A Truant Disposition

"I must be idle."

I love you but you’re eating my mind

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Jan• 20•15

Something has got to give. I am too plugged in. Or in a phrase from a much earlier time: “the world is too much with me”. I’m having a hard time getting anything creative done. There are too many other things to do and those things keep my mind in the consuming mode rather than the creative mode. I periodically drop most of the things I do online and write for many hours, for many days. I also take short vacations and drop most online activity when I do. Ditto for the big block of time known as the Christmas holiday which, for me, runs from about mid-December to after the 1st of the new year. Some years this break starts sooner. It all depends on when I lose concentration on my writing projects. Breaks from social media and other time-consuming online activities (more about this in a minute) are great and necessary. The problem is with plugging back in fully. I typically spend a couple of weeks doing nothing but catching up on things that I let hang fire while I was writing or on a break. Then it’s hard to get back to work because there’s all this stuff to sift through, read, listen to etc. Because the world keeps moving while I’m off on holiday or inhabiting a fictional world of my own making. Everything is interesting, informative, and potentially useful, or actually useful, and I pour it all into my mind which is then too glazed over with other people’s words to generate new material of my own.

It’s getting worse because every year I discover more rss feeds with lots of articles I’m interested in and more wonderful podcasts on fiction, about fiction, or of interest. I’ve reached the point where there is literally not enough hours in the day some days to read things online, listen to podcasts, and socialize…nevermind writing books (or substantive blog posts)! So I’ve been paring things back, dropping rss feeds, not dropping into Facebook as often, allowing myself only short forays into Twitter, but it still isn’t enough.

Sad to say it’s the podcasts — which I love the most — which are the biggest time sink. I can do things while I listen, but I don’t have that many hours of non-reading, non-writing things to do every day! If I listen in the morning, my mind is then too full of other people’s voices and other people’s stories to settle in and work on my own. That otherwise quiet time when I’m doing miscellaneous things is time my mind should be mulling over my own fiction, so then I’m ready to write when I sit down. If I write first and listen to podcasts later, then there’s not enough time to keep up with all there is to listen to. My podcatcher catches more than I can consume. So I’ve cut back. I unsubscribed to some podcasts that I was only marginally interested in, but discovered others which were much better. I’ve separated the wheat from the chaff and the gold from the dross and now it’s all gold. I love it but it’s eating my mind. Another culling is in the offing. I’m going to have to drop some fiction podcasts as well as nonfiction. This is gonna hurt, but my own fiction needs me. Short podcasts (Toasted Cake & Welcome to Nightvale, for instance) are safe as are the Escape Artists podcasts, because I love them so much, and support them. But everything else is up against the wall. I’ve got manuscripts that need rewriting and I have many, many hours and days ahead in my fictional worlds before the books are ready for publication.

I will still be on social networks sporadically, which really won’t be much of a change. I’m going to try to continue my little microblog (now renamed The Mighty Microblog) because short posts are fast and easy. I’m also determined to post more to the group food blog this year. After a fast start the first year, I didn’t contribute much last year and I’m determined to strike a balance this year. If things go well (fingers crossed) I should have a book out by the end of the year!


Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Dec• 23•14

This will probably be my last post of the year. I’m taking time off from writing fiction, though I have written some posts on other blogs. I’ve done two posts recently on The Usual Suspects, the group food blog I contribute to. I’ve not been as active there as last year, but hope to pick up the pace next year. Also, I’m still dropping short miscellaneous posts on the new microblog, including some posts of fiction podcasts. (Today: Christmas fiction podcasts!) In the past I’ve posted about good fiction podcasts here, but I’ll likely drop these short recommendations on the microblog in the future. I hope everyone has a happy holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate in December. Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Mankind.

Post-NaNoWriMo 2014: What I learned this year

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Nov• 25•14
NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner!

This year’s NaNoWriMo differed from the two previous years in a number of really great ways. Although I won previous years (and the second year was substantially easier than the first year), I’m still learning new things about how to write NaNo novels and how to integrate this lovable monster known as “NaNo” into my own process.

This year I’ve finally satisfied that one thing I was curious about which motivated me to do NaNo the first time. I’d heard of pulp writers in the olden days knocking out a novel in a month and I’ve always wondered how they did that (because I’m just soooo slooooow). Now I know. I’ve cracked it. The previous two years I won NaNoWriMo the manuscript wasn’t anywhere near complete at 50 K. That’s because the books were too complex for 50 K novels and I had too many things to juggle, figure out, work in, etc. The first year I hit 50 K on Nov. 21, last year on the 22nd. Both times I went back and added another 2 K before the end of the month, but even if I had kept up the pace that put me in the winners circle over a week early, the drafts wouldn’t have been done. This year I chose something completely different to write. The previous years I worked on two books in a series. The good thing about doing series fiction for NaNoWriMo is that after the first book, you’ve got a lot of things already established, so subsequent books are easier. But the books in my series were too long, too much going on in them. And I didn’t want to start another one until I got the first two in good shape. (Still working on that, at my usual snail’s pace.) So, this year I chose to write something simple, a really simple plot that practically wrote itself. That’s the secret to having a complete draft when you hit 50 K. Keep the plot simple, (or if it’s complex, try to get all the major stuff done and leave out details that can be added later).

NaNoWriMo 2014 "Mug Shot"

NaNoWriMo 2014 “Mug Shot”

For the first time, I really did complete a book in less than a month! I chose a cheesy action-adventure sci-fi plot worthy of those pulp writers of last century who could knock out a book in a month. Engine trouble forces a landing on a planet whose main life forms are giant carnivorous plants, which are presided over by a rich eccentric who doesn’t want her to escape the planet. Yeah, this is an updating of that hoary old trope and the main protagonist is female. This is what I think of as a self-writing plot: you have characters established in your mind, you drop them into a dire situation from which they have to extricate themselves. The story will unfold naturally from there. I brainstormed this far more than I probably needed to prior to NaNoWriMo, but that allowed me to make decisions about p.o.v (initially I had considered first person p.o.v. but after writing out how I thought the plot might unroll I realized that I’d need a secondary viewpoint and third person would work better), and also to fine tune some points that I hadn’t given much thought to when I spit them out on the page. I did character profiles, a rough outline, and then made corrections and adjustments. There are still a few things I need to smooth out in the draft but it turned out better than I expected, and also different than I expected in many ways. Fundamentally, I don’t think I was cut out to be a pulp writer. Given a action-adventure pulp plot, I turned it into a story about the characters. Which proves that it’s pretty much impossible for me not to write character-oriented fiction. LOL

NaNoWriMo 2014 Stats Screenshot.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Stats Screenshot.

This year’s NaNoWriMo was exhausting as it always is, but it wasn’t difficult in the sense of having trouble writing. This is what I do. I write. I’m working on something almost every day, usually editing and rewriting, but sometimes writing for hours. The hardest thing about NaNoWriMo is making yourself not go back and edit and rewrite because you can hurt your word count. This year, for the first time, I did go back and reread and rewrite a little bit, just looking for typos and sentences so badly mangled they were incoherent. I did this later the same day that I wrote and found that because I was writing so very thinly I sometimes ended up boosting my word count by adding a sentence or two, or adding a better word choice here and there. The reason I did this was because of one other thing that made this NaNoWriMo very different from any other writing experience, including non-NaNo novels: I had someone reading along, reading each day’s chapter or scene. I know some authors do this. Mary Robinette Kowal uses NaNo the same way I do: to make a fast start on the next novel and she has a flock of readers who read each chapter as it’s done. I never do this. But this time I did. As a result, this draft is more cohesive and coherent than previous years. I only wrote one scene out of order (and only jumped ahead by a day, so it was easy to catch the person up). It was less stream of consciousness. There were no bits where I just skipped and put placemarker text. “They discuss such and such.” It imposed a greater discipline on my process than NaNo did itself and this being my third year, it was probably time for me to challenge myself a bit more.

I rose to the challenge. Here are all the ways this year was different from previous years:

  • I chose a simple plot that could easily be completed in 50 K words
  • I wrote about a chapter a day
  • I set a 2 K words per day minimum
  • I proofread and did light rewrites
  • I had an alpha reader for my daily output
  • I finished earlier than ever: November 20th
  • I wrote more words than ever 53 K+ (in fewer days)
  • I completed the draft in 20 days/53 K words
  • I did no write-ins and only did two writing sessions on 1 day
  • I blogged my progress on the new microblog
  • I tweeted with friends who are doing NaNo
  • I knew more real life friends who were doing NaNoWriMo this year.

This is not my recipe for success. This is simply a list of all the ways this year differed from previous years. If you want to read about my adventures previous years, checkout the NaNoWriMo tag here. If you want to see the fun little posts I did during NaNo this year see: the NaNoWriMo tag on the microblog.

Secrets for NaNoWriMo Success (IMHO):

  • Write every day, no exceptions. (If you only write when there is no shit hitting the fan or you have nothing else you need to do, you’ll do damn little writing, ever. Shit happens. Real life is good. You must integrate writing into your own life, as it is, not as you ideally wish it to be. Most authors have lives not significantly different from yours. If you really want to write, make time. If you really want to win NaNoWriMo, make time. Write every day.)
  • Set a 2 K per day minimum. That 1667 number is a minimum. If you don’t hit it consistently, you’re screwed as far as winning is concerned.
  • Choose a story that can be told in 50 K words, and expanded beyond that in rewrites.
  • If you can, try to write in two sessions on some days, but still aim for the 2 K goal in the first session.
  • If you’re having trouble hitting your word count in the ubiquitous coffee shop setting, buy a pastry and go home. Public settings have their own distractions and the chairs are often uncomfortable for the long periods you need to write. Find the place that you are most comfortable writing.
  • When you get to a scene break, stand up and stretch. If you feel sluggish and stuck, take a break. Stretch your legs. Make a pot of tea, pour another cup of coffee. Take a walk. Walking has been proven to have a stimulating effect on creativity. It’s good for your cramped and hunched writer’s body, too.
  • Choose Writing Buddies that you have already connected with either in real life or online. Writing Buddies you know and regularly interact with are much more encouraging than strangers on a list that you just compare word counts with.
  • Make a running list of notes of things that you may want to edit or change later.
  • Either create your outline as you go (for those discovery writers who do no outlining) or make changes to your outline as you go, to help you keep track of changes in the way the book is developing.
  • If you fall behind on the word count, do not stop writing. The absolute worst that will happen is that you’ll have most of a rough draft of a novel done and since most novels are longer than 50 K, you basically end up in the same place as people who won. The more you write, the closer to the end of the book you are, so keep writing even if it looks like you can’t win. The book is the ultimate prize and the ultimate goal. You can always finish after NaNo is over (most people do). Every chapter you write puts you closer to having completed the novel. Most novels are not written in one month. Write as much as you can in November, then finish it after NaNo is over.
  • If you don’t win NaNoWriMo the first year, do it again. It gets easier because you learn what works best for you. Also, if you don’t usually write much except for NaNoWriMo, try to get into the habit of writing something every day in the year between one NaNo and the next. The established habit of sitting down and writing every day is probably the biggest thing that helps people when they do NaNoWriMo.

So…what am I going to do now? I’ve had some time to rest and now I’m working my way through the list of things that I let hang fire while I was pushing to finish the novel. Or I should say the draft of the novel. I had thought when I decided to write this story that it was just a little thing I wanted to write for me, and that if I didn’t do it as a NaNo novel it would probably never be written. Other ideas would take precedence in the writing queue. But it works pretty well for what it is and I’m pleased with it. With it needing both edits and rewrites I’m not sure if it will end up longer or shorter than 50 K. I’m thinking of doing a rewrite and then perhaps publishing it as a cheap ebook, with a sample from my other longer science fiction novel, In The Hands of Time, which is so old it doesn’t get the sales and attention it deserves. Rewrites begin in January! Now I’m off to tackle my post-NaNo, pre-Thanksgiving To Do list. 🙂

For those of you still working on your NaNoWriMo novel, keep writing!!!


I’m a Space Bird! I’m Gone!

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Nov• 24•14

While I as doing NaNoWriMo this month I also passed my final goal on the 750words.com site, which I’ve written about a number of times here. This will be my final 750words post. I made my final goal, backed up my material, and deleted my acct. When I first joined in Oct 2011 it was fun, and a preliminary survey of the sort of things I was writing in those early months showed that a surprising amount of what I was writing there was material which was usable, as blog posts, short story drafts and ideas, observations which I used as research for other writing projects, and pure fiction. I blew my first streak when I did my first NaNoWriMo: I collapsed so thoroughly that I forgot to write anything the next day! Then I made a new year’s resolution to do a one year streak, but that was interrupted by changes and problems with the site. I started up again and decided to go for the one year streak goal, but after I made it I realized that the final writing streak goal of 500 wasn’t that many more days and…I’d pass a million words between 365 and 500. So, I decided to go for it. 🙂 And I made it, getting my Space Bird badge this month. (I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a super secret badge for hitting 1 million words,) However, this past year doing 750 words in addition to all the other stuff I’m writing was just getting to be a grind. Either I was filling the word count with the fiction I was writing — and would’ve been writing ayway — or I was just slogging through, writing  inane ramblings just to get the daily minimum of 750 words. Most of the material I’ve been producing this year hasn’t been useful to my other writing and in fact, has been a bit of a drag on it. While I do think it was useful for me for a time, and it was a good experiment, it was with a great sense of relief that I wrote my final words, backed everything up, took some screenshots and deleted my acct.

A lot of the nifty stats the site compiles about the writing were meaningless for me since I used the site not so much for journaling as for creative writing, and most especially fiction, but below are a few screen shots with some very nice numbers. BTW, that “fastest entry” number of 1 second was on a day when I was having issues with the site or browser and had to ultimately write elsewhere and paste the words in. (BTW, I completed NaNoWriMo this month, too, so I’ll be posting about that soon. Lots of interesting things about this year’s experience. And book.)

Got my final badge! I'm a Space Bird!

Got my final badge! I’m a Space Bird!

Over 1 million words!

Over 1 million words!

Me, compared to The World (on 750words). Not bad, huh?

Me, compared to The World (on 750words). Not bad, huh?

Pre-NaNoWriMo 2014

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 28•14

Because I know I’m not going to write any substantive posts during the creative madness which is NaNoWriMo, I’m trying something different this year. I’ve dusted off a WordPress blog I got a couple of years ago and have turned it into a microblog of miscellany. Generally, it will be a collection of short eclectic posts, but during November this year, I’ll be doing short whimsical updates on my NaNo novel.

What novel? 

Glad you asked. 😀

For NaNo the past two years I’ve begun the rough drafts of the first two books in a series — which I’m still working on. Despite winning NaNoWriMo both times, there’s a lot of editing, rewriting, and yes, writing new scenes, in both books. Though 50 K is a staggering amount of words to write in 30 days, it is not enough for any of the books in the series, so at the end of NaNo each year I had a partial rough draft. My current plan is to write the entire series before the first book is published, but I’m not ready to tackle the next book in the series right now. So, I’m going to do something completely different. Because I enjoy NaNoWriMo so much that I can’t stand the thought of missing it this year.

I’m going to write a sci-fi adventure novel. I want to see what I can do with some of the old cheesy sci-fi tropes. In this case, stranded on a planet with carnivorous plants. As it happens, I know a bit about carnivorous plants. I have some of the little darlings. 😉 I’ve researched them quite a bit over the years and read everything I can about them. So the exotic world-building aspect of this book won’t be too onerous. Also, I’m probably going to set it in the same universe as my previous science fiction novel, though with most of the action taking place on a single planet, references that relate to the issues in the larger galaxy will be minimal, if they make the cut at all.

Really, I just wanted a straightforward action-oriented plot that will be a lot of fun to write. But of course, this is meso the plot will be pretty character driven. The working title is: Soft Landing on a Hard Planet. This was, believe it or not, the best of the lot. I’m hoping to think of something better after I get into writing the book. Here’s the synopsis:

An updating of classic pulp SF tropes. Jazlyn is forced to make an emergency landing on a planet with carnivorous plants presided over by an ego-maniacal rich eccentric. She must fix her ship, rescue a hapless trapped techie, and escape the planet. A fast, fun, action adventure tale with a sassy protagonist who, much like the villain of the piece, is accustomed to getting what she wants.

Here’s the deal with NaNoWriMo: whatever you write, it’s got to be something that you will really enjoy writing. Sure, you’re only going to be doing it for 30 days, but doing 50,000 words in that time makes for a pretty intense writing experience. It’s a great experience in total immersion and flow. A terrific way to get a fast start on a big novel. Or (as in this case) a way to knock out a draft of something frivolous and fun, that would otherwise always be back-burnered in favor of more substantive ideas. It’s also a good way to see if an idea will really fly, without losing a year or two of your life working on it. If, at the end of the month, you realize that it’s not a good idea and there are problems that can’t be solved, then you’ve only lost a month of writing and you can put it aside and go on to something else, having gotten it out of your system. Or set it aside and come back to it much later, if it continues to tug at you.

But, the bottom line is that the story has to be one that you will love writing a massive amount of a messy draft in 30 days. It has to be the sort of book that you think, “I want to live inside this book for a full month. I want to spend every spare moment of my life hanging out with these imaginary people.” Because that’s basically what you do. And that’s one of the appeals of NaNoWriMo. If it isn’t one of the things that appeal to you, you are going to have a rougher time of it than if you were writing the sort of book that you did want to live in. There are certain book ideas that I don’t think I could ever do for NaNo, not because there was anything tricky about the plot or structure or anything technical about writing it, but just because writing that story would be like living in hell for a month, or being inside the head of that s.o.b protagonist would mean spending a month trapped with someone I loathe. But that’s just me. 🙂

The series I’m working on (Seaport Chronicles) isn’t ideal for NaNo, but that’s more to do with the complexity and structure of the series: I can get a lot of good work done on the books by starting them during NaNo because it’s a world I really like living in, with characters I find fascinating and fun. Series fiction is ideal once you’ve laid the foundation with the first book because the setting and characters are already full formed and living in your head when you sit down to do subsequent books. Another type of book that works well for NaNo is one in which the action unrolls naturally from the inciting incident which begins the story. That’s what I’m going for this year. I throw my character into a situation from which she has to extricate herself, and the specifics of the situation provide conflict. I don’t expect this book to go much beyond the 50,000 word goal and I don’t know if it will ever be published.

Then why write it?

I just want to have a bit of fun. 😀 And I love the NaNoWriMo writing experience. And if I didn’t do this as a NaNo novel, it would probably never be written because I’ll always have “better ideas” to pursue. I’ll be posting short, amusing, and entertaining updates on The Mighty Microblog (as I sometimes call it) during November and after that the microblog will veer into more general miscellany. I’ll probably do a post-NaNo piece here in December, as usual.

Plans, Pants, and Discovery

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 21•14

It’s generally thought that there are two types of writers, discovery writers and outliners, or as they are sometimes called “planners and pantsers”. The pants refer to “flying by the seat of your pants”, in other words, making it up as you go along. I consider myself a discovery writer, aka “pantser” even though I outline. Here’s why.

First a brief relevant announcement…(Cue warbling comic fanfare)…I’m temporarily setting aside work on the series to do something completely different for NaNoWriMo, which begins Nov. 1. Today I started organizing my ideas into something resembling an outline. At least, it resembles all my outlines…

I’m a discovery writer, but it’s not like I have no ideas before I start writing. I know the events that start the ball rolling, I know the end (usually), and I know some important points in the main plot, as well as bits of subplot. I usually have certain scenes in mind. For me, outlining is organizing those thoughts.

My outline is usually a simple list of scenes, events, & information, sorted into a rough order in which they should be presented to the reader. This is not necessarily chronological order because sometimes characters don’t find out things in chronological order and also some pieces of information that predate the beginning of the story will be referred to as needed, when needed, if needed. Nor is this rough outline or list necessarily in the order I will write things because I often write scenes out of order as they come to me, knowing I’ll need such a scene later. For instance, while writing one scene I may get a much more vivid idea of how a later, related, scene will play out, such as dialogue or some slight change in the way I’d envisioned the circumstances. In that case I’ll go ahead and knock out a rough draft of that scene and the dialogue, too, if I have it in my head, maybe note this or that which would be good to include in that scene so I don’t forget it. It’s not unusual for a scene I’m writing one day to spark something for a later scene which I will either go on to write or make highly detailed notes for.

So, the outline is mostly chronological, but really in the order the reader needs to get everything (which is often the order the characters relate things or discover things) and it’s not a rigid order of scenes in the order I write them, but is in the order the story needs to be told. Typically, lots of detail is missing (though if I have details in mind, they are included), and there’s usually an item or two with question marks after them, or a “maybe”. I include possibilities, as well as definite ideas. It all gets sorted out when I’m writing. I’ve written books which had a handful of general points — not more than a line or two each — plus a few details, and I’ve also written books which had big chunks of text for each of a couple of dozen points. I can’t say that either makes any difference in what the finished book is like. Often books which had copious notes ended up not using most of them because they were thin, uninteresting, and ultimately off the point. Sometimes books with just a few plot points unfold like magic and develop into complex stories. Even so, it’s impossible to make generalities about the book or the how the writing will go based on the plot. (Though if there’s a huge number of points with question marks that can be a sign of some rough going, unless inspiration kicks in and saves you.)

I expand and reorganize my “outline” as I write. (My idea of an outline is so pathetic compared to people who really plan their books that I feel like I ought to put the word inside quotation marks.)  As I write, it is rewritten, recording story changes and additions to help me keep track of the material as it expands and becomes more detailed. This is why I consider myself a discovery writer rather than an outliner: a lot changes between the first point on the list (the beginning of the book) and the last point on the list (the ending). When I start writing I have an idea of the story, but the story develops as I write it. No matter how long and hard I think about a book before I start writing it, much of the book — including vital parts of the story — cannot be anticipated until I am immersed in writing it. Sure, I need the cold rational logic of a “planner” so my plot makes sense and I don’t contradict myself. But “pantsing” gives me the material I’m organizing. I can’t do much planning until I have something to organize. The more I write, the more I have to organize in the outline. Though I sometimes produces pages and pages of notes when I’m brainstorming, that’s nothing compared to the number of pages of a novel. Which is why my “outline” of a half dozen plot points at the beginning is usually a mess of notes and changes that’s several pages long when the book is done. (It should be noted that this is a working outline, not the sort of outline an editor ever sees.)

Much of story-making is intuitive. It’s daydreaming. When I write I drop into a state of mind in which I make connections and realizations about the story that cannot be forced from the logical rational part of my brain. They have to come bubbling up on their own. I can then apply critical thinking to these ideas and scenes to make sure they are consistent within the greater context of the story. But that isn’t usually a problem. Much more often the act of creation reveals flaws in my existing assumptions and ideas, and improves upon what I had originally started with. I’ve never written a book that turned out to be something utterly and completely different from what I set out to write, but the books always end up being more than I had initially imagined. The depth comes from the state of Flow as I write my way into the story.

My initial outline is just a crudely drawn map from point A to point B, with a few interesting features sketched in. Once I’m on the trail, I can see the landscape for myself, correct mistakes on the original map, and map it with more detail and accuracy as I go.

I’m a discovery writer, an explorer of the unmapped places in the plot.


Autumn is a Season: Fall is a Verb

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Oct• 02•14
First sign of autumn. Photo by Ainy Rainwater

First sign of autumn.
Photo by Ainy Rainwater

It can’t be the weather because we’re not (yet) having fall weather, but autumn is upon us and I am “Fall-ing” in all the usual ways…and also some unusual ways. I’ve got news, news, news! Writing news, blogging news, social network news, music news, and spacey news. (You knew I was spacey, right?)

Writing: My usual way of “Fall-ing” is that I write like a maniac. This year I’m pushing to get a draft of the first book of the series to beta readers by the end of the month. But I may not make it because I enjoy NaNoWriMo so much that I’m tempted to set the manuscript aside and prep either another novel in the series or something completely different. Dunno what, if anything, I’ll do.

Blogging: I’ve dusted off the Ainy Rainwater wordpress.com blog I got when I started writing for The Usual Suspects group food blog (which I’m still writing for but not as regularly), and am now dithering over what I could do with it that I’m not doing with this blog.  (What am I doing with this blog??)

Social Network: Yesterday I made some changes to my Facebook profile which will allow Followers, so if you’re on Facebook, you no longer have to Friend me in order to get updates on my personal profile. The reason for this change is that the way Facebook treats Pages now (see my Ainy Rainwater Page) is that it rarely shows up in the feed of the people who Like the Page. The only people who see my Page updates are Friends, and not more than 1-4 of them unless I put the Page post on my profile. Please, Like my Page, but don’t count on seeing my updates there. My personal profile will have some public updates now, not all of which will be related to my books. For instance…

Music: On my birthday last Sunday, I found out that I hit Reverbnation’s Top Ten List for my Gymshoes Music. This is probably due to the usual fall sales spike for my Halloween Soundscape album, but even so, this is the first autumn I’ve hit the Top Ten! (I’ve hit the Top Ten in other seasons.) It’s an eerie ambient album, inspired by classic scary stories. You can preview the album in the sidebar here and read the liner notes on my Gymshoes Music site.

Space (the Final Frontier): Mars Maven has reached its destination, which aside from science, also means that words I wrote, that came out of my brain, are right now circling the Red Planet. (Along with other entries to the Mars haiku contest.) Every time I even come close to getting my head around that idea, I sort of freak out and do a Snoopy Happy Dance. I’m doing it right now! 😀

Vivid, we dream you
Ancient world, known and unknown
Speak, eloquent stone

My block for Astronaut Karen Nyberg's Star Block Challenge

My block for Astronaut Karen Nyberg’s Star Block Challenge

In other “spacey” news I did a quilt block for Astronaut Karen Nyberg’s star block challenge (she made a star block while in space) and my block, along with thousands of others have been pieced together and will be displayed at the Houston International Quilt Festival at the end of this month. (The total number of blocks 2,260!) I hated that the rules required name and location be put on the front of the block. It messes up the design and there really wasn’t any way to make the label look any better with this design.  I drew the figures freehand and then hand-appliqued the block.

And that’s about all the news from here, unless I forgot something which is entirely possible because it’s Autumn which is my favorite season and Fall is a verb because I quite often either start or finish projects in the Fall. (It’s like one year ends and a new year begins around September; I think this is a pattern I picked up from the school year, but it could be because my birthday is in September.) Now if the weather would just turn autumnal things would be perfect. 

Insomnia for Authors

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Sep• 12•14
Hotel Reverie (Seaport Chronicles #1) Cover art and design by Ainy Rainwater

Hotel Reverie
(Seaport Chronicles #1)
Cover art and design by Ainy Rainwater

  • Don’t think about the book you’re writing.
  • Don’t tell yourself that you’re just telling yourself a bedtime story.
  • Don’t imagine extraneous scenes for characters in your book, complete with dialogue.
  • Don’t delude yourself that you’re dreaming when your characters are doing all kinds of stupid things. You’re still writing in your head.
  • Don’t think about the mosquito bites.
  • Don’t scratch.
  • Don’t itch.
  • Don’t…
  • Don’t imagine elaborate brand new backstories for characters in your next book, with scenes, dialogue, exposition and...chapter breaks.
  • Don’t rewrite existing scenes in your head over and over. That’s not sleeping; it’s obsessing.
  • Don’t draft a blog post about insomnia.

In my memory this was longer and funnier. Or at least I thought it was. 😉

Writing Prompt #2

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Aug• 26•14

I said I was going to do writing prompts, then promptly forgot about it. 😆 So here is a new writing prompt which I came up with and did a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly (or maybe not) this one ended up — like the last one — being rolled into another story I was writing. However, unlike the last one, this story will eventually end up on the blog, once I’ve smoothed out the edges.

What prompted the story was a misheard song lyric and it occurred to me that my alternative lyrics are always more interesting that what the actual lyrics are, and have more interesting narrative possibilities. So here’s the writing prompt: write a story based on (or inspired by) a misheard song lyric. Your mind is going blank, isn’t it? Yeah, I only think of these things when I’m actually singing along and someone points them out. The internet to the rescue! You can google “misheard song lyrics” or browse around Kiss This Guy, a website totally devoted to misheard song lyrics. (Warning: website may cause time-wasting, procrastination, and laughter.) The website gets its name from a misheard Jimi Hendrix lyric: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy!”

If you use this writing prompt and post the story online, please drop a link in the comments. I’d love to see what you did with it!

Saladin Ahmed: After the flood…

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Aug• 13•14

Author Saladin Ahmed’s house flooded and though insurance will cover some of the damage, it will not cover nearly enough. You can survey the disaster on his Tumblr or pics he posted on Twitter (@saladinahmed).

More importantly, you can donate to him through Paypal.

If you don’t want to give money to a total stranger, then get acquainted with his books and boost his royalties by purchasing his novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, and the short story collection, Engraved on the Eye. They’re both really excellent. It takes time — sometimes a long time — for royalties earned on books to trickle down to the author, so I really would urge you to donate in a speedier manner after reading his wonderful stories. By the way, he’s got two pre-schoolers and has, with his wife, just launched a podcast reviewing TV and movies for kids:  Can We Watch It Again?

It really would be good for him and his family to get the house repaired, furniture and computer replaced, kids toys, etc in as timely a manner as possible. The only thing worse than a disaster is to have to camp out in the disaster area for a long time. Any amount you can spare will be greatly appreciated. Usually the only thing readers can do for their favorite authors is buy their books and review them. This is an opportunity for the community of bookworms to show the love in an immediate tangible way at a moment when an author needs it most.