Sunday, August 8, 2010
It is my unfortunate duty to announce that at this time the Modern Myth Maker blog will be going on an indefinite and possibly permanent hiatus. The archives of the site will remain up for anyone who is interested in going back to review previous posts, but at this time there are no plans to resume posting new material. Many of the myth makers blog on other blogs around the web and plan to continue posting at those locations, but as a group, the Myth Makers will no longer maintain their web presence (at this time, at least).
We, the Modern Myth Makers, would like to thank all the readers of the blog and the friends we made on the site over the last few years. We have enjoyed interacting and chatting with all of you and we hope that you will seek us out on our other web haunts.
Thank you, all.
Monday, May 24, 2010
You can follow our individual blogs to get the skinny on what we're up to, and we'll be back in August with blog entries a plenty!
See y'all then. :)
Monday, May 10, 2010
rocks slip, not enough water
and then snow begins
And we're back to the mountain image! I wonder if I'll see a mule along the way?
Here's an update of the month's writing progression: slow. My stated goal was to work on revisions, on making a particular ms better than the first draft. However, I don't have a lot of experience in the revision process, and so a good part of the current progress is finding a method that works for me. Let me tell you that that "finding a method" is all sorts of frustrating!
As an example, I have found that working on any chunk larger than ~100 words at a time doesn't work well. (Okay, okay, doesn't work at all, forget the well.) That small word window means that it will take me ~550 sittings to work through the ms that I have on the table. 550! Just makes me want to give this up and become a shrimp farmer someplace other than Louisiana.
Such a drastic move would involve more financial solvency than I have at the moment, so I'm staying put and counting down the revision sittings. For now.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Most full-time CPs take on one or more of those tasks and expect, as they should, reciprocation. It's a relationship of giving as well as requesting, and it requires a contract of commitment, and a promise of dependability. There's nothing quite like meshing with someone enthusiastic about writing and dedicated to the craft who can jump into those multi-hat-wearing roles when their time permits.
So what can be done to keep these long-time crit partners happy? To make sure that the relationship stays nurtured? Here's my list! Keep in mind these depend on what the established working relationship is, and are in no particular order:
1. Set a turnaround schedule. If the fastest I know I can crit and send back a chapter is a week, (this means I can do a read as a reader, then spread out the more analytical work over my lunch breaks during the day job work week so I don't bite into my own writing time in the evening), then I say so. Make an arrangement for the max number of pages expected weekly or monthly on either side--get at least that much done, and if it's exceeded, more's to the better!
2. Be there in times of crisis. An agent contest coming up on a blog that your crit partner wants to enter? Be there, double-checking her entry as much as needed until she's happy with the submission. A request from an agent or an editor? Virtual martinis all around and a last readthrough of the synopsis and/or pages for a final spit and polish. Wanting to tie the muse up with bungee cords and throw her over the tallest cliff? There's the time for an encouraging email, virtual chocolates, and a picture of a LOLcat. Crises, one should keep in mind--are not every day or every week. Just the big events. I try to give as much notice as possible with these--and I suppress my normal critique chapter request for the week in leiu of the timely entries.
3. Keep the lines of communication open. This is so, so crucial for keeping and nuturing a CP...lack of emailing and informing of delays can break this kind of business-friend relationship. So can habitual delays. If I'm going out of town for a week, I send a note to let my crit partners know in advance. If I wind up in the ER and can't get the pages critted on time (as happened a few weeks back), I can't predict that, but I let my crit partners know as soon as possible the cause of the delay and when my revised turnaround time will be. Keep the email flowing and your crit partner in the loop instead of dropping the ball on your return crits and falling off the face of the planet.
4: Cheer them on! If my crit partner shares minor or major victories, I'm right there with a happy dance, too. If they've got a strength in their manuscript that stands out, or a scene that makes me chuckle, I'm sure to let them know. The road to publication is long, and a good pat on the back can soothe the sting of rejections and necessary revisions and serve to brighten up the day of the person on the other side of the computer monitor. Likewise, if I've achieved something with my manuscripts I'm sure to tell them, because chances are it wouldn't have been possible without them!
5: Stay current, stay educated. This means sharing the good blog posts and the announcements for the classes or conferences that you know will be perfect for your CPs, based on their interests and strengths as much as their weaknesses. I've begun to work through books on craft and writers' journeys with one of my CPs, and we'll use the opportunity to help each other to grow and improve. This is an encouraging process as well as a constructive one--building each other's writing foundation up and up and up toward success.
How about you, fellow writers? What qualities do you look for in a career crit partner? How do you maintain the relationship?
Saturday, May 1, 2010
NL Berger's Goals: Oh, April was a month of EPIC FAIL for me. It looks my inner writer decided that my gag goals from April 1st looked pretty good and I spent pretty much the whole month in intense baby-preparation mode. So, you know those goals from last month? Yeah, they're making another grand appearance this month, hopefully with a better outcome. That's 3 revised chapters and 12 OWW reviews over the next 31 days. Time to get cracking!
Tori Pryer's Goals: Ok, I failed in the month of April, but I'm going to blame that on the massive pollen invasion that blanketed SC this spring. It took most of my energy to breathe and keep going to the day job. Add to that no free weekends and you have a recipe for poor writing habits. That being said, I have been working on TDC in the latter half of this month. I plan to continue that path and hopefully have revised pages to show for it at the end of May. I want to know what will happen in the story (synopsis) and have approximately thirty revised pages.
Sarah Templeton's Goals: I'm keeping my goals super-secret this month, my path is so set on what I do have going on that not even the threat of public shaming is required for me to succeed. So I'm not going to share--I'm going to write. And write. And write.
Haricot Vert's Goals: Wallowing in and revising of words. This is what I'm up to for May. So encouragement is always welcome, as the spirit takes you.
As for a resumé of April... well my goal of cleaning the short didn't happen. However! I did start revising a different project, so I count the past month as time well spent.
What about you guys? What are your writing goals for this month?
Friday, April 30, 2010
It's been a surreal kind of week, or maybe it's just been really post-modern, so I'm offering one of two choices, and will briefly give the skinny on each.
First up is The Future of Freedom, by Fareed Zakaria. The best parts of this book were the gentle irony that pervades, and the equally gentle approach to the question: is democracy a good thing? Another really cool part is where he discussed the dichotomy that can exist between democracy and freedom. Who knew that they weren't one and the same thing?
Next up is One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The best part of this book was the rich and sensuous word weaving. Talk about amazing! As for what it was about, briefly it is about a man, a war, and a generational history. But what it's really about is how humanity dreams.
If you're interested in getting a copy of Zakaria's book, leave a comment on what democracy means to you, and if you're interested in getting a copy of Marquez's book, leave a comment on why you wouldn't wait for Godot. A random (losely defined) pick will grab someone.
Monday, April 26, 2010
This month we are answering two questions. Tetewa asks: What series would you like to see brought to the movies? And LSUreader asks: In which genres do each of you write?
Kalayna Price's Response: The genre question is easy, so I'll start with that. I am currently writing two Urban Fantasy series, the Alex Craft novels and the novels of Haven. I dabble occasionally in other genres, though most still retain a fantasy base. As always, I have a super secret project (a new one, as the upcoming book GRAVE WITCH was my super secret project for a while). I work on this ssp when I have time, and this particular story is actually in a new(ish) genre for me.
As far as which book/series I'd love to see made into a movie? Wow, that is a hard one. Anytime I hear one of my favorite books is headed for the big screen I get a little nervous. Books don't always translate to other media well. So, in the form of an 'opt out' of the question (and because of morbid curiosity) I'm going to say my own upcoming Grave Witch novel, just because I'd be curios to see what Hollywood would make of it. Not that I'm holding my breath. ^_^
Tori Pryer's Response: The movie question is a tough one. You see, I love to read and I do read a lot. I almost never think "Wow, this would make a great movie." When I read, I tend to visualize the characters, the scenery, and the action. I hear the dialogue and the other sounds. All of this is amplified if the author is good at her/his job. I don't need a movie director to bring the action to life. When a book that I do like is made into a movie or TV show, I compartmentalize them. If I view them as two separate entities, I enjoy them more. All of that being said, I would like to see Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons made into a movie because I love the character of Charlie Kate and I would like to see her brought to life. Plus, the book is set during World War II and I like to see that time period on the big screen.
As for genre, that is easy. I mostly write romance. Once we get to subgenres, I turn into Vert. I've experimented with historicals, paranormal, and contemporary romance. My current WIP is paranormal, but that doesn't mean that I won't experiment with a new subgenre the next time I write something new.
Sarah Templeton's Response:
(series to movie)
Well, I don't know about movies, but I'm currently looking forward to George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series that's hitting HBO. I've been staring at his blog for months and months and months watching all those updates and scoping out the upcoming cast. The series is far too complex for a movie, but it'll be stunning as a multi-episode show. Just thinking about it makes me all happy... ^_^
I'm currently working in paranormal romance and sci-fi. I also love to play in fantasy and steampunk, but those projects are further down the rabbit hole and on the back burner for the moment as I focus efforts on querying.
Haricot Vert's Response: For series, I'd actually like to see the Belgariad books by David Eddings brought to the big screen, although I don't know that I'd go see it once it arrived (the orcs from Lord of the Rings freaked me out incredibly, so I know I'd have an issue with Torak and his followers).
Wow, the genre question is kind of tough. I'm still figuring out which genre appeals to me most writing-wise.
So far, I've attempted quest fantasy and technofantasy, and at the moment I'm working on a science fiction piece (revising hurts so much!). Whatever keeps my interest, that's what I'll write.
How do you feel about this? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.
Have another question you'd like the Modern Myth Makers to answer? Just ask us in the comments and we'll try to respond in a future month.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Today's Writing Prompt: Today we are all about bad poetry, specifically, bad haiku. Why? Why not?
The sub-heading is favorite fictional characters, published or not. Remember, 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 again. (Psst! Here are some resources, to get you started.)
Sarah Templeton's Response: I've decided to go the "one of my favorite fictional villains" route:
Cruella de Vil
Spotted, feathered, striped and scaled
Haricot Vert's Response: Near and dear to my heart, this character isn't published. Yet.
the cherry blossoms
shiver, his nap is disturbed
by that same spring breeze
Anyone else in the mood for some creative stretching exercise today? Post your own responses to this writing prompt in the comments!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Bryony's nose was filled with the sickening smell of the dead. It was
only the third time he had smelled it, the smell of power unleashed,
the smell of death. Bryony tried desperately to think back, when was
the last time he had seen water? While his mind was occupied his
hands stayed busy; there were things he needed but he didn't want to
look at where he got them from. A pack, mostly intact, some canteen's
empty, and the rest of the enterprising foot soldier's medic pack
joined some rations, a half turn of rope, and a short sword. The
prize though was a slightly dented container, also from the prepared
foot soldier, and one sniff told Bryony all he needed to know.
"You, sir, were a Saint." Bryony toasted his fallen comrade then took a
swig from the bottle. Almost instantly the worldly pains faded away
replaced with a sort of warm fire in his belly. "My, my, you were
prepared for anything." Bryony looked at the corpse fondly; the whole
field didn't look that bad any more, sure there were some dead people
there but there were dead people everywhere these days.
A chill howl cut through the liquid courage.
"Ravegers." Bryony cursed. There had been a stream a few miles back. He needed water now, and not just to drink. The pack went on his shoulders, and wincing Bryony started limping off. Ravegers would be happy to eat the dead, even the residue of magic wouldn't stop them long but they prefered their food to be a little fresher.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I was talking to someone about writing the other day and I happened to mention NaNoWriMo. We were talking about getting over the two-page problem. (You know, where you never get more than two pages into a story because you get stuck trying to make it perfect or your idea just runs out of steam after those first few moments of inspiration.) The reason I always recommend NaNoWriMo to people with the two-page problem is two-fold.
- That's how I got over my own two-page problem back in November of 2006.
- NaNoWriMo, falling in November, is 30 days long, giving you more than enough time to turn writing daily into a habit. (If you recall from the first paragraph, I firmly believe habits take 21 days to form.)
Not only did NaNoWriMo get me into the habit of writing every day, it got me into the habit of writing whenever I had time, of keeping a notebook on me for sudden moments of inspiration, and of expecting writing sessions to yield at least a thousand words rather than just two little pages. I found my writing style through NaNoWriMo, which just happens to be perfectly compatible with the program.
Other people have to work a little harder during November, being that they're not complete and total pantsers capable of banging out 1000 words in 15 minutes if hyped up on enough coffee and leftover Halloween candy. I spare brief moments of sadness for those poor unfortunate Wrimos. And then, you know, I have to get back to work, because there's likely a word war I'm supposed to be paying attention to.
But, Nikki, you might be thinking, it's April. Why are you talking about all this now?
An excellent question! You see, I have a problem. NaNoWriMo gave me the perfect way to form a writing habit. I have yet to find anything that helps me form an editing habit.
My style of editing is meticulous, with many methods and tools layered on top of each other. It can't be accomplished in the same fast-paced, no sleep, go-until-you-die-and-then-get-up-and-go-some-more fashion as my writing. I've tried it. I ended up completely burned out and almost decided to give up writing altogether. I also didn't get through the revisions, so, other than being a nice lesson in what I can and cannot do, the exercise was quite pointless.
Since getting pregnant, I've fallen off the wagon with regard to my writing. I spent my first trimester basically living the life of a newborn. Wake up. Eat something. Throw up. Gee, that was exhausting. Go back to sleep. Repeat for three months. There was not a lot of writing. There was definitely not a lot of revising. And now here I sit on the other side of it, completely out of the habit of working at all with no spiffy internet competition to help me get back on track.
I suppose I could try Script Frenzy, but I have no real interest in writing a script and I feel like that would just slice another month out of the very limited time I have left to get my current WIP completed and queried out.
And so I guess I shall have to get back into the habit the old fashioned way, just trying to remember to do it every day until I don't need the reminder anymore. It would be nice, though, if editing was even half as much fun as playing with shiny new words.
Monday, April 12, 2010
grab your antihistamine!,
drifting on the wind
No literary allusions here, just a small hommage to the natural wonder of spring.
How's the writing coming along? Are you making inroads into your monthly goal?
My stated goal of April has yet to be touched, although I am doing well at the unstated goal of daily writing. I think the reason for the goal not yet getting off the ground is that although I tried to be slick and disguise the whole revisions bit, I was not slick enough.
However, there is still time, and I think I have a secret weapon. I'll let you know how things go.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Bryony stank, even to his own nose. He was sticky with blood but he refused to let his mind dwell on that fact as he made himself methodically go through the torn bits of clothing on the other corpses near him. Somewhere in the carnage was a medic's bag. If Bryony didn't find the bag and the supplies within, the wounds making him dizzy and weak would foul and then he would die. Bryone did not want to die.
The silence jangled his taut nerves. The battle magic wouldn't fade for days and until then, no animals would come near the site. His skin crawled with the desire to leave the area; he didn't know for certain how long he'd been unconscious and there was a small chance that the opposition would return, although he had no idea why they would do that.
It wastn't the medic, but Bryony came across a fellow foot soldier who had had the foresight to pack an emergency kit. It was too bad that the dead man didn't have the foresight to leave the battle once the tide turned. It was also possible that the man didn't get the chance to choose; things had happened so quickly. There weren't a lot of supplies in the kit but this was enough to tend to the worst of the holes and slashes leaking essential fluid. Using more rags, Bryone replaced the soaked makeshift bandages and sniffed the air for water.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Stella (Ex Libris)
Congrats Stella, and thank you everyone who entered! Stella, please write us at Contests(AT)themodernmythmakers(DOT)com and let me know if you would like a copy of Bone Crossed or Moon Called and where you would like the book shipped. Thanks.
Happy Friday everyone!
At the beginning of each month, we Modern Myth Makers will be posting our writerly goals for the coming month,
NL Berger's Goals: I met my goals last month! Huzzah! Woohoo! Yippee! *Ahem* Sorry about that; it's been a while since I've felt productive. 16 weeks, to be precise. Moving on. I need to pick up my pace if I'm going to get this book done before the baby puts in his/her appearance in September. This month, I will revise not one but three chapters and post them on the OWW site for review. Which, of course, also means that I'll do 12 reviews on the OWW site, in order to earn enough points to post three chapters.
Darlene C. Goodman's Goals: I don't remember posting goals last month. I don't think I did. Well, I guess I lived up to expectations! Woot! I did plot nine new scenes and start writing them, but what I have written is unsalvagable crap. I also wrote a very short story in a violent fit of depression and, dang, it's shiney. April's goal is to find a story that I actually want to write. Maybe about phoenixes, maybe about angsty teenage girls, maybe about rocks on the beach. My muse needs a fix.
Tori Pryer's Goals: Alas, I fail. I did not finish the short story. I am not meant to be a pantser. Therefore, I've chosen to plot it first. I know more stuff about the villain and the heroine and the hero. I have a scene list. I will write the short story, I just didn't do it this month. I read TDC and I've started making notes about the manuscript.
For April, I plan to break TDC into chapters and to start re-plotting it. If I get lucky, I would like to re-write/edit the first chapter. I will continue to work on the short story in my free time. Oh, and I'm doing the monster short for Script Frenzy
Sarah Templeton's Goals: I finally burned myself out on revisions last month. I need to write fresh words, and work on a new project. No rewriting, no tweaking, just fresh, muse-refueling words. So I'm taking on a 50k challenge with some other RWA PROs starting this month--and I'm writing a new project. I'm also letting my inner artist out to play: I'm designing steampunk jewelry for some costumes I get to wear in May. Gonna be a busy but freshly creative month designed to stimulate the brain cells.
Haricot Vert's Goals: For March, I said I would mangle a fairy tale. And I did. I survey the damage, and... yup, mangling definitely took place. So for April, I will clean up after myself, and see if there is anything coherent and cohesive amidst all of the verbal blood and gore.
What about you guys? What are your writing goals for this month?
Thursday, April 1, 2010
“The hull it is interfering with the explosives. We need to magnetize it so that we can destroy the ship.” Captain Denett’s sounded in her head. Nara was on her feet within seconds. There was a comp panel next to the door. If it hadn’t been destroyed in the fire fight or by the Kloquin, she would use it to fix their little problem.
She opened the door to the comp panel. “A keyboard. How primitive.” She whispered. The Galadrians for all their robotic technology had been rather old fashioned when it came to computers. It was certainly a good thing that she was fluent in Galadrian. She let her fingers fly over the keys. One code. Then two. Then finally the third and final code was entered into the keyboard.
Nara opened her mind feed. “Father, I’ve magnetized the hull. Set the thermal charge and meet me at port 60178. I’m sending you the schematics.” The diffuser that her father set should have spread through the ship now. Any fully technological beings would be compromised. The door hissed open when Nara pressed the button.
“Nara, listen to me. I’m going after the Princess. If I’m not there in exactly five minutes, I want you to leave this ship. Do you understand?” The words coming over the mind feed were sterner now and more fatherly. They didn’t match the image of the man running through the corridors of the Galadrian ship. She saw doors and comp panels flashing through the mind feed.
Nara fought the urge to panic. She didn’t want to leave the ship without him. She didn't know what was going on o the other ship. “But Father….” Nara had spent the last six months being careful not to acknowledge her relationship with him.
“Don’t 'but Father' me. Go.”
Nara ran to the port and climbed aboard the transport and started the engines. Her father was going after the Klox princess on a ship that was going to explode. The panic rose again in Nara's throat. No. No, she wouldn't let herself get lost in fear again. Nara tore her mind away from her father’s task and focused on her own. She would be piloting the transport without guidance from the home ship. She needed to remember her training. She flipped one switch. Then two. Then a third.
The doors to the transport opened. Nara didn't look up.
“Nara. Let us leave now.” The voice came from over her shoulder. It was familiar. Very familiar.
Nara turned .“Father. It can’t be.” She breathed the words. It couldn’t be her father. Her father was searching for the princess. She could almost feel the vibration of the flux capacitor in his hand. This thing in front of her was not her father.
“We must leave quickly.” The thing that wasn’t her father spoke again.
Nara stood. Her hand twitched against the transport phaser. It wasn’t set to stun. It was set to kill. She didn't wait to see what would happen. Instead, she drew and pulled the trigger. The thing that wasn’t her father fell. The image that it had been projecting failed and Nara was able to see the princess that had been her friend for the first time as she was supposed to be. She was beautiful. Purple skin. Flowing orange hair. Coal black eyes. Eyes that were glassy in death.
Nara had killed her. She’d killed the last ruler of the Klox. The droids no longer had anyone to protect. The Galadrian ship would be safe now.
She opened her mind and sent the words over their newly developed connection “Father. Hurry up. It is time to go home."
NL Berger's Goals: I've been giving it a lot of thought, and I've decided that, now that I'm having a baby, I don't need to do the whole writing thing anymore. It was just filler, fluff to make me feel worthwhile during the years when I wasn't living up to my potential as a baby factory. Because, really, you just can't be a wife and a mother and a novelist all at the same time. No one really does that (not well anyway). So, while it's been fun these past few years, I'm giving up the writing game. No goals for me this month.
Darlene C. Goodman's Goals: I'm starting a new project this month. It's a lit fic novel about a rock on a beach and all the people who pass by it on their way to the water. The beetle scene makes me cry just thinking about it.
Kalayna Price's Goals: I have recently come up with an idea for a super sexy book called THE SECRET LIFE OF PIGEONS. This month will be devoted to research to really get in the head of my characters. To do this, I will be selling all of my belongings and moving into the park so that I can be with the pigeons at all times. I will try to live just like a pigeon, from sleeping, to eating, to refusing to fly away from passing cars but instead waddle slowly with my head bobbing while the car blares its horn. It will be great. I think this will be the big one for me. But, as pigeons don't have internet--or a written language--I will have to leave this blog. As such, this will be my last post. Thanks guys, I really enjoyed blogging with you! Come visit me at the park some time.
Tori Pryer's Goals: I've been keeping secrets from you guys and I think it is time to come clean. I've secretly been finished with not one but two books and I've been querying them and through that process I've met a man...and well, I plan to go to Vegas this month so I will be a bit too busy to write
Sarah Templeton's Goals: This month, I intend to write four books, learn a new language, design my official website, and handsew fifteen steampunk outfits which I will wear over the course of three days next month. I will invent 101 new ways to enjoy the blissful taste of Thin Mints (Although some will be theoretical. I'll run out of cookies long before 101) and I am going to finally canoe fearlessly down a river--even though I can't swim.
Haricot Vert's Goals: My goals are small this time around. I will revise 2006's NaNoWriMo manuscript, edit it, polish it, and then query it to at least 7 agents.
What about you guys? What are your writing goals for this month?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Today's Writing Prompt: Someone who is not your boss but is above you in the business organization overall is making your professional life a living hell. You've tried filing a grievance, asking for guidance, even confronting him/her about the issue. Nothing has helped. In fact, things are getting worse. You've decided there's only one thing for it: he/she has to die. All that's left now is figuring out how to do it...
NL Berger's Response: I peered around the soft wall into the cubicle, so nervous I felt like my tongue had glued itself to the roof of my dry mouth. She was sitting with her back to me, white wires from her ear buds curling down from her ears. Her head continued to bob in time with whatever music she was listening to. I nearly sighed with relief, catching myself just in time. She hadn't heard my approach and I certainly didn't intend to give myself away now. Not when I was so close.
There were papers strewn all over the desk in front of her, scattered in the kind of disarray that screamed "I'm in the middle of something urgent!", but I wasn't fooled. She hadn't moved a single one of them or made any notes in almost an hour. Besides, I was pretty sure at this point that she couldn't actually read anyway.
The façade was carefully constructed to get her out of lunch with the boss. The plan had worked, but she hadn't bothered to check, to realize that she was alone in the office now with just me. I was pretty sure she didn't know anything about follow through either.
I crept into the small space, a thin dagger clutched tight in my right hand--giving myself, a lefty, the perfect alibi. Hopefully. I could hear the faint pounding of the music blasting in her ears now and the violent rhythm seemed all too appropriate. Two more steps on silent feet and her reign of terror over my career would be over. Forever. My heart hammered in my throat but the fingers clenching the dagger never shook. I took that as a sign that I was doing the right thing and lunged forward.
Darlene C. Goodman's Response: What? Doesn't everyone have an assassin on retainer? We don't need to know how it's done. Just slip a 3X5 card with the name and email address into a particular planter in a particular park in a particular suburban neighborhood and the deed gets done.
Tori Pryer's Response: Accidental computer electrocution.....Or so they think. The programmer steps into his cube and turns on his computer. A hot cup of coffee in his hand. He places his hand on the mouse. The desk jostles. The coffee spills. A charge runs through his body. His heart stops. The coroner declares it an accident, but was it? You be the judge.
Sarah Templeton's Response:
Once upon a road quite dreary, while he peered through windshield smeary,
Over on the wint'ry side and shoulder of darkened icy road,
While he squinted, nearly blinking, foreboding sense came a-sinking,
As a grenade came a-clinking, clinking (Oh, the blood - Red snowed!)
through the moonroof, it flare-ed, tripping (Oh, the blood - Red snowed!) -
On a dark, midwinter road...
Haricot Vert's Response: It's all about habit. You always, always, turn on your radio each morning without fail; walk in, sit down at your desk, put your fingers on that little knob and turn it. Oh yes, habit is the key. But so is going above and beyond the call of duty. Because who in their right minds actually reads those MSDS sheets?
...And we'll all crowd into the office as the paramedics take you away, because we're so worried about you, dearest...
Anyone else in the mood for some creative stretching exercise today? Post your own responses to this writing prompt in the comments!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
If she'd made it past the Ensign ranking, if she'd had better training in emotive control, he'd be back on the Galajax waiting for a report, unaware something had gone wrong. Instead, Captain Denett picked his way through a minefield of more Garid and human bodies, cursing the Galactic Legions for his inexperienced crew. He was Captain. No one but the infiltrators should have seen death. He'd have to send funerary transmissions to a dozen worlds when this was over.
He cursed anew, taking shallow breaths to minimize the stench of rotting death that reached in to curdle his stomach. The Garid weren't the only threat in the stars. He'd been so sure, and he'd sent Nara over unprepared. Xenobiological expertise would help little against robotics. No. That would be his specialty.
He should have known. The Kloqin could change their biometric signatures, masking their cybertronic profiles. The perfect spy. The perfect soldier. Why Eloin had chosen a Garid biosig . . . But it didn't matter. He was Captain. He should have known.
And Captain Denett would spend the rest of his stardated days atoning if his arrogance cost his daughter's life. He sent reassurance over the neural pathway again, locking the transmission to her frequency. Nara would know the mind-feed transmissions onboard the Galajax weren't shipbound. She'd learn his secret. And hers.
A squish of crushed flesh sounded behind him. Lifting his taser, Captain Denett rolled his eyes. "I thought you Kloqin were supposed to adapt." He whipped the contacts toward yet another cybertronic menace. Its humanoid frame jerked, sizzled, its glimmering eyesockets flaring like ball lightning. The electric shock fried its circuits and smoke poured from its fingers. Twitching, the robot dropped its weapon and crumbled among the other bodies. "How many times do I have to take out the idiot sneaking up behind me before you figure out--"
The last of its power diminished, the Kloqin's cloaking field dropped.
The captain's feet were in motion before his taser recovered the charge. Clanking at his heels and in full AI mode were four bodyguards of the Princess of Klox. It didn't take a mechanical engineer to figure out that the royal in question was Eloin.
He jerked around the corner and slammed a diffuser into the metal door as it closed. The robotic beings would power down when they came in range of the device. Spinning, he smiled broadly. They'd chased him right into the interior hull.
"This last one should do it." Captain Denett set his third thermal charge, his grin fading when the light failed to activate. He cast a look back at the diffuser. No, it was far enough away. Something else was wrong. The interior hull was null-magnetized. This far into the Garidic cruiser, technology wouldn't work. Which meant the diffuser . . . He rapped his knuckles against the steel bulkhead, desperately willing his brain to beat out a plan. "Nara, I need a hand."
Monday, March 22, 2010
This month's question: Do you write your novels in chronological orders, starting with the beginning and writing the first introductory chapters and go along, or do you write in not such a strict order, and maybe go back to write the beginning after you are done with the middle?
Submitted by Stella
NL Berger's Response: I always start out thinking I've begun with the beginning. Invariably, though, as I write along, I come up with a new, better beginning and I go back and add it. (Oh, the joys of being a pantser!) Sometimes that means I cut the beginning I originally wrote, and sometimes it means I just add to it. Also, I tend to skip through the middle of the story, just sketching out a few scenes here and there to get general idea down, in my rush to write through to the climax. I do always make myself go back and flesh out the middle and firm up the beginning before I get to the very end though. I like to actually be done when I get to end. Of course, all that applies only to the first draft. Once I get to revisions, all bets are off...
Darlene C. Goodman's Response: I typically write in chapter order from beginning to end. I have tried skipping around, but I simply can't work up the inspiration to go back and fill in blank areas after I've already moved on. This tendency is really bad during revisions, because that usually means I do a series of complete rewrites from the beginning.
Kalayna Price's Response: I (almost) always start out intending to write in chronological order. I'm a plotter, so this typically works fairly well for most of the book, but occasionally, if I just can't make a scene work, I will skip it and jump ahead. As I'm working on a first draft, unexpected turns tend to crop up so once I get to the second draft, there are always scenes that have to be added between other scenes. So, yes, chronological--and no. ^_^
Tori Pryer's Response: Well, the answer is that I try to write them from beginning to end. By the time that I finish the first draft, I think that I'm done. That I've written all the scenes that I can write and that there are no others to write. Unfortunately, when I read it again, I find that I'm not done. That there are missing pieces. I have two first drafts that I completely re-plotted. Some scenes get to stay. Some scenes go. Some new scenes are written or rather to be written. I've not completed the process yet, but I'm slogging forward with it. I will let you know how it turns out.
Sarah Templeton's Response: 2:30 in the morning is my muse's favorite time to decide a random scene from later in my current WIP must be written. I acquire coffee, and then I write my manuscript out of order. But I don't recommend it. It took me a whole week to get the events from one of my WIP's into the correct timeline. The next time, I won't slap them all down in the same document but instead separate my scenes out into individual segments. (I know, a lot of folks are cringing right now. It was nerve-wracking.) Sometimes, when the muse attacks, I don't even start at the beginning, but I do go back with a narrative summary outline to make sure the random scenes have a place when all's said and done.
Haricot Vert's Response: The way I write depends on the degree of planning beforehand. If I have an outline then I write wherever I feel, and check off the areas of the outline as I go. If I'm feeling my way through the process then I usually write from beginning to end. However, if I'm using that method and I hit a now-what? moment, I have no problem writing (and then this happens but I'm not sure exactly what it is but the characters have to get to x/solve z) and moving on to the next part. In editing, or later in the story, the answer to the parenthetical pause usually comes to me and then I put the solution in another set of parentheses with a link back to the original parentheses.
How do you feel about this? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.
Have another question you'd like the Modern Myth Makers to answer? Just ask us in the comments and we'll try to respond in a future month.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Reading a book the second time is very different for me than my first pass. So different, in fact, that I usually read everything twice right from the start, just to get the full experience. The first time through, I get completely caught up by the action. I plow through the story, desperate to find out how it all ends. The second time, I don't worry so much about the plot, because I already know what's coming. The second time through, I notice all those little details I missed during that first, very rushed, experience.
Now, because I read things over and over again, my favorite books are ones that offer me something new on the second reading, something that I couldn't have gotten on the first go around even if I had been reading carefully. I like stories that have a good twist, something that not only takes the plot off in a new direction, but also colors everything that came before it once you know the secret.
I want to give examples here, but I think it would make for an unnecessarily long blog post if I started pasting in excerpts from entire novels. Plus, I don't want to spoil things for folks if they haven't had the pleasure of reading those books yet. However, a solution popped into my head in the shower this morning (as it seems all solutions do) and I think I've got some examples I can use now.
And now I shall reveal to you all my bumpkin side. I listen to a lot of country music. I could blame this on my residence in South Carolina -- it's tough to live here and listen to anything else -- but the truth is that I've been listening to country music since long before I relocated to the Deep South. And, as with novels, my favorite songs are those with a twist, a line somewhere in the song that changes the meaning of every line that came before it, so that you end up enjoying the song in a completely different way the next time you hear it.
Don't worry, I'm not going to give you pages and pages of song lyrics. Just a few snippets here and there.
The first is a fairly new song, the one that was playing and got me thinking about this idea today in the first place.
Pray for You, performed by Jaron and the Long Road to Love, written by Jaron Lowenstein and Joel Brentlinger
Haven't been in church since I don't remember when
Things were going great 'til they fell apart again
So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do
Said you can't go hating others who done wrong to you
Sometimes we get angry but we must not condemn
Let the good Lord do his job and you just pray for them
I pray your brakes go out running down a hill
I pray a flower pot falls from a window sill
And knocks you in the head like I'd like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls
I pray your flying high when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true
Just know wherever you are, honey, I pray for you
The song goes on from there, with more examples of this guy's special brand of prayer for his ex and how much better he feels now that he's found his way back to the church, but I think you get the idea.
The second starts out sounding a bit more like a stereotypical country song. Man watching a woman dancing with another man, lamenting about how she used to be his. Oh, boy, it's another breakup country song. Um . . . or not.
I Loved Her First, performed by Heartland, written by Walt Aldridge and Elliott Park
Look at the two of you dancing that way
Lost in the moment and each other's face
So much in love you're alone in this place
Like there's nobody else in the world
I was enough for her not long ago
I was her number one, she told me so
And she still means the world to me, just so you know
So be careful when you hold my girl
Time changes everything; life must go on
And I'm not gonna stand in your way
But I loved her first, and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first
I think this is now probably one of the most popular father-daughter dance songs at weddings.
And for my final example, I give you the chorus of one of my favorite fun songs.
Cleaning This Gun, performed by Rodney Atkins, written by Casey Beathard and Marla Cannon-Goodman
Come on in boy, sit on down and tell me about yourself
So you like my daughter, do you now? Yeah we think she's something else
She's her daddy's girl, her momma's world
She deserves respect, that’s what she'll get, ain’t it son?
Hey y'all run along and have some fun
I'll see you when you get back, bet I’ll be up all night
Still cleanin' this gun
Seems like a fairly benign conversation between a father and his daughter's date. Until you realize that he's been sitting there with a gun in front of him the whole time. I feel like all those questions got answered with a good solid "Yes Sir".
So there you have it, a few examples of the type of twist I'm talking about. Now if I could just figure out how to write twists like that into my novels, I'd be all set . . .
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Even as she threw her body to the side to avoid the laser blast, she knew it was hopeless. One Garid drone she could deal with. The idea of sneaking through a Garidan raider filled with them had been daunting enough, but that was what she was trained for.
This was something else. She was surrounded by armed enemies of unknown origin -- who had just managed to silently kill her entire boarding party while she stood less than a tharspan from them. Victory was out of the question.
Hell, survival was probably out of the question.
Laser fire erupted throughout the shuttlecraft and the surrounding bay, Eloin and her minions all trying to catch her as she slid across the floor. They're not as quick as drones, thank the moon, Nara thought, relief flooding through her chest. A Garid drone would have cut her down before she'd even finished thinking about running.
Nara fired over her shoulder without looking as she scrambled for a door on the far side of the room. She didn't have a hope in hell of hitting anything that way, but the idea was just to throw off their aim long enough to get herself out of here.
The doors in front of her slid open and Nara dove through, not caring what waited on the other side. Storage closet, warp drive chamber, or escape hatch -- it didn't matter so long as she put a wall between herself and Eloin's creatures.
She spun as she fell through, shooting the control panel next to the opening. The doors slammed closed and sparks rained from the locking mechanism.
Safe. For the moment.
"Nara, don't make this harder than it needs to be," Eloin called through sealed door. "If we have to chase you, you'll get all messed up and then I won't be able to use your body."
Nara shuddered at the sound of that and turned around, facing her new surroundings.
A scream lodged itself in her throat, stopping her breath. She scuttled backward toward the doors, regretting the moment her back hit them that she'd just locked her only means of escape. She blinked slowly, hoping that when she opened her eyes, the sight that met them would be different. Hoping that the mangled remains of cybernetic-enhanced bodies -- some of them human, some of them not -- would no longer be littered about the room, soaking in thick puddles of blackening blood and purple Garidan acid.
No such luck. Eloin had been busy during her brief stay aboard the raider. Every Garid drone in sight had been ripped to shreds, and, judging by the pile of corpses cramming the door on the far side of the room, possibly every drone throughout the rest of the ship too.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Nara toyed with the idea for a moment as she surveyed the wreckage of the conversion chamber. Then she remembered Eloin's threat about using her body.
No. No, Eloin was definitely not her friend.
Nara forced herself away from the wall and started picking her way through the remains on the floor. She needed a better weapon, a way out of this room, and backup. Lots of backup.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Last week, I met with the TriMu for pizza and Woodchuck at a local eatery. It had been raining, and I was mentally composing an email when I started down the short flight of concrete stairs at the back of the resautant. In the immortal words of the old-school Batman TV series:
I hit the stairs, bouncing my tailbone down each one. My laptop, in its backpack, flew out to the side as I tried to slow my fall with my arms (thankfully, I had slung the backpack over one shoulder instead of wearing it properly, or else it would have crunched under me and this would have been a different kind of blog entry). My first thought was, my back is broken. My second, my laptop is broken. Neither turned out to be true, but I am somewhat angry with myself for worrying about the spasms of pain in my backside and spinal column more than the computer. Sigh. My priorities need some reevaluation, I guess.
Anyway, the pain and swelling on my tailbone seemed to disappear in a day or two and I had a fine weekend with no problems at all, even with a long ride in a car and a 6 hour movie marathon. No worries.
Then Monday night hit and I hurt again. It was as bad as it had been when I hit it first. Icing my bum all evening did little to dull the pain. I don't know what happened that day, but it was like my brain finally cought up to the fact that I bruised my tailbone, four days later.
So, what does all this have to do with writing? Nothing at all, I just didn't have anything to blog about. ;)
Not, gonna cut it, eh? Alright. Hold on, let me figure something out.
How about this? Some ideas come like falling downstairs. They hit you when you're thinking of something else, slapping you flat on your back and leaving a mark that sometimes flares up at odd times. Good enough? Or do you have a better answer? ;)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Lieutenant Eloin shouldered a laser cannon twice the size of the drone, Darrew's, old weapon. Ellie's gaze shifted to a point above Nara's right ear and slipped out of focus. "I'm doing what I was programmed to do." She pulled her focus back onto Nara's eyes. "My people will rise again."
"The conversions don't take as long as they used to, I see. They've gotten you already, Ellie." The other woman raised a thin black eyebrow. "Wait a minute." Nara swore. "You were one of them all along! You and Darrew together!" Nara placed her hand in the small of her back and made a fist. She hoped her crew would get the clue that they should figure out where to hide before the laser cannons started firing.
"No, not together," Ellie said. "He never knew what I am. I had his links connected to my colony's sensory node, but the surveillance only went one way." Her lips curved. "Malkur always liked to put his colony comms in the forehead, for convenience. Fool. It was always so fun to open Darrew's ship's comm when he was, shall we say--too busy to talk."
"So you're not a Garid?"
Nara eyed the cannon on Ellie's shoulder. "Why haven't you killed us yet?"
Ellie's smile widened. "You're the only one left."
Nara glanced behind her. Pinpoints of purple light met her eyes, making her squint. Five purple-skinned humanoids with LED eyes blinked at her, all fingering giant cannons like Ellie's. And Thompson, Jennings, Schmidt, and Graziano lay at the creature's feet, eyes wide in shock, blood dripping from mouths and noses and ears. Nara swallowed bile and turned back to Ellie.
The laser cannon was trained at Nara's chest.
Monday, March 8, 2010
down the back of my jacket
i hear trees giggling
Sarah threw down the gauntlet the other day by offering up a 12 day writing challenge. Surprisingly, I made it through. /ponders this miracle. I even carved out a daily window seat in time, in which to work on this challenge.
It is a weird experience to be successful at something like this. There were a couple nights were I had no idea what to write, but I wrote anyway. I tried to wrap up each night so that its effort could stand alone, even if I continued the idea the next night. I played with characters I had met before, and introduced myself to others that I had only seen through the mists of being half-asleep.
Maybe that is what motivated me enough to continue the challenge each day, the idea of playing.
What motivates you to continue, whether writing, revising, querying, etc.?
Friday, March 5, 2010
In most genres that isn't the case anymore. When querying genre fiction, it isn't even necessary to say the book is a first in a series. That is assumed, so you better have an idea for a second book.
Right now, I am still celebrating and promoting the release of the second book in my Haven series. At the same time, I am preparing to send the second Alex Craft novel off to New York. One sequel I started after the book was already in print, the other I started before I even received my revision notes on the first book. One I knew what readers were saying about the book, the other I didn't even know if the setting was going to remain the same. One of those probably should have been easier than the other, right? But which one? The one where I felt pressure to fix what people didn't like and try to preserve what they did? The one that could change drastically if the first book had a major change? Okay, no. Neither was easy. In fact, I would say for both series it was harder to write the second book than the first. After all, you want the second book to be better, stronger, and more entertaining than the last. That's a tall order.
My advice from the trenches?
-Write the novel for you and for your characters.
Reviews on the net can reveal issues that truly are problems. But, at the same time, opinions are just opinions. I noticed that with any book, if you read the reviews, what one person loves someone else inevitably hates. So don't get caught up in reviews. If something resonates, take it as helpful critique, but write the book that needs to be written. Trying to incorporate everyone's opinion just makes a person insane.
-Keep good notes.
Okay, yes I wrote this character, but that doesn't mean I remember every detail about him or her. And yes, I remembered that happened in the first book--okay, I forgot, but I sort of remembered somewhere in the back of my head. Some sort of reference sheet is a must to keep facts straight.
-Don't wait for lightening to strike, get out there with your kite and tie that key to it.
People loved the first book, after all, that's what you sold and earned the contract with. But now you have to write a second one??
With my Haven series, I have a pretty clear idea of where I'm headed with the series. I don't have all the details worked out but I have an idea where I want the series to end and several things which have to occur before my characters can reach their happily ever after. My Alex Craft novels are a little more vague as far as long term planning goes. Also, hands down, I think GRAVE WITCH is the best book I've written to date (but, of course, I plan to top it--I'm not yet done with the second book in the series or with the third book in the Haven series.) It can be paralyzingly terrifying to sit there thinking you might not have another great book in you. When plotting the second book, I honestly had the thought (on several occasions) "What if I can't do this? What if I let everyone down?" That is counter productive and totally unhelpful.
You can't sit around waiting for a great idea to hit you (at least, not after you have deadlines to worry about.) It might mean starting the first draft while still searching for that magical element that will take the book from 'eh' to something you can't wait for people to read, but, as they say, the muse comes to those who are at the keyboard ready to write. And, while lightening rarely hits the same spot twice, if that daily return to work is your kite, you are far more likely to get a jolt.
And with that, it is time for me to head back to my own writing. After all, I have a manuscript which I need to make sure sparkles before it is time to send it off!
Before I head out, it is time to announce the winner of the signed copy of TWICE DEAD. The random number generator has spoken, and the winner is:
Congratulations! I have a stack of items that need to be shipped in the next few days, so if you can shot an email to contests(AT)themodermythmakers(DOT)com with your shipping address and who to make the book out to, I can hopefully get the book in the mail at the same time as I ship everything else.
Well, that's it for today. Have a great weekend everyone!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
"Thompson, Jennings, Schmidt, and Graziano come with me. We're going to take Shuttle 2. We're on full alert. Shuttle 1 has been compromised. I repeat we are on full alert." Nara grabbed the old-fashioned shotgun and loaded it with two shells. She tucked the blaster and an extra battery pack into the holster at her waist. She didn't check to see if the others were doing the same. Sixteen years in military school preparing for a command in the Interplanetary Navy and she had been fooled because of her lack of experience in male-female relations. Well, Nara wouldn't be fooled again. Trust was a commodity to be traded just like rubies from the Nekoajn mines.
She pressed in the code to open the doors to Shuttle 2 and they butterflied open. "Thompson, you're on the wheel. Graziano, you have the comm. Schmidt and Jennings, you are security." She settled into the navigator's chair and felt Thompson slide in beside her. Nara looked over and saw the other woman's cheeks were tracked by tears.
"Kirk's tribbles." She swore under her breath. Thompson had been engaged to Hanna and Hanna had been on Shuttle 1. "Thompson, if you need to be reassigned, please speak up now."
"I'm fine, ma'am. Just fine." Thompson tilted her chin back. "I welcome the opportunity to carry out this mission." Anger laced the other woman's words. She pulled on the headset in front of her and spoke into the microphone. "Shuttle 2 preparing for takeoff from the Galajax 400. Please open the airlock doors."
Nara nodded her head and turned her attention back to her duties. She could spare a round from the blaster if Thompson turned out to be a liability for the rest of the crew. She turned in her chair and faced the others.
"Blasters out." Her words came out in a whisper. Nara swallowed and took a deep breath. One moment ticked by. Then two before she found her voice again. "Remember, the only way to destroy a Galadrian ship is to take out the head. Preserve your rounds and battery power when possible. Take aim at only those that look like the head of the colony."
The others nodded and Nara turned back to the vid screen. They were being pulled into the Galadrian ship. The vid screen went black and the shuttle was silent. No hum of the engine. No low of the atmosphere machine. Utter silence until the shuttle clunked down on something metal.
Nara stood and pulled her blaster out of her holster. The other members of the crew followed suit. Her heart beat faster and faster. She didn't want to die today.
The doors butterflied open. "Welcome to the Galadrian Rose, Nara."
Monday, March 1, 2010
Kita is adjusting to her new liquid diet -- an adjustment she rather resents. Not that everything was chocolate and sunshine before (though both were possible before the sexy but infuriating Nathanial sank his fangs in her business). Kita's ability to shape shift into a kitten when her peers shifted into lions and tigers complicated her life, to say the least, but getting stuck in one form -- that of a human shaped tick, a.k.a. a vampire -- sucks, literally. Her adjustment period is violently interrupted when she discovers a headless corpse during a party for a visiting vampire council. But, the headless dancer won't be the only corpse she encounters.
Kita's involvement draws the attention of the Collector, an ancient vampire with an inclination to acquire two things: power and oddities. As a pureblood shifter turned vampire, Kita ranks high on the collectability list -- not a safe place for anyone who values her freedom, and Kita is not the only one on the list. But with the body count rising, there is more at stake than freedom. A killer is slithering through the underbelly of Haven's vampire community, and with the supernaturals dealing in unnamed favors, it's a bad time to be a kitten who can't slip her skin.
The TriMu and I discussed it and we decided that maybe we're not the best candidates to present a review of this book. We all think Kalayna's a genius and love her work unconditionally, which kind of makes objectivity a challenge. I mean, I could sit here and
Outside the TriMu, some folks over at Fictionwise, where it' hanging out near the top of the Dark Fantasy charts, seem to like it too. People on goodreads have been enjoying it. It's getting good reviews on Amazon as well. Oh, and Mandi over at Smexy Books gave it a 4/5 this weekend while this post was busy not showing up on the internet.
So it's not just us. We love it, others feel the same, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as well.
To win this book, leave a comment on this post including the following information:
1) Your name
2) How you found us
3) A question for us to answer in our next Mailbag Monday post
This is just my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other members of the TriMu. Also, I didn't get this book for free. I bought it with my own money from the bookstore, and it's not an ARC or acquisition reviewed for compensation.
NL Berger's Goals: The write a little something every day goal didn't work out so well for me last month. It's too general for someone with my
Kalayna Price's Goals: Well, I have a book due April 1st, so my goals for March are pretty straight forward: have a publishable draft by the end of the month!
Tori Pryer's Goals: February was not a complete failure, but neither was it a complete success. I did not meet my goal of having a short story complete though it is started. I did not start editing TDC. I lost a lot of time to the day job and some to my Olympic obsession, but mostly to the day job. I can and did turn off the TV. I can't turn off the day job. This month, I'm working on the Artist's Way. So my goals for the month of March are to finish the short story, work on the Artists Way, and begin editing TDC.
Haricot Vert's Goals: I could blame the Olympics for my writing goals failure. ...In fact, I do blame the Olympics. Never mind that they started February 12, and that I didn't even watch as much of them as I wanted. Yes, now that I have a scapegoat, I can admit that February wasn't the kindest to my goals. But March will be better, in part, because I am changing my goals. I will, this month, mangle a fairy tale. What this entails is re-imaging the story while keeping to the language. Maybe the tale will be recognizable at the end. Maybe I'll even post bits and pieces here.
Sarah Templeton's Goals: I can sit around and wait for things to happen only so long before letting the muse spur me down a different path altogether, so this month I'm letting the big stuff simmer on the back burner and moving on full-tilt at the side projects. Well, as full-tilt as one gets with a day job and a really nasty cold/flu thing trying to defeat my immune system. (Yes, the clause placement is intentional: I'm betting this particular strain came from a coworker.)
What about you guys? What are your writing goals for this month?
Yeah, you can stop guffawing now; I get the point. Another case of high hopes and crushing realities. Lesson learned, bemoaned, bechocolated*, and noted: I cannot "expect" a synopsis and query blurb to pour onto the paper like a caramel fondue.
Regardless of how delicious that goal may sound in my head.
By February 28th, I was supposed to be through 13k in revisions for my steampunk novella--and here I sit, still re-outlining and tightening scenes without counting words. Why? Because one day last month, during a lovely day of simply making sure my character headed out in the direction I wanted her to go, one of my critique partners asked me: "Why her? Why would the bad guys approach her over anyone else? What makes her unique?"
Which is the same path of evil, diabolical questioning she had the nerve to pose toward my last manuscript. The catalyst for my major revision round at the beginning of this year.
I hate it.
I hate it because she was absolutely right. The motivations I had for the bad guys weren't strong enough, the backstory for the character was iffy, and it just fell flat on the page. She was absolutely right then, and she's absolutely right now: I'm missing something crucial.
Until that motivation drives to the forefront of my inner editor's attention for the next round of novella revisions, I will work out the issue in notes and strengthen other scenes more thoroughly. That way, when I figure it out, I can immerse myself in flowing manuscript instead of broken prose.
*Bechocolate: Verb: To delicately sip an indulgent pint of hot cocoa and marshmallows (most likely with a thin mint cookie in the bottom of the mug) in an effort to sweeten the bitter taste of disappointment.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
“How far do we have left?”
“We're making the last approach, so maybe three minutes.” The navigator was intent on the manual adjustments to bring the shuttle into a synchronous orbit.
Eloin smiled. Malkur was good but his sensors were old. This close to his ship, all he would be able to tell was that there were life forms aboard. Closing her eyes, Eloin gave the subvocal command that woke her second self. The air suddenly ran with flavors, nervous sweat from one of her seatmates, cabin air recycled too many times to be taken for fresh, and hints of hot metal coming from the propulsion devices.
Time unfolded as she fired her weapon, head shot after head shot. The navigator was the first to slump against the restraints, and by the time that the beige shirted security officer reached up for his comm link there was no signal coming from his brain to tell his mouth what to do next. Due to the decompression bullets, there wasn't much left of his mouth anyway.
The bodies were still warm as she checked each one, spitting into the ruined faces. Just enough to keep them warm and flexible, just enough that Malkur wouldn't know what was going on until it was too late. The navigator went back to adjusting the trajectories and velocities.
“How long do we have?”
“We're on a drift approach, Heiress.”
“Everyone check your gear. When we get over, I need two decoys; the rest come with me to the reactor chamber. Once there you will defend until the last.”
It had been so long since she had used the power, but the new drones moved just as they should. Her essence wouldn't last long but it would last long enough. Through the nav viewscreen, Eloin saw the landing tube extend. Anticipation prickled the skin at the back of her neck, driving away thoughts of the years that she had drifted from ship to ship, with each new assignment hoping that this would be the one.
Humans were useful and even fun sometimes, but nothing beat the thrill of the hunt. Malkur was one of the few left out here, dully fighting even though he had to understand that his age was turned to ashes behind her own people's rising phoenix. The shuttle jarred to a stop and the connectors met with a muted thump.
“Let's move out.”
Monday, February 22, 2010
This month's question: Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the details of a story that need research? How do you handle that?
Submitted by Susan
Kalayna Price's Response: A lot of my research is done before I start writing as I world build and create characters. My early brainstorming process is very organic as tweaking the world changes what the characters can do/how they think/ what they want and changes to those same things in the character may necessitate changes to the world. This is all pre-writting and nothing is set in stone, so I don't usually get overwhelmed--I just sometimes get over excited as I research 'cool' stuff and try to figure out how to make everything fit. A date in which I have to start writing puts a cap on how much of this pre-writing/brainstorming I can do. Once I start writing, I do run into more points that need to be researched. If these points are huge 'omg, this could change how the story plays out' (rare) than I stop and do the research, but only for that one point--no side tangents. If the research is needed just for details, I leave myself a note to come back to it in the second draft. It is far too easy to get sucked into researching every little thing and losing your writing time. Doing a lot of the big research before I ever start the novel, and once I start, not stopping at the tiny things, is how I avoid getting overwhelmed.
Tori Pryer's Response: Research what research....Unfortunately, I tend to start writing and realize that I don't know enough about the backstory or the setting or the history. This is a bit of a problem when you write historicals or books with what I like to call historical elements. You can't fake the past. It happened. You can't fake a location (though plenty of people have tried). When I'm writing, I will put a note to myself saying things like "How many men were needed to crew a B-24?" A little note to remind myself to fact check. Yesterday, I reached a point in my current WIP where I could go no further. So I will likely spend an hour or so tonight figuring out enough of the details that I can move on. You can't get bogged down in the details though. If you do, you stop writing. I promise you that this has happened to me more than once. Also, if you have to stop writing to research, set a timer. You can lose hours to research.
Sarah Templeton's Response: Absolutely. And the overwhelming mountain of research doesn't get any lighter when you're making up your own worlds either, if you're not setting them in a contemporary location. For my science fiction novel, I have a handful of 3-subject notebooks chock full of world-building information, technological gizmos, and myths that no one will ever see. Once I discovered OneNote, keeping track of research was easier -- you can divide your notes into endless categories and search on a dime, which is a relief when you can't remember what you're supposed to be remembering while revising. Two points of advice: 1) Organize your notes. Don't just fling it all on stickies--transcribe it in an orderly fashion when you can. And 2) Beware the tangent. I set a timer to keep myself on one topic and if I finish early I can flit around in the research books like the info junkie I am.
Haricot Vert's Response: I'm in the middle of Overwhelmed right now. At first it seemed harmless enough; I was in revisions and figured a little world building would help me fill those pesky plot holes. But then it snowballed, as I realized that I was having trouble with cussing (for example) because so much of cussing is either based on religious ideals or moral deconstructions. Which lead to exploring the mythos and the theology of the world I was working with. Which lead to realizing that I needed to do something similar for the other five or so worlds that had direct links to the first world. /eye twitch Which puts me here and now.
My solution? I'm going bit by bit, taking notes and trying not to world jump. The other spheres will be there when I arrive, so there is no need to panic. This is what I'm telling myself anyway. :) Again and again and again.
How do you feel about this? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.
Have another question you'd like the Modern Myth Makers to answer? Just ask us in the comments and we'll try to respond in a future month.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
His weary gaze flickered away from the static filled screen to the control panel under it. With a thought, he commanded his ship to extend a docking tunnel and provide the party an adequate location to board. He could hear the buzz, the soft whine of a connection as he communicated with his ship. The ship responded slowly, far too slowly. He was getting too old. His people had been forgotten too long. Had been peaceful too many decades. The conversion process nearly perfected the body, but those organic components which were left still aged, still deteriorated under the burden of time.
No, he had waited far too long this time. His people needed new bodies. They needed a new injection of life. And the Galajax could provide the quickening his people needed.
Over three thousand fresh bodies, all ripe for conversion. Most were colonists, true. Soft, stupid, they were vermin fleeing a dying world, looking for another they could spread over like a plague as they lived out meaningless, short lives. The conversion would purify them. They would do. His people would be reborn.
But the crew . . .
The crew truly interested Malkur. Not all of them, but the hapless drone he'd planted had reported on several crewmen who might be useful. Who might be able to infuse new technology and ingenuity in his people.
Perhaps I'll even allow some to remember themselves. To become one of us instead of simple vessels. Malkur's ancient lips cracked as he smiled, an expression long absent from his haggard face.
Yes, it had been too long. But now things would change. And perhaps it was time for his people to do more than survive. It was time for them to thrive.
Monday, February 15, 2010
"Kirk," Nara swore, watching the tall drone's body turn a sickly purple--down to the roots of his carbon-copied blonde hair--then dissolve before her eyes. Stooping, she retrieved the chip formerly embedded under the skin of Darrew's forehead then crushed it under the heel of her boot. "Sir, I'm switching to Priority Delta." A physical sweep of encryption descended into the hallway and Nara shivered. The buzz of the private communication channel weaving around her body remained the only thing about space travel capable of setting off her claustrophobia.
"What's wrong, Nara?" Captain Denett spoke casually on the private line, knowing no one else could hear.
"We've already been infiltrated." Her voice came out shaking. The sight of the dead man's fast-decaying body twisted her gut harder than she'd expected. Darrew had no longer been Darrew. He'd been a sleeper agent for the enemy. And judging from the aggressive punch of dark-laced energy trying to hack into the web of energy playing over her skin, he wasn't the only one.
"Daughter-mine, your inability to follow direct orders is exhausting."
Nara sighed and shouldered her laser rifle, heading for the shuttle bay. "You knew." The Garidan hacker pressed harder into the connection and Nara felt her father slide a fourth layer of protection over the conversation.
"I am the captain." He paused and Nara caught a mental image on the line of a smothered bout of frustration before he continued. "I can handle the ones on board, but if I lose an entire boarding party because of you, we'll be discussing your court-martial when you return, where everyone can hear it. Is that understood?"
"But I'm not the one who--" She sucked in a breath to stifle her protest before he gifted her with another stint in the brig for whining. "Yes, Captain." Nara punched the code on the wall console to disconnect and ducked into the zero-G transport instead of the full-sized shuttle. "Solar shorts, Ellie, this was one away mission you shouldn't have screwed with."
Gravity generators weighed too much; for practicality's sake the tiny "zip-ships" could only claim their nickname by omitting everything except life support and a hydrogen-class turbyte engine. A super-charged engine Nara hoped would be fast enough even now to arrive in time to save her crewmates. Her father ought to be court-martialing Ellie. By leaving the Galajax's only xenopsychologist behind, the lieutenant had pretty much guaranteed at least one solar burial in their future. On the other hand, if Nara hadn't found Darrew, she wouldn't be walking into the other ship with her rifle set to kill.
As the pod blasted a path through clouds of green smoke, Nara's palm closed over her nostrils. Not for the first time, she wished the air circulation unit hadn't been forgone in the design. The darn thing smelled like Terran fish heads rotting on a summer beach.
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration"
--"Four Quartets" by T.S. Elliot
I'm starting to think that I have allowed myself too easy access to distractions. Email, chat, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube, all contribute to mental over stimulation and lack of focus. If my muse rebels against working on a particular page on my manuscript, then it is so very easy to jump over to check gchat and see who is talking to me or to facebook to see who has posted a pithy status message. I waste not only time, but mental energy bouncing around the Internet.
So, I'm now trying my hand at rationing my media usage and giving my mind long swaths of computer-free time to remember how to focus again. I have my AlphaSmart word processor which is great for Internet-less writing, and I might even drag out a good old fashioned pen and paper. I've also purchased a bunch of books that I want to read.
How do you avoid getting distracted?
Monday, February 8, 2010
nascent shapes of words unborn
mix on the threshold
When Dalida sings "Paroles," that is beauty. When Miriam Makeba sings "Pata pata," that is beauty. When Cesaria Evora sings anything, "Sodade," for example, that is beauty.
Is it wrong that when I feel particularly low as regards my own progress towards darn goodness (I really don't aspire towards greatness or anything like that) at the craft, I remind myself that even those three pearls of music making had to practice as well?
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Well, the kindle version of books usually takes longer than the print version to become available, but in a strange turn of events, the kindle version for Twice Dead has shown up first. So, if you have a kindle, you can read Twice Dead HERE.
To celebrate the release, I'm running a week long contest here on the blog. Here is what I'll be giving away:
Three lucky winners will get your choice of one (1) of the following items. (I only have one of each available, so this will be a first picked, first choice kind of deal)
-$15 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card.
-Twice Dead Promotional Mug
-Twice Dead Promotional Notebook
To enter, simply write a review for the first Haven novel, Once Bitten, and publish it somewhere on the web. Then leave a comment in this post linking to the review. You can review the book on your blog, on Amazon/B&N/BAM/Borders, Goodreads, Library thing, etc. If you have previously reviewed the book, feel free to link to that review. (If you are reading this at a remote location, you'll need to visit my blogger blog to enter.) Each review linked will give you one entry in the contest. If you also mention the release of Twice Dead, you will get one additional entry.
The contest is open until Sunday, February 14th at 11:59 pm. I will use a random number generator to choose three winners, who will be announced Monday. I am willing to ship internationally, so this contest is open to anyone.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(**note: this is the first time I've had mugs or notebooks printed, and they have not yet arrived. When they do, if the quality is sub-par, I will offer an alternate prize.)