Beth Revis reminded me on Twitter of my love for Dropbox. Basically, this program creates a folder on every computer you download it to, linked by your account. Every change you make to this folder – adding or deleting files, editing them, whatever – is uploaded to the Dropbox server, which subsequently updates all other folders on all your other computer. As a writer, this is marvelous; I no longer have to lug around USB drives or mail files to myself. I simply keep the file I’m working on in the Dropbox folder. The moment I press ‘Save’ it’s automatically uploaded (immediate back-up!); the moment I start up a different computer, the file automatically updates to the newest version.
Dropbox also has a ‘Public’ folder; everything you drag in there gets a URL of its own to link other people to. Which means no more manual uploading to Photobucket or needing to get people’s e-mail addresses to mail them a photo. You just move the file and send them the link.
I know I’m sounding like some dorky commercial, but it really is lovely. And free. And well, I’m Dutch. I’m a fan of free.
Since I’m one of those people who needs to be rewarded for her progress, I also really dig word meters like this one:
56400 / 75000 words. 75% done!
I get to feel good about seeing the percentage climb up, and it gives me something tangible to do after I complete a few words.
I mean, there’s Twitter. But I guess people might not always be interested in being updated on your word count every few minutes. Whatever.
And yeah, I’m a notebook kinda girl. I’m a really fast typist (119 WPM according to a test I did the other day), so needing to write a novel longhand would kill me… but somehow plotting long-hand really works for me. I think it’s a combination of factors: being slowed down gives my mind the chance to wander into different directions, which helps in coming up with plot solutions; I don’t get the chance to delete what I’ve already written, which means I can read my old thoughts for inspiration later – I’ve reused more than a few discarded plot ideas this way; and it’s small, meaning I can take it anywhere and write whenever ideas strike. (Pages with wiggly handwriting often mean I was in the bus at the time, or just woke up and took the notebook from my nightstand.) It’s good to get away from the computer every now and again.
Various websites are also really useful – QueryTracker.com most of all. I could seriously fill a whole month’s worth of posts on how amazing this site is for querying writers, but there’s no point. Use it, love it, have its babies. K?
As you might’ve gathered from previous posts, I love creating soundtracks for my books because they really help me get into the mood of the book. When drafting or editing, I rarely listen to anything but the soundtrack. It spurs on ideas, stops me from getting too distracted, all that good stuff.
One warning, though: it can have adverse effects. Remember this? Yeah. The morning previous, I listened to the Heirs soundtrack. I cast 100% of the blame on that.
Most importantly: WORD RACES. During August, I grabbed lovely folk like Jodi Meadows, Beth Revis, Christine Nguyen, Authoress Anonymous, and Helen Corcoran on GChat and doing word races with them: we share our word counts, focus on writing for a good half hour, then compare word counts again. It’s incredibly effective, and has helped me get a lot done in a very short amount of time – even on days when I’d already given up on productivity.
Without FreeCell, I could not survive as a writer. As you can see by my stats, I’m, er, slightly obsessed. It’s a great way to let your mind wander without getting too caught up in something else; I mean, sure, you’ve got errands to run and dishes to wash and floors to vacuum and kids to feed, but all those things take time and you won’t be able to run back to the computer the moment inspiration hits again.
Do not underestimate the power of the dorky card game.
And also I just really wanted to show off my stats.
Another silly-but-fun thing: Wordle. Stick in your manuscript and see which words occur the most. If you’re at all like me, it’ll be really embarrassing
Then there’s pretty bookmarks, like those you get from The Book Depository or Ms. Magdala Twistleton… (I guess these help with reading more than writing, but hush. It’s book-related, I love it, and it totally counts.
… but I suppose tea and ice cream really do conquer all. Jodi Meadows and I have scientifically proven that ice cream increases writer productivity. True facts, guys.
Writing is going fast:
… but not as fast as I’d like. I aim to hit 20k today after not writing anything yesterday – I blame the epic brain drain that is krav maga – and if I keep up this pace I should be able to finish by the end of the month… but I’m not sure if I will be able to keep up this pace, especially since I’m trying to combine it with graphic novel-ing.
I wouldn’t be such a hard-ass about completing it before the end of the month if it weren’t for my vacation in September; I obviously don’t want to work during that, and I hate having to put novels on hold mid-draft. Last time I tried, it took about two months to get back into it again.
On the bright side, my female lead is being an interrogative badass at the moment, which is a fabulous scene to write. This book is flowing so easily. I love it.
And dread the second draft like whoa.
… or maybe not.
A friend of mine linked to this amusing online gadget that analyzes your writing style. Since I’m always eager for a new way to procrastinate, I went ahead and checked some of my own writing. The results vary wildly.
Always Read the Fae Print returned Stephen King as a result, whereas a short story set in the same universe, written in the same style – or so I thought – was closer to Harry Harrison. The time travel short story I was working on the other week, Eight, sounded like Chuck Palahniuk. Rule of Threes and Wielders: James Joyce.
The Hands of Cally Wu was a bit trickier since I don’t have everything in one file, so I entered four different scenes, resulting in Mark Twain (twice), Stephen King, and… William Shakespeare.
So now you know.
Very curious as to all of your results. Please share!
… complain about something and it magically resolves itself.
In this case, I didn’t really complain, but I did mention I’ve never been able to match actors to my characters.
And tah dah! Criminal Minds delivers the goods with Johnny Lewis in a season four episode, ‘Zoe’s Reprise’, in which he plays a serial killer.
A quote from the episode: “I see a guy walking down the street with a stupid look on his face and I want to bash him over the head with a bottle. To me, that’s normal. It’s weird to me that no one else feels that way. It’s all I think about. I can’t stop.”
If he let his hair grow a few inches, he’d be excellent for Arjan from Always Read the Fae Print, my air-guitar-playing, delightfully ineffectual vegetarian pacifist. He’s the type to name a water fae ‘Mariel’, because, I quote: “It’s like Ariel.”
As you can imagine, I was somewhat freaked out to see this head-person of mine going around merrily strangling people.
But also terribly, terribly amused. Sorry, Arjan!
Since I’m a very visual person – comes with the whole artist territory, I guess – it should come as no surprise that I’m pretty obsessive when it comes to figuring out my characters’ looks. (“Really?” I can hear you say; “All those avatars you’ve been posting didn’t tip me off at all.” To which my response is: “Fie on you.”)
If I had to cast my characters for a film or TV show, I’d come up blank. I can point at a million photos of models I’ve gathered and give you an exact idea of what they look and act like in my head, but I haven’t been able to match actors to the roles.
What I have done – based on a friend’s prompt – is think about the people behind the curtain. If Always Read the Fae Print were turned into a TV series, he asked, who would you want involved?
So, so easy.
Bryan Fuller of Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies fame. Because he can combine the quirky with the supernatural and tackle serious storylines without losing the overall sense of ‘cute!’ that I try to keep in the Fae Print series; it should be a bit more along the lines of Dead Like Me than his other work, though, to keep it grounded.
The Community writers, because they’re trope-conscious and hilarious as all heck, and usually decent with minority issues to boot.
The True Blood writers, because they know their genre and know how to mess with it to amusing results. Humour is essential.
The Dexter writers, because they know how to adapt a book to a TV series, and do it well.
(Also: those shows both manage to infuse a real sense of location into each episode. I don’t know who’s behind that, but, er, I want those guys too, because Fae Print isn’t Fae Print without Amsterdam.)
Only one thing is vital, though: They have to be willing to make a musical episode at some point.
That point is non-negotiable. Take note, future agent.*
Please share your own dream team, either actor-wise or behind the scenes, either in the comments or at your own journal. I’m madly curious!
(But I do really love musicals.)
The good news is that Milla is responding to the medication (which is intended to keep more fluid from building up in her lungs) excellently. Looking at her now, you’d barely notice anything was wrong. She’s eating well, she’s begging for attention, and rolling around in the backyard in the cutest possible ways.
Not bad for a cat whose lungs, just a few days ago, looked like this:
All that white stuff on the left is fluid. The black triangle in the middle was all she had left to breathe with.
The bad news is that her improvement doesn’t mean there’s no more room for concern. We’re just fighting the symptoms here, and whatever caused this is still there. She has an echocardiogram scheduled for tomorrow morning. Hopefully that’ll shed some light on what’s going on. (Even more hopefully, it’ll be fixable.)
The last few days have consisted of:
a) worrying over Milla
b) spoiling Milla silly
c) beta reading
With a hint of TV and FreeCell thrown in for good measure. And some messing around online. Check out the ladies who’ve been occupying my headspace of late:
From left to right, that’s Lillian, whose book I’m querying; Cally, whose book I just finished; Mona, whose story I ought to be working on; and Yunupaya, whose book I am working on. When I really shouldn’t be. How did she get so loud all of a sudden?
Anyhow, these cute avatar things were made with this Portrait Illustration Maker at Abi-Station. And yes, that’s absolutely an invitation for y’all to get distracted as well. I’m nothing if not a fan of procrastination. (Shh, don’t tell anyone.)
Oh, it feels so good to be done with this book.
Not that I have much time to rest. I’ve got a short story to finish and revise within the next two weeks, two books to beta read, art to make, all that good stuff. I’m also secretly brainstorming edits for draft two already, plus that sci-fi YA I mentioned earlier. It’ll likely be a very different book from the one I originally planned, but that’s a good thing. It’s just taking my mind some time to switch gears.
Anyway, I thought I’d share some tidbits from the world of The Hands of Cally Wu, as the title implies. First a Wordle picture, since I still love running my finished manuscripts through this thing:
(What this taught me: I need to cut down on describing people’s physical aspects. Yowza with the breath/hand/hands/mouth/voice/arm/eyes/fingers/hair/what’s with the size of the word like/oh lord this is making me dread revising already.)
I’ve also been working on a drawing of Cally on and off for the past week. Mostly off. I had a book to finish or something weird like that.
It’s not remotely finished yet, and I see a lot of things I need to fix–especially about the coat–but I like where it’s going. It’s been a while since I really finished something, so hope this will break my artistic dry spell as of late.
I’m back to work on The Book in Desperate Need of a Name. In theory, anyway. I ended up taking a little more time off from it than I expected, so it’s a struggle to get back into it after the light-hearted fluff that is Always Read the Fae Print; in order to combat that, I’m listening to the soundtrack a lot and re-reading what I have so far.
Anyway, here’s a snippet with my MC and her father talking, shortly after the death of my MC’s sister, Viola.
“What happened to Viola,” my father says. “Did your… your demons…”
I shake my head. “Someone shot her. That’s not how they work.”
“No one has any reason to shoot her.”
I don’t answer.
“You were there when she died. It’s got to do with you, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Of course it does,” he hisses. “The things you told me you do to people? It’s someone out for revenge. Has to be.”
“Psychic vampires aren’t people.”
“And the others? Those—those soul merchants? Occultists?”
“They don’t deserve to be.” I keep my eyes trained on the carpet.
This week, Jodi Meadows discussed emotional arcs in the series she’s currently working on. For the most part, my books follow a similar arc: things get worse, and then they get really bad, and then get better by the end.
The Book in Desperate Need of a Name, however, decided to be a rebel:
The thing about this book is that the better my MC feels, the more she’s deceiving herself. Since I’m writing in a very close first-person PoV, it’s tricky to keep up the tension; she feels perfectly fine (or thinks she does), but the reader is supposed to be dreading what comes next as a result of her delusions.
I’m currently still in the happy stages of this book. That steep drop is up next. Uh-oh.