Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm heeeere! A brief update on NaNo, Awakenings, and a quick Grammar Daze of Simple Past Tense Vs. Past Perfect Tense

*checks date of last blog post*


I have been writing my books like a madwoman and that has consumed all of my brain energy. I pull up my blog from time to time and stare at it in a braindead sort of way and then get back to writing my novels. Where does the time go? Honestly, how can it already be almost November? (And NaNoWriMo, for those doing it! I'm Laura_Josephsen on NaNo. For those of you doing it, I'd love to find you on there! I'm not going to be using it traditionally this year. Most years, I start a novel from scratch, but I already have several that desperately, desperately need to be finished, so I'm going to be setting my word count goals on completing stories instead of starting them. ;) I know, this is technically cheating, but if I can use the motivation of a word goal for NaNo to help me finish things, I'll consider it a success.

My husband, after watching me do NaNo the last three years in a row, refers to it as "NaNoLoseYourMindo," and anyone who has participated in it before knows how accurate that can feel. In honor of the fun and yet mind-sucking month of crazed writing, I've made this badge/icon/award thing for any of you participants. In honor of you and the upcoming month, feel free to grab this and plop it on your blog or whatever.

Next, my co-author on the Restoration series, Faith King, and I are selling our few remaining copies of Awakenings version 1.0, since version 2.0 was just released. For information on that, you can see Faith's post about it here: Awakenings 1.0 Collectible Copies

And because I am sooooo dreadfully behind on blogging and my Grammar Daze posts, this week's month's Grammar Daze is going to be on simple past versus past perfect tenses. These are something I see confused a lot--mostly, people (I am guilty of this too) get so caught up in writing their simple past stories that they forget to put appropriate things in past perfect tense.

Simple past is the tense that the vast majority of stories use.

Simple Past Tense: My vampire squirrel attacked unsuspecting citizens once the sun went down.

The verbs are in simple past. So if you're using simple past to tell your story (rather than present tense, which some people use), this is going to be what's happening right now in the story. Your vampire squirrel just, at this moment, attacked these people.

However, if, in the narrative, you're telling someone that your vampire squirrel did this yesterday, or last month, or a year ago, you change it to being past perfect, where you basically add "had" or "have" before the verbs.

Past Perfect Tense: My vampire squirrel had attacked unsuspecting citizens once the sun had gone down.

A lot of the times I see this missing (or miss this in my own stories) is when a chapter or a scene starts out by backtracking, but not using the proper tense. For example:

"After three days, the characters were sick to death of tromping through the mystic swamp. Their first day, they were bitten by so many giant mosquitoes that their eyes almost swelled shut, and then the local witch made an appearance and tried to turn them all into bananas."

And maybe there's a bunch of this, telling what the characters had been doing those first three days, and then the story picks up with the characters NOW. The problem is that this started with "After three days," which implies that those three days are already gone. That means this first paragraph should have said:

"After three days, the characters were sick to death of tromping through the mystic swamp. Their first day, they had been bitten by so many giant mosquitoes that their eyes had almost swelled shut, and then the local witch had made an appearance and had tried to turn them all into bananas."

Some people have pages and pages of this, and so you just need to pay careful attention to what time your current story is in and whether it might be better to take the sequence in chronological order. You could put this entire thing in simple past tense if you were only to take out "after three days" at the beginning and move it until after all the stuff they did during the first few days. It would then look like this:

"Their first day in the mystic swamp, they were bitten by so many giant mosquitoes that their eyes almost swelled shut, and then the local witch made an appearance and tried to turn them all into bananas. After three days, the characters were sick to death of tromping through the swamp."

I hope that makes some sense.

And that's all from me for today! I have to get back to writing Story A so I can work on my co-written part of Story B this weekend. My poor co-author put up with me totally neglecting our story last weekend because the characters of Story A were eating my brain. Yes, I have Zombie Characters. (Okay, no, they are not literally zombie characters, because that is not my thing, but the way they consume my brain, sometimes I wonder. ;))

I hope you all have a FABULOUS weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Re-release Pic and Pay It Forward Blog Hop!

First, I'm pretty sure I've shared this before, but it is totally worth posting again, especially as NaNoWriMo is coming up, and even if you're not doing NaNoWriMo, but you're working on a book--go have a look at it.

Jim Hines' "Stages of Book Love" Graph

Second, my copy of my relaunched book, Restoration Book 1: Awakenings, (co-written with Faith King), came from my publisher today, which was really cool.  Here's a picture, courtesy of my eight-year-old son. ;)

(I know some people were looking at getting it at some point, so I'll mention quickly that Amazon is currently selling the paperback and ebook here for under $6 ; they've been slashing the price all week. The paperback usually sells for almost $19.)

The book came right when I was busy trying to whack a fly with a flyswatter. I had been making fudge and truffles, and it kept trying (and failing) to land on my food, so I cornered it in a window. The stupid bug was hiding behind plants and I'd been trying for ages to kill it, moving plants and smacking all over the window, but I just couldn't get it. The doorbell rang at the same time my little brother woke up, and I'm standing on this bench in the dining room hitting at the window and shouting, "WHY WON'T YOU DIE!?!" *smack smack smack* "...Zach, can you get the door?"

Third, because I have been so out of the loop this week, between being sick (I'm feeling much better; thank you for all the well-wishes!) and writing like a mad person, I didn't even know there was a blogfest going on, but I wasn't too late to sign up! This blogfest takes place today, so here we go!

The way this works is that I get to share three blogs that I enjoy reading. (Ack! It is so hard to limit this to three!)

1. Donna Weaver over at Weaving A Tale or Two. She's an awesome, encouraging person with lots of fun stories, writing advice, book reviews, and other cool things happening on her blog.

2. Barbara Kloss over at ScribblesNJots, who is super, super amazing and another incredibly encouraging person.

3. Mooderino over at Moody Writing, who has fantastic advice and thoughts on writing.

Go check them out, and there are lots of other people participating in this today, too--feel free to blog hop away!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writing. Lots of writing.

Guess what I've been doing the past week? Besides being sick and feeling like I was going to cough up my lungs a time or two? Writing. Writing a lot. Like, I typed out 4,000 the other day when I was sick and feverish. It was awesome. The writing, I mean, not the being sick and feverish.

Right now, I am in the middle of juggling writing several stories. This is a very good thing for me; I write so much better and quicker when I can bounce back and forth between multiple novels. It's even better right now because my co-author, Faith King, and I have picked up writing the fourth book in our Restoration series again, so we're bouncing the file back and forth, taking turns writing, and that's excellent motivation for me. My brain goes: I have to write when it's my turn so that I can get the file back to her for her next session, and then I have to write on my other stuff before she sends it back to me. For the way I write, it's like winning the motivation lottery.

Next month is NaNoWriMo. (Ahhh! How is already almost November again!?) I am not planning on doing it traditionally this year--I hope to use it to finish, or make a lot of headway on, my current novels. Are any of you doing it?

So I listen to songs on repeat while I write. I know some people can't do music while writing, or can only do soundtracks. I listen to a huge variety of stuff.

Anyone have any current songs you're listening to a lot?