New resolve

Hello, everyone. November has passed; for those who participated in NaNo, I hope you reached your story goal. In years past, December was often relegated to recovery from post-NaNo writing madness. Not so for me this year. I’m using this last month of an admittedly shitty 2016 to gather my bearings.

I haven’t posted an update to PANDEMONIA since October. Between feeling down about my job situation and a steady stream of rejections from positions I applied to, it’s any wonder writing fell on the wayside. I’m not sharing this looking for sympathy. It’s just how things have been. The truth is one day, I stopped feeling sad and got angry. And when I’m angry, I get decisive. Time to stop wallowing and start DOING. Yes, I can’t make jobs appear out of thin air. So, after attacking my resume for massive damage I have turned my focus on doing what I love best: writing.

I started my return by reading over my NaNo project from 2014. It was the sequel to a new adult fantasy I’ve been working on since 2005. It’s incomplete (as seems to be the case for a lot of my stuff), but there’s no denying the passion I had for it. Even in scenes where I seemed to flounder, the characters shone through. One of my favorite scenes involves a funeral. There, a character undergoes a huge transition that ultimately changes the course of where her story is headed. I’m reading it and thinking, ‘Wow, this came from ME?’ I can’t be the only one who reads their own work and doubts its origins. Even when friends compliment my writing, there’s that teeny, tiny part that doesn’t quite believe. And I should. Cause damn.

Point I’m trying to make here is once I would have killed for all this free time to write. Time for me to use it.

 

 

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Outside looking in

This year marks the first time since 2009 I am not participating in NaNoWriMo. I admit, it’s a bit weird. Then again, 2016 has shaped up to be weird for me anyway. The loss of my job in July has landed me on paths I have not tread since I first started working. I’m feeling out of sorts over it, plus other life-related matters. It’s part of why I’ve chosen not to join the writing frenzy. The other reason has to do with the quality of the content I’ve produced.

With the exception of one story, almost all drafts born from NaNo did nothing but sit in a folder. None were salvageable. Sure, I might have plucked a line or a character or two from them, but overall? Underwhelming. I’d re-read the story and identify parts where I was just writing to fulfill a word count. Now, I understand first drafts aren’t going to be good. I’ve said this to other writers struggling to get words down. First drafts, by definition, ARE going to be all over the damn place as characters and plot lines change. The thing with me is I have a set way of writing: if I suddenly have an epiphany about something, I drop EVERYTHING to make the necessary changes. My brain has trouble adjusting to the ‘fix it later’ mentality needed to complete a first draft. I’m working on overcoming this hangup. It’s prevented me from finishing so many drafts lately. I think I stop, drop, and edit out of some fear I’ll forget the tiniest detail and it will bring the whole story down. It’s stupid because I’m the only one who will notice but I obsess over it anyway. I am my own worst enemy.

Which brings me to the aspect of NaNo I miss most: the community. I really need to start branching out and looking for other readers. I’m going stir crazy on my own. Maybe join a writer’s group. I can’t let the one bad one I participated in color my perception of them all. How bad was it, you may ask? It was run by a guy who pretty much used the time to ramble about the lengthy sci fi trilogy he was working on whether you wanted to hear about it or not. Not exactly a fair exchange of ideas.

I’m still writing, of course. I’m currently working on a ghost love story as I break from updating content for PANDEMONIA as seen on Channillo. I hope to have chapter four up soon. In the meantime, if you’re participating in NaNo, good luck to you, and may we all overcome our personal writing demons to achieve our goals.

 

New Year means new books

Happy belated New Year’s to everyone! I hope your holidays went well. We skipped the alcohol and gatherings in favor of a quiet night in. I am pleased to announce that I was awake after midnight. The past few years found me sleeping early. Getting old is such a killjoy sometimes.

Though I had wanted to finish my NaNo draft despite its glaring flaws, I’ve set it aside to let it ferment. I’m not here to ramble about my writing. This entry is dedicated to what got me into writing in the first place: books.

twilight books

I resumed reading two books, THE DETAINEE by Peter Liney and THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo. I also picked up two others that serve the dual purpose of personal interest and research: IS THERE LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL?: SURVIVING THE NFL by James A. Holstein and THE GLADIATOR: THE SECRET HISTORY OF ROME’S WARRIOR SLAVES by Alan Baker. There’s yet another title I grabbed purely for interest’s sake: THE WITCH OF LIME STREET: SEANCE, SEDUCTION, AND HOUDINI in the SPIRIT WORLD by David Jaher. Not a bad start to 2016 considering I didn’t read nearly enough books in 2015.

I’m ashamed of myself for not reading more. I violated the cardinal rule of writers everywhere. Part of the problem is finding something worth my time. I’m such a hard sell lately. I’m finding little to interest me even in my favorite genres. A lot of fantasy seems like they’re trying to cash in on Game of Thrones. Fantasy series in general seem to suffer the longer they go on. I direct you to Terry Goodkind’s SWORD OF TRUTH books. Even Melanie Rawn’s DRAGON PRINCE/DRAGON STAR books, of which I have a deep love, did not escape this fate. As for GoT, I read the first book. Outside of my attachment to Jon Snow, nothing really stands out about it. I’m not invested enough in all the POLITICAL INTRIGUE to pick up the rest of the series. Jon’s fate will remain a mystery to me.

The science fiction titles I’ve sampled are hit or miss. Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN was one of those unexpected surprises. Mindi Arnett’s AVALON has held my interest, as has the indie title TALES OF A DYING STAR BOOK ONE: SIEGE OF PRAETAR by David Kristoph. I think you’re more likely to find gems on the indie market than what’s being offered on the shelves anyway. I’ve avoided the YA fantasy and sci fi titles for the most part.

Speaking of YA, there is one I am eagerly anticipating: JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert. Not only is Mia a good friend of mine (and she’s been a HUGE help with my writing), but this is her debut novel. Check out the page on Goodreads: Jerkbait Her Facebook page has more info on the book, such as release date and how to pre-order: Mia Siegert Author Page I have a feeling this will be BIG for her. Please support her, fellow writers! She’s living the dream we all aspire to. 🙂

Speaking of Goodreads, you can find me there as well: my profile Feel free to add me as a friend. I don’t bite. 🙂

Well, that’s it from me. Happy writing/reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Getting that groove back

My writing had slowed some due to post-NaNo fatigue, but then I was hit with one of those unexpected curve balls life likes to throw. Sadly, writing took a backseat as I endured possibly the most painful week of my life. I’ll skip the details, but the good news it’s all over and I can focus again. There’s no excuse for me not to keep working. It’s my only project now. No distracting ideas to draw me from it.

Speaking of projects, some months ago I had submitted a YA fantasy to Baen Books. I finally got the rejection. It made me happy because there’s just no way I’d be able to shift gears for it. I’m not even sad about shelving it or the other ideas. I thought I would be considering how much effort I put into the characters and such. I suppose if I felt sad at every incomplete project, then I’d never be able to move on from them. The last thing a creative person wants is stagnation due to the inability to let go. And hey, I might try Baen Books again when this project of mine is complete. They’re more about sci fi than fantasy anyway.

Back to NaNo: anyone see the list of winner’s goodies they have this year? I thought about doing with the hard copy from Fast Pencil. I find having a physical copy will benefit me when it comes time for editing. I feel I see more when it’s in my hands versus on a computer screen. Plus I cobbled together a prototype cover that I’d slap on there just for fun. I have until the end of January to take advantage of this offer. I’d like it if I had the finished draft available rather than half. So I better get started!

NaNo Day 28: Overtime

I know I won on the 26th, but things are going so well with the story I’ve decided to keep going. I’m still updating my word count (55,673 right now) and things are happening. Lots of things. Cassie and Drew are on the cusp of facing their greatest challenge. The Big Bad has sent what they perceive to be a clear message. The third character has been pulled into the fray against her better judgment. How everyone responds will make or break everything. As the one in charge of their fate, I can promise only pain. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

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It’s been a great NaNo for me. As I’ve said before, I can’t recall a previous idea that has filled me with such inspiration and glee and hope and yay. It’s many months, possibly years, from being anywhere near the story I know it can be. But it’s great to be excited about something new again rather than waste my time on an old story I should have let die years ago.

If you’ve reached the illustrious 50K, kudos to you! If not, keep plugging away! Let the words flooooooooow

NaNo Day 26:VICTORIA

Friends, fellow writers. I have reached the promised land. I am at 50,378 words. Please allow my teams and my favorite Colts player to celebrate for me.

I am far from done with this as-of-yet titled sci fi dystopia of mine. My female lead, Cassie, has been rattled a bit by recent events but she has risen to the occasion. Drew is impressed as hell by her game face. If I gave them the chance, they’d be celebrating this with lots and lots and lots of sexins. There’s no time for this (not yet anyway). They have a Big Bad League to take down. Will it be easy? Of course not. Lots still more to come for them. I intend to keep the this thing going.

Happy writing, everyone! May your words be epic!

NaNo Day 21: Course Correction

It pleases me to announce that I am back on track with my NaNo. I am over 43K words right now. A new, vital-to-the-plot character has been introduced, my MCs are starting to venture into choppy waters, and the stakes have been raised even higher. Oh, and they’re starting to show their feelings for each other in more ways. Conflict, oh my! I already foresee this story’s conclusion will take me past 50K. Maybe by then I’ll have a title.

I also have to say that this is truly the first original idea I’ve had like, ever. EVER. And I’ve written/conceived/rejected stories by the dozens. Just goes to show that the writer, like the craft, is an ever-evolving machine. Gotta pan through the rocks and dirt before you come upon a gem. No coincidence then that I came upon this gem while taking a bath.

Is it a bit premature to consider this untitled science fiction dystopia of mine as THE story? The one that will help me knock on doors? Maybe, but I have high hopes for it. It’s the first one I feel has real market potential. The intended audience is broad.

May you find yourselves feeling as successful, fellow WriMos!

NaNo Day 19: The Great Backtrack

Remember when I gushed about how happy I was that my main characters were acknowledged lovers? I could finally give in to my want to get sappy because when I describe my male lead I imagine this guy’s goddamn smile?

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Well, turns out reality started to intrude on fiction. The post-declaration scenes did NOT fit no matter how much I wanted them to. Both my characters stopped behaving like they were supposed to because I insisted on lengthy pillow talk and ill-timed love confessions. My love for the idea of them being in love started draining all that was great about this idea. My focus went out the window. My writing came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, I started hating what I was scripting.

Insert panic mode.

Many WriMos experience this around this stretch. In all my years doing it, I only experienced this kind of story collapse once. My 2011 project fizzled at about 28K words. Why? Because I stopped caring about the plot and focused on lovey-dovey scenes. Romance, especially between characters I really love, takes over my brain until I can’t see straight. 2011’s story was beyond saving. 2015 is not going to follow suit.

To prevent this, I had to do something I never did before: cut scenes. I mean remove them from the manuscript. Keeping them present to maintain word count was out of the question. So rather than approaching 40K or 41K, I am back around 38K. I have spent the past two days sewing these scenes back together. The good news is my characters are back to who they’re supposed to be, the romance has been relegated to the backest of back burners, and my way ahead is clearing. This includes the introduction of a third character who will help them take down the Big Bad. Because let’s face it, I am asking WAY too much of just my two leads. There’s so much neither of them know. This third character will fill that role.

The good news here is all is not lost. I am still many days ahead, so reaching 50K is not an impossible task. It’s been a trying few days, but I have steadied my course. The story must go on. And so it shall.

Keep at it, WriMos! You got this!

 

NaNo: Day 17, AKA AND THE KICK IS GOOD!

Football puns, everyone. Be prepared for them.

Right. I am sitting at just over 38K right now. I’m in the second act (I think anyway), my characters are now acknowledged lovers and they’re more than ready to take down the Big Bad. Too bad this is going to be the highest they’ll ever be from a happiness perspective. The Big Bad is more than ready to drag you into a scandal that will deflate the living daylights out of your pigskins.

-insert collective groan-

I’m very happy with how things are going, even if some scenes fall flat or lack clear direction. I had to resist the want to go overboard with their first sex scene. I get it, me, you love these two. They’ve been wanting to love on each other since they met. Envisioning them in sappy scenes TOTALLY MAKES YOUR DAY since you modeled him after this adorably goofy guy.

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There’s something so damn endearing about his smile ugh don’t look at me

Still, there’s a few things I need to work on when I start editing in December. The biggest two are the male lead’s lack of flaws and the schizophrenic tech. The story takes place in the future on Earth’s first colony. The tech is anywhere between Blade Runner and Total Recall right now. I also would love it if this thing would tell me its title. I’d love to call it something other than NaNo 2015 draft or Untitled.

Hope everyone else is having a great NaNo! I know I am.

NaNo Day 11: Best Idea Ever

First of all, blessings to all the vets out there who fought the good fight. Part of me thinks we shouldn’t celebrate their accomplishments for one day or one month. It should be always. So thank you to the vets!

Onto the writing: I’m sitting pretty at just over 21K. Once again, I am thrilled to pieces with what’s been happening. I thought I lost focus for a moment in some scenes. I couldn’t seem to find my way to get Drew and Cassie past breakfast. I got over the hump, though. She was able to show some spirit by telling her asshole boss off. Drew is revealing his interest in her a little more with each smile and look. Cassie still doesn’t consider herself worthy. That will change soon enough.

Another thing about this story that has taken me by surprise is the interest it’s garnered. I’ve always had a small following for particular stories. Why was this one so different? Easy, according to my sister. She outright told me that all my previous ideas were trope-y and uninspired. She had no interest in them whatsoever. She felt I had confined myself to what I expected sci fi to be- aliens, space exploration, that sort of thing. And she’s right.

The main theme of my NaNo is about freeing oneself of complacency and preexisting expectations. It’s also a direct reflection of myself as a writer. Let’s be honest here: people are invested in human stories. It’s what allows us to connect with characters despite their origins, setting, race, gender, whatever. The sci fi I had originally planned to work on for NaNo? It wasn’t a human story. Sure, it had humans in it. But I was far more invested in the aliens. I loved Mass Effect so much I wanted to try to recreate it in this story. It didn’t work. I think I knew it wouldn’t work despite all the effort I put into crafting the characters.

Now I’d like to share with you what I consider the best paragraphs from the story. It was one of those EUREKA! moments where everything clicked. Enjoy! And keep up the good work, WriMos! Take every written word as a badge of accomplishment.

***

“But I can’t do it alone. I need your help, Cassie.”

I don’t think I’d ever gotten over hearing him use my name. But this little thrill paled in comparison to the enormous task he placed at my feet. It was bigger than naming me his agent in, what I saw now, as an act of desperation. My mouth went dry, my heart pounded in my chest. I was overcome by the want to put as much distance between me and this new reality as I could.

“What happens when they find out I know, too? I’d lose everything. Again.” My voice caught at this.

Drew evidently did not forget this, for his expression became sympathetic. “I’ve put you in an impossible position. I know that, and it tears me up here.” He touched his heart. “I don’t know if there’s anything I’ll ever be able to do to make up for it. But we can’t let them continue using us like this. It’s bad enough we’ve already let the League run everything else about our lives all because we felt we owed them that.”

His words struck a deep chord within me. Tears welled in my eyes as visions of derision, pity, and cruelty flooded my mind. I’d seen the best and the worst of what became of Beta Colony. I lived in the shadows of its ruin for years. Alone, overlooked, abandoned. I had become so accustomed to the treatment that I had turned numb. My only solace, and probably everyone’s, was to continue letting things be for the sake of normalcy. We idolized the League players when in truth their lives were much more closely guarded then ours. In truth, they were as much a prisoner of the League’s conduct as the rest of us. Complacency had made slaves of us all.

As I gazed up into Drew’s face and saw the conviction in his eyes, a jolt of energy coursed through me. Clubber’s destruction of my fake rookie card seemed a lighted match, and Drew’s entry into my life the trail of gunpowder leading to all the emotions I kept bottled in for so long. Inside, an explosion on par with the solar flare that ruined my life shook me from my complacency. Drew Thomas was no longer the star player on my favorite team, and I was no longer a fan. We had been reborn as conspirators and freedom fighters.

“When do we start?” I asked.

Relief shone in Drew’s eyes. The tension he had carried with him all night loosened its hold. His answering smile, relieved, comforted, lodged firmly into the corner of my heart. We had crossed the threshold of strangers to friends.

“Tomorrow.”