(writing) Have to share the new Snow cover!!!

Yes, it’s not my normal blogging day, but dammit, this is just too pretty not to share NOW! The lovely Starla Huchton (aka riznphnx) has done a new cover for my Dark Horseman novella Snow, which I’m going to be re-releasing under my own name in the next week or so. Isn’t it gorgeous?

She’s amazing, and I know one person that I’m going to be looking to for covers in the future!

(rant) Warning, Val is annoyed

Warning: this post does wander into rant territory. It also wanders into politics, a bit, but mostly it’s a rant. You have been warned.

I’m in training at a new job. I haven’t switched companies, but I’ve been promoted, so I’m getting training in one of the new areas I’ll be supporting (pensions, if you really want to know). Because the trainees are all seasoned members of the company, we’re switching up the training with some team-building exercises, mostly Top Ten lists. The instructor gives us the topic, we have to come up with the top ten things in that topic. It’s been all over the map, and for the most part, I’ve learned some interesting things.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post: why I feel America is going down the tubes. On Tuesday, we did a Top Ten list on Yahoo’s Top Ten Searches of 2011. My team and I came up with ten events/persons that we thought would be in the top 10. Things like Steve Jobs’ death. The Japanese earthquake/tsunami. The debt ceiling crisis. The Royal Wedding. The Greek Debt crisis. You know, big things. IMPORTANT THINGS.

Of the five things listed above, ONE of them was on Yahoo’s list. The Japanese earthquake, which apparently not even the average citizens of the US could fail to notice. Do you know what else was listed? Jennifer Aniston. American Idol. Casey Anthony. (You can see the entire top ten list here: Yahoo Top 10 Searches for 2011) American freaking Idol makes the list, but Steve Jobs’ death doesn’t. No politicians made the top ten, actually, which (considering the state of the Republican offerings this time around) surprised me. It also saddened me.

I will be the first to admit that I am probably not much like the “average American” that fills out these polls. In other times, I would probably be considered a bluestocking. I’m not interested in most celebrities, or who’s screwing who. I consider Jackass a blight on the world, followed closely by most “reality TV.” (Although I do admit that I adore Food Network and Cooking Channel. Do those count? And Ghost Hunters/Ghost Adventures. Anything with ghosts in it, I can pretty much guarentee I’ll at least try.) I don’t listen to most contemporary music – I like country, for the most part. I read, rather than watch TV. I am a gamer geek, although not a huge one (just WoW, pretty much, although I’m contemplating finding my copy of Master of Magic again). I write. And I read, did I mention that? Not just books, but anything I can get my hands on.

So these people who follow Snooki or Justin Bieber or Sarah Palin are like aliens to me. I despise people who can’t seem to make their own opinions, but follow others like sheep. Seriously. I don’t mind if you have different opinions from me, as long as you’ve thought through them and aren’t just spouting whatever the current party line from Newt or Glenn Beck is. THINK about things before you spout them.

And for gods sake, stop watching reality TV. That stuff rots your brains.

(writing/nanowrimo) Lessons I’ve learned from this year’s NaNo

Okay, last NaNo post, I promise. 🙂 But I learned a few things about my writing style this time around (I learn things every time, honestly) and I thought I’d share them with you guys. So here are the lessons I’m taking away from this year.

1. Planning: I am not a pantser. This NaNo really drove that point home. I need to plan things out. Once I started sitting down and planning what I was writing that day, I started getting the higher word counts. That being said, I may be overplanning some things, and underplanning others. Outlining, like writing, is an art, not a science, and I’m still perfecting my art. I probably always will.

2. Time: I CAN write 4k in a day, if I have an idea of what I need to write and I make the time to write. Most of my 4k days, I did very little but write. This is not healthy – I gained about 10 lbs over the course of November, a combination of stress eating and not moving around enough. In addition, my long-suffering husband barely saw me. Not good. However, I now know that if I need to, I can write 50k in a month.

3. Kittens are your friend: OMG, it seems so stupid, but seriously, Written?Kitten! got me through NaNo. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have made it without the kittens. For those not familiar with the site, it gives you a new kitten (or sunrise or puppy or whathaveyou) picture for every certain number of words you type. I went with the default 100 words, but you can do up to 1000, I believe. Seriously, it works. No, I have no idea why, but it does.

4. Friends help, too: Without my friends on Twitter, Facebook and Forward Motion, writing along with me and cheering me on, I wouldn’t have finished. The community of writers is simply amazing. That said, turning off Twitter/Facebook helped me write too.

So there you go. Thus ends NaNoWriMo 2011. Next year, I’ll win earlier than the last day.

Turning over a new leaf (aka, changes coming to this blog)

I’m always in awe of authors like John Scalzi or Jay Lake who blog every day. I totally want to be like them, except I’m realizing two things (besides the fact that they’re way more popular and successful than I am – I know that already):

1. I don’t know that I have something to say every day.
2. I’m not sure I want to blog every day, if it takes away from my time to write.

Which is okay. I don’t have to blog every day. There’s no rule saying so (and even if there was, who is going to enforce it?). I do, however, want to continue to blog on a regular basis. So from now on, I’ll be blogging on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And I’m actually plotting out blogs, so they’ll be more substantive and more coherent than my posts lately have been. If there is anything you’d LIKE to see me blog about, feel free to drop me a line at val@vg-ford.com. I’m actually *gasp* almost caught up on emails (I know, right?), and I’m settling into a new schedule at work, so I should be able to STAY caught up. I’m certainly going to try.

By setting up a schedule, I’ll also be able to write blog posts in advance, so I’ll always be on time (in theory). I’ve got the next few in mind: next Tuesday will be my “Lessons This Past NaNo has taught me,” and I’m sure I’ll have a post about Snow when I get it up.

The first post of the month will always include my goals for the upcoming month, and the recap of goals from the last month. My goal for November was simply to win NaNoWriMo, which I did! Goals for December are modest, because I’m still recovering from November, it’s the holidays, and I’m settling into a new schedule and new job.

So here are December’s goals:
1. Write every day. (I’m using 750words to get my morning pages/brain dump in)
2. Get Snow out on the various epub platforms. (For those who don’t remember, Snow is the Christmas novella set in the Dark Horseman universe I wrote for Lilley Press, which has since folded, so I’m re-releasing it myself.)
3. Outline the first Sapph Novella
4. Get Spells and Swashbucklers turned in

I’m also looking at next year and goals, but those plans aren’t finalized yet, so I’ll discuss them later. For the first time in six years, I am not under contract to write anything. It’s a very cool but slightly scary place, and the stories in my head are clamoring for their chance in the sun. I’ll be feeling my way through the noise, one step at a time.

So, in short, changes coming. Lots of changes. Good changes, I hope. I’m glad you’re all along with me for the ride.

(nanowrimo) Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!

Look what I have!!!

I did it! I did it! 50,000 words in one month!!!!

Now that the insanity of NaNoWriMo is over, I can actually like, do things other than writing again. What a weird feeling.

I will NOT be doing an Advent story this year – sorry. This story was supposed to be the Advent story, but it needs work. A LOT of work. As in, I now have 50k that I have to go back through and figure out where the story went. Because dude, I have no idea where some of this stuff came from. And yes, that includes the pirates. (Seriously. There were not supposed to be in there!) So I need to sit down, read through and, for one thing, decide what story I’m actually telling. And then how to tell it.

There’s now also time to work on other projects. Like, this blog. And the Dreams novella. And getting Snow out in the world again. And finishing up the last little bits of Spells and Swashbucklers. And knit. And bead. And sew.

I’m going to be blogging regularly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from now on. (Barring this post, obviously.) If there’s something you’d like to see me blog about, let me know. I’m also going to be changing some things around here, but more about that later.

I did it! I did it!

(personal/writing/to-do) Deciding to take Sunday off

Well, in the sense that I’m not going to Williamsfaire. I feel like I SHOULD, but you know what? I need to do laundry, I need to cook for the week, and I need to keep writing. And I wasn’t going to really do anything at Williamsfaire anyways, other than write. So I feel better about staying home to get the other stuff done.

I’m only 7.5K behind on NaNoWriMo! If I get my butt in gear today, I can totally catch up! Not all today, of course, but I’m finally feeling like I know where the story is going. Sort of. 🙂

To-Do list for today:
– Put away laundry in living room
– Fold laundry from dryer and put away

– 2 more loads of laundry washed, dried, put away
– Dishes
– 2k on Strange
– Make egg quiches
– Make chicken-apple burgers
– Roast veggies for mac and cheese tomorrow
– Make mac and cheese? Possibly.

I need to do some editing too today, and maybe some other stuff. We’ll see. These are the major things to do.

Now, off to put away laundry!!!

(personal/metrics) Finally, a day off!

It was weird, working this Thursday. Sigh, guess I’ll have to get used to it! I’m enjoying being home to eat with hubby, though, even if it IS hard to get up at 6:30 am every morning.

Today is a writing/cooking/cleaning day. I’ve already gotten 12 kittens’ worth of words (1200 words, for those not familiar with my new measurement system), so now I’m concentrating on some other things. I will keep writing, though. Gotta catch up! I’m only 8.5k behind!

Tomorrow is the Inn at Knottyng Cross, so I’ll be bringing my computer and getting even more words. I am a writing machine! The thing is, the more words I write, the more story ideas I have. That’s a good thing. A very, very good thing.

Okay, today’s to-do list:
– Make meal plan for the week, including lunches
– Make banana bread

– Make roasted veggie mac and cheese – making this on Monday
– Make breakfast egg quiches
– Make maple-apple chicken burgers and french fries (dinner tonight!)
– Fold laundry in living room and put away
– 2k more on Strange

I’m sure there’s more I should be doing, but that’s a lot right there. Time to get moving.

(metrics) Trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo

The official NaNo counter says I’m at 15911 words, which is a bit over 9k of where I need to be. However, I’ve written over 4k today, so I’m happy, and if I can do that over the next few days, I should be able to catch up.

Short post because my arm hurts. I wrote a LOT today!

(metrics) Broke 10k!

Sorry, it’s been hard to update. I’m currently at 11,107 words for NaNo, so I’ve made it over 1/5 of the way. Yay! I’ll do more words later today, and now that I know how to get a word count on the Neo (yes, it’s written on the back, and no, of course I didn’t look there, why would I?) I can update a bit more often. I hope.

(metrics/nano/writing) Day 3 of NaNoWriMo and I’m still pacing myself!

Current NaNo wordcount: 5045
To be on Target: 5001

It’s not much of a cushion, but the fact that I’ve written 5k in the last three days is amazing to me, so I’ll enjoy it. I need to catch up a bit more with my outline, so I might not get a bunch done tomorrow, but we’ll see. I’m being mean to Molly – just slammed her up against her door. Did I mention this book is a little darker than last year’s?

I found a great outlining post while I was wandering through the NaNo boards before NaNo started, and I wanted to share it. It has really helped me work out some things with this book, and I can’t wait to use it for some of my other ones. Especially the Sapph books. Who am I kidding? All my books. :p

This post and the post after it is what I used to start outlining. I was having a devil of a time getting into this book – I just couldn’t figure out WHY things were happening. Worked through this post – and I started getting ideas. It was awesome.

If you try it, let me know. I’d love to see what you guys think.