A Needless Murder

After getting Camp NaNo completed last weekend (wow, was that really just last weekend? That feels like so long ago.) I have been brainstorming quite a bit about my first novel, Suzie’s Nightmare. Some of the initial feedback I got for it said that the first chapter was quite good, but it needed something to spice it up a bit before heading into full introductions. So I did just that, and gave a murder scene that ought to grab the reader’s attention. Why are first chapters so freaking difficult to get out anyway? Then I need to go clean up the rewritten introduction of my main characters, including the addition of my vicious little Suzie foil who will be the childhood antagonist of the story. Poor Suzie, like she needs any more suffering in this piece!

So I need to calculate my current novel size to keep me motivated. So take the old book and subtract the the first chapter, then add in what I’ve added to the book so far…

Summary: A ten-year-old girl named Suzie has her small, close-knit world fall apart around her. Her family just moved to the town of Leekston at the beginning of summer, and she and a boy named Fred struck up a friendship almost immediately. But something watches them from the woods, waiting to strike. As Suzie’s life falls apart around her, can she solve the mystery of what’s really going on in this strange rural town?

Project: Suzie’s Nightmare – Draft 3
Deadline: 9/30/2011
New words written: 2,689
Present total word count: 76,489 -5,986 (Ch1) + New = 73,192
Total Word Count for 2011: 90,020

Slowly I’m getting the plot of this novel down, even though it’s going to require a lot of rewriting, adding characters in, and pinpointing the overarching theme of this story down on the ground. Giving myself two months since I’ve got vacation and Dragon*Con coming up within that time frame. I think that’s a pretty generous estimate. 😉

Scenes are not “Set in Stone”

It’s been a busy, busy weekend.

Yesterday I ended up having to recuperate after a late night watching Fellowship of the Rings on Blu Ray Saturday night. It was lots of fun, but by the end of it we were all wiped. So yeah, no writing done yesterday, but I did have a kind of “eureka” writing moment last week.

I’d reached a mental block about my original novel (Suzie’s Nightmare) in how to rewrite the first chapter. Then I found an interesting idea that got me inspired to figure out how to do it. One day, when I’m a famous author (haha, I know, get the laughter aside now…), I loved the thought that the biggest challenge I would have to deal with every day would be problems that characters would have in my books. That’s it. The hardest, most stressful problem I would likely be plagued with on a daily basis.

Sure, there are definitely things associated with that problem that could make it even more stressful. I’m sure when J.K. Rowling was trying to write her final book, she had quite a bit of stress regarding the characters and the storyline. But for me, compared to the daily trials and tribulations of work, such a problem seems far better to deal with. Fictional characters in a world entirely controlled by me. Then I realized, that the mental block I’d come to regarding my first chapter was exactly that problem.

That was the thing I was truly stressing over, the step that was preventing me from being able to re-write that section for my first readers. This was the ultimate problem I was saying would be wonderful to be my only daily stress – so why was I holding myself back? Why was I preventing myself from moving forward with a novel I certainly want to see in paperback one day?

So with that mindset, I found the courage to brainstorm this scene which I had mentally “set in stone” before, and was able to see a new scene for it. A new environment. Even adding a few characters that will need to be weaved into the plot for the entire book. But I felt that adding them will add a new level of intrigue for the book, and add another subplot/foil for my heroine Suzie.

Once I was able to get past my initial fear of changing it around, I was able to move forward mentally. Last week I sketched out outlines for several new characters that will need to be introduced, but will also be quite useful in the following books as well. Including the 2nd book which I’m working on at the moment. Once I get my Lucius Big Bang out of the way, I’ll write my quick Zombie Bang piece, and then leap back into Book 2 of my series. Maybe I’ll take a few minutes to re-write Chapter 1 of my first book as well. But I’ll certainly have a lot more confidence this time.

After all, they’re all my characters, and I can do whatever I want with them. Isn’t writing wonderful?

So pleased!

Writing by JKim1

Writing by JKim1@Flickr

In preparation for shipping Suzie’s Nightmare around to different agents, I decided to give it to a few friends and get them to read it over. Get their impressions of the plot, the characters, the storyline. In his book On Writing, Stephen King sends out his burgeoning manuscripts to numerous fellow writers and readers he knows to get their opinion. I wish I could do that, but I just don’t know that many that I trust in the area. I work in web development after all, not writing. So I gave a copy to a friend, my sister, and my mom: all of whom are avid readers and seemed really enthusiastic about my piece. So far the friend has been afk regarding the document, my sister is putting it off until she’s out of “grading mode” from spring semester, and my mom just now finished it.

She called me yesterday and was railing about how good it was. That’s how impressed she was with it.

Claiming it was one of the best written books she’s come across in a long time, and how it was difficult to put down from midpoint to the end. Can you imagine how excited that makes me? Now I’m not getting my hopes up here, and she swears up and down that she’d let me know if it was bad, but I have to still hold her review a little skeptically simply because well… she’s my mom! But at the same time I’m thrilled that the first real feedback I get is one of raving review! She pointed out a few plot holes that need plugging and a few details that need to be added, but that’s certainly not difficult to do.

Now comes the difficult job of shopping it around to a few agents. I’ll probably be doing edits to the manuscript and working on the next book while shopping it around. Hopefully I get a few interested bites here. Still have to write a short synopsis of the book, which is going to be difficult considering how detailed the plot becomes. Still, it might get me primed for writing more on the sequel.

Updates and News, Long Overdue

Well its back to work after a week of self-imposed Spring Break. Went hiking, visited the zoo, and even got the edits done on my novel. Yay! I sent copies off to my three trusted folks and have asked for any and all feedback. So I’m sure I’ll be waiting a few months for them to get back to me, but it’ll definitely be worth it. I’m excited and nervous at the same time to see what they say. They’re all book nerds and 2/3 are family, so I hope they’re honest with me and don’t cut corners. Cause I doubt the public will be as forgiving. 😉

So I’m done with writing for a bit. Reading on a pre-release copy of Embedded I won over on Goodreads. It’s a military sci-fi piece, and so far its quite entertaining. It really opens my eyes once again to how little you have to say in order to get your audience to follow your world. I always think it has to be spelled out, silly me. I’ll be sure to give a detailed review once I’m done though, if you’re curious.

As far as my short stories go, its par for the course. I got two pieces accepted last year, both unexpectedly and one was the first venue I offered it up to. These latest four have been a bit more difficult. Things I like to write about (ie. werewolves, if you didn’t know that already) are just not popular in the short story world. Unless there’s a romance involved, and I just don’t write that kind of thing.

On a side note, my long-time friend Lisa recently published her first e-book Across the Veil which I plan on reading as soon as it comes out in Barnes and Noble for my Nook. I admit, I don’t normally read paranormal romances, but I’m always willing to try new stuff. I don’t normally go for military science fiction either, yet here I am.

So that’s all on my end the past few weeks. I’m sure it’ll take a little while for my eyes to get clear of seeing Suzie’s Nightmare all over the place. Once that fog’s lifted though, I do plan on diving into a sequel. I’ve got lots of ideas for this world, and I plan on writing them.

Edits and Climbing Roses

Forgot to post my updates yesterday, but edits are moving along smoothly. I love the Moral Indecision Aftermath that I created, and I’d almost forgotten about it. Thank goodness I’m reading over this & editing it before I let others read it. I’d hate it if they brought up a scene that I totally forgot about. lol

Went to the HOA meeting yesterday, and boy was that a mess. I’ve haven’t heard so much arguing and complaining since… well I can’t even recall. It certainly made the entire environment awkward having one person repetitiously complaining about the fees for most of the hour, but I’ll not rant on that silliness. This weekend’s my birthday and my mom wants to take me clothes shopping. And we’ll be figuring out what to do with that front bed too with its numerous bushes which are too big to fit there. Also mistress_kabuki had a good idea about where to put some roses we’re thinking of getting. Along the side of the house, and we can train them to grow around the windows. Should be pretty!

Of course, I was worried about them damaging the house itself when they grow like that, but she says they’re not like ivy and you have to manually train them which is interesting. A quick Google search gives me an example.

A vine’s distinction, of course, is its willingness to grow vertically. Vines and other climbers achieve this in one of several ways. Some, like ivy, are clingers. They attach themselves directly to a surface with sticky rootlets on their stems. Others, like wisteria, are twiners and wrap themselves around supports. Still others, such as clematis, are grabbers, latching onto the nearest support with special tendrils that they produce from their leaf stems. Finally, there are sprawlers, such as climbing roses. Their elongated branches lean on whatever is convenient and stretch up or across it.
From Philedelphia Gardening Book: Introduction to Vines

I learn more about this stuff everyday. Now if only I could get a handle on lawn care…

Oh, and I think I’ll just leave this here for you too. 😉