Category Archives: Writing

Gardening and Sewing (and Writing)

My lettuce is reaching the end of its lifespan. Pretty soon I’ll have to start buying salad greens for lunch. The chard is coming along strong, though. The new seeds I planted in mid-June are growing well (much better than my first batch in early April). We still have a few beets left in the garden. The new radishes got attacked by caterpillars (cabbage worms, I think) but look to be recovering, though not making radishes.

We’ve been getting a good amount of yellow cherry tomatoes. The red cherry tomato plant looks like it’ll start getting ripe very soon. And the eggplant has several flowers (crosses fingers).

We harvested rhubarb for the first time this year, but only once. I would like to add a second plant. I made a very tiny rhubarb/strawberry cobbler a few weeks ago.

I’ve just finished my latest sewing project, but I can’t talk about it yet. I’m not sure what to work on next–I have everything all set for a new lunch bag, but I’m intimidated by the zipper (I’m adapting a zipper-less pattern, so I’m making it up). Recently I went fabric shopping and got stuff for a pair of pajama shorts (with pockets) and white/blue tie-dyed knit for a simple skirt (with pockets). So I kind of want to do those two projects before dealing with the zipper on the bag. So many projects, so little time…

Speaking of so many projects, it occurs to me that I don’t talk about writing much on this blog since I stopped doing my Wednesday posts. I’ve been juggling again: I’m procrastinating on the final revisions to one novel by planning another novel, which was going well until I started working on a short story instead. So right now I’m switching off between planning the novel and planning the short story, and feeling guilty about the revisions. The story needs to be done by early August, though (it’s for a contest on a forum I hang out on), so after that I’ll be back down to the two novels, which is a lot easier to juggle.

1 Comment

Filed under Garden, Sewing, Writing

Story published: “Pictures in Crayon”

My very short SF story “Pictures in Crayon” is live at Daily Science Fiction today.


Filed under Writing

Insert schism here

For the book I’m planning, I decided to toss a religious schism into the mess of the king’s succession and all the political maneuvering that goes along with it.

I started flipping through the volume of the Durants’ The Story of Civilization that deals with the Reformation. But I didn’t get far–reading about John Wycliffe gave me enough ideas for what I could do.

That gave me the schism, but I also needed to invent their religion. In the other books and stores I’ve written in this world I’ve only included tiny details because it just hasn’t been very relevant. But knowing what people are arguing over and why each side believes they’re right requires more than a few details.

If you’ve created a religion for a book, how did you go about it? I’ve generally avoided it in the past. Fantasy religions often seem silly–the god is a giant sentient lizard who demands human sacrifices on Tuesdays when there’s a full moon–or like the author has a bone to pick with the Roman Catholic church. I wanted something more rational.

I started with some small pieces that seemed reasonable to me and worked forward and backward–if they believe this, what would the religion be like; if the religion is like this, what do they believe–until I had something that seems to hang together, fit into the society, include the details I’ve already used–and that allows for a schism. Because really, I’m only inventing this so I can make people fight about it.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing

Story sale and other updates

I already announced this on Facebook and Twitter, so apologies for the repeat if you follow me there, but I made my first pro sale! “Pictures in Crayon” will appear in Daily Science Fiction some time in the next several months.

This is the 20th story I’ve written, or so. The first story I ever sold was my 10th. I wonder what I should expect of my 30th story.

In other news, I won a speech contest for Toastmasters on Saturday. I have a trophy and everything. Next weekend I have to compete again against people from a larger geographic area. If you ever saw me give a presentation in school, know that I’m laughing right along with you at the idea of me winning anything other than “most stutters per minute” or “best depiction of a tomato”. I find a lot of things about Toastmasters rather dorky, but I can’t deny that it’s been helpful.

In other other news, I finished my pajama pants in sewing class last week and have been wearing them around the house since then. Tonight we start our t-shirts. I couldn’t find fabric I liked for mine, so I have some plain black knit. My goal is to get the pattern and sizing worked out so it fits right (because different parts of me are different sizes) and then buy some cool fabric I found online and make some nicer tops. This weekend I also got most of the way through a second tote bag.


Filed under Life, Sewing, Writing

Being a wall isn’t good enough

The other night at tennis I was thinking about a writing metaphor. Last fall I played a guy who was basically a wall. He could get to every shot I made. All his shots went in. He didn’t make mistakes. He beat me easily.

But I kind of wonder how far you can go in tennis like that, without the ace serves or the fancy winning shots that increase the risk of hitting the ball out.

So, the writing connection–not making mistakes isn’t good enough. Competent stories are nothing more than competent. People don’t talk about the stories that do everything right but don’t have a spark. Being a wall isn’t good enough.

I’m better at writing than at tennis, but even though I don’t make many mistakes, I’m still not making those winning shots. Got to work on that.

I’m pretty sure “keep your eye on the ball” could be applied to writing, too.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing

Using TaskPaper as an Outliner

Last week I mentioned TaskPaper and said that this week I would say more about how I use it as an outliner. (It’s Mac only, so if that doesn’t interest you, you can skip this post now.)


Let me begin by reaffirming my love of Scrivener, which has an outline mode and can do everything that I’m doing with TaskPaper. But it’s not on iOS yet, and it’s not completely text based, which makes it a bit more tricky to change things quickly. The real reason I’m not using it, though, is because it doesn’t have all the tagging functionality that TaskPaper has. It has plenty–it has label and status and keywords and user-created fields–but they don’t all behave in the same way.

What TaskPaper has is any tags you want, which means you can create any tagging scheme, and you can create a theme file to color code it any way you like. You can also create more than one theme file and switch between them–so if sometimes you want to color code by location, and sometimes by point of view, and sometimes by status, you can do that. (Yes, I like to color code things. It makes me happy.)

So I’ve got this theme file that color codes scenes by status. Here’s my tagging scheme, which is designed to help me figure out what’s left to do. I’ve also got tags for point of view character, but right now I’m not using them much.

Fiction Theme Tags

Yes, it’s sort of rainbow-ordered in the order that I would tend to label scenes as. Yes, I have a “priority” tag and an “emph” (for emphasis) tag, just in case I need to emphasize things that aren’t priorities. I don’t know. I like colors.

And no, I can’t quantify the difference between the “majorchanges,” “changes,” and “revise” tags. I know it when I see it.

So this means I have an outline that looks sort of like this, except a whole lot longer (and with more notes).


Note that I can click on any tag, and TaskPaper runs a search for that tag. Or I can type into the search box. That makes it super easy to find all the scenes I have to write, or outline, or revise–which is very helpful since I’m skipping around so much and it’d be easy to miss something. I can also hide all the notes if I just want to see the actual scenes.

At the top of my outline file, I have a to do list, which looks just like a normal to do list and isn’t color coded at all. It doesn’t have to be, because it’s so short–the real to dos are in the outline itself.

Now I just have to search for “@questions or @majorchanges or @outline or @tentative or @write or @emph or @priority” and when nothing comes up, I’ll call the draft done.


Filed under Writing

How I’ll know when I’m done

I’m writing this novel draft out of order. It’s a weird weird feeling for a reformed pantser who used to start at the beginning and see what happened along the way. It happened by accident–my outline had holes in it when I started writing, and I got stuck on certain scenes, so I started skipping around.

Which, some months later, led me to wonder how I’ll know when I’m done. Getting to the end won’t do it: although I haven’t written the last scene yet, I’ve written pretty close to it, and I still have big gaps earlier in the book. But having no changes to make won’t do it either–I already have plenty of fixes to make for the next draft, but I know I don’t need to make them for the first draft. If I wait until I have nothing to change, I’ll never be done.

If a scene is done enough that the changes I want to make aren’t going to affect the story–or if I (think I) know exactly what effects it will have–then it’s done.

Once all the scenes get to that point? Basically, once the whole plot is in place, I will call the draft done. (Soon.)

So I’m making sure all the scenes are written in actual prose, not just my incredibly verbose detailed scene outlines, adding references to important things that I discover in act 3 to earlier scenes, fixing plot holes, and other major work. Once the bones are in place, I’ll deal with all those other changes.

Of course I’m going to be wrong about how the story will change for draft 2, but that’s draft 2’s problem.

Next week I’ll talk about how I’m using TaskPaper to keep track of what needs to be done in each scene.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing

Writing Goals for the New Year

Looking back at 2012 and ahead at 2013…

Here’s how I did on my 2012 goals:
* Finish one novel revision – done
* Outline and draft another book – nearly done with the draft
* Write 4+ short stories – wrote 5
* Maybe do another novel for nanowrimo – nope

So, pretty good. The pause to rework the book I’m writing will make it a much stronger first draft, which means I’ll be tearing my hair out a lot less this coming year.

Goals for 2013:
1. Write and submit at least 4 new short stories
2. Revise and submit one novel
3. Finish the first draft of last year’s book (and maybe do the second draft, too)
4. Write first draft of a new book
5. Read books, not blogs – As much as I like reading blog posts, I’ve realized I like books a lot better. They’re a lot more complete and coherent, which makes them more valuable to me, and they don’t trigger either the what-am-I-missing-must-check-google-reader or the just-one-more-post-before-bed feeling. (I’m specifically talking about blogs about writing, or science or business or whatever. Not people’s personal blogs, which would be kinda hard to replace.)

As always, I reserve the right to change my mind if something comes up.


Filed under Writing

Writing post roundup

Happy last Wednesday of the month!

Here are my posts from the All Rights Reserved blog for the past few weeks:

As always, go read the posts of my partners in crime.

Awesome link that I meant to post last time, but is still good:

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing

2k to 10k and Fun with Data

Back in June, I referred to Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k blog post, and commented that I have trouble tracking my word count at different times and locations because I don’t go straight from blank page to written scene. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying, and using the result to make some plans…

A couple weeks ago I read Aaron’s 2k to 10k ebook based on her blog post. She goes into a little more detail, and also discusses the rest of writing (plotting and editing). Reading it reminded me that it was time to export my data from Bento and fire up my Mathematica program to look at how I’ve been doing. I’ve been noting when and where I write/revise/plan, the wordcount for writing sessions (whether outline-ish draft or prose-ish draft), and a general Productive? Yes/No/Maybe feeling for all sessions.

(As an aside, I have run across comments from people who say that only beginners think this much about writing time/schedules. To them I say: beginners and people who know how to have a good time analyzing data on a Saturday night!)

The conclusions:

* My morning session is unproductive. Now I feel less guilty for skipping it most days–generally all I do is sync my documents and come up with a vague plan for what to work on at lunch.

* I get the most words per session done at coffee shops. That’s because I tend to work longer there than at home, where I’m called away by laundry and cleaning and internet.

* I get the highest rate by using Write or Die at home, because it forces me to ignore the distractions. But I only use it for short periods of time. I’ve never tried setting it for more than 30 minutes. (I’m not sure that program is still available or maintained. From the comments on his blog, many people have been unable to download it.)

* Session length doesn’t seem to matter to my productivity much. Probably because I don’t have big open blocks in my schedule so mine are all under two hours.

* I’ve marked Yes to the Productive question for several lunch sessions that I spent planning and revising. Nearly all of my evening (at home) planning/revising sessions are marked No. I suspect I can blame that on the internet.

That all sounds very vague and obvious, but it did inspire me to make some changes to my schedule. I’ve done away with the morning session, and shortened the lunch one. I’ve been using the extra time for internet and email stuff, since I’ve been avoiding the internet after dinner (well, mostly). There’s nothing I need to do in the evening that can’t wait until morning. If I can stick to that (and with Freedom I have little choice) I’ll get a lot more done. I’ve also bought a nice new chair for the guest room, so I might go hide in there and pretend I’m in a coffee shop when stuff in my office is calling to me.

What’s your writing schedule like?

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing