Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Moon Landing

Since today is the anniversary of the moon landing, I thought it would be appropriate to post some video of it for today's post:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekday vs. Weekend Writing

As a working mother, my personal time during the work week is very limited. However, I do get an hour for lunch three days a week. (The other two days I only take a half-hour lunch so I can leave early and take my son to his activities.) I use my time to write. Depending on the day of the week and the type of activity, I also write while my son is involved in whatever he's doing that day. Finally, I write late at night, between my son's bedtime and my own. I generally don't have long periods of time available, so I have to focus if I want to make progress. (For example, I might write 500 words on my lunch hour, but if I get distracted, that might drop to 300 words or so.)

One would think I'd have more writing time on the weekend, but since my schedule is more variable then, that doesn't always happen. For one thing, I don't have a guaranteed lunch hour (or even half hour). Some days (like Saturday) are so busy I don't even get any writing done in the evening. On other days (like yesterday, when Alex was at a birthday party), I am able to get a longer chunk of free time to write. It feels more laid back, so I can be more easily distracted. Sometimes it helps to write elsewhere besides home. (That was my original plan for yesterday, but since a friend kindly offered to bring Alex home from the party, I didn't have to wait for him).

Does your writing schedule change much from weekday to weekend? If so, which type of day works better for you? Feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cool Collaborations

I mentioned in Monday's post that my husband and I saw the Rock Paper Scissors tour featuring Sting and Peter Gabriel on Saturday. We were in the nosebleed section side of stage, or what I think of as the clap-your-hands section after John Lennon's quip "Will the folks in the cheap seats clap your hands, and the rest of you just rattle your jewelry." Eugene and I are happy enough just being able to hear the music. It was a great show, with the two musicians exchanging songs throughout the night. My favorite part occurred during "Games without Frontiers," when Sting and Peter Gabriel strolled down the stage together. I wasn't able to get a picture of that, so here they are during "Sledgehammer."

Watching the two of them together made me think about writing partnerships. I haven't co-authored a story with anyone, and since I'm a pantser, plotting together would be difficult. Still, I think one could learn a lot from working with someone else. If I could write a story with a famous science fiction/fantasy novelist, I think I'd pick someone like Patricia McKillip or Nina Kiriki Hoffman because I like their approaches to the genre. I'd love to work with Lois McMaster Bujold or Connie Willis as well, simply because I'd learn so much from either of them.

If you could pick a famous author to write with, who would it be and why? Alternatively, which authors do you think should have worked together? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Milwaukee Trip

My family and I took a few days off last week to go to Milwaukee. I know it's not a glamorous destination, but we didn't have enough time to go very far. Besides, there were a couple of museums Alex wanted to visit.

On our first full day, we visited both the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Pabst Mansion. We visited MPM on our first family trip, and this was one of the places we wanted to revisit. Alex particularly enjoyed the dinosaurs and the bug exhibit, and I liked the butterflies. Since we didn't spend the full day there, we headed over to the Pabst Mansion. I was there a couple of times in high school, but the house has been extensively renovated since then. For dinner, we stopped at the Milwaukee Public Market, where we happened to pick up a chocolate T-rex.

Eugene wanted to visit the Milwaukee Art Museum, as the new building offers many photographic opportunities. We spent a few hours there, but since Alex was getting bored, we headed over to Discovery World in the afternoon. Then it was back to the Milwaukee Public Market for dinner and more swimming in the hotel pool.

We had to return home Saturday so Eugene and I could see Sting and Peter Gabriel in concert at the United Center. So we literally made the trip home a little sweeter by touring the Jelly Belly Company warehouse and picking up Japanese green tea Kit Kats in Gurnee Mills. Maybe next time we head up to Milwaukee (assuming we have decent weather), we can try tracking down the Bronze Fonz. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures from our trip.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

IWSG: Comparisons

It's time for the July edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Here are the co-hosts for this month:

Yolanda Renee
Tyrean Martinson

A new feature this month is a question everyone is supposed to answer in their posts. Here's the question: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

The most memorable compliment I've received came from a reader on Goodreads. She compared my short story "Silver Rain" to an O. Henry story. Considering how I struggle with short stories, that's a huge compliment.

While it's wonderful when a reader compares you to a highly regarded author, comparing your works to other books can make you feel inadequate. For example, I read Naomi Novik's Uprooted this weekend. I found the main character quite sympathetic, the world-building details convincing, and the plot gripping enough to make me take the time to read 400+pages in less than 24 hours. (I can't always take the time to devour books like that anymore.) After reading something like that, the rough draft of my current WIP feels inadequate, with weak verbs and little description.

How do I cope with comparisons? I remind myself that it's not fair to compare a rough draft with a finished work (because for some reason, one always compares your worst against someone else's best). In a first draft, I'm still feeling out the basic plot, so actions and dialogue take priority. Once I have a better sense of the scene, I go back in and layer in description. Oddly enough, it's easier for me not to compare my finished books with someone else's. There will always be things I will think of post-publication, but I'm less tempted to revise those works (probably because I'm in the middle of another project by then.) 

If anything, one should learn from what you read, both what works and what doesn't. Every book is unique, meant to appeal to a different audience. I think that's why it's so hard for me to pick a favorite book. Enjoy them all for what they are, and don't try to force them into being something different.

If you're an author, what's the best thing someone has said about one of your books? What's the best thing you might say about someone else's work? Feel free to share in the comments below. 

Monday, July 04, 2016

Semiannual Reading Update for 2016

Happy 4th of July, all those who are celebrating today! What better way to review history with a little Schoolhouse Rock?

One of my favorite way to pursue happiness is by reading. For the past couple of years, I've challenged myself to read 200 books a year. (I track everything that has its own listing on Goodreads, which can be anything from a short story to an omnibus collection. This list doesn't include the kid's books I read to Alex, since I've neglected to track when we finish them. It also doesn't include audiobooks or even my own work, which I re-read as I revise and proofread.) We're about halfway through the year, and I've read 101 books so far. You can see my Goodreads Reading Challenge here. I'm one book ahead of schedule. I used to have more of a lead, but my reading's slowed down since my plantar fasciitis keeps me off of the treadmill, which is one of my favorite and consistent places to read. Hopefully in a couple of months I'll be able to start exercising again. In the meantime, I look for more ways to get some reading in.

Here are some of my favorite reads so far this year:

The Sixteen Burdens
Indie Author Survival Guide
The Secret of Our Success

Full genre breakdown will come at the end of the year.

How's your reading coming along this year? What do you recommend? Feel fee to share below.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Science of the Week, 7/1/16

The year is officially half over! Hard to believe, isn't it?

Here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

Polar bear outlook favorable under certain scenarios

Cannabinoids remove plaque-forming Alzheimer's proteins from brain cells

Seeds of black holes could be revealed by gravitational waves in space

A shampoo bottle that empties completely--every last drop

Researchers trace Mercury's origins to rare meteorite

There were also lots of interesting articles this week on iflscience, but it's getting late and I don't feel like linking to each one individually.

Have a good weekend, everyone! I plan to post my semiannual reading report on Monday, so if you have some time while celebrating the 4th, swing by and take a look.

Site Meter