April 17th, 2020

So, a few things have changed since I last posted here.

Yeah.

Not going to go down that road, though, as we’re already inundated with information on a daily basis, whether we want it or not.

Instead, one of the things I’ve been working on is trying once again to get my plot in order. And, you know. Finished.

I’ve made progress on that front, even though it’s not fully complete yet, but I managed to overcome a huge hurdle which I wasn’t even aware was there. That’s the inspiration for this post, and, while it’s far from anything novel (pardon the pun), it’s something I wanted to share with y’all.

We’re all heard the phrase “kill your darlings,” or variations thereof, from any number of sources. It’s something I’ve tried to heed myself, though I’ll admit that I usually only think about it in the context of characters I’ve created. I know it equally applies to sentences or phrases you think are awesome but are unnecessary, or purple prose, but I hadn’t properly considered my own situation until now.

Over the last year, in the pre-COVID-19 days, I enrolled in several writing classes, back-to-back. Four, I think? It’s been a while, but there were many. And, while they were awesome, more often than not I found myself writing to fulfill the weekly assignments and would jump ahead (or back) in sequence from where I was in my novel.

That wasn’t a bad thing, not at all. It pushed me to actually write, which I sorely needed. What I hadn’t thought about, however, was that all the scenes and chapters I wrote out of order? I don’t have to stitch them altogether and incorporate all of them into my work.

That sounds patently obvious as I read it out loud, but it honestly wasn’t until a few days ago. I’d been trying to make all the pieces fit together, with little to no progress, for a long time before I realized, hey. I’m the one who made those pieces; I can jam them together, tear them apart, or reshape them as I see fit. Or, hell, I can just throw them out and make brand new ones.

In realizing that, which I should’ve already known, I’ve already cleared a few hurdles early on in the story that were gnawing away at my brain. It allowed me to reconsider the antagonist, having an oracle/prophet-type character, and even the idea of using prophecies in the plot.

It’s still difficult in general to concentrate and write anything of any substance right now, at least for me, but having this click for me has been a huge deal. I need to be more persistent in my attempts to write, but I think this has opened the door for that to happen. All I’ve gotta do is walk through it.

Eventually.

Jeff Slade’s International Women’s Day Picks

Jeff Slade’s International Women’s Day Picks

Engen Books

Since today is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d use my voice to promote the voices of female authors who I’ve found both inspiring and entertaining in equal turns.

So I compiled a list of ten books/authors, five non-local and five local, which you’ll find below. Go and check any (or all!) of them out and you won’t be disappointed!

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January 27th, 2020

Today was a sick day for me. I started feeling unwell last night and made it an early one, but still felt like crap once I did get up. I was sorely tempted to go into work anyway, but I think I made the right call in staying home. I feel better now and won’t be risking passing it on to anyone else tomorrow now.

I had intended to do some writing, treating it like a snow day. Much like those recent snow days, however, I didn’t do any writing today either. I did manage to finish a book, however: The Love of Summer, by Sarah Thompson. It was a very neat story, and I posted a short review on Goodreads about it, if you’re curious. Definitely a good read for those who love romance or LGBT fic in general.

Other than that, I’ve carted around a notepad and pen to jot down notes and ideas for my WIP, and a few other things that I’ve thought about lately. I’ve written absolutely nothing for any of that, but I did carry it around and burned a few calories at least, I guess?

I do have Ideas, at least, and there are some deadlines coming up, so here’s hoping that helps me buckle down and start writing.

January 20th, 2020

snowy pathI looked to see when I last posted on here before starting this, and did a double-take when I saw it was the 19th. What even is time, I wondered. Then I remembered while it’s dated the 19th, or Sunday, I started it late Saturday and posted it after midnight. So it’s technically not two days ago, but it was. Or something.

Anyway.

Time has been weirder than usual these last few days, thanks to Snowmageddon 2020, which continued last night and into today. We finally managed to carve a snowy path (see picture) down to our cars and cleared them out, and we both got to leave our property for the first time since Thursday evening. I also cleared out our dryer vent, and we’re doing our first load of laundry now as I type. Exciting times.

I read somewhere that snow days are a great time to catch up on your writing, and that is excellent advice. Advice I did not heed, granted, but excellent nonetheless. I’d like to say I didn’t get much done because I was shovelling all the time, or because we had no power, but neither are true (thankfully in the latter instance). The reason was when I wasn’t shovelling (I did do some, after all), I was either relaxing / recovering or playing video games, which I suppose counts as relaxing.

So was it a relaxing weekend? Hell no. Even though we only went approximately 17.5 hours without power (Friday 3:30pm to Saturday 9:00am) it was still stressful, especially as our pipes seemingly froze yesterday, though they’re fine now. Phew. We weren’t able to shovel ourselves out straight away because I am not in shape and there was a lot, so having that hanging over our heads until this morning sucked. I’m grateful that I had a snow day today so that I could carve out our vent and finish the driveway, not to mention making a grocery run in the afternoon.

The topic of writing did come up, however, and I imposed a new deadline on myself. I did have one in mind, but I’ve said it outloud (or in chat, shh), and now I’m posting it here, so I have to stick to it. That’s how these things work, right? It’s for a secret project and I’ve said I’d get it done by the end of the month, and now it’s out and into the universe so it’ll take care of itself. Yes.

I’m kidding. Mostly.

I do work better with a deadline, however. It may be a little short to say I’ll complete it by  January 31st, but for me the closer I am to said deadline to harder I work. It’s a problem, yes, but at least I’m self-aware enough to address it. Or attempt to, at any rate. It’s how I shovel out my own snowy path, only replace ‘snow’ with ‘word.’ Word-y path.

How do you write best? Do you need a deadline looming in the near-distance to drive you onward, or do you need a regimented schedule to write X amount of words per day to keep on track? Is it something else entirely? Feel free to discuss if you’d like.

Either way, here’s hoping we both can start writing in some way, shape, or form, and that it’ll snowball from there.

January 19th, 2020

Jan 18, 2020 snowSo, we got a bit of snow last night. Ok, technically Friday night into Saturday morning, as I’m writing this after midnight on Sunday morning, but still. It’s a lot.

We’re mostly dug out, just need to finish the front walkway tomorrow, and hopefully our neighbour will plow out our driveway too. This picture is pre-snowplow on our road, but we’re very fortunate in that both our cars aren’t buried. They’re hardly touched at all, actually, while some of my friends in the city can’t find theirs. They’re literally buried under mounds of snow.

On the not-so-lucky front, we were one of the many who lost power, from 3:30pm Friday until about 9:00am Saturday morning. It made for a long, boring night, but the worst was waking up around 4:30am and feeling how cold it was in here. I normally like it cool, but any part of me I move outside of the covers was so cold it almost hurt, wow. Very grateful that NL Power worked so diligently to get things back on by the time we got up.

Today felt extra long as well, since the cold got us up early, albeit just in time for the power to come back on. We waited for the plow to come by, then shovelled out most of the way around the house before calling it quits. No wind, which is amazing after the gales that blew last night into the wee hours, but man, was it cold.

Tonight has been relaxing, and I actually tempted fate by playing some PC games. I picked up the new Dragonball Z: Kakarot game, even thought I’ve never watched a single episode of the show, but it’s fun. I also dove back into Heroes of the Storm after seeing some interesting news about it on Twitter. Now I’m off to bed and about to read some more of The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is great so far, by the by.

Hope everyone’s having a good weekend, and that you’re dug out and your power’s still on if you’re in NL like me!

January 1st, 2020

Wow, that was weird to type.

Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone. No matter how good (or bad) 2019 was to you, here’s hoping 2020 is much better to you and yours.

Last year was pretty good to me overall. There were highs and lows, like any year, but I’m going to focus on the positive in order to get 2020 started off on the right foot. So, with that said, here’s my 2019 in (brief) review:

  • Writing-wise, I had a short story published in Dystopia from the Rock and Flights from the Rock, both from Engen Books, and a 100 word drabble in Apocalypse from Black Hare Press. It was also revealed that I’ll have another two 100 word drabbles in Black Hare Press’s upcoming collections this year, one in Love and one in Hate. And, last but not least, I managed to place third in a sci-fi writing contest hosted by WANL. So it was a pretty great year in that regard, and more that I can’t announce just yet for 2020.
  • Reading-wise, I fell short of my goal of reading 25 books for the third straight year. I came close, finishing 6 in December and the 20th and last on New Year’s Eve (Sanctuary by Tanith Frost, if you’re curious), and I’m hoping to carry that momentum forward into this year.
  • I played more guitar in 2019 than the previous year, though I didn’t use the Gretsch as much as I should have. Still, I’ve rediscovered my fondness of the instrument, even if I don’t play at the same level or frequency, and I hope to keep that up as well.
  • On top of reading more and digging into older books I’ve bought, I made an earnest attempt to get through my way-too-deep collection of unwatched movies and unplayed video games as well. I’d like to think I made a decent dent into both, but I’m ashamed to admit how much more of each remain. I’m probably not alone in that (right?) but at least I’m trying to limit myself. We’ll see if 2020 continues that trend or if I dig myself deeper.
  • Last, but not least, my wife nudged me into joining a D&D group with her in the city. I own a TON of the older books (they’re staring at me from a foot or so away as I type, mainly several unused 4th edition books), but she found a group looking to play the newest 5th edition in its own homebrew setting and we decided to give it a shot. I’m very glad we did, not only because we made some great new friends there, but because I’ve finally had a chance to really play the game after years of bad attempts and incidents, hah. Too many to get into here, but suffice it to say it was great to finally get a chance to play.

Those are the broad strokes of my 2019. There were other bright spots – our annual trip down south, seeing my father-in-law and his sister-in-law in July, getting to enjoy a trip to Boston with one of my best friends – but those are more specific, I suppose.

What I’m hoping to do, and what I’ve almost positively said here before, is to be better about blogging and talking about things like that in real time, or much closer to it. I’m not going to be so blindly ambitious to say I’ll do it every day, but I think once a week may be more do-able, so let’s go with that.

On that note, I think it’s time to go and get started on my 2020 reading challenge. Here’s to an outstanding year for us all.

June 25th, 2019

Since I last posted here I’ve completed not one but two writing classes, the second one ending just last week. They’ve been a huge help to me, getting me to write out many scenes and ideas that I had rough ideas for in my head but now I have committed to paper.

Well, to the digital equivalent of paper, to be precise. I still need to finish a solid outline and fill in the gaps between these scenes, but I’m much closer to completing an actual first draft than I was six months ago, and that’s not bad.

So, what’ve I been doing since classes ended, you might ask? Surely I’ve been working on said outline and filling in those gaps.

Ok, no, but I’ve got a good excuse. I’ve been reading.

That might not sound like such a great excuse at first blush, but hear me out.

Firstly, I’ve been reading The Starving by Jon Dobbin. Jon is an amazing local author and this title just launched last month. If you’ve not gotten a copy of it for yourself, do yourself a favour and either download the ebook onto your Kindle or (preferably, in my humble opinion) get your hands on a hardcopy. If you’re reading this before the end of June, and you’re in the St. John’s area, then you’re in luck, because all Engen book titles are 20% off at Broken Books until the end of June. You’re welcome.

Secondly, I’ve been devouring Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes. Sam is… not so local of an author, but I’ve been entranced by this story in a way no other story has gripped me for quite some time.

Why is reading such a good excuse? Because these two titles in particular have been more inspirational to me than any other book I could be reading at the moment. Jon’s because I’ve had the great pleasure of not only meeting the man, but having had some of my short stories in the same collections as his. He’s also taken writing courses from the same person I’ve taken them from, and it’s very inspiring to see the success he’s had with it. It makes me want to follow through even more, though nothing I could write would come close to The Starving. Honestly, folks, check this out if you haven’t yet, and get a load of that sweet cover art too.

The other title, Seven Blades in Black, is more of a personal inspiration because the main character / narrator in it has a voice very similar to what I’m trying to create. It’s an original fantasy setting, nothing like the urban fantasy one I’m working on building, but the main character is written in first person and has quite an attitude. Writing in first person is fairly new to me, so seeing a flawless example of that in a similar setting with a similar character has been a fantastic source of inspiration for me. And on top of all that, it’s just an amazing story. A can’t miss for any fans of fantasy out there, trust me.

So, yeah. Writing classes start again in a few weeks and I’m going to throw myself into it once again, with the ambitious goal of coming out of it with a first draft. Wish me luck!