Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Discovery Writing and Outlining

I’m a discovery writer, of sorts.  Actually, I suppose I’m more of a hybrid writer.  A writer who has ideas of what needs to happen, and then discovery writes to get there.  I wasn't always this way, for the most part, I used to be a pure discovery writer.  However, when you're working with an epically long book series, you just can't write fast enough.  I have plot points coming out of my ears for books I haven't even started to pull together.  But I know what's going to happen, and it's exciting.

So I guess this makes me an outliner.  But I don't want to be an outliner.  I like to discovery write, so I think I'll call myself hybrid discovery writer.  Now, that sounds nice.

But I digress, let me back up.  When I first wrote Book II (it’s now at around 90k words), I was firmly in the discovery writing phase.  Oh, I had ideas of where the book needed to go, but I had no idea how I was going to get there.  Anyway, because of this, Book II is full of holes.  When you're writing a series in discovery writing mode, it's incredibly difficult to just write and get it down in the first pass.  As a matter of fact, it's downright impossible.

There are subplots and themes that need to be fully supported, ideas that you come up with later but need to go back and put in earlier.  And so I make an outline after the first draft is written.  This way I can find the holes, places that need to be fleshed out, and plot points that need to be built up to better.  It's kind of fun, but it also can be a painfully long process.

Doing this for Analindë (Book I), was tedious.  I'm hoping the process for Book II will go a lot more smoothly. 

Almost one year ago I was in Beijing, visiting a friend.  While she was at work, I stayed in her apartment and outlined Analindë, then at night we went out and explored the city together.  I also did a rough outline of Book II in the series, but my focus at the time was to get Book I going again.

Analindë will soon go to print, and just last night I finished redoing the outline for Book II. It's exciting, I'm looking forward to reworking the story, but I'm a little discouraged at the same time.  It's almost been a year since I last worked on Book II, and I realize yet again how fleeting time really is.

Thankfully I'm still on leave at the moment, and have time to charge forward with my revisions.  The goal is to work quickly and then move on to Book III.  We'll see how I fare.

In other news, I've almost finished tweaking the design of my website.  I hope you like the changes.  The cover art for Analindë is coming along nicely. My illustrator (Bryan Beus) and I have just reviewed the photos from the shoot held last Saturday and he’s moving forward to start the final sketches for the cover.  I'm really pleased with the model that we used, she makes a great Analindë.

- Melissa

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Please Excuse the Mess

I'm updating the blog/website again, so please excuse the mess.

I find that I'm enjoying using Adobe Muse.  I also find that it's difficult to hack my way around the CSS on the blog template I'm using.  Sigh. 

At least I'm almost done. 

-M

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Aaack, work swallowed me whole

I've been doing a lot of writing for the past few months.

Unfortunately, all of that writing has been going into a weekly newsletter at work. By the time I get home, I'm exhausted and all the words have already been typed out the end of my fingers. So no blog posts here. Sorry. (Yes, work has taken over my life. Again.)

It's starting to get warmer here in this corner of the world. When I look out my window at work I see buds on the trees, which makes me happy. As I was dashing inside earlier today, I saw tulip and daffodil leaves pushing up out of the soil. Granted they were only an inch tall, but still. Spring is on it's way.

Happy day.
-Melissa

p.s. for you curious souls out there, the answer is, yes. I still have frozen ham in my freezer from last Fall. The past couple of times I've peered inside the freezer I've contemplated throwing it out. . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How I Ended Up With 3.7 LBS of Ham, really

So there I was, strolling around the local grocery store on my way home for work. Hungry, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to eat that night and then I saw the Deli counter. Filled with all sorts of meats, not the American way, with a turkey section, and a chicken section, and a ham section, and then a cold cuts section. No, this is Austria.

There was a section that all looked like salami, several different kinds of salami, most of them scared me. Of course, this being Austria, there was no salami, or pepperoni for that matter. Then there was this other section. I wasn't quite sure what the meat was, but it looked familiar.

So I peered through the glass, trying to differentiate between dozen or so different types of what looked like the exact same thing. But the labels were all slightly different. I settled on the one that was called "farmerschinken."

I glanced at the farmerschinken one more time before placing my order, my eyes flicking back and forth between the label and the deli meat, trying to figure out what farmerschinken really meant. It didn't look like chicken, but my brain kept trying to reconcile my expectations that there should be a turkey/chicken section, and that chinken might mean chicken. (Low blood sugar will do that to you, you know?)

Anyway, I took the plunge, caught the deli worker's eye and said, "Farmerschinken, bitte." Then he asked me how much. I rapidly did some calculations. I wanted about a half a pound, and if I remembered correctly, there were two kilo's in a pound, just like there are two kilometers in a mile. So I asked for a kilo. Then I quickly backtracked, deciding that it would be nice to have three quarters of a pound, so I changed my order to one and a half kilos.

I watched him look down at the farmerschinken and heft it, then he looked back up. "Do you want it sliced?"

"Yes , please." By this time, we were speaking in English.

He started slicing, and my mind started wandering. You know, how you just start looking around, checking out the other items on display, moving out of the way of other customers.

I'm not sure how much time passed, but I distinctly remember looking up and seeing the quickly forming pile of deli meat and realizing that I really didn't know how much a kilo actually weighed. . . Somehow I managed to quell my surprise and look normal.

So by the time he turned back around, to weigh the slices, I was smiling looking pleased. Only a small piece of the original chunk of meat remained. It came to 1.68 kilos. (I guess deli counter people must be the same all over the world, always trying to sell just that little bit extra.) I smiled and shrugged that the overage was fine, (the ever gracious me…).

Then the price label spit out, he shook his head saying 26 Euro, I muttered that I was having friends over. (Yes, I'd just lied to the deli-counter man to save face.) I pinned a smile on my face and shivered inside, took the packaged cold cuts from him and walked to the checkout, trying not to think about how I had close to $40 of sliced something in my cart.

When I got home and opened up the package, I realized it was ham. Why I couldn't actually see ham, while looking at a ham, I don't know. Why Austrians need to choose between several different types of ham that look exactly the same is beyond me. But I guess we do the same thing with turkey.

Just remember when shopping in Vienna, anything labeled chinken is NOT chicken. It's ham. Oh, and perhaps more importantly, please remember that there are roughly two pounds in a kilo.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ahem, i’m back

Fern-Frond-3
To me, these nascent fern fronds--emerging from the sharp, dead, foliage of the past--whisper of new beginnings and possibilities.

I thought a little bit about starting this post by telling you a joke about how I meant that I’d be updating the blog in October of 2011, not October 2009, as I implied in my post back in May of 2009. But then I realized it wasn't really that funny.

You see, I’m feeling a bit sheepish for having gone AWOL here. There are reasons of course; I was burned out for one. I started a job that I didn’t know how to blog around. And then I was in a creative black hole for about the past 15 months. Some of it I’ll blog about moving forward. The rest of it, I’ll leave to the void of stuff best left unsaid.

Suffice it to say, this all you really need to know in order to have a little closure:

I moved to Southern California, moved to Washington DC to become a Government Drone (go! paper-pushers!), moved to Haiti, survived Haiti (barely), and am now in Vienna, Austria.

While I was in Haiti (for 15 months) I didn’t blog, I didn’t write, I took some photos, but couldn’t bring myself to work on them. It was a difficult place to be. If you would have asked me my thoughts about muses before I moved to Haiti, I would have told you that people extolling the virtues of muses were full of bull-caca. Now? Yes, I’m a full believer in it.

Not so much of having/not having inspiration, but more in the creative space kind. If there is enough negative energy swirling around you in life, it sucks all the creative energy out of you. (At least in my experience.)

Moving forward, I've combined my blogs, and am ditching the i-m-bitter and BITTER photography monikers. Expect to see me continue to tinker with the blog. Layout, design, etc. The rest of my grand plans (if I can remember them), I’ll tell you about when I get around to working on them.

And lastly, Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you have grand plans for the day.

Best,
Melissa