Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Year in Blog: A Look Back at 2013

No, I did not get published in 2013, but that doesn't mean that exciting things did not happen in the ever-evolving writing world that is documented here on The Sunflower's Scribbles.

For one thing, in January, I decided that whatever number of posts I ended up with that month would be the number of posts I would aim for every month for the rest of the year. And I succeeded--eight posts every month. I'm not sure that I'll necessarily keep up that pace in 2014, but we'll see.

I think 2013 is the year that this blog grew up. I feel like my posts became better and certainly more thought-out. I'm really grateful and thrilled for the followers and the comments! Writing can be a lonely thing sometimes, especially when the people around you don't write, so the connections one gains through the Internet is truly invaluable. But I hope Blogger figures out how to let Apple tablet and iPhone users leave comments on the blog, too. And that more readers would, like, actually leave comments. Even on really old posts. It would make me incandescently happy. *ahem*

I won a Blogging Award.

I participated in a blog hop and a blog chain this year.

I read a lot of books in 2013, probably more than I've actually read in the previous two years because of my newest toy, my Kindle.

I saw 3 plays, 1 musical, went to a cabaret show at 54 Below, a dance show that my friend was in, 3 concerts and a Yankee game in 2013.

In terms of fiction writing, I completed the third draft of the WIP (yay!), edited it, sent it to a beta (the first time I've really ever had someone I don't know read my work, besides college), then realized that it was going to need a lot of thought, research, and shaping to get it up to where it is in my head. I'm in the middle of finishing up some reading for the book, as well as scribbling down ideas and outlines in an actual notebook before I dive into the fourth draft. I know I need to be precise about the plot and characters this time around. But--since it's a 4th draft--I doubt that the actual writing will take as long as the past three drafts have taken.

Also, I wrote a NaNo novel this year. It was amazing to have a new idea taking shape in my imagination. I tried my hand at writing two short plays, too. I think one of them might have some possibilities as a novel if I can get through this upcoming 4th draft without losing my mind.

I discovered that I actually do have the patience to outline, too.

So here's to 2014! Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Updated to add: So tonight at the family Christmas gathering, my dad began telling a story of the one Christmas he remembers from his childhood. Christmas 1964. This is how he set the scene (I get a good dose of my penchant for storytelling from him, btw). Grandma was still depressed that Barry Goldwater lost the election. My uncle Tommy got a Beatles record. I'm not sure what Uncle Joe was doing, but let's say he was reading in the corner. Grandpa was grouchy simply because it was Christmas. The boys had gotten a Rock 'em Sock 'em robot set for Christmas, which was set up. My dad and Tommy began playing with it. Tommy hit the controls so hard that not only did the other robot's head come off but the plastic neck broke and the head could not be reattached. Cue Grandpa going ballistic. 

Anyway, Dad's secretaries bought him a Rock 'em Sock 'em robots set this year, which he brought to Christmas. We took turns playing with it.

My cousin @ilovetoread09 tweeted this earlier:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Of Dialects

One of my Facebook friends posted this link called How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk. It's about how your mix of vocabulary and pronunciation identify your dialect. Try it out and let me know what you get. Does it correspond to where you're from or no?

I took it twice so far, just for kicks. Both times, the quiz has pegged me for the New Yorker I am--New York, Newark/Paterson (in New Jersey) and Yonkers, NY, to be exact. It's interesting, because I'm from Queens, which has its own very distinct accent.

You know Fran Drescher, the Nanny? Grew up in the neighborhood I grew up in. I think she even went to my junior high. I don't sound like her---I've lost the worst of the accent a bit, though I think I'm still distinctly New York in some of my speech patterns and vocab. I would have thought that a little bit of Boston would have rubbed off on my speech, having been to college there, but other than the fact that I can dip into Bostonian when I choose, apparently it has not.

The quiz says "sneakers" is the reason why I "sound" like a New Yorker. I love dialect quirks and accents.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

NaNo '13:Winner Shirt! (And hoodie)

So as you can see, my winner shirt came today! I bought the hoodie,too. Why not? It's not often that writers get writing-related clothing, right?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 4 Q&A and a mini-rant

So, as any semi-regular reader of this blog knows, I'm a bit obsessed with Downton Abbey. The fourth season is going to begin airing in the U.S. starting January 5th on PBS. The cast have been out and about on American TV. I was settling in to watch the PBS Q&A. Pretty interesting stuff. The cast are pros at not spoiling things, so it's safe to watch.You can watch it here:

And catch some of the cast's other appearances at Downton Abbey Addicts.

Then I scrolled down to the comments. Few good things come out of YouTube or Yahoo comments (unlike on this blog, where clearly, comments are the Best Thing Ever), I've noticed.

You see, it's been mentioned that there's a new character (and I can confirm he's a lovely man) named Jack Ross, an African-American jazz singer, who meets and interacts with the Crawley family on Downton this upcoming season. I talked a little about him here.

But anyway, in the comments below the Q&A, you'll notice someone complaining about "Why does this show need to show interracial dating? They didn't do that back then! I watch this show so I don't have to watch modern-day issues."

And reading that reminded me of one of the many reasons why I'm writing and am determined to finish The Sailor's Daughters aka The Keegan Inheritance. Because we need more historical fiction (and, frankly, more fiction, period) depicting people of color and of particular interest to me, being biracial, we need more historical fiction and fiction period depicting people of different races interacting---whether the interaction is negative, friendly, romantic, in trade, in war. 'Cause guess what? It's been happening since the dawn of time! This isn't new, people!

I feel like I've ranted about this kind of thing, too. Oh, I have: Too modern? That whole post is about storylines in historical fiction dramas that people find "too modern."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Marshall Plan Workbook

So as I've been re-reading my notes and getting further into a very academic but decently helpful book about Bristol, England's port, I've also been casting around for ideas on how to better outline a story.

I seem to have a problem where I run out of steam on a novel, usually by climax time, and I don't ratchet the tension up enough and it falls apart toward the end. So, in order to not do that, as well as to get a sense of where the story is going before I'm two hundred pages in, I skimmed through a book I've had for a few years called The Marshall Plan Workbook by Evan Marshall.

Has anybody used this?

Not sure if it'll necessarily help me, but it was good to take a look through it again. The workbook has lived on my floor. My dad bought it for me when I was in high school and so, there are notes and questions answered on stories I didn't even bring around to the writing stage. It's kind of funny to read those notes now.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Until I joined AbsoluteWrite, I had never heard of the writing term "filtering" before. But it turns out to be a technical term for something fairly simple in creative writing.

She saw him cross the street and approach.

He looks and sees her weave in and out of the crowd.

The children notice that their toys are missing.

None of those sentences are noticeably weird, right? There's nothing glaringly wrong about them.

Filtering is when you place a character between the detail you want to present and the reader. 

In other words, filtering is distancing the detail or image from the reader. I tend to do this in first drafts (and, ahem, maybe in parts of third drafts...), usually when I can't think of a way to introduce something in a more graceful way. I've noticed filtering more now that I know what it is, usually in third person POVs.

It was pointed out in several posts on AW that filtering can come across as lazy writing because, duh, in 3rd person POV, it should be obvious who the viewpoint character is. Therefore, if, say, a woman happens to be in a cafe or something and looks out the window and sees the guy she despises crossing the street and coming toward the same cafe, then obviously, she sees him.

Therefore, no need to say, "She saw him cross the street." Edit. Just write: "She gritted her teeth because Danny was crossing the street, his stride leading him to the door of the cafe."

This way, the reader sees him crossing the street, too, instead of watching her watch him cross the street. Get it?

Filtering aids in that old adage of "show, don't tell."

Here are some good sources on "filtering:"
An Introduction to Filtering

So, have you heard of filtering? Do you do it?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

And the NaNo story is finally finished's done. Finally. I'll admit to losing a bit of focus and motivation after November turned into December. I really just want to hibernate. I also want to get back into the research and re-aquainting myself with my historical fiction project again. December=research and outline to make sure the fourth draft turns out better than the third one did.

But back to the hibernation. This is not helped by the cold I'm getting over. Sinus blockages and constant nose-blowing do not make one want to write anything, even an "easy story."

I know I fudged the ending a bit. It's rushed. I seem to still have issues with the big build up to the Big Climactic Scene. Ugh.

But anyway, for the record, this story came in at 73,832 words. I finished NaNo with 67,003 words.

But it's done and now I can move on, satisfied with the knowledge that I didn't leave anybody hanging.

And by anybody, clearly I mean my fictional characters.