A Look Inside My Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal

That bullet journal thing I was talking about last time the topic came up? Well, this is mine and that thing sitting right on top is currently my favorite pen. The pen is awesome, I’m not too thrilled with the notebook. I’m thinking of getting myself a cheap grid composition book from staples. My filing system for poetry and shorts has evolved, I needed to get more binders to store things anyway.

So, enough about my notebook woes. Let’s get a move on! I’ve got lots to show you. Heads up, some of the collections in this post as unique to me, some are modified to fit my needs as is common in the bullet journal community, and some snatched from other sources because they were perfect just the way they are. That last thing is also common in the bullet journal community for those who are wondering.

What those who read my last post on bullet journaling will notice, is that I don’t show any monthly logs, my future log, or my daily logs in this post. Those ones are full of my schedule and I didn’t quite feel comfortable sharing them. They’re also easy to google and it seemed unnecessary.

Year At A Glance

Year At A Glance

That is, as the caption says, my year at a glance spread. I’m still working on making it effective, but this is the perfect place to circle deadlines, vacation days, your planned writing schedule for a month. So I’m going to try that and will get back to you on how well it goes over the next couple of months.

Flabby Words

Flabby Words

Next up is my list of “Flabby Words”. The words that turn up a lot in first drafts and need to be scrutinized with more care than others, that can make a story lack punch and feel flabby and limp itself if they’re misused. Which brings us to my next collection….

Meaningful Adjectives!

Meaningful Adjectives!

 

Meaningful Adjectives! I love this collection in a way you cannot believe. It’s still in its infancy and I haven’t got much chance to use it, but I firmly believe a writer who is going to have collections in their bullet journal should have one full of adjectives that make their writing pop. And those words should be ones that would make something pop for them! This list was meant to be a reference for a writer, to be constantly used. Better to make it yours than to not use it and waste space you could use one something else.

Blog Ideas

Blog Ideas

I also have collection, now empty, but ready to be filled with blog ideas. Series of posts, indivudal posts, the first sentence of a post.  You name it, it will go on this list so that I don’t have to scramble like I’ve lost my head to find something to write about. But the best part is it will help me with organizing my more research based posts and with fact checking for them.

And speaking of projects, let me introduce you to a spread I’m trying out….

Project 2016-17 Gantt chart

Project 2016-17 Gantt chart

the 2016 – 2017 project Gantt chart. The final collection in this little look inside, I’ve got a whole series of them in my head to do what this type of chart does best… break down big projects like novels ad novella length stuff into little sections and give me an overview of how much time I think something will take me.

That’s it guys! Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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Ancient Egypt and Me

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had something of a love affair with Ancient Egypt. Books, hours scouring the internet when that became an option, any documentary I could get my little hands on. I even badgered my mother into getting me a book about King Tutankhamen/Tutankhaten as compensation for not being able to find a book about the woman in the above picture, Hatshepsut, one of Ancient Egypt’s few female pharaohs when I was nine or ten.

You see, my love affair with Ancient Egyptian history began when I found out about her at the age of around three or four years old. I was fascinated by what was known about her in 1995, and possibly felt something akin to puppy love. Like they say, you aren’t really a history buff unless you had a crush on someone long dead. OK, they don’t say that, but I’ve got no other explanation for my absolute ridiculous level of childish puppy love regarding this awesome female historical figure who had died more than two millennia before I was even conceived. And, while I was certainly an odd child, I don’t think I was quite that strange yet.

I still find her to be utterly fascinating as person, and through her the entire 18th Dynasty and, to a smaller extent, the New Kingdom. A lot happened during her reign, and contrary to what many enthusiasts will tell you. Her name was not defaced from the public record of pharaohs until almost two decades after her death. She was a good ruler, her country prospered. Nor was she an odd duck in the way her reign started. Queens, though normally the child-King’s mother, already had a history of ruling in their children’s stead and advising their older children that were still too young to rule on their own in matters of state.

But what I find most fascinating, and have since I was in my early teens, was the role of women in Ancient Egypt. Yes, like in so many ancient and current cultures their primary roles were that of wives and mothers. However, unlike many ancient women and some women today, they had equal status to men under the law. Ancient Egyptian women owned their own property from birth until death, and could manage that property however they saw fit to do so. This included the ability to own land and rent it out to people, divide her asset in her will without being obligated to give it to members of her family, give loans and make interest on them regardless of the party she was giving the loan to, enter into contracts with other Ancient Egyptians, file lawsuits and act as legal witnesses, go into public when she liked without being chaperoned and more.

I could spend my life studying the lives of people in Ancient Egypt because of things like that. And it is for that reason that I think this love affair will continue for many years to come.

Until next time! Don’t get eaten or abducted!

 

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Bullet Journal & The Writer

If you’ve been hanging around the planner junkie section of the internet, you may have heard of the bullet journal. A productivity tool that basically combines all those random to-do lists and project lists into one space so they are easily accessible. I’ve been using one for almost two months, and I’m pretty in love with it.

So, how do you use a bullet journal, what does a writer add to theirs, and what do you need to start?

I’m not going to cover the use of a bullet journal, and will instead point you in the direction of the original concept, which you can tweak until it works for you. But getting started is extremely easy, because all you really need is a pen and notebook. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, or even an empty one. A half full notebook or a cheap one from the dollar store will work just as well.

My current writing bullet journal, which I realized I needed when my personal bullet journal was being overtaken by writing related stuff, is a cheap composition notebook. I am thinking of upgrading to something with better paper quality come the holidays, since my own personal bullet journal has better paper quality. The point is to look up the concept, find a notebook, and get started.

Ok. Now that you’ve got your notebook and a pen, you’re probably wondering how to use the bullet journal system for writing. That’s a very individual thing, but I use mine to keep lists of things such as words to watch out for, a chart tracking my work on a novel and the research for two others, a list of ideas for stories, ideas for the blog, synonyms, new words etc. And in addition to those things, I use it to set long-term goals, monthly goals, and daily goals.

For example, I may put when I want to finish a novel or novella in my future log. In fact, I do have an end date for a novel I’m working on in there already. That means that however many chapters/words I need to produce in order to finish when I want to goes on my monthly to-do list. This leads to set smaller deadlines at the weekly level and small daily goes for me to meet.

Maybe that seems like overkill, but the beauty of the system, for me at least, is in being able to break down long-term goals like novel-writing, wanting to write and send out a certain amount of short stories in a year, research for another project etc.

Give it a try. It keeps me motivated and may do the same for you. Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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History & Fantasy

It’s not a surprise to any who know me that as a Fantasy lover, I also love history. Particularly Historical Fiction, but history in general. As a little kid, I peered inside King Tut’s tomb because I couldn’t peer inside Hatshepsut’s, and traveled to the distant future and Hogwarts with the inventor and Harry Potter. I traveled back in time to Pemberly with Jane Austen, and fought dragons with long forgotten characters in other books.

A love of history and a love of Fantasy, to me, go together like really nice tea and good quality honey. They blend seamlessly into one another. Because, what is history until it is proven but myth? And what is myth but a form of Fantasy that helped our ancestors navigate the worlds in which they lived.

Knowing this, it will come as no shock that my favorite sub-genre of Fantasy is Historical Fantasy, the blending of a real place and time with Fantasy elements like vampires, magic, werewolves, and other mythic things. And among this genre, I would have to say that my favorite is set in New York during the early 20th century. Called The Golem and The Jinni, the novel by Helene Wecker blends mythology and history. Blurring the lines between the two until the reader doesn’t know which is which and is simply swept away in the story until it ends.

If someone is interested in Historical Fantasy, then it is one that I would highly recommend. That said, it isn’t the time period that I personally like working in. For me that is the ancient past, like ancient Egypt, or colonial America and first couple of decades post-colonial. There’s just something about those time periods, the amount we both know and don’t about Ancient Egypt, that I can literally hold books from the American Revolution in my hands if I want to put the effort into locating one. There’s nothing quite like it.

But, I’m rambling and you don’t want to listen to me ramble about Ancient Egypt and Colonial America all day. Go! Have fun! Don’t get eaten or abducted before my next post.

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The Horrific and The Erotic

Horror and eroticism go together like tea and some good quality honey. They intrigue us, drawing us in like  predator is drawn to its prey or prey to its source of food. Some would disagree, but I think the modern concept of the horrific and erotic has its roots in that time period of 1,000 years that many people like to lump together despite the length disparity between what was happening in lands the world over, the Middle Ages, and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church concerning sexuality in the West.

Fear of demons that fed on sex and tempted men and women into sin such as Incubus and Succubus was wide-spread. Far from being something solely of the age, we see their origins in Mesopotamia, but they don’t, in my mind, exert the exact type of influence and fear that they do during earlier times. It is a fear that never quite left us, exerting its power in the Renaissance concept of Death and The Maiden, and the 19th and 20th century concepts of vampires as sensual creatures.

Now that same fear exerts itself in through the concept of Erotic Horror. Horror which arouses the reader as it is creeping them out, that explores the darkest depths of human sexuality. Also called Sexual Horror, this form of the Horror genre was popular in the 80’s and 90’s and is the form of Horror I myself feel most drawn to writing outside of strange slice-of-life stuff that is distinctly sweet and disturbing. There is something… chilling, spine-tingly, and deviously delicious about the feeling of writing a story you know will hopefully, if successful, play with the desire for sex most people have and that inherent fear of the dark that seems to lurk even in those who love it. Tugging at human emotions and manipulating them is the bread and butter of any writer, Romance and Horror most of all in my opinion.

You may be wondering, what brought on this post? Didn’t I talk about something similar in the last couple of months already? Why bring it up again? Well, recently, while looking at my list of ideas in order to write  Horror short-short of a sensual nature, a thought occurred to me. What if my next novel project was Erotic Horror? I’ve already written shorts in the genre and obviously enjoy writing it. The combination of sexuality, sensuality, and the horrific obviously appeals to me.

I asked myself, could you deal with being knee-deep in this type of story for a year? Of spending several pages a day, five days a week with just the pen, paper and the depraved images in your head? Could you even get through a synopsis like you’ve been doing in recent months to figure out the basic beats in a story?

And I’ve come to a tentative conclusion. I think that, provided I am able to get past the synopsis and outline stage, I very well could get through this type of novel. It’s a learning experience, and that draws me in just as reading this type of Horror does. So fasten your seat belts people, because this is sure to be a bumpy and titillating ride through the darkest recesses of the human mind.

Until next time. Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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Identity and Plot

A recent and interesting discussion on my favorite writing forum, Absolute Write, inspired this post. In short, during a discussion about Plus Sized heroines in Romance, someone mentioned that they don’t mention the heroine’s size, only that the hero, since this writer is writing M/F, is attracted to her. Another poster seconded this approach and said, paraphrased of course: why mention size if it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot?

The thread itself is interesting and I encourage anyone who stumbles upon it to give it a read, but this reminded me of something. Us writers often tell others or often hear not to include things if they have nothing to do with the plot of the story. While this is an approach meant to keep the writer from going off the rails and dumping all their research and world-building into the story, it is also stifling in an important way. Namely the fact that it keeps women, LGBT+, Non-White, characters with different body-types or faiths as characters in “Issue” stories, or stories where the plot revolves around the protagonist being a member of a demographic.

There’s nothing wrong with writing an issue story, if that is what the writer wants to do and what they’re passionate about. Absolutely nothing. We still need those stories as a society to bring awareness, partly because they reach those who wouldn’t otherwise know or understand the issue being written about, but also because it helps those facing said issues to see such stories. Maybe the story ends sadly or sadly hopefully, maybe it ends on a happy note. Either way, there’s enough people like them out there that the writer is writing stories dealing with the topic and that helps with the feeling of being alone.

But I wonder if people understand that incorporating non-standard characters into stories, especially novels, ignoring the social good that normalizing people we don’t typically think of as protagonists does to the real lives of real people in those demographic, is that mentioning these things and letting it flavor the story makes for a richer piece of work. What if that revered soldier in the story was female and rescuing a prince instead of a princess? What if the prince’s sister snuck out in order to help rescue her brother? What if the soldier and princess fell in love along the way?

Doesn’t that sound potentially more interesting than your standard rescue the royal person story? I think it does.

What if the characters in the example were all male and the story was exactly the same in terms of plot? Or the story was pretty standard until we get to the end and found out that the princess staged her own kidnapping in order to be with her Witch/Orc/Dragon/monster-of-the-week female lover? What if all the characters in the story were non-White?

Anyway, I think I’ve made my point well enough. Don’t get eat or abducted before my next post!

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The Myth of the Single Historical Viewpoint

Well, seems I didn’t get much done in the way of my NaNo blog series. Hopefully I can pick it back up another time, this time we’re talking about what is on the proverbial can: the strangely prevailing myth that people in any given historical place and time dressed the same, ate the same foods, shared the same faith, and had the same views on any number of topics we could think of.

To put it very bluntly, the past is not a monolith only separated into major periods for our convenience. We can of, of course, say that just like our time the past had prevailing ways of eating, how a given faith was mainly practiced, or social mores of the time in question. Trying to say otherwise is just ridiculous in the extreme, to delude ourselves, and to hinder our understanding of times other than our own.

Take the modern perception of how people ordered themselves in the past, around almost exclusively male leaders who governed the people without any checks or balances in place. It seems to make sense. Recorded history, particularly that thought of as Western history tends to record male leaders most of all and mostly monarchs. So, why wouldn’t we assume as people living in a western society that this has always been the norm until very recently?

However, as far as researchers have been able to discover, the people of a neolithic site in Turkey called Catalhoyuk didn’t have any sort of individual ruler or family with all the power. And the Iroquois Confederacy, while ostensibly governed by men placed a distinct value on the role of women in governance. Women were the ones to decide where the villages would be set up, controlled the land, elected or ousted leaders, sat on councils alongside men, and were instrumental in deciding whether the Iroquois would go to war or not. In short, the women held equal or greater power to men by Western standards.

I could write much more about this, but I think the two examples while not extensive, illustrate a point. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. The more you study history instead of perpetuating myths, the more you realize how diverse people and times were in any aspect you can think of.

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