Monday, December 15, 2014

I've Moved...

View from the Crystal Ball has moved. You can find new content at

It's weird to have my own website and not live on blogger anymore. We had a good run - over ten thousand site hits over the years thanks to all my fabulous readers. I moved my archives to the new site so you can still search all the old posts, etc.

I'll see you there! (And if I can ever figure out the voodoo of automatic redirection, I'll get that working for everyone's convenience.)

New and exciting adventures await...

Monday, December 8, 2014

The evolution of November

December is here and with it came the end of this year's NaNoWriMo. So many things have changed for me this year. The drastic shift started back in February when I decided to start actively pursuing this insanity called publication. So I shouldn't be surprised that NaNoWriMo and the part it plays in my writing has also changed. This year I'm not working on a new story, I'm revising an old one so I can sell it soon. That's the plan anyway. Even knowing that's where I'm at, I still feel guilty that I didn't "win" this year. That's how much a part of me this silly thing I do every November has become.

What did I do in November INSTEAD of finishing NaNo? Lots of things...

I'm working with some amazing authors to create a non-profit organization for writers with a community and collaborative focus rather than book sales. A professional organization for writers like no one has ever created before that gives back to members at all levels as well as the public at large. It's super fun but part of me wonders why I gravitate to being in charge of things rather than just being a participant. Not in my nature apparently. It doesn't feel like work, but if you add up all the time I have put into it, I've done quite a lot the last month toward this collective vision that we hope will be amazing.

I submitted a short story to a very prestigious writing contest for as-yet unpublished authors. Wait, I know I've been hinting at publication news for a while now but I still don't have a signed contract to purchase my story. It is slotted for a short-story collection due out next year but until the deal is done and signed I'm not talking about it as a past-tense reality. Doesn't mean I'm not super excited about it, I just don't want to jinx it. Yes, deep down I'm a neurotic writer. See? This contest comes with cash prizes for the winners and some pretty impressive writing credentials if I'm a finalist - including publication. But I won't know until months from now. And we all know how impatient I am. Luckily I have things to take my mind off the waiting. This was one of my specific goals for this year so checking it off my list was a pretty significant milestone for me.

Because I do have a pending deal, I must have a "real" website with a URL that doesn't include "blogspot" or any of the other free sites. In other words, I have to get legit. So in all my free time (ha!) I'm building a website to migrate my blog to. Don't worry, you'll be able to follow me when I go and, if everything works out the way I hope, all my past content will come with me. We'll see when I get to that point. Building websites is not a job I want - full time or part time. It kind of sucks. I'm really good at what I know and having to start over with an associated learning curve is frustrating.

Because I have to get legit, I had to get professional head-shots taken so I can use them everywhere people expect. Prompted by a deadline for said pending publication deal, I had to get them done ASAP. Imagine my horror when I found out you can't use your smartphone to take a selfie and use that. I was a photographer in a past life before I started writing and I'm better behind the camera than in front of it. However, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. It helps to have a long-standing relationship with a photographer you trust... Voila! Big hair to match my big personality.

Hubby said the other day, when I was apologizing for all the time I've spent away from normal family life lately, that it was to be expected since "writing isn't a hobby anymore". Imagine that. My hobby isn't a hobby anymore, it's a business that will someday pay off. I have no delusions of ever replacing the lucrative income from my corporate job but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

I let a beta reader take a gander at my story that's getting ready for public appearance. She immediately started drilling me about the world I'd built and characters I'd created that had already become real to her. She needed answers and she needed them now. Guess I better get cracking on THAT novel soon, too.There are now more stories and novels in the pipeline than I ever thought possible.

When I look back at where NaNoWriMo has taken me, I'm okay with my Novembers evolving into something different. Maybe next year I'll be in the first draft arena of another story so I can participate. If not, at least I'll still be writing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why you can't "do" NaNoWriMo if you are revising - my latest epiphany

Remember when I said I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year? And then I decided I was a big fat liar since I was going to do it but bend the rules and not write something new? I'm here to tell you it wasn't a good idea. When I'm drafting a brand new story, I can bust out a couple of thousand words a day and finish while still having a life - or whatever my life usually resembles. Revisions are not the same as vomiting a story from your subconscious with the motto running through your head of "Write First, Ask Questions Later".

I've written consistently this month - six days a week with the exception of the two days I was too sick to stay awake that long. But I only have 20,000 words to show for it. So what the hell is happening?

Revisions are FAR different from first drafts. I delete more words than I write because I'm focused on quality rather than sheer quantity. I'm trying to write coherent scenes that tie together and take my characters from where they are to where I know they are headed. The place they must be headed if the story is to remain consistent. And entertaining. And marketable. And entertaining. You get the point. So while I've been consistent, I'm only averaging about eight hundred words a day.

I started out the week feeling dejected as I saw everyone I know near the finish line. I felt stressed that the goal of "winning" with 50,000 words was slipping further and further from my grasp as this week continues with more of the same productivity. But then I remembered that my personal goal this year is very different. I'm still on track for that goal which is the only thing that's important.

I will "win" when I finish this revision by the end of December. Oh, and submit a short story to a writing contest. Because why not? I've had the idea knocking around in the back of my mind and recent events make it possible to do it without treading into murky "it can't be published yet" waters. (First rule of publishing: release deadlines never stick!)

It is uncharted territory I'm exploring. The path to figuring out exactly how to write a novel was long and fraught with hardship. Now I'm on what I've declared as the path to getting published. I fear it will be just as difficult and just as fraught with obstacles. But damn it's exciting to be here!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Halfway there check-in

What is it with November? Do I get sick every year coincidentally or is it a side-effect of NaNoWriMo? It is week three and I'm behind because week two - the dreaded week two - had me sick and unmotivated. Week one went splendidly and I was on track for the minimum recommended word count. Week two, I penned in the couple of hundred of words a day range instead of the thousands that I needed - if I wrote at all. Now I'm thousands of words behind.

I could wallow but the real goal is to revise this novel so I'm focusing on the fact that I've written seventeen thousand words toward that. I'm still plugging along and loving this revision process. I know exactly what the ending looks like, and exactly what I need to be writing toward from the beginning. I know what needs to be foreshadowed, and what motivates my characters. Most of them, anyway. About half of what I've written is brand new stuff because I added supernatural elements and changed the story in fundamental ways. It's been fun, even if it's been exhausting. I could definitely get used to this revision thing thanks to having a fabulous developmental editor I can employ as soon as the first draft is written.

See you on the flip side of November... win or lose I'm sure to be sleep deprived and highly caffeinated but loving every minute.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Challenge Micro-fiction

The challenge: write a story in 250 words or less. Challenge accepted! If you want to read more free stories from local authors who also accepted, check it out HERE, sponsored by Utah Fantasy Authors.

"Little Red"

My body jerked awake, the doorbell yanking me from the brink of sleep.

 “Trick or treat!” came muffled through the door, probably teenagers looking for mischief. The little pirates and sparkling princesses had long since dwindled. I’d dozed off before extinguishing the porch light but I still had candy in the bowl. Better get to it if I didn’t want a trick.

I smoothed my rumpled costume and lifted the red hood over my hair. Reaching into the bowl for a handful of the requisite sugary nonsense, I opened the door.

“Looks like you’ve been expecting me,” the wolf face said with a chuckle. Did those lips move? The make-up these days was getting so elaborate.

“Great costume. Aren’t you a little old, though?” Where was the candy bag ready and waiting to accept my offering?

“Not for what I have in mind, Red,” he growled, fangs and inhuman bone structure flashing in a burst of movement.

Claws dug into my arms like tiny knives shoving me back inside the house, hot breath in my face. My vision tunneled and I screamed as the creature kicked the door shut. Heartbeat frantic, I grabbed for anything within reach that would help. Candy bowl clattering, nothing.

“Take whatever you want, just don’t hurt me.”

“Mmm, what I want will hurt, my treat.”

My head smashed against the tile. The weight of him on top of me registered as my throat erupted in pain. Ripping sounds filled my ears.

Copyright Terra Luft 2014 All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 20, 2014

Embarking on Revisions - and why I'm a big fat liar

Game on for NaNoWriMo 2014! Wait, what? I know. Right now you think my addiction is showing and pray that I get some help after my confession just ten short days ago. But let me explain...

When I set out last year to write my second novel, I swore it would be the one that I figured out the fearful and overwhelming process of Revisions with. All of 2014 so far has been devoted to just that. What I didn't know, is that after I employed the services of a developmental editor it would be necessary to re-write basically every scene. Every. Single. One. Oh, and add in more of course and layer in more elements that are still missing.

My editor is phenomenal. Sometimes I hate what she tells me but it is always spot on. Seriously, if you're a writer and you haven't found an editor you trust then you have a moral imperative to find one. After ten years of working together, I know I can trust her not to lead me astray. (She is for hire, if you're in need.)

I got my edits back a couple of days ago, had a meeting with her (on our yoga mats, it was beautiful) and hashed out the big things that need to be tackled. I came away knowing that while I am not writing a new story this November I'll be completely re-writing my current one. I may as well use the website tools to track my progress and milestones and keep me on track and motivated for the entire month. Does it make me any less of a NaNo'er that I am writing 50K works of a story I've already hashed out? It might, but I don't care. I will donate to cover the costs of my usage and my conscience will rest easy about my little white lie.

Holy shit, I have 11 days to prepare! And lots of questions still unanswered. Better get brainstorming... If you need me I'll be re-visioning. Otherwise known as re-writing. There's still time to join me and all the other November novelists at

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why I'm NOT doing NaNoWriMo this year

It's October. Weeks away from my historically statistical most productive writing month of the entire year. My email is hopping with updates from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) getting me geared up and ready. My creative juices are already brewing and I'm on a roll with new material waiting to spew forth...I'm like an addict in need of intervention!

Hi, I'm Terra and I'm addicted to NaNoWriMo and writing first drafts.

It's been a very fruitful year for me in the writing department. And my writing group already intervened months ago forcing a commitment from me to revise one of my first drafts between now and February. I told them I would be ready to pitch to agents and publishers by then to see if I can get someone to buy one and publish it. So, I won't be using November to write a shiny new novel - a skill I've mastered after having done it so many times already. Instead, I'll be revising. A piece of the craft I have yet to master as well as the first draft. Probably a better use of my time in the grand scheme of things.

After LTUE last year I committed to writing short stories to figure out how to revise on a much smaller scale. I did it - with a story I'm super proud of but which is on draft number seven - seven - in preparation for publication. (Yes, I might have some very exciting news coming soon!) If it takes seven drafts of a novel to get it ready, I've got a lot of work ahead of me. Guess I better get to it! If you need me, I'll be writing - I mean editing!