Tag Archives: project

Another Fairy Tale at last

 

When I released my collection of science fiction fairy tales, it was the start of a push to creatively engage with the world. I finally finished a project and put it out there, doubtless non-perfect like everything. Since then, I’ve submitted my short works nearly 90 times (with 3 acceptances). I’ve joined a writing group and participated in critiquing groups to work on my writing. I’ve studied Adobe’s Photoshop and illustrator, and recently painting, to improve my artistic skills. I’ve studied Indesign and book layout. I started posting regularly on this site, as I have for nearly two years now. The first set of fairy tales started all of this self-improvement.

I always intended to do another collection of fairy tales. I recently finished the first story, “The Lonely Man on the Ship”, about a man trapped alone for years on a spaceship during  terrible storms. I did the art with Prismacolor color pencils (which I intend to use for the rest of the eventual collection).

Now I’m coding the fairy tale for the kindle. Once I do, “The Lonely Man on the Ship” will be available free on the kindle and on the iPad. Much of the last two years’ studies has gone into this work. I used Indesign and illustrator for layout work. I used Photoshop to make sure my scanned art work was as attractive as possible. I think the writing is stronger than in the first fairy tales. As the first fairy tales inspired new studies, to release this work properly I’m learning CSS and HTML coding.

So until I finish this last step, enjoy a couple of illustrations!

abenn_ghost-small letterhead-small

Happy 17th Anniversary, Vironevaeh!

Tomorrow is April 15th, 17 years since I did a project about a city named Vironevaeh, chock full of V’s and vowels, because why not? Somehow it never went away, and seventeen years later, it’s hard to imagine life without it. When people ask me what color the sky is in my world, I say purple; it used to be turquoise, but I thought that a white sun was more likely to diffract into the purple frequency range. That’s… usually where those conversations end.

Since the 16th anniversary, I’ve earned my PhD. I’ve started another Vironevaehn history project, and I’ve published my first story set in the Vironevaehn universe. I’ve written drafts for two different novels set in the universe.

But today, I thought I’d post a blast from years farther past. In 8th grade, I wrote my first Vironevaehn book. It was just by hand, and without much planning or forethought, half of it scribbled down during orchestra while my friends patiently ignored my rantings. But I filled a whole notebook with it. 14 years later, that book is one of my most valued possessions. Here I am with it today, and there I was with it 14 years ago, in a Polaroid taken as just another offhand idea.

comparison

 

Create something today, even if it’s silly. The only folly is not trying.

Writing: engineer style!

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I am currently trying to write a novel. It’s a lot of writing, and I have something of a history of starting and stopping projects. So I’m happy to report that I am still on the path and plodding along. Today I reached 23,000 words. I found estimates that trade paperbacks have 200-250 words per page. So that means my progress would fill 93-115 pages of a paperback. That’s kind of fun.

I am a mad procrastinator, but one of the ways I try to motivate myself is to allow certain writing related side activities. And because I am an engineer and a grad student, that distraction right now is…. excel sheets. Yeah. Below is a chart of my day-to-day progress. The slope gives my average words per day, so it can be fun seeing that change. When I reach a hitch, I get to go put my chapter’s word count into the chart and see what my daily word count is and my overall rate. What’s more exciting than fitting data?

writing progress

 

There are some websites I like to use as well when progress fails to appear. Written kitten is super cute. You get a picture of a kitten as a reward every so often. Because I need lots of motivation, I set it to every 100 words. If you need punishment more than reward, writeordie is quite popular. This blog had a decent summary of both.

I suppose this stuff doesn’t make the most exciting reading, but I hear it’s good to post about this stuff. Something about peer pressure? Plus since I’m writing all the time, I have less time to go read nifty things to post about. So, Happy Friday!

Progress and things

Just a quick update today. I made a few changes to the site, and I will make a few more over the next weeks. As I approach 100 posts, I have more content to organize, and more ways to organize it. So now there is a “Fun Science” tab, which lists and categorizes my science posts. Now I’m excited to do some more science posts.

I continue to make great progress on the novel draft (fingers crossed). Yesterday I reached 15,000 words and finished the 10th chapter. I am a fan of short chapters. I first wrote it last summer as a too-long short story. At the time, I intended it to be part of a collection of illustrated short stories. Below is the illustration I had finished for that story.

Happy Friday!

CaveCrime-small

Writing: Maintaining Enthusiasm

Last week I started headlong into an attempt to write my first novel. This is not my first time trying to write novel, but another attempt to finish one. I suspect this isn’t an uncommon problem. It seems to be an enormous leap of faith to write something ~80,000 words long. You have to set aside that time, in the first place. And then what if it isn’t good enough, what did you do with all that time? I think in every past attempt I reached about 25k words and said, where exactly am I? This isn’t going to get read and then I will have an 80k time sink in my hands.

I think such worries never leave. But in other areas of my life I have been able to push through worries of failure. It’s that old cliché that lack of trying guarantees failure. Each time I try, I try to do it a little different. This time I wrote it first as a short story. Then I outlined it at a rough level. As I go I outline the next part in more detail. So far it seems to be working for me. I got to figure out who my characters were in the short story. I’ve also been trying to set more realistic writing goals. I used to write as much as possible on a day that felt good. That would leave me tired and sick of writing the next few days. Then when I’d come back, the material would be unfamiliar, and I’d spend time trying to pull myself back into the mindset.

It’s still early, but this time feels better and different. I just reached 8,000 words. The idea that I have 90% or so still remaining is really daunting. Each day will help. And really, what better to do than work to improve?

Some other possibly helpful posts, since what do I know… I keep quitting each time (I thought there used to be a related articles function,  but it isn’t showing itself… so I’ll link them myself):

Happy 16th Anniversary, Vironevaeh!

Sixteen years ago I first started writing about Vironevaeh, the extraterrestrial city that is the namesake for this website. In middle school I was that kid– I told everyone who would listen that I was an alien. I was so bizarre kids didn’t know how to bully me, not that they didn’t try. I happily kept inventing my world.

In high school I started to read the classics of sci-fi (my top 20 scifi books). Before that, I think Vironevaeh was an alter-ego–I had a different identity there, and knew different people. Advanced having of imaginary friends. The classics gave me a different perspective, the perspective of world-building. I’ve been slowly plugging away ever since. There’s a spreadsheet with a thousand years of history, some more densely detailed than others. There’s a list of the 1027 first Vironevaeh. There’s a ton of pointless info, as there is so much pointless info in life. But all of it was a labor of love, through all the years of perplexed looks.

For your delight, some of the works from over the years. It is good to pause at times and review the path. I’ve posted a lot more recent works on this blog; here are some oldies. Drawing for Vironevaeh forced me to push myself. (Many other illustrations are also available in Vironevaeh: Science Fiction Fairy Tales, which is free on the iPad.) Some things are worth the long-haul.

Jainus Aillette Torwin Trarce at beach_marker

My alter-ego, Jainus. From 2004.

Vironevaeh relief map 800pix

Map of the island of Vironevaeh, from 2004 or before.

building Palace_at_Vironevaeh_Proper

Palace, 2003.

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Clothing from one historical period, 2007.

ChibiTempest

One of Jainus’ sisters, 2001.

Torwin Trarce chibi pencil tablet

Jainus and her 11 siblings, 2004.

Kolo Kolo Whit in Color

Kolo, a notorious political traitor, 2004.

wormhole invention

Wormholes!, 2011.

Jait Anda Torwin_psd

One of the first Vironevaehns, 2004.

 

 

A novel attempt

I finally decided that I will try to write and finish a novel. Of course, I’ve been entertaining such ideas for years, as I suppose a lot of people have. So why do I feel like I can do it now, when I’ve only failed before? You gotta keep trying, but there’s that old Einstein definition for insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So I am trying again, but I’m doing things differently, and hopefully this will lead to more success.

1. I first wrote the plot arc as a short story. It was originally meant to be a short story but there were so many things I wanted to touch on that I didn’t have time for, even at 7000 words in length. I know how I want the characters to develop, how they feel about each other, and what their motivations are. I know all kinds of societal details that play into the characters actions and motivations.

2. I’m in a writing group now. I know a bunch of people who might have suggestions on how to do better, or what to do if I hit a wall.

3. I’m approaching the writing differently. In the past I said, whelp, 100,000 words, here I go. Around 25k, I got bored, felt like my work was unfocused, and quit. This time I’m thinking of it as a series of short story ish chapters. I have a bunch of little stories to tell in 2-5k words or so. Per point 1, I already have a rough outline of the overall story. As I go, I’m outlining a few chapters forward with further details– what scenes happen in each chapter and where do they happen. So I have a macroscopic outline of everything and a microscopic outline subject to the flow of events. We’ll see how it goes. I’m planning on writing one chapter a week, with weeks off allowed for alternate projects.

I’ll continue to post my progress. It will be interesting to see what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. Any suggestions are welcome too! But basically, it’s time to just write. Chapter 1, here we go…