Monday, October 30, 2006


Diet Sunkist is back in the house! I actually had more of it than usual; we had dinner with some friends from church and I drank a glass there, and then I had another can of it when I sat down to write here at home. Does it make a difference? You be the judge.

Just to remind you, yesterday I had no Diet Sunkist and struggled to get about 800 words. Tonight:

I added another 1000 words to one of the scenes I started yesterday, and it's now complete. That was relatively early, and I would have stopped there. I started to, but then another scene that I had a rough idea for started to congeal in my mind. I need wordage, I thought, and I'll either have to get it tonight or tomorrow or Tuesday. If I get it tonight, I can get to sleep earlier on one or both of those days. So I decided to go ahead and work on it. Two hours and 1350 (!) words later, it's complete.

Now I really must go to bed, but it seems pretty certain that--barring any bizarre and unforeseen circumstances that prevent me from writing for the next 2 days--I will meet my October goal, after all. Woo.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A bit of progress...

Didn't make as much progress tonight as I have the past two evenings. I blame the lack of Diet Sunkist (or, as I now call it, "writing juice"); I had the last one yesterday. Tonight I had to substitute Diet Pepsi, and it just didn't have the same effect. Of course, there were other things going on--my brother is staying at our house tonight, I slept in this morning which tends, ironically, to make me sleepier, and I got sidetracked by research for the scene I started out to write.

In the end, I managed exactly 800 words (don't ask me how) total between two different, but chronologically simultaneous, scenes. Those are still in process, so I can pick them up tomorrow when I'm fresher and hopefully finish both with a decent word count.

I have at least broken 22K, so I'm still within reach of my monthly goal.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

And the hits just keep on comin'!

Went out to eat with DH and the baby tonight. By the time we got home and the baby was asleep, it was almost 9 o'clock and I was very tired. But, I have a goal. So I sat and drank my Diet Sunkist while DH played his videogame-du-jour (Fable, on the Xbox--pretty cool). I wasted an hour or so piddling around on previously written stuff. Well, I guess "wasted" is too negative a word. I did some minor revisions and got back into the story, but I'm going for word count here, so nothing much useful in that respect. At 10:30 I was ready to call it quits, but I really wanted at least some new wordage. So I sat down to jot a bit of another scene that's been bumping around in my head for some time but never made it to paper.

And the magic happened again. That "bit of scene" turned into almost three single-spaced pages. I'm not counting on this every night until the book is done, but hey--I'll take it whenever it happens!

3800 words to go. I have 4 more nights. Still doable!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Now we're cookin'...

Despite less than 4 hours' sleep last night--after staying up late to write and then being awoken every 2 hours by a fussy (possibly teething) baby--I managed to keep myself on track this evening. By dinner time I was ready to keel over from exhaustion and fall asleep on the couch, but I resorted to my new secret weapon: Diet Sunkist.

Even that minimal amount of caffeine is enough to perk me up, since I've pretty much stopped consuming it in any form since I got pregnant. My tolerance is waaay low now, and so only one can was enough to have me alert and coherent again by the time I'd gotten the baby to sleep. At quarter after 8 I sat down to work on a scene I've had roughed out in my head for some time now but never worked on. I wrote straight through, and final word count: almost 1700. Sweet.

The total now stands at very nearly 20K. If I can average 1100 words a night through Tuesday, I just might pull this off. Woo.

She blogs!

That's right, folks, I'm back. After various bouts of funk, overwork (day job), undersleep, family time or compensation for lack thereof, household chores, and social obligations, I am finally settling down to start seriously writing again. My goal of 25K (total word count) by next Tuesday still stands.

As of today I had 6 days to write about 8,000 words. Tonight I got 800. Not bad, really, since I spent half my allotted writing time choreographing with my DH and brother (both black belts; I only almost got to brown) the 3-on-1 fight scene that I then wrote. Hooray for the caffeine in Sunkist.

I know a few people who will be doing NaNoWriMo starting next week, and if they can get 50K in a month, I think I can get 8K in 6 days, and possibly at least 25K next month. I have to break out of my mindset of perfecting the first draft, and just get Words On Paper. I can revise and refine once I have the bones of the story down. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wow, I've been a slacker.

Work craziness, home craziness, extreme fatigue, and the whole last-minute-Surrey-cancellation have conspired to make me a slacker writer (and critiquer - I'll get caught up tonight, I promise!).

So I thought I'd post to let you know I'm still alive *grin* and so are Elspeth and Alec. I finally made a spreadsheet to help me keep track of stuff, and I updated my meter with the true current word count. October goal is 25K by the end of the month, so that leaves me about 2 weeks to write a little over 8,000 words. Doable if I get my butt in gear.

Oh, and my day job is cracking down on internet use (I shouldn't even be posting this now) so if any of you have wondered at my dwindled presence on the blog or over at the Forum, that's why.

Anyway, today is even busier than most, so back to the day job.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It is done.

The decision is final. I've cancelled my conference registration and airline tickets. Maybe next year.

Maybe not, after all.

I may not be going to Surrey, after all. It 's not about the "fan fiction" debacle; finances are the culprit this time.

When I made the decision to go, I thought we had the money. We had some saved and I looked at it as an investment towards finishing and selling my book. But now a new financial obligation has popped up, and to go to Surrey would just put us further behind. We've been working so hard to dig out of the debt we got into when we were just married, still in college, and poor.

I could still go. We'd pay it off eventually. But I just hate to do that and know we're edging back towards carrying balances on our credit cards and not saving for the future. It doesn't seem responsible.

And to be perfectly honest, I'm nowhere near as ready to be away from the baby as I thought I would be by this point. Maybe it's been my long hours and late nights for the day job resulting in barely seeing him before bed several times a week lately. Maybe it's because I'm still nursing him. Maybe it's the way he's so clingy with me when I am around. Maybe it's because he's almost crawling and I'd hate to miss it.

Of course, the little brouhaha over my ill-fated chapbook entry did take away some of my enthusiasm for going. But as I've said before, the majority of the people I was looking forward to seeing there had nothing to do with it, and I would still have lots of fun and learn a lot.

Just everything combined has been weighing on my mind for the past few weeks, and I'm not nearly as psyched about it as I was. I don't want to go and then feel guilty the whole time about not being with the baby and how much it's costing.

If I back out at this point, we're still out money. The plane tickets and 30% of the registration fee are nonrefundable. However, I'd still be saving twice that amount in hotel costs, the other 70% of registration, and other food/transportation/souvenir expenses.

OTOH, I'll also be letting down the person I'd arranged to room with, and the volunteer coordinator who just sent out the finalized schedules. I'm not signed up for a lot of duties, but still she was counting on me being there.

So I don't know. There's another writing workshop, hosted by the OVRWA on November 11th. It's closer to home and a whole heck of a lot cheaper.

I have to make my decision by tomorrow, or none of my registration is refundable and then it becomes a moot point.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Less-than-productive weekend

Well, I had another mini-crash on Friday (fell asleep at 8:30 on the couch; that's early even for me). Saturday and Sunday were devoted to yard work, since this may be my last chance to get anything done while the weather's still nice. Tonight we're going to an Aerosmith concert with a very dear friend and will likely be back late. So that leaves me only about a week to get 10,000 new words before Surrey starting tomorrow. Heh, we'll see.

I did make some progress. I rewrote a new scene (Elspeth and Alec's first encounter) for the October POV-switching exercise, and got some good reactions and feedback. I had originally been all in Elspeth's POV, but the switch to Alec's (though I'll use whitespace instead of the "baton") seems to work for most people, so I'll probably keep it and follow him on for a while, then snap back to her.

Anyway, gotta leave the day job early today, so I'd better get caught up with that.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Feeling productive

For the first time in weeks, I feel like I've had a productive day. I didn't write a single new word, but it was productive nonetheless.

The pace at my day job was relatively less breakneck than it has been, and I was able to stay on top of my "plans to check" pile and manage to get a few other things done in the interim - like critting several first chapters on the Forum (not that mine's done and/or ready to post yet), catching up on my blog reading, and actually eating lunch. I then (gasp!) left before 5 and got home before 5:30, which meant I got to see my son for more than a few minutes before putting him to sleep at 8.

Then I finally got back to my promised Narc crits and got 4 whole chapters done. Now it's midnight and I need to go to bed, but at least I don't have to feel guilty about being way behind anymore.

In other news, I am very glad that Undiscovered Scotland - a really great travel/info site - is back up. It's been down all weekend and I was starting to get worried.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moving on, again.

I hate for negative posts to stay at the top, so I'm writing this to bump it down. I have not cancelled my Surrey tickets. I might be slightly less enthused about going than I was before, but at this point (and DH's insistence) I'm still going. The person with whom I was having a difference of opinion and I have reached some form of understanding. The majority of people I'll be seeing at Surrey have no idea what was said and no problem with my story. They are the ones I'm looking forward to hanging out with.

I'm serious about writing this book. It's been a (nearly) lifelong dream and Surrey can only help me accomplish it. When I am old, at least I won't have to say I wish I'd gotten around to trying to write a book.

So, onward and upward.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rethinking my decision

In just over two weeks, I'm going to be dropping more than $1500 to fly across the continent and leave my infant son for 5 days. I'll have to make provisions for the fact that I'm still breastfeeding, and use 3 days of my precious PTO to take off work. It's a lot of expense and trouble, but I decided it was worth it. I've always wanted to write a book, and I thought getting good advice early in the process could only help. And the other big draw is that I feel kind of isolated in life sometimes, and here was my chance to go and meet these people that I've been forming friendships with online, have a good time, and share a common bond.

Well, now I'm rethinking my decision. After the originality of my work being questioned (this after the hours and hours of research and self-deliberation that long term blog readers know I went through, and am still going through) and excluded from the chapbook on that basis, I wonder if I go to Surrey will I feel like the kid that tries to be involved but everyone really looks down on and talks about behind their back? I don't want to be the width of a continent away from my husband and son only to feel isolated for 5 days. Sure, I'm an introvert and can handle being alone. But if one of the main reasons I'm going was to have the opposite kind of experience, is all the good writing advice still worth it?

If I cancel now, I'll be out about $500 in plane tickets and registration fees. But that still saves me the hotel costs, the refundable part of the registration, travel to and from the airport, and meal expenses not covered by the conference, etc.

It's something to consider.

Moving on...

Surrey countdown: T minus 17 days.

Well, after a welcome reassurance from a fellow Scottish time-travel writer, I feel better about my book and the fact that it is not just "fan fiction." I rewrote the "intro" paragraph for the chapbook so as to highlight unique details, and it is up to the coordinator to include it or not. Here is what I sent along with the excerpt (blog readers have seen most of this before):

ELSPETH (working title) by Rebecca Gabriel

Elizabeth "Elspeth" Clarke is an American physicist seeking to forget the heartache of her fiance's betrayal by a (solitary) summer trip to Scotland. While exploring the ruins of historic Kilchurn castle, she discovers a wormhole connecting two points in falling through it. Now she is in 17th century Scotland and being pursued by the politically avaricious "Grey" John Campbell, Earl of Breadalbane and Holland and owner of Kilchurn. Campbell has found the historical notes Elspeth carried back with her, and intends to exploit her apparent "Sight" for his own gain. But she has found temporary refuge with the MacGregors of Glen Strae, an outlawed clan with their own reasons to hate the Campbells. Alasdair "Alec" MacGregor, named for the grandfather the Campbells executed years ago, has become her friend and confidant.

In other fun Surrey news, I got my volunteer assignments. Thursday they have me "monitoring" (keeping time and making sure there aren't any disruptions/interruptions) two of the Master Classes that I wasn't going to be able to afford. So even though I'm not participating, I'll be able to sit in on them and learn for free. Woo for that!

I got very little writing done last night; the stubborn first chapter is at a temporary standstill. Tonight is TV night with DH, so I don't know if I'll get much done tonight, either. There are a few short bits knocking around in my head, mostly later scenes. But I'll probably try to get some of them down, at least. As Diana says, words on the page are always a Good Thing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Am I deluding myself?

Okay, I'm 15,000+ words (need to update my meter) into my novel, with a stated goal of reaching 25,000 by October 19th. I'm currently reworking the initial chapter, with good reaction so far. I've posted one section on the critique workshop with, again, good reaction and useful comments. I have a very well-developed sense of my MC Elspeth, and a pretty good one of the other MC Alec. I know time, place, and historical setting. I'm using historical characters and events, and researching them thoroughly. I know the main plot, a few twists, and a few other potential story arcs. I was a little disheartened last week, but after taking a break I feel fresh and ready to dive in again.

Yes, I'm writing a Scottish time-travel romance. There are quite a few of us on the forum doing so, and I think that Diana's presence there is a draw. But I don't think we're all there just writing these stories because we wish we'd written Outlander. There are a lot of Scottish time-travel books. I've been seeking them out. I read the whole 5-book series by Janet Chapman (eh, they were okay I guess), I'm reading J. Ardian Lee's Son of the Sword series (pretty good, if heavy on the history lessons), I just got Sandy Blair's A Man in a Kilt, I've read a couple of Tess Mallory's books (Highland Dream and Highland Fling) , I read a quite good new book called Return of the Highlander by Sarah MacKenzie, I have Karen Marie Moning's first book of her extensive (7 books? more?) series at home in my TBR pile, etc. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

So, yes, I am writing in a sub-genre niche, but lots of others have done so before me. And most of the authors listed above have found success in said niche. There are readers out there who enjoy these kinds of books. I was/am one of them. If I'm gonna buy a romance novel, it's most likely to be a Scottish historical (time-travel is a bonus), or a Regency. These were my preferences before even having heard of Outlander. Diana's books just happen to be the best in this niche, so of course they became my favorites.

I said all that to get to this point. This morning I was told that the section I posted on the critique forum to be vetted before submitting it for the Surrey chapbook read "uncomfortably like fan fiction."

Now I am confused, and concerned. Am I deluding myself into thinking I'm writing the novel I always dreamed of writing, when in actuality I'm just writing an extended version of Outlander fan fiction? Even though the setting is 50 years earlier and I'm including non-Outlander-related historical characters/events and when I was first trying to come up with the book idea I deliberately tried to avoid anything that would make it seem like Outlander Redux? And I'm not saying that in sarcasm. I'm really worried about this. I was worried enough last week (while I was still in the slump) about writing in the niche that I e-mailed Kristin Nelson about it, but her reply to me assured me and I resolved to just make my writing good enough to sell.

Here's the excerpt in question: "Takedowns"

Seriously, is anyone who reads my book just going to think "fan fiction"? Do the people on the forum think that but they are too nice and supportive to tell me so? I was cautioned about it early on when I was still describing my plot in kinda vague terms, but when I elaborated and added in all the specific details (see this previous post) I was told that sounded okay and possibly interesting, if done well.

Am I deluding myself?