Monday, August 25, 2014

Damn, I'm late

I totally forgot my spot on the 21st but I have a good I was in the middle of traveling for work and it's as if my brain goes on hiatus when it comes to things not work related. Although I have a largish head, it can only house so much at a time. I think that's the crux of the parttime writer experience. I'd love to be able to devote all of my time to writing and the little extras that go along with it being my full time gig, but I also love paying my mortgage and eating three meals a day (okay several meals a day because food is life!). So I'm late, but I'm not absent, and know that while my brain is bogged down with the many intricate details of my non-writer life, my imagination is patiently taking notes for when it has free reign again.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Spiral Bound

I have an admission to make. In this age of technology, when I have something hard to write or am blocked I...

Play around on Facebook
Play games
Read a book or ten...

And then I quite mucking around, and sit down to write. But when it's hard, when I'm stuck and just can't move on, after I do all those things I take a pad of paper and a pen and write it out by hand.

Currently, I'm working on something I've never done before: First Person POV Paranormal. That's not what got me stuck, tho... I couldn't bear what I was about to do. Just. Couldn't. Do. It.

I couldn't see the next part, and I desperately needed to. It was something that was new, unique to this world view. Also, I couldn't bear to put my character's in that much peril. When I finally stopped wasting time, I sat with pen and paper, and began to write it out.

This method works for me. Why? Partly because I feel more connected to it; the slide of my hand against the paper, the ink flowing as if from my fingertips. There's also the fact that scribbling out something that doesn't work, the hard slash of the pen, is so satisfying. Much more so than a delete key. Also, if you change your mind? Well, if you scratch it out just so you can still read what was there before. (I sometimes doodle on the edges until the idea shakes free, too.) It also lends itself to short bursts of time, which is what I normally have. Between the day job and the Princeling, some days I don't even boot up the computer. A notebook is much easier to deal with in 10-15 minute increments.

I just sprinted across the line on my current work in progress. I still need to get the handwritten notes put into the computer file. I still need to write the final scene... But it's doable at this point.

Fun Fact: Dragon's Champion was written entirely in a spiral bound notebook the first time around. I started with the character, and decided I had to see what the heck she was getting herself into :)

Until next time, my lovelies. Enjoy reading!

If your looking for some new reads, check out the Toil, Trouble and Temptation titles out by MMP now!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Taking the plunge right off the deep end or This Sh*t is harder the second time around

*skids to a stop and looks around*
*whispers in the dark…pft I’m here might as well get on with it.*
*snaps fingers at the assistant muse*
“turn my mic up,  a little more”
*ignores the faint growling that lets me know he is in no way amused with my trying to run this show*

Getting on with it is quite possibly the hardest thing an author who has been on a self imposed hiatus from writing can do. There are a million reasons why you aren’t writing. You’re getting organized, you’re working on a schedule, and you’re re-reading old plot ideas. You’re mourning for the times gone past. You’re social networking on finstatumblawettagrambook. Hosting chats and interacting with fans.  But the truth is, all those things have just been ways for me to hide. Procrastination disguised as busy work.  I’ve been through counseling so I know that I’m just using old hurts and worries as and excuse to keep from getting over it and getting back on the horse.
Truth be told I’m scared.  I know for a fact that there are a million other authors out there that do what  I do and do it better, longer, harder than I can ever do it.  I’m afraid to fail.  I’m afraid that I can’t write a story as well as I can tell you a story.

I need the validation of being published. Most artists wont admit that. They’ll tell you that all the need is their arts and money and recognition don’t mean anything. I can’t say that without lying. I like knowing that my books, my creativity is earning your money. I like shoes. So I need to get paid. I really am learning that I like not “working” so I need to write so that my husband doesn’t decide that he doesn’t need a stay at home wife mooching off his hard earned money. 
No matter how big and bad I want to be…no matter how cocky I am. Truth is I’m scared. And despite having a nice fan base whom support me I still worry that I’m not good enough I’m not worth of the hard earned money that they save and spend. So I write but I hoard it. I keep it to myself and I never finish it.  I talk about it with others who write and sometimes I share it…just little bits, to get my ego rubbed and convince myself I’m not a complete fraud.  I blog…little teases of teases. Mostly to entertain myself and sometimes to try to convince readers that I really am doing more than sitting around naked…er in my underwear… in pjs watching cartoons and playing with instafacetwitblr all day.
But the truth really is. That I’m sitting here staring at the screen, breathing slowly.  Putting my fingers to the keys then taking them away to wipe the sweat from my palms before putting them back.

Today I made a decision.  To get on with it.  I took three stories that are for the most part complete and sent them to this publisher (MMP) who has been patiently waiting for me to do ANYTHING.  She’ll evaluate the stories and suggest changes and then ride me like I come with batteries and a suction cup stick to me until I clean them up and get them sent for edits. 
Three stories that have been sitting, wilting and stagnating on my hard drive for years… seriously like years half a decade for one of them. 
I’m getting over myself…and getting on with it.
And now I’m going to make my way to the kitchen and bake something unnecessarily sinful and then eat it while I hide in my closet and rock back and forward while plotting to fly to her home and steal her electronics before she can open the files.

*crumbles into a mess of nervous writer goo on stages and waits for the assistant muse as he stands over me rolling his eyes and mumbling about melodrama before gathering me up and carrying me to the car.  I ask if we can stop for ice cream as I snuggle in to his chest. His soft kiss on my forehead and the deep rumble of his chuckle makes me feel safe*
“You can even have a double scoop and extra sprinkles”

*The voice soothes me as does the rumble of the engine in his muscle car. Sigh, maybe this won’t be so bad after all.*

Well, since I was early enough to schedule this blog, I guess I'll see you guys in a month!   You can always catch up with me over at or on fb where I'm sure I'll be doing some sort of procrastinating. Who knows? Maybe by September you'll have read something brand spanking new and sparkly by me.  Until next time, I'll be attending the shenanigans.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Lucy" - a study in imagery

A challenge to every writer is to create setting effectively; to make the reader not only see but feel, taste and smell the world the writer is creating, to physically transport the reader there.

For the science fiction or paranormal writer, there's the double challenge of creating new worlds that are completely unfamiliar to the audience.  There's no common point of reference, so how do you make the readers feel what you want them to feel, to experience what you had in your own mind when you created that world?  The imagery has to be clear and vivid.  The reader is experiencing it for the first time, and you have to describe the events and alien landscapes vividly and fluidly enough to let them see it clearly, even if they don't fully understand what they're seeing.  Film obviously has an advantage over the printed word when it comes to imagery, but if the script isn't well-written, then the most expensive special effects in the world won't get the producer the desired effect.

The euro sci-fi thriller "Lucy" has topped the box office in the States.  Scarlett Johansson stars as the title character in a film that is both bloody and beautiful, the latter particularly in its startlingly artful visual imagery.  The film might also serve as an avatar of our society's evolving sexual attitudes, given all the hullabaloo the film has generated regarding female action heroines, but let's focus on the imagery for the moment.

The film begins like a modern, edgy graphic novel in which we see the title character as a rather naïve young woman still trying to figure out what she wants out of life and letting her stringy-haired, two-faced bum of a boyfriend pull her into the international drug trade.  The bullets fly, blood splatters wildly, and the bodies pile up fast as Lucy is forced at gunpoint to become a drug mule for a Taiwanese cartel, a radically experimental new drug surgically implanted in her stomach as the escalating action takes her on a wild ride from Taiwan to Paris.   Naturally, the drug balloon in her stomach bursts and the massive surge of the experimental drug into her system stimulates her brain to levels of activity light years beyond normal human capacity.

Once you get past the blatantly negative Asian stereotypes and unrelenting misogynistic violence, the film does visually flow in a captivating action-adventure/science fiction yarn about human potential set against the dark back-drop of human brutality.  Like any science fiction story, this one has to fight against the dreaded undertow of  expository.  In this case, Morgan Freeman shoulders the onerous task of being the expository character, a benign, soft-spoken college professor who explains to his students (and, the audience) just what is going on as Lucy's brain activity evolves, level by level, towards her ultimate potential, whatever that might turn out to be.  As she develops, she realizes life isn't about figuring out what you want from it, but the miracle of life itself.

The performances are strong, but the strength and magic of this film is definitely in its artful use of imagery.  The film at times seems self-satirizing,  like an Andy Warhol-like collage of pop culture images.  We see bits of The Matrix, as well as scenes that look like a cross between Stanley Kubrick's "2001" and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.

 But, the imagery builds with Lucy's increasingly startling psychic visions of the universe, and her miraculous power to warp time and reality, hurtling in her thoughts across millions of years, finally building up to a searing visual crescendo that is truly breathtaking.  From dinosaurs and primal humans to the galactic spiral to gorgeous visuals that look like a marriage of sea life and stellar formation, the conclusion is a work of art.  The story depicts the rapid evolution of a human being into a god-like superior intellect.

In my novella "Black Goddess," I tried to do something similar, taking my character Joshua Sinclair on a dark journey of self-discovery that takes him to a higher level of cosmic being.  Like "Lucy", "Black Goddess" visits dark human realms too, dealing with loss, guilt, war and torture, and their dark scars on the human soul.  I relied heavily on the inner space of the main characters and their personal struggles, but also built towards a visual crescendo with strong imagery derived from research into theories of cosmic formation.

The images I described were derived largely from artist's conceptions found on the Internet:

Multiple flaring white suns seared brilliantly…a whiteness pure and piercing against a burning blood-red gaseous nebular sky…
Luciana glanced over at Lark, the burning crimson of the primal sky painting her anguished face bloody red through the observation port. “He’s regressed…” Luciana said, glancing from Lark to the instrument panel in front of her, the radiation counters ticking wildly. “To within about three hundred million years of the Big Bang.” She couldn’t help but look with wonder on the scene around her. The radiation measurements informed her the lab was still shifting rapidly backwards through time, tens of millions of years every minute. “Those are first generation stars, about 100 times the size of our sun.”
Outside the viewport, the infant suns merged into a flattened disc of swirling, brightly glowing gas with twin spiral arms.

And, how do you visually depict coming face-to-face with God?  I gave it a shot like this, borrowing slightly from the Hindu religion:

At the center of time, as the still unified cosmic force flowed outward…where thought and reality were one…
Joshua stood before the searing white light of existence in its purest form, its power flowing through him…pure energy, power too intense to tolerate the limited, petty constraints of matter.
Then, he saw Her. Like a gargantuan black shadow rising against the cosmic dawn. Tall and terrible, huge as a giant, her cruel eyes blazing with cosmic fire from the black face of the void.
He trembled before Her terrible greatness. Time began and ended in Her, the bones of dead futures adorning Her terrifying countenance. Her bloodied sword raised, dripping the spent lifeblood of fallen matter.

Stories like "Lucy" and "Black Goddess" are ones I particularly like because they find a connection between the individual, the every man or woman, and the universe.  Character development and story are, as always important, but sheer imagery can be the deciding factor.  Cover art is important, too.  Case in point: