Writing Wednesday

I finished the first draft go-through of my urban fantasy fairy tale I’ve been writing since February.

I must say, I still don’t hate it. (Although I do need to work on a great punch line ending.)

I still find it a very fun story. The characters all click for me. The love story, although it happens quickly over a period of only three or four days, doesn’t seem too rushed to me. But, what do I know? I have trouble with time relationships as part of my ADHD.

Sometimes I’ll think something happened a long, long time ago and someone will say, “That was just last week,” while other times I’ll run into someone and think I just saw them recently, but they’ll let me know its been months (often rather angrily if I had said I’d get back to them about something and I never did). “You sure it was 6 months ago?”

Sorry, went off on another tangent.

This first go-around I just read it for content to see if anything glaring jumped out at me. First thing I found was an entire section that said, “[fill in with more detail].” (I often use brackets to highlight things i need to go back and do.) So I did. One character’s eye color changed. I also found in the beginning I used the word faerie for both the creatures and as a term for a clan of faeries. And sometimes Faerie the clan was capitalized and other times not. Then, in the last quarter of the book, I started using the word fae, capitalized and uncapitalized, as the word for a faerie clan. I also spell the word faerie when characters who know about the supernatural refer to them and fairy when regular people talk about them. I wonder if that will confuse the reader?

Other than that, there weren’t any glaring continuity errors that I saw.

Now comes the fun edits. OK, I lied. These are the boring edits. Where I search for, then try to replace a series of words that need to be removed or rewritten.

For example, I’ve always had a big but problem. It seems to be part of my writing style, to write sentences in such a way that I have a but conjunction in far too many of them.

To me, but appears excessively, like at least once every paragraph. Maybe they don’t really, but it sure seems that way.

(Ok, I did a search. I have 465 buts in a 99,000 word novel contained within 3,649 paragraphs. Is that a but to paragraph ratio of 12%? How would I know? I’m a writer, not a mathemetician.)

Another thing I’ll search for are words ending in ly. Not that I am anti-adverb, like a lot of writing advice seems to be, mind you, after all, an adverb is just another spice in the writer’s spice rack. You can use it sparingly for effect or use it too often and it becomes overpowering. For myself, in some cases, a sentence can be rewritten better without the adverb. In other instances however, an adverb can work perfectly.

Next, I’ll look for observation or sense words (not sure what the actual writing term is, intransitive verbs?) like think, feel, see, seems, appears, and so on. These words point out an activity, instead of describing the sensation itself. The story is in first person and it isn’t necessary to say, “I feel …” something. I do need to describe what the MC is feeling. In other words, I need to show, and not tell.

In a related search, I’ll look for all the to be verbs. Was, have, can, could, would, etc. do have their place, but often these sentences can be rewritten to give the meaning more punch or immediacy. Many times these words indicate a sentence that is in passive voice instead of active voice.

And finally, I’ll search for crutch gestures, such as, “He shrugged,” “She raised an eyebrow,” “They laughed,” or “He smiled.” Filler phrases that are cliched cues about a character’s behavior and can become tedious with repetition if everyone’s heads are nodding and their eyes are winking. This is more show, don’t tell.

Here is a short tally of excessive words appearing in my novel:

  • But appears 465 times
  • Ly words appear 1,025 times
  • Was appears 1,708 times
  • See appears 347 times of which 47 are Seen
  • Look appears 297x
  • Have appears 452x
  • Can 314x, Could 352x, Tries 48x, Think 222x, Would 259x.

Do you think I’m obsessing over nothing?

After I’ve gone through my lists of Find and Replace words, then I’ll give it a very thorough read-through again.

Now I’ll take a few questions from the audience.

“When do you run the grammar checker?” I don’t. I will probably run the spell check when I’m nearly done to see if I introduced any errors during my edits, but I simply don’t trust most grammar checkers.

“What grammar books do you refer to most?” Usually Strunk and White’s Elements of Style before they added a third name to the title. Also English 2600: A Programmed Course in Grammar and Usage (I also have English 3200). I’ll reread S&W and English 2600 as a refresher before I do my final read-through.

The programmed course is interesting, starting off with a simple sentence like, “Birds fly” (What is the subject? Birds. What is the predicate? Fly.) and progressively getting more and more informative and difficult. I’ve relied on those books for almost 50 years.

“Do you read your writing out loud?” I do not. I understand why some authors do, because hearing the sentences helps them catch rhythm issues, like too many short sentences, or clunky sounding phrases that a writer may miss reading silently. But I have two reasons for not reading out loud. 1) I can’t stand the sound of my own voice. It’s also one reason I have never used a tape recorder to write with when pen and paper aren’t available. 2) I’m a horrible out loud reader. I think, for one thing, my tongue might be too big for my mouth, but beyond that, there’s a disconnect between my eyes and my mouth when I read. My eyes will be wandering a few words ahead while my mouth is still trying to comprehend the words previous, this making it sound like Yoda is reading it. I will also admit, I had to go to remedial reading classes when my elementary teachers discovered I had been faking my ability to read. I wasn’t reading phonetically, which was the thing then, I simply had a monstrous vocabulary and had all the most common words memorized.

Whatever the reason, I stumble and stammer when reading out loud, just as I always have, so there is no benefit to my reading out loud — everything sounds clunky, and in Yoda’s voice.

Somewhere around here is a blogpost of me reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” one Halloween several years back. It took me innumeral takes before I got it to where I thought it wasn’t too embarrassing to post. If it hadn’t been part of a challenge by fellow blogsters at the time, it never would have been posted, ir even recorded. My reading of it is atrocious. Find it and have a good laugh.

“Would you consider paying for a real editor?” No.

“When will you send it to beta readers?” I don’t know. The reason I packed away my trunk novel is despite several positive critiques, I received one particularly scathing critique that absolutely deflated me and I gave up writing for several years. Pretty sure I don’t want to go through that again.

“When will you start to write the synopsis and query letter?” Shut up. Never say those words to a writer unless you’re prepared for violence.

“When do you anticipate sending it to agents?” I don’t know. Looking at the calendar, I doubt I’ll make it before NaNoWriMo and I’d hate to start subbing it after, since that’s when all those NaNo-novels start filling up slush piles everywhere. So, most likely early 2018.

“Are you thinking of self-publishing?” Only as a last resort, after I’ve been rejected by every literary agent there is

And it looks like we’ve run out of time for further questions. Thank you all for your time.

-30-

Advertisements

Wrap a wrap a wrap

A Friday Haiku

Another week gone

Where do they go? I don’t know

To join dryer socks?

Exercises come and go

If you’re anything like me (and if you are, I apologize), you tend to hate certain exercises and quickly get bored with others.

Running, I’m good to go, even if I sometimes take more days off between runs than I should; I still look forward to my runs and enjoy them (well, except for those first several minutes where you question your own sanity and wonder why you torture yourself so until the endorphins hit, the sun comes out, and the birds sing).

But other exercises I’ve always hated.

Stretching has always been my ultimate nemesis. I could neven touch my toes in grade school (and still can’t). So any stretching regimen I start ends quickly in pain and frustration. I don’t need such negativity in my life. I get it, I’m a failure at flexibility.

Push-ups are another. Loathe them. I don’t know what it is about them, but I really have to force myself to do them. Bench presses, on the other hand, I don’t mind and in fact, when I can feel the burn in my chest, shoulders, and triceps, I become motivated to do extra reps. But push-ups, I just collapse on the floor and give up.

Sit-ups and crunches I hate as well, and not because they sometimes hurt my back. I always need something to hook my feet under or I just sort of thrash away like a turtle on its back. In high school gym it was very embarrassing.

And that must be the reason for my dislike of certain exercises, there is some sort of psychological association with high school gym where all the other boys were towering over me, muscles rippling (think The Crusher from Bugs Bunny), and they could pound out dozens of push-ups, sit-ups, as well as the dreaded chin-up, and throw in an iron cross for good measure, while I’d struggle with my skinny spaghetti limbs trembling and flailing around, never accomplishing anything.

Now that I think about it, high school gym class was exactly like that for me.

Anyway, I meant to talk about how I start doing some exercises, but then quickly forget to do them, but I got off on a tangent on why I skipped gym all the time.

I was noticing a pain or weakness in my hamstrings and buttock the last few weeks when I step up onto something, like curbs or stairs.

Running was causing a strength imbalance and the stretches I attempted weren’t helping.

I realized I had gotten away from doing hamstring curls on my Weider Crossbow and doing rows on my CardioFit. I call them rows, but the machine is like the Tony Little Healthrider (see below).

These machines were all the rage back in the 80s, so I picked mine up at Sears after our stairstepper died (and Sears wouldn’t do anything so I wrote the CEO, then got a whiny letter from the store manager. “Why didn’t you contact me first?” Because I wanted you to squirm). The Healthrider seems more aerobic, with little resistance. My CardioFit has an adjustable piston to increase the resistence, making it more anerobic, although I’ve rarely dialed it past 2 (it goes up to a muscle- and joint-punishing 9).

Sorry, I did it again. The point is, after a week of this cross-training, my hamstrings feel much better.

And I apologize for taking forever to make that point.

Writing and editing and sex

I’d say I’m about 80 to 85% done with my first round of edits for my urban fantasy fairy tale.

This is the first time I’ve read it through. Strangely, I’m still very excited about it. That must mean it’s horrible.

Right now I’m editing for flow and continuity. I see where I called one character Bill, when his name is Benton. That’s what happens when you grab scenes from a trunk novel and don’t do a thorough read to catch things like that.

I’m back to a concern I mentioned several weeks or months ago about the relationship between two of the characters. They’ve known each other for less than a week and they’ve already fallen in love. Yes, I know such things happen in real life, if infrequently. And yes, I’ve read some urban fantasy romances and it seems the characters are jumping in the sack almost immediately. And therefore, I shouldn’t be that worried, but I am.

I’ve never written anything romantic before. I’ve never been concerned with the love lives of my characters. But beyond this being my first attempt at romance, its also my first attempt at writing a sex scene. To be honest, I haven’t even read very many sex scenes.

And this one has two so far. Scenes that, lacking any literary experience in the matter, I don’t know if they come off as hokie, or cliched, or downright boring.

I wonder if I should pass it to some beta readers to get outside reactions?

Weigh-In Friday

Despite only running on Monday, although I did do some weight training, and eating more than my fair share of my wife’s Dairy Queen ice cream birthday cake, my weight is down below 200 pounds at 199.7. Woot!

Designated Driver

For you couples out there, when you go somewhere together, who drives? The man or the woman?

I grew up in a time when men were the drivers and women were passengers.

Lately, I’ve been noticing more women driving with men as passengers and it still looks out of place to me.

Not for any sexist reasons; I certainly don’t believe gender innately makes someone a better or worse driver. Nor do I believe men are somehow ordained to rule over or control women.

In my case, I drive because for one thing, I get carsick as a passenger. For another, I drive my wife crazy because I don’t know what to do with myself as a passenger. I can’t read or play on my phone because of the motion sickness. So, I fidget, tap my feet, or drum my fingers, play with all the dials and switches, and constantly change the radio station. Being a passenger magnifies my ADHD.

So, very early in our relationship, my wife realized it was better for everyone all around if she let me drive.

Then she could read and play on her phone and ignore the fact that I wait until the very last second before applying the brakes.

Finally nearing the end

Since I spent most of this blog going off on attention deficit fueled tangents, I’ll spare you any political rants for the week.

TheRump is still an orange turd though. Never forget. Never normalize his hatred, bigotry, or incivility. Resist.

Enjoy your weekend. Here’s a song to send you off with:

-30-

The week in review

A Friday Haiku

This Friday signals
The solemn end of summer
Hello Labor Day

What’s up, doc, part II

My doctor wanted me in ASAP (or should I say STAT?) for an EKG. He was worried about my heart.

I may have overstated the symptoms I was experiencing since stopping my diuretic. *sheepish grin*

Remember, last week I stopped taking my diuretic for hypertension, and I’ve been monitoring it.

My blood pressure seemed to be slightly elevated. At his office last week, on HBP meds, it was 100/60. My home machine was registering in the 140s/80s.

I was having a constant, mild headache. I had gained seven pounds in five days. And I mentioned I felt sluggish and I was winded walking up the stairs I normally take. (I guess I also failed to mention I had my backpack on, which adds another 10 to 15 pounds.)

He asked if I had a cough. No, I didn’t. But he wanted me in immediately.

Those emails took place Wednesday, I went in Thursday morning.

Well, the EKG was fine. In fact, it looked virtually identical to the one I had taken 20 years ago.

Plus, his bp machine measured me at 128/80. So obviously, my home machine is way off.

He had been worried that I had suffered congestive heart failure (Thus the question about having a cough), whereas I attributed it all to gaining 7 pounds in 5 days.

So we had a discussion about the diuretic again. His philosophy is to have his patients on as few drugs as possible. At this point, there are three tacts we could take. 1) Go back on the diuretic because we knew that was working (and continue to pee a lot and have dizzy spells). 2) Continue as I’m doing, monitoring things, and see where that leads. 3) We could try another drug to work with the ACE inhibitor I’m already taking (and have to deal with all new side-effects until we find one I can tolerate).

Guess which door I chose?

(Oh, he also gave me a fourth option. Allowing me to take the diuretic whenever I felt I needed a boost.)

Thus, if I cut out as much salt as possible and continue to exercise and lose weight, I should be able to stay off the diuretic.

So, goodbye bacon. Goodbye McDonald’s and Burger King. Goodbye canned soups. Good bye pickles. Goodbye salted popcorn. Goodbye salted peanuts in the shell. Goodbye all you other heavily salted snack foods that I love so much.

Hello bland.

The editing stage

To be honest, I’ve always hated editing. I just find it tedious to read and reread and reread a story again and again as I try to find flaws, fix mistakes, correct continuity errors, and so on.

Tedious. Boring.

Except this time. I’m enjoying editing. Maybe it’s because I really do love this story and the characters. Maybe it’s because as I’m reading it, I’m finding more places to put witty banter in to help round out the characters’ personalities and give a more believable portrayal of their relationships.

I guess it’s a writer thing.

Weigh-In Friday

I’m up, I’m down. This morning I weighed 204 pounds, which means I gained 3.1 pounds from last Friday.

But wait! On Wednesday, I had weighed 206.9 pounds. I had gained 7 pounds in just 5 days. My doctor had warned me that I’d gain water weight when I stopped taking the diuretic. But 7 pounds? That’s a lot of fluid retention. Every cell must have been drowning.

So even though I gained weight from my last official weigh-in, technically, I’ve lost 2.9 pounds.

My body is slowly acclimating to not taking the diuretic. I hope to be back on track by next week.

Bigly news about a yuge loser

I don’t know if you caught this article, but TheRump’s son-in-law said, that everyone should be nice to the big orange turd because negative comments about TheRump make him depressed and suicidal.

Well, yeah, that isn’t really news. Anyone who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to the orange turd’s behavior would have suspected that.

Why else does he get so defensive and lashes out at anyone who criticizes him? Because he can’t handle the truth.

Why else would he label the mainstream media “fake news?” Because if he thinks of it as fake news, the negative stories they print can’t hurt him. And if he calls it the “failing” NY Times, anything they print he can chalk up to desperation on their part. (Yes, TheRump is delusional as well.)

Why else would he have special briefings packages delivered to him several times a day that contain only positive news stories about him?

And really. Where do they even find that much positive news about him? Ive heard sone of thise briefings are over an inch thick. Who is giving TheRump that much positive press? Pravda? FauxNews? The White Nationalist’s Gazette?

Maybe he hired a bunch of staff writers to just make up happy Donny stories.

So, yes, finding out the current SCROTUS, suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts is nothing new. But I bet this information makes more Americans sleep less easy at night knowing this guy with a hair-trigger temper is in charge of all our nukes.

It’s a good day to be a Milwaukeean

That’s because our own conservative unstable, hatemonger David Clarke, the Milwaukee County Sheriff, has resigned.

Yes. There is jubilation, my friends. People are dancing in the streets in Brewtown.

Here’s a song to celebrate by:

And that, as they say in the movies, is a wrap. Have a great three-day weekend!

-30-

Talkin bout Friday

A Friday Haiku

Nothin’ you could say

Could make me not love Friday

Talkin bout Friday!

(My apologies to Mary Wells)

Friday!

WIP wrapup

I finally finished the first draft on the novel I’ve been working on since January. I just typed “the end.” Well, actually, I typed “-30-” the same way I end my blogs and how I’ve ended all my stories forever.

The weird thing was, I could have sworn that I had written down several variations of the ending in my notebook, but I feverishly paged through it and nothing. Nada. Not one word on the ending.

Did I write them all in my head? They seemed so real. So I ended up writing a new ending.

Now I’m debating if I should do the “put it away and forget about it for a while” technique or if I should just jump right in and start editing it.

Most likely, I’ll jump right in. With my poor short term memory, I probably can’t recall much of the story anyway, so there’s no point in trying to distance myself from it.

Besides, I’ve sort of been editing it as I’ve gone along.

Finding the ideal run time

Because I’ve stopped my morning runs, I’ve been looking for a good alternate time to run.

So far, the best time is as soon as I get home before I start preparing dinner.

It’s a somewhat good time because it’s early enough in the evening that my body won’t have all that addrenaline running through it when it’s bedtime.

It doesn’t always work however, if I have to stop at the store for a needed something for whatever meal we’re planning.

Which means, we have to prepare menus ahead of time so we know what needs to be defrosted or what ingredients we don’t have on hand.

Adulting is hard.

Weigh-in Friday

Despite my doctor’s scale reading 204 pounds (it’s one of those old-fashioned ones where they still slide the weights to find a balance point and guess your weight, my home scale thus morning read 199.6 pounds. A slight uptick from my low of 198, but down from a more recent 202 because I had a bad weekend a while back going to Wisconsin State Fair and eating things on a stick and their world famous cream puffs.

WordPress complaint

I write these blogposts on my smartphone and usually I have no issues, except when it comes to creating the headings.

For some reason, they just don’t take. The first one does, but each subsequent heading doesn’t change. While highlighted it shows the heading, “H4” or whatever, but when I unhighlight it, the text is normal. So I’m forced to bold and italicize the headings so you know they’re there until I can edit it at home on my computer. It’s a little frustrating.

Does anyone else have that issue?

US Cellular rebate update

After all the rigamarole we went through, and after waiting all this time (we joined them on June 11th), our rebate cards finally came. As I’ve said before, the entire process of leaving Verizon, joining US Cellular, getting new phones, cost over $2000, which is why people don’t switch cellphone service providers all that often. And after all was said and done, we got $350 in US Cellular cash. That’s better than the $40 they originally were going to give us.

Still, it is basically fake money. They aren’t Mastercard or Visa gift cards. They’re US Cellular cards good only at US Cellular locations. I’ll use it to pay one month’s bill.

And after all that, our bill isn’t any better than it was with Verizon.

I do, however, get reception downtown, which is something I never got with Verizon. So I’ll count my blessings and leave it at that.

Have a Happy weekend!

And that, my friends, is that. I’ll spare you any rants about the orange turd in the Oval Office, although he did give us plenty of ammunition this week to ridicule him with. It’s like he does and says outrageous shit on purpose just to get a reaction or to see how far along he can string his idiotic followers until they finally say, “Uncle. Even we can’t excuse that.” But so far, they’ve bought it all. Sad!

And on that note, let’s get the weekend started with some Little Feat, “Fatman in the Bathtub.”

Enjoy!

-30-

Friday is like Yeah!

A Friday Haiku

Friday is like Yeah!

A mix of Boo-yah & Boom!

Ready to explode!

Look to the skies

August is just hopping with big astronomical events.

On August 12th, we can expect the annual visit of the Perseid meteor shower. But this one is different! Astronomers say it will be the brightest shower in recorded history. Some might even be visible in the daytime.

If you miss it, you’ll be crying 96 years because the next one won’t come around for another 96 years.

The second event will be the coast-to-coast solar eclipse. Get your protective glasses now before they sell out.

It will sweep across the United States on August 21st. This is the first time the mainland has seen a total eclipse like this since 1979.

However, most of us will only see a partial eclipse. The lucky ones live along a narrow diagonal track that cuts from Columbia, SC up to Portland, OR.

So enjoy. Unless, of course, you don’t believe in science and think these are omens sent by the gods to warn of mankind’s impending doom. In which case, have fun with that.

Writing is like a drug

My current work in progress (WIP) is finally nearing its completion. For the most part, I’ve been very enthusiastic about writing it. When the ideas are flowing freely and I’m in the zone, writing becomes like a drug. A drug that fills me with happiness and excitement. The whole world seems a better place.

Too bad all those wonderful feels end when the editing starts.

Weigh-In Friday

No change. I didn’t lose weight, but then I didn’t gain either. For the kast few weeks, I’ve reached an unchanging plateau.

I’m beginning to think balony sandwiches aren’t the best lunch when trying to lose weight.

Nah! That’s silly talk.

Sad!

The approval ratings for the orange turd right now range from as low as 33% up to around 41%. If we go by the higher number, that means if you meet 10 people today, there’s a good chance 4 of them are idiots.

Currently Reading

Murder in Manhattan by Steve Allan.

Yes, that Steve Allan of TV comedy fame. I had no idea he had written a series of mysteries starring himself and his wife Jayne Meadows. I’ve always admired him. He seemed like a true Renaissance man.

-30-

Writing and wediting Wednesday

Elmer Fudd would say he was “whiting my manuscwipt,” but would he say he was “wediting it,” too? Probably not, there isn’t an R in editing, but he would say he was editing with his “wed pencil.”

Sorry. I’m being silly, but I’m also whiting, er, writing and editing my manuscript.

Yes, the one I said was going to be done a few weeks (months?) ago.

Well, two things are going on. The ending is a little harder to write than I first thought it would be. I’m trying to fill it with action and suspense as well as a good pay off. I’m also having an internal debate if I should kill off one or more characters (and which ones).

The other issue I’m having is suddenly other scenes are popping into my head. Scenes that fit in throughout the story which add drama to the narrative and increase the tension.

They just came from nowhere, unbidden, and I started writing them down in a notebook hoping they’d just go away, but the more I wrote, the more detailed they became until I realized I needed to insert them.

And they’re fitting in perfectly. Unlike when I deliberately write scenes as filler because a story isn’t long enough or because it needs backstory or something to explain a later scene.

No. These belong here and fit in seamlessly.

So that’s why I’m not finished with this story. It wasn’t finished with me.

-30-

Slow and steady writes the book

Slowly but surely, my novel is coming along. I’m in the final lap of the first draft. 

I began it on January 17, and I’ve worked on it a little bit each day. Some days I wrote a lot, maybe a few thousand words, other days I only wrote a few hundred, or I reread and edited what was already written. 

I don’t have exact word counts because I hand write everything with a fountain pen before I transcribe it to computer and incorporate it into the story.
It’s April, almost May, and as I said, the end is nigh, or the climax and denouement are nigh, yay verily.

Sorry.

I’m currently at about 71000 words and will probably be around 80000 when all is said and done. Not bad. I tend to write short and then have to go back and add more detail whereas some authors write long and then have to trim and cut.

This is an accomplishment for me. Usually it takes me many, many months to complete a novel. Years, in fact, and here I might have this WIP done in less than five months. Or is January to May only four months? See? This is why I’m a writer and not a mathematician. 

I think this version of my MC is better fleshed out than his predecessor from my trunk novel. That other one, I tried to give him a few human weaknesses so he seemed more real, vut i moght have gone overboard. I gave him a ton of flaws: he was shy, out of shape, ate poorly, seemed somewhat unaware of the feelings of those around him,  was a drinker and got drunk at least once, smoked cigars, was a wisecracker and never took things seriously, yet he was full of anger and had rage issues against his father, and so on.

The new version simply has ADHD. Period. Although that can cover a range of faults, I have tried not to be excessive about it and when he’s on his meds, he’s fine.
It’s when he’s off his meds that the trouble and fun happens. Imagine being a sorcerer who can’t focus long enough to create a spell, for instance. I hope it makes for some interesting situations. 

I also think the romantic angle where he runs (literally) into a faerie and they have a growing relationship has more depth and emotion than the previous story where that MC fell for a werewolf.

I’ve also eliminated werewolves and vampires from this story, since they’re overdone at the moment. Although I won’t rule them out in a future sequel.

Instead I have kraken and a troll, and of course, the antagonist, which is an ages old dragon. He was red before but I made him orange this time, because aren’t all tyrants who want to enslave mankind orange?

Have a good writing Wednesday.

-30-