Current Announcement

Stuff always being prepped in the background.

Lots of stuff has happened in the last few years. And some of the older posts need maintenance. A buffer of entries is being developed.

In the process of updating tons of parts of my website, shops and web presence.

Tons planned for this year including splitting some topics into separate blogs.
See the Announcements page for a bit more info.

May 22, 2015

Monday, October 29, 2012

NaNo 2012 Check In 1

At the beginning of October, I posted a few goals for preparation of this year’s NaNoWriMo in my Impending NaNo 2012 blog entry. Despite being pretty sick most of this month, I managed to accomplish all but one of them.

The one I didn’t make progress on was practicing regular draft writing. Had my health been better this October, I probably would have. However, now that it’s only a few days until the start of November, I think it’s for the best. If I had spent the month heavily working on  Wet Shades 1, my head would be way too into the wrong book. Although, it does mean there’s little chance to finish the 1st draft of Wet Shades 1 by year’s end. I’ll try not to let that bother me though.

Otherwise I got the rest of the prep work done. Like last year, I opted to attempt starting book one of a series. The series title is Black Bubblegum, and book one will be called Obsidian Throne (as usual - unless I come up with a better titles later). I came up with a premise, settings, characters, the genres & the basic plot etc. I also sketched the layout for for the cover, which I’ pleased with. Eventually, I’ll post the layout sketch and subsequent Black Bubblegum art.

Black Bubblegum is based on a project I wrote two sentences of description for since May of 2009 and have had brewing on the backburner all this time. As I came across it in my files, I knew it was the one to work on in November, and the prep notes for it poured outta me like water. I expect this project to eventually have sort of dark pop artwork that’ll be released for it.

This is what I filled out on my novels page under the synopsis-
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Sci Fi/ Fantasy / Paranormal / Adventure; New Adult
Setting: mostly the Phoenix, Arizona of a semi-dystopian future in which supernatural creatures no longer bother to hide, where the USA is now Nuevo America & is merged with several other countries.

When Tabitha Sawyer turns 18 her father gives her the ever popular get a job or get out ultimatum. So she turns to a cousin who runs a mechanics shop and stumbles into a strangely fulfilling career as an assassin/ mercenary.

In book 1, Obsidian Throne, Tabby gets her first death gig. Two separate clients hire Tabby to kill the same target - a local dark faerie king. It's too much for Tabby to hope that the duel clients won't find out about each other.

In the last few days before the kick off, I’ll be setting up my novel’s file in the writing program. Inputting the characters, settings and so on, which will be attached to scenes as I write. And filling out other such fields in the program.


Also, I’m planning to try posting a NaNo Check In on this blog at least once a week, where you can share your progress in the comments as well if you like. 

Among those also planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, who did some prep work this month?

Is anybody planning to do something unconventional with their NaNo novel this year?

I know some people do work on novels that they already started prior, as in adding 50,000 words to a novel draft for a longer work.

Since I’m supposed to avoid stress for the sake of my health, I use it as more of a stepping stone or push off point for jumpstarting a novel project. 50,000 words, which is about 175 pages, is actually pretty short for a novel, especially in fiction. So considering it just a jumpstarting activity isn’t much of a stretch. Not every day is cooperative with writing, no matter what one’s goals are, so I have to do my best not to let such things bother me too badly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Drawing Renews My Resolve to Develop a Good Schedule

Goth Girl Lost. Pencil sketch April 24, 2012.

I was happy with the way this quick, spontaneous sketch of a lost goth girl turned out. Can’t really think of much else to say about it, aside from the fact that I really enjoyed drawing it. Most of my sketches don’t have much of a story behind them more than a simple sat down with sketchbook & pencil drawing supplies then drew. This is one of those.

Somehow it makes me smile more when the drawing comes out looking like a comic book character, as this one did. At times I do wonder if I really am cut out for making comic books. It’s the thing where I draw something then I have the thought cross my mind, “Curses, I don’t think I could draw this character or special object, or environment correctly again even if I spent a year solid trying to.” It’s not a particularly helpful thought. They say people average about 60,000 thoughts a day. Sad as it makes me, I’d have to cop to the reality that probably half (or more) of mine are not useful on most days.

Though I have a lot on my plate all the time, I do know I need some hard core regimens for art, writing, making, and the tech parts. Guess what I need is a proper work schedule. I have yet to figure out one out that actually works well for me. Among a zillion other things, I need more time spent sketching, especially practicing things like sequential art and character drawing. An entirely self run & developed work schedule is hard to develop for one’s self. Anyone who says otherwise just got lucky.

I have tried splitting my time into small varied blocks, working on like six different types of things on a given day. I’ve tried scheduling the day into 2 or 3 large blocks of a few project types. And I have tried several other things. But the right recipe still eludes me. I suppose starting my day off with a block of things like checking emails, checking into social networks, checking into my shops and a bunch of other similar tasks is not an effective thing for me to do. Too bad it didn't sink in quicker. From now on I will spread those tasks apart despite keeping them next to each other on the to do list, instead of letting it eat up my brain for the day.

It's not as though my life has been particularly cooperative in matters of organization and such. What with all the moving I've had to do. In fact right now, most of my stuff is still in storage very far away and has been nearly a year now. And unless I've moved again by the time I can get my stuff up here, I won't have room for it at my place anyways. Among the stuff I need regular access to in order for my work schedule to work better are things like the rest of my clothes, my easel, most of my art supplies, the other half of my project files, my character designs done before this last year and much more.

Other than all my annoying hindrances, now is a good time for things to have big progress made, in things like my organization, my schedule, my projects and even slipping into posting a few blog entries a week. I try not to be too annoyed and controlled by all these hindrances. Frankly, though, attempts at a positive outlook and attitude only goes so far, and sometimes a person really needs more cooperation from the universe. Wish it weren't so easy to be distracted by distractions, but life is funny that way.

My gut says that eventually I will figure out a decent, useful schedule and organization system for myself, etc. Even though my brain not so subtly reminds me that predicting what zone my brain will be real functional in on what day is not exactly possible, let alone probable. Creativity is sort of random and unpredictable, especially when one is involved in several fields of creativity.

It would be cool if I could just pull out a piece of paper to write a schedule and magically know what works when. However, my brain is in the zone it is in, when it is in it and it does not file an itinerary with me. Heck, even same day it's hard to figure which is a great day for writing, which is good for fiddling with technical issues, which days are good for socializing and hunting for content to share, which are good for bead & wire work or sewing, which are good for drawing or painting, and which days are good days to have be the day off. Those who can make their brains obey things like their scheduling whims by simple application of things like discipline are lucky, and I hope they don't take it for granted. Not everyone gets gifts like that. Never mistake that for a lack of effort on my part. I try very hard each and every day. And thankfully somedays are less destroyed by my scattered mind.

Sure it might help if I didn't have one of those overachiever type doses of ambition and drive, if my vision was smaller, or if school had taught useful things like organization skills. Once I tried not to be an overachiever, but that made me feel so much crazier than simply allowing myself to be an overachiever. It would also help if I didn't keep misplacing my notes on what stuff needs to be done.
Despite all the road blocks, I am determined to get a real art practice schedule going right away. Among other things.

Who else gets tripped up by all the little things? The little things really do add up. Who has figured out a good schedule for themselves? Share some tips on your time management successes in the comments.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Drawing When You Don’t Think You Can

Swooping Dragon Sketch. March 9, 2012.
Seven months later - I’m still amazed I was able to draw this dragon. Painful memories fill too much space in my head, for example the time directly surrounding when this was sketched. Suffice it to say, something bad happened, then I went to live somewhere a girl never wants to have to go, and it was not a good environment for me in there. Thankfully, circumstances allowed me to leave after only a few days. While there, I did not feel up to doing anything creative.

Somehow I made myself pull out the mini sketchbook and loosely sketch in the dragon’s frame. When I started it, I had zero motivation, save boredom and the desire to get my mind off of what ailed me. While that’s enough to start a drawing, it’s not enough to get beyond the basic framework of a drawing.

At the completion of the framework, I was sure I’d have to stop. As I said, I was very upset and had pitiful little motivation to create, but more than that my hands were shaky, and my coordination was extra bad. Suddenly, the person sitting next to me started taking notice of what I was working on. Other people began to drift through the kitchen and watch for a bit. While I filled in details, they were asking questions, complimenting my art, and some wanted to see more of my artwork.

Usually people watching me draw makes me uncomfortable and awkward at best. This was too, but somehow encouraging. It became fun and encouraging enough to actually finish the dragon.

By setting aside my usual discomfort at an audience while drawing and giving myself more time to warm up to it, I wound up feeling better than I would’ve otherwise. Sometimes starting a drawing cold does warm up and work out. That’s a little rare in my case. Normally, when I feel awful, it requires some kind of outside influence to push me to do more than sketching layouts and frameworks. Be it encouragement from people wandering by, or a getting a good phone call or text. Once in awhile, watching TV or a movie while drawing provides the genuine mood boost needed to give me that extra push.

Occasionally, frameworks and layouts drawn cold or drawings that couldn’t be finished in the original sitting do eventually get finished. A single session for a piece is preferable but not always feasible.

As an artist (and writer, etc.) it’s important to work on my projects and pieces regularly. It’s not always do-able, often enough it’s wiser to let it alone for the day, but the thought is always there. Though I generally feel proud of myself and my accomplishment when I finish a project or a chunk of it, there’s an extra oomph to having done so when I didn’t think I could.

Truth be told, I didn’t feel up to writing this blog entry. But I’m trying to build up my frequency of working on my projects, including this blog. Fortunately, I had a starting point to spring from. I have some basic blog ideas noted, and I have some snapshots from my sketchbook prepped too. So I just selected the one that chronologically should come next. I opened the blog draft writer that’s on my computer, then inserted the picture. While staring at it, trying to come up with a title and topic, I thought about the process for drawing this dragon. Then it just flooded out. Normally, though there isn’t much to say about most drawings…

Do you sometimes continue trying to work on some art when you really are not up to it? Are you able to turn cold drawing into hot drawing? Yes, technically that is writing terminology but it applies to art too, nonetheless.

Who else loves drawing dragons? Anyone else have trouble making their sketchbook obey some kind of routine?

The creative process seems to have whims of it’s own and a rebellious attitude towards pithy things such as schedules and routines…

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Impending NaNo 2012

NaNoWriMo is next month and I’m excited.

NaNo, of course, is that crazy writer’s challenge of writing a rough draft of a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November.

That’s something like 175 pages. Clearly, I love to write and have no problem getting lengthy. For me writing such short novels is like trying to put a muffin into a thimble. As skeptical as I am that my draft would be at the end, rather than midpoint there, I still enjoy the attempt to win the challenge.

Last Year’s Attempt

Last year marked the first time I got as far as working on the actual draft. Prior attempts, I couldn’t figure out what to work on, and life kept getting heavily in the way. Breaking the ice last year on that was great for me. Though I didn’t actually win, I did get 8448 of that novel done. 4093 of them the first day of working on it.

As further encouragement, I’ve worked on the draft of that novel since then. Admittedly, I wasn’t used to the writing software I use back then, so the next time I remembered I was supposed to be working on it wasn’t until one day in June. Then I remembered to work on it several times in both August and September. There is some hope of finishing the draft by year’s end even if I take November off of it to work on the 2012 NaNo. On September 15th I managed to clock in my highest typed word count in a single day thus far at 10,046, and even went to a BBQ that day.

Should I win NaNo this year, I’ll be surprised, given last November’s word count. Plus, I’m currently working on last year’s novel in an involved sort of way. I am sure that I will at least get further than 8448 words. Especially since I am now far more comfortable with the writing software I use (yWriter5, and a big thanks to @KMWeiland for mentioning this software to me, it’s very useful for novel writing).

A bit about that project, it’s a series involving mermaids, vampires and modern day steampunk, with the series working title of Wet Shades, which may end up being it’s actual title. I am sure to babble about it again.

What I Should Have Known Sooner

While sometimes just sitting down and starting to write does work fine for figuring out what to write about, it does not typically help me meet a deadline like the one for NaNoWriMo. Failing to figure out what to write about had been the dead end for me each year since I learned of it in 2007 or 2008 when I bought Chris Baty’s book about it. I’d like to work with that book this year but it’s still in storage, which I do not have regular access to.

It can take a good two weeks, or more, to do the preliminary think and brew before starting a draft, which easily can put the kibosh on a 30 day novel.

My prep plan for this year:

  • Get more used to yWriter5, just get really comfortable with it. It has all sorts of great features. For example, the Daily Word Count Target tool will be extra useful for NaNo. With that you can set a time frame of the entirety of November and set the word count target to 50,000, and it does the math for you on your remaining workload. Aside from being great for fueling steady motivation, it also reduces stress and prevents random episodes of epic math related distraction.
  • Practice regular draft writing by working on Wet Shades 1 as steadily and consistently as I can this month. Aiming for at least 500 words 6 days a week. The 500 goal gives me a number to warm up with most days, and others to be a break day. Writing 2,000+ words in a day is common for me on days I get to open up the program and spend some time in there. And going over the 5,000 word mark on a day I really get to focus is not unusual for me.
  • Decide what I want to write about in general. Things like determining genre, basic setting, and a little bit about the major characters and some basics about plot.
  • Coming up with a working title.
  • Naming the most major characters.
  • Coming up with a rough cover mock up image so that I feel more comfortable participating in the forums.

Aside from the cover mock up and the practice via other projects, the results of this prep work should occupy at most one sheet of paper, hand written.

I know some people do an outline for the whole novel before they start, but my outlining process is different, done in bits.

Anybody else planning to tackle NaNoWriMo this year? Who’s getting excited about it already?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yay Home Internet is Delicious

I've been living at this place for six months now and I was finally able to get home internet again. Yay! Woohoo!

Of course there is a darker side to that joy, which I'll get into below. 

Sure, a couple months in the middle, I had a neighbor who let me use her wireless signal. But that's not the same. With a borrowed signal, I was more limited and scattered, having no certainty that the internet would still be on each time I sat down to use it. Having it installed in my place makes a huge difference, and not just cuz I have a say in when it goes off. I have a desktop PC, as well as the laptop. Some tasks go better on the desktop, for one it has a much bigger screen. It also means that I don't have to stop working on projects on a computer just to watch internet streaming TV. There are shows that I like to put on in the background while I work. Especially on the tech stuffs... some of which cause headaches.

Been getting a lot done since the install. I had this silly notion that I would get lots more done not having home internet. But oddly it held all manner of projects back and I didn’t feel up to much of the projects that didn’t need internet stints to complete. It was weird. I also did not realize how many different projects actually result in some internet usage. Apparently, while working on a novel I randomly look stuff up online all the time. Quick little lookups. Not being able to do those quick little lookups slows the process down immensely. Same goes with blog writing, and even working on art. The art one really surprised me.

I won’t lie, having it does lead to some distractions that I could do with out. But I’m doing alright at not letting that have it’s wicked way with me.

The darker side is that having the home internet again means that, while I’m attempting to work on stuff that couldn’t much be worked on without it, I’m discovering and running into all sorts of technical issues and organization snafus. Things I was blissfully unaware of, and therefore not at all stressed out by, while I was home internetless. And as the saying goes, “From every solution arises six new problems.” I am, however putting forth a valiant effort to not bash my head into the keyboard. An effort that is mightily aided by having on the oh so soothing streaming TV & movies. Better than a baby’s binky.

However, on to the real dark side. The fact that I got the internet installed here means that I admitted that I’m going to be stuck living in this place for a long time still. I’m grateful to have a place of my own and all that, but I am not however blind to it’s numerous flaws, nor am I wanting to stay at this place long term. You may have noticed I can’t bring myself to call it home.

Anyone else notice using the internet for projects they expected to be fine totally offline?