Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back Like a Cheesy Sequel, or Plotting with PowerPoint

So, it's been a while, but I'm back to a place where I want to blog.  Chalk it up to wanting accountability and/or a place to play with pictures.  Or, something like that.

Mostly, I've been simmering this idea about novel planning and I want to put it somewhere.  Okay, my friends, think on this: PPT can do everything, including helping you plot. 

Over the summer, I was listening to someone talk about planning a grant proposal.  She said she was such a verbal thinker, and she was so used to using PowerPoint to help her plan talks/lessons, that she made the leap to using PPT to help her outline proposals.  Bam!  It clicked in place in my head, because any time I'm preparing to do a presentation these days, PPT is where I start.  Sometimes, my friends, I think in PPT. 

Why not apply the same process to a novel?  Right now, I'm puttering around with a novel idea about a golem maker and I have some notes on key plot points.  The hard part about notes is that they're hard to move around.  When you decide that complication Y should come before plot twist X instead of after, etc. your page of notes becomes a page of notes and doodles.  One of the solutions to this is using index cards, but they're still so... permanent.  If you want to take plot point Z and chunk it into two parts, you still have to do a lot of re-noting.

PPT is like magic.  So easy to manipulate.  Plus, who doesn't like playing around with graphics?  Add hearts to the scene when the love interests confess their feelings for each other.  A dagger is a nice accent to the scene where the body is discovered.  For those of us who're visual thinkers, the ease of adding graphics is a definite bonus. 

I officially make it my mission to collect my novel notes and translate them all into PPT.  I'm also tentatively planning to do NaNo this year, so the two things are natural partners.

Do you have any brilliant novel planning tools?  What works well for you?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's Fa-bu!

Hello all, I've got brilliant news. A groovy friend and CWC alum, has officially gotten a book deal! You can read about it over at Fleur's blog in today's post. It's so exciting that I'll be able to say, "I knew her when." Super congratulations to Fleur.

For those of you who don't know her, an important thing to know about Fleur is that she is one of the hardest working authors I've known. She has written, revised, and submitted like a fiend. I can't even begin to describe the amount of hard work she's put into her craft, and her good news just goes to show that hard work pays off.

Yay Fleur!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter - Finale

I finished my homework.

I found I liked it a lot better once I got into it. The beginning was a bit scattered, but a few chapters in and the flow smoothed out. I liked the occassional snark, and I warmed up to Dixie, the protagonist.

Things I didn't get into so much included the fairly shallow cast of characters and the way Dixie basically Forrest Gumped her way through the mystery. Practically every time she stepped out of the house she stumbled on a clue or someone who had information about the murder.

I will say that I think the mystery came together pretty well. A decent collection of suspects and motives. In the end, I liked the journey of finding out who the murderer was. The clues were fun and I enjoyed trying to connect the dots.

My overall impression is that while I don't think it was excellent, it was a decent read. Not brilliant, but not bad either.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Ghost Story

Publication: Strange Horizons

Why I chose it: I really like the feel of the magazine. They've got a variety of genres, including cool art like Zach McCain's, and groovy fiction like "The Yew's Embrace," a fairy tale by Francesca Forrest.

Submission process: Very user-friendly. They have a submission form that automatically formats your submission to their preferences. Neat, huh?

Submitted: "Charlie's Ghost" a story about a haunted ranch.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Go Ahead

Yesterday I went to the director's meeting at work and told them my idea to bring Tom Pomeranz to the center. After I told them who he is, what he does, and why I think it'd be fantastic to get him, the unanimous response was, "Make it happen."

Now I'm working on sorting out some logistics, like finding an off-site venue where we can have him speak, then comes the advertising and arranging the event.

I'm very, very excited.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cozy Homework

This month, I have CWC homework. D.B. brought some books in so we could get a feel for cozies. The one she picked out for me is Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement.

"Let me know what you think," D.B. said. "Think about what you see as conventions of the genre, what you like, what you don't. Tell me if something makes you just chuck the book across the room."

I think those are pretty fair guidelines. I'm not usually much of a mystery reader, but I cracked that sucker open and got to it. First thing that hit me? Loads, and loads of cat information. Yeah, I know, it's a cat book. But still. It's a little silly when it gets to the point of, "Hey look, a dead body! By the way, let me tell you this thing about cats." I mean, honestly, it's irritating.

Then I asked myself, "Why is she doing it?" and "Why is it bugging me?"

My best guess on the first one is that her intention was to prolong scenes. If the same scenes had less cat stuff, they'd all be super short. When you're doing the big reveal of the dead body, a super short scene doesn't work so well. Then it'd read more like, "She walked into the kitchen and saw the dead body." End chapter. That'd be lame. So, we get encyclopedic info on cats.

It bugs me because it's a total tension breaker. The timing of the "cozy" part tends to wreck the flow of the scene. Just as she gets building up to something interesting, she breaks away for pet related information. It's bad rhythm.

There are some redeeming qualities, like some snark and some fair character development. Overall, I've got some definite concerns, but I haven't tossed it across the room yet. I'm thinking I'm perhaps not the ideal reader for cozies.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I found myself in an Office Depot during a sale. I walked out of there with two 20-packs of pens plus two loners. Around the same time I bought a new spiral-bound notebook. It made me feel nostalgic. I used to do all my writings with lots of different colored pens in spiral-bound notebooks.

I spent last weekend in Denver, goofing around and eating at restaurants that aren't connected to gas stations. Last weekend, the mousepad on my laptop crapped out on me.

Sometimes, the universe tries to tell you something. Usually, you're wise to pay attention. I think it's time to do some words long hand.