Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Olympics and Summer

w00t! How's everyone's summer? Mine's been interesting. And I think that's the nicest thing I can say about it so far. On the plus side, I've been to some museums, got to tour other cities (for all the wrong reasons, but you know, lemons become lemonade), and I've been working on my art.

I'm pretty excited about the upcoming Olympics. And to celebrate the upcoming Olympic games, I'm doing a blog tour for my book, Of Pens And Swords, as the main character, Cyra, desperately wants to go to the Olympics.

Go check out Elsie's blog and Katie's blog. Don't forget to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of my first title!

And before I go, What events are everyone gearing up for? I, for one, cannot wait for the equestrian competition to start!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Under Paintings

I don't know how, but I've managed to survive to another Insecure Writer's Blog Post! It was a narrow thing on my part, I assure you. So if you haven't heard of the Insecure Writers support Group, head on over to the Ninja Captain, hop on the Linky and say "Howdy" to this month's cohosts Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott! .

This month, I'm insecure about not having masterpieces fall from my finger tips. I know, I know, I need to give myself some credit because just the writing of a first draft is both hard and important. It's actually been slowing me down as I write, this need to have everything perfect as it hit's the page, but then I remember: this is a first draft.

Say it with me folks: First Drafts have permission to suck.

You know what doesn't have permission to suck? The final draft.

But I keep getting the two confused in my head, so I'm trying to remind myself that my first drafts are like under paintings. Sometimes, in painting, you sort of sketch out the form of what you're going to paint in muted colors. It's to give you a road map for when you're really slinging the paint around.

Here's one of my recent paintings with it's underpainting.
This is me not being finished
And this is me being finished.

So yeah, I need to pull back a little bit and judge my first draft by the standards of a first draft.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The funny thing about writing...

People may or may not know this about me, but I love playing Halo. I'm a big fan (right up until the whole not getting split screen time, 343!). When I first started playing, I had also been playing a game called Fable. Now, I LOVE Fable, and I LOVE Halo.

But these two games have rapidly diverging systems.

With Fable, you get to spend your time developing how you level your character, so at the end, you are a uniquley you version of yourself. As you level, the challenges become less challenging because you become more powerful. Miss a mission early in the game and it's a cake walk later.

See, in Halo, you never level up. Never. You occassionally get cooler more badass toys, but you never level up.

The game never makes your character better. The difficulty never gets easier. In fact, the game doesn't really change (some levels are stupid easy, and some levels are ridiculously hard). But the truth is, the only thing that gets better in playing Halo is the player. The game still requires that you make good choices in the moment and that you stick to proven tactics until an elite with a force sword warms your spine through your bellybutton.

Writing is a lot more like Halo.

I used to think it was more like Fable, but it's clear to me that's not how it works. You can "level up" as a writer, but that's not going to save you from reaching into the cliche chum bucket. it's not going to help you rid your work of purple prose. Sometimes, the goal of an edit is to make it to the next save point before you die, so the next time you die, you're a little closer to the target.

One big frustrating thing about writing is that you can have success that's followed by not success. You can be rejected after you've "published well." It's pretty terrifying, but that's just the way it is, so maybe it's time to get back out there and write!

For those of you interested in winning a free ecopy of Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon, pay attention: all next month there will be opportunities to win my ebook as I go around celebrating the release of my second book Of Pens and Swords!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sequels, the lament

I love sequels. I love getting to take those characters out on another hair-brained adventure. It's the nature of us as humans to crave very strongly the "Same but Different" feel that a really good sequel is supposed to give you. I love sequels.

Right up until the moment I'm the one writing it.

With sequels, part of the problem is that we've been training to write the first book in a series, not the last book or the middle book. One thing we have going for us is that there are some really amazing sequels out there:

The Empire Strikes Back

and, umm, you know, that other sequel...

Okay, I'm gonna level with you, there are very few sequels that make me happy that I'm dealing with a sequel. There's something about sequels that make me tremble in fear. Largely, the biggest fear is that people lose their ability to tell stories. For instance, the reboot of StarTrek: the absolute pinnacle of the movie (for tension purposes) happens 15 minutes before the end, and then Spock goes and punches out Khan. *sigh* And this is a common problem in sequels. The actual beats are misinterpreted by the very people in charge of making the sequel. And I live in fear that I'm also making those mistakes.

Of course, the real problem with writing a sequel is This Song!

(That's what we do in Hollywood)

(And everybody knows that the sequel isn't quite as good...)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Great things get in my way: Insecure about getting it done

There's this thing that gets in my way sometimes.

When people are inspired by something, they often move to produce work to honor it, or mimic it, or anything, but they are inspired to produce.

When I see something that touches my soul, it washes me out in a sea of ennui. For days afterwards, I'm in a funk because I want to make something that touches people the way I've been touched. I want to give people an experience, but right after I've had one, I'm paralyzed by the enormity of what I'm trying to do. It feels like, in those moments, that I'll never manage to do something as beautiful/meaningful/inspiring/hopeful/touching.

I admit this is the leftover dregs of that inner voice. It's there in the background saying nasty things like "See that, you'll never make anything that good." I hate that it exists, and I really hate that I can't exterminate it. I see this as one of my greatest personal failings. People talk about how they are able to destroy this voice inside them, that they can shut it up. Mine has a loudspeaker and access to the house speakers.

So what about you? Does your nasty voice compare you to what's going on around you? Does it get in the way of your ability to create?

Remember to hop around and go visit the Ninja Captain and  his cohosts Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Changing of the guard

If you read much of any of my social media, you've probably figured out that I have a new cat in the family.

What I haven't talked about much is how we also lost a kitty. My James Bond Villain cat died. She was a wonderful cat, and I didn't plaster it all over town because I didn't feel like it was anyone's place to know but me.

I hurt so much that I had a very difficult time with the whole "moving on" thing. People sort of expected me to be able to just get up and move on like I had when I was younger. For those of you wondering, when I was younger, my cats were never quite the same part of my life. Those cats were indoor, outdoor cats, and they never had the same level of affections. They were obligations, meat machines to be properly fed and watered with the occasional pet, but Villain cat was different. She sat with me when I read books. She slept next to me at night. She patiently waited while I worked on my master's degree and then later when I sifted through all manner of research. She waited up with me when the baby was crying. She was like a presence in my house that I had come to take for granted.

And at first, the hardest thing was to think about another cat. My other cat roamed the house yowling all night long. He had always done this, but only for a few minutes a night. After the death of Villain Cat, he roamed the halls singing the songs of his people at all hours.

It was clear, we would need to get another cat, because the companionship alone was killing my kitteh, and he was making sure we all knew his suffering. But whenever I met new cats, cats looking for a new home, I just couldn't attach myself to them. They felt like shoddy replacements, and I was definitely struggling with the too soon problems. I clung desperately to the memory of how Villain Cat and I had met, the only thing in the world that she wanted was out of that cage, and anyone would do. By the graces of luck, it had been us, and she had changed our life.

And then we found Jack.

He snuggles on my daughter's lap and climbs the curtains. He ate the edit letter from a revise and resubmit. He ate the chicken right off our plates when we looked away for a second. He's so very different from Villain cat, it's funny. My other cat, Tea Thief, loves him too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

State of the Writing address

Okay, nothing so formal, but I thought I'd put in some questions I was asked at my signing as they bare repeating here since people have been asking both on and off the interwebs:

I hope this is the first in a series. Yes I am writing a sequel to Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon. No, just cause I'm writing it doesn't mean that it's going to happen.

Are you going to self publish the sequel if it comes to it (i.e. if my publisher decided not to pick it up, or folded or otherwise was unable/unwilling to publish the title)? I don't know yet. The thought of being in charge of the whole thing currently makes me shiver in me timbers.

Are you going to be writing anymore contemporary? Probably not. They aren't my real cup of tea, and the last one made me cry too much. Also, the general lack of explosions and car chases was a real downer for me.

How long does it take for you to write a novel? Umm, that depends on the rest of my life. I know, I should be all professional, but unfortunately, my muse doesn't work that way. I started in on the sequel in March, but had to put it aside for other endeavours (fingers still crossed), and only just started back in on the sequel. So when will my first draft be done? Historically 2 to 3 months. So in July-ish. Maybe? Next question!

What made you decide to write?
... With writing, it's never about deciding to write, it's about failing to quit. This question is so loaded with traps. I love it, but the answer is dependent on the day and the mood. The question I think I like better is "why do you write?" because why did I decide to write implies that there was a moment in my life where I could have either written or not, and in that moment I had a profound thought. This wasn't the case. There was a moment when I could have written, and I did because I thought it would be fun (oh, naive me)