An abundance of M’s

Today I’ve been trawling through every file on my computer, Dropbox and Google drive in an attempt to find  something I started writing 3+ years ago. I remembered that it had been an attempt to write something with more of an ‘action’ feel to it, and that it began as an exercise in a creativity workshop thing I was doing just prior to Natalie’s birth – I’d been too tired, too scared, too anxious about trying to write something novel length since Lauren was born, and this particular piece, stemming from a dream I’d had, was a perfect way to cautiously approach a novel.

Of course, I never finished it, because life with a newborn, a 20 month, and a 5yr old is actually kind of insane.

But I thought about it today as I’m in a weird place in life right now – I have some spare time, but I have to start work on another assignment really soon, I have no pressing deadlines hanging over me (for uni, or anything else), and I want to write, but have nothing in progress as such. I’ve finished the drafts of three novellas this year, but I don’t have the time right now to revise any of those, and there isn’t much point in stressing myself out about that right now because I don’t plan on releasing those until late next year…

So naturally my brain went back to that other time when I was in limbo, waiting, and wanting something to play with. And this novel was the thing.

It has zombie babies, and regular zombies too. I’m on a bit of a kick right now and a friend recently said to me ‘you should write your own zombie novel’, so it was inevitable that my brain latched on that old idea.

I never titled this piece, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main characters names, so I went digging through every forgotten file, every ‘untitled’ document I could find.

And I didn’t find the story initially*. What I did find was that I have a ridiculous tendency to give my female leads names that begin with M. Overwhelmingly so. I had no idea!

Madea is the MC in Sun-Touched, and then we have Melanie from Surplus to Requirements, there is Melody in The Way the Sky Curves, and Moana in Shell and Bone. And then we have Meredith, Marama, Meagin, Megan, Marie, and Melissa from various short stories. And finally, Matilda in the Zombie Baby novel. Yes, I’m just going to call it the zombie baby novel for now. I literally have no idea where the story is going, though I’m sure I’ll have a blast finding out.

Not ALL my novels have M’s in the lead – Delaney is in charge in Saving Tomorrow**, and Lyssa is the female lead in Chasing Ascension… Gah! That might be it? Lord help me. I have an obsession with M names. Someone stage an intervention, right now. I’ll have to go out of my way to pick ANY other letter of the alphabet the next time I start a novel. Well, Samantha is the lead in my next novel, so at least she’ll kind of balance things out…

Save me?

Next time I start something new, I think I’ll put it to you to choose the letter the name begins with, because I need help. Obviously.

*I did find the first couple of chapters, thank goodness, but only because I’d emailed them to Anthony and I hadn’t deleted that email. I’m so pleased that my inbox seems to hold EVERYTHING from FOREVER ago. Apparently sending your stories to other people is the best back up method after all!

** It appears I might also have a thing for titles that begin with S… 

Winner!

I did it! Successfully managed to write to my goal of 20,000 words for the month, which means I ‘won’ Camp NaNoWriMo. Feeling pretty happy about that, though I didn’t quite finish writing the novella which sucks a bit. I thought I would finish it yesterday but ended up spending the entire day in bed with a crippling headache. I have codeine now though, and am actually capable of functioning a little (yay codeine!).

August is lined up to be another busy month. It’s ‘The End is Nigh‘ over at Kiwiwriters and I need to finish the first draft of Shell & Bone, and then make the beginning of Burn as good as the rest of it before submitting. And then I think it’s back to revision on ‘The Way the Sky Curves’. Which I guess makes it a month of novellas. Will be super nice to have them all at the next stage of writing though, and puts me well on the way to completing my goals for the year.

How was July for you? And what are you planning for August?

Found my groove!

Well, it took a little bit, but I finally got there! Have been managing to revise at least a scene a day for these last few days – and worked out the main issue getting between me and working. 

I had to pretty much rewrite the entire beginning of this novella. Five brand new scenes, which changed a whole lot. The story is much better for it, but it was hard slog, and I was feeling pretty low energy about it all. Of course, now that it’s done, I love it ;-) I guess after spending so much time deep in assignment writing, I wasn’t quite ready for more hard work. Very pleased that bit is over with though, and now I can get to the less difficult task of revision rather than rewriting.

There are still a few new scenes to go in, because I decided to add a second pov. I think it will give me wider scope for the books to follow and am enjoying fleshing Noah out a little more now that I have room to do that. 

I’m really super excited about this series. It’s really fun writing in a New Zealand setting, and tapping into my heritage has been a blast. All the weird, quirky stuff that happened while I was growing up is finding a way into these books which just makes it that much more fun to write. I hope that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

One day, I’ll get to find out!

Post semester slump

It happens every time. You would think I’d have a cure for it by now. A management strategy. Something to tide me over until I kick back into gear. But nope. I got nothing.

I handed in my last assignment a week ago, so am finished study for the semester. I had HIGH hopes for this lull time – for starters, I was going to rewrite/revise my novella! And then outline the crap out of novella two, before starting to write that beginning of July.

It might still happen, providing I can kick this exhaustion to the curb and get myself back on track. I think, perhaps, if the last week of my semester hadn’t sucked so much, I might be feeling different this time, but one can never really know.

For starters, 2 weeks ago my chickens were killed by stray dogs. And then I got a tummy bug. I managed to get back on my feet on Monday, only to spend Mon/Tue frantically trying to finish off my assignment and get it submitted. Needless to say, I began my mid-semester break worn out, and a week later I’m still working on finding my new groove.

I know it will come, but I can’t sit around waiting for that to happen. Who has the time for that? So, this is me saying that one week is enough. I’ve had ups and downs, and done a bit of writer wailing about what a slacker I am. Time to get back to work.

What do you do when you’re in a slump? Would love to hear how other people deal with it!

I’d forgotten…

I got an email last night with the editing comments for my short story ‘Carving Out a Life’ last night. I’d forgotten all the feelings associated with that – the buzz of ‘hehehe I’m going to be published!’ and the cringe of ‘oh gods, what will I find?’ before opening the document. (It was fine though, nothing too dramatic and hopefully I can get it polished off in short order.)

It’s funny how those feelings don’t seem to change. I mean, I haven’t had that much published, but every single time I get an editing email I feel the same way. I hope that never changes!

It shouldn’t be too long before the cover for Regeneration gets released as well and I can’t wait to see that and share it with you, and then… well, not too many weeks before it’s out into the world and I can devour the stories from the other amazing writers I get to be published alongside.

I guess I’m still buzzing ;-) but it’s such a great way to feel, I don’t think I want to let it go just yet.

What would I do, without my to-dos?

Recently a few writer friends have been on my case a bit. Between study, and the kids, I’d lost my writing drive and was fumbling around not making much progress at all. Gah. How often that seems to happen…

Anyway, back to the point of the post. Near the end of April, one friend suggested that we make weekly goals for May and see how that helps. I have long been a fan of to-do lists, so this seemed like an awesome idea to me!

That said, I had only really done lists for a day at a time, and when I made plans, there were only ever general deadlines, rather than specific dates. She whipped up a handy little sheet that we’re sharing between us, with each week having space for 7 items. I was surprised by how quickly I could break down my tasks and balance out the weeks, and even more surprised when only one day in, I had already ticked several things off! Not even two weeks in, I have ticked everything off my first two weeks, some from week three, and even a couple from week four.

I’m already thinking about what to line up for next month…

Obviously, this is going to work for me. It feels AMAZING to be making progress again and I’m really hoping that by balancing out my tasks on the list I can finally break down the mental barriers that have seen me either writing OR studying, and not both in the same day. Fingers crossed. Or not, because I can’t really get much done that way, but you get my drift.

How do you break down the mountain of tasks in your life, whether writing related or not?

April begins

The last time I blogged was an entire month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever let the blog go silent for that long, but to be honest, I just didn’t have the energy to say anything at all.

It’s been…an interesting month, I guess you would say. I started back at University and the reading workload was huge. I mean, I was swamped. I’ve finally managed to catch up, but I still don’t feel like I know enough yet. My first assignment is due in 16 days, and I am still gathering information, and wondering if I will ever get to the point where I feel caught up.

March’s main goal was to read Sun-Touched and make a revision plan for it. I read the novel! And I didn’t even cringe too much. It’s a good story but it needs plenty of work. World building is where I fall down, again, so I am doing a lot of thinking about how I can do that – not only for Sun-Touched, but also for my novella. I am planning a second in the same setting, so I really need to bring the town to life.

Between my study brain, and being faced with yet more revision, I felt a bit swamped. I didn’t write the short story that I had hoped to. I got about 1k in and canned it. Aside from that attempt I wrote nothing in March. I did play a lot of Guild Wars 2 though. I’m deep in love with it again, though am well aware that it’s escapism for me. It really helps to switch my brain off from the study stuff which seems to overtake every waking thought if I let it.

Which I guess means I am back to a place of needing to find balance. I’ve been reminded yet again that I need breaks between revision and revision (even revisions of different stories). I am sure there is a sweet spot, but I haven’t found it just yet, and the reality is that there is always going to be more revision to do than first drafting, because every story needs more than one revision. I”ll continue to mull on it anyway – maybe I need a grand story that is written just for me, and I give myself a week of free writing on it between rounds of revision? That could work. I might give it a try.

Anyway, the beginning of April sees me in a better head space. The supplements I am taking seem to be giving me the boost I needed to get out of a depressive state, and I am actually getting stuff done again which feels really good (even if none of it is writing related! lol).

I sat down this morning and said to myself – “time to quit stalling, write something”. So I am now partway through a children’s story. Totally weird that is what’s coming up, but whatever, right. Words are words! I will take them and run with the idea.

Let’s hope April is a tad more productive for me than March was! Hope you all had a lovely easter :-)