Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Five Days In....

...and I think I need a new keyboard.  Seriously.  It's making funny noises when I press some keys, like something inside is off and the keys are rubbing against each other.  I think I've had this thing for about eight years, so I'm fine with replacing it.

Because seriously, how awesome is it to be able to say I wrote so hard that I broke my keyboard?

So yes, the writing vacation is going well so far.  You have no idea - no, wait, most anyone reading this will also be a writer, so you have a very good idea how glad I am to be able to say that.  ^_^  I was, of course, nervous as hell when I first sat down on Saturday.  And not just because I was writing in the morning, which I almost never do.  Mostly because I get up for work early enough already and there's no way I'm rising at 4AM just to get in an early-morning writing session.

But as always, once I had my first sentence down, I knew what the next one was, and the next, and the next.  And ever since then, things have flowed pretty smoothly.  I'm pulling 2500+ words per session, and after ten sessions, I've hit 26584 words.  I have no idea how long this thing is going to be, but I'm about two sessions away from starting Act II on the beat sheet.  I have to admit, I wasn't sure if I'd get this far this week when I started.

Hell, considering how many times I've had a book crash and burn, I wasn't sure if I'd get this far at all when I started.

Since this is a first draft, of course, there are more than a few warts on the thing.  I need to rewrite most of a character's early dialogue and expressions, since I realized about twenty pages in that I'd been writing her wrong.  Character voice for both of the POV characters is going to need a lot of work, since I've never written as either of them before.  I'm also dealing with exposition, how much to have characters reveal as they're considering the situation and the people around them versus how much will be revealed later.

I'm also thinking that one character is just plain not weird enough.  But editing can fix anything, right?

It looks like I'll be able to finish this one, which is a relief.  Whether or not I'll feel like ever working with it again once it's done, I don't know, but at least I'll be able to make that decision about a finished product.  And if all goes well, I'll have the first draft done before the end of May.

The most interesting thing that's come out of this vacation so far is the sense of what it might be like to have writing as my full-time job.  Doing two shifts a day, sticking to that and making sure I produce . . . it's a good feeling.  Hopefully this will someday become a regular thing.

Next entry: IWSG, and a song most parents are probably sick of by now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

*anxiety intensifies*

As everyone around me knows (which, considering I live alone, consists of me and anything in the fridge that's achieved sentience), I start writing a new book in two and a half days.  And I'm nervous as all hell.

It's not just the jitters that come with starting a new project.  I've written ten novels, and started several others that I didn't finish, so I'm no stranger to that feeling.  It's not just the fear that this book will crash and burn.  I've had that happen enough that I can accept it if it happens, even though it sucks every single time.  And it's not the feeling that I don't know what I'm doing.  No matter how much I write, I'm pretty sure I still don't know what I'm doing, and I wonder if any writer really does.

I've given this a lot of thought over the past few weeks, and I think I've narrowed it down to what's really got the part of my brain that handles the writing (62% of said brain) in a vicious neural twist:

These characters are going to take my plot and run away with it.  And nothing I do will prevent that.

I'm a plotter.  When I try to write without a plot, the story turns to crap.  I have twelve single-spaced pages of plot for this book - not character notes, not setting notes, not random notes from when I first started, just the plot.  And I have this unshakeable feeling that once I'm past the first act, none of it will go according to plan, and I'll be left sitting here, staring at my screen, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do next.

Yes, my characters often do things I don't expect; I think a lot of writers have to deal with this.  (Though I did try to explain this concept to my supervisor this morning.  People who don't write make the weirdest expressions sometimes.)  But usually that happens while I'm writing, and I'm able to pull things back into my planned series of events.  I just can't shake the feeling that it won't work that way with this book.  And at the same time, I know I could be worrying about nothing, and there's no way to tell until I start writing.

I won't let this stop me.  But considering the main cast consists of a musclebound earth mage with a hero complex, a canny teleporting martial artist, a female-identifying adamantine wargolem, a paternal four-eyed goblin, and a piece of a chaos-bound character who's existed in my head since 1998, I know this is going to be a bizarre tale before I even start.

It seems the best I can do is embrace the chaos and see what happens.

Final note: many thanks to y'all for the query letter advice in my last entry.  I lopped off the last paragraph and shortened the rest of it as much as I could, and it's a much leaner and (I think) more compelling letter now.

Next entry will either be about being five days into the new book or incomprehensible babble about failure.  ^_^

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Query Check

Been busy with plotting and preparing this week, so no big revelations or topics for discussion for this entry.  Instead, I thought I'd share my query-in-progress for THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK, and see if I can get some feedback on it before I send it to the most horrifying place of all., not the actual querying process.  Query Shark.  *shudder*

Anyway, I'd appreciate any feedback y'all have to offer.  Thank you.

Shiloh Donovan dreams of a book only she can see.  She seeks it out, eager for answers, but opening the book frees a disembodied demon.  The demon awakens a terrible power within her, a warped and chaotic magic.  Shiloh turns this new power against the demon, and banishes it back into the book, but knows she’s in a great deal of trouble.  Demonic magic is forbidden in her homeland, under penalty of banishment or death.

On that same day, Shiloh meets Alexi RiLeon.  Alexi hails from a powerful merchant family, and has come to broker a deal with Shiloh’s father.  Shiloh is drawn to the dark-skinned beauty from first blush, but knows her feelings cannot be requited, as the deal involves Alexi marrying Shiloh’s older brother.

The two women make haste to Donovan Manor, where Shiloh’s parents reveal that she is adopted.  Shiloh’s birth parents were part of a cult that worshiped the demon who attacked her; they prepared Shiloh before birth to serve as the demon’s new body.  Now the cult has found her, and though she foiled their first attempt, they will stop at nothing to make her the demon’s vessel.

Shiloh takes a portal to her family’s safehouse.  Alexi joins her, to offer further protection.  But they are too late – the portal sends both women to a distant coastal city.  Shiloh realizes only demonic power could have changed the portal’s destination.  The cult has people in her house, and now she’s exactly where they want her.

Alexi believes they can hide in her desert homeland, so they seek passage on an airship.  She also tells Shiloh she wants to renegotiate the deal so she doesn’t have to marry Shiloh’s brother; Shiloh hopes this means she has a chance with Alexi.  But cultists come for them on the airship, and Shiloh’s new powers blaze out of control, sending the ship crashing down. . . .

THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK is a young adult fantasy novel of 95,000 words.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Writing Vacation.

No, not a vacation from writing, because that would be silly.  I'd have to actually have writing as my paying job to take a vacation from it, and even then, I don't know that I'd want to.  Gods know I'd still be coming up with new ideas whether I was trying to be on vacation or not.

Years ago, my work had this weird vacation time schedule.  The calendar for vacation time went from July to June, so you had to use up all your vacation time for that twelve-month period by the end of June, or you'd lose it all.  Lots of people took vacations in June, which should surprise no one.  But I ended up taking a few writing vacations, usually in March or April, since I had to use up the time.

I'd love to say something incredible came from those writing vacations, but the only thing of significance that happened was a story I tried so hard to tell and couldn't make work in three different versions I wrote across three years.  At least it had a cool title.

I'm thinking about doing this again at the end of this month.  I get nearly a month of vacation time every year, and with DragonCon in August and family time at Christmas the only time off I have planned for the year, that leaves me with a week to spare.  Of the two books I want to write this year, one is pretty much ready, the other nearly so.

Now, I know I blogged before about not wanting to start a book before I moved.  While I'm still trying to find a job in Seattle, I've come to accept the blunt-force-trauma-esque truth that getting a new job will take longer than I hoped.  I've always been an optimist, and I tend to think things will be much easier and take less time than they actually do.  (Don't knock it, it's this bullheaded optimism that's kept me trying to get published.)  So, in an effort to not let a huge chunk of the year pass me by while I'm being hopeful, I've decided to start a new book soon.

And go figure - while I was writing that last paragraph, my computer started playing a song about going on a journey.  That's what I get for naming this machine GLaDOS: a wonderful sense of ironic timing.

It's funny.  Now that I've actually written it down, I'm starting to look forward to this.  I'll be able to do a lot more writing on a vacation than I would otherwise; being able to do morning and evening shifts could get me as much as ten pages a day, if all goes well.  Being able to sleep in and stay up late will help too.  And there will be a lot of time to read and play video games, which is just good in general.  ^_^

So now, all that stands between me and the next book is getting the time off from work.  And preparing good writing food.  And polishing up both plots in case the first one crashes and burns and I have to start the second one in order to not waste the week.  And paralyzing insecurities.

And I need a title that doesn't spoil the whole damn story.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


No, this post is not brought to you by Nike.  It's brought to you by Awesome.  AWESOME: DISCOVER YOURS.

But seriously.  This entire post came to me a few minutes ago, as I sat down with a few pages' worth of story notes I scribbled down at work yesterday and today.  I've talked before about only getting my good ideas from my second attempt at plotting a story, and this set of notes was something bigger than that - this was my second attempt at defining the entire world the story takes place in.  And this new world brought a new story with it, one that sprang out of my head today, fully formed like Athena, with less spears and wisdom and owls and more dragons and necromancy and weird monsters.

So of course, because this is the Insecure Writer's Support Group and I belong here, I started to wonder.  Was I really going to go through this again?  Don't I already have enough plots in progress?  What if this one crashes and burns like so many others?  Do I really need to write this down?  Should I even bother?

I've never actually slapped myself and meant it, but I should have.

The answer to all those questions is, and always should be, YES.  As a writer, it's my duty, my calling, and eventually my job to explore all the stuff that comes out of my head.  It's not my place to filter what comes out, it's my place to write it all down, to get it out, to take that first step toward making it real.  The filtering can come later, when it's time to assemble the plot and make it work, when it's time to discover the characters and watch them make the story their own.  There's always time for asking the questions that lead to a good story.

But that time is not at the onset of creation.

So this is my message for IWSG: for everyone who's doubting their as-yet unformed or untold stories, stop.  Just write.  Pantsers, start going and don't worry about how it will end.  Plotters, make with your chosen method and see where it takes you.  The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work out.

It's not easy.  It's not meant to be easy.  But if you can cast away your doubt and just do it, just get your ass in the chair and write, it will be worlds better than keeping all that stuff in your head and wondering if it will work.  Because if you never get it out, you'll never know.

Now get to it.