Back on the Path

It feels good to have characters talking to me again.

I pulled out Path of the Hunter Thursday, a NaNo manuscript from back in 2006. I won that year at 80k (gods I wish I could go back to being able to crank out that kind of steady writing!), but for a long while after that I stopped working on it. I got stuck on a battle scene, couldn't go any further and next thing I knew three years went by. Now I'm finally back to it and so far not too bad. I wrote just over 2k of it yesterday, and if I can keep that up I could finish this manuscript in nine days! Maybe a little sooner, because all those extra bits of writing do add up. Nine days seems to be a reasonable goal for the pace I'm going now. Hopefully I can build up my pace in a few months' time. I do have a word goal, after all!

I'm working on getting myself into a more productive routine. Ordinarily I go for my daily walk after 3:30pm on the weekdays, usually later though (weekends I usually don't go at all). I was out just after 10:30am was pleasantly different. First of all, I'm typically just getting out of bed at that time (it's a very bad habit I'm trying to break) so my body's not used to being up and about like that. Second, I've been covering the windows in my bedroom and the living room/dining room for over a year now because of the glare from the sun and that's a fair bit of shade. By the time afternoon rolls around the walk takes up whatever energy I have and things are slow the rest of the night. Probably why I've had such a hard time getting back into my writing grove. It felt nice to get those errands done early for a change though, and I actually felt more energetic during the rest of the day. If I can keep it up, maybe getting back to 5k a day and writing 150k in a month will be achievable again. The spirit's willing, just have to get the body to catch up with it.

A Cluttered Home is a Sign of a Cluttered Mind

I know I've heard that somewhere. It's a feng shui quote, isn't it? I tried Googling it, but I'm still tired and I think my Google-fu is off still. But it's very true.

One of my goals this year is to basically purge my apartment so to speak. There's a lot of crap sitting all over the place, stuff I don't need and stuff that needs to go somewhere. One of my goals for this year is to eliminate the packed junk once and for all. Much of it is stuff I don't need, so in comes a package of garbage backs and out will go the junk. Except for paper stuff, that will go into recycling. I'm big on recycling, what can I say. I did make a bit of a start on it, getting one area nicely cleaned up in my room. It's funny how fast Mirage will go from fast asleep to wide awake when I step into my room. And always gets the same look.

Let. Me. Out.

I've had this chinchilla for two years now, and it's funny how things changed. Mirage used to guilt me into letting her out by jumping up on the top level of her cage, stuffing herself into a corner as much as she could and look at me with the most pitiful look. And of course I gave in ^_^ She was deceptively cute. What I didn't realize was that if something she did to get what she wanted worked once, she'd keep doing it. Now that I'm immune to it she does her best to annoy me into letting her out. Bar chewing, lots of bouncing around, kicking out her woodchips (and everything that's in them), even teeth grinding. I HATE the teeth grinding. Most times that doesn't work, but she's got a lot of patience that one and every once in awhile I get fed up and let her out. There's other things too, like the word No and my use of barriers. I don't care what anyone says, chinchillas are smart little buggers. If I put something that will block what I don't want her to chew on she WILL find a way around it. She doesn't see it, figure 'okay it's out of my reach' and go find something else. It's more like 'if I can't get to it that way, I'll just find another way'. Many are accidental and so funny I can't help but laugh at her. No used to work once upon a time, but not anymore. She doesn't even move, and if I continue to tell her no she gets angry at me for telling her no! Heaven forbid I prevent her from chewing on a wire or my baseboards! Haha I do love her though and she can be affectionate. You just have to have patience - and catch her at the right time ;)

Fourty-two days until Dalila comes home. Man I've got a lot of shopping to do. Tomorrow I think I'll attack all my craft stuff and clean house there. If I haven't used it by now, I probably never will. Plus it'll give me an excuse to buy some better jewellry supplies.

Think I Abused Brackets Just A Bit Here...

Blog revamp again! The old background just wasn't working for me anymore. I like this one, hummingbirds have always been a favourite of mine. Speaking of revamp, I noticed that blogger now keeps the gadgets you add to your blog, so you don't need to uncover their code in the html or remake them from scratch. Thank goodness, it's about time (unless I just never noticed before which is entirely possible :) I guess I really should read updates!). Rearranging the gadgets is a lot easier than making them all from scratch!

Sunday I was beat-exhausted, but for good reason - I'll be getting a puppy (and yes, that is the big news I was supposed to blog about on Sunday)! We visited the breeder Sunday, I only slept a few hours and was so nervous it was setting my anxiety off and I ended up taking a lorazepam. I try not to take those, they're in a very low dosage but they really knock you on your butt, but sometimes the anxiety just gets so high I'm not sure I can bring it down on my own. I do try to use them very sparingly because I could literally sleep the day away on just one. Anyway, I think the excitement was more the cause for exhaustion than the lorazepam alone. The breed I chose is a Shetland Sheepdog, a small breed that looks identical to the collie (think Lassie). The breeder had seven, and they're so beautiful! They all had beautiful temperaments, were very friendly dogs and not obnoxious or wanting to jump all over you. We even got a peek at the newborn pups from a distance, right now they're too young to be held. So now the countdown is on, in 45 days the baby comes home. We visit again in February when the pups are a bit older and we can interact with them more, and I'll take pictures. Hopefully by then I might have an idea of which one is coming home with me!

Writing is back in full swing after a couple lull days (okay, maybe it was more than a couple >.> ). I actually have a full, detailed plot outline of Beautiful Nightmare at last. I had a vague idea of where it was going to go, how I was going to set up things that would happen in later books, etc. Now I actually have the roadmap, though there's been some tweaks. Originally Matsu was going to leave for a time and come back for Adelyn at the end of the book, who he had sent to stay with his Italian friend Lethos so that she'd be safe (reason irrelevant now). That's been shifted to book two, and I've made Lethos a Spanish vampire as opposed to Italian. Twilight kind of ruined that for me, but I think Spain will work out better. Besides, the Spanish language is pretty damn sexy - Antonio Banderas anyone? :D There's been other new changes, but that would spoil future stories >:) Chapter two, here I come.

Gackt updated his blog a few days ago, apologizing another dozen times about the Requiem et Reminiscence II dvd being pushed back again. I really admire his ambition and his ability to work on multiple projects at once, but when you start getting sick and your staff starts getting sick and the workplace starts looking like something out of Resident Evil (his description)...well you have to expect one of your projects just isn't going to make the deadline. Poor guy works too hard, I'm glad he's had some downtime though even if it did come at the expense of the changed release date. But Gackt, dear, it's probably not a good thing when you can't remember the last time you had that kind of downtime ;) We love that you do so much and work so hard to bring us amazing projects but please do take some downtime every now and again. You could do something more relaxing - like visiting the international fans who you wish you could see more of! Perhaps a future Platinum Box theme? That would probably be a lot of fun.

Going to try to write some more before bed, but will probably just procrastinate watching Operation Repo instead. Reality check peoples: it's not yours if you stop making payments!

Does It Say 'Open for Business' On My Brain?

Because it should be reading 'closed to submissions'.

I've gotten not one but three new story ideas in the past week and they just won't stop buzzing around my brain. Makes it really hard to concentrate on the other stories I'm trying to work on and finish. One that I'm fleshing out right now is inspired heavily by the Norse and Celtic cultures, and a little bit on the Vrykul from World of Warcraft (who are also based on the Norse - so I guess a double Norse inspiration?). The story starts out as a single people that will eventually degrade into two seperate cultures. It'll have many fantasy elements, of course - the mythos of both the Norse and Celtic have plenty of it - and will probably be a little Romanesque in that gods sometimes manipulate key mortals for their own purposes. It's still a work-in-progress, but I have a beginning and an ending. It's all that middle fodder I'll need, but later. I think it could have potential for a series, but the book could hold its own as a standalone too. Unlike other series that I've started though I have no precise number as to a possible number. It's the first time I've been confident enough to say that if people liked this book and wanted more stories from these people, I could give it to them. And I promise not to pull a LKH/AR and butcher characters and plot. I'll quit while I'm ahead I promise ;) I still mourn the loss of the true Brat Prince.

Speaking of princes, I'm back on Beautiful Nightmare as I work on The Dragon King. Tessa and I jokingly refer to Matsu as the Aristocratic Prince, I just hope he lives up to the title. Knowing my beloved vampire I'm sure he will - I mean this is a guy who killed several important figures in a town in 1800s London and caused a panic across the countryside because it amused him. The story took a bit of change, and I decided to incorporate some magic into it to spunk it up some, and I think it's going to work well. Not predominate the story, but heck if you're going to have vampires and all sorts of 'fantastical' creatures showing up magic abilities have to make SOME kind of appearance. I can't wait to get to the first physical fight scene, it's going to be fun writing a scene that highlights Matsu's sadistic streak. It's funny how two characters who were inspired by the same person came out so entirely different.

Now, note to self: Take the Christmas music off your playlist already!!! And change the mp3 battery; Random Shuffle tends to work better with a charged battery.

Tomorrow I should have exciting news to post, so stay tuned!

Music of the Moment: Future - Gackt

It's Always Those Nasty Pirates...

According to an article in my local paper, piracy is still a big issue in the music industry. Okay, we all know there's a large pirating community out there, but I think those crying 'it's all the pirates' fault we're losing money!' might be giving them just a wee bit too much credit.

Unless you assume dwindling sales = piracy, which no one yet has given any data to support it.

I'm sure piracy's a big problem. But maybe if the music industry starts asking the consumers they'd get a surprising answer. Because it's not just the pirates - it's the artists. I'm just speaking as a consumer, but I stopped buying a lot of artists' cds (and stopped listening to them altogether) because the music sucked. It got to be the same old thing every cd. Sure, there might have been two or three songs I liked, but that doesn't justify a $30. Sorry. I'd rather buy digital. I've never been in the position where I could splash money, but I remember when I was a teenager it was pretty easy to have at least a small collection of a favourite artist's music. Singles were cheap, albums ranged between $15-$25 depending on who it was. Then the prices started going up, and with it went my ability to walk into HMV or the other indie shops and buy two or three cds at a time. I think one of those shops has long since gone now. Should an artist be paid for his/her craft? Absolutely, my answer is yes every time. But you have to make it worth it. Because unfortunately, Big Rich Musicians, you are part of your own problem. Step out of your music box, give listening fans something new. Stop with the same old, same old, it's boring. If you want us to pay $30 for your cd, you darn well better make it worth the money.

A Helpful Writerly Post

I'm a big believer in the pay-it-forward concept, and I think the more people getting good info out there perhaps it'll drown out all the misconceptions about publishing and agents. I'm by no means any sort of 'expert' by a long-shot; there are many but I'm not one of them. And though I'm currently unpublished (but 20k from my first finished manuscript, yay!), I've been doing research since November 2008. You notice things after thirteen months of research, and I can definitely say I've learned a great deal in that span of time. So from me to you, here's what I've learned:

-Research is important. Ridiculously important. Everything from knowing what a legitimate agent or publisher looks like to who's selling or publishing what, and everything inbetween. You should get familiar with it. Knowledge is definitely power, and the best way to avoid the pitfalls of the industry is to know what to avoid. You can't do that if you're not aware of them.

-Patience is a virtue. Publishing is a slow business and things take time. Agents will be slow to reply, some you won't hear back from. Taking a book from acceptace for publishing to the publishing date can take roughly a year on average. It's life. And in that vein, be wary of anyone advertising a quicker route. Aside from good self-publishing avenues (Lulu and CreateSpace are good examples) there are no shortcuts.

-There IS a difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing. I bow to the ever-knowledgable Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware for the definitions on that, which you can read in this entry. Bookmark this blog while you're at it; it's one of the many excellent resources all writers should have.

-Very few bashers are 'disgruntled'. Many who speak out warning about bad ventures are people with experience in the industry, and they're worth listening to. Sure, you'll probably come across as 'they suck!!!1!' bashers, but pay attention to who is saying what, not just what they're saying.

-Good intentions don't sell books! In the thirteen months that I've been researching publishing I've seen a disturbing amount of scammers and inexperienced setups that have gone belly up, and Absolute Write has a HUGE list of publishers and agencies that have gone bust years back. 99% of those outfits have either been scammers or people who didn't know what they were doing. And one of the most popular defensive arguements people come up with is that they're well-intentioned. Well that's nice, but it doesn't sell books. Experience wins out every time.

-Promoting isn't marketing. Your publisher markets your book. You help promote it. There are many easy and good ways to help promote, but they'll be worthless unless your publisher is doing their job.

-Networking is good. Lots of agents, editors and publishers blog, and they're an invaluable resource to the new writer. Many of their writers blog too, and the agents and publishers will often link to them on their own blogs. Connect with them, they can be another valuable resource inside the world of publishing.

Gifts from the Mail

Four o'clock came fairly quickly, and I took my walk to the post office to pick up my package. I've been expecting a few things in the mail, so I wasn't entirely sure what it was going to be. I think the lady at the post office had a long day, because she asked me for proof of my address which was on the back of the I.D. of mine she was looking at >.> Ah well, got my package (click on the pics to see the full):

And it turned out to be my Christmas gift from! I actually wasn't expecting it so quickly, but I'm certainly not complaining! This is what was in it:

The middle and right side mags are actually the same ones, I ordered two and used them to show front and back cover. One is a belated Christmas gift for Tessa, so I have to get that shipped out to her. Japanese magazines are a bit of a culture shock, majority of them are read what would be 'backwards' to us. And they're HUGE, they're bigger than ours for the most part. The ripped parts on the book is just a tab wrapped around the book, I'm not too concerned about it. The actual dustjacket isn't ripped, that's all that matters to me :) I'm so happy it's here! Now I just have to figure out how to get the CdJapan order sorted out and I'll be golden. Gackt just pushed back the release date of the RRII dvd again, this time to March 31st, so CdJapan won't ship the rest of the order until then. So hopefully customer service will seperate that as a new order and send the rest of the stuff, or we cancel and reorder. I'm hoping for the latter, I opted for free shipping on everything so there wouldn't be any changes.

These were some other gifts that came in the mail on Monday:

Full Pandora bracelet, Mom's order

Free gift with the Pandora bracelet

My lapis lazuli bracelet. All the beads are real lapis lazuli ^_^

Rolling Along Nicely

I finally got chapter one of The Dragon King down! What's on the goal to 1million is what was actually written in 2010 but the chapter closed in on 5k exactly. The first main character, Celios, has been introduced and the problem is set. He and his dragon kin are dying, and no one seems to know why. All he can find are hints of the answer, but not enough of a picture to actually devise a solution. Now he's consulted with the oracle and is off to Taimai. The journey begins at last.

I like going 5k per chapter; substantial, not too long but not too short. At least it feels that way to me. Plus it makes general wordcount tallying easy :) I created a spreadsheet based on one I got from someone else who made it for a Facebook App, which helps to keep all that sort of info straight in one place. Though I probably should put it in my writing folder so it gets backed up on Syncplicity. I also did one for agents, which I'd be happy to share once I really get it going. Right now it's heavily fantasy-based, but this year I decided to expand it. I've got a few story ideas that deviate from what I usually write, like romance, and some distinct subgenres of fantasy like urban fantasy. I notice some agents will only rep a certain subgenre, or won't rep a certain subgenre, so I've been really making sure my stories all fit in the right genre. That way once I finally query them I'll be sending them out to the right people. Nothing will get you rejected faster than querying the wrong people.

I think today I'll move on to Redemption, I've got some scenes from that story that just keep hanging around my head. Will probably also go for a Tim Hortons run as well, I had a packaged delivered today which I missed by about sixteen minutes and I pass the post office on the way. Sound doesn't travel well in the apartment, and although I'm not usually a heavy sleeper I can't hear a thing in my room. Mom's pretty understanding about it, she knows I'll call back if I miss the phone. I don't think the postman cares too much ;)

Slow Night

As I sit here typing away at The Dragon King, I find myself...really placid. The writing is coming along okay, but I'm missing that spark, that drive. When the imagination's going and the character's at the forefront of your mind telling you what they're saying and doing. I miss that feeling of not being able to get to the computer or a notepad fast enough because everything's just buzzing in my brain. Which usually happens at the most inconvenient times, like in the shower >.> It's annoying as hell really, I haven't yet worked out a way to get it all down when that happens that doesn't result in getting my notebook soaked. Maybe I should get one of those portable laptop trays and work something out with that. But anyway, I'm sure the placid feeling will pass eventually, it just stinks going through it in the meantime.

I'll probably not do any late night writing tonight, turn on the PS2 instead. I had to exchange a couple of christmas gifts today, and picked up a new game while we were out. I'm not the avid gamer I used to be, but I still enjoy them when the mood strikes me :) I haven't played Dirge of Cerebus in awhile, but I might play Soul Calibre II first. I THINK I've played it before, but that might have been Soul Calibre IV. I can't recall, it was a few years ago on my cousin's XBox. Fighter games tend to be pretty similar on most levels, but I really liked the Soul Calibre storyline. I'll let you know when I play the game :)

Tonight's goal: Get chapter one of The Dragon King to 5k. I'll edit this post if I succeed or fail.

EDIT: Fail, but I came close at around 3k. And I suck at Soul Calibre II lol Ah well, practice makes perfect!

Music of the Moment: For The Reunion - Nobuo Uematsu

Words Are A Comin'

Now with my writing folder all settled once again, and Liquid Story Binder all set up the way I like it, I'm finally feeling nice and inspired again. The story with the first words of 2010 goes to The Dragon King, which is looking to be a two part story. It's very asian-inspired, which has been a heavy influence lately. I adore the culture, it's so timeless and elegant and steeped in traditions. And it lends itself so well to fantasy ^_^ I have to make a little shout-out to Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix. I got her book for Christmas after months of waiting and started reading it, and aside from being a really amazing read (seriously go get it!) it got my drive to work on The Dragon King again. So thank you Cindy! And a thank you to Gackt, whose portrayal of Uesugi Kenshin in Fūrin Kazan also helped to inspire the story. Gacktありがとう

Though, I'm really wishing I had a laptop right now.

Computer Glitches and Good Dreams

The adventure of exploring my computer files continues. Still trying to clean the harddrive, and bring some order to the mess. It's kind of like having a filing cabinet and some of the drawers are a complete mess. That and trying to salvage some space on my harddrive. I almost lost the info in LiquidBinder I had for one of my stories when the info wasn't saving! Scary moment, but luckily I still had the duplicate folder. Now the only thing I need to try and figure out is how to delete an error-ridden folder. It's empty, but everytime I try and delete it I get an error telling me it either can't find it or can't read it. Error on the harddrive I guess, or maybe there's a way to remove it that I've forgotten. My computer knowledge has faded some. I think this year I'll try and save up for a new computer. This one's served me well, but it's an old girl now and not worth repairing or replacing parts. I'm still on the fence about Windows 7, a lot of what I read about Windows Vista I didn't like and thus never upgraded to (not that this comp could have handled it! lol), but I wonder if Windows 7 panned out better or worse. Or maybe I should just get a Mac. Seems like in movies people are always using Mac laptops, I don't recall ever seeing an Acer or HP laptop in a movie before so there must be a reason why it's always a Mac. Any suggestions are most welcomed :)

Lately the dreams I've been having have been really kind to the writing department. I don't usually get inspired by dreams, I either don't remember too much or any of them or they're too weird and unpleasant. I did have one in June which gave birth to Chasing Dreams, and many nights of having a notepad near the bed paid off finally with that one. I don't think I would have made it to the computer and still remember it. Anyway, I just figured it was a lightning-strikes-once type of thing since it was so unusual and didn't think much on it again. Then once December rolled around I started having them a few times a week, though most were just small ideas I was able to use to advance stories I already had in progress. A few have spawned full-out stories, as if I needed more ;) My roster is rather full as it is, but I can't turn down a good storyline, especially when it's something that seems different and unique. Last night I had a nap (yes I think I'm one of the few people on earth who'll nap at 7 or 8 pm in the evening) and had this really great story idea play out while I slept. I don't know if I'll get to writing it out for awhile, but I will say this, it's nice to have another dragon story :)

Time to dive back into the filing cabinet.

New Year, New Start - Again

Well November and even December didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. I suffer from depression, panic & anxiety disorder and agoraphobia and have for a few years now, and I suppose this year it just got beyond my control. I had a lot of bad nights, a lot of panic attacks in short periods of time which was really unusual. It's scary and really makes you feel very isolated sometimes, but I have a really good doctor who's helping me through it and now I start the road to getting better. It's not fun living this way - especially when it affects my writing :) That's beginning to come back though, slowly but it's coming. I decided one of my goals for this year was to write 1 million words by January 8th, 2011. Ambitious? Sure. But it may help to motivate me to keep writing. Sometimes you have to push yourself through the lulls to get to the good stretches. I like goals as opposed to resolutions. New Year's Resolutions has such a stigma attached to it now, and very few people ever seem to see their resolutions all the way through. Goals has a different sort of ring to it, there's a certain drive to accomplish a goal that just doesn't seem to be there with resolutions. So goals it is. Whatever works I say ;)

Now I must set about to giving the computer its yearly clean up. Toss some files, organize others, try and get some room so it's not so sluggish. And backups. If you're an artist of any kind and you have your stuff on the computer, back it up. I use Syncplicity to back up my story files, but I also plan to get an external harddrive to back up the entire computer and some memory sticks to back up my fiction. Seriously, it's better to have multiple backups than losing even some of your hard work. So if there's no other goal you have for this year, make a good backup one of them!

Music of the Moment: As - Chachamaru

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