Moving House

This blog hasn’t been very active, and I am elsewhere much of the time.  As Aydan Forrest is a pen name I use for endeavors into light romance, horror, and darker topics, while my real name usually focuses on lighter fare, I am going to be merging two blogs. This blog will be merged into my main writing site from now on, at

Eventually, I will probably just delete this blog.

The main reason I haven’t done this before now is that I really, really like the theme I’ve chosen for this blog. Unfortunately, it’s a retired theme, and I can’t use it on the other one. The one I use there is okay, though I’m not madly in love with it.

But, such is life in the techno-universe.

See you there!



An Old Friend

close up of fox on grass

Photo by Pixabay on

It’s the book that refuses to allow me to type “the end.” To be honest, it’s nowhere near ready for that, but it’s been around since 2013. I keep going back to it. I’ve used it for NaNoWriMo twice by pretty much wiping out the original content and starting it from scratch. It has parts I absolutely hate, and parts, when I dig it out and start reading through it again, that my brain stops short on and says, “Damn, that’s not too bad!”

It has potential. However, that potential is probably going to take a shoehorn, or maybe a crowbar (heck, anyone got a jackhammer?) to pry loose.

Yet, it’s the book I just can’t put down.

You see, when I first started it, a friend read the first couple chapters and loved it. She showed it to her husband, also a precious friend, who loved it even more. He’d been in law enforcement all his adult life, and the book opens with a homicide detective on stakeout. He just related to that, I guess, and saw the potential for the story. He said he couldn’t wait to see it finished.

And not long afterward, he passed away.

Five years on, and I still haven’t finished this book. At this point, I really don’t care if it ever sees publication. I just want to finish it. I want to see it through to the end. I want to be faithful to the book, and to my dear friend’s memory.

Maybe we all have a book like that. Maybe some of them will never get written.

This one will.

I’ve pulled the Scrivener file out of mothballs again, and for the past week, I’ve cracked it open every day. I’ve rearranged some scenes, rewritten a few. I’ve been writing the drips and gobs of glue that will eventually hold the story together. Once that is all done, and I have an actual draft, I’ll start the rewrites. I’m going to finish this thing, even if it stretches out through the rest of my lifetime, so that  the final words are written when I’m old and wrinkled and half-blind, with arthritic knuckles that can barely manage the keyboard.

Will there even be keyboards then? Who am I kidding? Those days are not really all that far away.  I’d better get cranking!

Yes, I’m going to finish this book. I’m going to do it for the book, and for myself. I’m going to do it for my friend.

I hope he’s reading over my shoulder. I can use the encouragement.



Thoughts On Scrivener 3


(Screenshot courtesy of Literature and Latte)

Yes, I’m still breathing. That’s about it for the personal update.

On a more interesting topic, Scrivener 3 for the Mac has come out. Actually, I think it was released some time ago, but I just got around to paying attention to the “new version” nudges, and took a look. I liked what I saw, and thought that playing with a new version of my favorite writing software might actually inspire me to make more time to write.

I installed it. It’s pretty cool. There are quite a few nice new features, and revamps of old features to make them more intuitive. It’s also, well…prettier.

You can read about the update (and purchase a copy), on the Literature and Latte website, if you’d like all of the details. Existing Mac license holders get a nice chunk taken off the full price (only $25 instead of the $45 new user cost), too. It’s definitely worth the investment, from what I can see so far.

One aspect of Scrivener that always baffled me a bit, and sent me back to the help files each time I used it, was the Compile feature. In Scrivener, you’re working on a draft, and can set it up to look and behave however your muse demands. When you export it, however, you are going to have to meet certain requirements. Whether it’s being sent to a traditional publisher, formatted for an e-book, self-published in paperback form, or just printed out to share with your old-timey meet-in-person critique group, there are guidelines. The Compile feature handles all of that automatically, but it can get rather complicated when tweaking it to look just right, and to include only what you want in your end product.

Scrivener 3 appears to have put “Compile” through some very nice streamlining. While going through the tutorial section, I found I was able to get from start to finish on the demos without feeling like my head was spinning.

I also quite like what they have done with the Bookmarks feature (which replaces project notes–don’t worry, the upgrade will automatically save all your old notes into a Bookmarks folder that keeps them handy and easy to manage), and how the Metadata function has been streamlined. There seems to be a nice tweak to the Collections feature, too, which makes it a more valuable tool (for my needs, anyway).

I’ve been playing with it for a few days now, having converted my “Articles” project as well as a book that I’d started and not got very far on (story of my writing life) over the summer. None of the big or more important projects had been converted to version 3 yet, because I’ve just been messing around with the new interface (which is very familiar and easy to navigate but a bit more efficient and intuitive).

Then, I went to my (Windows) laptop, with which I have always shared Scrivener files, and realized that I probably should have read a bit further into the upgrade notes before installing. I discovered that:

  1. There is no comparable version for Windows, and,
  2. Once converted to version 3, your files can’t be opened by older versions.

Um. Oops.

Thinking I might have just shot myself in the foot, and would be locked out of my out-of-office updates and middle-of-the-night-inspiration writing blitzes, I refused to panic (much) and hit Google. It only took a few minutes to discover that version 3 for Windows is available from the Literature and Latte Forums–as a beta project.


There are a few understandable caveats. The software is not finished (that’s what “beta” means in software development, naturally); some advanced features are missing, and they are still working out bugs. As with any beta, there may be a few stability risks. Each beta version is only active for a month, so you have to keep up with the forum and continue to install the newest beta to keep using the program. However, it’s all free while testing. It seems well worth it for people, like me, who do their main writing on a Mac desktop but still want to be able to access their files when away from their primary computer.

All of the files I’d converted to version 3 on the Mac, so far, have opened seamlessly in the Windows beta. I save my work to OneDrive(*), so it’s available to both computers. The beta, so far, appears to be very stable. Though there’s still work to be done, the basics (and quite a bit more) seem to be working perfectly, and anything of a more complicated nature, like compiling finished work, will be done on the Mac, anyway. Once the beta program is done, since I already also own a Windows license, I’ll be able to purchase the major upgrade for a friendly discount.

Are you a Scrivener lover like me? Have you been hesitating to upgrade to version 3? Have you been waiting to upgrade your Mac because you need the Windows version, too?  Give it a try, I think you’ll like it.

So, we’re all set to go, Scrivener 3 is working on both of my computers but I still have to do the actual writing if I ever want to finish this book, don’t I? Time to stop playing and get to work!

(* If you use OneDrive or any other Cloud service to share your work between computers, or with team members, just be sure to wait till Computer A is completely finished syncing all your files before trying to open them on Computer B. And vice versa. Don’t ask me how I know this. The story isn’t pretty.)




A Whole Lot Of Nothing

No, I haven’t dropped off the planet — at least not yet, thought I can’t say the thought isn’t tempting. The last year, or even year and a half, has been … strange. To go into detail would be boring and self-indulgent, so I won’t.

My fiction writing, though, has suffered; to that much I confess. Although I still write every day, I’m not writing what I truly love to write.

I got about halfway through NaNo last year and, between life’s interruptions and escalating computer problems, I just lost my momentum. I still had the hodgepodge of scenes, about 60,000 words worth, in Scrivener from the year before. That one, I’d tried writing piecemeal just to get words on the page, and wrote scenes out of order all over the place. They are still out of order all over the place. I’ve tried arranging them a few times, but keep getting sidelined.

Last year, I thought starting an entirely new project, a story that was trying to get out, would get me going again. Well, it did get me going. It just didn’t keep me going.

Sometime between the two, I gave in to Microsoft’s nag to update my Windows 8.1 laptop to 10. A perfectly good, efficient computer turned into a mass of problems after the update failed. Things got worse until, a year later, the poor thing was unusable. I wound up doing  a factory reset of Windows, which worked for a while, and then it began having different problems that led to a hardware failure.

Cutting the story short, I now quite like my new-to-me Mac Mini. It’s taken me a while to get life reinstalled, though I must say the process has actually been quite smooth. I’ve got the Mac version of Scrivener up and running, and have, in the last week or so, skimmed through both the 2015 NaNo draft, and the 2016 start. There is a tiny spark of enthusiasm growing (now that I’m not continually battling lock-ups and shut-downs). That spark led me back here, to the blog I’d nearly forgotten about.

I’m very grateful to the dear friend who generously sent me the computer he was planning (before learning of my plight) to retire to a closet. I might put that 60,000-piece puzzle-trying-to-be-a-novel together in the right order yet.

NaNo 2017, though? Maybe not.

One challenge at a time.

NaNo Again, 2016

I hadn’t planned to NaNo this year. Heck, I still have last year’s NaNoWriMo winner sitting in pieces in Scrivener, waiting to be assembled and the gaps filled in. It’s mostly all there, just not quite a first draft yet, because I wrote it in chunks.

Normally, I’m linear as a writer. I guess I’m what is called a Pantser for the most part, though I do usually start out at least with a rough outline.

This year, I had nothing. Not even a smidge of an idea had been born, and I planned with all good intentions to skip NaNoWriMo 2016.

Then, this evening, I was washing dishes. Suddenly, there was a story knocking at the inside of my brain. It wasn’t just the bare concept of a story, but actually had the rudiments of a plot, some interesting characters, a conflict, potential danger…. It wasn’t enough to be a full-grown book, but what book starts out fully grown?

So, today reached 2,300+ words, and I am still not even sure where the story came from. The working title is The Burden of Proof, but that’s probably not going to be what the book is called once it’s done. In fact, I’m pretty sure that one’s already been used by someone, somewhere. It was just something to type in where they asked for a title on the NaNo dashboard page.

Will it see 50,000 words? Will I still be writing on November 30th? Will the story evolve into an actual novel? Who knows? Not me! But I’ll keep clicking and clacking away at the keyboard and see where it leads me!


Final Ten Days of NaNoWriMo

Some days, the words flow freely. You hit that goal mark effortlessly, and float away from the keyboard to bask in the literary sun.

Others, every darned word takes a sump pump to extract. You stare at the screen for hours, and that word count just won’t reach 1,667 no matter how you plead.

Today’s somewhere in between, but close enough to the latter that I needed to take a break before jumping back in to take another lap.

I am, however, doing pretty well. A heck of a lot better than last year, anyway. I’ve got almost 40,000 of the target 50K words written, and ten days to go. I’m going to make it; I really do believe that. For the first time, I will actually “win” NaNoWriMo.

In the past, several of the losses were on a technicality, though. I actually finished the first draft of two novels during NaNoWriMos past. However, both were mid-grade mysteries, written for kids in the 5th to 7th grade levels, more or less. The 50,000 word count is just too high for a genre that rarely reaches 30,000. (Don’t tell J. K. Rowling that, of course.) This year, though, I’m writing for grown-ups, with grown-up attention spans.

Well, theoretically, anyway, though I must confess I know quite a few twelve-year-olds who can read circles around some of my adult acquaintances.

My book, if you can call it that, is written in a hodgepodge of disconnected scenes. I’ve jumped from beginning to end to middle a dozen times, with a large assortment of disjointed scenes in between. I hope and pray that, once November and the first draft are basically done, I can stitch it all together in a way that actually makes sense. I keep praying for Agatha Christie to channel through me, make this task a bit easier. I’m pretty sure every other mystery writer who has signed up on does the same thing.

Methinks our literary inspirations in spirit all have learned to take November off by now.

But, for your enjoyment (or not, as the case may be), before I dive back into the water, I’ll just copy and paste here the last couple of paragraphs that I wrote today, before my brain screamed that it needed to come up for air.

The sketch artist looked all of fifteen. She wore no makeup, jeans with a hole in the knee, a faded tee shirt featuring some huge-eyed anime character, and bright red hair in braids that hung nearly to her waist. She introduced herself as Siobhan in a voice as sweet and fluffy as cotton candy.

Tara stared at her, before realizing the girl had reached out for a handshake. The grip was hard, firm, and strong enough to make her wince. Appearances what they were, she was guessing this kid probably had a black belt in something … she glanced at the shirt … Japanese.

Happy November, all. If you’re in the US, and I don’t get back here before next Thursday, a Happy Thanksgiving, too.

The Black Dog

Eye-bounceflash (4)Black dogs. They have held a place in the human psyche throughout history. In some cultures, they were demonic, beings to be avoided. They were omens of death and evil. The most famous literary depiction of this black dog as evil concept is probably Conan-Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Well, the most famous, that is, until J.K. Rowling capitalized on the concept with Harry Potter’s “Grim“.

For people who suffer from depression, whether it is clinical or temporary due to circumstances, the Black Dog has come to represent the darkness that weighs them down. There is an interesting essay on the history of this metaphor on the “Black Dog Institute” website:

…when we put a name to our depression, increasingly it is that of the black dog, lurking behind us, or clinging tenaciously to our backs. The statesman and politician Winston Churchill drew upon this image to conceptualise his own struggle with depression, and it is with him that the metaphor is generally associated.

In my case, and considering what I am going through right now, the Black Dog is not metaphorical. My Black Dog was my best friend, my protector, my constant companion. He was my sidekick, my seizure-alert dog (self-trained) and my motivation to keep going through some really horrendous life events. The past thirteen years have not been easy ones … but they were made bearable by my Black Dog.

He died on October 3rd.

My entire world has changed. I look for him everywhere, cry for him every day. I wake up in the morning unable to imagine a world without him, and then have to face that very world until I go to sleep again that night.

This depression is worse than I ever could have imagined, and it has been incredibly hard to deal with. But we always deal somehow, don’t we?  The alternatives to putting one foot in front of the other, and living life one breath at a time, are none too good.

I actually find that writing a mystery that is dark and brooding helps. The book deals with death, and with being dead. I find myself pouring emotions onto the page that would break me if I didn’t have a way to express them.

Maybe my boy’s death will lead to what turns out to be a good story.

Even if not, though, I will miss my Black Dog every single day of the rest of my life, and, here and beyond, I will love him forever.