Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Faded Memory

I have lived away from my childhood home now for ten years. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, amidst a sprawling forest and in the safe arms of hills. The house that I grew up in was surrounded by mature trees on top of a hill. It was a great yard with several paths, a snow hill, and different types of trees. My favorite was in the middle of the circle of road. My mother called it a Japanese rose bush, but I am not sure that is what it was. Every spring it would bloom with the most beautiful and fragrant pink flowers for about a week or so, before they would shed all over the yard. My best friend and I would pick them up, throwing them in the air like we were flower girls in a wedding while my cats rolled around in them. The flowers were like a bit of magic that didn't stay around long, but it mesmerized me.

I had forgotten about the tree, and as I was taking a walk on my break at work, I was thinking about the cherry blossom season in Japan. Why did I like sakura so much? My answer was in my childhood, in those memories of looking forward to those blossoms for all my childhood until I moved away.

Strange how memories that once ran so deep in me appear like small discoveries about how I am becoming what I am meant to be.

Natasha

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That Time of Year Again: Fargo CoreCon

For the last three years I have been the Panel Coordinator for this nifty little convention in Fargo-Moorhead called CoreCon. Each year the group of us who run the convention say to each other, "I can't believe it is here." Now, on the other side, I can't believe that it has already come and gone again. The most gratifying thing that we hear from our attendees is that they want to do this every month (um, I wish!), that they already have their costume together for next year, that we made their first convention amazing, or renewed their interest in con. There are no words to describe what it is like to hear those words from our attendees.

There are so many things that I can gush on about. The panels that I scheduled this year went on without a hitch, which is something to say with the use of microphones, projectors, and computers. The panel that my writer's group, Stone Circle, went well even with the mix of conversation that weaved into our outline. I wasn't nervous at all, which was something. It just showed how confident and comfortable that I felt throughout the whole event. We even had the local band BingeBot rock out Friday night.


The Harry Potter Party that my husband and I
planned with our local Harry Potter Alliance (Accio Love) was a hit. We had a lot of families that came in to make owls and wands, play trivia, and drink butterbeer. The Slytherins won the House Cup and were in character the whole time.

The vendor room was a lot of fun this year with items such as funky glasses, beads, comic books, and fantastic art. Our guests were in there, as well, and we had a nice time visiting with YouTuber Toby Iverson, author Rhiannon Paille, and artist Karen Sweetland.

One of the highlights of Midwest conventions, and some smaller

Canadian conventions, is hospitality suites (aka party rooms). They are themed rooms that serve some type of drink and snack. We had ten amazing party rooms with a variety of themes, such as medieval, fairy, karaoke, Harry Potter, deejay disco, steampunk, gaming, and more. I loved the creativity that was put into each and enjoyed talking with their hosts.

There are two different types of gaming that we have and that includes electronic and tabletop. The tabletop gaming room was decked out with castle walls and had gaming vendors. The electronic gaming had all types of games and tournaments from Tetris to Rock Band. The Rock Band tournament goes on after the big costumes contests. It was going to be its last year, but my husband changed his mind.

Here is the video that shows why the Rock Band tournament won't be dead at CoreCon next year. It is the closing number by The White Spaces, the exhibition band, that includes my husband Joey on guitar in his Clark/Superman costume.

For 2012 we are going to have our theme as the Apocalypse. We are having a contest to see who can make the best apocalypse short movie. CoreCon came up with an example movie that was written, directed, and acted by some of the members of the Inner Core. My husband directed and did the camera work with just his HTC Evo phone.

As you can see, this is why I love going to conventions. You meet new people and hang out with old friends. The events and hard work that people put into the convention is truly epic. I am very proud to be apart of this convention and "work" with the people that I do to put it on. I couldn't ask for more hard working, lovable, or passionate people. I must say, we do put on one heck of a party.

Natasha

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finding Discovery in First Draft 2.0

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust

It was in February of 2009 that I hit a roadblock in my writing. I was beginning to write the second book in a series and I had 25,000 words sitting in my Word document with no place to go. The first novel was in my head since I was twelve years old and there was never any intentions of a sequel, or even a third book. I was stuck and wondering what I was thinking.

There was another story that beginning to form in mind. My first novel was based in a traditional setting of fantasy, but this one was going to explore outside that mold. I wanted to write something in a Japanese-inspired world. My husband suggested that I tackle this idea for a while. So, I set aside Sequel that Never Was and began KIN.


Life was difficult at the time I began writing it. I had some issues going on in my life and we were focusing on spending more time with Joey's grammy who just had a massive stroke earlier that November. I was hoping to write about 60,000 words and I reached that before we left for Comic Con in July 2009 with no end in sight. The story kept growing, which wasn't hard with my habit of having no real outline. It wasn't until March 2010 that I pushed myself to finish it and I hit 93,000 words.

I did my best to edit it, but the first person voice didn't work. The two parts that I wrote of the characters young and as young adults didn't work. There was some great ideas in there, but it wasn't the way I wanted it to be.

So, I wrote an outline and decided to rewrite it in third person. I began the rewrite in October 2010 and had every intention of working on it in November for Nanowrimo. I then got the call that my dad was having triple bypass surgery and all my attention was diverted to that as the holidays went into full swing.

I started writing again in February, and in my previous post, you can see the progress that I made over the month of March. I reached 70,000 words and it still had something to say. I bumped my goal up to 85,000 words and pushed myself to finish the book as soon as I could.

Last night, April 6th, I reached 87,703 words and the end of the road for the new first draft of what I now call KIN.

This draft feels much stronger and had much more potential than the first. I know it is a bit crazy to almost rewrite a whole book, but this story is something that I really want to share someday. If anything, it is something that I can say I am proud of. There is a lot of work that I will do on it (after letting it sit for the month), but it is more alive than it was before.

I am a bit lost now on what to do while waiting. I was so intent on writing on my breaks at work and home. Now I can finish books, do the last minute things before CoreCon, and finishing planning our vacation. I am ready more than ever to dust off other projects and take a look at them. It is pretty exciting.

Writing the first draft of this book has taught me many things regarding on how I should approach my writing, and in some ways, my life. Two years is a long time to dedicate to something, but it was a good time to discover more about myself. Writing is not only a discovery for the readers, but one for the writers.

Natasha

Monday, April 4, 2011

Writing Spurts and Sprints

Spurt: -verb (used without object)
to show marked, usually increased, activity or energy for a short period: The runners spurted forward in the
last lap of the race
–noun
1. marked increase of effort for a short period or distance, as in running, rowing, etc.
2. a sudden burst or outburst, as of activity, energy, or feeling.

Links:
90 Minute Spurts from Tate Publishing blog

Sprint: -noun
1. The act or an instance of sprinting, especially a short race at top speed.
2. A burst of speed or activity.
-verb
To move rapidly or at top speed for a brief period, as in running or swimming.

Links:
Writing Sprints by Stacia Kelly

Looking at these two definitions, they seem very similar to each other when thinking about writing. When I see writing sprints, I usually see it defined as something that needs to happen almost out of nowhere and you just write anything. It is a way to practice writing with possibly no real goal. However, that isn't always the case. It has been used to define what goes on during National Novel Writing Month.

When I see writing spurts, it means that you take the time on one specific project and there is a writing schedule to obtain to keep working on it. It means getting up early, using your breaks at work, or just setting enough time a night to write something that moves the project along as "marked increased effort".

Either way, these produce results in making the time to write.

For the past few weeks, I've had the goal to complete KIN. I did obtain my word count goal of 75,000 words, but the end of the book is still looming ahead. To accomplish my goals, I have put more increased effort into my writing and began calling it "writing spurts" (which was before I read the definitions today to distinguish a difference, which is still a bit cloudy to me).

On my breaks at work, I focus on building my word count and writing a scene for the fifteen minutes or half hour that I am given. At night, I sit down to keep building onto what I have written for the day. I keep track of my progress on the sidebar of my blog and record it in my Google Calendar so I can see the actual results over a course of time. The numbers from these writing sessions can range from 500 to 3,000 words in a day. It is amazing to see those numbers add up and to have that story move along, instead of it taunting me when I am "too busy".

Here are my March results:

March 1st-6th-- Busy with a writing grant proposal, as well as scheduling panels/demos for CoreCon
March 7th-- Started at 48,307 words
Wrote 20 out of the 25 days and averaged at 1,336 day
3 days were used for research and re-outlining
March 31st-- Ended at 75,014

Total: 26,707 written in March

I met my 70,000 word goal a few days before the end of March. The new goal is to finish the novel this week and let it sit for the month of April. I might do a run through before we leave for Japan (as of right now) in mid-May for the printed portable copy I plan to take with me on the trip. While we travel I can edit and doodle notes in it.

It is a great feeling reaching goals and proving that I can achieve them. The biggest reason for not writing is time, whether you think you don't have it or just not making the time. I must say it is a great feeling after realizing that there is potential for making time in my life, along with meeting realistic goals.

I hope that you can find and reach your own goals. Most of all, sit down and write!

Natasha

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