Blog Hopping the Worldwide Artist Way

Do not panic!  I’m just taking control of programming and bringing you something else for a quick moment.  Trust me:  the followup to the dreams of Annie and Kerry are coming.

No, this is something I haven’t done in a while:  I’m giving a short interview for the Worldwide Artist Blog Hop!  I wouldn’t lie, no I wouldn’t.

I was nominated by the owner of HodgePodge Crochet, my good friend Tanya, and while most of the people she knows are of the crocheting persuasion, she’s also known me for a long time and also knows there’s not a lot of times I’ll say “no” to her, so when she asks if I’ll jump in on this sucker, I’m like, “Wait–you want me to do something?  For you?  I’ll get right on that, Missy!”  I didn’t actually act that way, but I gotta make it sound more exciting than me PMing her back and saying, “No problem.”

Does this housewife look like she'd say no to a good friend?

Beside, does this housewife look like she’d say no to a good friend?

It’s a simple process:  I answer four questions, and then I nominate two other blogers who may or may not accept this challenge.  I can’t get too upset if they say no, because I tend to blow these things off as well, but I’ll give it a shot and see if they go for it, or write nasty things about me in one of their blog posts.

With that in mind, let’s get to the questions, shall we?

 

Why do I do what I do?

I do it because these days I have to.  I’ve mentioned many times on this blog about the struggles I’ve had over the years with becoming a serious writer, and it wasn’t until I took a creative writing course in 2010 that I decided to give it a try and to keep at it.  However, I didn’t have much of a success at it until July 2011, when I was asked to write a story for a possible Halloween anthology.  With a bit of a push–and a lot of editing help–from Tanya (the same one who nominated me for this blog hop), I wrote Kuntilanak, and the rest is kinda history.  Since then I’ve kept at the writing, and next year I’m determined to start a big push to publish, either the self way, or through the “traditional” fashion.

 

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

This is one of those crazy, insane questions for which there isn’t any real answer.  I’d say my settings and ideas aren’t all that different from others, but I always try to come up with interesting characters.  In fact, I feel all my stories are character driven, as they are the one who actual make the story work, and keep the reader interested.  If you don’t have interesting characters, you’ll have to throw in a lot of Bayplosions, and I’m not good with those.

 

How does my creative process work?

Holy geez, as my character Kerry would say, I could spend all night talking about this question.  Let me try and keep it below the word count of my current work in progress . . .

Once I get an idea I think about it–a lot.  I might spend a month hammering out things like characters and plot, and as that happens I might begin to make notes about events and characters.

During this point I start actively piloting out the story, usually in Scrivener (my writing software of choice), though I will often check the story’s time line using Aeon Timeline, which is another great piece of software.  If I feel like I need to develop an event or character–either before I start writing, or during the process itself–I’ll jump into Scrapple and start making mind map notes.

By the time I get to writing, I know who my main characters are, who the secondary characters are, what everyone is going to do, who they know, who they like, who they don’t like, and who they’ll change opinions about.  I also know where the story is going, and while I may change a few things along the way–like deleting or adding scenes–I generally don’t have to because I’ve already roughly written the story in my head.  All I gotta do is, you know, put those words into the computer.

 

What am I working on now?

My current work in progress is a name titled The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, a novel I started on 30 October, 2013, a couple of days before that year’s NaNoWriMo, and am still going at strong, having already added nearly another forty-five thousand words since 1 November, 2014.  I know some of you are asking, “You’ve been working on this for over a year?  How big is this novel?”

Big.

Big.

Yes, that says three hundred and thirty-seven thousand, ninety-four words, and I’m maybe seventy thousand words from the end.  Maybe.  I’ve joked that this is my Infinite Jest, and it certainly is as big as any of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, but without the character deaths–which I can change if I get bored . . .

I will finish this story, and it will happen early in the next year, and the fact that I’m going to add fifty thousand words to this by the end of the month means I’m feeling like I could actually add another thirty or forty thousand words in December, so maybe–I’ll finish it before 2015?  Hey, if I can type “The End” by the end of January 2015, I’ll be a happy girl.

 

There you go:  my answers to the four presented questions.  Now, the big question–who do I nominate.  Well, now, here we go–and don’t hate me, ladies, because I’m beautiful; I’m sure you can find all sorts of other reasons.

 

Burgess Taylor, who loves to write with coffee in hand and who feels like a true kindred spirit when it comes to getting those words out–even when she struggles with it, as I have from time to time.

And a friend from Down Under–Rachel Tsoumbakos, who not only writes novels but does some wonderful reviews of current TV shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones.  We sometimes chat about all three shows–more like I leave witty comments on her posts and she witties me back–and more times than not her reviews leaving me smiling.  Just don’t ask her about her nick for Cersei, which means you will . . .

 

Okay, there it is.  Hope you had fun, and believe me when I say there’s another post coming.

Would I lie?

 

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?

A Roundabout History

It didn’t take a lot of words:  all together about one hundred and eighty.  There was a bit of deleting, and some moving of things here and there, but after an hour of writing, I managed to finish the scene I’ve worked on for almost a week.  And ended it off this way:

 

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

“You know: we can get our picture taken at one of the most famous departure points of one of the most famous schools in literature—and tomorrow we’re leaving for Amsterdam to get ready to leave for our own strange school.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Kind of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

Annie nodded slowly. “Yes, that is rather remarkable.” She sipped the last of the Lemon Aid—not so much to quench her thirst but to hide the smile that had begun to form . . . Oh, Kerry: if only I could tell you about how strange things are at our new school.

 

Oh, Annie, you little minx.  You could tell him, but you’d probably have to leave his body in an alley somewhere afterwords, right?  No, she’s not like that.  Not at all.

Five thousand, two hundred and sixty-three words, which turned two scenes that were about three thousand words total into one scene about eighty percent bigger.  But a lot gets done in this scene, and I feel it’s far better than what had come before.  And I am finished–

See the little hash marks at the bottom?  That means "I'm Finished!"

See the little hash marks at the bottom? That means “I’m Finished!”

This time around.  Later comes the edits and the additional grief, but for now–done.

It’s also a little strange for me as a writer as well, because today is an important day in the history of my make-believe school.  Really, tomorrow is when all the hell breaks loose, but the 29th of April is when the school suffered a massacre during the last full school year of the 20th Century.  Instructors and students died–a lot of them pretty horribly–and when it was all over a few of the people who are in my current story did what they could back then to hold everything together and keep the school from falling apart.  After all, when thirty-plus students and a good portion of your staff and instructors die at the hands of crazy infiltrators, it tends to make the returning student body feel like maybe they should find another place to practice their mad skills.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a bodybag because someone ripped your heart from your chest.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a Body Bag because a bad person ripped your heart from your chest.

Interesting story, and one I have to fix up and publish.  Also the first one where I had to deal with a nutty beta reader who would not read past the third page because it was “slow”, and told me to remove the first two parts (which she didn’t read) while at the same time refusing to read the third part until I made the changes she demanded.  Um . . . yeah.  I’ll get right on that, because I’m all about dancing to the tune of crazy readers.

Maybe I could find a way to send them off to my school for a weekend . . .

Out of the Fire, Into the Dance

Not much writing wise got accomplished last night–and yet, there was.  It was a weird, raining night (not dark and stormy, mind you) and I had to door to my balcony open and my fleece jacket on while I did my nails and thought about writing scenes.  I kept walking from the computer to the balcony, where I would take in the night air–and the noise of the street twelve stories below–while I let my nails dry.  It’s a great way to think and let you mind work on ideas–

I worked on a story.  Only it wasn’t my current work in progress.  I was thinking along the lines of erotica, because I’ve reread some of the stuff I did years back and I’m interesting in publishing it under another name and seeing if this generates any cash.  Be my luck that I’ll end up selling big and I’ll spend the rest of my life writing all sorts of strange stuff for the masses to wank to.

But I believe Gore Vidal started out this way, so there are worse paths to follow.

I also spoke with a friend who read a few of those stories–I’d sent them her way Thursday night–and she told me she’d had a difficult time sleeping because, well, I apparently brought back sexy.  She’s also an illustrator, and she let me know she had a few ideas about a couple of the scenes, and she wanted to work up a few preliminary sketches to show.  I let her know that if I liked them I’d commission a few more for the story, and use them when I publish–which, honestly, I now feel is a bigger possibility that it was a few months before.

Which brings me back to the current work . . . the Great Cassie Novel on Hold.

Today or tomorrow I’m going to go into one of the scenes and rewrite part of it.  If I like what I see, I’ll move on to another scene which needs a rewrite after the previous rewrite didn’t feel right.  If I’m satisfied there, then I’ll move on to the new scene that need recreating, and then rewrite the scene that follows.

I know my focus there now, and I have a better feel for the characters.  I say I may start the rewrite today because I still have things to work out in the character map, and there’s a few things I want to do with Kerry as well.

The rewrite is coming, however, because yesterday was a Dance on a Volcano sort of day, and it was necessary to, as the lyrics say, get out of the night and out of the dark, into the fire and into the fight.  One as to make up their mind if they’re going to continue or just cut and run–and I decided there really isn’t any choice for me.  It’s finish the story in a form that isn’t going to embarrass me, and by that I mean I can live with the characters.  It won’t be an easy struggle, but I’m certain I’ll find my way through the death zone of expectations that didn’t pan out.

"Death zone my ass.  You wanna see a death zone?  Watch what I do with the whole London section."

“Death zone my ass. You wanna see a death zone? Watch what I do with the whole London section.”

The novel will get finished.  That’s all there is to that crap.  Just need to stop being worried and get through what needs to be done.

It’s dance on the volcano or die time.  I know where I want to go.

The Curtain Parts

Today is Travel Day once more:  that day where I hop in the car and drive six hundred and thirty-five miles back to The Burg after a week of sleeping in my old own bed.  So on the road about ten my time, and back to the apartment about ten at night Burg Time–or as the kids in my story would say, around twenty-two.

I managed to get Parts One and Two formatted and set up as a pdf for beta reading.  I sent the first one out last night, so right before I headed off to bed someone was reading this:

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Two parts, one hundred and seventy-six pages.  Part Three is waiting in the wings, and I know one of my readers will demand I have it to her soon.  I’ll be mean and ship it off about the time the season finale of The Walking Dead comes on, because I’m that sort of mean girl.  Naw, I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that mean.

This is another of the great things about Scrivener.  I set up what I wanted printed, told it I needed a pdf, set the basic formatting, and there it was–and there it was again, because I’d find something I didn’t like, and I’d go back and fix it, then tell the program I needed another pdf.  I did this for a few hours, because I pretty much did another read through of the manuscript.  My beta reader found a couple of things like words that are unnecessary and a few other things, but I know that’s coming.  There’s one hundred forty thousand words there, and I’ve only given this a pretty good read through, and a so-so yesterday.  There’s probably three or four more edits ahead of this act before it’s to where I want it.

I know this, because I’ve become a better writer in the last year.

But the manuscript is nice and need, and if I’d wanted I could have made this an .mobi and let someone read it straight up as an ebook without navigation.  Or maybe with it, because you can have Scrivener set up your own table of contents.  I should try that and see if it works.  The people could get here sooner:

When Helena smirks, a shiver should run down your spine, 'cause it's not a good smirk.

When Helena smirks a shiver should run down your spine, ’cause it’s not a good smirk.  Don’t worry:  Annie will get to see it next week, ’cause she’s gonna have fun . . .

And right there is where I go from one scene–The Witch House–to another–Selena’s Meadow–with the four “#” there to show where the break happens.  I have them labeled for me, but the reader won’t see them–unless I set it up in a table of content and allow the person reading this on an ebook to go right to the scene.  Not a bad idea, actually.  A bit of work, but . . . if you’re paying to read a huge first act, then you should have the option to do it your way, right?

This gives me extra incentive to get back to The Burg in one piece, ’cause I’ll have someone eager to read Part Three real soon.  Like . . . yesterday soon.

I knew I should have formatted that when I had the time last night.

That Ol’ Time Editing Feeling

You know what I hate?  Being up at five AM with thoughts running about in my head for a blog post I want to write, but I shouldn’t, because I know I’m going to piss off a lot of people if it’s written.  Then again, that’s nothing new:  I’ve had lynch mobs on my ass before because of things I’ve written, and as other writers have said, if you don’t piss off someone with your writing, you’re doing it wrong.  The thing it this post will take time, so I’ll likely save it for the weekend so I can savor the ill-will I’ll receive after it’s posted.

Or maybe not.  Maybe it’ll make some sense.

For now, however, I need to put those thoughts out of my head, because the day is starting and, baby, it’s cold outside.  I do not look forward to the walk to work, but it must be done because bills don’t pay themselves with money found growing on these now-bare trees.  It’s the way of the world, unfortunately.  It would be so much nicer to just have people give you money to do things like write.

Last night was like a trip down memory lane–one that, this time, wasn’t strewn with rubbish and the bodies of characters to drink and recreational chemicals.  Nope.  It was a good memory time, one that relaxed me and had me thinking about where I’m going with this stuff I do at night.

I got into editing a novel.

I’ve had a friend’s novel sitting on my computer for a bit, and now that my own stuff is behind me I’m setting aside a few hours every night to get it cleaned up.  Keep in mind:  this isn’t my work.  This is something I said I’d do for another person.  And doing I am.

I brought it up, threw on some tunes, and got right into work.  I’m working with a pdf, so I’m making annotations as I go along, correcting punctuation, fixing passive voice, and adding a note here and there where I feel it’s necessary to bring up an important point about the plot.  It requires reading and reattaching myself to another author’s characters who, I’m happy to say, I enjoy seeing.  Sure, there are times when I read a line and wonder, “What the hell does she mean here?”, but that’s part of the fun of editing–

"No--it's impossible to do that with a polar bear.  I think she meant walrus."

“No–it’s impossible to do that with a . . . Oi.  I thought only I wrote this kind of madness.”

The thing is I felt right into the routine.  I had music playing and a manuscript before me, and I read and made my little marks, and all seemed right in the world.  No distractions other than those I allowed myself, so the work proceeded well.  I have to take my time here, because I don’t want to miss thing, so before you know it a couple of hours are behind you and twenty pages are edited and down for the count.

It’s the first time since I finished my own work in progress that I’ve felt at easy.

That’s because this is what I should be doing.  This is what I was meant for me.