Weekly #Tanka challenge

It’s time for this week’s installment of Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge. You can see last week’s Tanka here. The prompt words for this week are: myth and write.

I had started on a little something about death and sorrow and loss, but then I went on an early hike with my husband yesterday.  The lovely morning in the woods inspired the following triple Tanka instead. I’ve no idea if the concept of a triple Tanka even exists, but I found I was not done with the poem after one stanza, so I just added two more. Hope you enjoy it—and the picture my husband took, too. The picture was taken on the morning of January, 27th on our way to the ruins of Castle Wegelnburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on the border to France.

20180127-DSC06241January 2018

~Slopes, Immersed in White Mist~

Enchanted forest,
I savor your mystic air.
Dew. Haze. Lacy rays.
The morning inks ancient tales
Of new life on dappled ground.

My breath’s a wet cloud.
But sunlight’s fingers reach out,
Warming my cold face.
Empty trails and byways are
Glittering with silent mist.

The new day’s aura
Is ripe with sweet memories
Of forgotten days.
And I remember verses,
once lost—but now born anew.

 

 

Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge; a #Tanka

More poetry! It’s on my 2018 to-do list. Read more poetry, write more poetry. So here we go: I start with Colleen’s challenge.

I found Colleen’s blog last Tuesday and she’s hosting a weekly poetry challenge. To be precise, this week she’s hosting the 67th weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge. Rules are easy: write a Tanka (or Haiku, or Haibun, or…) poem. Including synonyms of two given prompt words in the text.

The prompt words for this week are: play and guess – synonyms only. I used riddle for play and clue for guess. And here’s my (first) Tanka.

~Uplifted~

If love’s a riddle,
Don’t ever tell me the clue.
My captured heart soars,
Airborne with sweet elation,
And I escape into bliss.

That’s it. My first Tanka. What do you think?

Hope to join again next week for tanka-tuesday

First SCBWI Meeting of 2018

It had been too long, really! I missed out on the meetings of SCBWIAustriaGermany chapter for the last two times (NaNoWriMo and December-holiday-season did not allow me much time), Yesterday, finally, I was headed to Stuttgart to see my fellow writers and, as always, it was a great success.

We met at our usual spot in Stuttgart library, eight ladies in all, and discussed our work. There’s nothing as inspiring as talking to likeminded people about new ideas and see how far others have come, how well their work is progressing and getting feedback on your own project.

During the day I read a number of PB manuscripts that I’ve seen as mere ideas, read at various stages along the road, and that are nearly perfected now. I’ve read a promising idea of a dystopian story and can’t wait to see it grow into a full-fledged manuscript.

Special shout-out to one of our members for a promising honorary mention in SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices Competition. Even if the manuscript did not make it to the finalist this time, I’m absolutely sure it’s bound to happen soon. Fingers crossed!

And to all SCBWI members here in the Austria/Germany chapter as well as all SCBWI folks around the globe: I am proud to be part of your open and friendly community, happy to give feedback and grateful to receive comments on my own work.

Until next month, ladies!

Scrivener Webinar and 5 features I’ll use

I’ve been using Scrivener since early 2016. Back then, I had been unsatisfied with the regular “word files plus project folder” – setup for my writing projects. It just took to long to organize research, pictures or backmatter. Even with the help of bookmarks and Pinterest, it was still a pain to find stuff again that I knew I had already looked up and saved somewhere. So, I gave Scrivener a try and have not looked back since.

But, just as it is often the case with any given application, I don’t use the tool the full extent of its capabilities. There are always some special tricks, features and hidden functionalities I never needed or just don’t know about.

When I stumbled over SCBWI_Dakotas chapter’s webinar on Scrivener, I signed up, positive I’d learn something new. I wasn’t disappointed. (check out their chapter website here – there’re more webinars to come.)

1) Split Document with ⌘K

When importing an already full or partially written manuscript (e.g. from MSword) to Scrivener, I’ve always assumed I had to specially format the original file with parseable identifiers and import using these to get one text documents per chapter in Scrivener.

Turns out, there’s an easier way: Import the whole text. In the text, click where you want your new chapter to start. Press ⌘K and voilá! Scrivener divides the document into two at this point.

2) Colour code documents and folders in the binder

I had used labels in Scrivener before but these only always showed up as a smallish ribbon on the folder card or notecard when the corkboard view was active. But when I’m actually writing and not outlining anymore,  I rarely use the corkboard view.

Turns out, there’s a way to show the label colour in the binder. In the menu go to the View tab. In the fifth section, you’ll find the submenu “Use label colour in….” Check binder here and say hello to a colourful binder!

3) Drag and drop matter from outside the application directly to Scrivener

It’s not that I’ve never used drag&drop across application before – I just wasn’t aware it would work with Scrivener, too and used the import function in the file menu.

Instead, it’s just as easy as you might imagine. Just plug any other document, URL or item directly to the place in the binder where you need it.

4) Compare snapshots of your documents

I already use snapshots. A lot! As in ten plus snapshots for certain scenes and I’m not even in the revision process. I just tend to rewrite often. It’s a stupid habit, I know, but well… *shrug*

Whenever I notice I’ve changed some phrase or sentence and want back the former version, I’d select the old snapshot and scroll until I’d find it.

Turns out, there’s a compare button. I’ve no idea why I ignored it so long without even trying it once. Now I know better.

5) Session and Manuscript targets

If only I had known this last November and keeping track of my progress during NaNoWriMo would have been a lot easier. There’s even a “allow negatives” checkbox.

Well, NaNoWriMo is done but I’ll make use of this feature anyway. Part of my goals for 2018 is to keep track of my progress in more detail – not only the time spent writing but the actual output, too. I believe I’ll get more done if I keep myself accountable. This is going to be easier now. Yay!

What else was new?

The webinar reminded me of the “composition mode.” I’ve used that before, too, but not as often as it would make sense. I’m planning on spending more time writing in this distraction-free mode.

Last but not least, I’ve learned there’s a new Scrivener version. I’ll have to check that out! Who knows what else I’m missing otherwise.

What about you? Do you (still) use MSWord or something else? Let me know!

7 things done, 7 things to do

If you believe the multiple motivational posts flooding the social media feeds in the early days of the year, one only has to dream big and fantastic success will come forth. Neat, eh? But it’s not all that easy. Even good intentions derived from the Big Dream won’t take you anywhere soon if you only dream them up but fail to follow up.

So, before I go ahead and think about what to strive for in 2018, let’s see what I did in 2017, concerning my journey as a writer. What did I do that I am proud of? Here’s a short list of my favourite personal achievements in 2017.

  1. I’ve routinely joined the #5amwritersclub. Getting up early, about 4:30am, yielded me a sizeable amount of time to write; time I was lacking the years ago. I developed the habit back in late 2016, but in the last year I was more often successful in banishing my “inneren Schweinehund” and conquer my sleep-deprived-weaker self. Not every day, but consistently enough.
  2. I wrote, finished and submitted a short story to a contest. That was a first for me. Nothing came off it, but it was an interesting experience. I also wrote my first poem in English, and for good measure, I submitted it to three contests.
  3. I’ve attended eight meetings of the Germany/Austria chapter of SCBWI – a group of fellow writers who never cease to motivate me, went to Frankfurt Book Fair and the book launch of fabulous Melinda Salisbury.
  4. I put down the WIP I was working on all through 2016/2017. A hard decision at the time, but the right one. I’m glad I set the story aside (for the time being). This left me free to launch my current WIP, a story I’m much more comfortable with, given my skill level. I’ve worked on this new project for about 8 months now, and the manuscript is already further developed than the old WIP ever was.
  5. I wrote ten blogposts (meh, too few), with the post about my take on DC’s Wonder Woman story structure and character arch being the most read.
  6. I attended 6 webinars (4 via SCBWI, 2 via other hosts/websites). Not all were equally helpful. I posted about the take-away-points of one already and a recap for a “A place in fiction” is scheduled for the end of the month.
  7. I won NaNoWriMo, though I worked with my current WIP instead of a new project.

This being said, let me see what I’d like to do in 2018, besides reaching for the stars, that is.

  1. I want to finish the first draft of my current WIP. Déjà-vu, eh? Well, I guess it’s a never-ending story. After the story is before the story or rather the main character is dead! Long live the main character.
  2. I want to read and write more poetry. I want to read more in general, especially books and texts that don’t belong in the “on the craft” category.
  3. My website needs some work. I want to update and/or change the about-me page and increase the number of blogposts.
  4. #3 will work fine with the plan to keep attending webinars and share my take-away-points afterwards. Same goes for blog posts on structure and character arch found in movies and from books.
  5. I started submitting smaller works in 2017 and want to keep that up. While I’m not ready to start submitting the book, I want to do so with poems and possibly short stories.
  6. I’ve decided to reduce the hours at my daily job to further increase my time writing. To use the won time effectively, I plan to hold myself accountable for the time spent actually writing. For that, I’ll keep using my bullet journal, tracking not only word count, but hours spent on the project, too.
  7. Last but not least: minimise procrastination. Ha! Yeah, right…. Twitter, Insta, Facebook… the lot keeps stealing my time. I’m still not sure how to tackle this, but I’ve got another year ahead to figure something out.

The most important item on the list is without a doubt #6. On multiple occasions I’ve read the sentence: If you want to be a successful author, you need to treat it like a proper job. Writing is work; hard one day and fun the next. I want to make the hours I got count.

What about you out there? What did you achieve last year, and where do you want to go in 2018? Whatever, wherever that is – I hope it’s going to be a fun ride.

New year, new goals.

Happy New Year to you, dear reader!
I hope you spent the last moments of 2017 and the first moments of 2018 with your loved ones and friends and had the most amazing time. I certainly did. Now, I am looking forward to 2018 for there are some changes ahead.

As the beginning of a new year usually prompts some resolutions and for me one of those for 2018 is to get my blogging routine up to a new level, here I am, posting the first of hopefully many entries on the very first day of the new year.
Fear not, however, I won’t bore you with a list of good intentions (just now). Instead, I’ll review the last “bucket list” I wrote – amazingly, this post dates back to December 2015 and was targeting my plans for 2016. Oops.

Back then, I came up with 8 points for me to strive for and I didn’t do so bad. Here’s the list again:

  1. Get a critique buddy.
  2. Check for German chapter of SCBWI – if there is one, sign up.
  3. Decide on the basic structural frame for WIP
  4. Find something else than MS word for a writing environment.
  5. Stop or at least minimise procrastination.
  6. Find a way to carve out daily writing hours.
  7. Write some more blog posts.
  8. Review this list at least once a month. Maybe the … 14th each month would be an idea and add all things that came up eventually.

So, I did quite well with items 1, 2, 4, and 6.
Yes, there is a SCBWI chapter here in Germany (it’s the Germany/Austria chapter, to be precise) and I’m lucky to have a group of ladies who meet up once a month in the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, just an hour from home. They basically are my critique buddies now and the group has grown considerably during 2017. This is truly amazing and I very lucky to be part of it.
Yes, I did find something else than MS Word – I chose Scrivener in early 2016 and never looked back.
Yes, I did carve out writing hours, even if this turned out to be the hardest part of the game. Hello there, #5amwritersclub. If you are unfamiliar with the hashtag, I recommend you head over to twitter and see for yourself. Or better yet, join us!

For the other four items on the list however – it’s not so easily determined if I succeeded – in the best case, I’m still on it.
I obviously did not live up to item 8, given that I only just now review this list again…
I did not write as many blog posts as I was aiming for. If I reflect on it, I was probably buried in craft books and stepping up my game in the art of writing and did not feel I had much to say.
I did not stop procrastination. Not entirely. But, I am proud of the progress I made and I’m still working on avoiding distractions and better organisation. Some days that works better than other days – I’m sure it’s not only me who feels that way.

And the decision on the structure of my WIP? Ha Ha Ha … yeah, no. I’ve since moved on from the manuscript I was working on in early 2016. I had to admit to myself that I did (and still do) lack the skill level to manage such a huge project. It’s not dead – but it’s sitting, resting, simmering in *the drawer* for now. I still love the world and the characters and the ideas about it but it’ll have to wait. I will come back to this particular story when I got some more experience under my belt.

I’m going to draw up a new bucket list for 2018 in the next days – just to write down some task and goals I want to achieve in the upcoming year.

Without a goal, there’s no direction for your efforts, right?