Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: process (page 1 of 2)

ROW80: A Bucketful of Sloths. You’re Welcome.

Happy Sunday, friends! Before I get to my weekly ROW80 check-in, I’ve gotta say: I have the most amazing friends in the universe. Why? Not only are they supportive, caring, and a little crazy, they also fill my inbox with pictures and videos of baby animals and other silliness. Yesterday my Ultimate Best Friend Ever sent me this. Because I love you all, I am sharing it with you.

Be warned. It is epic.

BUCKET OF SLOTHS from Lucy Cooke on Vimeo.

(I rather imagine that this is what #teamsprinty looks like after the end of an intense writing sprint…)

Not much to report here. I skipped the archives for a second week in a row so I could recover from the flu. I’ll be back at it on Tuesday, which means my focus will shift back to the dissertation. I’d like to do the following:

  • Sketch out a timeline to have my revised dissertation proposal finished by mid-March.
  • Figure out the best way to start annotating, coding, and organizing my notes from the archive.

I’ve made some progress here, and I think breaking down my writing tasks in last week’s check-in was really helpful. I wrote a few thousand words towards TELL ME NO LIES, spent a few hours brainstorming, and took some time to go through previous drafts to salvage bits and pieces that I’d like to integrate into the final draft. I also wrote a couple thousand words of silly flash fiction pieces starring Pierce. They may end up becoming fodder for a romance novel one day, but for the moment, they’re just a fun exercise. For the week to come, I’d like to:

  • Take my list of settings and locations and continue to flesh out their descriptions.
  • Continue to explore supporting characters, like the Chinese crime lord who made an appearance in my brainstorming session last week (squee!).
  • Jot down any ideas that pop up for my other WIPs, but keep the focus on TMNL, for the moment, at least.

Okay, people, I wrote three blog posts this week. I know, let’s count ’em: 3. Even better, I made my goal for commenting/sharing blog posts. Success!

Here’s what happened on Flights of Fancy this week:

  • knock-down, drag-’em-out fight between the baby platypus and the baby otter over my brand new Cute As a Sloth Award. There was a poll and everything, which is still open, FYI. Last I checked, the baby otter was winning by a landslide.
  • The Old Ways,” a mid-week poem sparked by Ash Wednesday, which is apparently going to become a new feature on the blog. I say “apparently” because I hadn’t intended to do it, but then my muse was like, “Hey, you should make this a thing,” and I sort of shrugged and said, “Okay”… and that is more than you needed to know about my inner dialogue. 😛
  • My long-promised book review post, with a list of my 5 favorite books (so far) from 2013.

Not only do I have a ton of ideas for future posts boiling around in my head, I actually have drafts written for the upcoming week. Yay!

I’ve been working on being calm and relaxed for the last week, with mixed results. I’m mostly recovered from the flu, in that I am no longer feverish and dying, but I still get tired quickly. The last couple of days have been an exercise in not over-taxing myself.

I am partway through Natalie Goldberg’s WILD MIND, a wonderful book about writing and the writer’s life that I highly recommend. And because it’s Presidents’ Day weekend  here in the US, I am rewatching the HBO miniseries John Adams, based on the biography written by David McCullough. For those of you who like history, I highly recommend it.


So yay! Lots of good things are happening, I am feeling creative, and there are many more good things to come. As a reminder, one of those wonderful things is WANACon, which will be held next weekend. Pop over to WANAMama Kristen Lamb’s blog for more info about the conference and the recently announced PAJAMACON, the bonus 3rd day of the conference. Yes, it really is as epic as it sounds.

Don’t forget to give a shout to the other ROWers this week, and send along belated Valentine’s Day wishes!

ROW80: The Highs and Lows of Literary Abandon

As all Wrimos know, National Novel Writing Month bills itself as “30 days of literary abandon.” This year, I’m finding that “literary abandon” is something akin to “playing in the sandbox with full permission to get my clothes dirty.” I’ve given up all hope of plots, plans, or outlines. I don’t even think I have a stable list of characters anymore. Instead, I’m making it all up as I go along.

The result? Sheer chaos. And I’m loving it.

This is basically how I feel when I write with abandon.

I can introduce characters halfway through the novel if I want, ditch them if they don’t quite work, or keep ’em around if they do. I can write scenes out of order, mix them around, see where they fall best. I can be as outrageous as I want, and it’s okay, because I’ll go back one day and fix it up so that it’s pretty and shiny.

It’s a process of discovery, pure and simple. But of course, sometimes too much freedom translates into “Dear God, what the hell am I DOING???” sort of meltdowns.

This is what happened over the last week (hence the lack of Sunday/Wednesday check-ins), but I *think* it’s under control right now.

At the moment, I have a band of random characters journeying into the enemy country of Osgiliath (because when I can’t figure out names, I shamelessly steal borrow from Lord of the Rings), to track down a stolen Device that can wreak all sorts of havoc.

What exactly is the Device, you ask? I have no idea. How are they going to steal it back from the Enemy? I don’t know the answer to that either. But it’s okay, because this is NaNoWriMo, and my zero draft is allowed to have ALL the loose ends.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself. 😛

Here’s how the rest of my week has gone down:

Day Job: I’m slowly gathering the energy to start rewrites for my dissertation proposal. The soft deadline to my committee is mid-December, with an eventual meeting sometime in January. Once I get through NaNoWriMo, this will be my top priority.

Writing: I lost a few days mid-week, but I’m getting back on track. I’ve written just over 24k, and by the end of the weekend I’ll hopefully be half-way through. Scrivener tells me that if I write 2k each day, I’ll finish up on time.

Exercise: I’m on track, walking 4 days a week. Mom and I have decided to tackle our diet next, so I’m trying to slowly cut back on salty and sugary things, and incorporate more veggies. Portion control is also on the to-do list, but we’ll see how that plan goes once Thanksgiving rolls around.

Social Media: I haven’t gotten a chance to swing by any ROW80 blogs in a week or so (sorry, guys!), but I have read/commented on a couple non-ROW80 blogs each day.

Over on tumblr, I posted my first poem in almost a month (so good to get back to writing poetry). And here on Flights of Fancy, I got the chance to review a book written by Sebastian Orth, who did my first tattoo back in May. It’s a phenomenal book–part autobiography, part philosophical musing on the art of tattooing. I definitely recommend it.

Self-Care: I’ve gotten distracted from my early morning journaling + poetry writing sessions, and I also realized that I haven’t been reading nearly enough of late. Now that I’m catching up with the NaNo word count, I aim to correct all these things.


And that’s it for me, folks! I’ll be busy over the next few days with family–my sister and my grandfather are flying in on Tuesday, and I really can’t wait.

Be sure to swing by and give a hearty hello to the rest of the ROW80 participants!

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ROW80: NaNoWriMo Teaches Me Things, Week 1

Happy Wednesday, friends! We are 1 week into National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve gotta say, I am learning some serious lessons as I mash my keyboard towards 50K and tons of (imaginary) glory.

Lesson #1: Plotting is Awesome, But It’s Writing That Counts

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I spent a few weeks in October trying to outline, brainstorm, and plot my still-unnamed NaNo novel. I had a bit of success early on with characters and storylines, but at the last minute my muse jumped ship and went rogue, leaving me with roughly a half-dozen different directions and a whole lot of heartache.

Once November 1st rolled around, however, all that angst went out of the window… and that’s because my characters decided that they were going to take control. Hence Velda, one of my main characters, deciding that she wasn’t the mousy, timid girl I had met during my brainstorming sessions. Now she’s a grouchy, somewhat-bitchy 16 year old with a chip on her shoulder. And Helena Grey, the character I introduced in my last ROW80 check-in, wasn’t even supposed to be in the novel, but I started writing and lo! There she was.

English: Lower Rogue River, Oregon, USA.

English: Lower Rogue River, Oregon, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lesson #2: Go With the Flow

This is my 2nd November NaNoWriMo, but my 4th attempt at throwing down 50k in 1 month, if you count CampNaNo ’11 and ’12. I’ve reached 50k every time, but this is the first year that I’ve been really content to go with the flow. Instead of obsessing over potential storylines and plots, I’m picking one and following its lead. There will be things that need to be tweaked once I go back to edit, but I expect that these days. And that’s because I’ve learned….

Photo Credit: chrisinplymouth via flickr

Lesson #3: It’s All About the Zero Draft

…that I work best when I can vomit words all over a zero draft. This untitled tale is WIP #5 on my list, and the first one where I don’t feel stressed out or worried that my first attempts are imperfect. As much as I hate to admit it, my need for perfection not only slows me down to a snail’s pace but also sabotages my creative attempts. Instead of throwing myself into the writing process, I get tripped up with “right and wrong” (I am a horrible goody-two-shoes perfectionist) and end up paralyzed with indecision.

This zero draft is disgusting. It is dripping with cliches and repetition and really lame metaphors and tons of blanks spots, all flagged with my handy “[ins word here]” brackets. But my zero draft also contains the skeleton of what will eventually (hopefully?) become a beautiful, complex, multi-layered novel, plus tons of notes on the spots where I know I haven’t gotten it right. This is a win-win as far as I am concerned.

Lesson #4, Writing By Hand is the Trick

I’ve posted about writing by hand before, but this month it seems to have become my #1 solution for getting stuff done. I’ve been really distracted by practically everything for the last week, and the internet has been one huge shiny sparkly thing for me to poke at when I’m supposed to be writing. I’ve got it bad, you guys, switching windows when I’m half-way through a sentence because I’ve decided that looking at FB/G+/Twitter/a million other things is a really good idea.

At the moment, shutting the computer down to work through scenes by hand is the best solution I’ve come up with. It’s a little more work in the long-run, since I have to go and type everything up once I’m through, but it is exactly what I need in order to stay focused.

The NaNoWriMo notebook, and my writing implements of choice.

This morning I’m hovering around 12.3K. I didn’t do as much writing as Tuesday as I wanted (spent most of the day in the archive/watching election returns), so I’m glad I’ve got a wee bit of a cushion. My goal is to write roughly 2k each day between now and Sunday, just to get a little farther ahead. Provided I don’t run out of ideas (which is a distinct possibility), I should be able to pull that goal off.

So yay! How’s everyone handling hump day? Don’t forget to cheer on the rest of the ROW80 participants over here.

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ROW80: When a Good Muse Goes Rogue

The good news this week: I’m exercising on a regular basis. I’m hammering out the days that are best for hanging out on FB, Twitter, and G+. I’m getting better at tweeting/liking/promoting people’s blog posts as soon as I finish reading them.

Even better, I’m in the midst of a Work-From-Bed marathon, and it’s really nice. (Napoleon might be enjoying it more than me.)

The bad news: My muse has gone a little cray-cray.

As most of you are probably aware, National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo, aka my favorite month of the year) begins in barely a week. Outlining and prepping my still-untitled steampunk novel has been at the top of my priority list this month, and for the most part it’s gone well.

I’ve got short but solid character bios. I have a name for the country in which the tale is set. I’ve got a brand-new character that emerged out of the ether and refused to leave (the “accidental queen” mentioned below). I even have an incredibly sketchy, incredibly cliched synopsis! Try this on for size:

A horrific attack plunges the nation of Vorewin into a war it is ill-equipped to win. Can two girl geniuses, a reluctant witch, an ambitious soldier, and an accidental queen join forces and save the land?

Masterful, no?

So things are going well… or were going well. Because my muse has decided to jump ship and go rogue.

Never mind this NaNoWriMo thing, she says. What about that fantasy novel you’ve been playing with for a year? I have IDEAS for it.

And hey, she adds, remember how you said you’d never write a contemporary or futuristic novel? I’ve got the BEST idea for a near-future paranormal romance!  Then she dangles the carrot: You can even add Pierce to it!

So for the last week or so, I have been frantically scribbling everything that isn’t my NaNoWriMo novel. I have thousands of words worth of brainstorms for how to plug up my many plot holes in PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE (which may be getting a new title one of these days… THE PEACOCK QUEEN, perhaps?). I have all these scrawled pages with ideas for this absolutely ridiculous paranormal romance thing. The heroine even has a name–Falco, a woman who is part bird-shifter and has a very complicated past with Pierce, who is all mysterious and might maybe be a mercenary and/or a magic wielder. With a motorcycle. And leather pants. *fans self*

As far as the next week is concerned, I am going to give in and let my runaway muse have her way. I’ll be hammering out scenes for PEACOCK and jotting down ideas for the paranormal romance. If I can steal a minute or two for other things, I’ll try to massage the NaNo novel. Hopefully by the time November 1st rolls around, I’ll have exhausted the random frenzy that’s taken over my brain.

WriMos, how goes your preparation? Anyone else ever dealt with a muse-gone-rogue?

Be sure to swing by and wave hello to the other ROWers who are checking in today!

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ROW80: ROW-ing Through the Snow

ROW-oh-ing, ROW-oh-ing through the snow, writing bells are ringing…

Happy Sunday, friends and ROWers! Yes, that is my one-line attempt at a ROW-flavored holiday song. For fun, here’s Nat King Cole singing the original:

I’ve been back in San Francisco since Thursday, and right now, life is good. Here’s my mini-list of exciting accomplishments:

  • Work: I’m half-way through grading final papers, and for the most part, the students have done a wonderful job. I’ve been reminded of my favorite part of TA’ing ethnographic methods classes: I get to supervise students’ research and watch their projects (and their skills) develop over the quarter. Many of them have come a long way since the first few weeks of the course, and have written up excellent accounts of their research projects. Even better, some of them actually read the feedback I provided on past assignments (you’d be surprised how rare this is), and incorporated my suggestions and edits in their papers.
  • School: I had a great, albeit somewhat impromptu, meeting with my advisor before I left. She’s asked me to help her with a research project that she and I have been discussing for the past couple of years, and I’m really excited — it involves archival research about religious communities (i.e. Catholic nuns) in the United States. The project is in its preliminary phases, but if she can get funding I can come aboard as a paid research assistant. We also started discussing plans for the dissertation fellowships I’m going to apply for next year, which is really exciting.
  • Writing: Now that NaNo’s finished, I’m back to rotating between my multiple unfinished projects. After some not-so-gentle nudging from the characters of my steampunk tale, I’m working on a plan for edits and rewrites. Apparently I’m also writing a short story or two of prequel-esque backstory, because Tempest Dumont has demanded it, and she’s the sort of gal that one can’t refuse. I pantsed the first draft of TELL ME NO LIES, and now I’m struggling to impose some structure on my sprawling mass of scenes. It’s too short — only 51K, with about 35 scenes, so now I have to figure out where to fill in the blanks, and what to add. I won’t lie, the whole thing is incredibly daunting. Sometimes I think I’d be better off sticking with short stories or novellas…. but we’ll see how things go.

Now that we’re firmly in the midst of December, how is everyone else holding up?

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ROW80: Writing Like a Fiend

Before I get to my update, I want to thank everyone who commented on Wednesday’s post. I didn’t quite realize how my story of finding community among this wonderful group of writers would resonate with so many people. Thank you for sharing your stories!

On the housekeeping front, wordpress.org users have finally been upgraded to the snazzy wordpress-run subscription widget. Since Feedburner’s been acting wonky, I’ve disabled it in favor of the WP one. You’ll see it on the right sidebar on the home page, and on the footer of each page. If email subscription is your thing, feel free to sign up. 🙂

Writing: This week has been a lot better than last week. I’m actively editing my thesis, so progress is being made on that end. Even better, I’ve broken out of my NaNo slump; at the time of writing this post, I’ve reached 33,687 words, which places me slightly ahead. I am writing, as my title suggests, like a fiend, embracing imperfection as fully as I can. By the end of the month, I’ll have the first layer of a novel that will need lots of TLC, and quite a bit of work, especially where world-building is concerned, but something is better than nothing!

I’d like to write another 1400 words or so before bed tonight, because I doubt that I’ll be able to write at all Monday or Tuesday. I’m on campus from 9 till 6 on Monday, and Tuesday I’m driving to San Francisco so I can spend Thanksgiving with my family. I am so unbelievably excited; all I want to do is load up my truck, hit the highway, and head north. No stopping, no looking back, no collecting $200 till I make it back to the Bay. 🙂

Exercise: This, friends, is where I have failed. I worked out 5 days this week, but I’m trying to undo some bad behavior from a couple weeks ago, when I was sick. During that time, I didn’t exercise because I was worried about my asthma flaring further. That would have been okay… if I hadn’t decided to buy a bag of ginger cookies from the store and devour them in a single weekend.

"No Cookies," by Mike R. Baker

Yeah, that’s me, face stuffed full of cookies. Needless to say, my pants are definitely tighter than they should be, and it’s sort of discouraging, because those same pants were starting to get loose just a few weeks ago.

I’ve had to make some difficult decisions regarding health and nutrition. I’ve been buying at least one bag of cookies, and/or bar of dark chocolate, and/or pint of ice cream each week since October, all with the promise that I would only eat a little bit at a time. Clearly, my self-control is non-existent. Until I can get to the point where having 1 cookie doesn’t turn into the entire damn bag, I’m banning myself from sugary things.

I keep trying to remember that I have succeeded at breaking these bad habits for longer than a week. It’s a hard transition, replacing candy with fruit, cookies with veggies, empty foods with healthy, filling ones. If anyone has any good suggestions for healthy snacks (I’ve got the 3 main meals covered, but snacks are my downfall), I would love to hear them.

Anyway, that’s it for me today! Be sure to swing by and check out how everyone else is doing this week. Also, stop by the Fun Not Fear! blog, where Em and I are hosting the weekly check-in thread. And, hey, while we’re at it, have a wee snippet from my NaNo tale, PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE.

Image: Photography by BJWOK / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate writing synopses, but here’s the basic gist: Liandre, the main character, was stolen from her birthplace 20 years before. Raised as the daughter of a king in a distant land, she learns of her true identity at the start of the novel. Her homecoming has been less than auspicious: her claim to the throne is challenged by one of the major political factions, isolationists who don’t take kindly to a “foreign” woman becoming queen. This scene is a snippet of Liandre’s first meeting with her mother since she was taken.


Simone slipped out of the room on silent feet, and shut the door behind her just as quietly. I was alone with my mother at last.

Mother. The word was foreign on my tongue. Once, when I was a little girl, I had tried to imagine what it would have been like to have a mother in addition to my beloved father. I dreamed of how she would love me and cosset me, tuck me in at bedtime, sing me precious lullabies. I had eventually grown out of those fantasies; what else could I do, believing my mother to be dead? But now here I was, sitting before her, and I had no idea where to start.

Here in the privacy of her chamber, there was little trace of her famed ferocity. She looked tired and gaunt, her shoulders hunched, face turned from mine. I could only imagine what she had endured during my absence, a queen beset by invaders and internal conflict, heartbroken over the abduction of her only child and heir.

Moved by a sudden surge of emotion, I reached out for her hand. An unexpected jolt went through me as our fingers brushed, and I swallowed back a sob. She must have felt it as well, for she started in surprise. We sat in silence for a long moment, hands linked, heads bowed.

When she spoke, her words were halting, abrupt. “Your journey. Was it agreeable?”

“It was… an adventure, to say the least.”

“Good.” There was another awkward pause as she pulled her hand from mine and turned away. “I knew you for my own the moment I saw you.” Her voice was harsh, fierce with barely-suppressed emotion. “How any could challenge your claim is beyond my ken.”

I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer. It had been my deepest fear that she would reject me, the same way the hecklers had challenged my identity during my formal reception, but she knew me. She was willing to claim me as her own, to love me, and in that moment it didn’t matter that the rest of the country seemed resolved to hate me. So long as I had her love, I could endure any challenge that came my way.

She brushed the tears from my cheek with gentle fingers. “The mark of our line is stamped upon your face, in the arch of your brow, the curve of cheek, the point of your chin. All will acknowledge it before long, I promise you.”

“Mother?” There, I had said it, and the warmth of her smile soothed the anxiety that thrummed through me.

Aya, you once called me.  It is a name that only children use, but…” Her hand trembled in mine. “Would you humor me, gosling?  When you come of age, I promise I will treat you like the woman you are.”

I tried the word once, twice, and then nodded, for this word fit better than any other. “Very well, Aya. I would be honored.”

ROW80: Last-Minute Rally!

Another short post from me today.  Vacation continues, and we’re having an excellent time.  The highlights so far have included catching the midnight showing of Harry Potter, and taking a daytrip to Zion National Park, where we took a short tour via shuttle bus, and took many, many photographs of pretty rocks.  I’ll post those sometime in the coming week, when I get the chance to upload them to my computer.

When it comes to progress, I seem to have done better over the past few days than I did earlier in the week.  I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to satisfy my goals between Wednesday – Sunday, probably because the weekend makes my responsibilities a bit lighter, so I’ll have to see how I can take this knowledge and use it to my advantage. I’ll potentially end up saving up my writing for the latter half of the week, when I know I’ll be able to have the time to go beyond 500/night.

So, without further ado, this week’s accomplishments:

Thesis: I finally managed to tidy up the latest section of my findings and send it off to my advisor.  As I’ve warned her, it’s a very, very rough first draft, there are holes and things that are missing, and many things that will need to be cut.  All the same, it is 19 pages long (almost 6000 words), which brings the current draft to about 40 pages in length.  I estimate that I’ll need another 15-20 pages to talk about the next set of findings, along with another 10-15 pages to encompass other details (methodology, conclusion, etc.) which means that the complete first draft will approach somewhere upwards of 80+ pages.  Granted, I don’t know what will happen during the editing process, but I feel rather proud of myself.  After three years of stressing and reading and pursuing countless ideas, I’m finally at the point where I feel like I can say, unequivocally, that I will finish this.  When I am done, I have promised myself that I am going to utilize my esoteric knowledge of 1920s etiquette and apply it to a new story, one that involves flappers and bootleggers and vampires, or something paranormal. 😀

tell me no lies: I managed to get some research done last night.  As a grad student I have access to digital newspaper archives, so I availed myself of the San Francisco Chronicle‘s collection of issues from 1887, when “tell me no lies” takes place.  I started combing through all the stories on crime and murder (a cheery topic, let me tell you, though infinitely fascinating), and stumbled upon some real gems, including a trial for the murder of a “Chinese highbinder.”  From what I can tell, highbinders seem to have been the Chinese version of the Italian mafia.  An article from an 1886 issue of Harper’s Weekly compares the Highbinders to the Freemasons, except with lots more blackmail and bribery.  It’s a fascinating read, for anyone who is interested, though it drips with the casual racism that was prevalent during the period.

Strange Bedfellows: I added about 2000 words to this between Wednesday night and late Saturday night.  I’d like to say that it was difficult, but at the moment I feel like I’m just eavesdropping on my characters’ conversations and transcribing them.  Out of all my WIPs, I know these characters the best.  They’ve been salvaged from earlier abandoned projects, and so we’ve managed to “form a rapport,” if you will.  The hardest thing about this story is slowing myself down long enough to scrawl out some decent descriptions, but I managed to hammer out an opening scene (the aftermath of a very bloody battle) that will satisfy me until it’s time for rewrites and edits.

All in all, not too bad.  If I am doing the math properly, it looks like I more or less squeaked past the goal post by the skin of my teeth this week!  I’d say that this is an excellent time to head to Las Vegas, as a bit of partying is in order.  🙂

How’s everyone else holding up?  Has anyone met or exceeded their goals for the week?  Anyone else need to tweak things a bit?

Daily Progress Update: Brainstorming and Character Sketches

I cheated a bit on my Thursday to-do list and got a little carried away with brainstorming and character sketches.  I gave myself a limit of 45 minutes; I ended up working for 2.5 hours, but oh man, I just couldn’t help myself.

As I’ve mentioned before, Path to the Peacock Throne has been in a bit of a muddled spot — I encountered a rather tricksy patch during a really pivotal scene that is necessary for revealing a number of truths and moving the action forward, and I haven’t quite known what to do with it.  To top it off, Liandre, my main character, hasn’t been cooperating at all.  Upon rereading the first few chapters, I’ve found her rather flat and two-dimensional, prone to such cliched actions like crying in every scene (seriously, I think it occurs in roughly 4 or 5 scenes in a row), and altogether cardboard-like and frustrating.

I’m perhaps being a bit too hard on her (and on myself), but the bottom line is that I’m going to have to do some serious overhauling… but only once this first draft is finished. Until then, I’m moving forward, though with the intent of digging deeper into Liandre’s personality, character, and motivations.

I stumbled upon the Emotion Thesaurus over at The Bookshelf Muse, and reading through the different lists of attitudes and emotions has given me much food for thought.  There is hope for salvaging Liandre from the wreckage of cliches and Mary Sue-ness. 😀

With that, the stats for Thursday:

  • General Brainstorming, Path to the Peacock Throne: 838 words
  • Character Sketches, PPT: 925 words
  • Drabbly Scenes, PPT: 411 words
The downside?  Nothing done on the thesis, with the exception of a few hastily scrawled words before my afternoon nap.  Meh, not something to be proud of, but I suppose ‘tomorrow is always another day.’  I am therefore banning all creative pursuits for Friday, at least until I get some academic stuff done.  It’s all about incentives, right?

ROW80: Digging Through the Archives

Since there’s only been a couple of days since Round 3 started, I thought I’d talk a bit about some of the research and world-building that I did during the hiatus between Rounds 2 and 3.  My progress update, posted yesterday, can be found here, but the bottom line is that I was a good kid yesterday, and cranked out 1300 words for Path to the Peacock Throne (I’ve been stuck for a few weeks, so this is good), and roughly 1000 for my thesis.  So, yay, progress!

As I mentioned Monday, I’m taking a steampunk writing course this month, which will hopefully help me to start writing tell me no lies, my steampunk murder mystery tale set in late-19th century San Francisco.  I’ve done a lot of brainstorming, world-building, and outlining (I actually have most of the main events of the tale figured out, along with the identity of the murderer), but zilch by way of actual writing.  To be honest, I’ve been staring at the empty word processing page in absolutely horror, thinking, “But I don’t know how it starts!”  So to fire up my imagination a bit, and bring some words to the fore, I’ve been digging through digital photo archives for inspiration.

The Library of Congress is an excellent source for all sorts of old and archived photographs, but my favorite collection at the moment is Lawrence and Houseworth collection — over 900 photos of California taken between 1862 and 1867.  The collection captures the ‘Wild West’ in all its glory — boom towns, mining sites, redwood forests, and (my favorite) amazing shots of San Francisco.  There are photos of the docks, aerial shots of the bustling city, interiors of ramshackle saloons, and exterior shots of the imposing hotels, mansions, and buildings that dominated the skyline before the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed much of it.

Each photo tells a story, like this one, a shot of the “Ladies Aid and Preservation Society”:

After doing a little bit of searching, I found a listing for the Society, along with roughly a half dozen other charities in San Francisco from this period dedicated to dealing with alcoholics, orphans, and other “needy” cases.  Given that I’m writing about saloon singers and street urchins, a character or two from the Ladies’ Protection and Relief Society just might pop up, ready to dispense Christian charity to the poor unfortunate souls of the Barbary Coast (though whether or not my rabblerousers accept that charity is another question altogether!).

Finally, I’ve been using Pinterest, a website where you can make digital ‘pinboards’ (sorta like scrapbooks) of pictures found on the internet, to organize my favorite photos from the Lawrence and Houseworth collection; the pinboard can be seen here. Just as a side-note, Pinterest has also become incredibly handy as I attempt to piece together inspiration pieces for costuming (the board for tell me no lies is here, and has lots of cool steampunk outfits).

That’s it for me!  Today is Wednesday, which means it’s the last day of summer school for the week, and another long weekend stretches before.  It will be filled with thesisizing, grading, writing, and hopefully multiple trips to the beach, if the sunny weather holds out.

ROW80 Check-in, and Thinky Thoughts about POV

Time for my mid-week ROW80 check-in!  Surprisingly, I managed to exceed my expectations over the past few days in terms of word count.  To review:

  • Sunday, 300 words in the form of an old legend, to be told at the funeral rites in Scene 2.
  • Monday, another 300 words, this time wrapping up the funeral, which had been hanging for a few days.
  • Tuesday, roughly 1000 words, trying to forge my way through a coronation scene that is proving to be a bit difficult (possibly because I have a very, very vague idea of what should happen.  Once I refine my expectations, the writing should flow a bit more easily).

Not sure how much time I’ll have to write today, as I need to double-down on my grading and prepare for a meeting with my thesis advisor.  I’m also giving a guest lecture in the undergraduate course that I’m TA’ing tomorrow… and that has been giving me nightmares for the past few days.  :/  At any rate, I seem to be on track to meet my goal of 2100 words by Sunday, so I can feel proud about that.

I’ve been giving some thought over the past couple of days to the pros and cons of including multiple perspectives in my story.  At the moment, Path to the Peacock Throne is told in 3rd-person Limited POV.  We see the world and learn everything from Liandre’s point of view, which means that, as readers, we have the same blinders that she does.  Lately, though, I’ve been wondering what it would be like if I switched perspectives in different scenes, or different chapters, rather similar to the way that George R.R. Martin or Joe Abercrombie do in many of their books.  Part of me imagines that seeing the world out of her brother’s eyes, or even from the perspective of the story’s villain, would give me a different “slant” on what has happened… but I’m not sure if that slant would be a good one.

Have any of you dealt with the debate over multiple perspectives?  What were the criteria that made you choose one way or the other?

Thanks, all, and have a lovely rest of the week.  Hump-day is here, and the weekend is beckoning!
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