I Lost It…

My entire novel disappeared. I was working on it in Scrivener, took a break to delete old financial files and then…

A pop-up on my OPEN DOCUMENT informed me that my file no longer existed. “This window will now close,” it said.

And it did. The only thing left in the folder were files marked setting and such.

Sure,  I had last week’s backup file on a separate drive, and Chapters 1-6 had been compiled and printed off. But not the current version of Chapter 7. I had spent TWO DAYS writing and revising it, raising the word count from a little more than 1000 to almost 3000.

So it’s back to the writing tomorrow. And from here on out, I will use the compile option every day to save the current chapter as a rich text file in another folder.

Book Review: Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke

Note : This is a review I wrote and forgot to post a loooong time ago. Mea culpa.

Gerke, Jeff. Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do next. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest, 2013. Print.                          

Summary: A fast-paced guidebook that incorporates and condenses much of Gerke’s previous material

Having recently The First 50 Pages, I skipped half of this book after I recognized the first nine chapters as a condensed version. See my previous review for details.

I must mention Gerke’s continued use of film examples in his guidebooks about writing novels. He’s gotten bolder, going so far as to write, “I do that without apology” (9) in the introduction. Too bad he’s using the same examples as The First 50 Pages. Fortunately, he’s added Game of Thrones (TV adaptation) to keep it fresh.*

The bigger issue is that he doesn’t really give much in the way of “what to do next” if one does, in fact, finish a novel in 30 days.

Book Project Conclusion: 

Gift to the Library

*I never watched it because I have no cable, only Amazon Prime. If he had used Justified, however…


Do It Your Way

Perhaps because of the angry fan reactions to the end of Game of Thrones (I never saw it), Ryan Lanz has a fine post Let Your Characters Live On Without You.

“A writer actively made a choice, it was their choice to make, and there’s nothing their audience can do to change it once it’s published and out there in the world.”

This resonated with me. I have been disappointed by the endings of series, especially  ones that started grandly and slowly died.  Sometimes the author does better with a stand-alone or I can re-read the first book without troubling with the rest.

Worst case scenario, I avoid the author’s other works.

The real consolation is that I learn something. I can’t blame the authors who risked telling their stories! Instead, I add to a list of things I won’t do in my own writing.*

Here are some from my list, a few so old that I’ve forgotten the story that disappointed me.

  • Don’t build up a girl as a strong, intelligent female and then have her take unquestioned orders from an oracle, a newly-met boy, or a stranger who says “Everything you thought was true, is a lie!” (This is a mash-up of several books.)
  • Don’t make characters unconscious (sleeping, knocked out, drugged by the villain) so they miss crucial conversations or so other characters can do heavy lifting.
  • Don’t make everyone love/protect your protagonist unless it’s clear WHY the protagonist is lovable/valuable to those characters.
  • If the protagonist’s friend or family member is kidnapped/tortured/killed, NEVER LET THE PROTAGONIST FORGET. (Especially if it’s convenient to make the kidnapper/torturer/killer into a key ally of the protagonist!)
  • If an enemy has vowed to destroy/kill the protagonist, do not use deus ex machina or a secondary character to avoid the head-to-head conflict.
  • Don’t make lazy correlations as shortcuts to understanding characters; e.g. religious = fanatic, gay = artistic, old = feeble.

*Gail Carriger, author of Soulless, recently Tweeted things she was tired of in YA novels. One was the male stalker who becomes the love interest.

Writing Progress

imageOwing to my diminished mobility this winter, I wrote thousands upon thousands of words of my novels.* Yes, novels. But don’t worry, I merely sketched out a sequel… sequels.

Above is the draft of my writing. The dividers represent different stories. Yes, the top one is thin, but that’s because I work on it everyday but don’t print it out.

However, I recently begged  convinced two friends to be the Beta Readers for the first five chapters.** One has “known” my characters since we were twelve-year-olds  and shared our disappointment that our school and public libraries had so few fantasy novels. The other is a voracious reader of fantasy, mostly for older readers.

I will keep you posted.


*And fattened up like a veal calf. I injured myself while exercising, so my body took revenge. “That’ll teach you to exercise!”

**Could use ONE more…

Diaries, blogs, and bon mots

I spent quite some time over the last 39 days digging through bookshelves, boxes, and cupboards. I kept coming across old diaries, snippets of writing, and the like. Some things are timeless and I immediately thought “This would make a good blog post!”

And then I came across some unfinished cartoons that I meant to use on my first blog. Yes, I used to draw cartoons. In fact, I won an award in high school for the best editorial cartoon (I can’t recall what category).

And yes, I had a blog before this. In fact, this is my third.

Two blogs ago, I was “famous” enough to have real-life repercussions from a former student’s mother. It wasn’t as if I wrote about her child or even about work. It was merely that every small town has a contingent of gossips and a photo of me enjoying wine with friends was “proof” that I’m a drunken lesbian.

“My client pleads guilty to the lesser charge of fun at parties, Your Honor.”

” I see no evidence of that. Case dismissed.”

A blog ago, I paid for a nom de plume and no ads. I ended up with more spammers than readers. I deleted that blog and signed up for a free account. Now, since everyone and their grandfather has a blog (not to mention vlog), mine is nicely obscure.

Posting on a blog is a bit like writing in a diary, except that a diary entry is usually uncensored and doesn’t attempt to polish up the boring or ugly bits.

On the other hand, diaries would be better if they had categories and tags like a blog post.  I can’t tell you how disconcerting it was to read an epiphany I had in 2008 – which I promptly forgot – had again in subsequent years!

That epiphany? Well, over the years I reworded it, but it goes like this:

The worst pains in my life are self-inflicted.

And that, Dear Diary and Reader, is the unvarnished truth.

2018 Progress Report #2

I missed last week’s blog because I went to The Young Human Factory and stayed there until quite late, assessing the quality of our products. I spent extra hours there this weekend, too, but to get ahead.

  • I made the second payment on the principle of La Casa de Tontería’s mortgage.
  • After a month of bullet journaling, I had to replace the journal. Schedules kept changing, events were cancelled indefinitely, and the pages didn’t hold up to the rigors of being crammed into an already-stuffed satchel and stuffed with sticky-notes. Pro tip: write dates in ink, plans in pencil.
  • My writing stinks. I cannot find a way to save the novel’s rough draft. In the meantime, members of my writers’ group are making inroads all over Steemit, Amazon, magazines, and actual printing presses! I have got to finish a short story STAT before the pros have no time to read other people’s crappy drafts.

Fetishizing the Poor?

I received a message that was out-of-the-blue and full of vulgar putdowns. Someone read my recent posts and decided I was “just like Ann Pratchett” and “fetishized the poor”.

I figured out that the American author Pratchett had written an op-ed in the New York Times called “My Year of No Spending”. (It’s behind a paywall, but here is the NPR interview.) After listening to it, I understood that my correspondent thinks I’m a well-off white woman with first-world problems of over-abundance, playing at being poor.  And I may own multiple Chapstick lip balms.*

My correspondent is ridiculous. My interest in frugality is because I have two financial concerns.
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Writing: Your Mileage May Vary

According to experienced writers of my acquaintance, writing a free-form draft of a short story takes an hour and a half, on average.

I wrote for five hours. I took a tea break and a false-alarm break. The latter found me nervously checking for a wild animal just outside the screen door. (No, thank God! I couldn’t see it, but there was a raccoon growling at something. Raccoons have a distinctive sound.)

Anyway, I guess the time estimate fell short because the advisors are experienced both with writing drafts and meeting deadlines (several are published). So as with any writing advice, your mileage may vary.

I typed 2,435 words. However, that number includes asides like “Look up climate of coast.”

I woke up this morning with the realization that a character mentioned in passing is more important than the supporting character who was so enjoyable to write. So revisions will ensue.