beginnings

It was gorgeous writing weather the whole long weekend, and I did nothing else, except sleeping a lot too. I mean, what else can you do when it’s raining non-stop? The muse decided that she wanted to work on “Beginnings” – the short story collection that’s haunting me for months. It has grown to over 5000 words by now, and it’s nowhere close to being done. Which brings me back to my conundrum of being my own designer too. It will need a cover sometime soon. Trying to marry Sci-Fi with Romance with Adventure is nothing but a headache. It either turns out horribly cheesy, or too cold. And I don’t like floating heads. Sometimes I’m tempted to make the covers black and just add glowing type. I eventually did register at Shutterstock, although I haven’t purchased any pictures yet. Trying to find pretty free stuff was too much of a bother in the end.

Speaking of free stuff, I finally made a chart to track the downloads of the short stories. I probably should have done this sooner, but as I never expected to get more than 5 downloads a piece, I didn’t bother. The numbers boggle my poor mind. 210 for the Christmas Story, and 204 for Summer Dreamin’ – really? Two-hundred people were interested in reading stuff I wrote? Fluffy (1) stuff even? This feels very, very surreal.

To find an end to my rambling, I leave you with an excerpt of “Beginnings” – mostly because I still giggle at Adelie and her opinion that the floor needed a hug.

“You should be in bed.” Adelie looked like death. Her usually rosy-pale skin had an ashen undertone and her eyes were glassy. She had wrapped a scarf up to her nose, but couldn’t hide the fact that she was shivering. “Baroness, you should go home and to bed. You are ill.” Nate watched her anxiously over the cafeteria table. She made a dismissive gesture.
“No really, it’s okay. I can’t miss Professor Alvarez’s class.” Just to demonstrate that she was alright, she stood up to return her tray. Only that she collapsed right after she got up.
“Holy hell, Adelie!” Nate jumped up so fast his chair tipped over and crashed to the floor. He didn’t bother. She was on her back, eyes open, and a weak smile on her lips as she recognised him. “The floor needed a hug.”
“That’s enough. To bed with you. Now.”

(1) I probably should also stop dismissing fluffy stuff as, well, fluffy. Apparently people want to read that. Or at least download it.

the broken steam engine

I’m in many ways a little steam engine, mainly in that I work best when under pressure. Remove the pressure, and pfffffft, the engine comes to a stuttering halt. Now that the pressure of the Meeting of Doom is removed, I’m in a weird state of drifting. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas of what to do (1) but I lack the energy of doing anything. I sleep a lot. I meet old friends for cupcakes and tea and chat myself hoarse over four hours. I go biking in the rain. And there’s no point in being upset about this lack of focus, even though my muse is itchy and jumpy and wants me to return to the keyboard. The mantra of being kind to myself through April worked well, and yet, I also have to grant myself a time to recover. Regroup. It’s not like I have a friggin’ deadline on my personal projects as well, thank heavens! (2) Thanks to a public holiday I’ve three days off work, and as the weather is rainy and cold, it’s perfect for snuggling up on the sofa, recharging the creative batteries.

Here are a few pictures of pretty things I’ve seen this week and during the Meeting:

collage_april27_may1

Things I hope I’ve energy to tackle soon-ish:

  • Rework that Upcoming Publications site up there…
  • My author page needs work too.
  • I was asked to list stories in order of the in-universe-timeline, so I’ll make a page for that too.
  • Write and compile the cadet stories collection.
  • Come up with a marketing plan *ugh*

And what are you up to?

(1) As a person with a multitude of interests I’m in a perpetual state of “I should do this…” than anything else…
(2) Despite the fact that I want to finish the first Apples book this year nothing will happen if I don’t.

the tale of a survivor

It’s over. We’ve gone and rocked the Meeting of Doom, which – unlike last year – went down smoothly and without a major hitch. (1) The hotel was beautiful, the food oh-so-yummy and everyone was happy. I slept 11,5 hours last night… Now I’m really hoping for things to quiet down. It would be the first time since November 2013 for the team to have a chance to take a breather, fall back and re-group. And boy, do we need it.

I’m looking forward to a short week thanks to a public holiday on Friday, and lots of overtime that needs to be diminished. Of course, the weather is about to turn nasty now. I don’t care. I might take the bike despite the rain, because I want to be flexible. And there’s always Rule #9 anyway…

(1) There are always small hiccups, it’s impossible to do it without them.

forget the numbers, enjoy life

I have to remind myself repeatedly that life is not about performance. It’s not about how many words you’ve written, how many miles you biked or how many crunches you managed. But I’m pretty good in thinking it is. I haven’t failed myself just because I didn’t write, took the bus or skipped the workout. Sometimes you have to stop and simply admire the morning sun shining through blooming bushes on a cold morning.

IMG_1688

It’s okay to not race yourself just because you happen to sit on a bike. Take it easy. Cruise. Enjoy life. Especially when you feel like someone has put you on a treadmill at the day job and the thing’s getting faster and faster.

IMG_1738

So my plan for next week, when the treadmill is likely do go even faster: Enjoy life. I can worry about weight gain, work outs, average speed and written words in two weeks, when the craziness is over. The reward in form of a pretty blue bike is waiting…

new ride

I think I need to put bike shops on the list of stores I’m not allowed to enter – right next to book and home decor stores. It has the potential of getting a quite pricey experience. But you see, as I was window shopping with a very good friend yesterday, I fell in love. Badly. This is what caught my eye:

IMG_1705

It’s an Electra (1) Loft. It has everything I like: classic frame and a great colour. Oh boy, the colour is even better in real life, a gorgeous teal. I requested a test ride, against better knowledge. Of course, it delivered – it’s a beautiful, quick and nimble ride. Also one to climb up a steep hill or two. Which is something the Townie is absolutely not made for.

IMG_1712

I didn’t even think. I was in heart-shaped eyes bike dreamland, and I knew if I wouldn’t buy it now, the chances that I’d find another frame-colour-speed-match were slim. I bought it. Right then and there. But of course, having already other plans for the evening, I couldn’t take it with me. So back to town it was today, to pick it up. Unlike yesterday, the weather was wet and cold, and I really didn’t feel like getting drenched on the way home – so we had a little adventure: Riding the train with a bike. Thank goodness it wasn’t too full.

IMG_1722

The Townie is already a head-turner and comment-enabler, with it’s unusual frame. The Loft certainly even more so. We were slowly making our way across the cathedral market as a lady from one of the flower stalls exclaimed (2) “What a beautiful bike!” and even called her colleagues over to show them, and wanted to know where I bought it.

Of course, now I can shop for a new lock, new reflectors and a set of lights and other things to make it really “mine”, but that’s the fun part, isn’t it? Finally I have an excuse to buy a new bright LED light… *heads to the big river of things*

(1) Coincidentally my favourite bike company. I still want one of their candy coloured cruisers.
(2) Really. She was over the moon. It was quite cute.

the story bible

IMG_1699

This is a very important folder, even though it looks quite inconspicuous – it’s where I try to keep track and develop the Apples universe. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds, as usually I don’t bother to scribble things down when I write. A habit I probably should develop, because going through 200 pages noting every name is tedious. So this thing isn’t half as full as I wish it would be. Let’s take a peek inside, shall we?

IMG_1689

This is what you see when you open it. I kept the quote from an earlier life of the folder as a planner, because I like it. And I just realised I missed an ‘s’ there… -.-

The first four tabs, containing the most important things: the main cast, the gaggle of side characters, the  antagonists and politics.

IMG_1691

A glimpse of the other tabs, the not so important ones planning wise, but writing wise indespensable, because that’s where I look things up. My own little encyclopaedia, so to speak:

IMG_1693

Like floor plans, that once got sketched down on a sticky-note (now not sticky anymore, hence the washi tape):

IMG_1695

Or names of things and people:

IMG_1694

But this here is the heart and soul, the section of the main characters:

IMG_1696

Nothing irks me more than a screwed up continuity – something I never notice in movies, but always in books. So that’s why I keep a handy reference chart on how a character looks like. This here is Adelie, the spunky baroness:

IMG_1697

But  a character is so much more than how they look l something I can’t do on the drawing board… I have to write them and plunge them into situations to see how they react. This here is just one page of many that describe who she is, what she likes and what she doesn’t like, and what her relationships to other characters are.

IMG_1698

I hope you enjoyed that little peek behind the scenes of writing. How do you keep track of your story world, if you have one? Please share in the comments, I find this process so fascinating, I’d love to hear from others.

plotting progress!

Guess what, after three days of doing nothing (1) my brain kicks back into story mode and comes up with solutions for all my plotting problems. Just like that *snap* – not that I’m complaining. Only that in the process the muse and I split what was supposed to be one book up into three. (2) Which makes the grand total now five books that linger in my brain… I’m going to end up with a 20 books spanning series, if I’m not careful. *rolls eyes* Which isn’t bad per se, I just don’t really have time to write even one book. At least this time I didn’t make the mistake and accidentally delegated most written parts into later books. ^____^

Plan for the rest of the month now: Making sense of Book One and trying to not turn it into a doorstopper (3). Onwards and upwards.

(1) That and watching old Magnum episodes…
(2) Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
(3) I’m not good in keeping things short, I’m really not… this might be a quite futile endeavour.

dropped off the face of the earth… again

Well, this is bound to happen, if you write things with space ships in it, doesn’t it? Truth to be told though, life took over again, and there wasn’t enough time for the blog. So, what happened? The activity tracker happened, and aforementioned frustration with my writing. Oh, and I deleted close 10.000 words from the Apples. On purpose. Soooo…

What’s up for April?
– Surviving the Meeting of Doom, scheduled for the 24th – 25th
– Finish a cute little short story I started
– Finish plotting the Apples

Sometimes the most important thing is to be gentle to yourself. Although I’m itching to get the Apples back to 65.000 words, I know that April is not the month to do it. It’s probably not even the right month to try an write the short story, but I can’t allow myself to stop writing, otherwise May will be really hard. Like all the other muscles in my body, the writing muscle needs it’s daily workout.

Speaking of workout, this is the other reason I wasn’t around that much. The activity tracker showed me how much I’m actually sitting every day, and oh my lord, this was not a fun thing to see. So I ditched the writing after work in favour of doing something for my body. To the effect that this couch potato here has to admit that moving and working out is actually fun. (1) But a day only has so many hours, and I’m still struggling with doing everything I want to do without burning out. I realised, if I wanted to fit writing back in, I had to get up earlier. So I did, last week, and scibbled fluff into my notebook. (2) This week I plan to rework Chapter 1 into something more realistic or fill other plot holes. Right now the plot is more or less swiss cheese… *sigh*

How are you and your projects going? Any successes? Any losses? Are you stuck too? Let’s get unstuck together!

(1) Yeah, I don’t recognise myself either…
(2) Quite helpful fluff – sometimes it pays to just let your characters talk to each other, going in circles, revealing things, without the intention that it has to advance any sort of plot.

writing frustrations

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 11.22.41

This is the chapter word count of the Apples of Eden, and the source of great frustration on my part. (1) Because everything that is green and well over the 5000 word mark is essentially fluff. And with that I mean that the happenings there push the relationship between my characters forward, but not the story. I argue with myself that the romance plot in a romantic story is equally important as the rest, but I can’t deny that I spent way, way, waaaaaay too much time tinkering and adjusting and rewriting those few scenes over and over again, instead of advancing the rest of the book. NOT helping.

So. Right now I’m very unhappy with myself and my discipline. So unhappy that I want to dump the whole thing and start afresh. I started with the parking lot of redundant scenes, to see what my netto word count actually is – I deleted almost 10.000 words… *sigh* But now I know where I truly stand. (2) As slashing and burning and stomping around like Godzilla isn’t helping any more than adding more fluff, I’m assigning myself back to the drawing board. Work out those other chapters. Develop the rest of the cast into fully fleshed out characters with their own story. Build a solid foundation. Only write fluff into the notebook. Train the writing muscle with writing that adorable short story about two scientists sitting on a deserted rock on an alien planet. I’m essentially forbidding myself to even look at the Apples file. Let’s see how this is going to work out, but sometimes you need distance from your work to see the bigger picture. Onwards and upwards… *hides the hedge cutters and the gasoline*

(1) I’m using Storyist to write, which is a wonderful piece of software, available for Mac OSX and iOS. The view you see here is the outline view, with colours assigned by me.

(2) At the edge of reason, ready to dive into the abyss of insanity, that’s where I stand… hahahahaha!

(Self-)Organization for Creative People: A Month with a Bullet Journal

self-organization

I tried bullet journaling over the course of February, because I wanted to know if it would work for me and my all over the place brain. I’m happy to report back: It does. It actually works so well, that I nearly ditched my other self-made planner.

After seeing all the pretty pictures on Pinterest, I was tempted to make it pretty, of course, but those attempts naturally fell to the wayside as “real life” took over. I also used one of my many pharma merchandise notebooks to not be tempted to make it too beautiful, but to play around and try different things and formats. Tricking my inner perfectionist into not getting into the way – that worked by the way. I absolutely love the possibility to adapt as you go, because I can add things I need from day to day, and drop others. The index thing is also a glorious idea. The biggest benefit is of course not feeling like a headless chicken anymore. The other is, that I began taking little notes how the day was, what I did and how I was feeling – like a bullet pointed diary. I used to write a real, proper diary (not a blog) when I was a teenager, and filled pages and pages with overly emotional dribble… I still have them, and they’re hilarious to read. And I always felt sad that this habit dropped out of my life, but of course – life isn’t as confusing, unbearable and dramatic as it feels like for a 15 years old. And digital just doesn’t cut it. It’s nice to be able to flip through pages and see – ah yeah, I did this and this then. So I’m happy that I found a way to incorporate that into my life again.

For March I got myself a “pretty” notebook, as I decided to stick with this method and I want to see where I can take it. I also learned a very important thing about myself: If I don’t put a checkbox in front of it and monitor its progress, it’s not going to happen. That goes for basic things like drinking enough and eating proper meals (oh yes!) as well as bigger projects, like writing or home improvement tasks. It’s bonkers, but apparently that’s how I tick. *sigh*