>Elisabeth’s Dream

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My four year old told me a story about a dream she just had, and I thought I would record it here for posterity (and for you, dear readers, should you want to see.)
“I dreamed about the skunks, and they were in the trash can. They were stinky. And they sprayed me, and it was really stinky. I told them to get out of my trash can, but they sprayed me. It was stinky. Those were stinky skunks.”
I think the skunks might have been stinky!

>Back up your novel, RIGHT NOW!

One of the worst things that can happen to any artists is to lose your work to a corrupted file, a power outage, or storage device failure. It’s happened to me several times, and now I back up my novel in several places.

1) I have Dropbox set up on my computer. It automatically syncs my files stored in its folder, without me even having to think about it.  I can access it across multiple computers, or log in online anywhere I have net access. 2 GB free. If you get referrals (such as with my link right here) you can earn another full GB of free storage. They also offer paid accounts up to 100 GB, I think it is.

2) USB stick.  I keep a 2 GB drive handy at all times.  It’s nice to have, but they’re losable. In fact, I’m missing one now, and it’s annoying me.

3) Google Docs – it tends to muck up your formatting, but it’s perfect for writing from anywhere, and making backups. better to have to redo your tabs than to lose it completely, eh? It’s also great if you want to share your writing with a few people for critique or collaboration.

4) Backup to another partition on my laptop.

5) Email it to myself.

Backing up is vital… I lost over 30k on my original NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m missing about 20k on the one from two years ago.  It makes me very annoyed, and if I’d been more diligent about my backups… I’d still have it.

>A little short on my daily goal

Yesterday, I bell a bit short of my goal.  I’m at 6,026, and I was planning on being at 6,670 last night.  That adds a bit more to what I need to have done, but that I can do.  I managed to insert a gratuitous sex scene, but I think it’s actually going to advance the plot a little; add some conflict early on (and not the kind you think, either).

Just to share a little, here’s a short snippet of what I’ve written so far (in all its unedited glory). One of my MCs is an albino; however, I’m trying to make her representation realistic; albinos have serious vision problems, as a result of the lack of pigment in their eyes, and glasses don’t help, either. So she’s actually mostly blind. And magic hasn’t automatically fixed it, either; her spells help, but are imperfect.

Anyway:

   Sara stretched and reached for the ceiling, trying to work the kinks out of her neck and back.  She had been sitting for hours, poring over one of her beloved texts, nose to book, the only way she found it possible to read.  The spectacles that should have been on her face were lying by the book.  They gave her headaches, and they didn’t really help her much, anyway, but her instructors insisted she have them.  They were mostly just fashion accessories at this point.

“Still moldering away in this library?” Larath said,patting her on the shoulder and flopping noisily into the chair. The librarian glared as he scraped chair against floor and knocked three of her books onto the floor.

“Larath, you need to be more careful!” she admonished, stooping to gather up the books.

“Sorry, sis, I’m just not good with this stuff.”  He thumbed through one of the tomes, sniffing and setting it down with a shake of his head.  “Give  me the sawdust in the salle over the musty dusty in here any day.”

She shook her head.  “You’re lucky you have me around, you know, otherwise you’d be a complete ignoramus. How did you even manage to pass your classes?”

Larath grinned at her.  “Easy.You helped me.”

She rolled her eyes.  “I shouldn’t have.  Maybe you would have learned something other than how to swing a sword.  Speaking of which, aren’t you supposed to be practicing for your final practicum?”

He shook his head. “I was supposed to, but instructor Elias managed  to sprain his ankle, so the session was cancelled. I’ve got the rest of the day off!”  he stretched and leaned back in his chair.  He pinwheeled his arms wildly as the chair overbalanced and nearly toppled over, dumping him into the floor. He seized the table and steadied himself.

Sara shook her head again. “You’re hopeless. Get out of here before you tear the place down, or get me kicked out of here. I’ve got to finish this.”

“Nuh uh. I’m here to make sure you eat, young lady. A little bird told me yiou’ve been here *all* day, and haven’t stopped once for anything to eat. If you fall over from starvation, you’ll never have the energy to finish your exams. Or stay up to study for them.”

She sighed. “But I just have a few more pages–”

He grabbed her arm, closed the book, and pulled her up to her feet. “No way. You’re coming with me, now, while lunch is still hot, so you don’t end up with a bowl of stewed leftovers.”

Sara grabbed her cloak and slung it over her shoulders. She murmured a few arcane syllables, twisted her fingers, and pulled the hood of the cloak over her head. “Alright, alright, I’m going.”  She let him guide her through the tables, thankful that this time, at least, she wouldn’t end up with another bruised thigh when some thoughtless ass forgot to push his chair under the table.

“Sara! Sara!” someone called.  She looked back to see the librarian’s indistinct shape, glowing, waving something high in the air.  “Wait!”  The librarian caught up to her, and the glow faded to see the blurry human form.  She blinked to try and clear her vision, but the spell had malfunctioned somehow, and the blur remained.

I need to work on that.  Still not handling the far to near transition well, Sara thought to herself.

“Sara, dear, you forgot your spectacles,” the librarian said, shoving the metal framed lenses into Sara’s hand.  Sara smiled, swallowing the retort, and crammed the spectacles  onto her face. The librarian smiled, and bowed, then scurried off to her desk.

“I thought those didn’t help?” Larath said as they walked out of the library.

“They don’t. No one seems to believe me when I tell them that, though, so they keep insisting I wear them. They give me a headache, but if I don’t wear them, the headache I get from the constant nagging to put them on is worse. So I close my eyes, or just grin and bear it.”

“That is so cool. I wish I could see with my eyes closed,” he commented, holding open a door for her.

“I wish I could see more with them open.”

>The Midnight Disease: first 60 pages

Wow. That’s all I can really say. This book is utterly fascinating.  It’s written by a writer and a scientist, and aims to look into the science behind the drive to write, and writer’s block. So far, it’s mostly talked about hypergraphia (the compulsion to write) but it is continually tying it back into “normal” writerliness.  It’s incredibly fascinating, and I’ve already learned a lot. There’s a good bit about temporal lobe epilepsy (something I believe my husband suffers from) so this is even more interesting to read.

So far, I am going to highly recommend this to anyone who might be interested in the human brain as it relates to being a writer.  It’s truly amazing.

>Writing every day

I can hear your groan a mile away. This is not new advice, right?  Yeah, every writer blog you’ve ever seen tells you that.  It’s good advice, but you’ve already heard it.

Well, I’m not going to tell you to.  Because you already know. What I will tell you is how this advice has started to transform my life!

Seriously, I’ve been suffering from insomnia for the last year or so. A lot of it is because of my lingering post partum depression (PPD, to the uninitiated.)  Some of it eating habits (Why yes, I’d love a coke at 10:00 PM!). But the primary cause is staying up too late on the computer. There was a study done recently linking computer screen time to insomnia.  My husband told me about it, and it makes sense;  the light emanating from the computer screen interrupts your natural biorhythms.  So I figured… why not. Let’s cut out the electronic lap-teat and see what happens.

I don’t have any good books around right now, so I pulled out my blank journal, the one I’ve been half-ass carrying around with me all the time with intentions of writing.

I wrote 20 pages in two days.

That was four weeks ago. I’ve only missed three nights, and that was due to unavoidable medical issues.  I’ve gone from 24 pages to 92 (as of last night.) I’m sleeping better, my back hurts less,and I’m a lot less grumpy. More importantly, the only time I’ve seen 3 AM has been when the insomnia left me tossing and turning in bed AFTER I wrote.

It feels good. I’ve actually loved sitting in bed, with my husband, him reading a book, me listening to my MP3 player and scribbling like I did when I was a poor teenager with no computer.

Best of all? No email to distract me from my latest WIP.

Now that, my friends, is good news indeed.

>Writing and Music

Music is one of those things that just seems to go with writing. Like peanut butter and jelly, or peaches and cream, or Fred and Ginger.  Combine music with writing, and you can transcend the ordinary, stimulate your sense, and inspire your mind.

But how that music affects your writing is as different from person to person as different foods taste to different people.  (Hmm.  I think it might be lunch time… all these food references!)

One of my greatest inspirations comes from one of the strangest places: industrial techno.  I started listening to is while writing Hacker Dragon. The gritty, visceral nature of it has proven to given me a very strong motivator for my writing; not everything, but I never write a battle scene without it! Not all industrial, either… I actually have a penchant for the German stuff. Front Line Assembly is actually one of my favorites.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Enya. Seriously.  I love Enya. She goes back to a part of me that’s been writing for decades. She can keep my brain flowing, without intruding on my words.  Gentle inspiration without overflowing. Marie Brennan (Enya’s siste), too, has that effect.

Hearts of Space
often provides me with a random assortment of unexpected gems. Sometimes, it’s total crap, weird new-agey lame stuff, but occasionally there’s some really spectacular stuff. I used to listen to Hearts of Space on PBS with my dad… there are dozens of recorded tapes of HoS programs around this house. Black, with tiny hand-made labels in my dad’s neatly scrawled, cramped hand, and lovingly taped on the front. I love those tapes.  Even though the quality is deteriorating now, it still brings back fond memories of staying up until midnight on Sunday to listen with my dad.  Music is a tactile thing, for me.  Some people have olfactory memories. I never really have. Mine are auditory.

Music can stir memories that translate into powerful scenes when I’m writing.

What kind of music inspires you?

>To plan or not to plan… that is the question

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Every year I have ever planned for NaNoWriMo in anything other than a vague, general sort of “this is the idea” I’ve failed. If I outline, plan, plot, do dossiers and stuff… I fail.

If I get a few character ideas, a few plot bunnies, the occasional odd plot point… I win. Usually in record time. (Current record is 10 days.  I do not recommend it. I had my wrist in a splint for weeks.)

I sorta want to plan, but I’m currently working on a novel that’s been around forever.  I want to continue with it, I don’t want to lose it. I’m in love with these characters, with this story.

I think I may do something with last year’s steampunk characters… the story fell flat.  They were good characters, but I did not have them in the right story, I’m afraid. Happens from time to time.

I think I may do something new. To keep me in this world, and not too far in the future, I may work on the sequel.  It’s actually written with my MC’s children (Albino twins. I KNOW, I know… they probably won’t stay that way, but in all fairness, I was 17 when I came up with the idea.)

I’ve got a few title ideas: The current one: Spirit of the Hunt. The sequel: Scion of the Hunt or maybe Song of the Hunt.

I promise. No violent rape scenes like in 2007.