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Book rec

When I decided to try to level up from writer to author, I went looking for books on how to do that. Do you know how many people are out there writing about writing? And how many people are out there waitiOuliningBookPIcng to take advantage of aspiring authors?

I’ve gotten some really great books in the past few years. And one really great audio lecture. But I think the book I use the most and has given me the most oomph in my writing has been Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. After reading this book, it isn’t a surprise that Weiland also has a very successful website titled Helping Writers Become Authors.

Now, in the past I’ve been a full-blown pantser, the kind of writer who just starts writing by the seat of her pants and has no plan whatsoever. My only series and my biggest writing endeavor was all done with no real outline. Just an idea. But I was younger then with less cares (cue music and fuzzy memories). Now I have a lot more on my brain plate and have found that waiting about for the muse to strike and the story to form organically as I write isn’t happening. So I’ve started outlining.

There are many, many reasons why outlining is particularly awesome and the book goes into that. But the best thing, I think, that  outlining and, in particular, this book does extremely well, is get ideas to flow. Not just simple ideas, but ideas that can turn readers on their heads and they’ll love you for it. Ideas that might not come to you as you are writing because you are in the thick of it and can’t pull away far enough to see all the big picture and to see all the ways your story could go. Maybe you’ll see it in editing, but then you’ll be doing cutting and pasting and tweaking and shoving. You’ll have to do all that anyway, so why make more of the work for yourself, I ask.

Weiland doesn’t just sell a book that tells you how to organize your thoughts, but to really delve into and work out everything your story needs and wants. She teaches ways to jog some great plot points out and how to really flesh out characters and, more importantly, setting. So many authors, particularly in my genre, completely forget setting. Their characters dance about on a blank stage and it’s a truly terrible thing to read. In my big ol’ epic piece , The Concubine Prince, (which I am still writing on) I had my setting all planned out, but this book helped me get more detailed, more into it than just looking at it like a map. And because the setting came to life, more of the story could unfold and breathe, as well.

This book is laid out logically and written in a very engaging way. It’s not at all boring or dry. She uses real-life examples from other authors, as well as examples from the outlines on her own books. There is a workbook that goes along with this one, but I haven’t felt the need for it. Everything you need is right there and ready to be used and applied. A highly recommended book for any writer of fiction.

What about you? Have any excellent writing resources? Please do share!

NaNoWriMo, no?

nanoNovember is but days away. Days! And I still haven’t made up my mind on my project. It’s down to two: The novel I have been working on for years or the rewrites on my anthology-turned-series. I promised to have the series done by December, but I don’t see that happening. Which, admittedly, sucks. I overestimated my abilities. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who can multi-task, competently and enthusiastically. I give my all to one project at a time and downgrade everything else. I am nearly finished with my tax classes, taking the final on the 2nd. I’ll easily catch up on my NaNo word count from that delay.

But because of classes, I wasn’t writing nearly enough to meet my self-imposed deadline. Guilt tells me to use November to work on the series. But passion tells me to work on my beloved novel. I have it 95% plotted. I have a map drawn, notes written, inspirational photos and music. Passion for this project is high.

Guilt, however, has always driven me. On the other hand, I feel long-term guilt on my novel, seeing as how I once posted the first few chapters and never finished. That makes two public WIPS and I swore to never do that.

Well, is anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? What are you going to work on? If you are doing it and you wanna be buddies, I go by the same name over on the NaNo site, as here. Look me up and maybe we can inspire each other. …as soon as I figure out what the hell I’m doing.

Hilda!

HildaThe queen of the ample pin-ups! I adore her. I came across her existence a year or two ago and just found another stash of her prints. Her calendars were as popular as the other pin-ups back in the day, but she became lost to history for some time. I’m so very glad she was rediscovered.

Hilda1

Multi potential

Cruising through Facebook as I am oft wont to do, I bumped into this video.

I just recently celebrated my birthday and I am sliding into my forties. I’ve been going to school for years. I’ve switched my area of studies so many times, they’ve put a turnstile in the counselors’ office just for me. I’ve been feeling worse and worse about my lack of focus and drive, calling myself all sorts of names. I am so very glad I saw this video. Sometimes you just need to step out of yourself and see what you’re actually doing in a different light. This talk did that for me and now that I don’t see myself as a flighty slacker, I won’t present myself as one.

I hope anyone else who also beats themselves up for finding more than one or two things in life worth your attention and energy will gain something from this video, as well.

Would you say you’re a multipotenialite or kind that always knew what they’re calling was?

The Dead Lands

If you haven’t watched “The Dead Lands” you should give it a whirl. It’s set in New Zealand and about a boy who wants to exact revenge for the destruction of his tribe. It’s entirely in the Maori language. It has some violence, but nothing gruesome. Some CGI blood, that just gives you a gasp effect, not even close to vomit-inducing or comical silliness. I loved the ancestors part of it, the setting is obviously beautiful, and the story was incredibly satisfying. And the wicked cool Maori fighting is pretty bad ass. The posturing is incredible and if you’ve ever enjoyed watching the Haka performed before rugby matches, you’ll love this movie. We even have a stunning fight with a female warrior. Seriously, check it out!

And man flesh. Lots of man flesh.

And man flesh. Lots of man flesh.

The town next to mine has way cooler classes and activities, so I jumped city lines and took a pressure canning class.

I’ve danced around pressure canning for a while. I tried water bath canning this Spring and really liked it. But water bath canning is pretty much for fruits. Jams, jellies, chutney, etc. I dig all of them, but what I grow in my garden is veggies. I also wanted to can sauces and soups. And for all of that, you need a pressure canner.

Like right out of a sci-fi or horror set.

Like right out of a sci-fi or horror set.

This thing is not only intimidating-looking, it is also intimidatingly priced. At about $240, this isn’t some random hobby you just pick up to see if it sticks. Which is why I started with water bath canning. I was out only about $50 and I could decided if the whole rigmarole of canning was something I was into.

Having found that, yes, I’m into it. I went to this class yesterday. It was supposedly meant for kids, being put on by the local 4-H. But there was no one under their mid-twenties in that packed kitchen. Somehow I ended up sitting with a table of other vegetarians because when the first project was to can chicken, all of us went, “Pass.” Apparently we picked up each others’ vibage or something. Another very cool thing happened when we were all busy chopping and peeling for the veggie soup. I asked my table, “We’re not just tossing these scraps in the trash, are we?” A few moments later a bag went around for scraps that another student was going to put in her compost. Which is exactly where I wanted them to go. Well, ok. I’d have preferred that they went in my compost pile, but as long as they weren’t going in the landfill, I was good.

The instructor was awesome and patiently answered my many questions. No, the canner will not blow up. No, as long as you process everything long enough, you will not die of botulism. No, really, you won’t blow yourself up. Well, yes, this model of canner was used in a bombing incident, but there was no food involved, so you’ll be ok.

Now that I’ve seen the process from beginning to end, took notes, and have handouts, I think I’m ready to tackle this bad boy. So, I’ll be saving my pennies and hopefully have a pressure canner to (not blow myself up with) can my garden veggies next summer. Then I can make more of these!

My very own jars of green beans and veggie soup that fit perfectly in my car's drink carrier. Who knew?

My very own jars of green beans and veggie soup that fit perfectly in my car’s drink carrier. Who knew?

New semester, new class!

I really enjoy being a student. If I could do it professionally, I would. This semester I went with a class that I didn’t need for my degree but could use since I am also taking an income tax course what will take up a lot of brain power. I took a class called Process of Communication ’cause that sounded damned interesting. And it’ll be useful to learn how communication occurs when I am trying to help people file their taxes. Win-win!

Or so I thought until I was served a big ol’ helping of Nope.

The instructor first warned everybody that if they took this particular comm course to avoid public speaking, they were going to be disappointed since there were a couple of public speaking assignments. Meh, I’m not too bothered by doing speeches or presentations. No big. She went over the assignments and said APA format would be required and I quivered a little at that, but figured I needed to suck it up and finally stop dodging APA. It’d be cool.

But when she said, “The course will mainly be done in small groups,” I nearly stood up and went “Oh, hell no!” and storm out.

I don’t do small groups. I equate small group work to nails on a chalkboard or a chili pepper enema or underwear with worn elastic. No, Just no. God, no.

Therefore, I began to subtly pack up my things and wait for a good time to make a break for the door in case the instructor wanted to start her grouping on the first day. And then something horrible happened. She started telling us all the things we would learn in class, and damn it I want to learn that stuff. It is right up my alley of exploration. I even started thinking of changing my major to communication studies, which I do every semester that has a class I totally dig (I’ve decided to be everything from a biologist to a mathematician to a business manager).

So, I’m stuck. The teacher is awesome, funny and smart, and the material is incredibly intriguing and engaging. But I must traverse my own personal hell to get to it. Save me.