The Great Gig on the Side

Last night was a time for editing, but never once did I bring up my work.  Say what?

I was chatting last night.  I was chatting with a friend who writes as well, for it seems that I’ve made a lot of writing friends over the last two years–almost three since I restarted everything with a class in the fall of 2010.  I was in the mood to chat after driving for over any hour through a torrential downpour that is still going on this morning.  So the brain wasn’t doing what it was suppose to do, and I was relaxing until it could.

As I chatted with my friend, the discussion turned to a story she’s writing.  She’s been inspired of late, and has pushed her tale into Novelette County, which is only slightly less sleazy than the Country of Novella, where I find myself hanging out a lot.  (If you know your Stephen King, you’ll get the joke.)  After a few minutes of talking about it, the question came:  if I was sent a copy of the first few chapters, would I be interested in looking it over and giving my opinion?

This has been happening to me a lot of late.  In the past month I’ve done a bit of beta reading for some friends, and from time to time I’ve been asked to look a story over and see if it needs some polish.  Now, I’m not an editor by trade.  If anything, I’ve developed my skills, such as they are, over the last couple of years, since it became obvious that if I needed to get my stories polished, I’d learn how to do it myself, or start paying people a considerable amount of money to do it instead.

But I’m a nice person, so I do what I can to help those who want to get ahead.  The people I know aren’t vampires thriving on drama and attention:  they are writers.  Beside, the vampires have all defriended and blocked me, so it make the selection process easier . . . anyway, I looked the story over, and did my little turn on the catwalk, marking up a few things, and leaving a comment or two where needed.

In doing this act I helped my friend a bit, which is always a good thing because we need that karma boost in our lives.  But wait!  There’s more . . .

A week back I was contacted by another writer and asked if I’d do a big favor:  would I help them edit their books.  They’re making a push to get their old stuff cleaned up and their new stuff in similar shape, and asked if I’d join in the band and help them out.  Naturally I said yes, because I’m good.  And I believe I can help get their stories whipped into the shape they desire.

What about your own work, Cassie? I hear you say.  Nothing is going to fall behind there:  Demonic Majesty is coming along, I’ll get back into it tonight, but I will help others where I can.

Who knows–maybe there’s something here I can turn into a worth-while vocation.

It beats slinging code, let me tell ya.

Coolness Factoring

There can be much joy in editing, though, as a writer, it’s one thing that we all seem to hate with white-hot passion.  For the longest time I avoided editing, thinking my first drafts were so good that I never needed to worry about editing.

While I will say that I seemed to get the story write on the first draft–you know, characters names are right, the plot flows as I want and doesn’t have huge holes in it–there are still a lot of errors popping up here and there.  Can’t be helped:  we are imperfect creatures creating imperfect creations.  Really, if I were producing tremendously fantastic stories that were nearly perfect, I’d stop driving sixty miles to work each day and live Neil Gaiman’s life.  Until then, I work at this writing craft until something come in the way of sales.

But I was struck by something interesting last night.  Shale I share it?  Am I writing here?

I was editing the last chapter of Part One for Her Demonic Majesty.  It’s a long chapter, a bit over fifty-eight hundred words, and it’s at the point in the story where I start turning up the drama a bit.  It’s a good chapter, it sets the mood for what’s to come, but . . . as I’m editing, I run into a few lines spoken by my lovely but dangerous succubus character, and there’s something about what she’s saying–

No, it more than that.  It’s how she’s saying the words that is making me feel a little strange.  As I’m setting up the format, what she’s saying just doesn’t feel right.  It doesn’t feel like here.  Someone is speaking, but when I imagine her in my mind, and she says those words, they sound like they’re coming from another person.

This is where you look at the line, think about what a character should be saying, and then have them speak the words.  It sounds easy, but it’s getting those words right that’s tricky.  So I looked at the lines, and imagined the sentences changing, rearranging, and I did  a little cut and paste here, added something there, and deleted a couple of things that didn’t fit my succubus.

When it was finished, the paragraph was far cleaner than before.  It hadn’t actually been reduced or expanded in size:  if I remember correctly, I believe it became one word longer after the edit.  The thing was . . . when it was finished, I was taken by how what she was saying now was far cooler than before.

Do I mean she ended up sounding like a character from a Tarantino movie?  Far from it.  Her words now seemed to flow from her effortlessly, as if this is how she would handle this particular emergency, how she would express her displeasure, and how she’d get the attention of the other two people in the room, and let them know that, right now, shit is deep and extraction is necessary.

I did this a few times last night, and while it is not my intention to try and create some “coolness factor” for each of my characters when they speak, the editing did prove one thing:

I can still be surprised by this craft.  And that’s a good thing.

Paloma Dreamtime

It seems the yesterday’s post touched more than a few people in ways I hadn’t suspected.  About a year ago I had someone start following the blog, only to send me the following comment two days later:  “This isn’t just about writing, is it?”  He stopped following me the next day because, yes, I don’t always talk about writing, and this upset him greatly.  Probably had something to do with him being a nutso control freak, which manifested in a couple of online writer groups I was in, but that’s another story.

While I write about writing, I also write about how I feel about writing, and how it makes me feel.  It’s not always good, and it’s not always pleasant  but it’s usually honest.  As a writer we have to be honest with ourselves, at least that’s what I think.  You can spend all your time writing stories that involve having sex with your step-kids, but at some point you have to be honest and say, “This is really sort of crappy.”  If you aren’t saying that, well . . . you’re not me.  Which probably isn’t that bad a thing, come to think of it.

I try to pay attention on everything these days.  As Johnny Cash said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”  That’s me these days:  I look ahead, but remember what has already come before.  Because I do know what it’s like to be pinned down by your past, and how it can gnaw at you until you can’t move forward any longer.  It sucks hard, and I don’t need that negative energy in my life these days.

So what is this about Paloma, you say?  A dream, I say.  After editing two chapters last night–editing and formatting, I should say–it was off to bed, because it’s not like anything else is happening in my life.  It was raining lightly last night, and I love to hear soft rains, so I was off to sleep pretty fast . . .

That’s when the strange stuff happened.

Whatever I was dreaming, I was in world burning mode last night.  It seemed as if things were really crappy, that things weren’t nearly as good as they are today, and yet, it wasn’t entirely a crapsack world.  Tre Funky, yes.  But I still had a car and internet, so it wasn’t a total hole.

For some reason I was trying to move a bunch of kids from my part of the country to a new job in . . . Paloma, California.  For some reason I thought this was a great idea, because I’d have a fantastic job and I’d be able to take care of everyone, and so forth and on.  It stuck with me so much that after I got onto the computer this morning I did a quick map look for Paloma, California . . .

And was duly unimpressed.

It’s a small collection of buildings in the middle of nowhere east of Stockton.  There’s a church, some roads going elsewhere, and that’s it.  A couple of nice houses, but no business that would make me willing to pack up a bunch of kids and haul them a few thousand miles.

Why did this happen?  Maybe there’s a story there.  Maybe not.

I’ll keep my eyes open, though–just in case.

The Doubt Killer

Yesterday was one of those days where I seemed to be busy from the moment I work up, right until I was ready to fall asleep.  It makes for a long time staying busy, and busy I was, yes indeed.

I’ve spent a bit of time the during last week where I’ve been discussion writing with a couple of writers, and there is one question that always comes up:  why do some people sell, and others don’t?  Or, better yet, why do some writers seem to attract an audience when others don’t?

It’s a puzzle.  You find yourself wondering how someone can come up with an idea that equates to Hillbillies Aliens + Excessive Racism + Locked in a Spaceship = Their Next Great Novel, and people going, “That’s fantastic!”, and when someone points out that the concept of having a multi-billion dollar colonization effort hinging on a bunch of dimwitted thugs who want to kill each is a Really Bad Idea, they’re told they’re being “too hyper-realistic”, you grow a little upset because you know this is something you wouldn’t write, and you think that by not writing this, by concentrating on your character-driven stories, people are just gonna pass you by and concentrate on the story of The Hatfield and McCoy Feud in Space.

Then you look at your sales, and you can’t help but think, “What am I doing wrong?  Why aren’t people buying me?”  Or, as I said yesterday to my friend, “Where is my Stephen King moment?”  Is the novel I’m working on the one that will get me noticed?  Or do I have to fall back on unicorn porn?

I will admit that after editing and formatting two chapters from Her Demonic Majesty last night, I felt as if I were on the verge of tears.  As much as I want this effort to work, there’s a part of me that’s been like a small voice that keeps whispering over and over, “You’re a born loser, so why bother?  It’s not going to sell, and all this time and effort and money are going to waste.  No one believes in you, just pay the bills like everyone else does.”  It really was that sort of ending, and it’s a wonder I didn’t head off to bed and sob my ass off.

But I didn’t, because the reality is I couldn’t.  I couldn’t because before I went to bed I thought things out . . .

The whole publishing game is an ass.  Do you think Fifty Shades of Grey was bought because it’s great writing?  No.  It was bought because some dink at Vintage Books decided this soft core rapey porn (which if you know anything about BDSM, this is) was going to bring the middle aged Twihard ladies to the Kindle Store, ’cause even though the names have been changed to protect copyrights and prevent lawsuits, everyone knows this is Edward and Bella a-boning, and that’s going to separate a certain segment of the population from their money.

Am I doing that?  No.  I’m trying to write something original, something that’s a bit different, something that lets me connect with my characters and, I hope, pass that connection along to my readers.  I want to tell stories, and that’s a lot of work–

It’s not the easy road to follow.  It’s a bitch.  It will make you hurt.

But when you do make it through . . . you’re gonna feel a lot better.

All I want to do is tell stories for people to enjoy.  That’s it.  If I can make enough money so that I don’t have to haul my ass into Chicago every day, then so much the better.  Until then, I’ll kept at what I’m doing, and try to keep the tears back.

Every day you think you suck more than Carlton Mellick, the doubt wins.

Storytime Three Way

You can get your mind out of the gutter, because you’re not reading smut here today–that’s next Wednesday, because we know we need a little something to get us through the middle of the work week.  No, today I’m going to show off, because I’m in the mood, you know?

Talking about the editing and formatting process of Her Demonic Majesty, I’ve talked up how I’m using Scrivener, and in yesterday’s post I discussed how I was using all three views to find a problem, flipping from the Cork Board  to Outline to Scrivener views.

I understand, though, that a lot of people I know are visual, and they just can’t get their minds to see something they don’t know.  I make shit up in my head all the time, but I have known a few people who don’t see what I’m seeing when I describe what’s in my mind.  Sometimes I have to draw a floor plan–not that I mind, ’cause something even I need that.

Lets look at the story, and see how it presents itself to me.Part One Corkboard

First, I have Part One of Demonic Majesty up on the cork board.  I use the cork board a lot:  this is usually how I plot out a story, with each text card representing a chapter.  I set up my chapter numbers, enter my metadata, set up when the scene is happening–I’ve done this for a number of stories–and then I define what each part is, and the status of each section.  The little bit of color in the upper right hand corner tells me what the section is, and I have the status plastered across the the card itself.

As you can see, I have one “Novel Part”, which is the Part One title card, two chapters are “Formatted”, and the remainder of the part is “Done”.  Sure, I know this, but when I’m back into a story I haven’t played with in six months, I might need a little mental refreshing.

Every little bit helps, right?Part One Outline

Now we roll over to the Outline, which is something I’ve only played with and not used much until this point.  There are two things I like about this display, however.  One, you see the story in a top-to-bottom representation, so if you have your metadata set up correctly, it should be easier to see if your chapters are following you plot.  Also, if you need to insert a chapter, it’s a bit easier to see where it should go.

There’s another nice feature in this mode:  you can customize your metadata.  Here, I’m showing my total word count, and that is being displayed for not only each chapters, but each part.  I knew Part Two was big, but I didn’t realize the words differences between Part One and the other novel parts.

The other thing I can view here is a word count goal, and how much of that goal I’ve completed.  This can be a good thing for someone who’s broken their story into scenes, and they’re trying to reach specific word counts.  Pull up the Outline and you’ll see where you’re at in seconds.

Now, onto the last . . .Part One Scrivener

The Scrivener view gives you the whole story in one big bunch.  In this picture I’m showing the beginning of my novel:  the end of the Table of Contents, the blank space that is the folder for Part One, the Part One title card, and Chapter One.  I used this mode to do group searches for words and phrases, so I could change them all somewhat quickly.

If you look closely you’ll see I’m showing the hidden characters, so I can see carriage returns and spaces between words.  It was by staring at the story in this format that I realized that having a few returns before “Part One” was the thing that was screwing up my page break on a compile of the story to Word.  Now it’s much better.

That’s my journey up to now.  I may actually run this story through the Smashwords meat grinder in a few weeks, and see what pops out.  If it comes out clean, then I can upload the cover, and send the same document up to Kindle Direct.

It’s so close, I can almost smell it.

Which is a neat trick, you have to admit.


Station to Variable Station

Saturday morning, having my coffee at the local Panera, listening to Station to Station, an album that I enjoyed in my youth, and which continued to set me apart from those friends who were still into Top 40 AM pop.  I know I have some work ahead of me today:  a bit of editing, maybe some article writing, a little beta reading . . . we’ll see.  I also have somewhere I need to be at noon, and that’s going to keep me busy for a couple of hours.

Oh, I also have my final cover for Her Demonic Majesty.  Yeah, it’s a good day, even if it is rainy.

While I haven’t figured out my Phantom Pages issue for mobi and epub compiles, Scrivener reveled itself to me while I was trying to figure out why some of my text files wouldn’t page break when I was compiling my novel into a Word document.  After some playing with the document, I went into Scrivener mode . . .

Let me explain.NaNo Day One

Within Scrivener, you can examine your story in one of three ways.  There is the Corkboard, which is my favorite.  The visual for this is as you’d expect:  it’s like a corkboard you hang on the wall and tack up note cards.  As you can see on the right, the corkboard is an easy way to lay out your story, tell you where you are as far as what you’re doing with each section, and give you a little metadata so when you look at Chapter Ten, you know that’s the chapter where your characters get together and flog each other with chicken legs they bought an hour before at KFC.

Then there’s the Outline, which gives you a top to bottom review of each section you’ve created, and you can show as little or as much meta data as you’d like.  One of the nice things you can show in Outline mode is the word count for each chapter, as well as target word counts, and your progress towards reaching those counts.  If you have your metadata set up correctly, you can see if your story is progressing as you expect, or if you’re way the hell off the rails.

Lastly, we have Scrivener mode, which lets you see the whole store in one long scrolling document that also shows you where each section starts and end.  If you’ve set your metadata to break for each new text file, then those dashed lines indicate where your story is going to start at the top of another page, just as it would in a novel.  Also, if you show the hidden characters, you’ll see where every space is, and each carriage return, aka your Return/Enter key.

I went into Scrivener mode and started looking for hidden characters that could be causing my “not page breaking” problems in Word.  Didn’t see anything, so I went back into the corkboard and started moving cards around–which are, in reality, my chapters and part titles–and ran off another compile to check.  I didn’t see anything, at least not right away . . . but an idea started to form, because the more I looked at my troublesome sections, the more I saw they were different than my chapters–

I was using two carriage returns to drop the “Part” titles from the top of the page.  I removed those returns, and–ta da!  Problem solved!  Really, it was that simple.  After I figured that out, I went into the compile formatting, told the compile to drop the titles six lines from the top of a page break–and just like that, when I looked at the word document, everything was as I wanted.

With that out of the way, I looked for the “very” word, because it’s a weak word, and it looks stupid when you see it in the story.  Still in Scrivener mode, I set up the Find, located all my verys, then hit the Replace to remove them from the story.  When I was finished I’d removed sixty-eight “very” from the story, either deleting them, or putting another adverb or adjective in its place.  In an eighty-six thousand word novel, finding the word “very” sixty-eight times may not sound like a big deal, but in the year and a half since I wrote Demonic Majesty I’ve learned a bit, and using “very” is one of the things I’ve learned not to do.

Today I’ll look for my “suddenly” words, and superscript those suffixes that require the format, then start on a read through, because I believe the story is formatted well, and all I’m checking for are errors right now.  This may take a couple of weeks, but with everything else in place, there’s no need to hurry.

It’s all coming together faster than I thought.

And you know what they say about a plan coming together . . .


Publisher Row

It was a rough day yesterday.  It was raining, it was cold, it was windy, there were assholes on the road, three whom nearly wrecked me, and one guy who felt that driving over 75 mph in a hard rain was completely legit, and nearly took himself and a few other cars out when he almost lost control.  When I am allowed to mount heavy weapons on my car, idiots like that will vanish quickly . . .

Thus it was that when I sat down to continue my conquest of my current novel formatting so that I can transform it into the epic story that folks will line up to by.  The way it’s suppose to look is good:  I’ve figure out the ways that compile time formatting should work, and I’ve begun employing that process.  I also tried a epub creation, then converted that to mobi, but the phantom pages issue remained.  Hummm . . . phantom pages.  I could use that as a movie title.

One question that I received this morning was, “Why is this Scrivener so great?”  What I did last night is a prime example.  I have a story that I’m trying to convert to different formats, all three which are nowhere comparable to each other.  And yet, I’d make one change in the Scrivener compiler, and off I went, creating a .doc, then a few seconds later creating a .epub, then trying a .mobi format a few seconds after that.  Nothing else was required; information I’d used for formatting on one format was good for information on another, and where I had formatting styles particular to .epub and .mobi, that information was retained when I switched over to .doc.

I could call Scrivener “Out of One Comes Many,” but that is stretching things just a little.

Though I’ve not gotten to the very root of my phantom page problems, I’m learning a great deal about the creation of an ebook without having to do a lot of extra work.  Trust me, though:  I will work this out, one way or the other.  Part of the issue could be that the Windows version of Scrivener is not quite as powerful as the Mac OS version of Scrivener, but it’s getting there.  I’m a programmer, which means I not only understand this concept of “getting your software up to speed,” but I know work arounds.  I’ve created an ebook before, and I’ll do it again using my work around.

I will not be found wanting.

It’s back into cleaning up the chapters tonight.  I think I’ll throw Scrivener into Outline view and just pick chapters and go through them, so that I get a feel for how that part works.  I love my Corkboard, but trying the Outline view is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and tonight is just as good a time to play as any.  Besides, with the change I’m going to try with my story, the Outline will work better than the Corkboard.  At least that’s how I see it at the moment.

Editing is boring?  Are you kidding?

I’m having a blast.

Mobi Dick

Falling back to the famous opening line from Shoot and The Mist (which King admits he stole from Shoot), this is what happened:

Last night was Formatting Night at the casa, and it was time to play with the Table of Contents.  Almost every ebook needs one, particularly if you’re hawking a novel, and you want your readers to jump to chapters quickly.  I’ve done this for Kuntilanak, and I started playing with it for Her Demonic Majesty.

I discovered quickly, however, that while you can set up a text file in Scrivener for you ToC, you can’t link to things as you would in Word.  That functionality simply doesn’t exist.  But wait!  After doing some research using this strange tool that a lot of writers seem to be unaware of called “Google”, I was reminded of something Scrivener does, and that’s compile your documents into epub and mobi formats.

For the less and tech savvy out there, epub is a common ebook standard that’s been around a few years.  The other format, mobi, has been around even longer, and is what’s used by Kindle.  When you compile into either of these formats, if you have things set up right, you’ll build your Table of Contents automatically.

With that being the case, why not give it a try?

I decided to try out mobi, since I could shoot this straight up to my Kindle Direct account when the time came to complete this magic.  So I selected a few things to test this out, and . . .

Wait a minute.  Since you need a way to see your ebook before it becomes an ebook, I needed a little tool for that.  I downloaded Kindle Previewer from the Kindle Direct page, so once I had my mobi file, I could pull it up and “read” my story.  Great!  I get that on the machine, then I start the compile . . .

Oh, wait.  In order to compile anything as a mobi, Scrivener needs to know where you store your KindleGen program.  KindleGen lets you convert files that could be ebooks into mobi format, and even though I’m creating a mobi file, Scrivener wants to know where this magical program resides on my computer.  Which meant I needed to go and download that–

I have all the tools in place.  I selected my text, click to Compile, say I want mobi, and do it.  A few seconds later–success!  I have a mobi file!  It was that simple.

With the mobi file in place I started Kindle Previewer, loaded by file, and–there it was!  My test book, all nice and . . . well, not exactly neat.  The ToC was a mess, but this was due to how I named things rather than something Scrivener did.  But things were in place, and the pages looked great . . .

That was when I noticed the page count:  1,452.  What?  What is his insanity?  It seemed that when the mobi file was created, all sorts of pages that I can’t see were created, and this led to this incredible page count, rather than the 72 pages which should have been.

Obviously, there is something I did when writing that brought about this issue.  That means more investigation and research, and more testing.  But when the time comes, I’ll have this book made.

Oh, yes, I will.

Transformatting Station

As Replacements is no longer the work in progress, it became time to, shall we say, find a replacement.  What is a girl to do, then, when she needs a project?

She goes demonic.  And with majesty.

After weeks of getting Replacements ready, it was time to bring out the big story:  Her Demonic Majesty.  With a cover on the way, and Harper Voyager out of the way, I’m free to publish Demonic Majesty as I see fit.  As such, last night began the almost final leg of this novel, nearly two years in the making.

The editing is out of the way, but getting into Chapter One again, and what do I find?  A couple of typos.  Which pissed me off because I wonder:  did HV see those few errors and think, “What a tool.  The reject pile for her!”  One can never tell, because Harper Voyager will keep their secrets, and they gave me no pointers when they told me, “Next time, Chickiepoo.”

But the editing is minimal; it’s the formatting that’s important.  What does one do to get a story ready?  Let me tell ya–

First I bring up the “Show Hidden Marks” in the document.  When you’re formatting for an ebook, you need to make certain there isn’t a space at the start of a paragraph.  This does strange things to your document once it becomes an ebook, and you only want strange in your stories.

I don’t have to worry about en and em hyphens, because I have Scrivener take care of that while writing.  En hyphens are found when you’re writing something like “New York-to-London-to-Paris,” and em hyphens are used when you’re separating clauses–like that.  Since I learn how to use character codes to put them in place in my story, I never worry about this part, I only double check to make sure something didn’t get messed up while writing.

I then check for three words that I don’t want to use.  First is the word, “So” at the beginning of dialog.  It’s never a good thing to have your characters saying, “So, you’re going to . . .” because it sounds a little awkward.  Then I check for “Suddenly”, and in, “Suddenly, the word appeared in a sentence!”  Whatever is appearing is appearing right that minute, so unless it’s creeping into view–which you’ll point out in your writing–don’t tell your readers it’s there suddenly.  Lastly, I look for “Very”, because very is a bad word.  Very is soft; very is weak, very–as was pointed out in Dead Poets Society–will not get you laid.  So be done with it, and use a word that is far, far better.

After that I need to set up my Table of Contents, but since Scrivener allows you to create .mobi fills for ereaders, I’m going to play with that and see if it builds one for me.  It’s not hard to do, just time consuming.  When that’s done, you set your title, set your last page, and then . . .

Then you upload and put it, as Freddie would say, in the lap of the gods.

If all goes well, I’ll have Her Demonic Majesty published by the end of May.  Maybe before, because with Memorial Day weekend then, too many people will be out and won’t be around to buy the book.  I wouldn’t want to deprive them of the joy of purchasing my first novel.

It’s coming.  No more tall.

It’s really happening, and soon.

Closing Doors

And so it came to be that Replacements was pushed into Final Draft status, and all the remains is the formatting and the cover, and the author saw that it was good, and relaxed.

Or something like that.  Sounds a lot more complicated than it was, but the reality is far more boring than the truth.

With only a couple of chapters left I figured I better get to editing, ’cause chapters don’t edit themselves, as much as writers wish they would.  I’d already edited nine chapters–two of which were brand new–and I was hovering about the sixteen thousand word limit for a couple of days.  I did not want to go over seventeen thousand five hundred words, because then I was on novella territory, and if I got up about eighteen thousand, then I might as well have gone twenty thousand words, because . . . that’s how I roll.

So I edited.  I knew Chapter Ten was about twelve hundred words, so not a problem, I’d burn through it.  What I had forgotten was that Chapter Eleven, the last chapter, was almost two thousand words–hey, though, these things happen.  Besides, I’d done the same thing the night before, so why get serious?

As it was, the last two chapters had been well written, so editing was not a chore.  I did one, then the other, then saved, then sighed . . . and commended myself for a job well done.  For Replacements is the first ready-to-publish story I’d done in over a year.  There’s been a lot of writing, but almost no publishing.  Once I have a cover, Replacements is going up to the big Kindle Store in the Internet, and maybe this strange little tale will get noticed–

I say strange little tale because it is.  There’s sex and some BDSM, but not so much that it’s going to trip the erotica wires.  There’s romance, but not that kind of romance.  There’s drama galore, but if I had to pin this sucker down, I’d say it’s science fiction, because it deals with things that one normally wouldn’t find in real life.

This is something I find myself doing:  I write in genres that actually contain so many other elements.  I’m a child of the New Wave of Science Fiction, and that could get out there in terms of what one might read.  (Check out “Riders of the Purple Wage” by Philip Jose Farmer is you want a great example.)  There might be robots, and murder, and sex, and they might all be together in the same story:  that’s what I used to read, and that’s what I tend to write.

The door is closed on Replacements.  It is, as they say, what it is, and I own it.  That’s one thing I do with my stories:  if I finish them, they’re mine.  If I don’t finish them, then they were never meant to see the light of day.  I’ve had that happen a few times, but only once in the last two years.

The story is ready, the song is over.  All I need is a cover–

Seems like the story of my life of late.

Preparation Great

Oh, my my my, was Sunday a fun day for a writing day.  Got my blogging, got my article, got my editing, got my ideas–

What’s that?  Ideas?  What are you talking about?

As I said, I had writing to do.  I knocked off an eighteen hundred word article on the wonders of powered armor, which is probably being edited as I write this–or not, who knows, because I know it’ll get done and get posted, and I’ll be allowed to work on what is pretty much part two of the same article.

Then there was some editing for Replacements, which involved a lot of cutting of words so issues wouldn’t arise between what I’d once written, and what had been newly written.  It was therefore necessary to do some cutting and adding, to rearrange words and make sentences whole, where once that didn’t exist.  I’d worried that I would somehow screw things up, but some thirteen hundred words later–no problems.  Handled it the way it was meant to be handled:  like a pro.  Or, semi-pro, if we want to get technical.

I thought I was finished for the night, but it was eight-thirty, and I didn’t feel as if I needed to laze about doing nothing, so I looked at the next chapter, thought, “I can do this,” and jumped in.  It wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t trying, and with the focus I still had, I was able to find some obvious mistakes and rewrite some clumsy sentences.  It’s all part of the editing game, where you learn to read your material, and find the stuff that either doesn’t make sense, or is flat-out wrong.

But what’s this about ideas, hum?  Not a problem:  sit down and let me tell ya . . .

During a lull in all the thing that were going on, I decided to take a look at my ideas file.  I have my ideas set up in Scrivener  so when I need something, I made a new folder, give it the meta idea name (like “Orion Story”, which tells me the basic idea), and then set up a text file with a little more information as needed.  For a few of my ideas I already had notes written, so I copied them into the various folders where they can set until I need them.

One idea that I’ve worked on in the past has to do with my Indonesian horror tales.  Kuntilanak is the first, and during NaNo 2012 I wrote Kolor Ijo, the second.  When I was close to finishing Kolor Ijo, I started wondering if there were more stories that could be writing about the horror that is supernatural Indonesia.  The answer was, “Hell yeah”.

I already had some idea about these other stories, and some idea about where they would take place, so . . . all that remained would be to give them a title and some time frame, no?

So I copied out some cards, added titles, gave a time frame, and there I was with four more stories . . . really, four more novels, perhaps three hundred thousand words to work on–

No problem, right?

This is what I get when I say I don’t have ideas.  They come after me until I write them down.

It’s when they make me want to do something more that I get into trouble . . .

Up the Escalator to Madness

A very quick conversation this morning opened a little window into that thing I call “My Life”, such as it is.  I wasn’t saying much, just what I did last night, and what I’ll do today.  Those things I spoke of?  Writing.  So for yesterday I blogged, wrote a couple of theme descriptions for Windows 8, edited some three thousand words, and wrote nine hundred word of an article before going to bed.  What will I do today?  Blog, edit a couple of thousand words, write a couple of Windows 8 theme descriptions, and finish my article.

Sounds like fun, no?

I made the joke, “When am I getting paid for this?” but I know that will come in time–so I hope.  I’m heading in the right direction, and eventually, maybe with this next novel I’ll get noticed, picked up, contacted, rich, buy an abandoned mansion, and become a Bond villainess, because if there’s one thing Bond needs it’s bad girls who screw him.  Got the cover coming, the editing and formatting is coming, and in a month or so the novel will be a reality.

(By the way, a friend turned me on to a rant by the same person who gets into fights with her fictional characters and loses, and said that she can’t self publish because she’s not rich.  Ummm, last time I checked you didn’t need to be rich to self-publish, you just had to be able to write, edit, work with someone who’ll give you honest criticism, maybe get a friend who’ll make you a cover for cheep, and then set up an account, format your book, then upload and wait.  But then, this person is one of those vampires who lives to suck the life out of you, so the moral of the story is laugh at these people, kiddies:  they deserve it all.)

There is the fear that I don’t have an idea ready for when all this is done.  The mind seems to have shut down with the ideas while I concentrate on getting stories ready.  I suppose that’s the way thing go; you concentrate on one thing, and the mind files everything down in the back until you need them.

There is the fear, however:  what if the new ideas never come?  What if I’m stuck writing lots of stuff I already have imagined out, and nothing else ever comes to mind.  Not that I don’t have a lot of stories to tell:  you’d have to see some of my time lines to know this.  Still, it does bother me a bit–

Which means I’m driving myself crazy with things I need not drive.  I’m on the up escalator to the crazy house, worried that I’m never gonna have a new idea in my entire life.  I already know this is bull, because my ideas have left me with a whole lot of material, and my other fear is I’ll never write it all before I shuck this mortal coil.

You think this keeps George R. R. Martin up at night?