Category Archives: Works in Progress

Anything about whatever I’m writing now.

Looking for miracles in the app store

Posted on July 1, 2011 by

Happy Canada Day, fellow northerners!

I am a firm believer in stepping away from the Internet when trying to write. I think better when I don’t face temptation in the form of a quick check of the Twitter feeds, status pages, Google reader, etcetera blah blah. One part of Cafe Calabria’s allure, for me, is that it hasn’t really got wireless.

Calabria is not an entirely distraction-free environment, but its diversions feel more human and, somehow, worthwhile. I don’t begrudge the occasional moment spent trying to comprehend the italian lyrics of Frank Senior’s eclectic musical choices, for example, or eavesdropping on the other early-morning regulars. As I write this, the fellows I think of as “Chatty Guy,” “Brother of Chatty Guy” and “Their Friend” are chewing over the ethics of hunting. They’re good with it in cases of self-defense, I’ll have you know and mostly all right with the idea of hunting for food. (“There’s something so right about killing something and eating it,” one of them opines.)

The conversation has bogged down, though, over the issue of sport fishing and catch-and-release. It is a typical morning jaw over java, and the longer the conversation goes on, the less sense it makes. Friend Of seems to be saying that you might as well eat fish because you don’t know they wouldn’t attack you if they could.

(Obviously that isn’t what he is actually saying, but it sounds funny as hell. Usually they talk about Celine Dion or Arnold’s Divorce or the Canucks. I find this topic preferable.)

Calabria is across the street from a Starbucks with fairly robust Wi-Fi, which has been tricky as I adapt to writing on my newest toy, an iPad. I can just barely pick up a feed if there are no big trucks parked on the corner. And the pad will sync if I’m online, which is a nice little hedge against data loss. So every now and then I get sucked into checking: is there Wifi after all? From there, it’s a short hop to The Forbidden: checking my Inbox.

In other words, I have not perfected my new regime.

I did write 187 words on Thursday–revising again, and adding as little as possible–which brings me to 35% of my Write-A-Thon goal of 20K words. And not having the 5 pound laptop on my back wherever I go is a very nice lifestyle change. Having got the weight of the laptop off my shoulders, the next goal is to give my hands a break as much as possible, so I’m working to make more effort to dictate things like e-mails and blog posts. I like the iPad version of Dragon, especially the part whereby I don’t need a tangly-corded external microphone to use it.

Of course, though I am trying to make the gadget serve my writing and health needs, I really spent the three months saving for the thing because I wanted a damn TOY. I spend a lot of time in the App Store, looking for the two dollar piece of software that will change my life forever. Have you found it? I am a fan of Simplenote and Dropbox, but I was already using them on the iPod. And though I love Flipboard, and am having fun with Sketchclub, I have yet to find anything, you know, miraculous.

Cafe Calabria

Words for birds

Posted on June 29, 2011 by

My Clarion West Write-a-Thon Word Counts so far…

Total= 6813 words
July 29 – 616 (revision on novel)
July 28 – 712 (novel)
June 27 – 987 (novel)

The 616 Wednesday were a bit of a surprise… it’s what got added to a rough draft of a chapter after I’d refined it a bit. I know my work tends to get longer as I go through it, but it had felt like I was cutting.

Snip:

Her private chamber was as luxuriously appointed as a five star hotel. A fresh plate of the bland food–mourning fare, the Conto had called it–sat on a low table in a little… sitting room? Or parlor? She tried to muddle through the difference, if there was one. Then she caught a whiff of humidity, and followed her nose to a steaming bath. The same servant who’d wrapped her in the long gray cloak before the burial was waiting to remove it.
*It’s as if she’s been here the whole time, just waiting*, Sophie thought.

I also shot a Northern Flicker last week–they’re a lot less camera-shy when they’ve dug into an ant hill–and got a pretty decent close-up, complete with bugs on the beak. There’s video of it peck-peck-pecking away, if you prefer action:

Northern Flicker

Adventures and spiderlings

Posted on June 26, 2011 by

Saturday’s word count came to all of 89 words before it turned out the relatives coming into town late Saturday night had meant to arrive in the morning, and had rebooked their flights accordingly. Using Twitter, of all things, we mixmastered our entire weekend schedule on the fly. Kelly shot off to the airport; I kept a twice-rescheduled date with my mother. Three hours later, we converged for a run to Granville Island (where, as I predicted, it was like LORD OF THE FLIES, but with tourists fighting tooth and nail for parking and places vendors’ attention) and then dinner in the West End.

For a final blast of excitement we ended up chasing the Modo car to the city impound after dinner. This was an experience that turned out better than I’d have expected, as Impound is more or less directly on the route to our house. (It could have been at the end of the Skytrain tracks or something!)

Anyway, as much of today as possible has been allocated to some much-needed chilling out. It looks sunny and gorgeous, an entirely promising day. I am frankly hoping the house gets stupidly warm.

Here’s a snippet from one of the works-in-progress:

Isle of Gold is one of five nations formerly known as the Piracy. A barren rock unfit for agriculture and without much of a fishery, its difficult-to-navigate coastal waters and dense military fortifications led to its becoming the treasury of the alliance of thieves, smugglers and raiders during the decades of warfare that plagued the seas…

Finally, for those of you who saw my tweets about the baby spiders, here’s a picture.
Spiderlings

Let the write-a-thon begin!

Posted on June 19, 2011 by

The Clarion West Write-a-Thon begins today. I set a modest fundraising goal of $100, as I’ve never done this before, and if you’re interested in sponsoring me, the link is here:

http://www.clarionwest.org/events/writeathon/AMDellamonica

My goal for the next six weeks is to write 20,000 words of fiction, some of which will be expended upon revising a very rough draft of a story called “Wetness.” Here’s a snippet.

“There’s a naked man in your bathtub.”

“I can explain,” Calla said, which was basically a lie. She was on Skytrain, headed for her mandatory therapy session. “What are you doing at my place?”

“Returning some DVDs.” Calla’s ex, Richard, had given out sets of their keys to a half-dozen of their friends, the better to get their cats fed if they suddenly had to go out of town. She’d managed to retrieve all the others, but June had made a whole big don’t-you-love-me, OMG, and I’m the one who’s been loyal to you all this time issue of it all. Calla hadn’t found the backbone to ask, not with June being the only person still calling her since her job and relationship had both turned to manure. “I went downstairs for a pee and saw him in the mirror and scared myself witless.”

“Sorry. But June, can this wait? Right now I’m prepping myself to seem sane and sensible so I can have my job back.”

“How’d you even get him home? Ignoring the fact that he’s probably infested with… well, I shudder to think. He’s too heavy to ship. Even if you find someone on Ebay who wants a well-hung garden gnome, you’ll never make money off him.”

“But he’s okay?” she asked, and then bit her tongue. Shit, shit.

“Calla, he’s a statue.” June said.

If you are at or shadowing Clarion this year, I wish you the best.

Who you gonna call? (Funkbusters!)

Posted on June 15, 2011 by

My current, lovely, talented and very hardworking group of Novel III students is reaching the end of another quarter, with fifty new pages under their belts, and some of them are feeling the re-entry burn. They have more to do, and they’re falling prey to the “Is this shit? Can I finish?” blues.

I’ve told them they’re not alone, and offered a few of my tried-and-true funk breaking-techniques (punitive amounts of caffeine, bribing myself just to keep on, freewriting, Ignoring it and Hoping It Goes Away), but I am always happy to hear more. The more so because my current story, “Wetness,” is kicking me in the head with the Pointy Boots of Vagueness.

**

On another note, M.K. Hobson explains here how you and twenty-six of your friends can earn Clarion West $1500 just by joining the Write-A-Thon.