Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hell to Pay

The Write off the Deep End writing challenge ends today and I reached my goal! The first draft of Hell to Pay is done. I've printed it off. Next up, I'll read it through scene by scene to flesh it out. I know where the problems are and will take care of them. It will be work but should go faster than this draft.

I'm pleased.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What a difference a week makes

The latter half of the week was not productive. I've been working, reading and wrestling with my office. I abandoned that project until after May 1st. Our writing challenge ends on the 30th and I'm hopeful I can meet my goal. I'm house and dog-sitting for the next ten days. It's only down the street from my own home, and it has a big screen TV but it's a different environment. I've already made a mini-office in the rec room so wish me luck.

Several of us traveled to Buffalo on Friday night to see Jeff Dunham. I laughed ridiculously hard for two solid hours. At one point my head was pounding from all the laugher and I was completely convinced I was going to die from a stroke. What a way to die. If I wrote suspense or mystery, I might actually use that scenario.

In the midst of gasping for oxygen, I actually started to critique the one routine. The Christmas special is being taped in June so we were privy to a lot of new material;some of which was written on the spot. It was all funny, yet one of the characters was inconsistent in tone. He was meek, wicked, sad and maniacal all at the same time. It was like watching the rough draft of one of my scenes. All the gold is there. You just have to brush off the dirt. That was freakier than the fear of stroke.

It's one thing to hear voices in my head but to critique someone else's voices is another. Jeff Dunham doesn't exactly need my input. The laughter is immediate and accurate feedback.

How do you know you're writing contains more gold than mud?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The mini writing retreat is over. Elen and her family were incredibly gracious about sharing their home and time with me. We found a nice rhythm of writing, talking and writing that allowed us to be social as well as productive. Elen is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She puts a lot of time and effort into everything she does; really considers the ramifications of her thoughts and deeds before she acts upon them. I learn much from her.

Having a desk to work from was more beneficial than I remembered. I could spread my papers and research notes out around me instead of balancing some on the couch and others on the footstool. Some of my comfort may have had to do with the fact that I wasn't fighting a cat for the mouse. Electronic or not there's something about a mouse that cats feel obligated to hunt, even if it's in your hand.

Back at home, I quickly assessed the odds of setting up a desk in my office. I used to have both but gradually migrated to the living room surrounded by the zoo. I multi-task while I write. That wasn't necessary while at Elen's and I suspect that accounts for a large part of my productivity. Of course I did spend a fair amount looking out the window and watching the neighbour wash his car. Procrastination exists everywhere.

Sometimes it's important to hang out with friends, even change the scenery a little bit to gain some perspective on your work. Fortunately, the retreat was a lot calmer than landing on a branch in the middle of rapids.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Escape to Nim's Island

I'm visiting with the lovely Miss Elen and her delightful family for a mini writing retreat. We've spent a fair amount of time visiting, eating delicious food and wandering through her garden. We've talked about writing and I may have even put words on the page. I know I woke up this morning to a dialogue between Alex and Nea. Too bad I didn't write that down. It's my own fault for not having paper beside the bed.

This afternoon we snuck out to the movie theater to see Nim's Island with the oh-so-inspiring Gerard Butler. It was a fun movie. I enjoyed listening to the kids in the audience laughing at the animals' antics as well as Nim's defense of her home. Elen and I were highly amused by the scenes with Jodi Foster's writer character speaking with her fictional creation, Alex Rover as amusingly portrayed by Mr. Butler. Looking at her office with posters, montages, textbooks and reference articles spread round her was like looking at the nest I've made in Elen's daughter's room.

Gerard Butler is not my Alex but of course he was great in this film as well all of his others. Actually there several similarities between that character and my own. The whole adventurer, action hero, do-the-right-thing attitude tweaked some more insight into my Alex's struggles. Watching those scenes in the writer's office as well as her conversations, even arguments, with her character will likely strike a chord for other writers besides myself.

I may have not reached my writing goal for the day but I did complete more than I would have had I stayed at home. It's no big deal that I rewarded myself a little early with our trip to Nim's Island. Any time Gerard Butler wants to come sit on the floor with me and tell me what to write, I'll be more than happy to let him.

Aren't imaginations wonderful?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I messed around for two days with a fairly important scene. Okay they're all important, otherwise why keep them around. I moved them up the river, then down the river. I changed the mood; playful, brooding, angry. Nothing I did made the scene jell.

Alex is standing at the base of Nea's brooding tree. He's got a lot on his mind. So does she. It is apparent to both that things are not as they appeared to be. They are not who they appeared to be. Alex didn't know how to respond to Nea because she wasn't reacting the way he expected her to.

Yesterday, I took Kate's advice and changed the POV of the scene. Suddenly, it's easier to write, flows better and is more consistent in tone. I'm finally able to identify with Nea without sending myself into my own personal hell. We understand each other better, her and I.

Poor Alex hasn't got a clue. But that's okay. Things aren't from his perspective until after they return from the forest. He's keeping a secret until then.

I suspect the key to world peace lies in looking at everything from the other's perspective. It always works for me, in real life as well as fiction.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wrath of Keziah

Several posts back I whined about my The Wrath of Gods DVD being blank. I had set a goal of finishing this draft before the replacement copy came in. Bad news. The entire shipment was blank and there will be no replacement. I'm disappointed. Apparently I do have a flare for understatement.

On the upside, I have no excuse for not writing. I shall create my own entertainment. Now that Nea has a great perch from which to brood, and Alex has some perspective on how much his life may or may not suck, it's time to shake them both up.

Easy enough to do. Channel the disappointment and inability to change a darn thing about the coveted DVD into the wip and presto, another scene brilliantly written. Hey, it's good to have a game plan.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nea's tree

I went out to Niagara Falls today in order to take a picture of the tree in Alex's yard. I've always been drawn to this building, property, landscape. The view is breathtaking year round.

I finished Nea's flying scene the other night but wasn't quite sure where to land her. Until I thought of this tree. Imagine glass in the window frames that are cemented over. That's part of Alex's bedroom. He has curtains over them but she knows he's inside. I think the road is further away than in actuality. (I stood on the road to take the photograph)

Once I stepped onto the property nausea crawled through my belly. I'm sure it's because of the turbines but the intense energy there always creeps me out. I think the demons would enjoy it.

When I stepped beneath the tree a wave of peace washed over me and dissipated the nausea. I leaned back against the rough bark and listened to the roar of the river. It's so strong it drowns out all thought, leaving a powerful sensation. This is the time of year I dream of going over the Falls. I don't know what I was thinking, tempting fate by standing so close to the edge of the river. There aren't any fences along that spot.

I wrenched myself away from the magnetic pull of the water as it rushed south in its haste to leap over the brink of the world. That's a long way down. It's mesmerizing. No wonder Nea and Alex are both drawn to the danger and excitement. It's difficult to remember there's a city, and hundreds of thousands of people literally around the bend. Wildness beckons. Step closer.

Then closer still.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I've been having trauma getting online. I received a wireless router for my birthday the other day. It was supposed to make my life simpler. Instead I've fiddled with that instead of finishing my homework or writing. I'm a little frustrated.

On the other hand, I have no excuse for letting deadlines whoosh past. I have plenty of opportunity without distraction for writing. The April writing challenge is going well. I've been flying with Nea, reading about Belize for Alex and found twenty pages of notes to input - including the final scene.

So ack to Internet connections and whee to writing time. I'm optimistic that I will have great news to report where the writing is concerned when I post next. In the meantime, enjoy this view of Alex's window.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nea's wings

I've been playing with a combination of textures to create Nea's wings. At first I thought of this

but unless the skin is on the warm body, it neither feels nor looks right.

Then I thought of this -
but they're such a cliche, as are these

that I abandoned that plan and just took all three, mixed them up with some lace and pretty colours to give Nea her wings.

Then I started writing the actual scene. Which is a very good thing as we started a writing challenge for April. My goal is to finish this draft of the book. Last year I did an outline; this year I'm going for a rough draft. I want to have it polished and out the door by the end of the summer if not sooner. May is going to be a loooong month at both jobs so I might let that be the month where things get to settle after the April marathon of writing.

Extra points if you can guess what each of the cropped photos is. Good luck.