Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Monday, November 30, 2009

December 2009 - Battle Plan!

True, there is still a day left of November, which means I could theoretically get more words. The problem is, I won't be able to write - Mondays are insanely busy days, and if I don't get certain things done, they won't get done for the rest of the week.

With that said, I have drawn up a Battle Plan for myself extending all the way through the end of May 2010. Why? Well, in June of 2010, I'm planning to go back to Seton Hill University to get my MFA! The Writing Popular Fiction Program is now offering a MFA instead of a MA. Since I already have the MA, I only need to take half the required credits to get the MFA. Am I crazy? Yes. Will this mean I barely have time to breathe? Yes. Am I worried about time and money? Always. But it's worth a shot, and I think it will encourage me to rev up my writing engines and keep them humming.

Once June hits, I won't have time for many other writing projects I need to finish. Hence The Battle Plan. Dead As Dreams needs to get finished before June! At least the rough draft.

Instead of posting the entire Battle Plan, I'm going to post it in monthly chunks. Future blog posts will track my progress (as well as Twitter posts - I have been enjoying Twittering during NaNo - remember if you wish to follow me on Twitter, my username is AlexaGrave).

December's goals:

- Study - clean, organize, file the papers away, put pictures up...finally make it usable for a writing hideaway!
- Dead as Dreams rough draft - write at least 3,000 words per week, ultimate goal of 14,750 words by the end of December.
- Revise/Edit "Ancient Ways," then subsequently submit it somewhere.
- Revise "Ode to Buses and Libraries," then find a few people to critique it. =)
- Continue critiquing - lots of critiquing!
- Update Blog and Website bi-weekly (likely opposite weeks).
- Keep my completed short stories in slush piles (I'm happy to say all are currently off my desk and waiting in aforementioned slush piles).
- Read 50 pages per week in the current novel I'm reading.
- Start to catchup with online Writing Groups and Newsletters that I am tremendously behind on.

That's it. Not too scary, right? If I take things one month at a time, I think it won't be so intimidating. Unfortunately, I have other non-writing things that need to get done before June as well. Sigh. Well. Bring it!

Wish me luck, and happy writing!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009


As promised, here is my post that will track my progress with NaNoWriMo for the month. I will try to update the Writertopia graph daily (there is also a Word Count meter on the left side under my Twitter updates). Once in a while, I'll post a note with the date under this meter, instead of starting a new post for every comment I have.

Also, if you can't tell, I am doing frequent updates with Twitter - so if you want to know how I'm progressing, just follow me on Twitter (AlexaGrave)!



11/1/09 - Day 1 down, only 29 more days to go! The weekdays will be the biggest challenge, since my husband was around to be driven nuts by the little one today. Hey, at least it didn't feel like I was writing total crap. ;)

11/6/09 - Weekdays = no way I'm getting anything written because the little one demands my attention and I refuse to live in squalor (dishes and cleaning bathrooms, etc.). By the time my husband gets home I can barely think! And this Sunday I won't be writing either since we'll have friends over most of the day installing the molding in the little one's room (this must be done, as it's been put off for over a year and a half already). Sigh. We'll see what I get done on Saturday, but right now reaching 15k by the end of the month would make me happy.

11/9/09 - I'm not sure what's wrong with the Writertopia counter. I'll still update the other meter at the end of each day. Perhaps I'll copy that meter here in the post as well.... Anyway, I may be far behind, but at least I haven't given up (even though last Tuesday I was very close to giving up in a bigger sense because trying to do everything I need to do has been straining me). Only got a couple pages today, but it's better than nothing.

11/10/09 - Yay, I'm 10% to 50,000! I know, I know, still way behind. I have to revel in the little accomplishments to keep me going at least.

11/22/09 - I was sick most of the week. =( And I gave up on the 50k goal a while ago. Just not going to happen with the little one and other things. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying to add to my word count. I'm hoping for 14-16k by the end of the month. We'll see!

11/29/09 - I was planning to hit 10k at least, but unforeseen circumstances meant I couldn't (trust me, it was a good excuse, as far as excuses go). I won't be writing on the 30th, so 9,003 is my total for NaNo this year!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombie Alexa Grave?

Yes, back from the dead after over two months of not posting a damn thing!

Life has been busy - ups and downs, money junk and ALWAYS baby stuff. My daughter is 19 months old now and she never listens when we say no. She understands what we're saying, she just thinks it's funny (she especially breaks out in laughter when we pull her away from digging in the cat litter - sigh).

She runs my life and doesn't allow much time for anything!

With that said, it is my goal for November to toss out any bit of sanity I have leftover (I'm not even sure if I have a scrap left). I will be attempting NaNoWriMo again. But I'm going to be a NaNo Rebel this year! I plan to continue the rough draft of Shepherd of Dreams (which by the way will hence forward be called by its new title, Dead As Dreams - I'm quite happy with that title). I may not reach 50,000 words, but I'm pretty sure I'll write more than I have between last NaNo and this NaNo. =/ But if I DO reach 50,000 words, Rebel or not, I'm validating! I am positive I have at least 50,000 left to go for the rough draft.

Unfortunately, my goal of finishing the chapter I'm currently in the middle of before NaNo didn't happen...so I will be starting the NaNo Count in the middle of a chapter - oops! I blame my mother coming over on Thursday this week (my designated writing day for the last month or so).

As far as other writing updates go, I just finished a read through of one of my critique partners' super long novels, so hopefully I'll also find the time in November to start my general and internal comments on that. I submitted a story to the Writers of the Future Contest. I have slacked on other submissions and queries. And yes, I know I missed my triannual update, but oh well. Have to focus on the present and the future 30 days.

I will add a new meter to the left side soon for NaNo (alongside a new one for Dead As Dreams - if I can find a decent meter). Plus, I plan to use the Writertopia one again in an actual blog post and change it every day (I love the moods on that one).

My NaNoWriMo username is the same as always: alexagrave. Please add me as a buddy if you'd like! Also, here's the link to information on NaNo Rebels.

I have to head out now, as it's Halloween, and my 8th wedding anniversary! Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain all - and of course, happy writing!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rejection from Bards and Sages Quarterly

I have edited out some formatting snafus and Xed out the name of the responder:

Thank you for your submission to the journal. Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs. While apparently the subjects of the story are non-humans, that in and of itself does not make it a speculative story. All that is really presented here is another awkward teen angst moment decorated with a speculative motif. The narrator is annoying in a rather emo sort of way, and the constant interruption of the story with the "thump" "bend" nonsense is distracting window dressing that does nothing to build the scene or move the narrative. At the end, all we have here is a wallflower that got invited to dance. Good for her, but not really an engaging story.

Sincerely,
XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Every Little Bit Helps

Well, if you were watching my Twitter updates, I did not get 70 pages written last week. Life loves to interfere, and I just needed a break to zone out and not think too hard for a bit. If you're a writer and are thinking of having a baby - beware, they take up most of your time and energy! I'm not saying don't have one - just expect writing to be on the back burner for a while. =P

So, I did get 7 pages written at least (1 chapter). That's more progress than I've made on the Shepherd novel in months. It's a good start. Now I plan to aim for 1 chapter, or 7-10 pages a week. This I think will make slow but good progress.

I am also back to more critiques, which always keep me busy.

In other news, the agent that requested a partial sent back a rejection. =( Such is the writing life. I'll be sending more queries out again in the next couple weeks.

Okay, short blog entry. The little one is throwing around her high chair tray.

Happy writing all!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mascot For The Week

Adopt one today!
Jade's Shepherd


She is my encouragement to work on the Shepherd novel this week! So, I've only written one page...it's only Tuesday.

If anyone wants to take a look at my crazy dragon egg addiction, aside from this little one, click to see My Scroll.

Now to finish dishes and then attempt to write!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Two Months - Really?

Where have the last two months gone? Oh, yes, likely lost in a fit of financial woes. But that's not the point. I should have blogged at least once in that time.

Well, I'm blogging now, and I'm going to ignore the constant nagging in my head about money. Really.

Miraculously, and I mean that, my study is mostly in order. I have gone through all of the boxes that had yet to be unpacked. The only things left to do (which mind you, I was supposed to have done by the end of the weekend - oh, 30 minutes ago), are sorting through endless papers, putting up some pictures, vacuuming my lovely unicorn rug that has been rolled up for years, and putting up my stuffed animal net (go ahead, make fun of me for having a bunch of stuffed animals at my age - I dare you). So, this means it's mostly serviceable to use, unless of course we have temperatures in the 90s again - no air conditioning in there makes it not so conducive to writing...the bedroom with the window air conditioner is much better. Thank the gods for laptops. But it's still sad that the study, the place I have set aside to do my writing, does not get used. =/

In other updates, I sent more queries out, received more rejections, sent even more queries out, resent rejected stories out, critiqued a few things - the usual. I also managed to push out a rough draft of a 28 page short story based off of the Wizard of Oz. This was just this past week - I managed to write it in 4 days! That's a feat for me nowadays.

As for the upcoming week, I have a grand goal in mind. My husband has taken a week off of work. This means I don't have to be the only one keeping an eye on the little one all day...which means I can write! My goal is to write 70 pages of the Shepherd novel. The number sounds frightening to me, but it might be doable. Unless life decides to throw more crap my way (give me a week off, I beg, I plead, please Life - just ONE WEEK). I will make sure to Twitter updates on page count progress throughout the week. *Points to the left side of her blog where the updates will appear if anyone has forgotten*

I will now stop typing, or this may turn into another rambling post since I am exhausted and can't think straight. I will have to update next before two more months pass - promise!

Happy writing!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Triannual Status Update - First of 2009

Okay, so no crazy, wacked-out blogging today. Really. I promise. Maybe. Depends on what you think is crazy. =)

You might think it's crazy for me to come back to my scary yearly goals list and pick apart what I've done and what I haven't. You may also think the goals list was crazy to begin with. To me, that's not crazy, that's just me being normal.

Here we go - what have I done this year so far?

- I have not written 4k per week - the baby chasing only leaves me so much writing time, and recently I have been concentrating on other things besides fresh words
- I have not critiqued 1 thing per week, but I am critiquing on a more consistent basis - so far a total of 3 things for the year, as far as I can see, so hopefully I can pick that pace up a little bit
- The allotted hours I had listed...yea...little one says "I don't think so, mommy." (except when she says it, it sounds like "Eh, ma, ga, mmm, eh.")
- Obviously Shepherd of Dreams is not finished, and it is past April 30 =( - the Daina's Dance rough draft I am thinking might be pushed to next year
- Track Word Count/Productivity - I did when I was writing fresh words, but have not been with the story revisions...oops
- Out of the 12 short stories that need to be revised and submitted - "Cold...Oh So Cold" was edited and is currently in a slush pile; "This Is Where I Stand" has been revised, I recently received some editing feedback, will edit it next week and it will be out in a slush pile then as well; "Path of One" has been revised and I received suggestions for the last line, so i just need to make a decision for that line, then it's going to a slush pile (likely next week); still have 9 other stories to deal with
- Haven't worked on any of the rough drafts of the 6 stories I had listed (or any other stories I didn't have listed, for that matter)
- All completed short stories ARE in slush piles - yay!
- I have submitted a total of 9 queries this year for The Mind Behind the Mind - 1 full manuscript request, resulting in a rejection; 3 rejections; 2 no responses, which looking at the websites means rejections; and 3 were just sent out last night
- Newsletters, magazines...? Remember, I'm not superwoman!
- Listerves, writing groups...see above
- More like once a month for the blogging, but I'm okay with that for now
- I haven't done much with my website - cleaned it up a bit once, but I have an idea for a Writing Prompt, and I really need to post it soon
- Backing up files has been pretty consistent
- My reading has plummeted - it may just be I really am not digging the third George R. R. Martin novel - political fantasy may be my brother-in-law's cup of tea, but not mine, and it could also be the fact that I'm too exhausted to read by the time bedtime rolls around
- Um, the study...the loveseat is cleared off, does that count? Still way too many boxes (and cobwebs), though
- I will not be attending the WPF Alumni Writing Retreat this year - money, alas money, is the main reason...if we are short $6k to paint the outside of our house, we definitely don't have the funds for me to go to Pennsylvania =(

That's the update. I am no where near on schedule. I'm at least keeping up with submissions, and I think once I have a bunch of short stories off the revision pile, I'll feel much better. Should I be crazy and set some basic goals for the next triannual status update? Hehehe - why not?

- Revise, possibly get more feedback, and submit the following stories: "Dreams in Shadow", "Hell Hath No Fury", "Ode to Buses and Libraries", "The Awakening", and "Ancient Ways"
- Write 25-30k more for Shepherd of Dreams
- Critique 6-8 things
- Post that Writing Prompt on my website
- Finally get my study cleaned (this is I think the most difficult to do)
- Get through Storm of Swords and move onto something more to my liking for reading!

That's not too scary/crazy of a list...right? Baby willing, I'll try my hardest!

How are everyone else's yearly goals moving along? Please post to my comments so I know what everyone else has done this year. =)

Happy writing, all!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Waiting Over...For Now

So, I finally received a response from the agent who was looking at my full manuscript. I have struck out again! But in the way rejections go - it was a GOOD rejection. She suggested I submit to another agent.

This always makes me think when my writer friends and I talk about good rejections. Oxymoron-land here we come. It's a rejection, negativity inherently in the word's meaning. Yet we have to modify the word rejection with good or bad. I think it's our way of protecting ourselves from the horrid things rejections can do to writers. A rejection is like a drop of acid - it eats away at you, add a new drop and the deterioration accelerates. So we need to dilute the acid to save our souls from being eaten away too quickly, our muses from drowning in the vile stuff, and our drive to write from disintegrating. That is why the rejection needs to be modified with good once in a while, otherwise there would be no writers left. =P

Fun fun - the psychology of writers could be a study in and of itself.

With that said, I got a GOOD rejection because of the recommendation to send a query to another agent. Which I will do next week, along with queries to at least two more agents. One of these days my itch to send things out in threes because I think it's good luck will pay off. Really. I hope. Maybe...

*fights off the pessimism trying to burn a hole through her psyche*

Did I mention this was rambling blog day?

Waiting - I used this in my last blog title, and in this one. Kind of funny when I think of it. I have been revising a short story, "This Is Where I Stand". I started revisions just after my last blog post, and it is in great need of dialogue fixes and rhetorical question scrubbing, among other things. But one of my themes throughout the story is the repetitiveness of waiting - my main character is a Queen in Waiting (not a Princess, she will succeed the Queen because all the female warriors battled to see who would be the Queen in Waiting, and dear Zenya won). For example, here she is at a meeting with the current Queen: "She raises an eyebrow, but waits for me to continue. Now she's doing the waiting, but it's not the same. She's waiting for me to speak, waiting for the silence to break, waiting for her own death." The funny thing is, I forgot I had this repetitiveness with waiting until I started revising, so the title for my last blog entry was unintentional.

What does all this mean? Nothing really. I just think it's interesting how some things seem to converge - like I think about something and then that same word or subject is heard in a song on the radio. As if the universe bends to certain ideas, thoughts, or words at a given moment - as if coincidence wasn't really just coincidental, but certain things are more likely to happen at certain times so that same thing happens in many instances at that moment or over a short period.

I know, that doesn't make sense. Okay, it makes sense to me. But I doubt it makes much sense to anyone else.

What does this have to do with writing? Ha! I can actually explain that. You just thought I was speaking nonsense for the hell of it. Maybe I was and just decided to connect it to my writing - you'll never know! Anyway, when I'm writing, and especially when I write a scene I think turned out great, I wonder if it would have turned out different if I would have written it at any other time. When characters do things I don't expect, I think that just maybe this wouldn't have happened, something else would have resulted, if I wrote that scene or story at another point in time. The universe bends my writing to that point in time, just like other occurrences, so when I write something is just as important for the outcome as how I write it.

Well, I guess my craziness should be wrapped up. The universe just told me to go to bed by having the last lightbulb in the room burn out. Damn universe.

Happy writing (and delusions) to all!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Waiting...

What am I waiting for? We'll get to that later. *flashes an evil grin*

I have updated the Links section on my website. If anyone has any other links for me to add, please let me know, as my list is no where near comprehensive. I had an idea for a writing prompt, which I hope to post in a couple weeks.

I have now signed up for Twitter. Since I don't blog as often as I'd like (and since typing a blog entry takes a lot of time), I figured it might be a good thing to try. You can find my Twitter updates on the left side of my blog, right above my Current Project info.

Speaking of Current Project info, no I have not managed to get anymore words out, but next week my brother-in-law will be visiting during his spring break, and besides putting him to work painting the bathroom, I intend to make him babysit his niece for at least an hour each day so I can write - heh. Also, the silly word meter is down, and I can't find another word meter that I like as much, so I just left the numbers up at least and I'll try to update those (even though I might work on a short story next week).

I did get a critique done, and I've started another - daylight savings time really threw a wrench in things because babies do not adjust easily, and I have had 2am nights all week.

I also sent three stories to slush piles, two have already come back as rejections, so I need to send them out again.

As for the queries I sent out, I received responses from the three I mailed out in February, but still nothing from the three I e-mailed in January. Two of the responses were rejections.

But query sending has been suspended for the month until further notice. Yes, I did say only two rejections...

I got a request from an agent to see my full manuscript! *cheers*

Hopefully I will hear back either way soon. I was told maybe two weeks (speedy in the agent world from what I know), but agents get busy and their current clients come first. Going back to the title of my blog post, that's what I'm waiting for, and I am a bundle of nerves, as usual. =)

Okay, true I didn't get any new words written, but at least I've done a bunch of writing related things. Until next time, happy writing, all!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Almost Mid-February - Booooo

The year is already flying by, and I have no idea where it's going! I obviously haven't accomplished as much as I hoped to by this time, in writing and otherwise.

I really do need to clean out my study so I can use it...writing at the desktop computer is getting annoying because of the sound of the water in the turtle tank. =/ Maybe that's why I have a headache - I listen to that most of the day!

Anyway, some brief updates before I go back to mommy-duty, so daddy can get some sleep for work tomorrow.

Three more queries have gone out! That means I've doubled the amount I sent out last year - woo hoo. =) No responses back from the first three yet - all in due time.

I also managed to get Chapter 16 of Shepherd of Dreams completed. My word count meter for the rough draft of that novel is slowly climbing. A little is better than nothing. Some surprises popped up too with the characters - that's what I love about not having an outline, when I write something I didn't expect, it gives me a giddy feeling.

I still haven't put some stories back into slush piles yet, and I have tons of revising of that long list of stories to do as well. I hate revising, but I'm kind of itching to get some of those stories out in circulation, so I'll have to find the time and make the effort. Even though I'm trying to get more words churned out on Shepherd, I do think it might be time to get another rough draft of a short story out of me - I need that sense of completion to give me more steam to reach the end of the novel. We'll see.

Okay, that's what's going on with me. Oh, yes, I hope to update the Links section of my website this weekend.

Baby time. =) Happy writing all!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Am Not Superwoman

Yes, I know that was a line in an episode of House this week, but to be frank, it's a cliche in the first place, and I have often thought of this phrase (especially after since having the little one) even before it was uttered to Dr. Cuddy.

There is no way I can take care of a baby full-time (one that is now crawling all over the house and needs to be watched to make sure she doesn't remove the pacifier from her mouth to insert some type of fuzz/cat hair/dirt/etc. from the floor into her mouth), keep the house picked up and clean, write every single day, exercise, read, cross-stitch (because the one I am currently working on should have been done before my daughter was born...maybe it'll be done by the time she's 16 and can comment how silly and childish it is), cook (OK, I really don't do much of this anyway - thank the gods my husband does), spend time with my family--this would include watching silly TV shows like House, spend a sliver of time on spiritual pursuits (I'd like to be a PRACTICING Wiccan one of these days), give the cats attention/brushing/teeth cleaning, keep track of all the finances, e-mail all my friends, keep up with writing forums/newsletters/magazines, work on various house projects (like finishing unpacking after 3 years of living here and going through 20 boxes worth of accumulated papers), and try to have enough downtime (i.e. vegging and playing video games) so I don't lose my sanity...oh, and sleeping...can't forget sleeping.

That might have been my worst run-on sentence to date. I'm not even sure if it's a complete sentence.

Anyway...I am not superwoman! And it's sad when I have to try to force myself to remember this and keep repeating it in my head when I don't seem to get everything done that I want to do. It's not possible to do everything, to be a million places at once. It took me half the day to clean the bathroom on Monday for goddess's sake! Seriously, the baby tried to eat little bits of carpeting like every 30 seconds...

So, what's the point of this statement and rambling? It's to point out that I'm too hard on myself when the house is a mess still, but more importantly when I don't get my writing done. I can't do it all, and that fact just doesn't want to stay drilled into my head. I'm frustrated that I can't do it all, that I can't write more without everything else in my life being neglected.

This evening, I sat on the couch watching TV, my little girl asleep on my chest. True, I could have attempted to put her down to sleep, in hopes that she wouldn't wake up right away, but I know those moments won't last--the moments where I can just hold and snuggle her. Yet I felt guilty for not putting her down to either clean or write. I hate feeling that way. I shouldn't feel that way, and the drive to need to get everything on my damn list done cripples me at times.

I'm not superwoman, I'm not superwoman, I'm not superwoman.

I shouldn't feel guilty for spending time with my daughter.

Okay...you're probably wondering what my point is again. NO, I'm not giving up writing (kind of wish I could afford a maid so I could give up cleaning, though) - if I didn't write I'd lose my sanity just as well as if I didn't unwind and relax (that year I didn't write, the yearning to tell stories hurt so much, it was almost unbearable at times). My point is mainly to vent I think, and to remind myself that even if I only succeed at a fraction of goals and only get a smidgen of things on my list completed - it's all right because I'm NOT superwoman. Some people might be able to be super-human, but not me.

With that said, I am not on track with my writing counts. Before this week, I had about 3 pages written total for the month. Happily I am up to 6 pages for this week alone, so 9 so far for the month. Yay me! Hey, it's a step for non-superwoman. This also puts me over a third into my goal for word length for Shepherd of Dreams.

I still have queries to send out, revisions to work on, stories to put back in circulation, among all of life's other duties.

I hope everyone else is having more success with finding time to write.

One more time, for good measure - I am not superwoman.

Happy writing, all!