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 . . .

Closing on the Cover Rag

The last couple of days has been a bit of a drag.  Thursday was Project Runway night, and I almost never get anything done when that show’s on.  Only a few more episodes to go, however, so I can soon get back to having a productive Thursday night.  As for last night . . . I stopped off after work to give blood.  This is something I used to do all the time, but after being laid off, then going to The Undisclosed Location (which many of you have figured out was Indianapolis, Indiana) for a year, it was hard to find a place where I could get a needle stuck in my arm.

I did it yesterday, and while there were a few interesting things that happened, the upshot was by eight-thirty last night I was nodding out.  I think it was a combination of being up about four AM, then a long drive to and from work, that helped put me down.  So today, I have busy writing day–at least I’ll try to stay busy writing.  Who knows what will really happen.

So while I sit here with my coffee, my leg and head bouncing up and down while I listen to the Duke Suite–pretty much the same way Tony Banks did when he played it–I’m getting this blog out of the way.  Then on to some other work, editing Replacements, then maybe start an article . . .

But first, something to show.

As many know, I’m going to self publish Her Demonic Majesty this year, maybe by the end of May, maybe the end of June, but it’s getting done.  One of the requirements is that I have a book cover, and since I am the suckest when it comes to doing covers, I asked someone to do it for me.  I’m even paying them in cash, which is just as good as money–  (That’s a Yogi-ism, if you didn’t know.)

That said, they’ve shown me what they’ve developed, which were five panels to start.  One I discounted right away, because it didn’t speak to me.  Of the remaining four, I like two very strongly, then worked my way to the final one–

Which is here on the right.Cover Red 02

I had one of my writing friends tell me that this will be another “eye” cover, since my story Kuntilanak used an eye as well.  What I told them was since I’ll likely go with this cover for Demonic Majesty, that will give me the opportunity to change the cover for my Kunti story and go with my original idea, which is to show a rural Bali scene in a mysterious fashion.

I may do something with the font still; I like it, bu I wonder if I should have it a little bolder?  Probably not.  Don’t over-edit, otherwise I’m spending all my time second guessing myself, and I don’t do that with my writing now, so don’t do it with my cover selections.

So, better or worse, this is going to be the cover, though by the time it hits the Might Amazon servers, Ms. Nom de Plume will be gone, and . . . there is an issue with the author’s name.  I’ve had at least one person tell me to write under a pseudonym, because then I can write different genres and not worry about alienating fans.

But my fans–the few I have–know I’m all over the place, genre-wise, so I don’t mind if people discover I’ve published a story pertaining to mild BDSM, and a horror story–and soon, a strange sort of science fiction/fantasy novel.  About the only time I’ll dive into the pseudonym is when I start writing Centaur Porn with Ms. Penelope Poffer, because I figure I’ll need it then.

It’s coming together, as you can see.  A few more weeks, a couple of months at best, and I’ll have this sucker out for sale.  Then get Replacements done, get it covered, and it’s done.  That’s two of four.  After that–

Who knows?  You’ll know as soon as I, you can bet on that.


Mercurial Rearrangements

In a much better place this morning, since the drive in wasn’t nearly as insane as it was yesterday, and I’ve had some munchies that have put me in a happy place.  It shouldn’t have been that way; I should have little depression going, because I had some rather depressing dreams that culminated with me going to place where I believed I’d interviewed once before, and trying to get another interview, and having to deal with some smarmy punk giving me the glad-hand all the way out of the building without telling me if they wanted to interview me or not.

After doing the Walk of Shame through what appeared to be a bombed-out T.J. Max, I took a left turn into another building, and then–darkness.  Lots of darkness.  As I walked onward, it became darker, and then everything was pitched dark.  That’s when I woke up because it almost felt as if I were pushed out of the dream.  Not a good feeling, mind you, and I laid there for a while trying to gather my wits about me before heading into the day.

Last night’s writing was, to say the least, interesting.  I finished the second of the two new chapters for Replacements, then headed in to edit the first of the new chapters.  I finished the edit, looked at the chapter that came before the new Chapter Six–and realized I’d screwed up.  The chapter that was before the new Chapter Six was suppose to come after the new Chapter Seven.


However, Scrivener is good for fixing screw ups.  What I did was move the note card that is the chapter from the front to the back of the new chapters, then relabeled them, changed the titles inside the chapters, and there you have it:  screw up all taken care of.  Now all I have to do is rewrite part of the new old Chapter Seven, because some of the things I said in that chapter I’d set up in the old new Chapter Five, and I want the follow up chapter to deal with what comes after, well, what comes after the end of this second new chapter I wrote.

I already have in my head how I want to fix that chapter, which I’ll likely do tonight after Project Runway, ’cause first of all, I’m about the fashion.  At this rate I’ll likely finish up the Replacements this weekend, then it’s a combo of finishing up some descriptions for Windows 8 themes, and maybe start an article before getting into the finial edit of Her Demonic Majesty–for which I have seen a set of possible covers.  That means I also have to get back to the designer and tell her what I think . . .

No, I’m not feeling down today.  There’s a lot going on, and it’s making me feel that I have some hope of keeping ahead of all this.  If I can get my cover finalized in the next couple of weeks, no reason why I can have my novel ready for publication by the first of May.

Yeah, a great way to celebrate the second anniversary of this blog, don’t you think?

Swirling Skeaming Desires

Today has been one of those days.  Between idiots on the highway–including someone who nearly hit me even though I was hard on the horn to get their attention–and idiots at work, I’ve had distractions up the yang, and getting into the blogging grove has proved difficult at best.

There was also the issue what what to say.  I had something to say this morning, but like my ba-lance, I lost it and having had time to find it.  My life seems to go in these directions these days:  distractions on the road, distractions on the job, distractions on the internet.  And now I have to deal with road construction tonight–oh, goody.

I worked on the new chapter for Replacements last night, and the brain was dead:  far deader than zombie Amy Pond.  I was writing, I was getting the ideas out, I was making the scene–but it was coming so slowly.  I’d do fifty words, then I couldn’t think, so I’d read a little.  Then another fifty and it was time to look for music.  Went like that for two and a half hours, and in the end I came close to my thousand words, but just like light speed, I didn’t make it that far.  A gallant effort, but I had to sigh when it was over because I felt I’d let myself down.

And yet . . .

Maybe it was the complexity of the scene that thwarted me.  Though my story is sort of science fiction with borderline erotic elements, it isn’t screaming sex.  It’s all about the characters:  one who becomes so obsessed with doing something that she literally takes over someone’s life, and another who wants her own relationship with the main character, and has pushed the relationship into a new direction.  There is a lot happening between these two people, all of which is coming out in these new chapters, amounting to about three to four thousand words of character development.

In trying to get the information right, I’m having to think about what I need to have them do, and that means thinking about their actions.  They aren’t looking up from the Scrivener file going, “No, I’m not wearing that!” or “Are you kidding?  I’m not going to make her suck my toes!”  No, it’s all in my head, and I’m working hard, though a haze of semi-exhaustion, to drag it out of my brain and kicking it out through the tips of my fingers.

As I’ve said, it’s a lot of work, because writing is work.  If you want to do it right, you have to do it right.  I spoke with a friend today, another writer, who said she’s going through a number of calculus calculations because there’s something she needs to do that she wants to do correctly.  I know that eventually she’ll get it all right, but there’s another example of someone doing the work needed to do it the way that is best.

Maybe I shouldn’t be hard on myself.  Maybe I’m doing the best I can with a head full of stuffing after getting up at five AM and spending two hours on the road to go from home to hole and back.

That doesn’t mean I won’t do the work.

Nor feel bad when I don’t do as well as I feel I should.


Spring Into Power

Yes, it is 1 April, and there will be no jokes, no pranks, no misdirection.  I’m not going to tell you I found a contract in my inbox this morning, offering a six-figure advance for one of my novels, ’cause it’s just too damn good not to publish . . . no, there’s none of that.  If anything, I stay away from those kind of pranks, ’cause what do they get you?  Nothing.

Does Cassie sound grumpy?  Probably a bit.  While Friday was something of a pain in the ass, the rest of the weekend was, for the most part, nice.  Weather was great, there were some interesting things to do, The Doctor was new, and I did a lot of writing and reading.  I’m doing a beta read on a story, and the writing . . . lots of editing, a few things I’m doing on the side for a friend, and I set up a Scrivener file for articles I develop.

Oh, and there was editing.  Busy, busy, was I not?

I went through at least three chapters in Replacements over the weekend, getting them clean, getting them better.  I found few errors, but in one chapter I wasn’t happy with the way things sounded.  The structure was clumsy, the words didn’t sound like they should come from my character’s thoughts; it’s not how she’d speak.  So a bit of rewriting was necessary, because if I want the story to sound right, then I gotta make it right.  It’s not like the character is gonna jump out of the computer and redo her own imaginary dialog, is she?

Last night saw the start of a new chapter, however.  In the original story, I went from events in Chapter Five to establishing that things were pretty much hunky dory in Chapter Six, even though it was established that one of the characters was a bit freaked out by her actions in Chapter Five.  After I finished the story I looked at it and said, “Naw, that doesn’t seem right,” and began wondering if there should be something else, something that shows the development of the characters from the actions that occurred at the end of Chapter Five, and how they seemed to have fallen into their roles at the start of Chapter Six.

I’d created a new Chapter Six, and began writing that last night.  One thousand twenty-six words later I finished, established that one of my character had did her research and decided that she’d fallen into something that the other character wanted, and now had–and she was stuck with the aftermath.  Given that, she figured out that if she needed to establish some kind of equilibrium in this relationship, she’d need to set her own ground rules, and thus . . .

I started wondering, after I’d finished my writing for the evening, if I needed to separate the scenes in the new Chapter Six, and create a new Chapter Seven.  Because, the way I lay things out, it makes sense.  And with Scrivener, all things are possible.

Why, it’s as simple as pinning a card to a corkboard and writing, “Chapter Seven” upon it.

Looks like I have some extra work tonight.

Building Towards Excitation

Yesterday was busy; today is likely to be a bit of a madhouse.  Yesterday was taxes and medication, along with a little work that I didn’t want to do, but more or less was pushed into doing; today is going to be getting my car tested and shopping with other people.  The only thing that makes today a little bearable is that Doctor Who starts tonight, giving me something else to watch for the next seven weeks.

Oh, there’ll be writing as well.  What else?

I’ve the clock on me this morning, because I’d like to finished this post in another twenty-eight minutes so I can put my vehicle through some emissions testing.  So much fun, because you feel as if you have less and less of you own time due to these other obligations.  You have so many things throughout the day you wonder if you’ll get to the things you want, to be able to engage in the things that are important to you.

I do my best.

I’ve finished the edit on Chapter Three of Replacements, and things are going smoothly.  Last night was a real good edit, because I was seeing things that shouldn’t have been there, and a couple of clumsy passages that made me cringe a little on the inside.  How the hell did I write that and think it was good?  Well, it was a first draft of things that were written for another site, and at best I gave those chapters a good looking over before posting them online.

Its wasn’t a disaster, however.  I’t wasn’t as if I was embarrassed by what I’d written:  it’s that these days I know how to look at something and know it doesn’t look right.  When other writers say, “Get good at your editing skills,” they know of what they speak, because there is so much more going on in these phases than I’d ever imaged before getting serious about my writing.  There were many times in the past when I believed my first drafts were so good that I didn’t need no stinkin’ editing–how wrong is that?    If anything, I can look at something I wrote five, six, ten years ago, and know it’s a bit defective, and that it needs a good rub down.  (You know, a polish?  What were you thinking?  Naughty people.)

Tonight I’ll polish up Chapter Four, then tomorrow I’ll get into writing a new chapter?  What’s that, you say?  New chapter?  Yep.  Figured the story needed it, and I have an interesting idea that I want to put in that shows the developing relationship between my two main characters.  Shouldn’t be more than a couple of thousand words, then I can let it sit, I can do something else for a while, then go back and give it a major edit.

Mean and clean:  that’s how I like my chapters.

At this rate I’ll finish the edit next weekend.  Do I edit something else?  You know, there are a couple of stories that need a good edit, and I should get into them if I’m serious about getting stuff published this year.

Only if it’s ready to go is it ready to go.

Seven thirty to seven fifty-two:

Looks like I can check off blogging for the day.

Tales Beyond the Table

With the latest novel out of the way, it was time to get into another book and getting some information together for someone to design a cover for said story.  There wasn’t a lot to do–well, maybe I’m being modest, because there was a lot of hunting for information, and a bit of cutting and pasting, to get the final document in order.  As it was, I passed off about two thousand words of useful information–I hope.

So that’s off to the printer, so to speak.  Probably going to get into another edit tonight:  I want to shape up Replacements, and there’s a chapter I need to write to have the story make a little more sense–I’m putting in some dumb character building, I know, why do I need that shit?  Because I do, that’s why.  The story will get edited, then I’ll put in another requests for a cover . . .

April will see a lot of work towards publishing.  But I’ve got other things going as well.

In the last week I’ve had two role playing games reviews published.  These aren’t new reviews, and they aren’t new games; I originally published them on another site a few years back, and sort of let them sit.  Since they weren’t doing much in the way of traffic, I offered them to someone to post on their site after I gave them a bit of a polish, ’cause lets face it, I see mistakes much better these days.  If you are interested in reading the reviews, the are for the games Diaspora and Eclipse Phase.  Enjoy.

I don’t game much these days.  Actually, I don’t game at all; it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done any serious gaming, and while I’m always ready to jump into something, I’ve encountered the problem of either not finding a game I like, or not finding a group I like.  Both can be a problem, because if you are in a game that’s not your style, or you’re gaming with assholes, the urge to play goes right down the toilet in short order.

Yet I still pick up games now and then.  Why?  Simple answer:  they can be fodder for ideas.

There was a time when the games I ran were my stories.  Trust me:  run a role playing game every other weekend for two years, and you’ll develop a sense for story, for metaplots, and for characters.  You play in their world, but you make it your own:  you build most everything off the structure, then make your cast of characters, direct the action so your players have something interesting to do.

I did this for a couple of decades, and it helped me understand what sort of work it takes to be a storytelling.  I prided myself on my games, and I pride myself on the tales I write these days.

As for these games I still buy . . .

One can find inspiration from anywhere.  One of my first completed long stories took place in a game universe, one that I knew intimately   It could be argued that I was writing fan fiction even though the character throughout the story were entirely mine, but I won’t argue the point.  It was a good exercise for me, and my only regret is that this particular story is lost to me, vanished on a hard drive failure.  Doesn’t me I couldn’t rewrite the story from scratch today, because you always remember your first novella . . .

I hear you out there, however:  so you’re still buying game to steal ideas, is that it?  Inspiration can come from anywhere, as my muse Erin would tell you.  If you find something in a paragraph of a supplement that gets the mental gears cranking, then good for you, because working your imagination is a great thing–maybe one of the greatest things a person can achieve.

Besides, Quentin Tarantino has found inspiration this way for a couple of decades, and some call him a genius.

I already am one, so the calling should come easy . . .

The Campsite Beyond the Woods

Last night was Orchestra School Night, and that means it was busy, busy, busy.  Just an hour or so after getting home to write, and an hour or so after getting back from the school to write.  Did I write?  You know I did.  It wasn’t a thousand, but eight hundred and eighty-five is a number that made me happy, and given that I was chatting with someone at the time I was writing–yeah, multitasking again.  I should know better.

I was chatting it up with another writer friend of mine, and the discussion focused on several things:  work, idiot co-workers, and writing.  While I usually bring up the matter of why we aren’t writing centaur porn for fast money, she wondered if she was going to Camp NaNo.  For those who don’t know about Camp NaNo, it’s like NaNoWriMo, only more relaxing and with fewer mosquitoes.  You have a cabin, you have people who you bunk with, and you write without fear of having sex with any of your roomies and then being murdered by a guy in a hockey mask.

It’s another way to go off and work on something, and not have distractions.  At least that’s the idea, but we all know how real life tends to make things crazy for you, even when you’re off to camp with the rest of the girls, sitting around in your shorts and baby doll night gown, eating smores and talking about your next big novel.

I was asked if I was going, since my friend is considering it.  I mentioned I didn’t think so; she mentioned peer pressure; I mentioned that I already had plans.  I mentioned that I had a goal to get four things published this year, and she was pretty . . . well, lets say my comment was well meet.  Yes, we’re probably talking self-publishing, and we’re talking a lot of work–

Are we?

Since Her Demonic Majesty came back from Harper Voyager, I haven’t exactly been sitting on my hands singing the “Woe is Me” tune.  I’ve lined up someone to do a cover, and all I need to do is get them a synopsis and some ideas, and they’ll get to work.  If that doesn’t turn out as planed, I’ll find someone else.  But before the NaNo Circus 2013 rolls into town, I’ll have that novel published.

While I’m getting the cover, I have Replacements to look at again.  There is one more chapter that needs writing, maybe two or three thousand words total, and then I can do another pass through the story while I round up a cover for this.  I see this story not taking long to get into shape:  maybe a month total.

There is also the Halloween story I did on another blog last year.  It’s sat there, doing nothing, just waiting for me to pick it up and hold it tight.  I’m looking at this as a third story for publication, since it was pretty clean from the beginning, and I don’t believe it would take a lot of work to get it edited and formatted.  It’s a cute story, I like it, and would make a good addition to my catalog.

But for a fourth?  Hummm . . . let me think . . .

The thing with Camp NaNo is there are two events:  one in April and one in June.  I can set my own word count, so maybe something in the ten thousand range would be a good story.  Maybe, just maybe . . . one of the ideas that I’ve got floating about in my head could get knocked out in a week or two, then do an edit on that, then polish it up, and . . . story number four.

Maybe the girlfriends and I can sit in the cabin in our baby dolls and talk about romance and clothes and makeup–

Or we can write porn.

I’m thinking the later.

Bring Down the Sadness

Just as a week ago I’d finished the draft on Replacements, last night saw me finishing the draft on Echoes.  Last chapter, a few words added, a couple of things edited . . . ta-da!  Final Draft is in the bag.  Now all that’s required is one more pass, another good polish, a book cover, and it’s ready to take its place next to Banging the Cheer Squad, which is one of the tomes that appears on my Smashwords front page.  (There’s even an interesting first sentence:  “Gretchen thought she was the only cheerleader who had been turned into a gangbang slut.”  Definitely not my high school.)

The last chapter has always made me cry–my story Echoes, that is, not the one about slutty cheerleaders.  I wrote it last year, starting it almost about this time, and it was a reflection of something that I was feeling at the time.  I wanted to get everything down inside words I’d remember, everything that I felt would convey how I felt then, and I think–I think–I got it right.  It was the first real story I wrote that touched my emotional side, and it’s really one of the first stories that isn’t just words, but possesses feelings as well.

Which is why the ending makes me sad, because the feelings are still there.  Probably will be forever.

The thing about Echoes, though, is that if I couldn’t have finished it, I’d have never been able to write the ending to Transporting.  The later was delving into some deep, emotional waters as well, and as I’ve stated in other, older posts, in order to finish the story, I needed to get into some feelings I couldn’t access.  I’d always been a touch unemotional, and it showed in my writing.  I could plot and do prose, but there was something missing.

It’s a fact of life that sometimes your writing is going to make you cry.  Can’t be helped, because when you, the writer, goes over a piece, no matter how long before it was written, you’re going to remember when that writing happen, where it happens, and maybe even what you were feeling when you wrote those particular words.  That’s assuming you aren’t Scriptomatic 3000, which was something I think Dan Aykroyd called himself when he was developing scripts.

If you’re just hammering away at your stories, getting the words down one after the other, and you’re not putting yourself into them, then maybe you won’t feeling anything when you’re editing them later.  I think that will show up in the story, however, because as many of you know, when you’re reading another author’s work, you see things in your head, see the characters a certain way, and the emotions that trickle out are pretty much a combination of yours mixed with those of the writer.  But if the writer didn’t put any of themselves into their work, the reads may just feel that.

There is one other thing about getting your feelings onto the page:  it means you’re will to open yourself up to things you may not like to remember, or feel, or even admit ever happened.  It’s not a pleasant thing to do–I know, I’ve done it.  There are a lot of things in my life that I wish hadn’t happened, and would like to forget completely.  But when you’re writing . . . damn it, those feelings just seem to pop up, you know?

All that remains are the covers, and a little polish . . .

I’m almost there with the new stories.  Here’s hoping people like them.


Mayhem Most Marvelous

Two chapters to go in Replacements, and it’s surprising how easy it’s been to reach this point.  It’s helped a lot that the last couple of chapters have been very easy to edit, with only the need to change a few things, and adding a phrase here and there.  It’s easy to see that when I wrote this on the first pass, I knew what I wanted to say in these later chapters than I did in the first.

But then I had a better idea of where I wanted the story to go by the time I’d finished the first couple of chapters.  It only makes sense that when I reached then last three chapters, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to write–I only needed it written.

In working this last chapter tonight, I realize that I should do something to the story.  There’s an event that happens at the end, and it takes place in something five paragraphs.  Which makes me wonder:  can a truly horrible event be summed up in under a hundred words?

Why not?

The event that happens, while needed, is not that important that if you never saw it happen, the omission would ruin everything.  If anything, the short scene–the whole chapter is about fourteen hundred words–shows how the person who’s become Olivia will do just about anything to get her way, and while she may feel sorry about what she did, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do it again.

In a way, the character who is Olivia is something of a psycho.  She’s kicking ass and burning bridges left and right, and what pisses her off is not the possibility that one may have picked up something strange about her–it’s that she’s enjoying her new role as department head and secret mistress, and woe be to anyone who steps on the toes of her Ferragamos.

I may have given it some thought in the past, but Olivia is probably one of the most screwed up characters I’ve ever done.  She’s not crazy in a Hannibal Lecter way, but once she figures out that she can do pretty much as he pleases, she talks about screwed people up as calmly as she would discuss what sort of polish to use for her pedicure.

When I used to run my World of Darkness Vampire game, there was one character who used to put in an appearance in just about everyone’s game, because when it came to the World of the Undead in Chicago, she was right at the top of the heap of room-temperature bodies.

She was old, powerful, and sometimes referred to as the person who was the historical Helen of Troy.  Since she was so old and powerful, people liked to play her in a very over the top manner, with a lot of histrionics, and beating of breasts.  She was this Amazonian vampire Wonder Woman who no one in their mind would ever cross, because she would hold out your maybe-beating heart for you to see if she was of that mood.

Naturally, I had her show up for a few secessions.  When the players meet her, what do they get?  A very short woman, about five foot without heels, somewhat dark, olive tone skin, black hair, dark eyes, and a physique that might lead you to believe she could lift her body weight–if she were lucky.

This was the same character, the old vampire killer to end all killers.  And she looked like you wouldn’t notice her twice if you ran into her at a local Micky-Ds.

I was questioned about why she looked the way she did.  I was able to justify her appearance on that fact that if she really were from Greece, circa 1,000 BCE, then the whole idea of having a six foot tall plus woman running about the city was ludicrous.  Skin tone, hair, eyes–pretty much the standard for the area.  If she’d been a real lady before turning bloodsucker, then manual labor was totally out of the question, and she probably wouldn’t have had a lot of toning or muscular definition.

But when she–well, I, since I was playing here–spoke, she was calm, has great manners  never once raised her voice or threw a tantrum.  I was ready for that, too.  “If you’re a poseur badass,” I explained, “you have to constantly show everyone so they don’t forever.  If you’re a true badass, though . . . you never have to show anyone what you can do.  They just know.”

And . . . they’re never bothered if they have to kill everyone in a room if they don’t get the first lesson.  You should have known, you dumb shits, that you don’t mess with Death in High Heels . . .

That’s the way Olivia is shaping up.  Killing people is just a thing, and if it’s gonna be done, then get it done.  She’s turning into a sweet badass without having to tip her hand to everyone.

She’s pretty sweet.  I should write more like her.