Archive for January 2010

Finally starting to look like a book

It's like Narnia in my neighborhood. An (expected) inch of ice and 8 (surprise) inches of snow combined with a low, white cloud cover... I am warm and cozy with Mr. Tumnus and the Beavers (husband and kids) so I'm sure the White Witch will pass right by. Some were not so lucky, like my brother and his wife who have been without power (and therefore heat) for two days. They finally made the treacherous drive to a friend's house where there is heat, so I am glad for that. When I find the camera cable I'll post some pics.

About a week ago I mentioned I would start editing my work in progress, going through it the way I would someone else's. Well I finished that pass, making notes about what goes where, what needed clarification, missing motivation and leaps of logic.Then yesterday I accepted all the changes, unified the formatting, and moved all the in-doc notes to the margin.

I've found it's really helpful to look at this from an editor's perspective. It lessens the judgement of the work, clears away all that muddy self-doubt and makes decisions easier.

I have a little more to do in this step, but so far I'm on schedule. Barring mental fatigue I'll get this formatting/cleaning step done by Feb 1, and the next step is implementing all the changes I've noted. This could take a couple of weeks, but I'm pumped to be nearing the end.

It's starting to look like a real manuscript. Frickin' awesome.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

A whole lotta wisdom

I don't have anything important to say today, but I feel compelled to post. That's how it is with me; there is no planning, no future posting as some of my more industrious friends may use. There is only the moment. Only the now.

So right now I'm happy to be 39 and happy that I'll be 40 soon. That sounds so frickin' old, and sometimes it feels old, like after I've been to the park, where sk8rs also hang. Or chill, or whatever they say now. Little did I know at 16 that I wouldn't give a rat's ass what the kids say when I was 39. I also had no idea that at 39 I would consider 16-year-olds the dumbest creatures on the planet, and for safety's sake should be locked in a small room until they turn 18. Having this perspective now makes me wonder what baby boomers think of my demographic.

I realized something as I was pondering my advanced age and wisdom. Most of the wisdom I have, I've gained over the past, say, five years. From the time I was born, I went through crap, more crap, still more crap, then BOOM, I'm 30-something and starting to process all that crap. Right? I think most people are that way. We're young and dumb, and then some time after our brains are physically fully developed (I've read this doesn't happen till our mid-twenties) we start to gain real wisdom.

I went to Wikipedia and looked up life expectancy through the years. They say that at the beginning of the previous century, the life expectancy was only 30-45, and in medieval Britain it was only 20-30! So I thought, "Man, if I lived a few hundred years ago, I'd be just about dead by now. I'd be ancient. The wise old lady of my village."

Have you noticed how as a society we're becoming more and more enlightened through the decades? That's why! We all live long enough to at least have a chance to gain a whole lot of wisdom.

Of course then I wondered if our brains just developed faster back in the days when 30 was old. Experience shapes the brain, right? And if a whole lotta life experience was packed in to a shorter time, maybe 30 was the equivelant to 80 now. That probably was the case to an extent, but I believe we've outpaced that. What I think is, people were running around with their undeveloped brains being queens and knights and raising babies and working the land.

That's what I think.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

The editing plan

Sarah commented on the previous post, "I think your editing plan sounds very sensible. I did a total of four passes through my novel, and with each one I felt able to work at a deeper level, as the easier bits were corrected or smoothed out."

I think I'll end up with about four passes, too. In this first pass, I'm treating my manuscript like someone else's, making notes and tracking changes, going through really quickly. World-building notes are going on a piece of paper, and scene-specific notes are going in the margin of the document.

This quick one, then another to implement notes I made in the first. I think that will be the hardest and take the longest.

On another pass I'll work on dialogue and tightening up, spell checking and all that good stuff, then I'll send it to betas. And of course there'll be a pass after that to implement those changes.

And I plan to do that in a month. I figure if I don't dally on the easier stages I can devote about 20 days to the second stage, the major re-writing. That's twice as long as authors for Eternal Press (my old editing job) were given to implement changes...but of course mine needs about 3 times the work, and that doesn't allow for getting burned out. Or for feeling like your uterus is going to explode, which I have found today can seriously curtail your butt-in-chair time.

On schedule so far. Cross your fingers for me.

Oh, and if anyone knows Spanish, I've got some questions for you.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Back to work

I'll begin with a call to prayer. My regular readers are familiar with the Darcs, a husband and wife team who have been tireless supporters of me, my blog, and my writing for a couple of years now. Darcknyt and Darc'sFalcon have brought me many blessings, and I'll always be grateful for their friendship. I won't go into detail, but recession-related unemployment has made things hard on them. They still have a home for now. I wish there were something I could do, but of course I don't have any jobs to offer. All I can do is send a message to the universe that these people need help and trust that work will come in time. I'd appreciate your taking a moment to do the same.


After finishing the first draft of my WIP, I took a couple of days off to allow a migraine to run its course, as well as to fulfill a critique commitment. Ian's got a unique spin on the vampire novel and a good story to go along with it. His writing seems so effortless it makes me jealous, but I can't wait until he snags a publishing contract. This may be the right book at the right time to do just that.


So now that I'm feeling healthy and free, I'll start edits on my WIP. I have been using yWriter on this last push to the end, which is based on individual scenes--great for moving big chunks around during organization stages, and then for crafting the scenes themselves. I've had trouble with this program in the past because of this chunky quality, but for some reason it was just what I needed for this book.

However, now that I'm finished with the scenes I need to read the book as a whole, and for that I've imported it to MS Word, my standard and the industry standard, though that is relaxing. I'll make a single-shot pass, making notes and correcting typos, re-writing easy stuff as I go through and detailing the hard stuff for the next pass. My biggest trap is indecisiveness, so I've vowed to go with my gut on the hard decisions and not over-analyze. Another vow I've made is to look at the whole process through a fun lens, rather than fulfilling a duty. Duty crushes my creativity.

Hope you have a lovely weekend.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Can't freakin' believe it

Okay. Yesterday saw a milestone, and some of you witnessed it on Facebook: I finished my work in progress. Now, this may not seem like a very big deal to some people, and it may not be a very big deal to me later, but right now, yeah. It's huge. Do you know what a struggle this book has been? Later on, when I'm talking about how I learned to be a writer, I'll cite the two years I worked on this book. I'll tell how I almost succumbed to the self-doubt; how I learned what real writer's block is; how I injured my hand and almost gave up the writing biz altogether. I knew it was going to be hard when I started because of the subject matter, but I didn't know how it would feel to be in the middle of it, and when other things started to pile on, well... You get the idea.

I'm not completely finished yet; I still have to edit the damn thing. I've had a few people ask me if I would now do the expected thing and let it sit for a few weeks before tackling the edit. I feel very strongly that this wisdom doesn't apply here. I have prospects waiting for this manuscript, for one. For another, I took long breaks during the process, and I haven't read the first half of the novel since I started this last push to the end. I'm motivated and excited; I know what it's like to not be those things and if they leave again I'll take a break, but I don't want to waste them while they're here.

So I have a long way to go. I still have to make some hard decisions, and I'm still not entirely confident in my abilities. However, the editing has always been easier for me than the actual writing. And I'll have it done by the end of February, this I vow.

I can't freakin' believe it.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

The end is near

Had a great writing day on Sunday, despite feeling migrainey at times. I started the epilogue today, so THE END is finally within my sights. I expect to type it within the next day or two. Can't frickin' believe it. Of course, this is only the end of the first draft, because even though I've done 3rd and 4th drafts of certain chapters, the final third has been a long, painful extraction.

Once I'm completely finished with the final wrap-up chapter, I'll start from the beginning and re-write a scene at a time. Finishing this book is completely surreal. I've never thought past the end, because, I guess, I never really believed it would ever be done. So post-BVA is a long, dark road. Kind of scary. I've never had nothing to work on. I guess I'll putter around, write some shorts and submit them, maybe enter some contests before starting the next novel.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though, because this final re-write will realistically take a month.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Name-your-price art

Shout out to my buddy Marta, who is selling her art to fund her involvement in Art City Austin, and she's decided to let you decide how much to pay for it. Marta's art is thoughtfully whimsical. And I don't know how to talk about art even though I like it, so why don't you just go check it out?
Friday, January 15, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Donate for Haiti relief

I need to put my condolences out there for everyone affected by the Haiti earthquake. I watched some of the footage on Fox News Channel yesterday, as if I could help by witnessing, and of course all it did was put me in a terrible mood. I've decided not to watch another minute of footage, but instead keep up with it through the printed word, and only a little at that. Also, I won't link to any news stories because those are easy enough to find.

For some reason I felt a strong pull to help with this disaster despite my family obligations and lack of relief aid experience. Wisely, I decided to stay home and let the professionals take care of it. I heard on tv and then verified on the Red Cross website that you can text HAITI to 90999 and that charges a $10 donation right to your phone bill. Smart of them to make it so easy. You can also donate through The Clinton Foundation, and some other legitimate sites are listed in this Lifehacker post on how not to get scammed donating. Donate if you can, and if you can't donate then pray.

This moment IS, and nothing else

Got a case of the nerves today, don't know why.  Been trying to live more in the moment, think less of the past and worry even less about the future. I've come to realize that spending my time clenching in preparation for the next conflict doesn't really help prepare for it, and meanwhile I'm living the conflict in my mind. Of course, that's something I've realized before, but I'm at that place on the spiral again. Seems like I'm not learning any new lessons lately, only re-realizing old ones. That's good, because I'd like to get the old ones finished before being confronted with new crap.

I've been living in my head, writing a lot, reading a trippy self-help book, and editing for a friend. During the day I prefer complete silence. In the evening and on weekends the constant blaring of the tv, the grumpiness of the hubs, the joyful (and loud) sounds of children playing...all those things send me to my bedroom, where I have a little comfy space set up for writing. I don't always write when I'm there, but I never write if I'm anywhere else, so it doesn't hurt to be there. I'm available for anyone who needs me, yet I can hear my own thoughts.

When I get like this I don't blog much, and man have I seen it in my hits. Tanked. But I'm living in the moment, and that means accepting whatever is happening. At this moment, the humidifier is almost empty. I say that as an observation, not in anticipation of refilling it. It IS almost empty. If I anticipate filling it, then the near-emptiness takes on a slightly negative connotation, but if I just observe it... My husband has been grumpy the past few days. Is he grumping at me now? No. Yet I constantly cycle his previous grumpiness through my mind, with the effect of making me feel the same emotions as if he were.

At this moment, I am an unpublished writer. I think about the day when I will get that call, which is immediately followed by the thought that I will never get the call. But here's the thing, I know quietly in my soul that I will be published someday, that I needn't worry, that it will all happen at the right time and in the right way. I know this. But when thought comes into it, suddenly those thoughts are the reality, the elation and despair, and all the stress that comes with those emotions. And it's all unnecessary.

So right now I accept this moment where my humidifier is almost empty and my husband is not grumping at me and I am an unpublished writer. I accept this moment as neither good nor bad, only that it IS.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Online connections are human connections

On Facebook, they have these memes circulating, where you ask your friends to describe you in one word, or tell a memory they have about you. I usually avoid the memes because they feel faintly narcissistic (can't believe I spelled that right on the first try)--not when others do them, but for me, yeah. I'm always harder on myself than I am on others. Anyway, last night I did one that seemed fairly harmless: How did we meet? I am saddened by how little I remember, and amazed by how much others do. It was a fun exercise.

I realized that I have three main time periods in my circle of everyday buddies, and those are high school, college and blog, i.e. the past 3-4 years. There's a biiiiig, empty space between college and blog. It's not that I was completely isolated, I worked during most of that time, but the demands of family life kept me from creating a lasting bond, I suppose. It's hard to make friends when you can't just hang out and have fun.

That's why I hate it when people dismiss online relationships out of hand, or even ridicule them as pathetic. When online communication started years ago, it was generally accepted that relationships online were pretty much meaningless. After all, you're not really talking and interacting with a human, just words on a screen. I've found, though--and I think a lot of other people have, too--that the interactions we have with each other online can be just as meaningful as real life friendships. Is it healthy for online connections to replace real-life ones? Probably not. But can they be a supplement, enriching your life in countless ways? Indubitably. (That word took three tries.) No matter how cynics enjoy reducing solely-Internet friendships to their electrons, there is a human being sending his or her intentions to you. The method in which you receive those intentions doesn't matter much.

Granted, it's harder to know what those intentions are without body language and inflection, but it's like having a hundred pen pals. And for someone like me, with limited opportunities to interact face-to-face with people who share my interests, this has worked pretty well. Don't you agree?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

You are the muse

I'm thinking about starting a new blog. No, not in place of this addition to it. You probably want to know what it's about, seeing as how I've run out of things to say on this one. I mean, my hits have tanked, people. My blog used to be a hub of interesting discussion and information. A hub, I tells ya!

I don't want to tell you, but I've already started, so... I want to start a spiritual writing advice blog. I see so much concrete advice for the nuts and bolts of writing, but hardly any for the writer like me who stumbles around in the dark. I believe in writing from one's spirit, because that seems to be the only way I can do it. I can't force things, because then I get all stopped up, in writing and in spirit, and I think a lot of other people are that way and don't know it. Strange how there's so much noise in such a solitary activity.

So the first question is, do I have the qualifications to write an advice blog? Probably not. But I'll show you what I have.

  • I've written almost two books

  • and about twenty short stories, none of which have been published, although a couple were well-received in contests.

  • A decade ago I wrote a popular newspaper column for a year, which was basically exactly like what I do on this blog

  • I have an agent and am actively seeking publication

  • I was an editor for a few months last year

  • I think I'm good at reading people and a good advisor, and the baring of my soul on this blog seems to get a better response than any other topic

  • I've done a TON of work on my own self in this area

So see, the list is long, but none of the items is that impressive. It's not like I'm an industry professional, or a spiritual advisor, or anything solid. So why do I need to start another blog? Why can't I just write posts like that here? Well, because this blog is me, online. It's centered around me and what I think and what I do, and while you're all a necessary part of my happiness, it's still like you're coming to my house, you know? I'd like the new blog to be about the reader, and it can't be on this blog which is named after me. I thought about calling it The Writing Guru, but that's already a popular phrase in Google. Two other choices are Your Writer's Soul and Spirit of the Pen, both of which are not being used. Or maybe You Are the Muse.

Topics? Well, I'd have writing book reviews, guest columns, reader questions, maybe a week-long feature where I delve into the writing psyche of a willing victim participant, and my own journey.

It's probably stupid. It's probably been done before, and I probably don't have the follow-through. But that's what I'm thinking about this morning.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Bang bang (because it's bullets, get it?)

  • So that self-centeredness I was talking about yesterday, I don't think it was a bad thing. It's no secret that starting in your mid to late 30s you start reevaluating your life. There are definite periods when one must go inward, challenge your beliefs. I think that's what I've been doing. It's probably been a bit of a challenge for the people around me, adjusting to me addressing my needs where before there was no reason for them to even think I had needs. I hope they love me enough to see that I needed to do it, and I hope that it has made me better able to see their needs as well.

  • I'm reading this book called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It's sort of a cross-religion book that talks about the difference between the ego and the spirit. Very enlightening, and I may talk about it more in depth in the future.

  • Out of my holiday to do list, I did finish a few things. One item I checked off was finishing Demon Squad: Armageddon Bound by Tim Marquitz. I'm not a reviewer, so I'll just give it a thumbs-up. It's a small publisher, and a new one, at that, so there are a few glitches in the formatting of the text in places, but if you like non-stop action and an engaging hero (despite his demon blood ;) pick it up. It's only, like, $5. And he's a nice guy, too.

  • I'm still in my pajamas and I poured coffee in my cereal this morning, instead of milk. I really need to get back into my routine. Kids go back to school tomorrow, hubs went back to work today.

  • My son has informed me he wants to be home schooled so he can spend more time with me. Awww.

  • I'm bored now and I'm sure you are too, so good-bye!

Monday, January 4, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Nothing to see here

Just start typing...

Well I guess I'm not alone in my belief that 2010 will be a year of positive change. And no, I don't believe that the changing of the Western calendar means an automatic fresh start. The change I feel coming is personal, and I believe the seedling sprouted, unnoticed, about three months ago. Some flaws were brought to light that I didn't realize were holding me back, such as the fear of showing my imperfections to you, and a heretofore unrecognized self-centeredness.

That second one is sort of a surprise, because my life has revolved around doing what others want of me. It's not conceit, but rather like a hard shell I've developed as a way to cope with feeling put upon all the time. It's made of some impervious substance which keeps close the little I have to call my own: things, attitudes, friends. I'm greedy and grasping and I don't like it. Things can't escape, but neither can they come in. I can't share what I have for fear of losing it, and I can't receive from others because I'm so balled up inside my shell. Though it's still pretty new, this realization, I hope to work on it throughout the year. I feel it has the potential to change my life. I want to be a giver, and right now I'm not.

In some ways I feel like I need somebody to guide me in this, tell me when I should be emoting with people and when I should be silent. One reason I dislike being demonstrative is that I often seem to get these mixed up, and so I find it safer just not to say anything at all. And somehow it has become the most unforgivable sin, to cause discomfort in others with my inappropriateness.

The fear of showing my imperfections, is something I've known about for a while, and is probably related to the self-centeredness in some way. My "Thoughts From the Treadmill" posts, as well as posting some less-than-perfect photos, were an exercise in releasing the fear. I've also been editing these posts less, and it drives me crazy that it shows. But I think our imperfections make us accessible (up to a point) and by never going out of the house without makeup, for instance, I might be putting out a better-than-you vibe, turning some people off. I have to allow others to see my vulnerabilities, as I wish fervently to see theirs.

What do you think?
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

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