10 Day Writing Blogging Challenge – Day 8

10-day-write-blog-challenge-daily8Post about your writing routines / rituals / habits or quirks – or –  your writing origins story

Writers are renowned for their sometimes odd rituals and habits. In fact, I’ve done several posts about these previously.  Here’s a post on wacky writer’s rituals which contains a PDF file to download of many famous and odd rituals shared by our fellow writers.

Alternatively, tell us your writing origins story – when and why did you start writing? When did you officially announce or label yourself as a writer? in public?

Wow, two possible options here, without the Pay it Forward option!  So why don’t I spill my guts about my writing.

Long ago, in a college far, far away… Actually, it didn’t really start like that, but from a young’un, I have always loved writing, having Mum type up stories about Ally Cat while I made covers for them.  At college, I took the option of writing a novella for my Form 6 English project.  I did quite well on it, better than the other two projects.  Straight out of school I went to work in one place or another, and while I had books with pencilled stories in them, I didn’t really get back into writing again until my 30’s when my husband pointed out to me, that I would never get published unless I started writing.  He actually had a good point!

The first story I wrote – I actually rewrote my College Novella – Chrystias of Amasedon as a trilogy, which I then shortened down to a large novel.  None of the novels were stand alone, so it didn’t quite sit right.  It was my first attempt at serious writing, and stupidly I put a chapter up on Critters – where it got savaged.  Fortunately that taught me to toughen up (or get tougher skin, one of the two), and critiquing isn’t a problem for me any more.

throneJust then I didn’t want to work on that story any more, so I started a new one.  Of Kings, Queens and Noblemen – SoCNoC 2009.  I hated it and just left it to wallow in its folder on my computer.  I pulled it out last year and started editing it.  It wasn’t as bad as I originally thought, but it is a sweet romance.

MedusaSoCNoC (June) 2010 I wrote Medusa – based on the original Greek tragedy – from a human perspective.  There were lessons to be learned with Medusa, and I later rewrote this as a romance for an Entangled Publishing submission call.  I didn’t like the romance version, so will revise it again (as I kept the original) to make the tragedy deeper.

I attempted to write a Gothic Novel – Tobias and Arabella – In October 2010 – which spilled over into 2011.  I ended up calling it “That bloody Gothic Novel” – not because it was “bloody” but because it just didn’t want to finish!  This hasn’t been revised yet, and I need to.  It is based on the 1500’s when King Henry VIII was abolishing the monasteries.

2011 was a big year for me.  I planned to write a few stories this year.  I started in June with Ice Planet – for SoCNoC 2011.  I wrote excitedly for the month, and ended up with a 60k story I was proud of.  I was so excited about it, but during August, my laptop crashed, and I hadn’t realised that I hadn’t backed up the story since the 27k mark.  I therefore lost most of the novel.  I rewrote this during HalfNoC 2012, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good.  I didn’t write through 2011 until the June 2012 because I couldn’t.  I was in the depth of my depression and really couldn’t focus on anything that I enjoyed.

At the beginning of this year, I started out with the New Year Novella over at KiwiWriters – and I wrote The Gamble.  This is an exciting piece which I enjoyed writing, but realise that there is a lot missing from it.  Hopefully it will become bigger with the addition of a new character.  Definitely a sweet romance.

pikuroaCursed Love – SoCNoC 2013 – This was a story that just came to me out of the blue, and I just had to write it.  I got the idea originally about a curse, so I wrote a romance around this family curse.

Right now, I am working on Whose that Girl – a submission call for Entangled Publishing, which closes in February 2014.  I’m writing it now, so I can get it critiqued and tidied up before I submit, because February is only 5 months away!

– o0o-

My Writing Process –

I like to listen to music, but it needs to be quiet around me otherwise.  I can’t write with lots of action going on around me, I need a relatively still setting, hence the joy I have in writing at the School staffroom when I am not officially working.  It doesn’t really matter, or have to relate to the story, just as long as there is music in my ears, I can feel creative.

Having Pinterest helps too.  But first I set up a file and save pictures into it, pictures that give me inspiration or ideas, and then I pin them to Pinterest so that others can see what I have used, and how I have incorporated that into my story.

I like to plan my stories, I can’t write unless I have a beginning, a middle and an end already in mind.  If I don’t, the story just doesn’t get finished.  I use the planning sentences to create scenes for my chapters and then work from there.

I write using Scrivener.  I can’t say it is any better or any worse than yWriter, but I like it, and I like using it.  Once I know how it all works, I will no doubt find it more interesting.

Now I have my new laptop, I prefer to use that, and I back up regularly (at least once a week if not daily when I am writing – call me paranoid!)  I like that it is transportable and I have the freedom to write wherever I need to whenever I need to.

As for writing quirks –   I guess I like to submerge myself into the culture of my stories.  While doing the Gothic story, I got interested in Gothic clothing, hairstyles and makeup – even Ice Planet has a gothic kind of tone to it.  While researching 1920’s I have listened to the music, watched makeup and hairstyling tips from the 1920’s.

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End of Year Wrap Up

How did I go?  Well, to be honest, it was a rough year!

January saw me editing Medusa’s Garden, and I was struggling with it.  My depression returned and I spent the first part of January trying to work it out, and had the BGAC to attend to.  I helped a friend shift house, and was up to Chapter 4 by the end of January, and rambled on a bit about driving at night!

February started out with my goals, as usual, and nothing was crossed off.  Doesn’t surprise me really.  I came to a realisation, that life has always been about obstacles and overcoming them.  Still trudging along with editing Medusa’s Garden, but progress was good, I actually finished editing it in February.  An entire week was devoted to Blogging about KiwiWriters, a group I am fanatical about  🙂

March was all about NZ Book Month, and I interviewed a couple of my writer friends about their books.  Cherie Le Clare, Simon at SteamPress and Cassie Hart.  Evil Editors Unite is my favourite challenge and this took up most of March for me, editing Of Kings Queens and Noblemen and Ice Planet – both at the same time!  Major undertaking, but caused some mental health issues.  I purchased Moods and Moods II on CD, and now listen to them a lot on my computer while writing (they are playing as I write!)

In April, I discussed my propensity to dream – A LOT!  I thought about having a blog devoted to dreaming, but no one seemed interested  🙂  No worries, have a dream journal now anyway.  My depression returned, although I was not entirely certain why.   I blogged about Writers Block and Forced Writing, neither of which I like, but had to face.  I found time to publicly thank those who had supported me through my depression and played a blog game, all about the letter M.  The end of April brought about a community Tragedy with the death of a local school girl.

May found me thinking how Actions speak louder than words.  Depression still played a part in my life, but I am able to recognise it now too.  I introduced a poll on Medusa and whether I should keep her human, human with supernatural abilities, or the snake haired monster.  The end result was keeping the snake haired monster.  I started rewrites on Medusa’s Garden, because a friend had found a home for it at… wait for it… Entangled Romance.  It meant a serious rewrite, but I was writing again!

June was taken up with rewriting Medusa’s Garden, and I used HalfNoC to try and clock up my 25k that I would need to finish it my 31st July submission.  I learnt to recognise stress and that I really didn’t need it!  Memories from my past came back to me, and I blogged about Grandad and his Caravan.  I also advertised my writing friend, LaVerne Clark’s latest eBook, Affinity.

I was still working on Medusa’s Garden in July – and even had a storyboard created.  I didn’t post much during July, I was frantically trying to get Medusa’s Garden finished!  And I got it done, and submitted!

August was the End is Nigh – a completion challenge over at KiwiWriters.  This time I would focus solely on Of Kings, Queens and Noblemen.  Discovering a fine line between balance in life and insanity was a topic of discussion.  I decided to have a go at creating an Author Platform and creating Brand Catherine Mede.  It was an interesting exercise!  And I found out more about Showing and Telling!

September was a quiet month, I finished editing Of Kings, Queens and Noblemen. I heard back from Entangled and Medusa’s Garden wasn’t accepted, which was fine, because I REALLY didn’t like the romance version!  I like the original tragedy of the tale.  I made a decision to attempt romance writing in a serious fashion.  Still having issues with depression, but there was light at the end of the tunnel!

In October I focused on Ice Planet and escapism of writing.   I was nominated for a blog hop, and I actually enjoyed doing this one – it was The Next Big Thing.  It really got the creative juices flowing.  I worked on working out my depression Triggers and looking back now, I can recognise that this is when I started going backwards again.

November saw me still plodding with Ice Planet, one of my triggers, but I was determined to conquer the demon.  I did some serious thinking in November and wandered where I wanted to be in life.  I also came away with 4 plots for romance novels!  Then tragedy struck again, and Mark Fowler was killed in a Motorcycle accident.  Fortunately I had a post all ready to go for the end of the Month, a blog from Anna Harte about Above Ground, her latest book.

And so December found me once more contemplating my life and my goals.  Christmas found me in a mixed state of mind.

So here is what I have done this last week.  Nothing.  Here’s what I have done today – finished off 29 scene cards for Ice Planet, including 4 chapters that need to be written, but at least I have a plan now.

Recap on my 2012 Writing Goals

1. Edit Ice Planet – Getting there, but not quite

2. Plot out and plan my paranormal romance story – very excited about this!

3. Edit the Gothic novel (Tobias and Arabella – aka the bloody gothic novel)  Didn’t even look at it in the end.

4. Finish writing “Son of God” – On the back burner, I do want to finish this project.

5. Edit Medusa’s Garden. – finished and reworked!

6.  Revise and edit Medusa as a romance novel(!?!)  Did this and submitted it.  Was rejected

7. Edit “Of Kings Queens and Noblemen”.  Finished editing it, will need another go over!

My Writing Goals for 2013?  Well you will have to wait and see!

Show don’t Tell!

Aunty Martha

This is a concept I have really struggled with.

Why can’t I say “she cried”?

Because why is she crying?

“Her eyes filled with tears and her heart was filled with joy.”

OK, so it wasn’t what you first thought, and if I had that she cried with joy, it doesn’t really tell you anything about how the character is feeling.  And “she cried” doesn’t give us enough information.

With editing OKQ&N I have noticed this more obviously and have been working on removing it.  And now that I see it, it sticks out!  How could I have not seen this before? Because my brain didn’t comprehend it.  It was a simple little line in a book that made me aware of what I was doing wrong.

It said

People’s facial expressions and body language reveal what they are feeling.  Imagine your character.  Then show rather tan tell your reader about the character’s feelings through their actions, reactions, dialogue and body language.

How to Write Stories, Celia Warren

I felt like such a ninny – because it was so bloody obvious!  – yip, I am a slow learner!  Showing you how the character feels gives you a more indepth look at your character.  She is crying, but why is she crying.  How is she feeling about crying?  Why does she want to cry?  Giving the reader something more to work with removes confusion as well.

I have finished the next round of chapters, Ch 10 – 12 and just printed out Ch 13 – 15.  Only two more rounds after this, and if I crack on today and this week, I should have them all finished by 6th September.

And I should hear from Entangled by the end of this week about Medusa’s Garden.  Fingers crossed that it is a positive response.   I have to admit I have checked my emails every day this month with some anticipation.  I guess this week will be the week.

Writing Goals – February 2012

1.  Edit “Of Kings Queens and Noblemen”

2. Finish my Ice Planet Story

3. Edit Ice Planet

4. Edit the Gothic novel (Tobias and Arabella – aka the bloody gothic novel)

5. Finish writing “Son of God”

6. Edit Medusa’s Garden.

Pleased to confirm that Medusa’s Garden has gone through its second draft.  It is just a little bit here and there that I am working on, before I send it out to my readers.  I hope to have some response back by April.

March is Evil Editors Unite on KiwiWriters, so I have a good month of editing ahead of me.  Problem is, not sure which story to edit.  There are two:  Tobias and Arabella or Of Kings Queens and Noblemen.  So far, I have had one vote – won’t tell you which until my other friends have voted too!

March is also NZ Book Month, and I have some writer friends that I am hoping will agree to some interviews, so I hope to get these posted periodically through the month.

So a busy month for me, 20 hours of editing, but I am looking forward to it.