8 Sentence Sunday #1: Introducing Voi Román

21 Dec

Since I’ve gotten back into blogging and editing and whatnot, I’ve come to realize that my blog here still has been gathering a good deal of new followers! Needless to say, this was only all the more reason to get back into the groove of writing (and editing).

One new writer I’ve met (so to speak) since coming back to the blogosphere is Sarah from The Old Shelter, who also writes dieselpunk fiction and is working on a trilogy, as well. In visiting her blog, I’ve learned about a series over at Dieselpunks.org called “8 Sentence Sunday” in which writers are encouraged to share snippets from their finished works or WIPs and get a little feedback.

Sounds pretty swell to me!

I think this would be a fun way to help get me back to my writing happy place on the regular, so I’m going to try this and see how it goes. :)

The following is actually a snippet from the first novel in my Element 7 series, which I’ve decided to call The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Here, we get to meet the main protagonist Voi for the first time. Voi Román is an aviatrix with a rare genetic condition that she suffers from–or so she believes! Hint-hint: it has something to do with that fantasy element I keep mentioning. ;) (Check out my updated blurb for a more detailed summary about the plot, if you’re interested.)

Anyway, without further ado…my 8 Sentence Sunday entry! (You’ll see where I’m getting the new name for my blog from, as well.)


LEAGUE SPECIAL ENVOY ATTACKED ON TRAIN LEAVING DARMOIL.”

“LOCAL PILOTS LOSING BUSINESS TO AIRSHIP CONGLOMERATE.”

“FLIMSY STUNT PILOT MEETS GRIM END.”

It was 8:37 sunrise and Voi soaked alone in her clawfoot tub, avoiding her meds, with a morning copy of The Chandra Tribune propped open.  An autumn breeze drifted in through the awning window, gently encouraging the jasmine-scented steam rising from the tub.  The telephone clanged repetitively from a faraway place—Voi’s sitting room, actually—though she paid it little mind.

Rather, she folded the newspaper and set it aside on a nearby stool, flexed her fingers and toes then slipped deeper into the bathwater with an earnest sigh, keeping her head aloft.  She shuddered as she closed her newsprint-assaulted eyes, momentarily forgetting AeroTaxi’s financial woes, the Tribune and the troublesome world it reported.

The Chandra Tribune: New Blog Title?

21 Dec

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to update the look and direction of my writing blog/website and really start branding myself as a dieselpunk fantasy writer. It’s a niche I really enjoy and know I could get a good number of novel-length stories out of–six stories, to be exact! Though, I suppose, if necessary, I could always “rebrand” myself later if I were to write something else.

Anyway, I was looking at some new themes to possibly use then thought, “What the heck. Why not figure out a way to bring in more of the dieselpunk theme with the WordPress theme I’ve already got (Bueno)?”

As you can see, after some finagling around, this is what I came up with:

Screenshot 2014-12-21 12.40.39

In my first novel within the world of Element 7, there’s a newspaper called The Chandra Tribune that plays a somewhat significant role early on in the story.  I thought it’d be cool to play with that and use a vintage typewriter in the background along with a more neutral color scheme. I’ll probably do a little more tweaking with my tagline and descriptions and whatnot at another time, but I just wanted to get something going and see how it turned out. I really like how other writers like Bard Constantine (his older site, which I don’t think is up) and JazzFeathers incorporated dieselpunk elements into their sites, so they are a bit of an inspiration to me. :)

Also, I thought I’d like to keep my URL, but I’m not sure if calling the site “The Chandra Tribune” will be confusing. “Tiyana Marie White” or even “T. M. White” across the page doesn’t really appeal to me, to be honest, so maybe I will change the URL. I don’t know, I’m not a web designer, though I’ve always loved putting my own spin on things. ;) WordPress has made that very easy (and affordable!)–which is one of reasons I plan to stick with them.

Anyways, we all know how distracted I can get, haha, so back to editing!

What do you all think of the look so far?

Is this a direction I should go in? If so, any tips to make the overall theme work better?

Breaking The Ice

20 Dec

So having reviewed some of the older scenes I edited months ago and getting back into my story, I was able to edit a new one today. Tonight’s a lazy night, too, so I might be able to get one more done. Sure feels good to be able to change the color and update my progress bar. :)

Color Wheel(I cycle to the next color on the (six) color wheel each time I make progress, one color for one scene. So for example, if I’m on yellow and get two scenes edited, I skip green and go to blue. (The colors I can choose from go the other direction/clockwise on the progress bar generator I use, so it makes more sense there.))

After 8 months of no progress at all…I’ll take what I can get!

It’s a start, anyway.

Wow!

27 Nov

I just realized I haven’t written anything here since March. That’s sad. :(

I’ve been exploring different, new avenues in my life lately. My business was picking up, then slowed dramatically, I ended a fairly serious relationship, took a break, had an intense fling with someone new, and that didn’t work…then bought a new house.

Yup, my first home. :)

IMG_2154

Now, I’m kind of like, “Hmm…how do I really want to live my life? What do I want to do with it?

Writing has still been a part of it, just not here or in the fiction realm. I keep a couple of other blogs related to design and other random stuff. Having so many different interests, I’ve always found it difficult to focus. But even after all this time neglecting my beloved Element 7 project, I find myself missing it terribly.

I have some decisions to make, about priorities in my life. I miss writing fiction and reading it. I miss being engaged with other writers on their blogs and on Twitter. Generally, I miss being a part of the whole spec fic community.

Even if I am still an amateur.

I don’t even know if anyone will be reading this post! But if there is anyone out there still peeping in on my ramblings here at Seven and A Half Firsts…just know that you all have been severely missed.

I’m not sure how things are going to play out over the next few months because I have some renovations to do on my new townhouse before I’m actually going to move in, but I do know I want to make writing more of a priority in my life.

I think about it a lot, but nothing gets done by thinking alone.

We’ll see. :) I’ll keep y’all posted. Oh yeah! And Happy Thanksgiving! ^_^

Progress-ish + New Site…Possibly?

11 Mar

Howdy, folks!  Checkin’ in with a progress report, of sorts.

Progress!

Last two weeks were craaaazy busy for me.  I’ve been working on a couple of design projects and pretty much using every spare moment I wasn’t working at the furniture store to do it.  I was quite tired at the end of it all, needless to say. (Still working on one of them, but there’s been a lull.)

Speaking of a lull, this past weekend I was able to get some editing done! Three scene plus I wrote a new one. (Apparently I skimped where I shouldn’t have–ooooo…) It was fun.  We’ll see what I get done this week/weekend. (Get to see the long-distance boyfriend this Saturday! ^_^)

Anyway, I’m just realizing I have to take my down moments where I can get ‘em at this point.  Element 7 will get done.  Just a matter of time.

New Site…Possibly?

I really do want to set up a new author/writing site and blog, preferably through Wix. (I use them for my business’ website and have fallen in love.)  Also, a Facebook page.  However, I feel I shouldn’t do this until after I’ve completed my edits.  I’m thinkin’ of this as a reward–and a milestone marker indicating me taking the next big step to getting published, I suppose.

BUT.

Wix let’s you design and preview a site before it goes live, so of course I couldn’t resist setting up a little something.  Just a quick mock-up:

I’d love to have some decent photos taken with me wearing dieselpunk attire… That would be fun.  And cool, I think.  (Look: I’m even getting some ideas for my own dieselpunk looks as we speak.  Maybe one day I’ll blog about the stuff I have collected and share some pic-stitches of ideas for looks I have.) I may want some neat adventury artwork in the background, as well.  Hmm…

Dieselpunk Fashion

Anyway, this was just me playin’ around, dreamin’.  Might go for a more vintage theme and/or color palette on the website.  I’m sure I’d add a “recent news” section on the bottom of the home page, and I don’t think I’d have any telephone numbers listed…but yeah.  It’s just a start.  Will probably switch it up by the time it really matters anyway.  In any case, I do know I can’t really see myself not writing fantasy, and though dieselpunk may pass years down the road, it’d be kinda fun to stick to that niche (for the foreseeable future, anyway).

Random fact: I’ve been told by the super cool author Bard Constantine, who also writes dieselpunk stories, that I have a “vintage look” in this photo I shot while staying at this updated mid-century modern hotel called the Valley Ho here in Arizona:

IMG_1643e

Though not intentional, I do love vintage objects–especially furniture and home decor–so I have to admit: this both flatters, and amuses, me.

‘Realistically’

25 Jan

Realistically, I’ll probably get in 3-4 days a week, depending on my energy level and assuming there’s no design client to attend to.

Amendment: make that “I’ll be lucky if I get in 1-2 days a week…”

Happily going back at it today, though–editing, that is.  Comes in stop and starts, but I’ll take it.  On the roster for the day: sprucing up scenes where my main character, Voi, gets a tentatively-awaited letter from a friend she last parted with on uncertain terms… Also, Voi departs to a new city to embark on an–ehem, how shall we put it…technically illegal endeavor along a border region shared with historically-belligerent neighbors. (They are now admittedly peace-loving and seeking to join in an alliance with Voi’s people, but it wouldn’t be interesting if things were always what they seemed, now would it!)

Anyway, good times ahead…

(I feel like I should have been giving updates like this all along.  Hmm…maybe I’ll start doing that on The Other Blog.)

~

Speaking of The Other Blog, (maybe mentioned this before, but) I’m actually over at Tumblr, too, if anyone has a haunt/tends to lurk in those parts.  Sometimes I write about writing, but I post a lot of other random stuff, too, usually regarding dieselpunky and interior design stuff or my LDR adventures.  You can even see pics of me and the stunning boyfriend. ;) (I’m not lying; he’s pretty darn handsome.  Just sayin’.)

Finding Time for The Novel

12 Jan

Well, folks, it certainly hasn’t been easy, finding time to work on the ol’ WIP.  Most times I fail, but I’m starting to see a slither of sunlight through thick grey clouds.

A Morning Writer with No Mornings

I have determined that, even going in to work at 7:30am rather than 6am, there’s no way I can motivate myself to get up early enough to put some editing and writing time in before my day begins.  Yes, I write better in the mornings but like 7am-10am morning, not 5am.

It’s just not going to happen.

Other Time

Just recently I wrapped up a bunch of research and presentation materials I was putting together for a new interior design project.  There may be a handyman/electrician and custom cabinetry involved, which will be a first for me since starting my own business.  In any case, it’s taken more time than I expected to consider all aspects of this particular project and getting my ducks all lined up to come up with an affordable solution for my client…but the legwork is finally done.

Now, when I come home from the day job at the furniture store, I actually have time, and energy, to work on the novel.

The reality, I’ve come to accept, is that if I have a design project in the works, there’s simply no way I’ll be able to dedicate time and energy to Element 7.  I basically work whenever I get a free moment–around the clock–to get a project done as fast yet as thoroughly as possible.

I just sent off my presentation materials last night via email, as my client likes to look at everything that way before meeting and discussing what she’d like to do.  So this morning I was able to sit at my computer and edit another chapter.

It felt really good.

Homesick for E7

I’ve missed the story.  I think about it all the time.  And lately, my boyfriend (God bless his soul) has been reading two chapters at a time and giving his first impressions, on top of his equally busy life… (This is the guy who is also a writer and had started a story about Tesla and Amelia Earhart time-traveling.) It’s been really nice being able to talk about my story with someone who seems to get it–or is at least interested in it.  Though, soon enough I’ll run out of chapters to send him if I don’t get back to editing!

So yeah, I’m happy to be sitting here dedicating time to Element 7, even if it’s only a couple of chapters.  I’ll do what I can to continue working on it, but it’s going to be pretty sporadic.  I am living with my parents and sister, so I don’t have the full responsibilities that come with being an adult (besides paying for most of everything else I need).  I do cook two days a week for everyone, however, and afterwards I’m like X_X (zero energy), so I know on those days I won’t get any editing and writing done.  I need some alone time at night to just let my brain lazily float out in space.  Also, as I’m sure I mentioned here before, every other weekend me and the boyfriend visit each other to make our long distance relationship work until we can work something out (it’ll be at least another year and a half/two years, I’m thinking *sighs*), so that leaves the opposite weekends available to work on the story plus three weekdays…technically.

Realistically, I’ll probably get in 3-4 days a week, depending on my energy level and assuming there’s no design client to attend to.  I thought I’d get used to the physical demands of my day job–and in some ways I have.  Though, overall, it’s still pretty tiring most days.

In any case, I’m just gonna do what I can to keep the ball rolling.  Even at this tortoise pace it’s possible to get the thing done.

We’ll get there…eventually.

New Blog (Kinda) + Updates

1 Dec

Howdy, folks!  It’s been too long…

I figured I’d give a little update on what’s happening–or rather not happening–around these parts, with the blog and the novel.

The Blog

I’ve actually started a Tumblr blog, which I post fairly regularly on.  It’s become a catch-all for my writing, dieselpunk and interior design musings.  I feel there’s more freedom for such a mix over there than, well, here.

What I’d like to do with Seven & a Half First Drafts, eventually, is give it a complete rehaul–visually and content-wise.  Mostly, I intend to use it for official updates on my novel and quest to get my work published.

…But before I can do that, I have to actually finish said novel.

The Novel

Unfortunately, there’s no way I’ll be getting the thing done before the end of the year as I’d originally hoped.  With me finally securing a steady full-time job in my field and doing what I can to keep my own business running, I haven’t really set aside much energy or time towards writing.  I swear, I must walk at least 8-10 miles a day at my new job; it’s that huge of a warehouse.  The first couple of months have been incredibly exhausting for me, getting used to traversing the facility all day and basically using muscles I normally don’t use all that much, heh, what with pushing and lifting and moving furniture. (I’m afraid I wasn’t very active before this job; I’m a homebody through and through.)

Anyway, I am getting used to the new job, physically, and lately I am finding I’m less tired coming home than I used to be.  There are still other challenges I must take into account to figure out a way to get this novel done within the next century, though (kidding, more like as soon as I can).

For one, I tend to write best in the mornings, but I currently go into work at 6am and get off at 2:30pm.  The latest they’ll let me come in is at 8am then leave at 4:30, so if I did that I could work on the novel between maybe 5-ish or 5:40 and 6:40, since I live about 15 minutes from work and usually require about an hour to get ready with my uncooperative hair and whatnot…eh.  However, I very much like having so much of the second half of the day available for other endeavors–such as my business.  When I do have design projects to attend to, I use that time after work (2:30 onward) to visit clients’ homes and do research for their projects.  It’s been slow lately, so I’m not always busy after the day job; but when I am busy with the design stuff I have zero time and energy for editing and writing.

I only work Monday through Friday, so technically I have the weekends completely free (unless it just works out that a Saturday or Sunday works best for me and a client to meet up).  Though, for those who don’t know, I’m also involved in a long-distance relationship with a fine fellow who lives about three hours away. (He seriously uses phrases like “that’s swell” and has a story he’s working on which involves Amelia Earhart and Nikola Tesla time-traveling, so that should give you some idea of how awesome he is! *winks*)  But anyway, unless we both have (holi)days off or something, we can only meet on the weekends.

Every other weekend, typically, for financial reasons.

In short, there are a lot of things to juggle.  But I really do want to get this Element 7 project out into the world, so I’ll have to figure something out.

I suppose getting off at 4:30 wouldn’t be too bad… It’d still leave some time for afternoon appointments.  Just means I still have to be up and editing at like 5am ’cause I prefer to have at least an hour and a half to really dig in and focus on the scene I’m editing.

*sighs* 

Decisions, decisions…

In any case, I got through another scene today, so yay.  It’s more than I’ve done in the past couple of months anyway, heh. (Sad, I know.)

We’ll see.  I’ll keep y’all posted.  Just know I ain’t altogether dropped out of this race just yet.

A Touch of Magic

30 Sep
Magic, as defined by Merriam-Webster.

Magic, as defined by Merriam-Webster.

Lately, in the midst of perusing professional wedding and design photos online, I’ve been thinking a lot about photography–a hobby I’ve gotten more into lately, since I decided I want to take pretty decent photographs of any interior design projects I do.  When I stop to think about it, it really amazes me how, when using the right mixture of settings, a great lens can uniquely capture and filter light in a way that can make for the most interesting, almost unreal, images.  Makes everything look less mundane…restores/adds a touch of magic, even.

IMG_0772 (small)

A photo I snapped with my snazzy Canon T3i camera and accompanying lens!

Somehow this got me to thinking about the way the world appeared to me as a kid versus how it looks to me now.  Everything seemed so new and magical and wonderful back then; now it’s all too easy to look at things and see what they simply are: a vast amalgamation of substances with a variety of properties–typically nothing new under the sun.  We can even get scientific and break things down to their molecular components, if we really wanted to.

But I’m not a scientist.

I’m not trying to be poetic here, but I feel like this is what (good) art often aims to do: create an illusion (and I use this word in the most positive way possible) to show what could/should be more so than reveal what already is.  That’s not to say that art can’t or doesn’t do both, but I feel if you spend enough time meditating on the way things really are more times than not, you’d probably prefer more of the former than the latter.  Anyway, when I look at certain photographers’ work or listen to certain composers’ scores, I feel this is exactly what they’re trying to do: create a picture of what could/should be.  I bring this up because I recently realized that I try to do the same when I put together room designs conceptually during the presentation stage and even when I’m writing or editing. (Yes, I’ve actually done a bit of that lately.)

But let’s face it: at the end of the day, when you walk into a well-designed space–if you really just look at everything for what it is–it’s still really all just a bunch of stuff.  Yet somehow, in magazines and even in our minds, the space becomes so much more.  Because of the way everything is arranged, and because of the conditions and settings photographers use as well as our own desires and perceptions we bring to the table as viewers, images such as those seen in magazines actually make those spaces look better than they do through our own eyes (in “real” life), imo.  Often, the photographs are cast in an almost heavenly glow.  Everything looks so bright and luminous and rather extraordinary.  A plain white plaster wall with artfully-arranged wall art and accessories, photographed under the right circumstances, suddenly is no longer ordinary; it’s something to be published in a home or design magazine.

Suddenly, it’s become art.

Science, Art & Magic

Depending on where you get your degree from, interior design is either considered a bachelor of art or science; my degree is a bachelor of science in interior design, but the thing is interior design is really a bit of both.  The science side is more like understanding the psychological effect color can have on people, the use of light, planning the layout of a room so its inhabitants get the most efficient use of the space available to them, etc.  But there’s a more nebulous, artful side to interior design, as well.

I find it hard to explain, but personally interior design is a very intuitive thing to me.  Every object, every color and texture and pattern and shape, emanates a certain “vibe” or “aura” about it. (Not trying to be all New Age-y here, but that’s the only way I know how to describe it.) Depending on context, some vibes work well with others; some are just plain incompatible.  It’s all a very relative process for me, sussing out what works and doesn’t work well together.  What makes things even more challenging is taking into consideration the Human Vibe–that is, trying to successfully infuse the personality or spirit of the homeowner so they actually feel “at home” in their abode.

When the result is successful, the person you’ve designed the space for will not only be pleased with the practical side of how much more useful their new space will work for them but they will also be emotionally moved.  It will speak to them on a very personal level.  How many times have you watched shows on HGTV (design purists–spare me the “that’s not interior design!” speech, please) and seen the client burst out in tears when it came to the reveal of their room or home makeover?  There’s something very special, magical even, about the process of interior design, and the same can be said for other art forms, as well.

Writing included.

Humans: The Insatiable, Creative Race

Why do people seek to change their reality?  Usually because they aren’t satisfied with it.

I guess maybe this is part of why I like writing fiction in make-believe worlds (when I do get around to it lately, anyway): you get the chance to re-shape people’s perceptions of reality by showing them how things could, perhaps even should, be.  It’s saying, “I know how boring/uninspiring/awful things look now…but just imagine what it could be.”  But this can be used in different ways, see.  On one hand, you can use this process to show people that “hey, things could actually be a lot worse; be grateful for what you have.”  On the other, the process can be used to inspire and help others look forward to more positive changes.  On another hand (especially with something like futuristic dystopian fiction), it could also be used as a warning: “Hey, human race, let’s try not to go there.”

Artists, inventors, creators, writers–we are all kinda like magicians, in a way, shaping and creating realities in ways that no one else can.  And I think that’s pretty darn cool.

~

Say…I’m not actually sure if I’ve really gone anywhere with all of this, though it has been on my mind so I felt like writing about it.  Besides, what were you expecting from a discovery writer?

It’s all about the journey, man…

I Feel Like Writing.

13 Aug

All of a sudden.  And it’s not even Wednesday.  But boy, I sure haven’t done much writing here lately–or anywhere else, for that matter!

The Non-(Creative) Writing Life

So what have I written/edited over the past two months?  Well, let’s see…

I’ve written (and rewritten) some content for my business’ website, micro messages for technicians at my day job, other less exciting reports…even a legit “client agreement” for my business (which I had been marinating over for waaaay too long)…

But that’s not very inspiring.

Is it?

In case I haven’t mentioned this here before, I work for a pretty big appliance and home goods retailer presently.  In a call center.  Did I know what I was getting myself into? Ha!  Not even close, but it didn’t matter at the time.  I just needed a full-time job.  With benefits.

‘Cause that’s what “adults” need, you see.  Plus, I have student loans I need to finish paying off.  And I want my own (customizable) house/condo one day soon-ish.  With a classy cream Mini Cooper parked out front.  And I’m turning 25 on Sunday–and honestly, I don’t think I’ve entirely grasped the implications of all of this yet! @_@

So back to the day job. (Did I tell you I wake up at 3:45AM just to get there on time?)

I’m told I have good rapport with my customers most often, that I’m good with “quality.”  However, I struggle with meeting our quota for “avoids”–that is, successfully getting customers to troubleshoot and fixing their problems over the phone rather than sending out technician trucks.  It’s really the whole point of my position (though originally I was supposed to be in a different department, but we won’t get into that mix up…), so it’s making me a liiiiiiittle paranoid, to be perfectly honest–especially since I got into another car accident for which I had to take some days off and am still awaiting the processing of medical leave paperwork for…

Bottom line: I don’t even know if I’m technically certified to stay at this job yet.

You must understand something about me: I don’t like to not be good at things, you see, and I get frustrated when it’s not a thing I can overcome relatively quickly.  Maybe ’cause I’m an impatient, proud Leo.

Yup, blaming it on the stars.

Anyway, I don’t want to harp on my weaknesses.  There are things I can do to get better, and I don’t want to suck at my job.  Generally not an option, when you’re a proud, stubborn Leo.

I’d also like to keep my job, please.  (Because Leos need to pay for all those lavish high hopes and dreams and do so independently, mind you.)

Work Ladybug, Work

Lately, it just seems I’ve been in Work Mode.  With my own business, though, I really don’t mind; it’s what I’ve been wanting to do, you see.  I can work from sunup to sundown on a design project and not feel like it’s “work.”  Because it’s not.  I’m creating things and helping people–two things I enjoy and have always felt to be my callings in life.  And when it’s your business you call the shots–not someone in an office across the country that you’ll never get to meet.

You also have to take 100% responsibility for when things go wrong… You also have 100% say on how to make improvements, see.

Pros and cons.

Working for a big company has its perks, of course.  But after working at several different large-ish retail venues and attending two different universities…I’ve kinda developed a preference for smaller companies and organizations.  Things just work differently.

*sighs* But beggars can’t be choosers (and gawd, do Leos hate to beg).

One day I’d like to focus on designing retail shops, and maybe even cozy inns and restaurants, for small businesses–because nothing says living the American Dream like starting your own damn business.  And maybe, after I’ve worked some odd number of years as an entrepreneur, I’ll have enough business to take on a lucky college intern (or two!) and also be experienced and confident enough to venture into the commercial realm, if I haven’t already attempted it.  (Perhaps I’ll apply to a firm that specializes in that kind of design that will notice me and say, “Hey–that chick’s got drive and mad talent; let’s hire her!” and I can learn the commercial trade that way.)

Until then, I start small and work my way up.  Ladders must be climbed, after all. (Besides, practically every other door in the design industry has pretty much remained closed to me since graduation, so it was definitely time to try something different.)

As for the writing group…well, things slowed down.  One of the members was out-of-town for a couple of weeks and email chatter went dead for a while, so I kinda forgot to check my emails after that… Not sure if I’m gonna try to get things moving/resurrected again.  We’ll see.

We haven’t even so much as brushed the novel in ages.  Though, the voices of my characters do haunt me some days… Persistent little buggers.

But it hasn’t been all work for me.  Friends and family are always up for a good time.  Plus, there’s the matter of a romantic interest who lives about 3 hours south of me, so kinda seeing where that goes… (*sighs* Nothing’s ever simple, is it?)

So Yup, Just Ranting

Nothing terribly important to see here.  Though, I do want the blogging world to know that I’m still alive.  Just…living.

But oh, is life hard.

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