Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's a Baby!

No, we don't know the gender.  We're calling it KalEl for now, because hubby was lobbying for Kal as a boy's name and I vetoed it because I don't want to name my child after Superman.  So Hubby started calling the baby KalEl as it's IT-name.  We also sometimes use Number 2--but you have to say it like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers.

Halfway there!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Goals

It's taken me a while to compile goals for 2011, partly because I'm still tweaking the novel, and partly because, with a baby coming, I'm not quite sure what goals to make.  But here's an idea.

  • I've only got another day or two of tweaking on the novel before I'll be ready to put it aside for a while.  At some point this year, I want to give it a full edit, and if that happens early enough, offer it for critique to others
  • Work on stories again!  I've got a bunch bubbling around in my head, and as soon as I call it quits on novel tweaking, I'll be jumping into those with both feet.  I don't really have number goals for these, but another half-dozen at least out in the submission world would be good over the next few months
  • Do something with my children's book.  Hubby and I wrote a children's Christmas book several years ago.  We put it through several rounds of critique and tried it out on the hapless children of our friends, with generally good results.  But then we stopped, because neither of us was familiar with children's literature at all (this was even before our son was conceived) nor with the market, so we didn't really know how to proceed.  I took a first step a few days ago by asking our children's librarian for some suggested books of (hopefully) similar length, or at least similar reading level, so we can compare how it fits (or fails to fit) into existing frameworks.  I'd like to tweak it--if it needs any tweaking, most likely by either shortening (unlikely) or lengthening--and start submitting it this year.
  • Work on an animated film script with hubby.  This is for an idea we've had for a while, and we'd like to get it written.  Hubby writes screenplays regularly, so we'll be attempting to co-write along his schedule, which means doing research and outlining in Jan-Feb-Mar, and writing it Apr-May-June.
This is where I stumble.  Stories, polishing and submitting the children's book, and the script can all reasonably be done in the first half of the year.  Come June, we'll have a new baby on our hands and I intend to give myself a maternity leave of sorts.  I won't require myself to write for three months.  I won't stop myself from doing so if I feel the drive (I mastered nursing at the keyboard with my son, so perhaps I'll do a bit of that with the new baby) but I'm not going to beat myself up for not being productive if nothing happens.

Now, part of me thinks that this new-baby time might be a good time to edit the novel.  If I give it a full read-thru shortly before the baby comes and take copious notes, I would be able to quickly jump in and out of the novel for small tweaks, perhaps leaving anything that needs serious rewriting for later.  Maybe.  On the other hand, I might truly get nothing done.  Babies are draining, after all, and I'll still have a two-year-old to contend with.

The time beyond my self-imposed maternity leave is what I really have no idea what to do with.  It is very possible that I won't have my kids on coordinated schedules by the time it's over, so I may not get much writing done even after that time frame.  I didn't do much writing until my son was close to a year old, after all.  I'm hoping the discipline I've helped myself develop over the last few months will come back more quickly, but I can't guarantee it.

Part of me would like to write, or at least start, another novel this year.  I've had the idea buzzing around for about eight months now.  It was the idea I was originally going to use for NaNoWriMo, before getting so excited about my current novel that everything else got pushed aside.  My plan, and I still think it's a good idea, was to thoroughly research and outline the next one, so I could compare how I felt about discovery writing versus preplanned writing.  But I'm not sure when to do that.  It took me five and a half months to write my current novel, and even with the faster pace I've set for the last few months, it would likely take at least 3-4.  Which means I don't have time to start it before the baby comes--not if I want to write stories first AND finish it before the baby arrives.  And I don't like the idea of leaving something that big as a work in progress for the duration of a maternity leave or longer.  I've thought that I could research it during the last month or so before the baby arrives, but then I'd probably be enthusiastic about starting it and would then be derailed by the baby.

So I guess the long and the short of it is that, past June, I don't really have set goals--apart from I'd like to get back into the swing of daily writing as soon as I can come September.  What I'll be writing (or editing) at that time can't really be planned because life is going to be so different.

So there you have it.  I've got some concrete goals for the first half of the year, and then my biggest writing-related goal post-baby is for my writing self not to go into too long of a furlough.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2010 Results

Most people did this at the end of December or early January, but better late than never, right?

In 2010 I accomplished:
  • Starting this blog to help hold myself accountable, encourage myself to write, and network with others
  • Made two fiction sales
  • Wrote most of my first novel (which I finished on the 9th of this month)
  • Starting in September, I got into the groove of writing every day
  • Had nine stories in and out of slush pile circulation at various times
  • Worked on five other stories that aren't ready yet
  • Made 29 story submissions
  • Received 25 rejections
  • Retired one story
  • With a few long-term exceptions, I did a pretty good job of sending my work back out after receiving a rejection
  • Stayed active and up-to-date on Critters during the time I needed it (while I was working on stories and not a novel)
  • Kept my son alive past his second birthday
  • Got pregnant again
  • Tried, and failed to sell my house
  • Started taking my son to swimming and storytime
  • Started crafting with my son
  • Potty trained (well, pee-trained) my son
  • Didn't fall too far behind on my photos
  • Maintained a fabulous marriage with my husband, even through the rocky times
  • Kept my house from falling down and my yard (mostly) looking nice
Of course, there are many things I'd like to see more of, like fiction sales and output, but considering that my writing (and submitting) used to come in binges with months of inactivity, I think this was a solid first year of buckling down to it.  I shall accept it and aspire to do more next time.  Now, I was going to have 2011 goals in this post as well, but it's late and I've been experiencing some pregnancy-related pain, so I need to get to bed and rest.  I shall post goals in the next day or two.  G'night!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Honorable Mention!

Okay, so it's not a sale, but I did receive an Honorable Mention in the 4th Quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest!

I've added this to my cover letter, at any rate.  The story, Child of the Sun, is one I wrote within the last year and I like a lot, so I have high hopes for placing it somewhere.

You can see the Writers of the Future blog post listing all the winners here.

And congratulations to Ben Godby and Alex J. Kane, both blogging friends who are also on the list.  Here's hoping we all can get a little closer next time!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm done, I'm Done, I'm dOnE, I'm DoNe, I'm DONE!!!!

Yes indeed, I banged out the ending for my first novel today.  108,901 words (give or take), 5 1/2 months in the making, and I've been writing daily for the last four months.  How about THAT for an accomplishment?!

Of course, I'll still be doing a bit of tweaking over the next few days, probably a week or a little more.  I have a HUGE list of things that need to be added in, researched, or decided on.  Plus, I neglected the timeline towards the end, so I need to get that sorted.  Some things are details I need to insert here and there (like changes to the boyfriend character from my last post,) some are from times I didn't want to break my flow by stopping to do research so I could write one line (I just put things in all caps so I'd know to come back to it, like INSERT LEGAL JARGON HERE,) and some were names I wanted to have significance, but didn't want to stop my flow to think about--for example, I didn't even name the ship my protagonist was supposed to be on.  I just wrote SHIP each time.  Now that I no longer have to worry about slowing down the narrative, I can make some of these decisions and use a simple "global search and replace" function to turn SHIP and other such things into whatever I choose.  Some of these things can probably wait for draft two, but I'd like to get a lot of them off my list before diverting my attention elsewhere.

But now the question is, do I read it through one time to make sure it flows, or just wait until I'm ready to start editing?  Distance and time give my editorial voice a great deal of strength, so I always set aside a draft for a month or more before revising it.  It's more like somebody else wrote it that way, and I can more easily spot its flaws and tell myself where I need to tweak and rewrite.  But I always give it a first readthrough before doing this, because I want to spot any holes in consistency and other glaring errors.  I figure anything I can spot while I'm still excited about (and biased towards) the story are pretty big ones and worth fixing right away.

However, I've never finished anything as long as a novel before.  Reading through it will be a big project, especially considering that any "glaring errors" I find are likely to be tied to multiple parts of the narrative, requiring a lot of work to fix.  And I am eager to move on to stories again.  I'm chomping at the bit, really.  In addition, it's been five months since I've seen the beginning, so I've likely already reached the necessary distance for that part--so if I start reading it, I'll probably start doing some heavy revising right away--which isn't what I want to do right now.

Hmm, it sounds like I've just talked myself out of a read-thru.  It's just as well, since I really do want to get back to work on stories for a while.

Now here's a question I'm curious what other people's opinions are:  do I get to call myself a novelist since I've completed one, or do I need to get paid first (or at least have it in print)?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Neglecting Relationships

My character's, that is.

So at the beginning of my novel, my protagonist is talking to her boyfriend, and this causes her to be in the right place at the right time (or perhaps the wrong place at the wrong time) to set the entire string of events in motion.  I'm now only a few thousand words from the end, wrapping a bunch of things up, and I'm realizing that she hasn't spared more than one thought for him in 106,000 words.  Now, she's been on the run and knew he'd be under surveillance (that's the thought she spared for him) but really, it's not much of a relationship if she doesn't think about him--or wonder if she can contact him in some way--in over two months.  I mean, if I were on the run for pretty much any reason, you can bet I'd be trying to figure out how to get past the wire taps and undercover cops to contact my husband, and he'd be looking for and worrying about me.

At the end I was planning on having him pay her a visit, but now I'm not sure I should.  I might need to just scrap the boyfriend entirely and come up with a different reason for her to be in the right place at the right time.  If I do keep him, I'm going to have to do some strategic additions.  She's at least going to have to think about the guy, and perhaps think of--and reject--ways to contact him.  ...Unless I make things go sour in their relationship either early or late--which I'm partially leaning toward only because of the lack of buildup.

I'm glad I was at a stopping point when this issue came up today.  It'll give me the night to mull it over.  It came as a bit of a surprise to notice such a big oversight when I feel I'm (otherwise) within touching distance of the end.  How could I possibly have ignored something so major in my character's life?!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holiday Crafts

I've done a lot more crafts with my son recently.  I was inspired at the library during story time just before Thanksgiving, when the presenter had a giant felt board.  It contained the body of a turkey, and she gave each child a feather to decorate it with.  My son surprised me that day.  Up until that point, he'd been pretty timid during story time (we were pretty new to it) but he went straight up to get a feather and put it on the turkey immediately, before the activity officially started.  Seeing that, I decided that crafts where I prefabricate the pieces and he gets to put them together would be great activities for us, to give us something to do during the day (especially on cold days.)
This is him with his Christmas wall

This tree was based on the pin-the-feather-on-the-turkey project.  I cut everything out, and he decorated the tree.  I even let him operate the glue stick by the end of the month.

I wasn't sure how he would do with making dough ornaments, but he can operate cookie cutters with play-dough, so I thought we'd give it a try.  Apart from trying to keep him from destroying them as I transferred them to a cookie sheet, he did quite well.
Next, I decided to try gluing cotton balls onto Santa's beard.  He surprised me again.  I explained that we were filling in the beard and demonstrated one cotton ball, and he went to town after that.  I'd expected him to put the cotton balls all over the picture, but he kept them mostly within the outlined perimeter.
Due to the success of the dough ornaments, I decided we'd make some cookies as well.  He only lasted for one tray's worth, but we still had fun.
Here, he's decorating the hardened dough ornaments.  He gave them as gifts to family.
Decorating the cookies.  Hubby's idea, but it worked.  As you can probably guess from the frosting on his face, I set the cookies he decorated aside for him to eat.
A handprint wreath.  I learned, over the course of the month, that he does not have the patience to sit and wait while I cut things out, so I had to plan this one the night before.
For reasons beyond the scope of this blog, I had a hard time deciding how to introduce the Christmas story to my son.  I know there ought to be plenty of good kids' books out there on the subject, but they must have all been checked out of the library because the only ones I found were way above his head.  Eventually I found a good, child-friendly telling of the story online, and I rearranged the clip art from an online diorama to suit my tastes.  We made a four-day project of it, each time reading the story, coloring the new characters, and then gluing them to the stable.  I was happy with the result, and the more characters we added, the more engaged he got in the story.

All right, there's my "see how talented my kid is" post for the month.  I'm trying to decide what crafts to do next with him.  Holidays make for such easy themes.  Anyway, thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

December Stat Check

During the month of December, I wrote on all 31 days! I'm at 116 days and counting.
I wrote 29,194 words (about 10 chapters) for my novel
I made 2 submissions (finally caught up on the ones I got back in October)
I received 0 rejections
I have 6 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I made 10 blog posts
I took no days off

Hooray for productivity!  I've been very busy wrapping up this novel, and while I haven't finished it yet, it's darn close.  Probably just a few more days.  It's at 98,000 words now.  It's been especially helpful that hubby wound up being home a lot, so chores like kitchen-cleaning and putting-the-child-to-bed have gone faster, freeing up more time to write.  I've also had a cold, so I've been avoiding the exercise bike, freeing up even more time to write.  Suffice it to say, I've had a really good word count these last few days.  We'll see how things go once the normal routine starts up again.

I've recently come to the conclusion that my son's and my schedule is off by about an hour.  If I would just get up earlier, I could get breakfast done earlier, have more time in the morning, start lunch on time, get my son down for his nap earlier, write sooner, have dinner sooner, get my son to bed sooner, go to bed myself sooner............  I really wouldn't have to cut anything out of my day, just forfeit an hour on the day I make the switch.  So why is that so hard for me?  But getting our schedule under control would really help my writing because if lunch is behind schedule, I tend to just feed my son so I can get him down for his nap as quickly as possible.  Then I eat while he's napping, taking precious time away from my writing.  I really need to be responsible and take control.  We shall see.

My goals for January are to finish the novel in the next few days and then jump back into short stories for a while.  I also hope to get caught back up on Critters (ha!  I'll have to reset and just start over) so I'll be able to get a wide variety of critiques once I have stories ready again.  I have two stories which, I believe, only need a little polishing, and I hope to get those into my submission cycle as well.  I would like to keep writing daily, and at the rate I've been going on the novel, stories ought to go much faster than they ever have done before.

I'll post a 2010 recap sometime soon, along with goals for 2011.  In there, I'll delve with more detail into what I'm hoping to do next.

In unrelated news, my unborn child has decided to go out for gymnastics.  I felt a few flutters prior to this, but yesterday Baby really started moving.  Hubby ought to even be able to feel it soon!  I really love that sensation.

Happy New Year everybody!