What I'm Up To

Scrivener, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Yesterday, I was reading a Tweet Chat from some of the folks (particularly agents and editors) that I follow. One of the participants mentioned using Scrivener as a tool and a bunch of folks chimed in that they loved Scrivener. Having never heard of it, I decided to look it up. It looked neat, so I decided to download the free trial. I spent 2 hours going through the detailed tutorial and… OMG I love it!

Upon completing the tutorial, I promptly copied my novel into it and formatted it properly. I discovered a few things. One, my last chapter in 90 pages long. (Yikes.) It’s half my book essentially, so I have to fix that some. Two, some of my sections are WAY too short. Three, I LOVE Scrivener!

There’s a few tools that come with Scrivener, namely the ability to import pictures and websites into Scrivener as part of the research section. It’s incredibly easy to navigate around in. Before, if I wanted to reference something in my book, I first had to remember where in my book I was and then pull up either another word document or the web to find what I’m trying to look up. While I’m doing that, I’m not looking at my book. Also, if I ended up changing something on page 90 that I also remembered referencing early in my book, I had to scroll back and search until I figured out where exactly that scene was. With Scrivener, each scene now has a short description with it and I can easily click between scenes or split screen the two scenes so I can make sure they both are reading accurately!

I’m not describing it very well, but if you are a writer, Scrivener might be a useful tool for you too.

I’ve got a bunch of pictures under my research section now as well. Another of the people mentioned (in that Tweet Chat last night) that they cut out pictures of models from magazines to help visualize their characters. Instead of magazines, I went on the web and found people that represented what I thought my characters looked like in my head. Turns out my main character is best represented by Evangeline Lilly! I found models who represented the looks for Julius, Jerrod and Anna. Nitha looks just like Miss Bolivia 2010. And Charlie is a dead ringer for the actor who plays Jason Stackhouse on True Blood. At least in my head. Knowing better what they look like will definitely make it easier to write about them.

I was also able to port in my short story that I wrote about Julius and Jerrod’s friendship that I mentioned in my last blog post and the way Scrivener works, it definitely encourages me to write more shorts for backstory.

I love this program. Yeah, I spent today not so much writing as setting up to write, but I think I’ll be a lot more productive now that I have a really good tool for writing.

Side note: My youngest (who is 6) saw me working with it and downloaded it on his own computer. He’s now writing his own story.

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Writing Pieces

An Old Piece of Fiction

So I came across a piece I wrote in 2002. It’s technically ‘fan ‘fiction’ but re-reading it, I can see a novel in it if I change all the names, so I’m thinking of doing something with it. It needs a lot of work, but here’s the original piece (at 1215 words):

What a battle!  I stand, blood trickling from shallow bites and before me lay the mangled corpses of several purple creatures with large teeth and sharp claws.  While I was wandering through the grassy plains near Lytlethorpe, a town I have come to call home, these monsters attacked me without provocation and drawing upon newfound knowledge and a courage I didn’t know I possessed a moon ago, I was forced to defend myself.

Defend myself?  I killed these monsters.  It sounds so peculiar to me.  Being an Aluvian of noble birth, I’ve never used a knife but to butter my bread.  But now, in this land far from my birthplace, I sport a dagger.  I’m a warrior!  I’m still taken aback by all that has happened.

I heard of others who received a “call” from a wizard named Asheron, a call to take up arms and defend a mysterious far away land.  Those people disappeared and I assumed they merely took off on foot for the northern mountains or the southern plains of Ispar.  Yet, those individuals were never seen again..  Little did I know that those who were called were now in a land so distant from Ispar no amount of ordinary travel could reach it.  But here I am and it isn’t nonsense.  For me, the wizard’s call became my escape.

I’m still furious with my parents.  They arranged an appalling marriage for me with a terrible Milantan man named Vitold.  ThelandofMilantosmay neighbor Aluvia, but it is a world away.  It is a dark and disgusting swamp where horrid rituals involving dark magic are commonplace.

Vitold told me he was planning on becoming ruler of Milantos.  I’ve heard the only way a new ruler is installed in Milantos is when the old ruler is murdered.  That is the way of life in that land.  And I was to become a wife to Vitold and live there?  I told my parents it would NEVER happen!  They were deaf to my protests.  They seemed to care nothing for my feelings.  They told me it was my duty to Aluvia to keep the peace, and that Vitold, during a previous visit to our town, had taken a liking to me.  I believe they were afraid of the power that Vitold was  could wield.

In Aluvia, I wore beautiful dresses and attended fancy parties.  At public affairs, I played the perfect noble’s daughter, curtsying at the right times and laughing at the right jokes.  I am a petite, young woman of 19 years with pale skin, hair as black as ink and deep blue eyes.  My parents had tried to marry me off many times before Vitold, but upon meeting me, my strength of mind never appealed to the potential suitors.  And I was perfectly happy with this.  I never wanted marriage in the first place.

In Dereth I can see I am part of a greater destiny.  I will battle the evils of this world and try to restore Dereth to the land that Asheron showed me in the visions he sent me.

The visions.  I didn’t make my decision so quickly as I might have implied earlier.  I put off the decision for almost 14 moons.  During that time, Asheron whispered in my dreams.  “Dereth needs such a strong-hearted and dedicated girl as you.  It is your destiny to heed my call.”  My dreams showed me Dereth, the beauty of the land and the sky, so different yet so similar to Aluvia’s sky.  My dreams also showed me the woman I could become, a warrior destroying the minions of evil and helping restore peace to Dereth.  All I had to do was accept the invitation.

Vitold made my decision for me.  He came to me late one humid summer evening, as was often his custom.  He told me we were to be wed in two days.  Two days for a proper Aluvian wedding?  But no, he told me we were not being married in Aluvia.  I was to pack a few belongings and a carriage would pick me up in the morning to take me to Milantos.  I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I would not be ready and had no intentions of marrying him.  I started to walk away from him when he grabbed me, turned me towards him, kissed me forcefully and then hissed, “You are forsaken.  You are mine.”  He let me go and walked towards the door.  He told me to be ready at dawn for the carriage that would be waiting.

After he left, with the taint of his kiss on my lips, I heard Asheron’s voice more strongly than ever before.  I went to my room, changed into a tunic and pants and I was ready.  As soon as I made this decision, a white swirling portal opened before me.  With tears in my eyes, I entered the portal and left behind Vitold, my family and Ispar forever.

I was shaking, out of anger, fear, frustration and now sadness. I had choice but to leave. And leave immediately. Run. Far away somewhere where Vitold could never find me. I don’t know if I actually heard Asheron at that moment, maybe I wanted to so badly that I did. But I know that I WILLED that portal to find me. I know that I had only a split-second decision to make.

I was assessed before I arrived, apparently, as all who are called by Asheron are.  I am lithe and quick, so it was determined I was best suited to use daggers and knives.  Apparently, I also have some natural ability in enchantments and I can cast spells that increase the deadliness of my weapon or the strength of my armor.  I am also able to cast spells on myself to make myself faster and stronger.

When I arrived, I was given a knife and many other items to assist me in finding my way.  I was greeted and given my directions, to proceed directly to the training facility.  I made my way into the hall and found many friendly and helpful people to assist me on my way.  I was taught how to use my dagger and given a great deal of useful information to help me adjust to my new home.

So here I am, alone in this strange land, and yet surrounded with the familiar.  This is not Aluvia, not even close.  But Aluvia is all around me.  The buildings, the clothing, the people, the speech, and ah, the smells, it is all that of home.

The moment I left the training hall, I headed out to explore the wondrous green fields and found the most adorable little rabbits, seemingly friendly as they let me walk right up to them and pet them.  Then I came across these three monsters, which without warning, attacked me.  I had to defend myself, and using the basic skills I was taught in the training hall, I did very well.  I have only a shallow wound on my shoulder, a few minor scratches and a tear in my tunic, which I shall need to have mended.  I had always thought that if I were harmed, I would faint at the sight of my own blood.  But I have discovered I am made of stronger mettle than anyone who knew me in Aluvia would have ever guessed, even me.

Thoughts?

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What I'm Up To

FIRST!

I know, it’s a pretty unoriginal title. Sue me. I’ve been writing or reading about writing all day and my brain is tired.

This is my first blog post. Stating the obvious – it’s something I’m fantastic at! Right now, I’m working on four separate projects. Here’s a breakdown:

1. A less than 750 word flash story for a contest. I’ve never entered a contest before and I thought, why not? How hard could it be to write a compelling story in 750 words? Well… I’ve got news for anyone who had that thought. It’s freakin’ hard! Regardless, I’m pushing through and going to write the most compelling 750 word story I can muster! Wish me luck. I’m on my 3rd draft and it’s not even close yet. It’s a… crime/mystery piece? I guess? There’s nothing supernatural about it – it’s just about someone who does something bad to good (and naive) people.

2. My novel. It’s called Twice Sworn and it’s in its third rewrite. I’m going to finish this thing and start to query out by the end of March if it kills me! Oh and here’s a mock-up of what I want the cover to look like. Yeah, I’m no artist! Laugh on!

3. Another short (not a flash short though, just a short) that’s autobiographical. When I was 10, I knew a boy, the first boy I ever kissed, who was fearless and amazing and always a little dirty. He was older than me too. He was killed, drowned by an alligator, in the local river. Many of my memories are fuzzy or have faded over the years, but my memories of him and of my reaction to his death are still strong with me. It will be both a light piece filled with childish joy and hijinks, and a tragedy, because it has a very real and very sad ending. I’ve started it and it’s proving hard to write, but it will be worth getting out in the end.

Click to read newspaper article about Robbie Crespo’s death.

4. A project for the iPad with my dear friend Stephen Russell. I’ve started it and have a pretty good idea where I want (part of) it to go. This will be a long term project -and a successful one! – I hope.

I’ve also decided to start blogging! I’m going to write as much as possible to get that muscle at full strength again, since my foray into another career put the writing on hold. I’m glad to be back and I’ll be stronger than ever soon!

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