Setting the Face in Place

This post is a little different in that I’m doing something I’ve been asked to do a few times, and I somehow managed to find a way to put it together today.  This is a set of three videos I’ve mad talking about makeup, and how I go about putting everything together.

First video is just me talking about a few things relating to what I’m doing here:

This second video is the the application, start to finish.  Be warned I’m bare faced at the start, and that can be scary!  In the middle when I’m talking about my “concealer”, I’m actually talking about my pressed powder foundation.  Oops.

And here, at the end, I have but a few closing statements; nothing major, but I do use the wrong words more than a few times, which is amusing.

and there you have it.  What a woman doesn’t do to get ready in the morning.

Building These Dark Satanic Mills

This has been an interesting morning so far, mostly because I’ve know what I wanted to write about since before crawling out of bed, and with coffee in hand I’ve been getting myself worked up towards said writing of post by tuning into the Brain Salad Surgery, more specifically track one of this recording, which is Jerusalem.  In case you’re not aware of that song, it was originally a poem written by William Blake in 1804, and later turned into a song by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.  And when you’re recording one of the seminal albums of the 1970s, why not open with your own version of an English hymn?

It’s from this song that the expression “Chariot of Fire” comes, and I’m certain you’ve all heard that one at some point, usually with Vangelis playing in the background.  It’s also where I get the title of today’s post, which has nothing to do with darkness, mills, or even Satan.  No, it has to do with a reader question, and this comes from one of my Facebook Hodgepodge Crochet buddies, Debbie Wisely, who asked the following:

 

Do you have characters in mind and then build a story around them or do you have a story in mind first and fit your characters to the story? How do you pick what city/state or country they reside in? Do you write or type the original work?

 

This is sort of a crazy question, and I’m going to answer the last question first, because it’s the easiest.  No, I don’t write by hand:  I type everything,  If I didn’t type I’d still be working on my first novel from over twenty years ago, because my handwriting is Teh Sux.  I can also type a lot faster than I can write by hand, and given I can’t spell worth a damn, or that I’m always making mistake when I’m writing, I’d be lucky to churn out a few hundred handwritten words a day.  So typing it is.  There you have it.

As for the other two–oh, boy.  Those are good.  So let’s talk about one of  my other novels that some of you might remember me writing, but which hasn’t seen the light of day.

I’m talkin’ Suggestive Amusements.

This was written from 31 December, 2012, to 26 March, 2013, while I was in the process of doing something before publishing Her Demonic Majesty.  I blogged about the writing of this novel back in the day, and I remember the finishing of the novel was memorable because of a dream I had when it was all over, a dream I can still remember today–but that’s not why we’re here, yeah?

How did this start?  Well, I had time on my hands because I’d just finished NaNoWriMo 2012, which I’d won by writing Kolor Ijo.  I was thinking of things to do, and if you want to know how I got this story going, it was with a vision of two people, a man and a woman, sitting in a living room.  The man was on a computer writing, and the woman was on a sofa looking at the guy while she was crocheting.  Seriously.  That’s the genesis of Suggestive Amusements:  guy writing, woman crocheting.

But who were they?  They guy writing–that’s pretty simple.  Or is it?  There’s more to his story, sure, there has to be, just like how at that time there was more to my story.  I drew on my own experience as a programmer/writer and sorta made the male character in question the same kind of people, only single, untroubled by gender issues, and a huge-ass slacker.  There you have him:  Keith.

Who’s the woman then?  Ah, well, that’s easy:  she’s there to inspire him.  She’s . . . I know!  She’s a muse, a real muse, like thousands of years old, creature without a real beginning, being that’s there to bring you inspiration muse.  That’s Erin.  Not her real name, of course, just like her sister’s name–Talia, who you get to meet in the story–isn’t her real name.  but do you want to call them by the Greek names by which they’re remembered?  Nope, it’s too much of a mouthful.  So Erin it is.

Something else was needed, however.  I mean, come on, we know what’s needed:  a love triangle!  I need another woman, and she shall be called Elektra, because I like the name.  And since we’re dealing with these ancient muses who are known mostly through Greek Mythology, why not stay with that Grecian naming motif?  So there you are, Elektra.

With this novel–with most of my novels–I have the characters in place first.  I get to know them, who they are, what they need, what they’re looking for, and once I know that I start building the story around them.  I have the basic idea of what’s going on with the characters, so it’s now a matter of building the plot–

But as the second part of the question indicates, how do I know where the story takes place?

And the answer there is whatever strikes my fancy.  In this case I wanted a place that I knew something about, but not a great deal.  And that place was Las Vegas, because what hit me was, “I’ve never written about the desert area, and just about all the stories of Vegas revolve around casinos, gamblers, the mob, and Nic Cage drinking himself to death with help from a friendly whore.  Why not build a fantasy there?”

That’s how Las Vegas and the areas surrounding the city became the setting for the novel.  But wait!  While writing the story, I started to think about Elektra’s backstory, and realized she was like a lot of people in the city, she came from somewhere else, and she blew into town with a lot of baggage.  After a lot of thought and consultation with Google Maps, I decided that Elektra was a New Mexican woman from the Alamogordo, a place known as “The Friendliest Place On Earth” and the home of a whole lot of giant ants.  And in that process of knowing where she was from–and trust me, I knew–I set up an adventure for her, traveling from one end of New Mexico to another, before eventually heading into Arizona and onward into Nevada and my main setting.

I came about all these places because I just felt it was right.  I knew, because by that point I knew my characters, that this is where they were from, and why they were here.  I do this with everything:  when I’m setting up places for my characters I start looking at maps and I wonder, “Where would these people live?  Where would they work?  Why are they here?”  And little by little I start putting it together until my thoughts reach a critical mass and it becomes real.  Just like I did with my current story:  why did the Salem Institute for Greater Education and Learning end up where it did?  Because it is supposed to be there.  I know this because I know this.

And now you know how I usually start putting my stories together.  Maybe not the same way every time, but close enough that if you wanted to know how I get the writing party started, you now know.

And I leave you with sunlight breaking through to the dark Satanic mills, because the alternative was giant ants, and no one wants that.

And I leave you with sunlight breaking through to the dark Satanic mills, because the alternative was giant ants, and no one wants that.

One last thing, however:  while I was working on Suggestive Amusements, a slight break in the action occurred in the 1 March, 2013 post titled The Sofa by the Hearth.  And there you’ll find mention that I was missing a couple of characters from my life, and I was thinking about an event that happened to them every weekend, and, well, maybe it was time I started writing about them–something I’d start doing in earnest eight months later.

That was truly the moment, almost two years ago, that I’d decided to begin work on their story.

If I’d only known then how that was going to turn out . . .

Revisiting Old Horrors

I have to confess:  while I was editing another project I realized that I was missing something, and I think you know what I was missing.  When is put down almost sixteen months of your life to a single project, you tend to put your heart into said project, and now that it’s not in my life at the moment, things feel lonely and just a little bit empty.

I was looking for ways to keep busy after editing, a little of which was done by catching both Judgement at Nuremberg (a movie I’d only seen the first fifteen minutes of a long time ago), and Dr. Strangelove (which I’ve seen dozens of times and never get tired of seeing, only because I want to exceed my authority and launch a nuclear attack), so I sat down and did something I started on a few days ago.  And that something looks a little like this:

You also now know when the Last Madness of the 2013/2014 school year is held.

You also now know when the Last Madness of the 2013/2014 school year is held.

I’ve always been curious about the time line of the “books”–I guess I can call them that now–and now I know.  The first three are the “shortest” in terms of calendar time, with A For Advanced the shortest of them all.  Why?  Because it picks up right as the kids are getting ready to leave for Salem, and any discussion of their summertime fun is seen in flashback.  The time between the B and C Level books is deliberate:  the story, as I see it in my head, actually starts on 2 June, then immediately flashes back to the night before.  Why?  You’ll have to wait for me to write it, that’s why.  But it does, because I know how it starts.

And the last three novels, particularly the last two, cover a year in their lives.  In reality, there’s almost no break in the story between the start of the B Level book and the end of the F Level one, save for the month that passes between the D and E Level novels–and you’ll know what’s going to happen in that month because it’ll be discussed at the end of the D Level novel.

There you go:  I know the road.  Just have to write it now.  And know that between the screen borders on the left and right of that shot, I know just about everything that happens to my kids.  Everything.

But this didn’t keep me up all night.  Nope.  I got into something else . . .

First off, I finally moved my Foundation novels off my computer drive and placed them on my external drives for safe keeping.  It’s a sad thing, I know, but when I’m finished writing those stories I move them away for safe keeping.  And in return I moved something back onto my computer–

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

I started editing Kolor Ijo last night, and let me tell you, it’s so different to go back into a work you haven’t actually laid eyes on for over two years and started reading it again.  As you can see I began editing the Prologue, and . . . oh, boy.  Was it a little rough?  Yes.  Has my style changed?  Tremendously.

Reading the prologue was like reading the writing of another author.  I was trying for a style and it felt clumsy, as if it were almost experimental.  That comes from writing a whole lotta stuff since then–probably close to 600,000 words if you include the end of my latest novel, and not include this blog.  It was a little tough getting through the work, and I ended up not only re-writing certain portions, but I cut out about fifty words.  That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s likely closer to a hundred when you take into consideration what I rewrote.

This is something I’m doing.  My mind is on other things, too, but I do want this story edited and even published.  I miss Salem, but I miss some of my other characters as well.

And it’s a change of pace to go back into the horrors of the past.

The Characters That Are In My Life

Last night was just a bit boring.  I worked on a project at Panera, but I didn’t get real far with it before my head wasn’t in the right spot.  It was slow going.  Perhaps tonight will be better, with the right mind set and a nice dinner and some coffee here, because I have stuff to do.  You know . . . things.

I did make another map, though.  What does it look like?

Looks kinda . . . mappy.

Looks kinda . . . mappy.

It’s amazing where my imagination takes me when I let it.  And there is a scene associated with this map that, when I get around to writing it, will melt your hearts.  Well, at least mine.  It melted mine last night.  And it’s another of those that needs a drawing, but . . . it sorta has one already

But today I thought I’d answer a reader’s question.  So, for the first question to answer, I turn to a read who has enlightens and frustrated me to no ends at times, just because.  I’m smiling when I say that, because there have been some great conversations around my characters.  So take it away for the first question!

 

Renxkyoko Iglesias
I’d like to know who the characters are that you most relate to. You can also talk about the characters that you like most, besides Annie and Kerry.

 

First off, this is a bit of a trick question, because when it comes to relating to characters, Kerry is number one with a bullet.  As I’ve mentioned before, Kerry came about original from a role playing game, and if you know anything about role playing, you’ll know it’s not all that difficult to throw a bit of yourself into the mix when you’re throwing numbers down on the page.  More than a few of the things that have happened to his so far in the story happened to me, and I’ve drawn on that hurt a lot when I needed him to hurt.

I would not be lying if I said I’ve Mary Sued him just a bit, and I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with it, and at the same time I’m a bit hurt by it as well, because when you’re writing about characters who are somewhat stylized versions of yourself, you try not to make them too good, or give them too many nice things.  Kerry has a lot of flaws, not the least of which are his fears of being abandoned and of going through life not having anyone.  Now, the “not having anyone” fear isn’t as much any more, not since he returned completely to his Annie, but the fact that he freak out in the first place thinking she was leaving him is pretty much the proof in the one hundred and twelve ounce can of pudding that he isn’t completely free of his doubts, and that will come back to haunt him from time-to-time.

Kerry has something at his age that I didn’t have, and that’s love.  He feels it from Annie, and he loves her back tremendously.  That’s the thing when you write about characters who possess extensions of your own essence:  you can give them thing you desire, and he has that with Annie.  Kerry would move a mountain for that girl, and . . . well, you’ll see.  One day.  If I ever get around to writing that particular novel.

Now, what about characters I like the most.  That’s easy.  They are, with their birthday’s included:

Erywin Sladen (10/23/1967), Helena Lovecraft (03/29/1968), Deanna Arrakis (06/26/1985), and Wednesday Douglas (06/11/1986).

Of all of these characters, Helena was created first, and she’s went through the most changes.  I’ve admitted that she was based upon Lucy Lawless, in particular the character she played in Battlestar Galatica.  But as I started putting this world together I didn’t like that she was just another Basic White Girl, and I started thinking:  what if her mother’s line were still witches, but they were native to New Zealand?  What if they were Māori?  What if Helena’s grandmother was the first Māori to go to Salem, and ended up becoming Head Sorceress for a while?  What if Helena’s father–also a witch–married her mother against the wishes of his family?  What if . . ?

And that’s how Helena changed into the dark haired, black eyed, tattoo markings, take no nonsense woman she is today.  And, I believe, a far more interesting one that I first developed.  Others went through similar changes, but Helena pretty much changed the most.

Deanna is an Iraqi woman.  She was born there but her parents left in 1989 and moved to France.  Mother is a doctor, father is a manager of procurement for a shipping company.  Her family is Muslim, but pretty moderate in their practice.  Deanna used to wear a hijab when she first attended Salem–it was her own choice, not that of her parents–but after the Scouring she began to wear it less often, and by the time she was an E Level she’d stopped the practice, though she still tends to favor long skirts and slacks and jeans, sweaters in the winter and lovely, colorful tunics in the fall, spring, and summer.

We know Wednesday also played a part in the Scouring, and Isis and she pretty much did something that saved the school.  We also know that Wednesday’s father was a former Russian spy, was relocated to Arizona, and eventually wound up in Austria working for a pharmaceutical company.  Wednesday got her name because that’s the day on which she was born–look up the date if you don’t believe me.  Of all the instructors Wednesday is the most easy going, and the one who seems to relate to her students on a person level–though we know she’s not the only one.

Last but not least there’s Erywin, who is probably my favorite character of the whole bunch.  She’s a witch, a Wiccan, and a lesbian, and I’d always developed her that way.  I’ve also developed her with a relationship with Helena in mind, too, and she’s always been forward and outspoken–mostly because as a kid she put up with a huge amount of crap.  She relates to Kerry the most–as Helena relates to Annie–because she sees a lot of herself in the lad, with a few interesting parallels in their lives, too.

It’s interesting to see them lined up in my head.  Erywin has always been style conscious, and it shows in the way she dresses.  Helena is pretty casual and not a bit scary with her black slacks and thick heels booties, her dark pullover and her long, leather jacket.  Deanna is colorful and modest, and the most demure of the women, and Wednesday is just like the students she teaches:  open, friendly, and not a bit wild.  I can see them in my mind’s eye, looking a little like Disney characters . . .

An interesting thing about them, though.  Erywin and Helena are lesbians, and Wednesday–even though she’s in a relationship with Isis–considers herself bisexual.  Deanna is straight, and someone has her in his sights–she knows that Trevor Parkman finds her “interesting”.  Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

And they are only a year apart from the person next to them.  Erywin is a year older than Helena, and Deanna is a year older than Wednesday.  Also, Erywin is a coven leader, as is Deanna–must be the age thing.  Because witches age slower, Erywin and Helena can pass for their early to mid-thirties, Deanna looks college age, and Wednesday could, with the right outfits, pass for a teenager.

There you go.  I hope that answered most everything.

Back At Makassar

Last night was editing of another project, not any of my novels, and playing with time lines–you know, doing that thing that I said I wouldn’t do.  It was a lot of fun, actually, and I’m discovering something about a B Level novel:  there won’t be a lot of talk about classes, because it’s not about classes, it’s about people.  Most of the stuff that ended up in events had to do with personal things and improvements, though I did see where someone goes to the hospital twice in the course of the year–probably off to Bay #1, Bed #2.  And in one instance it’s almost a repeat of another incident that happened to a particular person, and they’re brought in unconscious after same person they collided with before sorta runs into them once more.  Yeah, that’s a thing again.

And there’s this:

Not sure what it means, but it involves being outside the school, that's for certain.

Not sure what it means, but it involves being outside the school, that’s for certain.

You know me and how I love to play with maps, and if given the chance I will.  I usually only do anything with them if it has something to do with the story, so you can rest assured that map above has something to do with another novel.  Keep in mind that it takes time to plot things out in detail, so the likelihood I’m going to start writing a second Annie and Kerry Novel within another week or so is slim.  You’ll have better luck finding Bigfoot riding on the back of the Loch Ness Monster.

What I have decided is that as soon as I finish the project I’m doing on the side, I need to get back into editing, because I have a novel I want to push out.  And that novel is Kolor Ijo.

Some people may remember my first self-published story Kuntilanak.  That was the first thing I wrote, and kept writing, and finished writing, and even went so far as to put it up for sale.  It was never meant to be a best seller:  I just wanted to say that I wrote a story, and that people have bought said story.

I was never certain I would ever expand upon the story of Indriani Baskoro and Kadek Bagus Surya Buana:  as it was the original story started out because someone wanted a Halloween story, and I wrote it only to discover later that it was too long for what the person wanted.  I thought those twenty-five thousand words would be enough.

And then NaNoWriMo 2012 came along.

I usually start thinking about what I’m going to write for NaNo about two months before November rolls around, and 2012 was no exception.  Really, the expectation was high for me, because I’d “won” 2011 writing Her Demonic Majesty, and I wanted to prove I could do it again.  And as I needed an idea I thought I’d write a sequel to Kuntilanak, but instead of setting the story back in Bali, I’d go somewhere else in Indonesia.

Like . . . here.

Like . . . here.

There are a lot of places to visit in Indonesia, and they are all so very different.  I moved the setting to another island, changed it up further by creating an urban setting, and started writing Kolor Ijo.  And when I finished–

That was it.  I hadn’t done anything with it in over two years.

I think I need to change that up, and it’s likely I’ll start editing it in a couple of weeks.  It’s not the monster A For Advanced is:  I could fit five Kolor Ijos into that binder.  Which means I should be able to edit it up right.

At least that’s my hope.

Let’s see what comes of this.

That Thing You’re Not Supposed to Do

Last night, after my nap, I wondered what I should do.  It was the first time in over a year and a half–really longer than that, if I get honest with myself–that I haven’t had to think about my kids.  Or sit and write about them.  Or do both:  sit and write.  It’s been a bit of a weight off my shoulder–

And at the same time I’m a bit lost about what to do next.

Or at least I was.  I started working on that, because I’m always working.  But first, what I did that puts a lie to that first paragraph.

Because I get bored, and because I start looking for things to do when I’m bored, I started playing with a few things on the computer.  And by “playing”, I mean I began making plans.  For, you ask?  Why, the next Foundation novel, what else?  I’ve wondered when and if I would get it done, but I will more than likely start on it sometime . . . soon.  Maybe during the summer, maybe as my opening shot in Camp NaNo July, which I have gone through successfully twice now.  (For the record I always blow off the April camp, because I need a rest.)

The first thing I did was fix up my Scrivener projects.  I’ve always had my first novel on Salem, The Scouring, embedded inside the A For Advanced project, and I felt that needed to change.  Last night I broke them apart and gave them their own places to stay, then renamed A For Advanced so that it would better fit in with the names for the novels.  Then saved it all off to the external hard drives and I was good to go.

Then came Aeon Timeline, because if there is going to be a next novel, it needs stuff filled in.  When I put the basic time line together, most of the layout for the next novel revolved around Kerry, because SPOILERS! a major event happens in his life during his B Levels.  Not that something big didn’t happen to him during his A Levels, but most of what I laid out dealt with the circumstances of this event.

I know how that works for Annie as well, and speaking of Annie, it’s a different time for her.  You do find out why she doesn’t have a computer, and if she gets one, or even a phone.  You start to go through her flight training.  And based on something I came up with last night, you finally get to see what happened when someone is called out and it’s time to take the Magical Fight to the Mat.  (Hint:  Annie does the calling, but it doesn’t go the way she expects.)

If I want to do this right, I need to start plotting out events as they happen.  I know what Annie gets for her thirteenth birthday (Teenage Witch, watch out!), but I don’t know what Kerry gets for his.  I know what Kerry plays as Ostara, and I know that Annie wants to work on her paintings and drawings.  I also know that, for the first time, Annie starts feeling something that Kerry has felt for a long time, and they bring up the subject together.

I added another arc in Aeon Timelines:  Book Events.  What’s that?  It’s the time frame covered by the story, in case I was wondering the actual frame for the stories.  That will be important for the coming novels, because the opening of the stories take place before school–and with a couple of novels, cover a lot of the summer before school even starts.  (The D Level novel will do this and more.)

So now I have this on my time line:

I said I wasn't going to do anything, but . . . I lied.

I said I wasn’t going to do anything, but . . . I lied.

Don’t take this to mean I’m going to start writing tomorrow.  There is planing afoot, but that’s it:  nothing more.  Tomorrow I’ll talk about what I really have planed next.

And speaking of planning:  I need five topics to write about next week, which means it’s time for Reader Input!  So if there’s something you’d like me to write about, leave a comment in the, um, comment area and if I select your idea, you’ll get a byline as the originator of the post as well.

Give it your best shot.

Four Seven Four

Last night, about eleven-forty PM or there about, I posted this on a few pages on Facebook:

 

And this just happened a few minutes ago:

From and including: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
To and including: Sunday, February 15, 2015

Result: 474 days

It is 474 days from the start date to the end date, end date included
Or 1 year, 3 months, 17 days including the end date

That’s how long it’s taken me to finish this latest novel.
It’s done; it’s over.

 

I even have the photo conformation:

If you don't see "The End" it really didn't happen, did it?

If you don’t see “The End” it really didn’t happen, did it?

Sunday was all about writing.  Finishing up Kerry’s return home and blogging about it in the morning; editing a book for about three and a half hours in the afternoon; taking a nap and trying to get back into writing in the early evening; writing Kerry’s last scene before The Walking Dead came on at nine PM; and writing Annie’s last scene–and the last scene in the novel–after ten PM and finishing it up in the time it took me to hear the live version of The Duke Suite by Genesis–and that time is twenty-eight minutes and thirty-six seconds.

As soon as I was finished I backed it up to my two off-line drives, posted the information on my author’s page, and calculated how much time it had taken me to write this novel.  There were a few days where I didn’t write, but 424,674 divided by 474 days works out to 896 words a day.  If I hadn’t missed four or five days because I simply couldn’t write, or because there were some nights where it was impossible to get more than a few hundred words down, I likely would have averaged a thousand words a day, for 1 year, 3 months, and 17 days.

That’s a lot of writing to get out of the way.

And it makes my novel look so pretty.

And it makes my novel look so pretty.

No more excerpts, no more discussing how much they love each other–or if they really do–no more Midnight Madness, no more Mile High Clubs, no more putting their lives in danger and sending them to the hospital with concussions and broken bones and forcing them to spend the night in Bay #1, Bed #2.  Yeah, that last was a real hardship, let me tell you.

But that’s over:  they’re home for the summer, and both are sad.  Kerry is back in Boring City, wishing he was back at The School, and Annie?  She just wishes she was with Kerry.  She wants to touch and hold him.  She thought she wouldn’t miss it that much, but no matter how much of a cold Dark Witch you are, you will miss the embrace of your warm Soon-to-be-Dark Witch of your own.  It’s why she know’s there’s eighty-six days remaining before she hold him again, and you can bet, she will.

I have a little more writing work to do on other things, but for now this novel is over.  What started as a promise in 2012 to tell the tales of these two kids came to an end almost three years later.

The tale is told.

The kids made it, learned, and grew.

And I didn’t even cry when I wrote “The End”.

I’ll leave that for later.