Inspiration in Work-for-Hire

Since 2006, about 75% or more of my writing time and energy has been spent on work-for-hire projects in a shared world.  While I do regret that I don’t have as much of my “own” stuff built up to give my agent (I really don’t have anything other than what she has polished enough to send out, so I’m scrambling these days, working on both a sequel and tossing around a new story idea I’ve been considering for a while), I don’t regret taking on work for hire at all.  Writing these projects is interesting, because, rather than just sitting myself down at a computer and starting to write a story and researching things as they come up (in my current WIP, I’ve had to make notes about researching the layout of lands surrounding abbeys, what root vegetables grew in medieval England, and whether or not church services were conducted in languages other than Latin for the common folk), I instead start with something that someone else has written.  Sometimes it’s a detailed book summary from which I need to write sample chapters.  Other times it’s looking through maps, timelines, and, best of all, books. 

I often describe my first book, Bronze Dragon Codex, as being able to write fanfic and be paid for it.  I’ve never quite seen the point of fanfic, why write something that you didn’t own rights to and get published?  But when the opportunity to write a book for childhood favorite series came up, it was SO much fun to look through my old books and atlases and read the new books and invent a story in that world.

I have that chance again, perhaps.  I’m still deciding if I want to do something I found out about recently.  I don’t know if I should take time out from my “own” work to chase after something that, in the end, won’t be mine.  But as I print out information and dig old books out of my library, I feel that thrill again, the same thrill I had when I first began researching for Bronze Dragon Codex.  Time will tell if the thrill stays enough for me to write something for this possible new project.

Work in Progress Wednesday

Going up early, since I don’t think I’ll have a chance to upload tomorrow.  I’ll resume the saga of the office redesign next week, hopefully, but for now, I just wanted to share what I did today.

I have a whole Pinterest board for my office/craft room ideas. I was very intrigued by the photos of filing cabinets transformed by modge-podge and paper or fabric.  Only problem: I didn’t have fabric that I wanted to use on file cabinets, and my plan of using scrapbook paper failed when I realized a standard size sheet of scrapbook paper isn’t big enough to cover an entire file cabinet drawer.

I then thought of contact paper.  It would be fairly inexpensive and MUCH easier to work with.  I went looking on Amazon and ran across this.  Oooo!  I had a solid floral pattern in mind, but the idea of the black filing cabinet showing through intrigued me.  Today I tried it and was completely blown away by the results:

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I LOVE IT!  Can’t wait to do the others!  I’m now wishing I’d thought of this idea BEFORE I bought black filing cabinets, because I’d love to see something like this in my office.  Oh well, I’m quite happy with how things turned out!

Why I love the internet

I had some time to actually *GASP* WRITE today, so I’m working on the sequel to “Thread,” tentatively titled “Ashes.”  I’m just trying to get back into writing semi-regularly (every day would be awesome, but that’s doubtful), so I was thrilled that I was able to produce over 600 words.  I often keep a spreadsheet with my writing progress: if I’m working towards a deadline, I REALLY need one to help me keep on track, and if I’m just pantzing along, it helps show me how I’ve progressed and makes me feel better.  Plus, doing word counts and entering in the spreadsheet when I have a break in my thought process is probably better than checking Facebook (which I do anyway).

I often think I should turn the internet off, but today I looked up or made a note to look up the following things related to just 600 words I wrote:

1) Do turnips grow in England?

2) How did people wash clothes in the middle ages?

3) Treatment of burns in the middle ages

4) Doctors & midwives in the middle ages

5) Abbeys: are there lands around them that are farmed?  Villages?  Would the villagers work in the fields for the church or for a lord? 

Sigh.  WHY do I write historical fantasy?  Let’s take a metric-ton of research (no matter how much you read and watch in various time periods, when it comes time to write day-to-day life, you HAVE to look things up) and combine it with creating rules of magic.  Sure!  Easy!  Um.  No. 

 

 

Digging my way out

So, moving back into the office has taken a lot more time than I anticipated.  I finally have my computer set up the way I want it, and can actually reach the printer without having to get out of my chair.  I just finished my first sewing project (hemming a few things) in my sewing corner.  I’ve owned a sewing machine since 1985 and today marks the FIRST day I’ve used it without knowing I had to move it at some point.  Ahhh.  Bliss!  Not making any progress on writing, alas, but I have started guest blogging occasionally at my friend Marcie Atkins’ “We’re All in This Together” series.  Check it out for some advice from me and some other wonderful writers.

Work In Progress Wednesday: Wallpaper removal and thinking outside the box to increase space inside the closet

The previous owner was obviously a golf fan.  Image

There were even golf tees stuck in patterns of three just above the golf wallpaper.  I used them for hanging flower leis from my bridal shower.

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Here you can see my desk view and the end of my nice huge white board.

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And here’s a nice “before” picture of the closet (this will be important later).

Since I am most definitely NOT a golfer (I used to like mini-golf, though, until my back problems made it difficult) I was very much looking forward to stripping this wallpaper.  If you ever strip wallpaper, there’s two types.  There’s the fun type that comes off with little effort, and then there’s the wallpaper glue of death.  We weren’t sure what we’d have here, since the wallpaper in our dining room had the glue of death.  I lucked out, though.  With the use of the most fun scoring tool in the world, I was able to just run that little sucker all over the walls (sometimes chanting “Wax on, wax off” like the good child of the 80s that I am).  I then used a steamer to loosen the glue through all the nice little perforations and peel the wallpaper off with minimal effort!  Yay!

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No more golf wallpaper!

I was going to post about my color choice, but since I have photos of the closet in the same file as these wallpaper peeling pictures, I’ll talk more about the closet instead.  For years, my husband had wondered about the space just to the right of the closet.  On the other side of the wall was our laundry chute.  However, the chute is about waist-high. So what was above the chute, my husband wondered.  He decided that now that the room was torn apart anyway, it was a good time to find out.

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This closet renovation was brought to you by the number 8!

So he drilled an exploration hole.  Like he suspected, there was just dead space both above and in front of the laundry chute!  By knocking out the wall and doing some new drywall work, we could increase the closet size by about 50% (I was going to do the numbers so I could post exactly, but I have no idea now where the original and new dimensions are).  Awesome!

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All that raw wood to the right is new closet space!  Yay!  When you’re redoing an office, it’s important to look at the space carefully.  Before we even got into the renovation, we’d added a lot of room to the office just by re-hanging the door so it opened outwards, rather than in (taking up a chunk of floor space).

SCBWI Post-Mortem

Had a wonderful time at the MD/DE/WV SCBWI meeting on Saturday!  This was the first time in a very long time that I did NOT bring a manuscript for critique.  It made for a very low-pressure experience.  I did some critiquing of my own, though, and read some wonderful manuscripts from some up-and-coming writers.  I also volunteered at the registration desk, which was fun.  And mortifying at one point, as I spilled a cup of tea on the desk and the name tags.  AGG!  Fortunately, this is why conference name tags are usually encased in plastic, and the conference had officially started, so there weren’t many there.  Still, I’m wondering if they’ll pass a “no food or drink at registration desk” rule because of this. 

I also had two people track me down to get copies of “Bronze Dragon Codex” signed.  I found it very amusing that, in a conference that was at least 90% female-attended, the two people who tracked me down to get BDC signed were male.  I signed and stamped them (we have an R.D. Henham stamp) and thanked them for buying the book.  Then a few minutes later one of them came back and gave me this wonderful drawing!  I need to start an area in my office for these!  Image

First act in new office!

Did I critique manuscripts for next week’s SCBWI? Did I tackle a long-unfinished sewing project? Did I begin to bring order to my chaotic work files. Um, no.

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I filled itty-bitty salt shakers with glitter and hung them on the pegboard. And I almost never use glitter (one of the containers had a sticker from a store I haven’t visited since I was six years old). But hey, I’ve been waiting over a year to try this!

Ahem. Well, it’s a start. I can’t officially move in until hubby fixes my computer’s wireless problems, but there’s a lot of other things to do. Like hanging spools of ribbon on pant hangers.

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