Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Watery Word Choices

Last night at whalewatching class was a presentation on “Threats to Cetaceans.”

The big threats, as you can imagine are whaling, pollution and loss of habitat (because of climate change or loss of habitat).

But it got me to thinking about whaling.

Why do we call it whaling?

When you go out duck hunting, you don’t go ducking (well if you go with Dick Cheney you might want to).

Of course when you go out fish hunting we do call it fishing.

Why are the words for hunting things in the water like that?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:47 am     Whale WatchingComments (1)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Whale Watch Training 12/26/2006

image

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:45 am     Comments (3)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tagged Meme: 5 Things

GreenLAGirl tagged me with this meme: 5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me.

As I’m not sure who reads FastFiction, I’ll just go with some obscure things:

1. My nickname in my family when I was a kid was Bill.

2. I rode a camel once, in Tunisia.

3. I haven’t ridden a horse since I was thrown when I was six.

4. I had only three wisdom teeth, not the usual four. All have been removed.

5. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 11 years old, but three years later I joined the high school swim team when I was a freshman.

I’m not tagging anyone.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:04 am     Curious NewsComments (3)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Finally Rejected

Sometime late in 2003 I sent my rather successful collection of one act plays, The Parking Lot Plays, to “my publisher” for consideration.

Today, approximately three years later I got a reply:

On behalf of Doug, Jonathan, and myself, thank you again for submitting your work to Playscripts, Inc., and for your patience during our evaluation process.  We’ve completed our review of “The Parking Lot Plays,” and have concluded that the Playscripts catalogue would not be the best fit for this particular work. This decision is not a judgment on the quality of your work; rather, we regretfully find ourselves limited to a finite number of great new plays that we can most effectively publish and promote.

Even though we cannot publish your play, we genuinely appreciated the opportunity to consider your work, and thank you for sending it our way!

I want to reiterate how much we appreciate your patience during this admittedly lengthy review period.  We started Playscripts, Inc. just a few years ago, with the belief that a publisher should keep its doors open to a wide range of submissions.  The resulting influx of scripts led to much longer review periods than we or any playwright would have liked, but we remain committed to keeping the door open.

At first I was irritated that it was taking so long, especially since those writers who were already published by them were given “priority”, but then I thought it was pretty funny.

I admit that I am disappointed, mostly because I believe that they are ideal for the college market, which was what I was led to believe Playscripts was angling themselves for: modest staging requirements, flexible casting and interesting parts.

I kept hoping that they would pick them up so I didn’t post them on my new website as I had with The Redeemer. Now that I no longer have to worry about pulling them, I’m seriously considering self-publishing (via LuLu.com or something) or just some sort of Creative Commons license that allows folks to read them and distribute them all they want and they only have to pay a royalty if they produce them.

I’ve been so out of it in the theatre world for the past few years I have no idea of folks are already doing it. But it’s a goal for the New Year.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:19 am     Comments (3)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How This Novel Was Different

This year I had no idea. I had confidence that I could craft something as the month went along. I’d never really done that before, I’ve always had rather fully-formed ideas in my head before I sit down to write.

In September I went to Oakland for a staff meeting for NaNoWriMo and in the car from the airport I asked Chris Baty what I should write this year, as I was pretty much stumped. He said, “I should be about candy.”

It sounded like a solid idea.

I came up with the idea for a character who liked all the candy. Really all I knew about her was that she had a normal, low-key job and she liked the kinds of candy that I don’t like, just so people wouldn’t think it was autobiographical.

I came up with an opening line: Natalie woke up with a lollipop stuck in her hair.

That was about it. I went into November with those two things and just went for it.

The plot was slow, not that there wasn’t stuff going on in the novel, none of it had much of an overarching point.

Then I found a groove and started crafting a story that could not only make a worthy novel (I felt) but in my super-human confidence, I’m convinced I’ve created a new genre: Confectionery Fiction.

The reason that I mention all this is that I’ve been writing these novels for six years now. Each novel is different, different styles, different genres and POVs, different plots and characters explored. But they were all stories that were already in me.

The Exchange (‘01) was an idea I’d been trying to figure out a format for earlier that year, but set it aside after about 16 pages of a screenplay. It wasn’t visual so I abandoned it, only to find that it was perfect to explore as a novel.

The Russian Watercolors (‘02) was a great idea I’d been mulling as a screenplay as well, and thought I was never going to get around the screenplay so I should at least write it in novel form. I diverged from my original plot rather early on, but was actually pleased with some of the things I created.

The Saint of Runaways (‘03) was a grand attempt at a feminist thesis sort of novel. It was a play idea I’d been toying with for about 10 years. I wanted to explore the life of an obscure saint that I’d decided was the basis of one of the Grimm’s fairy tales. It didn’t exactly do that, but I was glad I worked on it.

An Alphabetical Order (‘04) was the first novel I went into without a plot but a pretty strong idea of themes. I started with the title and the simple idea of a woman detained by airport security and held for 72 days because of some really contentious argument she gets into. I was so pleased that I was able to get so much out of such a scant idea that I adapted it into an unfinished play.

Heap (‘05) was based on another screenplay idea I’d failed to do anything with for almost ten years. It’s nothing like the movie it would have made and I consider it one of the worst things I’ve ever written.

This year was different because I wrote a novel that I didn’t know I had in me. All the others were there for years. It was really surprising to find ideas that hadn’t been “thought to death” and it gives me hope that I can keep doing this, that I will always have stories to tell if I just look.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:32 am     NaNoWriMoComments (4)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 10

I did this last night, but I’m just logging it here now.

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
7:30 PM…..47,544…......529…...35.27
7:45 PM…..48,114…......570…...38.00
8:00 PM…..48,714…......600…...40.00
8:15 PM…..49,296…......582…...38.80
8:30 PM…..49,732…......436…...29.07
8:45 PM…..50,227…......495…...33.00

35.69 words per minute average
3,212 words for session
1.50 hours

And that concluded this year’s novel. It’s the first time I didn’t actually bring it to a close.

The good news is that I intend to make something of this novel, so it’s not like I won’t have an ending for it eventually.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:42 pm     Comments (1)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 9

I went candy shopping today. I’ve been participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) over on Candy Blog, which in addition to the novel writing, the photography assignments, the travel, the forum moderation, the day job and the family commitments, well, I’m a little drained when I sit down.

I needed a little candy recharge for the blog. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got lots of candy in the house, just nothing I feel like writing about at the moment. So off to Walgreen’s in Echo Park. At that point it seemed silly to drive all the way to Hollywood, especially since parking is usually problematic at Sabor y Cultura today because of the Holiday Parade. So I went to the Silverlake Coffee Company.

I sat next to the drink cooler, which people would open and close and it would blow cold air on the back of my neck. I plowed through though and wouldn’t leave until I got at least 6K.

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
1:00 PM…..41,545…......712…...47.47
1:15 PM…..42,049…......504…...33.60
1:30 PM…..42,589…......540…...36.00
1:45 PM…..43,102…......513…...34.20
2:00 PM…..43,716…......614…...40.93
2:15 PM…..44,080…......364…...24.27
2:30 PM…..44,384…......304…...20.27
2:45 PM…..44,773…......389…...25.93
3:00 PM…..45,305…......532…...35.47
3:15 PM…..45,755…......450…...30.00
3:30 PM…..46,333…......578…...38.53
3:48 PM…..47,015…......682…...37.89

The plot is going along. The writing isn’t terribly inspired, but I covered a lot. Natalie recovered from her food poisoning. Gary decided to rally his sisters, who just so happen to have the perfect skills. Fiddy is a paralegal who will help with the legal parts of forming their own company. Rachel is a graphic designer who takes a stab at the wrapper designs and names for the new candy bar line. And eventually Nickie will come back and handle the wholesale accounts for the candy bars. Gary, who works by day as an adhesives technician for a feminine napkin factory will handle the production concerns.

Natalie is pleased as punch and tries to put the whole possible lawsuit behind her by offering to send all the wrappers back to Roger at the ABCandy factory. Gary, of course, thinks that just contacting him was a horrible idea legal-wise. We’ll see.

I need to start tying things up. I think I was planning that the candy would end up being manufactured by Roger in a sub-contracting deal, but I just don’t see that happening right now. I only have 3,000 words and about 10,000 more plot points. This is my usual position around this time of the month.

34.34 words per minute average
6,182 words for session
3 hours

And of course I’ve been forgetting “this day in history” this month:

2001: 42,589
2002: 35,482
2003: 34,512
2004: 35,175
2005: 36,008
2006: 47,015

Wow, I’m WAY ahead of where I have been historically. Which leaves me plenty of room to write another 10K to bring it to a close.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:21 pm     NaNoWriMoComments (5)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

This Day in NaNoHistory

More mindless statistics.

Here’s where I’ve been historically on the 25th.

2001: 35,025
2002: 35,482
2003: 34,512
2004: 35,175
2005: 29,714
2006: 34,141

So this year isn’t as bad as last year, well, except that last year the 25th was a Friday, not a Saturday and I still had two more days in the weekend to write.

But otherwise things are remarkably consistent. I’m remarkably consistent.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:34 pm     NaNoWriMoComments (0)

Novel Update: Writing Day 8

I’ll probably beat myself up tomorrow, but I just didn’t feel like writing today. I got a little laundry done and gave the dog a much needed bath and didn’t head out for writing until 2:30. I figured earlier this week it would only take 8K each day to get my word count.

It’s not that I can’t or haven’t had 8K or more days. But they’re very tiring, both creatively and bodily. The idea of having three back to back is especially draining. I can manage it on the weekend because I’ve had a full week to build up things in my mind, not just the big picture stuff, but patches of dialogue and images and all that. Though it rarely comes out like I have it in my head, it’s a pretty detailed map. (I just looked it up and found that I had a couple of 8K+ days in ‘04 ... what the hell was I doing?)

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
3:00 PM…..34,661…......520…...34.67
3:15 PM…..35,400…......739…...49.27
3:30 PM…..36,040…......640…...42.67
3:45 PM…..36,388…......348…...23.20
4:00 PM…..36,931…......543…...36.20
4:15 PM…..37,449…......518…...34.53
4:30 PM…..37,967…......518…...34.53
4:45 PM…..38,458…......491…...32.73
5:00 PM…..39,029…......571…...38.07
5:15 PM…..39,619…......590…...39.33
5:30 PM…..40,264…......645…...43.00
5:45 PM…..40,833…......569…...37.93

The good news story-wise is that my characters have stopped fooling around (well, they’re still fooling around, I’m just not devoting any text to it) and Natalie not only made another batch of Splodio bars, she sold half to a friend of Gary’s sister and the other half she’s put up for auction on eBay. At the end of my writing session she gets a rather disheartening voice mail from the guy at the candy factory explaining that he’s having her auction pulled because she’s misrepresenting her candy bars as the real thing. Legal papers will follow when I do the research to figure out what sort of papers she’d get.

Of course Natalie doesn’t take this well and is devastated. Well, that and it seems that her celebratory brunch with Gary has given her food poisoning. She never should have tried the Eggs Benedict. Writing about vomiting doesn’t make me feel so hot either.

34.32 words per minute average
6,692 words for session
3.25 hours

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:20 pm     NaNoWriMoComments (1)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 7

Sabor y Cultura - my usual Mexican Mocha with an extra shot and a plain croissant.

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
1:30 PM…..26,456…......410…...27.33
1:45 PM…..26,860…......404…...26.93
2:00 PM…..27,490…......630…...42.00
2:15 PM…..27,875…......385…...25.67
2:30 PM…..28,496…......621…...41.40
2:45 PM…..28,955…......459…...30.60
3:00 PM…..29,549…......594…...39.60
3:15 PM…..29,968…......419…...27.93
3:30 PM…..30,474…......506…...33.73
3:45 PM…..31,053…......579…...38.60
4:00 PM…..31,564…......511…...34.07
4:15 PM…..32,399…......835…...55.67
4:30 PM…..32,923…......524…...34.93
4:45 PM…..33,545…......622…...41.47
5:00 PM…..34,141…......596…...39.73

35.98 words per minute average
8,095 words for session
3.75 hours

The content of the novel is mired in sex. While this seems to be good for the word count, and possibly the relationship between Natalie and Gary, I’d really like to get on to the rest of the plot.

My wordcount is almost back to normal. I did over 8,000 words today, which I’m hoping to do again on Saturday and Sunday (which will pretty much bring me up to 50K, but I fear that I won’t have the actual plot I’m hoping for ... there’s always that not-mentioned-yet asteroid careening towards Los Angeles that could come into play).

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:32 pm     Comments (1)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 6

Today was a stealth writing day. I didn’t announce my writing session on the forums as I usually do. Not so much because I didn’t want company, I just didn’t know how long I would be there or if I would stay.

Back at Sabor y Cultura. It wasn’t that busy before 11 AM but I took my regular table, which was still there this week. Sometimes they move the tables around and I have to swap them out so I can have a larger one that’s a little lower than the others. When I’m sitting there for three hours straight an inch of height can make a difference in ergonomics.

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
11:15 AM…..19,857…......562…...37.47
11:30 AM…..20,345…......488…...32.53
11:45 AM…..20,952…......607…...40.47
12:00 PM…..21,330…......378…...25.20
12:15 PM…..21,743…......413…...27.53
12:30 PM…..22,325…......582…...38.80
12:45 PM…..22,845…......520…...34.67
1:00 PM…...23,349…......504…...33.60
1:15 PM…...23,958…......609…...40.60
1:30 PM…...24,536…......578…...38.53
1:45 PM…...25,088…......552…...36.80
2:00 PM…...25,522…......434…...28.93
2:15 PM…...26,046…......524…...34.93

In the novel world I figured out some plot stuff during the week and had a pretty good sense of what to do today. I always feel better when I have at least the first three thousand words for the session worked out in my head.

I sped through some things in an effort to give myself more story, character development and plot for the rest of the month. Natalie finished the birthday gift for Gary and presented a full dozen on the home-made Splodio bars in the original package to him at his birthday dinner.

They went over great, not only did they win Gary’s full devotion, but his sisters are pretty impressed too. Just for giggles I tried my first sex scene (or start of it) today. Never done one of those before, but I’m a grown woman and it’s about time.

What’s more important is that I know where to go with the next 25K. Or at least I think I do. Tomorrow I’m angling for another 7K to get me close to my weekend goal.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:04 pm     NaNoWriMoComments (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Brief Family Guy Interlude About Noveling

It’s NaNoWriMo HaWaDa (National Novel Writing Month Halfway Day)!

Here’s a little something to keep you typing:

Link to Google Video

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:58 pm     NaNoWriMoComments (0)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 5

Back to Sabor y Cultura with TWO writing partners, Russ & Celia.

I managed to crank out some stuff, but I’m kind of stuck as I’m resisting the easy plot I’ve laid out and now my character has decided to chuck my plans for her candy recreation birthday present and give him a poster instead.

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
3:30 PM…...16,781…......513…...34.20
3:45 PM…...17,171…......390…...26.00
4:00 PM…...17,222….......51…....3.40
4:15 PM…...17,390…......168…...11.20
4:30 PM…...17,802…......412…...27.47
4:45 PM…...18,169…......367…...24.47
5:00 PM…...18,391…......222…...14.80
5:15 PM…...18,946…......555…...37.00
5:30 PM…...19,295…......349…...23.27

22.42 words per minute average
3027 words for session
2.25 hours

I’d hoped for 6K today to bring me close to the halfway mark, but it’s probably better that I hang back until I’m able to figure out the direction here.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:15 pm     Comments (2)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 4

Ah, another afternoon out at Sabor y Cultura in Hollywood. Besides the initial 1,700 at the Staff Writing Session, I wonder if this novel will be written entirely there?

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
11:00 AM…...11,035…......672…...44.80
11:15 AM…...11,542…......507…...33.80
11:30 AM…...11,813…......271…...18.07
11:45 AM…...12,307…......494…...32.93
12:00 PM…...12,819…......512…...34.13
12:15 PM…...13,331…......512…...34.13
12:30 PM…...13,877…......546…...36.40
12:45 PM…...13,877…......BREAK
1:00 PM…....13,877…......BREAK
1:15 PM…....14,280…......403…...26.87
1:30 PM…....14,700…......420…...28.00
1:45 PM…....15,330…......630…...42.00
2:00 PM…....15,876…......546…...36.40
2:10 PM…....16,268…......392…...39.20

32.81 words per minute average
5,905 words for session
3.5 hours (including 30 minute break)

Today there wasn’t much plot, but many, many words.

Natalie was woken by her cell phone ringing and the head of production of the Altadena Bernardino Candy Company (ABCco) offering her some help in finding her Splodio stuff. He bids her to come down to the factory to see what he found.

She tours the factory, which never made Splodios, for a 5,000 word passage where she sees the entire production line of the popular ABCco product, Orange Paradise Balls (orange flavored coconut spheres covered in milk chocolate). I have no idea if that’s how such a thing would be manufactured or not, but it sounded good to me!

She left with a case of wrappers from all the old varieties of Splodios and has now resolved to make her own at home, thinking that the list of ingredients on the label should be the same as a recipe. (Little does she know.)

The further I get into this novel the more I wonder if it’s novel worthy material. I’m able to write it just fine and maybe I’m underselling it because it’s not been a particularly difficult novel to wrestle from my brain.

Tomorrow I’m back to Sabor y Cultura to try to get another 6K.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:54 pm     NaNoWriMoComments (0)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Novel Update: Writing Day 3

Today was my first day of coffee house writing for the year. I went to one of my favorite spots, Sabor y Cultura in Hollywood. They have excellent Mexican Mocha, or at least they normally do. This time my mocha was too sweet and didn’t have enough espresso in it. I asked for a double shot, maybe I was missing one.

No matter, I pounded out the words.

time…...running tally….words…words/minute
11:30 AM…....4177…......135…....9.00
11:45 AM…....4616…......439…...29.27
12:00 PM…....5110…......494…...32.93
12:15 PM…....5525…......415…...27.67
12:30 PM…....6052…......527…...35.13
12:45 PM…....6513…......461…...30.73
1:00 PM….....7074…......561…...37.40
1:15 PM….....7500…......426…...28.40
1:30 PM….....8074…......574…...38.27
1:45 PM….....8652…......578…...38.53
2:00 PM….....9252…......600…...40.00
2:15 PM….....9761…......509…...33.93
2:30 PM…....10363…......602…...40.13

35.12 words per minute average
6,321 words for session
3 hours

The plot, as thin as it might be, is moving along.

My novel has invented a candy bar that was made back in the early eighties. At the moment it’s called the ‘Splodio (SPLOH-dee-oh) Bar and it was made by the Atlanticandy Company. It was a fluffy stawberry nougat with strawberry pop rocks in it covered in milk mockolate (fake chocolate coating). I’m thinking of changing the name to the Popperberry Bar ... or maybe the Splodio came in Popperberry flavor and possibly Mocha and Mint while I’m at it. I don’t think they were particularly good bars, but certainly original.

My main character, Natalie, is trying to track down a tee shirt, or something from the candy bar for her boyfriend’s birthday. Of course the Atlanticandy Company went out of business years ago, so she’s still tracking it down and eBay has been no help either. Yeah, I like throwing obstacles in her way. At some point I have to bring in the title of the novel, Limited Liability Chocolate, an LLC, but you know, details and all that.

The good news is that with 10K tallied in the novel so far, I’m already 20% of the way through the thing and feeling comfortable about the amount of plot I have left to cram into those other 40K.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:21 pm     Comments (5)

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During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.