Living Beyond the Walls

I’ll tell you, I had every intention of getting into writing last night.  Computer was ready, I was ready, there was nothing on television, I was ready for music and typing out words.

But life never lets you do what you want to do, right?

As I’m leaving work I check my phone and find I missed a call.  I check it, and it’s from the place where I was getting my new glasses from, and they tell me they’re it.  So I get home, get ready–just to even go out a have to get ready a little–and head out.  Fortunately traffic isn’t bad, but I still have to make a run to somewhere on the north side of the city.  And I notice that traffic going into the city is bad because of a wreck.  Not something good, particularly when things are backed up for miles.

I get my glasses–yeah, they look great . . .

Oh, and new earrings, too.  Wonderful.

Oh, and new earrings, too. Wonderful.

. . . and after picking them up I decides I need to pick up a few things at Target, and then get something to eat.  I wasn’t planing on staying out long, but I didn’t want to try and fight my way back through the traffic, so I took my time with my dinner.

By the time I rolled back to the apartment to snap the above picture, it was about eight PM.

Then I had to roll out and do something on Facebook, because I’m hosting a book club this month, and I had to set up which three books people can choose from.  Since I’d made my selections months ago it was just a matter of doing the ol’ cut and paste and getting things in place before setting up a poll, but it still took time to get that and the notifications together.  And as soon as I finished getting that set up–

The questions came.

Because they always do when there’s a new book.  Because people want to know things, they have interests in what you’re presenting.  I should have known, but sometimes I can be . . . clueless.  It’s not an easy feeling.

Oh, and I didn’t mention the PMs from people wanting to get together in a couple of weeks.  Did I mention that?  No.  I have now.

This is life, and it’s something I haven’t experienced in a bit.  It’s where unexpected things jump out at you and you do what is necessary to handle them.  My plan had been to come home, start dinner, get the book club stuff set up, eat, then write.  Silly me:  what did I know?

It’s a nice change up to be able to do something unexpected–and I had been waiting for my glasses for a few days, so there was a bit of excitement there.  I just didn’t expect it all to happen like . . . this.

Writing tonight, I promise.  I’ve got Isis trying to explain a school break-in where there shouldn’t be one, and gargoyles hiding in the wall.  I’ll get back into my fantasy . . .

And hope that life doesn’t throw a curve at me tonight.

Here I Am, Speaking Wise Stuff

Today I’m doing something I haven’t done in long time:  I’m speaking on another blog!  Yes, I did a guest post over at My Write Side and I am giving Wednesday Writers Wisdom–which you can probably take or leave.

You’ll find me here on this link, so come on over and share the love, and see what I have to say.

I'm even having coffee.  Come join me.

I’m even having coffee. Come join me.

Through the Door of Imagination

Coming to the end of my scene last night–and I should mention, the end of Chapter Sixteen as well–I wrote this final paragraph:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Erywin sat staring at the empty chair across from her, fingers tapping against both arm rests. “There’s something we, the instructors, say—” She slowly turned her head so she was looking at both children. “—that pertains to both teaching and counseling, Annie. ‘We can show you the door; we can even hold it open for you. But you have to be willing to step through to see what’s on the other side’.” Erywin rose, straightening her pajamas. “She insisted there isn’t anything on the other side, and that’s as far as I can take her.” She respectfully bowed her head. “Have a good evening, children.”

 

I use the symbolism of a door a lot in this novel.  Passing through one door to another and finding something incredible waiting.  This was the end of Kerry’s Evaluation and Assessment:

 

He nodded slowly. “Okay, Doc.” He looked for the exit. “How do I get out of here?”

The doctor nodded at something behind him. “Go out the patio doors.”

Kerry turned and started walked towards them. After three steps he stopped and turned. “There really isn’t a patio out there.”

“There is if you want one.” She gave him a knowing look. “You’re going to find out that around here vision and willpower—and knowing how to apply them correctly—go a long ways towards making things you want happen.” Again she nodded toward the doors. “Go on, Kerry. Enjoy what’s waiting on the other side.”

 

Kerry did, and slipped right down into the rabbit hole.  Annie did much the same for hers:  she walked through one door, found she had to walk through another to meet with her adviser–and ended up telling a multi-millenniums old creature that she could stuff it, she was there at school for her reasons and her reasons only, and to hell with everything else.  What did she get for her troubles?  Shown to another door which should have lead to a nice, comfy bed–which in a way it did, where she said something to a certain doctor/nurse, and that led to questions and answers and reveals and . . . well, the start of something great.

Annie did the same thing to Kerry in London.  When she suggested he come with her on a walking tour of London, she didn’t say, “Pack your shit, Welsh Boy, we’re going out.”  No, she asked, “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”  She showed him the door, but in the end, he had to decide to walk through and investigate the wonders she was about to show him.

Writing a story, a novelette, a novella, a novel–when you start they’re all like standing before door, wondering what you should do.  The door is the idea, but what is on the other side–that’s your imagination.  What you’re going to find on the other side . . .

Hey, you gotta open it first.

Hey, you gotta open it first.

What you’ll find is a room full of jumble.  Plots, characters, scenes–they are everywhere.  It’s the way things are.  Stories are a messy thing, there’s stuff all over the place.  But if you work that idea enough, if you think about your characters and where you want them to go, what you want them to do, what sort of adventures they’ll have–in time, you’ll tidy up that room, get things in order, and eventually produce something.

Or as Dwayne Johnson might put it:

 

When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock.  Kick that bitch in, smile, and introduce yourself.

 

And then start moving things about and getting that story in shape.

I’m always thinking about my stories.  If not the one I’m on, then the next.  Though this time is different:  I’m eight months into writing, 201,101 words into the story, and I might have another six, seven, eight months of writing ahead of me.  I’m going to make a push to knock off twenty thousand more words by the end of July and get extremely close to the end of Act Two–and then I’m gonna start editing another novel, because publishing, that’s why.

I think all the time about my stories, my characters, where I want them.  It’s a non-stop thing.  Once I’m through that door I have to stay and get things done.  That’s why you get a little crazy writing, because you want out of that room, but you can’t leave until you finish.

But not everyone is like me, wanting to write grand, sweeping novels.  Some people are really good with short stories.  The process is the same, the time frame is a lot different.  And keep in mind, there’s writing, and there’s editing.  Writing starts the story; editing builds upon that foundation, allows you to correct what isn’t right.  No story is perfect on the first draft:  I know this all to well.  Keep polishing.  Make it pretty.  In time, you’ll get it there.

Your stories are waiting on the other side of a door.  I’ve shown you that door–

It’s up to you to go on through.

Unpitching the Tent

In all the excitement that was yesterday–you know, with work and eating and trying to write–I completely forgot it that it was the start of Camp NaNo for a lot of people.  If you don’t know Camp NaNo, it’s a far more relaxed version of November’s NaNoWriMo, where you can come, relax, set your own goals, and really have a much easier time of writing than one may find during the insanity of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days.  And it’s also held twice a year, which means you can stretch out that story you always wanted to write over a couple of months.

"And when you're finished, it's up to you if you wanna toss that manuscript on this lovely, warming fire . . ."

“And when you’re finished, it’s up to you if you wanna toss that manuscript on this lovely, warming fire . . .”

My first–and so far only Camp–was a year ago, during the July 2013 event.  I ended up in a cabin with two friend I know from Facebook, and a couple of other people who kinda talked about writing but never really did much, and we . . . well, we set out upon our writing adventure.  (I should explain that in order to give one the feeling that they’re out on a camping retreat, you’re placed in a virtual cabin with other people, and the idea is you sit around in your pajamas and eat snacks and drink hot chocolate, and tell everyone about the great story you’re going to write.  Then you go to sleep and do it again the next day.)

If I give this too much thought, I can pin down where I am today with The Foundation Chronicles to this point a year ago, for it was with Camp NaNo that I started on my quest to Salem.  No, I didn’t start on my current novel:  I actually wrote the prequel to it, The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, which ended up becoming the point where I brought to the stage some of the characters that inhabit my current novel–and even more importantly, I brought everyone in the school, the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, and made it a real place.

Don't let the witches fool you, it's really a nice place to send your kid.

Don’t let the witches fool you, it’s really a nice place to send your kid.

That prequel, which was suppose to be a twenty-five thousand word novella, turned into fifty-three thousand word novel by the time the month was over, and that eventually led to where I am now:  continuing to work on a massive novel that just just last night saw me trip over forty-five thousand words for Act Two.  And it’s become something of a real love/hate relationship, because there I time I so want this story over.  I know how it ends, but . . . getting there is taking so much time.

"Just as soon as we get back from my ten mile canoe trip, I'll get my five hundred words in for the day."

“As soon as we get back from my ten mile canoe trip, I’ll get my five hundred words in for the day.”

I’ve run into this with some of my novels in the past.  You start out zooming, full of energy.  Then you slow down a little.  Then you find out that it’s getting hard to start those chapters.  Then you start to feel like there’s no end in sight, and then, when everything is darkest, you realize you’re almost finished, and you don’t really want it to end.

Well, actually, you do.  You can’t wait to slap on “The End” and move on to the next adventure.

Thinking about it last night, this is the first time I’ve stayed involved in a project that’s lasted a year.  It’s really more than a year, though, because I spent most of last June prepping The Scouring, and the work I did there led to the current novel as well.  And I probably spent a good year working on the idea, working out the characters and the location and the story.

And I’m dealing with the understanding that I could find myself dealing with the end of this novel a year from now.

"So you started this during a camping event, and you decides to celebrate finishing the novel by . . . camping?" "Yeah, I'm strange that way."

“So you started this during a camping event, and you decides to celebrate finishing the novel by . . . camping?”
“Yeah, I’m strange that way.”

I will end Act Two and then find the time to start getting another story published before climbing into Act Three.  I also have to consider the possibility of publishing Act One as a stand alone to get interest started in Act Two, which may or may not be a good idea, but it’s a start to something.

Have fun at the camp, guys.  I won’t be joining you because there’s all the stuff I have going on around me–you know, things–and I’ve got a lot of other reasons to keep my tent in my closet this year–

A little over one hundred and ninety-five thousand of them when you think about it . . .

A little over one hundred and ninety-five thousand of them when you think about it . . .

Have fun fighting off the bugs!

The Visions of the Road Ahead

You know it’s going to be a long day when I’m drinking coffee in the afternoon.

Working on a program and being up about four-thirty AM that morning put a thump on my head, and by one in the afternoon I was getting a cuppa, because I knew I was going to crash and burn if I didn’t.  I made it through the afternoon, and I did so with a plan . . .

When I got home I waited for traffic to die down a little–I usually finish my walk from work by four-thirty PM, so it’s still rush hour out there–then I went out for a little shopping.  I picked up a few things I needed, then headed over back across the river to the West Bank–as I’ve heard people at work call it–and hit my favorite Panera.  I picked up a flatbread, some soup, and a smoothie.  Oh, and I fired up my computer and pulled up something writing related, because if you aren’t writing you’re thinking about something writing related, yeah?

I got out my Idea File.

I said yesterday that I needed to start getting serious not just on writing, but on publishing.  If you’re not publishing, you’re writing for yourself, and while that’s cool, I don’t have a problem with others doing that, it’s not what I’m doing.  As a friend of mine posted on her wall the other day, “Some people dream of success, others make it happen.”  Shit, dudes, that’s more true than you can imagine.  If I wanna get those stories out there, they ain’t gonna publish themselves, are they?  Just like my characters aren’t writing the story when I’m sleeping, otherwise my current novel would be finished . . .

But going through the Idea File was more than just deciding what to publish–I had to do something else . . .

The File in all its messy glory.

The File in all its messy glory.

I added a few statuses to the file.  First, I have “Won’t Do”, and that’s pretty self-explanatory.  There are some stories that, while the ideas are, or I should say were, great, I’m probably never going to write that particular tale.  As I read somewhere the other day, being a writer sometimes means having to let go of the past, because you’re beyond that.  On the Out was an idea I actually worked up through the 1990’s as a trilogy, and I really liked it–I even wrote about fifteen thousand words for it.  But it’s dead.  I’m never going there.  I take that back:  I won’t say never, but I don’t think the story would be that good if I wrote the sucker.

And the other two–simply couldn’t do them.  Lorelei’s Lessons actually goes back to the summer of 2011, and I also wrote a few thousand words of that.  But I didn’t feel what I was producing touched me, and I’ve never went back to it.  Which is probably for the best.

So, what did I plan?  Here it is:

Don't look so shocked there's actually something there!

Don’t look so shocked there’s actually something there!

Sometime after I get Act Two almost finished I’m going to start editing Kolor Ijo, which was my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, and the followup to my story Kuntilanak.  Yes–a sequel!  It’s a good novel, a good story with good characters, taking place in Indonesia, a place few people really know.  My plan is to get it done with editing and a cover and have it ready by the end of the year.  Maybe like by the first of December, so all those people looking to blow money on gifts will send a few bucks my way.

Fantasies in Harmonie will come out in March the following year, and it’ll be under a different name ’cause it’s dirty.  As in like there’s a lot of crazy sexy stuff going on.  I gotta come up with a good, sexy, mistressy sort of author name for this stuff, because I do have a few strange erotica tales floating about.  Just ask the people who’ve read them . . .

And last, Suggestive Amusements.  I wrote that damn thing the summer of 2012, before writing Kolor Ijo, when I was doing time in Indianapolis and I truly thought I was going to lose my mind.  I like the story, I like the characters, and I want it out.  It’s as good a story as anything I’ve written, and a change of pace from the other two on the list.

There’s one other status I put up in my file:  “Next”.  As in, “What should I write after this monster I have now is done?”  I’m going for Northern Lights.  This means I can start thinking about the characters and locations and other important stuff like, you know, plot.  That’s my plan, because I would love to write a horror story about three women roaming around Alaska.  I mean, what could go wrong?

One thing I didn’t put here:  I could always publish the various acts of The Foundation Chronicles–A for Advanced, as I’m going along.  That could always come out when you least expect it . . .

There’s my plan, and I’m doing my damnedest to stick to it.  Time to tell the world–

Cassie’s got some stories to sell.

The Long Evening of Silent Dreams

Yesterday was pretty much one of the best I’ve had in a long time.  Had a good day on the blog, with probably my biggest days ever.  Managed to get through work and was pretty productive in the process.  Had a fairly light dinner which did wake me up in the middle of the night with gas.

I wrote almost nothing, however.

It was really a combination of emotions and my body telling me I needed a break.  The last couple of days, between my novel and blog posts, I’ve written about forty-five hundred words, and when you add that into the normal mix of, you know, working, it adds up to a lot going on, mentally speaking.  I don’t get much of a physical workout typing, but it does put the strain on the brain.

And then I looked at my over all word counts–

First I looked at Act Two and was like, okay . . .

First I looked at Act Two and was like, okay . . .

But then . . .

I looked at the whole manuscript, and was like, "Holy shit."

I looked at the whole manuscript, and was like, “Holy shit.”

Eight months now I’ve been hard at work, with a month and a half of that to do edits and rewrites.  This has really become my second job, writing this novel, and I haven’t spent this much time on a single work since–well, since my first novel which ended up taking twenty years to finish.  I do promise I’ll finish this one in a lot shorter period of time.

But now I have to start thinking like a real writer; I need to start getting things published.  I haven’t put out any new work since last May, and the thinking is starting to go like, “Maybe what I need to do is pick out a couple of things that I can get out to readers so they can look them over, offer suggestions for edits, and then find someone to do covers.  Because the shit in my “Stories to Edit” folder aren’t doing anything but collecting electronic dust there.

So my thinking is, after Act Two is in the bag I’ll pull out a couple of things and start getting them ready.  I can think of two novels that could go up, and maybe even one rather dirty little story as well–under another name, of course.  But there’s more to writing than just writing–it’s just fan fiction that doesn’t see the light of day if I don’t get it out there.  Yeah?

I’ve also got to consider if, by the end of the year, if I want to start putting this novel out by acts.  Say, Act One out by the first of the year; then Act Two in March, and then Act Three . . . well, by next summer I should have finished Act Three.  And it would be a great way to get interest in the story releasing it that way.  I hope.

Last night was also a good night for crying.  That was another reason I couldn’t write anything:  lots of emotional distress.  Really, getting flippy is not a good way to spend the evening.  You look at something, you smile, then a minute later you’re gasping for air you’re so crying so hard.  And ten minutes later you’re back to laughing, or at least smiling over a random thought.

Tonight I’ll be back into the new scene, which I really do want to finish.  And the one after that should be short and sweet.  I need to get to my Witch House by this weekend–

Which reminds me:  I have to think of something else to write as well.

Does it never end?

The Editing Muse

There was no editing last night.  None.  Nada.  Absolutely zero.  And I’m certain my story feels badly about the whole thing.

"We miss you!"

“We missed you!”

I’m sure you do, pumpkin, but mommy had other things to do last night.  Like drive to Silver Springs, MD, and hang out with an author friend I’ve know for a long time, but never met, Dana Myles.  We walked, we ate, we chatting–you know, doing things that normal people do.  It was fun, and it’s something I should get out and do more often.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t think about my story.  Oh, no.  We talked about it.  A lot.  Dana wanted to hear all about my story, and I was ready to tell her–

But I was also thinking about something else on the ride down, which was a nice, long one because someone decided to take out a lot of guard railing in Baltimore, leaving me stranded in a five mile long backup for almost an hour.  I thought about editing.

Yesterday’s posted elicited a few comments on editing, and the consensus seems that editing is the suck.  Most writers I know hate editing.  Even though they know they need it, when their story tries to send them to editing, they say no, no, no.  I was the same way; I dreaded getting into editing mode.  Such a pain in the ass–

Well . . . not really.

One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that editing isn’t a necessary evil, it’s just necessary.  Because no matter what you do to get your story off the ground, no matter what you do to make certain it’s going to become a good story, there’s always something . . . off.

A lot of my feelings on the matter of getting your first draft perfect match what I wrote back in late January of this year:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry didn’t look at Professor Ellison as he mumbled a reply. “I don’t . . . I’m not sure I’d be any good.”

“I can understand that.” Ellison now moved a little closer, relaxing to keep his body language neutral. “Are you worried you’re gonna suck?”

Annie almost laughed; Kerry looked up a bit surprised by the question. “A little.”

“That’s okay, you know—” The professor leaned against the machine closest to Kerry, but he kept the boy the center of his attention. “As a creative person you have permission to suck—particularly if it’s your first time trying something. Writing, painting, drawing, playing: the first time you try any of these things you’re probably going to suck—and that’s okay.”

“I’d rather not suck in front of a bunch of people.”

“No one does, but even the best do now and then. And between now and and the weekend after the 21st of March, you’ve got about five months to practice and get better.” He decided to try another approach. “You know who never sucks?”

Kerry almost said “Professionals,” then caught himself because he knew of numerous examples where they had. “No. Who?”

“The people who never take a shot. The ones who are sitting in the audience going on about how people suck, how you suck, all the while sitting there running off their mouths.” He let himself relax, so as to put Kerry at ease. “I can get you a good tutor. I know just the perfect one for you, too.” He stepped away from the synthesizer and stood before the boy. “What do you think? Wanna be one of the few A Levels who gets up and shows everyone what you got?”

You are allowed to suck, but it’s a good idea to keep the sucking to a minimum.  That’s why Professor Ellison wants to get a tutor for Kerry–because there is sucking, and then there’s “That’s one hell of a train wreck, fella,” sucking.  It’s one of the reasons I spend so much time setting up my novels before the first word goes on the page, because far too many times I’ve seen people put up a post about how they’re seventy thousand words into their story, and it’s a complete hot mess and can’t be rescued–

That’s train wreck level sucking, and I stay away.  I always try to figure out my story well ahead of time, so I get rid of the plot holes and the such.  One of the reasons I time line things out the way I do is because I don’t want to mess that stuff up.  Like I pointed out last night, there are events that happened to Annie and Kerry in Part Three of Act One that never get resolved until about Chapter Twenty-Eight of Act Three.  There’s something that happens to Kerry in Part Three of Act One that doesn’t get resoled until the third book.  There are things that I just have to know, because . . .

I’m like that.

And yet, no matter how good you are with a story, there are times you get something wrong–something that is way, way the opposite of right, and then your story–more likely a beta reader who hates what you’ve done with a character–turns and comes at you like an unstoppable creature who has you tied up in the bathroom, and is hell-bent on forcing you to return to the story and rewrite things so they become right!

"You have her crying--crying?  No, no:  you will go back and you will fix her!  I look serious, do I not?  Then, when you are finished, we have Jell-o with lots of sugar--"

“You have her crying–crying? No, no: you will go back and you will fix her! I look serious, do I not? Then, when you are finished, and all is correct, we’ll have Jell-O with lots of sugar–“

There’s a muse you do not fuck with.

You do it because, as a writer, you have to get it right.  You’re allowed some sucking on that first draft:  there’s no excuse after that.  That’s why I edit.  And guess what?

I actually kinda like it.