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Progress Report June 2013

It’s June now, meaning it’s time to do two things: analyze how much progress I made towards my goals in May, and make my plans for the summer.

Let’s start by taking a look at what I’ve accomplished towards my various goals:

Editing Moonshadow’s Guardian– Last month I edited exactly six chapters and 42 pages. I should be finished editing before the end of this month, and I am going to start looking for beta readers this month. There’s less than a hundred pages to go and I’m thrilled to be this close to the end. So far, June’s looking pretty good month as I’ve already edited three pages and written a new chapter. I’m going to spend the next two weeks in a marathon with a goal of finishing by the time I graduate on the fifteenth.

Launch the Ten Commandments of a Serious Writer eBook– I’ve now got this ebook almost ready and I’ll be explaining in more detail what it is this Friday. I should be able to launch in June.

Make $5, 000 this year from my writing– in May I only made $300 from my writing, but I’m expecting more in the next few days and I’m now actively looking for new work. I also had several articles published this month at varying pay rates, which is awesome. And I’ve made a distinct plan for how to get this money, which I’ll show you in more detail later this month. My writing income goal for June is $750.

Launch an email newsletter– I’ve decided to move to a self-hosted blog, and finally decided what my newsletter will look like, so it will be part of the new incarnation of this blog. It will probably launch in July.

Write a new novel– I actually didn’t choose a plot for a new novel, but it’s percolating in the back of my head as I plan an event for Nanowrimo this year. Instead, I’ve created an outline for an ebook I’m going to release at the end of the summer. My goal for that this month is to have written the entire thing.

I finish school halfway through this month, and I’m using existing blog posts for sections of the ebook I plan to release in July, so I think these are totally reasonable goals. To achieve them, I’m dedicating one hour a day every Saturday and Sunday to each project. Once school ends, I plan to work on each goal for at least one hour Monday through Friday during the summer and take weekends off.

What are your goals for this month? How did you do last month?

Introducing Andre Vonstone

Ordinarily I don’t post on Tuesdays, but today is different. Today I’m interviewing Andre Vonstone, main character of Moonshadow’s Guardian, brother of the king of Moonshadow, and a newly minted vampire. Andre was banished from the kingdom about a year ago after trying to kill Cameron Graves, High Priest of the Temple of Ashe. He’s only just returned to Moonshadow, and I am lucky enough to be the first person to interview him since his return.

DLG: Welcome to Dianna’s Writing Den, Andre. Can you tell us a bit about the incident with Cameron Graves that got you banished?

Andre: Do you make a habit of speaking so directly? It might be wise to remember that I can and will kill you if you piss me off.

Then again, I did come here to share my story.

Cameron is a good priest–he performs the last rites without getting teary, he encourages people with warm words and he gives great speeches–but he’s not always a good man. We’ve had a number of disagreements over the years. The night we got into our fight, we’d both been drinking too much. He said that he wanted to marry Elizabeth, my favourite cousin. I lived with her and her parents for several years of my childhood.

I didn’t think anything like that should happen, so I told him it was a bad idea. He wouldn’t lay off of it, and he said some really dirty things about her. I couldn’t help myself. I was drunk. I attacked him.

Either way, he still hasn’t tried to marry Elizabeth, so I got my point across.

DLG: Fascinating. How did you feel about getting banished for this fight?

Andre: Well, I think it’s more than a little stupid. I mean, I know he’s a priest. I know that. And I know I took it too far. But of course, my brother never thought about throwing me in the dungeon. He just threw me out. I certainly didn’t feel any brotherly love. Mostly, it just irritated me. I didn’t mind travelling through Tar’Ig’Vor and the Magi Plains, but I much prefer Moonshadow.

DLG: Is that why you came back?

Andre: Not really. I mean, I was getting sick of travelling. But I could’ve stopped in any town in the Magi Plains and made a life for myself. I thought about it. I didn’t think about staying in Tar’Ig’Vor–the people there aren’t really civilized and they have such a restrictive culture–but I did think about staying in the Plains, making a life for myself.

What brought me back was my son, Calder. He’s the product of a relationship I had with a maid about eight years ago. We were together for about a year, and I even suggested–before she got pregnant–that Jacob allow me to marry her. He said I shouldn’t be marrying a commoner. She got pregnant and she was so angry that I wouldn’t–couldn’t–accept him that she left me.

I kept in touch with her and I always kept watch over my little boy, and I promised him I’d be back for the spring festival. He was the one thing worth risking my life for.

DLG: Wow. What a beautiful story. Now that you’ve been appointed as one of the king’s advisers, what do you plan to do?

Andre: Well, I’d really like to go live in some small town where nobody knows my name in the heart of Moonshadow. Realistically, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to stay here and try to help my brother rule the country. I’ve worked in some… interesting… fields before and I have expertise he might need. Really, it’s a way to stay close to my son, and maybe I can even make the kingdom a better place for him.

DLG: Those sound like pretty honourable goals. It’s been great talking to you, but it appears to me that we’ve run out of time. Thank you so much for joining us.

Today’s interview was part of a blog chain at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. The idea is that each month we do a chain of related posts. This month’s theme was interviews. You can check out the interview before mine here and sometime in the next couple of days you’ll be able to see the next one over at Twilight Asylum. You can find a list of the rest of the participants here.

Mission Successful

Last night-or maybe early this morning, who’s paying attention?-I finished the current draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian at about 48, 000 words. I’ve decided to celebrate with a day of watching some interesting anime-a Japanese style of animation, for anyone who doesn’t know-and some chocolate.

Hopefully you’re done editing your work by now, too. If not, get yourself a treat and get back to work. Editing is hard work; you deserve to reward yourself every now and then.

Besides, what comes after the celebration? Why, more work, of course. Next week I’m going to work on editing the first in a series of short stories focused on a couple vampires while I research locations for the next few. I’m going to write as many of these stories as I can this month to help me reach my Camp Nanowrimo goal. I’m sitting at approximately 29K and confident that I’ll be able to hit 80, 000 words by the end of the month.

I’ll also be doing some dialogue and character development exercises both in relation to Moonshadow’s Guardian and here on the blog. Sometime during the month I’ll be adding a few scenes designed to round out some characters-scenes I already have starting in my mind-and once those are added, I’ll be ready to print it up and go through it again. This time I’m confident that most of the changes will be minor, adding and removing words, sentences and occasionally scenes rather than rewriting the whole thing.

Finishing a draft of a novel is a good reason to celebrate. It’s also a good time to stop and re-assess your goals, and make plans for your future. It’s not a good time to take a month off of writing; you have to keep in practice all the time.

Have you finished anything recently? Do you have writing plans for the rest of this summer?

Week 5

This week I’m pretty sure I only did two chapters, but they were both long chapters. I also just finished writing what, in my opinion, is the best scene in the entire book, which wasn’t there before.

Although most of the plot involving Riana’s past is in the second book, I decided that I needed to spend some more time on it in the first. The scene that I just created showed Riana facing Eternia, a spirit who she worked with once upon a time who she failed. Eternia led her to find an antidote that she needed to heal her leg, and she promised Eternia that she would look after what had been Eternia’s land. It’s a really touching scene and I’m very proud of it.

I’m having a hard time not going back to edit what I’ve done in this draft, to save it until the draft is actually finished, but at least I already know what my next edit’s going to look like. All in all I’m pretty pleased.

I’ve also got about 14K for Camp Nanowrimo, including the chapters I wrote last week-I decided they were fair game. This is a short update, but I’m almost finished a book that I’m supposed to review (a long time ago) so that should be up on Wednesday, and in the last week or so my brain’s been full of ideas for blog posts, so sometime soon you can look forward to me returning to my regular post schedule. I should also be finished this draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian entirely within the next two or three weeks, so it’s going to be a pretty exciting time here.

Before I go, I’d like to make a shout out to Red Parrot, who’s sponsored me for my camp Nanowrimo goal. Nanowrimo means a lot to me, and the fact that somebody believes in me enough to donate on my behalf means a lot to me too. I’m confident that I can hit my goal and have fun doing it.

Have a good weekend everyone! I should be back on the block on Wednesday.

How’s your summer writing/editing going?

Editing Week Three

This week so far has been one of my most productive weeks all year. It’s summer, which means I don’t have to think about school and all the fun stuff that comes with it, and so I spent my first two weeks mainly goofing off and am now getting down to some serious business.

So, this week I’ve edited two and a half chapters of Moonshadow’s Guardian, and I’ve got the first chapter up for critique in two places. I’m participating in an online writing workshop called the Writer’s Circuit, where a number of youth and one writer in residence compare work. I’ve still got to read one more story this week, but I have the rest of today and all of tomorrow to do so.

The third thing that I’ve been doing is revisiting my ancient Squidoo page and working on my lenses. I’ve completely redone my Writing: My Passion lens and created a new lens called What Makes Terry Pratchett so Great? The reason why I decided to actually work on the lenses that I have and to create new ones for Squidoo is because I returned to find that my account-which lay unused for two years-had collected me a whopping three dollars.

That might not seem like a big deal to you, but that’s a huge deal to me. Back in the day I put up two lenses and got halfway through creating a couple more-the one I’m most excited to finish is about how to win Nanowrimo with extra words-and then I abandoned the site for two years. To the point that when I went to update my bio, it still said I was fifteen. Heh. I didn’t expect to find any kind of money there. Maybe a dollar. But three whole dollars gives me the hope that if I work my butt off this summer finishing the lenses I’ve started and making new ones, I might actually have some sort of income from the site. Even if it’s just twenty bucks a month, that’s more than I had before.

Two days a week will be devoted to reading and to creating or updating Squidoo lenses. Three will be devoted to editing and short stories, which I hope to write four of this summer-one every two weeks. My weekends are my days to spend to myself… or, should I say, with my boyfriend. There’s some overlap from day to day and blog posts happen on a novel day-just to make sure my editing stats are up to date-but overall my system seems workable. Don’t quote me on it though, it’s only been a week.

All of that said, I’d like to talk briefly about one of the hardest parts of creating a (I don’t want to say how many) new draft, especially when you have parts of it up for critique. That hard part is not going back and fighting with all the newly written and edited chapters. I did cheat and I did go back to fix the next chapters I’m putting up for critique, but I’ve forced myself to stop, leaving them in an all right but imperfect condition. Those chapters are going to go up for critique even though I know I can make them better, and I’m going to keep plunging ahead, because if I don’t make myself finish this draft, I never will.

Tomorrow I might quickly go over the next chapter I’m putting up for critique just to make sure it makes sense, but I’m not going to let myself get caught up in it for hours on end. I need to push ahead until I reach the end of this new draft, which might I say I am very proud of.

This draft is turning the novella back into a novel, which is pretty exciting for me. And it’s working out in all sorts of ways I couldn’t have imagined, even though somewhere along the line I lost all my notes. (I do mean all my notes.) I guess that’s just one of the joys of working with a really familiar story-I only need so many of my notes.

How is your editing going? What other writing projects are you getting excited about this summer?

Prompt of the Week

Today’s Prompt is:

Bitter Childhood Memories

My response to today’s prompt will be written from Riana’s point of view. Riana is the main character of the novella-which might grow into barely a novel territory-Moonshadow’s Guardian. I have just begun to rewrite Moonshadow’s Guardian. I’m moving slowly still because I’ve got some work left to do, but I should have the new first chapter (not all the chapters are changing drastically; the first one, however, is) finished in the next day or two. I’m excited to be back to work on this project.

Riana

I spent the first fourteen years of my life with my mother, a human woman named Elaine. She was a pretty woman, though she never lost much of the weight of childbirth. We lived in a one room hut with two beds and a wood burning stove. It was just the two of us; Elaine’s only affair was with my father, whose name she refused to speak. She only told me that she had done a terrible thing, and that she feared his return every day. I would always ask her why, never understanding; when I was twelve she told me she was scared he would take me away.

When I was fourteen puberty began to hit me. And with puberty came strange happenings. I had always been able to see my mother’s aura, which was a navy blue-a colour I now associate with sadness, loneliness-but now I could see those of all the people in town. And I could hear a lot more, like the things they said as they passed our house on the road.

The first magic I ever did was not on purpose. My mother took me to prayer at the Temple of the Twins one morning. I was cranky, in the midst of growing a woman’s figure and full of all of those aches and pains that come with it, and I didn’t really want to pray to anyone outside of my own house. But my mother wanted to go, although I think it was only to see if she could make conversation when we all had tea afterwards.

She did. And so did everyone else. With my new hearing not under control the voices made my head pound. I told my mother I had to go home and I was preparing to leave when I heard the woman across the room call me a whore. I had only taken a step towards her when an invisible force took her and threw her against the wall, knocking her flat out. Everyone turned just in time to see it, and there were screams all through the temple. I took one step back and then the crowd turned its eyes to me. And they knew.

I ran for it. I ran back to the house and I started packing my clothes. Elaine arrived a few moments later.

“Please don’t go.” Her eyes watered as she spoke.

“I have to, I have to find someone to teach me.” My mouth tasted dry and gross like it was full of cotton.

“But they’ll come for you. Soon enough.”

“Who are they?” I threw the shirt I was holding at a wall. She whimpered.

“Your father’s people. Please-”

“I’m a demon, aren’t I? Is that why you would never tell me about my father?”

“That is,” said a man’s voice. It was a demon, with red eyes and big fangs. “Your father is a very powerful demon. And now it is time for you to come Home to your Family. We will be better to you than these people who do not understand.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“You don’t have a choice.” A pair of hands grabbed my arms and twisted them painfully behind my back. The demon was behind me now. He whispered something in my ear but I was struggling too hard to really notice what it was. And then we were going down, through thick layers of rock, to the underground place where they always said demons had to live…

We hit the ground hard and I puked.

I looked up and I knew these caves would never truly be my home.

Your Turn

Starting Different Projects

My writing has hit a low point over the last couple of weeks. It would seem that it took a blow after I finished Moonshadow’s Guardian. The story had me completely entranced, and I’m already eager to begin the first rewrite. Currently I am playing the waiting game-with plenty of school work to distract me in the meantime-because I know that you should never start editing right away. However, rewrites are going to begin sooner than I originally planned; I need to rewrite this story, to make some very specific changes to it, to get it out of my system.

Some Secrets Should Never Be Known, as much as I love the story, will have to take the backburner for now. I know that I cannot currently give it the attention and time that it deserves. When, as a writer, you are told that you must write every day and move quickly from one project to the next, this kind of thing can be hard to admit-even to yourself. But it’s important to remember that every writer is different, every writer’s needs and strengths are different; there’s no one way to go about becoming an author.

Keeping this in mind I’m not going to yell at myself for not accomplishing much on the writing front this week; instead I’m going to do some research-reading a new book I bought about castles-and then jump right into the rewrite of Moonshadow’s Guardian.

Fiction isn’t the only thing that’s been hard for me in the last couple of weeks; the blog posts which were plentiful in my head at the beginning of the year seem to have dried up. I know I want to start a new series of blog posts for Friday mornings, but I have no idea what to focus on or where to begin. Sometimes writing really is like pulling nails, both on the fiction front and on the non-fiction front. Sometimes it means you have to push harder; other times it means you have to take a break.

As a blogger I have one advantage that lots of other writers don’t; I can ask you guys what I should write about next. This is my first poll and it will be up for a week. Come back next week to find out the results-and to see my shiny new series of posts.

Excitement

I’d like to announce that this Tuesday I finished the complete rewrite of my 2006 Nanovel, Moonshadow’s Guardian. This project has been through several rewrites and the story has changed drastically over the years. That said, this rewrite was more about splitting up the book into two novellas.

The first half, which has kept the name of Moonshadow’s Guardian, is about a demon named Riana who is summoned to protect the kingdom of Moonshadow. A plague has struck the kingdom-a strange plague which they believe to be caused by Telars, mages gifted with telepathy. Riana’s job is to find out who is causing the plague and to bring an end to it before it kills the heir to Moonshadow’s throne. She has two constant companions-a dragon named Rolf, and the king’s brother Andre, who she falls in love with on the journey.

In the second half Riana colonizes and restores what was once an endless wasteland and is quickly becoming fertile again. She makes many friends along the way-but when the telars strike back, Riana’s life is torn entirely to pieces. The war was originally with a different country, but I’ve decided that it makes more sense-and it’s more interesting-if the war is fought against the telars.

I’m very excited to start editing this project-but every writer knows that you have to let it sit for a while. So in the meantime, I’m going to finish the worldbuilding for Some Secrets Should Never be Known, and then I’m going to start the book.

But first I’m going to celebrate with some good friends and good chocolate…

How do you celebrate when you finish a project?