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This month’s achievements

New-Year-Celebration-Pictures

For the month of June I participated in a blogging challenge created by the awesome Michelle Goode from WriteSoFluid.com.  You can check out my interview about the challenge on her site HERE.

Overall the challenge was amazing.  I did end up missing a couple of days, but I managed to nail down most of them and I’m pretty happy with the outcome.  I loved having the daily inspiration and I definitely hope she creates another challenge like this so I can participate again.

Looking back on the month a lot has happened (it always surprises me how much can change in a month).  I had a couple of goals that I outlined when I started the challenge this month and I thought it would be good to take another look at them to see how they worked out…

1) To finish my novel to the point of sending it to beta readers.

Holy cow!  I did it!  I’ve sent my novel out to around ten people and I’m so nervous about it, but now that it’s out there I can’t take it back!

2) To get at least one more client for my burgeoning freelance corporate copywriting career.

I have one in the works, not set in stone, but definitely a good possibility.

3) To finish my query letter for my novel and find at least five agents to query when the novel is ready to go.

I have definitely finished a rough draft of my query letter, it still needs a bit of tweaking and some more personality, but overall, it’s getting there.

4) To decide on my next novel (at least a basic story).

Ben and I have started plotting out my next novel, this one is going forward with more of a pre-defined structure as an experiment in how I work best (to outline or not to outline).

5) To maintain the highest possible level of awesomeness.

Always.

Wow!  I honestly didn’t think I would have achieved all my goals.  Some are a little up in the air, it’s true, but most of them are rock solid.  Sweet.

So what have I learned?
Setting goals it cool, kind of like making lists where you can look back and tick them off and it’s super satisfying.  I’ve also been inspired by my month to stick to blogging more.  I definitely won’t be able to do it everyday, but it’s good to know I have enough to say to be able to blog almost everyday for a month.  Very promising.

So a big thank you to Michelle Goode for being my muse this month!
How about you, what were your goals this month?  Did you achieve them?

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A Good Read

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I read a lot.

I guess that makes sense, because they say a writer ought to do that, but as much as I read, I’m also pretty picky.  I want a lot of things from a book and I have my preferences (just like you do I’m sure) and I’ve lately been finding what I’ve been able to get into and what I haven’t interesting.  For example, despite my love of urban fantasy, I just can’t get through ‘American Gods’ (by Neil Gaiman), I enjoyed some of his short stories in an anthology of his I read, but there’s just something about American Gods I don’t like.  ‘Gone Girl’ (by Gillian Flynn) however caught me and kept me reading until late in the night and there’s not a hint of magic in that book.

So what is it that keeps me reading and makes me loathe to put a book down?

Let’s see here…

Emotional over physical

I like a style that gives more personal and emotional information than information about the environment and appearance of the characters.  I often try to do that in my stories and I’ve been told in the past that I don’t put in enough physical detail (someone told me once they didn’t like that they had to work to imagine the environment), but I like to use my imagination.  If I’m drowned in detail I get bored pretty fast because it slows down the pace and does all the work for me.  I also like to know what the characters are thinking and feeling as well as their emotional history, this gets me involved and makes me feel like they’re real.  I want to feel like the characters have an impact on the world and the story isn’t just taking them along for the ride.

Cheese factor & exposition

Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to be cheesy.  Exposition and info dumps are the bane of a good story’s existence.  I don’t like a story where things are constantly explained or dumbed down.  Cliche also falls into the cheese factor camp.  Unfortunately things are cliche for a reason, because they are true or good ideas, so sometimes one can’t avoid it altogether but it’s best to try wherever possible.  The stories that keep me up all night are the one’s with high amounts of realism (this can be achieved even in fantasy) and low exposition.

Keep moving

I love a story that moves swiftly.  I want to be pulled along on an adventure, I want to get lost in other worlds and learn new things.  Good pace is essential to keeping my attention.


Defying expectations

I’m currently trying to read Game of Thrones.  It’s a bit of a slog for me because it’s so rich in detail.  High fantasy has always been a tough nut for me to crack because of that, but what I love about the concept of Game of Thrones is that Mr. Martin writes with the specific intention of defying expectations.  I like that.  I want to be surprised, shocked and even horrified.  I want to experience things and think about things in ways I never would have thought of myself.  Because that’s the joy of reading to me, exploring the depths of other people’s minds and lives.

Solid Characters

If a character is solid enough I’ll care about them even if they’re sitting there eating cheese and playing solitaire.  Good characters are the foundation of a great story.

A little love

I like a little love.  If it’s all war and politics and business it eventually gets boring to me, and unrealistic.  Love is all around us, it motivates us and permeates the fabric of our existence.  Without a little love in our lives, things tend to fall flat.

Those are a few of my thoughts on what makes a good read…tell me about yours.

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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What I do best

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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The short:  I do writing best.  Of all the things I have ever done and ever tried, writing feels the best and the most natural.  It is the thing that has always felt that way, no matter how much I tried to ignore it.

The long:  Ben and I were strolling along the beach the other day, as we often do, and we were discussing process.  Ben’s process of video editing is not all that dissimilar from my process of writing, yet we are both confounded by one another’s abilities.  Sometimes, I confess, I am also confounded by my own abilities.

My process, in theory, is simple.  I learn about the essence of a thing.  The story I need to tell, the language I need to use to tell it, the feelings and messages I need to get across.  I absorb everything I can around the piece, be it novel or website, event or video, then it rattles around in my brain.  This is the part that is most bewildering, the rattling.  I’m not actually sure what it does up there.  It swims and swirls amongst the grey matter and electrical impulses and chemical cascades. It does all this then comes out the other end as words.  Orderly, appropriate, well-dressed (sometimes beautiful)  sentences and paragraphs marching right from my brain onto the page. Simple right?  I guess.  I mean I feel it, I go through it and it happens, but I’m not entirely sure why or how.

The process itself and the outcome are shocking to Ben, just as his process and outcome shocks me.  We look at each other across the office and think ‘how does s/he do that?” so that fact alone makes me think it is something I do well, best even.

But all that’s pretty broad, pretty ethereal even.  Maybe a little woo woo?  Who’s really here to hear me say ‘it’s just a feeling dude…I just like…feel the words…”?

So let’s get specific:

I thrive at imagery and brevity.  Vivid imagery conjured in short, sweet ways that leave you with just enough to set the scene, but not so much that your imagination doesn’t have to do a little work.

I love the challenge of pairing information with beauty.  This shines through in my corporate work more than anywhere else.

I excel at unstructured wordplay.  I used to be a free spirit, I guess I still am a bit.  I love a basic story idea that I can run with and see where it takes me.  I love to be surprised by my characters and the choices they make.

I adore the craft of writing.  Fitting words together in the right way is like a puzzle that is completely rewarding to solve.  It just feels good.

So that’s me…what about you?