ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

Why We Separate Church and State

Source: Why We Separate Church and State

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Talentless Hack

mercy

 

See, I can do the writing part. It’s the editing part.

Which is why I feel like a talentless hack today.

I knew that the narrative line fell apart in the third act. But I didn’t realize that this started toward the end of the second act. In specific, my scenes are getting very short and…well, it reads like a first draft. When I’m probably on Draft #3,427.

I wish I wasn’t still getting the “outline” right.

Ah, well. I just need to keep pushing on. That’s what people do, right? Or at least the people who are wrestling a first draft and making it something else.

I still would just like to be finished with This. Damn. Project.

edit

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Hashtag Happy!

I went to a presentation a few weeks ago by the talented and knowledgeable Susan Spann, who writes mysteries in which her lead detective is a sixteenth-century ninja. And you can read all about her here: http://www.susanspann.com/

Anyway, she was presenting about social media. And I know, I’m not very active here sometimes; some days there’s just too much to do and not enough space. But I’ve decided to start using more hashtags in my social media postings.

I’ve only done one so far, on my writer’s page on Facebook. And I have learned that people like pictures! And they like hashtags!

So I’ve been trying to choose my three “areas” for things I post about. Two were easy; writing life, interesting WWII stories with an emphasis on women’s stories especially if they involve combat, and…

Vaguebooking.

You know, when people post some passive-aggressive meme that is aimed at some particular Facebook Frenemy but don’t actually have the balls to take that person on directly?

I thought it would be fun to collect them and use them to entertain people. To be content that I provide.

So, watch this space! In blogging I suppose you just use tags. But look out for #writinglife #vaguebook and #scouts in the rest of my accounts!

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My Year In Review

I debated whether to put this up, but the blog is about the writing life. I had a bunch of steps forward. And some back, it’s true.

High points:

  1. Drafted the Polish Boy Scouts project.
  2. Got 23 pages of it ready for a critique group.
  3. Beta readers. I love them!
  4. Big edits on What You Stand For. And yet another new opening. But I’m overall pleased with the progress and I think I’ll be done after this batch of Beta reads.
  5. Draft and outline of What You Settle For.

 

Low points:

  1. I wanted to have What You Reach for drafted, and I don’t.
  2. I’m not reading enough. Not enough research, not enough fiction, not enough “help me I don’t know how to write a book” books.
  3. One definition of stalking includes using the internet to get information about someone you used to have a relationship with, but don’t any longer. So, awesome. I have a stalker. But it’s my name and my life and I’m sorry this person didn’t think of that when it mattered. I’m not going to run away, change my online name and all the things I’ve worked hard on, because I am not the coward.
  4. I’m not blogging enough either.

 

So, resolutions? I don’t really have any. Other than being sick for the past few days, I’ve been working and doing all the stuff I’m supposed to do. I rearranged my kitchen again and have found a use for the narrow cabinets I got.

Here’s hoping for a fabulous year for all of us!

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Here’s to All the Beta Readers!

I love Beta readers. Love, love, love them.

I’ve scrambled to get the book posted today. Now it’s up and ready to be read, critiqued, loved, hated. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that three people have agreed to read it and give me their honest opinions and feedback on what’s working, what doesn’t, and how the whole thing fits together.

So, I’m happy!

And I get to read their books too! It’s exciting to help people this way!

I’ve considered hiring myself out as a developmental editor. So many of the ideas I have for books I critique are for things that could happen or how to fit it into a plot structure.

Hope everyone is having a great week! It’s the longest night of the year and I feel obligated to sit up all night and celebrate it. But then, I was always a night person.

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Saving to Read

It’s been a stressful month! It’s still a challenge, handling all the young people and animals and all the fun, exciting activities!

I’m considering exploring mental illness in my next book. Those of you who know me in person know that I’ve had to deal with narcissists in my life. I’m thinking about adding this as a theme, especially as undiagnosed. And are addicts generally narcissists? It certainly seems to be true that if there’s an addict in a house, the entire family’s life revolves around the addiction.

Here are a few articles I’m hoping to get around to reading.

http://parrishmiller.com/narcissists.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/6-ways-to-know-you-were-raised-by-narcissists_us_5616b091e4b0082030a18f72

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201602/10-signs-narcissistic-parent

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201105/the-narcissistic-family-tree

http://www.drcraigmalkin.com/blog/the-link-between-narcissism-and-drug-addiction

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Still pushing on the draft…

Well, it’s going OK. Like many people I got behind on my word count due to the election and the stress that brought. And it brought up a lot of questions.

It’s a good thing I’m only in the first draft. I think putting parallels between then and now in the book would be overwhelming.

Like many of us, I’m taking comfort in how close the election really was. And I’ve been thinking about the Electoral College, as many of us have. It had two purposes: 1) to make sure the slave states’ interests were considered in choosing a president and 2) to make sure that an unqualified person wasn’t elected. We don’t have slaves in America anymore, and we’ve elected an unqualified person that the Electors are going to vote into office. So why do we have it if it doesn’t serve any purpose?

But I digress.

Friends’ posts the past several days have brought up some questions I’m not sure I know the answers to. So I’m going to put them here for the moment so that I can remember that I want to know what they are.

  1. What is fascism? How does it differ from other totalitarian movements? Does it have to be totalitarian?
  2. What is a state? Do nations have to have borders? What makes people part of one country and not another?
  3. Is nonlinear time going to work for this story? Everyone knows how World War II ends, but if I have fictional characters don’t I have to tell it in sequence?

All right; I’m about a thousand words behind. The current goal is to write a little extra every day, so I’m hoping to get caught up by the weekend. I’m not having any trouble thinking of things to write (I have a list of 11 main events on my bulletin board) and each girl seems to have a distinct voice. I’ve had a couple of historical characters stop by and it doesn’t feel shoe-horned to me. I will say that it feels a bit weird to say things like “the Scouts’ guns were kept in the basement” and things like that. I might just start referring to them as the Harcerki instead.

Okay, everybody…back to work!

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As I Go To Bed on Election Night

I’m okay.

I’m disappointed, but I’m okay.

It looks like Heydrich is going to have all the votes he needs, and the Congress. The Supreme Court is next. So the tea partiers will finally have that mandate they’ve been pretending to have all along. Also, it will scare the crap out of them.

(For those who don’t know: my theory is that Heydrich is the linchpin in Amazon’s excellent series, The Man in the High Castle. In real life Heydrich was killed in 1943; in the series, he’s alive in 1962. So I think his survival is where the timeline split. And the unreality of this election is such that I feel like our timeline split today).

So, here are my predictions for the next four years:

  1. Heydrich will lose all interest now that he’s won. Mike Pence will be the real president.
  2. Abortion rights will continue to be chipped away, but not gotten rid of entirely. Republican congressmen’s daughters get pregnant, too.
  3. Obamacare is over. But the way it will go–pre-existing conditions won’t be covered; Heydrich really will introduce death panels; gynecologists will be terrified to practice–will piss off a nation.
  4. It will become embarrassingly clear that the administration has no plans and the clothes have no emperor.
  5. There will be some huge scandal, like clemency-for-cash. America will shrug.
  6. I still think there will be major upheavals in both political parties.
  7. I think the alt-left will be founded, from sheer frustration that the truth didn’t set us free. It didn’t do anything except make people even less likely to use logic and reason. We’ll start posting lies that we KNOW are lies, because America will get stupider by the minute. I’m ashamed that Heydrich will sit in the same chair that Ronald Reagan sat it. And I hated Ronald Reagan.
  8. I will still be the same person. I won’t hate people because they’re gay, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, African-American, trans, etc. I will still be writing this book, but with more impetus than ever. Because the deeper I go, the more I can see that Heydrich is the most dangerous of them all.

I’ll be watching you, Heydrich. I will never call you leader of our country. When you come for my neighbors, I’ll speak up right away. And you can start your dumb Twitter war with me any time you like. And when you turn my country over to Putin, I’ll remember that I knew who you were.

Also, I want to point out that it being Heydrich’s turn fits the pattern of American presidential politics. We get eight years, they get eight years. Poor people? Too bad you let your desperation change who you are. Heydrich isn’t going to help you. He’s going to help himself, at your expense. Your kids are still going to get crappy educations and you still aren’t getting your jobs back. So the joke’s on you. Except that it isn’t funny.

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I’m Getting Surprises!

Oh, I’m enjoying Diamonds!

I’m keeping up with the word quota (although I was hoping to get ahead today, but didn’t). And for whatever reason, the “Sophie” thread is coming first.

Okay. I can do that.

The way I have it set up in Scrivener, I have three “chapters,” which I will be filling with scenes from each girl’s viewpoint. Sophie has so far had only two historical characters appear. I will be adding “historical character viewpoint” scenes during the second draft, which is also when I will be putting some meaningful order into these stories. So far, I have done a small amount of background reading about each thing before I’ve started writing it.

Tonight after everyone goes to bed, I will be working on the seduction scene.

I don’t know what else to call it. Sophie’s older sister has been cut off from the Christian parents because she was married at an SS bride school, by her husband’s commanding officer, instead of in a church. And (this was the surprise) Daria was told that she shouldn’t trust Sophie because Sophie’s sister is involved in…something shady. So, when Sophie is home for a visit, she goes to find her sister.

It turns out that not only is the sister involved in something shady, her husband knows all about it and was the one who suggested it.

I know, I’m speaking in a heavy code. I’m just hoping someone will pick this book up and read it someday.

Anyway, the brother-in-law is a complete true believer (although at this point Sophie isn’t). Among other things, he believes in the directive that an SS man should have as many women having his kids as possible. And he figures that his wife’s genealogy is clean, so her sister’s would be too.

I know, it’s gross.

I’m mildly triggered by it (something similar but MUCH LESS BAD happened to me many years ago), so it’s difficult. At the same time, kind of cathartic for those emotions to finally have some meaning. I think she would be repulsed and angry with him, but at the same time flattered. She’s young enough (17) that she doesn’t have good judgment. And of course, our concepts of date rape and consent would be completely alien to both of them.

I can’t wait to see what kind of surprises Emily’s story is going to reveal!

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NaNo, again!

I have some news to report, other than that I’m participating this year.

I’m drafting the Polish Scouts project, tentatively called Shooting Diamonds at the Enemy. The full quote is, “We belong to a nation whose fate is to shoot at the enemy with diamonds.” Stanislaw Pigon, an eminent Polish professor of literature, said this on learning that Kryzstof Kamil Baczynski, a talented young poet, had joined the Szare Szeregi. Baczynski was killed in the Warsaw Uprising at the age of 23. Because all history has sad endings.

I think that’s going to be a theme in this work: you don’t save something or someone forever, you save it for today. Also, it’s fiction: the endings aren’t all sad. Everybody doesn’t have to die in the end.

I’m also committed to writing this story in non-linear time. I think. Maybe. If I’m smart enough. Everybody knows how World War II ends; and if you’re like me and you see some unfamiliar character, don’t you Google them to find out who they are? And what happened to them?

Anyway, I have started with the story of the German family. I’ve had to have two fictional characters (Sophie and Hannah) who are sisters; Hannah is much older so she’s going to have more things happen to her leading up to the war. It’s a way to tell about eugenics, and the bride schools, and various other pre-war stuff, and still be able to leave Sophie, Emily and Daria for the part of the story that happens during the war.

And it also looks like it’s going to be a set of three or four books.

I’ve been quite pleased though that the voice is coming fairly naturally, at least for Sophie. Now, how to make this girl a True Believer? And for her to come back again?

I guess that’s what the first draft is for. Last year’s NaNo book surprised me, too.

 

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