Mar 31, 2010

The Synopsis:

Ok, at this point I’ve written two and two thirds books (we’re talking: 1,031 pages; 296,665 words.) and I’ve got a pile of other stuff I’ve got to keep corralled in my mind so that I don’t explode! Anyway. The point of all of this is, after I started looking into the querying process I found that several agents require a synopsis with their submission… I can tell you right here and now that stopped me in my tracks. Condense my 300 page novel into 2-5 pages? I mean… I’d just condensed the main catalyst of the novel into five sentences for the query, a feat in and of itself and now I’m supposed to expand on this without accidentally causing myself to explode from the pressure!

Writing a synopsis before the fact is easy.

It’s like an outline just without bullet points. It’s a mini-story that doesn’t give you the uber invasive details. But afterwards, when you know every nook and cranny of that story, it’s hard to contain yourself.

Finding information on what an agent wants from a synopsis is difficult, Nathan Bransford’s blog gives you a clean cut illustration of what he wants, though even he admits that he’d like to be able to put off the dreaded subject.

So in summary (or to synopsize what I just opined about) the idea of writing a synopsis for any of these three books seems sooooooooooo daunting, I’m writing this and putting it off until tomorrow.

Mar 30, 2010

Live Journal

Short Stories


I’ve got a live journal account where I’m posting short stories and other things that I’ve written. The format is like a serial. Each day (except Sunday’s) I’ll post a portion of the story until it’s finished.

Here’s the link:
http://abkeuser.livejournal.com/

Query Tracker - A Great Resource

I thought I’d take a moment to plug a very helpful website.


Querytracker.com

It’s free, and it’s got tons of information. The things I’ve found most helpful are: Updated Agent listings, a way to track who you’ve sent a query to and the responses you’ve received, and groups.

It is an awesome resource for the person working on getting a book published.
Query Tracker

Mar 29, 2010

Is shorter better?

When it comes to the length of a chapter, my mother says yes. I on the other hand like my chapters to be about 20 pages double spaced. I’m trying out the idea of short chapters… we’ll see how it goes for now, it has however extended this novel from 25 chapters to 37… but this novel is still shorter than my first, which is 22 chapters… so we’ll see on the final read through.

Mar 26, 2010

Death and Grief

Death: the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism; extinction; destruction.


Death is an ongoing theme in several of my books. The death of a loved one is such a poignant time in our lives. It is the culmination of our own. Death changes us, in ways we might not expect. Some resolve to be better people of live better lives when a death occurs close to us. Other shut down either mentally or physically, sometimes both. Some take death as a catalyst to start living, sometimes to start living recklessly. Whatever the change, however great or small, death affects us.

There is a part of one of the books that I am working on that I will admit I am dreading. One of my characters has to die, and as much as I’ve fought with myself over it, I know that there’s nothing I can do to save that character’s life. But until I write that chapter, they can still be alive, no matter how certain their death is. I have attempted to tackle that chapter many times, and each of those times I find myself on the verge of tears. I feel as though I’m murdering a friend, though it is another character that takes their life.

In my world (the one inside my head), there’s death and there’s death. There are characters, which, even though they have died are very much alive, but in this instance, death is more or less final. The character still lives through the memory of other characters, but his death is very real and there are no glimpses of the afterlife for him.

I find myself grieving for the unnecessary, yet necessary death of a character.

Mar 24, 2010

For The Birds

Birds are such interesting creatures. There are around 10,000 living species ranging in size from the Bee Humming Bird, to the Ostrich. Species of ravens and parrots have been observed not only manufacturing but also using tools.


Birds are featured prominently in all aspects of human culture, from religion to popular music to my next novel. Here’s a little refresher of the more important species in my book for those of us who are not as familiar with our avian friends.


The Owl:
Solitary and nocturnal, their prey consists mostly of small mammals, other birds and insects. They are found in almost all regions of the earth. Farsighted and unable to see anything clearly within a few centimeters of their eyes, their far vision is exceptionally good, especially in low light. Contrary to popular belief, an Owl cannot turn its head completely backwards. They are however able to turn their head 135 degrees in either direction to look over their shoulders, giving them a total 270 degree field of vision.

 
The Raven:


Large, all-black member of the crow family, the raven is found across the northern hemisphere. With an omnivorous diet, the raven is opportunistic and versatile in finding sources of nutrition. Remarkable demonstrations of problem solving abilities have been shown by the species leading to the belief of the species high intelligence. In many indigenous societies, the raven is seen as a spiritual figure or even a God. Ravens that have evolved in colder climates are generally larger than those that have evolved in the warmer climes.


 
The Road Runner:


Unlike the Loony Tunes Roadrunner, the real bird is quite small, with a length (on the high end) of 24 inches. They have a blank patch of skin that breaks their black-brown and white streaked feathers just behind each of their eyes that fades from blue to red. Opportunistic omnivores, Roadrunners diet includes insects, rodents, small mammals, insects, tarantulas and scorpions, fruits and seeds. They are the only real predator of the tarantula hawk wasp (don’t look it up unless you want your skin to crawl.)

Blue-Capped Rock-Thrush:


Associated with mountainous regions, these medium-sized song birds are mostly insect eaters of omnivores. Thrush habitats are confined to Africa, Asia, and Europe. This particular variant of the rock thrush spends the winter in southern India and summers in parts of Afghanistan and along the Himalayas. As with other thrushes, they tend to freeze when disturbed.

Mar 23, 2010

Literature.Org

I have to say that Literature.org is one of my favorite websites and a most pleasurable way to pass the time. As a girl whose books are all packed away in a box in the spare room, I can say that it has been a life saver. In editing my 3rd novel, which happens to be told from the 3rd person perspective, I’ve found it difficult, having spent so much time in 1st person. So today I read the first 10 chapters of “The Wonderful Wizard of OZ” by L. Frank Baum, and it definitely helped me get back into the swing of 3rd Person.

So thank you Literature.org. And thank you L. Frank Baum. You’ll never know what you’ve done for me.

Mar 22, 2010

1st or 3rd

I’ve found that I enjoy reading both first and third person novels, except when I have written them. My third novel, which should have been done weeks ago, is experiencing a bit of delay in the editing process and all because it’s told from the third person perspective. Maybe I just need to get a better perspective on it!

Mar 16, 2010

Outline & Synopsis

When I started writing my first novel, as I have previously stated, I had no idea that it would end up becoming a full-length novel, let alone be presented with a story that has ended up being four novels worth of an outline.


The same thing happened with my second and third novel. I began writing and it wasn’t until I was over a hundred pages in that I made an outline. However, due to the fact that I have, as of yet been able to really focus on one particular novel to be my fourth, I’ve found that the stories in my head have been summed up in 4 -10 page synopses and filed away for a later day.

Mar 15, 2010

Writers Block and Inspiration


A birthday gift from my friends Natalie and Dave… I love it.


I just wish I had actual writers block. I’d love to have time to write all of the things that I’ve already got lined out, but the flood gates are open and there seems to be no end in sight as the ideas keep coming. All I can do is outline and write synopsises for the things that come to mind and then file them away for a day that I no longer have ideas pushing to get out.

Inspire me:

So, inspiration comes in many different shapes and forms, for me the inspiration can be a conglomeration of numerous things, or one single thought.

My mother calls me on a regular basis to make sure that I’m still alive/haven’t been abducted. It has been the inspiration for a book that’s about a girl in phoenix who’s been abducted.

The second book I wrote gleaned most of it’s inspiration from a series of thoughts on life after death and the Mesopotamian manifestation of Lilith.

Inspiration for the newest book I’ve been compelled to work on was inspired by a dream. All of the characters were in one room and I found myself trying to get through them all, but they were all trying to keep me from getting anywhere… and somehow, when I woke up, that turned into a twenty three chapter outline.

There you have three examples of how I’m inspired. I’d give you more examples… but I don’t want your eyes to fall out of their sockets.

Mar 12, 2010

Why do I write?

A curious question as, when I was asked it, my first response was, “Why do you breathe?” but then I realized, I could survive if I no longer wrote, in fact I did survive for the year and a half that I was unable to write. So writing is not comparable to air in this case.


I write for two major reasons and for a multitude of minor ones and none of those reasons are “I’d die if I didn’t”. I won’t go into the nit-picky details of the minute reasons, but I will give you the two main reasons. So, why do I write?

The answer that first comes to my head when I am asked why I write, though it is worded as “How did you finish a novel”, is some variation of “The voices made me do it.”

Now, I’m not wanting you to question my sanity, I have a very firm grasp on what is real and what isn’t, that’s why I’m able to write, instead of spending all day talking to the characters that fill the nooks and crannies of my mind. That being said, the colorful plethora of characters in my mind are constantly approaching me with things they’ve done and places they’ve been, with premonitions of distant futures and past long lost in the rubble of memory.

It honestly feels as though it would be wrong of me to keep these characters lives – and deaths – to myself. I’m not that selfish, and if I was, they’d probably drive me bonkers! The only way to shut them up is to write their story, until then they spring up at odd intervals and threaten to annoy me to death.

But the voices in my head are secondary to the most prevalent reason I write. I write because I love to write. I’m not in this to make millions upon millions – though, let’s face it, I’m not going to deny that wouldn’t be fantastic – I would love to be able to support myself solely through my writing, but that’s a dream I’m not going to put much stake in. It would be wonderful to be published – and I’m certainly trying for that – but I’m not terribly worried about it. I write the things I do because I love each story as though they were a child, and like children, even if no one else likes them, I will love them until the day I die (even if they annoy me from time to time). I write them for me, and yeah, I’ll let others read them, I’m not a hoarder, I wouldn’t keep children locked in a safe… so I wouldn’t do that with my novels either.

The people and places in my head are far too real for me to ever lock them away in the jumbled prison cell that is my head.

Mar 11, 2010

Forfeit Souls: Chapters 1 & 2

Click the title of this post to read the first two chapters of my second novel. Its an alternating perspective novel, so it wouldn't have been a clear enough picture if you only got the first chapter.

Enjoy.

Mar 9, 2010

Forfeit Souls

The blurb for my second book:

You’ve just “woken up,” your last memory is your own violent death, and the light of the room around you is vibrating, could this be Heaven? You’re lying in the street dying, two people are standing over you nonchalantly discussing your potential and you are suddenly engulfed in flames, could this be Hell?


Joellen Ellerbee and Paul Bennett are no strangers to the misconceptions of the living. Having died, they now find that Heaven and Hell are no longer an option for them. They have both entered a demonic underworld they didn’t know existed. Joellen has been taken in by wind demons and introduced to a world far different than she ever thought possible. Paul is taken by a fire demon and brought into the profession of “the reaper.” He embraces his new position until he learns that one of his brethren killed the love of his life and seeks to avenge her death. When Joellen finds that the fire demons have killed her family, she joins the wind demons’ fight to rid the earth of their blood-thirsty foes. Paul and Joellen’s only thoughts are to find the demons that killed the ones they love and return the favor.

Mar 8, 2010

The Story Behind Forfeit Souls

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a thing for death (not dying, death) and while it is apparent in everything I write, that fascination is most prevalent in the second novel I penned.


Forfeit Souls began as an experiment. Fingers firmly placed on the keys at my computer I let my mind wander as I explored the Idea of death, but as I am not dead – proof of which can be taken from the fact that I am posting this blog – I found it difficult to “commit” to the Idea that the person in my head was actually dead in what would be considered the “typical” sense.

What morphed from those first thoughts on death took me into a strange and demonic world, where morals and choices still existed for those who were now more than human. Some struggled with their morality, while others chose to give in to their baser instincts and give over to the evil in what remained of their souls. Being evil becomes easy when there are no repercussions for their deeds.

While this novel tells the story of two demon converts and alternates between their perspectives, it is very much Paul’s story over Jo’s. For his struggle is much more poignant than hers.

I began writing this novel while I was waiting for my first to be edited by a second party (my mother), finishing it on December 19th, 2009. Its completion found me with no positive response to Duty and Death and so I decided to focus on getting it (and its more reasonable word count of 81,000 words) published first.

Mar 2, 2010

Duty and Death - Chapter 1

Click the Title of this post.
This link will allow you to read the first chapter of Thinner Than Water: Duty and Death

*Update* Due to major revisions, sample chapter has been removed.

Praise from an unlikely source...

A teenage boy that I have never met in person sent me an email after having read only a small portion of my second novel (Forfeit Souls).
He says:

"Immersive- nearly seductive tone" and that "[my] style and the plot that I have read is addictive."

Duty and Death

A brief blurb about my first book:

Skydra is the oldest daughter of the oppressive Emperor of Hetia, a vast empire her father has amassed in his quest to conquer and rule the known world. But when her father sends her to Vinyala to marry the Vinyalan prince and slowly remove the royal family so that Vinyala too can be conquered, Skydra’s morals get in the way. The average Hetiac girl might not face Skydra’s dilemma, because the average girl does not have Skydra’s gift, or as she sees it, curse. From the time Skydra was two her consciousness has taken her to where it feels she needs to be and made her a silent observer of things she often wishes she didn’t see. Because of her “gift” she knows that her father’s plan for her involves certain doom, that her sister’s affair is more detrimental to her health than she is willing to believe, and that the man she is supposed to kill does not deserve his death.


Skydra must decide between her father’s wishes and the man she’s beginning to love. If she chooses to disobey her father she would have to pull off the world’s greatest deception, and she must deal with Sara, her personal attendant, is unwaveringly loyal to Skydra’s father, even though his laws have made women second class citizens required to wear masks in the presence of men, and Claude, Skydra’s fencing instructor. Claude is smitten with the princess and determined to retain her for himself once her part in her father’s conquest is over. But if she decides to go against her father’s will, will the man she’s been sent to kill be able to trust her once he finds out why she was really sent to him?

Mar 1, 2010

The Story Behind My First Novel

When I sat down at my work computer on March 9th, 2006 – bored out of my mind – I had no idea the few pages I wrote would someday spiral into a complex story begging me to tell it.


It all started with a story of two people: a man in love with a girl, who had a secret. Unfortunately those first few pages about April and Clarke were lost shortly after they were written, but what began from them would eventually become the basis for an entire series, though these two characters are not the “main focus” of the books.

In 2006, I wrote approximately one hundred and thirty six pages. These small tidbits of the world in my head, however, were not the beautiful story that was waiting to get out. Unfortunately, due to issues in my personal life, that world was set on the back burner for the next two years.

In 2009, after coming out of a year long bout of depression, I finally found the ability to read again, and eventually returned to what was now more or less a one hundred and thirty six page outline of what will eventually be four books. In July of 2009, I sat down at my computer and immersed myself I the world that had been shaping in my mind.

At this time I thought that what I was writing would fit into one book, but by august, I had gotten only a quarter of the way through my outline and I was already at four hundred pages. Seeing an appropriate place to tie up this section of the novel, I wove the story to an ending and then read it over to make sure I hadn’t skipped anything crucial or wound up repeating myself unnecessarily.

What I had then was an enormous novel, and a roommate willing to read and edit. I handed it over to her a let her do her thing until October, when I flew home to Oregon. A copy of the manuscript in my carry-on bag, I spent the weekend enjoying the cold and the rain, and then flew back to Arizona, leaving the copy with my mother to edit. When she came down for Thanksgiving she returned it to me, a maze of red marks and I went about putting in the changes she suggested.

On December 12th, 2009 I sent out my first batch of queries. All of which were rejected. I only received one response that wasn’t the “canned” form letter, and that response advised me that, at 131, 000 words, my novel was too long for most agents to look into seriously from a first time author. And while I have not given up on getting this novel published, I am no longer pursuing it as aggressively as I was before, seeking to publish the second book I wrote, first.