goals, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 8/18

Um, the desk is kind of messy today. Promise me you won’t laugh!

Out the window: Hot hot hot, and more humid than the bathroom shower stall post-shower. Bright sun with occasional bouts of heavy, rain-laden clouds obscuring the sky entirely. Later it will probably rain. (I can’t wait. Not that it will cool off any; it’ll just make me feel better about the humidity.)

On the desktop: An explosion of notes, a notebook propped open to a page with editing comments, 3″ x 5″ cards, pens, mug, glasses case, along with the usual clutter. A bright cloth lizard watches over the mess with bead eyes bright.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: I’m hard at work on the Urban Fantasy series that I’m planning to self-publish (once it’s entirely done). What, haven’t I mentioned this? I thought I had…hmmm. Well, let me introduce you! Series, blog. Blog, series. Um, no, the series doesn’t have a name just yet. That’s one of the things I’m working on. I’m just calling it by the name of the protagonist, Jessamin Stow, for now. Or maybe, The Rogue Series. Or, well, something along those lines.

I’m a couple of chapters in to the first book, and so far, the writing is going swimmingly. (yay!) But this is the first time I’ve tried a series, so I’ve outlined all 3 initial books (there may or may not be others after this point), and I plan on having a solid first draft of all three before I finalize and publish the first one. That way, any mistakes I find along the way I can (with any luck) correct easily and quickly. This is the plan. The first casualty of any conflict is often the plan, however. We’ll see how this one goes. (Wish me luck?)

And Another Things: I sent a flurry of short stories out on submission yesterday, so I’m feeling particularly virtuous and productive today. And the dog is off to his physical therapy, so I have a few precious hours totally alone in which to deeply concentrate and write. Which I’m off to do, right now. I can’t wait!

Today's Desk, Writing

Today’s Desk, 2/5

So, what fascinating writerly stuff is going on today?

Out the window:  The pelting rain has slowed to a drizzle. The 6″ of wet and heavy snow that fell on Monday is melting and pooling across the parking lot, joined by the run-off of the day’s rains. Bleah. What happened to Sunday and 55+degrees?

On the desktop: I just don’t know or care! I’m writing upstairs, in the tiny loft area. Why? The heat pools up here, while the damp creeping in the office windows is making me feel colder than it should. (Just looking out the window makes me shiver–and we avoided the mess that other parts around us got/are getting.) Next to me is an appliqué block, started as part of a wallhanging. The colors are bright and happy. Warm, even. My muscles are relaxing. Next will come a cup of Earl Grey Tea, fragrant with the scent of summer. Mmmm.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Worldbuilding for the Next Novel. Yes, it’s still untitled. That’s okay, because yesterday I got the names of the 2 protagonists in my story. His name came in a flash, and it was just perfect. Just like the character, who is vivacious, outgoing and fiery. Her name, though, took some tweaking out, which is just like her character–more deliberate, more grounded and earthy.

As I explore their relationship (they were raised as siblings by a third party, although they aren’t related), more nuance came into their characters. They are starting to talk to me, now, to show me things in their own voices. And while they’re very different people, I like them both. I think I’ll like spending time with them. Which is a good thing, considering they’ll be starring in My Next Novel!!

And Another Thing: The Codex Weekend Warrior contest wraps up this weekend. I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end! Between that and the fast-approaching end of this season’s Downton Abbey, I don’t know what I’ll be doing on the weekends!!! Oh, um, yeah. Writing the novel. Yup 😉

Now, I’m off to dream up a whole new world…and I bet, today at least, it’s warm there.

Personal Life, Writing

Better, But Not Great

I’m back to writing today, so my health is much improved over Sunday and Monday. Yesterday I managed almost 500 words on a new story before passing out to nap on the couch (again). Today, I finished the story (just over 1500 words!) and am still awake, alive and kicking. Woo-hoo!

Still, I hope you’ll understand if this is short post. I’m hoarding my strength for a walk later, once hubby gets home. So, let me direct you here, for an inside look at a new editor’s experience with editing an anthology. I have an insidious reason for this: I get mentioned! Yes, it’s a guest post by the Sidekicks! editor, Sarah Hans. We did write back and forth a couple times, trying to find a way to a mutually-agreeable title for the story she’d accepted into that anthology. I found it very satisfying, by the way. Having someone else care just as much as you do about your title is pretty awesome. And I love the title we came up with! It’s better than the title I’d originally given the story, in my opinion. And I’m sure Sarah is happy with that, too! 🙂


A Minor Victory

daffydilgirlGood news! Someone  critiqued one of my stories, and said she really liked my title. Yes, indeed, she thought it worked very nicely on two levels, and it impressed her as good.

Silly right? But this is a huge success for me. Titles have been my bane, my downfall, my curse. The thing that I fail at worse than worst. And here, finally, someone found one of my titles not just ‘not bad,’ but actually good! I’m dancing on air.

OK, yes, the story has other things that need to be fixed. Of course it does. That, after all, is why we join crit groups, right? To have others put the critical eye to our words and ideas before an editor or slush-reader takes one look and says ‘Nope!’ To show us where our ideas don’t make it across the page barrier into the reader’s mind, or where our story or plot took a short-cut and got lost. (One of my “favorites” has been the story arc that doesn’t arc, but spirals. Sigh.)

I’ve been working at titling, trying different methods: starting with a title and writing a story to fit, casting for a title last, searching quotes for title ideas after discovering the theme, etc. In each case, I’ve found it difficult. Even when starting with a title, I often have to change it by the end because it no longer seems right, somehow. But I have noticed, slowly and gradually, that my titles were getting a bit better, that it was becoming easier to come up with something acceptable, something I could nod at and think, “Yeah, that’s not bad.”

Does this mean I’m a titling wizard? Hah! Far from it. It just means that, once again I’ve re-discovered that practice makes my work improve. Hardly original, I know, but true nonetheless.

So how about you? Any titles you’re particularly proud of? Any techniques to share?


Titling Woes: Scalawags, Spoilers and Red Herrings

Reactions to my Titles
Reactions to my Titles

I have a confession to make. Don’t laugh. I’m a writer, and I stink at titling. I mean really stink!

As I’m working on an idea, and as it develops into a story, I grace it with a rough working title to distinguish it from all the rest of the incubating, growing and metamorphosing stories. A one- or two-word description is usually the result. Some examples? Right now I’m working on:  “Ghost Train,” “Detilba,” “Crow Girl,” “Clone,” and “Lila and Ruby.” My one exception is “Do Not Cherish Me So Much,” which is close to being set aside. Its crime is having gotten hopelessly out of my control (see post titled “To Err is Human.” Yep, this is that story!).

The good news is that I’m aware of my inability and am working on it. Two great resources for titles are here at Diabolical Plots, and here at SFWA. I read them over and over, and try to incorporate their wisdom in my titling efforts.

The bad news is that my progress seems glacial. Any “good” name I come up with apparently gives away the ending. Relevant, meaningful titles escape my mind. Also, by the time I figure out my story and what it’s really about, that ‘working title’ has entrenched itself in my brain so firmly that it’s like trying to eradicate rabbits from Australia! Working titles have become my personal kudzu, strangling any other likely ideas before they can take hold.

What’s the solution? I’m not sure there is one. I’ll keep plugging away at it, hoping for the magic to strike. Hmm, like so much else in writing, perhaps practice will make perfect. Or at least it will make my titles not quite so pathetic.

What ideas do you use in coming up with titles?