Monthly Archives: May 2012

Book 16: Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle

Title: Latte Trouble (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 3)
Author: Cleo Coyle
Page Count: 256
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Mystery

Rating: 6/10

Summary:
When fashion icon Lottie Harmon introduces a new line of java-inspired jewelry, Clare Cosi thinks her life will be filled with fashion shows and runway models. When one of her patrons ends up dead on the floor and her barista ends up in jail for murder, Clare’s world is turned upside down. Can she discover the truth and get Tucker out of jail, or will she be stuck in jail forever?

Opinion:
This is the third book of the Coffeehouse series, and while I enjoyed reading this one, it didn’t hook me as much as the others had. Much of the novel feels more like a history lesson than a book. If you like learning things about New York City and fashion, this will undoubtedly be a great book. If not, though, you might feel a bit bogged down with details. Also, I knew who the murderer was after the first chapter, even before the person was killed.

Overall, it was a decent enough book when I needed something to read. There were surprising aspects of the book, and I found the end interesting, but the whodunnit part wasn’t surprising. I’ll still probably end up reading more in the series, because I like learning about the characters, but the books now longer enthrall me like they used to.

The best laid plans…

My original goal for this month was to finish the fan fiction piece I started last November. There’s a “Big Bang” fest in the fall that I was going to participate in, but I can’t bring myself to finish the story. I finally had an outline that I was satisfied with, and I hit 25k (the minimum to participate) in chapter 10 out of 30. I just couldn’t write it.

I used to write a lot of fan fiction, and it was a lot of fun. I could borrow existing characters and create new stories for them. Most of what I wrote was crap, but there are still several stories I’m proud of, stories that I would read if I ever wanted to read fan fiction again. And while I learned a decent amount from writing fan fiction, and I can never be sorry that I used to write it – especially since I found out about NaNoWriMo through fan fiction – I no longer feel like it’s for me.

I don’t think I’ve written a single piece of Harry Potter fan fiction since the last book came out in 2007. The only fan fiction I’ve written since then has been a few drabbles for an Aaron Sorkin livejournal group I used to be in. I used to spend most of my time thinking about ideas for fan fiction pieces to write, but now I can’t do it anymore. I no longer really care about the characters like I used to. It feels sort of like a waste of time now. I guess it’s good that I’m now focusing more on my own ideas, but part of me is still sad that I’m closing that part of my life.

Onto the good news, though:

I’ve written 2700 words so far today, and I’m nowhere near stopping for the day. I was going to save the novelization of Degeneration for the June session of Camp NaNo, but I can’t afford to waste another eleven days simply planning, especially when there’s not really much left to plan. I have the 129-page screenplay. I have my character descriptions. I have my screenplay outline with notes on what to fix in the novel. I don’t really need much of anything else. Just motivation.

I would love to be able to write this entire novel before Camp starts, but I highly doubt that’s going to happen. Most of my novels seem to be at least 100k when finished, which means that I would have to write at least 9k a day every day for the rest of the month in order to finish this novel. Even though I have the plot down already and can include large sections of the screenplay in the novel, I still think that would be pushing it.

I’m currently just trying to reach 100,000 words written this month, which would bring my 2012 total word count up to 250,000. I need to write 5,900 words/day to do that, which is more manageable than 9k but still not great. I still think I can do it, though, as long as I push myself and stop spending all day looking up new recipes to try.

Degeneration is now up to a little over 3,600 words, and I’m on chapter 2. I’m pleased with what I have so far. I know it’s not perfect (in fact, the 500-word prologue is almost definitely going to be deleted in the first round of edits), but I’m overall pleased with this. I went back and forth between first person and third limited, but I finally decided to write this in first person. It’s not my usual choice – especially when I relate so much to the main character – but I think it was the right choice. It just worked with this story.

Looks like I’m going to be a rebel for the start of Camp NaNo this year.

Versatile Blogger Award

I’m honored to say that the kind The Hollywood Virgin has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful bloggers get this award (including the person who nominated me, so go check out that blog!), but I never thought that anyone would consider my blog worthy enough to join the list. I’m touched.

For anyone who doesn’t know, here are the rules of the award:

1.Β  Thank the person who gave you this award. (Check)

2.Β  Include a link to that person’s blog. (Check – just click on the name above!)

3. Nominate 15 other blogs for this award. (See below)

4. Share 7 things about yourself. (Check – see below)

 

First, the blogs –

This will be the difficult part, as I don’t follow that many blogs. Instead of looking up random blogs in an attempt to reach 15, I’ve decided I’m just going to share the blogs that I frequent the most. These are the blogs that inspire me to keep writing when I’m feeling down, or blogs that provide me with delicious-looking recipes to try when I’m taking a break from writing.

(Mostly) Writing blogs:
Word Flows
Rabbitastrophe
Novel Ideas
Of a Writerly Sort
4amWriter

(Mostly) Cooking blogs:
La Vie En Vegan
Vegan Lovelie

 

And now for the 7 things about myself –

1. The first story I remember writing, written when I was 7, was called “The Very First Pet Leopard.” It was about a family who goes camping, reunites with the MC’s long-lost twin brother (whom she recognizes after he shows her a baby picture he conveniently carries around with him), and finds a leopard that they take home with them. It’s horrible, but it amuses me read.

2. The first story I ever rewrote was “Card Games,” when I was ten. It was about a girl whose father gambles her away in a game of poker. The first draft was 14 pages long. The next was 40-something. I also then wrote it as a 98-page screenplay when I was thirteen. The story’s a bit better than the one mentioned above, but not by much.

3. I love the cold. I spent the first eight years of my life in New York, and I spent my three college years in Minnesota. I miss it terribly. This Georgia heat is going to kill me one of these days.

4. I’m horrible in social situations. I barely talk when there are more than two other people with me, and if I do, I feel nervous the entire time. I can spend hours sitting and listening to people talk, though, and be just fine with that.

5. I’m trying to make the transition from meat-eater to vegan. Currently, I’m a vegetarian who sometimes eats vegan, and it’s working well. I don’t miss meat at all. However, I don’t try to make anyone feel guilty for what they eat. I won’t judge what anyone else eats as long as no one else judges what I eat.

6. I’ve tried to learn to knit several times now. I own two sets of needles and two balls of yarn. I can’t figure it out. I got several rows once that actually looked good, but that was when my boyfriend’s brother started it for me. I can’t start it, and I’ve since given up. It was rather sad.

7. I’ve always wanted a kitten, but my mother hates cats, so that’s never been an option. My boyfriend and I have already decided that whenever we’re able to get our own place, we’re going to get at least one kitten. Maybe more. Can you be a crazy cat lady if you have a significant other? Because if so, that’ll be me. πŸ˜€

Book 15: The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott

Title: The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life: Cruelty-Free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets, and More
Author: Melisser Elliott
Page Count: 224
F/NF Non Fiction
Genre Lifestyle/nutrition

Rating: 8/10

Summary:
In this book, Melisser Elliott sums up everything a new vegan needs to know to succeed in this lifestyle. She explains multiple reasons why people go vegan and why doing so is good for animals, the environment, and people. She also provides recipes, blogs, websites, and other information to help make the transition easier.

Opinion:
I’ve done a lot of research into veganism in the past month, and I still found this book interesting. I already knew most of what was in this book, but it was nice having it all in one spot. I particularly enjoyed all the information on why going vegan is good for animals. I already know most of it, but this book definitely helped explain some things that I hadn’t learned yet – like why vegans don’t eat honey and why wearing wool is cruel, even if the animals aren’t killed. I also found the “That isn’t vegan?” section really useful. She also includes profiles on many bloggers and owners of vegan companies. Some of the links no longer worked, but many of them did, and they were interesting to look at.The most useful part, at least for me, was the part where she included a list of common questions/taunts that vegans face, along with proper comebacks for them. I’ll definitely have to commit most of those to memory. πŸ™‚

I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone who has been a vegan for a serious amount of time. I bought the Kindle version for 99 cents, and I feel that I got my money’s worth, but I would have been upset had I spent $10 on the paperback copy. There are relatively few recipes in this book, and the only “beauty secrets” in there are the lists of cruelty-free companies, which you could get from PETA.

Overall, I think this was a good book, and I think it was well worth the dollar I spent on it. If you’re new to veganism or simply curious about the lifestyle and why people choose to follow it, I highly recommend it. However, if you’ve been a vegan for a while and already know where to get cruelty-free products and know about the horrible things people do to animals, you probably don’t need this book.

April projects bring writing lessons

So, it’s been a while since my last post. I’d like to say it was because I was writing so much, but that would be a lie. Most of my time has been spent reading vegan websites and on weight loss forums. The good news is that I have been cooking a lot of plant-based, whole foods and have lost about 5 pounds. The bad news is that I didn’t write the 30k I was supposed to this month. But I’m okay with that, because I did learn a lot in the past few days.

First things first, though: I wrote 4,604 words yesterday, which translates to about 20 screenplay pages. I won Script Frenzy with an hour and a half to spare, which was exciting. I still have 7 scenes left to write (including the super long climax scene), but I’m hoping to finish that either today or tomorrow.

It’s funny – for the past year or so I’ve thought of myself more as a pantser than a plotter. Sure, I spend most of my time planning stories, and I usually have at least a basic outline when I start writing, but I generally toss that outline fairly soon into the writing process and just write what comes to me. I always have to start out with a basic overview of what will happen, but if I get too specific in the outline, I either don’t finish the story or completely ignore the outline.

But I realized something yesterday, after I spent a fair amount of time staring out the window and writing a new outline for the end of Degeneration: I wrote more of my screenplay in one go after writing that outline than I had the rest of the month, and I like what I wrote yesterday more than I like the rest of the script. I’m realizing that it’s not the outlines that were hindering me before – it was the fact that those outlines were horrible.

Take my first outline of Degeneration – I have at least one bullet point for each scene, but there are no real specifics. I thought this would help me write, since I would have more freedom, but I just ended up spending a ton of time staring blankly at my screen, trying to figure out what to do next, how to get from one bullet point to the next. It would be like trying to drive from Georgia to New York without a map – or, rather, with a map of Georgia and a map of New York. Sure, I might know where I want to be at the end, but if I don’t know how to get there, can I really be surprised when I end up way over in Kansas? It’s not that maps aren’t helpful; it’s just that I didn’t have the right maps.

What else happens when I don’t have the right maps? Well, I stall for time. I hate being lost, so I’m not going to speed off at 70 mph in what could very well be the wrong direction. So, instead, I’ll spend a lot of time right where I am. I’ll take a walk in the park. I’ll visit each store in town, examining every single knickknack in the place, prolonging the moment when I’ll have to leave and actually make a decision. That’s why I was at page 45, and they had only just arrived at her grandparents’ house, even though that scene was supposed to occur between pages 20 and 25. That’s why, when I was writing Learning to Lie, it took me almost 20,000 words before something interesting happened. I didn’t know where I was going, so I just rambled for a while, hoping that by the time I stopped rambling I would know where I was supposed to be going next.

That’s not to say that outlining is the only way to write. There are plenty of people who are gifted at just jumping in the car and knowing instinctively where to go. There are also others who set out with no destination and just sort of drive around for a while, enjoying the ride. I admire these people, but I am not one of them. I need an outline, especially when it comes to the second draft.Β  That was my biggest mistake with Learning to Lie: I wrote draft 1 with only a basic plot idea, and I learned a lot from it, but I didn’t then stop and take the time to plan the whole series. I just planned the first one, and now I’m going to have to rewrite a large part of that one once I finally figure out where it’s going long-term.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a screenplay to finish. πŸ™‚