Some News!

Well, it has certainly been a whirlwind the last couple months… And once again, my schedule has gone all to hell.  My apologies for that.  But I have some exciting news, at least I think it is quite exciting.  I have finished a manuscript!  Currently, I am working on edits (or trying to– it isn’t going quite how I want it to, but that will change).  As soon as edits are completed, it will be going to some beta readers.  Eventually, the hope is that I will be sending it off to some agents.

To that effect, I am in the process of doing a few things, including creating a website for myself as an author.  The new site is coming along nicely.  There will be a blog attached to the site.  That means, this blog will be retired.  I’m not getting rid of it.  In fact, it will remain and it is being linked to the new site so folks can peruse the content here.  But after today, all new updates will be over on the new blog.  If you wish to continue to follow me, be sure to take a gander over there!  It’s jb-wolfe.com.  Hope to see you there!  If not, I want to thank all my readers and those who have commented over the years.  You guys are amazing!

Book Review: Behold the Dawn

Title:  Behold the Dawn by KM Weiland
Medium: Book
Genre:  Historical Fiction

165-pxInitial Thoughts: I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into this one since I first started to read Katie’s book on Outlining.  It was used in a number of examples and it piqued my curiosity then.  It took me a bit to get into, not because it wasn’t interesting, but more because my lack of focus of late played a part in that.  Once I got into it, though I was hooked!

Favorite Part:  My favorite character was by far Marek!  His foil to Marcus’s character was a lot of fun.  I loved their by-play.  Marek is Marcus’s squire and not always by choice, though you can tell their relationship is one of mutual affection, even if neither will admit it.

Overall Impression: I thoroughly enjoyed Behold the Dawn.  If I had one complaint, it was that I wasn’t as fond of Mairead as I would have liked to have been.  This is no fault of the author’s, by any means.  It stems more from a personal hang-up.  The character is actually a strong one, though it takes a bit for that strength to come through.  I just happen to be a more modern woman and the meekness often expected in the time period that this story takes place makes me a bit crazy at times.  Again, no fault of the author, but my perceptions of what I hoped she would do didn’t quite pan out.

Recommendation: I would give this my whole hearted recommendation to anyone that enjoys historical fiction, especially if they like a well-researched historical fiction.  It’s a great read for anyone that is curious about the tourneys and for anyone that likes a good journey/adventure story along with a sprinkling of romance.

 

Keeping Track of Goals

Since my last spate of regular updates, I have been looking for something to really help with keeping track of my writing goals.  At the moment, I have a day job (which I love, don’t get me wrong) and sometimes it can make writing difficult.  I’m really struggling some days to help get myself on some kind of writing routine.  For me, setting myself a goal (and a deadline) helps.  For something like writing, there are a myriad of ways to set yourself a goal.  It can be in how much time you want to spend.  It can be in word count (my preferred method), or characters, or– the list goes on.

Finding a reliable way to keep track of your goal can be a bit troublesome.  I did some Google searching one day.  I was looking for a way to keep track of word count.  I love the graphs and the progress bar that you get with NaNoWriMo; I wanted something like that, but not just for November.  I stumbled upon Pacemaker.

It has become invaluable in keeping track of my goals.  I’m the type that getting to see Pacemaker8how far I am can help me keep going.  It gives me motivation and satisfaction.  What I like about Pacemaker is that it is supremely flexible.  You can use a lot of different metrics like word count, time, sections, chapters, pages.  They have even added things for those needing to keep track of other goals like money, fitness, steps, etc.  I used it for outlining and since I tend to do outlining in my WriteMind before I start writing, I used pages for my metric.  It also has a wide variety of ways in which to proceed.  For example, using a steady goal means that it will automatically calculate how many words (or whatever) you need a day during the Pacemaker5time limit you set.  You can do other settings aside from a steady pace as well.  There’s Rising to the Challenge, Biting the Bullet, Mountain Hike, Valley, Oscillating, and Randomly.  The great thing is, you can change it as much as you want and it calculates automatically based on your settings.

One of the other things I love about it is that if you know specific days or specific dates are going to be better or worse for your goals, then you can either skip them, have the daily goal change to be less than other days, or more depending.

They also have four different ways to view it.  There’s the table, the graph, the calendar,

and the bar graph.  Personally, I keep it in calendar as I’m working on things, but I love looking at the bar graph every so often and when I complete it all, I plan on saving the graph and printing it out.  There is also a progress bar up at the top of the screen at all times, which is lovely.Pacemaker7

Now, I have the Premium account because I wanted to be able to use everything they have as well as everything they plan on coming out with.  Their free account gives you the ability to make two plans at a time.  The premium account (at $8 a month or $72 for the year) gives you no limitations plus more features.  I have found it more than worth the price, but even the free account might work well for some.  One of the features you can get with the premium account is another calendar view that shows all of the current projects/goals you may be working on at one time.  So if you are working on a novel, maybe another outline, or a short story plus if you want to keep track of how often you go to the gym, it would all be there at a glance.  There is also the ability to put a small description for each project and I do believe that is only for premium as well.

There are a few things I would love them to do, mostly have a mobile app and not just browser based, as well as maybe a built in timer.  But then I’m greedy and I love one-stop shopping as it were.  The less windows/apps/things I need, the better!  As it is, I use Pacemaker and an Android app called Writeometer.  But overall, I do love Pacemaker and I love the fact that they are so responsive to their community!  They quite lovely and I can’t wait to see everything they come out with in the days, weeks, months, and years to come!

A Long Few Months

Hello everyone.  My track record for keeping a blog schedule went right out the window.  I am sorry about that.  Things got crazy.  The bookstore I work at did finally get moved.  The space is wonderful.  I will plug it, for anyone that might be interested: fireflybookstore.com.   The new building is about 3 times the space.  We are even organized, finally (it took two months or close to it to finish that part).  Still a few things to do.  One of the things we’re still waiting on is to raise funds to help make our building accessible.  Our town is fairly old and most of the buildings were built in early-middle 1800’s, including ours.  It’s one of the oldest, in fact.  But that means it has stairs at both entrances, front and back.  We do have a GoFundMe up to help with defraying some of the costs.

Anyway, that was a large part of my absence.  Moving 45000+ items (most of which are books and are heavy) plus all the furniture and bookcases, as well as getting a building ready took a lot out of me.  There is also some personal issues, including health concerns (nothing serious) plus somethings going on with my family.  In fact, we just welcomed my new nephew last Monday.

Now that explanations are out of the way, I am going to try to keep a schedule, but because things are still a little chaotic, going to try to keep it to once every other week, maybe with a few more in there when I get the time.  For right now, I am still writing.  In fact, I managed to get through an entire outline of a novel.  I used K.M. Weiland’s method and have fallen in love.  I talked about it in previous posts.  I highly recommend checking it out.  In fact, her blog is amazing and has so much great information!

I am over halfway through the first draft of the novel that goes with that outline.  I hit 50k words just yesterday.  The beautiful part is, I’m not losing motivation.  Well, not entirely XD I have good days and bad days.  I’m learning that having those is perfectly fine.  There’s a fine line between getting the words out, keeping yourself motivated and burning yourself out.  Allow yourself a day or two to relax, to reset things when needed.  I’ve been using a site called Pacemaker.  Not only can you use it for writing and/or editing all sorts of things, but they have added several new ways to use it.  You can add dates, subtract them, set up your goals, your end and start date.  It’s been very helpful.

So that’s what’s been going on.  Look out for a new post come the end of the week!  I’m not entirely sure what it will be about at this point and time, so it’ll be a surprise for everyone!

 

Apologies

Hello everyone!  I know, I missed a post this past Friday.  Truth is, last couple weeks have been a bit rough.  Insomnia is pretty bad and work has been stressful as we prepare to move to a much bigger space, which is great, but we’re in that stretch of construction/deconstruction where things can kinda go pear-shaped fast and the costs tend to go up quick.

I haven’t done any writing in almost two weeks and it’s starting to get to me a bit.  So there won’t be a post this Friday either, but come February 3, I will be back on a regular schedule.  During this next week, I will be doing a number of organizational tasks for the blog and for my own writing in general.  Going to make a long list of topics to begin to cover, so be prepared!  Thanks for reading!  We’ll be back to regular schedule come February 3.

Book Review: Creating Character Arcs

Title: Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland
Medium: Book
Genre: Nonfiction (writing, how to)

Initial Thoughts: As always when I read something by K.M. Weiland, I love the break down of how she looks at each part of what she’s talking about. In this case, it is Creating Character Arcs. There’s a great explanation of how character arc, structure, and theme all play an integral and inter-twining part of any story. So it really sets things up as you read and gives you something to pay attention to, to think on as you read. It takes something that can seem quite complicated and breaks it down into something not only quite manageable but a lot of fun.

Favorite Part: Once again, I love the examples. Just having examples is always helpful, but using the same examples throughout for each part is a great way to really get to SEE how each part plays into the whole and gives some concrete ideas of how it might look in your own story. This, combined with the clear explanations make this an invaluable resource on how to write proper character arcs.

Overall Impression: I really enjoyed this read and am finding it super helpful in my own planning. In fact, I am using the questions listed in this book for my own characters as I outline my current WIPs. It is organized in a clear, concise way that builds on each section. THere’s also a great FAQ about character arcs in general and a nice little section on character arcs in series which is helpful since I seem incapable of writing just one-off pieces… Go figure XD

Recommendation: I would recommend this for anyone that has ever had any questions on how to write a good character arc or who may need help with writing characters in general. This is also great for someone that may just not know how to set up a character arc. If you’ve read her Outlining and Structuring novels already, this is a must-read!

To check out this and others, go here! https://www.kmweiland.com/ For further reading, she also has a terrific writing blog here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

Outlining in Scrivener

Ok, so today I’m going to show you a bit how I do some of my outlining in Scrivener. I’ve fallen in love with this program. I won’t extol the virtues of it because I can go on about it for a while. I also won’t go through how to use step by step because there are already quite a few great resources out there that explain things a lot better than I can, so when I talk of things, I will be assuming you know the basics of Scrivener, so apologies if you don’t! But I know it can be helpful to see the process for other writers.
I will say that my process is ever evolving and it can be different for each project I work on. But I’ve found a layout for myself that works quite well. Now, the amount of time I spent looking at examples of how other writers set things up is pretty ridiculous actually, but I find I am a person that does best when I have something to go off of. I tried using some of Scrivener’s templates and while they are helpful, they didn’t quite fulfill all of my needs. So I have begun to create my own templates. I actually have templates for novels, one for blog posts, and one where I keep a collection of story ideas that don’t have their own Scrivener project yet.
draft-binder The layout for novels is ever changing, as I said, but I’ll show you the layout I am using for my current work-in-progress. Because I can’t seem to do just one off novels, I originally set up a blank document and set it up where I have the first level as Book 1. Each Book is divided up into chapters, then of course scenes/sequels.  That’s the “manuscript” part of Scrivener in the binder. Then, it gets a little—complicated, I guess you could say XD I do like to outline, though I don’t do as much as others I have found. I tend to go right in the middle. I like a solid idea of where I’m going, but I don’t want to plan so much that all of the fun is gone for me. This is an entirely personal preference, of course.
plot-binderAfter the Manuscript or Draft section, I set up one called Plot. There, I keep a number of things. The story idea (if I did one) which is a template I set up so I can just fill it out for each project goes there, as does the Premise that contains several things including: premise, theme, dramatic question, as well as subplots. I also put my “What ifs” here as well, which is something that I learned from KM Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel. Highly recommended to check out! I also keep what I call a Plot Plan here, which is marking down a few things like: the inciting and key events, theme, the hook, the first plot point, the first pinch point, the midpoint, the second pinch point, the third plot point, the Climax, and the resolution. It lets me see a sort of road map, just something to keep me on track as I go. Again, this is from Structuring your Novel, another read I highly recommend!
Last but not least, I keep a separate folder in the Plot part for Scenes. This is where I use another template to record the ideas for scenes I already have. Now, for those that really love to outline everything, you can sit down and just record all the planned scenes you have, detail their goal, their conflict, all of that. I don’t detail out every scene because things often change a bit as I go, so I mostly just detail out scenes that I know I want to hit. So starting out, I’d do those my plot plan and any others I have off the top of my head. I may or may not detail more as I think of them during the project or I may just write them out and see how it goes.
character-binderThe next bit is Characters. I really enjoy getting to know my characters both during the Outlining phase and of course, writing phase. I have several things that go here. Each character gets their own folder. In that folder are a few things: they get a checklist which is a list of about 60 questions that I try to answer for as many characters as possible. Many characters also get a Character Questionnaire that involves their arc, and then lastly, I do a bit of a questionnaire that outlines their character arc based on structure. It seems like a lot, but I do enjoy this process because it helps me to see where certain parts of the character arc fits within the novel.
world-notes-binderAfter that, there’s the Settings folder, which is where I keep track of well, the setting. I put any world notes here, keep track of locations, cities, etc. I even might keep house layouts here (yes, yes I actually do this XD). In the Research folder below that, I often will keep what I call inspiration pictures of my characters, maps, research notes and the like.
This is a quick explanation of the beginning of my outlining process and how I set up my Scrivener projects. I am going to pause on this and do a review of K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs for next week! But I will pick up on this the following week, so if there’s anything you want to see, let me know in the comments below or contact me via the form.