A Day With My Muse

As I’m watching the calendar zip toward the end of the year, I’m really feeling the pressure, and all of my 2019 goals slip right through my fingers. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, I’ve just been writing everything except the books I had planned to finish before the end of the year.

Discipline is great advice–if it actually worked for my dysfunctional muse (aka creative flow). Unfortunately, whenever I try to force myself to focus on a certain book, rather than the one my muse wants to work on, I end up spending hours staring at a blinking courser while she sits on the sidelines filing her damn nails.

Any amount of words you can get down for any WIP is progress. This is a golden truth and we should never deny ourselves the credit for those small, random accomplishments. I just wish mine were on the WIPs I need to get done first. There’s a natural order to writing, or at least there should be. Especially, if you’re like me and juggle an extensive amount of series. Oldest series should be getting new installments published before newer series, right? And definitely well before new stand-alone’s that can wait.

My order is slightly different. My older series are with my publisher, rather than self-published so I’m not in any hurry to add to those until I get my rights back. #sorrynotsorry. My goal order begins with my oldest Indie books – the Hell on Earth series would be first and I hit that one out of the ballpark by introducing Hexed earlier in the year. Yay, team! The Dark Day Isle series would be next…. (looks around for muse, and finds her ecstatically pointing toward book 3 of my Ulfrinn series.) Erm…no. I just said, we’re not adding more books to the series that are still with the publisher.

After three days of staring at the blinking courser, I break down. Fine! We’ll work on the damn 3rd book to the Ulfrinn series until you get bored with it!

One week later….

I’m now staring at a blinking courser for book 3 of the Ulfrinn series, so I guess she’s finally bored with it. What are we working on today, muse?

“I had an idea.”

No. No, you didn’t–

“Yes, I did and it’s totally awesome, you wanna hear it?”

No, I–

“SOOOOooo, this is how is goes…”

😐

Two days and one new WIP added to the pile later…

This has been my year so far; lather, rinse, repeat. How are your 2019 goals shaping up, writers? Are you struggling to meet them, surpassing them or just happy with writing anything at all? Do you often find yourself at odds with your muse or did you get a fully-functional, helpful one?

There’s an endless supply of advice out there on the world wide web about how to conquer, control and keep your creative flow in line – and I really hope you’re all finding something useful to help you along your journey. They often don’t work for me because much of it centers around being a Plotter, which I will never be. I couldn’t plot a book to save my life. I’m 100% a Pantser, completely at the mercy of my characters and which direction they want to go, what they want to reveal, and those delicious twists even I never see coming.

Plus, I have the most obstinate, stubborn-as-hell muse in existence. I just really hope I’m not the only who refers to their ‘creativity’ as a separate entity they often butt heads with – LOL. If I am, don’t tell me, I like living in denial of my issues. 😉

❤ Happy Saturday! Wherever you are, I’m sure you’re trying to stay cool like the rest of us – so now might be a great time to work on your next winter or autumn themed novel. Just an idea! 😀

#WordCountWednesday

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I’ve officially given up trying to stay focused on one book at a time, it’s not working. My brain (aka muse) just doesn’t work that way, apparently. All I accomplish is staring at the computer screen and getting no writing done. So, I suppose that completely defeats the purpose of my DIY 30 day Challenge. However, having to be accountable for a word count every Wednesday has been helping me stay in the habit of writing every day, no matter which WIP it’s on and that’s better than not writing at all.

I didn’t gain much on my word count this past week, because I was working on the first pass of my new book, Hexed, so I could get the MS back to my editor. Below are my new counts. By March 7th, I may still get 50,000 written, it just won’t be all on one book! LOL

Fox Trot (Dark Day Isle: The Ultimate Kink Resort, Book 3): 10,624

Mistress Wanted (Revision): 25,147 (May be scrapping and completely rewriting)

Mistress Wanted (New Book 2): 5,865

Broken Toys: 17,542 (Have not added any new words to this since the beginning of the challenge but was cleaning it up a bit yesterday, which means I may be working on it this next week)

Happy Hump Day!

#WeekyWritables ♥ Pause

I’ve made the executive decision to put my #WeeklyWritables challenge on hold until further notice – if I decide to pick it up again. We’ll see how it goes.

As I mentioned during last week’s reveal, I had started this challenge to keep my muse motivated and working, but with the new challenge I presented myself (see the DIY 30 Day Challenge Here) – this one has become more counterproductive than helpful.

It’s obviously more conducive for accomplishing my goals if I focus on the variety of WIPs I already have, rather than creating more or just polishing up excerpts from them. Maybe, when I start running out? LOL Okay, not likely, but maybe another time anyway…

Happy Tuesday!

#WeeklyWritables Challenge

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Good morning, writers, readers, bloggers & all around mischief makers!

One of my biggest goals for 2019 is to get back into the habit of blogging more regularly, but after being on WP since 2013, finding fresh and original content can be quite difficult. I used to participate in the Daily Prompt hosted by WP, but I’m no longer in the position to do that. I need to schedule my post in advance by at least 24 hours. I know I can’t be alone in this, so I’ve come up with an idea that I hope will eventually catch on:

I’m launching a weekly writing challenge called #WeeklyWritables starting today. Every Tuesday morning I will post a random word and anyone who’d like to join in will have until Thursday to publish their work.

The rules are simple:

  1. Your post must contain the random word at least once (using it for your pingback is probably the most familiar practice for anyone who’s ever done the Daily Prompts)
  2. Short stories, flash fiction, poems, WIP excerpts, and real life experiences are welcome
  3. Please no song lyrics, unless you wrote them yourself – there are already so many music challenges out there, I’d really like this one to be all about creative writing

That’s it! There are no restrictions on length, you can make it as long or short as you want, this is all about feeding your creative energy! You’re free to use the graphic I’ve created for my posts or you can create your own. And if you do participate please don’t forget to leave a pingback so I can find your post and read it. I don’t expect this to be an overnight success, but do hope you’ll join in if/when you can!

The #WeeklyWritables word for this Thursday is: Hustle

Dragons: How to Train Your Human

Like the title? Two purposes, 1: no getting sued by DreamWorks and 2: It really turns out to be this way.  I know, what is she going on about? Allow me to explain…

Some of you already know that my long absence has been due to what I thought was Tendinitis in both my hands. Turns out, I only have that in my left hand. The problem with my right hand is carpel tunnel…yay, I’m an overachiever. 😐 Okay, so after moping around for way longer than necessary awhile and getting completely abandoned by my muse, I broke down and bought the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. And I don’t love it…no, I really don’t.

However, it has enabled me to keep my day job and after finally realizing that my Dragon has been training me all this time and not the other way around, my muse has actually decided to return (though, now that I’ve outed her, she might just take off again, because that’s the kind of floozy she is). Anyway, for any of you who’ve ever considered trying the Dragon software or wondered how it works exactly, I’m here to give you a not-so-quick rundown…awww, you know you missed me.

Warning: Personal Opinion Ahead

It sucks. Don’t waste your money. If your hands aren’t broken, use them. Dragon should only be a “desperate times call for desperate measures” option. The only way Dragon will ever be more efficient and faster than typing, is if you can speak as clearly and enunciate as precisely as Siri 100% of the time and never fluctuate in tone, pronunciation, or especially background noise. In fact, don’t even turn that fan on, I don’t care if you’re dripping sweat, it will make Dragon dictate as if you’re talking with a mouthful of cheesey-puffs. Oh, and I hope you have a totally stocked gaming computer that runs everything at lightning speeds and glitch-free.

On a more technical note…

Dragon is designed to be completely personalized to an individual. After each time you use it, the software updates your “profile” before shutting down completely, which enables it to remember the way you speak, so it can be more efficient and accurate the next time you use it. I’ll admit, it does eventually begin to show signs of adaption. Just whatever you do, don’t leave the program running over night to save time the next day – I know it takes forever to open and wake up and actually respond – but the longer it runs, even while not being used, the glitchier and boggier it gets. Also, you have to conduct a microphone adjustment every time you fire that bad boy up, even if you’re going to be using it in the same room, with the same background noise, every single day.

In the software’s defense, because I am not completely unreasonable, the above glitchy, boggy issues could also just be my laptop and the fact that it’s not exactly new…or even remotely recent.

Wait, why doesn’t this post have any photos? One purpose: Not getting sued by Nuance Communications

Who’s Training Who?

This is the tricky part. At first, you think that you’re training your Dragon to learn how you speak; your pace, your cadence, etc. which means you have to be careful to try to speak the same way all the time. You can’t approach it with “before coffee speech” one day and then the next day be like “I just snorted a pound of cocaine” speech. (Note: Neither this site nor its author encourages, endorses or engages in the act of snorting cocaine…or ever trying to speak before consuming coffee. Just say no.)

In truth, Dragon is like that kid who sleeps through half their classes, all the while turning you into a person who speaks punctuation marks out loud as if it’s normal. In order to get Dragon to type this exact sentence: “See Dick run. See Jane point and laugh! Did you see Spot pee on the neighbor’s leg?” you have to literally say:

Open quote see Dick run period see Jane point and laugh exclamation mark did you see Spot pee on the neighbor’s leg question mark close quote capitalize dick capitalize spot

The hardest punctuation mark of all time to remember to say aloud is “comma” – oh and hyphen. But tell me, authors: when you’re completely submerged in your own world and dictating what’s happening in any given scene between your characters, are you honestly going to remember to say COMMA? No, you’re just going to naturally pause in speech, the way you would if you were on stage. Nothing yanks you out of your creative flow faster than having to remember to talk punctuation marks! Open parenthesis, close parenthesis, semicolon, colon, oh shit how the hell do I explain an em-dash without it actually typing M dash?

And I get it, these are things you can always correct in editing. The first draft is always a heaping pile of “wtf was I thinking?” anyway – Soooo, I tried to keep that in mind and just go with the flow, only to find out that if I talk at even my normal pace, which is slightly closer to the lack of coffee than OD’ng on coke, Dragon will only type the last portion of my sentence. Or maybe the first two words and then the last part – regardless, it misses entire sections of my sentences.

I spend more time either correcting what Dragon thought I said or waiting for the words to finally appear on the document, so I can make sure Dragon caught it all. And just FYI, Dragon does not like curse words–AT ALL–no matter how many times you use the same one, on the same page, or in Zoe’s case, in the same run of dialogue, these are the handful of words it will never actually “save” with your profile. You cannot teach your Dragon to swear the way you taught your parrot…you know who you are.

Hands-Free Editing

There are built-in verbal commands you can give Dragon, which are supposed to enable you to make corrections without having to type. If you notice it dictated the wrong word, let’s say “Buck” for instance, you can say “Select buck” and it will pop open a box of word options you might have meant, which are numbered. You would then say “Choose one” or whichever number offers the correct option. I promise you, none of the options for “buck” will ever start with an F. So, if you don’t see your choice, then you would say “Spell that” at which time a different box opens that allows you to spell out the word you really wanted to say.

Here’s where I run into more problems. If I want the word capitalized, I’m supposed to be able to say “Captial F” then spell out the rest of the word. It’s always about a 70/30 chance that it’s going to add an L or an O to the beginning of my word, because it’s picking up those sounds from the word ‘capital’ no matter how fast or slow I say it – also, on most days, the “choose” feature never works in this particular box, so I have to select my choice with the mouse and hit enter, otherwise it tries to add numbers like ‘201’ to the end of the word I spelled out, rather than accepting the command “choose one”, rendering it a not so hands-free feature.

Get What You Pay For

When I started shopping around for the software, I reviewed the different options and decided to pass on the cheaper “basic” version for the newest “premium” edition, because it comes with a feature that allows you to add your own words to the software’s vocabulary. Ideal for an author, right? Well, along with the program, I also bought a recommended book written by a supposed Dragon expert, and I’ll admit, it did help me with my initial introduction to the software and getting it all set up – BUT – according to the author, I wasted my money for this “personalized vocabulary” feature, because Dragon will still never get it. In fact, they suggest that authors supplement their character’s names with simpler ones like “Dick and Jane” and then just do a “Find and Replace” during editing, because apparently they’ve never written fiction, or understand the whole concept of creative flow and the many things that can throw a wrench in it, like having to call your character by a name that is not theirs…

Thanks for looking out, hindsight dude who will never be useful in any situation beyond a “getting started” tutorial.

Then, after about a month of fighting with this newer, better version I stupidly paid extra money for – I started it up one day, and a notice popped up on my screen stating that Nuance was discontinuing the Premium 13 edition of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and that I had to act soon in order to get the newest (15) version for only $99. Eff you, man, I just paid that much for the 13! Like just – and now you’re telling me that you’re no longer going to be offering any updates or customer support for it? WTF?

Bottom Line

If you don’t already have and absolutely love Dragon NaturallySpeaking, you can either refer back to my personal opinion (which, I sincerely recommend) or buy it anyway, but definitely not the Premium 13 edition – and, you know – try it out. I hope you have absolutely no problems with it, and you leave that in the comments below and brag about how much time it saves you, how much your daily word count has increased and that you really do think I just need a new laptop and possibly a better headset.

(No, seriously, I’ll take any excuse to buy a new laptop). 😉

It’s Hexed (Hell on Earth 4). That’s what my muse returned for. I wasn’t going to mention being back to work on a WIP and then not tell you which one, honest. 😀 And if all goes as great as it has been, I hope to have it off to the editor before the end of the year.

Dragon be willin’ and the creek don’t rise…

Tootles!

Dear Indie ♥ Have You Tried This?

Writers block

Hi Indies!

I’ve been experimenting lately, trying a different approach with one of my latest WIPs. The hope is that I’m honing a certain area I know I need to work on. I worry that I’ve gotten too comfortable with the way I write and it’s become too easy to stay exactly the same, which doesn’t allow for growth or refinement.

Recently, I opened a new document and started rewriting a new WIP outside of my narrative comfort zone. I know, that doesn’t sound real dazzling. But, as someone who prefers to read and write in the Third Person, I have to tell you that trying to write fictional characters in the First Person POV is doing things…I’m not sure if they’re good or bad things yet, as I’m just starting. And don’t get me started on how difficult it is to switch from years of writing in the past tense to suddenly writing everything in present tense. O_o

The reason I’m doing this, is because I want to hone that vital difference between “Showing” and “Telling”. Something that seems easier to accomplish in First Person…or is it? Yes and no. When I’m writing about myself, it’s absolutely easier. But I’ve never set out to be someone else before, at least not outside of childhood imagination. I can detail all of the nitty-gritty facets that make up my characters from a detached vantage point, like a psychiatrist, and relay that through my writing while remaining in the Third Person–and it doesn’t matter their gender or their personality. I’ve written from the male POV just as often as I have from the female POV. I can flesh out sub-characters or climb into an antagonist’s head and portray their nastiness all over the page without it bleeding over onto my other characters. They each retain their own, distinct voice.

Yet, this is proving difficult while writing in First Person. My characters read almost exactly the same; their unique voices are lost. I already know it’s because I’m used to writing from the director’s chair, where I can see the whole picture, and I don’t have to climb into these skinsuits of my characters to get through the scene. I empathize, relate and paint the picture. I don’t live, eat, breathe, be. I’m finding that it’s harder with my male protagonist, because I’m NOT an alpha male by any stretch of the imagination, but even my female protag’s voice has changed from the way she was coming across in Third Person. So, that poses a problem, but it’s given me whole new admiration and respect for those First Person POV authors who manage to pull this off with deceptive ease.

I liken it to method acting, which some say is a myth, but it’s the closest example I can think of. I have to learn how to live this story as it’s unfolding on the stage, rather than relaying the way I saw it unravel from the front row. Release the confines of all those habits I fall back on, so I can expand my writing limits and open myself up to *gasp* change.

And the positives can’t be discounted; writing in the First Person is far more succinct than Third. Details, ideas and reactions are conveyed with smaller word counts, because everything is happening in the moment. This allows me to get a first hand perspective into my character’s thoughts, feelings and reactions as they’re happening, rather than after the fact. I’ve also noted how many more character insights have revealed themselves which the Third Person POV version didn’t have. The shifting of my own focus in order to capture – or recapture – my characters’ individual voices will be my greatest challenge and currently, it’s exciting trying to put it into practice.

Just don’t hold your breath for any First Person POV novels written by yours truly, LOL! So far, my goal for this experiment hasn’t changed: I want to develop the ability to slip deeper into my character’s skins with relative ease, so that “showing” becomes the natural style of my writing without having to worry about so many “telling” pitfalls.

Have you ever tried the method of switching narratives before, even just for fun? I’d love to hear about your “outside of the box” trials and what your results were in the comments below or tag me in your own blog post, if you feel inspired – that would be great, too! 🙂

❤ A.C.

#WIP Invasion

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image source: etsy.com

Can we talk for a moment, writer to writer?

Lookit, I can’t be the only one who’ll be happily plugging away at a highly anticipated novel (that’s code for it’s way overdue and readers are jumping ship by the hordes. *snort* You actually thought I had hordes of readers? Awww, that’s sweet) – and all the sudden a NEW book decides to just plop its big, bony ass right down on top of everything else with no intention of moving. A massive blob of scenes and backstory, brooding hunks, damsels in defiance, whips, chains and garden hoses (don’t ask), all reminding me that I have absolutely no willpower!

I’m not alone, right?

How do you deal with this kind of situation? Do you:

a). Ignore the new story until you’re done with the first one, because you’ve got discipline and the memory of an elephant?

b). Take the detour just long enough to frantically jot down everything you can for the new story, because your discipline’s flexible, but your memory’s a toss?

Or

c). Attempt the juggling routine, because you’re fairly sure the 100th time is the charm?

I made the mistake of thinking I could pull off a combination of options b & c….1 week later… Update: Scavenger (Dark Day Isle, Book 2) will be delayed, yet again. I’m sorry. Please refer to the part where I have no willpower.

How many #WIPs are you working on and what’s your favorite strategy for those invading new ideas?