Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat: Sunday

We’re all home from the 4th Annual Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat, and back to our regular days.  Our last day, Sunday, was a much shorter day, finishing up by 11 am, but still a nice end to the weekend retreat.

We only did a brief workshop, looking at some writing resources to help with dynamic description and writing in a more active style, and discussed how to structure a book bible.

We had some free write time as well–I’d finished my work (for now) on Guardian III, so I launched right into what I dearly hope will be the final final edits for Guardian I.  This was much less intense than the work needed for Guardian III–I had a print-out of the draft with minor edits already noted on it, and just needed to go through to implement in the digital file.  By the end of the day, I got through about about a third of the novel, so that was a solid amount of progress on that as well…some of it done on retreat, and some of it done after I got home.  Because obviously, when you get home from a writing retreat and have a spare hour, the thing to do is more writing! 🙂

Day Three Writing
Blog posts written: 1
Pages of Guardian I edited: 90

Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat: Saturday

We closed out Day Two the 4th Annual Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat, and just have a few hours left now!  Our second day, Saturday, was equally awesome, and I was happy to get more writing in.

Our focus on Saturday was on plot.  We went over common plot structures and how they compare (there are some pretty good parallels in the Hero’s Journey and the traditional Romantic plotline!)  We then used that structure to group-plot a book about Lola, yesterday’s character.  It was a pretty freeform, idea-tossing conversation that got the entire book plotted in a couple of hours.  It was pretty amazing–and you know you’re in a good point with writing when the sentence “so then the parkour group mobilizes with the coven to fight the vampires” makes complete sense. 🙂

We also finished The Fellowship of the Ring, compared the plot to the Hero’s Journey structure, and had some solid discussion on the really brilliant things both Tolkien and the filmmakers did in all the tiny details of that movie.

Outside of workshopping, I had a solid day in revising–I got through the end of Guardian III (!) per my retreat goal, went back to weave in references to a special performance I decided on at the end (mostly to satisfy my own need for a correct timeline, and otherwise why was there a performance on a Tuesday?  Conundrums), plus a couple other notes resolved to call this pass done.  I even resolved a note I’ve had in here since November of 2013, finally figuring out how to clarify something I’d left unsaid all this time.  So that is super exciting on so many levels!

And we still have about four and a half hours of retreating left…

Day Two Writing
Blog posts written: 1
Pages of Guardian III revised: 45

Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat: Friday

It’s relatively the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, and I thought I’d do an update on the first day of the 4th Annual Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat.

A few people came Thursday night, but I arrived Friday morning and we kicked things off officially at 10 am.  We spent the day primarily discussing character creation.  In what was basically a writing jam session, we tossed ideas around to create a character as a group, using some character-building tools and online personality tests.

We ended up with Lola, a trash-talking chef who does parkour in her free time, who is slow to trust others because she was betrayed by her previous boss/mentor.  She has a buzzcut and is very buff from her parkour exercise, and has some insecurities about not being the conventional female standard of beauty.  Deep-down, she wants a long-term romantic relationship but doesn’t think she’ll find anyone, so she uses Tinder or the equivalent to casually date a lot of equally buff women.  Over the course of the book we may or may not group-write, she falls in love with a vegan ballerina.  She has complicated feelings with her large Hispanic, conservative Catholic family, and as a kind of guilty pleasure she likes Austen movies and pork rinds.

But believe me, that summary just scratches the surface!  By the end of the day, we all felt that we knew Lola personally, and she might show up at the door, possibly with Charlie the ballerina. 🙂

As a pre-start to our plotting workshops planned for today (Saturday), we watched the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring, with discussion on the plot and character threads set up at the beginning of the movie that carry through the trilogy.  We also wound up observing just how much Tolkien there is in Harry Potter! (Ring wraiths/dementors, Sauron bound to the ring/horcruxes, and of course, wizard mentors with large beards…)

Outside of workshopping, we did some free write time…although the retreat house also has a pool and a hot tub that had a nice view of the full moon, so we may have been slightly distracted by that too!  All in all, a full day and nice kick-off to the retreat.

Day One Writing
Blog posts written: 2
Pages of Guardian III revised: 21

Blog Hop: To Borrow, To Buy?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is:  Have you ever read a library book you loved so much, you just HAD to own it, so you bought a copy for yourself after returning the library book you had already finished?

This is how I buy most of my books.  I read almost everything from the library first, then eventually buy the ones I particularly loved.  The only exceptions are authors I love so much I’ll buy their books unread (though I’ve maxed out most of them), and even those are authors I read from the library first.

I feel like this question implies a shorter time frame than usually applies in my case.  I usually don’t buy books until months or years after I read them the first time.  I’m trying to recall a book I loved so much I immediately went out and bought it…and though I’m sure it has happened, I’m having trouble thinking of an example!

Oddly, what comes to mind are movies.  I rented Jesus, a three-hour miniseries, and I think I ordered it on Amazon before I even finished it.  Both because it’s that good, and because I’d seen enough to be sure it was the one I vaguely remembered watching and liking when I was a kid.  Similarly, I rented Christopher Robin, loved it so much I meant to buy it immediately–got bogged down trying to decide how to apportion a gift card–and my husband bought it for me for Valentine’s Day maybe a week after we watched it (I promptly watched it at least twice more with other people within the following month!)

Have you read a book from the library, or borrowed somewhere else, and then rushed out to buy it?

Writing Wednesday: Plans Abound

I finished (!) my big, complicated revision pass through Guardian III last week, and started again the next day in Chapter One.  Happily, this simpler revision pass is going even faster than I expected—always a pleasant surprise when that happens.

My goal was to finish revisions to prepare the book for beta-readers by the end of this weekend.  The tight timeline seemed doable originally because I am going on the Stonehenge Circle Writers annual retreat this weekend.  We get together Thursday to Sunday, do writing workshops and spend a lot of time writing.

Now that Guardian III is going even faster than I expected, I’ve started thinking about other projects to work on during the retreat.  I have an…ambitious list.

1) Finish revising Guardian III for beta-readers
2) Guardian II revisions based on second-round beta reader feedback
3) Guardian I revisions based on read-aloud review
4) First-round revisions for Thorns I, Part Two
5) Beta-read a friend’s novel (due by mid-October)
6) NaNoWriMo prep for Thorns I, Part Three
7) Continue drafting short stories for planned “Bookstore Anthology”
8) Stonehenge Circle Writers’ biweekly blog prompt short story

I know I won’t do ALL of it…but it’s nice to have plans!  Realistically, I’ll be happy if I complete 1 and start 2, I’ll probably do some of 5 for a change of pace, and I may do some work on 7 or 8 as a different kind of change of pace.  We’ll see what develops.

Friday Face-Off: September Days

FFO.jpg

It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: “Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

I decided to go with one that may only be glancingly fall–but the heroine is named September, this series always came out in the fall so I read it then, and the reds and golds do have an autumnal feel.  So my pick for today is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.  A relatively recent book, there seem to be only a few cover options.

This is close to the cover I’ve seen before, but with some extra swirly bits.  It’s a bit too much, although putting Neil Gaiman’s endorsement at the top is a nice touch!

Continue reading “Friday Face-Off: September Days”

Writing Wednesday: Closing Things Out

I’ve been working my way through Guardian III for what feels like forever, but I’m so, so close to the end of my current pass-through (so I can start the next, hopefully much faster one!)  I’ve been expanding my final chapter, which was originally written on the last day of NaNoWriMo 2016; there was a definite element of, “just throw something down and finish.”  So there was some work to do!

In the biggest change, I added an extra scene that I should have realized I needed years ago.  But it’s there now, so beta-readers won’t yell at me 🙂 that a crucial moment is missing.

For people who like to read the end of a book first, here’s just a glimpse of that newly added, nearly at the end scene.

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He stood on the stage of the Opera Garnier, the largest stage in Europe, and looked out over the rows and rows of empty seats.  They were barely visible in the shadows, with only a few safety lights burning.  It was still dark outside, though no light ever penetrated here anyway, and it was quiet in the Opera.  His mind filled in what his eyes couldn’t see in the dim light—the glowing red velvet of the seats, the gleaming gold of the decorations, the glittering, newly-hung chandelier hanging above, the sun in the sky of the Opera.