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.
the last two weeks i have been editing the ever-loving-crap out of my YA fantasy, GINGERBREAD. So much editing that my eyes have gone buggy. The other day I met with my writers group and opened Ginger, and couldn’t even read my own typing. My eyeballs revolted.
I revised around 20K, if revising means re-writing whole chunks because you (and your awesome CP) came up with a plot bunny that strengthens the story and makes it more original, and so I am pretty thrilled with where it’s at, except for the fact that looking at it is giving me a twitch.
So, I took yesterday off, and will go back into the revision later today. For now, though, I’m playing ME: Andromeda and working on a logline for my Adult Fantasy, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER. Anyway, it’s interesting to think about plot bits and what would sound cool in a logline, but what is really hard to get in a logline. Here’s the logline I have so far:
In the Land of Foehn, alliances are forged through the bespelling of Princesses and the promise of Happily Ever After. When the Princess of Gael goes missing from her forest shrine, and is later found wandering the bank of the Black Pond, Diego Abello, servant to the Queens, is questioned. When his lover, the blood witch Markus Crowe, is framed for the crime, Diego must risk not only his life, but the honour of his family line in order to protect Markus from a power more dangerous than the Queens.
Here’s the stuff I can’t figure how to get into the logline (yet):
Markus is a somnambulist, and works with his partner to put the Princesses to sleep to wait for their Princes.
Markus is kind of in love with Diego, Diego is mostly ignoring his feelings, and lover is kind of a strong word although also not.
They’re both in love with Annabel.
Markus is also a faerie, and it’s his mother that harmed the Princess, and his mother that Markus needs to be afraid of/is afraid of.
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.
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.
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.
*Because I worked my ever-loving bananas off and I am talking hours/day – I took a week off of work and didn’t see the outdoors, but I made the book the best I can, and I subbed it off and whatever happens now happens, but i can say for sure that this was all achievement: unlocked, and what not. Because. Yeah. It’s a good feeling to work your ass off and have something to show for it. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this focussed on anything in my whole life. And for those of you that know me, you know I’m an old lady – so. Go team me and what not. If there’s extra Pitchwars news, I’ll share. But for now, I’m kind of feeling amazeballs (it doesn’t hurt that I met a new CP, and she’s great).
So, this, is kind of how I am feeling right now (also known as: my day in rockstars)
I did take some breaks, though, and played through Last of Us again, which is like, one of my happy places (not necc. all of the Joel Killing Bloodshed stuff, but because it’s the video game version of The Road, and it’s complex and has great storytelling and has a great father/daughter relationship at its core and you should go play it right now), not the least of which is because (and i have no shame) Joel is so damn hot.
And, so, in an homage to my Joel, and because of my love for The Road, I’m going forth with The Mourning Wolves, my not-a-werewolf monster/transformation novel about Ash and her sidekick Fig, and the adventures they have in Northern Alberta. My hands hurt from typing 10 hours/day, but I’m kind of excited, too.
for starters, here’s the link back to all of the fabulous pitchwar participant’s bios. And when is say Fabulous, I mean this kind of Fabulous:
A bit about me:
I have been writing since the dawn of time (since I’m kind of old, this is almost a true statement). I have always written specfic of some kind or another and didn’t realize until I was well into my thirties (true story), that I mostly read specfic… I always assumed I just read (wait for it!) Books!
Seriously, it didn’t even dawn on me. Amusingly, my favourite book of all time (meaning childhood-me) isn’t specfic, it’s The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton). I actually think there should be a club for writers who point to that book as their first source of writing inspiration. We’d easily fill up a sports stadium (go sports!). As an adult, my favourite is The Road (Cormac McCarthy), which can be argued as non-specfic, but it’s mostly dystopic, so I say it fits. It’s ok if you don’t agree. I support. But even if you are all like “dude, so not specfic”, you can’t argue that this, below, is an outstanding bit of writing:
No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.
I mean, come on already! gah. Confession time: I like words. My biggest challenge is information delivery: I tend to under-explain and am working on finding the right balance so readers are interested and intrigued, but also not lost in the narrative. I craft a mean sentence.
EBM/Industrial. A smattering of witchhouse, doom/drone and apparently the score to The Last of Us
I have an occasional vampire problem
All of the quizes point to Hufflepuff. I am 100% on board with this
I currently write YA novels and adult short stories. Usually fantasy (urban/real world kind of stuff) or horror. My most recent short story was published in The Dark. I’ve had a few others published, mostly back in 1804 (because I’m kind of old, remember?), some of which received honourable mentions in the Years’ Best Fantasy & Horror. I’ve had the honour of being a CP/Beta reader helper-person for some pretty amazing books. I’m bad with commas. Good with characters.
The novel I’m subbing for pitchwars (Gingerbread) is a loose (as a goose) YA re-imagining of Hansel & Gretel. It’s about Blood cults and nephilim and inspired by the Voynich Manuscript (kind of?). It’s about birthright and protection and loss and sacrifice and flowers and mostly it’s about a brother & sister who went into the woods and into a spooky house and badness ensued. Warning: it kind of has a vampire in it. Fo’shizzle. But I promise it’s a good thing.
I tend to write books around makeshift families. In Gingerbread, my main character is in a pretty heavy relationship with her dude bestie, but it’s not romantic. Technically it’s queer-platonic, but as I re-write this draft my MC’s sexual identity is shifting (she’s somewhere in the grey-ace spectrum), so I can’t say for sure what it’ll be at the end. But I can tell you that as of RIGHT NOW:
she won’t get the boy. If she gets anyone it’s a girl. Also there’s no real getting. More like unexpected crush-time. Her name is Douglas.
It’s still not a romance. It’s not even a love story. Do not get your hopes up. :) Unless you count the queerplatonic relationship she’s in with her bi-male-bestie as romantic, WHICH I DO!
In case you’re curious about my writing, I present this gem from when I was in Grade 2:
“Poet!” I screamed his name, a betrayal because he was the last person I wanted. The gloom lifted. A silvery haze wove through the trees. I was alone. Panic. I dug the vial out from the pile of snow, turning it over and over in my hand. Cold had thickened the liquid, it was sluggish and heavy. I unfurled the piece of paper. Read it out loud, or tried, my voice an inaudible tremble of sound and fear. I pressed the paper into a rough bit of fallen wood, holding it open with my thumb and forefinger.
SEVEN FOR A SECRET.
An address nowhere near the Blood House. The address was vaguely familiar, calligraphy done in a steady, specific hand. Curl and knife-sharp, lines so thin they didn’t end, but disappeared into the white of the paper, fading away.
No time. No deadline. An impossible invitation with no expiry date. Now or later. Now or never. I opened my mouth and stretched my jaw. Something cracked and something peeled away. A half-formed scab, a bit of dried blood. I pushed my tongue into my cheek and winced.
No time. No deadline.
But how soon is Now? Do I go. Stay. Fight, when I’m so tired from crying?
Sometimes his name was prophecy.
Hrm, I also realize in this piece I need to fix some continuity. Yay for blog posts. Also, tense. ugh!
in case you were wondering, and it’s really ok that you weren’t, I discovered a major source of my word-Smithing* influences last week:
I’m so glad you came
I’m so glad you remembered
To see how we’re ending our last dance together
Reluctantly cautiously but
Prettier than ever I really believed
That this time it’s forever
But Christmas falls late now, flatter and colder
And never as bright as when we used to fall
(Last Dance: the Cure)
She walked out of her house and looked around
At all the gardens that looked back at her house
Like all the faces that quiz when you smile
And he was standing at the corner
Where the road turned dark a part of shiny wet
Like blood the rain fell black down on the street
And kissed his feet she fell
Her head an inch away from heaven
And her face pressed tight
And all around the night sang out like cockatoos
“There are a thousand things”, he said
“I’ll never say those things to you again”
And turning on his heel he left a trace of bubbles
Bleeding in his stead
(Like Cockatoos: the Cure)
*see what I did there? :D
I don’t listen to the Cure in regular rotation anymore, mostly because I listen to music on my phone and am too lazy to update it much, if ever, so it’s mostly the same three hundred William Control songs and a smattering of other things like Cygents and iVardensphere and yanno, whatever else shows up on shuffle. Like Matt Good, sometimes.
I hadn’t been to a big, full-on stadium show in years. Maybe the last was Nine Inch Nails? Maybe? But sitting there, with the lights and the dancing drunkos, and the crowd that was easily almost the same age as me, listening to Robert Smith sing exactly how he should, it hit me.
Influence. In the way words form. In images. In my obsession with using winter imagery and strange combinations of words and structure. The sadness, or longing. Hopeful loneliness. And the cold.
I’m still on vacation, but now it’s a staycation. My feet are sore and swollen and angry for walking 70KM in as many days. I bought art and ate delicious food and snuck down dark alleys and walked with Fantomes, and I bought art. Invested in art, actually. And today I had hipster coffee and hipster toast and am looking out over the city and the sky is all bluebirds.
I’m still working on Gingerbread, it’s not the first draft anymore but technically it changed direction when I wasn’t looking so the bits I’m writing are first draft. I’m trying to prep for pitchwars, because any goal is a good goal and the experience of it will be super good for me, I think. I’m also better at deadlines: left to my own devices I’d probably play nothing but Last of Us because OMG that game broke my little tiny heart (I am, however, listening to the soundtrack/score RIGHT NOW. If you like moody/sad instrumental I strongly recommend).
Anyway, here’s a snippet of what i wrote today. I don’t think it’s right,
A ball of pain so sharp it may as well have been made of thorn or razor wire, spread through my gut. “I am not missing anything. I’m just trying to duck the bullshit coming out of your mouth before it sticks because as of right now, I don’t think any amount of soap would wash your crap off. Seriously. You ramble on about nothing, lie to me about the Crimson, about yourself. If I asked you what colour the sky was, you’d probably tell me cotton candy because you think I’m idiot enough to fall for whatever sweet comes out of your mouth.”
too many “mouths” mostly, and the end doesn’t stick (ha) the way i want it to, but it’s a start.