Monday, April 29, 2013

Yes, I am Canadian (and I might be a little crazy)

I disappeared good, didn't I?

Well, I figured since so many bloggers were heavily involved in the A-Z challenge that no one would be the wiser if I slipped away for a bit of offline-down-time.

One thing I did... went back to Victoria and packed up/moved all my stuff. Well, most of it. I left about 1/2 my books, 1/2 my movies, all my sports gear (except my beloved Sims snowboard), and after a tragically long day of packing/movers, and the pond pump not working (so we ended up in the water bailing by hand), successfully managed to catch and transport 11 out of my 16 koi. They are now living happily in my parent's pond.

This past week I escaped to the family cabin.

It's on a little lake about 2 hours out of downtown Vancouver. I love going there. After driving out of the city, you hit the valley with farms/etc, then wind through the foothills a bit. My grandfather built the place when my mom was a little kid. "Rustic" would be the polite term for the place ;)

There was electricity, but I think I was around 7 or 8 when we finally got water... before that, if you wanted to cook/clean/etc, you had to walk down and draw a bucket of water from the lake. I was 13 or 14 when they finally installed a hot water tank, and a shower! Yup, washing your hair meant jumping in the lake, climbing onto the dock, scrubbing up, and jumping back in.

With no tv, no internet, and in a small town where there's not a whole heck of a lot to do, I managed to do a couple things I haven't been able to do for months: read (3 full YA books and a short/accompanying story to one of those books), and write (about 1,500 words on the Jay/Kell story).

Farms on the right, foothills up front. If I had aimed my phone a little to the right, you'd be able to see an amazingly clean/huge view of Mt. Baker (in Washington State)

Here's winding through the foothills... though you can't really see the big hill on the left, on the right, there are all these amazing seasonal waterfalls which pour down the melting snow each spring

 Ahhh... on the deck, 20 C (68 F), and that lake couldn't have melted before yesterday... No, I'm serious. It was frozen solid in January, and just a week before I went to the cabin, there was a fresh dump of snow that went half-way down that mountain! While Eva (as you can see) was good to wander around on the deck, Berkeley contented himself with hiding under the cabin and hunting tasty spiders. Cats :D He's used to wearing a harness/being tied up outside, and he's been to the cabin a number of time, but this was only Eva's second visit.

 Morning view from the deck of the cabin, around 9am. Seriously, can it get better than this? Truly a perfect moment to pause, consider, and feel blessed by the good in my life rather than focusing on the bad. Even coffee tastes better with this view.

The very first batch of new Canadian geese! These two parents were hanging out around the dock all week (on and off), and on my final day, I guess their little ones were finally strong enough to take their first tour of the lake. Pretty cool... though Canadian geese are noisy suckers, destroy lawns (hence the fence in the previous picture), and can be pretty vicious. By my count, I think there are 16 babies... but it's hard to tell with them all clumped up together, and zooming in on my phone isn't the best :p

Oh, the being crazy part I mentioned? I swam in the lake every day I was there, except the very first day. And no, not in a wetsuit or a drysuit. More than one neighbour wandered down to check it out... more than one called me crazy (or just thought it strongly enough that you could plainly read it on their face). I was smart though, limiting it to 20 min max because you lose body heat so fast in water that cold that it can be dangerous. The water was so cold it tasted of metal, but I still had a fun time swimming around and diving off the dock. I do love swimming ;)

Anyways, that's where I've been, and while I may not be fully healed, at least I've got a bit of my charge back now ;) I am already planning to commandeer the cabin again for at least a week in June and hope to get a good chunk of writing done ;)

Hope you all are doing well! Now it's time to leash up Eva and take her out for walkies ;)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Still moving, not dead yet

It's just after 6:30am, absolutely pouring outside, and I'm about to throw on a jacket and head over to a Muay Thai boxing gym.



I've been laid-up again with ribs popping out, was forbidden to even walk Eva for a while, and am kinda coming to the end of my patience with this whole thing.* Yes, it takes me a while to lose my patience :) First rib-poppage was early January... so... 3 months of this?

I've been told that I need to strengthen my back muscles (around my spine in particular), and was advised to take up yoga or something.

Now, no offence to any yoga-lovers**, but I've tried it, and I think I would seriously die of boredom if I had to do it every day for 1+ hours.

See, I like to move around. I'd rather go swimming, snowboarding, running, play soccer... even using a treadmill would be preferable to standing on a mat and s-l-o-w-l-y stretching into impressive poses.***

So, I'm looking for alternatives. I'm also going to check out a traditional boxing gym on Friday.

Right now any kind of twisting, no matter how small****, is wrenching things around just enough to tug those ribs out of joint... know what the latest culprit was? Shoulder checking while driving. So yeah, getting this thing fixed is sort of a priority for me.

So, I'm going to give a beginner class a shot and see what this is like.

Wish me luck :)

* It's very frustrating to stay in bed all day with a heating pad on the back, and an ice-pack on the front ribs.
** One of my best friends is a total yoga-lover
*** And I do fully admit, the advanced poses are crazy impressive...
**** I have now fully bested the art of rolling out of bed without twisting :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yeah, I'm kind of slow sometimes

It just hit me, why I'm writing Jay.

'Cause when writing "The Rules of Riding Shotgun", I never really got to write from Jackson's perspective.

And Jay is a lot like Jackson (and it's not just the 'J' name thing*). They are both confident, pushy, and selfish. Their needs come first, always, and if someone can't help them, then that person is disposable.

The reason why I'm saying that I'm slow, is 'cause every time I start a new story, the main aspect of the main character is something I wanted to explore more in whatever I was previously working on.

Project #1 had primarily female characters, and I hated my main female character. Yes, hated. As in, I plotted her destruction daily, but couldn't kill her off since she was (duh) the MC, so instead, she got beaten up a lot by other characters -> so I wanted to write from the male perspective, which I was more comfortable with anyways

Project #2 flipped between two brothers -> I really enjoyed writing from the younger one's perspective, since I had never written a character that young before, plus I knew the narrative was too distant, so I was toying with the idea of trying 1st person for a change, rather than my usual close-3rd POV and seeing how that went.

Project #3 is MG, not YA, 1st person, present tense (also a new/first-time thing for me) -> I wasn't confident I was pulling off a MG voice, and I wanted something more action-y (plot-wise), and I kind of liked how a preteen boys and girls can be nearly interchangeable in a lot of ways, especially since romantic relationships aren't the first thing on their brain when they interact with their peers.

Project #4 I went back to YA, there's a more action-y plot, genderless character who is pretty slow on the whole 'growing up/relationship thing', and I felt confident enough to swap between past/present, and keep it in 1st person -> but I didn't have a good handle on Jackson. Actually, that's still bugging me while I'm editing the 2nd draft. Since the MC is so 'Triss-focused', it's impossible to show Jackson as anything other than how the MC views him as: a dangerous, selfish jerk who is trying to take the MC's place (in a way). Jealousy sure throws up some strong blinders... and it bothers me that I can't show a more objective view of Jackson.

Project #5 I flipped a complete 180. Female MC who makes her choices/mistakes 'cause she loves her sister (not for selfish reasons), there's an actual *romantic* relationship that isn't weird/creepy, and I got to play with my own mythology (which is always awesome)... but then after NaNo was over, I went back to re-read Project #4 with fresh eyes, and all those things I was already thinking about resurfaced, so...

Project #6 has a male character who is similar (personality-wise) to Jackson, and since I'm in his head, I can actually focus on why he does what he does, not trying to pry small details out from an extremely difficult, Triss-obsessed character who only focuses on whether someone is going to hurt them or not. So, (contented sigh) I get to show a more objective view of an unlikable character and (somehow?) make him interesting enough that readers want to follow along on his journey. Although, it would probably be easier to kill him off, like Jackson ;)

See why I say I'm kindof slow? I have this clear pattern... and I only clued in 20 minutes ago as to why I'm writing such a difficult character as Jay.

OH, and after many hours of research**, I know Kell's "real" name now. HINT: it's an Arabic name meaning "good looking/beautiful". Since Jay wants to paint her, I figured that was appropriate.

It was a real pain trying to find a name with the sound 'kell' somewhere inside it, and have it come from the right part of the world.***

I also looked up names for Jay's ex girlfriend and a couple teachers, and chose them 'cause they "fit", not just 'cause I needed a name, and whatever fell off of my fingers and onto the screen was good enough. So that's a first-time thing for me too.

Although, I do realize I wasted hours on this yesterday... which is why I will probably go back to my usual lazy-naming-scheme. After all, I can always change names later :) Heck, that's what I do with titles, so names really aren't any different.

How about you guys? Do you put a lot of thought into your character names? What about weird quirks like my 'J-name' thing?

Do you have strange writing patterns like I do? What inspires you to write a new story, and is it usually the same kind of genre/characters/POV/etc, or do you mix it up?

* I mentioned this a long time ago in another post... but I have the tendency to use a lot of 'J' names. In Project #3, there was a kid names Jack (changed to 'Zach' after I started Project #4), and there are two of them in Project #1... not the MC, but the next important female and the... sort of (but not really) male 'interest'. I seriously can't call him a romantic interest 'cause... well, I just can't.

So far, Projects #2 & #5 are 'J-free', but I'm sure one or two will sneak in there when I'm not looking...

** also known as procrastination

*** Kell almost got a complete background re-write, instead of Arabic/Persian, there was one African name that worked, and like 4 or 5 Hawaiian names. But I'm glad I stuck it out.