July Writing Update — Flash Fiction, Ruon Chronicles, and LectureNotes

Blog header image July Writing Update

We’re in the heart of a (very mild, if you ask me) highveld winter and I’ve been plotting away and typing away on various projects. Although I did not get half done of what I wanted to get done, I have to admit that I was ill for most of the month. My brain just said no to fiction a lot of the time.

I also discovered a new note-taking app that I’m now using a lot, but more about that later in the post. First up: the fiction writing.

Flash Fiction

I’ve at last written some flash fiction in new worlds again. The speculative fiction stories are “The Path”, “The Stairs” and “The Statue”, and was written as part of a challenge in our writing group.

“The Path” actually links to another story I’m busy with (okay, slowly busy with) that is also about Faerie and starts with the line: “We half expected him to turn into dust when he found out, you know”. The working title for the story is “Return from Faerie”, but I really want to change it to something a bit more … not that title. It just doesn’t feel like the right title. But it will do for now.

I can’t quite remember what I was reading when the idea popped into my head, but this photo I took at an antiques shop in Parys (the Free State town, not the French city) a few years ago:

Parys Antiques Shop, Backyard

“Return to Faerie” will, however, be sent around for publication, so it won’t be posted on the blog.

Ruon Chronicles: The Knowledge Stones

I’m still busy fleshing out the final outline. I know, I know. I was supposed to put Knowledge Stones on the back-burner, but after I saw that there was no way I could finish the radio drama properly — not just finish it, mind you — in the time left, I decided to pull Knowledge Stones closer.

My main worry at the moment is getting the beginning right in such a way that it’s neither an infodump nor simply a mess of names with no one knowing what’s going on.

I’m now actually beginning the book with the finding of the Knowledge Stone instead of starting with Aaron taking Trevian away as apprentice and already carrying the stone. Man, I made a lot of work for myself by completely pantsing the first draft. That will teach me! Ha!

You actually get to see Zala’s mother (Hanita Khaldun) as well. Zala’s role is also being fleshed out, or I should rather say that Stuff doesn’t happen off-stage anymore. This will also allow me to show more of her personality.

You may wonder if I got another idea for a short story while outlining the opening chapters of the book — why yes, I did. Though this one is truly a short story, not a flash-fiction-piece-turned-novel!

Creative nonfiction

Behold! My first creative non-fiction piece is live on the blog! It’s called “A Green House and Sweet Peas” and is also posted over here on Medium. I’ll give some feedback on the creative non-fiction books that I’ve read in another blog post. Here’s a taste of the post in the meantime:

They painted the house brown. Not a nice brown, but a muddy, dull brown that took away any personality it had had before. Before — when we had been living there — it had been a kind of sea green, a comforting colour. A true colour of nature, one of movement and life and sound. Not of slow erosion and memories long forgotten.

Click on the link to read the rest of “A Green House and Sweet Peas”.

The note-taking app to rule them all

(This is just me rambling on about products I love, not an affiliate product or advert.)

I found LectureNotes quite by chance (or was it chance…) while searching for something completely different. I checked out the trial version and bought it a few days later. Yup. It’s that good an app for me. It’s kind of a mini version of Scapple, but on your phone or tablet. Ok, that’s how close I can come to describing it before realising I can just embed the product video here:

I’ll admit that it is on the expensive side — at least, it is in local currency — but it was money well worth spending on my writing, methinks. I also added the voice recording (paid) and PDF (free) app. As I’m not actually recording or planning lectures with it, I don’t feel that I need the other apps right now.

One of the great things about this app is that I can import my maps and other images as I need to. I also use the typing setting more than the writing one simply because I mostly use it on my phone and not on my tablet. It’s like the people who created the app read my mind and created exactly the app that I was looking for.

While I still write a lot in my notebooks, I find that random ideas and snippets are many times easier to type out than to write down. It’s then also easy to export the pages of the LectureNotes notebooks and send it off to some writing friends to have a look at.

By the way, for desktop use and for making mind maps I can highly recommend Scapple as well. It comes with a 30-day non-consecutive trial, so you don’t have to buy it immediately. I use it for brainstorming stories and articles and find that it works very well. Especially since it integrates with Scrivener and was created by the same company.

Here is Scapple’s product video:

Are there any helpful apps or software that you use when writing? Or do you keep it all analogue with pencil and paper? I’d love to know!

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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