The Return of the Revenge of the Son of Accounting & Accountability

A little over a month ago, I asked a question about how to publicly report my progress on my writing projects.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that question in the months since.  And I’ve been thinking a lot about a companion question: what’s the best way to keep track of all that writing I’m (apparently not) doing?

In particular, I was interested in a specific, vexing problem: I’m a “planner”, these days.  So everything that I’ve been writing has been background.  I haven’t actually written anything that counts toward my presumed goal of, say, 125,000 words for my novel.  (The approximately 1,200 words towards my short story’s goal of 6,000 was something I’d written earlier.)  How do I keep track of that?

A few of my readers may have happened across David Sharp’s (of “A Wee Adventure“) “Novel Biographer“, an excel spreadsheet built to track your wordcount progress when writing a novel. It’s a well-designed little tool for tracking stuff like that. 

That tool was a pretty inspired idea, I thought, but it didn’t fully meet my personal needs.  I needed something a little more flexible.  I needed something that accounted for the fact that I’m a “Planner” who writes a lot of background notes before embarking on the novel itself.  I needed something that would allow me to track multiple writing projects of different types quickly and easily. Continue reading

Approaching a Theme: Writing from your Character’s Moral Framework

Last week, in linking to an article about the running theme of Pixar’s movies, I mentioned that I wanted to return to the subject of Theme in writing

Now, I’m no expert.  By which I mean: I have not, as yet, published a novel. That’s a correctable shortcoming, and one that will eventually be corrected.  In the meantime, I’ve thought a lot about the idea of Theme in my writing.  But because I’m no expert, I want first to point you toward the thoughts of someone who might reasonably be called an expert; in that regard, get thee to this post on the Magical Words blog on the subject of Theme.  When finished, you may return here, where I will wax further on the topic.

Okay, done with Lucienne Diver‘s article, now?  Good.  Now, let’s talk about Theme.  Continue reading

Tidbits of Inspiration: Culture & Kisses

For most speculative fiction writers Worldbuilding is an important part of writing – whether you do it up-front before you dive into your narrative or more on the back-end as an organic outgrowth of the writing process.  And  if you’re worldbuilding, you’ll probably have to think, at least a little, about culture.

And so it was that I was fascinated to listen to this story, today, on NPR: “Of War and Kisses: How Adversity Shapes Culture“.  The article is about a study that draws a link between national adversity (war and contention with neighbors and other problems and disasters) and population density with the relative strictness or tightness of a culture.  There seems to be, based on this study, some correlation between nations that are constantly embattled or face regular hardship and a very strict culture, and likewise between very dense populations and a very strict culture, whereas the reverse also seems to be true: nations that are not constantly embattled or which have very diffuse populations tend to be less strict or tight, and more accepting of cultural faux pas.  Although, there are, of course, exceptions.

Still, it’s an interesting thing to think about, when you get to the part of your worldbuilding where you’re thinking about the cultures you are portraying in your story.  Go take a look at the story on NPR and let it muddle around in your mind a bit…

Cult of Eschatology

On Sunday I made light of the World That Didn’t End, and the people whom the non-event flummoxed.  But, truth be told, I’ve been thinking a lot more about those folks than my short, flippant blog-post my suggest.  On one hand, I feel very sorry for these folks.  These people really believed that they were going to be taken up into heaven on Saturday, and that the the earth would suffer the ravages of earthquakes and various other disasters, killing most of the rest of us left behind.  I mean, they really believed.  Like, spent-their-life-savings-to-buy-billboards-warning-non-believers believed.  These people had no “Plan B“.

I feel for them.  I really do.  It must be difficult to devote yourself so fully to a belief, to an idea, only to have the rug pulled out from under you.  I understand, in some way, the pain they must be going through.  I’ve had my crises of faith, those moments when I questioned what I believed in.  But this is more than just an emotional let-down for them.  They have no pieces to pick up, no life to go back to, because many of them sold everything, gave up everything, cut bonds, quit jobs to pursue this eschatological fantasy.  They are victims. Continue reading

Guest Post: Writing & Parenthood

Today I’m guest-posting it up over at Ollin Morales’ {Courage 2 Create} blog, where I’m talking about the challenges of being a parent and a writer (when you’ve already got so much else going on), strategies I try to use to succeed at both, and commisseration for the hard times – when being a parent means there’s just no time to write.

Ollin’s blog is a great place for writers to go when they need an inspirational pick-me-up.  If you’re a writer who also has one of those things called a life, you’ll find plenty to appreciate on {Courage 2 Create}.

If you’re a writer who’s also a parent, know a writer who’s a parent, or are a writer who might someday become a parent, hopefully you’ll find something of interest on my guest post there today.  So head on over and share your experiences!

Grass Is Always Greener…

Today I’m going to talk about something different… Why?  Because there’s another project Dear Wife and I have been working on.  No, not the writing-related project I mentioned before.  This one has nothing to do with writing, but I’m proud of it so I’m going to share it anyway.

About a month and a half ago – maybe two months, I’m not sure – Dear Wife and I embarked on a quest to grow a more beautiful lawn.  Our front yard had turned into a hive of scum and villainy bed of weeds and grotesque grasses.  So we dropped a Roundup bomb, so to speak.  By which I mean, we killed everything on the lawn: grass, weeds, and all.  (We left the garden and trees intact, of course.  The garden we’d have to weed by hand.)

To our great embarrassment, the lawn sat fallow and barren for weeks: I was still working on projects at school and we were having trouble finding the time to finish the job.

The New Grass in my Yard

The first signs of green peaking through the layer of yellow straw in my yard.

Well, a couple weeks ago, now, we couldn’t stand it any more.  Continue reading

Content Theft – DMCA’d!!!!

I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen this around here… but I  had one of my recent posts stolen.  I won’t link to the site that stole my content – I believe it may be attempting to do something illicit, possibly by running spyware or malware.  I’ve reported the site to the hosting company’s security staff.  But this is a new experience for me.  I’m a little disappointed that it happened, but not really surprised.  As continued blogging raises my blogs profile, this is going to happen more often.

[Edit: After contacting the host provider, I’ve now filed a DMCA.  My first ever DMCA!  Boo-yah!]

Still Alive

Just checking.

If you’re reading this (or checking out this awesome video* (deets)), it is because a terrible, world-crushing earthquake did not happen.

So, how are you on this fine, not-so-end-of-the-worldy day?

Just to be extra-in-your-face… I wrote this post before the world didn’t end with the full faith that it wouldn’t.  Part of me feels like a jerk, making fun of the poor folks who thought they’d be in their happy place today… but then, I’m not really making fun of them, per se, so much as… well… being alive and not killed in a massive earthquake.

The world is full of interesting beliefs and ideas and the people who believe them.  Heck, I believe in things, myself – things that can’t be proved with science** but can only be felt in the heart – and I love and enjoy the company of many other people of many faiths and persuasions and/or lacks thereof.  But sometimes, a belief is just… wrong.  Today is one of those times.

I’ll be checking in with you all again on October 21st.

Peace, love, tacos, and happy writing!

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*What does it say about me that there are a ton of in-jokes in that video that you wouldn’t get unless you’d played the game this came from (and others by the same maker), and yet I get almost all of them even though I haven’t played the game?  (I want to… but games aren’t part of my regular diet, right now.)

**I love science, too, of course.  Without science, we wouldn’t have zombies or the internet, and the world would be very sad without zombies.  Yay for science!

Periodic Table

…No… not of elements

That would have like, what?  FourFive squares?¹

No, I’m referring to this nifty Periodic Table of Storytelling

I haven’t had time to peruse it fully, but it looks fun.  It’s a codifying table of the tropes on TVTropes.org

Nicked from a link on Jay Lake’s blog.

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¹It’s a nerd joke. 

²Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here³

³Or here, if you prefer.

And Another Thing: Thinking Deeply About Pixar & Theme

Well… since I’m sharing links today, here’s one that might be relevant to readers of this blog.

I’m going to go out on a limb here – okay, I don’t really think I’m actually taking a risk here in saying this, because it’s probably true – and say that you, dear reader, probably enjoy Pixar films. 

I know I do.

One thing that always strikes me about Pixar films (I have now seen all of those currently extent, thanks to the magic of Netflix) is just how well-written and frequently genuinely moving and touching these films are.  Pixar films almost never fail to pull a heart-string or two along the way.  I think that’s a particularly valuable lesson for all creative folks.

But this article (“The Hidden Message in Pixar’s Films“) offers another perspective on Pixar films: Continue reading