Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Trip Through the Idea File, Part 2

Hello, all; happy nearly-the-end-of August.  It's especially happy for me because I'm headed off to DragonCon with some of my best friends in two days!  ...which means I'm frantically making sure I have everything set before the trip, not an easy task when I still have to work and plot and find time to relax and holy crap I need to get to bed soon.  O_O

So, in lieu of an actual entry, I'm going to take a bit from an earlier entry and grab a few interesting bits from my idea file to share with y'all.  These are presented without context or explanation, and especially without editing.  This is a brief glimpse into the inside of my head, or at least, what comes out of my head and gets formed into words.  I promise it'll be weird; I will do my best to keep it interesting.  Let's see...

"The knights find and awaken her, which unseals the great evil – her first words when she awakes are “You idiots”."

"All the past is only legends.  We didn’t rebel because we were now like them.  If you see a dragon, you’ve already lost.  The world is all theirs now, used to be ours but draconic magic changed everything."

"(Note that the slave must be of a species that has people who are also in the empire, showing that it’s not her race that makes her a slave, but her failure to submit.)"

"“How do you steal your own wedding?”"

"Then came the sound of someone knocking on all the doors in his apartment complex, and when he answered, a barbarian woman was there.  And she needed a ride."

"Not sure how the flying thing will happen, but I definitely want to still have her riding the bomb at the start of Act III."

"The magistrate’s daughter has ancient magical formulae tattooed onto herself in an attempt to both understand them and keep them from being lost again.  This will be significant and possibly life-saving at some point."

"At some point, this will involve a stolen gnomish magical autocannon."

And finally, this is from a specific story, but I think it could apply to most of the things I develop enough to start making into stories:

"This is crazy but it might work."

Hope everyone enjoyed this, or at least found it interesting.  :P  I'll be off for a long weekend of running around in costume and generally geeking out and staying up way, way too late.  Good times, of course; there's a reason we do this every year.  Bwa ha ha.

Next week: IWSG: When to Let Go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Plot Juggling

Before I get started, a quick thought on the comments from last week's entry:

With STARWIND mostly on pause until after the writing workshop, I'm back into plotting again.  I've spent the past few days working my way through the pile of yellow papers covered in scribbles that accumulated while I was editing the book.  There are a total of five different projects I have notes on, all in varying places in the process.

And dealing with this many plots at once is its own kind of highly variable hell.

I have a bunch of notes for a project that feels like it's a wash because I can't for the life of me figure out what the actual story is supposed to be.  Another idea might as well be directed by Michael Bay, as it feels like it's a lot of awesome things but no real substance.  A third could be interesting and unique or it could be just an excuse to try writing a poly relationship.  And the fourth is something I want to write so badly that having it not work out feels like something's going seriously wrong with my life.

The worst of that last one is that it started as something completely different.  I made up two sort-of secondary characters, and they swiftly took over the entire thing and said no, the story was about them.  And now I can't figure out what that story is.  I'm focusing on what needs to happen for these two, but it's like pulling teeth.  What's worse is that I can't help thinking anything that comes out of this plot will be yet another story of mine where I'm utterly fascinated with the characters and the way they interact but no one else gives a damn.  And I've written enough of those already - hell, I spent six months querying one.

The only good thing to come out of all the plotting is the sequel to STARWIND, which is coming along well.  I have an outline of the plot, notes on three new characters with more surely to come, and a scattering of events that need to take place over the course of the story.  I am incredibly thankful for this.  With everything else that's happening (or more precisely, not happening) with all the other plots, it's a huge relief to have something go right that could end up being quite important to have.

Especially if multiple sequential miracles occur and I actually get to do the seven-book series I have planned for this thing.

Next week: IWSG.  Depending on how the next week goes, it'll either be full of gushing encouragement or yet another bitter ramble.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

STARWIND Statistics

First of all: I'm sorry for not making it around to anyone's blogs for the past two weeks.  >_<  I've been ridiculously busy trying to get stuff done and half-melting from the heat (I though I left summers like this behind when I left Albuquerque), so... yeah.  I'll do my best to get back to it this weekend.

In better news, I finished the third round of editing on STARWIND on Sunday.  Yay!  Seeing as how I'm still a little worn out from the whole process and exhausted from work and my brain's otherwise busy feeding me stuff for books I might never get to write, I thought it would be interesting to run down some stats for the book.  Let's see...

First draft word count: 98,356
Current draft word count: 102,101
Chapter count: 26

Uses of the word "Starwind": 140
Uses of the word "gnome": 15
Uses of the word "fuck": 24

Characters wounded: 3
Characters killed: 3
Characters set on fire: 1
Characters whose names spellcheck hates: 9

Hugs: 5
Kisses: 14
Explosions: at least 2

Chekhov's Guns fired: 1
Actual guns fired by main characters: 0
Actual guns fired by everyone else: lots

Number of worlds visited: 7
Number of safe worlds visited: 3
Number of items required for the race: 5
Number of items required for the race the crew outright steals: 3

Fight scenes: 4
Bar scenes: 2
Bar fight scenes: 1
"Run like hell" scenes: 2

I think that's enough for now.  :P  I'm going to set the book aside for a week or so and finally take down all the plot notes I've scribbled over the past three weeks, then polish the hell out of this book in preparation for the writing workshop/cruise.  If all goes as planned with that, I'll have a bunch of people I don't know critiquing the first 2-3 chapters.  Wish me luck.  O_o

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Things All We Writers Know

A while back, I sent one of my co-workers a link to my pre-story for STARWIND, because we'd been chatting about books and stuff and she thought it sounded interesting.  She absolutely loved it, which was both awesome and kind of a relief, since showing my work to someone new is always nerve-wracking.  Yesterday, I sent her the link to STARWIND's first chapter.  While she hasn't had time to read it yet, the look on her face when she got it made my entire damn day.

It made me think, this is something I hope all writers know - what it's like to give a new story to someone who loves our stuff.  It's rewarding like nothing else, and makes a lot of the toil and trouble worth it.  And that got me to thinking, what are some other things all we writers know?

We all know what it's like to get rejected.  I'm not one for absolute truths, but I'm certain there's not a single writer out there who's never known rejection.  Unless they've never tried submitting their work, which seems a little like cheating.  :P

To go with that, I think we all know how personal rejection can feel.  It's never meant to be personal, but damn if it's not a kick in the teeth every time.  I know none of the agents I've submitted to actually hate me, but I've had moments where you'd have trouble convincing me of that.  >_<  Sometimes I can shrug it off, but sometimes I see the name of an agent I really wanted to work with show up in my inbox, and it's never been good news.

We all know what it's like to be unable to recall an idea we had.  And it's always a really good idea, sometimes one of those things you think of right as you're trying to go to sleep, and damn it that could have been an entire book right there. . . .  I've crawled out of bed to write things down before, and I'm sure I will again.

I hope we all know what it's like to reread our work and recognize that we absolutely nailed a scene, or a moment, or an emotion, or (if we're really good) an entire chapter.  I've had that a few times while editing STARWIND, and it makes me smile.  No matter how many things I cross out and scribble over with changes, it's always good to read something and think, no, I got this right the first time.

And to go with that, I think most if not all of us know what it's like to read our own notes and wonder what the hell we were talking about.  I've had times where I can't read what I wrote because I crossed it out three times.  Or when I just write "fix this", because I can tell it needs something more than just a few different words.  I need to switch that to "fix this with _____" and fill in the blank with something useful.

I'm dead certain that we all know what it's like to try to find someone who wants to read our work.  I worry about this because the stuff I'm working on is getting progressively weirder and I never know if what I'm writing will be to anyone's tastes, let alone a beta-reader.  I am so grateful to have four people who've already volunteered to read STARWIND.  ^_^

Speaking of which: I'm delaying the STARWIND beta read until September or October, after I get back from the writing workshop/cruise.  I didn't feel right giving my betas a deadline, and hopefully I'll learn some things at the workshop to make the book even better.

So, as always, your turn.  What are the things you think all we writers know?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Rejecting Yourself

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  This is also something I've been doing for many, many years.

I have a line I tell people when someone new asks me about my writing.  "I've written fifteen books," I'll say, followed immediately by "Don't be too impressed; most of them sucked."  The joke makes it easy to hide my frustration at spending so much of my life trying to make the one thing I want most happen and getting nowhere.  But there's another side to it, one I didn't realize until I found the above tweet from Mr. Wendig.

By saying that most of what I've written sucks, I'm rejecting myself.  And this has probably kept me from getting anywhere with my writing more than anything else I've done.

Out of those fifteen books, at least five of them I've never shown to anyone.  Books I trunked as soon as I wrote the last sentence, or reread after a month or two and decided they didn't work, or any of a number of other reasons.  And all but one of the rest are stories I gave up on at one point or another.  Maybe I lost faith in them, or got some less-than-positive feedback and decided they sucked, so on and so forth.  There are good reasons to let books go, I think; querying BoLR for six months and ~100 agents showed me that, no, this thing was not going to happen.  But that's the farthest I've gone with any book.

Because there's always a point where I just plain give up.  Where I decide that no, this isn't worth it, this isn't good enough.  I can do better on the next book, I tell myself.  And so I start the same process all over again.

Part of the problem with this is that it makes it much easier to quit and start something new.  Hell, I've had to convince myself multiple times to keep going with STARWIND at least far enough to get it to readers, rather than just shrug it off as another failure and try again.  Getting rejected so many times makes it a lot easier to start doing it to myself.

And as much as I know that won't get me anywhere, it's very hard to stop.

I don't know of any good way to fight against this.  There's only so much positivity I can try to generate, and my reserves of that have been growing lower and lower over the years.  Stubbornness works sometimes, but it's far too easy to slip from that into grumpiness, and that does no good.  Tenacity seems like all I have left sometimes, but even that coin has two sides - "Keep trying with this book" easily flips over to "Try again with a new one".

Thus, we've reached the part where I ask for advice.  Have the rest of y'all dealt with this sort of thing?  How do you handle it?  And how did you overcome it?