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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Managing Bookmarks

In my research, during my travels, and as part of different ongoing projects, I will sometimes come across articles, blogs, books, periodicals and other resources that I may not need immediately but will at a later time.

With Chrome and other browsers, you can type in a word into the address bar, and get a list of relevant bookmarks and possible search options. To match your bookmarks, it is contingent on you making sure the search terms are part of the link’s name (because the thing you are looking for may not always be part of the URL).

I know somebody who literally collects bookmarks “for future reference.” There is nothing wrong with this, but if you do not curate your lists, you will make it virtually impossible to find what you need. Ever.

I have hundreds of bookmarks! If I need something, I cannot open each and every link. That’s not efficient. And you know after the first dozen, if you managed to stay focused that long, you’ll lose your train of thought.

The best thing, I find, is that if you use good SEO in filing and naming links, you’ll need not spend much longer than if you Google it.


At the moment, I have folders on Writing, Business & E-commerce, E-book Marketing, Learning, Research (General), and Resources (Art, Cover, Fonts). There are more, but not all writing-related.

Each new project I start gets its own folder, so that I can refer to my personal repository of data when I need it. I also create a document with links (but am not as consistent about maintaining it).

I have also created Pinterest secret boards of links that I will use as research for current and upcoming writing projects. I’ve written about these, and suggested that you may release these after you publish (for fun, for book clubs, as part of the ongoing conversation with your readers).

If you prefer to synch your data, you can save bookmarks to Google.  

For a few minutes every once in a while you can be your own sexy librarian.


I find it particularly helpful to review my bookmarks from time to time – create new folders, move links, check the viability of sites and content, etc… Clean house!

Sometimes in managing your links, you will find new content to bookmark. You can let go of the lessons you’ve already mastered.

Do you have to do this? Of course not! It is, in my opinion, an excellent aid to help you reach clarity in your search for inspiration and help you feed your creativity.

This is also possible in the midst of chaos. It’s just a different experience and a whole new story. 

How do you manage the variety of articles, sites, artifacts, blogs, pieces of art or music that you use for each book?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December is for Revisions

Another year, another 50,000 words. This year it was a little difficult to get through the last 10,000 words. It tripped me up a bit.


I have December to revise and tie it all together, maybe release it as an introduction of the character before I send her into space. The 50,000 words I wrote kept my protagonist earth-bound.

Digging through my early notes when I first chose to do the story and I had different names for the characters and I need to decide whether to keep or change them. I have to say it enough times to see if it sings to me.

Then there is the second volume that follows. The planning for the writing needs to start soon. It helps with continuity (and there is no rule that commits me to it).

Was it fun? Yes. Was it maddening and insane? Yes. Will I do it again? Oh, yes!

It’s about commitment and discipline, confidence and creativity and a combination of craziness and adventure.


No day job doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it may fracture your loyalties in ways an 8-10 hour a day job might not. This is because you spend so much time weeding through job boards, updating resumes, tweaking the CV and cover letters…

Then there is the freelancing. I’m thrilled I can get some business, but if you are going to freelance, it requires a thick skin (you will write and rewrite proposals and submit dozens that will never get any response).

These activities take a lot of time and energy!


That does not mean that you let the writing slide. It means you have to readjust to what time you have for yourself and dedicate some of it to writing. But write you must: it is therapy and escape.

It is also a way to hone your craft, so you keep doing until you come close to a high level of excellence.

December is for revisions in other ways too: besides tweaking NaNoWriMo manuscripts, it is the last ditch to salvage the year or improve on the good stuff to end the year on a high note!

Do all your holiday shopping at Smashwords and Amazon

I need to release new work, and I have plenty of work to do: some writing, mostly edits, and a lot of transcription! But for those new to my work, I did create new PDFs for Justified, One Night with B.B., Chronicles of Ash, The Scent of Honeysuckle, Remembrance of Dingbats, and Kali, The Food Goddess: Volumes 1 & 2

Authors ready to publish: if anyone needs help formatting manuscripts to electronic formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc.) for submission to Smashwords (premium catalogue), Kindle, CreateSpace can check out my professional services page or contact me through elance.

Keep me busy! Help me keep the economy going!  


Monday, November 24, 2014

30 Days of Madness

Every year you take the NaNoWriMo challenge it is a different experience. The manuscript of my first novel was so bad I killed it with fire. The second one resulted in my first published novel. Last year, it was a disaster: I could not finish.

This year I outlined a story and I have followed it to some degree, but it’s very “first drafty” and I know that a lot of it will not survive rewrites. One wants the words that flow to be beautiful and poetic, and ready for publication!

(I know. I know!)

The ongoing joke, as I shared my status with friends, was that I had not yet used the unicorn. This is the idea that if everything else falls apart, you can always add a unicorn.

Magic and fantasy changes everything.

Last night, as a joke I threw in a unicorn reference… There is a festival taking place and the headlining act is a cover band called Monkeys on Unicorns.


The ensuing comments after I announced the unicorn development resulted in the following dialog (shortened here) which made me laugh out loud:


“At any rate,” Gábor was saying, “after I figured what it was, I was almost disappointed because there just was no way these guys could improve on my first assumption. But it’s not a bad band, I liked them.” 
“Why disappointed?” she asked. “I don’t understand.” 
“Well, when you called, I thought you said we’d go watch monkeys on unique corns.” 
“Monkeys on Unicorns,” she corrected. 
Gábor raised an eyebrow and said, “You say that like it’s supposed to be perfectly logical. Monkeys with Razor Blades makes more sense! Monkeys Wearing Boots makes more sense.” 
“Don’t you know what a unicorn is?” 
“Yes,” he said, annoyed. “And no…” 
“Explain, please.” 
“I did not discover children’s stories until I entered school,” Gábor said. “And I rejected most of them as ridiculous. My education, therefore, is rather incomplete in terms of whimsy.” 
He was standing over her as her swing came to a full stop. 
“Well, what did you think monkeys on unique corns would be?” 
“Monkeys riding perfectly cylindrical ears of corn,” he said a little too quickly. “Like some retro circus act.” 
The image alone made her let out a belt of laughter that echoed across the park. She threw her head back and the neon colored oval swing began its oscillation, then she kicked at the ground and she was off again.

“So, at what point did you realize it wasn’t going to be that?” 
“I saw their band logo,” Gábor said, crestfallen. “At first I thought it was even better: you know, monkeys on horses; then I looked closer, but without my glasses, and figured the horn could be an ear of corn on a horse’s head, because there was corn! But I quickly realized that was just ludicrous.” 
Maya was laughing so hard she was struggling to hang on and gasping for air.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Writing Life

There is this cool wind of euphoria that comes when you are in the zone and the words are coming fast and furious. There’s clarity and joy, and you write faster than you can even think, it becomes an instinct.

It’s like a drug, but better: it’s legal, has no side effects, and it costs absolutely nothing. 


I think that is part of the allure for NaNoWriMo.

I’m almost in love with the process right now. Almost halfway through the novel and I have yet to stall (or resort to throwing a unicorn in the story to save a failed plot or faulty research).

I say “almost” because along with NaNoWriMo I am spending time writing dozens of cover letters to send with tweaked resumes, as well as dozens of proposals for freelance projects. Making more progress on the novel than the day job search is a little discouraging and balances things out in the joy department.


So life becomes an exercise in patience where I can be fertile in creativity but fruitless in efforts to move ahead professionally, at least for the moment.

Of course, I realize that the moment I start working full time, it will take time off the writing because it will be the bulk of my day. At this point, it looks like it may not be until after the holidays that I find a desk of my own.

What's a little multitasking amongst us girls, right?

That means I need to put more effort into freelancing and I’ve seen many projects cancelled in the last few weeks. It’s brutal! I am getting invited to submit proposals by clients, so it’s not like I am competing with the whole field out there, just the experts. This is excellent and promising, as long as I remain patient.


This is still not a work blog, but the freelancing does involve writing and publishing services.

So, let's review: I have no news, yet, except that I am still in the running because I will not give up. Also, I write, and I love the process.

NaNoWriMo progress: The story has become a side-by-side/alternating tale of the two sisters as they move through life and become stars on their own right – which may not all survive in editing, but is helping me flesh out both characters.

A plot twist suggested itself in dream form last night (yes, I dreamed I was writing). It isn't what I outlined, but I will allow the story to go in that direction because if feels organic to the story as it develops. (Don't you wish life were that easy and malleable some days?)


As long as I remain disciplined and patient, rewards will find me: the words will continue to grace the page, projects will be offered, interviews may start to materialize.

I remain hopeful in all fronts.


Now, what shall I call that unicorn, in case I need one later?



Friday, October 31, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: the Amapola Press Way

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and I have character studies on my protagonist and antagonist for the first half of the book. I have an outline.

There are pictures that guide some of my choices.
 

There’s even a map!

For those of you participating, you may buddy up at NaNoWriMo and look me up as KaliAmanda.

I’ll have updates of my progress in this space as well as the Amapola Press Google+ page.

Love and the Android
Author: KaliAmanda
Genre: Women's Fiction

Synopsis
Maya Narayan has lived neglected by her parents and under the shadow of her sister Rani since the moment she was born.

Step-by-step she asserts her unique identity, and comes into her own by leaving Earth and taking over the International Space Station (now a private concern as NASA has moved on to interstellar and intergalactic pursuits).

On Earth, she finds a voice, and a new confidence as she prepares to leave the planet by committing her adult life to her work. In space, she finds love -- manifested and experienced entirely through electronic means and, finally, through the aid of artificial intelligence.

Love and the Android is a study in loneliness, empowerment, and sexuality, a compendium on the civil rights of artificial intelligence, the ethics and consequences of using artificial intelligence as surrogates, and life in space...


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Indecision 2014: NaNoWriMo Edition

In two days thousands of crazy creative people will go on overdrive and try to race against the clock and the calendar and themselves, and try to complete a 50,000 novel in 30 days.


I’m still in relative limbo, unsure whether I have it in me or if I even want to do this to myself again.

A couple of days ago, as the Antares rocket launch was scrubbed, a scene played in my head that has been forming for weeks. It may or not serve as the introductory scene to Love and the Android – it has a Halloween and a space theme. It also hints at the overall plot. But it does not call out to me…

I want to say that I have spent the last three weeks outlining and plotting and doing character studies. I’ve done nothing!

Yesterday, the relaunch for the rocket went horribly wrong. Thankfully, it was an unmanned vehicle, but it reminded me of Challenger. I thought of the kids that had gone to see their teacher go up then, and of the kids who were there this week to watch their experiment go up to the ISS.


Worst, I’d contacted an old schoolmate and suggested her boy watch (he likes space science). Would this spur his curiosity so that it cements his passion for it or turn him from it?

There is some drama there, themes that can be explored. Any space-related news is research and usually enticing, evocative, inspiring. And yet, I don’t feel seduced by the idea of jumping head first into this year’s adventure. But it is precisely this that makes me want to do it, because I don’t back down from a challenge.

I’m missing a couple of my cheerleaders this time around and that makes me sad. I didn’t finish the challenge last year and that left a bad taste in my memory. So I’d come into it as an underdog.

There have been several other real life challenges met and fought and survived this past year that had the potential to leave serious scars. Perhaps that has made me a little gun shy, but it is also the reason I ought not sit out NaNoWriMo.

The decision shouldn’t be so hard, but at its core is a woman who wants to be creative but only if she can commit to it in the way others commit to marriage. Not that NaNoWriMo requires all that, so essentially it is pilot error from the get-go, with me getting in the way of me. The writer’s nightmare… 

(This neurosis shouldn’t happen before NaNoWriMo, it’s usually scheduled for late in the second week!)


When the clock strikes 12:01 am on the Day of the Dead, I will start typing my story. The excitement will mount and I simply will not be able to help myself, because no matter what else I may be, deep within my soul resides a writer.

Now, can anyone tell me where I put Grandma’s English/Hindi dictionary? 


Friday, October 10, 2014

NaNoWriMo Upon Us

It is almost mid-October. The temps have begun to subtly decrease—the evenings are cooler. Leaves started turning golden and all sorts of beautifully earthy relatively early this year. It is autumn and a woman’s thoughts turn to NaNoWriMo.

For those of you not aware (where have you been?!), November is National Novel Writing Month and the lunatic fringe gets together (online and in real life) to write 50,000 words.

It is insane and exciting. It is a marathon for the intellect. It’s a challenge of wit and (yes) sanity. Why? Because we love to write; because the creativity is a heavenly high; because it stretches our stamina, our imagination, our personal threshold of je ne sais quoi

It goes beyond a love of language and writing. Participating in NaNoWriMo is about camaraderie (though you certainly can work alone). It tests your endurance even when creativity deserts you. It helps you redefine commitment against overwhelming odds. It allows you to delve deep into yourself and find alternatives to failure (yes, failure: you go in as an underdog!).

Creativity, a sense of honor and a sense of humor all come into play to get through an intense month!

You will not always win the challenge, but you should try.


NaNoWriMo is how I wrote my first novel, Justified, parts of the series for The Chronicles of Ash, and May You Grow Old and Fat

I intend to participate this year. I want to! I start at a distinct disadvantage because I am not only looking for a day job but also trying to procure freelance assignments.

Still the focus required to compete against your own self can be freeing, humbling, and a jolt of energy and self-confidence that is virtually rejuvenating! It’s like falling in love: a whirlwind, a joy, a mystery.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be maddening too. It can be a disaster from the moment you decide to jump in. It can be terrifying—especially when you run out of steam or story and you stare at a blank page or screen and the words won’t come.

So why do this to yourself? It builds character. Character is good.

I now have a couple of weeks to decide, to outline, to plot, to allow myself a tiny bit of whimsy. The question is whether to write a novella based on a new idea:
It's bad enough being charmed by a snake, but realizing it's just a lizard using smoke and mirrors... I mean, that's one talented lizard, but it's still just a scaly thing that eats small insects. 
The alternative is to pick up one of the ongoing projects and expand or renew the concept.


Last year, I started Magic Stilettos. I did not complete the challenge. Poetic Justice is missing the gut of the story in the new world (I have the beginning and the end). May Your Grow Old and Fat began as result of a conversation about child brides and the need to educate girls—perhaps Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize today is a sign from the Universe to finish that story. 

As some of the writing is already done, this is cheating – unless I rewrite what I have and start anew. (Not unheard of as this is what happened with Justified. I started with one story and wrote another.)
And then there’s Love and the Android, the proposed study of loneliness and sexuality, and the civil rights of artificial intelligence. I have notes and research but nothing written yet.
Decisions, decisions…
The question is will you join us? What will you write about? What worlds will you build? Which characters will be born during your NaNoWriMo? The clock is ticking!