Wednesday Writing Wrap-up: Progress

A short post today that will mostly be cat pictures.

I had a great week for writing. Knew night I wrote over 1000 words in less than an hour. My cat made it even harder by laying across my arm while I was typing.

I am also now at chapter 22 out of 27 of editing so far. I had a chunk of time while I was riding a train and edited for 3.5 hours straight. I’m getting there.

I came across this amusing note after one scene: “Future Alex, good luck with this. Hopefully rewrites help you connect this to the rest of the story better.” So helpful past me. So helpful.

Sunny Days

We’ve been experiencing the sun again! It’s so lovely. I mean, the sun doesn’t like me much so I still have to cover myself in sun protection but I love the warmth. It also means that we got to ride a lot this weekend. Hopefully, the sun will also lead to Scarlet’s stall getting less muddy just in time for the next round of rain.

Friday the arenas weren’t fully open as it was the first day after the rain. The back arena had a decent sized section near the center that was dry enough to w/t/c. We rode and then I finished off with a figure 8/serpentine figure at the trot to try to get rid of the canter=done mindset.

When I was grooming him, he had a scratchy spot on his withers on both sides. He did the whole reaching his head out thing. If I moved he moved his body to get me back to scratching there. Scarlet doesn’t do this. In all the years I’ve had him, the only itchy spot he has is his face. He tolerates grooming but mostly doesn’t care. I was so happy to sit there and scratch his spots that I did it for probably ten minutes straight.

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I was wearing teal so I put on his teal saddle pad. I also had teal breeches. 🙂

Saturday, Scarlet’s neighbor was out of his pen before we started riding so he was distracted and annoyed as we started working. I think he could see his friend because he was annoyed tail swishing a lot at the start of the ride. I was concerned that he was sore as he wasn’t moving well. I’ve since decided he was just annoyed that his friend was gone. Regardless, I started us trotting serpentines to loosen him up to see if that was the problem. Once we really got working, he settled into the work and forgot about screaming for his friend.

We finished that ride with some spirals in and out at the walk and trot and then some short leg yields. He has issues with losing the forward when doing lateral work. I wanted us to do some sideways and then go forward the moment it seemed like he was losing the forward sideways combo. I’m hoping to work on that a bit more so we can have better leg yields.

Sunday I wasn’t feeling the ride but made myself go out anyway. I always end up feeling good after a ride and Scarlet needs to get out so it was a good thing I made myself go out. For some reason, a new corner has become the boogie corner. He wanted to shy and stare all twisted outside the arena at that corner. We circled there until he seemed to relax. I then sent us around half the arena and came back to test the corner. He twisted around so I then made us circle with a bit more of me forcing the bend. When we went through and didn’t twist, I praised the crap out of him, even though it was me forcing it. We did it again without me forcing him and he wanted to look but didn’t so I praised him again and moved on. We got over the corner pretty well both ways using the force then over praise method. I don’t like to force him often but I knew this was more silliness than him actually being spooked over something.

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We did some trot poles and some canter poles. I’ve been working on the straightness a bit. Scarlet wants to turn on his own after the poles so I basically had to ride him into the fence a few times for him to listen to me. We did the same thing for the canter pole but I made him wait for the turn. It was hard for him but he did listen better by the end of the ride.

I wasn’t going to do any jumps, but they were sitting there staring at me. I trotted him over this tiny X twice. He barely had to lift his feet for it it was that small. I mostly just wanted to do it for my own fun as he isn’t really in great shape right now. We cantered over it once and then I called it a night.

Lots of riding this weekend. We’re supposed to mostly have sun until around the 2nd. Hopefully things get dried out a bit until then and I can get his stall set up a bit better before we get the next rain storm.

High Rainfall, High Tension

I noticed recently that Scarlet is looking a little more rotund lately. I’m likely in the same boat. We’ve not been able to get consistent rides in for a month and he doesn’t even get most of his stall to walk around in comfortably with the rain turning it into soup. Another side effect of the lack of rides is Scarlet’s spookiness. He is much more likely to focus/fixate on scary things if he has extra energy.

Monday my farrier was able to get Scarlet’s shoe back on (please stay there until your next shoeing cycle) so I was able to ride Tuesday and Wednesday before the rain came in.

Tuesday, everyone was out riding. It was quite a nice day out so I totally understood. It meant that the main arena was more crowded than normal. Scarlet is fine in a crowded arena and we got a good bit of work in. I decided we needed to wrap up our ride with a bit more trotting. Scarlet’s gotten into the habit of thinking we are done after cantering. So I’m trying to have us do more trot work before we finish so he is disabused of his assumption.

One of the horses left the arena and headed out onto the trail. They crossed over to it near the arena which put them right behind the super spooky brush. Scarlet could not. He went full arab tension. I asked him to please take your ears out of my nose and pushed him forward. He twisted himself all about to stare at the horse or where the horse had vanished. It was not pretty. I was definitely annoyed with his behavior cause hey, you aren’t going to die. But fighting with him in that state just isn’t productive.

So I took up as short a rein as I needed for contact and pushed him forward in a circle. We circled on the side of the arena nearest the brush and just kept going. He wanted to twist and have short choppy strides. I wanted his head down, a bend and some forward movement. I did really well with not pulling him. I just provided contact and asked for the forward and bend. We eventually got it and went out to circle around the whole arena until he could do that without freaking. We ended up with an extra 10-15 minutes of work that I hadn’t planned on but you can’t end on a bad note.

Wednesday it was really really windy. I didn’t get out in the morning because it was freaking cold. So the wind was bringing in the rain. I knew that we weren’t going to get too much exercise in so my goal was just doing some stretchy stuff for about 30 minutes. The wind got under Scarlet’s tail and he was definitely spooky. He spooked at this palm tree that is on the end of the arena. Its been there since we moved in. He’s tried to eat it before. But the wind made it scary. We dealt with it. There were a lot of serpentines involved to try to get him to relax. I have to say, even though it was so spooky, he was pretty well behaved for the whole thing.

I let him roll at the end of the ride and brought him his grain. It just started to sprinkle around then so I was hurrying to brush him off. He decided he was going to take his freaking time eating his grain. Gotta get every last bit after all. I was cleaning his back hooves when he ripped his foot out of my hand, banging my hand against his other hock and spinning away from me. He had gotten startled by ravens that landed in the field. I was pretty annoyed with that as my hand hurt! But no permanent damage and he actually tried his best to move away from me instead of in to me.

I threw his blanket on him after we were cleaned up. Its a medium weight blanket (I think) that I got for winters in Atascadero. Those regularly got sub 30 at night. I hadn’t put it on him since we moved as I didn’t pay for blanketing and it didn’t stay sub 40 very often. This week, its been in the low 30s with frost. And it’s staying sub 60 during the day. He’s shedding quite a bit so I thought he might be cold. The blanket is a bit beat up though. It’s missing a chunk and two straps. I think I’m going to look into someone to repair it this summer. It’s still a good blanket and I’d like to have it just in case of winters like this again.

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Missing chunk in question. Not too bad for coverage purposes but I’d still like a whole blanket. 

It looks like Friday on will have sun for maybe a week. I’m going to take advantage of that and get out every day!

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up: Power Levels

I unfortunately broke my writing streak on Valentine’s Day. When I do miss a day of writing, I have issues with guilting myself for doing so. I beat myself up and ask how can I want to be a writer if I can’t do the simple thing of writing consistently. Obviously, this doesn’t lend itself to a good mental state. I’m trying my best to work through that without the self recrimination. Yes I do want to write every day but taking a day off is not the end of the world. It does not invalidate my dream. I am must better at this than I was a year or so ago.

In August of last year, I got to go to the World Science Fiction Convention. It was in San Jose so not too far away for me. It was amazing and I can’t wait until I can get to another writing convention. While I was there, I attended a writing workshop. I submitted the first 5,000 words of the novel I’m currently working on. I got a lot of feedback and it was really informative.

One of the things that was brought up but not actually seen in the first 5000 was the question of consequences for my character. She is extremely powerful when compared to her peers (fantasy y’all so I mean magical power). One of the professionals in my workshop said that seeing a consequence for her power would be a really good idea.

I had actually implemented that later on in the novel when things had gotten more solidified in my mind. After the workshop though, I was thinking that maybe I should hint a bit more at the consequences early on. I had my character’s body reject using the magic that she had by getting extremely sick and passing out. So I figured I’d have more minor uses have more minor sickness reactions.

Except now that I’m implementing that when I’m editing, I think I may have swung that too far in the opposite direction. Now after every magic use more than minor, my character is getting sick. Which results in a lot of time spent over the toilet cause hey magic is fun to write about so she’s gonna end up using magic for a lot of stuff.

I’d wanted consequences in there to emphasize that she was still human even with all the power she had. I still do, but I think I may need to go through and decide what instances of magic use equal more than normal levels of power. Those are the ones that I want to have consequences. If I got sick every time I used my magic, I probably would stop using it as much, consciously or unconsciously. So another thing that I’ve added to my list for the next edit.

From what I understand, edits are like this. You go through the first time and try to at least make all the parts look like they belong to the same story. Then you go through another time and try to fix the big plot holes, wrap up all the threads, make sure the relationships look correct. Then you go through and try to fix consistency, character, dialogue, setting, the details that matter but are easy to gloss over when you have bigger problems. Then you do a grammar check. Or a description check. Or any of the smaller nitpicky things you’d like to look nice but matter less in the whole scheme of the story.

So I’ve got a lot of edits ahead of me to try to get this right. I don’t know if I will get it right enough to publish at any time. Most writers have about 5-8 books that never see the light of day before the get something published. But just because that is the norm doesn’t mean that it is the rule. I’m going to do my best to get this novel as good as I can currently. When I do, I’ll start submitting it. I’ll continue writing other novels while I’m doing that. Hopefully, one of the novels hits with someone and I make it. But its a process and I’m taking it all one step at a time.

Word Count: 2,749

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I  made three different desserts for vday.

Plenty of Animal Time

Friday it was not raining again. It wasn’t exactly sunny but I’ll take not rainy. I headed out to the barn to try to hand walk Scarlet. I saw this when I got out there.

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Yes that is a river of water running through the pathway. There were several of these. And they all moved at a pretty good clip. The ground is so saturated with water at this point that it just flows downhill.

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Scarlet did not ask for creek front property. 

Scarlet was pretty good when I got him out of the stall. He thought we were going to eat grass the entire time but he listened when I told him no. He even followed me through the puddles. I was able to walk on a loose lead as well because he wasn’t trying to be a kite. The only place he had issue with was when I tried to take him down the driveway again. For some reason, he was really on alert there. He would tense up, throw his head and tail in the air and then prance next to me. I tried going down a short bit of it a couple of times but he didn’t relax at all. I gave up on the driveway. It’s not safe if he isn’t going to listen to me as cars do come down it often.

We got about 30ish minutes of walking in before I let him eat some grass. Nice side effect of the grass being so wet was it cleaned a bit of mud off my boots. Of course, my boots just got muddy again from putting him back in his stall but you have to take the silver linings where they come.

Saturday we went to the Safari Park with L. and her fiance. My husband and I have annual passes. We get some guest passes and coupons with those so we can bring friends in. It was awesome getting to spend more time with L and seeing all the animals. I love the Safari Park so much. We also got a good workout as the park is on a bunch of hills. My fitbit said we walked 5.4 miles and did 34 floors. We were at the park for most of the day.

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Sunday was sunnyish and I really wanted to get on Scarlet. I hoped that the area around the barn would be dry enough for walking. If we did well there, I was contemplating forcing us onto the trail. The trail is generally in better shape after the rain than the rest of the barn. The entrance we normally use has a large puddle across it but I was planning on forcing the issue of walking through it.

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Instead, I had a present sitting for me on the mats in the entrance to the stall. I was annoyed but not at Scarlet. He can’t help it. I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner with how nasty his stall has been from the rain. Luckily, he didn’t tear any part of his hoof when this came of. It literally just slipped straight out. My farrier said he’d try to make it out Monday afternoon to put it back on.

But I wanted to ride Sunday and not wait. I couldn’t make a duct tape shoe pad since that would ruin his traction on already slippery ground. The back arena was somewhat rideable in the middle section. I turned Scarlet out for a roll and he didn’t sink into the sand much. Plus he was sound at a walk. He wasn’t even “off” at a trot, just a little tender from having his foot exposed to the ground. I didn’t want to push it though.

I put his tack on and we walked in circles in the arena for exactly 30 minutes. I really wanted to get him out and moving and I wanted to ride. But let me tell you, riding in less than a 20m circle for 30 minutes at a walk is so utterly boring. I pushed through and he got at least some movement. I hope the farrier comes early enough that I might be able to squeeze a ride in. The forecast looks like it might be clear.

A Little Bit of Saddle Time

My goals for the week were to just ride when I could. The early bits of the week were supposed to be clear but the end was supposed to be quite wet. I didn’t want to have any goals on things to do. We aren’t in super good shape after all the rain. So I just got on to ride Monday.

Scarlet was quite good and I kept glancing at the jumps set up. I gave in and we trotted over a cross rail a couple of times. Scarlet got really excited when we cantered over it. It was an 18″ cross rail but he loves jumping so much. He really powered forward. We got a couple of odd distances but we did pretty well. I didn’t do too much work on it as it was just for fun.

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Tuesday, I moved the trot poles from where they’d been knocked out of place. I wanted to do some more work with them but not actually jumping. We did some good work on them and then I decided that we should do a different exercise with them. We cantered around the arena, trotted just before the turn to the poles (the poles are set on a short side of the arena), trotted the poles and then cantered after the turn. It was super fun to do and Scarlet was very responsive. We still had our forward canter and a forward trot. I’ll do that some more for transition practice. Scarlet wasn’t pissed about the transitions because they were for a reason. It helps to be able to trick your horse. 🙂

While doing the turns, I got a really good feeling in the right lead canter. Scarlet falls into his right shoulder and easily drops it. I’ve never quite gotten him off the right leg. We did get it this time. I got more of a inside leg to outside rein feeling. It was so much more leg than I really have ever used. I need to try to get that feeling again when the rain stops. If I have to work harder to make him feel more balanced and straight, so be it.

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up

So far, this addition to my blog seems to be doing it’s job. I am on a 21 day writing streak. I haven’t kept a streak up like that outside of November. There have been many days where I’ve thought “Maybe I’ll just let tonight go.” But I haven’t. I’ve kept at it. I may not have hit crazy big word counts on any of the days but as long as I get at least 250 words a night, I’m satisfied.

I’m still editing/re-writing my current novel. The first time you write a rough draft of a novel, it takes forever. After that, I felt like I got faster and better at understanding the process. I also knew I could finish as I’d done it before. I’ve not finished an edit yet so I don’t have that feeling. I know that once I get through one edit, I will be quicker each time I do it. I just have to work to get through the first one.

In addition to editing, I’ve been thinking about what will happen afterward. I would like to publish this via a traditional publisher. This generally means that you get an agent before a publisher. The agent will then critique your work and help you edit again before sending it off to editors. Agents have a submission process I’d need to get through.

Querying is the first step. It’s basically a letter where you tell the agent what your book is about. It needs to have a hook, show that your writing is good and show off your characters and plot. This is a difficult step. It’s the only thing most prospective agents will see before they make a decision on whether to move forward or not.

I’ve not made a query letter before so I’ve been reading up on how they work. Primarily, I’ve been reading through the posts on this site called Query Shark. It is run by a literary agent called Janet Reid. She takes query submissions that are sent to the site and critiques them in a post. This is extremely helpful because it is giving me an idea of what an agent is thinking. There are 328 posts at the point I am writing this so I’ve got a long way to go to get through them. 🙂 It’s a great resource and its helping by making me feel like I’m planning for the future without taking too much time away from working on editing.

Word Count: 2,938

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Bumps

The rain is a bump. The more worrying/important bump is one Scarlet came out of his stall with on Friday. He had a squishy lump right on his girth line, behind his shoulder. He didn’t have  it on Thursday. It felt soft and warm but hopefully not puss filled, and he didn’t give a hoot if I poked and pushed on it. He just wanted more treats.

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Still, I was a little worried about putting a saddle on over it. I wasn’t sure if continual pressure would end up hurting where poking it didn’t. I did want to get him out and moving though. The rain is supposed to come back this next week making riding questionable. So I thought I’d try the bareback pad and see where that landed. The edge was still on the lump but I didn’t think that it would cause much pressure. I figured I could always hop off if he started to complain.

It didn’t hurt him because we went for a 40ish minute ride. My legs, butt, abs and back hated me for the rest of the weekend. I haven’t been riding much as it is but bareback? Yeah, everything hurt. Still hurts actually. My hip flexors need some serious work. They are so tight.

Saturday I lunged him because the lump was still there. It seemed slightly flatter. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is just an overly aggressive nip from a neighbor. They are all a little cranky from the rain. Sunday I just ran out to check on him and the lump is mostly if not all the way gone. I won’t say it’s fully gone till I get out a couple more times to check on it but it seems good. He hoovers up treats just fine and still doesn’t seem to be in any pain. A watch and see thing.

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A nice roll before our lunge

Slow Ramp Up

*If its Friday evening, it still counts as a Friday post right? ;)*

There was rain this past week. Sideways rain in fact. The mats did a lot less to help than I’d hoped. Sideways rain means even parts of the stall that were supposed to be under the overhang are soaked. I’m not pleased with the mess it is right now but there isn’t much I can do to help with it either.

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The rain had stopped by Wednesday so I went out to hand walk him around. I wasn’t sure of what the area around the barn would look like and was pretty sure that no arenas would be rideable.

Surprisingly, the barn area was pretty good. There are deeper drains dug into the mud from the previous storm we had that helped drain the rain away from the walkways better. I got Scarlet out of his stall and he was so pleased to be out. He was actually quite well behaved for having been shut in a stall again. No kite antics at all.

Holly was locking up her tack room so I stopped to chat with her for a minute or two. Scarlet didn’t want to stop and kept lipping my back. He never does that which told me even though he was being good, he had a lot more energy than normal. I walked us in a circle around Holly so I could still chat with her. She told me, “He’s gonna roll.” I turned around as she said it and he was already on the ground. We were walking! He literally threw himself at the ground before I could even feel the change in the lead.

I try not to let him roll when I’m holding the lead. I’m concerned about flailing feet getting tangled in it. And getting him up mid roll is hard. So I just kept the lead clear and let him go. He was sooooo happy with the roll in the nice hard dirt. Definitely got a good scratch in. I couldn’t be too mad. He hasn’t rolled at all in the soup that is his stall at the moment. He actually had a nice fairly clean coat so I know he hasn’t rolled in it at all.

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Aftermath of the roll

We got a good 35 minutes of walking in before I got bored and put him away. I was pretty sure I’d be able to ride at least around the barn and maybe the front arena the next day so I didn’t feel as guilty.

Thursday, it turned out that the jumping arena was actually dry enough to ride in and open. We had a lovely 35-40 minute ride there. I wasn’t concerned about asking for much other than his attention. I’d like to get back into regular work but the forecast says more rain is coming. With that in mind, I can pretty much only get him out to get exercise and not worry about muscle building, stamina etc. Just have to do what I can do.

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I let him into the back arena to roll after the ride. He was dirtier than when I got him out after that. The sand is still pretty wet so it clung to him well. But he loves to scratch and my grooming just doesn’t cut it. I did get quite the amount of loose hair off of him. They are shedding quickly now. Which slightly sucks because we’ve gotten a cold snap recently. Cold for here is like 35 for a low and 60 for the high. Which is pretty cold for us thin skin Southern Californians. The rain will warm things up again but will also keep me from riding. I’ll just have to do what I can around the showers.

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up: Frustration

Writing every day can be a really difficult thing to do. It isn’t for everyone. Sometimes people are better binge writers. I’m the type that needs to have writing be a habit. Thoughts and words flow easier when I’ve been writing often. I can take a day off here and there without any effect. But being lazy is easier than writing. My brain likes to say ‘Hey lets just not write tonight.’ I’ve had a few of those days this past week and I pushed through them. I may have not gotten quite as many words done as I would have liked, but I made my minimum and that is what counts. I pushed through the ‘No’ and made it work.

Editing is turning into a larger beast than I had expected. I thought that I would be able to keep some parts of my first draft that don’t really seem to make sense with the way I’ve been doing the rewrite and what I know of the end. This has dropped my word count significantly after removing several scenes. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. I’m still within the average word count for an urban fantasy novel but the total word count getting smaller feels like I’m losing something.

I do know that novels aren’t at all about the word count. However, its an easy metric to use to praise myself. Editing doesn’t really provide that easy metric. For the most part, I’m not creating anything new. I’m not creating a new world, new characters or new plot lines. Everything is already there. So it feels less fulfilling than writing does. However, I know that my editing is improving the story. My best friend has read the beginning chunk a couple of times over different revisions. She’s reading this current revision and has said she really likes the change, that it sped up the beginning and offered information within the story rather than an info dump. That’s exactly what I was going for so I’m quite pleased to hear that.

Editing seems to be an unhappy, frustrating thing to do while I’m in the middle of it but gives me all the reward at the end. Kinda like a lot of things that are worth doing or need doing *cough*exercise*cough*. I just need to persevere. And speed it up. It’s already February and I’m not close to the goals I wanted to meet. Gotta get back to that grindstone.

Word Count: 1542 + 3 hours of editing

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