- It was raining this morning. I was pathetically glad of this fact as I just DID NOT feel like running. I didn’t run Thursday either for the same reason so if it’s clear on Tuesday, I fully expect it to SUCK. But I’ve been subbing HIIT on the recumbent bike, so it’s not like I’ve been lazy.
- Last night was the opening season bout for the local roller derby. It was my first experience shooting wholly on manual with a flash and the excitement of the night was that I nearly got creamed 6 times in the corner I was shooting from. Hubs almost never had anything happen last season when he shot from that corner. Made for a few great shots though. Today we’re shooting a baby shower.
- The writing has been going well this week. My word counts are up. Wednesday: 856, Thursday: 1064, Friday: 947, Saturday: 814, and this morning 982. Three of those days were scenes in one of the contemporary romances I started a series bible for earlier in the week. It wasn’t the plan, but it was such a stressful week, and I’m up to some really important stuff in DOTH, so I didn’t mind working on something else. It’s words. I’m good with that. It’s part of my goal for this year–to keep writing on SOMETHING on the days that I’m not working on my primary WIP. That means more writing days total for the year, which is absolutely my end game. The hope is, of course, that I’ll have more stuff finished this year than in the past. There are 10 days left to go this month and I’ve already outstripped last month’s word count by about 3k, so that’s a big yay.
- DOTH is going to require more editing than my last projects. Some of these early scenes are fine. Nailed it in one. But there’s a lot of fumbling and floundering trying to find my voice for the heroine in Act 1, so I suspect there will be a lot of revision to clean that up. And that’s fine. Not every book will come out clean at the end of the first draft. Most don’t. Red was a fluke.
- I want to get back to some plotting and detail work on Longest Night, the Mirus novella I started a few weeks ago. It’s plotted out in broad strokes, with story structure and a full scene list, but there are some world building details I need to sort out and figure out what I want to show before I can move forward and write more on it. Which requires, you know, actual THINKING TIME. I haven’t had a lot of that the last week or two, and I don’t expect to have much this week either. Hopefully this is the last of my hell weeks at the EDJ for a while.
- I had some seriously whacked out dreams Friday night, of a variety that made me think Claire Legrand had invaded my brain. And I totally started a blueprint based off them. It was a YA dystopian retelling of a story that nobody would ever dream up being dystopian. Well, except for Claire, which is why I think I was channeling her somehow. Dystopian is so not my normal bag, and I may never write it, but it was worth throwing in the idea file in case I want to clear the palette.
- At the end of this week, I am meeting up with Susan Bischoff and Lauralynn Elliott over in Birmingham for a writer’s weekend. I can’t freaking wait! It’s a rare thing I really get to hang out much with other writers, so this is the highlight of the next few months. It’s my Holy Grail at the end of this stressful work week. And I’m stopping in Tuscaloosa on my way home to grab some coffee with Bobby Matthews and talk shop, as I just introduced him to Story Engineering. Fair warning, I will probably be REALLY FREAKING HYPER NEXT WEEK.
I’m actually going to take these out of order.
Operation Goddess In Training
So a few weeks ago, I bought a set of adjustable dumbbells. They go from 5-60 pounds and ought to be as much as we’ll need for a long while. I have separate little dumbbells anywhere from 1-10 pounds, just because I’ve been doing this for a long time and haven’t gotten rid of them. Plus it’s easier for exercises that use a smaller weight to use a less bulky one. I’ve been operating with 15 pounds and it wasn’t until I was showing hubs how to change the weights on them the other night that I realized…um, I haven’t been using 15 pounds. I’ve been using 20. I misread the little arrow system for the levers because, hey, I workout at 6 AM. Which explains why it felt like such a monumental jump from 10!
The jogging has been going well. 2.25 miles in increasing jogging increments (1.8 miles total jogged so far). Three days a week, weather permitting (which, so far, it has). It’s getting slightly easier. In another month, I think I’ll make it up to a full 2 miles and might start adding a little more overall distance. And otherwise, on my weight lifting days, I’m doing 20-30 minutes of HIIT on the exercise bike.
Was reading a new exercise book (Tone Every Inch) last night and it was talking about the value of tracking and mentioned some study where people who tracked their exercise worked out 174 minutes a week compared to like 90. I looked at my log. Um…yeah I average 315 minutes plus–not counting the weight lifting. Spread it out throughout the day, every day, and it adds up.
So a couple of things led to this. The last three books I’ve read have been contemporary romance–not my normal genre these days. The first of them was something of a disappointment and spawned me to ponder why a lot of contemporary romance doesn’t work for me. The second was the latest Nora (The Next Always) from her Inn Boonsboro series, which I loved. While I was reading it, two things happened. I started purposely trying to map the story structure, a la Larry Brooks on to the story (and managed it), as well as identifying the antagonist/conflict and actually defining it (something I have never done with CR before). And I started thinking about all my Mississippi based fiction (yeah that thing that doesn’t actually exist because I’ve been all paranormal the last four years?). Several folks responded to that post, urging me to at least start a notebook to remember all of those characters and such. So the other day, I did that. I opened up a new Series Bible in scrivener and started listing out characters.
As I was digging back through my files, looking to see who all I’d forgotten, I discovered something that was (but shouldn’t have been) a shock to me. I used to write contemporary romance. I used to read it all the time (okay, so I read Nora all the time, but the woman is so prolific, that took a long time). I have a platoon of semi-sketched, partially written stories that were never finished because back then I was a total pantser and I had no grasp of story structure, particularly as pertains to contemporary romance. If it wasn’t beat you over the head obvious (as in serial killer or demon), I couldn’t identify the conflicts (which in CR are often subtle) or the stakes.
I can’t believe I forgot all this. But I guess I did because it is PS (Pre Susan) and in many ways I kind of mark my writing career by things that were PS or AS (After Susan), since finding my crit partner was the single greatest thing to ever happen to me as a writer. And at that time I was solidly into romantic suspense. So much that I’d forgotten about what came before. Anyway, she and I’ve had some really interesting discussions the last few days about what makes up a GOOD contemporary romance. We keep coming back to the fact that the good ones are character driven, set in a location that people want to hang out in and/or come back to, and that the conflicts created are not superficial or could be solved with a single conversation.
ROW80 Progress Report
So on that front, I did a lot of work on my Cadence Creek (that’s my Mississippi town–well, one of them–originally there were two that I’ve combined to the one) series bible, and pulled all the characters I’d created from files dating all the way back to 2003. By the time I was done, I had 25 characters, 10 intended pairings, and 9 fleshed out locations in town (businesses and such). I made up a worksheet for Contemporary Romance details, generated a generic list of possible antagonist/conflicts that often arise in CR. Just something I can jot things in as they occur to me before I’m ready for a full on blueprint. Yesterday I made up a doc talking about various families and friendships, talking about how people knew people, as well as another chart listing out the folks who are locals and the ones who are transplants. Over time, I want to pull all the snippets of stuff into the series bible and organize it according to characters, and story kernel, just so I have it all in one place. No idea when I’ll actually write something for this world (because, God knows, I do not need to be splitting my genres AGAIN right now), but for now, I’m enjoying the hell out of rediscovering it.
On the actual writing front, not a lot going on. As I reported Sunday, I had over 900 words. Monday I managed 556, and that was a stretch because I was super frazzled after work. And yesterday was Valentine’s Day so I wound up giving myself a break, finishing The Next Always and hanging out with my honey when he got off work. Never underestimate the awesome of a man who totally understands that the ENTIRE PURPOSE of sending flowers is to send them to work where you can show them off and brag on him. Also he got me a T-shirt that says “As You Wish” with the “I” made up of that classic silhouette shot of Buttercup and Westley. Because, yeah, he’s that awesome.