One of those days…

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… or months really.

I mean to say that despite a new growing deadline to finish the fourth draft of my Urban Fantasy/Paranormal by September – I have found myself working on outlines for other novel ideas. Some of my efforts are towards adding details to a first draft, prepping it for an overhaul of a re-write, while the rest of my efforts go back into a particular character that never leaves my mind.

*Sigh*

It seems my day job is finally starting to die down in hours and stress by July. I hope that means I’ll get into a better routine for writing. As it stands, being on my feet all day exhausts me and as much as my mind is ready to type, my body won’t let me most days. It doesn’t help that my schedule is all over the place. This is the first week that I’ve got the same hours 6 days in a row. Who knows, by Friday I may have tackled another few chapters if things continue as they are.

On a side note, I’ve discovered a new outlining program available on Amazon put together by an author named K. M. Weiland, called “Outlining Your Novel”. The program is based on her book of the same name. Basically instead of filling in the spaces she provides in the book, you now can create multiple projects, without working about filling out a book and having to buy a second. I’m new to her newsletters but find her articles and blog very interesting and helpful. I find this program a great way to put all those scattered bits and pieces of a novel idea together into one comprehensive outline. I’ve yet to see a project to completion, but I’m enjoying the steps i’m taking along the way.

As you can see, a new program means huge distraction from what’s really important. By inserting pieces of a past NaNoWriMo novel into it, I’ve found myself asking more questions and diving much deeper into the personality and characters of my story, not to mention working out a better structure for the all around plot. Let’s hope the second draft is much more organized and coherent than the first.

In other news I’m getting overwhelmed with games to play. I’ve been downloading a few games for my PC and there are so many for my PS3 and now PS4 I need to finish! Every time I feel that I’m satisfied, I find a new game that’s calling my name, or my boyfriend suggests one of his that I’ve never played before. Video Games are great for inspiration for me, but also a great distraction when time is already limited on my end.

Here’s a list of a few games I’m in the middle of:

PS3: The Force Unleashed, Deathspank, Final Fantasy 6, Life is Strange, Skyrim

PS4: Uncharted 4, Lego Avengers, the newest Star Ocean, Fallout 4

PC: Syberia 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Death in Paradise, The Falconers, Don’t Die Together, Stardew Valley

It’s a wide assortment of games, which I like but daunting at the same time. I’d love to finish a few first before starting something different, but doubt that’s going to happen. I should write out a few reviews though, some of these games are a lot of fun and would love to share my opinion of them. It’s my first time playing games like Fallout and Skyrim, so getting the hang of an open universe is problematic for me, so I’m sure my opinions of them my differ from everyone else.

It’s a lot to take in, but I hope I can find room to see to everything that’s on my plate. Summer has officially started, so maybe there’s a chance of moving my laptop outside for a few days. Will that help or be a further distraction? I have no idea. Take care and enjoy the nice weather!

Weight Loss Challenge – Update

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Back in January, I posted about my goal this year to lose weight and become healthier. It’s been over five months and I’m proud to say that I’ve lost just over 18 lbs and 42% towards my ultimate goal. It’s been challenging and these past five months included a number of set backs, of gaining a pound here and there and struggling to keep on track.

What really seemed to help me out was when I started working again. This time, I’m not at a desk all day, but in retail – on my feet – for a good 8 hours. I tracked my steps and on average I was doing close to 20k steps a day – I’ve since changed departments and am in an outdoor Garden Centre doing even more running around. I haven’t clocked my steps there yet, because I’m worried about breaking my fit bit with all the stones and bags of mulch I have to haul around, but I should try to see if I’m getting more steps in now or not. But the point is, I’m much more active. Meaning I’m burning more calories. Unfortunately it also means I’m able to eat more….

I’m still working on my snacking and food portions. When I’m working I don’t need to worry so much as I’m burning most of it off, but when I’m not working I do try to make a conscious choice of eating lighter and not so much starch and fats. I’m trying but it’s hard when you’ve bought a bunch of unhealthy snack food and chocolate to help you overcome the stress of your day at work. I’m still a work in progress… but I have noticed a change and so have others.

I’ve gone down a pant size and I’ve also managed to go down another belt hole. People (my parents) noticed an impressive change in my face and neck where the excess fat/weight has disappeared – always the place I’m least worried about – but my waist is getting smaller so there is hope that I’ll get to my goal by the end of the summer. Of course the challenge continues on keeping the weight off once I’m there.

I’m quite happy with my results so far, and I’ll be sure to share any more positive updates in the future.

Ghost In The Shell

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I’ve been debating on writing this post for a couple of weeks now. Debating because when I saw the movie – and enjoyed it. I’m a huge fan of the original anime and I wanted to watch the movie to see how well they handled it. There are several issues surrounding GITS including the ‘whitewashing’ and the ‘westernization’ of it. I understand and agree with it all and there is enough to fill another blog post, but I wanted to focus this post on the plot, visualization and themes the movie explores. At least at this point. I may work on a second related post talking about whitewashing in Hollywood cinema, but there are several of those out right now that are more informative, researched and presented than I could ever write.

Before I continue, please be aware there are spoilers! Many of the points I’m writing about deals with knowledge of both the original anime and the live action version. If you haven’t seen them and want to – avoid reading this post until you do.

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Plot:
In the live-action Ghost In The Shell the plot revolves around The Major, a cybernetic body with a human mind inside. Placed on a task-force called Section 9 that deals with terrorism and stopping terrorists, they face a new threat called ‘The Puppet Master’. While tracking down this terrorist, the Major faces her own suppressed memories and questions her existence and learns that Haka Robotics lied to her about her past.

This plot differs slightly from the original anime version. Though elements are the same, there is enough of a difference to change the outcome of the movie. In the original there was never any ‘origin’ moment. There is a well animated opening sequence of the Major’s body in development, but when the movie begins with the Major taking down a terrorist attack, we are to accept everything without explanation. We learn throughout the movie of her cybernetic body and Haka’s involvement with that but there was no story arc in that regards. She works for Section 9 and in all honesty there is little character development with the Major other than her curiosity over the identity of the Puppet Master that borders on obsession.

The new plot for the live-action GITS is interesting, once it gets to the point about the Major’s memories. In the early stages of the movie there are scenes with Major in her apartment injecting herself with Haka Robotics approved packets in the back of her neck (where she connects to devices and uploads information) to help her mind accept her cybernetic body and not reject it. At first it makes sense, but as Major has more and more memories surface – those that don’t line up with the story Haka Robotics told her what happened, she questions everything and also the Puppet Master. These sensations and flashbacks get stronger after the Major ‘dives’ into a robot the Puppet Master had hacked and taken control of in the earlier terrorist attack to find the Puppet Master, his identity and where he’s holding up. It is through this first connection and a few others later on that we get the pieces of the Major’s real past and the secrets behind Haka Robotics and her own existence.

The Puppet Master:
The main ‘villain’ of the movie is the Puppet Master. Believed to be a super hacker with the ability to ‘ghost hack’ – taking control of a cyberized person’s body without their knowledge.

Even the identity of the Puppet Master changed between the original anime and the new live-action version. In the new version, we discover the Puppet Master is just like the Major, a previous test subject of Haka Robotics by placing a human mind in a cybernetic body. To control them, they give them the same fake story of them being a sole survivor of a terrorist attack. Thus giving them a purpose to use their new power towards fighting terrorism for them. The story gets much deeper than that!
It turns out that to find the test subjects for this process, Haka Robotics took several runaway kids, the Major and the Puppet Master are just two of them. Once Haka learns that Major is rebelling against them, they order her termination, and threaten Section 9 with closing down their division if they don’t give up the Major. The Chief of Section 9 sides with the Major and against the president of Haka Robotics and we see some amazing scenes the show how bad-ass members of Section 9 are!

In the original anime, the Puppet Master is a program created by Section 6 called Project 2501. An advance AI that went rogue, escaping it’s firewall confines that Section 6 put in place by using a factory produced robot body. After being hit in the road by a truck and sent to Section 9, it surprises everyone by asking for asylum as a sentient creature. Claiming self-preservation of its programming does not differ from DNA. At the end of the anime movie Major links or dive with the Puppet Master and converses with it, learning it wishes to pass on its ideas and evolve like any other biological creature instead of just making copies. Before Section 6 shoots both the robot body of the Puppet Master AND Major, Major agrees and merges. Having her own body shot up and destroyed along with the Puppet Master, she wakes up in a new prosthetic body – a new body for a new being.

Ending:
As you can see above, by changing the identity of the Puppet Master the endings of the live action movie is different. Where Major gets a new body and a new identity in the anime, the live action avoids that and we see Major in her original body all fixed. How that happens when she’s on the black list of Haka Robotics – I don’t know. Yes, she has her original memories, a mother, but does that count as a new identity? Sorry, as you can tell I prefer the anime’s ending over the live action one. Maybe, just maybe had they placed her in a new body, made it Asian… could that have saved the movie from the onslaught of bad reviews?

Ghost Hacking:
The main theme, idea that struck me the strongest throughout the movie (both anime and live action) is the ‘ghost-hacking’ the ability or potential ability to hack a person’s mind. In the GITS setting, we are in this futurist world where cyber implants is everywhere and all the rave. Not just physical parts, but also it seems mental parts, downloading holographic images of the mind and so forth. But with that comes the potential of being hacked. In particular in this movie, the people don’t know their hacked. The only way to tell is the alternating of memories.
Given the way technology is moving, this feels like something to worry about. Not to mention how frightening it could be to not even be able to trust your own memories! How could you defend against that?
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Visuals:
The visuals of the live action movie was amazing. Full of large holographic images on sides of buildings for ads – the new build boards, the depiction of diving or linking with robotic programs, and the creation of the Major’s body – and to add to that the way the body is mended after being cut/broken. The entire live action movie had a brighter-cleaner sleekness to it. It was a little different from what I remember from the anime, both my boyfriend and I agree the original anime seemed to depict more of a ‘Blade Runner’ feel, so a little dirtier, worn in feel. But still, the bright lights and look of the technology used in the movie is spectacular.

Themes:
In the live action movie the main theme that seemed to come out is that of identity, and what a ‘ghost’ means. In the movie we hear reference to the Major to trust her ghost, or her soul. But being in a full cybernetic body with only a human mind, were does the soul come from, or where is it stored? I’m using ‘ghost’ and ‘soul’ interchangeably thinking they are meaning the same thing. So as the Major discovers the meaning behind her dreams, and her real identity she is also forced to deal with herself, whom she become and who she wants to be. Basic questions that hall humans experience and goes through. It is a better story arch than the anime – at lest in my opinion, but they could have gone further.

In the movie we learn that the Major was in fact Asian, and her mind placed in a Caucasian looking body. There could have been a theme surrounding that aspect – but I understand by then there was no time for her to dwell on that one aspect as the climax was approaching and ending in sight.

Another theme I wanted to touch on was the roles of woman in technological fields. I hear a lot about the lack of women in science fields and the lack of role models to help young girls get interested in such studies and fields. In this movie we see at least two prominent women in leading cybernetic and robotic fields. Dr. Ouelet and Dr. Dahlin. Outlet had direct correspondence with Major and deals with both her psyche and body, and shares almost a mentor/student or mother/daughter relationship. Although I still understand the issues surrounding the whitewashing, I still like seeing at least two female scientists in the movie with lines and a personality.

In Conclusion:
I enjoyed the movie, the visual and themes within the movie. As much as there are problems with the live action movie, if wish to avoid that, at least find the anime and watch it that way. There are now several new versions of anime relating to Ghost in the Shell, and I’m sure there will be other new versions like this western one. I hope if there will be a next live-action movie the makers of the first will learn their lesson and listen to the fans and treat their audience with respect.

Do you keep your old drafts?

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This feels like an embarrassing question.

I hear writers talk about all their drafts as they work to hone their story after edit after edit – and I wonder …. Do they keep all their different drafts? Really, I’m starting a fourth draft for one of my stories after having an editor and a few beta readers read over my third draft and I’m wondering what to do with my previous drafts. Given how easy it is to just write overtop of your first draft with your second, third and so forth – does anyone keep their original drafts or do they just take the electronic document and write over top of it again and again?

Right now, for this particular novel – I’m keeping all my previous drafts – well most of them. Draft 2 I started editing within that draft for half way through the story before taking a break and going back later to start a third separate draft. Having multiple drafts feel a little confusing, but given how much I’ve changed things – especially with my fourth draft I don’t want to get ride of for fear I may need to go back to a previous draft and pull up a scene once deleted but should be included again. Just trying to remember past scenes I’ve changed, deleted or just passed over is difficult so I’m glad I have an old drafts to go back to if necessary.

This is why I think this is an embarrassing question. It feels like many writers have old drafts around to keep track of what they’ve changed. But with today’s style of just deleting and re-typing have things changed?

This fourth draft has fallen to a snail’s pace. I’ve reached chapter 7 and hit a bit of a wall. I’ve taken out one of the secondary characters which has helped but this chapter doesn’t have a good flow in my mind in relation to scene structure. I’m not sure how to really fix it at the moment. I have the main goal of the chapter – which is achieved, but I think I’ve forced my character to stay in her previous characterization to leave feeling freaked out after confronting an evil spirit. Now in this new draft she is more confident and more in control of her choices. Given this change of my main characters personality, she wouldn’t just leave or run away. Maybe at first but after the walk from the haunted zone back to the headquarters she’d cooled off. So… now my chapters have really changed. This one chapter will really change the entire feel of the book I think. I’m not sure what that is yet so I’ve taken a break and tried to think of a better way to deal with the chapter and how it is affecting the rest of the book.

As I write my fourth draft, I feel I’ll be going back more to my original or second draft for help or to find old scenes that may help my novel get back on its feet. In the meantime any answers to my question, or suggestions how others deal with multiple drafts and where they keep the old ones would be great!

Utopian/Dystopian Worlds

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So, surprisingly enough this topic came to light while in discussion with my dad and my boyfriend’s dad. I’m not sure entirely how we got onto the subject, but I’m sure we were talking about the rising cost of hydro, gas and government both here and across the border in the US. Anyways, the topic turned to the future and perspectives we had towards it. Mostly towards the decline of knowledge in certain life-skills. For example how many people today actually know how the electrical grid works? Or the water treatment plants or sewage? What would happen if we lost that knowledge all together? Now, I may be more optimistic in certain areas – humans to me are adaptable. Even if we lost knowledge in a particular area, I feel that the human mind will find an alternative solution to achieve the same goal. It may take time – but I think it is possible.

The discussion continued on other areas as my dad began to talk about how he felt the world should move in – basically into more self-reliant smaller communities. They turned to me – the writer – and said I should write a book on that. Great… write a book on a self-reliant city where there are little to no problems – that’s not dystopian. Of course it’s closer to a Utopian, for which I know little about in the fictional world. Yet – their ideas did make me think and by that evening I jotted a few of them down.

Do I have a plot – NOPE!

Do I have any characters – NOPE!

Do I have a crises, or an issue to explore/exploit – NOPE!

I get what they mean. Hollywood has defiantly gone the way of dystopian lately, from the Hunger Games to Mad Max: Fury Road. All dark, depressing and showing a negative outlook with a few heroes that push the hope of a change or something different forward. I get those moves and books and I get why they are so popular at the moment. I also think the fad is on the decline and we may get a different outlook in the new future – I’m only guessing here. Anyways, their ideas that day did resonate with me and I began to wonder if there was a story in there at all.

My typically pet peeve about these dystopian novels is how there is a wall of some kind that keeps the character inside their surroundings. Just go and get out and explore the world around you! Of course by the sounds of the discussion we had such an idea wouldn’t fit for them. I’ll just have to save that for something else.

So… here’s my world so far. I picture it like a circle with three zones. The external are the agriculture fields, the producers of the food. There’ll be greenhouses and natural sources of water. The next zone will be manufacturing plants, water treatment and the like. The final zone would be the core where the city’s government, education and medical facilities are located. I don’t like the idea of getting rid of technology, there are enough minds out there that if something did happen with electricity and the internet, a new infrastructure should emerge with a new wave of technology that would fit with the needs of this new futuristic world.  Travel between countries will be limited, gas is highly expensive and out of reach for several, making these cities more close-knit. Population should be reasonable to support their needs. (This is the one issue that was brought up – that cities are too populated and can’t become self-reliant because of that). That could be an issue for the book – the population of the city is getting too high and something needs to be done. But the more I think about it, the more I feel there would be an underground, another zone below the city – perhaps living in the remnants of the old world that has mostly been forgotten as the city rose and was built on top of it. So, all together there are four zones now within this ‘utopian’ city, and only one issue I can foresee that could be a conflict.

But then again – who says there needs to be a conflict in the utopian? There are other stories where conflict happens between people, I could make a love story with this city in the back ground – but I don’t do well writing romances… I’m still spit-balling ideas around. What I have thought about is the idea of travelling convoy’s. Of a certain type of people who move from city to city in this futuristic world making trade. As much as travel is limited, it’s not impossible, and there would be some cities with deals with others and have to transfer goods from place to place. Having these nomads be there makes some sense – unless robots take over which I doubt I will have in my future world. ;-P

Having a character as part of this convoy nomad group may be the view-point I need to examine this new world, as she travels from community to community to see the differences across a country. I’m not sure if that idea would work, but it’s a start. Or, if anything start the story from someone within the community and switch to the nomad later on? Finding a conflict, or theme for this genre is difficult for me and it may not be my speciality. I’m still wanting to accept the challenge, but I obviously need to think about the world I’m creating and what my characters think of it.

I have gone online and found several other books written either in dystopian style or utopian style. I need to read them and see their ideas before I get carried away with this one. If any of you have a utopian or dystopian novel that would be good to research and read let me know and I’ll add it to my list.

Visual Novels – To write one or not….

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While exploring more games available through distributors like Steam, I’m finding new styles and indie games that follow a different path then just an action or first person shooter. I’ve explored Visual Novels in the past – though I’ve never thought of them that way. To me they have been ‘Dating Sim Games’, where the main character takes first person view and you as the main character watch/read on as your character make choices that will ultimately decide if you’ll fall in love with the character or not. These seem to be the most common style of visual novels – and the ones I’ve reviewed in the past have all been available as apps for phones and iPad. It only took me a brief search on Steam for me to find several other similar games if not different and more diverse ‘visual novels’ available.

The more I searched, the more I find that there are several indie style visual novels, some I will admit look poorly drawn or animated, but I don’t want to judge a book by it’s cover. Others have a sleek, more professional look if not a bit on the ‘adult’ side of things. At first I was just looking for what’s available, maybe find a sci-fi theme, or paranormal theme visual novel to explore – but those options seem to be rare, many are still romance based where I’m looking for more adventure style and want to stay away from romance. Which made me think how I would go about making my own visual novel.

I began researching that idea. I found software out there that are designed to help you create your own visual novel, including the coding, character art and templates. One of those would be a good starting point, if only to get an idea of what’s involved. But there would be other things I’ll need to consider, music, backgrounds, the story itself. If I want to put this up online and get money for it – copyright becomes an issue.

But that’s further down the line, most important I think would be the story. Given whats available there seems to be two different styles of stories Visual Novels display – a choose your own adventure/ending theme that many of the romance and dating sims fall under, then there is another called ‘Kinetic’ which has a pre-determined ending. Both seem to have their merits and as a writer, both have their challenges. I personally feel I would start with a Kinetic story, just to get the feel and work with the software on a decent cast of characters and visuals. But the choose your own adventure/ending sounds intriguing. I remember reading those books as a child and having a good time – but now as  a writer I can see how challenging such a project would be. Yet, maybe that’s something to consider in the near future.

Basically, after doing some quick research on the topic of visual novels, I feel that this is another avenue writers could choose to follow. I’m not sure about the rest of you but I do visualize my novels in my head – and they are typically anime style. Something like this could really take off for me – if I do it right.  It could be another outlet for my writing, a new platform to find followers or those interested in what I’m writing about. Ideally I’d love to do this the proper way with coders and illustrators and make it perfect, but just starting out I’ll settle with one of the software’s first and see how that goes.

This has definitely taken a hold of my mind and imagination. I will have to sit on this idea myself and think about it, even try to find a story that would fit with this style. In the end, this is something to consider for the near future. If anyone is familiar with Visual Novels, I’d love to hear some feedback,  either on suggested VN to read, or topics to research to help learn more about this industry and what stories are lacking.

Editing & Revisions: Take 2

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As many of you are aware, I’m currently in the process of editing an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Young Adult fiction novel. Wow, what a mouthful. I have sent out my third draft to a handful of people to beta read and paid an Editor I know to do a manuscript evaluation. I’m still waiting for a few of my beta readers to get back to me, but I have received the full manuscript evaluation from the editor. It was a lot to take in and digest! I am now just starting to use my editor notes to go back and fix a number of parts of my novel. Thankfully the overall assessment my editor gave me was positive, she enjoyed the story and at times couldn’t put it down. Great starts, but I need to work on my characters and making them more unique and noticeable, my tone and voice and research a few areas a little deeper from what I’ve put together so far.

Nothing too drastic, but here I am finding myself revising once more. I’m trying to make my main character more strong in her convictions, and decision-making. I’m also trying to make my second main character stronger as well, more confident and in control of the situation. It means I’m revising a lot – but I’m still keeping the basic essence there. Or at least I’m trying.

Besides those two characters, my editor pointed out two of my minor characters not having strong arcs or even necessary to the plot. I agree after she mentioned it – but finding solutions is difficult. I don’t want to kill any of them, one being the love interest the second being a member of the paranormal team. For now, I’ve removed the member from the paranormal team from most of the scenes, she’s mentioned but I’ve decided that there was an incident with another member playing a prank on her and she’s in a huff and not returning to participate in the group for the time being. I’m not sure if this is wise, but I want her to still be around in a support/advisory role when the team needs here – either later in this book or in future books. As for the love interest, I’m making him more of a jerk that my main character has a crush on as a foreshadowing of how incompatible they really are as a couple. I might throw him more into the fray, making injure him or something to make his purpose and arc more substantial than what I have it as now. I’m not sure if it’ll work or not.

So there’s my beginning of my fourth draft for you. More revisions then edits. I am worried now that I’m working on a fourth draft that after all that my editor has suggested and the more changes I make – that I’m ruining my novel in someway. I don’t know if I’m taking the right suggestions, making the book better and stronger – or really throwing it back down to the quality of my first draft. These doubts are really making this revision session longer. I’m more hesitant with changes, I’m rewriting sentences four or more times and staring at paragraphs wondering if it’s good enough of if I need to move elements around. Part of me thinks by really thinking hard on my sentence structure, vocabulary and scene structure – I’m making a stronger book – but the other part of me is worried that if I go back to my editor I’ll have even more edits/revisions to do.

There’s really no getting around this until I’ve finished going through all the suggestions and the fourth draft. I will then have to consider doing a second manuscript evaluation or just push forward to a copy-edit instead. I really do hope that each draft I create makes the book better in the end.

Updates & New Ideas

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So, my down time this past week has been more productive than I originally imagined it would be. Face it – I seriously though I’d end up on the couch watching Netflix for eight hours straight. Thankfully, i’ve but that distraction aside and kept up with the habits i’ve forced myself into.

Morning Writing. Every morning, after breakfast I sit at my kitchen table and write. Well try to write something. Lately it’s been outlining a new novel idea. I’ve been working on character sheets, races, history, coat-of-arms for the royal families – a whole bunch of tidbits and bits of information that I may use for the story. Mostly this research and background information is just to get my head wrapped around this new world I’m creating. I still have a way to go with it, like my magic system that I don’t know what to do with yet, and the main history. Don’t get me wrong I have a brief summed up history of the world, but I need to flesh it out – because as it turned out it’s now a major plot twist at the end.

I’m actually quite happy with my outline. I struggled with it all week, but the ending came and to my surprise a plot twist I didn’t even seen coming. I just hope it stays in the story once I start writing it out.

You see, this story started as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast… those characters are still there, but suddenly the mysterious Empress I’ve created in the background thrusted her way onto the main stage. Now I feel my story is more “Into the Woods” or “Once Upon A Time” feeling then that of a particular fairy tale I started. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, defiantly more original. At least I hope. I also added dragon-born from Dungeons and Dragons… less face it dragons are always better – especially if they talk, and are more humanoid.

This story may be finished, but I now have to consider a series to try to defeat this dragons that are approaching this country. I may have created something much larger than anticipated! I’m still enjoying it though and I can’t wait to see what other Fairy Tale characters I can throw in.

So, that’s one update for me. I’ve also found tutorials on making fantasy maps in Photoshop – so you know that’s my next project. Making the map of this world. I’ll be sure to show it to you all when it’s done.

Another project on the go is my Shop-Hop quilt I started a couple of years ago… maybe even longer? I had 15 blocks I collected from 15 different quilt stores around my area. I finally found material to use in the quilt and finish the top once and for all. Working on something different is a nice change of pace, it gives my head a rest from planing a novel and worrying  about edits that are due back soon. I find quilting relaxing and am looking forward to finishing this quilt off to start another.

I think that’s all. Happy Friday everyone!

PS. My weight loss challenge. Well, it’s been a few weeks and I’m proud to say I’ve lost 9 lbs so far. I have gone up a bit one week, but on average i’ve been loosing  1 – 1.5 lbs a week. A fair start but of course after all this chocolate from Valentines I may have to rethink my calorie intake.

Down Time

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Now that I have two beta readers currently reading my WIP, a possible third on the way AND an editor giving me a manuscript evaluation – it’s time for me to take a break.

I do want to be careful about my break time – my editor could be getting back to me next week so I still want to keep my habit of writing every day up. So in the meantime I have plans – whether they get done or not is something else – but my plan is to work on my blog a bit more, in particular work on some short stories to post. I am also currently working on some research for another Fantasy story – retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Thought the more I work out the characters, settings and plot, the more distant I’m getting from the core story. I may end up with something completely original at the end. I plan to work on this novel come November for NaNoWriMo 2017, but I want to get the basics down, the character’s and their personalities, the settings, I even sketched out a map!

Besides keeping my writing habits up, there are other areas in my life I should also devote some time to.

1. Quilting

I currently have two quilts on the go. One has all the blocks done but I’ve been procrastinating on figuring out the sashing to go between each book, the colours and calculating how much material to buy. Besides that project, there is my grandmother’s quilt that I’m still working on. It is a scrappy quilt made up of several small blocks – so it’s taking a while to get the number of blocks I need.

2. Getting a Job….

Okay, realistically I should be putting this first. I’ve been out of a job since January, spending my time instead on my novel. It’s been a great break away from my previous job to focus on something I love – and I do love writing. I enjoy the mornings when I get up and sit behind my laptop and type away – sure it can be frustrating and there are days my mind won’t focus. But If I can push out 3000 or more words in a day it works. Maybe I need to refocus my career, try to find something new… or maybe this novel will be my breakthrough? It’s a wish, but I know eventually I need to help pay the bills and that may mean a part-time job at a meaningless place.

3. Reading

I have a huge stack of books I haven’t read yet laying all around me. Some are non-fiction, writing reference style books; and others are fiction driven. I enjoy writing my reviews and hope to keep that up.

4. Gaming

What can I say, I love video games. Finding time for one without feeling guilty for not doing something else is difficult and keeps me away at times. I’m currently in the middle of three games; The Force Unleashed, the new Star Ocean for PS4, and Fallout 4. Fallout 4 has been challenging for me – I’ve never played any of those games before so I’m coming in a little blind but I’m enjoying myself and enjoy the games I play. There are other computer games that I also play, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. But getting on them can be even harder. I will admit its the guilt of spending all afternoon playing one of those games and not writing, or doing something more productive that keeps me away – but I’m still not typically writing (Thanks TV/Netflix).

5. Finally I have to mention TV/Netflix/On Demand.

I’ve been good, since I’ve been off work I’ve focused the first four to five  hours a day working on my novel – in one way or another. I currently write in the kitchen, completely out of view of the TV and living room. There were times where I’d work until 1 or 2 pm if I’m on a roll and don’t feel obviously hungry. However, after lunch it is difficult for me to get back into my writing. Now while I’m waiting for my feedback, I’m setting myself up in front of the TV more in the afternoons. Laptop still on and I’m still working on stuff, but it’s more distracted with the TV on lol.

So I’m winding down a bit, still trying to stay focus on other projects, but nervous about my beta readers and editor. A lot of my future is hanging on this novel and the edits to make after I get the feedback. I have serious plans for it and hope to share it with the world in the near future.

Endings & Epilogues

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I can’t believe I’m already nearing the end of my revisions. Five weeks and I’m dealing with the last two chapters of my book. I’ve gone back and edited all the other chapters to the best of my capabilities and the suggestions of the web-editor I use. I admit by the end I’m not as happy with the revisions the web-editor is giving me. Still, the end is in sight and with that end comes a new challenge.

It’s one problem to start a book, creating that engaging first chapter – or five – but now I need to figure out how to end the book with just as much punch while wrapping everything up. It doesn’t help that this book is the first in a series I planed back when I first conceived of it’s idea. How can I have a group of Paranormal Investigators and only one book? There’s way too many settings they could investigate, too many characters to have all their stories wrapped up in one book. Another problem I have is that I feel no story is ‘done’, life continues on and so do my characters in my head. They grow, they change, they tackle a new challenge, part of me wants to follow them up all the way until they die!

Of course, I can’t keep writing the book forever, sometime I have to end it. I’ve heard a lot of talks about endings, about how you need to wrap up all the questions you asked at the beginning, well most of them. I have heard them say not to include any new characters at the end – which I did with a past nano novel – and to mirror the starting. I began the last three chapters that way. In the beginning I started with my main heroine, and moved into her connections with ghosts and her friendships/lack of social encounters. By the third chapter I introduced my second main character.

Now that I’m working on the end, I wrapped up the second character’s story first, most of it. A skeptic but leader of the paranormal group, by the end he is faced with seeing a spirit in a flesh body, watching magic and holy water work against it, and see how much the main character’s dreams do come true. His belief system is shaken and is forced to concede that spirits – or some of them – do exist. As much as he’s rocked by this experienced, I had him step back and still take that logical angle of explanation – even though he can’t. I don’t want to lose him as the only ‘skeptic’ on the team, but I want to make sure he learns not to doubt his team members when they do come up with evidence to prove the contrary. If anything by the end of the first book he’s not a true skeptic but someone on the fence. I don’t want him to change from that stance though because he is the rock of their group. If he starts flying off the handle at every small dust or blurb on an audible recorder, the group could really be in trouble.

So I did finish and wrap up his own little plot line, but also put in hints to a future one. I’m not sure if it was the right choice, but I wanted to make sure I put in some snippets that will be revealed or discuss about more in future books.

Now I’m on the last two chapters, all dealing with the main character and her relationship and social encounters and the first ghost she talked to at the beginning. It took my a little while to wrap my head around how to wrap up everything with her. I’m not using my original ending that I’ve done but once again re-writing it. I decide the second last chapter should deal with her roommate and romantic interests. Spoilers – the romantic interest does not work out. I want to leave the audience with that reality and that pain that despite best efforts, our main character lost her chance (or so we think!). But there’s also the roommate, and I wanted to push my main character out of her comfort zone, telling her roommate the truth about everything and having the roommate accept her and even being genuinely curious and concerned for her. My main character started out as a loner, but I wanted to make sure by the end of the book she has friends and a support group to go to when ghosts appear to her. This roommate who she once pushed away I want to become good friends with her, and someone else for my main character to bounce ideas off of in future books.

That leaves the ghost in the library. I don’t intend to do a lot with this, but once more I want to show the change in my character by her tacking the ghost down to talk to it, thank it even for helping her get over her worse fear. But like did with the second character I wanted the ghost to give a warning, a prophecy that spirits will hear about what happened and seek them out, her out in particular. Nothing too ominous but enough to give our main character something to ponder and worry about.

Then there is the last chapter. In all honesty as I type this out the above warning from the ghost could be a perfect end right there. But I have the problem of shutting up when I reach the end. I just can’t stop writing.

That’s when I question Epilogues. Do I put one in, or just leave it as the last chapter instead?

Right now, my last chapter puts my main and second character together, discussion her position as part of the paranormal team. I want the leader to tell the main character what she’s expected, how she’s to research any information a ghost gives her and not take it on fact alone. I want there to be an attempt from the paranormal group to be legit, to research and make sure their medium is getting truth or spouting fiction. The one purpose behind this ending is to have someone come in with a new case. That whole life continues and moves on and they ghost hunters are back out on another investigation.

The more I think about it, there more I question if I really need to include it. Oh how I love spouting random things out and find my the answer in my own words. Seriously, writing out my concerns can really help me find an answer. Lol.

I’ll keep debating the question and write-up both chapters to see how they turn out. I might surprise myself. But either way, my third draft is near completion. Once that complete I’ll be searching for beta readers and possibly tracking down an editor to help me find all the spots I’ve missed through revisions and the editing process.

It’s been a long month.