Monday, January 14, 2019

2019 Key Phrase: Be Active

Happy New Year! Usually this time of the year, I post about my goals for the entire year, which I typically fail at accomplishing by the end of the year. So this time, I am going with a key phrase: Be active.

For writing, "be active" means I need to get back to writing. Last year, I wrote only 25,019 words, which was my worst word count since I started writing with publication in mind on January 15, 2009 (yes, ten years tomorrow!!). I plan to focus on one main project at a time, which will also include research, plotting, and edits. If I have extra time, I might add another, such as re-editing The Fate Challenges, but we'll see.

My first focus is the short story collection Folds in Life and Death. Two stories need just another read-through. One story I plan to change from third to first person, and I need to finish writing the fourth story (this week's goal). My tentative release date is mid-February. The collection's genres are fantasy and alternate history.

"Be active" also relates to my goal to improve my health. For Christmas, I received a Fitbit Versa. The plus side is it's keeping me active. It is also helping me track what I eat. I'm trying to take in fewer calories than I burn a day. So far, so good. The down side is I've found out how little REM and deep sleep I get. It's no wonder I'm so tired! I also tried the relaxation breathing app, and I found out relaxation breathing, or deep breathing, gives me a panic attack. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

I'd also love to meet my reading goal of 24 books this year. The last couple years I've fallen short.

What are your goals for January or this year? Do you have a key word or phrase?

I mentioned in my last post that I have been learning languages through Duolingo. There is something thrilling about learning another language. Language reflects the people who speak it, and you can learn a lot about someone's culture through their language. If you haven't studied a language beyond your first one, I highly recommend it. Especially for writers as it'll help you understand your characters more through how they speak.

Some fun facts I've learned through studying twelve languages on Duolingo:
  • Klingon is a harsh language, much like the fictional people who speak it. Their sentences are backwards to how we speak English as they focus on what they're doing to someone or themselves more on the subject of the sentence. They also combine words a lot. My favorite phrase is jI'IHbe' 'ach jIval, which means "I'm not beautiful, but I am intelligent."
  • In Danish, they don't seem to be keen on conjugating their verbs. Also, they tack on their indefinite articles (en/et--our "a/an") to the end of their nouns to make them definite (the).
  • Dutch has a mix of German and English, so I find myself picking it up rather quickly.
  • Portuguese uses um/uma for their indefinite articles and o/a for definite articles. It always confuses me the first couple times I see "a" pop up as I want to write "a/an" instead of "the."
  • The language that surprised me as one of my favorites is Chinese. Now, I can't write down the symbols very well, but I am recognizing them more in TV shows and the like.
  • Before I started Duolingo, I would say the secondary language I remembered the most from school was French, but I am finding I retained way more Spanish than I first thought.
Do you know more than one language?

Now, I'm going to leave you with a brief unedited excerpt from "Paper Faces" in Folds in Life and Death. Willow, the main character, and her BFF Letitia are hanging up theater lights and talking about the upcoming Homecoming dance. In the tech booth is Braden, the guy Willow is in love with.
“Have you and Antwan decided on what you’re going to wear to the dance?” I leaned over and shifted the barrel a tiny bit. Since Homecoming was on Halloween this year, the school decided on a costume-themed party. The committee had virtual posters up about the event. I muttered the slogan that was on a few of the posters and enjoyed the feel of the words in my mouth, “From boobs to butts, you must cover up.”
“I’d suggested Cookie and Lucious Lyon from Empire.” She tightened the bolts with her wrench. “But he talked me into going as Klingons from Star Wars.”
“That’s Star Trek.” My eyebrow lifted.
“Trek, Wars, they’re all the same.” She slipped out from under the light and checked her cell phone. “It’s almost time for the bell to ring.”
“And you’re sure you’d rather go with Antwan?” Though I wasn’t into science fiction, I knew Star Trek from Star Wars. If these things were important to Antwan, then Letitia should, at the very least, know the difference too.
“I’m positive.” Smiling, she pocketed her phone and rose to her feet. “Okay, we don’t have a lot in common, but I like him. He treats me like a person. You should understand how rare that can be.”
I knew all too well. My gaze drifted toward Braden. He never once looked down on me for who I was.