Friday, December 19, 2014

Anniversary, and a building year ahead

So I just realized that Tuesday will be the one-year anniversary of this blog.  I still haven't finished a book to the point of self-publishing, but I've written more this year than I have in several years past, so I consider it a win.  (I've written even more, if I include the blog posts I've put up here.)

2014 has been an...interesting year.  Health issues and deaths in the family aside, it hasn't been bad.  I feel like I'm getting a better sense of who I am as a writer, which is a big part of what I need to be confident in my writing.  My day job has had its ups and downs, but the year is ending on a high note, which always makes me feel a little better.  I'm thankful for the life I am privileged to lead, and I hope to use my time to make the lives of others a little better, too.

There.  Now that I've gotten the maudlin sentimentality out of the way, it's time to set some goals for myself for next year.  More and more, I'm realizing that if I take the kind of business-like, metrics-driven approach in my personal life as I do in my professional life, I will probably be able to meet a few goals and feel like I've accomplished something.  I'm going to give myself a timeline as well, and will hopefully track against those dates here, where the internet can see.  Accountability!  That's the aim.  Anyway, goals!

  • Complete draft of book 2 of Paranormal Investigations, Inc.
    • Due: April 30
  • Complete draft of Church of Book
    • Due: August 31
  • Win at least one of either Camp Nanowrimo or Nanowrimo
    • Due: November 31
  • Complete edit of Paranormal Investigations, Inc.
    • Due: December 31
  • Submit at least one short story for publication
    • Due: December 31
Next year is going to be what they refer to in football as a "building year."  My hope is that I'll have something polished and actually COMPLETE by the end of the year.

Happy holidays, my friends.  I will be away from the blogosphere for the rest of the year, unless something extraordinary happens that I just can't wait to talk about.  Here's to a glorious 2015!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Character building - personal effects

The other day, I started sorting through my jewelry.  I had recently gotten a new necklace, and I wanted to put it away and make sure I had everything else in order.  A few years ago, I had done a massive culling of the herd, as it were, and I like to go through and see if there's anything else that should be sent out to pasture when I add new items.

I don't have a ton of jewelry (anymore), and I realized that the items I kept, and that I wear the most often, are the ones with stories behind them.  There are the necklaces my husband has given me, a locket with some of the dirt from my father's grave inside, and earrings my mother gave me when I graduated from high school.  Not all of them are things that have big, important meanings, of course - I have several necklaces that I bought at various conventions that I keep because they remind me of the convention and, of course, because they're pretty.

You can tell a lot about a person (or a character) by the things that they keep that are important to them.  Sometimes it's something as simple as a ring they always wear - it may look completely innocuous, but there's probably a reason why that person always wears it, and it's a great hook into a character's psyche.  Everyone has something that, if lost or stolen, would affect them emotionally.  And if a person doesn't have something like that, well, that's another angle on the character.

Writing is going slowly, but it is going.  I've decided to go back to Paranormal Investigations for a bit, since it's been a while since I've spent any time on those characters and I've missed them.  I'm also working on a guest blog post for my husband's blog Talking Game, about being a woman in the land of gaming.  I'll be honest - I'm a little nervous about that post.  I've been extremely lucky, in that the majority of my negative interactions have simply had to do with being condescended or patronized to, with no threats.  By making myself more visible and writing about it, that could change, and I'm not certain how I feel about that yet.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Series Review - Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Well, that last post certainly got more attention than I expected!  To any new readers, welcome to my little corner of the internet.  I'm a writer who's working on making writing a bigger part of my life, and will someday have a book or short story published, be it by a publisher or by my own hand (thank you, self-publishing).

Being a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works, I read a lot of books in a series, and I've enjoyed seeing how different authors handle the overarching story lines.  My favorites are the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire.  Conveniently, I'm involved with craft swaps on Ravelry for two of the three series, so I've been going through the books again and reminding myself why I love them so.

The Discworld books were the first series that hooked me from the start.  They're not a traditional book series, in that you don't necessarily need to read each book in order, but they contain several overarching plot lines, as well as a few threads that are seen in the entire series.  For those of you who don't know the books, the series is set on a fantasy world that is flat (a disc, one might even say), which is carried on the backs of four elephants who ride through the stars on the back of a giant turtle.  There is magic, obviously, as well as some technology that resembles more modern tech.  Don't let the fact that there are 40 books in the series scare you - you can start anywhere.

The first few books are more or less a take on the standard sword-and-sorcery tales of old, with a whole lot of humor thrown in.  Pratchett is wonderful at taking the status quo of fantasy and looking at it from a different perspective.  He creates some characters that start with a standard archetype (wizard, barbarian, witch) and gives them enough unique personality traits that they become something more than a stereotype.

Later books in the series take breadcrumbs that were dropped in the early books and fleshes them out, building on stories and characters that could really only exist on the Discworld.  For example, there's a passing reference in an early book about using semaphore flags to signal from one police officer to another.  By the more recent books, this system (now known as the clacks) has become incredibly important politically, as well as essentially mirroring modern mobile phone services.

Personally, I enjoy the books that are about the City Watch, and those about the character of Death.  The character development for the Watch (particularly the character of Sam Vimes) is a master class in how to create interesting, complex characters, and Death is just a great voice in the series.  He appears in many of the books, even if it's just a cameo, but there are a few in which he has a starring role.

I give the series as a whole five stars, and not only would I read it again, I do on a fairly regular basis.