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Annotation

  • Posted on February 5, 2017 at 10:58 am
This post was meant to go up on the first Wednesday of the month, for Insecure Writer’s Support group. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG is a monthly bloghop where writers can share their fears, doubts and insecurities. The support from this group has been invaluable for my growth as a writer, and I don’t doubt it will be for you too!
You’re welcome to join. All you have to do is click here to sign up, or click the nice little picture below too!
Unfortunately, I had an experience that I needed to share with IWSG before then, and so this one got pushed back a bit. But hey, who says I can’t plug the group twice in one month, hm?

The question for this month was: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
To answer this question, I have to quantify what I was like as a reader before I wrote.

The honest answer is, voracious. But only of things that pertained to my interests.

Now, however, I’m much less voracious. Reading has been a bit of a challenge for me since my ADHD has recently taken a much worse turn. Reading properly has causes my mind to wander, and my focus to scatter. It makes it painful, especially for someone who used to use the entire library as a proving ground.

Audiobooks have become my bread and butter. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of writing books on audiobook, so I have to force myself into listening to books for their metre, their cadence, the way they put together words, and the way plot converges. I enjoy the books the same way anyone does, I suppose, by reading them this way, but I also find that I don’t learn much unless I put my all into actually studying the book.

Since I became a writer, however, I’ve been considering something that I never really thought about doing before. Marking up books. Annotating them, so that I can see what exactly it is I’m working with, how they’re put together and what I can do to emulate them. I have yet to actually do this, only because I still haven’t gotten over the idea that marking up books is somehow sacrilegious.

For those who don’t know what annotation is, the definition on dictionary.com is a critical or explanatory note or body of notes added to a text. Marking up a text with notes on grammar, cadence, meaning, theme, and plot.  This allows you to study how the text is put together, and how the author made their decisions about word placement and usage. This learning exercise was something I learned in my recent Introduction to Literature class. Although I’m still not that great at it…

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I’m picking my books more carefully. I find myself being disappointed in books a lot more often, thinking ‘they could have done this instead’, or ‘this scene doesn’t work the right way’. So honestly, it’s a bit difficult being a reader and a writer at the same time. If only I could turn one off and keep the other.

In the end, the thing I’ve learned the most is to read with intent. Because honestly, when one intends to learn from what one is doing, one will learn, no matter what you read. I challenge you, go out and annotate something! If you’re feeling exceptionally frisky, try annotating My Immortal. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

 

Tsundoku – The art of reading too little

  • Posted on May 16, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Tsundoku: (n) buying books and not reading them; Letting books pile up unread on shelves, nightstands and floors.

Every writer has been given the talk about how in order to improve your writing you should do one thing above all else. Read, read, read. And how many of us end up in tsundoku? How many of us leave these words to sit on the page, undiscovered, untapped, unlearnt? However, I’m not here to talk about how much we should be read, read, reading. Today I’d like to talk about joy.

Specifically, the joy of discovering a new word. You see, I had never known tsundoku had an actual word tied to it. I had just thought that letting books you meant to read sit and collect dust required just the whole thing said as I have just said it. To have it broken down into three syllables, a few hiragana, a few kanji, and to finally learn it, it’s a sort of joy I’ve only recently found.

As with my absolute favorite word, sonder, I found a sudden sense of wonder at the world around us, and the words in which we use to describe it. Since, I have added a list in my bullet journal that I call ‘New Words’. In this, I have collected several words that have caught my interest and that I’m attempting to use in every day life and in my writing. Along with it, I’ve included a few other lists. “Word roots” to teach myself more about the roots of these beautiful words we use to communicate. “Daily details” to record the symbolisms and tiny beauties in my daily life. “Six word stories” to begin practicing brevity.

These are things I want to incorporate into my life so that I never lose the childlike wonder I had when I first cracked open a book and then devoured it in a single afternoon. I hope to never lose the wonder my child-self felt, but sometimes I feel it slipping away. In those moments, little discoveries like this bring it back forthwith.

I leave you with a list of places to search out new words:

Distractions – IWSG 05/04/16

  • Posted on May 4, 2016 at 5:14 pm

We're here for you. Things that Distract one’s Focus

  • The sudden and unexplainable urge to read something one has never read before.
  • A broken nail that begs to be filed.
  • Hair that must be plucked, brushed, tweezed, or otherwise groomed.
  • The click of a pen in another room.
  • The need to feed pets, children or a partner.
  • The need to bathe said pets, children or partners.
  • A sudden and inexplicable yearning to clean every inch of one’s house.
  • The pile of laundry calling, begging to be folded.
  • An old notebook found in the deep recesses of a closet.
  • The sudden and startlingly shrill scream of a child.
  • Especially so if that child is not injured in the least, but rather enjoying the startlement they have caused.
  • The ring on one’s finger.
  • The thought that one ought to be writing, but instead is doing something else.
  • The thought that one ought to be doing something else, and so therefore, should not be writing.
  • The glowing numbers on a clock.
  • The ticking of a clock.
  • The hush of rain outside.
  • The hush of wind through trees outside.
  • The sunshine streaming through the window.
  • The blackness of the night outside one’s curtains.
  • A reminder that one’s favorite program has come on.
  • A reminder that one’s bills need paid.
  • A sudden urge to check the mail.
  • The sound of a hamster running on it’s wheel.
  • The thought that you might have books to return to the library.
  • A rambling search for said books.
  • The library.
  • The siren call of someone messaging you.
  • A tangle of cords peeking out of a box.
  • A new idea where one was not before.
  • A new plotline for a part of the story one has not reached quite yet.
  • The thought that perhaps this story isn’t worth telling after all.
  • The gross misconception that one can handle writing three or more books at once.
  • A sudden, undeserved pity party.
  • A sudden, well-deserved pity party.
  • A sudden, and entirely deserved party.
  • Any sort of party, really.
  • Cake.
  • The Dog Park.
  • One’s own thoughts.
  • A game that one wants to play.
  • A chore one must do.
  • The irksome feeling of an unmade bed.
  • The act of making a bed.
  • The comfort that comes from sitting on a made bed.
  • Pictures.
  • Dreams.
  • The look on one’s face in the mirror.
  • Anything broken.
  • Lights flickering.
  • The ding of an appliance.
  • The hum of a refrigerator.
  • Eye contact.
  • The reward one has set oneself for completing the act in the end.
  • The idea that one must complete the act at all.
  • The uncomfortable tingle of a bladder over full.
  • The rush of a breeze over one’s arm.
  • Anything at all can be a distraction.
  • When you think about it, in the end, even what you’re writing is a distraction.
  • A distraction from all of these distractions.
  • The best sort of distraction is an entertaining one.
  • So make your distractions entertaining.
  • And then write them down.
  • And share with the class.
  • Who knows.
  • Your distractions.
  • Might become someone else’s.
  • And then.
  • The world will be a better place.
  • Or so this one thinks, anyway.

Monthly Writing Update – Feb 2016

  • Posted on February 7, 2016 at 11:19 am

So, I’ve decided that, since I have trouble keeping up with one post a week, much less two, I’m going to switch to a Monthly Writing Update, which will generally be published on the 5th or so of every month. As always, this will include my writing progress, writing goals, reading goals, and various other goals that I feel like sharing with you guys. I hope you don’t mind the change in format, but honestly, I feel like this is a bit more… uh. Honest.

Writing Progress:

The Knight of Kuryle – Rewrite – 5,605 words – five chapters re-written

All other writing projects are on hold until I can get this done.

Posts written:

Weekly Writing Update – 1/11/16

Ab Ovo – A Review of a Literary Term

Writing Anime: Colorful – About POV changes mid-story

Writing Anime: Land of Gods and Monsters – About Magic Systems

IWSG – 2/3/16 – About Giving yourself a break.

Books Read:

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

February Goals:

Do Taxes

File Fafsa

Four more Blogposts this month

Rewrite 5k more words on book

Read another book – Not sure which one yet.

Weekly Writing Update – 02-19-15

  • Posted on February 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm

So this week has been a big win! Not only have I started writing again, I’ve really taken control of my finances, with the help of my tax return! <3 I’m proud to report my nest egg has grown from exactly jack-fucking-squat to $350, in two months! <3 I’m also getting new glasses and a new phone here soon. That’s going to be fun. ^.^

Here it is! My Weekly Writing Update!

Word Counts: 

First Book of the Kurylian Saga: 1.5 sections rewritten (Current total: 16,323 words)

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted

Blue Roses – 9,971 words – Dystopian Love Story

Blog Posts

The Anatomy of an Anime Mental Breakdown

Books Read

None this week… I’ve been having trouble finding good audio-books to listen to during my commute. Any recommendations would be awesome! Fantasy, self-help, personal finance, and horror are some of my favorites!

Goals 

Finish Real Money Answers by Patrice C. Washington

Keep Bullet Journaling

Two more blog posts for this blog this week!

Hit 16500 on Kurylian Saga!

 

And for those of you intrepid writers watching me, I challenge you! Start your own Weekly Writing Update! Or just a Weekly Update! You’d be surprised how motivational it is!

Weekly Writing Update – 02/05/15

  • Posted on February 5, 2015 at 9:17 am

This has sort of turned into a biweekly writing update, hasn’t it? I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a bad egg when it comes to keeping schedules. I hope you all aren’t too bored of me, or disappointed in me for that! As it is, I’ve been having trouble at work and at home, and just about everywhere, so there’s that. But! I’m not giving up! <3 I still plan to have my first book out by June!

And on that note, here are the tallies:

Word Counts: 

First Book of the Kurylian Saga: 1.5 sections rewritten (Current total: 15,041 words)

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted

Blue Roses – 9,971 words – Dystopian Love Story

Blog Posts

None this time… I’ve been pretty bad about this!

Books Read

None this week… I’ve been having trouble finding good audio-books to listen to during my commute. Any recommendations would be awesome! Fantasy, self-help, personal finance, and horror are some of my favorites!

Goals 

Finish Real Money Answers by Patrice C. Washington

Keep Bullet Journaling

Two more blog posts for this blog this week!

Weekly Writing Update – 12/18/14

  • Posted on December 18, 2014 at 7:02 am

It’s that time again~! Unfortunately neglected for a long time, my Weekly Writing Update is starting up again! NaNoWriMo kinda knocked me out a LOT. My sleep schedule got fucked over, my writing schedule got fucked over, and for almost two weeks, I couldn’t write a word, not even to get this blog up and running again. But! I am hopefully recovered, and going to start writing again!

Word Counts: 

First Book of the Kurylian Saga: 22,205 words

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted

Blue Roses – 9,971 words – Dystopian Love Story

Blog Posts

Guest Post – Chat With A Kitchen Witch

Imagine Your Oc – Practice Drabbles 1

Guest Post – Let’s Talk about Karma with a Kitchen Witch!

Asexual Awareness Week

NaNoWriMo Spotlight 2014!

Halloween Bloghop!

ISWG 11/5/14 – NaNoWriMo Anxiety

Winter Spirit!

Books Read

Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer

Normal Gets You Nowhere by Kelly Cutrone

Goals 

Finish The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman (Published 2000)

Finish Real Money Answers by Patrice C. Washington

Finish Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Polish up Blue Roses for submission to this contest

Two more blog posts for this blog this week!

 

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Seven

  • Posted on September 23, 2014 at 9:53 am

As it’s been a little more than three weeks since our last Part, I’ve decided to include a small recap. That way, we can start fresh with new memories as to what’s going on within Nemesis.

In Part one, we met Miss Jane Marple, an octogenarian who has a penchant for solving mysteries, and a recently deceased friend whom helped her solve a mystery on the isle of St. Honore. We discover that Miss Marple has a very organic thought process that really draws the reader in!

In Part Two, Miss Marple receives a letter from her deceased friend, Mr. Rafiel, letting her know that she’ll receive the British equivalent to $41,000 if she solves a mystery for him. What mystery, who’s to say? It also begins a recurring theme, which checks of a part of our Agatha Christie Theory.

In Part Three, we follow Miss Marple into finding out more information on this mystery she is supposed to be solving. We also find more of that organic thinking process.

In Part Four, our intrepid detective, Miss Marple, is rather sneaky in her dealings with an old friend, Mrs. Anderson. Who, it turns out, knows next to nothing about what Mr. Rafiel might have wanted her to do. This sneakiness is a good trait to have, when you’re trying to discover mysteries!

Part Five treats us to more thinking on Miss Marple’s behalf, while waiting for more instructions from Mr. Rafiel, and then, while meeting new people on a tour that the dead Mr. Rafiel set up for her. A rather boring chapter, it is, however, notable for it’s literary device of having the main character sort out her thoughts via notebook. Quite exciting!

Part Six left us with more questions than answers, which was, perhaps, the whole reasoning! Miss Marple explored a mansion, got to know people from the group, and found out more about Mr. Rafiel’s son, who, for lack of a name, we are calling Junior.

And now, on to Part Seven, entitled An Invitation. This should be exciting. Miss Marple has had so many invitations so far that it’s hard to keep track. The invitation to Mr. Broadribbe’s office, the invitation to the home and garden tour, and now, we find, she’s going to have another.

By skipping the afternoon wandering, she manages to stick close by to Miss Cooke (whom we had met in chapter one. She was passing by, and she and Miss Marple spoke about gardening.) and Miss Barrow.  While discussing how she knew her, Miss Cooke remembers the conversation in the garden. In fact, she forgets, however, whom she was staying with at the time. Miss Barrow, thankfully, recalls it as a Mrs. Hastings. She also took a slice of chocolate cake, although I don’t think that’s important.

She begins to wonder if Miss Cooke walking by her home in St. Mary Mead was a coincidence at all. In fact, Miss Marple determines that she’s right to be a bit skeptical, especially when one considers that Miss Cooke recently dyed her hair from a dark almost-black, to a striking blonde.

She planned to stay behind the next day in the hotel, so that she could view the gardens, as the rest of the tour was quite foot-heavy, which wouldn’t do. After all, Miss Marple really shouldn’t be moving too much, as Cherry often reminds her.

However, in the morning, she’s accosted by a Miss Lavinia Glynne, one of three sisters, who, by Mr. Rafiel’s design, invite her to stay with them in their old manor home. Mrs. Glynne is a plump, good-natured, friendly lady, Miss Marple determines, and so she agrees to stay there. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised, now that she’s starting to feel at home with the large group.

But, we have another portion of the Agatha Christie code to go along with. The introduction of new characters. Now, we have Cherry and her husband, Mr. Broadribbe and his associate, Mrs. Anderson, All of the people on the tour, and Mrs. Glynne and her sisters to worry about. So many plot threads, I can only wonder if we’ve dropped any yet!

What about you? How many characters do you tend to have in your stories? Are they all introduced right away? Or perhaps over time? Do you tend to insert them into the story, or do they introduce themselves naturally, as Miss glynne did?

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Five

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Welcome to Part Five of Breaking Down Nemesis! In Part Four, we discovered that Miss Marple’s original idea, of meeting Mrs. Anderson and asking her about the deceased Mister Rafiel, turns out to be a bunk. In fact, we are no closer at all to finding out the mystery that Mister Rafiel wanted us to find, nor are we actually anywhere closer to the actual plot! It turns out that from what we’ve found out, Mrs. Anderson doesn’t have anything to do with it at all!

Luckily enough, this chapter is entitled Instructions From Beyond, so I don’t doubt we’ll finally get some directions! It starts out with a letter that arrives three or four days after the confrontation with Mrs. Anderson. I’ve copied it here, for your perusal as well!

Dear Miss Marple,

By the time you read this I shall be dead and also buried. Not cremated, I am glad to think. It has always seemed to me unlikely that one would manage to rise up from one’s handsome bronze vase full of ashes and haunt anyone if one wanted so to do! Whereas the idea of rising from one’s grave and haunting anyone is quite possible. Shall I want to do that? Who knows. I might even want to communicate with you.

By now my solicitors will have communicated with you and will have put a certain proposition before you. I hope you will have accepted it. If you have not accepted it, don’t feel in the least remorseful. It will be your choice.

This should reach you, if my solicitors have done what they were told to do, and if the posts have done the duty they are expected to perform, on the 11th of the month. In communication from a travel bureau in London. I hope what it proposes will not be distasteful to you. I needn’t say more. I want you to have an open mind. Take care of yourself. I think you will manage to do that. You are a very shrewd person. The best of luck and may your gaurdian angel be at your side looking after you. You may need on.

Your affectionate friend,

J. B. Rafielmr.rafielgrave

My fangirl instincts are beginning to really enjoy the idea of these two in a romance.  However, putting that aside, Miss Marple is quickly contacted, again in two days time, by the Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Brittain. I won’t type up their whole letter, it basically states that she’s been given a free tour around London, and after checking with a few of her friends to make sure the company wasn’t a scam, she made arrangements.

Once again, we are treated to a scene with Cherry. She’s worried that Miss Marple might not be up to the long amounts of walking involved with the group tour. In the end, Cherry decides that so long as Miss Marple doesn’t “Fall down with a heart attack, even if you are looking at a particularly sumptuous fountain or something”, that she’s fine with it.

Another two days later, and Miss Marple carries her small overnight bag as well as her new suitcase onto a very nice new bus. Another bit of her genius shows through, as she studies the Passenger list, along with the daily itenerary. Apperantly, the itenerary was quite well arranged, with two seperate tours, one for those fleet of foot, and one for the elderly who can’t really move that well. Miss Marple then began guessing who each name on the passenger lists belonged to.

Now, during this particular strain of thought, Miss Marple uses that term again, that I took exception to in the second chapter. “Old Pussies” is a bit… Well, problematic nowadays. So, we’ll not be going over that too much. I’m attempting to take this book as the time period it was written in.

To be quite honest, this chapter really didn’t interest me all that much during my first read through. It was mostly descriptions of what people looked like, and how they struck Miss Marple, which while normally quite interesting, was, in this case, quite boring. Of the fifteen passengers, she determined quite a few things. Unfortunately, with the way it is written, and how tangled it all is, I honestly can’t begin to untangle it.

However, this does bring credit to our Agatha Christie Code theory. Miss Christie just added sixteen new characters to the story, and gave them all very in depth descriptions, and as noted, my brain basically just GAVE UP. Luckily, in the next chapter, we get slowly introduced to them a little easier, so I’m not really going to lay them out now. However, I am going to note a few bits of good writing.

Once again, we’re treated to a very organic thought process from Miss Marple. She goes from thinking about the four other old women, which is realistic mostly due to the fact that people generally note those similar to themselves. I know that I tend to look at young women on the bus before I look at old men, or older women. We see again, how she compares others to those that she knows. Specifically, she compares an old woman to someone called “Dame Emily Waldron”, a notable scientist, and a Principal of an Oxford College.

Perhaps we should learn from this. The next chance you get, take a moment and categorize your own thinking. Take notes on what you notice first, and follow along to your next thought. When you read books, note the thought processes of the characters that you’re reading.

The first day of the trip passes, without Miss Marple determining if anyone was involved in a murder, and she goes to bed, hoping that she might find something out the next day. Before bed, she spends a few moments, noting things down in her notebook. Which, honestly, is a wonderful way to bring us into re-thinking the things she’d discovered today as well. A wonderful narrative device, in fact.

So what have we learned today? Having an organic thought process for your character, as well as showing creative narrative devices to re-iterate information that may have been hard to understand in the first place, are keys to salvaging a rather horrid chapter.

For those of you following along, what did you think of this chapter? For those of you who aren’t, Share your experiences in the comments, with books that start slow and boring, and then pick up?

 

A Review of ‘Eat That Frog!’ by Brian Tracy

  • Posted on August 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

In Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!, you are given a set of rules/suggestions to follow to increase productivity and reduce procrastination. I read this book, cover to cover, hoping for some guru secrets. Unfortunately, it was a little underwhelming. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, as I enjoy most self-help books. However, I felt a lot of what he was talking about was common sense. Plus, he really pushed that frog-eating thing a little too hard in my opinion.

Here are the suggestions/rules that really stuck with me:

3) Apply the 80/20 rule to everything. – This means 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. So always concentrate your efforts on the 20% of activities that will yield good things.

This particular rule was news to me before this book. I had never thought of this as fact. I had always just assumed that putting in one hundred percent meant that the universe HAD to match you. But he’s correct. When I set three appointments at work for a special event, only one showed. And he didn’t even buy anything! So, focusing on that 20% tends to be a good idea.

This works in writing as well. Focus on finishing the 20% that helps you succeed later on. Outline, research, get involved, and that will help produce 80% of your writing for you! One article I read mentioned that when you have the energy to get things done, do the hard things, so that the easy things can be done when you are down.

8) The Law of Three. – Identify the three things you do in your work that account for 90 percent of your contribution and focus on getting them done before anything else. You will then have more time for your family and personal life. 

This goes along with the rule above. Identifying the three key things you do that make your work more profitable, more easily done, and more plentiful, then allows you to finish that 20% we were talking about earlier. My three things for writing are: Research, Outline, and Revise. These are the three things I do that contribute to finishing and polishing my manuscripts. At work, they are: Sell, Get Repairs, and Invite to Events.

13) Identify your key constraints. – Determine the bottle necks or choke points, internal or external, that set the speed at which you acheive your most important goals, and focus on alleviating them.

I learned a hard lesson last night at work. I work in a jewelry store, and I’d just sold a $3400 ring, to a couple who had walked in just to look. I thought I had worked very hard, and I was very proud of myself. I even split the sale with a coworker, so that she might benefit from it too, since it had been a slow night and she hadn’t had any sales that month.

Instead of celebrating with me, and acknowledging that I’d worked hard with the sale, she continued a rant she’d had earlier that day, saying that the only reason I had got the sale was because they had come in to buy. Now, this seemed really wrong to me. And I realised that her key constraint was most likely her negative attitude. Since in the last three days I have forced myself to repeatedly tell myself that I can make that sale, I have had three $1500+ days in a row. Clearly, my positive reinforcement of my own mental state has had some effect! This is only made clearer by the fact that before my reaffirmation, I had NO large sales, and in fact, had bombed a big event.

This rule resonates with me because, honestly, I think if she read this book, she might begin to understand how her negative attitude almost brought me down. So yes, despite it’s mediocre common sense, I do reccoment Eat That Frog! if only because, sometimes Common Sense is just what the doctor ordered.

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