Category Archives: 3daynovel

Cutting cutting cutting


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It seems to me a lot of my life is spent cutting – physically, as I clip threads and cloth, virtually as I edit my writing and try to help others with theirs. I like to to throw a bunch of material on a table, pull off a long stretch of fibre, toss as many words around as possible.

Trimming at first seems easier, once the ideas are in place. But that’s deceptive. It’s easy to end up with too much to handle, to have threads and yarns and stories get tangled in knots as you try to work with them. Teasing out sense from the resulting mess can take longer than choosing words, threads, fabric properly the first time. Hard to do when you are just learning, difficult habits to break even as you gain experience. Thank heavens for editing, and the chance to rework.

Just ran across an excellent article by Jason Hamilton with the Kindlepreneur folks, listing the words you can and should minimize if you want to be read (writing for yourself is always a good idea, but some of us don’t feel validated until our reading is read by others and cheered or booed), and it threw a bit of salt on my writing wounds. I just know I simply use too many of these words all the time, repeatedly, inappropriately, and when I sit down at my computer I can hear them trying to escape into my writing. (as they just have, by way of an example).

“Just” is a pernicious weed in my writing. I pluck it out, it creeps back in. I overuse “felt”. Looking over my recent creation my ever helpful ProWritingAid told me I had my poor heroine say, “She couldn’t help herself” do something many many times, surely not the approach I wanted for a strong female character!

I have trained myself to flinch at adverbs, but I kindof like playing with run-on sentences. They are dangerous friends, though, easily transforming themselves into sets of wrongly linked clauses. Unplanned hilarity can result. And while I am all for unplanned hilarity, it is hardly appropriate in a death scene. Well, most of the time.

And so, and so, like the boy in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, I must grab my Vorpal sword, gird my loins, and get cutting.

One, two! One, two! And through and through 

      The vorpal blade went (goes) snicker-snack! 

It’s going to take me awhile, and golly I do wish I hadn’t sent my inelegant MS out to be looked over already. I have hopes, though, that one day, like the aforesaid boy, I’ll be able to cheer “Oh frabjous day! Callow! Callay!” and chortle in my joy.

And maybe, just maybe (she says, violating already her hard fought principles) someone else will chortle with me.

(On a side note, I highly recommend ProWritingAid. It catches the most amazing things, like when I start every sentence in a paragraph with the same thing, or when I babble on vaguely. It’s worth the investment, IMHO. Of course nothing helps more than a good editor, an outside set of eyes, particularly an understanding set. If you’re looking for one, check out Somewhat Grumpy Press, where I work with another great editor to help others avoid these problems and others.)

Happy writing!

Writing clothes, or what to wear when you really don’t want to be distracted


Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

I am ashamed and a bit embarrassed to state I don’t have any sweatpants at the moment. I certainly don’t have a set that matches my surroundings and computer, allowing me to lounge in peaceful positions. To be fair, my surroundings when I write are anything but peaceful, scattered with pens, notebooks, reference texts, a cup of something, and the occasional chocolate item (for strengthening).

Yes, despite being a writer with my head in the clouds and definitely not in sartorial splendour, I lack this essential garment. I’m wondering if I need to invest, just to speed my writing along.

Part of why I don’t have sweats has to do with hemming – every pair of pants I own has required hemming and even with the elastic bottoms of the average sweatpants leg, the ballooning of extra material over my too short legs is distracting and potentially a tripping hazard. We won’t get into how things tangle up in my under the desk bike I use to fool myself into thinking writing is an aerobic activity. (Undoing tangles seems to be, though. That bike is heavy.)

Plus, they are expensive these days, sweatpants. And unless this book actually gives me more royalties than my first one, (Recycled Virgin, coming in at roughly $20 so far this year) (please buy a copy as winter is coming), I may have to do without. Even used ones at thrift shops are more than that and, ummm, used sweatpants conjure up images of underwear not worn…

I do have writing clothes, though. I just read this article by an author, Heidi Soyinka, who bought clothing like her characters would wear, to put her into the mood. She bought vintage clothing of all sorts as she tried to get into her characters’ heads.

It made me think about what I wear to thrash through my novel. I suppose, for me to be in the mood, I should put on a nursing uniform, one of the old ones from the Kingston General Hospital School of Nursing, the ones with the aprons and starched cuffs and collar.

I rather suspect the excellent Museum of Health Care might have something to say about me filching same from them.

And, unfortunately, I gave away my old nursing student uniforms. Maybe I could get away with my kitchen apron, just pretend the food stains weren’t on it, tie it up tight so I had the necessary chest constriction…this would help keep the chocolate stains to a minimum, I suppose…

Fortunately for my writing, I remember my nursing school uniform days, the nylon stockings that always grabbed, the uncomfortable shoes that were the cheapest available, and which squeaked unattractively and ruined my arches. My student uniform was pink and white striped, with a white bib and cuffs and it was unspeakably horrid, fitted tightly over my already too round figure. I was furious that the one male student in my year didn’t have to wear pink stripes, and got to wear a much more practical scrub suit, with no nylons to be seen.

So no, don’t want to repeat this.

I suppose I could try coughing excessively, as I am writing about Tuberculosis and a hacking cough and sore throat would bring me into the scene – but in these COVID times I feel my neighbours would report me to the health police as a vector of infection.

I could open the windows wide, as they did in the sanatoriums of the time, bringing in bracing and clear air, but it does get chilly sitting and writing, and besides, my companion birds would object. They dislike chills. Even in the slightest cross breeze they puff up and glare at me with their beady eyes. It’s disconcerting.

So I’m left with my usual not-so-glorious clothing for writing. These involve some jeans-type things (inexpertly hemmed) with elastic waists so they don’t compress, and some sort of overly loose top. These are things that I never wear out of doors as they are too disreputable for polite company – after Covid lockdowns I’ve worn the seams off some of them, and they look chewed. Could be I’ve chewed them in agony over some unexpected plot twist (characters WILL misbehave)–I can’t remember.

But something about putting them on does set me up for writing. It says, to myself and anyone who happens to come to the door, that I am not going out anywhere, that my focus is internal that day, that I don’t want to be disturbed. Add unwashed hair and anyone who doubts I am really busy would quickly grasp I didn’t want to be seen. I have frightened Amazon delivery persons on a writing day, and they are tough.

And in them, I’m comfortable enough to sink into my story, let my brain go play. That’s more difficult with fancy clothes. They distract, as I tug and rearrange them. But perhaps that’s only because I’m trying to cycle as I write?

I think, instead, I’ll turn on some music from the 1940’s to generate atmosphere – that’s easier than having to change, and the birdies even like it.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming book, Spit and Polish, expected Spring 2023.

Being Seen (and read) or where the heck did that chin hair come from?


Well, it’s out in the wilds. The ebook version is launching on Saturday.

The book. My book. By me. All alone.

Recycled Virgin (Scleratis Series Book 1) by [Brown, DA, Brown, Dorothyanne]It all seems such a small story, so meaningless. I mean, I like it, but I am having trouble dealing with the thought of my friends reading it and then having to make a comment on it, either positive or negative or, ugh, patronizing. One fellah commented that “some of my chapters seemed fun.”

I’ve taken out a contract on that guy, and YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! (Kidding, of course…)(Well, maybe…)

But it’s all a bit like doing a public speech, and meeting and greeting people afterward and when you run to the washroom at the end of the festivities and peek into the mirror, maybe giving yourself a confident, “you did it, girl!” smile, you notice a 3-foot long chin hair sticking straight out and wiggling with every lip flex.

Did they see it? How could they miss it? How do those things grow so damn fast? You know you’ve peered at yourself in your home mirror, holding your face every which way and shining lights and there was NOTHING THERE that morning, and somehow this hair grew like Jack’s beanstalk in a matter of hours. images-2

You wonder in a panic if the hair scraped the face of the people you were talking with, and if they felt it and decided not to comment, like those friends who don’t tell you you have spinach in your teeth or that your hem is tucked into your tights… Maybe they were being gentle with you, sensing your inner fragility, realizing that under chin hairs can destroy any semblance of professionalism. You can see it is almost reaching the mirror, across the sink.

Of course, you have not brought hair removal devices with you and it just won’t leave to tugging, so then you have to go out and REJOIN the mob, knowing full well your hair vine will be spotted by EVERYONE.

I took my beloved dog Pickles to the groomer once and when I was picking him up, shivering and pinkish and looking hurt to his soul (which is why I ended up grooming him after this because he didn’t find it so traumatizing, but I digress), and the groomer, who I had trusted with the animal I loved the most in the world (the kids were in a horrid stage, and let’s not mention the ex) told me that the dog hairs from her clients had slipped off and rerooted themselves in her face.

I gazed at her, non-plussed. What does one say? It seemed wrong to talk then about the biology of facial hair and how it didn’t behave like a seedling. She, after all, had a few sprouting from her chin. All different colors, she pointed out, because of all the different dogs. I was left speechless.

The more important issue was why did she mention this to me?

Well, yep. I ran my hand over my chin when I got into the car and sure enough, a hair-vine was extruding from my face. How long had I been going around like that? Who knew? Cos, you see, once these hairs grow a certain length (you official beard growers know this), the hair gets all soft and molds itself to your face. Well, unless it is yearning for freedom. Then it reaches out, struggling towards the unwary, terrifying them. Whacking against walls and tangling in scarves…

So, the book thing is sending its little horrifying curls out into the world and I keep wavering between singing and dancing (and being profoundly grateful for the support friends and family have shown me) and wanting to pluck it like a chin hair out of existence.

Either that or grow a beard so it all seems like it should be there, filling my author’s face with other books and articles and writing like a demon to get things out. (Next book: DIsgusting the Devil is on the assembly line) Creating a new framework so that this one eases gently into a crowd and thus is less obvious as a solo event. Maybe it’s time for me to embrace my writing beard?

So, I hope you have a look at my book, maybe read it, write a review, hostile, friendly, grumpy or bored. I’d love to hear what you think…No, really, I would. Just let me check out my chin…

 

 

beard-1.jpg.optimal

Moist


humpty-dumptyWords – I love them. I even love the great huge portmanteau words (a la Alice in Wonderland) that carry loads of meanings between their consonants. I am gently mocked by friends and stared at by strangers when my three-syllable ones tumble out instead of shorter, clearer phrases.

It’s my sloppy brain filing system. I reach back for a word like orange and find titian, or ocean and find briny deep. I’m not happy, I’m exuberant. I have been known to galumph.

I blame Anne of Green Gables. I grew up like her – a little lonely, odd, wrapped in books and words like Aloysius. I read on my own, so my pronunciations are a bit dodgy. Poor Aloysius the fox lived for years as Alloy-si-us…

But there are some words that seem to be universally hated. Moist is one of them. It’s moisthard to find a pleasant use for the word, unless maybe in describing a cake or a towel, but otherwise, moist is tied to sweat, sweimages-35aty dark places, mouldering bread, dampness where none should be.

This is a moist summer. Offensively so. I honestly don’t think there is a spot on my body that is not moist at this very instant. Even my fingernails seem damp. The weather predictors use terms like humidex (ours uses the much more telling ‘frizz factor’), but really they are talking about moistness. How much there already is in the air, how much you shall personally generate, how much you will appreciate the drying effects of air conditioning.

I have never been so ready for the crispness of fall when I will feel my brain drying out again. I feel like I’ve been moist for far too long and the condensation and rising damp has seeped into my cerebrum.

I feel certain that, were someone to poke into my brain, it would feel like left-out-too-long zalivinoe, jellylike and fishy, with odd ideas floating around in it as the aspic melts in the heat.

zalivnoe-iz-sudaka-prazdnichnoe

borogoves_by_knot_a_typo-d7ot988At present, the old creativity-inducer seems positively mimsy.

“Well then, “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable” (there’s another portmanteau for you).” Humpty Dumpty, explaining the poem ‘Jabberwocky’ to Alice.

I’m going to have to thrash it out of somnolescence soon – this is the weekend of the famed #3DayNovel contest, and I have foolishly signed up again. Been told before this is a somewhat pointless exercise, not important, but for me, it is a reclaiming of the grey matter and white matter I’ve eaten holes through with my MS and the dang moistness…Some get tattoos, some walk across the Rockies, I throw myself at a computer and write. Hoping I can unmimsy my grey cells and leap in…twistedbrain_main-800x533