In the mood for camping

I must be crazy, right?

I mean, someone with two books in the writing stage shouldn’t plan to start an entirely new book. These things simply aren’t done.

Well…

Go ahead and call me crazy, I guess. I did give myself an ultimatum though. I must have my first book, Suzie’s Nightmare, completely edited and ready to start shipping out to agents before I’ll allow myself to start planning for this piece. This next book will definitely require planning too. Possibly a better choice in titles as well.

Heck, Suzie’s Nightmare is in need of a new title in my opinion.

Good title or not, it needs to be ready to ship out soon. I’m done having that piece picking up dust. It needs to move on to the next stage. Then maybe I’ll feel like I can give the proper time to it’s sequel and to the Colton Fen series.

So many stories, so little time.

Edits, NaNo, and New Orleans

So some good news – I finally finished editing Pikes Peak yesterday! Woo-hoo! It got steadily more difficult toward the end there, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish it this weekend or not. I’m still not 100% happy with some of the dialogue, and I may have a few tiny plot-holes that need filling, but I think it’s ready for my first round of RL readers to take a look. Working on compiling it and formatting it properly before I begin printing it.

I also have decided that I’m going to start working on the sequel for this year’s NaNoWriMo, and if you’d like to friend me my username is lenaf007. It’s tentatively titled Smoke and Witchcraft and will be centered in New Orleans and the nearby swampland. I’ve got a basic plot premise in mind, but I ‘m going to want to get the details of the city itself down pat to make sure I portray it accurately. I know it’s a supernatural fantasy story, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but I really do try to make it seem like it could have occurred during that time period.

Mostly my research is going to focus on the brothels of the area, and the seedier side of the city. If anyone has any websites or resources they recommend to brush up my knowledge on the 1800s New Orleans lifestyle, I’d greatly appreciate it.

For now I’m basking in the glow of a novel that’s passed my first round of rigorous edits. Here are a few other ideas I had for my NaNo novel, but I’m shelving them for another time:

  • Under My Dad’s Cape – Life isn’t always perfect being the daughter of the city’s beloved superhero. In fact, sometimes it can be downright cruddy. Meredith Sumner tells how her father’s heroic activities have left her by the wayside, and how she thinks he should be using his powers for more important matters than killing giant lizards. Kind of a political commentary on society.
  • Mr. Cloom’s Garden – Shaleigh has been growing more and more frustrated with her life. She spends more time on her various electronic devices instead of talking to her Dad because he’s too busy with his academic career. Ever since her mom left them when she was young, Shaleigh’s father just hasn’t been the same. On top of that, her only friend at school has started ignoring her, and Shaleigh doesn’t understand why. If only she was the fairy princess her parents wanted her to be when she was young, maybe she’d be happier. Turns into an “other world” fantasy novel.

Anyway I’ve been getting a ton of ideas for books lately. If only I had the time to write all of them!

Fall is Coming

So this is not normally how I bring in the fall season, getting felled by some weird stomach bug, but sometimes you can’t prepare for things like this. Sometimes life has other plans for how to appreciate the chillier mornings. Last week I ended up working from home most of the time which made me feel rather more like a slug, and of course co-workers were wondering what had happened to me, you know how that is.

Today I spread some bug killer throughout the yard and tackled the laundry, so I guess that means I’m feeling better. I got the second round of info sent to Zharmae last week, so that’s out of the way. Edits have been coming along slowly but surely with Pikes Peak. I think I’m almost halfway through the manuscript before I start sending it off to my two friends who are my initial editors. I’m excited to see it coming along, and the cleaned up version is going to be quite enjoyable methinks.

Anyway I’ve got company coming soon, so I’d best stop being lazy. Hope everyone is having a great second day of Fall!

Two Down, One to Go

Woot! I finished my edits for both of my Big Bang fanfiction pieces! *Happy Dance*

I still have a whole novel to finish revising and editing, but to celebrate getting these two done I’ll be using a piece from My Life as a Dead Man: Regulus Black, Post-Mortem for my Six Sentence Sunday choice. I have no clue if I’ll have anybody get annoyed at me using fanfiction instead of original fiction, but oh well. Writing is writing in my book, and both of these were a blast to work on.

As the Seventh Month Dies – Done & Ready for Big Bang Posting.
My Life as a Dead Man: Regulus Black, Post-Mortem – Done & Ready for Big Bang Posting.

Suzie’s Nightmare is the next piece on my radar. Looking forward to diving in!

Pushing Characters and What Makes a Good Story

Working Writers posted a link to this article today, and I thought I’d give my two cents on the topic.

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent: What the Fiction Editor Looks For, Part I

Rachelle lists a series of items that writers fail to include in their stories/books/etc. that leaves the reader feeling like something’s off. That’s perhaps the only way to describe a novel that just doesn’t that pizzazz that other novels do. Most of the items here are ones you typically see like giving your protagonist a goal and that characters need to be consistent. But then she mentions a few that had me nodding intently. And just for the record, I don’t nod intently at everything.

Make sure relationships ring true. Is there a reason for characters to be with each other? Can we see and feel their connection?

A very important piece here, but also very difficult to pinpoint. A writer needs to know how relationships work in order to write about them. If every secondary character is treated the same, then this will surely lead to a boring book. Or if they don’t get mad at someone who they should be angry with, that’s another dead-end route. Thinking back on films, I could think of several where the characters just didn’t ring true, the relationships were too trite, or the audience just wasn’t involved enough to care. But here are a few that come to mind when I think of believable character relationships:

the-thing-movie-posterthe-others-movie-posterchangeling*

Once you establish a point of view in a scene, be careful to avoid pulling the story out of the POV you’re writing from.

Oh, an ailment I know all too well! And it drives me crazy when I’m going back to edit. It happens more often when I’m frequently interrupted during writing, or I reach a writer’s block.

Push your protagonist to their limits and BEYOND. When they think things can’t get any worse for them—make it worse! Ask your characters to stretch beyond themselves, beyond what they thought they could do.

This is one that really stuck with me when I read it. Especially one of the corollary comments:

 

Andrew said…
RE what Sarah Thomas wrote, above –
Not wanting to push characters because we may not want to face something parallel that’s happening to us, for real –
Wow. That’s huge. I know it’s happened to me.

Very true, Andrew. One scene in particular occurred in Suzie’s Nightmare and I found it so distasteful, so difficult to write, that I put off writing it for days. It was an extended hospital scene and Suzie was witnessing it for the first time. You can imagine the kind of emotional turmoil that goes on inside a character in that situation, and you can probably guess at how difficult it was for me to write it. But this was something that Suzie needed to experience too, so I buckled down and wrote it. It was exhausting, but I think the finished scene exudes that same stomach-knot feeling that I tend to associate with hospitals.

Not that every story or novel you write needs to go through such a difficult scene, but I think that having some kind of exhilarating or memorable experience for the protagonist is important for the reader to become immersed in them. If the image is so finely imprinted on your mind, then your job is to try to imprint a similar image for your readers. Like Stephen King explains:

Telepathy, of course. It’s amusing when you stop it think about it—for years people have argued about whether or not such a thing exists . . . and all the time  it’s been right there, lying out in the open like Mr. Poe’s Purloined Letter. All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation. (Stephen King, On Writing)

Couldn’t have said it better!

* I did a review of Changeling a while back over here if you’re curious. Yes, I love horror, action, science fiction, and dramas. Hence the weird conglomeration of films!