Aug 31, 2010

A Hodgepodge of things about my writing.

Progress on my “in a month” WIP - We hit 75% yesterday (with the required word count being 80,000) which put us at 60K. I don’t think that’s too shabby for three weeks – though they were three weeks of harried and panic filled writing. I have to finish the novel’s first draft (not just meet the 80k word goal) by the end of the day September 9th. And I think I’m going to be able to do it!

Let’s talk about outlining - I do it, though I don’t spend a huge amount of time on it. I think of an outline as the interstate and I write the back roads. The same things happen and pretty much in the same order, but when you get off the interstate you get to experience things that you would have flown by at 75 (Well, if you’re in AZ, 65 pretty much everywhere else.)

I find that an outline is never truly representative of the amount of space that is needed for each piece of the novel, I may have to move something back a chapter or maybe forward, simply because the scene ran too long or short. The point is, you don’t truly know the story until you’ve written it, ignored it for a while and returned to it afresh. Then you can see it for the train wreck it is or the masterpiece that was waiting for you to return.

Inspiration is a funny thing – A while back I was thinking about the “bad guys” in the current WIP. They’re an alien race, so I was trying to picture what exactly they looked like. The creature that appeared in my head at first is the one that is there today. It just took a while for me to realize exactly why they looked the way they looked. There was one aspect of their physique that I couldn’t account for. I thought of different reasons for why it might exist, but everything I came up with turned them into a source of comedy, not the menacing creatures I wanted them to be. This afternoon it hit me while I was trying to figure out exactly why a human existed with this race of alien beings. His reason for being there was this thing that I’d had such a hard time understanding. It all fell into place as easily as if I’d planned it from the beginning – and oh, how I wish that I could say I’m that diabolical.

The human’s reason for being there makes this piece of the alien’s attributes a stomach turning reality. And I am so please to have found it. I wonder if anyone else has that happen. If you’re a writer, have you ever found inspiration in a piece of a character or setting that you couldn’t explain before the inspiration came?

Aug 25, 2010

The Things I've Written

If you follow my other blog you saw one of these there.... Here's each of my novels in a wonderful little word cloud. Make your own at wordle. I like to think that the colors I've chosen reflect the individual novels.
Duty & Death

Forfeit Souls

Magic is for the Birds

FM & TNLCD

(And a sneek peek at the current WIP)

Why I Love a Character

Yesterday I got in 5200 words, not as good as Monday, but we’re still cracking away. Where I am now: 42,400. Where I should be: 44000. (Deficit 1600-words) I could easily have bridged the gap today, but I decided to write this blog post instead.

On to the real post! Monday, while thinking about things on which I can write, Jenna told me I should write a post on what quirks make me love a character, and so I shall. Now, to be fair, she didn’t specify whether she wanted to know what makes me love my characters, or what makes me love other author’s characters. Since I’ve already written a post about several characters I love from other authors and why I love them, today you’ll get a little taste of why I love my characters.

Clarke – Duty & Death

When I began my first novel I didn’t know my main character yet. I was dragged into the world that now runs rampant in my mind because of a character who does not hold the point of view. But Clarke holds a special place in my heart because of that reason. Were it not for him I might not be over half way through the rough draft of my fifth novel. In many ways I believe that Clarke will always be my most favorite of characters.

Based (extremely) loosely on a friend, Clarke wormed his way deeper into my heart after I delved back into his world and discovered how much of a romantic he is. Now, due to cuts and revisions, you don’t get as nice of a picture of Clarke in the first book anymore, but he’s there and he comes to front and center with a vengeance in the second book. I think that if these novels find their way to the shelves, Clarke will be one of your favorite characters from the series too.

Skydra – Duty & Death

While Clarke introduced me to the world that Skydra inhabits, it was Skydra’s unique view of her world that made this novel possible. I relate to her struggle in a unique way – as I’m sure all authors relate to their MC’s struggles – there are things that happen to her, or things she sees that are very much metaphorical representations of my past.

Skydra is smart, she’s got a distinct edge on people who try to fool her and she’s trying to carve her own path. I think that we all can relate to not wanting to be our parents and at the same time wanting to please them. Even if our parents aren’t Evil dictators, we don’t want to become them.

Impetia – Duty & Death (I wasn’t going to put her in at first, but I feel that it’s important.)

I love impetia because she was the easiest character to write and the hardest to read. There are things about her that are difficult for me to stomach because Impetia is very much a part of me that, when ever other trait is stripped away, I could very well have become something similar to what she is. I think that being able to recognize that part of me and fight against it is something that I will always be thankful to her character for.

Paul – Forfeit Souls.

Oddly enough, Paul was a very minor character when I was 50k words into this novel, but I realized very quickly that his was a story that needed to be told and dove in without thought. Paul is one of those special characters. The ones that fall into your lap when you least expect them to, and end up strong arming your original MC into a marginally smaller roll. I love the way that Paul forced his way into that novel and I love that he’s such a strong character for it.

The way that Paul fought his way into a focal point of the novel is a very strong part of his character. He fights against what he’s become, he fights his own primal urges. In essence, Paul will do anything he can to maintain who he was in his life. I think that preservation of self, not of your life, though it’s a good thing to try to stay alive, but retention of identity is something to which we all can relate. No one wants someone to come into our lives and try to change us, its basic instinct.

Gus – Magic is for the birds.

Gus reminds me of my dog... what’s not to like about that?

Madeline Dupree – FM&TNLCD (I’m abrieviating because a. it’s not finished and b. it’s a really long title right now)

Whenever there’s a character with something that’s just below the surface, something you’re not quite sure of, it makes you wonder. Maddie has sooo many secrets to tell me, I can only hope that they are all as interesting as the one in this novel.

The other reason I love Maddie is that she is utterly human. I’ve written a lot of characters that are inhumane in one aspect or another. But Maddie, in her special way is the most human character I’ve ever written. Also, what’s not to love about an adorable four-year old?

Flynn Monroe – FM&TNLCD

I love me a good anti-hero… one that can handle a six-shooter is even better. I’ll let you in on a little secret. My first crush was Marion Morrison – and yes, that was what I knew him as, my dad was quick to inform me of the ways of the Duke – As a very young girl I was smitten with John Wayne, so cowboys still have a bit of a soft spot in my heart. Throw that cowboy in space scar him up a bit and you’ve got me hook, line and gravity distortion. Flynn is that perfectly imperfect man. He’s got baggage, but if he could he’d shoot it full of lead.

Flynn is the kind of guy with duct tape over his bleeding heart. He may not always want to help, but he does. There’s something to be said for someone who saves the lives of those who are undeserving even when it means risking his own life. Now, just because he doesn’t exactly work on the level and he won’t tell you how he got that lovely scar of a necklace from a date with the gallows, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good guy. It just means that he’s technically also a bad guy.

****

So what I’m trying to say here is that I like my characters for a myriad of different reasons. None of my friends are carbon copies of each other, I don’t like each of them for a specific reason, why would I like a character who was exactly like another. They’re not all inherently good, several of these characters would be considered “bad guys,” they’re murderers and thieves, hell, one of them’s a demon! The point is. The reasons we like a character is due to their uniqueness and often to their relatability. You could hate any one of these characters and you know what? That’s ok.

Aug 24, 2010

Killing the Plot

Sooo… today between answering phone calls and other miscellaneous work things, I managed to work on my deficit word count. I put in 6,300 words today, which is bueno. And helps me crack down on the whole being behind thing.

Let me tell you why being a writer kills watching movies/TV shows and occasionally books. Understanding plot helps you to find the littlest cues and tips you off to the most likely scenarios that the screenwriter/author went with. Often times it’s a simple Occam’s razor theorem and the easiest option is the one that appears before you.

This isn’t to say that I’m always right, far from it.

But I was watching a show (the name of which I will not reveal, because revealing it would reveal my true level of nerdiness) – Earl’s convinced me to watch all of the seasons, though I’ll admit that I wanted to watch them, I simply protest to save my ungeeky face – the fact of the matter is… they’re easily predictable when you know anything about plot. Earl, who has seen the episodes is annoyed because they’re transparent, and I’m just bored.

I’m fully willing to postulate that anyone who understands plot will most likely be as easily able to predict the plot lines in my novels. The point is, this is why knowing plot structure kills movies, tv shows and some novels.

Aug 23, 2010

Where the heck have I been?!?

As of late I’ve found myself taking an inadvertent blog-cation(as in blog vacation). This has been for a few reasons… A) I’ve been challenged (by my biggest fan) to write an 80,000-word rough draft of a novel in under a month, if you’re a writer, you’ll know what I mean when I say that that level of dedication is tough and something had to go… apparently, that something was blogging. B) My critique partner, the lovely Joann, and I have exchanged manuscripts. That’s right, the ball is finally rolling again. Huzzah! C) Life just gets in the way!

I’ll try not to let it happen again, dear internet.

Having said this let me inform you that I am, in fact, 40% done with the first draft of my challenge novel! (or maybe more by now… depending on when you read this)

Also, if you look to the poll results, I’ve found myself in a conundrum! Although, I can eliminate B, (thanks for that I didn’t like it either), I’m still stuck between A & C. Would you like to know something funny about these two paragraphs… I wrote C about two weeks ago, without looking at the original paragraphs I’d written. A, I wrote back in May when I was only four or so chapters in… If you have an opinion to share on the subject, you’re more than welcome to try to sway me toward the query you like more.

Now… about that whole life thing getting in the way, I should be doing laundry right now…

Aug 18, 2010

I’m Going to be Published

Ok. If you saw the title and thought I was going to tell you that I’ve got a publishing contract, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I haven’t.

The point is this: It seems like the one constant in my life is that whenever I get around to mentioning to someone that I’ve written novels, they immediately ask where/when they’ll be able to buy them.

Depending on my mood and relationship with the asker, the answer to that varies.

I generally try to enlighten people who ask that question by explaining the publishing process in as succinct a process as possible.

You would be surprised how many times that results in a look of dismay, pity or, disappointment. They think I’m crazy, or obviously not any good if I haven’t gotten anywhere yet.

But here’s the thing. I’m going to be published. It may not be tomorrow (in fact that’s impossible, I haven’t sent out queries in months) and it may not be next year, but it will happen.

That’s why I smile a little when I get those looks, because in the end, I know that I’m going to get there.

Aug 12, 2010

Pick a Query... Any Query

If you could help me out by reading through each of these and voting on which one of the three makes you most want to read the novel/ which you find most catching. That'd be great thanks! The poll is to the right at the top, but feel free to note anything in the comments as well.


A.


Flynn Monroe can’t believe Calliope Druthers has walked back into his life. The hail of bullets that follows is less of a surprise. After dealing with the assassin that tried to kill them, she tells him the Guild – the clandestine government society that controls the galaxy – is after the daughter he didn’t know he had. The Guild’s bad side is about the last place Flynn wants to be, but he can’t abandon the child and warily agrees to help them. Calli may want to work things out as they flee the Guild and search for a safe haven, but Flynn’s guard is up, the last time he trusted Calliope she tried to blow up his ship, with him, his brother, and his dog still on board. No one messes with his dog.



B.

No man asks for an ex like Calliope, Flynn Monroe certainly didn’t. It doesn’t surprise him in the least when the storefront they’re in erupts in a hail of bullets moments after she arrives, nor does it surprise him that she expects him to clean up the mess she’s found herself in. What is surprising is Maddie, the four-year-old who bears an uncanny resemblance to Flynn; Calli claims he is her father. Until Flynn can verify her claims, he’ll have to drag them along with him. Flynn’s not happy about the close quarters he’ll have to share with the woman he still has mixed feelings for – he hasn’t forgot that she tried to blow him up when they last parted.



C.

Flynn Monroe never expected Calliope Druthers to walk back into his life, so when she does in a hail of bullets and shattered glass, he should be able to shoot her. The thing about Calli is that things are never so simple and the wide eyed four year old girl he’s told is his daughter is the only thing keeping her from a chest full of lead. The Guild – the clandestine government society that controls the galaxy – has put a bounty on Calli’s head that no assassin can pass up, and she wants Flynn to clean up her mess again. Calli may want to patch things up between them as he ferrets them away to safety while trying to maintain his freighters schedule, but Flynn hasn’t forgotten how they parted ways five years ago. Her attempt to kill him, his brother, and his dog left a sour taste in his mouth. No one messes with his dog.

Wonderful Things! (Also, How I Keep My Brain From Exploding)

This morning I sent off D&D to my fabulous critique partner (her blog here). So things are progressing again. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have someone looking at my novel from the perspective of another writer. I’ve got good vibes about this and see good things coming.

And… I’m done!

Er- sort of.

Yesterday I typed the final word of the first draft of my current WIP. Now I’m going to spend a month pretending it doesn’t exist and working on other things. No celebration, no pats on the back. It’s far from finished. But I’ve spent the last three months writing almost solely on this one novel and looking at that story so soon after will shortly turn my brain to mush.

For now, the first (and extremely rough) draft will sit dormant in my hard drive waiting for September 12th to arrive when I’ll revisit it, red pen in hand. And I will move on to other things. Fresh things that are not yet tainted by the agony of three months of trying to push the story in my brain onto paper.

It’s like eating pizza for three months straight…. Eventually, the idea of pizza makes you want to throw up and you’d kill for a good helping of mashed potatoes and peas (I’ve just now got myself craving that… thanks a lot, Amy.)

Tune in tomorrow to help me work out my query issues!

Aug 11, 2010

Interruptions

So, yesterday I was supposed finish chapter 21 and at least part of 22 (if not all). But I was a complete dunder head and ended up leaving my flash drive at home! That meant I couldn't work on it. Said flash drive contains the most current version of the WIP and thus anything I did would have been a futile exercise.

This interrupted my forward momentum toward the completion of my first draft of the WIP.  I'm hoping to get through the rest of the week without any more interruptions.

Aug 10, 2010

THX 1138: A Review

As I write in the SF genre, I like to explore more in the way of SF in multiple mediums. One of those mediums is film.


You know, I think that Lucas owes a lot to Harrison Ford.

Think about it...

Anything he did before American Graffiti is practically unknown by we normal folk, and American Graffiti, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, three of his best known works - if not his three best known works - have Harrison Ford in a very central role. Harrison is Lucas' loaded die.

But the thing that brought Lucas to the screen, the film THX 1138, produced by F.F. Coppolla (yeah, we're tight, so I can call him F.F. - not) begins, much like many other Sci-Fi films of the seventies and eighties, slowly and escalates to accuiring a heart beat. The speculation of a society governed by sedation and lack of feeling is well executed, but the plot moves as though its feet are slogging through mollases. The predominantly white sets are a bit of a bear on your retinas, and at one point the characters are shoved into an area filled with people rushing about as though they're in a stampede, and I think I went into sensory overload, if Lucas has something going for him, it's his sound.

It's intriguing, but not enrapturing.

Aug 9, 2010

The Bits and Pieces

So Friday night, I came to chapter 18. It’s a chapter that I’ve been dreading for a little while. I’ve been dreading it because, while I know what needs to go in it, I’m A) not sure I can even write parts of it – let’s face it, this is entirely new to me – and B) it’s officially the part I’d had the least written about, but the bit’s I had gotten down ware scattered throughout the chapter. Honestly, looking at them made my head spin.

I haven’t found a solution to problem “A” yet. “B” was a bit simpler. Knowing what had to go into the chapter, I wrote out a chapter outline and highlighted the important stuff. Then I approached each bullet point individually, much like I approach each chapter individually.

Think about it. Writing a novel, seems intense at first, but writing a chapter? That doesn’t seem so bad, its just 13, 14 pages (ish). 13-ish pages seem daunting? Take it one or two pages at a time. Take the entire thing a scene at a time, or sections of a scene at a time.

Bits and pieces. That’s how I get through the tough parts.

Aug 6, 2010

That Wonderful Love/Hate Relationship

When it comes to my novels… I have (on all three that I’ve completed) found myself at a point where I utterly hate what I’ve written. I think it is mainly because I’ve been staring at these things for x number of days in a row and my mind just wants to yell “Enough already!”


Writing in hate:

With my first novel, the period of “hate” – though it turned to indifference after a few months – lasted a full two and a half years. I place the blame partially on external sources that were stressing me out in my everyday life, but the fact remains at one point or another, I find myself in hate with what I’ve written.

As I sit here… 76,000-ish words into my current WIP, I’m wondering if my heightened rate of completion will somehow let me surpass the “in hate” phase. Hopefully it will come and pass while the first draft is resting and I move on to either something new, or revisions on a previous novel.

Revising in hate:

So, it’s been a year since I finished that abominably long first draft of my first novel. Now, 3 major revisions, and 8 edits later, I’m back in hate with it. I blame it on the fact that my current WIP is written “casually” where as my first novel has a very formal voice – a thing that is dictated both by the MC’s attitude and the setting.

I am going to be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo thankful when I’m able to send it off to my critique partner and not think about it for a month-ish. Frankly, at this point, if I didn’t have someone else I was accountable to, I’d probably ceremoniously light a fire with it.

Early Friday Morning Counts!

I know, I know, this is supposed to be an end of the week kind of thing, but hey, I’m ahead of schedule.


Word Count: 76500 (90%)

Page Count: 246/306

Comments: I’m not really sure what got into me on Wednesday and Thursday, but I ended the day’s over my goal word count (1602wds & 2550wds over respectively) as I told my biggest fan, I was on fire (FIYA!)

Now, I know it says I’m 90% done… and that’s based on my total goal word count. But, due to my chapter word cound goals, I’m obviously not going to be done once I finish that last 10%. I’ve still got about 11k words to get all of my chapters to the length I want and invariably I’ve forgotten something in the chapter’s I’ve completed. (If you go by completed chapters – 15 of 23 – I’m only at about 65% complete)

Aug 4, 2010

I Sometimes Think I’m Forgetting How to Speak English.

Perhaps one of the reasons that writing comes so easily for me is that it allows my brain to function in a different manner than speaking. I’ve always stumbled over spoken words – I was once told that I try to speak as quickly as my brain is working and if I just slowed down that might solve the problem. If only I could figure out how to slow down…

Then nice thing about writing is that I can go as fast as my fingers will let me. Now, obviously normal speech is a quicker means of conveyance than typing things out into a word document, but with my fingers flying across the keys, it feels like I’m able to keep up with my brain.

For a while I thought it was just an issue when I was excited or in a new situation – I don’t like new situations, but they’re tolerable. However, on the way to work I was trying to describe this awesome sectional couch that graced my living room when I was growing up and words were failing me. Or maybe I was failing them. I knew what I was trying to say, but it was like I was mid-migraine or something. I’d mean to say family room and I’d say living room, I’d mean to say end and I’d say corner… and it was just Earl and I in the car!

I wonder if I’m slowly forgetting how to speak. Soon I’ll open my mouth and end up spitting out a slimy ball of gibberish. People will say I’m speaking in tongues, there will be a media sensation and then… I’ll just stop talking… I’ll buy a white board and fasten it into a necklace… and then when people ask me a question, or I need to tell them something, I’ll just write it down…

My future seems bleak indeed.

Aug 3, 2010

I’d Rather Be…

You see those license plate holders all the time. “I’d rather be windsurfing/reading/getting attacked by incensed fans who simply want to touch me because they think I’m actually a fictional character and not the actor who played him in the movies.


Oh, wait… I’ve never seen that last one. I have a feeling that it will never grace the back of Robert Pattinson’s Porsche.

“What’s the point?” You ask.

The point is that there are days when I’d rather not be writing.

Writing, to me, means scheduling. I write as if it’s my job. I write nearly seven hours a day Monday through Friday (excluding holidays, vacations and sick days). In many ways, writing is a full time job.

Now, if you know me, you might say to me, “but Amy, you actually do write at your day job….”

While that is true, let me tell you the number of other things I could be doing.

I could be: reading blogs, looking up celebrity gossip, painting my nails, drawing up bathroom remodel plans, deciding paint colors, texting, doodling, staring at the wall, figuring out how to get solitaire on my work computer… the list could go on.

Instead I’ve contrived to hold myself to a schedule, a number of words per day. If I don’t meet that goal, it is tacked on to the next day’s… this could snow ball pretty quickly. I keep track of where I am and where I want to be and I find a way to get there.

Last week I fell behind on Wednesday (68 words shy) and Thursday (699 words shy), but I finished Friday on target. I managed to make up those 767 words. Why? Because I had a schedule to stick to (and because the biggest fan had faith in me).

Holding myself to a schedule pushes me through the difficult bits, the parts that I don’t want to write, but know I have to. I have to stay to the schedule.

My calendars and charts are the visual representation of those goals and I find that helpful. If you write, what keeps you churning out pages?

(Had I known this would be post #100 I might have done something special. Sorry... I'll catch that when 200 comes around)