Thursday, December 12, 2019

#Giftmas 2019

Giftmas is here again, Stand up and cheer again. 
Let's leave hunger and heartache behind.

Yes, its Giftmas time again! Last year, we raised over $1,100 for the Edmonton Food Bank and since every dollar donated can be stretched, they end up counting for about 3x that amount. This year, Rhonda Parrish has raised her goal to $1,000 or more. Since last year the goal was $750, I'm really hopeful that we can hit that goal! As of right now, (pretty early on the 12th day of December), we're sitting at $625, but I know we can hit that $1,000 goal before the 16th (the last day of the fundraiser). Please, even if you only have a dollar or two to spare, consider donating. If you can't, please share around the links and the other stops on the Giftmas set. Sharing might get it into the hands of somebody who can donate a few dollars to help out.

I was very lucky. Growing up, my family never had to go to the food bank for extra aid. I had my first experience with them was when I moved out and working part-time. Our money wasn't stretching as far as we needed it to and they were a huge help. When I was working at the Co-operator, we tried to donate an entire afternoon of our department's time. One or two of those years we helped at the Food Bank here in Calgary, usually creating Christmas hampers so that everyone could have enough food for a big turkey day. It was a job that even the twenty of us couldn't finish in the time we were there, but it was wonderful to be able to help wherever we could. 

In addition to the donations, there are a whole wack of prizes that you can enter in for! Please, sign yourself up and once again, don't hesitate to share. There are a lot of great prizes, check here for all the details about what you can you win. 

As if that wasn't enough, Rhonda is also hosting a Snowman drawing contest! You can go here to see all of the current entries, but of course, I had to get in on that as well! Before I show you my picture, the rules for your own entry are simple; draw a picture of a snowman (whatever medium you prefer, from digital to graphite to oil to coloured pencils), write #Giftmas2019 somewhere on it, and email a copy to Rhonda Parrish @ She'll update the site with your entries and there are prizes you can win for that as well. 

For my picture, I decided to finish work on a snowman idea I had a few years back. I painted it using acrylics on canvas. It's a very cartoony style, but I loved the way it turned out. Its a really big painting too; 10" x 16". I'll be putting it up in my home soon... I'm just not sure where we'll end up hanging it. 

What do you think of it? And will you be entering a picture? Please, check out the page below and check out the hashtag to find your way to all of the great blog posts going up for this Giftmas!

Novel Update: While less important than the wonderful work that Rhonda is doing for the Edmonton Food Bank here, I did want to let you know that I have my book back from my editor now! I'll be looking over it today and will start working on changes asap! Hopefully, I'll be able to present a plan to you guys next week for it. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Its Never Easy Getting Back in the Saddle

Well, this is coming a bit late... December is always an incredibly tough time for getting writing done. After spending a month writing 50k, I always need a few days off. This year, fortunately, it wasn't really a recovery I needed, but a chance to rejuvenate my flagging creativity. Its one of the side effects of falling into just one creative bubble for me; when I get out if straight recovery of abused muscles isn't needed, some mental recovery is. So, since Nano, I've been obsessively playing around with my tablet, drawing some really gorgeous dahlias. I've also got a quick rough picture done of an ink painting I want to do.

Now onto some awesome news! I just found out that my novel, Hunter's Gambit, has been added to at least one online bookstore in Sweden. While I realize that this is something that I should have realized would happen, seeing it actually do so is really exciting. It's a small thing, but it has absolutely made my day. Its another little way that helps me feel like I've made it. That added to the new review that I have on Goodreads and I feel like I could fly. I've also received one additional star rating, though no physical review for that one.

What does this mean? Well, Goodreads has my book sitting at a very respectable 4.25 stars with three reviews. I am secretly hoping for even more reviews for Christmas.

Speaking of which, how many of you have e-readers or are asking for them for Christmas? What books are on your gift lists this year? And will any of you be giving books (mine or others) to your family this season? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, November 29, 2019

So Close

I can practically taste the victory already. 50,000 words are just ahead of me.

I'm currently on track with 46,694 words. Depending on how early I finish writing this, I may have time to get in more before midnight. Which does mean that I'll be keeping this short.

The story is going swimmingly. I just got into the middle. All of the villains have been introduced and all of the major incidents have been shown. All of my characters have been having their chance to stand in the sun, and I've even introduced a new viewpoint pov character. I discussed the plot over with my husband and I am brimming with ideas to bring all bits of the story together at the end. I'm expecting the rough draft to sit at 75k-80k when done and 50k of that should be finished by the first.

I'd like to have it finished before I start editing Lord's Curse, but I'll have to see when that gets back to me. I have a deadline as soon as the story is back in my hands so that deadline will be the priority though. I'd rather get the second book ready to send to you than make sure that book 4 is roughly finished. I should be ordering the cover soon, I'm expecting sometime in the next few weeks so hopefully, I'll have a reveal coming out to you sometime in January or February.

And that is all that I think I got for you this time around. Until next week, keep reading!

Friday, November 22, 2019

You Got This

Writing is an incredible job, my favourite hobby, and I wouldn't give it up for the world. Let's start off saying that. There are days when I can write over a thousand words every hour. All of these words are good, strong additions to my book, words I'm proud to have written. Even the more average days when I've only written fifteen hundred to two thousand words during that time, I'm still happy to have gotten a chapter finished. Last night was one of a very small subset of bad days when despite sitting at my computer for 6-8 hours, I end up with 400-500 words and none of them are good.

Days like that last one make you rethink the whole writing thing. Fortunately, I've been writing long enough to know how to deal with these days... you push as hard as you can and take the next day, maybe two, getting your groove back on.

So, what does this mean? It means I'm just a bit behind on my word count. I'm not worried... I'll probably be back on track before I head to sleep on Saturday morning. Still, days like this are irritating. Why am I talking about it today?

Because somewhere out there is a new writer, one who doesn't know what it can be like. I want them to know that these days are temporary and fleeting and to treat them as such. You wouldn't think that your bad mood will last forever... I can promise you, neither will your writing slump.

Don't worry about it. You got this.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Nano Update

Every Nanowrimo, I eventually suffer from a condition I have dubbed "Nano-Squishy-Brain". Nano-Squishy-Brain happens when you've kicked your own ass so hard from writing that you feel happily exhausted and want nothing more than to melt into a happy ball of goo that never has to think about writing again. It's indicative of pushing oneself harder than is perhaps warranted. For some, it's writing 500 words a day, for others its writing 2k a day or even writing 20k in a day. For some, its caused by working and going for your 50k at the same time.

For me, it normally happens around the 3rd week of Nanowrimo while working a full-time job. This year, it hit me about eight days in. I had no idea why, until I remembered that I'd been kicking my own ass to finish my novel and getting it over to my editor before November. I ended up taking two or three days off to rest, play some Don't Starve and relax. Now, after that rest and a 5k day, I'm still tired, but nowhere near as tired as I had been. I've gotten caught back up and should have no problem finishing Nano. 

The plot of this book is going much better than last year's. I'd made the unforgivable error of not reading book 3 before trying to write book 4, which meant that I'd forgotten a lot of the little things. Emotions, tiny incidents that would end up being a huge deal in the next book. This means that while I'm about 1/3 of the way through the rough draft, this book is already leaps and bounds better than the one I tried to write last year. I'm hoping to finish writing it as soon as I'm done editing Lord's Curse and then moving on (almost immediately) to editing book 3 (which will make all of my helpful little notes during this read-through useful).

I am still searching for a day job, and I have a dozen other little things I'm trying to complete, like writing up back cover copy so I can contact my cover artist about a cover for this one and getting a website up. I will probably order the cover as soon as I have the back cover written so that I can at least do a cover reveal while figuring out the physical details I'll need to get for her. Hopefully, I will have all that figured out for you by mid-December. The website may be longer since I need to design it and figure out how to transfer over my current blog to it and look into all of the programming details. Since I am not a programmer, I'll just say that one is a way's off for now.

I will add that I haven't had any real art time in the last few weeks and I'm feeling it now. I am looking forward to really playing around with digital art in December. 

How is your Nanowrimo doing? And if you aren't writing, is there any other challenge you're doing this month?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Lord's Curse - Pre-Final Edit Stats

I am overly fond of book stats. I don't know why... its just something that always interests me. So today, we're going to geek over the current stats of my novel Lord's Curse. Fair warning that some of these change before the book comes out... This is prior to my final edit, of course, so the exact numbers will probably change. 

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

Okay, big story stuff first. Lord's Curse was originally just titled Lord since I knew I wanted to use the game Kitsune-ken as the basis for each novel's name. Not directly focused on Lord, but connected, means that the next books also need names that fit in with this convention even if they don't have to do directly with the game. I haven't decided what all the names will be yet, but I do have eyes on the names Fox's Facade and Noble's Choice for books 3 and 4, respectively.

Going back to the Lord's Curse, specifically the inner workings, my novel is currently 93,847 words long if we don't count the chapter titles as words. It has 44 chapters. While my first book was more based on the girl's pov's (unintentionally for the most part), this novel focuses a lot more on Richard's and Deckard's point of view, though it didn't feel that way when I wrote it. Deckard and Richard each come in at 14 chapters, with Kuzunoha next in the running with 10 chapters. Himiko has 5 and Isashi has only 1. This doesn't mean that the girls don't have their own issues in this novel... just that, in general, the conflict seemed to be with the guys this novel.

The average chapter size for a 93,847-word book with 44 chapters would b 2,132 words long. The chapter that is closest to that total is chapter 18 with 2,106 words. The chapter with the least amount has 1,026 words in it and the chapter with the most has 3,014 words.

Each of the five longest chapters in the book was written one from each character's point-of-view.  The order goes down this way, Deckard (3,014 words), Kuzunoha (2,972 words), Himiko (2,845 words), Richard (2,712 words) and Isashi (2,603 words). I didn't do this deliberately... I just thought it was really cool.

What about you guys? Do you like weird book stats? Let me know!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Lord's Curse is Out of my Hands & a new Stylus is in!

First, I am sorry that this post is coming your way late. I was so eager to begin writing last night that I worked straight until midnight and then started writing. I only realized that it was Friday morning when I crawled into bed. On the other hand, I actually have updates for you! 

On Monday, I finally finished my draft of Lord's Curse. I sent it that morning to my editor, but I don't have an expected date back from her yet. As soon as I know more there you'll get an update as well. Either way, as soon as I have it back I will be working on it. At that point, Nano will become me working on Nanowrimo during the day and the edit of that book during my evenings. 

Still, I am amazingly excited to have finished it finally. 

The other bit of amazingness for me is that my husband picked up the stylus that I have been wanting for a year. Why is this cool, I can practically hear you asking. Styluses are a dime a dozen, essentially. And in most cases, you're entirely right. But this is the Windows Stylus, specifically geared towards use with their Surface Pro systems. Which is what I have. The stylus essentially makes it so that your Surface Pro can be used as a drawing tablet, with all the layers of sensitivity, pen tilt and functionality built right into most programs, you can now use your pen to, as they put it on their site, 'Think with Ink'. For me, it turns my Surface Pro5, which I've been using for my mobile needs into an actual drawing tablet for me. The last time I tried to draw on a tablet like this, it was with less than optimal tools and I got a much less than optimal result. 

This picture was my first attempt with subpar tools.
While it wasn't horrible, it was also very bad.
There was a lot that I couldn't figure out how to do,
and in the end I gave up entirely on shading since
everything was wrong with it and I just wanted to try
it again from the beginning.
This was my second with the subpar tools. And while it was a marked improvement, it still wasn't quite what I would have been able to accomplish on paper with more traditional tools.
Actually, I have an urge to redraw it using my new tools as an example of improvement to myself. Perhaps I'll add that to my list of tasks in December. 

I could have made it work obviously, but it wasn't anything like working on paper and I found it irritating. However, working with the new pen and the Concepts app, I have not only really enjoyed the results, but I have also enjoyed the process of making them. Also, I've never really liked the way most programs deal with their colours, and so to have the colours in it listed and matching the Copic colours, which I already use is great. It makes it easy for me to choose colours and decide exactly what I need to add. 
This was my first drawing attempt with the new stylus. Trying to figure out blending was killing me, but I loved the feel of drawing with it. Also, I clearly need to work on drawing hair more often. Those buns are hilariously bad. Still, as a first digital try, I really loved the potential.

This was my second drawing. While I still can't say that the bun is any better, I do like the shading in the hair and on the face and skin. I really found myself reaching for tools not available with the free program while playing with this; specifically the lasso and copy/move tools. Its why I'll be picking up the full copy when I have a job again.

And I think that will be it for this week. Let me know what you think of the drawings. Also, are you taking part in Nanowrimo? What is your word count so far? I've had a slow start. Day 1 gave me a migraine that wouldn't quit, which led to me only getting 1055 words for my first day.