than thrilled with the variations on fuzzy feel-good connection-based resolutions and empowerment, and while I’m not opposed to the idea of an open-ended messy ending, it makes for a not-very-tight storyline. I think the right move is to wrap up Cole’s angst about wanting the right thing or not with making it about doing. As in (potentially spoileriffic):

    Setup: -Cole tries to always make the smart decision (obey Tower regulation), because she secretly wants things she knows she shouldn’t (obsessed with death). -Cadence is a ghost. She can’t make her own decisions, and is frustrated with Cole for squandering her agency.

    Inciting Event: -Broken surveillance point, Cole’s unexpectedly sent on field duty to investigate. Cadence is along for the ride.

    Quest: -Cole heads off to do her duty but is interrupted by Ravel (stays on task) and a corpse (caves to her obsession). -Cadence doesn’t understand Cole’s internal turmoil, frustrated and only seeing the outward lack of decisiveness.

    Main Conflict: -Cole gets tripped up by wanting one thing (access to the dead) and trying to do another (perform her duties). She loses her home and gets someone else killed (captured). -Cadence’s memories start to return and she gets really driven about trying to steer Cole to fulfill Cadence’s mission, but doesn’t remember enough detail and gets them both in trouble.

    Progress: -Cole resolves to do better at suppressing what she wants (access to the dead, to go home) and choosing the smart thing (find a new home & save people from the Tower’s lies). -Her attempts to do the smart thing don’t result in the outcomes she expects (nearly dies following Cadence, dissatisfied with life in Freedom). -She can’t fully suppress her desires, struggles to control the visions. Drawn to the fantasy as if it’s more real than her life (falls for Itri, jealous of Cadence, sad about the deaths). -Starts to question the effectiveness of pursuing the smart thing and ignoring what she wants. -Tries to strengthen her connection to Ravel and replicate the relationship she sees between Itri & Cadence and Angelique & Haynfor by trusting him more & is initially rewarded, then rejected. -Decides she’s just in the wrong place and recommits to doing the smart thing as a way to hide her hurt. -Decides to abandon Ravel & Cadence to go to the Underground to spread the Truth (but really, is just hurt and running away from being rebuffed) -Denying what she wants leads to disconnection with herself and others, dual lives. Cole doesn’t trust Cadence or Ravel, forces herself to perform a role of who she thinks they want, damages her relationship with both, and can’t overcome the trust barrier. -Cadence endangers Cole by trying to lead her, and further alienates her by protesting her decisions. Cadence is sad about not being able to reunite with Itri and refuses to confront reality, acting as if she’s still alive and on mission in the visions. She’s furious when Cole admits that she’s been falling for Itri.

    Pt of No Return: -Ravel saves Cole from Tower agents. Haynfor is killed. -Cole admits, learns to acknowledge what she wants. Realizes she has no control over the big things and there’s no overarching truth to inform how smart or not her choices are. Lives for the moment instead of big goals like expose the Truth or find a safe place. -Rekindles trust with Cadence. -Sets out to complete Itri’s mission b/c she wants to make it up to Angelique for taking Haynfor away from him, wants Itri to be pleased with her. -When Cole admits her secret obsession with death to Cadence, Cadence realizes her influence on Cole has been more significant than she thought, and renews her efforts to influence Cole. She schemes to have her help with the mission while putting on an act of kindness and allegiance.

    Complications: -Accepting what she wants leads to better connection with others, but doesn’t make everything right. -It’s empowering; her fascination with death turns out to be power over it as she fights back. -But she’s not strong or skilled enough to win on her own and Itri’s angry with her for putting herself at risk. -And her impulsiveness compromises her mission, and then her freedom and Itri’s safety. -Cadence’s jealousy for Cole leads her to push her toward action.

    Black Moment: -Cole inadvertently betrays Itri and gets herself captured and drugged. -Pursuing what she wants causes worse damage than doing the smart thing. She has no freedom, no connection, and has lost the person she most wanted to impress. She has no safe place, no allies and no capacity to spread the truth of the Tower’s abuses or help people. -Cadence finally has to accept that she can never be with Itri again, and her actions have only made things worse for him and Cole.

    Final Push: -But Itri’s still alive -Wanting things isn’t intrinsically good or bad (but wants are often conflicting); its your actions that matter -Cole manipulates Ravel to escape -Teams up with Angelique to rescue Itri -Tries to run to safety -But loses Angelique -Cadence tries to atone for her actions by convincing Cole to save herself and go be happy with Itri.

    Climax: -Cole is caught in conflicting desires and choices; she wants to save Angelique, stop the death, survive, be with Itri, make everything right, run away… -She chooses to sacrifice herself so Itri and Angelique can live. -Chooses between all the things she wants to do the right thing (care about others) instead of the smart thing (take care of herself). -Rewarded and empowered by not making it about herself; Cadence sacrifices her existence and identity to help Cole survive.

    Resolution: -Cole is rewarded for sacrificing what she wants and what she thinks she should do by surviving and saving Itri and Angelique. -Cadence is rewarded for sacrificing her existence and attachment to Itri, sustained by Cole.

    Part 2

    Well, that’s… probably good, but frustratingly slowing me down from actually doing the writing. Freaking book map…

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 11 am & 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch & bed

    Drinking: Yorkshire tea & wine


    Day 151

    31 Jan 2017

    Bliss wants to know what my #currentread is doing sneaking up on his tail

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    Maybe possibly kind of pretty much at a good place with the plot. (Perhaps.) I’d like to draw a line in the sand and start long-form rewrites tomorrow (Feb. 1), so we’ll see how that goes. Action quotient is up, Cole is more proactive and heroic than any point in the past, there’s some thematic consistency and the cast are getting pretty tightly interwoven. I’ll probably keep coming up with ideas for the direction, but I think it’s time to move ahead regardless. I’ll work on refining the plan down to the scene level today and hopefully launch rewrites tomorrow!

    In other news, my social media momentum is fading fast; I pretty much get out what I put in in terms of time and effort, which is a nice cause-and-effect, but frustrating when I’ve got other things to get done…

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 1:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: Yorkshire tea


    Day 150

    30 Jan 2017

    …and changing everything yet again. Yay.

    Monday

    Start Time: 3 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    Drinking: G&T


    Day 149

    28 Jan 2017

    Current read Unbreakable by @kamigarcia

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    I don’t know; I think I get closer to the right mark, and then it all seems to pour away again… I’m starting to dial Cole in, but still not enough, and now supporting cast have issues. Imma try going higher level, despite being shit at anything reasonably concise, and see if sketching it out with broad strokes gives any more clarity, since working through the detailed scene-by-scene plot summary is too much like full work editing apparently; too close, can’t change.

    Cole would be a more inspiring character if she reached a point sooner of getting proactive or badass, but a less realistic one. Cadence just comes off as a bully now, Itri’s a barely-there cipher, Ravel’s muddy… Ugh. And what’s this whole thing about again??

    Saturday

    Start Time: 11:45 am

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    drinking: hot peppermint milk


    Day 148

    27 Jan 2017

    So remember how I was celebrating sending off my plot revisions two weeks ago?

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    Still hate doing plots. Still kinda overwhelmed and procrastinate-y. Still trying anyways.

    The upshot of all my procrastination is, I’ve finally channeled it into something productive. By focusing on the bookstagrammer community on Instagram, following the heck out of people, posting slightly better and definitely more on-topic photos and engaging in interactions including shoutout sessions and supportive commenting, I’ve more than doubled my follower count in less than a month (about two weeks) to over 500, with about 50 new followers a day right now. I’m channeling success there to Goodreads, adding anyone who’s account I can find, with massive success at almost 100 followers up from less than 20 two weeks ago. FB, Twitter & Tumblr are still no goes, and I’m not-so-seriously considering dropping Tumblr given the high level of investment and low returns. Lots of porny accounts following me and not much else… but I could probably do better on any or all of these accounts if I needed to, using pretty much the same strategy as IG. So on the marketing front, I’m not killing it, but I am seeing some marked progress! Hooray for small victories! To-do items include continuing and increasing growth on IG, reaching out to reviewers and book bloggers specifically to prep for Blind the Eyes’ release, and figuring out how to get a mailing list growing as well, given that everyone seems to think that’s the highest value thing to do…

    Oh yeah, and writing a great book that everyone will love. Which brings me back to procrastination and impossible issues like, how do I make Cole compelling, since she’s certainly not lovable? Is it enough that she’s transparent in her issues at the start? Will readers be able to relate to her twisted, conflicted approach to the world? Have I built clear cause-effect into the story so she has to live out and overcome the results of her actions? Oh, and all the other characters - worthwhile? I have to find a way to make Itri and Ravel appealing… And everyone should be complex, not just one-note, and the whole thing should be achingly truth-telling with heart and expansion potential.

    So no big deal at all, right?

    Friday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    drinking: G&T w/ bathtub gin


    Day 147

    26 Jan 2017

    So yesterday was awesome; pushed through and redid the whole Book Map. Might’ve been a new record; stuck to it, with lots of IG and breaks, but still, until 10pm! Predictably, today I’ve been avoiding looking at it entirely. Afraid that it doesn’t work and I’ll need to tear it up and start again. And afraid of the deadline getting closer and more remote at the same time. So, self-sabotaging, basically.

    Time to get over that.

    Keeping the core of the story clear and on-track is one major challenge. Cole’s identity and character, and subsequently, everyone else’s characters are another thing. Fanbait? How do you make it? How do you live with yourself for making it? I get frustrated and stubborn about it; it feels inauthentic to engineer a character for likability, after all. But then I’m challenged by the idea that it’ll be my fault as the storyteller for not sharing the things that make the cast relatable and adhering to inflexible, one-note character traits to the exclusion of all else. So pretty much screwed. Cole. What’s appealing about Cole? What’s her hidden virtue that needs to come out into the light a little sooner?

    …no idea.

    Part 2

    Ugh. I hate doing plots. The end.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 5:30 & 7:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    drinking: water, wine


    Day 146

    25 Jan 2017

    Gone retro today - #tomsawyer #outlawred #mainstreet #vintagebooks . . .

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    Predictably, I’m starting to worry about the direction of the story. Not that it’s a bad one; lots of potential for teen angst and paranormal darkness in this version, which ought to be good for ratings. It’s still a step away from the story I was trying to tell, about a girl who doesn’t know how to know what she wants b/c her world hasn’t given her the chance to learn. Which is a terrible story to tell, when effective storytelling is (apparently) all about protagonist wants and motivation… But in trying to keep both those things on the table, I just keep spiralling away from the core idea. Which is perhaps necessary, but worrying, as I’ve also thrown away all of the alternate drafts, despite how promising they seemed. I’m also terrible at quick/high-level summations of plot; I get wordier as I go on. The good news (if I keep this plot) is that I’m planning right down to detailed scenes now. And a lot of the plot elements that arose out of all the alternate plots are proving useful even as motivations and characterization shifts. So it’s like I’ve told the same story half a dozen ways to mean a different thing each time.

    Another issue - one that’s always been there - is likability. Proper heroes are good and appealing, and have to overcome challenges that may bring out some of their failings and confront those issues, but they overcome. Angsty teen heroes, apparently in my mind at least, start out obsessing over, or adamantly attached to, their failings and need help expressing any virtues at all. They overcome by owning their failings and learning who they are and how best to work within those parameters. Instead of becoming good, they become themselves, but empowered and more confident. They need to hear: you’re ok. You can do this. Instead of: you need to change. You need to be different.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 1:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    drinking: hot spiced orange juice


    Day 145

    24 Jan 2017

    I can’t believe it myself, but I actually got down a full plan yesterday, start to finish! Now, figuring out it any of it is useful/salvageable, that I’ve been procrastinating on all day… But I think I’m getting a little closer to the heart of things, or at least starting to see where they go sideways. Likeability is still an issue; I probably need to contrive a way for Cole to be more driven or kinder or something up front. The theme that seems to be winning out has to do with wanting: desires, how to know them, own them, pursue them, abandon or surpass them… it popped up pretty strongly in the first draft, and despite all my efforts to craft an arc without it, it’s what I keep coming back to. There’s also some characterization issues I haven’t settled; is Cadence juvenile and silly or mature and sage-like? Is Cadence a goody-two-shoes perfectionist overachiever or a moody, angsty self-hater? The guys both have issues of the cookie-cutter variety; Ravel is one note bad, while Itri is a distant fantasy creature. But I think a bunch of those issues can be solved by diving into characteristic moments and detailed scene planning… And weaving in more ghostly dark creepy goodness through all of these human moments is something I haven’t even started to work on seriously…

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 5:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; couch

    drinking: water


    Day 144

    23 Jan 2017

    And here we go again. Back to trying to tell an impossible story. Gonna throw marketability out the window for a while, stop trying to do all the right things, and work on telling the truth. Then telling it in a way that people can understand. Then figuring out what on earth this Frankenstein’s monster of a creation I’ve developed actually is.

    Wish me luck. Like Cole, I may not like the rules, but I generally try to follow them and get a gold star. Uncharted territory is scary (but awesome, but scary…)

    Part 2

    Wow this is getting dark & twisted. Uncomfortable for me, but probably an awesome direction, when it comes to it. Very teen, very dark-fantasy/supernatural-thriller/paranormal-horror, lol. Soooo uncomfortable. It’s one thing to put something down in a plot, it’s another to go there and write it honestly and deeply! Yikes! Off to the races…

    Monday

    Start Time: 1:30 & 3:30 & 8:30 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; table & couch

    drinking: Crown Royal northern harvest rye


    Day 143

    21 Jan 2017

    Went analog today to try to solve the character and plot issues.

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaie.space_author) on

    I’m working in five and ten minute bites, brainstorming, ideating, whatever. It’s back to the beginning, come full circle or spiral maybe, hopefully I’m getting somewhere with all this flailing. Back to the start, and maybe the process is just what has to happen, the mess is what is and what needs to be.

    I’ve been trying to swap out variables, put my big girl pants on and make the changes to solve the problems to make it all work. So much for that. I’m back to who Cole is and was at the beginning of all this; someone who doesn’t know how to want. But, maybe, I’m better able to articulate who she is and how she progresses, and if nothing else I’ve got more plot elements to play with on the table now… There are dozens of stories I could tell (hundreds!) and the having of ideas is not the problem. Nor is finding good ideas an issue; pretty much any of them could take the novel in a plausible manner from start to finish. Some might even do better, commercially.

    But that’s not the story I set out to (find out I needed to) tell. It’s not who Cole is. It’s not what that world was created for.

    What does that leave me with? A mess. A flipchart sheet half-full of fevered scribbles, an ugly-ass self-portrait sketch and another day mostly gone. But I now know what I want to do with the mess (I think. I hope. I must.) and can move forward from there. I’ve learned more about story structure, character arcs and weaving goals and needs and internal and external developments. I’ve figured out how to tell the story without multiple POV. I’ve ruled out a half dozens decisions and ways I could tell the story at least. Call it progress.

    The Anatomy of Curiosity is incredible. I need to find writing partners (spoiler; not gonna for this draft, that’s for sure!) Also, my IG marketing is looking healthier these days. Score!

    Saturday

    Start Time: 2 pm

    Location: Abbotsford; home; table


    Day 142

    20 Jan 2017

    So it’s not so much that I haven’t been working on this (I have, really, I should be at day like 150+), but it’s been hard going. Sometimes I come up with answers, ideas, inspiration and fixes by ploughing forward, pushing for solutions. But a lot of the time, they come to me sideways. They like to sidle up in my peripheral vision when I’m not looking in their direction, and then I have to breathe slow and resist the temptation to stare until I can hold on to their afterimage. All that to say, I’ve spent the majority of the last week or so watching TV, reading books, and building up my IG and Goodreads accounts (yay almost 400!) -and then feeling horribly guilty and panicking for not working hard enough and being behind schedule, and then actually getting a bit of progress in near the end of the day, where I can sleep on it and improve in the morning, until my editor kicks my stuffing out and the cycle starts over.

    Yay rewrites.

    Just finished The Curiosities. I was up until 4 am last night/this morning with it too. Mad (the crippling kind) brilliant, but also inspiring. It’s kick-started at least two ideas or writing sessions, and there’s a sequel that I’ll start on tonight. The last 5 craptastic books I read were also inspiring, in a different way.

    I’m a little depressed. I’m a little stuck. I’m a little anxious. It’s been raining. I don’t know how to identify feelings (my own) or remember that other people have emotions. I’m too much like Cole. I don’t understand Cole. I don’t understand storytelling. I’m a drama queen in a wallflower’s skin with a berserker’s heart and a painted mouth.

    I feel hopeless and addicted. I’m not good enough. I can totally do this. I just need to work harder. I just need to hang on. I just need to be somebody different, and it’d all be better.

    I’m a writer. I’m a teller of stories. I’m a creator. I exist. The quality of me and mine is a different matter. Which matters. But not as much as I matter.

    I think it’s stupid when people say you should write for yourself. Don’t they know all I have to do is turn my gaze inside? Why would I go to the trouble of sorting and pinning and cataloguing ideas for myself when they’re vital and alive and mercurially bouncing around the space inside?

    I write for myself, to make sense of the ideas and images and thoughts and impressions and sensations that aren’t quite feelings or emotions but something more nebulous. To make of the tangled mess something that resonates for someone else, that tells them they’re both less special and unique and singular, and more at the same time.

    I’m a living contradiction who believes in absolute truth. Singularity. Trinity. Three in one but not one in three.

    I’ve been reading too much poetry.

    Or something. It might be the four hours of sleep last night… or the gin.

    I went outside yesterday. In the dark, behind the locked gates. Trash out, trash in, a tiny golden key, a chore, an escape, an excursion. I don’t know if I’ll go out today. I probably won’t.

    There are books and deadlines and chores and temptations. I will go out tomorrow.

    Friday

    Start time: 4pm

    Location: Abbotsford, couch/living room


    Day 141

    09 Jan 2017

    Made some good progress on plot and character arc mapping last week, but got derailed on Friday with a bit of consulting and pushing one of the serials ahead - those are starting to be in serious need of some planning too… So this week, for sure, I’ve got to get the plan out to my editor! In other news, it looks like I’ll be house-sitting for a few weeks starting a week from today, which could be an incredible opportunity to concentrate and push forward with rewrites, but also carries the temptation to indulge in distractions and general laziness.

    Promotions are still going slow; mass following on IG seems to have a slight boosting effect on overall followers and interaction, and I’ve focused in more on bookstagrammers and related media. Contemplating starting a separate account to feature text from one or all of the books under development. Couldn’t hurt anything (probably), but it is more work, and since none of the text is at the final polish stage, I’m hesitant to go there. Should probably be doing a more focused job on Twitter and setting up a FB page, but since my interaction level on both is pretty minimal, it’s a bit awkward to push there. Plus, everyone seems to feel mailing lists are super important, but it seems like just another chore that no one actually is interested in. Which brings it all back around to, am I creating anything of any worth to anyone? Can I even tell an effective story? Sales are hard (and I haven’t even really started yet!)

    Planning baby showers is also hard. More specifically, coordinating tasks and communication across a team without a defined leader is a mess, a lack of cohesion and clarity around purpose, tone, aesthetic etc. is a nightmare, and to top it all off, the ones from my side hate parties and social gatherings of pretty much any type to begin with! However, it seemed sort of sad to not have one, so here we are. And it will be fine (and over) soon, and hopefully the parents-to-be will be happy with the result. It’s kind of caught in a weird no-man’s-land of not fancy enough, but overdone, but some of the trouble is just that I tend to ridicule convention and meaningless trends, which creates conflict with people that aren’t used to looking at their culture from the sidelines. Like, sure: mason jars; cups with handles (and maybe lids!) I’m down with that. Keeps hot or cold things away from your fingers. Burlap and lace; contrast of texture and colour with the option to add one or more bright accent colours. Overpriced and overdone, but aesthetically pleasing and flexible. But so much of fashion, art, design etc. is not aesthetically pleasing, attractive, cost-effective or clever. It’s just a money-making trend or a bland fear of personally distinctive choices. Pinterest, and social media in general, following on the heels of decades (at least) of curated magazine spreads and set design, has a lot to answer for. It’s a bit strange that way; the eclectic layered, mix-and-match aesthetic of youth culture seems to support individuality, yet everyone seems to look outward for inspiration or guidance, instead of starting with their own values, preferences etc.

    …but then I go around using IG filters and stealing layout inspiration for bookstagrams, so we’re all guilty in one way or another…

    Part 2

    Oh the distractions~ I saw someone else doing a Goodreads push for followers. I wonder if a reader profile keeps its followers/friends when switched over? Must look into.

    Monday

    Start time: 11 am & 1pm

    Location: Abbotsford, couch/living room


    Day 140

    05 Jan 2017

    Did a great job of staying on the computer pretty much all day yesterday. 9:30 to until after 5pm, with breaks, and breaks, and breaks… Focusing and working steadily through the task at hand, however, pretty much escaped me. Key plot questions, which I was, of course, so confident I had a handle on and could flick through in no time at all, seem to require a great deal more inspiration and concentration than I’d planned to allocate. Part of the trouble is the subtle differences in terminology and emphasis between structural systems - matching up key plot points and acts is not entirely straightforward. Another issue is the evolution of motivation; the ‘lies’ and ‘truths’ keep shifting as I try to get it all to line up. I knew I needed to simplify, to encapsulate the key idea there more neatly, so some of the struggle was there. And then there’s the plot ‘events’ issue - I’ve been over and through the whole thing too many times, and it’s getting harder to remember what happens where, so lining up developmental increments based on events and realizations becomes a challenge. Of course, there are some events and realizations that never existed and need to in order to meet the structural requirements of the plot, so that’s where the inspiration comes in. What works with the plot, existing characters, character arcs, world etc.? What ties in thematic and subplot strings to solve the problem at hand? And how to jog that inspiration at the moment when I need it to move forward? Taking a break, walking a few steps, checking Instagram (repeatedly), changing chairs, postures, drinks, locations, checking webcomics (Unshelved is the current poison of choice) and daydreaming were all given fair chance. Sprawling across the bed, face down with the computer and basically napping proved to break the writer’s block (plotter’s block?) this time, but it’s like hitting a moving target trying to make progress; very little of the questions can just be skipped or shelved in order to move forward, and every day I’m more conscious that I’m getting behind where I want to be.

    However! The good news is that I did move incrementally forward yesterday, so today I just need to get through the questions for the Third Act, climax and conclusion without throwing out everything done to that point, and then I can move on to porting it all over to my book map, run a secondary character arc exercise and integrate any subplots needed, then bring my editor back in for any tweaking before starting long form rewrites! Oops, nope. Have to plot it down to the scene level first. Ugh. Well, anyways, if I can get through the character arc questions today, that frees me up to switch gears and write the next chapter to Things Got Out of Hand tomorrow, which is the leading serial on most platforms and REALLY needs to step it up after a few too many talking heads chapters. I’m conflicted about the serials; it’s a potentially sound strategy for getting attention, eyes on my work, and hopefully sales for Blind the Eyes, but it’s also sub-standard work, which is frankly mortifying. Needs must, I suppose, and it’s one way to move forward manuscripts. If I were making money from this, I could pretty much keep my editor on retainer to work on a rotating basis through the manuscripts that way. Assuming I have worthwhile stories that such an investment wouldn’t be a waste on… That’s kind of the thing with diy indie publishing; there’s no one to tell you not to sink money into something that’s not going to sell. So in that sense, the accusation of self-indulgence is legitimate, although you can bring quality up to par on pretty much any project with enough work (I hope!) Anyways, I’ll try to dig in and push forward again today! Maybe the slight caffeine will help with inspiration!

    Part 2

    Success! Apparently all the angst for the first two thirds was worth it, as I (more or less) breezed through the Act 3 questions. I think some inspiration may even have snuck in while I wasn’t agonizing! So, despite all the temptation to engage in celebratory alternatives, I think I’ll dive directly into updating the book map. It’s tempting to switch gears and write tomorrow’s edition of Things Got Out of Hand, or, y’know, skive off and watch something/read/play etc. But! Onwards! The sooner I can get the book map polished up and out to my editor, the sooner she can… pick it all apart and set me back again… wait, why was I doing this again?

    Thursday

    Start time: 10 am & 3:15 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: Earl Grey Tea

    Soundtrack: New & Classic Mix Alt Rock/Indie


    Day 139

    04 Jan 2017

    A photo posted by KAIE (@kaiedesign) on

    Fingers crossed; I may have pinned down the key plot/character arc element to iron this sucker out! After days of research, note-taking, plotting, long-form question answer writing and false-starts, healthy debate seems to have won the day. The ‘truth’ that Cole needs to learn is the value of human connection, which opens up the door to red-herring her with pretty much any of the many great lies in the world, and justifies Cadence & Itri’s presence in the story while creating nice counterpoint character arcs for Ravelwan, Haynfyv, even Itri & Morristu. Probably, for Maria & Serov as well. Balloons and noisemakers all around! It solves the weird dissonance of the climax - as long as I set it up right - while allowing me to play with a lot of the same ideas in the process.

    Thanks mom! (Yes, my writing buddy is my mom. Lay off.) So off I go to rewrite all the masses of planning material with this new brainwave in mind. Wish me luck! We’ll finish this thing yet!

    Wednesday

    Start time: 9:30 am

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: water


    Day 138

    03 Jan 2017

    Happy New Year! Horrifyingly, it’s 2017! Not sure how that snuck up on me, but anyways, it’s here… Hope ya’ll have a better year than the last one!

    Monday was a wash - mostly due to Christmas clean-up - and of course, I’m way behind on where I’d wanted to be in the planning and rewriting process, but if you’ve stuck with me for 138 days, you know that’s pretty much par for my course. On a brighter note, I still have ideas on how to move forward (read K.M. Weiland’s Character Arc blog series and go back to the flipchart paper to sketch out the plot based on that), my webfiction serials each have a handful of votes and at least one dedicated reader across platforms (thin, I know, but they’ve got their own issues and I don’t have time to polish them), my website’s working a bit better and more optimized, and my (ignored) Tumblr account is better organized and has more content for the tumblrs to ignore! Small victories, ok? Just let me have that…

    I don’t do resolutions, and I don’t much care for goal setting in that I can’t handle the disappointment of failing at my own overly ambitious goals all the time, but I do have some targets for the upcoming months and years. The first one being, meet or get ahead of my editing and publication schedule. The next deadline is the beginning of April for the first round of rewrites, and while I wanted to be done for the end of February so I could get back on the road and maybe convince my editor to shift timelines forward for a June publication, at least I still have a chance of not having to push the entire schedule back (the odds of publishing for next Christmas are frighteningly high).

    I’m still trying to get back to the UK, preferably Cornwall, this spring, though I’m flexible on location if there’s nothing there at the right time. In addition to the HelpX route to accommodation, I’ve come across some house-sitting sites, which could be a good alternative. Mostly it involves pet-sitting, and could be prohibitively expensive if I can’t schedule them tightly enough, but having free accommodation in return for much less work and the chance to explore a new town/city/region is pretty optimal. The biggest problem is that I can’t move around too often, in order to have the stability to get work done (freelancing or writing) and make enough money to pay for food, travel/transit expenses and publishing expenses. Still, it could be a promising avenue to pursue! I really need to add another source of projects soon too; the Textmaster work is too unreliable, even though I’ve attained a decently high rate of pay there. But I’m not giving space to any of that until I’ve made more progress and got a plan pinned down for the book.

    Key ideas/research: what’s the starting lie? What’s wrong with the situation or Cole herself at the start that has to change? “Obedience is life?” -reinforce facets of the lie -foreshadow Cole’s capacity to change? How does Cole think she can fix this? Why is she wrong?
How does Cole realize she’s wrong and try again?Wants vs. Needs. -Wants is wrong, usually physical solution. pursuing a solution without addressing and confronting the lie. -Needs is the answer she has to struggle toward, from looking at the core of the lie. Perspective, understanding, also personified or objectified. -Want must be sacrificed for need, either for a bittersweet end, or harmonized goals. -Cole must act on her new belief, her understanding of what she needs and the lie, in the climax to conclusion. First Plot Point -events force Cole to a decision -her response sets up goal (towards the lie) - Don’t be tricked again? Find the truth to obey? -punished for retreating/fears self-sacrifice is a rewarding climax and final high in a change arc

    Part 2

    OK, research done; I’m going to try writing through the questions in Weiland’s character arc series and see if that results in anything workable. So far, I see potential for linking up the plot with her structure, and I appreciated the detail she goes into… Still torn between approaches; what’s the ‘lie’ and ‘truth’ for Cole? Too many directions it could take! Thursday

    Start time: 10 am & 2:30 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: black tea


    Day 137

    30 Dec 2016

    Step into the sun 🚪☀️✨

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    Feels kinda like everything is stalling out right now. April and Henry have had one too many chapters of chatting, while Cole’s plot keeps getting bogged down around motivation. The twistiness around the climax is pretty murky; Cole is pretty much either angry or scared all the time, which stops being a convincing motivation, or at least an interesting one. I’ve tweaked it so she at least gets angry and determined within the first third, but that’s probably not a compelling enough reason to root for her, and doesn’t jive with the wrap up very evenly. If she’s determined not to get tricked again, she should work towards breaking free, which she does, and then realize what she wants isn’t to be free, but to… what? Help others? She doesn’t have any basis for believing that. It’s imposed morality. It doesn’t make sense for her to even believe there’s a better life to be had, a reason to keep trying, by the end of the second act. So why keep trying? Why run or stay? If the motivation is to keep trying, then her reward for trying kind of works out. Plus there’s a little built-in catch where you can’t save yourself, you only escape by trying to save someone else, but I can’t just drop that in without setting it up… Agh! Maybe I could work the romance angle harder? Have her more attached to Ravel and Itri? Be all excited about meeting up with Itri and getting saved? But then she’s just submitting again. There’s an essential element of rebellion missing, or at least not continuous. The emotional stakes of Cole/Cadence with Itri seem like the key, but I’m not sure how. Maybe one of them needs to sacrifice his/herself to make it all work? Or a lesson about trying to leave it all behind, but in the end the people you encounter have an emotional bond that you can’t just walk away from?

    What if Cole is motivated by a desire to be wanted? Loved? What if her motivation is originally to overcome the boundaries, but she realizes in abandoning boundaries, she doesn’t get what she’s wanted all along, which is to be valued for herself? Or something?

    What if everyone else wants something different out of her, and she feels like a failure for not being what they want/need? That gives her motivation for continually trying to be good enough, suppressing her own desires, and culminating in the grand disappointment in not being the Cadence that Itri wants? Her arc goes from trying to meet expectations, running from expectations, abandoning the very construct of expectations, to choosing to turn back and save those whose expectations she fails to meet…

    Fiday

    Start time: 2 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch


    Day 136

    29 Dec 2016

    Path into the mist . . . . #mallaig #Scotland #highlands #latergram #digitalnomad #writerslife #kaiespace

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    I’m coming to the realization that the first 100,000-odd words were basically the cost of getting to know and explore the story world and characters well enough to be able to write an effective story. Not, as I’d hoped, telling the story itself. Or something.

    Which could actually be good, if it makes it possible to get through redoing the plot and rewriting in a more focused, effective and efficient manner. Good progress yesterday; I’ve got plot points charted for everything except the story climax and resolution. I got to that point and realized that the motivations/goals/moral-of-the-story type stuff had all shifted and could be interpreted differently depending on the final scenes, and decided a night’s sleep and a fresh read-through might bring clarity and shape the direction better than pushing through. There’s kind of too many interpretations at this point, and I need to narrow them down and support them with the final actions; should Cole’s journey be about escaping, taking responsibility, helping others, owning her power, reconciling with her demons/ghosts/feelings etc.? I tend to embrace the ambiguity and let too many elements lay around cluttering things up, but apparently readers prefer a tidy resolution to a poetic open interpretation, plus I need to set things up for the sequel, and Cole’s ending realization and new goal set that stage…

    So, big work to do, plus some mechanics, mapping the plot points back explicitly to goal-conflict-response and character motivation. I think I’m using too many words + long form when I should be keeping it higher level and point form, but it’s too tempting to preserve ideas as they come, and if it’s all on track, I’ll have given myself a jump-start on the rewrites. I also need to review how the plot points incorporate (or don’t) the interactions and intersections of other cast members, revealing enough of the side stories to Cole that she has the pieces to start to understand, talk to the right people, and react down the road appropriately. So, kind of fun and kind of brain-melting!

    I’ve had some good moments doing the planning; let’s hope my editor’s response affirms the work and I don’t have to do it all over! I’ll hit send early next week, and if it’s a ‘try again’, I’ll be seriously behind on my actual schedule, instead of just behind on my overly ambitious/wishful thinking schedule.

    I’m warming up to the three-act structure spreadsheet, too; it’s certainly constraining, and I think I might have more like five acts… but it did help push me to consider what function plot points were serving and where emotional beats and stakes ought to be communicated. It also kind of forces me past all the concerns about what’s being lost and into strategizing a more engaging story, which is perhaps a bit tragic, but helpful in pursuing my pragmatic career plans over my artistic, self-indulgent fantasies, so it pretty much does what I told my editor I wanted out of her help… Well done, spreadsheet!

    Note: The likability problem. Cole is a good kid with realistic reactions. Boring? She displays some intelligence & feistiness early on, but that’s about it…

    Thursday

    Start time: 1:45 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: black tea


    Day 135

    28 Dec 2016

    Merry Christmas all, and good luck at enjoying a restful, fun and productive time over the holidays. I feel your pain. Or maybe that’s just my pain. Lol balance. And time. Just look at it fly!

    Anyways, back on point. The serials are picking up incrementally - Wattpad is still slow, but I’ve got at least one reader per story on Jukepop and textnovel - that’s good, right?? Or maybe not, but I can see how, as you go along, readers would be more likely to invest and engage. The capacity to finish a story must be proven, and all that. The capacity to tell a good one, however… well, I guess there’s grace for that. And rewrites… I’m thinking that, assuming I can get through rewrites before my next deadline (April) on Blind the Eyes, while making enough money, traveling and finding a place to stay that doesn’t incur debt, then I can at least map out character motivations and plot, and maybe even scenes for at least one of the two serials, lining it up for rewrites and eventual publication, if I can build up a decent readership. And by decent, I mean more than a dozen. Ugh.

    Back to the first priority. I feel like the current character arc is strong(er) for Cole, so I’m in the process of porting that over to my book map, which should confirm, at the least, that protagonist agency is driving appropriate action from start to finish. If I can get that ironed out and sent over to my editor for review, and then weave in supporting cast or any additional viewpoints to integrate secondary character arcs with the plot, and get that all sorted, I can finally, for real this time, start rewrites! Sigh. The good thing about this process is, tying the plot to a single character arc pretty much writes the scenes for you, at least as far as I can tell, since it straight-up maps to Goal-conflict-reaction all the way through. Although, possibly I just feel like Cole has motivation and agency through the plot because I drew it with connecting arrows… but hey, that’s what you have an editor to check for, isn’t it?

    I’m not too sure about the wants/goals motivations still; I can’t work out how to do strong overarching goals with any subtlety - it all just comes out like some kind of fantasy epic or anime quest or something - so it’s more a series of incremental goals. Not a recipe for ultimate reader engagement, but I don’t see a way to follow all the ‘rules’ and still write this story with these characters with integrity. And since I’ve started that other serial to explore if things went in a different direction, I’m not too interested in completely overhauling the cast, plot and setting for BtE. On the plus side, the current character arc and book map allow for most of the same plot points as the original draft (minus all the side stories, which I’m hoping to preserve as freebie and novella fodder), so there’s a possibility that I could revise to correct motivations instead of wholesale rewriting 80,000ish words… But maybe I’m just being lazy and should throw it all out… Nah.

    Part 2

    Book map is turning out to be more difficult than anticipated. I think it’s working off of a three-act structure? Which is annoying. Or maybe just challenging. Hard to tell. Based on the spreadsheet, I’ve made it to the early act 2 stage, which is something (only on plot points, though; need to go map points to goal-conflict-response and character motivation still), and only for the Cole-arc plot points, but hey, celebrate small wins, right?

    Start time: 1 & 3 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: black tea


    Day 134

    22 Dec 2016

    #portreeharbour #isleofskye #scotland

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    Success! The flipchart experiment went quite well - I got a good few hours of work in, charted character arcs by motivation for Cole, Cadence and Itri, with side-stream Goal-Conflict-Response charting for each, and explored the fascinating world of ink-stains and hand cramps. So all in all, a good experience.

    On the downside, while I think I’ve got Cole’s story arc working well, I’m not so clear on how to handle the rest of the cast. Now that she’s moving the plot forward with her motivation and actions, everyone else’s motivations and interactions seem a bit weak. And since I really ought to limit the story to her perspective, vast swathes of supporting and key cast members’ stories and actions have no real way of coming through, which is a bit tragic. But I kind of have to push forward and not get mired in details, or I lose all momentum, so there’s that too. I should really take a beat and look back at scene plotting too; I have this vague recollection that it might map nicely to protagonist goal-conflict-response, but if it doesn’t, I’ve got even more work ahead of me… But generally, it’s been a good week, and something about working with paper is helping, whether it’s the tactile, a step away from distractions, or just a larger visual working space…

    Thursday

    Start time: 11:45 am

    Abbotsford, BC - home/table

    Drinking: Earl Grey tea with eggnog


    Day 133

    21 Dec 2016

    Atmospheric #portree and its fleet ⛵️

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    New tactic; I’ve been doing research, reading up on theory and coming up with ideas, but not really making progress and generating forward momentum. So, in a dramatic turnabout (for me), I’m going to try stepping away from the keyboard in favour of flipchart paper and pens. Cue fanfare. Yes, I know, how luddite. I may give up on it pretty quickly - never really been my thing - but I’m hoping it triggers some better outcomes. Particularly because I’m now playing with the idea of doing some family time up in the Okanagan between Christmas and New Years, which could be a great relational investment, but also means another week mostly lost.

    The latest ideas for the saga of Cole are: What if Cadence expressly identified and explained herself as a ‘ghost’ to Cole? This one comes straight out of Brenna Yovanoff’s brilliant Paper Valentine, where she again manages to do everything I’m failing miserably at. Read it. Love it. Cry with me. Anyways, the advantage to this approach is that Cole has a rational explanation for Cadence’s presence, can be suitably angsty over whether or not to trust her and follow what she says (is she good/evil, good fairy or treacherous antagonist? Who knows?) while setting things up for a twist at the end - oh, wow, Cadence is actually Cole’s former self. And she’s not coming back! Poor Itri; his little buddy’s gone forever! What tragedy! …plus some sort of dramatic irony (potential spoiler alert) with the reality that actual ghosts are the evil at the root of the world.

    Although, that could just muck things up royally. Another idea would be to key Cole’s motivation as a desire/longing/drive to understand. She explains this away as acceptable because she’s just investing in admiring the power and goodness etc. of the Tower. But her desire to understand leads her to uncover dark broken mysterious anomalies like the existence and rising violence and frequency of the dream deaths, undermining the Tower system and her own security. Successively looking for a new authority to trust in and find security in exposes the danger and broken dark heart of all the various expansions to her world - Cadence’s naivety (??), Ravel’s mercenary betrayals, Victoire’s essential inefficacy, until she has to turn inward to understand herself and create a new worldview and approach of her own that embraces the dangers and gives her a foundation and a motivation to go out and help others. In some ways, this comes a bit full circle to the origins of this story and could still explore themes, difficult characters and some of the more recent ideas like Cadence as undercover operative pretending to be a dead girl. Or something. So! Time to map it out and see if it actually works!

    Wednesday

    Start time: 13:45 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/table

    Drinking: red wine


    Day 132

    20 Dec 2016

    Ok, last #castle shot for now. #Scotland #latergram

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    Yeah, so that wasn’t quite it. The whole Cole/Cadence/Victoire triad isn’t coming across successfully, while Cole’s key motivation or goal being ‘not responsible’ isn’t setting up the plot much better than the ‘stay safe’ agenda… but! I think a critical distinction to be made is the difference between ‘story goal’ and ‘underlying motivation’.

    I’ve pretty much come to terms with this not being the next Hunger Games or what have you, and I’m not too keen on pursuing the kind of fast-paced thriller plotting that could take it there, at least not to the detriment of the character and world rules, the core themes being explored. However, I do recognize that publishing, whether Indie or trad, is highly competitive, my readers expressed clear frustration with the pacing, and my web fiction serials are showing lacklustre performance at best. Something’s gotta change. Even with a ‘perfect’ book, it’ll be a monumental task to promote, gain readers, and make even enough money to earn back what I’ll end up paying out to get this thing out there. Plus, half of the point of hiring an editor was to have someone to push against and be pushed by.

    So. Here’s the brainwave - themes and the essence of the character are not the character’s story goal. The story goal is the thing that moves the plot along. The theme and the character kind of happen through and around that. Sound plausible? Practically, this means that I may be able to give Cole a mission while still exploring her ‘difficult’ side, her issues with wanting and feeling and engaging others and taking responsibility. So I’m thinking she’ll start out ‘discovering’ an issue with dreamdeaths taking place (or escalating?) under Tower rule, be suitably upset that her whole worldview is based on lies, which is the motivation for first confirming the premise - by making a clandestine visit to the site of Bell’s death, maybe setting up the Morrises/Serov/Haynfyv subplots and stumbling over evidence of the actual results of dreamdeath to make it more viscerally real - and then in reaction to that, seeking out a way to survive.

    (Potential Spoilers Alert!) If you map it out, there’s kind of a cool symmetry to the plot points - she’s existed in this tension between the Tower urge to obey and Cadence’s call to rebel, but then encountering Ravel sort of tips the balance to the rebel side and she starts exploring this larger world… Cadence gets her ‘outside’ to the rooftop, but that’s scary, she doesn’t understand it, and she almost dies. But the Tower’s safety is questionable, so she tries following Ravel, learning about and entering into his world and philosophy. But that’s scary in its own way, so Victoire is born to cope with the ways that Cole can’t handle it. And then dreamdeath invades this new, scary-but-safe world and turns it hostile and Cole ends up in the Tower, which feels like home, so she tries to forget and rejoin her old life. But then the dreamdeath invades her life there too, and nothing’s safe in any sense of the world, and none of the systems or leaders offer an answer she’s okay with.

    There’s some threads missing, though. Cole needs to take responsibility, be her own ‘leader’ or discover her own ‘system’ for survival. And it doesn’t satisfactorily cope with the ‘learning to want’ aspect - yet. I think I’ll try mapping this premise out and see if I can get it to cover all the bases I’m not willing to sacrifice… Seems to be the best set up so far! Although, I’m reading another Brenna Yovanoff book (Paper Valentine), which is setting up more protagonists without clear motivations or goals, which is making me more obstinate about conforming to traditional or rule-abiding forms of storytelling… Agh!

    Part 2

    Apparently I only like systems when I’m the one making them. All this three-act scene/story/character scripting is driving me up the wall. At least partially, because I can’t see it working for anything except very pat, predictable stories. Maybe I’ve been reading on the artistic edge of pop-culture, when I thought I was in the thick of mass-market? Anyways, it sucks and I totally don’t want to do the paperwork. So instead, I dream up more and more creative ‘what-if’ scenarios that add clutter and avoid the core story problems. Which is, like, cool but totally unhelpful. Must. do. the. paperwork… Tuesday

    Start time: 10:30 am & 3:45 pm

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: Earl Grey tea & red wine


    Day 131

    15 Dec 2016

    A #fairytale #destination #bookstagram for #lilistcrow 's excellent #ya #fantasy

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    And now it’s official. First day of (for real this time!) rewrites! I’m using exclamation points because I totally don’t feel the buzz!! For real, though: ugh. What do I even…

    So I just finished reading Brenna Yovanoff’s Places No One Knows. Which is pretty much everything I hoped I could do in a story, but apparently can’t. Seriously, go read it. All her stuff is amazing; beautifully written and realized, honest, incisive, imaginative, just spectacular. And there are other YA authors creating beautiful, deep, artistic yet entertaining work, just like there are hundreds of YA and genre fiction writers churning out fast-paced, light reads. I just can’t stop seeing it as an either/or. Follow the rules and create an easy-to-like fast read, or dig deep and craft something beautiful, controversial and difficult.

    I tried to start the first, ended up aiming for the second, and pretty much missed the mark on both. But back to Brenna’s genius. Dual POV narrative. Complex characters who are painfully recognizable, should be unlikeable but aren’t, who expose the core of humanity without wallowing in venality… And who move through the story without clear goals. Or maybe they have too many goals? Waverley and Marshall. Waverley is the perfect socialite with hidden depths. Marshall is the stereotypical stoner deadbeat trying to drown out his conscience.

    On the surface, Waverley gives the impression of wanting, what? Everything? Social acceptance, social currency and power, a peer group, a place, a bright future? But, since we’re in her head for the story, we know that she doesn’t really care for any of it, or at least, she questions the value of it. She’s painfully, adolescently aware of the dark underbelly of the social world, the scheming, conniving power plays, the elaborate, deniable attacks. Which, wow. Props to Brenna for articulating this subtlety! But back to Brenna. She is conscious of herself as separate from it, conscious that her obsessive desire to run and her insomnia point to underlying issues, but she’s also ignoring these warning signs, not wanting to address their root causes, not wanting to upset the balance. She talks about needing to win, to be first, but happily plays Beta to her best friend’s Alpha. So she doesn’t really want to win, to be first, even to play the social game. She doesn’t want to deal with her problems, to understand and acknowledge them. What’s her goal? To be accepted? And then it shifts to wanting to be loved for herself? Not really (spoiler) - she seems to come to understand this by the end - but it wasn’t her motivating force. If anything, her goal is to stay safe, to maintain the balance, to stay where she is… but wait, isn’t that a terrible way to set up a book? Why does it work?

    And then there’s Marshall. Marshall who is hurt and hurting, and wanting to drive it all away. Marshall who wants to protect and love and be loved, to be real. But that’s not his ‘story goal’, or rather, we don’t understand that that’s his underlying motivation until the very end. So it doesn’t count as a way to move things forward.

    But it’s real, and it’s complex and interesting. I read the book over four days instead of the usual 1-2, but it didn’t feel slow or painful (much) to get through. It gets mixed reviews and elicits a response, but overall ratings are in keeping with Brenna’s more traditional books (nearly a full four stars - pretty excellent). Why does it work? What keeps the story moving forward; what gets you invested in the characters and their journey?

    Is it the honesty, the realness and freshness of Waverley’s perspective? Is it the unexplained magic of dream walking - which, wow again; to just not dive into the mechanics at all! - that keeps you reading, the pure strangeness of all of it, the mystery of the unexplained? Because that’s another questionable tactic, if you read the editing books and blogs…

    And how can I make it work for me?

    I created or discovered a world where motivation, where goals of any kind, are explicitly forbidden. They’re both outlawed and literally deadly. Oops. But that world had to exist to explain Cole, who is totally comfortable not wanting anything. Or maybe more to the point, never knows what she wants at any given time. Which is pretty human. To moderate that effect, Cadence showed up. Cole’s motivation, personified. Except, once she’s a person, she has all the motivation and goals, and becomes the primary way to move the story forward. But to tell the story from her perspective loses the point, which was to take an unlikeable, unmotivated, confused and confusing girl and bring readers into her world. It’s not a story about Cole learning to become Cadence, or Cadence saving Cole, it’s a story about Cole learning to be Cole.

    Maybe I’ve been writing the premise wrong all this time. I’ve been saying things about the world, how it’s oppressive, how it’s limiting, how it limits choices, and that’s all true, but it’s just setting. The premise is, Cole’s world kept her from learning how or what to want, and when her world got bigger than the rules, she had to learn what it was to respond, to want or not want, to choose on her own. All of the sudden, she had choices between keeping or breaking the rules, following, staying, or creating her own path. And as her world expands, the voices influencing her do too. She starts with Cadence and the Tower. The Tower says obey, Cadence says rebel. Then Ravel shows up, doubling the call to rebel, and the scales are tipped. Cole follows. But the paths diverge again. Cadence says escape, Ravel says join, immerse, and the Tower’s still there, offering safety in return for obedience. The choices are too big and too divided; Cole won’t commit. Cole wants someone else to be responsible for making the choices. Maybe that’s the key. Cole doesn’t want to be responsible. So when Victoire arises, tipping the scales toward Ravel, it’s not her fault that things are getting scary, getting out of hand. She can explore things without the consequences being her fault, because it’s either Cadence or Victoire at fault.

    Spoiler! Potential backstory: Cole was sent on a mission to infiltrate the Tower and the city. She was supposed to just act programmed, but something went wrong. She was actually programmed, but because she was on a mission, it didn’t quite take. Cadence is the part of her that remembers the mission, and remembers that Itri is meant to meet up with her. She’s trying to move Cole to the meeting point. Cole is resisting, following her programming, broken and starting anew, a different person now, and one who only wants to not be responsible. Maybe it’s older trauma, a reaction against who she used to be. Maybe she had regrets as Cadence. Maybe she feared getting in over her head. Whatever. Cole starts as a blank slate and develops into the opposite of who she was a Cadence, but Cadence is still around, pushing her. And it kind of works, because Cole can use Cadence as a crutch to blame failures on, and later, Victoire (who, spoiler again, is just imaginary).

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Abbotsford, BC - home/couch

    Drinking: cold rooibos tea


    Day 130

    12 Nov 2016

    Some #castle ✨😊

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    Lost track for a bit there; it’s been a good few days of sorting out paperwork for my editor. Deposit and first instalment are now paid, and substantive edit manuscript sent as of Monday. It was a huge mess, of course; mainly Beta draft, but with significant edits to the first chapter and a first half dozen chapters reworked and shuffled to read from only Cole and Cadence’s perspectives. And nearly 100,000 words, which was not ideal, but in the interests of moving things forward… For the rest of the week, I’ve been trying to answer some very simple questions for the edit; character motivations, premise and publication categories (genre). Yeah, really shouldn’t have taken a week, but unsurprisingly… SO while every named character - and there are lots - had a backstory and fairly clear core motivation, none of them really had good ‘story goals’ - missions, basically. More or less the same problem with the premise; Cole, as I knew all along, is kind of passive through the whole thing, with stuff happening and others - mostly Cadence and Ravel - moving her along. So building a story arc around that gets a little… Took me about about four stabs at the premise to even distil down to something acceptable, although at least part of the trouble was making the distinction between a detailed plot structure and a basic premise - as usual, not great at being concise. But I think I’ve got it down to something reasonable, which is good. Once that’s gone, I can go through the same murky process to chart and hopefully better edit that excerpt into a short story for a YA magazine call. Then I’ve got until the end of the month… now only half a month, how did that happen… to either work on another creative project, or push for more consulting work… or both, I suppose. There’s been a fairly steady trickle of work coming through, but not enough to catch up with costs between paying my own consultant, travelling and day to day costs. But as usual, if I ramp up the consulting work, it’s not easy to step it back down again, and I’ll need to start the (probably extensive) rewrites at the end of the month. But money would be nice… but another creative work is either publicity or money or both if all goes well… so yeah, convoluted math all around. Meanwhile, I’m wondering what I’m doing sitting on the edge of Scotland and never leaving my room, lol. Oh, work…

    Saturday

    Start time: 11 am

    Mallaig: The Lodge at the West Highland Hotel, bed

    Drinking: Lady Grey tea with turmeric


    Day 129

    03 Nov 2016

    #scotland

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    And in yet another stunning about-turn, I’ve gone and upended the plan again over the last couple weeks. Which is mostly good. The biggest component of which is my editor(!) who will presumably be helping me get this bizarre compilation of perspectives I’ve been calling a book into some kind of shape that people will actually enjoy reading. Yup, I took the plunge. Signed, scheduled, deposit paid (in USD - ouch!) and everything. The manuscript is due to her on November 6, and she’ll have the first round of edits, a high-level analysis of the plot, characters, and what I need to do to beat it into shape, back by the end of November. Which means my super-long trip back for Christmas and the baby is actually going to be a rewriting holiday. Ugh/lol. But if I want to publish this summer, I’ve got to hit those targets at the very least - it’s going to be a tight fit. The current schedule is first round edits back for end of November, rewrites until the beginning of April, second high-level content edit on those for the beginning of May and subsequent cleanup done by June. Line edits of the near-final manuscript through June… and then it kind of falls apart; I’d wanted to be publishing at that point, but realistically, I’ll need to work through the line edits, which are undoubtably going to be painful, nitpicky and slow like every other stage of this, potentially turn things back around to my editor if it’s still not quite there, and even if it’s all good at that stage, hire a proofreader or three and have them check, then format and publish… so yeah, at this rate I’ll be doing good if I hit next Christmas as a target. Ugh. But I wanted to make sure I put out a high-quality project, so at least I’ve got the ball rolling. And my editor had an opening almost right away, so not having to wait until next May to even get started is a huge step forward… and the beta reader feedback really made it pretty clear that the manuscript needed some hard editing to shine. Or, you know, be readable. At the same time all this was going on, the season at the hotel ground to a screeching halt. Four days in a row off! I didn’t believe them when they said it would get slower, but the time has finally arrived! So I deked off to Skye and Lochalsh for a few days to celebrate. Eilean Donan castle was actually pretty cool, as was Talisker. The rest was kinda meh - I’ve really got to stop staying in hostels when I travel, and with the off-season hitting everywhere at about the same time, it’s getting harder to get places and see things. So many places close or go to reduced hours. And as usual, travel takes a huge bite out of savings, which would have been less of an issue if I’d had more consulting come through in October and not been staring down an enormous editorial consulting bill. Around $3K is pretty standard for the better qualty consulting, but with the Canada-US exchange rate right now, I’m looking at around $4K for just the editing. Miraculously, I’ve had a really large consulting project come through in the last week - irritatingly, just at the tail end of travel on Skye, but thankfully, the returns from the tasks add up to just a shade more than I’ve had to pay for the first downpayment when the exchange is all sorted. Very cool timing, even if it has kept me busy for a straight week. Thank goodness for the slow tourist season! Although on the other hand, now I feel guilty for hanging around when they don’t really need me here anymore… On the (creative) writing side, I think my editor’s under the impression that I’ll be frantically working on revisions right until the handoff, but I think I’ll just go through and clean up some formatting in the snarled mess that is the current draft and let her have the whole mass of it to chew on… Not a cost-effective plan, since editing is charged based on word count, but there’s not time to cut it right back to a Cole/Cadence format, and I’m still not quite sure that’s the best way to go. Also, she’s got a whole pile of paperwork for me to write up, so I’ll focus on actually coming up with answers for her in lieu of bumbling about my own story trying to see through the haze. And then I’m staring down a whole month with not much of a plan. You’re not supposed to touch your manuscript while it’s in editing. So. The hotel’s slow; just a couple of shifts a week for me to worry about. There’s not much in the area I really care about seeing and travel takes money, so it really has to be worth it. I could chase some consulting work - maybe pursue that plan to get into proofreading for the indie market? - but if I land any bigger contracts, and they spill over past the end of the month, I’ve just made it harder for myself. I could switch gears and write something else. The next book would be a good idea (lol, but probably not). I’m toying with the idea - again - of messing around with serial release web novels. I could do something with a story about this location… being here and all… or dust off one of my teen-era novels and jazz it up quick, which is prolly a better plan… or target some writing competitions and embarrass myself professionally for the chance to scrounge some cash. And I should revisit my marketing strategy, as instagramming liquor and landscape shots isn’t really getting my book anywhere… so lot’s to do, none of which I feel particularly inspired to get started on just now. I’ll blame that on the slow-burn cold that I picked up in London. For the moment, I’ll fall back on the usual plan and just sit the computer on my lap until words start showing up.

    Thursday

    Start time: 11 am

    Mallaig: The Lodge at the West Highland Hotel, bed

    Drinking: green tea with matcha


    Day 128

    20 Oct 2016

    So I compiled the draft down to just the ‘Cole’ chapters with a handful of ‘Cadence’ insert chapters to see what that would look like. Ouch. Cuts the word count in half, for an entirely unimpressive 50K, for one thing. I’m still undecided on whether ditching all the supporting perspectives and characters is a good strategy, or just a tactic to get a better handle on the rewrites - it’s so intertwined that it’s hard to work out how the story could make sense without everyone else, and as soon as you start adding people back in (Haynfyv… Ghost…) the rest come tumbling after. So now I’m stuck again; do I send the trimmed-down and mostly-unedited version to my (maybe) editor, or the whole bloated and confusing beta-readers’ edition, and with or without my updated early chapters? With or without the shuffled chapter order? Aargh. So I’m sitting, staring at a (mostly) blank Word document, and trying to figure out what to paste into it. Instead of, you know, actually writing anything. Again.

    In other news, there’s a book festival in town this weekend (a write highland hoolie) and I started one of the featured author’s books yesterday: Lie of the Land by Michael F. Russell. Which drops you into a sort of dystopian futuristic setting where you have to figure everything out from context. Which is confusing, yes, but he seems to have gotten pretty good reviews, regardless. So some people seem to get away with subtlety and not over-explaining every little thing. Just not me, apparently.

    OK, decision time. I think I’ll paste in my beta edition for my prospective editor, with a note about the updated first few chapters and possible change in direction, and then, time allowing, proceed to work on the draft as if I were ditching everything but Cadence & Cole’s perspectives. Plan->Action->Go.

    Thursday

    Start time: 3:30 pm

    Mallaig: The Lodge at the West Highland Hotel, bed

    Drinking: Gin & Tonic


    Day 127

    19 Oct 2016

    There are worse places to be. ✨😊

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    So I’m up to five (six if you count the pair-feedback) beta reader feedback responses, which is great. And frustrating, as I probably should dial it back and call it ‘alpha’ reader feedback - significant enough issues flagged that this probably shouldn’t have gone out as a wide-scale release. In all but one instance, the unifying complaint was: too confusing! So I guess the lesson learned is subtlety=bad. Generally, not enough is being explained and grounded as you go along, and the multiple viewpoints are confusing, and the side characters lack development. So, mostly things I was worried about, lol. A trip back to London in the midst of all this, while awesome and not nearly long enough, also stalled any forward momentum that I might have been inching toward… I’m a bit stuck as to how to make things clearer; the multiple viewpoints were a way to give more information without violating that first-person limited perspective. And it’s generally considered ‘bad’ writing to just say what’s going on, so that’s out… And most of the things that need clarity could be brought out in greater detail by secondary characters, but that makes things even more confusing and fragmented… and the villains and secondary characters come across as one-dimensional, which is also unhelpful… and I really just wanted this process to be done already, lol. So. Strategy… What can I cut? What if I moved even more of the perspectives and sections out of the narrative? A.K.A. the novella marketing move. Could the Morristu sections stand on their own? What about the dream deaths? Or Haynfyv? Or even Ghost? What if the entire story were told from Cole’s perspective? Shorter, simpler, more active (eventually), although even less well-informed… I’m afraid to discard anything, as there’s a purpose for each piece, each character, each observation, but readers are saying pretty clearly that they can’t see the links (or not until right at the end), so trimming the subtlety could be a smarter move than trying to go back and spell each connection out in detail without bloating the whole thing.

    As far as editors go, the first one I contacted, while recommended by one of the more successful Indie authors, isn’t taking bookings until May. Which at the rate I’m moving is probably not a problem, but still. May. Before I can even start on the end game… So I wasted more time on researching other editors (instead of writing, or at least rewriting, which after all, is what I’m supposed to be doing…) - and came up with another candidate. I really like the coherence and detail with which she explained her services, and the price is… painful, but also more or less reasonable for what she presumably would be providing, and in line with the better quality indie editing services out there. The first book of hers that I tracked down hasn’t been particularly impressive so far, but I’ll push forward a bit from there and see how it goes… As with every stage of this process, this is more painful and taking much longer than I anticipated (lol?) - and yet, I can only move forward. Although, in cruising the indie-publishing thread of Goodreads, it occurred to me that I really ought to do more looking into proofreading and maybe doing some copy-editing for that market. So I may look into that, because why not put more on my plate?

    Speaking of which, the ticket is bought, and in a stunning change of plans, I will be flying back to Vancouver on December 7 until sometime in February (post-niece or nephew) - and presumably doing some in-depth writing work as well as catching up with family and friends. I had hoped to have more to show for myself before (if ever) backtracking, but this plan does have its merits. And since I’m not as long for the Highlands and Islands as I’d assumed, I’d better step up my tourist game and get out more in the meantime. And having carted my violin and guitar back up here with me, music is also on the agenda. So yeah. Maybe I can sleep less or something… Sigh. Thursday

    Start time: 1 pm

    Mallaig: The Lodge at the West Highland Hotel, bed


    Day 126

    06 Oct 2016

    So a 5pm start time is a bit unfair; really, I’ve been researching and updating and communicating and all the other stuff writers do besides write, since, oh, 9:30 am or so. At least today’s hours ‘wasted’ had a more tangible outcome than most. I may have found an editor! Strong references from Lindsay Buroker and several other indie-published authors, as well as a reasonably-well presented website balance the probably higher prices than some. I took the plunge and messaged her just now, so perhaps that will get things going. Also had more beta reader feedback overnight, which was great! Well, it wasn’t actually great, but the fact that I got it helped. Basically, less style more substance is what it all boils down to - no one can figure out what’s going on. Lol? Trying to figure out if it’s just a matter of slowing down and explaining more up front, or if I need to full-on change some stylistic choices, maybe go full third-person so the perspective’s not so limited. One idea would be to have Cadence explain some of the backstory and be a guide for us to this world. But she shouldn’t really know everything either, so maybe that just complicates things? Another approach would be to streamline everything down to just Cole’s perspective, making for a more direct narrative arc. That would actually reduce the amount of explanation possible, but it might be less frustrating for the reader. Or all my beta readers could just be doing what all readers do; asking questions, pushing for more, thinking around the story. But yeah, definitely some changes needed. I’m going to have a go at writing a Cadence-perspective insert and see how that works. Typically, I’m instinctively against simplifying things… But I probably ought to sit down and map out the ‘mysteries’ and ‘reveals’ for everything confusing - hard to do when you haven’t actually plotted out the sequels! Also, I’m playing with the idea of introducing the multiple-personality bit sooner - as early as the ‘Bell’ chapter, maybe, just in hints. Which would increase complexity, but also give more background to tie things together with sooner. Or maybe the Bell chapter needs more awareness, Suzannah understanding what’s happening near the end? Seems like it’d really interrupt the flow and suspense, but the consistent feedback is: needs more clarity sooner. So that’s an idea…

    Thursday

    Start time: 5 pm

    Mallaig: The rocks behind the community centre


    Day 125

    05 Oct 2016

    #hiddenspaces ✨

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    Two day streak! Of course, I’m still on chapter 1, so no need to get too excited >_>; Put in hours yesterday sorting beta feedback, much of which was simply embarrassing errors and inconsistencies, and I believe I’m waiting on at least one more round to come in. Following that, I’d like to release as a web-serial, but I need to look into the terms and copyright implications of that. Ideally, I’d get up draft 3 as a serial pre-release to create buzz, but then again, I’m not sure how much that translates to publicity for the same (albeit more polished) book, rather than a freebie leading into a sequel as per Lindsay Buroker, of the <a href=”http://www.lindsayburoker.com” target”_blank”>excellent writer’s blog</a> and intimidating publication list. While most of the editing/rewriting has been a clean-up effort, clarifying and correcting pretty obvious issues, I’m wondering if there’s more significant change needed. What can I trim? What doesn’t ring true? Why isn’t there more dialogue? Is my world-building pathetically thin? And then, why is this taking so long??! I need to get on with life…! I’m pretty resigned to not making much money off this even once it’s up and running, but I do want to be able to write in future, or rather, I have this bizarre compulsion to keep writing despite all the excellent reasons not to, so I kind of need to make it happen.

    Looking at the possibility of going home around Christmas, and possibly for like, three months, until the baby comes. (!) Which means lots of things, most of which I really don’t have the space, time or inclination to explore in detail. If I published beforehand, if I could even realistically target that Christmas season release date, would/should/could I be doing publicity at home, pushing to get into bookstores and local news outlets? What would that mean for my visa and residency? Costs to maintain dual streams of healthcare etc? Taxes? Work? People stuff? Freakin’ luggage? Lugging instruments back and forth across the Atlantic gets old, fast, and I’m not a fan of ‘going back’ to places I’ve been, really. But that is still where I have friends, family… So, more uncertainty to be a distraction while I try to press onward and upward!

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10 am

    Mallaig: The West Highland Hotel, staff quarters block 1 the room beside 4, bed & the hotel lobby, armchair nook

    Soundtrack: Citizens & Saints/Ghost Ship/Modern Post/Kings Kaleidoscope

    Drinking: ginger lemon green tea with lemon


    Day 124

    04 Oct 2016

    “Hope is a waking dream.” - Aristotle, used in Jennifer Rush’s excellent “Altered”. Perfect. Not so perfect is the challenge I’m having tracking down a good indie-published YA book… the obvious writing and storytelling quality issues that I’ve come across in every one so far are really concerning. Is it really just that impossible to access quality editing support as an independent? My research efforts would seem to indicate that that’s the case - not much out there, at least on the surface. I can sort of see where people go wrong - it’s very tempting to think that what I can make, and the degree to which I can polish it is totally adequate. Very tempting to just get it out there. After all, the only thing holding me back is fear of my own blind spots. But is that foolish and limiting fear, or wisdom ringing the alarm? Unfortunately, I suspect the latter, and so will continue investing. I’d really prefer not to go the writer’s group route, but given the slow/lacking beta reader response rate and difficulty in tracking down quality editing services, it may prove the most expedient.

    I think it’s time to review the dreaded feedback notes - all three of them (lol/tear). Contemplated a dram of whisky to fortify myself, but it’s a little early, and I want to get a solid day of work in, so I think I’ll be doing this cold…

    Part 2

    So that was exhausting. Two hours to get through another pass of the first chapter and review one beta reader’s comments. This is going to take forever - maybe I should be happy I don’t have much feedback to wade through? Or something. Unpleasant as the slogging pace and tedium of facing every one of my mistakes is, the feedback I do have so far has been excellent for clearly addressing concerns. Quality over quantity, I suppose…

    Tuesday

    Start time: 9:45 am & 1 pm

    Mallaig: The West Highland Hotel, staff quarters block 1 the room beside 4, bed & the hotel lobby, armchair nook

    Soundtrack: the Nashville soundtrack

    Drinking: ginger lemon green tea with lemon


    Day 123

    30 Sep 2016

    So I’m coming up to one of those conversations again. The ones where I dread it and run all possible scenarios, comments and expressions in a loop in my head. The ones that generally turn out to be less unpleasant than anticipated, but generally less productive too. Gotta get my hours down again; I’m spending too much time scrubbing toilets and not enough working this book. Or consulting. Or generally enjoying life. All of which rank higher in my strategic plan. But for whatever reason, I have an asking problem. I hate doing it, dread doing, avoid doing it, and rarely benefit from doing it. Feminist theory might have something to say about that… Either way, life lesson fail.

    One more run at the first couple chapters, then I’d really better review my bit of feedback and see what lines up. Should probably get in touch directly with a few of those beta readers as well and press for some responses (again with the asking problem). Thankfully, the cold that I’ve been (literally) working through hasn’t been too debilitating, so hopefully I can stay clear and get some good work done. Made little to no progress on the whole finding an editor issue, which I’d be more concerned about if I were further through the rewrites or stumped as to improvements to make…

    Part 2

    OK, I think I’m happy with where the first chapter (became the first 2, just to add to the confusion) got to. A bit too talky/narrative with world-building, backstory and motivation all cramming in to not enough action, but it feels right, which is about as technical as I want to get with things at this stage. I’ll push through to the first 5 (now 6) hopefully today, and then be able to scan through again based on feedback. If all goes well, I could even start releasing the preview edition on whatever that site was… Reddit, Tumblr and Instagram, I think, to start. Maybe Twitter? Although that’d be super irritating to read, imho.

    The Holy Grass vodka is spicy with apple-pie baking notes of caramel-cinnamon. Extremely tasty, and not at all neutral - like complex gin minus the juniper, really. The Isle of Harris comes off a little bland afterward - clean, cool green notes with pepper, and the cucumber manages not to overpower. The Rock Rose couldn’t possibly be overpowered, with a strongly exotic, curry-cumin or dill scent. Fascinating, tasty and layered.

    Friday

    Start time: 3 & 4 pm

    Mallaig: the seawall across from the high school & The Tea Garden Cafe

    Soundtrack: ocean waves and passing cars & ‘70s pop-rock?

    Drinking: Rock Rose Gin with lime, Isle of Harris Gin with cucumber & Holy Grass Vodka with lemon Scottish Distilling Taster with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic


    Day 122

    27 Sep 2016

    Fall is coming. 🍁🍂🍃 also #bridge ✨😊 #arisaig #highlands #scotland #digitalnomad #writerslife #kaiespace

    A photo posted by Katrina Wiggins (@kaiedesign) on

    So, one little stint of editing in a week. Oops. In my defence, I got pulled into leading the ‘band’ (ok, like a bunch of girls who want to sing and don’t have any musical background…) at the hopeful little Lighthouse Church in town. So desperately trying to rally my sub-par and very rusty guitar skills, not to mention trekking out past Arisaig and back, took up most of my time last week. It was super fun to be doing music again, but also frustrating - people have all their little people issues to work around, which really gets in the way of making progress, not to mention the technical issues (mostly my bad!) So yeah, a not unwelcome distraction, but a significant one in any case. But it was ok - this week is really the first one that I’m back down to ‘low’ hours (not that 25 is that low…) - so more progress is likely… except for how long it takes to do things and how little time that actually comes out to and how many distractions… so yeah, I’ll be lucky if I get more than one day in again this week, which is unacceptable, but all too likely, especially since I woke up this morning with a very suspicious burning in my throat. Maybe that’s not just allergies after all… Oh dear. And for some reason, you don’t seem to get sick days in the service industry either… The lack of reliable internet access is really starting to get to me too. So much research I could/should be doing! Critically, in this moment, tracking down a good editor just isn’t happening, and desperately needs to be, given the sad state of beta reading responses. Although, I signed on to read for another author last week out of curiosity, and I can see how it would be hard to get responses from people - it’s certainly a chore, having to get down notes/thoughts to send over, particularly if there are problems with the story. The scary thing for me, when I read other people’s pre-publication drafts, is how not publication-quality it is… how bad, really, are my drafts?? Yikes. Blind spots, man. But all I can really to is push forward… so off I go.

    Part 2

    So clearly not the most productive day, but all in all, not terrible. The last-minute call-in for a shift also got last-minute cancelled, which was a huge distraction, but at least not a total wipe out of the day. Got down to the cafe in town, which was super cute and had great internet, despite the horde of tourists that arrive at lunch time and made it necessary to flee. Tried heather beer - actually quite good. Got a local library card - finally! - and did some research into editors. Not terribly productive research - finding good ones seems to be a challenge - but at least I got the ball rolling. Now to deal with the fact that I haven’t even cleared the first chapter of rewrites yet… Ugh. It’s getting longer again, which I’m pretty sure is not what’s supposed to be happening…

    Tuesday

    Start time: 9 am & 6:30 pm

    Mallaig: The West Highland Hotel, staff quarters block 1 the room beside 4, bed

    Soundtrack: washing machine on the other side of the wall

    Drinking: Lemon Ginger tea


    Day 121

    20 Sep 2016

    So. It’s been over two months. Two months of chaos, stress, travel and revelations. Namely, I was never meant to travel with other people. And my capacity for close relationships may also be called into question. I am a watcher and a control freak. Which ought not be surprising, but as it turns out, is. After my last bout of travels (nearly a decade ago), I thought it was a bit sad not to have anyone to share incredible experiences with. As it turns out, I can’t handle the distraction of having another person interrupting the experience. Fascinating. I rather pity Cole, with the incessant presence of Cadence nattering away at her… although thinking again, maybe that’s why I can’t have other people around too much; it gets too busy with the extra voices… Hmm…

    I need to track down an editor sooner than later, particularly as none of my beta readers actually gave me feedback in the end. (OK, my mom finished the book…) And yes, I am going to ignore the poor indicator that such a tragedy would seem to be. It’s not because my writing is boring, confusing or revolting. It’s that none of the readers were a good fit. Almost certainly. Or maybe. Oh dear.

    …anyways, yes! Hire an editor! One with sufficient qualifications that I won’t be able to dismiss their feedback out of hand, but not so accomplished that I can’t afford him/her… because it is a pain trying to make money! There’s always either too much or too little consulting work, and although the rates can be great, they can also…not. And the manual labour route that I’ve spent the past few weeks on is really not a long term solution, if my bruises have anything to say about it. Not to mention how hard it is to dive back into work after a shift. It does leave time for thinking, though, which could be a bonus. Sat down last week for a bit to start work on a new, male-led semi-autobiographical (or possibly completely) work that I, of course, think has major potential to be brilliant in an awkward, off-beat and self-deprecating way. Like Woody Allen, but less ick. Or something. [Insert clever cultural reference here] lol.

    Anyways, yes. Rewrites. Which means I need to read the small bit of feedback I did receive, think about purpose and meaning and effective communication, and make some hard decisions.

    Or I could reread what I’ve written and fall in love with it and throw it up on the internet for all to see. There’s always that route…

    I’m afraid.

    Tuesday

    Start time: 6 pm

    Mallaig: The West Highland Hotel, staff quarters block 1 the room beside 4, bed Soundtrack: washing machine on the other side of the wall

    Drinking: Laphraoig Select


    Cover Variant 9

    26 Aug 2016

    And that’s it folks, at least until I get enough responses from my readers to get rewrites and the second editions out! And in other news, I’m in Mallaig, just south of the Isle of Skye, which is beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Of course, since I got here, I’ve been busy cleaning my hella sketchy ‘volunteer’s accommodation’ and whipping out freelance projects so I can afford to hire an editor! And maybe one day, less sketchy living space! But sunset’s coming, so I’m gonna step out for a minute and enjoy that before pressing on!


    Cover Variant 8

    19 Aug 2016

    Penultimate beta readers’ edition!! Only one more (extra big) chunk of chapters to go, and then all beta reader copies will be out to the team and I can (hopefully) start diving into reviewing, revising and rewriting! Still in Dundee, Scotland mulling over next steps, but maybe in a week I’ll have a more stable situation and a better basis for creativity!


    Cover Variant 7

    12 Aug 2016

    So yeah, still behind but getting there! Maybe I’ll be able to get back on track with a reasonable post schedule this week? In other news, this super low-effort cover seems to be the most popular (or at least, the one to elicit most responses) of all the Instagrammed covers! Who knew blatent gore could go so far! Or maybe the cover models were just a bit too sparkly, lol.


    Cover Variant 6

    05 Aug 2016

    Playing catch-up, as travel kinda blew my post rate out of the water… next cover coming soon!


    Cover Variant 5

    29 Jul 2016

    Still racing to keep up with all the things - a bit more freelancing work came in this week than usual, and lots of trips in and out to sort paperwork and other details… really must blog it when I can get the time! London has been unexpectedly great, so there’s that at least, to offset the reality that I have 2-3 weeks of cover art and files to make in the next two days… eek!


    Cover Variant 4

    26 Jul 2016

    Travel and a new city are pretty involving - only just got the St. John’s blog post up in less than a week, and this is a few day late too, but… better than never! Will probably struggle to get the artwork and posts prepped for the next 3 or 4 weeks while I’m on the road too, but I’ll give it my best shot (starting… not tomorrow… lol).

    Not much Beta Reader feedback yet, but since I won’t have time to review it and start in on the next round of rewrites until mid/late August or even September, meh. Got a library card today. Surprisingly loving the Southfields/Wimbledon/Wandsworth area of London, which is both great and frustrating. Gonna be sad to leave!


    Cover Variant 3

    14 Jul 2016

    Went a little crazy about the upcoming move. Got over it. Back to getting stuff done. Here’s the cover reveal for tomorrow’s Beta Reader’s Edition! Even made the following week’s edition up since I’ll be traveling for half the week!


    Day 120

    09 Jul 2016

    OK, so I lied! One more day (at least) of rewrites. While I pushed through to the end of the final chapter yesterday, I’m really feeling like, especially in the latter chapters, it was a race to finish, and adjustments were too much polishing, not enough critiquing, so I’m going to take a look at continuity and character development notes and see if I can’t incorporate, or at least confirm, those elements. I’m having trouble maintaining the necessary elevation on the plot; I get too caught up in the detail - and also not caught up, I guess, based on all the continuity and clarity issues the beta readers are raising!

    So yeah, maybe a couple hours more to really clean things up, and then I’ve got to start getting other stuff done!!

    Saturday

    Start time: 11 am

    Location: bedroom


    Day 119

    08 Jul 2016

    This is it! The final day of (first round) rewrites! Some more stats, just for fun: The rewrites took only about a tenth of of total time spent so far, but accounted for a little under a quarter of hours spent. As it turns out, it’s easier to press through already-written material than it is to come up with the stuff. Would have taken less time if I hadn’t changed the tense for the last third and had to completely switch it back in rewrites, but at least I didn’t choose to switch the first 2/3 instead! Also, the first five chapters are most heavily rewritten, since I went over them several times. The rest is scanned for accuracy, clarity, consistency and story arc or plot; major reductions were achieved by nixing whole character development arcs and secondary plot lines, but relatively little was done to core people and arcs. Which means, at least in my own mind, the thing was actually written in a coherent, forward-moving fashion. Neat! Total reductions of over 10K words due to the scrapped threads/people, but another few thousand words written to flesh things out, finishing in the 95K word range, which is actually pretty on target. I could see things growing quite a bit in next round rewrites though… So many things to clarify!

    Second beta reader’s edition goes out today, with (I flatter myself to think) a significantly better cover variant. Only have feedback from two readers so far, though (thanks, family!) on the first five chapters, and no real plan for moving forward. I’d like to dive into rewrites round two, but with my relocation looming, there are some other errands I really need to get to - trip planning, packing, paperwork-settling and portfolio/job applications come to mind… so Day 120 may not come for a couple months. We’ll see. I do need to sink several hours into prepping cover variants and beta reader editions for the remaining chapters, queueing posts for Tumblr and blogging to my site before full traveling starts in August, but I think I’ll be able to fit in at least a bit of that in London.

    On the social media front, small progress: the new cover variant got decent likes (like, more than 10, lol) and one tumblr kid/writer asked a question, so small victories! My existence is being recognized! SOOO much work to do still, but small steps. At least my Klout score keeps climbing (incrementally - now at 53!)

    Friday

    Start time: 3:15 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Martini Rosso, Rhubarb Cordial & mixed cold tea


    Day 118

    07 Jul 2016

    The beta reader list is growing! Up to 8 with a lead on 2 more brings me up to 10, and since I was shooting for 7-12, that even leaves room for the inevitable dropout or two! (But don’t drop out. Luv you guys… Please don’t drop out!) 75% female, although mostly a little over the target age (although, who do we think we’re kidding? YA/Teen fiction readership is mostly adult anyways…) so in sum, yup, I’m fairly pleased that, at least in one area, things are moving right along on schedule. The social media stuff is depressingly slow to build (ugh; shoulda started sooner after all!), but I’ve got a whole 2 more followers on Tumblr since I started, and more to the point, I think I’m starting to get a feel for what might connect and work for the different channels and audiences. Or perhaps not…

    Probably one more day of rewrites, and then I can start looking at edits based on beta reader feedback (although I’ve only 2 back, so we’ll see…) - I’m thinking it could make sense to start distributing that version (beta v2) as a ‘serial’ story to any and all likely sites; my brother suggested Reddit, which I’ve only dabbled in before, probably Tumblr with some syndication to IG/FB/T etc., Wattpad and similar channels could make sense… that’s assuming that things pull together well based on feedback. If it’s too messy, I may do another round of rewrites and reviews first to tighten things up. On the one hand, to warp the quote, any buzz is good buzz; on the other, I’d hate to start getting (bad) reviews if the story’s not quite up to snuff (and assuming it’ll ever get to the point of having good reviews! Yikes!)

    Sent in those applications to jobs on Skye, in Inverness and near Thurso yesterday (finally) - no word yet, but that could be killer awesome! Then again, I’ve had ‘great’ ideas before that haven’t panned out, so I’ll adjust. A freelance piece of mine did well (a little over CAD$100 for a ~400 word marketing letter, so not terrible rates) and the client wants some other services for a business launch (or relaunch? refresh? tbc) so I’m making some headway on the freelance front. I still really can’t decide whether it would be more awesome to go full freelance and be completely un-tied-down, or whether a part-time day job in a cool location where I could get to know a community and an area for a while would be better. I feel like I need the ‘real job’ to anchor me, or rather, to force me to make a decision and settle down in one place as a base for further exploration… but there’s definitely a fear that having even just 20 or so hours of work would be too draining and I wouldn’t get around to al the writing and freelancing that I want (and need…) to do. And with the pay for lower level PT jobs like that, it could be a dangerous move…. but then again, how awesome would it be to work at a library on the Isle of Skye? Like, who else dreamed of that life for themselves at, oh, 14-15 or so? Dream come true, even if it’s not all girl-power kicking through the corporate glass ceiling…

    So yeah, it’ll be interesting to see where these next few weeks-months take me. All that said, if I can make it writing books alone, I’ll definitely just do that and, like, volunteer a bit or something to get enough exposure to the real world to have good material and inspiration…

    Thursday

    Start time: 2:45 pm

    Location: bed/bedroom

    Drinking: Sontinh Táo Mèo cocktail with Elder Growth Bitters, Scrappy’s Bitters: Lime & Martini Rosso


    Day 117

    06 Jul 2016

    So I managed to cut a good 10K words out of the manuscript by scraping out all the storylines involving secondary characters, except for the bits with Haynfyv and one scene with Maria, and preliminary scenes where they first show up. At this point, I think I’ll be able to feed those in to the second book to build out the world and cast a bit more there, but it does streamline things for the first book, which seems like a step in the right direction. Still considering pulling Haynfyv and Maria out of the first book entirely, and letting Ravel and Serov carry the antagonist roles… or maybe just Ravel? Push Serov to second-book villain, and keep Maria in reserve for the big boss role? OR something… maybe beta reader feedback will be helpful on that front, or second round edits. It feels so strange to fill something out, and then prune it back like this after sweating for every bit and piece of it, but! According to Stephen King’s On Writing 10% rule, I’m right on track with a 10K reduction out of a 100K word story, so that’s nice.

    On thinking further (and writing a review) on Fire and Hemlock, the brilliant Diana Wynne Jones book, I’m feeling a little better about not scripting elaborate storylines based on brilliant classical literature. Brilliant is brilliant; but the experience as a reader was a bit lacking, and contemporary taste seems to run more to simple, direct and immediate payoffs, whether in emotion or action. However, there’s still room for crippling inadequacy when considering her excessively insightful characterization. Her story people are unparalleled. British writers seem to have a bit of a corner on this part of the field; Pratchett comes to mind as well, for capturing recognizably human traits with wit and ingenuity. So. Jealous.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 2:45 pm

    Location: bedroom


    Day 116

    05 Jul 2016

    Contains affiliate links. So I wrote applications for the best jobs yesterday: librarian on the Isle of Skye, archives learning officer in Thurso (at the very northern tip of Scotland before you hit the islands) and museum officer in Inverness. Living the dream, kids! Fingers crossed :)

    In other news, I switched a dating profile location to London (Because I’ll be there in two weeks anyways) and have been inundated. Now, at least 95% (possibly more) are useless contacts, a distraction, and potentially frightening, but still. At the very least, I should have some good recommendations for how to spend my time once I get there (as if I needed help filling time!!)

    Again in other news, I now have all of seven beta readers, one of which is a real-life actual teenage girl!! How perfect!! So that’s great. Of course, immediate family are the only ones who’ve actually gotten back with feedback so far, which is both a little scary, and awesome (because I don’t want to look at it until the first draft rewrites are complete anyways). Just from the little bit that’s come out so far, it’s clear that there are lots of little things that need cleaning up, chief among them that my attempts at subtlety are coming across as just plain confusing (lol?), so second round rewrites are likely to be pretty involved (sweats).

    Finished Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock last night. Wow. The story itself was not one of her most engaging, but the essay where she describes what she was doing in crafting it? Pardon me while I go hide in a corner. Yikes. Huge respect for that lady’s learning, planning, and insight. Mind. Blown.

    It’s rainy today, which I like, but I’ve spent so many hours working my way up to working that I haven’t had a chance to get out in it, and as there are some errands I really ought to get to, I guess I better dive in and push through another batch of rewrites. Should finish up to ch40 today, but I may get bogged down by the level of rewrites, as I’m now at the point where I foolishly decided everything should be written in first person limited perspective. Oops. So that takes a little more clean-up and is likely to result in embarrassing results. Lol? Also considering pulling the Maria & Raveltu bits as well as the secondary Morristu, Serov & Angelique, Sam etc. bits. But the second Morristu scene establishes Serov as a more significant villain? And the first Maria bit sets up Haynfyv on his path… so unless I dispense with him entirely? Need to have a chat with beta readers about that…

    Tuesday

    Start time: 3:30 pm

    Location: bed/bedroom

    Drinking: Sontinh Táo Mèo with Elder Growth Bitters

    Soundtrack: Citizens & Saints’ latest single Madness on repeat


    Day 115

    04 Jul 2016

    Ugh, feedback! Starting to get a little bit of beta reader feedback on the first five chapters, and although I’d intended to batch it all and review after finishing the full first edit, it’s not quite that simple. Receiving feedback is so not fun, but clearly necessary, which perhaps makes it a little easier. For example, in my attempts to reduce the weight of description/backstory/worldbuilding dragging the first chapter down, I inadvertently deleted a paragraph that identified Cole as a female. Hugely blush worthy; that’s a super awkward chunk of story to read about a guy… like, what’s he getting all worked up about??! I like the idea of teasing out bits of the story as you go, but the feedback I’ve got so far seems to be indicating that it’s just confusing, and any mystery or tension is being lost to painful rereading and trying to puzzle out what’s going on - not good! But I’ll try to leave that behind and push forward with the edits; a little over halfway there~~!

    Travel planning is stalling a bit; I’ve pretty much got Krakow pinned down, which leaves 3/4 of the trip left to do, and I’m running out of steam and time! Also mildly panicking about financial stuff - will it be too frustrating? Can I get enough work pinned down? Can I focus and produce enough in a day to actually get by? I do have some buffer, but the point at which I’ll need answers is accelerating toward me, and it’s hard not to cringe. The part-time thing with historic site/museum/library etc. is appealing, but may be too frustrating/too distracting and consuming/too little money/too overqualified to get hired?? - and bartending is an option that may or may not be more appealing, but is made less pleasant by the apparent fact that they refer to female bartenders in the UK as barmaids??!!! Blech~~ Although, maybe if I wore a costume and pretended it was historical reenactment or something?? Like those anime where they get stuck in a medieval-fantasy flavoured game world?? But I’d rather be a craftsman or warrior in any case… Guess we’ll see. But it’s becoming clearer that the point at which I’ll see any money from this novel is pretty far in the future (/never…)

    Monday

    Start time: 12:00 pm

    Location: couch/livingroom

    Drinking: black tea with cinnamon sticks & vanilla bean

    Soundtrack: cat snoring


    Day 114

    30 Jun 2016

    I may be speeding through the rewrites a little too much, but I really need to get this out to Beta readers… I’m thinking tomorrow… July 1 is such a nice, tidy, memorable date. Been messing around with some concept cover art, and my latest plan is to release the beta copies in 5-chapter (or 10?) sets, each with a different cover mockup, as PDF and ebook editions. Starting tomorrow. To all, like, three beta readers I have pinned down so far… That’s assuming that I get anything done tomorrow; it’s kind of a holiday and all, and there’s been a fraction more freelance work lately, as well as some job stuff that I should seriously consider, so there’s that… Forecasting-wise, I’m starting Chapter 26 of ~50 today, so at a rate of about 5 chapters a day, which I’ve been mostly managing, I should be able to finish that part by the end of next week at the latest, and start to get feedback from beta readers before I leave. It’s not where I’d hoped to be at this stage in the game, but it’s at least a decent point to pause at.

    Realizing more and more that I really need to track down a better network to build up a following; so far I can count on a couple family members, and maybe a couple friends to care, which is nice and all, but won’t cut it. However, I also don’t have a lot of ‘content’ or shareable, appealing/valuable material to attract attention with. 10 barely-edited chapters, some weak cover mockups, and a few totally unreviewed, embarrassing old stories. Oh, and trivia from my life, which makes for neither stunning photos, nor fascinating reading. At (near) 30, I’m already starting to feel like I’m aging out of being a social-media native; after seeing kids’ amazing Tumblr and Instagram book blogs, I’m pretty horrified at my own capacity. Of course, some would say that makes a stronger case for making the most amazing story ever, since it’s the only way anyone will care about what you’re doing. Which is fair; but I can’t quite bring myself to take that leap and drop the marketing/self-promotion angle…

    Anyways, got a ton to do today, and managed to waste most of the day already, so I’ll get right down to it before the caffeine pill kicks in! Thursday

    Start time: 2:00 am

    Location: bedroom

    Drinking: Colonial drinking chocolate… of course, with whiskey. Who would want to drink plain chocolate? That’s just gross…

    Soundtrack: Thrice’s new album


    Day 113

    29 Jun 2016

    Set up this journal as a reblog-series to Tumblr; so far I have one follower, lol. But one of my Instagram posts went micro-viral yesterday (30+ likes and a couple follows; big progress for me so far!), so there’s that. Unfortunately, the post was travel-related, rather than having anything to do with my ‘author’ identity, and almost certainly did well based on the hashtags alone, but something, in this case, is definitely better than nothing. I’m told that less extreme use of filters and enhancements would be a smart move as well (lol.) Between one thing and another, I’ve actually scored a few website page views too; mostly from Facebook. So from the first few weeks of intentional social marketing, I’m finding that Instagram is a good way to create content, but not a particularly useful networking platform, Twitter basically doesn’t care, and Facebook has low-level but high-value interaction for an existing audience. Tumblr, so far, also doesn’t care, but I’m switching the content strategy to involve more blog content and not just commented photos, which will hopefully boost that avenue. I need a platform with higher discoverability; thinking about serializing the draft on Wattpad (need to look into whether that can be undone and what it means for rights) in order to drum up interest, or at least start to get feedback.

    In other news, ‘Blind the eyes’ is in the lead with 5 votes to 2 so far (lol), and since I’m also leaning in that direction, I’ll try to find time to clean up the cover mockup and release it to announce the winner this week. As Beta Reader Kevin Epp pointed out, Gold (Probably Gold & Silver) have some potential as a series name instead. From a marketing standpoint, although I love the simplicity and conciseness of one-word sequence titling for series and clean-edged graphic art for covers, I may be able to get more mileage and attract the right audience by working as much as I can into the title and cover art. Some positive feedback on the cover blurb was a pleasant surprise too; maybe I can do some sort of combined graphic post with the cover draft and the blurb to get link backs and generate more interest? Still not entirely sure the blurb represents the story (or the tagging, but I can’t bring myself to call it a dystopian supernatural romance, so I’ll keep sticking thriller on at the end for now, even thought it doesn’t totally fit). It’s weirdly hard to have perspective and good judgement; by the end of the first draft, I had serious concerns about the plot integrity of the whole thing. Now ~20 chapters in to rewrites, it’s actually holding up… not terribly, anyways. Success! But yeah, already bracing myself for the kick in the stomach that Beta readers will inevitably need to administer. If I get indignant over less than thrilled feedback from 100word freelancing throwaways, I can’t imagine how I’ll take feedback on something of this magnitude…

    Also trying to figure out the best way to launch Beta copies. Hardbound and mailed? Epub or PDF with instructions on how to open in digital readers and markup? Word format, with markup? The general consensus seems to be that it’s hardly worth anyone else’s trouble to mess with your creative work, so security and privacy aren’t really the issue… But maybe I should work on building out a more robust website or mailer section on how to beta read? And of course, I should really get around to setting up a mailing list… and then creating content for it… euugh. What would be super cool from a coding standpoint, is to build out a markup-ready text where users could comment out specific sections, publicly or privately, in the browser. I think someone on Medium’s already doing this… but that’s also kind of crummy for the beta readers to have to read in the browser, and really the experience for them should be as seamless as possible… so maybe I should just invest some time in getting the draft into epub format and launch with that for now.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 11:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: cardamom water


    Day 112

    28 Jun 2016

    Set up a poll yesterday for the titles; so far ‘Blind the eyes’ is in the lead with 75% of the vote… on three votes, lol. So clearly I’ve got work to do extending my reach… also threw together a cover mockup based on a concept I’ve been playing with. Wanted something simple and graphic, using a niqab-inspired silhouette. I’d been thinking of using Ravel as the cover model, b/c the gold eyes would pop + target female audience, but after thinking it through, that didn’t really make any kind of sense. Ravel would better be shown in full Freedom regalia; as madly exotic as possible. So I went with Cole, and it looks pretty cool… but also (unsurprisingly, in hindsight), way more middle eastern than I intended, or really makes sense. So I guess I should introduce more sparkles & skin… But actually, I’m pretty pleased with the mockup quality, given that I threw it together using watermarked composite photos and in less than an hour. Maybe I can get away with making my own cover? Although, there’s a guy I follow on Instagram that does pro-quality cover art for $5-6K that I should probably spring for instead, especially if I can’t get away with the simple, graphic-look design. I’ve got some basic Photoshope/AdobeCS skills, but nothing fancy, and no real artistic eye.

    Frustrating myself with piddling freelance projects again today; some sort of test-section, but it’s under 100 words and heavily industry-specific. Maybe it’ll lead to a heap more work, but in the past this sort of thing has proven to be more of a time-waste than anything else. The rates are fine if I can sail through, but if too much research or endless rewrites are needed, it ends up being far less than minimum wage. Boo. Also, it distracts and takes away from working on this!

    Realized I painted myself into a corner yesterday with that new section of backstory for Itri. Dropping his sword in the underground Skytrain tunnel was dramatic and all, but now it makes no sense every time I write him skewering monsters with it… I happen to like swords and other bladed weapons, but they do come off as a little old school for this story anyways, so maybe he’s better off with the knives? Sigh. More rewrites. Would love to start sharing the story around more openly and getting feedback, but every time I move forward, there are more details to be fixed at the beginning.

    Tuesday

    Start time: 1:30 pm

    Location: bedroom


    Day 111

    27 Jun 2016

    Blind the eyes. From the song: “Gold and Silver blind the eyes…” Because I’m obsessed with the old Appalachian song All my Tears. Which would also make a good title. Cool? Lame? Nonsensical? At least it’s better than Gold, right? Right?

    I’ll have to think about it. Something that doesn’t hit you over the head would be nice. But the simplicity of Gold-Silver-Bronze is also appealing. However, titles could go with a line from the song? So many good ones: Temporary riches lie. Drink from heaven’s store. Thirst no more. Laid to rest. Washed away… narrative gold mines.

    Just realized I have like three weeks left before the move. (insert freak-out exclamation here). Oh. My. Super need to get a move on. Also, realizing there’s got to be so much more to do than I budgeted time for. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to get first round rewrites out, and maybe a copy into the hands of beta readers.

    It’s for real, now. Sent off the first supersize suitcase with my uncle this weekend (which was amazing! now I can bring my strat!) so now I’ll definitely have to follow if I want to ever see my shoes again (lol). Hoo. Deep breaths. Ok, just keep getting one thing done after the next!

    Part 2

    So writing in a little better adventure for Itri ate up ages and added another 3K words, but (hopefully) worth it. Definitely upped the creep factor and squickiness. Really gotta start getting this out to Beta readers.

    Monday

    Start time: 10:30 am & 3:45 pm

    Location: bedroom

    Drinking: turmeric tea & cardamom water

    Soundtrack: Cobra Ramone


    Day 110

    23 Jun 2016

    Contains affiliate links. So the good news is that I’ve brought up my Klout score from about 30 to 50 over the last 90 days. The bad news is, it’s not like any of that reach is connected to the audience I really need. Lol marketing. Of course, Instagramming about alcohol is probably not the best move for an under 19 audience… but beer and Scotch posts get the most likes! Or hearts. Whatever. Hoping to push through to a good chunk more chapters today, since the last three days have been spent on only the first five. Which I just released as a public preview, so it makes sense to be cleaning them up, but… time is racing by. At warp speed.

    Rewrites are interesting. There’s way more security in knowing where (more or less) the story and people are headed. Character is mostly set for everyone, so it’s just a matter of refining and trimming them back (ish) to be more clear and consistent. Although, every time I go in for editing, things get longer instead of shorter.

    It’s probably bad that I keep comparing myself on writing quality instead of storytelling. Just started Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Silver Woods , and feeling confident like: yeah, I can do this! My writing is at least this good! …but I have zero objectivity when it comes to assessing how effective the story telling and characterization is, and it’s a foregone conclusion that I know how to put words in a pleasing order on a page. (I assume…)

    Had a great visit with Michelle M. (well, back on Tuesday, but anyways), who despite coming up on baby no. 2 seems excited to publish with me, so one of these days I really need to pull out the story I tossed at her and see what I can do about trimming an (award-winning, lol) theme-driven short story into a viable picture book. Hoping that upcoming time with my 2-year-old cousin Jack will kick-start the process; it’s been too long since I paid much attention to how picture books work. But it’s kind of cool to diversify. Also hoping to help Michelle get an adult colouring book out, because hello trends. I wish I’d gotten on the idea of building it as an app when it first occurred to me, since I could have ridden that wave, and now we’re playing catch-up. But at the same time, there’s now an established market to tap into, which is great. A little worried about the mechanics of converting paper, IRL artwork to digital files for print, but cross that bridge when we come to it. Maybe we can get away with conventional scanning? If not, I think it’ll be a big initial investment, which is not where I want to go with things. I prefer to keep the gambling tipped in our favour (lol). But sometimes, nothing ventured… Yeah. We’ll see.

    I’m still concerned about its quality. World building vs. action being the key tension. Is there a compelling enough or authentic enough voice to carry readers through the info-dumps? Or is it too ‘talking-heads’-y? Guess I’ll loop back for one more scan through the first five before trying to push onwards. So running out of time!!

    Thursday

    Start time: 9:30 am

    Location: bedroom


    Day 109

    22 Jun 2016

    Contains affiliate links. The amazing Rebel gave me this awesome contraption for travel yesterday: the Trtl Pillow . It’s a pillow. But also a scarf. Like a travel-pillow-scarf. Inventors are awesome. Keep innovating, all you creative problem solvers out there! Also in the trip-planning wins, my silk sleep sheet came in today. Hoping that it helps reduce the ick factor (and the potential for bedbugs) of travel and strange beds. Also, it’s pretty.

    Despite having released the first chapter as a ‘preview’, I’m still concerned about its quality. World building vs. action being the key tension. Is there a compelling enough or authentic enough voice to carry readers through the info-dumps? Or is it too ‘talking-heads’-y? Guess I’ll loop back for one more scan through the first five before trying to push onwards. So running out of time!!

    Wednesday

    Start time: 7 pm

    Location: bedroom


    Day 108

    20 Jun 2016

    Contains affiliate links. Stupid social media. I’m about at the point of being ready to launch the site (officially), but getting traction on social media is turning out to be pretty d#$% slow. Lots of friends and family likes, and little else - although I think I’m starting to make some progress… Drinking photos seem to be the most popular, as well as bookshelf/book photos. Sharing earlier in the day has been better than later. Trying to hone in on the right hashtags (with little success). What I really need to do is up my blogging game and get on a few platforms with an audience. I’ve been assuming Tumblr is still the go-to for teen/YA fan audiences, but I should probably confirm that before investing too much more there.

    Finished the Bartimaeus Trilogy trilogy yesterday. Love the seriously twisted protags and snarky humour. Always good to see stories being told from multiple perspectives as well (if only because it confirms I should be able to get away with it). Smart world building and underlying mechanics, plus some great sacrificial heroism as well. Curious how much Jonathan Stroud writes by plot, and how much he just worked out as he went - how early in did he know that ending would go like it did?

    I seriously need to pick up the pace on rewrites. In a month today, I’ll be landing in London, and leaving for two weeks of travel about a week and a half after that. So I should be rewriting about 5 chapters a day (note: I’ve finished one. And I should really go back and have another go at it…) Oh dear…

    Monday

    Start time: 2 pm

    Location: bedroom


    Day 107

    17 Jun 2016

    So I could go with the excuse that there are just too many things to get done, and not enough time. Getting my website ready to launch (since, clearly, no one’s visiting it without a concerted push), developing content and social media material for promotion, scanning (and in some cases, applying for) jobs in the UK, (lazily) applying for the odd freelance project that I don’t really have the time or motivation for anyways, hacking away at travel plans, and spending time with the people that I’m about to leave behind. Plus, removing myself to a private space to work is shockingly challenging. Just starting, as always, is the first, and possibly greatest, barrier to getting anything done.

    Or I could own up to the fact that I’m paralyzed with horror at the thought of rewrites. What if it sucks? What if it takes forever? (Julianna Baggot just owned up to doing over 30 rounds of wholesale rewrites on her excellent novels. No thanks.) What if I just can’t do it? What if I run out of time (hint: more a possibility with every hour I stall)? What if I run out of money and can’t afford to hire an editor? What if I hire an editor, but they’re no good? What if…

    Stupid, right? (Please say yes…)

    So, a miraculous gift. An entire day (and maybe night?) without interruption. Time to make the magic happen, and to hell with the results. If I have to fail, let it be spectacularly (and if I’m destined to fly, why not get along to it sooner than later??)

    Friday

    Start time: 2:30 pm

    Location: chair/living room

    Drinking: Kronenbourg 1664 (I know!)


    Day 106

    13 Jun 2016

    Contains affiliate links So I managed a good four weeks of separation from the manuscript; that’ll have to be good enough. Time to get this show on the road!

    What I’ve been up to:

    • reading articles about publishing… and deciding to switch gears from traditional to indie/self-publishing based on that research. Retaining full rights over my own work and making high royalties per unit are the main motivations. It’s a tough switch, especially at this point in the game, but it makes sense. So. Now I need to track down a great substantive editor and a cover artist (and pay them!), learn the publishing industry, self-market and get this thing launched. Just a few small details, right?

    • harassing friends about publishing… as it happens, all that research made me curious about how well one could use systems and networks to publish, so… I’m launching a one-woman indie publishing house/consultancy to help (a) an old friend publish her travel writing, (b) another friend publish her art in a co-produced picture/storybook, (c) republish my great-grandparents’ stories (if I can get rights and material), and (d) republish a bunch of history and memoir books from the Cariboo and around BC, again, if I can get ahold of someone with the rights to publish. Partly this is all in service of learning the ropes of self-publishing, building a brand and (hopefully/probably not) making some money so I can keep playing with books for as long as possible, but there’s also some pure fun involved (helping friends get published), some wish-fulfillment (since I never did make Editor at one of the NY publishing houses) and a desire to preserve stories that are going to be lost if no one digitizes them.

    • reading books about writing/editing/publishing… and realizing that I have a LOT of work to do in the rewrites. Specifically,
    • Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain was hugely beneficial to framing intent and direction, and of course the classic The Elements Of Style (2011 Edt.) by William Strunk. On Writing by Stephen King was amazingly encouraging; the more I read about other writers’ experiences, the more I feel like I’m not a lazy-ass, insane freak sitting at home wasting her time. Namely, because apparently every other published writer ever has had the same fear… I have another book on editing and rewrites on the go (Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne), but I’m feeling the time crunch, so I’ll plan to do rewrites in the mornings at least, in order to keep things moving along, and then portion out the afternoons for research, marketing etc.

    • setting up a website and starting the social media swell… hand coded, of course, because why do anything the easy way? Actually, it’s super-cool; lightning-fast because it’s all just html&css with a minimum of server queries, responsive layout that works great on mobile on up, and not entirely hideous. Content-wise, it’s pretty light, just a shell, really. It did force me to ‘blurb’ my own stories, which was somewhat informative (read: terrifying.) The social media stuff is miserable - I hate posting regularly - but I’m at least getting a rhythm down; daily Instagram post replicated to any or all of FB/Twitter/Tumblr, so far mostly of drinks I’ve made, but I’ll branch out eventually. Photos do seem to be a little less effort (and get better responses than) text-based content.

    • travel and people stuff… spent an extended weekend traveling up north to my mom’s family; forgot to take postable photos

    • freelance/job stuff… bookmarked a couple more sites, realized that I can probably make the most money simply doing copywriting, even though coding is the sexy thing right now, drooled over job postings with heritage societies in the UK (would I make a good interpretive guide to a historic site? There’s opportunities in the Orkneys!!) and generally despaired over the not-so-slow drain on my bank account that having no income entails

    • oh yeah, and I turned 29, which yet again ratchets up the compulsion to prove myself. Even though I’ve pretty much figured out that my life goes better when I’m not trying so hard all the time. But yeah, taking a year out hasn’t been great… although it’s done wonders for my pride (lol).

    • </ul> So, the proving time; do I have a story here? Characters that people will care about? Good (read: appealing, readable) writing that is more than simply self-indulgent? Strong, measured plot and pacing? In essence; a book that will be read and bought, and which will enable me to write the (very necessary) sequel? Time to make it happen. Note: Days 101-106 were devoted to research and promotion; no journal entries were made. Monday Start time: 9:30 am Location: bedroom


    Day 100

    19 May 2016

    I’m not writing. It’s a bit of an effort, but so many sources seem to say that it’s important to take a break before starting the rewrites. I’m still jotting down ideas (more than I had been for ages; it’s like I’m back at the start again, fascinated by the world), but instead of diving in on the rewrites, I’m reading blogs and articles on best-practices and working on my coding - finally passed the javascript component!! - so, at least I’m maintaining a minimal level of production.

    I’m fairly worried about this next step. It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I glance back across my writing, I kind of fall in love with it. I can’t imagine changing or erasing it… but I know there are changes that need to be made to make it more consistent, correct, coherent, things that have changed and need to be adjusted to match, dialogue and characterization that needs to be ironed out, or created in the first place. Plotting, structure… I pretty much did it all instinctively, in bites and chunks, and there are probably huge holes and dragging bits to sort out. But for now, I think I’ll aim to hold off until next Wednesday as the official start of rewriting.

    It would be smart to launch a website and social media presence in the meantime, but we’ll see… I’m also increasingly tempted to go the self-publishing route, since I really can’t imagine letting anyone at my work with a sharp pencil, but I know that’ll probably make for a lesser product… So hard to let go!

    Thursday

    Start time: 10 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Turmeric tea


    Day 99

    16 May 2016

    So, after ten+ minutes trying to set up the commemorative selfie, I have sealed my fate. It’s happening. THE END. Today.

    It’s really more of an epilogue. Or whatever. But it’s the last scoped-out section of writing before I dive into rewrites, and as it happens, I magically acquired another day of solo, couch-sitting, PJ-wearing working space - and the landscapers have even stopped buzzing away outside.

    So for reals, it’s time to make this happen.

    Monday

    Date: 12pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Bowmore Islay Scotch


    Day 98

    13 May 2016

    I’m mildly irritated at how I’m missing all the nice round numbers in the final push here. Just passed 50 chapters, with two to go. Sitting on Day 98 of writing with only one more day left in the first draft. Wouldn’t that have been nice; an evenly divisible 50 chapters in 100 days and (it won’t quite be) 100,000 words? Simple math; an average of 2,000 words per chapter at a rate of 1,000 words per day. Estimating would (will be) a dream.

    Thankfully, we have discovered the wonders of rounding, so I’ll just memorize my nice, round numbers, thanks muchly, and pretend they’re real.

    Zippy, shortish chapters last week moving things along clear as mud when it comes to Sam and Maria, who kinda sound like a couple, but totally aren’t. Still teasing big reveals, which as we hit the penultimate chapter is a naughty move, I know. It might be my fear of wrapping it all up, but there’s really not a heck of a lot of explanation or development by the end of this first book, which is going to raise the pressure for the next one (ugh.) But there was no way I was going to be able to wrap it up in a reasonable length/timeline with just one book. Self-indulgent and lazy, perhaps, but I’m planning to gamble that there are some who will appreciate this long-winded tale…

    It’s looking more like a Teen Supernatural Thriller than YA Adventure or juvenile horror… minus all the excitement, blood and terror that it needs to really work, lol. But it sounds better than ‘emo girl is so stuck in her head she doesn’t realize she’s talking to herself’ - snappier. There’s some chance that the rewrites will up the action and tighten up the pacing with more careful hints and paced reveals… some chance, but not a lot, lol.

    So here we are; the final day of uninterrupted, solitary work, before I have to get more aggressive about protecting my space. And here we are at the end of Cole’s story (for now) - the grand emotional climax, the big reveal, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… ugh. Hang on, I need another drink…

    So, there’s this thing where I read a lot of Teen/YA fiction, which often has a action/horror/SF/fantasy/supernatural hook, but which is mostly a vehicle for romance. Which isn’t something I’d have admitted (to myself or anyone else) a decade ago, but which I’m getting more ok with - it’s just another type of escapist fantasy, after all. But owning up to writing that sort of thing, and actually writing it out, terrifies, embarrasses, and pretty thoroughly paralyzes me. Like, I’d respect myself more if I could write technically and politically complex SF or emotionally-raw realism or something, but instead I’m playing in the drippy romance sandbox. And the crazy thing is, I actually have a somewhat intellectually-defensible reason for being there - all meaning, all stories hinge on human relationships; they’re what makes any and all of it matter. And the romances, little crushes to grand, tragic epics, are what motivate, distract and define everyone in everything, even when they’re going about the rest of life. Because, present dating crises aside, mostly people want to be with other people and mostly they get married and either stay married, or go looking for someone else. So all the girls watch the boys, and all the boys watch the girls, and even when nothing much comes of it, it still goes on.

    And so Cole is distracted and lured by Ravel, and Itri goes searching for Cole, and in another universe, Edana forgets herself when she meets Torchan, and Torchan gives up his world for Edana, and a little girl named Nia is tempted by the false promise, the merest hint of affection, and then follows a boy into another world. Because we all give up our worlds for the promise of the new ones that another human soul inhabits. And even when we have to make our own, we’re always waiting for the chance to slip through the gateway and find ourselves in that magical foreign world.

    Friday

    Start time: 12:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Bowmore Islay Scotch


    Day 97

    12 May 2016

    So that got… weird.

    The trouble with this pace of writing is that characterization keeps shifting. Amy Morris is infantilized, which could be an honest emotional response to her situation, but doesn’t sync up with previous chapters, while Lily Morris Sr./Angelique is by turns controlling, abusive, and absent-minded; again, none of which are impossible, but all of which come up as surprises.

    Lily keeps getting sharper and more mature in her thinking, too, making her age almost impossible to place; with Itri, she acts like a small child; maybe around age six. Now, she’s acting and thinking like a ten-year-old and trending up from there…

    On the one hand, I love the creative challenge of this sort of work; taking a scenario and fleshing it out, discovering all the things that go into a set of actions/interactions. On the other hand, I may be getting a little too freeform with it, as though every chapter is stand-alone. Or something along those lines. Rewrites rewrites rewrites.

    However, the end (of phase 1: first draft) is creeping closer all the time. Only four more sections (based on the current summary) left to go; a week, barring any surprises. Less, if I can get another chunk done tomorrow too. Which I should, because my parents are finished at the office today and out of town tomorrow; next week marks the start of a new rhythm or lack-thereof. Here’s hoping it’s a more productive one than I’ve found thus-far.

    While sitting at home being minimally productive, alone for hours every day, is actually the closest thing to a native, well-suited lifestyle that could possibly exist for me, its days are almost certainly numbered. I’ve been stumbling across all this material about the new ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle. (Thanks, Product Hunt!) It seems to be (young) people moving all over the place for fairly brief periods of time to do remote work from interesting locations. Which sounds pretty ideal, except for the part where they all seem to cluster together in frat-house type enclaves. Which is probably a sensible way of dealing with the isolation and lack of supportive relationships that come with travel, but doesn’t seem to be as cost-effective as one would think.

    I’m sort of struggling with incompatible desires right now. I read about brilliant, risk-taking, box-breaking original thinkers who do things in a way that makes sense, while breaking all the rules, and I feel dissatisfied with my paint-inside-the-lines life… I mean, it’s clear that the current system(s) are broken. Education, employment, capitalism… it all just feeds a cycle of abuse in the real world, however well-designed the theory was. So why follow the system? Why study, work, buy, sell, acquire, stockpile, strive? If you’re not an abuser yourself, you inevitably work for one…

    I’m not an adventure seeker in the typical sense of the label. I couldn’t care less about backpacking SE Asia, skydiving or swimming with sharks, or whatever it is kids do for a rush these days (lol) - but I’m not satisfied with a ‘basic’ life, either. I dream of rugged coastlines and a simple life, while at the same time, acknowledging that I’m pretty optimized for condo-living, and that money means freedom, power and agency. I will not be controlled, but I don’t enjoy conflict or challenging authority. I will not be chained, but I value things that mostly, I don’t actually enjoy. Community, relationship, support. People in all their peopleness. I believe it is good, even while seeking an escape route. So I don’t really know what I’m doing next. I believe in making a difference, making things better; while at the same time acknowledging the utter futility of fighting the inertia, the cycle of decay, the weight of evil.

    And yet, I believe in fighting anyways, in struggling and striving and trying, never giving up (even though I have given up), in being a warrior, a crusader for a cause that is clearly a losing one. And so I tangle my hands in the threads of human mess and try to unravel the knots, while at the same time looking over my shoulder with longing at an impossible dream of paradise.

    And then I laugh at the self-aware but unrepentant adolescent mind that insists on overblown self-indulgent fantasy. Welcome to my world; don’t stay too long. It will ruin you.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Bowmore Islay Scotch


    Day 96

    11 May 2016

    Contains affiliate links Was watching the great, star-studded and painful film Suffragette and observing how strong the link between behaviour and circumstance is. Women being radicalized, or in less politically-charged language, pressured into action by increasingly abusive situations.

    Dramatic, exceptional, societal-norm-rejecting behaviour seems to be a fairly natural extension of excessive force. Or in other words, terrible experiences push people to react accordingly.

    Must remember to consider and incorporate this in the rewrites, matching motivating factors to responses in personal development, particularly Cole’s, and also to a lesser degree, Haynfyv, Morriswan and Morristu, Lily, Sam… Maria. Even Ravel(s).

    Everyone has some backstory and motivation except for Serov, who seems to be pretty purely evil, or at least, the source of his twistedness isn’t explored in detail… there’s a good chance it’ll get chalked up to possession based on the current outline, but that may be simplistic. Why was he vulnerable to possession? Is there innate evil (in the world of the Tower, anyways?), or is there always more to the story? Is he a product of his environment? One possible consequence of children ripped from their families and fit into moulds? Does the abuse in his story predate the Tower entirely? Was he simply an ‘empty vessel’? Does everyone really need a fully developed backstory anyways? Doesn’t that get tedious…? Gah.

    Reading too many reviews messes with my head… But yeah, I think Cole’s catalyst for change needs to be explored more, or made more explicit. It’s more authentic for her to make slow, backsliding progress as she learns to question and be more decisive and responsible, but the turning points and decisions are muddy and unclear. This is partly the fault of my slow progress; her greatest growth, her experience of coming into power, doesn’t even get rolling until the next book (at this rate, anyways…)

    At the very least, I think I need to get the ball rolling with some foreshadowing or early, uncontrolled displays of power midway or sooner through the first book. Again, rewrites. (Sigh…)

    The pacing may be somewhat (very…) off, with masses of development and slow progress, and not enough excitement, magic, revelation etc. Twists n turns and all that good stuff. Or maybe I just get impatient because what would take hours to read takes me months to write… it’s very hard to get an accurate sense of the pacing when you progress a chapter at a time… Although, I figure that, in straight time spent, I write at roughly a fifth of my reading speed, which is pretty darn fast.

    So there’s that…

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 12:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Bowmore Islay Scotch


    Day 95

    10 May 2016

    Thinking about likability. It seems like it’s related to identifiability, or radical traits. If someone really stands for something, stands out or is unique in a definite, defining way, you have the opportunity to be inspired, moved, impacted by that uniqueness, to respond warmly or negatively.

    Seems to explain why story characters are so often extreme. If they’re too bland, too close an approximation of everyday-normal, there’s nothing to grab ahold of and love or hate. Whereas, if they’re extreme in some way, or have some very clear trait, interest or belief, at least some people will identify with that and be drawn in, and a majority will form a love or hate connection.

    In short, likeable people are distinctive people. The rest are just a faceless NPC crowd.

    So the question isn’t “is Cole (Itri, Haynfyv etc.) likeable or not?”, it’s “is Cole (etc.) distinctive, interesting or relatable?” …and I’m not sure about the answer. She’s a bit of a cypher as it stands; alienated, solitary, strait-laced. Cadence should be more interesting, at least once the rewrites roll around and her role expands, but that poses different problems.

    What happens when your protagonist is the least exciting person in her environment? It’s not really a classic ‘audience-insert’ set-up; who would want to be Cole (at least, at the beginning?) There probably needs to be more hints or development of her power, more attention paid to her uniqueness (even if it’s in contrast to her behaviour, intent or thoughts) early on.

    I wanted to get away from the ‘chosen one’ trope, where the protagonist is magically special… but in the end, that’s pretty much where all this is headed, so maybe it’s better to embrace it at the start? It’s so American to set up the protagonist as the loner hero who sees through all the lies and fights for a different future, though.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 11 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 94

    09 May 2016

    So. It’s been a much longer break than I’d intended, what with one thing and another. Or chalk it up to laziness…

    I’ve been pulling in some good rates on corporate marketing writing/rewriting, but low volume. Up to a few hundred Pounds and a handful of Euros, which I only realized after proposing, will basically be impossible to spend, as I’m not likely to be opening accounts outside of the UK, but anyways… Use it on eBay or something eventually. Turns out PayPal charges a fair bit to accept funds in other currencies and from other countries, but lessons learned, I guess. Trying not to get too caught up in all that, while at the same time increasingly aware that I need to make some money and not just be spending it hand over fist.

    And on the ‘spending money’ topic, I just received my UK work visa! Two years starting in July! So it’s like, for reals now.

    I’ve also started making Luxardo cocktails (maraschino flavour + lime juice + ginger ale) to use up the bottle I bought last year… working on trimming down the stock! Weirdest thing you’ve ever tasted; bitter and floral and sour all at once, but fairly refreshing and intriguingly complex.

    One of these days, I’m going to get back into the swing of writing in bars and breweries to bring the travelogue component back in to these notes, but for now, it’s cheaper and more accessible to write from home, not to mention easier to concentrate!

    An 11 year old - let’s call her Lily, no relation to Cole’s (soon to be) friend - I’ve been feeding books to just produced an astonishingly good short story, which has been the coolest experience (for me). Fascinating how exposure to reading, and ‘good’ reading, converts to increased writing and communication skills, and in such a short time, too! Made me more determined than ever to retain a minimum level of literacy in my writing; dumbing things down may have it’s place, but it’s not where I want to focus my energy. Three cheers for glorious complexity; beautiful, intricate, elaborate and excessive art is the way to go!

    I think last weekend was my last opportunity to perform for a while, which is kind of a shame, but I do need to focus. I’m pretty done participating in selfish, self-satisfying church expressions, so it was hard to push through, but after the first set I was able to just have fun and go crazy. It’s great what not caring does for creativity, lol. Someone came up and wanted me to teach his teenagers afterwards, which was gratifying, if unlikely. I quit studying at their age and have never taught music at all, although that was my dream at one point. Something to think about for the future; maybe I could teach workshops on improv or something…? Tutoring tends not to be a great gig, though, and it’s not like I need any more distractions…

    My uncle (in London) will be visiting in June for my other uncle’s wedding, and offered to take a piece of luggage back for me, which is awesome, as I would have felt super weird about asking, but could totally use the help. Still not sure if it’ll be enough, or if I should get yet another piece of luggage for when I go to take more stuff over, but it does reopen the possibility of taking my guitar and violin along. Still don’t get why, when I have no clothes or shoes (comparably), I can’t fit everything into a suitcase, but I got a travel scale and vacuum pack bags to ride those margins.

    Stuck again in this weird balance of wanting to write (and finish this project!), but not actually getting to it, and totally wasting time on things that don’t really matter or that I don’t care that much about. I did watch some shows over the last few weeks, even great ones, but I’m not as drawn to, or capable of, continuously marathoning TV or anything. And reading articles is nice, but often simply a distraction. Trying to back off of the library and make more progress on my to-read shelf so I can clear that out before I go, too. So, so much left to do…

    So get to it, right??

    Monday

    Start Time: 1 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Luxardo cocktail


    Day 93

    21 Apr 2016

    It’s been a shockingly good week, despite spending hours on articles(reading), hiding from the nasty heatwave, and various other distractions. Over 2 hours of writing and over 2K words, even nearly 3K words produced a day.

    At a rough estimate, given the current rate and the sketched out chapters left, I could be done the first draft within two weeks - one, if I weren’t going to be home alone next week.

    Starting to seriously reconsider the charm of writing to an outline. I can’t imagine it working very well if I mapped things out at a book level, but sketching the next 5-10 beats out and then having something to sit down and write to seems to make a huge difference. Plus, things are starting to tie back together now that the groundwork as been laid (even though I keep changing basic premises, invalidating previous pieces), and there’s more action and development to get into.

    I quite like writing fight scenes, although I get the sense that the detailed trivia I piece together bit by bit (problem solving a straitjacket escape, for instance) is significantly less thrilling to read than I’d hoped. However, given the success of The Martian (which I loved, despite not having much interest in space/astronaut stories), I feel like maybe I could tap into a niche market…?

    I’ve just got to take a beat here and note that home-mixed steeped gin is absolutely spectacular as an alternative to the raw smokiness of Scotch or Mezcal. OK, sidebar done.

    Did another trial pack yesterday, and somehow, even though I keep hauling bags of clothes away and trimming down my closet drastically (it’s a good thing I write in pyjamas - there’s nothing left to wear!) I can’t seem to trim down the amount I’ll need to haul.

    To complicate matters, I have a minimum of two instruments (violin & guitar) to transport, several full swing dresses with at least one, and possibly more crinolines, and extra small packs to fit inside the larger cases. Laaaaame. Shoulda skipped the repro-vintage shopping sprees.

    Also, I feel like my shoe collection is extremely modest, particularly when I trim out the aging pieces. Five pairs + flip-flops is nothing (and matches absolutely nothing…) - but still takes up a horrific amount of space.

    And then there’s all the extra stuff that I want to drag along and really shouldn’t. And cosmetics, jewelry, hats… so many hats… Again, I’ve halved or better everything I owned, and it’s still way to much to take.

    My dad seems to think I’ll throw in the towel and run home too quickly to make carting it all over there worth the effort, but since he’ll be moving in the near future, I don’t really want to saddle them with any more of my crap to haul around… Not to mention, I don’t want to come running home immediately!

    Did some more looking into the Tier 5 visa yesterday, and it looks like you can’t apply more than three months before your arrival date, so combining that with my plan to push my start date to September in order to travel without wasting productive time, its still too soon to apply… making it worthwhile to keep waiting to see where flights settle.

    Nothing stellar so far, but more possibles coming along all the time.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 1:15 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: home-made gin on the rocks; the spice mix


    Day 92

    20 Apr 2016

    The freakishly warm weather has all the curtains closed against the sun; wonder if it’ll help me focus any better? Despite my complaining, this has been a really productive week. 2+ hours each day, already past 85K words. Even got a little freelancing in on the side.

    Could be staying at home all day is helping, though. Thought I’d run more than two days this week. Checked the weather report and got over that impression fast.

    Some marginally better dates coming out for the flights - later than I’d like, though. The best one gives only about two days on the ground in London, which isn’t enough. Ideally, I’d like about five to seven. Long enough to get settled, over any jet lag, and paperwork accomplished. Also long enough to get a sense of how comfortable the arrangement is, and short enough to avoid too much discomfort if it’s not really working out.

    It occurs to me that I could perhaps calibrate the visa to take effect at the end of August or in September. Must look in to that…

    Writing Cole is, as usual, both easier and harder than everyone else. I worry that she’s too emo, too overwrought and hacky, too vague and impressionistic. Also, she often gets me into pretty awkward writing situations, where I have to figure out how to write attraction, manipulation, and just generally uncomfortable or steamy sections. She doesn’t really take initiative much, and she’s pretty wishy-washy and indecisive, changing her mind and losing track. She’s not so much growing and developing over the course of this book, as being disrupted and going on an adventure, which is less than ideal. But at every turn, events force her hand, and she almost lacks the internal structure to grow. Hopefully that can all be adjusted in rewrites…

    Also, there’s an inadequate amount of horror - or maybe the better way to say it is, the darkness of the Tower and of Freedom and really, of the whole society, isn’t being communicated clearly. I really hate to sacrifice named people, though (or so it seems.)

    Also, I probably have far, far too much complexity in terms of disparate writing and storytelling elements that detract from, instead of support, the story. It’s starting to be more like a game: pick your character! Explore my dystopia! Levels and mysteries abound!

    …maybe I can make it into some sort of VR adventure… Oculus Rift fodder or something… Speaking of which, how does one become a game writer? I feel like having really very little interest in games probably disqualifies me from working for that industry as a whole, but it’s probably a fun job…

    Plus, free beer.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 1:45 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Mezcal - Los Sietos


    Day 91

    19 Apr 2016

    I wonder if I can wrap up the first draft before I hit 100 days? It’s hard not to do the math. 100 days or ‘sessions’, really, of writing. In months, that’s only just over three months if I had written every day (instead of over eight months…) Or about five, with weekends.

    And since it translates into about an hour a day, say 1.5 hours to be kind, that’s only 150 hours/40 hour week (with weekends, even!), that’s a solid month’s work. Makes more sense how some guys can be so prolific - if they can actually focus and move forward on a reasonable schedule, they’d be churning out a half-dozen full-size novels a year. Crazy.

    Although, I doubt many people have the capacity to write for eight hours a day, five days a week. Or at least, that’s what I’ll tell myself…

    The weather turned bizarrely hot all of the sudden - from around 15°C to 30°C overnight. Disgusting. Even hiding inside, it gets sweltering by mid afternoon. And having all the windows open is crazy noisy, between the landscapers and the construction down the street.

    Starting to seriously reconsider the whole freelancing thing; too annoying and anxiety-inducing, dealing with clueless clients. Or maybe that’s just the kind of (low-level casual) stuff I’ve been working on…

    I really need (want) to move forward with some speed - the endpoint, at least for now, is getting pretty close (a half-dozen chapters, maybe? Just over a week’s work, if all goes well), and I had wanted to finish up this week, take next week off and clear my head, and then dive into rewrites in May.

    But of course, every day is still a mental argument, with a lot of whining involved. Too noisy. Too distracting. Too hot. Too tired. Too lazy. Just wanna waste time… Ugh, discipline.

    So instead of diving in and getting things done, I’m sitting here having an argument with myself about whether I should turn on a background soundtrack or trust that I’ll be able to focus once I get going.

    OK, I’m finished. Bathroom break, soundtracks, and let’s get to the actual writing by 9:30. If I can push for closer to two hours/session, I may actually get through this thing!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 9:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Yorkshire tea


    Day 90

    18 Apr 2016

    Contains affiliate links.And the distractions continue. I can’t seem to help myself - bidding on freelance projects, bidding on remote-work language teaching projects, coding (failing at JS more like), and it continues.

    But at least I’ve made some progress on the primacy factor. Writing comes before the projects, even if it means I may lose opportunities by ignoring them for hours/days at a time… And then, of course, my dad just resigned from his role, which means I’m editing resumes and hashing out negotiation points. It’ll prove a great move for them in the long run, since Abbotsford is a black cesspool of self-absorption and sub-par mental faculties, but makes for a lot of drama in the short term. And of course, eats into my productive hours, once I have two people banging about the house all day long, all week long. I don’t know how writers with kids manage! Respect, JK Rowling . Respect.

    Just finished James Patterson’s final Maximum Ride book(Maximum Ride Forever ) - the series that went from engaging YA thriller to preachy environmentalist propaganda and back around again. Which is not to say that I have any real argument with his premises, just that the writing felt pretty stilted and goofy when it got all cause-driven. Especially the Fang’s blog tie-in. Did anyone under the age of 30 actually buy that? But a middle-aged guy writing believable teen-speak is a stretch anyways - to think that he mostly got it right is a marvel.

    Already, I think I’ve passed the point of maximum cultural relevancy (if I ever was relevant…) Case-in-point, just over a year ago I really wanted to correct jr. marketing team boy every time he used the phrase “shit-ton”. Like, really? Turns out, it’s now being used all over the web in journalistic attempts at casual cool, which means… yup. Call me a dinosaur and install me in a museum. I am officially out of date.

    Which is perhaps why I have to write fantasy/sf/supernatural/post-apocalytpic… when you make up your worlds, you can define the trends, craft the slang, and sidestep the unending, regionally-siloed trends in language and youth culture. Maybe. Thank you Scott Westerfeld ! Oh, and Joss. Just rewatched Firefly with my mom and still can’t believe that Shiny never made it into popular slang usage. Or rutting. Sounds so much more cultured than f()#$.

    Anyways, back to James Patterson and the final Maximum Ride novel. Guess what? Present first-person narrative by the protagonist plus third-person past sections from the perspective of other characters. So I didn’t invent it, but I sure as ** can use it.

    Now I just have to go back and fix all the sections that I ‘fixed’ and wrote in the wrong mode. Talk about patchwork… The writing is taking twice as long as I projected. The rewrites are looking to take that and at least double it again… ugh. Will never finish.

    Some dung-face just wrote one of those helpful listicles about how to enter ‘flow’ zones for writing/coding/artistic vomiting. Eurgh. That only exists for introverted thirteen-year-olds who are bolstered in their determined focus by the hovering of irritating relatives.

    But anyways… Guess I’ll just keep plodding along.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 12:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Los Sietos Mezcal


    Day 89

    13 Apr 2016

    Considering looking for a Junior Software Developer position in Scotland. It’s a step back, in seniority and pay, but not a huge one, and it would be interesting to experience the business world as the talent, as opposed to the support staff. Although, maybe it’s just as bad everywhere…

    Still, if the hours aren’t too insane, that would give me reliable income, hopefully benefits (dental!), the ability to rent somewhere to live and have cash for travel (I assume junior staff get decent vacation time there, as it sounds like they’re a step ahead of Canada on that front), and the option to have my visa extended and stay in the country after my two years are up. Could even be fun…

    But also distracting, as I haven’t really gotten that far with coding projects yet, and have a lot to learn. The priority is writing for now - and in a way, I should really just focus on writing, full stop. But business writing, blogging, marketing etc. are all kind of miserable… Well, it’s common to writing in general, but so many opinions and armchair critics! It gets exhausting trying to fit into someone else’s mould.

    And speaking of armchair critics - I just heard a pretty scathing review of the Divergent series . Implausible reactions to extreme violence and embarrassingly simplistic inner thoughts, apparently.

    I enjoyed the first movie, but haven’t read the books, so now I’m curious and a little worried. I’m pretty aware that there’s a lot of ‘inside’ stuff with pretty much everyone in Gold, and Cole gets especially emo…

    Then again, I’m under the impression that Veronica Roth has done pretty well for herself, so a bad review (by a late 20-something boy) maybe isn’t all that telling. Not sure how I’ll deal with reviews; the best route may be to simply ignore them entirely… but I’m way too curious for that, and the tension of not knowing and trying not to care would probably make me sick. But crappy reviews will make me paranoid and anxious, so there’s really no winning. Feedback is necessary to improve, but a necessary evil. Bleagh.

    Man, I really need to pick up the pace on the writing… Running out of time. Always running out of time… (and energy, and focus, and…)

    Thursday

    Start time: 9:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: iced tea


    Day 88

    12 Apr 2016

    Passed Level 3 guide on Google maps and halfway to Level 4; it’s taking longer than I’d expected, and there seems to be some requirement to maintain involvement, which is… well, could be worse. Maybe I can build an API to pull my activity in and display on a website as a part of the travel section?

    Really ought to get the Google app, but I hate filling my iPad with clutter. They have a new offering called ‘Create’ that requires weekly input, and again might be an excellent way to stimulate involvement, or could really suck to chase and fail at… I need to look in to the API options there too…

    Which is starting to beg the question, why not just use Blogger as a base? Especially because I’ve been stuck on a JS lesson for three days now - and it’s not even a challenge assignment, just a basic learning module. Gah! Somehow I’m managing to just miss what they’re asking for… repeatedly.

    Frustrated that I have to go in to Vancouver and get there early to see the dentist - and pay for it! I’ve had jobs with healthcare and/or coverage under my parents or school for my entire life, so it seems just… wrong. But it makes more sense to pay for dental care here than to wait until the UK and deal with an unfamiliar system and 2x in currency exchange.

    Priorities are get Google Guide Level 4 status, transfer all files from the Pro to Google Drive (with that free TB of data), refit my old MacBookPro, sell all the things on eBay and Craigslist, do another trial pack and maybe get more luggage as needed, finish trip planning, apply for visa, push through at least to the end of the JS and object modules of freeCodeCamp, and start recutting/editing writing to stockpile material for timed release, update marketing plan and build and launch website and social media.

    Learning guitar seems to have dropped off the list - still there, but in the background for now. My life is a series of switching efforts from music to writing and back again…

    Funny, some sections of writing seem to flow so much more easily - Itri has become one of the more natural ones to write - I can tell what he’s doing, where, how, why, without putting much thought into it. The villains are the hardest - I know they’re up to something, but I’m not used to scheming and catching their thought process and how it fits with their actions is tough.

    Hayne5 is kinda like that too, a tough head to get inside of. Then there’s the ones that I didn’t expect to grow and so wasn’t paying attention to, like the Morris sisters… So many moving parts to keep in mind!

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: iced tea


    Day 87

    11 Apr 2016

    Contains affliate links. So JavaScript is seriously messing with my brain. Every step, I get stuck on the logic and syntax. Even when I hack my way through to the next module, I’m not sure if I actually understood how I got the solutions (hint: mostly by swapping terms until one sticks)… At this rate I’m going to have serious issues when it comes to the assignments.

    But it’s also more rewarding to knock off the modules when I’ve been stuck for ages on the logic or syntax. freeCodeCamp has really put together an excellent program. Concepts are broken down pretty small, but not everything is explained, and testing comprehension happens continually and organically, teaching problem solving skills along with the language theory, syntax and usage.

    There’s not a ‘cheat/answer sheet’ either. You can go ask questions in a subject-matter forum (if you’re willing to look like an idiot) or Google for answers, but even then, you have to do some work to make the solutions fit your problem. I’m excited by the possibilities, and not a little bit horrified at how much harder this got once I pushed past the html/css/bootstrap front end design stuff… perhaps not as genius as I’d hoped to be :(

    Also struggling with packing questions, as in: how much luggage to take (how much can I physically move through time and space? what does that cost?), how many things to leave behind, what matters, what doesn’t, how long will I be gone, what shoes will I wear with that!?!

    Shoes are the hardest part of travel. Well, laundry and avoiding chafing and shoes, anyways. And not looking like a hobo or an easy mark while puffing under a mountain of luggage (full of shoes).

    Sounds insane, but I want to make room inside my bag(s) for other bag(s) because of course you need different bags, just like you need different shoes and jackets/sweaters/coats and… So I get caught in a cycle of “wouldn’t this be good to have” but “I can’t take everything” and “I should just start over…” and make myself dizzy.

    Actually tracked down a hockey bag in ValueVillage that wasn’t disgusting and all the zippers worked… but it turned out to be too big for standard luggage, which gets super expensive. So now I’m adjusting the plan - maybe one of those foldy-zipper clothes luggage things? I could just flop it on top of the big suitcase and drag them both along? And no wheels or hard structure could save weight?

    But also, that’s a huge and unnecessary distraction since I haven’t even rebooked my flights and I still need to finish this story…?

    (pauses to go get Mescal and refocus) I haven’t really heard that alcohol helps people focus, but it helps me slow down and hone in, somehow. Maybe it blasts the airways enough to clear my head? Like an allergy-fighting tonic?

    I’ve been hooked on Medium for the last couple weeks, since freeCodeCamp got me on it. Switched from doing surveys (because the money is pathetic and the distraction is unending) to that in the mornings, which seems like it may be good for my creativity, and undoubtably good for my Twitter following.

    Articles on feminism, writing, coding and business combine to give me a boost in the relevant and timely creative ideas department. A series on digital interfaces, implants and virtual reality helped bring a lot of clarity to Inspector Hayne5’s role and interactions in the Tower.

    The Underground kind of just sprang into being a couple weeks ago after I realized how the SkyTrain tunnels and Royal Centre are so close to Bentall Centre (the model for the Tower and Freedom). And then Lily Morris (Angelique/Morris1) sort of materialized along with her home and Morris2’s unexpected survival. Which means that no named and developed people have actually died yet, which is kind of a problem if I go for the whole dystopian dark supernatural fantasy angle.

    It’s funny how I went from having no idea who Kelley Armstrong was to really taking her work as a sort of roadmap, a litmus test for “can I do this?”. It’s been like the “what would Kelley Armstrong do?” show around here lately. Like: “oh, look, Kelley has first person AND third person present narrative!” and “Kelley doesn’t wrap up loose plot threads until the next book either!”

    So I guess that goes to show that collaboration novels are something to remain open to in the future (came across her through her excellent collaboration series (The Magisterium ) with Holly Black/currently reading her collab. series (The Blackwell Pages ) with Melissa Marr.

    Although, the true moral of that story is probably to be open to making new friends, lol. Any authors out there looking to drive yourself crazy by trying to cowrite a series with me? I wonder if team writing feels more or less hopeless and insane than solo creative work…

    And now that I’ve blown through exactly one half of my allotted writing time… onward to landmark Chapter 40!

    Monday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Los Sietos Mezcal


    Day 86

    07 Apr 2016

    It helps, every time I hear about other writers feeling like it’s hopeless, impossible, unending, when they’re in the middle of working on a book. So maybe sharing this journal, this journey, will help… if there’s anyone crazy enough to wade through all the muck.

    Finished (more or less) my first full/scratch coded portfolio site yesterday and on to JavaScript today, so edging closer to launching that side of things.

    Parallax works, which is pretty rad (do people still say that?), but scrollspy and forms don’t, so not an unparalleled success (haha)…

    Still, looks decently ok, and does most of the things it should… so it’s really past time to get something built for my platform and get that off the ground… maybe if I keep saying that, it’ll eventually happen!

    Also dabbling with another content farm freelance site since the current one hasn’t had much work available… disgusting to start at the bottom making $1/100word rates again, but it’s not like I’m investing a lot of time in making money at this point anyways, and it makes sense to start building the stats to the point where I could be making more when I really need to be. Ideally, the coding thing will get me better rates, or data/business analysis…?

    Frustrated that I’ve now spent an entire week on a chapter that I intended to burn through in a day, which means the rest of the writing is going to be way longer than I projected… that, or I’ve just wasted a week writing content that should be condensed and summarized into a quarter of the length and detail.

    But it feels like a big shift to go from macro plot planning to micro detail and incorporate the in-between considerations of tone, interest, plot velocity/pacing… It’s pretty hard figuring out what will be interesting and a worthwhile inclusion, and what’s irrelevant and boring…

    So I’ll keep plugging along with my nose to the ground and then try to get some elevation on the whole thing later…

    Thursday

    Start time: 9:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 85

    06 Apr 2016

    OK, the plan is to get as much done as possible before the allergies/atmospheric pressure changes/flu explodes my head and I have to lose hours out of the day again. Seriously, I barely got anything done yesterday; pathetic.

    Oh, except for a little freelance research/copywriting project that paid less than a dollar an hour. Brilliant. At this point, I’m not sure I can think my way out of a box. But needs must. Whatever that means. At least the Scotch helps (temporarily). It’s always good to have a plan. Except when it’s not.

    Reading about the rural towns on the west coast of Ireland and wanting to move there to rescue them. Wonder if the cost of living is any cheaper? Although, I really must get over the hero complex where I instinctively want to fix any and every broken situation… Still, something to keep in mind for two years from now when the UK kicks me out after my visa expires…

    Assuming I have a better impression of the country after my upcoming trip with Rebel. And assuming the whole freelancing or writing thing works out… And assuming I can handle the rural thing and don’t need to live in the land of shiny new condos with no yard work and public transportation…

    So possibly not.

    Tuesday

    Start time: 9:45 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Bowmore Scotch


    Day 84

    05 Apr 2016

    I’m starting to think that I should launch a ‘temporary’ platform hosted somewhere like Medium, and work on coding an ‘owned’ platform longer term. All things considered, I’ll probably have better reach and interaction using existing platforms to access an audience rather than trying to claw an audience over to a stand-alone site, but I feel like the sole-owned site has more value to publishers and as a place to integrate all the threads (social media, blogging, writing, journaling, coding etc.)

    Wondering if there’s a way to/if it makes sense to get into reviewing and integrating or hosting the work of other writers somehow, without turning it completely into a hosted fansite. In a way, it makes less and less sense starting something new, since everything you could possibly target seems to already have a dedicated site, app or feed already, but climbing the ranks of users on someone else’s platform isn’t totally going to meet my needs.

    Providing value is an issue too; what’s valuable to others? Does sharing my journey, compiling resources, providing samples count? I understand that you can’t project one-to-one results, but if there’s no overlap between potential fans/supporters/beta-readers/colleagues and the users of whatever value I can provide, isn’t that just taking away from time and energy I should be focusing in on making better stories?

    Probably the way to go is split-testing - just try different avenues, channels, content, with an eye to outcomes over a pre-determined period of time. Or something like that.

    Really time to get to work, though! The days and weeks are just pouring through my hands, and time is a finite resource. Already, I’m behind the schedule I set for myself (this week) - not yet at 75K words, not keeping up with my chapter/day target pace, and realizing all the time that things are being missed and need to be filled in, expanded on, corrected, adjusted…

    And in the mean time, my brain and fingers keep getting slower and more clumsy as the allergens increase the pressure behind my eyes and I can’t breathe.

    But the word count keeps going up. And the events keep counting down to the end of the first book, at the least. And if I keep writing, keep sitting down with the laptop, keep pushing forward, inevitably the end must come - and preferably before the days run out… right?

    Wednesday

    Start time: 10:45 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 83

    04 Apr 2016

    Contains affiliate links. I’m going to take a leap here, and start planning seriously for a sequel and probably a trilogy plot structure, based mostly on reading two teen Kelley Armstrong series in the space of a couple weeks where she cuts the story very much in action, leaving huge unresolved plot threads dangling. So I think this book will end when Cole makes it out of the Tower, and possibly reunites with Itri.

    Unfortunately, that does mean that a number of the best parts of the story aren’t going to make it into this book, which could backfire… Currently, there aren’t any ‘high-stakes’ deaths or significant emotional high points, it’s like a whole book of stage-setting, which shouldn’t work… but if I can get the action quotient high enough, or get readers to cheer for Cole, that should be enough to carry them through to another story.

    It’s funny; in the first blush of this story, the ‘monster attacks’ and rescue was a barely-there prequel, a necessary set-up to Cole and Itri’s developing relationship… which has slid so far away that I’m not sure we’ll ever really get there.

    Also, I feel like there should be more comedy, to raise the stakes. Like Cole is clumsy or Cadence has a silly or teasing tone or whatever. I also have this feeling that Cole is angry, like simmering-just-below-the-surface rage angry. Maybe that’s not until later or something.

    Making slow progress with the coding stuff right now, and reading articles saying to ditch the blog efforts and go with mobile app-based micro-communities based around your audience and subject, which is a significant departure from where my plans were at. So lots of resetting all ‘round.

    I’d like to wrap up first drafts over the next two weeks, take the next week off while my parents are out of town as a mental break (up to two weeks maybe?), and then dive into rewrites, strategy, and sharing content. Beta readers come after that, and then hopefully before I leave the continent in July, the first round of query letters. B

    ut it’s not like I’ve stayed much on target with any other efforts so far, so that may all be a pipe dream. I can waste time with the best of them, so taking a break doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but it does feel very wrong to stop moving forward with this project and just let it sit for a long enough time that I can come back to it with fresh perspective. And a week or two is probably (absolutely) not what people mean when they say you should do that.

    So I guess I’m breaking all the rules. Over and over again.

    Here’s to breaking rules, taking chances, and failing spectacularly!

    Monday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 82

    31 Mar 2016

    Contains affiliate links. So my updated passport finally came in! Paperwork step one: check. A whole decade of not having to worry about where I’m at, geographically speaking, at least.

    Watched the first episode of The Scheme documentary (BBC) yesterday, which made me seriously question what I’m planning here… But trying to keep some perspective; it’s not like I spent time in bottom income/recovery communities here, so taking that as representative of my experience in another country would be misleading.

    Although, given that I may not have a full professional’s income when I go, I can’t totally dismiss the fear that I could be stuck in the midst of people that I can only understand a tenth of the time. Irrational fears will eat me alive (lol).

    Been reading Kelley Armstrong; engaging Canadian author with proven success, some social commentary along with fantasy/supernatural elements, definitely someone I should be looking in to.

    Although as per usual, I feel simultaneously encouraged and terrified by her work (and not just because it has some pretty strong horror elements… another reason to emulate!) When I read back in my work, I feel like: yeah, this could work. When I think about how much it would take to shape and carve that ability to put one word after another in a pleasant way into an engaging, compelling, entertaining story… yikes.

    I get pissed off enough just by submitting 100 word copywriting projects that get thrown back a few times for rewrites. It’s hard to imagine that at 100 times the scale, and about something more closely tied to my personal creativity.

    But since I don’t write for my own amusement, it’s a necessary step that I WILL do. I hope. Probably. Almost certainly. Eventually. If I ever finish…

    The fixes that need to be incorporated in rewrites are stacking up the closer I get to the end (or what I think is the end…) and I can’t imagine how to do them. I write with the intent of final draft - full, cohesive, flowing (I hope, or delusionally believe, anyways) scenes, which makes it hard to interrupt or redirect those sections.

    However, Hayne5 needs to be a ‘straighter’ character for the first half of the story, believing in and supporting the Tower, but with an internal ethical core and moral code around his work that force him to recognize and struggle with inconsistencies, and eventually sets him at odds with the Tower. As is, that pulling away and skepticism is too strongly telegraphed too early.

    Cole’s kind of the same way, or at least Cadence’s voice in Cole. She needs to be swept along completely by Ravel1 for much longer, particularly the pace that the story is moving at. Her realization that Freedom and Ravel1 are something to be escaped is a emotional high point and key plot move, and something that she’ll need to struggle with to make Itri’s arrival on the scene more meaningful and more of a contrast. Victoire may need to go.

    And those are besides the small but pervasive details that have shifted, like the redesign of the uniforms to be burka-like cloaks with masks.

    Part 2

    Finished The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, which cuts off very much in the middle of unresolved action. Perfect - that’s what I need to do.

    Book One (Gold) is about Cole escaping the Tower and developing enough agency to make choices and see through lies.

    Book Two (Silver) is about Cole recovering her identities, accepting and blending them, and gaining the power to affect the world around her, and not just be affected by it. The Tower tries to take her back, and she has to choose a path. The Tower falls.

    Book Three (Earth) is about Cole learning to live in relationship, to lead, to be responsible for others. Revolution and picking up the pieces after all the frameworks have been shattered. Escaping and accessing a wider world, because there’s always another wall to climb and another world out there.

    Thursday

    Start time: 12:45 & 4:45 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 81

    30 Mar 2016

    I can’t seem to summon any energy or focus this week. The weather changed - jumped ten degrees celsius and turned sunny basically overnight, so I’ll blame it on that. Or allergens. Or low iron. Or anything, really.

    Seems like the worst thing I can do is tell myself that I need to kick it into high gear; it’s paralyzing. So much to do that I start avoiding ‘the list’ as much as possible, wasting hours on distractions.

    Like writing how to get over writer’s block tips on Quora. Absurd.

    Maybe I’m subconsciously afraid of finishing and having to leave this second adolescence that I’ve been basking in - all the joys of unbounded creative freedom with no true responsibilities. Or maybe I’m just full of shit. Either way, nothing stays the same for long. It would be wise to make the most of this opportunity.

    Not feeling very wise at the moment, but if I can maintain a general forward trajectory, that’s something at least.

    I’m concerned that my renewed passport hasn’t been delivered yet. Half a trip booked, flights and accommodations pinned down, and I can’t even apply for my visa yet. Plus, there’s a lot of unreliable components in the mix, like tenuous accommodation connections and hard to pin down budgets and timelines.

    It’s going to be great. It’s going to be exhausting. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So much pressure to make the most of every moment, see and do and…

    I mostly just want to live. And create. And do awesome stuff. And break down barriers. And inspire others to more.

    So the trip will be great. And then it will be time (past time) to move on to something else.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 1:45 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 80

    29 Mar 2016

    Contains affiliate links. So I’ve been reading Kelley Armstrong’s stand-alone novels (the not-fantasy ones: The Masked Truth & City of the Lost ), and feeling alternately hopeful and horrified. The Masked Truth uses alternate first-person present and a form of third person to express a second primary character. So maybe if I stuck with Cole’s POV in first, and everyone else in third-present? Seems like shifting from present to past is where it crosses the line…? Or something.

    Absolutely blasted my focus and concentration over the weekend with interminable hours of trip-planning logistics and research, although I did take a break from the computer for most of Easter Sunday. Airbnb and the obsessive drive to save a few dollars are destroying my mind…

    So I’ll take that as an excuse for why it’s taken me all morning to pull up ‘Notes’ and start working. Also, struggling to get over the nightmares in which I finally broke down and confessed to my former boss that all I knew about finance was based on a high school semester of beginners accounting, and then children were maimed and swallowed by the landscape.

    It was tense but not terrifying, interestingly enough. My dreams never really are; I’m just a little wired and intrigued in them. It’s when I wake up to the palpable presence of evil staring down at me that the terror sets in.

    Thankfully, that doesn’t come too often. So mostly I’m just dealing with low-grade anxiety and stored tension, rather than demonic torment. (lol?)

    I hear movement upstairs, so I’d better shift gears to get at least a little chunk of writing in before I get disturbed…

    Tuesday

    Start time: 12:45 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 79

    24 Mar 2016

    As it so happens, I think we are going to switch out our second destination from Prague to Brussels despite/because of the terrorist attacks. It would be noble to say that we’re defying the oppressive nature of the enemy, but really, it’s because that destination is pretty cheap to fly in/out of, is pretty looking, might become even cheaper for tourists after the attacks, and we figure, now that it’s been hit, it’s not a likely target in the near future. More pragmatic than noble, but maybe the net effect is the same. Plus Rebel’s excited about Belgian beer… and waffles. It’s crazy how expensive flights are from Krakow to Prague! I have this idea that all these historic cities with their castles and museums and stuff will just meld into one anyways, so it’s kind of meaningless seeing one over the other…

    I’m working on a portfolio page/micro-site with freeCodeCamp at the moment, which is great, but predictably, the more I learn about something, the more I realize how much there is to know and how far away that target is… so hard to keep up confidence and squash the imposter syndrome all the time! I’d really like to style myself as a guy, for coding work at least, but now that everything is so interconnected, I’d have to scrub my social media and fabricate a male persona with graphics/pictures somehow to make it work…

    Is it a cop-out to erase my female identity in order to get treated and paid better? Am I giving up the fight? Or just recognizing and capitalizing on existing structures?

    It would be an interesting trial to create a duplicate identity - build out a Google profile, LinkedIn account, Twitter, the works, and then bid for work under both personas and document the process. Like, I could credit my male alter-ego for building my website. Is that unethical? Illegal? Seems like bidding against myself could cause problems… Pretty anti-free market. If I fabricate work experience for my fictional male self, is that going to have a net negative effect? Would anyone ever even notice?

    Note to self: make this happen. Sell the story to the Post or equivalent. Maybe a feature for Fast Co.? Although, I’m sure that someone’s already come up with this idea and put it into motion…

    And yet again, must. stay. on. track. Finish this story. Beat it into something worth reading. Release to the outer world. Then dive into projects or other stories (I wonder if Orca books would publish a micro-novel on the topic? Hmm…)

    Thursday

    Start time: 11:00 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 78

    23 Mar 2016

    Just work.

    Just.

    Work.

    Or something like that. The hardest part is starting.

    Except for continuing. Finishing, refining, sharing, distributing, marketing, monetizing, negotiating, reinvesting.

    So yeah, it’s all hard. I think I need to do less online surveys and reading of articles, and more focused learning and creating. But even with an extremely limited lifestyle, more money is going out than coming in and I just can’t let go of the need to get on top of that cycle. Even though I’ve planned for it and committed to this plan.

    So, stop whining and just get over it? Focus. Finish. Start again. Stop worrying about tomorrow (next year’s…) problems.

    I wonder if I’ve got too many narratives, the personal journeys of too many people… Morris2 surprisingly survived past her cameo at the start. Background figures are popping up and showing off their initiative and hidden lives.

    Is this creative and sympathetic, or just unfocused? Like, yeah, everyone (everyone!) has a back story in the world, but that doesn’t mean we need to know it…

    The crappy bit is that I could spend all this time fleshing out material that ultimately needs to be cut to keep the story focused and moving forward. The upshot is that I then have shareable micro stories to share.

    The criteria is simple: does it help move the story forward? - but the interpretation is hard; whose story? How much does it have to help? Is it acceptable, desirable, to rework the sequence of events to reduce complexity? Is it honest or real?

    Too many questions, not enough creating for this stage, anyways.

    Moving on…

    Wednesday

    Start time: 11:15 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 77

    22 Mar 2016

    So I sat down yesterday afternoon to start building a website and launching my writer’s platform… and only got as far as installing Python before I realized I really needed a skills refresher.

    After a couple false starts, got onto freeCodeCamp, which is an absolutely spectacular tool. Bite sized practice lessons, a full, step-by-step curriculum up to and including Full Stack Development, gamification-type tools that keep forward motion addictive, and eventually, portfolio projects that actually help non-profits.

    It was a nice little ego boost to finish the first 13+ hours in less than half that time, although with previous coding experience in all subjects covered, I probably should have blasted through faster. The downside, of course, being that I am now obsessed with a new subject and all I want to do is problem solve coding challenges for the foreseeable future. I’m so predictable…

    There was a terrorist attack in Brussels this morning; airport and transit bombings, so now my family is feeling anxiety about my impending travel plans. Not that I’ve made a ton of progress on that either… I’ve been costing out estimated portions of the trip, which has proved to be mildly productive in that it identified a necessary extension of the trip, as Auschwitz is closed on the date we planned to visit, but it’s also a lot of effort for kind of minimal results.

    Trying not to think about the costs; I can sort of justify it by not having spent any significant money on a vacation for the last half dozen years, but it’s a little scary to think of money going out, and nothing (at all) coming in at the moment… Even though I’ve planned for this and all.

    Increasingly, I’m considering the self-publishing route, but I’m worried that it might just be laziness recommending that path to me. Instant gratification, total control, etc.

    Having a significant advance from a publishing house, not to mention their resources to polish up the book and sell it, would be far preferable in the long run, but in the short term, the idea of finishing this thing, kicking it out and making (minuscule) income is more appealing than going through months/years of process in the hopes that someone will pick it up. Not to mention, self-publishing lets me get away with some strange artistic choices (like too much inner processing and not enough action!) that I’m not looking forward to having edited out…

    But I’ve made the mistake before of pulling the pin too soon, and I don’t want to see a year or more of effort flushed because I couldn’t hang on and put enough effort into polishing and presenting the story as effectively as possible. Again, really not sure about the switching-perspective first-person narratives; could use some outside feedback on whether it’s too contrived/boring/indulgent, but I don’t want to share with beta readers until I’ve reached the ‘end’, gone back and fixed all the continuity issues and cleaned up typos at the very least!

    Just a little longer (…I hope…)

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 76

    21 Mar 2016

    Tearing my hair out (just a bit!) with travel planning; I have this obsessive need to research and map out every moment, which is hugely distracting and possibly not that productive, since I keep having factors slide around on me anyways. Turns out my arrival date is no good for the family that I’d been planning to stay with at first, so I either need to rebook that or make plans to continue on to another destination right away (and deal with the massive luggage in tow!) At which point, the questions only start multiplying: earlier in June, or even May? Later in July? Keep the date and proceed on to job hunting in Scotland immediately? But what if I don’t go back to working in an office? What then…?

    So many questions that I just can’t engage with right now. So many possible tracks. Occasionally, endless possibility is alluring and hopeful; more often, it’s crippling, or at least dizzying. A tempting, deceitful illusion.

    As much as anything, what I need more of is focus - commitment!

    Monday

    Start time: 9:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 75

    17 Mar 2016

    St. Patrick’s Day!

    Not that that really translates to anything here. Another day of work, chores, wasting time, running errands… but still, maybe I’ll make something with that bottle of Jameson later…

    I did some more (very light!) research on travelling with Rebel, and the locations look amazing (Poland, Krakow, Croatia, and of course Scotland/Ireland), but the money is making me a little bit stressed. It should be doable, but I’m never comfortable when I’ve got more going out than I do coming in, and right now it feels like my entire life is one enormous gamble. But not necessarily in a bad way.

    Just because people love comfort doesn’t mean too much of it’s a good thing for them, right? So I’m going to press on with the risks and try to enjoy the ride!

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 74

    16 Mar 2016

    So, silver lining to the whole losing EI/no income thing: I can now talk/post about my plans, build a platform, self-promote and all that irritating but necessary stuff without having to play my cards close to my chest for fear of being busted!

    Not that I’m actually getting around to doing any of that… but it’s nice to know I could

    Came across this Google guide thing where if you review enough places in Google maps, they give you 1TB of storage for a couple years, which would solve my space issue and let me deal with the laptop thing finally… so just spent most of the afternoon reviewing a half dozen places after spending most of the morning catching up on Gilmore Girls and snapping pics of junk to sell on eBay (because income) - both chores that I’d resent doing as actual work, but for whatever reason, I happily do for no guaranteed pay…

    And of course, now I don’t want to keep writing because I’m distracted by projects that I’ve started and not finished. So, poop.

    I feel like I’m really missing the target with the multiple voices/narrative thing. It worked a little better when I was switching tense (or maybe not), but now it’s becoming strikingly clear that everyone needs their own distinctive voice with appropriate characteristics and tone… so much for avoiding dialogue because it’s too hard! I just turned the whole freakin’ book into dialogue! Agh! Something else for the rewrites, I guess.

    One issue that’s cropping up, it that Hayne5’s voice is getting rougher, and I’m tiptoeing around the language thing - I don’t really swear (although I do use mildly crude language in conversation), and I don’t really support publishing books that promote or normalize negative behaviours, but… A story is also a reflection of reality, and you can’t over-edit reality without watering it down or warping it out of all meaning.

    And then, the bigger issue, despite all the world building, I haven’t envisioned or mapped the development of things like language drift (slang will have changed in a different community/environment/time), not to mention environmental degradation. How much of our current world is no longer reference-able in language? How careful do I need to be with metaphors? When people are controlled down to the level of their memories, do they even have a memory of God to reference in cursing? How do they learn to curse if their society prevents them from experiencing anything worth cursing about? Head… spinning… lol.

    Also spent some time recently researching Prague, as Rebel wants to visit there this summer.

    I. Can’t. Even… sometimes there’s too much out there to even consider. Too many sights, sounds, experience, not nearly enough time or money! TT_TT

    Wednesday

    Start time: 3:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Los Sietos Mezcal


    Day 73

    15 Mar 2016

    Saw some excellent (and not-so-excellent) shows in Vancouver over the weekend, both for CelticFest and within the broader local music scene.

    Sketchy location, but Pat’s Pub on East Hastings had a great selection of on-tap beers and hosted the spectacular Jeff Andrew Band. Rare to see a violinist/fiddler leading the band and trading off vocals like that; totally inspiring. Also makes me feel inadequate on all three instruments that he was kicking my ass in…

    In not-so-great-developments, my EI just ended two months earlier than I expected… I really thought I’d checked and seen May as the end date. It’s possible I misread it, or they didn’t like the way I was reporting things, or something just went wrong.

    Had a near-encounter with my ex-boss yesterday, so my paranoia level is max. Disappointing not to have a few thousand more dollars to survive off of and save for the trip, particularly because my brilliant musician friend Rebel wants to travel Europe with me in August!

    But whatever; I’ll adapt and survive. If anything, it gives me more incentive to start lining up my freelancing ducks in a row with a bit more time to go before changing timezones.

    Still struggling with whether to really double down on the whole writing-as-a-career/calling thing, or to diversify in the interests of having a sustainable lifestyle. Lost cause today; I’m just not getting that much done, but something to think about…

    Did some research yesterday by walking through the Marine Building, the Burrard Centre underground, and the Royal Centre - I’d forgotten that there was so much underground in that area, including access to the tunnels with SkyTrain right there… Opens up a whole world of possibilities. Layers of hidden society. Maybe a secret staging ground for an invasion/attack on the Tower?

    I’d like to work the historic buildings in somehow too… The rewrites are really starting to pile up, and there’s a strong possibility of losing some important threads here, but I think I’d better focus on moving forward and get to the end before starting over from the beginning!

    Tuesday

    Start time: 12:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 72

    10 Mar 2016

    Still distracted, but trying to prioritize and get over my need to deal with all the details RIGHT THIS MINUTE! Because, seriously, the trip is now four months away, not two, and I’m not going to be able to retain any detail of what I look at now.

    I’ve booked flights, I’m watching for rental car deals in St. John’s (ongoing), I’ve mapped out all the historic sites in St. John’s that I could possibly be interested, and done some minimal research on London transit, sights, and UK train/travel costs - yikes, btw, I’m going to need a serious income source to survive those costs!!

    Yeesh, London! It’s awesome that your museums are free, but the other attractions are like Disneyland order of magnitude expensive!

    So apart from getting my paperwork done step-by-step and maybe getting another piece of luggage, there’s really not a lot that needs to be done for the trip for the next few months.

    Of course, there’s a ton to do here: strip my old laptop and find (buy) space for all those files that won’t fit on the new one. Get a new iPad. Ebay all my stuff. Build a multi-channel platform. Finish this. Focus.

    Focus!!

    Or something. Continuing to be mildly encouraged by the Orca press books, and simultaneously depressed. I think I can write as well as them (I hope…), but I’d estimate they’re bringing in - max - in the tens of thousands per book.

    At that rate, I’d need to put out a minimum of four books a year. Instead of, like, 0.5 books per year, which is currently feeling pretty freakin’ ambitious.

    Oh, and the sirens have started to compete with the gusting wind and falling branches outside. Must finish writing before the power goes out!

    Fairly happy about Hayne5’s progress; he just keeps rolling along in the background making small, almost-unrelated steps towards the finish line - whatever that is. Need to cycle back to Morris2/Serov/Maria to keep those balls rolling - Serov is unpleasant, but too minor in the proceedings. He should be more threatening. Or maybe replaced. Come to think of it, his role could be rolled into Ravel’s (is he Ravel1’s alter ego? Is Serov just another of the Ravel series? Or is one guy popping up all over the place? Different names - aliases - for characters seems to have become a ‘thing’).

    Since Ravel is functioning as a de-facto villain - building trust, tempting, manipulating, betraying - it lessens or negates the need for the more ‘fabricated’ villains (Serov/Ravel series/Maria) - but if this goes duo/trilogy, building levels of villains in the background doesn’t hurt.

    Not sure how acceptable it is to leave threads hanging; does everyone need to reach some level of resolution or purpose before the end of the book, even if their true resolution takes place in a later story?

    I’ll need to strengthen the plot for almost all secondary roles, since they currently mostly resolve at a later point - unless, the end is further away than I thought…

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:15 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 71

    09 Mar 2016

    Contains affiliate links. So, predictably, I’ve been hugely distracted by travel planning. Once I start something, man, it just takes over all my focus and energy. I guess I’ve managed to hold on to a bit of that adolescent obsessiveness.

    Time has been rolling along here, but I finally FaceTimed my uncle and aunt in London and realized that I should really look into getting the arrangements started. I realized my passport will expire in under two years, so in order to avoid getting turned away on landing, I needed to renew that - which meant I couldn’t apply for my work visa until after I got my new passport, which meant I was starting to cut things pretty close.

    My fault for sticking around a half year + longer than I had said I would. But whatever, I’d had alerts set up on Skyscanner, and the prices had been trending up for a while now, with the best deals pushed all the way back to September - time to take action!

    I booked my flight to London on Monday. May 20 - sooner than I’d expected, and paperwork was going to be an issue. Plus my parents are quietly freaking out about me leaving so soon. But whatever; it was an excellent deal - under $200 before fees/taxes, just over (~$220) with them. Connections in Edmonton and a long daytime layover in St. Johns - finally, a chance to see the East Coast!

    I forwarded the confirmation to the parents (just to unsettle their day a little more!) and went off on one of my Vancouver days, telling all my friends about my plan, now finally in motion. They seemed surprised I had actually made plans, but excited for me.

    Mildly insulting, but I’ll admit, I’ve wondered once or twice myself if anything would come of all my big talk. The timing would be soon - so many arrangements to take care of! - but if everything went optimally, it would just fit.

    My EI payments would run out the week I leave - good cashflow - and I’d budgeted just about enough time for this book - just! - which meant I’d barely have a chance to do rewrites and send off enquiries.

    Not ideal, but I can’t hang out at my parents’ place taking a break from life forever. And then I got home, late that evening, and they asked why I wanted to pay for a hotel in Edmonton. What?

    Turns out, on the itinerary, the flight gets into and leaves Edmonton with almost no break - I dismissed this as a minor computer error. Nope.

    It was a 24 hour layover, after a 1.5 hour flight. In Edmonton. Whyyyyy…

    So that explains the cheap tickets. Or so I thought. Having become marginally more proactive in my advanced years, I decided to look up cancellation policies… I wouldn’t mind a full day’s layover in… well, really any city in Canada except that one (sorry Edmontonians…), and a ~$100 savings on tickets would be eaten up and then some with the costs involved in spending time on the ground.

    Turns out, there have been some major changes since I last flew. Thank you WestJet! No penalty cancellations within the first 24 hours!

    The next day (yesterday), I rebooked for ~$100 more on July 4. A brief change of planes in Alberta, an overnight flight to St. John’s, and then 15 hours to play in the oldest settlement in Canada before a second overnight flight to London, arriving on July 6 at 8 am!

    The only downsides were exorbitant car rental fees/no public transit from the airport to the city (really?!) and only 5 hours to sleep for two nights in a row. Between the Gravol and lack of sleep, I may or may not be able to find my way once I land in London, but caffeine and willpower will just have to see me through!

    Shame on you, Budget etc. for charging Canadians twice as much, btw! Very uncool to land on the .com page all excited, and find out I have to book through the .ca, with automatically doubled list prices.

    Thankfully, looks like I can bypass the region controls by using Hotwire or similar once I get my Amazon Visa (no exchange fees!)

    So, long story short, I haven’t done any writing this week, and I keep getting distracted by trip planning - the upshot being that I should have my St. John’s plans nailed down before the week is out!

    So many things to remember… Must find another large-but-easy-to-move luggage piece (rolling duffle, maybe?), do another trial pack to ensure I’m within the less expensive baggage range, figure out how to get at least one instrument included in my carry-on, convert files from my old laptop to the cloud so I can ditch it, get a new iPad, get all my paperwork processed and approved, look into and procure any and all discounted items (city passes, rail passes) that can only be procured remotely, arrange travel plans with all the friends who insist that they’re in the area at the same time, meet up with everyone who will be lonely once I go and try to convince them to make friends, oh yeah, and figure out what I’m going to do once I get myself relocated! Write? Freelance something or other? Career? Couch surf, board, roommate or rent?

    So yeah, my brain won’t stop spinning. Oh, and I’ve got a good 40+ books to read and half my stuff to ebay/Craigslist before I go. But priorities; I haven’t been out for a run in, like, a month, but I will keep moving forward with Cole’s story.

    I’ve been super impressed by Orca Publishing’s The Secrets historical fiction series - seven novels with a shared original/launch story, seven authors. Looking into the publisher, and they’re a local-ish Victoria-based concern. Excellent! What an opportunity! Nope.

    Based on published sales figures, I’d be bleeding money publishing with them. Just not enough distribution and marketing reach. Sigh.

    Must. break. into. the. US. market. Too bad - the stuff they’re putting out is quality. But I’m not (currently) writing historical, they have an insane word cap of like 60K, which means I’d have to limit this story to basically Cole getting free of the Tower. Which may happen (trilogy, anyone?), but would still take a lot of tightening up.

    Thinking Cole needs to have a more active role in things - it’s good for her to be analytical, but she should use that to move forward, whether it’s exploring/colonizing the roof, hacking for/against Freedom… Really play up the problem-solving, against her suppressed motivation via emotion.

    Just watched The Martian - brilliant, just so entertaining to see his hacks for everything. So yeah, maybe in the rewrites I can bring that out a bit more and make Cole a bit more active - it’s fine for her to be emotionally reserved, timid, cautious, whatever, but the victim thing is really defining that this point, and I’m not sure I like it (although it’s probably a more authentic/realistic portrayal).

    Wednesday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 70

    03 Mar 2016

    Internet’s down, and I feel frustration and a sense of loss. How dare the mysterious workings of wireless data disrupt my indulgent routine?!

    But I want to get started earlier anyways, so… meh. On it goes.

    Today I wondered if I should have been a marine biologist - I love the aquarium (but not actual nature…), and I got great marks in biology - at least up to the 100 level that I actually took…

    Then I realized I should have taken coding back in high school, but instead I took all the AP Arts classes, because I could use them to skip the first level of university…and only lower class boys took trades courses like computers.

    So yeah, my bad. Pride strikes again.

    But I’m writing again, so maybe something good will come of all the wrong turns in the end, or maybe I started on the right path, and just didn’t have enough determination and focus to stay on it for the last decade…

    It’s weird to remember Holly Black and her cohort as the next big thing in emerging Teen/YA fiction, and now see them writing kids’ adventure stories for their own children.

    I’ve let myself be left behind.

    But then again, at least it’s not for their grandchildren.

    Thursday

    Start time: 9:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Sencha


    Day 69

    02 Mar 2016

    Contains affiliate links. So I came across this article about Grace Dove, a Northern BC Shuswap (First Nations) actress currently in the news for playing DiCaprio’s wife in The Revenant .

    Early on in the development of this story, I wanted Cole to be of First Nations descent, and Grace Dove would make a great model, but…thing is, the reasons I had for doing that aren’t really still in play and will probably make their way into a separate book, plus I’m worried about whether having people of colour in my books is just another way of abusing white privilege instead of empowering diverse audiences, plus the way I’ve written Cole and structured the story plays up this idea of paleness/whiteness, and I’m just not really sure how to write a different appearance…

    How do you write non-white skin tones without being awkward/racist/confusing?

    But it would be authentic to a Vancouver-future west-coast city to have mixed races with influence from European, Asian, Native etc. - in fact, based on the current trajectory, the weirdest, least-likely future would have maintained clear racial divisions. There’s so many interracial marriage/births that it’s got to outpace immigration and ethnic purity at some point.

    So long story short, I guess the Tower papers over the inevitable ethnic diversity with the burka-style uniforms, and I’ll just have to figure out how to write different skin tones!

    I like the idea of Maria staying blazingly blonde and white, though that makes it harder to write the Ravels, since I had pictured them as somewhat Asian…

    Right now Itri is kind of a south/eastern European/middle eastern mix, darker skin… I keep going back and forth between full on black, even brown, or a mixed, olive/tanned type skin.

    I’d like greater visual diversity between him and Cole, which is part of why I described her as very pale at the beginning (the other part being that I’m not sure how else to write her…), but given that I want him to have kind of broad, not Hollywood-clean features (is swarthy pejorative?), yeah…

    It’s like there’s a type of visual binary in writing. You have sharp-cut, pale/bright looks = good, vs. ‘other-ness’, and I want to write multiple types of distinctive ‘other’ in roles ranging from hero to villain, but I feel like I’m lacking the tools for it. Maybe I’m just not that observant. So for the rewrites, I think I’ll try to track down visual models, or at least a ‘look-book’ composite of models to improve the descriptiveness. There have been enough heroines with red/blonde curly hair, underdeveloped bodies and green/blue eyes, and there have certainly been enough tall, defined, sharp-jawed heroes to represent those looks.

    I’ll do my best to write diverse looks, abilities and body types so that we can all have someone to identify with. Speaking of which, I need to circle back and take another look at Lily’s descriptions vs. Sam and Morris2’s for consistency. It could be cute if she were half Asian - someone for my future niece/nephew to identify with? Although, it’s not like I’d let him/her read this at age 7 anyways, so maybe not…

    In other news, had a decent planning & research session yesterday. Starting to build out a promo plan and get an idea of what kind of effort needs to go into that (hint: too much!) - It’s tempting to just dive right in, but probably not advisable.

    So many questions that need answering, not least of which is: what to call this? Pseudonym vs. real name? Cute/catchy/descriptive? How much content to prepare ahead? What kind of targets are realistic vs. necessary? What tools/platforms/languages? What on earth am I going to do for graphics?? Gah!

    Wednesday

    Start time: 10:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Los Sietos Mezcal


    Day 68

    01 Mar 2016

    Contains affiliate links. Predictably, getting back into this after two weeks of trying my utmost to be indulgent and unproductive is terribly hard.

    Sad to say, my ability to marathon Netflix/anime/movies/docs etc. for days on end - or even a single day! - has tragically eroded over the past several years, to the point that I actually managed to get my tax returns done. The horror!

    Clearly my artistic brain is shrivelling and decaying as I age. My ability to snack on horrendously processed foods continues unabated, though, a fact for which I will now proceed to suffer. I rarely eat absolute crap, but when I do, I really commit. Also, hooray for daily drinking!

    On the plus side, I’ve been stacking up insights about where to take this story - on the minus, I haven’t actually done anything with them. Must review my notes and see if there’s anything useable there.

    Also, watched Shetland and Home Fires miniseries over the break - continually more inspired to move somewhere desperately rural, which makes no sense. I’m a city girl with zero tolerance for inconvenience, personal transportation, insects and property maintenance, and yet… seriously, those landscapes are eating my soul through my eyes.

    But at the very least, I’ll need to move somewhere with exceptional internet, which narrows the prospects considerably. The costs of importing and transport on the islands are also prohibitive, not to mention the reduced social possibilities. Though, to be realistic, I’ll never have more than three or so relationships at any given time, which doesn’t exactly set the bar at ‘metropolis’.

    It’s funny: the first inkling of Cole’s story was a very indulgent fantasy romance - mortal danger, a dazzling hero sweeping in, some improbable circumstances setting up cohabitation, slipping into romance and a glorious superhero future.

    The reality is unravelling with every further glimpse of Cole’s world and situation. I’m not sure she has the capacity to be in a healthy relationship, and I’m starting to think that Itri’s going to have to be the one to break that to her. That’s not the happy ending I wanted.

    I wonder if it would help at all to gender-swap Itri, if things aren’t going to go full-romance? It’s a big change, but… nope. I really think that would torpedo saleability.

    I like the idea of writing a clearly feminist work, but reality is too complicated. Cole isn’t an aspirational character; she may or may not be realistic, but she suffers from very recognizable flaws: lack of confidence, uncertain identity, fear, crippling emotional scars, disempowerment. She’ll grow and get stronger, and maybe eventually she’ll be healthy enough to love and accept love.

    I hope she does, but I just don’t see it yet. It’s different from Twilight’s New Moon - Itri doesn’t remove himself for fear of the harm he’d bring to Cole, he removes himself to save her the harm she’d inflict on herself. It’s actually love, not the fantasy of love. Maybe that makes it hurt less? Probably not.

    They’ll both suffer for it, but not as much as if they tried to build a future together on secrets, lies and shattered identities.

    I’d like Itri to be stronger than he currently is, but it’s not shaping up that way either. The one person I do love for no clear reason is Lily. She’s young for her age (around 7?) and kind of unrealistically sweet and loving, but… children like that do exist.

    I feel deep sadness, almost anguish at what’s in her future - not to mention her past, which is odd considering her ancillary position, her existence that almost never was, but for some reason I feel the most compassion for her, and maybe Sam. She’s tragic and empathetic, in a way that Cole should have been but isn’t.

    In a way, Cole is so comfortable with her isolation and frosty composure that she’s impossible to pity. Much has been done to her; everything has been taken away from her, but she’s not broken within that, and maybe that’s the most feminist thing to be said. She’s not endlessly hopeful, innately strong, voraciously ambitious, but she continues to quietly, clumsily be, in the face of dreary existence, in the face of abuse, under the burden of hopes and expectations.

    Itri was raised to be a hero, and steps up to those expectations with gravity and intensity, but Cole was shredded, abandoned, suppressed, and continues on regardless.

    If she learns to love, it will be the greatest triumph of humanity.

    Part 2: Planning time!

    Wednesday

    Start time: 2:00 & 3:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Los Sietos Mezcal


    Day 67

    11 Feb 2016

    It’s funny; every time I start to feel like this is impossible, like my writing is crap and my storytelling boring, I glance back across a previous section, or read something someone else has done, and go: huh. This could work. It might even be good.

    Here’s hoping!

    In rewrites, I really need to timeline everything and then shuffle the chapters - I wrote initially based off of a sense of appropriateness and urgency that I’m kind of unwilling to let go, but the pacing, although it may read well, is pretty confusing when it comes to timelines, and especially as things go on, I’m feeling the perspective shifts chapter-to-chapter less and less; in most cases, it makes more sense to keep going and raising tension for at least two and up to four chapters.

    Or something.

    Anyway, that’ll be a key issue for the substantive edits/rewriting phase.

    Thursday

    Start time: 9:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 66

    10 Feb 2016

    Finally saw the new Star Wars yesterday. Wow.

    Inspiring storytelling and characters with just enough pops of Star Wars nostalgia. Visible minority hero without making a thing of it. Female lead, without an over sexualized costume. Romantic elements that don’t infantilize the woman, but emphasize both partnership and caring, with both parties showing emotional and practical love for one another. Saving one another in turn. Ending with the girl, not the guy, fighting the final battle.

    Wow.

    I’m a little lost. I feel like I’m floundering in the midst of the story, and it’s a bigger push uphill to keep going right now than it has been since the holidays.

    It’s not that I’m unsure what to write next, exactly - there is both the original plot outline (not reviewed for the last 20 chapters, but anyways…) as well as the growing pile of notes that I keep transplanting from chapter to chapter.

    It’s more that the emotional and narrative force isn’t there. There’s an increasing number of things that I need to go back and deal with in rewrites. There’s a lack of amusing, delightful, exciting or comedic elements, which is weighing the story down, making it all drama and emo introspection, as well as the visceral horror elements.

    There’s my fear of writing dialogue and expressing characterization properly as well… But as always, I feel like there’s no way but forward.

    It’s hard balancing my experience - painstakingly slow, wrapped up in details - with the end reader experience, who goes through stretches in a matter of minutes or hours that take me weeks to write.

    Or so I hope…

    Also, the timelines are too divergent by far; I flip between everyone’s experiences as if they were concurrent, but forget to factor in stretches of time that pass, particularly empty time…

    OK, that’s it. I’m going back and rewriting everything to first person present, with switching viewpoints. This third person past thing just isn’t working for me. When I get time…

    Wednesday

    Start time: 11:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: G&T


    Day 65

    09 Feb 2016

    Contains affiliate links. Been thinking about doing the James Patterson writing masterclass. It’s funny; I launched this project thinking I wanted to write the next YA bestseller, set a new record for first novel sold, that kind of thing, but the more I get into it, the more I’m realizing I have to do things in a way that works for who I am, whether it’s writing schedule, content, pacing, characterization, etc.

    So on the one hand, I’m afraid to start looking at what others recommend (James Patterson and Stephen King being the two sources I’m primarily looking at), for fear of their ideas influencing my direction in a way that degrades the uniqueness, because let’s face it, I’m never going to pace a thriller to compete with either of those publishing masters. That said, I would really like to know how they approach various things, and it makes sense to take advantage of ‘lessons learned’.

    So, don’t hold me to this, but I think the right thing to do is to finish the first draft without outside input, and finish a whole first round of edits/rewrites, before looking at what outside advice I can bring in.

    I may be overestimating my preciousness, like so many of my generation are accused of doing…

    yeah, probably.

    Apologies to all of you in advance who have invested in learning your craft; I’m just going to keep winging it for now. Although I have career experience in marketing, communications and strategy, I’m going to try instinct and artistic freedom instead, foolishly.

    But in an industry where doing everything right is no guarantee of success, why not try doing everything wrong? How much worse could the odds get?

    Meanwhile in the real world, my parents just floated the idea of going into creative arts direction/worship leading as a career and it blew my mind.

    What a stupid idea.

    What a compelling idea.

    I wanted to be a pro musician or at least a music teacher in high school, and it was always at war with my desire to write and my need to have a stable career. But to be paid to help churches connect with people in a meaningful way, to make music and work with musicians and bands, to coordinate creative arts and marketing in the service of something meaningful… it’s horribly, terrifyingly compelling.

    Also, quite impossible feeling. I’d need years of guitar and probably piano and theory lessons still. I’d have to overcome objections to women in leadership. I’d have to build and work with teams, engaging in difficult conversations (going to an office…), deal with the burden of having my lifestyle scrutinized for sin and spiritual discipline.

    Not to mention, being judged for the way I look, and then being out of a career in a decade, when I age out of it…

    Hmm… Of course, then I’d be free to write another book…

    I’m sure I’m not talented enough, skilled enough, social enough, attractive enough, holy enough or strong enough to do the job. But oh, do I want to!

    So, maybe, maybe I’ll find some time this week to keep practicing those guitar exercises, to drag my brother’s keyboard out from under the bed. Certainly, I could use a professional excuse to have all these instruments lying around!

    And back to the writing world, I’m still concerned about Cole’s characterization/introduction. Is she compelling as a person? Is she interesting? Do you want to know more about her?

    Oh! Another encouragement, too. I had very nearly decided to switch the storytelling mode to third person, when I started reading Helen Dunmore’s latest Ingo book(Tide Knot ). Written beautifully in first person present!

    She’s a fantastic writer. One concern is that the whole book (so far) has been very nice and linear, single perspective, which is, of course, what you are supposed to do with that type of storytelling. I’ll deal with that problem later… (ugh!)

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: G&T


    Day 64

    04 Feb 2016

    This whole week has felt like blah~~ …but I’ve made decent headway regardless, which is reassuring.

    Starting rewrites was less than encouraging, and I’m debating between intensifying rewrite efforts and holding off so that I can keep up the forward momentum.

    Probably not going to get much extra done this week - it’s chore day, and I have a small freelance project to turn over - but I think next week is the last clear one before vacation, and I’m still not sure if I’m going to keep plugging through the two weeks of vacation, or if I’ll devolve into an unproductive, Netflix or Crunchyroll-addicted lump and hide from the world for the full two weeks.

    Decisions, decisions!

    In terms of value for followers, also not sure that all the material I had thought of sharing will make it up. This journal-blog, for one, is probably not terribly valuable for anyone but true obsessives, but maybe if I offered a platform? Build the tools, and then get other writers to use them? Or something…

    All assuming I’m as clever as I think I am, and can actually code anything useful…

    Future problems are for the future.

    Leave it alone…

    Thursday

    Start time: 9:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Tulsi Ginger Tea


    Day 63

    03 Feb 2016

    Another day of astonishing lack of productivity. It’s turning into an amazing week. Ugh.

    However, I did watch a documentary on addiction that suggested some drug forebears to the nutrition that the Tower uses to control the populace. Vivitrol, gavapentin, anti addiction drugs that subdue cravings. Some are monthly injections, others are pills.

    Totally plausible, right?

    Yesterday’s edits were depressing. I’m not happy with how the first chapter is turning out, or how Cole’s sections read. Also, it took about as long as writing it in the first place. Blearg.

    I’m hesitant to switch to a full third-person past mode throughout, since a lot of Cole’s stuff would be lost, or at least I feel like it would really lose her perspective, but I can’t see telling the whole story from her perspective, nor can I adjust all the other sections to be first person present.

    When I get a chance, I’ll try rewriting that first chapter in third person past and see how it comes out… maybe it’ll be ok?

    Wednesday

    Start time: 2:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: cold mint tea


    Day 62

    02 Feb 2016

    Gah! Cole’s emoness is getting to me! She’s all in her head and making stupid moves and slowing down the progress, but I can’t seem to get her to pick the pace up! Quite a turnaround from when she was the only one that I felt comfortable writing.

    Didn’t have a very productive day yesterday (but it was a Monday, so…) hopefully today I’m able to make a start on the platform building, or at least put in some time on the rewrites.

    Thinking of launching a ‘behind the scenes’ portion of the site with stats, this journal-blog of emo goodness, writing notes, useful links, personal stats like a reading list… Could be painfully self-involved and tedious, or attract online abuse, which is never fun, or simply be a complete flop, but on the flip side, I do think it would be valuable to have resources like it online.

    It’s information that I’d find valuable to have had access to as I started this process, like how Melissa Marr shared details of her experience, what she got paid etc. I can’t imagine following it step-by-step, but then I’m not the sort of person to enjoy reality TV either, so what do I know?

    Building connection is a key component of having a strong, supportive following, as terrifying as that is. In many ways, I’d rather take the Lemony Snicket approach to writing and publish under an impersonal pseudonym, a character, but I’m afraid to risk that. I guess I could write under a character or persona, but then that makes this portion, among other things, harder to include without major redactions.

    Part 2: And time for those edits!

    I will now proceed to pretend that I didn’t just spend the last few hours intending to polish off some freelance posts and instead looking stuff up online.

    Onward: Chapter 1!

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:45 am & 3:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 61

    01 Feb 2016

    Made it past the 50K word mark!

    As per my earlier goal-setting efforts, this marks the launch of my writing/author’s platform as well as the definitely-over-halfway mark.

    And by launch, I mean baby steps towards developing a plan and setting up an online presence.

    I was all excited to start sharing content, but then took a step back and decided it would be in my - and everyone else’s - best interest to develop a marketing plan and take things slow.

    Also moving away from sharing the first draft in the immediate future, partly on the advice of my wonderfully talented musician friend Rebel, and partly because I keep having ideas that require significant updates/rewrites, and it wouldn’t be fair to share the story with huge inconsistencies and zero cleanup.

    Most specifically, the idea of using masks and a more comprehensive burka-type uniform to play up the contrast between the Tower obsessive control (no skin! no touch! no identity! no individualism!), the party scene (masked faces but bare skin, all about self expression and feeling) and the Streets (? masked for environmental safety?), as well as the contrast between Silver/Itri in his seeming vulnerability.

    So that’s going to impact a lot of the early, and ongoing, descriptions and interactions. I’d like to go back and dig in a little deeper into the underground party scene too, show horror, excess, art, wonder in a more compelling way.

    It would make the most sense to see it through Cole’s eyes, but at this point she hasn’t spent much time conscious down there, and can be thought of as an unreliable narrator. Maybe more switching of viewpoints between Cole/Cadence/Victoire? Or setting up stronger characterization down there for someone like the other Morris sister, zeroing in on her experience?

    Since I’ve finished my major consulting project and have (in theory) more time, I’m planning to set aside afternoon work/2nd hour work for rewrites so I can continue first drafts in the mornings/first hour and keep moving towards an end point.

    Realizing that a lot of opportunities in the UK are sailing by based on my current timeline of a late Spring entry - will end up competing with students for low-level jobs if I go the lifestyle instead of career route once I get there…

    But first things first; get a move on with the book, build a platform, hopefully head towards monetizing my writing not too long past when the EI runs out.

    Just looked at the end of last week, when I passed the 50K mark, and both of the major works I’ve focused on in the past (YA adventure/fantasy and hard kids fantasy/faery story) have manuscripts of almost 50K, so what I’m hoping to do is launch a platform and advertise a weekly release schedule of a short or single chapter of an original work, and then bounce between the YA and the kids story as a serial-release, with teaser (dream-death) chapter-stories and maybe the odd chapter from this main work, with the intent of sacrificing quality/editing and saleability of the YA and kids stories in favour of releasing fast, entertaining material.

    If all goes (miraculously) well, maybe they will make it to publication one day, but in the meantime, I’m willing to sacrifice past work to launch present efforts. Who knows; the world could hate this story and love one of the previous, more childish efforts (but please love at least one of them!)

    Since I think it’ll take a while to build a plan, build a site, and launch the platform, hopefully I can dig into an effective schedule (sure haven’t today…) and cycle between first draft, rewrites, ancillary works rewrites/edits and platform development.

    Getting close; getting scary!

    Tuesday

    Start time: 12:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 60

    28 Jan 2016

    Was looking at flight costs to the UK yesterday. I should really plan to leave by May.

    I’m not going to be ready.

    Not that I’m motivated to move faster or anything. Ugh.

    On the one hand, I’m attracted to the idea of writing everything to overblown, adolescent excess: Cole is grievously injured in every halfway-dangerous encounter.

    On the other hand, it is kind of overwrought and ridiculous, and necessitates magic-like interventions to return her to operational status in order for the story to keep moving.

    Not plotting based off of a timeline is going to be a problem; there are several storylines with different people in different places, and I’m feeling like they don’t line up very neatly at all. It’s looking like the action only takes place over a couple days - less than a week - based on Cole’s timeline. But it feels like it should be longer.

    Another concern is all the names/identities spinning around. Not only are there a lot of named characters, but nearly everyone has multiple names, if not multiple identities that are used meaningfully, not interchangeably, but are meant to address the same physical existence.

    But! There is a good(ish) reason for it! Usually…

    I keep telling everyone I’m not trying to get all artistic and highbrow with this, but then I keep making decisions that are complex instead of entertaining… bleah.

    Also, autocorrect is killing me here. Gah.

    Thursday

    Start time: 12:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Earl Gray tea


    Day 59

    27 Jan 2016

    Still debating how much material to go live with next (?) week. I’d like to throw everything out there, but as a friend pointed out, there’s a risk of feedback inhibiting the direction of the story, or the work being judged in an incomplete state to its detriment. But I don’t feel like I have the time to hold off until I’ve reached full completion…

    On the other hand, it’s a definite concern that I seem to like writing hints, teases and cliffhangers, but I don’t necessarily bring things around to answers in a cohesive, timely fashion. Those endings, though… Terrifying.

    Case in point; I spend whole chapters with Morris2 trapped in anguished torment, with bare moments of action sweeping in at the last second and then switch focus. Tantalizing or irritating?

    In other news, I’ve developed a strong interest in home gin-brewing (or more plainly, vodka-infusing), which has spectacular results, but I cannot find juniper berries anywhere. The horror!

    Wednesday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 58

    26 Jan 2016

    Finally finished that one huge, boring project for a friend’s company and coming up fast on the 50K word mark, which is perfect.

    The recruiter for the London job got back to me, which is less perfect, but he was asking about my eligibility to work in the UK, so there’s a chance it’s a no-go after all, which would frankly just be easier at this point.

    I’ve gotten significantly more focused and productive since New Years, but the idea of going back to an office job is still faintly nauseating. Not sure I can make a living wage freelancing (or writing!), but I’m less and less opposed to trying.

    I’m having trouble catching hold of Inspector Hayne5; I feel like I write him differently every time he comes up, which perhaps isn’t surprising, as he didn’t have a strong presence or purpose from the start, and I’m just getting to know him.

    At some point here (hint: the end…), I should really go back and craft the sub plots by character a bit more carefully, but they just keep emerging and evolving without me having much to do with things.

    It’s hard to trust it’ll all come around to a neat, tidy ending, never mind an exciting, satisfying or worthwhile one, but there’s no direction but forward for me now. The further we get, the harder it’s becoming to hold all the threads and people in my head, so yeah, lotta faith at this point…

    Wednesday

    Start time: 9:00 am

    Location: bedroom

    Drinking: Earl Gray tea


    Day 57

    25 Jan 2016

    So, almost made it to a full 2 week/10 day streak…

    Derailed by a message from a UK-based recruiter about a job in London. On the one hand, it sounds like it’d be a breeze, and the money was… not horrible, though not impressive.

    On the other had, it was support-level administrative, which kinda hurts my pride to even consider. One of the great questions of life; is it better to serve and have no responsibility, or pretend to have some power and suffer for the pretence?

    On another note, I really need to get a handle on how I should talk about different groups within the story; using ‘shadow’ as an adjective for a people group is getting increasingly redundant and meaningless.

    I think I’ll have to take a hard look at the pacing of the intrigue in rewrites to identify when hints vs. reveals should be; it’s pretty haphazard at the moment, and even I’m getting confused about what I and the others should know at what point. I think a central misdirection should be the identity or agency of the death - blaming it on dreams confuses the root cause, which is (I think) trapped human souls. Why are they trapped? Who thought that would be a good idea? Are they the big bad?

    In many ways, I keep letting everyone be victimized; Maria feels trapped by a bargain with the dead, in multiple senses of the phrase. Ravel is trapped by Maria and his own programming. Cole is trapped by fear, by having been and choosing to be separated from aspects of her own self. Silver mourns the loss of Cole and his own lack of ability to be whole and complete saviour of her, not with her. Morris2 is trapped by her poor past decisions, both for freedom and for safety. The Inspector (whose name I have the worst time trying to remember…) is constrained by his position, and although he doesn’t know it yet, by his family who can be held hostage for his behaviour.

    Serov is the only one who isn’t particularly trapped; he chooses destruction for its own sake, because of who he has chosen to be and what he chooses to want, and in that sense is the most evil of the entire cast. He cannot blame circumstances, at least, no more circumstance than constrains everyone else. He simply desires betrayal and destruction, and in pursuing his authentic self, inflicts misery on others.

    But a reason for one’s actions does not that action justify.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 12:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Lonetree Dry Ginger Cider


    Day 56

    21 Jan 2016

    Finally gonna wrap up my biggest freelance project this week, which is timely, since I’ve been saying that I’d start launching my platform at the 50K mark, which should hit next week. Still some writing sources trying to get my attention, but it does take some of the pressure off.

    I may try doubling my targets (two whole hours of writing a day?!?) or taking on another story instead, tbd.

    Unsure whether it’s better to just throw the first draft out there for feedback and beta reading, or to finish the whole thing, circle back for at least a light rewrite, and then share. I’m attracted to the idea of a full-disclosure approach to sharing the experience of moving through publishing start to finish, but I also can’t imagine anyone taking the time or being entertained by wading through that much material, repeatedly, and it may not help the story be successful. Getting close to pulling that trigger though!

    In other news, I’m actually fairly pleased with how Maria Ashera came out in Chapter 20 - I think it was necessary to circle back to her for some character building in order for her role to have any significance. Not sure if she’s successfully menacing or intriguing as a villain, but at least it contributed to the plot.

    It’s weird how I never refer back to the plot outline, but things keep kind of drawing together in the same direction.

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Ginger Tulsi tea


    Day 55

    20 Jan 2016

    So apparently the only people who actually do online dating are based out of Algeria and South America. Not so helpful, unless I wanted to write Cole a long distance stalker with poor language skills but much persistence.

    Hmm… Actually, I could probably use that somehow… Anyways.

    I feel like Silver’s ending up as kind of a weird person. If I ever share my first draft of their story, you see this near-godlike heroic figure that sweeps out of nowhere and overturns Cole’s life.

    But then, Cole started out as quite a different person, in a different world, so I guess it all kind of works. Sometimes I’m sad that that original story will never grow and be told, but then I remember that how I got here was leaning into that story and, on closer inspection, finding out it was this one.

    Nevertheless, Silver/Mist/Itri is turning out much less cool and much more fallible than I wanted or expected. Lily’s showing extreme empathy and resourcefulness for her age, which is also worrying.

    On the plus side, they’ve got a plan and now I know what to write next, so there’s that.

    Thursday

    Start time: 11:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Ginger Tulsi tea


    Day 54

    19 Jan 2016

    Day 54

    Contains affiliate links. Officially past the 40K word mark!

    I’m gonna call that the halfway point (as if I know, lol), but it seems reasonable.

    Could be some exciting events coming up as the plot heats up (fingers crossed…) and the largest portion of the world building and character-building efforts are now behind us. Which may be a challenge, as I just lost my private workspace. OK, focus. Focus… gah!

    In other news, I am stepping up my online dating game to try to get some kind of useful material for this story; having rarely experienced attraction (never mutual attraction, lol), and with no experience in dating, I’m forced to rely on second hand ideas, and I’m afraid that may weaken the emotional impact of Cole’s story.

    Although, Cole is kind of distant and weird anyways, so maybe it’ll be ok? Anyways, I’ll be a good, hard working author and do my best to get the research done, lol. Unless it becomes too much of a distraction, in which case I’ll just crib off of every popular teen romance from the last decade. Hello, Twilight love! Melissa Marr, I pay homage to your superior teen writing skills (please don’t hate me…)

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Earl Gray tea


    Day 53

    18 Jan 2016

    I’m having nightmares about my last job. Shudder.

    They called me in to complain that I’d been sleeping on the job and hadn’t produced anything. I woke up at that point, fell asleep again, and spent the rest of the night trying to gather my courage enough to tell them I’d quit half a year ago and they didn’t have the right to blame me for their failures or fire me. lol?

    Too scary for this book; I’ll be sure to stick to fog monsters and giant spiders for the deaths around Cole.

    In other news, I picked up a cheap Yamaha SV-100 yesterday, rounding out my electronic twinning of instruments. It can keep my Squire Affinity Strat company in the corner until I get around to giving it some more attention. I truly do love making music; I just mysteriously don’t get around to it.

    Super-size pile of library books, guilty need to run and keep plugging on freelance projects, and multiple seasons of TV to catch up on will do that to hobbies. Also, my nails are kinda long right now, which looks great in eye-popping nail polish, but doesn’t work out so well for jamming purposes. And my amp is tiny. And my skills are lame-ass. And on it goes…

    Cole has just reached the end of the latest Freedom arc (without escaping), and I’m 100 words away from hitting 40K. Not sure where to take things; ought to build suspense, but not sure if flipping to another story thread or continuing Cole’s progress makes more sense, particularly because I’m not sure the others are up to a heck of a lot at the moment, and I’m getting low-ish on upcoming events notes, but I don’t want to take a break and strategize, or compare schedules, for fear of slowing down the progress.

    Should probably cycle back to Silver and Co. next to underline that the latest death was the woman he’d recently saved. Cue despair? And the Inspector needs to get out there and be active. Plus all the villains need some fleshing out to actually be worth their existence.

    Could Morris2’s sister maybe pay her a visit? Break her out and start her recovery? Plus hint at the existence of the Ravels in the Lady’s chambers? Ought to be enough to go on for now…

    Also, must remember to circle back and switch everyone to the same mode in rewrites; flipping between first-present and third-past is seeming less clever the more I do it… but it leaves so much more room for exposition!

    What to do…

    Monday

    Start time: 9:45 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Earl Gray tea


    Day 52

    15 Jan 2016

    Contains affiliate links. I just started reading Melissa Marr’s Made for You, written in first person present! Awesome!

    I got a couple chapters in before I even noticed, proving that it can be done!!

    In other news, I just finished Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch: Three Times , which demonstrates how to wallow in adolescent excess and mortifyingly honest emotion to create something beautiful and magical. Mmmm.

    Pain and beauty are so closely intertwined. I feel so hopeful, although, as always, it’s hard not to start comparing and wallowing in my own inferiority.

    Got interrupted yesterday, so I’m just about to dive in to the next death scene. Also, realizing the value/necessity of expanding Ravel as a more significant villain; he’s sequenced, which opens the door for multiple Ravels fulfilling complementary roles. While Ravel1 is programmed to compulsively undermine the Tower, there could be an army of Ravels serving The Lady’s purposes. Clones? Children? Or does Ravel1 have more going on than he has shown so far?

    Must remember in rewrites to circle back and sync up appearance notes, among other things. Also (thanks, Laini Taylor!) must really work on simile as well as metaphor and direct descriptions to flesh out Cole’s experience. Although, maybe Melissa Marr can demonstrate better how to do that effectively in first person present…

    In theory, it should be possible to use metaphor and simile to illustrate (demonstrate? communicate?) Cole’s personality and evolving reality, but as it is, her lack of emotional awareness and depth, not to mention knowledge of the world, really limits the expressiveness that can be attributed to her…

    Friday

    Start time: 1:45 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: hot chocolate


    Day 51

    14 Jan 2016

    Cole is both the easiest and hardest to write. It may be partially the first person present mode, where I find it easier to drop into the story with her than with the others, or it may be that I’ve known her the longest.

    That said, I’m ready to be done with her latest stint in Freedom. Victoire is a pain to write, and I have little patience with writing the club - I’ll need to swing back and fix up the descriptive writing later.

    In some ways, I’m also a bit fuzzy on where to go from here, which is making it hard to pick up the pace.

    Cole needs to escape soon, or the entire plot line will have to shift to her simply getting out of the Tower. There should be just enough space left for her to get out and her and Silver/Itri to do… something…

    I’m starting to expect this to work as a teen dystopian romance-ish thing, rather than an action YA title, which would argue for a love-triangle type set-up where Ravel and Itri are more evenly matched, but the way it’s going, Cole doesn’t yet have the emotional capacity and depth to dig into anything more than a slight attraction. Ravel is turning out abusive and manipulative, and Itri is shaping up to be more needy and less heroic than I had first imagined.

    Is it better to keep away from the romancy elements than to set up people with no good chemistry? Itri has shown up for Cole a few times, so she should hero-worship him to a certain extent, but anything more than that will be hard to steer. But the story is very caught up in Cole’s internal life, her experience and struggles, so it makes sense that it would extend to relationships, based on the probable readership. I’m not sure there’s enough action or horror elements to carry the day alone…

    Speaking of which, I think I’ve got a bloody death scene coming up today, which should be interesting. Not feeling it at the moment, but maybe when the time comes…

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: hot chocolate


    Day 50

    13 Jan 2016

    Day 50! Halfway(ish) there! And I wrote on an away Tuesday for once! Double score!

    Gonna keep pushing on with Cole’s weird experience in Freedom for at least one more section/chapter, since that seems to be working as a way forward for now. Lotta loose threads dangling, but I guess I’ve got 40K+ words to tie them up with.

    How does the Inspector and the Guard fit into all this? Post-escape only? (Probably)

    What about Morris2? I can’t very well leave her being tortured for days to weeks, and now that big sister and the family have been introduced, there really ought to be some sort of reunion scene, or at least a tragic almost-reunion.

    Thought: would Morris1 work better as a Hayne? Maybe Hayne4? Or is there a role for another Hayne somewhere in here? Should Ravel or The Lady have their own cut scenes to establish character? When will Cadence reemerge?

    Gotta keep all the balls tumbling for just a little longer (as in, 3+ months longer, lol.)

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: mint tea


    Day 49

    12 Jan 2016

    Victoire: feeling, sensation.

    Cadence: memory.

    Cole: being, analytic, remote.

    Maybe I just don’t have the capacity to write complex, multi-dimensional characters? I know the multiple personality thing is an overdone trope, a writer’s crutch, but it just kinda happened…

    And man, is Victoire making things awkward. Not to mention Ravel keeps getting more warped (in a useful way?) every time he pops up. I had thought some of these guys would be more inscrutable, but their weird weaknesses keep floating to the surface too soon. Might need to suppress some of that in the rewrites…

    Also, this seems to be tipping toward the Teen section more and more; I’d like to keep things pretty PG (at most, 14A), but man, Victoire just keeps pushing that upper limit…

    In other news, wedding photos are a massive waste of money (sorry aspiring photographers!) and image-crafting has jumped the shark. So ick.

    Also, rounding Day 50 and the 40K word mark by the end of this week! Subtracting time spent (wasted?) on planning, plot, early rewrites etc., I seem to be holding steady at an average 1K words/hr for 10K/10 hours or 10K/2.5 weeks. If the target is 80K words minus 40K by EOW, 40K by 2.5 weeks per 10K is 2.5x4, so 10 weeks of work ahead before full first draft completion? That puts me at April, give or take any hiccups (hello vacation slacking!) for completion of first draft. Assuming I can wrap up in 40K more words (am I halfway there? no idea…) and not 60K+ more.

    I’d like to think rewrites can be handled quickly and efficiently, but chances are not stellar. At this rate, finishing first draft, thorough rewrites, cool-off period to gain some distance from the draft, beta reading, and submissions should take the rest of the year. I have money coming in until May at the latest. Hmm…

    Must. Pick. Up. The. Pace.

    Thursday

    Start time: 10:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: mint tea


    Day 48

    11 Jan 2016

    Cole is in a bad place, trapped and fragmented.

    In Chapter 16, a third perspective or expression of self arises fully: Victoire. It’s Ravel1’s manipulation; a counterpart that he forms and guides. Victory, of the Revolution.

    But Cole takes this pet name, this label, and unconsciously internalizes it, using it as an escape clause, a doll to pin everything she fears, desires, doesn’t understand. It allows her to stand apart from herself and observe with curiosity, without emotion, without judgement on her core self.

    Will Cadence be able to see that? To understand? If Cadence achieves self-awareness, it will collapse the whole construct. Child, drone and idol will collapse back together. Cole’s identity will be shaken, or shattered.

    But if Cole has the safety and acceptance, the stability to start absorbing Cadence, and even Victoire, to start becoming whole and real, before acknowledging the partitioning of her identity, than she may survive the experience.

    Silver/Itri will play a significant part in building that environment of safety and stability around her if he reaches her in time.

    I still don’t know if he will or not.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Tulsi/mint tea


    Day 47

    07 Jan 2016

    It’s funny how not-strategic this novel has been, after all my big talk and weeks spent working out plot outlines and summaries, character sketches, my insistence on the importance of strategy in the work world… I haven’t checked my plot in, what, months?

    I did stop and sketch out content for the next few chapters a few chapters ago, which worked well, and I seem to be more or less heading in the same direction as the original plot, although the characters keep developing beyond my intent…

    When I step away from the work, I worry endlessly about it’s tone, pacing, characterization, comparing it unfavourably against everything I read, but as soon as I dive back in, it feels like there’s no choice but to continue what I have begun in the same vein. Maybe rewrites will alter this significantly.

    I have this idea that, if I could just pick the best strategy and follow it, I’d be assured of success (sales! fame! more book deals! never going back to the office!), but once I get in the midst of the story, all of that fades away, and I start to wonder: what if this story, told this way, from this perspective, emo, personal, internal before action, what if that’s just what I do, the only thing I can do, the only way I can connect?

    Or rather, the only way that this story is meant to be?

    I’d like to get to tandem projects, to see if it’s more about the way that I communicate, or the way this story wants to be told. Maybe Cole just took over and all of her suppressed feeling and emotion and goopy emo teen-ness is just seeping out. She certainly seems to insist on her first person present voice, despite all my qualms about it.

    I mean, really. Who does that? Not to mention, switching tenses every chapter in order to give everyone their own voice and place is looking like less and less of an intelligent choice all the time.

    However, it totally doesn’t feel like a choice at all, so there’s that…

    Thursday

    Start time: 12:15 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 46

    06 Jan 2016

    The hardest part is starting.

    Or maybe continuing.

    And finishing will probably be a challenge too.

    This should be easy; my life is the most relaxed it’s been since preschool. So why am I so stressed?

    Too many expectations, too much fear, not enough practice in saying no. Imposter syndrome; someone’s gonna notice I’m a fake and call me out. Or something.

    Logic and illogic at war. My head hurts. I think it’s allergies; I refuse to accept that it’s a cold. So fuzzy. My ears ring.

    I might be hugely creative. Or just confused, incomprehensible.

    Get more done. Faster. Better.

    Have more, get more, do more.

    I start a lot of sentences with ‘or’.

    I don’t know what I’m doing.

    I know exactly what I’m doing.

    I’m done being emo.

    Maybe being emo is my only shot at success? Be more emo?

    Autocorrect hates ‘emo’. It keeps changing it to ‘ego’.

    There’s a lesson in that somewhere. Just be. Just do. Do better. Strategize.

    Is success the result of realizing the most natural version of yourself, or calculating and strategizing your way to the top? Does it matter? You only find out in hindsight anyways.

    Silver. He’s turning out so different than I expected. In the first flash, he was this invincible, confident hero, sweeping in to save the day. But when I stop and get a proper look at him, he’s all twisted up inside with fear and loss and longing. His strength is his difference, but he desperately wants to no longer be alone. Just one more, one more like him, one more to see him behind the glow.

    Will he be able to hide it from Cole? His longing? When he shows up for her, can he be the hero she needs? The hero he wants to be for her? Or just one more needy child putting on a show to get attention?

    Cadence wants freedom. Cole wants safety. Silver wants to belong. Serov wants to possess. Ashera want(ed) to protect, and now controls. Morris2 wants comfort. Sam and Lily want peace. Bell and Mori wanted love. Hayne5 wants truth. Ravel wants to rule.

    But desires shift. When needs are met or left unmet too long, they can change.

    Silver wants to protect. Cole wants to save. Serov wants to destroy. Morris2 wants to shield. Sam and Lily want revenge.

    Thursday

    Start time: 11:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Tulsi tea


    Day 45

    05 Jan 2016

    So.

    Christmas is over, New Years is past. Passed? Whatever. My head hurts (unrelated).

    2016: the year of the novel.

    By the end of this year (well, hopefully, by the end of the first quarter of the year!) at least one novel will be finished (first draft, anyways). I’ll settle for forward motion, but I’d like to get some speed up.

    One scheme involves going to my parent’s office at least one (or a couple?) days a week to sit in an empty room and get a full day of writing in.

    I’m not sure it’s possible, but it sounds good, right?

    Another scheme involves running two or more projects at the same time, maybe one as a serial for immediate online release. I have most of a fantasy/time-and-dimension travel YA novel done that could be edited for quick release, another kids fairy fantasy with some progress that could go out, and I’d like to work on a historical fiction-fantasy (/romance??) too…

    Again, not sure if it’s possible, but in that vein, I’m going to push to get through the contract work I have to clear the deck for these projects. At the 50K word mark (of this project), I’ll start building the online presence, and potentially launch the serial, quick-release projects as part of the platform building efforts.

    Off to the races!

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Tulsi tea


    Day 44

    17 Dec 2015

    The first snow of this winter is falling outside in big, heavy clumps and my desire to go out for a chilly but beautiful trail run in it is warring with a desire to stay cuddled up next to the fire place… and my need to get all the things done. Writing. Chores. Band practice. Reading. Netflix. Present wrapping. But snow!

    It’s amazing how you can acknowledge that something is messy, inconvenient, uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, and still be foolishly enamoured of its beauty. Sounds like a metaphor for love?

    I passed the 30K word count bar yesterday. Limping along towards the finish! It’s mostly a matter of discipline, not inspiration, that holds me back. But now that the wedding is out of the way, the pressure (and sick-churning-ick anxiety) to be productive and a meaningful, contributing member of society is rising again.

    I predict that it will become much worse after Christmas, and I’m torn between being as unproductive and self-indulgent as possible until the holidays are over, and dealing with the root of the issue, which is being a leech and a slacker… So yeah, I’ll keep pushing on that word count today!

    Possibly the last day of work before the holidays wrap anyways, so might as well put in a good effort!

    The way I tell this story seems to be shifting as well; it went from 100% planning to 100% stream writing, linear and straight through chapter by chapter (although not, in the case of this story, linear in real time events), and now it’s shifting back again a bit to planning, where I sketch out some events and voices, and then jump between them for a few chapters. Partly that’s probably a side effect of the exponentially increasing degrees of complexity as the story rolls along, and the weight of detail and backstory to balance and integrate.

    Pretty unsure about the mystery side of things. I know there are ways to write, well, anything better: mystery, horror, thriller, romance, action, etc. No idea what they are, and I’m entirely to blame for that ignorance, because I’ve made a point of not knowing.

    Hopefully that leads to meaningful creativity and not just a boring, unnecessarily complicated mess. Really curious to start getting feedback from others, but, of course, also terrified…

    Thursday

    Start time: 11:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Tulsi tea


    Day 43

    16 Dec 2015

    So, my baby brother got married.

    It was crazy, exhausting, and perfect.

    Nothing’s going to be easy for them and I don’t know why they’re not terrified of all the challenges ahead, but it happened.

    How quickly things change. I had to practice saying ‘sister-in-law’, and we’re all happy they’ll be gone over Christmas because it’s just too soon, too new to have the family disrupted.

    I wonder if it’s easier when kids get married younger, when you haven’t had as many years to find the balance…

    I like to understand things, to work them over and find the meaning, to piece apart people and their problems into neat piles of cause and effect, impulse and motivation. Emotion, commitment, love; so many human behaviours are complex, irrational.

    I am afraid that my stories either press for a rigid, block-by-block construction of rational, obvious motivations and reactions, or wallow in contrived mires of emotion for the sake of introducing complexity without understanding humanity.

    Or something.

    And then I worry that my stories are all navel-gazing and no action, so there’s really no winning.

    But it does reflect some of how Cole interacts with her world. She sees herself as separate, apart. She feels that division keenly, although she would never recognize that as a negative, at least not at first. She clings to the familiarity and security of the rules, of Tower Rule, in part because she can’t understand, won’t allow herself to relate to anything less than that rigidly reliable structure.

    If she were able to be honest with herself, if she wasn’t divided between Cadence and Cole, she would admit that the alien in the eyes of the other is terrifying and alluring, that it fascinates her in a way that makes her feel sick inside, feverish. She is like an addict, resisting the call of a drug that she doesn’t remember. It is only the feeling of cold sweat on her skin, the tremors that threaten to show her weakness in the twitch of limb and the quiver of fingers at rest that hint at the terrible strength of that call. Come back, come back to humanity, come back to community, to family, to love.

    She doesn’t know it, but her power, her hope, and her salvation lie in the way that the call remains deep within her. She can still hear Cadence’s voice. She actively resists feeling anything, which means that the ability to experience the world as more still remains to threaten her careful balance.

    Although she would never admit it, Cole is not incorruptible. Her weakness comes from strength and will become strength that supports many.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: mint tea


    Day 42

    26 Nov 2015

    Got more detail on my paternal great-grandparents yesterday.

    My great-grandfather was a Jew who escaped persecution in Romania. We don’t know anything else about his family. If he had any, if they survived…

    There are so many untold stories behind the sparse list of dates, locations, births, deaths… Hurts that lasted generations, that sent ripples that have shaped the people I know.

    I can’t tell if I want to know the stories, or just create them.

    Is it opportunistic to want to gather these details, build that skeleton of truth and rumour, and then clothe it in fantasies and dreams of my own making? But I can’t help making those stories for myself, filling in the gaps. Obsessive.

    In other news, boys are stupid, dull, lazy creatures.

    Thursday

    Start time: 3:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Laphroaig


    Day 41

    25 Nov 2015

    Considering tandem-writing 2 or more books… Clearly I don’t ‘write’ full time, but I don’t seem to do much else that’s productive with all the not-writing time.

    Well, not productive in an employable, income-earning sense. Lotta research…

    I wonder if I could work at a historic site or museum? Two birds one stone?

    Anyways, all my efficient future-forward schemes like freelancing, learning coding etc. seem to just distract and take away from writing, so what if I could get more productive writing time out of myself (reaching here, I know!) by switching stories?

    But by that argument, couldn’t I just get the same effect by switching perspectives and sections (hint: apparently not.) Something to work on…

    Debating between fantasy/historical fic for the next project and teen/adult vs. kids/YA target audience.

    Wednesday

    Start time: 12:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 40

    24 Nov 2015

    Contains affiliate links. My sister-in-law to-be’s bridal shower is this weekend, so of course planning that is taking all my creativity and mental energies.

    Or something.

    I spent most of yesterday matching old family photos to our Ancestry tree map with the latest Mr. Selfridge season on in the background.

    Rewarding-ish, but not doing much about my productivity anxiety. Am I doing enough? Am I justifying my existence? Is there a point to any of this? Will I ever get published - will I ever even finish a draft?? - or am I just abusing the chance to be lazy for half a year or more??

    So yeah, I figure at the very least, I’ve got the artistic temperament down.

    Discipline is necessary to accomplishment… probably.

    In other news, the wind has been incredible here lately. I love storms. Wind, rain, the air just before or after rain…

    Not a big fan of blazing sunshine, but crisp, windy post-storm sunsets? Worth it.

    So often, we settle for less. Things that bring joy, wonder, peace, we put those away and draw on lesser things. Small pleasures.

    Another fun fact: the nutrition that Tower residents are fed is based on gamer-fuel Soylent dosed with liquid or powder-form soporifics - like meal replacement drinks infused with Valium…

    Note to self, do some research on what drugs suppress dreams and make people zombies! Pretty sure there’s anxiety or depression medications with that type of side effect. There must be something out there!

    Hoping for at least a little bit of plausibility to the scenario since it’s running the border line between SF and supernatural/fantasy.

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Tulsi rose tea


    Day 39

    19 Nov 2015

    My brother is getting married in three weeks. It’s a wonderful excuse for distraction.

    It also means that I inevitably confront the questions of good relationships. How does attraction work? What makes a good match? How can people choose to be together when they’re so different?

    I don’t really want to write romance as a main focus of any story, partly because I can’t relate, but questions of attraction, gender-based power and influence, and healthy/unhealthy relationships are surfacing in Cole’s story.

    It seems to be a key element of human existence; I can’t figure out how to inhabit Cole’s world without these threads coming out.

    Thursday

    Start time: 11:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 38

    08 Nov 2015

    After sketching out the next few chapters, I’ve distributed the plot outlines across chapter stubs - I feel more drawn to following through Cole’s story - partly because I find it easiest to slip into her perspective.

    Realizing I need more dynamic characterization, more strong women, more interest…

    Been flipping through mental lists of great stories and comparing this work unfavourably. For instance, a big cast isn’t fatal - Harry Potter has tons of characters, many of which are beloved and who start out as background but grow… but they’re all interesting.

    How do you expose the underlying humanity, uniqueness, fascination of someone? It’s not enough to just tell a story… or it is, it’s just a different approach?

    I get caught up in all the different ways to do this. Adventure? Exotic setting? Twisty plot revelations and suspense? Fascinating, quirky or lovable characters? Focused? Broad? Angsty teen navel gazing (I think I’ve got that one sewn up!)? Introspection and self-obsession? Single perspective? Whiplash storytelling where person and place shift constantly?

    Getting too focused on the mechanics and not moving forward again, ugh!

    So, I’ll step back into Cole’s head and watch her world for a bit, see where that goes. The rest can happen in rewrites (? maybe//?)

    Part 2

    Yikes! Just shifted from a cyberpunk dystopian YA fantasy to a full-blown teen supernatural horror!

    The dream death has ties to ghosts - human spirit (any spirits?) trapped by the fog/gold and drawn to human life - dreams, ambitions, hopes, feeling of any type. The hungry dead invading first your mind, and eventually your world as the balance shifts to more spirits per city than living souls!!!

    Or something.

    Been reading too much Collectors Weekly and Atlas Obscura on Victorian ghosts and spiritualism… also a little loopy from fighting off a cold, or allergies, running, ice cream, gin and Scotch… lol.

    But it just felt like suddenly another piece(s) snapped into place. Yes! Ghosts! Not just vague danger, but a clear (??) cause with meaningful ramifications for plot!

    Of course, I get way more excited about ideas, concepts, clever angles and struggle with the step-by-step of getting there in Cole’s world… gah!

    So wait, hang on… if the true danger is ‘ghosts’, then it’s ok to attribute the danger and deaths to ‘dreams’ through the main player’s perspectives, and save the reveal for later…

    Cole/Cadence don’t know. Does the Lady? Ravel? Certainly not the Inspector… how much does he know? What’s the accepted narrative for a regular Tower citizen? Administrator? What do the Streets believe? The Deviants? What about the dream walkers?

    The references are definitely nonstandard. Gold = evil, Silver = good/holy?? Which side are the ghosts on? Gold doesn’t explicitly work in their favour; it functionally maintains a victim pool (food source…???) but also is a trap, so do the ghosts have individual agency? Are there good and bad individual spirits? Or just an amalgamated, amoral mass?

    Is Silver linked to spirits, like the ghost walkers are connected somehow, inhabited, more open to the spiritual plane of existence? Living on both sides of the divide? Stillborn? Possessed? Ugh, please no. Just… sensitive? Is this turning into a gothgirl fantasy romance??? ugh…

    Thought: I’ve been accused in the past of writing myself as the protagonists. In this case, I think I want to be Itri, not Cole. Strong, solid, unflaggingly focused and otherworldly Itri, not cold, empty, cast-adrift Cole. Itri.

    Itri.

    Sunday

    Start time: 11:45 am & 4:00 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    drinking: Laphroaig 10 yr


    Day 37

    05 Nov 2015

    So a bit stuck again; did some work on upcoming plot developments that should shape the next 1-4 chapters and also a bit of rewriting to repurpose an initial bit character (Morris2), rather than having to introduce even more named characters - there’s at least 3 more coming up in the next few chapters, and the cast is already huge, so…

    Plot is surprisingly on target considering how freeform I’ve been with writing - there may actually be a passing resemblance by the time I’m done. Wild.

    In other news, still obsessed with history and genealogy research, so that’s eating up lots of time. I’ve got a fair bit of chores and side work that I’ve been ignoring and that I should really clean up for general peace of mind and stress reduction, so I’ll dive into that next…

    Thursday

    Start Time: 12:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: water


    Day 36

    04 Nov 2015

    Yeah, this is really turning into a teen romance fic, I think. Lots of internal monologue (well, after all, I’m writing the protag in first person present, so what do you expect?) Shaping up to be a form of love triangle, not a heck of a lot of action (well, monsters, gruesome death, revolutions, kidnappings, abuse… so maybe a little action!)

    I’m realizing more and more that I may not have any sense of pace or timing. Like, is this slow and boring, or action-packed and engrossing??

    I’d really like to start getting feedback, but it’s hard to control quality, and I think that would slow down my progress significantly, so I’ll try to keep holding off.

    In other news, halfway to the next milestone (30K words), and there’s starting to be some narrative movement and threads coming together, so that’s great!

    Haven’t looked at my plot outline in over 10K words, so it’s probably a mess, but I think that’ll be a problem for the rewrites stage…

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 9:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: water


    Day 35

    02 Nov 2015

    Uh… so, yeah, three day stretch plus a three week vacation… I can get obsessively immersed in everything except writing or doing work, apparently.

    First it was family history/geneology stuff (still going on that but…) made it back to 885 on one side of the family, with some guesswork and questionable research… Apparently descended from the King of Wales and a queen of Mercia (England) if that tree isn’t totally fantasy, lol. It’s like an unending jigsaw puzzle, with unlimited pieces. It goes not only back, but sideways and then down, so it’s more like one of those tropical trees that drops down at the end of branches and turns into a whole ecosystem of interlinked life.

    Anyways, I can’t tear myself away because there’s always a new route to trace. It’s so addictive. Lots of great, scandalous stories that make me itch to write historical fiction, too. Multiple child deaths in the same year, allegations of improper conduct, cross-class and -national marriages, marrying sisters… great stuff.

    Soon after, I also became obsessed with 50s clothing to vintage clothing and undergarments to vintage, retro and historical anything (thanks for sucking days of my life away, Collectors Weekly!) so yeah, I feel like historical fiction could be a future pathway. Maybe fantasy-fusion?

    Also, the parents went on vacation, so of course I couldn’t possibly be productive while they were gone, and took my own staycation in solidarity… ugh…

    So many good ideas, so little discipline! But I do appreciate the way that switching up my focus and exploring other interests sparks ideas for me!

    Now to try and put them to use!

    Monday

    Start Time: 12:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: water

    Background: leaf-blowers (lol)


    Day 34

    08 Oct 2015

    Yes! Three day stretch!

    Celebrating small victories, lol. Gets later by almost an hour every day, but…

    So the second protagonist made his debut yesterday without me planning it. Pretty mysterious, gives a whole different spin on the world, setting, plot, intent… suddenly, it’s not a story about Cole finding herself and maybe escaping the tower, it’s a hero tale.

    My inner feminist is worried about where this is going. I don’t want him to be a total pushover or a distraction, so he needs to have a strong personality and a valuable part to play, but at the same time, if he does everything for Cole, she loses agency and becomes an object that men control (well, there’s a woman at the top of it all, so there’s that…)

    He’s turning out more fallible, less perfect and saviour-like than I had imagined already… a side effect of getting inside his head, I guess, and letting him be human. (maybe he could be an angel or something? solve that problem right off the bat!)

    I’ve been switching perspectives with at least some consciousness of the effect - Cole exists in first person present, dreamers exist in first person present (until they expire), everyone else is in a third-person past-tense, more traditional storytelling mode.

    Worried this might be jarring in effect, and it’s going to be a lot of work to change if I need to, but it feels right to me.

    I wonder if there’s something I can do with Cole’s character/language here? As she reconciles with her past and inner self (Cadence), the language could shift? But since it’s going to be gradual, that would be hard to pull off and not have it just seem like an error.

    As it is, her language shift from empirical, experience-based, in-the-moment short declaratives to expressiveness, emotion, imagination, even just vocabulary and sophistication of grammar that develops… that should be a little easier to script (although in first-person, that really limits descriptive options early on.)

    Also, I’m sure there’s some emotional impact to introducing (yet another) set of players in the form of the street people (plus, they’re an integral plot point if we ever get back to the plot I laid out in the beginning… tbd), but they don’t lend themselves to the male protag’s voice, and there’s already a worrying amount of dangling threads (the whole cyber-punk implants reference in the care ward scene, for one!)

    OK. Quick edits to the last two chapters, and then it’s time for another dream death… either supervisor, street or partier…

    Let’s go with street, to establish the increasing violence and the male protag’s role outside of Cole’s partner. Then it can escalate to supervisor or partier to push Cole a little bit more…

    Thursday

    Start Time: 12:15 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 33

    07 Oct 2015

    10 chapters. Over 20K words and 50 hours.

    Still introducing new characters, lol.

    I don’t want to lose momentum by stopping and charting locations and timelines, but this is all getting pretty off course from the plot and even the character outlines.

    Oh well. Save it for the rewrites.

    Apparently I’m not good at strategic writing, things just happen as they happen.

    Also, racy much?! This is definitely turning into a ‘Teen’ or upper YA read. I know that Ravel1 was supposed to be dark and manipulative, and Cole needed to start experiencing emotions and independent thought, but yikes, steamy! Making me blush just writing it; can’t imagine how much I’m going to hate letting the beta readers get ahold of this.

    Also, the names are kinda awkward…? But they make sense in the structure of the world…

    Again, rewrites problems, I guess. Onwards!

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 11:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 32

    06 Oct 2015

    So… sidetracked again!

    Errands, trips to Vancouver, distraction… federal elections’ coming up, so I just finished reading the entire Green Party position and joined up. As a creative, I feel the need to back utopian dreams over dirty political maneuvering. Or something.

    Also, saw a new film effort, Charlotte’s Song, in the Vancouver Film Festival with a friend. Beautiful, but definitely some storytelling gaps that are making me sweat. Trying to do too much, lack of connection with characters, vague storylines and quick changes between setting, action etc.

    Sound familiar? Panic…

    Oh well, no way to go but forward!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10:45 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Yorkshire black tea


    Day 31

    30 Sep 2015

    I’m probably doing a terrible job on the writing side, but it feels great once I’m actually in Cole’s world.

    Marathoned Holly Black’s latest book The Darkest Part of the Forest last night (sleepy), and in her end notes she mentions the doubt and frustration of feeling like it’s just not going to come together or be ok, so I guess if #1 NYT bestselling authors feel that way, I’ve still got a shot.

    Just keep moving forward, even if it’s slow, even if I feel lazy, even if it’s possibly terrible and a waste of time.

    I could stop, but if doesn’t feel like an option. I couldn’t leave Cole and everyone hanging like that…

    I other news, I got a sweet Squier Strat yesterday. So yeah, some motivation there for getting to work and knocking off to-do items from my schedule today so I can start rockin’ out. Would be nice to make rock star before the green hair grows out (bleach=boredom).

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 10:00 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Yorkshire black tea


    Day 30

    29 Sep 2015

    So yeah, my timelines are not linking up; glad I got on that earlier rather than later! It makes sense to have some overlap between the different storylines to help tie things together a bit earlier on, so I made a point of Cole and Serov with Morris2 in tow running into each other in the elevator, Serov and the Inspector encountering each other in the course of their days, which makes a bit more sense really.

    Unfortunately, given the time of death for the Bell Case, in conjunction with Cole’s escape from work and nighttime adventures, puts their relative story times at completely opposite times of day. Morris2 would be completely out of the picture by the time Cole skips work (not sure dead or just incapacitated, but certainly not flitting around in public).

    Also, I really need to map out at the very least Tower3, if not the Tower complexes and surrounding neighbourhoods, sooner than later. Elevators and stairs up and down are getting a bit tricky, as I keep forgetting what floor I (more or less arbitrarily) have assigned to whom/which activity. I know there’s probably some fact checking on the copy edit end of publishing, but these mistakes mean some major rewriting, since they impact settings!

    I’ve started in on a really tight timeline (think minute-by-minute) to try to ground activity in the real world, but it is a slow process, so I’ve only made it a few hours into the story, roughly corresponding to maybe three simultaneously-occuring chapters. It’s been great for really thinking out not only plot, but background information and the mechanics of Tower life. For instance, what time do workers get up, when do they actually go to work, etc? Are there different ‘shifts’ or schedules for different workers? How does the uniqueness of each person impact their response to the standard schedule?

    But I’m also tempted to get caught up in these details and put myself back weeks or months again by planning instead of writing. I’ve been mildly horrified (ok, majorly horrified) to find out there are at least two second-degree connections that have written novels in about a month. Sure, one of them was only 50,000 words, but even so, I’m holding at 15K words in up to 4+ months. Yikes.

    In other news, I’ve been obsessed with getting an electric guitar, and have narrowed down my tastes to the (thankfully) budget Squire Strats. So now I’m trying to shove my desire to make arrangements with Craigslisters in order to actually get any work done. Haven’t done any freelancing in… three weeks now? Give or take. Bleagh.

    Also, reading Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest . I’m not all that comfortable with some of the elements she brings in (seems a little populist, for one thing), but man does she write well, and the most natural teen/youth culture writing I’ve ever seen. Not a hint of text-speak. Jealousy… Also, darkness, romance, supernatural… all done exceptionally well.

    Go Holly!

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 11:00 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 29

    24 Sep 2015

    I’m dreaming of buying an electric guitar. And dabbling with the idea of getting a five-string violin. Everyone else is getting these sweet hollow-body electrics, and they’re just so much easier to play, not to mention gorgeous!

    Of course, it makes no sense for me to be spending money on another guitar (we have 3 acoustics and 1 electric in the house already, not to mention all the other folk & stringed instruments!) …but it’s seriously hard to concentrate on anything else right now!

    Had a great mini-vacation cat-sitting in Vancouver this week (thanks, Rebecca!), but of course now I’ve had yet another super-long pause in work. The new 12” macbook is great for typing, however. Regretting ordering those solar keyboards (especially b/c the adaptor to USB-C hasn’t arrived yet and I can’t use them!)

    Pretty cool experience in Vancouver catching up with all the relationships and realizing that, despite my angst about group activities, I did end up with a lot of meaningful relationships and discussions. Turns out all the hard work was never about making progress at a career or even helping the church plant launch, it was about making a difference in people’s lives, helping them encounter Jesus and better live life with and for Him. At some point in the last 3+ years I kind of lost track of that, but it turns out I met all my goals regardless!

    So, yeah, fairly gratifying trip. And now I have like three days of music, so that’ll be good too. Must. ignore. guitar… and get this thing written!

    And… Dive!

    Nope… hang on… I think I need another planning session. The timelines and interweaving viewpoints/storylines are getting a little too layered, and I need to anchor them in some real-world logic. (plus, I’m not too sure what happens next… another dream? Back to Cole? Do I introduce Mist as a character, or keep him as glimpses around the edges of things?)

    Thursday

    Start Time: 9:45 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Lime Gelato (Davidstea)


    Day 28

    17 Sep 2015

    So~ sleepy~~ It’s looking grey and potentially wet outside, no one’s home, the cats are sleeping quietly and the fireplace is on. Fall allergies have kicked into high gear and all I want to do is close my eyes.

    Well, not all I want to do. I’d watch something. Take a bath. Eat. But a nap is highish on the list.

    Fascinating; spellcheck doesn’t mind the word highish. I guess I wasn’t the first to invent it. Probably means something totally different, but meh. Force click doesn’t want to look it up for me, so I’ll just let that one go and hope it makes some kind of sense…

    Word count is over 15K and progressing towards the next milestone (20K) nicely. I think total manuscript (post rewrites & editing) for submission should be around 80K and no more than 100K words, so that means I’ve passed the 10% complete mark, and could be as much as a third of the way complete… terrifying thought.

    I have a feeling there’s too much world building and introspection, and not nearly enough action and tension, but I’m going to need great beta readers to really help me nail that down. I feel like I’m only at the beginning of the story, still introducing key characters, environments and premises. But it could be that once the action starts in, the speed will pick up too.

    At 15K words in, and about 6 chapters, we have our protagonist, Cole, her boss, her coworker Ravel1 and an increasing number of unnamed coworkers, Cadence, of course, the dead old lady Suzannah with her parents, the two Care workers including Morris2, more significant players in the form of Inspector and Guard (Serov), the dead kid Mori and his parents, and most recently, the Lady Maria. Plus the unidentified presence in Cole’s dream, which will turn out to be the male lead. Day 28 Thursday, September 17, 2015 10:30 am couch/living room MacBook (new)

    So~ sleepy~~ It’s looking grey and potentially wet outside, no one’s home, the cats are sleeping quietly and the fireplace is on. Fall allergies have kicked into high gear and all I want to do is close my eyes. Well, not all I want to do. I’d watch something. Take a bath. Eat. But a nap is highish on the list. Fascinating; spellcheck doesn’t mind the word highish. I guess I wasn’t the first to invent it. Probably means something totally different, but meh. Force click doesn’t want to look it up for me, so I’ll just let that one go and hope it makes some kind of sense… Word count is over 15K and progressing towards the next milestone (20K) nicely. I think total manuscript (post rewrites & editing) for submission should be around 80K and no more than 100K words, so that means I’ve passed the 10% complete mark, and could be as much as a third of the way complete… terrifying thought. I have a feeling there’s too much world building and introspection, and not nearly enough action and tension, but I’m going to need great beta readers to really help me nail that down. I feel like I’m only at the beginning of the story, still introducing key characters, environments and premises. But it could be that once the action starts in, the speed will pick up too. At 15K words in, and about 6 chapters, we have our protagonist, Cole, her boss, her coworker Ravel1 and an increasing number of unnamed coworkers, Cadence, of course, the dead old lady Suzannah with her parents, the two Care workers including Morris2, more significant players in the form of Inspector and Guard (Serov), the dead kid Mori and his parents, and most recently, the Lady Maria. Plus the unidentified presence in Cole’s dream, which will turn out to be the male lead. So 11 named characters and 20+ including unnamed. Of that, about 6 will continue to play a significant part going forward. Probably too much; I’ll have to see if I can trim the NPCs or something in the rewrites. Besides that issue, I have two main concerns. One: is it interesting? Just because I’m entertained by diving into this world doesn’t mean that anyone else will have the patience to go with me. Two: is Cole likeable/are the people compelling? I think there should be a strong emotional connection with the cast, but I don’t have really strong, cool hero types (yet). And on we go…

    So 11 named characters and 20+ including unnamed. Of that, about 6 will continue to play a significant part going forward. Probably too much; I’ll have to see if I can trim the NPCs or something in the rewrites.

    Besides that issue, I have two main concerns.

    One: is it interesting? Just because I’m entertained by diving into this world doesn’t mean that anyone else will have the patience to go with me.

    Two: is Cole likeable/are the people compelling? I think there should be a strong emotional connection with the cast, but I don’t have really strong, cool hero types (yet).

    And on we go…

    Thursday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 27

    16 Sep 2015

    Contains affiliate links. So I finally bit the bullet and bought a new Mac .

    Feeling super conflicted about it. On the one hand, yay shiny new hardware! Gotta love new toys!

    On the other hand, I’m downgrading to half the storage, significantly less RAM by the numbers, and a 17” to 12”… that’s a lot of screen real estate. Plus, you know, money.

    Already, this is proving to be way better for writing on - I’m regretting ordering those solar keyboards and rethinking my plan to upgrade the iPad mini this year - but I’m still really attached to my MacBook Pro . Do I have emotional issues with my technology? Resounding yes! Comes from sleeping with it, I suppose.

    Have to say, these ‘butterfly’ keys are pretty rad, though. Also, losing a lot of time to transferring data and setting up a new machine is a fairly dumb move, but hopefully the timing is at least less painful than it might have otherwise been… Either way, go Apple! Gorgeous tech!

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Westlake Seattle Scotch


    Day 26

    15 Sep 2015

    I have a beta reader signed up!

    My brilliant east coast friend Christina S., who is just about to move from Vancouver back to her home coast offered to read for me. If I can get a bit more consistent with my writing schedule and keep up with the freelancing projects, I’ll start doing some more coding learning and build myself a site with an official list - in chronological order! - of my superstar readers :)

    More good news: WestJet just announced direct flights to London for $200-$300 next year, so when I do get this manuscript polished and ready to go, it’ll be quick & cheap to make the move. Sure hope the timing works out to be there for at least a few months before this book gets moving. It’ll be good practice for all the touring (lol).

    Wish I could publish anonymously! Like that Lemony Snicket, but with a cooler name, like AVI. KAIE.

    What are the chances…?

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: White tea - silver leaf


    Day 25

    11 Sep 2015

    So, bite the bullet, get on with it… possible motivations include ducking out on various work that I could/should be doing and really just don’t want to get around to…

    Some idiot in Kuwait that keeps wanting his copy-written projects edited and adjusted because he couldn’t be bothered to put what he really wanted in the first place.

    Like seriously? I’m not your in-house marketing staff; it’s piecework, and I’m losing money to your cluelessness… So yeah, not gonna keep dropping everything to do that…

    Also, fun fact in the wonderful world of grammar. Apparently ‘alright’ is not actually a word, and the correct usage is ‘all right’, which looks incredibly stupid on a page, not to mention confusing. Who knew?

    More to the point, when are the dictionaries going to catch up to us?

    I’m resisting working on the draft, which is generally what happens when I start edging close to plot points and action, and I can’t just float around in the mindscapes of the characters getting nothing done…

    Cole’s running into the guys, Ravel1 in this case, and my mild horror at writing teen romance is choking my imagination and creativity just when I need to be going full dive. It’s all just so… embarrassing.

    I mean, it’s one thing to read the stuff, but to write it? To channel/create it? I’ve built my reputation on, like, decades of resistance to foolish romance! But it must happen/is happening, so I’d better get on with it…

    Oh, Cole.

    Sorry.

    Friday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Westlake Seattle ‘Scotch’

    Soundtrack: Ghost Ship’s ‘Costly’


    Day 24

    10 Sep 2015

    So I critically lack discipline and focus.

    Surprise to no one but me, apparently. The thought of diving in to this is a major deterrent for no apparent reason. I drag myself through the miseries of copywriting without nearly the same level of kicking and screaming, and it’s getting harder and harder to beat back money making initiatives to keep doing this.

    But. I. Want. To.

    So. On it goes.

    Friday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: Oldhand Coffee Shop

    Drinking: decaf latte

    Soundtrack: Vintage ’50s symphonic?


    Day 23

    08 Sep 2015

    Contains affiliate links. So. Two weeks off. I take more vacations than an American princess.

    If you ask me what I want to do, what I was made to do, even, it’s this. Writing. Writing stories. Creating. Creating this thing that is heart and music and flight and magic. Feeling and being and experiencing everything through my fingers and this screen. Jacking my veins to the machine and just letting it download everything.

    Or something like that. But instead, I slouch around all day with petty distractions. Marathoning the first two seasons of Under the Dome and alternating with the entire Vaughn catalog and Buffy after’verse comics. Also X-Men , random Netflix, old anime, frequent trips to Vancouver and online shopping. Also, I tried lifting again for like 10 minutes. It was not much of a thrill.

    I can’t get anything done when I’m alone, but I get distracted (let myself get distracted) whenever anyone else is around. I’ve dropped out of most of the world, definitely given the finger to adulthood, and for some reason, I still care too much what my freaking family think of me to really commit to just laying around being useless in their presence.

    Patterns. Disciplines. I thought I was so disciplined, but my track record of sticking with, well, anything is looking pretty weak. However.

    I’m not giving up. Thanks Brian K. Vaughn . Dystopia, politics and post-apocalyptic worlds duly absorbed. Between you and Whedon , I might even have a shot at writing a half-way decent feminist book. Maybe.

    No. All of that is bullshit. The real problem is that I’m afraid to full-dive for this next part. Don’t want to let my inner psycho out enough to write the type of twisted crazy that I know is waiting in Cole’s world. Or maybe I don’t want to let the outer darkness in.

    It was one thing to start relaxing into Cole’s icy reality, but she’s only a side effect of the heart of darkness that’s consuming her world. Serov’s a direct product, a willing participant. Christ be my lifeline, because I can’t get any further without diving, and I’m not willing to turn and go back.

    Friday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Jasmine tea

    Soundtrack: Ghost Ship’s Costly


    Day 22

    26 Aug 2015

    In typical diva fashion, having anyone else around or anything else to do is proving a major distraction. Thus proving what I want and what I want rarely cohere into a single want at any given time.

    I want to be a lazy consumer that splits time between sleeping and imbibing various media.

    I want to be fit and social, rocking the stage and investing in relationship.

    I want to be disciplined and successful, a hard worker that never quits.

    I want to learn, practice and perform music.

    I want to be a great (and successful!) writer, focused and productive, creative and artistic all at once.

    So my list of “I wants” is crippling me from ever achieving any of these goals.

    Funny thing is, I’m not actually good at identifying and expressing what I want. I’m a little better at figuring out what I absolutely need to do to survive and getting that taken care of.

    Writing Cole’s personality takes a cue from that. (Spoiler) She’s been shut down as an individual, and so she isn’t able to access ‘wants’.

    This is trademark Tower; programming people to be safe by erasing themselves, but it rarely works as completely as it did on Cole. She’s a model Tower worker. Except she’s not.

    Cadence survived, and Cadence carries all the personality, wants and desires that Cole lost, and she’s there to bug Cole about them. Constantly.

    Which is a start, but eventually Cole is going to have to learn to dream on her own.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: bedroom

    Drinking: Earl Gray


    Day 21

    25 Aug 2015

    This is starting to be exciting.

    I feel really good about the chapters written in Cole’s voice. The other chapters come harder, but it’s starting to be a lot of fun to slip into her world and feel through her.

    Intentionally worked out some stylistic rewrites/edits today to keep Cole’s voice consistent - portrayed in short, relatively simple sentences and language. Very choppy and broken up, but still indicative of her worldview.

    Her personality, needs, motivations are starting to emerge (to some extent, without my conscious participation!), and I feel like there could be a hint of art, or at least craftsmanship starting to come through to my lately-unschooled prose (lol).

    Maybe it’s a blessing that I’m not fully aware of all the things I should be doing. I’d get bogged down even more than I am already!

    It’s cool to see the story, world and characters taking shape, and easier to mould sections that have already been written than to push forward and uncover the parts that haven’t. I’m not entirely sure how to dive into the villains and other characters, probably because I’m not entirely confident in the plot and their roles or characterization. I should just get over it (tomorrow…?), since it seems like the story, characters and plot prefer to reveal themselves to me anyways, but it does feel daunting.

    Also, days seem too short. I write for a couple hours, and then intend to get back into it, but by then there’s something else that needs attention, or someone else, or just low-level distractions. If I could only focus…

    But as Cole is finding out, sometimes you have as much freedom as you let yourself have!

    Monday

    Start Time: 10:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: coffee & tonic on ice


    Day 20

    21 Aug 2015

    I can’t sleep (too much coffee?), and I’ve been writing lines in my head, so I may as well get them out. The world rotates a bit when I move, but that’s perfect.

    I’m going to write the trip through the darkness and the flying/falling dream that’s Cole’s first brush with the dream death. Ideally suited to the small hours of the night and silent darkness.

    Although, I’m really channeling emo for this… could be too much!

    Friday

    Start Time: 2:00 am

    Location: kitchen table


    Day 19

    19 Aug 2015

    Broke my winning pattern today; selling (more) furniture on Craigslist, and not getting started first thing really throws me off, apparently. Start the week strong and trail off towards the weekend seems to be the plan of choice.

    Despite that, I feel like I’m starting to really settle in to this and make progress. Cole is developing, the story is going off in weird directions, and everything is right in the(ir) world.

    The experience of exxploring and discovering places and things (and people) you didn’t expect is better than pretty much anything. Like some sort of VR game, but smoother, more tailored to you. I think it’s part of why people write fanfics, to spend time with beloved worlds and people.

    Not that I approve. The idea of someone writing fanfics about my world and my people is horrifying, lol. At least wait until after I’m dead!

    Also, this coffee mixed with tonic is brilliant! Worth the crowd and spending a week’s (freelance) pay!

    I’m worried about the length of my writing - I’ll hit 10K words by the end of the week (fingers crossed), which is more than 1/10 of the way if I follow the general industry guidelines (and I should…), and that’ll only be 5-ish chapters and hardly any real action yet!

    Although, with worldbuilding, establishing characters and all, it probably takes more text to set it all up than it does to write action. Maybe? Hopefully?

    I don’t feel in control of this thing at all, which on the balance may be a pretty good thing, lol.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 3:30 pm

    Location: Oldhand Coffee Shop

    Drinking: Coffee tonic (+ Skolebrod)

    Soundtrack: Epic Film Scores


    Day 18

    18 Aug 2015

    Trying to get serious about this now (although I’ve been trying for a while now, but…) with regular schedule and a greater amount of effort/time. Three hours solid & in a day is the record so far! Also about 2K words in 3 hours seems to be an average pace for first drafts.

    It’s hard not to immediately start in on rewrites of existing work when I look at it… so much opportunity (need!) to expand, layer, deepen.

    Cole snapped from an idea into a character for me last week, and that’s really providing the impetus to move forward now. I’m writing in first person present in her voice, which feels pretty good, as I get to track along with her and experience the story firsthand.

    However, I kind of feel it’s not very sustainable… I keep slipping into past tense and struggling with keeping verbs in the right form. It does lend a sense of immediacy, but I wonder if it will read as too self indulgent or juvenile?

    Also, I had been planning to put the ‘dreams’ in first person present and write the rest of it in third to set them apart, so I lose that angle… I think there will be third person (present? past?) sections where action goes on outside of Cole’s experience, although I feel like I’ve been told that breaks some sort of writing rule. Pretty sure I’ve seen other authors do it though.

    Still very distracted by the desire to start sharing this work too early and building a following (prima donna much?!), and also by the pressure to start back in on moving forward with life plans… training, work, moving to Scotland…

    Which is maybe good, since it pushes me to get a move on with this piece.

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 10:15 am

    Location: bedroom


    Day 17

    17 Aug 2015

    Contains affiliate links. I really want to get the other pieces moving. Set up a platform, start getting beta readers and fans, lol. Submit for peer review and get some feedback on the direction and tone. But I’m trying to gloss past actually writing the freakin’ thing. I need to accept that first drafts aren’t beautiful, or even that compelling and just get it all out on a page.

    Trying hard to shut down the part of me that wants to reengage with a career, start planning next steps and tracks to take… I want to do this, even when I don’t want to do this. I think.

    I may be overcomplicating things (including the plot and the characters!), but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself, so I guess I’ll just need to turn that into a strength.

    Watched The Maze Runner last night. Thinking that this may not be quite in the same vein as those dark dystopias (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games & Divergent series!) - I don’t want the death toll, and not sure I can generate the same degree of tension.

    I want to tell a story, build characters, but getting a tense plot with nonstop action and mind-bending twists, upping the ante continuously? How do they even do that?

    Maybe on the rewrites…

    Monday

    Start Time: 10:00 am

    Location: bedroom


    Day 16

    13 Aug 2015

    Just getting out more details based on the new direction.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 10:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 15

    12 Aug 2015

    Contains affiliate links. Reading Edgar Allen Poe to try to figure out how to write scary (creepy, eerie, I’d settle for any of those!)

    Not sure if I’m too detached, or if it’s just terrible writing, but I’m not getting the fear response I’d like for the ‘dream death’ sections. So far, not finding Poe as helpful as I’d hoped. His work is merely tedious, although a series of essays accompanying one of my reference books is helping unpack some layers for me.

    Looked into website domains, but .web apparently is not a real top level domain, and kaie.com, .ca etc. is already taken. Not sure when to try to start building a platform - sooner than later would be good, based on how much time/effort it takes to get things up to a reasonable level, but if there’s no quality or quantity, it won’t grow either… and it’s a drain of energy and resources that I should really be investing in the writing itself (no patience at all!)

    Found some good peer review and author sites; I’d like to give youwriteon.com a shot, but I know the feedback is going to kill me, and I’d like to polish up (or at least finish writing!) the first few chapters first.

    Part 2

    Funny how your brain keeps working along in the background. Reading Edgar Allen Poe to try and pick up some technique (yeah, probably not working), but it gave me this great angle for my protag.

    William Wilson got me thinking about multiple personalities/conscience in stories, and opened up this great voice and insight into Cole, where her personal name and history/memory, something destroyed by the conditioning of the Tower, emerges as a separate character, kind of an imaginary friend. That leaves Cole to act out the necessary drone-like perfect Tower citizen role, while still letting the protag. be interesting and rebellious. It gives a way to portray her character development through speaking style and add another level of salvation and freedom.

    Kind of wanted to open with a death dream for dramatic effect, but I was worried about leaving the protagonist a minimum of three chapters in… could be hard to connect when you’ve already tried to attach to two characters who are killed (shown or implied). Maybe damages reader’s trust?

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 6 & 7:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 14

    11 Aug 2015

    So apparently I’m getting in all my vacation at once before I start…?

    Just over a month’s hiatus to pack and get moved out of Vancouver to the Valley. My level of discipline is pathetic by any standard; I get worn out by selling things on Craigslist!

    Even after weeks of nothing much (lots of Netflix!), it was brutally hard to get back into this. How can there be stories boiling in me and yet the thought of opening the file to start typing makes me mildly nauseous? So bizarre…

    In other news, I’ve been trying to get set up as a freelancer, and wow, is that ever a pathetically low-paying enterprise! The writing is both boring and shockingly challenging, the transcription painfully low-paying - think $3 for an hour! - with demanding standards, and anything even remotely classed as ‘skilled’ unattainable without significant qualifications and experience.

    I have no intention of sinking hours into that enterprise, but I had hoped that it would provide better support with less effort, as I clearly cannot manage to write while holding down a more demanding job!

    Ah the life of an artist! (lol)

    Tuesday

    Start Time: 11:15 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Black mint tea


    Day 13

    27 Jun 2015

    So apparently the crippling fear that one has no skills nor talent to speak of is a spectre that haunts all writers. I’ll make a point of trying not to make that a subject of ongoing thought, as it doesn’t seem to be particularly productive.

    Starting to get more into the story, which is already taking a on a life of its own just 5 pages/1 chapter/2.5K words in. My character profiles are slipping and turning, and all my best intentions to write clearly and intentionally are fading into a swamp of decidedly purple prose.

    However, every time I reread my draft so far, all I do is expand on it. The editing is going to be a nightmare, but the story and characters are starting to take a hold of me.

    I’m starting to see it all; the cold, utilitarian insides of the tower, severely antiseptic, the shapeless uniforms designed to conceal form and dull interest, contrasted with the sturdier, more functional uniforms of inspector and guard.

    It’s turning much more sci-fi than I ever intended, advanced technology sprouting up where I had expected to find magic, but I can’t seem to get rid of it. I’m sure my heart will be cut out when we get to the editing stage, as I’m losing nearly all objectivity.

    I can feel it draining away, being pushed to the edges of my mind as the story and the world expand and take form. It feels more like discovery than creation.

    Perhaps all true creation does.

    Saturday

    Start Time: 1:30 am

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: earl gray


    Day 12

    26 Jun 2015

    Gave notice on my Vancouver rental suite yesterday and spent the day registering and sending in samples to freelance sites. My first 150 word article (?) was rejected for not being what the buyer wanted; my rating is 3/5. If he had accepted the article, I would have made less than $2. So yeah, not the most productive or fulfilling day.

    Starting to wonder if I have any objectivity regarding my own writing abilities; am I just deluded and self-satisfied with objectively inadequate skills?

    That’s enough emo for today. Going to churn out some content and hope I’m the next big thing…

    Friday

    Start Time: 1 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: tea


    Day 11

    24 Jun 2015

    Officially starting to tell people I’m moving in with my parents, staying unemployed and writing a novel. Encouraged that everyone acts so excited, and mildly horrified. It’s probably good to have the incentive to keep pushing forward, since everyone will keep quizzing me on the progress.

    Finally dived back in on that first chapter yesterday. I’m maybe a third of the way through refining the plot, and going a bit stir crazy. After dinner yesterday, everyone was just drifting around and it just happened. Over an hour of pushing, and probably would have kept going another half hour or more except for the distractions at home, so that’s encouraging. I really need to get more efficient at this!

    I’ll revise and expand today, but I’m sure the writing quality wasn’t stellar. Overly wordy and dense with a drastic excess of adjectives and adverbs in a sophomoric attempt to be descriptive and atmospheric.

    So pretty much my usual…

    Also getting suspicious that my first-book plot is more like a few books worth of plot… but possibly that’s where the editor refining bit comes in.

    Seems tragic to be trimming down, when all I think about right now are things to add, expand and flesh out. Considering writing and releasing character backstories as short stories/teasers so as to have something to post online to drum up interest without releasing the full novel manuscript (and then having to admit how low my fanbase is!) …but of course, that’s more distraction from the core goal of producing an interesting story.

    Wednesday

    Start Time: 2:30 pm

    Location: Oldhand

    Drinking: Peppermint Iced Tea

    Soundtrack: soft alt


    Day 9

    22 Jun 2015

    Contains affiliate links. Not the earliest start ever, but here we go. Monday. A fresh start. A new challenge to suck it up and be productive.

    Flipped through the Agents section of the 2015 Writer’s Market guide; daunting to say the least.

    Which is a bit ridiculous, since I’m quite familiar with the corporate world and the hostile language used to weed out the pretenders in that arena. Seemed that attending writers’ conferences to meet agents was a requirement for the better agents. Blech. I think that would be a great way for me to waste money and feel inadequate about my lack of assertiveness. Will likely go the self publishing route before taking that step, but who knows?

    Part 2

    Doing some cleanup on the computer; copy content to Google Drive using Google docs, clean up plot and character profiles, maybe settle on some names?

    Research: word counts. I think my target is 65-95K, lower is better for YA, but sf/fantasy trends on the higher range.

    Since my plot alone is 4K+ right now (at about 5 hours of work), it might be reasonable to assume that 1hr = 1,000 words of raw content, so 65-95 hours to write the thing?

    Not sure how to average in the proofreading, rewriting, editing. .5x? 3x? 5x? At 5x, that looks like about 400 to 575 hours until I’m ready to hit the query stage. Assuming an average of 3 hours per weekday (15hrsx week) that’s 38 weeks or roughly 10 months.

    In other words, a year wouldn’t be unlikely. Assuming it takes another year of concentrated effort to get through the publishing process, and a third year to get another story far enough along for an advance, initial contract should be minimum $150K and closer to $300K? Advances range from millions (yes please!) down to the $3K range (or negative sums for the self publishing route!)

    If the first time author’s book is seen as a potential bestseller, $500K seems to be the low end of the target. However, the pressure to perform is high; if the book doesn’t make up and exceed targets, you’re going to be stuck self-publishing or getting out of the game…

    Monday

    Start Time: 11:00 am & 2:00 pm

    Location: Abbotsford Public Library Garden & couch/living room

    Soundtrack: Epic Film Scores


    Day 8

    18 Jun 2015

    I need a villain.

    There’s a mystical evil force, a shadowy government conspiracy, a charismatic and twisted rebel leader and a crappy middle management boss…

    Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve never written a villain, well or otherwise. Kinda afraid of going there, really. The heart of darkness and all that.

    Where can I bury a criminal mastermind in the cast? Are they there masquerading as good or neutral from the start? Or hiding to be revealed in glimpses or just near the end?

    The perfect villain is almost as key as the hero, maybe even more so. Sauron. Voldemort. Darth Vader.

    Crap, pretty much no idea where to start.

    …In other news, I’m taking steps to disengage from Vancouver and enter self-imposed exile in Abbotsford (the small, uncool city in the region) to save money and fund this enterprise.

    Thursday

    Start Time: 11:30 pm

    Location: couch/living room


    Day 7

    16 Jun 2015

    33 acres brewing Contains affiliate links. Making some progress on names; I think all the gifted need a ‘star’ name, as well as a common name from birth, heritage, alias etc.

    Some good things coming out of the profiles; physical appearance reflecting some meaning, impacting plot more than I expected. It’s hard to think critically about these things; it kind of feels like information aabout plot and characters emerges from somewhere else, which makes it weird to refine, and I’ve never been great at making choices.

    So many variables!

    But I’m pleased with the progress overall. Not getting as much done in my days as I expected or hoped for, but not terrible either. Getting awfully close to needing to lay down some actual writing and not just scoping out details, which is building anticipation and also suppressed terror.

    Fun issue; my bluetooth keyboard likes to repeat characters regularly, which is going to make for significant rewrites.

    I think my casual lifestyle is agreeing with me though. I’m starting to look more like a healthy person, despite my dissipated lifestyle!

    Part 2

    Not sure I’ll make it to the third time today. Watched Home and realized once again the iimportance of a good, solid story and likeable characters. It really uses crutches to prop itself up: low, slapstick comedy, absurd trademark speech and characterization, tearjerker death/abandonment issues with no setup and little depth. It was kind of boring, unengaging, trying too hard and without tension.

    I’m gonna need to find someonne to push me on the characterization and plot. It seems kind of crazy to have to do all that before even getting an editor, though. I guess you need to have a story established far enough that it stands out from the crowd, but sheesh.

    It’s tempting to think I can put together a really compelling pitch and bring in an editor early, but on the other hand, don’t want to burn through all the good agents by taking a chance on an incomplete manuscript…

    Ah the life of a creative; overwhelming hubris and crushing inadequacy~~

    In other news, still tiptoeing around diving into the actual writing of this thing. I think that’s more of an at-home, big(ger) chunk of time endeavor, but I could just be being a diva about it too…

    Guess I’ll keep building out character profiles until the stars align.

    Tuesday

    Start time: 12, 1 & 5:00 pm

    Location: 33 Acres Brewing, Elysian Coffee & The Buzz Cafe and Espresso Bar at Harrison Gallery

    Drinking: 33 Acres taster: Life, Sunshine, Euphoria and Fervor (Life is bitterest, no surprise. Shoulda tried Nirvana), Nitro Cold Brew & Genmaicha

    Soundtrack: Retro Soft Rock/Pop? Crosby, Stills & Nash album & Vintage Folk? I think I heard some Gordon Lightfoot


    Day 6

    15 Jun 2015

    Time to get serious. Vacation is over! (-ish) now into the fourth week of freedom(?)

    I seeem to currently have a creativity cap of about an hour, but I’m going to need to find aa way to disengage, and then dive in again at least a few times each day in order to make this at all viable. Should be doable, considering there are a number of other projects to work on, from playing music and learning instruments to launching a business, certifying on some software, even just getting my EI application in and picking up some freelance gigs. Gotta pay those bills or move home, stat!

    Although, getting started in the morning may have been a fluke… Planned CrossFit session turned out to be a free day, so taking advantage of the change of plan.

    Amusingly (predictably…) my nice line by line point form plot outline turned into long form paragraph mashups without my noticing sometime in the last week.

    Now I’ll probably have to clean up with a rewrite before I’ve even taken a stab at a first chapter…

    Let’s see if I have any creativity to spare before noon!

    Part 2

    New record, two in one day. Did a very little bit of research on the publishing process, most of which supports what I already knew. No real money to be had in Canadian publishing (market the size of California’s). Manuscripts should be not only complete, but well rewritten, edited and polished prior to submission. I’m gonna have to commit to this thing, and not just for a little while, in order to make it work. No real connections, no lauded background, and a bit of childhood praise to run on. Good thing my fatal flaw is pride.

    Made it to the end of the plot outline, kind of. Reviewing what I’ve got so far, I think it could go to a sequel or trilogy at least, with a kind of soft resolution/off to the next stagee of training ending to the first novel. But I need to do some research on what apprropriate/preferred book lengths are for my genre and age group (and pin those down…. and figure out how much I actually can write/will write place against plot pointss…yikes) - and then I need to revisit that plot, chart it step by step against tensionn and reveals, maybe get some advice on what to include? And of course, at some point I’ve got to sit down and start actually writing the stupid thing. Should also plot out an alternate ending in case it doesn’t get picked up for continuation. In the meantime, I’m gonna take a beat to work on some character profiles, which at this point is an element I’m not too confident about.

    Part 3

    Just breaking records today; heading towards a three hour peak!

    Definitely feeling like I need to get serious; I spent a very brief amount of time looking at bank accounts, applying for EI, browsing contract, temp and part time gigs as well as some corporate stuff.

    Verdict: it’s easy to spend money and hard to make it.

    I’m having trouble with the character profiles. Possibly because I don’t have a history of liking people much?

    Can’t even decide on a name. Research project for some other time, I think.

    Other writing-related projects; get this up on a blog, map out all necessary character names, split out my warmup notes from plot from chapter summaries from character profiles from notes and create backups in another program besides Notes in case of program failure.

    Things I should get done in my downtime from creative production, which somehow slips by at a rate roughly four times that of office work.

    Astounding, that.

    Monday

    Start time: 9:30 am, 5:30 & 10:30 pm

    Location: Matchstick Coffee Brewers & Our Town Cafe, Kingsway

    Drinking: Celinga roast, Bancha & Cranberry Apple Iced Tea (+ gluten free coconut key lime bar) & Los Sietos Mezcal

    Soundtrack: vintage, mostly rockabilly


    Day 5

    11 Jun 2015

    So. 28.

    Coming up to the end of the third week of being free (unemployed…) and it’s about time for the vacation to end. If I can’t start producing next week, I need to start hunting for a ‘real’ job.

    Scared by all possibilities; pursuing my dreams (is this even my dream? Do I have dreams? Ironic, considering the topic of this novel), going back to the grind and discrimination of the corporate world, scraping by with part time, starting my own ventures, moving back home… still too much out there.

    Which means break it down and do small, short things. Like making it out to a coffee shop to write for an hour or two. Or rather, strategize plot. Not sure when the last time I actually wrote was. Not sure if I can bring any skill to it, or if it will all remain pathetically awkward and juvenile.

    While the fame and fortune (mostly fortune) of being the next Stephenie Meyer is appealing, my pride needs to produce at a higher level of skill. But fear isn’t worth putting this off for any longer. I’ve been running long enough, and I don’t think I need to wait until I’m 50 to create.

    Although I could be wrong; I certainly thought I was ready at 20, and that didn’t go anywhere at all… I’ll probably cave to the pressure to succeed based on what I think everyone else cares about. But until I can’t take it anymore, I’m gonna keep playing novelist.

    Went through a stack of kids and YA fiction this week and wrote down all agents and editors listed in the acknowledgements and author’s notes sections. Wonder how much I have to have together before I can/should start chasing down the business side of this venture? Clearly more than I have now, but it’d be nice to know if I needed to be prepared for months to years without knowing…

    Monday

    Start time: 11:30 am

    Location: Oldhand Coffee Shop

    Drinking: Macchiato (+Skolbrod)

    Soundtrack: Can’t tell; it’s almost lunch time and the shop is packed. Buzz is better than a quiet room with limited conversation…


    Day 4

    08 Jun 2015

    Oldhand Coffee Abbotsford

    So first week: 3 days of writing, maximum of two hours in a sitting.

    Not great, but not terrible for being half on vacation.

    However, hours of doing nothing (Netflix…) don’t seem to be contributing to great creativity and midnight productivity as I had first assumed. Must find some other way of spending my days that doesn’t involve creativity or occupying my brain too greatly.

    Solution: went out of town for the week to my parent’s place.

    Pros: people to talk to all (/most of the) day, free food and entertainment, cats, air conditioning, no screaming, thumping children, less ability to lay around watching tv all day.

    Cons: Abbotsford, full days with little time to be productive, +5 degrees heat or more.

    They’ve offered to let me move home to conserve funds while I play author. Time to find out if I can survive that life, or if it’s back to the desk for me.

    Monday

    Start time: 3:00 pm

    Location: Oldhand Coffee Shop

    Drinking: Cortado (& free (!) blueberry earl gray scone!! Thanks guys :) )

    Soundtrack: Soundtrack 70s/80s poprock


    Day 3

    03 Jun 2015

    This journaling as a warm up thing seems to be working for me, if only because I’m too stubborn to ruin my record. That’ll probably fade off eventually.

    More success today; watched tv/read webcomics for less than half the day (more like a third…), ate some vegetables, cooked real food, dabbled in business planning like a productive(ish) member of society. Thought (briefly) about working part time. Took a quick run.

    I need to ramp up to more than a two hour daily writing cap in order to get anywhere, though. I don’t think I have 8-10 hours of creativity or attention to detail in me, but I should be able to eke out a solid 4-6 eventually… (right? right??!)

    That translates to about two chapters worth of synopsis, or a page or two of actual solid writing (assuming I can still do that).

    Bonus points; yesterday I had a bath after working on chapter-by-chapter synopsis, rallied, and managed to point-form plot structure my way through maybe the first quarter to third of the novel. - that’s 20ish chapters! This could work after all!

    It’s been a while since I really put much time into researching the publishing world, but last I heard, novelists these days tend to submit the plot and a writing sample to agents/editors rather than sending the whole manuscript. I wonder if sending a CD/USB has gone into vogue yet, or if it’s still all paper copy? That seems archaic and wasteful, but whatever…

    I’ve considered self-publishing or serially publishing too, but I think it takes longer to see profit, and the quality suffers dramatically…

    Wednesday

    Start time: 11:20 pm

    Location: couch/living room

    Drinking: Balvenie


    Day 2

    02 Jun 2015

    I’m still exploring my new lifestyle. It feels like hitting reset, and not entirely in a good way. More of a “I kind of hope this file was saved recently and can be at least partially recovered, assuming I decide to go back to it” sort of way.

    Which is to say, I didn’t trust my discovery yesterday that writing must be done outside the house and/or I don’t want to pay for writing space at this stage of the game. Thus, I spent the last 12+ hours watching TV and thinking about the possibility of going to the gym/going for a walk/moving off the couch/writing.

    At 9 I finally rolled off the couch for a run. Now here I am, with the laptop open and most, if not all distractions temporarily silenced. Still panicking about the state of my life. Still bizarrely drawn to the idea of giving life to this story.

    I don’t seem to have the ability to sketch out a plot in short form, but I did develop a synopsis of the first two chapters. This could take a while to build out the whole story. And I’m not too confident that I can frame up the whole thing and then go back and write to my own script.

    Experience would seem to say that I’ll choose a different direction every time I dive in… But it’s a step forward from writing blind and getting lost somewhere in the first third of a story. And I feel like the concepts and structure are fairly solid right now.

    Considering prologuing or alternating each chapter with a ‘death by dream’ for dramatic effect, at least for the first portion of the book. Too much? Could be good in a thriller/horror/mystery setup where I tease out the protag’s involvement.

    It’s been 10 minutes. Time to review/revise (‘cause I can’t help it) and get another couple chapters plotted out. General notes page is still filling out with concepts and conceits, albeit a bit slower now. Should (hopefully!) start to gel soon…

    Tuesday

    Start time: 10:00 pm

    Location: armchair/living room

    Drinking: Laphroaig 10yr with a dash of Islay spring water

    Soundtrack: dishwasher and unidentified electronic buzz. The upstairs folks are unusually silent; expect intermittent thumps, shrieks and heavy objects dragging


    Day 1

    01 Jun 2015

    I’ve been ‘free’ from my corporate analyst job for exactly one week.

    I turn 28 in a week tomorrow.

    Mild panic fizzes through my dreams and churns while I’m awake, motivating me to do exactly nothing. I could go get a high-powered, highly paid corporate job. The thought fills me with dread.

    I could move overseas; I’ve wanted to get back to Scotland ever since I visited in university. But I’d still have to work the dreaded office job.

    I love the prestige, the money, the status of being a talented working professional. I hate the hours at a desk, the dress code, the meaninglessness of everything you produce, and the drama with which all workers fill their experience as a form of punishtainment.

    So I’m going back to the beginning. I was a writer as a teen. A melodramatic, self-absorbed, clueless writer, but everyone has an awkward phase. Now I’m equal parts hopeful that I can find my way back to the unstable artist inside and terrified that I’ve let the talent decay to nothing, or worse that there never was anything there to begin with.

    I know there are precious few authors that are self-supporting as novelists, and for whatever reason, that’s the only type of writer I’d ever consider being. Possibly because the stress of my prima-donna writing style and artistic obsessiveness is too much to dive in and out of business or academic writing. Probably mostly because I hate criticism, constructive or otherwise.

    Also: I learned today that I have no capacity whatsoever to write at home. Ironic, since I hated going to the office everyday, but I spent two hours today walking in search of somewhere to write, after three pretending to be just about to sit down and write (while watching TV, responding to emails, making tea and handling general correspondence….)

    So this may turn into a bit of travelogue and drinker’s diary… Note: the Multiweizen was pretty good. Black Light tastes like ash, in a pleasant, heavy way. Roughly 6oz in, I’m just starting to feel the pleasantly floaty buzz. Watch the incoherence mount!

    I’ve never dated. Hardly ever even come close. There are lots of reasons and no reason why. I wonder if I can write a good romance? Maybe an entirely imaginary romance is superior to a realistic one? I’ll proceed on that assumption for my own peace of mind.

    I feel like romance is a fundamental part of life and thus a necessary component in nearly all stories. I think I’ll write YA novels. When I was a teen, I wanted to write children’s books; now my characters are really 20-something, but I think I can shove them back to their teens - the movies do it all the time, after all.

    It might be a problem that all my characters track along with me. I’ve been accused of writing protagonists as myself in the past. I’m going to try not to this time, but of course you can only write perspectives that you can imagine.

    I made a point of going out to experience life, meet people, try to understand. I guess now I’ll find out if I’ve captured my world believably, or at least in an interestingly warped way.

    Today is a planning day. It’s tempting to just jump into the story and start writing, letting the characters and world lead me, but I’ve never reached the end of a story that way.

    This story is a bit different. It’s set in Vancouver, and has elements of sci-fi, fantasy (maybe?), and horror, or at least thriller. It was very clearly a fantasy romance (or paranormal romance?) originally, but I’m wondering if that will still crop up, at least the same way.

    On the one hand, it seems to sell right now. On the other, I seem to get more feminist every year. I may be at risk of finding answers through my own writing. I’m not sure I care.

    Also, either this keyboard is not the best shape for me, or the 12oz of beer is starting to catch up to my typing.

    Not a fan of the No Brainer pre-prohibition style. Which means I’d better down it next to get it out of the way.

    Anyways, I’ve got a page or so of world-building notes around a sort of post-apocalyptic/alternate world Vancouver where dreams take on form in order to destroy dreamers. The idea was initially a bit Godzillaesque; nightmare monsters stalk and kill people. They emerge from the mists, fogs, shorelines, anything borderline really. Think giant spiders. A hero swoops in with the ability to cut down these monsters, and the protag falls in love.

    Pretty cut and dried. I started fiddling with some light and dark fairies, abandoned children at local monuments, trying to get it to tie in to an idea I’ve had for a while about an X-Man style superhero team where every member is a mythical/fairytale creature that transforms. No idea if it’ll go there or not now.

    On the one hand, I don’t think the tone matches. Kind of like the original The Vampire Diaries novels when it jumps the shark and starts going to other worlds (dimensions?) and Japanese monsters attack?

    On the other, I have no idea who the antagonist is or where the plot goes without these items. I’m looking at something more nebulous (horroresque?) now… like every dream, good or bad, has the ability to take form, warp and drive the dreamer to madness and death. Anything that might contribute to a dream (sleeping, daydream, ambition etc.)

    So society is crippled, all art, music, architecture, opportunity, fantasy is outlawed and human lives are regimented in order to try to keep people from dreaming. Childhood and adolescence is likewise abolished.

    Of course, human beings being as they are, a fatalistic underground movement simmers.

    It’s been nearly an hour and I’m nearly through my beer. It’s time to go take a stab at roughing out the plot. Wish me luck!

    Local shout-out: Brassneck at 5th&Main has been a nice, quiet location. Interesting beer and nice snacks. On the expensive side for a poor writer; spent close to $20. The Viognier Changeling is excellent, for those of you in the area. Hmm… Coincidence?

    Monday

    Start time: 2:15 pm

    Location: Brassneck Brewery

    Drinking: 4-flight taster (No Brainer pre-prohibition style corn lager, Multiweizen five grain weisse beer, viognier’s changeling sour fruit beer with viognier grape must, black light black alt beer) and Maui beef jerky

    Soundtrack: vintage prohibition instrumental? Sounds like it’s alternating between smooth Hawaiian slide guitars and horns, and the Sleeping Beauty soundtrack.


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