Posted by: alinesoules | December 28, 2015

Holiday Mayhem

I love the holidays when I can get together with friends and family and just “chill” (as the verb goes).  Of course, such get-togethers involve food (I love to cook), good conversation, and lazing about.  Much of this isn’t good for my exercise program, or writing, but I manage to get in at least a little of both.

Happy-New-Year-2016New Year’s Day looms and that means resolutions.  In my last blog, I wrote about my annual resolution to get ahead of “submit by” dates.  Even if I fail and make only a few “early bird” submissions, the resolution will be worth it.  It lingers in my mind.

A key aspect to resolutions is not to go overboard.  A couple are ample. My two center on writing practice and exercise.  When I limit my resolutions to a couple, I make headway.  I may not get as far as I’d like, but I do make progress.  I don’t overwhelm myself.

When people make a “list” of resolutions, often ten, I wonder how they manage.  I suspect each individual experiences resolution-making differently, but no matter how many resolutions we make, I hope that one of them is to take time to breathe, to think, to improve something from writing to exercise to whatever goal each of us has.  May 2016 be good to everyone.

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Posted by: alinesoules | December 22, 2015

Coming Up for Air

Just as everything else goes crazy at the holidays, so does writing and everything connected to it—or so I’ve found.  I’ve always been determined to write every day or, at least, six days out of seven.  Preparation for the holidays usually means I write less, but I still chug out something every day, good or bad.  I’ve also noticed that deadlines come in spurts and December 31 is one of them.  I hope to get ahead of “submit by” dates, but, often, I fail.  One of my annual New Year’s resolutions is submit earlier.  I expect I’ll resolve to do that again in 2016 and only succeed one or two times.

new_year_aheadThe other aspect of today’s writing is marketing, which consumes—or should I say, subsumes—me.  Dickens never had to do this.  Why do I?  Pointless question, but it nags at me.  I am a very poor self-promoter, but I need to spend more time on that, too.

As the hustle of Christmas and bustle of New Year loom large, I hope all my online readers have a wonderful season, but still manage to keep writing.  After all, fellow NaNoWriMo writers, we managed to write 50,000 words in a month.  We can make it through the holidays.

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Posted by: alinesoules | December 5, 2015

The Argon Factor: Book 1, by Heather Harlow

Plot Summary:The Argon Factor Book Cover
Susan Caldwell is one of GTS’s Security Development and Design Managers.  She’s new to Boston and this company and was hoping to get a new start, leaving her old life and distrust of men behind.  But now, her life is in danger and she has to depend upon a man to keep her safe.
Christoph Baldric is CEO of GTS and the Argon Earth-based Commander.  His alien race has been living in secret on Earth for centuries, assisting the Earth humans in their maturity and technological advancements in hopes to one day integrate and reveal themselves to the humans.
About Author Profle_Picture _ HHarlowHeather has wanted to be an author since adolescence. The Argon Factor is her first book in a series about aliens from the planet Argon.  She’s always been a fan of superheroes:  Batman and Robin, Spiderman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Six Million Dollar Man, and the Bionic Woman.
She likes sci-fi movies and series, like Star Trek and Battle Star Galactica. More recently, she’s been enjoying the Avenger movies. In addition to her sci-fi interests, she’s a romantic. Therefore, it was natural for her to write about science fiction and combine it with a human interest story with romance.
Posted by: alinesoules | November 30, 2015

Whew! NaNoWriMo ends

Remington12I emerge after a month of clacking typewriter keys and realizing that while I wrote 50,000 words, I still haven’t finished my novel draft.  No matter—I’m “over the hump” and am confident that I’ll finish by the end of December.  It’s been a whirlwind ride, but if I hadn’t leveraged NaNoWriMo in November, I’d be much further behind, so thank you NNWM.  I hope others in the NNWM frenzy have had good experiences, too.  I also did something I didn’t expect—I signed up for two online groups, one locally, but one that gathered in my original home town—Dundee, Scotland.  I suddenly got curious about how another place in another country managed the month-long process.  They were fantastic.  There were tons of tips for everything from keeping writing to avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome.  The organizers were terrific.  As for my local online group, they were far less active, but I was also more involved with other writers face-to-face here, so perhaps I missed something.  Regardless, it’s been an interesting experience.  I don’t know if I’ll do it every year, but I’ll certainly do it again when I need to create a lengthy draft.  As many others have found, I got swept up in the camaraderie of it all, the deadline, the word count, the whole experience.  May all our drafts be good ones.

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Note:  This is the typewriter that my Dad was given during the war and had to carry with him wherever he went, usually on the back of a motorcycle.  He kept it well into the 1980s.  The platen was so narrow, he had to fold a business-sized envelope to fit into the typewriter if he wanted to type an address.

Posted by: alinesoules | November 9, 2015

Writing En Masse

once_upon_a_timeTalk about writing alone in a group—that’s NaNoWriMo.  We’re 9 days into the process and people’s fingers are flying.  For fun, I signed up both in my current geographic region and in the region where I was born.  Of course, I won’t join them in person—I’m basically a “lurker”—but it’s interesting to see how another region handles itself.  My own region (SF Bay Area) is pretty silent online. I haven’t received too many emails and I’m certainly not sending any.  My original region (Dundee, Angus, Scotland) is going great guns with emails on everything from logistics to preventing repetitive stress syndrome.  I’ve shared a few of their “links” with my two “buddies”.  That’s another part of the process:  buddies.  I have two and have refrained from acquiring more on the grounds that I’ll just get distracted.  This post is a lull for me between work, NaNoWriMo, poetry, sleep, and eating, although I tend to eat at my computer while I’m carrying on with work or writing of some sort.   This past August, I focused on generating poetry in the 30/30 project with Tupelo Press.  This month, I’m focused on my novel, again generating material.  What August taught me and November’s reminding me is that it’s critical to generate work, even as revision, revision, revision is essential for quality results.  Come December, I’m going to try to allot an appropriate balance of time between the two.

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Posted by: alinesoules | October 26, 2015


revisionWhile NaNoWriMo is the 10% process of spilling your words on the page, revision is the 90% that comes after.  If we spend November on our first drafts, (optimistically finishing the first drafts of our novels) we will be confronted in December with the end results, and this means revision, revision, revision.

I read somewhere (forgive me, I can’t remember where) that more people prefer revision to creating the original draft on a blank page.  If that is the case, then December and the following year should offer a lovely present in the form of lots of raw material with which to work.  For the rest of the writers, the detailed task of revision may be less pleasurable.

Regardless, for any NaNoWriMo first draft novel to be viable, revision is essential.  Revision, however, involves many layers:  Developmental (or Content) editing; Substantive Editing; Copyediting; and Proofreading.  Further, multiple revisions will likely be required, unless the writer is a fabulous first draft writer or reviser.

I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo, but I’m well aware that the end result will be only the tip of my writing iceberg.

Posted by: alinesoules | October 17, 2015


nanowrimoFor anyone who might not know what this is, it’s National Novel Writing Month, and, from the way it’s taken off in the last couple of years, you’d think that no one in the U.S. is going to accomplish anything in the 30 days that hath November but write a novel.  No wonder the government is talking about shutting down, but they’ll be late with that, too.  They won’t shut down until December.

For a profession that supposedly writes in isolation, NaNoWriMo is a phenomenon that results from group-create and the deep need we have to connect with someone, even in isolation. We have “meet ups” where we write in parallel, sitting next to someone who writes speculative fiction while we’re trying to finish our romance novels.  We pay ‘no’ attention to each other; we’re simply next to each other.  Somehow, that makes us together.  We have groups we create ourselves.  Perhaps we even have our own ‘Harvey’, some imaginative character that allows us to skip meet-ups, NaNoWriMo, and any other group or buddy writing scheme.  We simply meet with our imaginary friend.

There are also NaNoWriMo hangers-on, people who finish a novel rather than writing from scratch through November, or who use NaNoWriMo to finish some other project–poetry, a quilt, who knows?  Regardless, it speaks to the power of someone—someone else—who can help you along the journey just by ‘being’.

Prep time for NaNoWriMo is now.  What happens in November is anyone’s guess.  May the best novel emerge.

Posted by: alinesoules | October 1, 2015


giving_receiving_151001As with many other artistic endeavors, many of our connections are reciprocal.  We may “write alone,” but we share and share alike.  My late mother used to call it “taking in each others’ washing.”

In our social media age, reciprocity is much easier.  We can engage in “swaps”, find out what each other is doing, form online communities (Tupelo Press’ 30/30 project and NaNoWriMo come to mind), and generally intersect and exchange with ease.  In the end, however, we still have to sit down and write, and there are benefits to face-to-face exchanges:  critique groups, classes, in-person sharing of work, readings, and so on.

It’s always amazing to me when people advocate one form of connection over another.  The key is to take advantage of both when we can.  Perhaps we live in an isolated area and online connections are our only option.  Perhaps we have preferences of one type of exchange over another.  In the end, if we can expand and reach out, others will reciprocate, and we’ll all benefit.


Posted by: alinesoules | September 22, 2015

Scholar OLLI

Red_Serif_OThis fall, I’ve been given the opportunity to teach a five-week class on Creative Writing in All Forms for the Osher Lifelong Institute at Cal State East Bay.  As of today, I have thirteen students and they’re amazing.  They have stories to tell in prose and poetry, and their stories emerge from a lifetime of experience and a wealth of backgrounds.  While most are American, one is Bengali, one is German, and I’m an immigrant myself (from Scotland).  Many of them have traveled widely and engaged in interesting adventures.  Some use the “prompts” I supply as “triggers” for writing rather than the blank page, but some are writing their memoirs or, in one case, speculative fiction.  They are lively, they are engaged, and they are a joy to be with.  They are as much my teachers as I am theirs.  The extra joy is that I can come with ideas, exercises, examples, and conversation starters, and receive their original gifts of language and never have to grade a thing.  I can just enjoy.

Posted by: alinesoules | September 14, 2015

Two weeks into withdrawal

Having finished the 30/30 project officially on Aug. 30, I’ve had two weeks to decompress from the intense “one a day” poem effort.  That said, as part of my determination to engage in more generative work than I have in the last few years, I am re-focusing my writing time to spend more of it on generative work and reducing my revision/editing time.  As I still work full-time, I know I have to parcel out my time carefully and I use my smart phone not only to make the usual appointment/meeting entries, but also to book appointments with myself to do tasks, including time to write.  Now, rather than blocking out “writing time,” I’m blocking out “generative writing” time and “revision/editing” time.  I’ve only been making this distinction for two weeks and it’s challenging to write generatively “on demand,” but so far, so good.

Of course, I’m very interested in working on the raw material I created in August as part of the 30/30 project and I’ve gone through that work (working title: Perception of Time) to discover that it splits into sections:  memories, science, historical events.  The interesting part is how it’s all going to come together or whether I’ll discover that the threads need to be separate.  Who knows?  That’s the fun of it.  We’ll see.  Eventually, I’ll start sending out this work for potential publication and see what acceptances and rejections I get.

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