The Story at the End of the Lane

Well, there you have it:  for the first time in the three years since I began writing with a determination not seen in my prior forty-five years, and probably in the whole of my time as a writer, I finished a short story.  I said I was going to finish it on Friday, and being the good girl I am, I was up until about a quarter to midnight working through the scene until I felt I’d reached the point where “The End” was ready to be slapped into the text.

Final numbers for last night:  one thousand, three hundred, thirteen.  Thirteen-thirteen.  Nice ring, I think.  Total word count:  five thousand, eight hundred, fifty-three.  Well under my seventy-five hundred word limit the SFWA uses for determining if you get a short story Hugo for all your hard work.

Yay, me!  Right?  Lets hear it . . . yay!

Given that yesterday was a huge pain in the butt, it was nice to finish the day with a sense of accomplishment.  Sure, I was without music all night–thank you crappy motel internet–and I discovered I may not have my internet up and running when I move into my new place on Friday–thank you Comcast management bullshit–so doing what I said I was going to do–write a short story and have it finished on Friday, 6 September, 2013–I went to bed with a certain goodness burning in my tummy.

Or was that the cod I had for dinner?  No, I think it was goodness.  I’m sure of it.

I know what you’re saying–what’s next, Cassie?  What do you have on your writing plate now that you’ve written your short story and you have nothing else to do but let your royalties roll in so you can lay upon that pile of cash like Scrooge McDuck?  (Yes, I stole that line from Breaking Bad.  I steal from the best.)  As I may have indicated yesterday, I need to get my NaNo novel whipped into shape.  I need to figure out what I’m going to write, and the overall plot of the story.  I have a basic idea, but not much beyond that, and I don’t want to wait too long to get this worked out.

I have editing to finish, and I intend to do a few chapters today and tomorrow.  I want to write an article.  I want to shop; I want to buy; I want . . . well, there’s a lot of things I want, but there are few things I get.  But there will be editing.  As for the article, I could at least start it, no?

Also, there’s this annoying story rolling about in my head . . . I don’t know why this fantasy erotica won’t leave me alone.  It’s hanging out, nibbling at my brain, whispering, “You know you should write this, ’cause with all the crazy shit on Smashwords, you could be Queen of the Crazy Shit in no time.”  Go away, kid, you bother me.

So much to want to do, so little time to do it all.

Guess I should get started.

Lady Stardust Speaks

Over the weekend I conducted an interview–a rather strange one, at that.  But then, I like strange.  I hope you like reading this as much as I liked doing it.

Remember:  strange.

 

(Location:  New Oxford, University, Hyades Star Cluster. 2 June, a little more than 20 Minutes Into the Future.)

Greetings, young and eager minds of New Oxford and Miskatonic Universities. Welcome to another addition of Author’s Profile—or as I like to called it, “Audrey’s Excuse For Eating Up Web Time.” As you can see I’ve brought along the noted historian and local stuffy peer, the Duchess Scoth, the Lady Cytheria . . . That special personal I call “Sweetie”. Say hello, Sweetie.

*Glares at Audrey* Hello, everyone. To my students out there, please do ignore Audrey’s excessive rambling this day: I’m afraid she’s had a tad too much coffee.

It’s only too much if you start vomiting and get the shakes, my dear.

I believe you had both—

*Snorts* Well, then, lets move on. Today we have a special treat. We’re speaking with a new authors who’s sort of . . . It’s a bit confusing, but if you’ve been paying attention in class you’ll know what I mean. So, joining us now on the hyperwire, we have—

*Whispering* Did you clear this with—you know.

*Audrey speaking out of the corner of her mouth* On’tday alktay aboutway ethay imetay aveltray, neh?

*Cytheria sits back in her chair, shaking her head*

(Audrey) If you will please welcome, coming to us live from her home, the one, the lovely, Cassidy Frazee.

(Cassidy) Thank you, Audrey, for that warm welcome. Did you say “Miskatonic University”?

(Audrey) I think you mis-heard me.

(Ca) Ah. Okay, then . . . Thank you for having me, then.

(A) Yo have a new novel out, Her Demonic Majesty. It came out, what? A couple of weeks ago?

(Ca) Yeah, times flies, you know? Feels like yesterday.

(A) *Turns to Cytheria* If she only knew . . .

(Cytheria) *Ignores Audrey* Congratulation, Cassidy. It’s my understanding your endeavor to publish this novel has taken some time.

(Ca) Yes, that’s true. I’ve been working on this novel for a year and a half.

(A) Tell us what you’ve done during that time, if you would.

(Ca) As anyone who’s followed my blog since 2011—

(Cy) Blog?

(A) You remember, Sweetie? People write and then post their scribblings on the . . . “Internet”? *winking* Yeah?

(Cy) Oh, of course. Silly me. *Nervous laugh* Go on, Cassidy.

(Ca) Sure. I’ve been blogging since the middle of 2011, and it was in November of that year that I decided—well, was sort of talked into—writing something during NaNoWriMo—

(A) The National Novel Writing Month?

(Ca) Yes, that. I’d been asked to do it the year before, but bailed because—well, a lot of things, really. Mostly personal things, like just not being able to write due to depression.

(Cy) Audrey can certainly empathize with you there.

(Ca) Oh? You get that, too?

(A) *Mumbling* More times than I care to like. Tell us about the experience.

(Ca) It’s all about getting it written and edited. I wrote the first draft in twenty-five days, then edited it three times before handing it off to another person so they could give it a good cleaning. Even after that I found a few typos and cleaned them up—

(Cy) Not uncommon for any published work.

(Ca) So I’ve been told. Then it was setting up account, getting covers made, getting everything formatted . . . When you’re self publishing, there’s a lot of work involved in getting your story in a shape that makes it worth putting it out there for others to read.

(A) I know. I’ve been through my copy of your novel a couple of times, and you did a great job with the layout. Very professional.

(Ca) Thank you for buying it.

(A) *Sets hard copy down* Yes, buying it . . . Tell me, how do you go about promoting a novel?

(Ca) That, too, is an interesting process. You have people put out good word of mouth for the book. You set up a writer’s page and trying to get the message out to as many people as possible. You ask people to give you reviews and to spread the word. You listen when you have a mistake and fix things as quickly as possible. It’s a huge amount of hustle, and it wears you out.

(A) You write in a few genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, erotica. How do you classify Her Demonic Majesty? It seems like it should be fantasy, but it’s . . . not.

(Ca) I like to call it my science fiction fantasy with touches of steampunk. I think this particular novel covers so many bases that it’s nearly impossible to pin to one genre. I want to write stories; I don’t want to think I have to write any particular kind of stories.

(A) You were always critical of genres, and it seems—

(Ca) *Confused* “Were”?

(Cy) Audrey tends to have problems with her tenses— *Glances to Audrey and smiles* Isn’t that right, my love?

(Ca) *Muttering* Wibbly wobbly . . . After reading the novel I wondered if there will be any sequels. Any chance?

(Ca) *Smiling* One never knows. Lets just say that I know what happens to the characters in the story for a few years past the events in the novel, so maybe their will be other books. I’ve got so many stories I want to do—

(A) Science fiction? Fantasy? Erotic Japanese Tentacle Romances?

(Ca) What?

(Cy) I’ve heard writers say that it’s not unusual for segments of their personality to make it into their stories. Did that happen with you here, with this novel?

(Ca) Let me answer that second part first . . . With this novel I wouldn’t say much of my personality entered the novel say for some of the more geekish parts of Jeannette’s personality. I drew on my own experiences as a reader and a gamer to get an idea about the sort of things she might enjoy and do.

Beyond that, I don’t put too much of myself in my stories. Though there are a few stories, as yet unpublished, where more of “me” shines through than in other stories.

(Cy) You seem to write a great number of female characters. Any particular reason?

(Ca) I like writing women; it’s difficult to get them right, I think. I hope I’m doing a good job at presenting characters who can handle anything thrown at them, who don’t need to go running to the nearest guy screaming, “Please save me!”

And if they do work with men—as one of my characters has done in two stories—they work with them as equals. They know what they’re doing; they’re not afraid to speak their mind and follow up with their own lines of inquiry. And the men they work with aren’t threatened by a woman who knows as much, or more, than they.

(A) Sort of like Cytheria and me.

(Ca) That would be true if you were both like a couple of characters I developed. It’s strange, you know: Cytheria, you have the same name as—

(A) Fascinating! So, a couple of human interest question. First: boxers or briefs?

(Ca) Um . . . Boy shorts.

(A) Really?

(Cy) Audrey loves bikini bottoms. Never took her for that sort of girl.

(A) Silence, Sweetie. Fly or drive?

(Ca) Depends on the distance. I’ll fly to other parts of the world, but if it’s less than a thousand miles, I’ll drive.

(Cy) What’s the furthest you’ve flown?

(Ca) Around the world: Chicago to Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Hong Kong to Tokyo to Minneapolis to Chicago. Not all at once, mind you: it took about eight weeks. But Chicago to Hong Kong is probably the longest continuous trip with layovers of a few hours.

(A) Favorite writer?

(Ca) Too many to list. I love to read.

(A) Favorite movie?

(Ca) It’s impossible to have a favorite. Maybe twenty, thirty favorites. But one? No. For the record, quite a few from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s.

(A) If you could be a tree, what would you be?

(Ca) Um . . . Kristian Stewart?

(A) Cheap shot!

(Ca) Who wants to be a tree?

(A) Poison Ivy?

(Ca) Point taken.

(Cy) Would you prefer to live in the past or the future?

(Ca) There’s something to say about growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, though if I had to go through that again, I’d rather do it with a few things changed . . . If I had a choice, I’d pick the future—maybe two or three hundred years from now. Nothing’s happening these days, and I’m bored. I’d like to see what’s coming down the time line.

(A) Some interesting things, let me tell you.

(Ca) And you know this how?

(A) *Long pause* That was the drugs talking . . .

(Cy) Pay no attention to her, Cassidy.

(Ca) Thank you—Duchess? Like in the song?

(Cy) No, a duchess is what I am.

(Ca) Do you know Albert? He’s a born loser.

(A) *Now glaring at Cassidy* On that note . . . I’d like to thank Cassidy for appearing today. It’s been a lot of fun speaking with you.

(Cy) I agree. Thank you for agreeing to speak with us.

(Ca) Thank you both for having me.

(A) Oh, and August, 2015: if you’re smart you’ll cancel your trip to Boston.

(Cy) Audrey!

(Ca) I’m sorry—what?

(A) *Mumbling* See who’s the loser now! *Turning to the virtual audience* That’s it for today! Join us next week when we interview Cleopatra and find out if she was bi, or just really horny. Bye!

 

Are you looking for Her Demonic Majesty?  Look here!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sony

Smashwords

 

See you next time!

The Foundations Upon the New

Lets get this out of the way right now:  Her Demonic Majesty is finished.  I received the finished edited manuscript yesterday afternoon, and I had it ported into Scrivener, and chapters updated, by five-thirty in the afternoon.  (Or as my friends in the rest of the world would say, 17:30.  Audrey and Cytheria would say that, too, just because.)  Today I write the dedication page and start getting the Table of Contents in place, and all that remains is the upload and publication.

So this part of my writing life is almost over.  Though, really, it’ll never be over,  because this will become my first published novel, and that’s something you sort of look at with a bit of nostalgia   “Remember when you published Demonic Majesty back in ’13?”  “Oh, yeah:  that thing was a bitch to finish.  Pass me some caviar. . .”  Just kidding:  I don’t care for caviar.  I’d probably be drinking some European beer instead.

I’ve already had someone ask when I’m going to have the book up on Kindle.  My reply was, “Soon”.  I want my accounts in order, I need to run it through the Smashwords meat grinder–there are still a few steps remaining, but it’s going to be soon.  Before the end of the month, I think.  If not next weekend, then maybe Memorial Day weekend.  But soon.

Which means, I’m already on to the next thing . . .

I’ve not started writing yet, but I’m doing a lot of thinking, and not a bit of world building.  I have my erotic cabin story to start setting up–yes, I’m still doing that–and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this new world I’m creating, one with all the strange things that really happen in the world, but no one knows about.  Scoff and say it’s been done already, but I don’t care, it’s a world for a couple of my favorite characters, and I’m going there.

I began looking at the layout of the interior of Cape Ann, and under satellite it doesn’t look too bad, but when you switch over to a terrain map–geez, oh, is it rough!  It’s not a simple expanse of level ground; it’s rocky and hilly, and a perfect place for people with unusual skills to have built a place of higher learning.

Now I’m getting into the things I like, because making maps of places is something I dearly love, and once I begin getting ideas about how the Institute should appear, I’ll come up with some very interesting things.  At least I hope they’re interesting:  I’d hate to put a lot of work into this stuff, then have it ignored–

Ah, who cares?  It’s what I want to do.  World building is something every writer should do now and then, and have a blast throughout the creation.  And if you manage to root it a bit of reality, then it becomes an even greater world, because you’re interfacing the possible with the maybe-impossible, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

So much to do, so little time to get it done.  You’d swear I do this for a living.

Backwards to the Summit

A year ago, something strange happened.  I wrote this post.

I didn’t there was anything out of the ordinary about that post.  In fact, I dashed it off early in the morning before heading off to The Hole That Was My Job, located at The Undisclosed Location.  I was up early because I was having trouble sleeping, probably because of the cold that was developing that day, and would remain with me the entire month of May and well into June.

I popped it off, went to work, then went to dinner.  When I returned home and fired up the computer, I checked my stats–

The post had seen over two hundred views, and that day ended up becoming the most on-site views I’ve ever received.

I’ve tried hard to figure out what it was that drew all those people to my website.  I don’t think it was the tags, or how it appeared on Google, or even the subject.  The reason for the popularity is puzzling, because I’ve written far better posts than that, and they’ve had to go begging for hits like an out of work bicycle messenger who hocked his single-gear speed buggy for meth and is now hovering above the rocky bottom.

It’s strange how things like that happen.  You can bust your butt over something that you think is going to set the world on fire, and the collective sighs of a tiny group of readers can be overwhelming.  At the opposite end of the spectrum are those things you dash out almost as an afterthought, and your fans lose their shit in rapture-like ecstasy.

Stories are like that.  You put your heart into something that seems to speak to you in special ways, and it seems the indifference is suffocating–then you have some fun with a story that’s not meant to be taken too seriously, and you watch the money roll in.  Now, I don’t think that’s going to happen with my next story, but the way things work in my life, who knows?

I started putting my next story together last night.  Right now the title is about as original as it gets:  Cabin Fever.  As in, “I gotta fever, and the only prescription is hot women having sex!”  It’s the sort of simple title that can catch an eye, though it seems as if there are way too many cabins with fevers on Smashwords, so I’m going to need to rethink my approach.

I have the names of my characters, and a short outline of their lives.  It was while I was playing with this that I discovered something about the Scrivener Name Generator:  once you have your selected names in the “short list” box, you can transfer that list to an existing card or folder, and then play with the contents as you see fit–or even append the name at the end of a line currently being written.  That’s a function that I’d not played with, and now that I know it exists, when I need a quick name, and I throw it in and create a character card for that person at the same time.

This is how I go about getting a story ready:  I develop, I do my research, I lay things out.

And then, when I’m ready . . .

I see to things really get laid.

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.

 

Fast Lane to the Hinterland

There nothing like driving into Chicago at six-thirty in the morning with a cloudless sky above you, a lot of tall building before you, traffic filled with crazy people around you, and an old Japanese anime soundtrack blasting from your stereo.  It puts you in a certain frame of mine–unfortunately, for me, it was sort of the, “Why the hell am I doing this shit?” frame, and please don’t tell me it’s to pay the bills.

Still, there was a certain feeling while I was on the road.  I do love driving, if for no other reason that I can be alone with my thoughts, even if I’m accompanied by loud music.  When I used to make the weekly trek from and to The Undisclosed Location, I had two and a half hours to drive at 80 MPH, yell at drivers that wouldn’t get out of my way, and think out plot lines, scenes, and character development.

I thought a little about what I’m working on right now, which is editing and formatting Replacements so I can publish the work.  I’m getting this out of the way so when my covers arrive–that’s right, I was told I’m getting three covers for the low price of $200, and I can keep them or do some swapping, maybe using one of Smashwords and another on Amazon–I can then see about getting a cover for Replacements while I do a final edit and format on Her Demonic Majesty so I can get it online where it can take its place next to werewolf porn and a series about an eighteen year-old virgin who gets laid in about thirty stories–which means she must have regenerative abilities.

This morning I spoke with a friend about a story I’d submitted to a publishing house last May, and have heard nothing in return after they requested, and received, the full manuscript.  I’d mentioned that I’d sent two follow ups to the publishing house requesting an update on my novel, with none forthcoming from their end.  My friend’s comment was short and to the point:  “Fuck ’em, publish it yourself.”  This has pretty much been my attitude as well, since I’m getting antsy to find out what’s going on with that particular story.  If you want it, fine:  if you don’t want it, fine as well.  Just let me know, ‘kay?

This seems to be a common occurrence these days, where people send things out and sometimes never hear a thing back.  Or maybe it’s jut me:  maybe I’m stuck on this one with a lost in the aether and constantly waiting for it to return from the hinterlands.  Though I’m coming up on a year with it being out, so it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what I’m going to do with the story–

I’ll fix it up and I’ll publish it.

There’s no guaranty I’ll make any sales if I do this, but then there was no guaranty I’d make any sales by selling it, either.  Just as once I pay a couple of hundred scoots for a book cover there’s no guaranty I’ll get any sales from Her Demonic Majesty.  I do know this, however:

It will be out–and, with the right cover, it will be noticed.

The question then becomes:  by whom?

Into the Fire

Chapter Fifteen of Suggestive Amusements is in the books, so to speak.  I only needed a few hundred words to bring the chapter to a conclusion, and they came to me last night after my one evening of watching television.  When I was finished I went to the computer, put on some music, and wrote what needed to be wrote.

End of chapter, end of that story.

The writing has been a lot better of late.  Part of it is getting past my own doubts of the last few weeks.  Part of it is knowing that I’m about ten thousand words away from the end of the novel.  Part of it is knowing that I have an idea for another story that is part erotica, part silliness, part “I just wanna see if anyone buys this shit”.  Oh, yes:  I want to dip into the Bad Smashwords Dashboard Porn, and put something up for no other reason than to see if people buy the damn thing.  Oh, and because I think it might be a good story in a sexy sort of way.

Which is to mean, my normal writer self and the things I write.

This idea actually woke me up this morning.  I was half asleep, right before the alarm went off, and I could swear there was a conversation going on in my head between the three character that will be in this story.  They were talking about something one of them had read on Facebook (surprise!), and it was something I’d mentioned last night to a friend that I had to include a certain line in my story.  (What was the line about?  Vampire writers, and not the good kind.)

So this is stuck in my head like a bad habit, which means at some point–after I get one of my stories ready for the mill that is online publishing–I’ll get that story going.  It looks like I’ll do it for Camp NaNo in June, unless I can’t still these voices in my head and I have to start the file on it before long.

Speaking of long . . .

My idea file tells me that I started Suggestive Amusements on 12/30/2012.  I believe there are ten to twelve thousand more words to write, and at the rate I’ve been progressing, that’s ten to twelve days of writing.  It is now 3/15/2013, and in twelve days it’ll be 3/27/2013.  If I don’t write a lot on Thursdays, then I finish the novel on the twenty-ninth or thirtieth of March.  The way it looks now, I’ll finish the story three months after it was begun, which is more time than I usually take for a novel, but seemed to be about the average when you think about it–which is what most writers tell you.  Seventy thousand words in ninety days, while working full-time: it’s not a bad deal.

The days are better, the nights seem to work with me rather than against.  The stories are getting written, and the ideas are still coming, even if some might think they are not worthy of me.