And another hot minute passes…

Wild Horses Statue, Providence, RI

Right, so where was I? Ciaragh was back, I was done with GARF, and life was settling down so I could get ready for my inlaws to come for a visit.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Not even close.

For those that don’t know, my mom had some sort of major neurological event around the 3rd week of June, and she has not been able to recover completely. She is in hospice care now, and we really don’t know what the next step is there.

I’m updating right now from a hotel in Rhode Island because I am attending the RID conference. I had completely let this go to the wayside with everything going on at home. I happened to look at the webi

Nope, let’s start again.

This has been the weirdest summer of my entire 47.5 years of life. I sort of feel like I’m in the middle of that groovy statue I got to photograph in Providence – only the horses are real and in motion, and if I don’t watch out I’m going to get trampled.

Over the summer, I wasn’t watching out, and I was most certainly trampled. Ciaragh was back home, and I was settling into my regular summer routine of freelance interpreting, planning for upcoming faires, and writing as much as I could whenever I could. The final draft of the second Clobberpaws book was starting to sit up and pay attention. The first novel in the Forest Wars saga was being actively edited for the…I don’t know, umpteenth time, and was on track for publication at the end of July.

And then, my sister took my mother up to see my dad’s grave on what would have been his birthday. And then there was the night about four days later that I was talking to my mother on the phone and she was slurring her words and was very confused. I rang my sister who went over there, spent the night there, and then took Mom to Emory the next day to see the doctor.

From there, she was fast-tracked into the unit that treats stroke patients, only she hadn’t had a stroke. There was no evidence at all of a stroke. And then she had a seizure and slept for about five days – as one does when one is 86 and has a massive seizure. Her advance directive said no life-prolonging measures – no feeding tubes, etc. And then she was on the hospice unit for something like three weeks, so because nothing was happening, they discharged her to her home, where she died about two weeks-ish later.

Now, none of that is about me. It’s nothing to do with me. But the aftermath is everything to do with me, my sister, and our families. I spent a good day after Mom died wondering if I was an orphan now. Is that something that only applies to children? More time than was probably necessary was devoted to wondering what would happen to my sister and me – we had been texting all day almost every day since that fateful phone call because I am a state away from them. Now that the crisis time was over, would we fade back into our typical roles, only communicating now and then?

So here I am, a month and two days from waking up to a phone call from my sister that Mom had passed in her sleep, and I’m still wondering. Still waiting. Still an orphan – I decided I wanted to own that, so I did. Still struggling to find someone to talk to on long days at home or long car rides when I usually would call Mom. Still not quite able to listen to the stack of voice mails from her still on my phone – recordings that underscore what a neglectful daughter I am for not visiting her more often.

Here I am, with a book about to launch in a week’s time, a “First Page Critique” away to the folks running the writer’s conference in September that I will be attending (in the hopes that it will be chosen to be anonymously ripped to bits by a panel of literary agents), and a big signing event in the works for November.

Here I am, suddenly winning at being a writer for at least a few minutes, and the number one person I want to tell isn’t here. I hope she knows. I hope she is pleased. I hope she is proud.

Camp Nanowrimo, April 2019

Taking notes like a boss writer

Oh y’all.

Somehow this month’s nano has been so hard for me. I mean worse than that time that I wrote for two weeks and then completely changed my WIP and still came out a winner.

Worse than last April when I almost abandoned what I was writing because in the aftermath of my dad’s death I just didn’t have anything to say. (Disclaimer: if you have read my upcoming Baskervilles debut as a beta reader, then you KNOW that I had nothing worthwhile to say.)

I have a fantastic character who is technically a ghost, and she is the most three dimensional of all the characters in this story. I have a tremendous MC who is darling and unsure and brave and afraid and everything that you want your MC to be so that she is not a Mary Sue. I have two other characters that I have lived with for four and six years, respectively, who should be able to just write themselves at this point. No real effort required.

And yet I always find myself 1-2K words behind my target. I catch up, and then somehow think it’s okay to take the next day off. I am trying to be the director of the Hounds of East Fairhaven and perform on the weekends at the Georgia Renaissance Festival, but that is really just like hopping from hot mess to hot mess. Oh, did I mention that my school year at my day job is winding down, and I’m looking at expense reports and future planning and scheduling and all that fun stuff? Yeah, it’s a real party around here.

[Here is the file room in my office suite because…well, we have already been over that. Soon here/my office will be the sofa in my sitting room in between bouts of HOLY HOUSE OVERHAUL, BATMAN to be ready for the arrival of some of my British family in July.]

So I have eight more days not counting today to get this manuscript up and moving – two of those days are Renn Fest days, so make that six days. How do you find motivation when the genuine threat that what you’re writing is awful looms? This is not a new piece – this is the last in a series, and it has a lot of eyes on it. It’s like the metal footfalls of the Cybermen are tromping through my head, trailed by the Daleks, Reavers, the Borg, Control, and the entire bloody Empire – and all I can do is sit and wait for it all to arrive.

If you need me, I will be behind the couch. Writing. Maybe.

Ongoing Scrivener Saga

So after many hours of struggling with my own lack of patience, I finally cracked the code and got my enormous work in progress into Scrivener. Seems that two things were working against me: 1. My laptop was trying to run the program in a compatibility mode with Windows 8, which -much like Windows Vista – was really pretty and about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. 2. Scrivener is a multi-faceted program that takes a file and manipulates it into several different formats, so when you have a HUGE file like the manuscript I was importing it’s going to take awhile.

By ‘awhile’ I mean ten minutes. I timed it. From clicking on ‘open’ in the import dialog box to the title page appearing on my screen it took ten solid minutes. The fact that I thought to time it is a completely different issue.

This is a good time for me to admit that I had an idea about what Scrivener would do, based on my use of the program for a screenplay several years ago. I had taken a manuscript then and used the formatting in Scrivener to set it up properly for a screenplay. I remembered simply cutting and pasting and poof! Screenplay!

First, I was missing a few steps in between the cut/paste and poof. So when I put my 143,000+ word manuscript into the Scrivener software I spent a few good long minutes looking for the POOF button. What I found instead was a fantastic tutorial that I watched and I did the steps along with it. The result was not a poof, but an almighty ‘oh, that’s how it works’ that was almost as satisfying as the poof I erroneously remembered.

Second, the keyboard shortcut to “split” the huge behemoth into smaller chunks (chapters) was an amazing find. When you have more than 50 chapters, finding anything that speeds up your work is a huge plus. It went on from there – the corkboard, the ability to move chapters around, the outline contained on index cards – and I am sold.

The only thing left is that I feel a bit like I am stepping out on Google Drive. I did find this wonderful article that explained how to sync up my Scrivener data with Drive so that I can work on more than one machine and have a backup that I trust. So I guess I’m not completely leaving Google Drive behind – it is still my weapon of choice for beta reading and editing. And the current work in progress was 3/4 written in Google Drive, but I’m going to work on it in Scrivener and see what the difference will look like. I’m also going to do April’s CampNanoWrimo in Scrivener so we will see how it goes starting from scratch.

The saga continues – just as I was getting excited about working on my novel from my phone. Stay tuned.

Crawling back out of the rabbit hole…

First, let me say that if that image there was my rabbit hole I would never come back out. Ever.

Right, so back to the topic at hand – rabbit holes. I am using this term not to describe an underground warren, but a distraction one encounters while trying to be productive. For me, social media is a big rabbit hole that I try to avoid while working on my current round of edits. But today I encountered an even bigger and deeper hole – Scrivener.

*Quick disclaimer: I am not in any way financially supported by Literature and Latte, the company that makes Scrivener. I also hold no grudge – if anything, I desperately want it to work because I feel like it would improve the quality of my work, if only it would behave itself and start working for me.*

I used Scrivener a few years ago after a Nanowrimo win that led to a discount on the software. I downloaded it and used it during a Script Frenzy – the Office of Letters and Light’s now-defunct scriptwriting month – and loved it, but never went back to it because, at the time, I wrote with Word. I still think about going back to that big white ‘W’ on the blue now and then, just because I used it for so long and understand how it works.

A beta reader and editor suggested that I write in Google Docs after working through edits in between Google and Word and finding Google to be easier. I was already saving my work in that cloud after losing half a manuscript to a bad hard drive, so it was not a huge leap to writing in GDocs. I write everything there now and love it. I even spent an hour today learning how to compare versions of documents! So when voices that I trust from the other rabbit hole, Twitter, suggested Scrivener, I decided to give it a try. After all, I have a 143k word document that needs to be divided into three novels so that I can see where I need to add more meat on the bones and I’m SO VERY TIRED of holding the button on the touchpad while it highlights half my manuscript.

So now I find myself in a new diversion – four hours of my life given to uninstalling and installing Scrivener, watching tutorials, waiting for the program to open (5 minutes) and to import a .doc (10 minutes, I wish I was kidding), and I just don’t see the point. The latest version of Windows mentioned in their help files is Windows 8, and I’m on 10. Maybe it was just not meant to be.

Sadly, I’m too stubborn for that and it’s back to the Scrivener Rabbit Hole for me. Ugh.

On Daylight Savings Time and Writing Workshops …

I hates it, precious. I HATES IT!

For the record, it isn’t Daylight Savings Time I necessarily hate. It is the tampering with time, both forward and back, that I hate. I especially hate it when it causes my alarm clock goes off at a time that my body thinks is TOO EARLY. (Though let’s be honest here – it is always too early. I hate mornings, I am 100% certain about that.)

This year, DST had to come on a Sunday after I have travelled a considerable distance from home alone in my car on Saturday and was exhausted well before the time the great invisible THEY took an hour away from me and my sleep. So it was not going to be a good day, that was a given.

I remember being a kid and having to go to church on Sundays when it turned DST. Not my finest moments, and I should probably apologize to my mother RIGHT NOW for what I’m certain was a fantastic temper tantrum – but the worst, without a doubt, was when DST fell on Sundays that happened to be EASTER Sundays. There is nothing worse, in my estimation, than having to get up to go to a sunrise service that does not actually include sunrise because someone thought that we didn’t need all the hours that Sunday and held one of them back. Is it any wonder I once snuck away from the service and instead tried to find a way to help the United Methodist Men work on the pancake breakfast in the church fellowship hall? Clearly, I was trying to save the rest of the congregation from the aforementioned tantrums. Sadly, I was the only one that saw it that way.

Before an hour of my life was stolen, however, I attended the Writing Day Workshops Atlanta Writing Workshop. This was my first professional writer event, and I was a hot mess going into it. But there was so much information presented that I had a blister on my finger from taking notes by the end of the second workshop. I came away with some important information that did not end up in my notebook – it is okay to be self-published. In fact, one of the writers that taught on Saturday started out traditionally published is now doing both, each for a different genre, and it works.

Something that people have been telling me for ages cemented in my mind on Saturday: All you have to do to be a writer is write. You don’t have to publish, even. Just write. Enjoy the craft of writing. That’s it! I went, ready to be intimidated by my fellow workshop goers and to some extent, I still was – but I also experienced the same feeling I have at interpreting workshops, of being with ‘my tribe’ and in the company of others who get me. Now if only I could find a fellow fantasy writer that is also a visual language interpreter and I think my life would be complete!

I also have more confidence to query and pitch and think that I have a pitch ready for the first book in the upcoming Baskervilles series…I just need to finish the manuscript first. I had some time to think over lunch, and while I still have a fairly robust publishing calendar for the Orana Chronicles books I’m going to work in some time to polish up the Baskervilles. It would be a good experience to pitch that one because while I love the story and the characters it is not my baby, if you will, like the Orana Chronicles. We will see how that goes.

For now, though, I’m reading over my notes, planning a potential thriller or suspense novel as a one off just to see if I can pull it off, and generally longing for a nap. Happy Monday, y’all. Happy Monday indeed.