In some heroic feet (spanning far too many years than I wish to count), I am 100%, totally finished the rewrite of Gingerbread and I actually kind of love it. I mean warts, right? Because my brain has been in that world for so long, and I have no idea how to look at that book with fresh eyes, I am opting not to Pitchwars it this year. Maybe I will regret that, I dunno. I did hit another writerly milestone this week, aside from finishing Ginger, so I’m pretty excited about that.
I’m just trying to figure out the query. If I have done 6 full drafts on my novel I have probably done 36 on my query and the last line is still a poop. A POOP I SAY.
What else. I might have adopted a 7year old lutino cockatiel named Angelica Monroe Lemonloaf Squawkypants – or Lemon, as her previously family named her. She is kind of amazing, but also a lesson in not adopting a pet unless you are prepared for all the things that come with pet adoption, including a cockatiel who hasn’t laid eggs in forever except for that time she moved into your house and fell in love with you.
So, now we have a sleep cage and I have to set up the backroom to make space for that. She is super duper cute though.
And, I think I’ve decided to head into Happily (n)Ever After, although the first line of a possible Gingerbread sequel (not part of the original story) popped into my head i am going to exploding kittens POPE OF NOPE that because dang.
there is no room in this house for a sequel.
otherwise TERMINUS happened, in which many beats were danced to, and also Wulfband kind of destroyed my brain.
Yesterday I made maps for HNA and figured out my plots, which means can technically start outlining. I’m looking at this, which is a character map for Breaking Bad, but shows all of the ways in which characters connect, what they want and what they can’t have and I think those are pretty important things to consider when one is writing a bookie wookie. I’ve also gone through 80% of Take off Your Pants!, a plotting book for pansters, and made copious mounts of notes. Today I think I shall go on an adventure and discover woodsy, watery places and eat a scone, stop by the writer’s centre and who knows what else.
in the last month or so, my weird little WIP about fairytale princesses, complex relationships, love, murder, blood magic, blackmail and treachery (if all goes well!) grew from a tiny little thing, into 10 thousand words of magic.
Diego’s neck grew hot. His coat was still on, and the intyn leaf had long worn off, and so the memory of Niall twitched beneath his skin. “We delivered a body. A corpse. You can’t blow out a candle and expect the dead to walk. Resurrection is not so simple.” Diego had never believed in resurrectionist magic. He still, after all the years they’d known each other, eyed Markús with suspicion, and the tricks the man performed with only his hands. He had never believed the denizens of the Blood Red Wood gave life, just that they took it away.
I’m fortunate that my CP is a genius, and upon reading directed the story in a much more plot-logical way, so now it is about notes and planning and coming up with the middle to avoid the muddle, and then the ending. I guess I know what happens in the end, which is what makes fiction different from real life.
I was talking to my writing chums last night — once a week I meet up with 2 or 3 other writers just to write — about how characters, for me, come fully formed, and that I’m terrible with planning, and coming up with cause/effect. It’s just not how my brain works. My brain works in emotional reactions. But in order to have a reaction, I have to have already put my character in a situation. And not just on paper, I have to know how they felt when it was happening, and how they lived through it and I learn through writing them. I don’t suspect this is different from other writers, really, but for me it’s the germ. It’s the genesis.
Which is why it’s really important for me to have CPs and readers that are great at plot bunnies, and cause/effect. I can see it in other people’s work, but usually not in my own.
But this, this Happily (n)Ever After. Gah. I am so deep in love with it already. Markus, the blood magician and his boyfriend Rayif. His lover, Diego, and their lover Annabel and the place where they all intersect and how relationships aren’t ever equal, and jealousy and complexity and all of those things.
Also blood. Because why not.
I think I just wanted to write a book about a blood magician. Because one showed up in The Mourning Wolves, too, and his name was also Marcus (for reasons – I had an RP character years ago, who was also a blood magician, whose name was Marcus, because why not? And I just wanted to find the right place to put him), but now poor Marcus will be expelled from the wolves, and instead, live with the princesses in the place called Aetherny.
I think he’ll be happy there. I’m pretty much happy wherever he is, which I guess says something about me, and i am TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT.
In other news, it was a week of new music:
William Control‘s new EP: Revelations: the Black dropped (some WC is NSFW you have been warned. it’s cool, it’s his thing. I got no qualms.)
And, due to the Terminus announcements (because i am way lucky to live in a place that has an industrial/electronic/dark music festival), bought The Rain Within: Thunderheart, which is syrupy, slightly gloomy 80’s influenced synthpop, and it its beautiful.
It’s also Feb 24. 242. Which means it’s international EBM day. And although the world is full of wonderful ebm, I share with you this classic, by our friends Front 242. I’m guessing you just made the connection.
What else? We bought tickets to see Logan. And I am beside myself with excitement, and I realize it’s because Logan reminds me of my husband Joel, and his sidekick Ellie, but I have actual super high hopes for Logan as a superhero movie that doesn’t annoy me. Also, there’s something about woodsy Hugh Jackman that is just working for my ovaries.
I would also super really like a release date for The Last of Us 2. Okay? Okay.
But first I have to finish editing my YA. But not today, because I’m going to see Matthew Good, and then tomorrow my aforementioned William.
it’s like a new music-a-palooza around here. Last post I mentioned The Blood of Others, and my William, and then alla sudden all the music in music land was released – new Dead When I found Her (OMG) and which does not ignore Michael’s love of Skinny Puppy, but then just when you think you’re onto this album, it changes into something different.
Randomly, Rotersand released a new album and the Gothiscles showed up again in my inbox (and I need to go download them), and it’s like a dance music wonderland around here.
I went to see Dr. Strange, and yes the orientalism is a bit much, and there’s no good reason (despite how good she is) that Tilda couldn’t have been played by someone else, but I am honestly not sure how they would have gotten away from the mystical asian stereotypes in that film. Cumberbatch was great, and my Mads (hubba hubba) was pretty hilarious doing martial arts, when in my heart he is always eating half-raw meat in a very expensive suit. (FANNIBAL).
I sent my wee short story off to the market, and so shall soon hear on that. I’m editing a book for a friend, working on Gingerbread, and The Mourning Wolves and generally not understanding why it is so dark out.
There’s more new music, in the form of “The Blood of Others“, which is kind of a post-witchhouse thang, fronted by one of the dudes in Talking to Ghosts, a podcast I listen to on the regular, and the new William Control EP is out (The Pale), and that’s kind of always worth celebrating (for some reason there’s nothing on William’s website, but he is all over the instagrams and facebooks).
I went to LA and back, and although we didn’t make a point of catching every band (because we were there for approx 48 hours and wanted to see some of the city, too) playing DB20, we caught bits and pieces of most, and this.. this! Was probably the creepiest, most disconcerting live performance I’ve seen:
This clip isn’t from Das Bunker, but please, if you will, imagine a tiny room that is so loud your body vibrates, and all you can see is strobe lights, smoke, and a shadow that seems to exist and not exist all at once, occasionally wielding a chainsaw. For realsies. The shit was bananas.
But we saw VNV, and Covenant and a lot of Daniel Graves, and Continues (which was fantastic) and the Legendary Pink Dots, who were syrupy and moody and embracing and lovely, really, and LA was great and we ate Thai food and walked on the beach and all was good and right in the world.
And then I came home and was alerted that a market I’d started a short story for way back in May had extended their submission period (I’d given up up on making the original deadline because of all the Pitchwars madness), so in the last 3 days I’ve written about 3.5K, and finished a draft of HAPPILY (n)EVER AFTER, a story about some jerks and some Princesses. So. We will see, but it was fun and it was short and also NOT a novel, so heave-ho and up she rises, I am kind of happy about it.
Then the tv told me S3 of The Fall had started and OMG STELLA GIBSON I LOVE YOU! So that is that.
this AM, on a relatively average fall day, the mighty facebooks were kind enough to tell me that today, back in 2014, I reported that I completed zero draft of Gingerbread. That was a really, really long time ago. The book was terrible.
But all is not lost. I have done 2.5 full edits on it, removed probably 30K, and rewrote about 70K. In some respects, it’s a whole new book, and, when I’m done this go-round, it’ll be the best book it’s ever been.
And I’ll probably have to edit it again. And, I suppose, that’ll be okay, because HOLY CHEESEDOODLES have I learned a lot about writing in the last year.
I have focused on learning everything I can about craft – not just the stuff I know I’ve internalized, the way most writers do, but I’m actively learning and incorporating all of the things I can so that I will, when it comes to write my next book (The Mourning Wolves), deliberately plot & plan from the start, instead of trying to cobble it all together out of the mess I can make in a pants’d first draft.
Earlier this year, I took 3 writing classes. One was an eight week full novel course (alas I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know, but that was an instructor issue, over a material issue). I started an in-person writing group that’s met almost every week since then. I have written 11K on The Mourning Wolves, and started the plotting for it. I had a short story published.
I have done character grids and arcs and chapter by chapter breakdowns. I have done beat sheets and stared at the ceiling planning out character flaws. I bought rulers and highlighters.
I entered Pitchwars, and while that (as we know) wasn’t entirely successful (it was 100% successful!), I learned that I can, actually, pretty much edit a full novel in 6 weeks if I have a serious looming deadline.
I met a great CP, and it’s been super fun working with them (TeamHaps!).
I have written over 50-thousand words this year – that I tracked. I’m sure it’s closer to 150, all things considered, if you take in all the words I deleted, and all the chapters I removed and all of the changes I made. A goal for 2017 is to be more diligent in recording actual words written – even if my end of year totals aren’t the same b/c of editing and the non stop delete party that is fiction writing, it’ll be nice to know, exactly, how many words I actually typed with my little typing fingers.
So. What have we learned?
I’m not the fastest writer (having a fairly stressful day job impacts), but I’m certainly diligent, and tenacious, and I’m definitely working hard. I’m treating writing as a job, rather than a hobby, and that’s been an interesting shift as well.
Right now my focus is on this edit of Gingerbread, as I’m sending it to an editor I’m working with around mid-October.
After that, I’m mostly going to see bands. 3 hours of a VNV retrospective here, then we’re heading down to Los Angeles for the Das Bunker 20 year anniversary, which will pretty much be a synth/futurepop Valhalla, given that VNV, Covenant, A23 and Apop are all playing (thud), along with my friend (not really, but I Love) Tristan Shone (Author & Punisher). Music is pretty much the only other thing I blog about, and I would be lying if I tried to tell you I wasn’t super excited.
Also, Cygnets. Nope, they’re not playing but OMG I can not get over this band. My current obsession is “Ana & Mia”, a song about eating disorder recovery.
Because if you think industrial/synthpop/new wave has nothing to say, you are not listening close enough.
Man. Work is kicking my ass, so writing in most of its forms was sponsored by:
But then Saturday morning rolled around and I must have had a good snooze or eaten my wheaties or just been so full o’ words that I finally, finally wrote approx 1500K on the brand new chapter I added to Gingerbread to a) slow down the top end a bit and b) spend more time with the characters before I make their lives shitty. Apparently this is a thing writers are supposed to do. Don’t fret, I’ve only been at this for like 20 years. I’ll get all the tricks down eventually.
Then, I went to Beakerhead, and there were lights and science! and EDM and ROBOTS WITH SMOKE AND FIRE. I’m talking 10 foot robots and they were awesome. I ate mini donuts and caught zero pokemon cuz pokemon? You are on crack. I hatched a 10K egg and it was a stupid as what Jynx (dudes, take a look at that pokemon. Is horrible. And hardly rare. And definitely not appropriate.) But just as i was bitching about that, a magnemite and a jigglypuff showed up so, whatevs. I win you, pokemon. I could rule the world with all the Clefairies I have lying around.
Here’s an awesome thing: Exclaim! is streaming the new Cygnets release, and holy cheesedoodles, it is freaking’ awesome. These boys can just go ahead and take my money. They played one of the early-early opening slots at Terminus a couple of years ago and gah. Hearts ever since.
Yoga today, and it’s yoga for chubby people and it’s awesome. Any physical activity that doesn’t make me feel like a giant ill-formed ball of goop is A+++ in my books, so yes. It helps that it’s next to the bookstore. Today’s haul:
I also realized SAGA VI is out, and OMG. But there’s still the matter of the fact that I haven’t read the last Sex Criminals, either (which is hilarious. It’s not hilarious that I haven’t read it, is just hilarious in general). So. I think I need to dedicate an evening a week to reading or something but man, i need a time expander for all the things I wish to do. I finally broke down and bought a paper agenda thingamajiggy.
(i also bought Labyrinth Lost last week, which looks super fun and yes. So many books, so many hours in the day I spend at my cubile. INSERT SAD FACE HERE).
Okay. I should get some words in.
I can totally tell I haven’t done yoga in a while. My whole body is like “oh, hai! you have a muscle here. Good job! Weeee”.
(also, trying to align these pictures in this post is making me cranky. go home, wordpress, you’re drunk)
Okay! So first order of business is Mr. Control has a new song/video! *dance* (Note: WC’s music is way catchier than most things I listen to. This is straight up sing-along-in-the-car dance music, and I LURV it. Which shouldn’t actually surprise you, cuz it’s mah William)
Next order of business, is that in an unexpected move, I’m heading to LA in mid-October for the Das Bunker 20th Anniversary party, because someone I love is ultra squee over the Covenant live show, but the overall lineup is bananas: VNV Nation, A23, Covenant, High Functioning Flesh, my beloved Author & Punisher, my friend iVardensphere (not sure he knows he’s my friend, but whatevs. Yay Scott!), end.user, the Legendary Pink Dots and about 5billion other bands you have also never heard of, including my Aesthetic Perfection, who are performing songs off of an early album as a joke, and it makes me laugh (you know that thing where your music project evolves but everyone is still stuck in 2006. Yeah, it’s like that. FUNNY).
I am a bit amused to see VNV Nation twice in a month, as they’re bringing their Compendium show here (3 hours of snappy Ronan action!), I don’t even listen to much VNV anymore, but am still excited about this as the first show I’d ever seen in what is now “My Thing”, was VNV/Icon of Coil back in 1806.
In additional, writingly-news:
A.Y. Chao (who is probably the single-best resource for writing workshop information) recommended the Discovery Story Magic series for character development, and I’m almost finished – started with graphing/gridding Gingerbread to identify sticky-open plot places within the character’s journey. When the rewrite of GB is done (which, at the rate I’m going is probably going to take forever, bc reasons!) I’ll go through it for both The Mourning Wolves and Ellis, Underground. In a way I’ve got the bones of it all, as I tend to understand my characters on an emotional, if not practical, level — I don’t know their favourite cereal, but I for sure know how they feel if they find themselves standing on the stoop in the middle of the night with a snowstorm blowing around them.
So far, I’ve gone through DSM, and then I did a chapter breakdown which showed me some seriously glaring holes in my structure, so yay! also: boo. But, I am nothing if not resilient. If anyone asks, the answer is Yes, writing is precisely like running into a wall 300X a day. I’ve cut my first two chapters up, changed up my inciting incident, moved what was the II to chapter 2 (or I will, as soon as I stop procrastinating through this here blog post. :D), to make it maybe the first plot point – although, maybe it’s still too early for the first plot point, but I needed to up the haps and suggestion from People Smarter Than Me was more character development in the first 2-3 chaps (I tend to be a slow writer, as in I am not a whiz-bang plot a minute go-go-go writer, so feedback is often “pretty, but nothing happened”. I have learned not to take that feedback personally, but still. Man, this business is hard).
Curse this wretched anger and hurt
Surrender all the lonely and hurt
Or is this just a ruse, shall I keep this hate to use?
It’s so hard, to say no to you
what else? OH! I finished “I’ll Give You the Sun”, which was kind of amazeballs. I thought the characters were maybe a bit too awesome for their own good – the characters were well-developed and they sure had faults, they were just very fancy? like, in the way they’d built their outlook on the world, and the way they approached it was very Inside of a Novel, however! I cried. Pretty much. Not a full, on ugly Oprah Cry like I did for The Road, cuz that was a moment that is likely to never be repeated, however! IGYTS is lovely, and wonderful because even though the characters are pretty shiny and the framework is snappy, underneath the shiny they read like really complicated, honest, sad people and OMG I LOVED IT SO MUCH.
anyway, here’s a snippet of the new first-draft-messy that I’m adding to GB:
But then Emeric smiled, and tapped his fingers to his face and Quince grabbed a tea towel and wiped some of the green goo away and for a second it was like all that time hadn’t passed at all.
But then Quince blinked, and maybe stuff got clear because a sadness slipped over his face and my own heart sunk.
Emeric just looked a little bit sheepish, and whole lot beautiful.
Quince said he was art, like straight out of the Louvre art, where everything was carved from marble and stone and people stood around and gawked and pointed, but mostly they just blushed because hot was hot no matter the medium. I had to take his word for it.
You can easily see the troubles already – two sentences starting with ‘but’, for a start. Really, sentences should never start with But, however! sometimes a girl’s gotta make a stylistic choice. That someone will, later, mark out in red pen.
in an effort to be the hippest writer in hiplandia (actually, I can’t even say that’s true b/c I had no idea magically hipster pencils existed until I went to the stationery store), when I was looking for a plain, blank journal (no lines, people! lines restrict! I dunno, I’m on a blank-page kick), and found a midori journal, and of course leave it to our minimalist friends to make a super simple but beautiful journal –I mean, it’s the plainest notebook in plainlandia, but soooo pretty) — I also found Blackwing pencils (and bought one, but I think it is too soft and next time will try the pearl AND I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT SENTENCE, BRB, I’m going to go drink my cold brew coffee in front of my edison bulb lamp while I google places to eat in Portland), because for some reason I’m into pencils, instead of pens. I suspect it’s because they come with erasers and I’m tired of crossing out the bad ideas i have. Erasers make them go away.
even though the lines are gone, you can still feel their ghosts.
Psyche: Teeth and Claws (sadly, no link either. But the whole of this album “Strange Romance” is amazing.
I also tend to listen to my William’s “Speak to me of Abduction” on repeat. The other day it was “Hurricane” by 30STM. It’s the only 30STM song I ever listen to, ever. Both are available to google, but not entirely SFW so for now I will leave you to your own googles.
And. So. Here’s the thing: if you don’t submit stories you can’t be rejected. Being rejected twice in the same week for a story you think is pretty amazeballs is hard on ye olde ego. I realize that rejection is part of the process and yadda yadda and you have to be tenacious and stubborn, and that’s all true, but it still kinda blows goats. Which, I know, makes for happy goats, but less than thrilled Ambers. So, that’s where it is.
This week I’m working on two projects, the neverending novel of doom, which had me stuck for days and days and days until some talking out loud with the feller made me realize the chapters were out of order, so now that we’ve cleared that bit of the road we can go forward. Slowly, but baby steps are better than no steps.
I also hauled a really, really old story out of my personal slushpile, “Red”, which I wrote after hearing Combichrist’s song of the same name way back in the day (like 2007). It’s a future-dystopic-vampire-western, where the vampires are half metal/half machine people, even if that’s not really clear in the narrative, maybe because it’s not overly important? There’s also a sassy lady named Marie Antoinette who isn’t onscreen most of the time, but she shows up at the end. I kind of love it, if only because it’s super fun and writing it is a no-pressure game. I added almost 800 words yesterday, and edited some others, and my word-count for the year tipped over the 20K mark, which is also kind of awesome given that I didn’t record word-count for a month as I was editing and all that math gave me a rash.
So, that’s where I’m at down here in the word mines.
Here’s a picture of Scott Fox. His face is My Day in Rockstars. His face is how rejections make me feel. Upside?
He’s the feller behind iVardensphere, and he once saved my sister and I from a particularly violent mosh pit. iVardensphere’s new album, FABLE, is unrelenting and overwhelming, especially when I listen to it on my super fancy new headphones. It’s like there’s a crack in the world and you fall right through. iVardensphere are also Canadian (Alberta), which makes them double-awesome.