Writing Groups, Critiques, Scrivener, and Long Drives

January 28, 2013

Photo courtesy of Jim Brekke — unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera on the trip.

I’ve had an incredibly enriching weekend for my writing life. On Friday I put my dog in the back of the car and made a 7-hour trek up to my old stomping grounds in Duluth, Minnesota. Along the way, I stopped to visit a friend that I met at writer’s camp when we were both 15, and I received some more valuable feedback for my Rumplestiltskin retelling. I’m excited to put it through another round or revisions this month, and possibly start submitting it this year. I’m particularly interested in submitting this to ebook markets because of its awkward length (it’s neither a short story or a novel at about 28,000 words.) If you know of a market that might be a good fit, I’d love to know about it!

My friend has also just finished her degree in graphic and web design, so we got the opportunity to brainstorm the webpage I want to set up soon for my freelance work.

In Duluth, I met with my speculative fiction writing group in person for the first time in almost a year (one of whom has just started her own blog here). What a treat! There’s so much more laughter when I get to be there in person and can catch everyone’s facial expressions and the nuances in their voices. I submitted the first eight pages of my Rapunzel retelling, and it was eye-opening to have some thoughts other than my own on the piece. It’s always fascinating, and enlightening, to see what other minds and eyes find in the words you’ve written. I’m realizing more and more how complicated this revision is going to be. But I’m still looking forward to it!

Which leads to a few more of my thoughts on using Scrivener for writing. I didn’t like that there wasn’t an easy way for me to export just part of the document to another format (.doc or .rtf), so that to convert just a few pages to submit to the group, I had to either copy and paste them or export more than I needed and then delete everything that wasn’t ready for review. Also, the font conversion was absolutely appalling when I opened it in Windows, with weird spacing issues every time I used an apostrophe. So I’m still on the fence about whether using Scrivener for rewrites is a good fit. (I do think the conversions would have been a little cleaner if I hadn’t already stripped formatting to import the document into Scrivener in the first place.)

HOWEVER, I also used Scrivener for brainstorming and outlining a set of concept albums I’m working on when I had to wait for new tires to be put on my car Friday morning (and thank goodness, because I needed those good tires to get me through Winter Storm Luna on my drive home last night). And I LOVED Scrivener’s features for this part of the creation process. I loved being able to create a notecard for each plot development, with the option to include as much or as little information about the scene as I wanted. And I love how easy it is to move ideas around and resort them as I develop the story around the music I’m using. This isn’t a writing project per se, in that the songs will tell the story and I”m just stringing them together, but it’s still too big for me to hold in my brain. And right now, Scrivener is holding all those details quite nicely, and making this step of the process very easy and energizing rather than overwhelming. Because the initial creation process is always the most daunting to me, Scrivener might be just what I need to get through it with less stress.

While in Duluth, I stayed in a bedroom above a friend’s shop out in the woods. Quiet, private, and the perfect place to read Thomas Merton and journal about my return to the city I love more than any other. And of course, all that driving time isn’t bad for getting the creative juices flowing, either. The hardest part is finding the time to implement them all once I’m back home.


Where I’m Writing . . . and Where I’m not

September 14, 2010

Dialog and posts have unfortunately declined on the Young Adults Catholic blog in the past year or so. The blog is completely run by volunteer editors and writers, and it’s no surprise that all of us have pretty busy lives. I’ve been doing pretty well at keeping my posting commitments, and I uploaded a new post today about forgiveness (fitting, as Yom Kippur is right around the corner). Unfortunately, the last post uploaded was also by me, which makes it feel a bit like a “Lacey Blog” and also means it hasn’t seen any new material for two weeks.

Luckily, we do have a few new blog writers in the wings. BUT if you know anyone who is Catholic and progressive, or even vaguely Catholic (raised Catholic, considering conversion, Catholic-curious, etc.), send them over to nextgen-blog@cta-usa.org. Although CTA 20/30 is a progressive organization for Catholics in their 20s and 30s, it’s open to a pretty wide range of Catholic-esque perspectives, as long as said perspectives are respectful and open to dialog.

I’ve also recently finished writing a bit of a closeted blog I’d kept about my transition moving from Duluth to rural Minnesota. Because I wanted the opportunity to explore potentially personal topics, I never made the link very public, and I’m not doing so now, either. But it seemed appropriate to mark that blog’s passing here, too, as this is another topic-specific blog that I devoted myself to for a year and then eased up on. Although I’m keeping this blog’s doors open indefinitely, I’m going to try to take a break from opening any new “themed blogs” and keep my writing focus on my novels and existing journals — including my trusty, dusty Livejournal that I’ve kept since 2002.

Back to the Classroom

June 10, 2010

I’m writing again, and I finally have a plan.

It’s been two months since I finished the second draft of my YA novel, and as usual, I was taking a “break” between projects. It was a productive break, as I managed to write a handful of poems, a short story, and lots of journal and blog entries. But two months tends to be sort of my “breaking point” between projects, when I start feeling a little batty for lack of writing structure. So when I woke up earlier than usual yesterday and had a whole blissful hour for writing, I decided what my next project is going to be: writing exercises.

I admit, it feels a little like a demotion to go from writing novels to doing writing exercises. In the past, I tended to scorn writing exercises (although I had no trouble doling them out to students!) because they took time away from my “real” writing. Well, I’m not ready to start a new novel, and Story-a-Day May revealed to me how productive exploring can be. Also, I ended up telling my mom about one of the stories I’d jotted down in my picto-journal, and as I told her about it, I realized it could actually be developed into a good short story.  So I’m going to take some time to work through reading and doing the exercises in Wild Ink, perhaps in conjunction with revising my novel. After I’m through with Wild Ink, I may be ready for a novel again (it may be November by then, after all!), or I may want to spend some time continuing to explore within the short story genre. Either way, I plan to have a full notebook of ideas to draw from. And I can’t wait!

Submission Opportunities

March 6, 2009

Just when I think I’m going to settle into a long stretch of just me and my novel, another submission opportunity comes my way, reminding me of my New Year’s Resolution. So, while I don’t have ideas for either of these, I’m hoping I might be able to shake something loose anyway.

  • Woman’s Day/ALA essay contest – has the library helped you save money? Interestingly enough, I have no idea what the “prize” for this contest is, although there must be money involved based on the language in the contest terms.
  • Stories from “lesbian” Catholics about their spiritualities. Lesbian gets quotation marks because I’ve contacted the editor asking whether stories from bi women are welcome, and she said they are. This particular call isn’t posted online anywhere, so I’m going to link to where I posted it in the bisexual LJ community I belong to. Added bonus: a little bit of drama in the comments, oh yeah!
  • And although I’m not going to enter it, I’ll post this poetry contest here in case any of my readers would like to exploit it.
  • And while I was digging through my e mail for that contest, I came across this contest that I had no idea I had. It looks like I can really  milk the queer experience for all it’s worth! (You can, too, even if you’re straight–this particular call welcomes that, too).

And if you had any interest in yesterday’s post regarding entry-level freelance writing, make sure you check the comments, too, where Jenny left some more great insight. I’m amazed at her ability to churn-out article-level stuff on demand. But I guess that’s a skill content writing will leave you. 🙂

The best-laid plans

January 9, 2009

Before I began freelancing full-time, I had a precise plan for scheduling my time. From 8 – 10 am I would work on my writing; from 10 – 2 work for one of my primary clients; and from 2 – 6 for another primaryclient. On Fridays I’d seek out new opportunities and spend time with any “overflow” work. It looked so good in my mind, but I learned very quickly that life — phone calls from insurance companies, meetings with current and potential clients, even sleeping! — does not fall into such a nice schedule. As a result, I’ve missed several Friday “opportunity” investigations.

Maybe it’s the higher tolerance for paperwork since the accident, but somehow in this past week, I’ve managed to make up for all that lost time.

  • I’ve applied as a freelancer for Harding House, which has been on my list for ages
  • I’ve put in my application with Demand Studios
  • I’ve written and sent a letter as a response to injustice (as I resolved to do here).
  • I’ve started writing my short story for the Queer SF Anthology
  • I’ve gotten in touch with the head of the newspapers in this neck of the wood, who is looking for a proofreader. (No link here, as my hometown is too tiny, and I don’t want everyone who reads this blog to knock on my door. ;)).  

Until I’ve received some sort of payback for all the energy I’ve sent out there, it’s all too easy to feel as if I’m getting ‘nothing done.’ That’s why lists are such morale boosters (unless they’re lists of everything that’s left to do — yikes!)

What I’m up to Now

November 3, 2008

I’m excited to be starting this blog and have decided my first post will be a quick snapshot of what I’m working on right now in my writing and editing life.

– I’m working on an article for the Bi-Women Newsletter, due November 15th.

– I’m participating for the third time in National Novel Writing Month. I’m about 1,500 words behind schedule, but I’ve hit the 50,000 word goal both times I’ve participated, so I’m optimistic. I write young adult novels during NaNoWriMo because they have story arcs that can usually be nicely developed, and possibly completed, within 50,000 words. I also love reading and writing young adult literature, and this is a good opportunity to do it. This year’s novel is more autobiographical than anything I’ve written before, which will be an interesting process to observe.

– I’m doing freelance editorial work for New Moon Girls, especially surrounding the web community at NewMoonGirls.com. New Moon Girls is a girl-centered, girl-created resource where girls can reach their full potential through self-discovery, creativity, and community. Full-disclosure: until last month, I was a full-time employee of New Moon Girl Media and held editorial and management positions within the company. Although I left to pursue freelance work full-time, I’m tickled pink that I get to continue working with them. I fell in love with New Moon Girl Media the first time I read a copy of New Moon Girls magazine in 2001, and if you check them out, you just might fall in love, too. If you have a girl-child in your life (or even if you don’t), I definitely suggest checking them out.

– I’m editing a children’s book for a self-publisher.


– I’m getting comfy in my newly set-up ‘writing space’ and learning my way around my brand new blog.