Sunday, October 31, 2010

Second Thoughts

This was totally supposed to be posted yesterday, but when I logged on my computer today there it was, still in the 'create a new post' window.  Oops.

Sorry for not updating yesterday... got busy with headaches and birthdays, which after thought might've made a better blog title.  Oh well.  I watched the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear this morning, and I was very happy with it, especially Stewart's speech at the end of the rally (here).  I went immediately from watching it on my couch to going out and canvassing neighborhoods with my fiance, who is a volunteer for Jon Hulbard for congress.  I feel like I've done my part for the day.  The rally was, I believe, a huge success, and I really hope that it just makes people think a bit more than they did yesterday, and realize that we are not, as Jon Stewart said, living in cable TV.  Cable television should not influence us as much as it does, and if ever we disagree with the opinions shown in myriad news networks, we can always simply change the channel.

About the book, today I finished reading the final 250 pages, and it gets so much better at the end!  Just... just so much better.  The plot, the story, the writing, everything about it, and I attribute that to when I started writing every day.  Practice, any practice, helps.  Writing blog posts helps me write novels.  Writing papers helps me write novels.  Writing novels especially helps me write novels.  If my writing improved so drastically over the course of one book, I'm very excited to read my dungeon crawl.  That's the most recent example of my writing, other than a scene I turned in for class, which when I reread it I was surprised at how tight and cohesive the writing was. 

One last thing, and then I'm out for tonight...  I met with some of my fellow Glendale NaNaWriMo writers last night at bookmans, and it was a lot of fun!  They had an exercise where you wrote your plot and everyone else wrote a twist on that plot, and that was the only thing that was a little less than fun...  I consider myself, at this point, a novelist, and I have a novel plotted out for NaNo.  I'm not one of those people that's going to be stuck wondering how ever will I come up with 50,000 words.  I already have my plot, my characters, my story.  It's the difference, and I hope no one takes this personally, between a professional and a hobbyist.  I get the idea that some of these NaNo writers only write for one month out of the year, and that's November.  I've been writing since last November, and I'll tell you what, I wrote a heck of a lot more than 50k words last month.  I'm not trying to diminish the efforts of anyone trying to write 50k words in one month.  It's a very heroic effort, especially if you don't write during the year other than that.  It just feels to me that I'm writing a novel - something that I can polish and send to publishers, while others are just looking to write anything that comes to mind, as long as it totals 50k words.  That, to me, is not a novel.

Disagree?  Please, leave a comment.  I welcome other opinions, and if I have erred in some way, I want at least the chance to fix it.  Thank you, as always, for stopping by my little corner of the internet, and I hope you're all having wonderful nights, and continue to do so tomorrow night on Halloween.  Be safe, and thank you!  See you Monday. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First Thoughts

So I read the first two hundred pages last night.  First thoughts?  I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing.  I don't remember using some of the phrasing I used, and some of it is really pretty good.  I like a lot of the lines I used.  I don't remember any off the top of my head, and I really don't have the arrogance to quote myself, but trust me =P I was surprised at how effective some of my phrasing is.  Also, even though the story was continually changing, I can see how easily I can change what came before it to fit with what was newly defined as the truth.  My rough draft reads like some really bad books I've read, honestly.  Which means two things - those people were good enough to get published, and so am I, and that it needs a lot of work.  Like, a lot of work.

The negatives?  My story is going by way too fast.  These characters are spilling their life stories after a few days of knowing each other, and while that makes sense in the context of my story, it just reads like it's going by way too fast.  I have eight main characters, a rather ambitious undertaking for a first time novelist, and now only that but each character has at least two chapters to themselves.  That number needs to be a lot higher to do the things I'm trying to do.  I need - and I hate to say it, because my fiance tells me this all the time - to iceberg it a little.  I just got to Gwenye's first chapter, and in her head she's telling us everything about how she feels, more of the past that I really need to reveal right then.  It's 200 pages in, sure, but it feels too soon.  Like, maybe a book too soon.  I don't know, is that a dangerous thought?  My book is currently just over 100k words, and I'm thinking, to make it effective, I need to double that.  There's probably a better way to do it, and I need to find it before I start editing.  I'm reading, and it feels like this is only an outline, the building blocks for a story that hasn't been written yet.  Maybe if I pick only a couple of characters this first time around, and save the others for the second and the third books?  I don't know if I need to just scrap this shifting point of view thing completely and start over. 

I'm still in the middle of reading the thing, so we'll see what I think of the next chapters and the ending, but for the first half I think it's going by way too fast.  It's the middle of the book, they're supposed to be on a journey that's going to take them at least a month, and they're only three or four days in by page 211.  That's a problem that needs to be fixed, and I'm really hoping it isn't by adding more words.  What is it, fantasy novels are very hard to sell over 120k?  I would believe it.  Maybe I just need to learn how to tell my story effectively within that restriction.  I'll try to finish it tonight, and I'll post my final thoughts about the story itself tomorrow, before I start actually going in and making changes. 

It's going to be a good time, folks!  I hope you're all having great mornings, and are about to have great afternoons.  See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, 2/3!

That's two out of three in the title, if it's hard to tell, but I'm not going to change it. Finished my second book this year last night, coming in at a respectable 58,308 words. It was finished exactly a month after my first. I started off at 11k, so I only wrote 47k for the book in the last 30 days, but add to that my short stories, my blog posts, and I'm closer to 60, 65 thousand words for the last thirty days. Puts me in a pretty good spot for NaNo, doesn't it? I don't have my word count journal right in front of me, which is probably a blessing for you readers, who don't have to listen to me regale you again and again with numbers you probably don't care about.

Second book under my belt, and it feels a lot different than the first. The first was much more of a labor of love, I guess, and my dungeon crawl was a pet project. My epic fantasy had a sadder ending, at least for me, just because of the fact that it was over. I have over a hundred pages of notes, it took ten months to finish, even though most of that time I was going about it very slowly. Long before my 10k word weeks.  I also wrote a great deal of it out by hand, at least 80 thousand words of it.  It takes up three notebooks, with notes.  I'm getting excited to write the second one, but I think I might be over that stage of writing by hand.  It's so much easier to write it on the computer and be done with it, but it takes away that chance at a brief first edit as I transcribe it.  I don't know, pros and cons.  My dungeon crawl (tentative title The Eye of Agras, what do you think?) was written entirely on computer, and I was so jazzed to write the first fifty pages I wrote about ten thousand words in three days, a feat I haven't managed to duplicate since.  Also, I'm realizing that after a certain point, let's say, next month when I finish my NaNo book, people will start expecting me to be cranking out novels once a month, and I might not get the kind of 'congratulations' that I expected when I finished the first one.  Sure, I may make it look easy (excuse me, my hubris is showing) but that doesn't mean I don't struggle daily to tell this story.  Maybe I need more writer friends.  

Also, do you know what day it is?  That's right, it's the 27th!  Time to read and start editing my first book!  I'm really very excited.  I won't get a chance today, because I have to close tonight at work and I have school up until then, but maybe tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, definitely Friday.  The editing process!  I have never, ever ever read my own book.  This will be a first for me, I will never get another chance to read one of my own books for the first time.  It will be a learning experience, I'm hoping.  If it's a total failure in my eyes, it's good to learn that now, so I can start fixing the problems I see in my writing.  After the editing (No idea when that will be, with NaNo, maybe January?  February, at the latest?) I can send copies to friends, get their input, and start making the book even better.  I just cannot tell you how exciting this is for me.  I'm nervous, and anxious, but mostly just... invigorated.  I can't wait.  I'm also looking forward to recording here what I think of the story, the characters, the writing...  I've always been a reader, and a prolific one, though that's faded somewhat with my new writing habit.  How will I read my own words?  What style do I have that I don't even know about?  Sometime in the next few days, folks, I'll know, and shortly thereafter, so will you!

I hope everyone is having as fantastic of a day as I'm having.  Write well, plan your novels carefully (if that's your thing) and just... just be happy.  Life is beautiful, and being alive is the greatest gift that was ever given to us.  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Almost, Not Quite

I was going to finish my book last night. I really was! I was trucking along, typing frantically, getting to the end, when the virus that's been plaguing me and mine decided to shut down Word, killing and eating my last forty minutes of work. =( <-- sad Lee. I hate it, HATE IT when that happens. The way I write something is the way I want it written, and having to go back and try to recapture those same words... Frustrating. My word count ended up being much lower than the actual words I put on paper, just because I didn't check to see where I was when Word crashed unexpectedly and I didn't want to artificially inflate my count. Blegh.

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo, in that I've been thinking that I need to start world building, and going over the synopsis that I have for the first three chapters to iron out my plot. Also working on my sci-fi short story, might do a bit more of that tonight. Not much is going on with me, it seems. Might not get a chance to read the book tomorrow, even though it's the one month anniversary, should probably get a chance to do that on Thursday, and then trust me, I'll have something to talk about. It'll either be, 'oh dear God, why did I write this?' or, 'hey, this isn't so bad.'m If it's the former I might retire my blogging career earlier than I expected... Just kidding. You're stuck with me.

Sorry I don't have anything of importance to say today... Get ready for NaNo, all of you out there who are writers, and the rest of you have a great evening, and a wonderful day tomorrow =)

Monday, October 25, 2010


Not a very creative title, I know, but they're scurrying across my desk as I'm typing.  Where are they coming from?  I have no idea.  Lessons learned?  Don't eat at my desk.  There was only one there yesterday, but as you all know, there is never only one ant.  This is a mantra that is stuck in my head more often than I would care to admit, usually whenever I see an ant.  I know, I’m creative.  Some phrases are like that, and now that I’m trying to think of one I can’t, as is often the case with any anecdotal evidence I try to provide – you probably know what I’m talking about.  Little phrases, strings of words attached to verbs or nouns that you come across in daily life, little catchphrases, if you will, but only in your mind. 

Words are delightful, aren’t they?  The reason we write, to play with words?  I was having a conversation with a friend about how we think, us two, and she was astonished to hear that I think in words.  Not pictures, not usually, it takes a lot of effort for me to picture something in my mind – well, okay, not a lot of effort, but it doesn’t come naturally.  I think in words, black typeface on a white background, a lot of the time I spell each word mentally as I think it.  Or I get stuck on words, a little loop, before my brain can keep going.  Huh, I think.  That’s interesting.  I-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g.  Interesting.  I-n-t-e-r?  T-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g.  T-e-r-e-s-t.  Rearranged, that could be T-e-s-e-r-e-t.  That might be a good name, I should write that down somewhere.  Sound strange?  Good, because whenever it happens I feel like a crazy person.  I came up with a name, Latricera, originally Laptricera, until my fiancé mentioned that it was a little too much of a mouthful, by thinking of what words the suffix ‘-tops’ is affixed to.  Laptops (have you ever thought about how strange of a word that is?  Taken letter by letter?  Say it to yourself.  Again.  Again.  Until it loses all meaning.).  Triceratops.  Huh, Laptricera.  That’s a cool name, I should write that down somewhere.  ß Most of my daily reflections, folks.  “I should write that down” is going to be emblazoned on my headstone.  That or ‘oops’.

Sorry for the lack of an update on Friday, I was just as tired then as I was Thursday evening when I posted.  Not much new to report, really.  Almost done with the new book, still untitled, by the way.  Going to finish that up either tonight or tomorrow, just in time for the one month anniversary of finishing my epic fantasy.  Then it’s going to be me, my manuscript, a couple of days and a couple of red pens.  I’m totally psyched!  And yes, I was growing up in the nineties, what gave me away?  I’m really trying to get a science fiction collaboration going between a group of my friends, I’ve decided my first story is going to be about the first major act of aggression that ended up starting the Earth Peoples’ Republic of China rebellion, both in the colonies and back on earth.  I might be more excited to reference this later than to actually write this part of it…  Oh well.  It’ll be fun either way.  Then, after I finish the book, I have a couple days of some serious editing of my EF and world building for my NaNoWriMo story.  Woo Hoo!  If only I didn’t have to work, my life would be even more awesome.    

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  If anyone out there cares to follow my word counts once November starts, this is the place to do it.  I’ll post that a couple more times on here between now and November 30th, so don’t stress if you don’t click it now.  It’s not that interesting yet anyway.  See you all tomorrow!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Collaborative Efforts

I am exhausted tonight, so this isn't going to be much of a post, I apologize in advance.  For some reason or another I have not been able to get enough sleep this week.  Tomorrow, sleeping in is definitely something I'm going to be doing.  I was just thinking about collaboration, specifically about many authors working on one project, or different stories set in the same world.  I have a wonderful teacher in one of my classes, my history of Science Fiction class.  He was talking one day about this very concept, about a group of sci-fi authors creating a universe, and all of those stories having a place inside that universe.  Myself, my fiancé, and one of our friends made up our own universe today - think a setting a bit like colonial earth.  I'm excited to be writing short stories, as I plan to write quite a few inside of this universe.  It doesn't take me too long to write one, either, less than two hours' work for a substantial idea.  I'm thinking about writing more short stories and trying to get them published.  I am absolutely a better writer now than I was at the beginning of all this, when I started writing  my novel last year.  My short story writing abilities have improved as well, if this story is any indication.  We each have a short story 'due' by the time we get together at Borders this Sunday.  I'm excited to see what they come up with.  I'm excited to see what I come up with too!

Have any of you out there started and completed a collaborative effort?  How did it go?  What did you learn?  If you have any fun stories, or warnings, feel free to post.  I hope everyone is having a great night =)  See you tomorrow.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tired and Title-less

So tired.  I hate Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  I work late both days, and I don't have time to write at night, or the desire to write in the mornings...  Some people say they write wonderfully while tired.  They say it gives them a chance to write without the benefit of self-censorship, giving themselves a more free experience of letting their creative sides take over.  I call bullshit!  How can you concentrate?  I'm trying to write and my fingers can't find the keys and I don't want to press backspace when I make a typo because it feels like too much effort.  I left the house this morning without having a cup of tea and I am zonked.  I was going to get some at school, but it costs money at school, and it was raining, and blah blah excuse excuse...  /rant.

Not much to say, or report, I guess.  Gearing up for NaNoWriMo, wondering how much world building I have to do for my new story, if any, and thinking about the genre.  I'm awful at genres.  It's kind of a science fiction horror survival, and I don't know if it has elements of fantasy in it or not...  It's about a little girl whose parents are both eminent scientists in their fields, and so their daughter comes with them on a scientific expedition to a frozen island where there exists a material that is quite possibly the solution for the energy crisis.  And then, after all that back story, scary things start happening - imagine the beginning of a video game.  Oh no, the grid went down!  We should probably send a team out to investigate!  Oh no, where did everyone go?  The island has a secret, the scientists probably have a secret... I put it on my NaNo page as 'Lost meets Lovecraft', and I think that fits it pretty well.  My only hope to escape a terribly cliched story is the fact that I have a little girl as my protagonist.  I have the first three chapters outlined, but I don't know how much of a sci-fi story I want vs. fantasy.  Probably more science fiction, my first two books are fantasy and I don't want to get typecast, so I need to come up with the back story that will make it more scientific than fantastical...    

Still working on my dungeon crawl, which is still unnamed, as is my epic fantasy story.  Hey, there's a topic.  Names.  At what point in writing do you give your work in progress a name?  I usually refer to my WIPs my acronym, for example DC for my dungeon crawl, EF for my epic fantasy.  I have pages of names for my fantasy, because the book has been done now for close to a month, and it's about time.  But nothing I come up with fits.  I've played with languages, random generators, and I don't have a clue what I'm going to call this thing.  I mean, it needs a name, right?  I can't imagine sending this off to a publisher as 'Epic Fantasy 1' - it'll get tossed out without a second look.  My dungeon crawl needs a name, too, but mostly because I have plans for some spiritual sequels, more of a serial underlying idea, whereas my EF is a trilogy.  No idea what to call it. 

How do you do it?  Where does the title come into play?  I even had trouble naming this blog, I had to dig through my notebook for ideas, I made up words, I played around with my name, I used random generators...  naming things is not one of my strong suits.  Characters, either.  Random generators all the way, or, my favorite, playing with a word, backwards, forwards, taking out a letter or adding a letter, until it's a fun new word.  I love words, I just can't love one enough to stick with it.          

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Days Just Flow

So, to be honest, I've been having a little bit of trouble keeping up with my word count.  Still hitting it, but often in the 11th hour, managing 2500 words on Sunday, being way behind on my midweek check-in.  I've been talking a little bit about running out of steam recently, about losing this focus I've found, and when last week I didn't have a 4k word day I was getting a little worried.  A 4k word day is a glorious event where I write above and beyond my prerequisite two thousand words, and I was having at least one a week, up until last week.  Oh no, I thought.  Maybe I'm just forcing this story.  Maybe I'm not having as much fun with it as I was in the beginning.  I wasn't going to give it up, but I didn't want the remaining week or so with this thing to be a drag, either.  So wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, last night was a 4k word night.

And do you know what I think the problem was?  In chapter seven, Perrad split off from the others, going to the city alone and giving the others just enough of his supplies that they could find their own way back to the surface.  Going to the city.  Alone.  I've been starving for dialogue for 15k words!  Three long chapters with no one to talk to, no dialogue to write, just page after page of description, as much action as I could stomach, and not much else.  A lot of internal monologuing, you know what I'm talking about.  Last night Rhaes and Kail came back in what I hope isn't too much of a plot convenience, and last night just flowed.  It was wonderful.  I could have gone on indefinitely, but by then it was two in the morning and I was running off of five hours of sleep the night before.  It was really a good writing night.  The last couple of chapters weren't too well planned, either, and are probably going to need some heavy editing, but I've been planning this chapter in my head for months, and I know what needs to happen exactly when, and even if I have some trouble with that I have three strong characters that can make something up while I figure out where the hell I'm going with it.

When I say I've been having trouble I'm being a little dramatic... I've still been hitting 10k words, which is my goal, so I really don't know what I'm freaking out about.  Heck, the week before last I had another six thousand words above and beyond my goal, so I really don't know what I'm being so pessimistic about.  Or why I'm being pessimistic at all.  Must be in my nature to worry, which would make a lot of sense... I had hoped I hadn't gotten any of those traits from my mother, but oh well.  What else do some of you stress out about, maybe in terms of character development, or plot?  What are the little things that worry you when in all reality you're doing just fine?  I'm prepping for NaNoWriMo, too, and that might be what's really jacking up my negative perception.  If I'm only writing 10k words a week now, I'm really going to have to step it up in November.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Joy of Creation

I carry a notebook on me at all times.  Hell, I usually carry more than one.  I have two in my purse, one in my school bag dedicated only to snippets of ideas and stories, and one by my computer, along with my word count journal (13,508 last week, including these blog posts, which I have decided are work).  If you don't do this, you need to.  Yesterday I was hanging out at Borders at our weekly get together (I write, my fiancé draws, and our friend who plays saxophone plays in the cafe for tips) and took a look at just a few ideas that I had written down, rather haphazardly.  The name, Latricera, which I had created while playing with words, another thing you really have to do if you're going to be a writer, the phrase "for the sake of having something tangible", "parts of the house/ship losing power", and "speakeasies".  Looking at all of the ideas together, I saw a mess of random parts, interesting in of themselves, but is there a story there?  This is what I came up with:

The ship Latricera.  Far in the future, the ship gives the reality at all times, like a permanent holodeck.  To escape this escapism, some members of the crew turn to drugs and alcohol (hidden on the ship), just for the sake of having something real, tangible, even if it is just the way they feel or think.  Then parts of the ship start losing power, and the crew realizes how much they need the lies the ship provides for them.

Not a perfect idea, also not a fully formed one, but while doing a little bit of free writing today I came up with the captain of the ship, Not Adlay, and the idea of the illusionary aspects of the ship being either real or false, depending on if you think that our drug-addled captain is a reliable narrator or not - especially because no one else on the ship ends up seeing what she sees.  Again, I still have to tweak it, but I really think I have a workable story here, and one that I never would have come up with if I hadn't had a notebook handy to write such brief sketches of ideas.  I'm already swamped under other projects, but this one (tentatively titled Woe
 of the Latricera, or Escape Aboard the Latricera - which my fiancé thinks makes it sound like a star trek episode) is definitely something I will come back to in the future.  And that makes me feel GREAT!  Creating, even if it's just putting together already formed scraps and bits and pieces to make a literary Frankenstein, is such a wonder that I hope I will never run out of ideas.  That's the best part, far beyond writing it, far beyond watching the story unfold under your fingertips, is watching it grow from nothing into something.  It's enough to make me wish that I didn't have anything going on right now, so I could start taking pages and pages of notes, in preparation for writing it. 

So, how do you come up with ideas?  Where do the stories come from?  This is my general method of finding a story, what's yours?  It's great to be back, I had a very productive weekend, tell me about yours!  Hope everyone is safe out there, see you tomorrow.    

Friday, October 15, 2010


Do you listen to music when you write?  How big of a part does music play in your creation of worlds and stories?  I ask, because I've found that I keep a continuous playlist of songs.  I have Pandora, and I even spent the $36 to upgrade to Pandora One (not a total loss, because my fiancé has effectively taken over my account, and good for him for doing so), but what I really do is keep about four or five tabs open on youtube songs, and cycle between them.  I even keep a list of what I'm listening to on certain weeks, so it's not an entire book playlist (like Stephanie Meyer keeps), it's more on a chapter by chapter basis.  This week, for example, I've been listening to Istanbul by They Might Be Giants, Jupiter by Holst, and Teardrop by Massive Attack (from where the House theme song was taken).  I adapt throughout the week, closing one tab and opening another, but always cycling through no more than five songs.

That may be just me, though.  Once I find a song I like, I listen to it until the very thought of it makes me sick (some good examples include Reise, Reise from Rammstien, and Mexican Radio by Authority Zero).  I once listened to Jupiter for an entire eight hour bus ride from Riverside California back to Phoenix.  When I went to Europe for two weeks, I forgot every single CD (back in those days) I owned except for Franz Fedinand's first album, and I was fine with that.

 I used to listen to Pandora all the time, and I had a couple of different stations that I went back and forth between, until I realized that they were all the same station, thinly disguised.  So I have chapter playlists, that I can go back and see what songs I was listening to that week that I wrote that chapter, or two chapters.  How does music influence your writing, if at all?  Do you listen to music, have a specific Pandora station, work in silence?  Is the only music you need the sharp staccato of the keys as you write your masterpiece?  Leave a comment, let me know.  I'm curious how other writers incorporate music - or don't incorporate music - into their writing.

I'm out for the next couple of days, but I'll see you all on Monday!  Have a great weekend!     


In one of my classes we've been talking about personality tests.  Specifically, the Enneagram Test.  We took this test in class, and if you go to the website and take the test you'll see all the different personalities: the peacemaker, the investigator, and a full list of who they do and don't get along with, even how personality traits would come through between two types.  It's a fun and interesting thing to look up, even if you don't believe that every person fits into one of these specialized 'types'.  My communications teacher says that everyone should know themselves, and reminds us that these types aren't us, they're just the software that our brain is using.  Like I said, interesting to think about.  But why bring it up?

I don't think that a lot of character building exercises are worth while, simply because a lot of them ask what your characters' favorites are, what they wear, childhood memories... Things that can be very helpful, but they have a sort of cookie cutter aspect to them.  I think that a personality type, especially if seen for the framework of why a character behaves the way they do, can be a very powerful tool.  Make your character a 6, or a loyalist - "The committed, security oriented type".  These kinds of people often want to hang on to relationships, "running on stress while depending on it", they're also the kind of people loyal to beliefs or systems, but this can carry over to revolutionary or anti-establishment tendencies.

And boom, you've got the bare bones of a character.  In a fantasy story, this may be a loyal advisor who believes that the king isn't doing everything he could to protect the kingdom, and he believes that he is the only one who can save the land he loves.  Maybe this is the revolutionary who knows that she's the only one who can make her city safe, and so joins forces with those she was fighting against.  Maybe this is only evidenced by his unwillingness to leave a lover, even though the passion is long gone.  The feeling of a security blanket of a person is a very six trait.  Anyway.

I'm planning on using this, not to figure out how I should create my characters, but to figure out what kind of types my characters already are, and then see why they do the things that they do.  I love my characters, and I think that knowing their personalities will just help me get to know them a little better.  And again, this is if you believe that every person is in general one personality type over another, and even which of the personality types you subscribe to.  But it's still pretty interesting.  Hope you're all having a nice night.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Short Stories

Hi there.  I just got some pretty fantastic feedback for the short story that I told you all about, the creatures trying to find God through manipulation of the human soul, so that's going to be a lot of fun to rewrite.  My fiction writing teacher gave me some wonderful ideas to make it stronger, even though it is such an abstract piece, with the main characters not being human, or anything close to human.  I have to ground it somewhere, make it relate to us somehow, with imagery, vivid descriptions of earth as a human would understand it.  She says it's a very ambitious piece, and even though she says I can pull it off, I have my doubts...  But I really have my doubts about everything I write, including my novel and my current novella-in-progress.  I wonder if I'll ever break through that.  Maybe, someday, if I achieve publication and start writing as a career, as I plan to in my wildest dreams, I can write a short story or an outline or a novel and think, 'hey, this is pretty good.'  I'm not there yet, obviously, but I wish I was...  How wonderful it must be, to know exactly how good you are, to not have to rely on the words of others - either positive or negative.

I'm sure many of you out there are like me.  Writers, lifetime writers, and everyone that has ever seen your work has complimented it without fail, and told you that you were talented, until you almost started to believe it.  No one ever really told me that I needed to make anything that I wrote better, except my dad (speaking of you, Dad, welcome to my blog!  If any of the rest of you see a strange commenter taking potshots at my mother, now you know why.  The rest of you have no such immunity, so don't even try.).  The only other person that pushed me to revise and rewrite anyway, regardless of what others said, was me.  Because I simply didn't believe them when they said that I was so wonderful, my writing so perfect.  I'm I can't tell you how glad I am that I didn't.  Everyone needs to be able to revise.  Everyone needs to know that their writing can improve.  I always know that no matter how good I think something is, it can be better.  But to paraphrase Clive Barker, only up until a certain point - then you'll only make it different.  But I'm not there yet.  I'm still where my writing is maybe a six, or a seven, and I have a lot of natural talent, but man, how can I give up and stay a seven when I have a ten to shoot for?

I hope you're all shooting for tens too!  I also hope that you have someone in your life trying to improve you, either through writing, or someone that just makes you want to be a better person.  They're your anchors in this tumultuous world, don't let them go.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful evening, and I'll see you tomorrow =)  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Write

At dinner the other night with my fiancé, he asked me how I write.  He's a very talented man: a writer, an artist, a cartoonist, he just has the gift of being good at everything he does.  And yes, that is a biased opinion, but it also has a lot of truth to it.  But my fiancé has not finished a book, and I have.  His work is very good, and when he does write even his first drafts are very well crafted, in fact, he may be a better writer than I am, in terms of talent, and story, and that natural quality that gives a story that additional 'oomph'.  But he gets discouraged and quits before he has anything really done.  And that's what makes me a novelist, and him a writer.  So how do I do it?  I talked a little yesterday about 'turning it on', not taking no for an answer, how easy it is to just do something instead of doing nothing.  But to tell you the truth, it isn't that easy.  It's easy to write, it's hard to get into the right mindset.
The internet and blogs and forums have given us opportunities to share our work at every stage of the life of your story, but should you?  Musicians can create music together, artists can create art together, but when you write, you write alone.  I firmly believe that writing should only be shared when it is as good as you can get it without help.  There are people who share rough drafts with everyone they know who they know will praise their work, tell them they're amazing.  There are writers who really believe that they're a wonderful writer, and they have all these grand plans about series they'll write, and characters that they think are the next best thing to Hamlet, and they have dozens of files on their computer that are false starts, thirty or fifty pages of a novel that they got bored of as soon as they got another idea.  I don't think you can write a novel like this.  I don't think you can write an entire book without being dedicated to one idea or another.  Maybe your motivation is the feeling you think you'll feel when you become a published author, maybe it's the money - although I wouldn't count on that - maybe it's the recognition you'll get from your peers.  But it requires dedication, and I personally think that the more you share your work when it's new and faulty the less likely you'll be to continue working on it, having gotten whatever reaction you were looking for.  

Not everyone can do this.  I think it takes a very special kind of crazy to be a writer, a kind of crazy that my fiancé just doesn't have.  He's perfectly capable of finishing a novel, or a story, or anything else he puts his mind to - he just doesn't have the dedication, the drive, the idea of purpose.  And I'm not saying that I do, all the time.  Just often enough to make it worth it, to drive me that special kind of crazy just long enough to get the job done, and there's that easy part I was talking about yesterday.  It's easy, once you know where you're going.  Getting there requires something a little extra.  Maybe it's the IDEA, the one that you know you were born to write.  Maybe it's an incentive.  Or maybe your eyes have been opened to writing for years, and you just didn't think you had the talent, or the time.  You do.  If you can finish a book, then you have so much more going for you than talent.  You have drive.

So how do I write?  In increments, mostly.  

And sorry - again - for the rambling post.  I'm trying to turn this into a cohesive idea from its precious incarnation of a writing diary of sorts, with mixed success.  I appreciate everyone who has found this from one place or another on the internet, I wish more of you would leave comments (hint hint) but I'm satisfied with page views for now.  For now, I tell you.  I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with a more condensed idea of where I was going with this tonight.  Thank you all.     

Monday, October 11, 2010

Diversion 1

     Just to break away from writing for a little bit, because honestly?  Real life greatly influences art.  Art imitates life, if you believe that and not its counterpart life imitates art.  I just bought a new car, a 2002 Isuzu Rodeo.  The next Tuesday, Glendale had a storm to beat all storms, it had the works!  Rain, hail, fallen trees, I still have a bruise on my leg the size of a pear from when I tried to hide under a tree from the hail and it didn't work.  Like, at all.  I managed to hide out in the GCC library until it was over, drove home, got to work, etc.  And don't worry, I am a writer first - I took lots of notes.  The next day, I looked at my car.  It looked like I had driven through a driving range.  I finally get an appointment with an insurance claims adjuster (or something?  I wasn't really sure what was going on) who tells me that my car is effectively 'totaled'.  Total loss.  Brand new car (to me), cheap, low mileage, and immaculate, and my insurance says it's ruined.  Bummer.  Not a total loss for me, even if it might be for the insurance company and my car, because I learned a few things, and learning through life experience is priceless.  Things come and go, it's a fact of life, but learning is the reason we're here, I firmly believe this.  And hey, if I ever need to write a story about a poor, novelist college kid and the car that got away, I've got my notes.

     Back to writing.  The new book is going well, at just about 35k words out of a possible 50k, I should be done with it by the end of the month (I know I keep saying this.  I can't help it).  I managed to write my 10k words last week, ending last night, which is my absolute weekly goal.  Perrad has finally made it inside the abandoned city of Agras, which is filled with the same shadowy black creatures that attacked and killed one of his party.  I'm on chapter seven, which is going to tell us a little bit more about his mysterious benefactor Symond Daye, and why Perrad really thinks Daye wants the Eye, an artifact that supposedly buried Agras underground all those centuries ago.  It didn't help that I had other homework and tests and papers due, so that my total word count for the week was over 16k.

     Jane, over at, left me a comment about not really subscribing to word counts to finish a book.  I didn't really pay attention either, until I realized how much time I was wasting just pooting (stuff it, spell check) around on the internet, doing everything I could think of to procrastinate except writing.  I "turned it on" (quoth my fiancé) rather abruptly just over a month ago, when I established the hard and fast rule of at least ten thousand words a week.  I finished my novel three weeks later.  When he asked me why I had suddenly developed a work ethic, I couldn't answer.  I still really don't have one.  For those first couple of weeks, I was obsessed.  I thought about writing all the time, I couldn't wait to get home and pound out my two thousand words, the writing was reward in itself.  That's changed a bit already, which is a sadness, because now it feels more like work, but the work is still enjoyable.  I like doing it, or else I wouldn't do it.  It's just so easy to get it done.  It's so easy to sit down and break my work into tiny, easy chunks.  Just 100 words, I think.  Just 100 words, and then I just need to do it 19 more times.  2000 words is nothing.  Nothing!  I can do it in several hours, if I have a mind to and don't get too distracted.

     Obviously I had a lot more to say today than I planned, sorry I went long.  I just want to stress how important I think it is to accomplish something every day, to learn something every day.  To set goals and feel how awesome it is to fly past them.  I brag here because I don't brag in real life, and I appreciate everyone who reads this putting up with my constant evaluations of myself.  I think a lot of writers are much less self confident than they appear, and I'm one of them.  Just being able to write these things down, that I am a novelist, that I'm going to finish a second book within a month of writing my first, is an amazing kind of empowerment.  I'll try to stick to a cohesive topic tomorrow, I promise.          

Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Work?

No, really.  What is work?  I have a planner with my daily word count.  So far this week, I have only written about 4k words in my novel.  Only four thousand!  This, out of a weekly goal of ten thousand.  I see that and I feel weak, I feel defeated, I wonder if I'm doing it right, I dread that I'm getting tired, getting burnt out.  Only four thousand words.  That's pathetic, when I look back to previous weeks, and see that in weeks past I'm six, eight, however many thousands of words into my work.  I've been doing something a little different with my writing since I've started this blog.  I keep a careful count of blog words, and homework words, and free writing, because really, every word written is progress.  Every one!  If I'm writing for school, or for myself, or for an audience, or actually working, any writing done is a chance for improvement.  So I take a closer look at my word count for this week.  I've only done four thousand words for my novel(la?) in progress, but total so far this week (not including today) I've written just over 9.3 thousand words.  Now that is quite a few words in four days.  That includes my blog posts, which though they aren't technically 'work' are still my attempt at social networking, getting my ideas and my writing out there for other people to see.  I also wrote a short story this week, which when edited is going to be my entry for a cash prize contest at the end of the year.  I may have finished a novel, but I don't have any other writing credits to my name, so entering contests and bolstering my writing 'resume' as it were is a pretty big project right now.  Maybe an even bigger one than finishing another novel.
     What am I trying to say with all this?  I'm trying to convince myself to relax.  Relax, you're not burning out just because you've only written four thousand novel words so far this week.  School is just as, if not more, important.  Getting a degree is a big thing for me, and I should be happy that I've finished a novel before getting it.  Now I would love to finish three books by the end of the year, but if I don't, is that such a huge deal?  No.  I've already finished one, and that was my life goal.  Why hurry now, when I'm trying to focus on becoming an active member in an online community, when I'm trying to update a blog five days a week with random thoughts that may or may not have a cohesive theme, when I'm trying to make myself as big of a deal as my work.  If anybody out there is in a similar position, relax!  Any writing is improving.  I'm writing every day.  Every day!  I don't take breaks.  Or at least, I try not to.  I need to be happy with writing, with the act of writing, and not getting hung up on progress, or lack thereof.  I have plenty of time.
     Is anybody out there having similar issues?  Are you getting so wrapped up in getting things done that you refuse to believe that you already are getting things done?  Leave me a comment, send me an email, PM me on Writing Forums.  Alternatively, am I really right in believing that the novel comes first, and everything I'm doing on the side is just fluff?  Let me know.  Leave your thoughts, I would love to hear them.  Tell me what's more important to you - the act of creating, or the act of completion.
     Finally, thank you, everyone that is visiting.  I don't know how many are actually reading, but it makes me feel much less alone in my craft.  I appreciate it, and all of the silent support you're giving just by being a number in my 'stats' page.  I hope everyone out there is getting ready for a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I love fall.  I love it when the seasons change, and I love the first day that I realize that summer is truly over.  That day was today!  I finished the draft of my short story last night, and turned it in today.  We were put into critique groups in class, different ones than we had been in before, so we'll see where that goes...  I happen to be in a group with both of the other advanced students ("advanced", taking the higher level of the same course, basically just being in the same class and doing more work), and I'm kinda excited.  Kinda, as in, I'm never quite sure what to expect with a new group, and some kinds of writing I just don't care to read.  I know that's a me issue, and I will absolutely 100% give everything I have to critiquing someone fairly, it just isn't much fun.  I'm very much a genre writer, almost any genre except regular ol' literary fiction and poorly written fantasy.  Because, phew.  Fantasy done wrong can be brutal.
     I haven't read their pieces yet, and I won't post too much about them other than my impressions and if necessary to whatever I'm talking about their plots because they're obviously not mine, but I am a little excited.  I know I'm a good writer.  Listening to people agonize over a rough draft that they spent hours on and wrote and rewrote and they hate it and it isn't any good and blah blah excuse excuse (and forgive me for saying so) makes me feel so much better about myself!  I wrote my rough draft in about three hours, including making up a story and figuring out the main points, conflict, and resolution, I printed it out, haven't reread it since, and I can tell you with near certainty that it doesn't need any grammatical changes, spelling errors, and it needs some revising, but my main story is already there.  If this makes me sound like a narcissistic bastard, you're probably right.  But I do have a lot of natural talent, and I won't try to hide it with false doubts and insecurity.  I'm good at this!  I have to be, and I have to know I am, if I ever want to get published.
     I was talking to a teacher today, and I was telling him about how I know that I'll get published.  I told him that there are only two ways my life will happen.  Only two ways anything will happen, really.  Either I will, or I won't.  That's it, just two ways!  I have a 50/50 chance!  Either I will, or I won't, and I won't let it not happen.  That's how I'm going to get published - I won't let it not happen.  I'm 23 years old, I've written a novel, and I'm writing more of them.  I may not publish my first book, or my second, but I will not live my life and never get published.  I have too much time, too much talent, and too much perseverance to fail.  So I won't.
     The power of positive thinking, folks.  It does a body good.  Disagree?  Post a comment.  Agree?  Post a comment!  I'm waiting for you folks to say something.  And I hope you're all having wonderful weeks, because I sure am.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Man, how much does homework suck?  I'm not going to get any 'real' writing done today, because of a paper due this morning, a short story (admittedly my fault for not starting it sooner) due tomorrow, and two tests tomorrow afternoon.  It's still going to be about a 3k word day, but nothing I can add to my weekly total =/  Maybe I can count my short story, because even though it is an assignment, it's going to be something I'm going to submit at the end of the year to my community college literary journal, which awards cash prizes.  It's a pretty experimental idea so far, and I don't know how well I can do it, but it'd sure be neat if I can pull it off.
     Basically, these two beings that live outside of human comprehension are on earth, looking for God, and God only exists in the hearts and minds of Men.  So these beings are searching the souls of all the humans on earth, nurturing their souls, melding them with different parts of other souls, putting them back into humans, basically trying to find the winning combination that will be the God that they seek.  Jesus was a very, very close soul, but not quite.  Think the Bene Gesserit, but, y'know, otherworldly creatures that guide the souls of our species.  Not to ruin my proposed/desired ending, but they finally find that winning combination, but it doesn't give them the God that they're looking for, it gives them the truth, and the truth is that one of these beings has been God all along, and the other is the devil.  So, yeah, we'll see.  I like it, but I don't know if I can pull it off.  I haven't had to think of or outline a short story in...  well, just over a year now.  Every idea I've had has been novel length.  Not a bad thing, but man, short stories are so much easier to write to completion.  I'm almost done with this one, at least the rough draft, and I've only put a little over two hours worth of work into it!  How amazing is that?  Now I just need to do this more often and start submitting them to places.
     In other news...  There is no other news.  Writing a story, kinda like it, tests tomorrow, midterm week.  I thought I was gonna have a really crappy day today, but I didn't, and that's always nice.  Expectations don't always set the stage for reality.  If there is anyone out there reading this, and you're interested in reading more of the story idea I posted above, let me know, I might post the rough draft either on here or on WF (, just look for Lee Shelly), see what you all think.  Other than that, I hope everyone on the internet tonight is safe, and has sweet dreams.  See you tomorrow!  

Zero Progress

Hi there.  I'm just about to start writing and finish chapter five, wherein Perrad, Rhaes, and Kail finally find the lost city of Argas, and find that the entire city is crawling with monsters.  I'm excited.  But before that, I have to write a blog post, even though technically it isn't even Tuesday anymore.  Thank you to Sandy, for commenting!  I really appreciate it.  Even though I was practically begging for it on WF, it still gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.  It's nice to know that you're being read.
     Exciting day today.  I got caught in a really bad rainstorm (in Phoenix!), and just as I was drying off I got caught in another one, and I got hailed on.  Really big chunks of ice were just falling from the sky.  I don't know if you've ever gotten caught in hail, but it hurts!  A lot!  Only upside?  I got to take lots of notes.  About the rain, the first fall thunderstorm, the hail, even the way the campus looked flooded.  I love taking notes.  Adds authenticity, if I ever happen to be writing about something I've actually done in real life.  It's great for settings, scenes... that's one thing about writing I would definitely advise others to do, and that is to take notes.  Write about summer during summer, so you can remember it in words in winter.  Write about a fire you're sitting in front of.  Write about sitting down, waiting for a bus.  Take notes about life as you're experiencing it, it adds a lot of depth to your writing when you get a chance to put it all in.
     But, you know what I miss?  Dicking around.  Having fun.  Playing video games.  I'm doing a lot of writing, and I really think it's impacting my social life.  Since it's all I do, it's all I can think of to talk about.  I don't have time to do much else, and even when I do get off my ass and do something all I'm thinking about is how much time I'm wasting, how much writing I could be getting done.  I think that it's partially a good thing, because if I want to do this professionally I need to be writing even more than I am now, but how do I turn it off and live a little?  I don't even have any vices!  Life needs to be more than writing and gathering material to write about, doesn't it?
     Thirty-six people have visited this blog, my own little slice of the internet.  Are any of you writers? Don't you have anything to say?  I'm not asking myself these questions, you know.  How do you balance writing and living?

Monday, October 4, 2010


     Back in business!  Not including blog posts, homework, or free writing, I managed to write just over 10k words last week ( I think, the numbers don't really add up).  And I was sick.  Which should count for double.  Or something.  I'm working on my dungeon crawl, and it's going great!  I don't have a name for it yet, something I should work on, I know.  I was planning it to be short, maybe 50k words, more of a novella.  Just a short little fun book.  When I left off in June, it was going strong at 11k, a good start for how little I was working on it back then.  Now it's bloomed to almost 25k (which is why the numbers are wonky...  I have no idea how I gained 14k words in a week and only wrote 10k), so halfway!  If I keep going at this pace, it should be done by the time I take out my novel to start my first edit.  Wow!  And then it'll be November, and everyone knows that's NaNoWriMo.  Can I go for three?  I started my book last November, can I really write three books - my first three books - in one year?  I may be counting my chickens, but I don't really think so.  One of my goals this year was to learn how to write fast, and I think I'm figuring it out.  Ten thousand words a week is a pretty good speed, you're taking a huge chunk out of any book you're working on every week.  It feels great, and I'm only neglecting my homework a little bit...  I have two tests this week, so we'll see how that goes with the writing.  But I really think I can do it.  I really do.
     I joined a forum, something that I've never done.  I'm a pretty huge introvert, so much that I even avoid online communities.  Or I lurk, which gives me the information without the companionship and camaraderie, and it equally lame.  It's fun so far.  Check it out, if you haven't, at  Everyone there seems like good people, and I'm looking forward to giving and getting good advice.
      I see that some people are coming to this blog, I've had 30 pageviews since I started it (woo?).  If you're there, and you made it this far, drop me a line!  Give me something to look forward to =)  Hope everyone out there on the internet had a great weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Social what?

   Oh, the social networks.  I think I have myself plugged in to everything, but honestly everything that I feel I need to do in order to get connected to other people sounds like work.  Go to facebook, to twitter, to forums, to blogs, make friends, leave your website address sprawled across every flat surface you come across on the internet.  Work, I tell you, and I believe it because as a writer I try to avoid anything that feels remotely like work, and social networking stinks with it.
     This is not to say that I don't desire the community and fellowship of other writers.  I do, very much.  Writing is, I feel, a very lonely art.  You pour a lot of yourself into your writing, and there's no easy way to let your precious creations, as dear to you as children, loose into the world to get ridiculed and pounced upon as are few other things.  A novel is a piece of you.  If you're a writer, you know what I mean.  I just feel like I'm trying to be sneaky and underhanded about the whole fellowship thing.  Like, hey, let's be friends, but I'm going to leave a link to my blog after my comment so other people can find me because yours is the more popular site.  Does it work?  Undoubtedly it works!  I have seen this so much on blogs, this stealthy theft of the other's fanbase.  And I hate, I hate being advertised to.  I simply despise it.  But will I stoop to the same thing, even though I know and fully understand the implications of what I'm doing?  Yes.  I have already created a twitter account (God knows why, I write novels, not tweets), a new facebook, and I joined a forum.  But I don't like it.  I'm not a marketer, I'm not an extrovert, and being a persona on the internet doesn't appeal to me.  That's why I'm a writer. 
     I haven't edited my first manuscript to completion, and so I haven't even begun the process of trying to get my novel traditionally published, but I keep seeing these articles and statistics about authors needing these kinds of skills, about how the traditional publishing that I'm counting on is slowly dying in the new era of e-books.  If I knew how to do this right, I would probably search for those very articles I'm indirectly citing, and I would leave a comment with a link back to this article, leeching those viewers away with a promise of similar content.  But that feels wrong to me.  If anyone out there is reading this, can you tell me another way?  Have a great night, guys.  See you tomorrow.