Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What's Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, everyone! If you aren’t familiar with What’s Up Wednesday, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part.

What I’m Reading:

I’m about halfway through Pulse by Patrick Carman. You can take a look at the very cool cover to the right of this post. I’m still working my way through The Odyssey by Homer and Ender’s Game with my son. As usual when I’m drafting, my reading time tends to be minimized. Once I’m done this first draft, I might have to reward myself with a weekend of nothing but reading. That would be bliss.

What I’m Writing:

I mentioned last week that I’ve been reworking the order of certain plot details. For any of you who watched that episode of New Girl where Winston was putting together the puzzle (you know, with some of the pieces backwards, others jammed together all willy-nilly), that was me trying to piece together my plot. Not pretty. It involved hacking some scenes apart, mixing them around, integrating a few scenes better to tighten things up, rewriting bits, and drafting some entirely new scenes. Yeah, it’s been busy and seemingly never-ending.  I’m FINALLY reaching the end of this string of scenes though, and I’m glad I took the time to rip them up. This wasn’t a task I could leave for the revision stage. In order to keep my plot threads straight, it had to be done now, and all said and (almost) done, I think my WIP is far better off for it. In the next couple of days, I’ll be venturing into Act 3.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now:

A much needed Skype session with my sister, Jaime. When you’re in the thick of drafting and plot construction, it can be easy to lose perspective on your own story. I’m not sure about you, but I tend to see the flaws: all the seams where I’ve tacked things together, little plot holes that have yet to be filled, stretches where the excitement plateaus. Sure, I can fix those things in the revision stage, but sometimes to get through drafting you need someone else to have faith in your story, especially when you’ve misplaced yours. So a big thanks to my sister for renewing my confidence in the plot of this WIP.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

This weekend, my family went to the Strawberry Ranch, a local farm that grows a corn maze every year. We’ve done the maze once before, and much to our surprise, it was trickier than it looked! Seeing as the weather was gorgeous, we decided to tackle this year’s maze, which, from an aerial view, was designed in the shape of a caribou. Throughout the maze, there were facts about caribou, so it was a bit of an educational field trip at the same time.  I left the navigating to my boys and just enjoyed the blue skies and the wind rattling through the corn husks while I wandered after them. It was a lot of fun and very relaxing. The maze is only open until mid-October and it isn’t open in the evening, but I always think it would be a blast to try this on Halloween night!


 So what’s up with you this fine fall day?


41 comments:

  1. Glad you made it back out of that corn maze. I've seen them but haven't tried it out yet. The kids would probably love it. Sometimes it is better to sit down and rework things before getting to the official 'revision' stage. Good thing you have a writerly sister to touch base with!

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    1. It would be really easy to get lost in that thing! The first time we did the maze we thought we'd be out in ten minutes. Definitely not! It was a lot of fun and just a gorgeous, unique place to go for a fall walk. If you ever get the chance to take your kids to a corn maze, I highly recommend it for a great family activity!

      I think when it comes to major plot issues, it's best to tackle those before they get out of hand. Writing a good plot can be a difficult juggling act at the best of times, so I wanted to make sure I didn't drop the ball, so to speak. And I'm very lucky to have a writerly sister! I would never have gotten so far in this process or built up the confidence to do this without her. :)

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  2. ....I really wish that "Sign Out" button wasn't there. Darn you, blogger, for eating my comment! Let's hope this isn't a pale imitation of the GENIUS so sadly lost due to a badly located button...

    Those photos are beautiful. I feel so autumnal I want to go grab a blanket and some tea and all my snuggly PJs.

    Best of luck with getting those final revisions out of the way so you can get to Act III.

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    1. Isn't that thing annoying? I'm really not a fan of the new comment window either. Sorry it ate your comment!

      Thanks for the compliment on the photos. It was such a gorgeous day out and the corn maze was the perfect place to get a lot of good shots. I think I drove my boys a little crazy with the camera though!

      One and a half more scenes and I'm into Act 3. Can't wait! :D

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  3. That corn maze looks amazing, I'd love to try something like that. Good luck with Act 3 :)

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    1. It was a lot of fun, and I suspect it may become a family tradition. Thanks for wishing me luck! :)

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  4. The corn maze sounds like great fun and the photo's are lovely. I hope you are feeling better about your plot soon, it's so nice you have a sister who loves to write too. I would love to have someone like that to bounce ideas and problems off of :) I hope you have a good week.

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    1. The corn maze was the perfect place to spend a nice autumn day. Glad you liked the pictures! I plan on sending some to friends and family because they turned out so well.

      I think my plot issues are resolving themselves. I probably need to step back and take a break. Sometimes that's the best way to find clarity. I'm very lucky to have a sister who loves to write. I couldn't have made it this far in the process without her! I hope you have a great week as well!

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  5. I haven't done a corn maze since college. This post is making me want to get the kiddos into one. I understand your plotting woes. I've been stuck in that mode for quite a while with my YA novel that I'm letting rest this month. It's a definite challenge, but it'll be worth it in the end. Best of luck writing Act 3!

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    1. I bet your kids would love it! It's a great way to spend a fall afternoon. I have a feeling we'll be making it a family tradition.

      Sorry to hear you're having plot troubles as well. Taking a break from it really is a good idea. I find after some time away I often find clarity. This time I've been a bit impatient about it though. Ah well. I think I'm mostly over the tough part (crossing my fingers that I am anyway). Thanks for wishing me luck! Good luck on your WIP as well!

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  6. Beautiful fall pictures! You're inspiring me to find an orchard in my area to visit.
    Good luck as you start Act 3!

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    1. Glad you liked the pictures! I think I drove my boys a little crazy, because I kept stopping to snap shots every few seconds, but it was worth it. Visiting an orchard in fall sounds wonderful. I wish we had one around here. Thanks for wishing me luck!

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  7. My draft is like a mangled puzzle, too. I'll be glad for betas to take a look b/c I did so much rearranging that I know I've probably got some continuity issues.

    Somehow (even living in the country), I have never done a corn maze! There's one near me, though, so this might finally be the year :)


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    1. Glad I'm not the only one! I've been struggling with making scenes flow naturally into one another while revealing important pieces of the plot, but one string of scenes just felt forced and way too long. I'm hoping I've got it figured out now. Maybe. Not sure. Good luck sorting out your plot issues too!

      You should definitely try out your local corn maze, if for no other reason than to take a walk in a fun setting! :)

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  8. I've never done a corn maze, though since I'm in Upstate NY, there are quite a few farms in the vicinity that offer them this time of year.

    Good luck with the rest of your revisions. I've had to do some extensive frogging with some of my older books, and the books are always better because of it. When I'm finally done with my massive WIP, I've got some more frogging to do with a much-shorter book.

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    1. You should definitely try a corn maze then, since you have them in the area! It's a fun challenge and just a nice place to spend a fall afternoon! Tearing scenes apart and rewriting is always a pain, but like you say, the books are better off for it. I try to keep reminding myself of that! I think I might be through the rough part now, so that's good. Thanks for wishing me luck!

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  9. I always say that when I'm done drafting I'll reward myself with a weekend of nothing but reading, but that never happens because I'm ready to jump on the next wip or revisions ... and my TBR pile just grows and grows.
    It must be so nice that you and Jaime are writers and can talk about it all the time - I would love to have a close friend or a cousin that understands about writing to talk to. I have friends who are avid readers, but you know, they don't understand what goes behind the scenes so it's hard talking to them about it ...

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    1. I have a sneaking suspicion I'll do the exact same thing. I always think it's kind of funny that writers reward themselves with more writing once they're done with a project. Truth be told, I'll probably jump right into revisions and outlining the third book in my trilogy once I'm done this draft. One can dream about a relaxing reading weekend though, right?

      I count myself very lucky to have a sister who's also a writer. Like you said, so few people understand what all writing involves and how grueling it can be. I owe a lot to my conversations with Jaime. :)

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  10. Your photos of the corn maze (Or would that be maize?? Hardy har.) are just a reminder that I have still never been to the Lacombe corn maze. Maybe I can twist Todd's rubber arm into going. It feels like the perfect autumnish activity. (Love the photos, btw. The only thing they're lacking is grey rotting skin and yellow teeth. Just saying...)

    I love the Winston puzzle reference. Man, that was a weird episode, but also weirdly apropos to trying to get a freaking first draft out coherently. I'm glad our chat was helpful. We really need to get into the habit of doing it more often, even for shorter stints if that works better. I feel like bouncing those plot changes off of you were very helpful and just reinforced what I was already pretty sure needed to be done. Can't wait to get back to writing now!

    Have a great week! And try to sneak in some reading. :-)

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    1. Maize? Rotting skin and yellow teeth? You're so goofy! You guys should go to the corn maze over Thanksgiving weekend. That's when we went last year and it was the perfect activity for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure how challenging the Lacombe maze is, but it's a great place to go for an autumn walk at least.

      That episode of New Girl was totally whacked. Maybe if I sing to my plot the way Winston was singing to his puzzle pieces that might help. Maybe not. I think I'm mostly over the tough part (just getting snagged on one scene, but nothing major) so hopefully that's a good sign that things are back on track. Our conversation was a huge help. I think this draft is taking a while and I've been losing confidence, and not for any particularly good reason other than fatigue. I'm so glad our talk was helpful to your plot issues too! I agree that the Skype sessions should happen more often. It's good accountability and helps to sort story problems out before we feel completely stuck in a rut. Now, if only Skype and Google Hangouts would quit booting us out!

      I snuck in some extra reading last night, so that was nice. I'll try to make time for it this weekend too, although with Thanksgiving it's going to be busy. :)

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  11. Love this pictures from the corn maze, they're sort of inspiring me right now! I spent so much time in revision hacking, and rearranging, and cutting, and rewriting, that I could have avoided had I been more willing to take a step back during drafting and make sure everything was as it should be. So, clearly I agree with your method.

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    1. Glad you liked the pictures! I had fun taking them but drove my husband and son a little nuts, because I kept stopping every few seconds to snap shots. Can you blame me though? It really was a lovely place and a gorgeous day for photos!

      I was so, so tempted to just plow on ahead and leave the rewriting/rearranging for the revision phase, but it was bothering me too much, and I knew I would end up with gaping plot holes and the whole thing would probably be convoluted. I try to have an element of mystery in my stories, which involves planting clues, and so it gets tricky to overlook issues until revisions. Like you, I'd rather spare myself the difficulties of a nasty revision if I know it's a problem now. Glad you agree! :)

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  12. I'm curious to hear more about PULSE. That is a beautiful cover. It reminds me a little of the INSURGENT cover. And yes, I definitely think you should reward yourself with a reading marathon once your draft is done. Also, I LOVE your fall photo collage. Such beautiful pictures!

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    1. I have to admit that while I've really enjoyed some of Patrick Carman's other books, I'm only so-so on PULSE at this point. I'm only partway through though, so maybe it'll win me over yet. You're right, the cover is very reminiscent of INSURGENT. I hadn't even thought of that! And the cover "may" have had something to do with why I bought it in the first place. Seriously, I'm like a crow attracted to shiny things lol. Thanks for the compliment on the pictures! Last night, I designed an ecard to send family for Thanksgiving, and I used our corn maze photos. :)

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  13. I loved corn mazes when I was a kid but haven't done one for years. Maybe I should find one to do in the next few weeks.

    Good luck with your revising.

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    1. A corn maze is the perfect place to spend an autumn afternoon, and fun no matter what age you are! You should definitely do one soon! :)

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  14. I was in Portland two weeks ago, we went to the Comic Con at the convention center there, and then drove out to the coast. When I was planning my trip, I found out about Wordstock, but I wasn't able to find a schedule of events or a list of authors, it only had last year's. This was about 6 weeks prior and I couldn't hold off my plans any longer. Too bad, it sounds fun! Though I did plan our trip around a YA event near my house where I met Gayle Forman and some other excellent authors. I am really fortunate to live close by an indie bookstore that brings authors in every week, sometimes every night of the week, big names too. I did get my fix at Powell's :)

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    1. I think your comment for Kate somehow ended up on my blog instead lol. Her Wordstock experience did sound incredible though! :D

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  15. The plot-rearranging is my least favourite part of editing - I always think my book's going to fall apart! And continuity can be a pain. I''m currently going through two lots of CP notes as well as my own when attempting to rearrange my draft, hoping it'll come out in one piece! But it's worth it to feel like it's finally coming together. :)

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    1. I tend to outline a story to death before actually writing it, so the fact that I was having trouble getting the scene order right was driving me insane! Getting that nice, smooth flow to scenes and figuring out the best way to reveal bits of the plot can be so tricky though. And yes, it totally feels like the whole book is falling apart! I think I have it sorted out now. Mostly it involved switching a few scenes and then integrating everything better so that it felt tighter and not so drawn out. If it was easy to write then it probably wouldn't be much of a story though, right? At least that's what I'm telling myself. :D

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  16. Good luck on act 3!
    Your pictures are beautiful. I wish we had a pumpkin patch here. I think I'd have to drive a few hours off the coast to find one. I think its wonderful that you and your sister both love writing and can help each other out. I know what you mean about seeing the seams.

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    1. Thank you! The corn maze was the perfect place to snap shots, especially seeing as it was such a gorgeous day out. I'm very fortunate to have a sister who also writes. I couldn't manage without that kind of support. :)

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  17. Your relationship with your sister sounds so wonderful! It's nice you have someone so close to you who understands your writing journey and keeps you motivated! Best of luck with the rest of your WIP.

    I've never done a corn maze before but it sounds fun! I do enjoy apple and pumpkin picking this time of year. This is my favorite time of year. :)

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    1. Jaime and I have a great relationship, and I'm very thankful for it. Writing has been such a big part of both our lives in recent years and that support is indispensable. I would never have made it this far in the process if it wasn't for her interest in writing as well!

      If you ever have the chance to do a corn maze, you definitely should! It's a fun challenge and a great place for a nice autumn walk. I would love to go pumpkin and apple picking. On our way back from the corn maze, we saw a big field of pumpkins that had been picked and were still sitting there. I wanted to grab a bunch! :D

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  18. I have always wanted to do a corn maze, although I think I would get hopelessly lost. There aren't really any around here either. But it looks so cool!

    Boo that your revisions have been tough, but it sounds like you're doing a pretty good job pushing through. You keep going! Rah rah!

    And eee! The Odyssey is one of my all time favorite books/stories, but Greek mythology is one of my great loves (and wily Odysseus is my favorite)! I hope you're liking it. I also just read Ender's Game for the first time a few months ago. It was a page-turner. I'm excited for the movie!

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    1. If you ever get the chance you should definitely do a corn maze! The one we went to had a map to go with it, so we at least had some idea how to get through it. Still took a while though! It was a perfect fall activity.

      Yeah, the revisions have been kicking my butt lately, which sucks because I stopped drafting in order to revise this section, but I think I'm finally almost through it. Thanks for the encouragement on that!

      I'm loving THE ODYSSEY! I'd only ever heard a portion of it dramatically narrated at our local library, but seeing as I referenced it in my ms, I figured I'd better read it, and I'm so glad! Lately, I've been reaching for it instead of the YA books I've been reading. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it this much, even though I've always liked mythology too. Odysseus really is a great character, and I love how it's almost like a story within a story because he recounts his adventures to people he meets up with on his journey.

      I first read ENDER'S GAME a few years ago, but I wanted to read it again with my son before the movie comes out. I'm very excited for it too! It looks amazing! Have an awesome week!

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  19. Congrats on getting your plot sorted! (Also, YES to Winston puzzling. Although my favorite will probably always be Nick trying to write a novel.)

    And man, how do you manage to do so many awesome family activities? That corn maze looks like a lot of fun!

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    1. Oh geez, the episode where Nick was trying to write a novel was so hilarious! Some days I feel just like that, although fortunately my WIP is more than twelve pages long lol.

      The corn maze was fun and surprisingly relaxing actually. It was the perfect place for a fall walk with the added bonus of nice scenery for pictures. :)

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  20. I love the photos. That corn maze outing looks beautiful! :)

    Also, this, "...but sometimes to get through drafting you need someone else to have faith in your story, especially when you’ve misplaced yours." YES. Just. Yes. :) I have such a hard time with this one, but have learned the hard way that it's important to talk to someone about your story, at least so that you have that someone to talk to when you're feeling like giving up and/or just lost your forward drive.

    I hope you have a great week, Erin! :)

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    1. Thank you! We had a great afternoon there!

      I can honestly say that if my sister wasn't a writer as well, I would have given up long ago. Heck, I wouldn't ever have taken writing seriously, despite the fact I'd been writing stories since I was a kid. I owe her big time for that. The process is just too emotionally grueling to go through it on your own. Glad you've found the same thing:)

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  21. The pictures look gorgeous and it sounds like a really fun afternoon! I think you´re right it would also be a great Halloween location :)
    Hope you´re having a wonderful week, Erin!

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