Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another roadblock on the road to authorship

And it's called Final Fantasy XII. Ouch. I promise, I'll get back to writing soon! Heck, I have to finish my NaNo, because the deadline on the Lulu free copy thing is in January sometime. I haven't given up on my blog, dear readers, and now that the Christmas madness is done, and my repetitive stress injury has healed, I'm planning on getting back on track January 1. Maybe 2, depending on the hangover.

My New Year's resolution: to complete a novel and get it submitted. I'm not sure which one it will be; I think that Double Edged Sword may need a lot more work before it's ready for the polishing stage (a LOT more work) while the previous project I worked on is starting to tickle me. It is completed, but needs some serious reworking. The majority of it was written in NaNo 2002, and later finished. It's a story that I've liked for a while, and may be a little cliche in places (has the dreaded Obvious Romance that I hate so much), but the characters are very vivid, and it's a little less difficult a deal than DES is. It also has a shitty working title, Shadowhawk's Fire, which will be changed.

The more I think about it, the more I think I want to work with that. I just need to dig up the old disks. They do say that you should set a work aside for a while before editing it. Is four years enough? I need to label all of these posts before

Take that, Sean. ;)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Final Project for my HTML class

My final project for my HTML class is naturally to build a website. In keeping with recent obsessions. I'm making the subject of this project a website on my writing process, advice for writers, etc. Yeah, I know that as an unpublished author I am not qualified to give writing advice, but I like to think I know my craft pretty well, and hey, this is a school project.

I'll be posting it online for extra credit (you get extra credit for actually hosting it live somewhere) so I'll be linking it from here, just so you can see what I'm doing about it.

And hey, it's actually on topic!

EDIT: Here you go. I like my date thingy best of all, and I've decided that I adore stylesheets.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A short hiatus

I've been laboring under a short hiatus, but I don't want you guys to think I've abandoned my blog now that I've finished NaNo officially! Actually, I have about two weeks left in my school quarter, and I'm badly behind in one of my classes, so I'm going to work very hard on getting caught up there, and once I do, I return to writing in earnest. I have been writing here or there, and thinking about my plot, so my novel hasn't fallen by the wayside.

I'm thinking my original group dynamic (the priest and the convict alone) just plain isn't working. There's just not enough to go on about between the two of them throughout. I think it would work a lot better with a third character there from the start, perhaps another male, sent by the church to guard the priest. He would be the voice of reason, and give an extra layer to the Caedas's task of corruption, and make it all the more poignant when the priest falls. HEck, I could even make him madly in love with Salissa, and her naturally ignore him or not notice. That way, it gives my future ficcers some "ships" to work with, and a little more conflict to drive the story along!

I don't know. I'll finish the novel as-is and work on those changes in the re-write.

I will be joining a critique group in March (we're giving ourselves a few months to polish our novels) that is run by one of my wrimos, and which I am blissfully NOT in charge of.

I am also thinking of doing another NaNo perhaps in January or February. We'll see.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Somebody thinks I'm special

Or at least worth interviewing. Sean Lindsay, author of 101 Reasons to Stop Writing asked me for my thoughts on NaNoWriMo, since he was apparently impressed by my feat of completing the challenge in 12 days.

In other news, I'm official. I've verified my novel, and now stand in the proud ranks of those with purple bars. Which means I get a shiny certificate to print out on my computer. And naturally, this spiffy cool icon that shows a guy in a diaper running with a pencil.

I REALLY wish they'd get a new mascot. Pencils have erasers, which should never be used in NaNoWriMo... no editing, remember? And yes, I know they're running shorts, but it looks like a freaking diaper. Ah well. Go me.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. I have a lot to be thankful for.

1) I am thankful for my writing gift. Not every person is so lucky to be able to communicate with words. I hope I can one day take advantage of it, and improve my family's life.
2) I am thankful for a wonderful, supportive husband who encourages me to chase my dreams
3) I am thankful for the beautiful daughter who has inspired me to write again.
4) I am thankful for my life, however simple and poor it might be monetarily, it is rich and abundant in love, kindness, and happiness.

And have no fear, faithful readers, I am writing still. I'm currently pounding out an intense "seduction" scene between my priest and convict... and it's turning out to be a lot less "seduction" and a lot more "rape" than I had planned, originally. I'm writing it carefully, for it is a dangerous subject to tackle.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bogged down in real life

I've managed to get a couple thousand over the 50k mark, but I've noticed another barrier. Like the week two barrier, the 50k barrier is hard to push past. You've done it, you're at 50k, and your brain keeps asking, "Why the hell are you still going, exactly?"

Add that to the insanity of getting my house ready for my daughter's first birthday party yesterday, and it hasn't been a good week for writing.

I have some classwork that I neglected over the last week or so in my mad rush to hit 50k, so I'm going to catch up on that (having a completed manuscript is worthless if I fail my classes!) and then spend the next week writing again. Have no fear, my faithful readers (I think I'm up to four now!) I shall continue slogging on. I'm just taking a break to let my wrist heal, and my brain recover from the brain dump.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

101 Reasons to Stop Writing

This guy is brilliant.

There are far too many people on this planet who have no business picking up a pen. Or a keyboard. They wouldn't, if they had to pick up a pen to do it. They spew their drivel over the pages like so much vomit, and then are Hurt and Amazed when the rest of the world thinks it's utter crap. These are the people who get their mommies to sent hate mail to agents who reject them, who send hate mail to agents who reject them, who refuse to do edits, or who finally turn to POD when no one else will take it. Or, God forbid, the Christopher Paolinis of the world, with rich enough parents to convince people to buy their book. Those are the worst. They've been told, wrongly, that they can write.

Here's the thing. Write your story. Go for it! I'm a hearty proponent of the NaNoWriMo experience. Writing is fun. I've done it for most of my life. But just because you've written something doesn't mean it deserves to be published.

Don't get your panties in a wad when people not related to you or who aren't your friends aren't interested.

Writing and publishing is a tough business. If you aren't willing to accept the realities and hardships involved, then this isn't the business for you. I expect it will take me years to break in, if at all. I'm realistic about my odds. But you can be damn sure I'll never burn my bridges because someone else thinks my deathless prose blows chunks (After all, they might be right!). I think I write better than Anne Rice ever has. But she has something I don't: a fan base.

One day, maybe. But I swear, in front of God and everyone who reads this blog (all three of you) that I will never, ever, EVER be too damn good for an editor.

And you can quote me on that.

On the rules of writing

Learn the rules. Inhale the rules. BE the rules.

Because only once you understand the rules, may you break them.

The greats who break the rules regularly can do so because they know what those rules are, and know why they're breaking them. That's what makes them great. Breaking rules because you don't know they exist just makes you uneducated.

When you're just getting started in this wild and wooly world of writing and publication, you have to know your craft. To steal from another blogger: You wouldn't want a doctor who doesn't know anything about bones, nor a lawyer who decides to study the laws after passing the bar, would you? No! Don't try to become a published author on sheer ideas alone.

You can have the best idea in the world, but if your technical ability blows, you'll never get past that agent's assistant. The world is full of many people who think they can write; don't be one of those who blames the publishing industry for the fact that they suck.

Also understand that you're not as good as you think you are. Just because your family, your friends, and your dog tells you that they love your stuff doesn't mean anyone else will. I know I'm a good writer... but I also understand that I have a LONG, long way to go before anything I write is publishable. To quote Hemingway: "The first draft of anything is shit." That also means the second, third, and fourth drafts will probably suck, too. And that's okay. As long as you never reach Anne Rice proportions and decide you're too good for editors, you'll have a chance.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Not with a bang, but a whimper

Okay, not really. How about a hoot, a holler, and a yell?

The book itself isn't done (not by a longshot) but I'm officially at 50k... which means I can slow my butt DOWN and take it easy. :)

That beats my current record by two days.

I still like my old story better, but I'm still happy with this one.

Home stretch

Just a little under 4k to go. I had a great writing session yesterday, although I forgot to enter my count before midnight, so it's all going under today's. Ah well, it'll look really good. :)

I just did a quick test run on my word count, here's the current numbers:

RoughDraft: 46416 (.rtf)
Word: 46438 (.doc)
NaNoWriMo Robots: 46420 (.txt)
I do most of my writing on my laptop in Roughdraft using separate files for each chapter, then open it up in Word to combine into one document under the .doc format. Then, I saved as text to upload using the test verifier at NaNoWriMo. I think they changed the word counters since last year, since it used to give a higher count than Word does.

At any rate, I don't have far to go. According to the official count, I need 3580.

I think I can do that today. :)

Storywise, I'm only about halfway through, so we've still got a LONG way to go there. I'll probabyl be writing all month, even though I'll probably hit the 50k mark tonight. I probably would have finished sooner, but I decided to give my poor wrists a break, and only wrote a couple thousand the last couple of days.

And unless misoccurs can whip out 20k in the next few hours... I'm gonna beat her socks off. :)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not my best day

Since I'm suffering from an unpleasant case of RSI, I haven't been able to get much writing done today. I've churned out about 600 words, but considering my previous rate, that's just plain pitiful. My NaNoWriMo progress report isn't helping, either, since it's tell me I should be done by the end of the day. Paul really needs to check his equations for that thing, because they are really, really off. Based on my current pace, it's telling me I should write over 10k today.

I'm good, but even on my best day this month I haven't broken 8k. I don't know where it's getting those numbers.

Anyway, I'm taking it easy, and just typing a little. I need to get back to it, but I'm going to try and hit the minimum 1,667 for the day (if I don't, I won't be upset) just to keep on track. I am, however, going to attempt to finish by this weekend. I may not be able to, depending on how long my schoolwork takes, but I'm going to try. If I do, that will set a new record. My current record for finishing NaNo is 14 days, and that was the first year. I will then continue until the entire first draft is finished.

Hang in there, my fellow wrimos. Week two is always the hardest. Keep chugging along, and it'll get better in week three, I promise.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Repetitive Stress Injury

I'm paying for my speed and high word count.

Last night, when I went to bed, my wrist and hand were killing me. At first, I thought it was my old nemesis, arthritis, poking me because of the downturn in temperature, but the pain was different, and seemed to be radiating up along the tendon.


I smell carpal tunnel.

I spent something close to six or seven hours at the keyboard yesterday, so I'm honestly not surprised.

The good news is, I'm in the home stretch. 38500, just 15k to go. The story sagged a bit, but I finally got over the hump, added a new character to the dynamic duo's group (an old wizard who can't cast spells anymore), and pushed them a few steps closer to the artifact. I got to introduce a cool new mount, getting rid of their horse in favor of this neat little cat thing that's native to Dirge. I did discover that in spite of my plans to make Caedas short and Salissa tall, they've apparently switched, because now Caedas likes to tower. Dammit. I was trying to avoid that. Oh well, characters really don't listen sometimes. I'm going to let them do what they want.

My goal for this month is to actually finish the first draft, not just hit 50k. I want an editable work for December, something to start flogging into a publishable state. And if I finish early, then I'm going to keep writing. Not sure on what, but I want to write the full 30 days.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is it really only day 7?

I've spent most of today immersed in my novel... which is sad, considering that I only managed a little over 5000 words. I can definitely feel the drag. I'm still loving the story, but I'm starting to lose my focus. I feel like I'm just plugging in these random challenges that are really serving no purpose but to boost word count. When things feel like that, it's time to take a break. My original goal for the day was 10k, but my brain just isn't letting me. I think it's time for me to rest. Considering my grand total is 32,120, it should be okay.

After all, it is the seventh day! You're supposed to rest. Even GOD needed a rest day after seven full days of hard work, right?

I knew that writing Caedas was going to be hard. He's turning out to be a little more mushy than I had originally planned, and a little more of a badass, but I think that's okay. He's still not going to go good. I'm just having a hard time figuring out how exactly he's going to push the Priest to her limits. Right now, all he's managed to do is insult her inability to think for herself. It's a start, but I'm not sure where to go from there.

How exactly does one go about tearing down a righteous person?

It's something I need to mull over. I do have schoolwork that needs doing before the weekend comes.

I can't sit on my laurels too long, though, because my nemesis is only 10k behind me, and all she needs is a good solid day or two, and she'll catch up if I'm not careful.

I think part of my problem is my husband's extended time at home this week. He's not bothering me, but something about having others around always kinda stifles me. I need alone-ness. I think I may wander off to a coffee shop to write tomorrow afternoon. I think that will get the juices flowing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Over 20k!

I've topped the 20k mark. Wow, it has come quickly! I've been trying to keep up the huge amount of words momentum, but today the lack of sleep I've had for the last few days (un-NaNo related) kinda caught up with me, so I took a long nap today.

I got a few hundred words out of a new kitten who has joined us. He was rescued from a local BBQ restaurant (not for food! He just snuck into the pit ;) ) by a friend of mine, who sent him over to us. I'm trying to get in touch with a local rescue organization, because I can't manage another cat right now.

However, he has officially made a cameo appearance in my novel! He was licking himself clean after a bath, and went straight for a patch of sunlight in the living room, so I decided to include it in the form of a chlidhood memory from my main character.

I'm actually pushing things along pretty quickly, because they have so far to go, and the only conflict they've had is the back and forth arguing. I want them to start encountering some REAL obstacles, and soon-like. Once the cross the barrier into Dirge, things will start getting interesting. I'm probably going to time warp it a bit, or at least fast forward, to get them there much quicker.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Momentum slowing

I'm up to 14k now. My target is still 20k for the night, but things are slowing substantially, so I'm not sure if I'll make it by midnight. Possibly by the time I go to bed, which would put the word count total over on tomorrow's count.

I'm at a slow part in the book (the annoying ass traveling scenes) that I need to get through to get to the good stuff. I've been trying to keep things strictly in the priest's perspective, but I'm thinking I might do some from the convict's perspective just to spice things up. I've been developing her pretty well, now I think he needs some time in the limelight.

She just left him alone with some beer in a tavern while she went up to their (she doesn't know she's sharing it, just yet) room to sleep. I'm toying with the idea of having an old acquaintance step up, cause a fight, that sort of thing. He's been entirely too civil and intelligent so far. He needs to do something dumb. Maybe leave a body lying around somewhere out of the way.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Off to a great start

I've broken the 10k mark (10218), and I don't hate my story! I haven't even had the first drop of coffee yet, either.

Getting up for frequent breaks seems to really help. I get up, I do some laundry, I fiddle with my MP3 player, I sit down, and write some more.

I do need to work on some school work, before that falls behind. My goal for the day is 12k, then I'll take a break.

God, I hope I can keep up this momentum. I'm sure I'll flag a little after week one, but I want a damn good start before I do.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First day: off to a good start

I'm going at a steady clip. I wrote about 1200 words or so at midnight last night. I didn't want to stay up all night, and NAthan had crashed on me, so I stopped there, figuring that was pretty good.

So, this morning, I woke up to find missoccurs had gotten ahead of me by around 4k. :) I took it as a personal challenge, and over the course of the day (getting some laundry done, sweeping, and frequent breaks) I wrote like a fiend. Nathan made me stop, because I was going cross-eyed.

The good news, I'm four days ahead of schedule with a grand total of 7400 words. The story is already going well, and the main character is developing nicely. It's verbose as hell, and lots of info dumping is going on, but hell with it. Info dumping = word count. :)

So, here's to hoping I do as well tomorrow! I haven't even gotten to the exciting stuff yet, so this is a good sign.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It is about to begin

At midnight tonight, the frantic noveling fury begins. How do I feel about it, after sitting on this idea for nearly three weeks? (Or is it two? I'm too lazy to count.) Confident. Calm. Normally, I'm an absolute bouncing, hyperactive nutjob. This year, though, I've got almost zen-like confidence. It's not a matter if, it's when. I've been challenged by my wrimos, I've challenged myself. Failure is not an option; I've entered a word count challenge with an expatriate wrimo of mine from a couple of years ago who now lives in Japan. I'm determined to beat her. I'm confident I will.

If the image here isn't loading, the NaNo servers are probably overloaded. They usually are on October 31st and November 1st. In fact, they usually crash completely.

For the curious, I've included an active participant icon on the right side of the page, with a link to my progress report. See how well I do. :) I'm generally a writing machine, when I put my mind to it, so feel free to cheer on my progress... or mock the lack of it, if my boasts prove to be in vain.

I've given the idea time to simmer and gel, I've done just the right about of pre-planning. I've worked out a few kinks, but I've also given it enough room to expand on, so that I'm not being too strict with myself. I love my idea, I love my characters... in short, I'm ready for this.

If you're lucky, I might post a small excerpt or two for you to read. In the mean time, good luck to all who are participating in the competition this year, and may the words flow freely!

Now, in the mean time, I must wash dishes and make coffee... my head is telling me that I haven't had nearly enough caffeine today.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A rant

I'm famous for my rants. Okay, famous may not be the best word, but my cousin swears that he loves to read them. I haven't ranted yet on this blog.

Considering our theme, let me rant about writers for a bit.

The suspension of disbelief. Ever heard of it? It's that magical quality that lets a reader suspend their cynicism and real-world knowledge for a while and really get into the story, believe it's truly happening. It's essentially the holy grail of writer-dom. You want your readers so engrossed in your stories that they don't even notice they're reading, and they want more when they're done.

What it also means is that to a point, your readers will forgive the fantastic. When you're writing fantasy, they expect impossible things. That's what fantasy is, after all. Here's the thing though; there's a limit to their patience, and you can stretch their suspension of disbelief to the point where they honestly can't believe what they're reading. And that's a Very Bad Thing™.

Why on earth do writers ignore this tenet? While yes, it IS fantasy, and you are expected to do impossible things, why do they expect their readers to do things that defy all logic... even fantasy logic?

Here's an example: You know in the movies, when the hero's running along, and there's around a hundred bad guys shooting at him with automatic weapons, and of course not a single bullet hits him? That's where you lose your audience. It defies all logic that with that kind of firepower leveled upon one person, SOME of the bullets don't hit!

A recent post on the NaNo forums asked about the age-old king vs king battle, and I couldn't help but roll my eyes. I mean, think about it. Two guys, in big crowns, finding and battling each other on the battlefield. Awesome, dramatic scene, right?


  1. How do they find each other? Battlefields are messy, dusty places, and unless you've got a helicopter, you can't see over everyone's heads. Unless the other guy is phenomenally stupid and is walking around with a flashing neon sign held high over his head that says "KING HERE", it ain't gonna happen.
  2. You think enemy soldiers are just going to let a king by? Dude, that's a serious bonus. Coming to their own king with the other king's head in tow is serious notoriety. They're going to try their level best to kill the big fat target.
  3. The heroic circle of knights fighting through the army. No. Just, no. Even elite warriors with skills far beyond mortal men can and probably will be overcome by sheer numbers. Throw enough warm bodies with sharp pointy objects at someone, they're bound to get stabbed. See above: it's the machine gun effect. enough firepower will hit eventually.
  4. Okay, so, against all odds, they find each other... now what? The rest of the army is just going to wait while their LEADERS FIGHT? Don't think so.
  5. Guess what's going to happen when you kill one or the other? The other army isn't going to drop their swords, gnash their teeth and wail in mourning... they're going to be pissed, and they're going start hacking at things. Sure, they might cut and run, but that assumes that there's absolutely no one on the other side with brains (and guts) enough to take up the crown and take charge. Kings don't stay kings without good retainers.

Basically, think hard. Just because a scene is cool and dramatic doesn't mean it makes a lick of sense. All that traveling by horseback in the wilderness for weeks sounds logical until you realize that you have to feed, clothe, and bathe all those people.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Methylisothiazolinone and Phenoxyethanol

What do you need to be a writer?

I mean, NaNoWriMo was created for everyone's "someday", so that instead of waiting until you retired to write that Great American Novel, you do it now, and get yourself really started. So what makes a person want to write a book in the first place?

For me, at least, it was being a voracious reader. The sort of reader who got in trouble for reading in school. I mean that quite literally... I have the report cards from elementary school to prove it. In the comments the teacher would say things like "Must stop reading during lessons." Some kids would get busted for hiding porn in their textbooks... I was busted for hiding C.S. Lewis novels.

My parents would search my bookbag before I left to make sure I wasn't smuggling in fantasy stories. The library had my signature in most of the checkout cards. The librarians all knew be by name, and absolutely lit up to see me enter.

At the breakfast table, I'd read the back of cereal boxes, the ingredient list, everything I could get. In the shower, I learned that methylisothiazolinone is an ingredient in most shampoos. I couldn't stop reading.

And so I learned to tell stories myself. It started with little notebook paper books, ten pages, maybe a hundred words total, stapled and illustrated... and hasn't stopped. I wrote most of the literary magazine my senior year myself.

The great thing about this is it gave me a pretty good idea of what it takes to write a book. When you read so many, you learn what works, and what doesn't. I hope to take that knowledge and turn it into something marketable. And hopefully profitable!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Never underestimate the power of a good mug

I think that every good writer needs a good mug.

I don't necessarily mean for coffee-- while caffeine is almost a necessity for late-night writing sessions, coffee doesn't have to be its sole vehicle, and some folks (like myself this time last year... nine months pregnant!) can't have it at all. It can be for tea, milk, soda... whatever your greedy little heart desires.

But you need to have a good mug.

I finally found my mug, the one that makes you giggle with glee and contemplate taking it places with you. That you go to writeins with and fill it up with whatever. The mug that you clasp in two hands and savor every sip, because being in that perfect mug makes it taste better.

It might be a mug that your kids made for you in crafts out of clay and glazed with a godawful puke green and with a weirdly twisted handle. It might be a monogrammed, gold-inlaid custom order from Paris that you paid entirely too much for. It might even be that NaNoWriMo mug that I want so much. But you need a mug. If you don't have it yet, then I highly suggest you go on a hunt for it.

My mug is lavender, one of those oversized ones that you get in specialty coffee shops. I got it at Books a Million's Joe Muggs, and it's absolutely perfect. It is a pleasant shape, holds a dangerous amount of coffee that needs frequent amounts of warmups because you get down halfway and it feels too empty. It's the perfect shape and size to press both hands into to warm up my arthritic knuckles (yes, I know I 'm only 27, but hey, you can't tell genetics that I'm too young for this affliction). But best of all, it's BUMPY.

It is covered with evenly spaced raised bumps that I stroke when I'm thinking. When your fingers are achy from too long typing, you can rub them along these magical bumps and they are soothed into pounding out a few more words. And it only cost me $5. $4.55 to be exact, thanks to Violet's discount card.

You should find your mug. Make sure it's a big one (getting up to refill too often is a distraction... even if it's a good idea ergonomically speaking) Just having it can make you feel writerly. Use it only for writing, too, so that when you pour a mug of whatever-you're-drinking, your brain gets shifted into the right place to really get into writing; If you sit down, with no distractions, and your super writing mug (whatever form it may take) - hopefully you'll churn out a masterpiece!

Friday, October 20, 2006


The countdown to NaNo continues... and I'm dying to get started. Part of me wants to scrap the whole pretense of writing during November... I've won once already, and it's really a pride thing. What's important is that I write, right? Well, sortof.

I'm the municipal liaison for my region. My wrimos look up to me, and are counting on me to slog through the trenches side-by-side... if I start eleven days early, then I'm not really with them.

The problem is though, that I'm in this for me. I want to be published, but to do that, I have to actually write something. And so far, all I've got is a couple of character backstories and a synopsis. The writer in me is screaming to be let out, and I'm busy surfing the forums critiquing other folks' plots and roving the internet for blogs to read.

I want this so badly I can taste it, and it's killing me to wait until I get started.

I'll wait though, because the challenge is important to me. I want to succeed at any goal I've set myself, and this is one that I'm determined to make.

Now, if I can just convince my daughter that mama really does need you to not pull on the laptop cord..

Or even better. That I need to go to the coffee shop and write there.

Bless you, my husband, for enabling all of this.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The time draws near

It's October 16th. As I spend too much time on the NaNoWriMo forums, helping others, critiquing, answering questions, and pounding out the details of my own novel, I have to ponder this mad rush.

This year, it marks the beginning of my writing career.

Now, I've been a writer from the day I learned I could write 50 word books on notebook paper and staple them together. I've always wanted to be a published author. And yet, somehow I never even really tried all that hard. Why?

Laziness, mostly. Not fear of rejection, not fear of failure. I've always been confident enough in my writing ability that I am certain that one day, somehow, someone will publish my novels and actually pay me for them. It's all about lack of commitment and lack of motivation. I just never sat down and wrote my books.

Another reason has been distraction. Fanfiction is the biggest culprit. There's one thing I can say for fanfic... it kept me writing. The problem is, it took the effort away from the stuff I can actually make money on! If I had spent half the effort on my original fiction that I did on fanfic, I could have been a published author by now.

I'm 27. I have a daughter, and I'm not getting any younger. I'm more mature, and I have a better grasp of the things people want to read, what I want to read. And I think I write a lot better than many published authors out there. So, I'm going to do it. Parenthood has made me grow up a lot, made me more focused, and taught me that if I try hard enough, I can accomplish anything. And so I will.

Here's to the dawn of a new career. Thanks, Chris Baty. And thanks, NaNoWriMo, all of its crazy participants, novelist wannabes, superlative successes and abject failures. Most of all... thanks to my daughter, who has given me the motivation to just do it.

This one's for you, Lisa.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What makes a character compelling?

Some people struggle with characterization. I've seen people work on creating characters for years, and never quite master it, and for the life of them, can't figure out what they're missing. There's no magic formula, of course, and I'd be lying to you if I said I knew the answer.

However, here's what I do to create interesting, compelling characters that readers want to read about. They may hate them or love them, but they'll keep reading to learn more about them. Take this however you like; it's not a bible, it's just what I do. People tell me I have interesting characters.

  1. Mystery: Don't tell everything about your character up front. If your readers learn everything there is to know about your character in the first chapter, what reason have they to continue reading? But YOU should know. Don't tell all, but know all. It'll come through in your writing.
  2. Change: The best characters aren't static. Sometimes they start out innocent, and grow into maturity and disillusionment. Sometimes they start out evil, and become good. However, it's fun to play things in the opposite end of the spectrum. Look at Saruman. He was once good, and became a compelling character because of his corruption to evil. The person holding the chalice at the end of the story shouldn't be the same person who set out in search of it at the beginning. Sometimes, a lack of change can be interesting: a character who refuses to change in spite of travails can be fun... as long as they're not perfect to begin with. Which segues into our next criterion:
  3. Lack of perfection: Perfect people are perfectly boring. Look at your characters, and tell me what's wrong with them. Nothing? BIG problem. No one wants to read about perfection. People who look right, act right, and do everything right make you want to punch them. Give them flaws. I mean real flaws, too. "She can't be mean to anyone, ever" is not a flaw, it's a virtue in disguise. Make them petty, jealous, unable to see the evil in others, whatever. Make it a serious enough flaw that it's going to cause them real problems.
  4. Challenges: if your character doesn't face genuine challenges, that require sacrifice of some sort to overcome, then they're too perfect. They shouldn't meet all challenges with heads held high, and pass with flying colors. Grind their noses in the dirt. Make them suffer. Make them curse the gods for ever letting them be born. It is from such adversity that true heroes are born. What makes Frodo a hero isn't that he succeeded at a challenge... it's that he went on even through great hardships, unbearable loss, and certain failure. He paid dearly for that moment, and it scarred him forever.

I think the biggest problem people have with characters is the fear of letting go. They invest so much in a character that they really don't want to hurt them, so they can't quite bring themselves to really do so. Which results in a boring story. The Lord of the Rings wouldn't have resonated so much had the characters not truly suffered. And if you'll notice, the ones who get lost are the ones who suffered the least, or in the most superficial ways.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


There's a point in every writer's career when they get struck like a bolt of lightning, when their muse doesn't whisper... she shrieks, and she isn't going to leave you be until you hear her.

It might be a seed of an idea suddenly sprouts... but it's an oak tree on steroids, not the beanstalk you were expecting. It could be something you've been playing with for a while that suddenly explodes into a massive storyline, or a plot hole you couldn't plug, that suddenly resolves itself.

Whatever the result, it's undeniably overpowering. I've been hit with it numerous times, and today was one of them. I've been toying with ideas for a while now, and finally got one last night... but it wasn't more than a bare sketch, a brief outline that gave me some compelling characters to work with.

Well, now the thing has become a behemoth of mental gymnastics. Well, for the characters, at least. There's a plot twist or two that will be fun for the reader, methinks. And these characters are going to be truly, truly fun.

This year's NaNo is going to write itself, I swear. Gah. Now I have to wait for November 1st...

Ah well. I have a bunch of worldbuilding to do between now and then. Heck, I have to design a whole religion! The only thing I know about it is that it has a central Church (where the main character starts out) and that it is headed by a Pope-like figure, and that there is no distinction made between male and female priests (no priestesses).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Plot bunny!

I just got an idea about the story. I know that I've been wanting to work on an apocalyptic story, but lately, those sorts of tales are so overdone... so I've decided that the MC and her evil guy will start out looking for the artifact that will save the world, but find out in fact that it has nothing to do with any such thing, and that in fact it is for the advancement of the clergy officials in the church. So she enlists the reluctant aid of the evil guy, by promising something cool, to thwart the clergy's plans.

And I have a title:

Double Edged Sword. Will describe both the obvious, the evil guy, and the less obvious, the not-so-good guys. All entries related to the book will be labeled "des" for easy search later. :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Plot bunny? Just maybe!

I've finally got something resembling an idea. It's inspired somewhat by Pitch Black, the movie with Vin Diesel. Firmly not a fanfic, though!

Here's the general synopsis:

An innocent, naive priest/cleric type has been given a vision... she must go into the dangerous no-man's land to retrieve some object of great power and divine significance. It's a dangerous place, full of convicts, rogue mages, dangerous creatures, and all manner of indescribable beasts and challenges. The only problem is that there's only one person who's ever been known to enter that place and return alive. And he's a convict. A very nasty one, at that. He was exiled to the no-man's land (to be named) for an unspeakable crime, but managed to find his way back.

Now, that vision demands that she take him, and only him, into that place if she has any hope of survival, much less success. She will find allies in that place, but if he does not enter and return with her, then she will not recover the artifact, and will probably die. The vision's pretty specific.

The clergy officials verify her dream, as it agrees with visions that have been reported by seers and other clergy. So she must go to the deepest dungeons to retrieve this convict, somehow convince him not to kill her as soon as they leave the safety of the church. I'm thinking geas, of the sort that binds him to her. If she dies, he dies, sort of thing. The promise of a full pardon and release from the geas is his reward for returning safely with her.

They leave on their journey, and much adventure follows.

Whatcha think?

Monday, October 09, 2006

So much to do... and so little time left!

I've got SO much to do for this year's NaNo. I'm putting together some fun stuff with my co-ML for our NaNoWriMo group. I hope everyone likes what we've got planned. I promise it'll be pretty neat!

And I STILL don't have a plot. I've got a plot bunny or two tickling my ear with their furry little whiskers, but honestly, nothing is really clicking. I need to do some brainstorming sessions, but to be honest, it's been so long since I HAD a brainstorming session, I'm not quite sure what to do.

I'm so out of practice. This blog is going to be the spark that lights the fire under my arse, again. I hope. I really want to do this thing professionally, and this year's NaNo is going to be the turning point. Anyone who wants to be a professional writer must learn to write every day, and that's definitely the key to winning NaNo-- writing every day. Or at least writing enough most days that missing a day or two doesn't hurt you.

Here's to hoping.

Also, please take note of the new URL for my blog. Well, obviously, you know if you're here, but hey, I feel that I need to denote the difference. It's

Friday, October 06, 2006

So, a plot?

Sure, the title of the Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo) book is No Plot, No Problem, but in my case, I actually do rather need a plot to write. Otherwise, I stare at a blinking cursor.

Don't confuse this with writer's block. I do have writer's block, but thanks to NaNo, I learned to ignore it. Can't figure out how to get from where you are to the next scene? Skip it! Stick a nice little ***some text here*** sort of thing there, and move on. If you sit and stare at it, it's just going to get worse! By powering through, you can just keep moving, keep writing, and keep making progress. You can always come back and add more, but if you never move forward, you'll never finish the thing.

So, I've gotten sidetracked.

My plot.

I've toyed around with the thought of doing something mythology based. I've worked in the same fantasy world for so many years that I'm kindof in a rut, a rut I would like very much to get out of. So, I've narrowed it down to three possibilities:

Chinese mythology, focused on dragons (I'm a dragon nut... why not?)
Celtic mythology, focused on the Tuatha de Danaan (spelling?)
Norse mythology, focused on Ragnarok

I'm not really familiar with any of those, truth be told, but I know a little, enough to be intrigued and enough to want to do something with them. Whatever I write, it won't involve a whole lot of research. I may just read a tale or two, and go from there. I don't like restricting my fantasy writing a whole lot beyond what's in my head already. It's just too easy to get bogged down in the details, and I learned two years ago that it's hard to do NaNo when your book requires a lot of research. That year, I was doing a biblical fiction story, and I got so bogged down in making it accurate that I lost forward motion.

Now, in other news: I. Want. This. Mug. 16 oz of coffee? A girl could HURT herself.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A real blog?

I've decided that it's time I had a real blog. Not an online journal, as in the case of my livejournal.

So. What do I blog about?

How about the wonderful world of writing?

As we speak, I'm gearing up for the yearly challenge of NaNoWriMo. I'm the Municipal Liaison for my region (fancy speak for cat herder. Or moose herder.) I've only beaten the challenge the first year I tried, and various things have interfered with my winningsince then. This year, it's going to be different. I'm home all the time, and even though I have an active ten month old and three online classes I'm taking, I'm determined to do it.

I've been told that I'm a good writer. My skills have somewhat atrophied over the years, but I want to get them back. I want to be published. I know I'm a better writer than say, Anne Rice: I'll actually let an editor edit! So, how about we make this blog about my journey to become published?

Here I will post it all. Rejections, submissions, queries... the works. The process of writing, writer's block (Writer's block? HAH! I won't submit.) NaNoWriMo this year will only be the beginning. I don't know if what I write this year will be the masterpiece that will get me out of the slush pile, but I'm determined to do this. It's been a dream of mine since I was old enough to write books on notebook paper and staple them together. I can communicate. I can use big words. I can even make people laugh on occasion.

So get ready. If you want to read, then do so. Laugh, cry, point fingers or mock... I'm ready for it all.

And who knows... one day? I might be doing a book signing in your hometown.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This is Not My Actual Blog

Actually, it IS my actual blog, now.

When I posted this, it was mostly just to have a blog to comment on my cousin's website, where he has a blogger blog. Instead of anonymous comments, I wanted to be able to post as me.

As the months passed, I realized that my personal journal is just that... a journal. Not a blog, and I wanted a space for me to devote to a single subject.

So I have. I have now made this blog my place, my home for all things writing-related.