Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

A lovely carpet of creeping phlox

Seems like it was a bit of a slow week around the desk, but of course the intrusion of the warming weather and demands of the outdoors have something to do with that. (Not that I am complaining!) Still, I managed to keep up with most things, started a new novel revision, and spent hours refining the magic system used in that novel draft. It now makes more sense and is on its way to becoming a rational magic system. Still a few things to work out, but it definitely has a good foundation now. It was a pain in the butt interesting to try to reconcile the magic use/character abilities that I’d written into the story into a more coherent framework. I’ll have to make changes and adjustments as I work my way through this revision, but I feel much more confident about a good result now.

In my research into building good magic systems, I also refreshed my memory on Brandon Sanderson’s Three Laws of magic systems, which are very helpful to keep in mind when building one. The first one is at the link, and the others are linked from the bottom of that page.

A gorgeous tall tulip from a “Pretty in Pink” bulb mix from Vesey’s Seeds

I started the week bouncing between projects and finally landed on that revision, but I foresee that pattern continuing over the next little while. There are short stories I want to submit by upcoming deadlines, so although I’m a bit stuck on them right now, I have to keep going back and pecking at them until they agree to cooperate. I love it when I can sit down and write a new story straight through, but alas, that doesn’t happen all that often. It’s more likely to take a lot of digging and mucking about before I reach those two sweet, sweet words: The End.

Family, fire, and cake

Last week was my birthday (which I share with my sister, but no, we’re not twins–she was born five years after me, but on the same date) so we had our traditional outdoor party on the weekend. I made a first attempt at icing flowers made with a Russian ball decorating tip; they turned out all right, but I learned some tricks for making them better the next time. Still delicious!

Still working with my assistant, so despite the yard and garden needs, I think I’ll be able to stay productive in the coming weeks.

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

This month I have the great pleasure of having an author assistant helping me out with all sorts of things. It’s a short-term contract, but I’m loving the ability to hand off some tasks to someone else for a change. So far she’s taken care of some social media tasks, proofread a manuscript, created promotional materials, researched blog post ideas and found a cover image I’ll need soon. All this has freed me up to concentrate on writing and some other things, which has been great. It’s not something I could afford to pay for full time, but for short-term bursts of super-productivity, it’s fabulous.

Today has probably been the least productive day of the week, but mainly because several ROML (Rest of My Life) things took me out of the house numerous times. I was even productive yesterday, on my birthday! When, I’m sure you’ll agree, most of us deserve to take the day off if we’re able.

This week’s main projects were the newest Olympia Investigations story, and another story I’m hoping to have ready for a particular anthology call. They’re both fun to write, although very different tales. I’ve been switching back and forth as the mood takes me; I may try to work on a more deliberate schedule next week. I also have some rewrites coming up soon, so I’d like to clear these stories off the decks before then. My goal for this month is 13k words for those two stories combined; I’m slightly behind so far, but there’s still time to catch up!

Before I forget, I have a Kindle Countdown deal running on The Two-Week Short Story from now until June 15th. If you or someone you know might be interested, click over and check it out!

Spring has finally arrived and my gardens are starting to fill with colour–and weeds! So I’ll have to find time to work on that, too. I might need an assistant for longer than I anticipated…

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

A long, long time ago, over at The Scriptorium, I had a feature page called the Alternative Expletive Project. Here’s how I explained it then:

For many writers, the use of expletives in our fiction writing presents a quandary. Do we go ahead and use one of those infamous “seven words you can’t say on television” (although I think they’ve all been said there by now)? Do we tone down one or more of those words, making the work less likely to offend–but, some would argue, less realistic?

It’s a personal choice that we all must make at some point, when our character smashes a thumb with a hammer, loses everything in the stock market, gets into a huge screaming match or realizes that the spaceship’s life support system has just failed. To swear, or not to swear, that is the question.

For those who’d like to walk the line somewhere between an “R” rating and an unbelievably dull character, The Scriptorium presents the Alternative Expletive Project. Our goal: to offer writers real-life, inoffensive examples of what folks say in times of anger, pain, despair and other emotional extremes.

I asked The Scriptorium’s readers to send me their examples and suggestions, and the response was…edifying, to say the least. So I collated all the responses into one large (partially) alphabetically-sorted list. As responses continued to roll in, I gave up on alphabetizing them. It’s interesting to note that today’s possibly most popular swear-without-really-swearing, “WTF,” did not even make the list at the time.

When The Scriptorium underwent a redesign, that page was overlooked and didn’t make it back onto the new site. So I present the list here, for your browsing and reference pleasure. You never know when it might come in handy–and it’s fun, at any rate. Do you say any of these? Do your characters?

The Alternative Expletive Datalist

Ah, Buddha All-fired Blamed
Blast Blasted Bleeding
Blimey Blinking Bloody Mary
Bloody Blowed Confound it
Confounded Crap Crappola
Crikey Cursed Cussed
Dammit Dang Danged
Darn Dash it Dashed
Dern Dungduggetty Mud Durn
Feck off Fishcakes Frig
Gee C. Cow Gee Gol-danged
Gosh Heck Jehosophat
Jiminy Crickets Motherfather Motherflower
Poop Rats Sugar
Ballspun Road and Crumpets Fiddlesticks Sugar and (bloody) cats
That’s SpongeBob (means “That’s B.S.!”) Bother Botheration
Tidy Bowl Shiver me timbers Dag nabbit
Split me infinitives By carbonate of soda no Fark
Cheese ‘n’ Rice For frog’s snake Fudge
Good Gravy Jeezly Heavenly Day
Good Googa-Mooga Go to Halifax Gol-dashit
Ficky-doo BALLoons BASTion of indecency
Mother flubber Cock-a-doodle-diddle Drat
Shoot Jeepers Flick
Boulder Dash Chickens Fudgesicle
Nuts Sugar Honey Iced Tea Fungus
Jackrabbit Crappers Dadgummit
Pickles FartBurgers Criminy
Sammich Bachkalooey Hajamabajah
Rat Farts Jolly Bad Luck Jolly Rotten Luck
Dorkburger Filth Belcher Dirt Merchant
Chickenplucker Cheezles Flackit
Summon a witch Grudge damn it Faff (off/you/this)
Judas H. Priest Bollards (load of) Bilge
(you) Richard Cranium Baloney Fricking
Jeeze Louise Cheet Beach
Sugar Plum Fairies Flipping Frack
Howling Horse Biscuits Cheesers
Shittles Skittles Shootles
I could spit nickles Fack Ymir’s Bones
Son of a Biscuit Eater

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

I&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;ve been using the submission planning spreadsheet I talked about here and realized that a couple of tweaks would improve its functionality.

I added a column to enter the word count of your story, and formulae in the &http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8220;Projected Payment&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8221; column, so that now if you enter your word count and the pay rate for a particular market, the spreadsheet will calculate the projected payment for you (because I don&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;t know about you, but I&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;m all about doing as little actual math as possible). There&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;s also now a separate column for flat rate payments.

The instructions page has been amended accordingly.

Here&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;s the really cool part: if you&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;ve already started using the older version of the spreadsheet, don&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;t despair! Open your version and the new version in different windows on your desktop, and simply drag one of the updated sheets from the new version into your old version. It won&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;t update a sheet you&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;ve already started, of course, but you can use the new version for any new ones you start. You can take advantage of the new features without having to start a new file.

The new file is now linked below and on the original post&http://www.sherrydramsey.com/#8217;s download page. Happy submission planning!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Work on improving my marketing strategies continued this week. There’s a LOT of information and advice out there, and much of it concludes with “see what works for you.” That’s a lot of trial and error, but I guess it’s really the only way. I have worked out the beginnings of a weekly/monthly action list, which just sounds too organized for me. ;)

Not much in the way of word count this week, since my focus was elsewhere. I do have a new story to work on, though, and I figured out some more things about The Chaos Assassin. I also got those two non-fiction ebooks mostly formatted, so I think this weekend I will try to run through them both one last time and maybe get them out the door early next week. I’ve decided I’m happy with the covers. I have a school visit coming up on Monday, but fortunately there’s little prep work involved for that. I do have to finish up the last of my prep for the workshop I’m presenting next weekend. I’m hoping we’ll have some fun talking speculative fiction all day!

This new story idea is really giving me a brain itch, so I think I might have to write it before it drives me crazy. It will be the next installment in the Olympia Investigations series, so I know it will be fun to write. Although it rarely happens, I think I know the throughline of the whole story right off the top, so maybe I’ll be looking at a fast first draft. Here’s hoping!

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

At our writer’s group meeting last night, we did a freewrite, which we haven’t done in a while, but we’ve been meaning to get back to. “Freewriting” means taking a prompt and writing immediately for a set amount of time–no planning, no stopping, no editing, just see what happens. If you haven’t tried it, do so! It’s fun.

The 5 Pictures idea is one where I pull out five (or so) images from a huge stack I’ve cut from magazines over a number of years. Writers can choose whichever one they want to write about, and the way we do it, no-one is under any obligation to share what they’ve written when the time is up. Usually people want to share, which is great and makes the exercise even more fun as we read our pieces aloud afterwards, but there’s no pressure. I think the knowledge that there’s no expectation of sharing makes it easier for people to let go and write.

Anyway, I rather liked mine from last night, although when I randomly pulled this picture from the pile my first thought was, “boring!” In the end, though, this was the one that spoke to me. We wrote for ten minutes, which is not long to tell a whole story, but I think I pulled it off…

“What They Don’t Know”

House-hunting with Marta is a bitch.

“Nothing too big,” she admonished, “because how many bathrooms can one person be expected to keep clean?”

I closed the browser tabs for all the places over 5000 square feet.

“And lots of windows,” she added, smoothing her dark locks.

“With wide windowsills,” I said, “for you to sit on.”

“Goes without saying, but yes.” She stuck her pink tongue out at me impudently.

“Neighbors?” I asked.

She gave me a green-eyed stare at that.

“Right,” I said. “No neighbors too close.” I closed more browser tabs.

“And you know how I feel about dogs,” she said, stretching over to look at the laptop screen.

“Well, the density of canine population isn’t usually part of the property listing,” I reminded her. “We might have to take our chances.”

Marta sighed languidly. “Of course, you’re right, darling. We’ll just have to ask the agent when we go for a viewing.”

I stroked the silky fur on the back of my wife’s neck. “I assume you’ll be in human form for that?”

She butted her head against mine with a rumbling purr bubbling up like laughter. “Darling,” she said. “Who in their right mind would sell a house to a shape shifter? But what they don’t know…”

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

The return of the Friday Desk Report! And look at that fabulously almost-symmetrical date.

So, there hasn’t been a Friday Desk Report for a while, mainly because for the past couple of months they all would have read something like, “Tried to work on the novel edits this week in between bouts of feeling utterly depressed with the world. Drowned my sorrows in Guild Wars 2. Also, winter.” I mean, how many times would you want to read that?

But here’s the good news: there’s actually news. I turned in the novel manuscript! I turned in the short story! I edited and submitted another story! So things have really picked up again around the old desk. With luck, it will continue. I have a few new projects pestering me for some attention, and some older ones lined up in the “go back to” queue. Time to open up my year-out project planning spreadsheet and fill in some things for the next few months.

I’ve also been asked to give a WFNS workshop this spring, which is exciting. We’re calling it “Exploring Speculative Fiction,” and I’m looking forward to spending a day talking genre with folks writing and hoping to write specfic stories. So over the next few weeks some of my desk time will be spent putting the workshop together.

I’ve also been busy Saving The World Through Knitting. Well, okay, not *quite* saving the world. But making a small difference. So far I’ve knit ten hats from my yarn stash, which will be sent to an organization that distributes such items to refugees in need. I’m finding it a very useful strategy in coping with stress, distress, and the darkness demons of the winter months. (In the course of this project I’ve also become addicted attached to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I expect I’ll be writing some new mysteries this year…)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Well, yes, on the East Coast of Canada, we certainly get more than two weeks of winter. Winter meanders in sometime mid-November, hunkers down, and usually has to be forcibly evicted sometime in May. Occasionally it will pack its bags in April, if we’re really lucky.

But the past two weeks have been…worse than usual. Last week my high-school-aged son had three snow days…this week he’s had four. He’s not complaining, and I’ll admit it–I’ve enjoyed being able to sleep later than usual. But–wow. I’m not sure what the two-week accumulation has been, but in one day we had 70+ cm (that’s around 28 inches for my non-metric friends), so you can imagine that the two-week total is considerable. My office window sits at ground level, and it’s a good thing I have an OTT Light on my desk, because sunshine’s been in short supply.

My office window on Valentine’s Day. Not much light creeping through that snow drift!

We had more last night, although a mere few centimetres. And the forecast for the next few days…only flurries!

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

nano2002Yup, today we’re going all the way back to the beginning. This was my first year of NaNoWriMo! And yes, in this picture you can see what I expect is a pretty rare artifact–the 2002 t-shirt.

My first NaNo novel was The Y Plague, a story about a future Earth where the male population has been reduced by a very large percentage. No, I did not write this because I hate men. I wrote it because it was an idea that interested me and I wanted to explore it. Here’s the blurb (from before I really understood how to write a good blurb, but someday I’ll write a better one):

In a future where genetic degradation has reduced the male population to only five percent of the total, fertile males are prized as research subjects and breeding partners. There’s unrest, however, as men begin to resent the bonds of society and start to form their own Freemen colonies. The radical X/Alt group wants to see the end of all research aimed at restoring the male genome, and in Rome, the last male Pope uncovers a secret that will either drive him mad or rock the Catholic Church to its foundations.

I had a one-year-old and a six-year-old when I wrote this novel, so it required getting up early in the morning and staying up late at night. I remember pouring up a glass of juice every night so that in the morning, I just had to stumble out to the fridge and retrieve it, sipping as I made my way to my office. Then I pried open my eyelids and tried to get a few hundred words down before the day started. This strategy worked out very well for me, as I found that by the time I got to write again once the kids were in bed, my brain had been working on the next part all day. I wrote over 2k words nineteen days of the month that year, which I think was pretty consistent.

Looking at my spreadsheet from that year, I see that I passed 50k words on the 25th of November! Wow. I was on fire that year. I finished out the month with 58,337 words, and an outline for the final fourteen chapters of the novel. I kept writing until the 3rd of December and reached 59,029 words, but wrote the outline when I realized that although I hadn’t gotten to THE END, I had to turn my attention to the upcoming holidays. I didn’t want to forget where the novel was heading when I picked it up again in January.

I have never written those last chapters. *headdesk*

However, I pulled this novel out last year and began looking at it. I think it’s good. Better than I remember, actually, and perhaps even more relevant in many ways than it was when I started it. It’s very near the top of my list of things to finish. I think it probably needs a new title, since the “plague” is not really a plague and has happened long before the book begins, but I can deal with that.

One thing I’m doing during this retrospective is considering these unfinished novels, what state they are in, and what they need. From this I’m making a to-do list for 2017, so expect to see some of these titles (or replacement ones) popping up over the next while.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Poppies by Benoit Aubry of Ottawa

This morning I walked “into town” to observe the Remembrance Day ceremony. I do actually live in the town, by the way, but on the outer edge, and going “into town” has always been the family nomenclature. I had planned to walk with some others of my family, but due to this and that I ended up going alone with a new plan to meet them there. It was a sunny morning, and the wind held a jagged edge–but, hey, it’s November in Cape Breton–and altogether lovely for walking.

Since I was alone and hadn’t taken my headphones to listen to music, I set my mind, as I walked, to the problem facing me in my current novel project. Which, coincidentally, had to do with war. The question I have been trying to answer is basically, how can a small group of people stop an interstellar war?

The obvious answer, I suppose, is: they can’t. But this is fiction, and that wasn’t the answer I wanted. I wanted an answer that involved cooperation, and determination, and compassion, and alien races working together. I just couldn’t seem to find the right way to make all those pieces fit together into what also has to be a good story.

So I mulled it over as I walked, and I thought a bit about war, and a bit about my Great Uncle John, who fought in the Second World War and did come home, if a changed man. I thought about the characters in my book, and what’s just happened and is happening in the United States, and about other wars and other places and other stories. And I came back to my characters and all the bits of the novel that have already been set in motion.

And. I think it worked. By the time I met up with my family members, some very important story pieces had fallen into place, and others had revealed how they could work together, and new pieces had appeared, too. I didn’t quite dance in the street since it would have seemed quite disrespectful under the circumstances. But I felt much better than I had about the story in a while.

There isn’t really a moral to this story, but I suppose if there is one for writers, it’s that sometimes you have to give your brain a quiet place to churn, and let it go. Maybe it means a change of scenery or activity, maybe it means a nap or just a break from staring disconsolately at the screen. Maybe it’s not forcing ideas, but nudging your thoughts in a certain direction and letting them run, instead of staring at an outline that isn’t working any more. Maybe it’s a walk on a sunny, windy day, alone with your thoughts and a question to be answered. If you’re stuck, try all of these things, and more, if that’s what it takes. The pieces will fall into place.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_municipalliaison-2-250x250Yes, 2016 marks the 15th year I’m participating in the wonderful creative blast of National Novel Writing Month. I thought it would be fun, as the month progresses, to look back at the things I’ve written, the data I’ve kept, and, even more important, the t-shirts and other nano-merch I’ve acquired over the years. So sit back, pour up a celebratory glass of your favourite liquid for toasting, and enjoy this little trip through time and word counts.

I’m doing this in no particular order, so today I randomly picked 2008 (because that’s the t-shirt I’m wearing today).nanoretro2008This was the 10-year anniversary of NaNoWriMo itself, and the brown baseball-style tee boasts “NaNoWriMo” and a large number “10” on the back. This is one of my all-time fav NaNo t-shirts. That was the year I wrote At the Sign of the Starcase, and yes, that’s STAR CASE, not a typo. This was a middle-grade to young adult story, and I know I wrote it specifically trying to incorporate many of the elements my daughter enjoyed in the books she was reading at the time. Here’s the blurb:

In the five years since Maddie’s father disappeared, she and her family have struggled to go on with some semblance of a normal life. That life is shattered by the arrival of Neb, a vaguely rabbit-like creature who turns up in Maddie’s room one night, pleading for her help in finding a powerful book called the Cyclopedia and telling her that her father is still alive—but trapped in an alternate world. There’s no question that Maddie will try to help Neb and hope that by doing so she’ll be able to rescue her father. But keeping the rest of her family safe grows increasingly difficult once she finds out that there are others from that world who want the Cyclopedia too…and they don’t care what they have to do to get it.

Looking up my tracking spreadsheet from that year, I see that I finished up at 50,699 words. Some selected comments from the daily “notes” section of the spreadsheet: “Still no idea what I’m doing with this story, but at least it’s started,” “I hate that message that says, at this rate, you won’t finish on time,” “bleh,” and on a more positive note, “Woohoo, I’m getting so many great ideas in the last 24 hours!”

Unfortunately, all those great ideas did not lead to a finished first draft of Starcase, and I didn’t get to type “The End,” which is always my ultimate goal during NaNoWriMo. I always get the 50k, but that goal is more elusive. My daughter is no longer a middle grade reader, but I’m sure if I ever finish Starcase she will read it anyway just to be nice.

We launched our first Third Person Press title, Undercurrents, during that November, so I think that contributed to my struggle with this manuscript. However, I still like it and think it has potential, so it remains on my TBF (to-be-finished) list.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

barneysriverfall

I detest the end of summer, but we do have a beautiful autumn in Nova Scotia.

So far, October has been a super-busy month. Unfortunately, not a lot of that busy-ness has resulted in word metrics to report. In between home improvements, road trips, meetings, family events…sometimes writing does get sidelined.

Oh, I’ve been working, it just hasn’t been the sort of working that translates into a lot of new words. It’s been planning, reading, changing, re-evaluating. A few new words written on a couple of projects, but hardly enough to share the numbers.

However, that’s what the writing life is like, sometimes. It’s not always quantifiable. That hour I spent working out the story thread for a new short story–sure, it looked like I was only doing jigsaw puzzles on the iPad. But there was so much going on behind the scenes while part of my brain focused on looking for patterns in tiny digital pieces; another part focused on looking for different kinds of patterns in that short story project.

lapdeskRemember that “Shoe” cartoon from Jeff MacNelly? I won’t put it here since I don’t have permission, but Google will find it for you. The one about how typists pound keyboards, and writers stare out windows? Yes, that’s what it’s like a lot of the time. I also considered the trajectory for one of the characters in my current novel manuscript while I sewed a new pillow for my lap desk – it was spilling tiny styrofoam beads and also had lost some velcro. It now has a new life and I like it better than before! AND now I can use my laptop more comfortably again, which will help productivity. See how it’s all interconnected?

The continuing education course I’m teaching this month seems to be going swimmingly–I’m enjoying it very much and I think my students are, as well. We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and it’s hard to believe there’s only one class left. And that experience has been inspiring as well. Interacting with other writers and creative people is always rewarding.

And then it will be November. I’m considering being a bit of a NaNo Rebel for National Novel Writing Month this year. I’m thinking of a project I’m going to call “The Finisher.” This will entail finishing the first drafts of several–I have three in mind–NNWM manuscripts that still need final chapters. Still toying with the idea, and it will depend on the state of some deadline projects, but it’s appealing. I do, of course, have new ideas begging to be written this November, but it’s impossible to overstate the importance of finishing things, too. So I’m thinking about it. Stay tuned…

Interesting things from the Internets this week:

Art isn’t free–can we stop pretending it is?

7-Point Plot Structure Story Mapping Template

Creating Mood Worksheet

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

img_6712

Lavender shop in Venice (I’d like to be back there breathing in its soothing scents right now!)

It’s been a purple week around here.

Purple, because that’s the color we’ve been painting my daughter’s room…rich, luxurious purple. The color of royalty, luxury, and the unity of mind, body, and soul.

Which is actually kind of ironic, because rarely do my mind, body, and soul feel so out of sync. Too many things on the to-do list, too many aches and pains (from moving furniture and painting and climbing up to stretch and reach), too much chaos in the house (always the fallout of painting jobs), too many deadlines zooming at me at once. I just made a loooong rapid-entry list in Nirvana, which is part of my current attempt at staying organized and getting everything done. That feels like a step in the right direction, and, whew, it’s Friday…

…and the beginning of a busy family weekend, since it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada. So I guess I’m not getting a whole lot done until Monday.

This week saw the start of a continuing education teaching gig for me, though, which runs throughout October. I have a small but enthusiastic class of students, and we’ll be discussing pathways to publication and all the attendant considerations, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid. Not that I consider myself the last word in any of these things, but I do enjoy sharing what experience and knowledge I’ve gleaned to this point. I think it will be a fun and enjoyable course.

I did finish editing that novella and sent it off to my beta readers. Huzzah! I also sent out my newsletter, but hmmmm, that could have been last week…

And I just looked at my year-out schedule spreadsheet (which plots what I should be working on and when, and which I adapted from Ron Collins), and I realize I’m not irrevocably behind. Not yet. So that’s a bit of a relief. But I need a lot of desk time this coming week, so we’ll see how it goes.

Fellow writers and procrastinators, I wonder if you see yourselves in this article? It goes a little off-track at the end, but it does make sense in a way. I think this might be a good time to re-install Cold Turkey on my computer…and it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Oh, my, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

But in my defense, there wasn’t a whole lot of activity at the old desk this summer. We travelled for most of July, and then there was much to do for the Big Fat Geek Wedding happening at the beginning of September. What? You want a picture from that? Well, here you go. It just happened to happen on my own anniversary, so we celebrated at the photo booth.

sherry-terry-geeky-anniversary

 

And of course, I took a little bit of time for just enjoying summer. I did manage to read and make notes on a novel manuscript while on airplanes, and I have a new novella in the editing stage. So I guess I wasn’t entirely a slacker, was I?

This week has been mostly getting ready for CaperCon. This is the second year for this convention, and last year’s was a tremendous success. This year it looks like things have only grown, so I’m looking forward to being a guest. Here’s my schedule for the weekend:

Reading/Q&A – Friday @3:30
Crafting Stronger Stories (with Third Person Press) – Friday @6:30
Self-Publishing for Success – Saturday @ 11:00
Plotting and Outlining – or Not – Sunday @ 10:30
Blue Pencil Cafe (with Third Person Press) – Sunday @ 12:00
Writing a Series – Sunday @ 1:30
Insider’s Guide to Marketing and Publishing (with Third Person Press) – Sunday @ 3:00

If you’re there, please drop by my table and say hello!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

tulip2016This has been a lovely week of getting things done but NOT chasing a deadline for any of them. I’ve been busy but not frantic, both at my desk and away from it, and it feels almost as good as relaxing with my feet up every day. Okay, not quite that good, but yes, almost. And spring is finally arriving, and all the bulbs I planted in the fall are poking their heads up to have a look around. This gorgeous tulip is one of them; I have several clusters of them around the yard and I’m just loving them. Along with them I have new daffodils, other tulips in various shapes and sizes, and hyacinths for the first time ever. I even managed to spend a couple of hours outside pulling out old dead stems and leaves from last year, so the new blooms are actually noticeable.

big-rabbitBundle news! My Nearspace novella, “Waiting to Fly,” is in another bundle over at BundleRabbit. So if you missed it last time or were not drawn in by the other stories in that bundle, here’s another chance. This time it’s a bundle brimming with stories featuring teen characters, from superheroes to space station buskers, apocalypse survivors to magic-users. There’s over $60 worth of stories in the bundle, and they can all be yours for just $10.TeenS-H bundleThe other authors you’ll find in this bundle include Eric Kent Edstrom, Carl S. Plumer, Mario Milosevic, Shantu Tiwari, Stefon Mears, Nick Tatano, Sabrina Chase, Deg Logan, Rob Collins, Michael Jasper, and J.D. Brink. It’s only around for another ten days, so you should pick up your copy soon! What a great way to load up your ereader with some summer reading possibilities!

For fun this week I wrote a chapter for a round robin story being circulated around my Second Life writing group, The Quillians. We’ve done one of these before and they’re always fun; everyone brings their own ideas to a chapter, but builds on what’s gone before. I think it’s important sometimes to write something with no pressure, no strings, and no expectations other than having fun. I haven’t done that in a while and so I really had a blast with this chapter. Now as long as the others like it…wait, I said no pressure!

I actually did not write on the novel draft this week–I decided that I needed some thinking time on it, and I think that was a good idea. I’m ready to start back on it on Monday with a better idea of some things that have to happen next. It’s an interesting facet of the writing life, how much work actually goes on when you’re nowhere near the keyboard. I also did some more thinking and preliminary research about the new idea that’s taunting me. I think it’s going to happen. Not sure when, but it’s taking on a life of its own already…

Oh, and I signed up to receive Notes from the Universe this week. So far I love them. :)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

school-05It’s been a busy few weeks, both at and away from the desk. This week I was out of town for a couple of days doing Writers in the Schools visits, and they were, as usual, wonderful experiences. I had great sessions with elementary, jr. high, and high school students, who were interested, engaged, and willing to participate in the writing exercises we did; they also asked great questions during our Q&A times. They came up with some wonderful story ideas and some even seemed interested in writing them later! I had a lovely lunchtime chat with two Grade 12 students who asked insightful and interesting questions about many aspects of the writing life and business (and I hope I gave them decent answers!). All in all, it was a rewarding (if tiring!) two days. Wow, I don’t know how teachers do it. Much respect.

Work continues apace on the novel draft, slower than I would like but more steadily than I feared at one point. I’m also writing a short story with hopes of meeting a looming deadline. Which looms, and LOOMS…Slowing both of these projects down just a little is an idea for reinvigorating a long-languishing manuscript. This idea insists on knocking on the door of my attention with relentless persistence. I just spent half an hour making notes on it in the hopes that it will be satisfied with that and sit quietly in a corner while I finish up these other things first. Then it can take up as much space in my brain as it wants. But for now I need it to just Wait.

Ideas are seldom so conciliatory, but it’s worth a try.

In the midst of all this I watch in horror as wildfires destroy parts of our country. I might write apocalyptic scenes sometimes, but watching some of the videos of this fire and the wild escapes people have been forced to make from it, my brain is overwhelmed. If you are interested in helping, the Canadian government is currently matching any donations made to the Canadian Red Cross for Fort McMurray relief; the website is here. This is a wonderful first step in the government’s efforts as your donation is immediately doubled. I’ve been so heartened by the endless stream of offers of help and support pouring in from all over the country to help those displaced and devastated. If only the rain would pour with such vigour, the fire would already be out.

Things I researched this week:

  • underwater habitats
  • pressure suits
  • sea monkeys
  • ocean trenches
  • King John’s lost crown jewels

Yes, it’s like a game of “one of these things is not like the others…” ;)

 

Connections

Apr. 11th, 2016 07:42 pm
sherrydramsey: (Default)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

bridgesThe other day I wrote here about not being really keen on marketing and promotion, and for the most part, that’s true. However, I was thinking afterward about a side benefit that sometimes goes along with promotion, and that’s connecting. Connecting with readers, connecting with other authors, connecting with others in the industry. And that part, I do like.

Over the past number of weeks, I’ve been very fortunate to forge some new connections, particularly with other authors, through these promotional efforts. In the Rogues bundle from Tyche Books, I’ve been in the company of Rebecca Senese, Michael Wallace, Daniel Arenson, Jamie Grey, and Edward W. Robinson. In the Middlings Bundle, I’m sharing space with Anthea Sharp, Michael Warren Lucas, Michael A. Stackpole, Dean Wesley Smith, Blaze Ward, Mindy Klasky, Leah Cutter, Kristene Kathryn Rusch, and Daniel Keys Moran. And tomorrow evening I have a Facebook chat for Dreaming Robot with Dianna Sanchez and Susan Jane Bigelow. Some of these authors I already knew from various places like the SF Canada listserv, Twitter, or Second Life, but others are new connections, and for all of them, I’m grateful. One never knows where new connections will lead or what might grow out of them.

I don’t mean that I look on all these connections only from the point of view of how I might profit from them–not at all. I might be able to help someone else. Maybe they might benefit from something I share. I might learn something I didn’t know before, something that could be large or small and is valuable either way. I might just expand my network of friendly, fun, interesting, and helpful people–someone new to trade jokes and banter with on social media or get book recommendations from. And I might only bask in the reflected glory of having my name linked, even in a minor way, with writers who are far more luminescent than I.

Okay, yes, that last one sounds maybe just a little self-serving. I can live with that. ;)

When I look back at the trail of connections and interactions, especially in my writing life, that led eventually to something unexpected and wonderful, I feel quite amazed. We do so many things without any idea of where they may lead us. This is one reason I always encourage newer writers to become “immersed” in the writing world, whatever that immersion looks like to them. Writing groups (face to face or virtual), workshops, courses, critique groups, convention panels, speaking opportunities, professional organizations, library or school events, or whatever else may come up, say yes whenever you can. The connections you make can be one of the best parts of the writing life.

And I’ve found more great things to read in the course of the recent process. A not inconsiderable benefit all by itself.

Photo Credit: nicksumm at morguefile.com

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Would I write more, or sleep more, if this were my desk?

Would I write more, or sleep more, if this were my desk?

It was a busy week at the desk, although not all of it translated to actual word count. I did, however, finish out the month with my monthly word count goal for this year (15.5k) attained, which is a first for 2016. January was abysmal, February marginally better, but March gets full marks. And about time, too. I dislike being so unproductive and am very glad to have turned things around.

I also wrote journal pages at 750words.com every day of March, for a total of over 25k words. There’s a little bit of overlap between these words and my fiction word count, as sometimes I’ll write fiction there instead of the usual “morning pages,” but not much. Also, they’re not always in the morning, but they serve the same purpose–musing, parsing, reporting, and general brain-cleansing.

This past week I finally, finally sorted out the last of the novel draft fixes necessary to be able to start writing new scenes again. I’m not generally an advocate of stopping in the middle and going back to rewrite, but in this case, it was necessary for two reasons. I’d decided on such extensive changes that I needed to make them in order to see my way clear again, and I also needed to make them to get my head immersed back into the story so I could pick up all the threads and carry on. I’m still not expecting it to be a cake walk to get to “The End,” but I can see as far as my headlights again.

I did a school visit this week and had a lovely time–a presentation about storytellers in the gym for all the grade P-3 students (who were great participants and asked surprisingly astute questions), and then classroom sessions with grades 4 & 5. We all had a good time, I think, which is the very best outcome for school visits. I was struck by the instant hush that descended over the gym when I began to read aloud to the students. It really says something about the power of reading to kids when that many of them just go quiet and listen.

Apart from writing, I sewed a giant fabric d20 this week. It’s not stuffed yet, but I promise to post a picture when it is! I used these patterns and instructions, which were fabulous. You know, in case you find yourself needing to make giant stuffed polyhedral dice. As one sometimes does.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Okay, the Friday Desk Report is a wee bit late. But it was a good writing week! I finished the first draft of a new short story, did some solid work on the novel draft, and worked on an old, unfinished short story that is finally sorting itself out. I also imported a mostly-finished novel draft into Scrivener for some much-needed attention when I need a break from other projects. I almost doubled my word count from the previous week, which is making me very happy indeed.Rogues 3D_01

Another thing that’s making me very happy this week is this: the Rogues bundle is out! (If you’re in Canada, use this link.) This bundle of seven novels is selling for just 99 cents while the promotion lasts, so you don’t want to miss out. I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle already and am anxious to start reading. Some of these books start series, so it’s a great chance to discover a new sci-fi love affair. My contribution is the first Nearspace novel, One’s Aspect to the Sun, which starts the series but can also stand alone. Be sure to click over and check out this great deal!

I didn’t miss a day at my treadmill desk last week; I usually start my walking-and-writing routine by doing my words at 750words.com. Think “morning pages” stored online, and you’ve got the idea. I wrote there every day during February and so far every day in March. Sometimes it’s journaling, sometimes brainstorming or working out story problems, sometimes blog posts, and sometimes I actually do a portion of the day’s writing there. I like the regularity of writing there, combined with the freedom to write whatever I feel like writing. The longest streak I’ve ever had writing there was 46 days, and if I can keep it up this week without missing a day, I’ll break that. Guess I’ll have to report on that possibility next Friday.

The other new thinApprenticeFiles e-cover2g to report this week is this little goodie, available now on Kobo and Kindle. The Apprentice Files collects four stories with a shared main character: Albettra, the young wizard’s apprentice. These stories can be found in my collection, To Unimagined Shores, so if you already have that, you have these. But for those who don’t, this is a nice little sampler at a good price. Suitable for readers from middle grade and up, these light-hearted stories follow Albettra as she deals with her absent-minded and sometimes crotchety mentor; solves a murder; is pulled into a magebattle, and contends with a halfhigh stalker. This ebook was originally a Kickstarter perk, but now it’s flying on its own.

 

 

 

 

Things I researched this week:

  • family tree of Greek gods
  • wings and laurel leaves
  • mythological half-wolves
  • Cape Breton history
  • short story markets

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Rumsey-nova scotiaWhew! That week went fast, and it was a busy one.

Yes, that’s a map of Nova Scotia on the side, including Cape Breton. We’re in the news so much lately, of course I have to try and capitalize on that. After all, my desk IS in Cape Breton, right? And this report is coming from my desk. So it’s not such a stretch. ;) #capebreton

Most notably this week, I wrote a new short story–in a day. That never happens! My short stories are rarely all that short, and they normally take weeks or more to come into being. But this one just popped into my head and I wrote it. Boom. It also sparked the idea for several more, which are currently rattling around in my brain. Possibly a whole project’s worth. But we’ll have to wait and see what comes of it all. I was also moved to pick up an old, abandoned story and work on it some more. I think I still haven’t solved the main problem that stalled me on that one before, but I’m a lot closer to having it figured out.

I also made some inroads in the novel draft. Finally! It has been a dark two months on that front, and it’s only now that I’m coming out of it that I realize I really was stuck in a bout of the winter blues. Well, let’s call it what it is: seasonal affective disorder. I’m fortunate to get reasonably mild symptoms and to have discovered over the years that I can take steps to alleviate it–most notably, keeping active and spending daily time with a full-spectrum light. However, sometimes it takes me a little while (read, weeks) to clue in to what’s actually going on. Duh. I should set a reminder for myself now, scheduled to pop up next January, that says, “start walking and get out your Ott light!” Anyway, I figured it out eventually and am no longer spending long hours playing Animal Crossing and subsisting on chocolate chips.

Here’s something new happening: this excitement will be dropping around the middle of the month, and I’ve just seen the cover art:Rogues 3D_01Awesome! This looks like a great bundle (put together by Tyche Books) and a smart way to start on some really cool series. I’ll be sharing links and more when it goes live, so stay tuned!

I had a Writers In The Schools visit this week at the local high school and as usual, the kids and teachers were great to work with. Two more scheduled before the school year is up!

Things I researched this week:

  • names for parts of bagpipes
  • Cape Breton fiddle music
  • 19th c. highland dress
  • the birds of Rhiannon
  • Celtic deities

…a definite theme happening there. More on that later…

*Map: Mackinlay’s map of the Province of Nova Scotia, including the island of Cape Breton. – David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

 

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