Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thanks and Welcome

Image Credit
First, I want to say thanks to everyone who had great ideas and encouragement last week on how to get through my writing funk. I've been able to get my butt in the chair and work a few times since then. In addition to my editing on Fighting Fate, I've also gone back to an old, shelved project and dusted it off. The combination of writing something "new" and editing/revision something has been extremely good for me. I feel revitalized. I'm even excited to get to work in the morning, and not as interested in procrastinating.

The encouragement from all of you, old friends and new, has been amazing. I love the blogosphere! You're all great. Thank you again.

And a warm welcome to any more Campaign group cohorts. I'm very happy to meet you. Glad you could stop by :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Writers' Platform-Building Campaign

For those of you who don't know, Rachael Harrie is running the third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign (formerly know as the Crusade). The purpose of the Campaign is to provide a way to link those of us in the writing community together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. You can visit her Campaign information (also here) to find out more details and sign up.

Yup, I joined. I hope it was the right decision, since I want to be able to dedicate enough time to it. This will be my first time, so I hope I can make a good impression on all my new campaign-cohorts. After a month off from writing and working, I'm back to both, and having trouble juggling in the blogging as well. But I'm here to try. Feel free to nudge me :)

Welcome to all in my Campaign groups. I'll be by soon to introduce myself.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Getting Back in the Swing

Boy, oh boy, does taking a month off put a dent in ones momentum. Getting it back has been quite a process, and, well, it's not back yet. This counts for writing, editing, and blogging.

So I'm working on weekly goals. One of my crit partners and I are trading weekly goals and trying to motivate the other to stick to them. I've gotten through some of them, although my reading goals are falling behind—which is bad, since they're ARCs and I have deadlines to meet.

This may be the most versatile picture
I've ever taken :)
I don't know how people with real 40hr/wk jobs juggle writing, editing, blogging, reading, family, friends, life, and sanity. I just don't. I'm struggling right now because my job upped my hours to 25 per week. That's nothing, right? And yet I can't seem to get in the hours they want while also getting the writing-job requirements fulfilled at the same time.

It's probably because I've just started. This is week two. Add to this my month hiatus from everything.

But... but... shiny new writing office should make everything better, right?


Any suggestions on how to get back in the writing groove? Other than just to do it? Because, really, I'm trying. It's just so SLOW!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I'm Reading

Right now I am enjoying the art of book-juggling. This isn't something I normally flourish at, but each thing I'm reading differs so much from the others that it's working.

Plus, I'm really behind on my GoodReads Reading Challenge, and I need to get a few books added to my total pretty soon.


Power Ballads by Will Boast
Written by a college friend of mine (I'm boasting about Boast), Boast's collection of short stories is the winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award. I'll save my thoughts for later, but I'm enjoying this quite a lot.
Review and Interview with Boast coming week of September 12.

Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland
What a fun, lighthearted read. I'm only about a quarter through it, but I'm having trouble tearing myself from it. Of course, I knew I would, after my experience reading The Hating Game, and I couldn't wait to start this. Again, saving my thoughts for later.
Review coming September 14.

Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle
Okay, this one I'm actually reading for the second time. My first read was too fast. It's like when I eat chocolate chip scones—I know I love them, but I eat them so fast I don't really taste them. Well, I read Monarch so fast the first time that I just got the impression of loving it, but not enough thoughts to actually write a review. So, reading it a second time. And you know what? I'm loving it just as much even though I already know what's going to happen.
Review and Interview with Argyle coming in early October.

Entwined by Heather Dixon
This was recommended to me by another blogger. So far, not bad. I can't say I'm loving it. I have my reservations. I'll think about writing a review of it when I've finished.

I have to say, though, I do love the cover.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Admittedly, I'm not reading this very fast.  Those of you who have read it know it's another WWII story, and I have difficulty reading these. Even through the poetic language and the youthful perspective, the weight of the basic content drags on my psyche. So I read a little here and a little there, and eventually I'll finish it. I'm enjoying it, but it has to be interspersed with these other books of semi-lighter content.

What are you reading? Any recommendations?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stieg Larsson and the Art of Meta Writing

Over the past few months, I've made my way through Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, and on a basic level, I've enjoyed them. The occasional fast pace makes up for some of the details.

Admittedly, however, on first glance, the first few chapters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (#1), and then dozens of pages at a time throughout the rest of the books, feel as if they are riddled with information-dump.

While reading the first book, I didn't notice this per se, but my critiquing skills hadn't been honed to the point they were when I began The Girl who Played with Fire (#2). I just thought it took a while to get into the story (a sign of info-dump, yes). By the time I started reading #2, several months later, I had already read a few people's comments on Goodreads. One comment on #1 caught my eye.

"Got very bored after 100 pages. Sorry. Way too much narrative." (link)

I reflected and considered his point. Yes, there's a lot of narrative at the beginning, little dialogue, less action.

So, why on earth could something with so much extraneous information be so popular? They're great books. I mentioned this to a non-writing friend, and she said she simply hadn't noticed. Can it be that the populace has more patience for info-dumping than those of us who have had it drilled into our brains NOT to write like that?

Not likely. That's the populace that may eventually clothe and feed us (if we make it past a publisher's advance, of course). That's the populace we're supposed to be pleasing. It must be something else.

As I read The Girl who Played with Fire, and later The Girl who Kicked a Hornet's Nest, I focused on the extra narrative, considering its use and purpose. And here's what I came up with:

It's not info-dumping. It's meta-journalistic fiction.


Let's start with defining our terms:

meta: adj. (of a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.

The Millennium series focuses on journalists in the throes of their journalistic lives, writing and covering the daily lives around them. Journalists don't always have the luxury of paring down their prose in the way that fiction writers do. Whatever information they've uncovered today, be it the fact that Mr. X worked for Texaco in 1987 or Ms. Y has a penchant for blue suede shoes, it could all be relevant tomorrow. Therefore, it's all worth publishing.

The difference, and why we don't notice it as much, is in the presentation: an average story covers 600 to 800 words, and if more information is uncovered, it comes out tomorrow, not as an addition to today's story. There's lots of information, but it's broken up into smaller chunks, and therefore the extra is more digestible.

Larsson takes this concept of journalistic provision of information and writes in this style. In some cases (e.g., the first 100 pages of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), maybe it's hard to get through. But the bottom line is that Larsson did something quite clever with the concept of journalism, morphing it into this meta-style of journalistic fiction. It's the reader's job to uncover which bits of extraneous information are important, as if the reader is him/herself an investigator.

In this case, if we can manage through the slow start of #1, I think these books are an excellent read. Taking into consideration what Larsson has done with this meta-style, perhaps we can gain a little more patience in enduring the exposition.

Have you read the Millennium series? What did you think? How did you feel about the narrative/exposition? Was the later action enough to make up for it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to the Blogo-World

Dearest Bloggy Buddies,
Thank you for your patience on my hiatus. It has been a stressful month of packing, moving, homelessness, moving, and unpacking again. But, at the end of the day, we're in our new house, and I have my own shiny new writing office!

Also, my cats are a lot happier now that we're not trying to live in a Motel 6.

You'll be seeing more of me, both here and around the blogosphere. It may take a couple of weeks, but I'll make the rounds. I have a new writing/working/blogging schedule that should work out pretty well.

Stop by on Friday as I get back into full swing.

Any news from the last month that I've missed? Fill me in!

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