Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birds of a Feather Writers Retreat 2013

Want to know how to have the perfect writing-themed vacation? Here's a recipe.

First, the basic ingredients:
- Four writers
- Five days
- A "remote" location by a lakeside (f.e. Lago Maggiore in Baveno, Italy)
- Hotel reservations at the aforementioned location

For some extra zest:
- An "Opium Den" / "Harem Room" at the hotel
- Red Wine (how much is up to the individual, but the more copious the amount, the more you'll not want to tell...)
- Incredible pizza, pasta, tiramisu etc.
- "Hair trains" for the hair-sluts
- A Skype session with the "Lost Bird"
- A vow - signed in blood - that what happens at the writers retreat, stays at the writers retreat. Whoops, too late. (Well, we didn't sign in blood, so...)

- Indiviual writing project targets

- Low expectations on reaching said targets

Here's what happens:



Boat Rides

Pensive Moments

Artsy Moments


Hanging and Writing at Rock Pubs - Cheers!

Quiet Moments

Lots more Sillyness
Skyping with our Lost Bird(s)

Serious Conversations
Serious Emptying Glasses of Red Stuff
(c) Photo by Writerlinz ;-)
Always looking for the perfect shot
(c) Photo by Writerlinz

Oh yeah, and writing! Yes, we did get some writing done! :-D

In Cafes...
(c) Photo by Writerlinz

...and the Lobby
(c) Photo by Writerlinz

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How I Nailed The Dreaded One-Page Synopsis - I Think

I'm excited for November 2nd, because I'll be heading to London to attend a writing workshop (this makes me feel so legit, LOL). The workshop focuses on revision and I have high hopes that it'll be worth the trip, because, get this: we have homework.

Part of said homework, which is to be handed in two weeks before the workshop, is a 1-page synopsis.

Yes, that flash you saw running for the hills five months ago was me, shortly after I received the confirmation email for the workshop, which included these words that strike fear in the heart of every writer: 1-page synopsis. ONE-page synopsis. ONE friggin' PAGE. I, the author of this baby that I adore, am supposed to distill its 90.000 word brilliance into 500 words or less while upholding its 'moral' and 'structural' integrity?


This wasn't the first time I tried my hand at writing a synopsis, one-page or more. I always end up with a twenty-page behemoth that, to my mind, can not be cut without inducing maximum confusion in the reader (said reader being me after sleeping on it for a few nights). I was always confused by my own synopses. Which frustrated me. Which made me trash the whole thing and start all over. Ending up with another twenty pages and starting the whole vicious circle all over again.

I honestly think I've never finished a single synopsis to my own satisfaction, much less anybody else's. But now, for this workshop, I want to send them the best of the best of the best. So I began the painful behemoth process again and... despaired.

And what does a blocked writer do? Surf the interwebz and call it "research", obviously. Except this time said research actually paid off (and don't think for a second that I hadn't scoured the internet to find The Synopsis Oracle before). The almighty Google in all its wisdom lead me to a blog post titled How To Write A 1-Page Synopsis. It gives a step by step breakdown and uses Star Wars: A New Hope as an example - could there be a better one? *nerd alert*

And even more amazing than the example is that it works. At least for me. I had a first draft of the synopsis down within two hours. It was still too long, but there was a clear structure in it, which made it easy to cut the unimportant stuff. Presto! I now have a one-page synopsis that I am proud of and doesn't confuse the reader. I think. I hope. I'll see, come November.

Since all credit for these golden instructions goes to Susan Dennard, I won't explain them in this post. If you're intrigued or in desperate need of synopsis-advice check them out here. I just wanted to express my kudos and gratitude, and help others find The Synopsis Oracle, which does exist after all.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Closest I've Ever Gotten To Neil Gaiman OR One Of The Coolest Gifts Ever

I have the greatest, coolest, most amazing friends. They do things like this for me:

They go to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scottland (they've told me they're going, no doubt in a moment of light-headedness). They have fun seeing a ton of great, funny, inspiring shows, most likely without thinking of me once.

Their idyll is shattered when they receive a squeeing, crazy-fan-slash-stalker-girly text from me: OMG! Neil Gaiman is at Fringe on 24th, doing a signing at XYZ-venue. If you run into him, tell him your friend Pia is his biggest fan! (or something to that extent, I sadly don't have the text anymore). 

(I found out about his presence at Fringe on Twitter, btw. Obviously, I should not be allowed on Twitter. Someone delete my user-account.)

At this point I should probably also interject that I'm - in case it wasn't obvious - a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's works (and the man himself). I've never been to a reading or signing and have therefor never met him in person. If that ever happens I'll probably turn into a star-struck puddle of inarticulate blush-juice, so I was both bummed and thrilled that I wasn't there myself (that's how stupid I get about meeting people sometimes). But to have good friends residing in the same city as Neil Gaiman? Wow! Obviously, I wanted them to partake in my joy and for them to know that they're hanging in the same city as Neil f****ing Gaiman*. That, I swear to the American Gods, was my sole intention behind the text message. Really. Honest. Cross my heart. Hope to die.

Anyway, back to the story: My friends get my squirly text. Instead of rolling their eyes, shaking their heads and forgetting it, they check out this event on the internet. The signing fits in between a couple of shows they've planned that day, so what do they do? They go and stand in line to get a book signed. 

Now this might sound like a quick trip at a convenient time, but anyone who knows a little about Mr. Gaiman also knows that the lines at his signings wind thrice around buildings and past ten city blocks - and this is only the slightest, teensiest of exaggerations. My friends told me they only waited 'a couple of' hours, which totally blew my mind. Wow!

They stood in line for two hours (if it wasn't more, not sure they're bing completely honest about that) to get a book signed by an author they didn't even know. They picked a book for him to sign. They made him personalize it to me. They took pictures of him, while he kept signing book after book (apparently there was a bucket of ice waiting under his table for when the signing was over. That may be a strange measure of how long the line was, but it gives you a good idea at least: the line was so long as to warrant a bucket of ice under the table to cool a sore hand after signing every book for every person in that line).

How amazing is it to have such friends? Since words fail me (even now, several weeks later), I'll end this post with that question and a(nother) big fat great THANK YOU, Lindsey. This was definitely on the top-five list of coolest gifts I've ever gotten.

Neil Gaiman signing my book

*turns out my friend Lindsey may never have heard about Mr. Gaiman, but she sure knows about his wife, Amanda Palmer, a.k.a. Amanda F***ing Palmer, who is a musician and very famous herself. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Writing Tally

This was a better month than the last, word-count wise:

I handed in two assignments for my scriptwriting studies, which totaled at 8.735 words. This took up most of my time, though I did manage to get 4.707 words in for my current UF-novel-in-progress, plus 1.658 words for a tentative new project that might end up being a novel or a movie-script; not sure yet which is the better format. 

Overall, that gets me to a total of 15.100 words in September. That's more than I expected, so yay! :-)

Previous tallies: 

January: 19.675 words
February: 15.781 words
March: 19.215 words

April: 27.336 words

May: 49.403 words
June: 20.329 words
July: 33.900 words

August: 1.132 words

How has everybody else's writing been going?