the venues of meadow junction – the marmoset

It just came to me that Meadow Junction has a pretty interesting offering on restaurants, diners and nightclubs for such a small town attached to an airbase. My next thought was: How would their logos look like? And why don’t you design them for reals? Sometimes I listen to my stupid ideas…

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Because my brain is stuck in a dark, swingy night club at the moment, I did the logo of The Marmoset first. The monkey looks like a disgruntled Yoda, but oh well… for a quick scribble, this is okay.

the state of things

Despite my best intentions, “Beginnings” is turning into a book. The stories are much more connected than I had planned, there’s suddenly a handful of side-characters and sub-plots, and all of this leads to much more words. Even after cleaning up some discarded stories, I’m still knocking heavily at the 20.000 words door. Novella territory. And I’m not even sure if this enough… “New Cat in Town” could very well hit 4000 or more, “Sick Adelie” could get 3000 words strong, the “Simulator” isn’t even started yet… I hope this rollercoaster stops before I’m at 50.000 words. ūüėČ

The usual sneak peek to keep you all excited, in all its unedited glory – a snippet of “Drunken Nights of Debauchery”:

“I guess that’s it. Thank you for everything. Your care, your shower, the breakfast…” Again his expression was shadowed with mortification. He stood in front of her, pushing his hands into his pockets and stared at her with burning blue eyes.
“Do you feel better?” Her voice was brittle.
“Yes, thanks to your pan wielding prowess, I do.” He took a step closer, and cleared his throat. “It might be a step too far, but… I like spending time with you. I’d like to spend more time with you, in a less accidental fashion.”
Adelie fought hard and managed to suppress a smile, instead she crossed her arms in front of her chest and raised a questioning eyebrow. “Are you trying to ask for my number?”
Relief softened his anxious features. “Uh, I guess?” He rubbed his neck, flashing her an impish smile. “If I had it, I wouldn’t need to do something stupid in order for you to save me.”

a week of 100%

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This week was an exercise in discipline. I not only wanted to make my daily word count of (measly) 180 words, but also reach the 100% on my activity tracker every day. As you can see, I made it. The words were fairly easy and done first thing in the morning, but the activity was a different kind of beast. On some days pushing the bar to 100% meant that I had to put on a silly song and goof off for 2 minutes until the satisfying beep came. Thursday, which was a public holiday, was especially difficult, because I didn’t have my daily bike rides to bring the thing to 60% as a starting point.

I’m not going to lie – there were moments when I was close to giving up, because I was tired, it was getting late, I wanted to keep writing… Excuses, excuses. Half an hour of additional exercise isn’t that much and most days it was enough to reach my goal. I don’t think I repeat this project with a week full of bus rides though, that would be a lot harder to accomplish. It was a necessary endeavour to put me back on my daily training band wagon, from which I had fallen off during April and the Meeting of Doom preparations. I’ll try to stick to the half an hour of exercise every day, but I might allow myself some leeway… four days of 100% would still be okay, I think.

The most rewarding thing by the way, is the shower after the workout. Second most rewarding thing: Feeling your body change and not being totally out of breath after four flights of stairs anymore (1). Third most rewarding thing: Seeing muscles (2)! ^___^

Here’s another sneak peek of ‘Beginnings’ – I’m not sure Nate knows what he’s doing…

He rubbed his neck, his glorious blue eyes sparkling with mischief. “I’m not made from sugar. I assume you have a license for those eyes of yours?”
License? She blinked at him, and he grinned. Standing up and putting the books away, he explained: “They’re dangerous weapons. I nearly got hurt, you know?”
“Do you need a band aid?” She raised him a defiant eyebrow, and he stepped towards her, close enough for her to smell his aftershave. It was a warm, subtle scent. His voice was a low rumble, his eyes intense. Talk about having a license, Mister.
“A bag of ice might be more helpful to ease the burn.”
She tilted her head, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Are you sure you can risk going to Todd’s with me? I can’t vouch for your male pride surviving this without more burns…”
He chuckled. “I’m willing to take a gamble, Baroness. It’s nothing compared to what you risked jumping in front of that stupid truck.”
Jumping in front of the speeding truck to push him out of harm’s way had been no conscious decision, she had acted purely on instinct. The same instinct told her now to be careful – he displayed all the traits of a confident man knowing how to charm a woman. Traits that brought up painful memories.
“What’s wrong?” His voice plucked her out of her thoughts.
“Uh, nothing.” She pushed the pain and the memories away. They belonged to another time, another planet.

(1) Which totally was the case back in February. >___<
(2) Also: Feeling them. *ouch*

progress \o/

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I spent the whole week working on “Beginnings”, and met my word count goal every day. This feels so good. My original plan was to make it 10.000 words long, but I still have so many ideas, I feel it’s going to be more like 15.000 or even 20.000 words. It is fun to throw Nate and Adelie into hot waters, seeing them paddle frantically. Apparently I do have a bit of evil author in me.

In a bout of un-evilness, here’s the (current) beginning of “Beginnings”:

“Hey Adelie! How are you?”
“Hi Nate! I’m fine. See you!”
And with that, she vanished into the library with graceful, springy steps, leaving him standing there like an idiot. Jake snorted.
“I never thought I’d live long enough to see this.”
He huffed. “Seeing what?”
Jake crossed his arms and leaned against one of the pillars that framed the entrance, a grin plastered over his face. “A woman who doesn’t stop, spin and fling herself into your arms. You’re not used to the cold shoulder treatment, are you?”
He shot him a dirty look, causing only more laughter on his friend’s side.

I can’t wait to share the whole drama with you. ^___^

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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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:

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

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Or names of things and people:

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

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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:

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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.

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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.