Friday, December 28, 2012

My writing space.

British-themed lamp: I'm a total Anglophile, and I like being surrounded by all things British.  This also explains...

Muse, Muse, everywhere: Matt Bellamy on my computer.  Muse mug to the left.  Muse poster (although you can't really see it here) above the desk.  When it comes to writing, this band has inspired me more than anything else, so it's no surprise that I surround myself with Muse paraphernalia when I write...even though I can't listen to them when I write (I need total silence when I write).

Caffeine: Turkey Hill diet iced tea is my drug of choice.

Bobcats mug: These saucy cats from a comic on The Oatmeal always make me smile.

Writing books: This is the book haul I got for Christmas (thank you, Santa!).  I got books on writing query letters, understanding police procedures (since this is essential for my current work-in-progress), how to write more in my spare time...oh, and a couple of Project Runway/Tim Gunn-related books, because I'm a total Runway junkie.  I always keep Tim Gunn's famous quote in my mind as I write: "Make it work!"

Fancy notepad: This Carolina Herrera notepad (part of the Neiman Marcus for Target collection) feels uber-luxe.  Heavy ivory paper edged in gold, cloth cover...when I write story-related notes on these pages, somehow it feels like my ideas are worth a million bucks.

Steinbeck quote: As a recovering perfectionist, this quote--"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good"--is absolutely vital for me to keep in mind while I write.

Quick hits.

I'm currently battling a case of the sads.  I have no idea why.

OK, I have some idea, but it doesn't account for all the sad.  I'm trying to figure out if I want it to work its way into a short story.  I'm wondering if I can handle that.  (Maybe with a Woodchuck in hand.  Or maybe not.)

I've also been in a very macabre mood lately.  A leftover Halloween decoration, which I hadn't even put up for Halloween, is now a permanent decoration in my home.  Bloody handprints that affix to the mirror.  They look great at my vanity.  (Nobody would ever guess that I write about monsters...)

I started listening to Alkaline Trio again, which I only do when I'm in very specific moods.  Translation: Watch the fuck out.

I feel like there are things in my brain, the makings of a short story or several, gently clawing to get out.  I don't have a sense of what exactly they're like yet--just that they're there.  Stay tuned.

For the new year, I need more/better routine for my writing.  I need to do less that isn't writing-related.  I want my head to feel like it's going to explode from the sheer amount of creativity/characters inside, not because the daily mundane chores are all heaped upon me and making me feel like I'm thisclose to a massive freak-out.

I need to daydream less and do more.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Goals and lessons.

To sum up my writing vacation: Got some great stuff written--just not enough of it.

I want to pour the next 2 months into finishing draft 1 of the first Emerson book.  The way I think I can do that is by doing it in smaller chunks that will add up over the next 7 weeks.  I'll need to write 4,200 words per week to meet my goal of just over 75,000 total words.  This is doable, but to do this:

* I will write every day.  Even if only for 10 minutes.  I can crank out 200 words in 10 minutes; I've done it plenty of times before.  If I do that every workday, that's already a minimum of 1,000 words a week.
* Some days I'll need to write for an hour to hour and a half.  I will make that time on at least 3 weeknights (or weekend days) per week.
* Some days, due to holidays/work/gym/etc, I may not be able to write more than 200 words.  That's OK.  I will give myself permission to have a life outside of writing, and I will stop beating myself up over every moment I am not writing.
* I will also balance my writing (and work, and other commitments) with healthy activities.  On a daily basis, I will do brief exercise (10 minutes) on days that I am not already working out, I will reach out to one friend or family member that I do not talk to regularly, and I will give myself at least one treat (examples: trying out a new lip gloss/eyeliner/etc I've had hanging out on the vanity, eating a healthy but decadent snack, wearing a favorite item of clothing, collaging, a quick at-home spa/body treatment, etc).

I cannot expect the book to get done on a vacation away from work.  I did it one year ago--with a book that I'm significantly revamping, but not until Emerson's done--but I cannot count on always being able to do that.  Not when work has me insanely busy and stressed.  No, I need a good portion of that time to relax and recharge (or hopefully, in the future, go to writers' conferences, etc); I cannot spend all my time away from work working on writing.  But I can make my writing time more consistent so that I don't have to attack it in large chunks.

So there are my goals and what I've learned--and I'm gonna stick to 'em.  Consider them my New Year's resolutions several days early.  By the time January 1 rolls around, these things should already be habits for me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quality over quantity.

I've been writing during my writing holiday.  The problem is, I can't seem to write enough.  The quality's not the issue--the quantity is.  I'm not near my goal word count for the first half of the week--not even close.  Yet I feel like I've made a couple pretty major breakthroughs and wrote some pretty good stuff.  (Not perfect stuff--that's another battle I'm fighting.  I cant aim for perfect in the first draft or I'll lose my mind.  I'm trying to aim for writing a solid foundation that I give some TLC to the second time around, during the rewrite, which can't happen until the full first draft is written.)

The other issue is that I'm all like OMG OFF FROM WORK, OFF FROM WORK!!!!!! and I just want to nap/read/internet fuckery/etc.  It's so tough to concentrate.  Today I'm doing some writing, then going to a spa appointment, and hoping I come back feeling a bit more centered and focused.  Then tomorrow and Friday, I'll plow through writing as much as I can...without sacrificing quality.  And I'll try to keep telling myself that if it takes me a little longer to write it well, it's worth it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Time well spent...?

I entered into today with such lofty expectations.  "Six thousand words today!  And every other weekday this week except for Wednesday!"  (That's my spa day, so I'm being nice to myself and cutting my goal down to 3,000 words for that day.)

Here's what really happened.

I was kept awake way too late last night.  Then I was awakened early, and I hate early o'clock.  But once I was alone in the house (that's when I write best), I padded out of bed, made myself some breakfast (BACON--the breakfast of writing champions!), sat down, and wrote 1,000 words in an hour.  Great start, right?

Yes and no.

Because I was, not surprisingly, fucking exhausted, I decided to take the siesta I'd planned for the afternoon a little earlier.  Like, say, 10:30 AM.  And somehow the 1.5-hour siesta turned into a 4-hour marathon nap.


I got up, showered, ate.  Read the baseball trade rumors.  Cooked dinner.  Cleaned up after dinner.  Then bonked myself on the head while putting something away, giving myself a nice little goose egg on my forehead.  WONDERFUL.

But maybe it actually knocked a little sense into me.

I didn't feel OK to write right away (I wasn't in the right frame of mind), so instead I did some writing-related things that I felt OK to do.  I joined a local writers' meetup.  I signed up for a free webinar, happening tomorrow, which can help me build me author website (which is on my to-do list).  I added a bunch of interesting writing-related blogs to my Google Reader.  I read an article about how breaking up work into 90-minute intervals (and no more than 3 of those intervals per day) can be really helpful when said work is writing.  I also found this article, which was really, really helpful and gave me a ton of good ideas for better handling my writing/work balance once I'm back in the office next week.  I painted my nails--watching chipped blue nails fly across the keyboard was irritating me, so I painted them a lovely shade of grayish lavender (Essie's "Chinchilly," if you wanna get specific).

I feel a little bit better about things.  (Except for my head--that's still throbbing.)

Tonight I'm going to try one 90-minute writing interval.  Tomorrow I want to do 2 to 3 of them.

But between tonight's writing interval and tomorrow's writing interval, I really need some freakin' sleep.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Some days I have the most incredible bursts of clarity.  This week has been full of those days.  I've had some big stuff on my mind, and I worked through a lot of it; I feel a little more settled and have gained a lot of important and interesting perspective.  I won't bore you with the details, but trust me when I tell you it's good for my writer brain to have this sort of clarity, to be able to move past things that would have ordinarily gotten under my skin--or worse, into my head.

I wrote a good chapter.  The best ones are the ones that write themselves.  That happened the other night, and it's a good sign.

Two more work days left until my next writer vacation.  Goal word count for vacation: 25,000.  That's if I make it to vacation without going insane (my workload's just a wee bit ginormous lately).  I ahve a lot of work ahead of get to the other lot of work I have ahead of me.  But it'll all be worth it when I have a finished first draft that I'm totally stoked to revise.  (Finishing may not happen until the end of December.  I may wait a couple weeks to write the final chapters of the book.  It would be a fantastic way to end the year...)

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I've been in a Mood lately.  With a capital M.

I know most of what's causing it.  Some of those causes are less irksome than others, although the way I handle them seems to be the same, and by that I mean that no matter what the cause, I'm not necessarily handling my Mood well.

I wish I could be as unaffected as I'd like to be.  But I can't, and for my writing, that's probably a good thing.  I need emotion to write.  Luckily, I'm full of emotion.

I am not always full of writing, though.  This week I've gotten down some real gems.  Solidified and fleshed out some new ideas.  Gotten a better sense of who some characters are, and how Emerson relates to them and is affected by them.

But I have not written a chapter this week.  I haven't been able to.  I need that to change.  I can carve out some writing time tomorrow, for sure, but will I feel solid enough to use it?  Will I be too tired, too cranky, too interested in reading, too tempted to lay in bed or the bathtub and daydream?

It's a good news/bad news thing when I daydream a lot.  It means my brain is fully engaged in the process of creating stories, and for a writer, that's a good thing.  But I need to focus on Emerson's story right now.  And when the life in my head sometimes seems more attractive than the life outside of my head, that's a red flag that something's not as right as it could be.

I'm an Aquarius.  Dreaming comes naturally to me.  But I've gotta find a break in the clouds big enough to allow me to write.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet Alec.

I'd just finished 2.5 hours of driving hell on Thanksgiving Day, avoiding accidents and traffic standstills and the temptation to purchase something glutenous at Dunkin' Donuts.  Then, finally, I was the passenger, and I popped Black Holes & Revelations into the CD player (what? I'm old-school).  In under 3 songs, I saw a new character in my head.  In a black leather jacket, smiling a slightly creepy smile.  I've seen this guy before; he was a muse for the story I wrote last year, the one I'll be turning into something else entirely (eventually--and not before the first two Emerson books are done).  But this time he went by a different name.  I knew just by looking at him that his name was Alec and that he was up to no good.

Which is precisely why I need to introduce him to Emerson.

It won't happen yet.  He'll show up in book 4.  But right now, he's already got some of my attention.  I'm still figuring out what he's all about, but I'm already intrigued. 

I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again: there is no more aptly-named band than Muse.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Fellow writers, has this happened to you?  You’re writing something, and everybody and their mother, and their mothers, and their brothers too, say they want to read it, that you must send it to them when it’s done.

So then you write this story and you edit the hell out of it, taking great pains to make it as perfect as possible (don’t worry, it’ll only be a few minutes before you inevitably look it over again and find something else you want to change).  Finally, though, you feel like it’s just perfect enough to share with eyes other than your own.  So you take that little masterpiece and you send it to those people who have been eagerly demanding to see what you spend night after night working on.  You don’t even ask them for feedback—you give ‘em a no-strings-attached “Here it is for you to read!”

And then all you hear is crickets chirping.

And eventually, you hear excuses.

You hear “I’ll read it tomorrow!”—which would be more convincing had they not said the same thing the day before, and the day before that.

After a while, you stop asking, and you’re left with a very important lesson: It’s important for a writer to be self-sufficient.

Getting feedback is always a good idea, but trusting your gut is equally important.  I had promised myself that, for the short story I was writing for a contest, I would be the only one who saw it before I submitted it.  I wanted to see how good my instincts are, how good of a story I could craft using only my own brain, with no outside opinions involved.  (For the record, I think I did a pretty good job.)

It’s a good thing I only wanted to deal with my own feedback and reactions before submitting the story; I’m pretty sure if I’d waited for anyone else to chime in, the deadline would have been passed long ago.  I’m glad I can trust my gut and be confident with what I send in.  Whether my gut is right or my gut is wrong matters less to me than having the confidence to submit something entirely on my own—although I do, of course, hope my gut is right, as that bodes well for all the other stories I have bouncing around my brain.

So far, I’ve gotten feedback about my story from only one person.  Luckily, it’s a person whose creative instincts I trust and whose opinions I really respect when it comes to this sort of stuff.  The story I sent him was rather dark and disturbing--the kind of thing that, if it doesn’t leave you unsettled at the end, either something’s wrong with you or something’s wrong with how I wrote the story.  He was, unsurprisingly, unsettled by it.  The last bit of his commentary to me: “That’s the mark of a good short story, though.  It sticks with you if it bothers you.”  

It stuck with him.  Mission accomplished.

My self-sufficient author brain is happy to not necessarily need this sort of reassurance, but also really, really pleased to receive it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New ideas.

Yesterday I got 2 new story ideas.  (I know, I know--I should be working on the current story.  But the "idea" part of my brain just won't quit, and I'm really grateful for that...)

When I think of story ideas during the daytime, I don't even write them down.  Instead, I sleep on them.  If I wake up the next morning and can still remember those ideas, and they still seem like strong ideas, then I start working on them more in my head.  If I can't remember them, or if the next day I think they suck, then I abandon them.  Simple as that.  If the idea can't withstand a night of sleep without me forgetting or poo-poohing it, then it wasn't a good or interesting idea in the first place.

But luckily, I woke up feeling awesome about the 2 new ideas, remembering everything I'd thought about them and more.  One idea is for a stand-alone book, the other for a series.  My brain's already on overdrive, developing more details of these ideas.  I'll probably begin a file for each of them today and start jotting down the details.  Not actually writing the stories yet (it's Emerson's time now, you know?)--just gathering details, snippets of character conversation I'm hearing in my head, plot points, etc...  I don't want to lose these little gems while I write Emerson.

One of the most comforting things for me as a writer is never feeling like I'm fresh out of ideas.  Because I never am.  Fresh out of time some days to write them, but never out of ideas.  :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Progress...sort of.

So many thoughts bouncing around my twisted little brain right now.

Trying not to feel guilty about a week where no writing happened.  We had no power for a few days, and the days we did have power, I worked crazy hours at ye olde day job, had to do crappy things like clean out a fridge/freezer full of not-good-anymore gluten-free food (boo!), etc.  I actually felt calmer and more centered during the storm and the days we didn't have power; now I'm all like "FUUUUUUUCK, I need to write, and I'm such a bad person for not writing!!!!"

To be fair, I did do some backing up of my Emerson writing (always a good idea), a bunch of reading/research that will absolutely help make the story even better, and, of course, I'm writing here.  I listened to more Muse when I could and am starting to hear "Survival" at a certain point in the book.  I've felt inspired, although not always in good ways or by good things. 

All of that is progress.  But none of it directly contributes to a larger word count.  Which makes me feel like it's simply not enough progress (but really, no matter how much I do, when will it ever be enough?).

I want to write a chapter before bed tonight.  But it's already after 4 AM.  My sleep was fucked up, which is why I'm up.  Somehow I feel both too manic and too sleepy to write.  But I'm going to give it my best shot anyway.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

When I'm on...

...I'm really, really on.

Last night I wrote 1,500 (or so) words.  Blogged about writing.  Read about writing.  Made notes about the book.  Drew inspiration from various sources.

Then late at night, as they always do, little rumblings started happening in my head, the seedlings of ideas beginning to sprout as I was trying to fall asleep.  And when I woke up today, I spent 45 minutes laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, working through the plot of book 2 in the Emerson series.  Got up, talked through the plot with the boyfriend (who was definitely impressed and saw exactly how book 2 would move the whole series forward in interesting ways), and sat down and wrote up that plot.

It feels really good to feel like I know what I'm doing.  And it feels good to be able to come up with an interesting, viable plot.

I think Muse's "Panic Station" played a role in this; I was hearing that song in my head just as, in my mind's eye, I saw the end of the last major scene in book 2...  Muse--so aptly named!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Writer stuff.

Sometimes work, life, and everything else gets the better of me...and my writing.  Sometimes I can't write as often as I'd like, due to time constraints, sleepiness due to busy days, etc.  But in order to progress as a writer even when I'm not diligently writing chapters every day, I have a list of "writer stuff" that I do regularly in order to keep the creative part of my brain sharp, primed, and ready to write as soon as I'm able to...

  • Write notes.  I have an electronic file of notes as well as a pink basket that I throw scrawled-upon scraps of paper and napkins into.  (I really love writing on napkins with ballpoint pen.  I have no idea why.)
  • Read good books.  Choose books that get you going--as in, inspire you, have a similar style to yours, make you think, etc.  Just take in how other published stuff is written.  You can't be a good writer if you're not a good reader.
  • Read writer stuff.  Find and read books, blogs, magazines, etc that deal with the writing process.  I made a Writing group in my Google Reader so I can keep up with all the writing blogs I find informative.  I subscribe to Writer's Digest.  I scour Amazon for helpful books on both writing and promoting books/promoting yourself as an author.  I also find articles about some of my favorite authors and read about their inspiration, writing process, etc.
  • Find inspiration.  It doesn't have to be directly related to writing.  There's nothing writing-related about Muse's The 2nd Law or Metric's Synthetica, but they get me in a writing state of mind by making me feel something--I don't even know how to describe the feeling.  It's like I'm on edge and more emotional.  My writing is better because of these influences.  I've also been reading a bunch of interviews with Project Runway's most recent winner, Dmitry.  In these interviews, he talks about having a dream and--after putting in a ton of hard work; staying calm, focused, and dedicated; and having a ton of passion for his work--he's done something huge that brings him one big step closer to accomplishing his dream.  Seeing people I admire succeed in their dreams inspires me to put in the hard work that I need to succeed in mine.
  • Stare at the wall.  I do a lot of this.  It's a benign thing to do when I'm mulling over story ideas.  Hey, at least I don't stare at people--that would start to freak people out.  Especially if they were to find out I'm writing about an assassin.
  • "What would Emerson do?"  I play this game a lot, especially when faced with situations I don't like.  I use it as inspiration--I figure out what Emerson would do.  I don't often do what Emerson would do, since she is an assassin and a liar, and I am not.  But I like thinking of how she'd handle situations--it's a good exercise that can also conjure up ideas for future chapters and storylines.
  • Interact with other writers.  By far, this is the thing I'm the shittiest at.  I'm only semi-social, and I need to be in the right frame of mind to be social (I'm definitely an introvert!).  But this is a goal of mine, this networking thing, and I'm publicly vowing to become better at it!  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Get Lost.

Know your characters inside and out, every article or book about fiction writing will tell you. There’s one way, above all others, that gets me to know my characters best, and that’s by answering this question: What would they have been like on the Lost island?

Now, I’m hesitant to write a main character unless I think they’d make a good character, and by that I mean they have to be complex and interesting with a backstory that’ll grab attention and a clear character evolution that ends in some sort of change. Emerson definitely fits that. But where would she fit on the island?

 • She would have followed Charlie and Claire into the woods and beaten the crap out of Ethan. She’d be sensitive to Claire’s desire to be a good mother and protect her baby.
 • She’d follow Sayid around, trying to work on what he’s working on. She’d be drawn to his protective nature, and the fact that they have each had a darker profession. He would understand that she’s not a normal girl and respect her for it.
• Sawyer would be a little frightened of her, but wouldn’t show it. Charlie would be intimidated by her and totally show it.
 • Jack would know she’s someone he could count on.
 • Hurley would ask her a bunch of awkward questions and she’d answer them honestly but gently. She’d want to keep in shape by working out, so she’d get Hurley up in the mornings to go on beach runs with her, or do water aerobics with her. He’d protest but secretly love it. She’d be sweet and encouraging to him.
 • Miles would eye her up very warily; he could almost smell her Finn profession on her.
 • She’d almost certainly try to off Ben, but in a way that the group didn’t know about. When Ben would thwart it, the two would become somewhat friends—never fully trusting one another, but always being respectful of the other’s abilities. She can also always tell if he’s lying, but she usually only uses that for her own information.
 • She wouldn’t be one of the Oceanic 6; she’d stay on the island. There’d be nothing for her to try to go back for.
 • Locke would be nonplussed by her; they’d be friends, and he’d accept her help on various projects around the island, maybe even a boar chase or two. He’d raise his eyebrows in a very Locke-like way when she wasn’t squeamish about boar blood.
• She’d have a friendship with Sun—two women who are not what they seem. But the guys would be more willing to accept Emerson as a participant in their adventures.
• In general, Emerson would be kind and helpful, but she’d also have a feral streak and be enthusiastic about going after the Others, for instance. She’d be known as smart and overall good, but not to be crossed because they’ve seen the look she gets in her eyes when they’re going after someone.
 • She’d have conflicts with Kate and Michael. She and Kate would be wary of one another, and she and Michael would have a few screaming matches. Walt would really take to her, though.
• Arzt was one of her clients, off-island. She’s also ran into (literally) Boone and Shannon at a party that she was at because one of Finn’s targets was there.
 • She’d secretly long for Richard Alpert, adoring the way he loved his wife.
 • Jacob touched her hand when she went to the police station after what her mother did to her father. He was acting as a counselor there.

To be continued...  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In a funk.

It's been a rough few days, and I don't even know why.

I can list a few reasons why.  It's not easy to write a book while working a demanding full-time job, for example.  Life's not easy to handle when I get glutened and/or dairied and, as a result, in addition to the stomach-sickness, bloat up so that I appear to be 7 months pregnant.  (I'm not pregnant.  I'm also not fat.  But if I get unintentionally glutened or dairied, I could be mistaken for either pregnant or fat.)  Write a book?  Hahaha, such a lofty goal.  First, let's try to fit my enormous stomach into my jeans!

The new Muse album came out this past week.  I've been listening to it nonstop.  I can't listen to the whole thing straight through.  It's too much, too emotional, too heavy...too much to handle all at once.  It's more proof that Matthew Bellamy is a genius--he creates stuff that make people feel this way, music that almost borders on making people feel too much.  I wonder if eventually I'll treat this album like an Elliott Smith album: So, so very good, but I simply can't handle listening to it because it's just too much to bear.

I have to get myself into some sort of rhythm, some type of schedule, to write more Emerson.  But days like today, it's tough to even brush my hair or take a shower.  I did both, but it wasn't easy, and it took much more time than usual; I've also spent a lot of time today staring at the walls.  I don't even know what I'm thinking about in those moments; the thoughts fly by so quickly, and I'm rarely able to catch one as it sails past.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A finished product.

No, no, no--don't get excited.  I didn't finish the first Emerson story (yet).

But what I did finish was a short story.  I'd heard about a Writer's Digest short story contest whose deadline is in November, and I've been wanting to enter.  But I'm not usually a short story writer--oh no, I get these grandiose plans not just for books, but for 7-book series!  I don't have any short stories on hand that I could just submit.  So I had to write one.

The idea came to me the other morning.  "She likes to win," I heard the voice in my head telling me.  But I didn't know who it meant, or what was being won.  But soon enough, I did.  My brain sorted it all out and I wrote down a bunch of notes.  And then today I glanced at those notes and wrote the story in under 2 hours--yes, that's including editing.

I'm happy with the story.  It's very, very me.  Edgy and twisted and weird and focused on the things I write about best. 

Submitting this story for the contest is not about winning.  It's about having an idea, writing it well, and creating a finished product that I'm proud of.  I've done that, so in my mind, I've already won.  If I win any prizes, well, that's just the icing on the cake.

For all the shit I constantly give myself for never seeming to write enough, that inner critic is silenced today.  Today I did enough, and I'm proud.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Finally hit 30,000 words tonight.  Actually, more like 30,200.  Considering how crazy life has been lately, I'm damned proud of that.  And I loved the chapter I wrote to get me over that milemarker.  It came out of nowhere.  Often, the best ideas do.  I sat down to write one type of chapter, and instead I wrote something completely different.  I'm especially glad--since I'd been feeling that a couple of my recent chapters were not up to par--that this one hit the mark.

Tonight, I can go to bed feeling like I accomplished something.  I'm already looking forward to writing the next 10,000 words.  Here's hoping it takes me less time to make it from 30K to 40K than it did to make it from 20K to 30K!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tim Gunn is a wise, wise man.

Tomorrow, Tim, I promise!  And over the weekend, too!  Forgive me--today I was a good girl and worked out; yesterday I got sucked into Wegmans, a store it's impossible to be in for less than 2 hours; and over the weekend, I was out of town and didn't have a spare moment to think, let alone write.  But I'll write tomorrow, I promise!  As soon as Project Runway's over, anyway.  ;)

Friday, September 14, 2012

On shitty first drafts.

Last night I was doing some writing--yes! Some writing! Finally!--and while many of the paragraphs I was reading over were pretty good (not perfect, mind you, but first-draft-pretty-good), a few lines/paragraphs/etc gave me pause.

It was then that I realized that, at least in part, I have a bit of a shitty first draft.  Not totally shitty--not at all!--but partially.

I allowed myself a minute to freak out about that.  Perfectionists don't dig shitty first drafts!  And then I sighed with relief.

For once, I'm just like everyone else.  Every other writer, that is.  What writer do you know of who spits out a perfect, publishable novel during the first-draft process?  Yeah, I don't think there are any.  Which means I'm in damn good company with all the other writers who don't love absolutely everything about draft numero uno and will be engaging in a rewrite--hell, probably more than one.

Nobody has never gotten published because they have a shitty, or even partially shitty, first draft.  But they have not gotten published because of a shitty query letter, shitty editing, a totally shitty plot, shitty characters, a shitty job marketing their manuscript and themselves to potential agents and publishers...etc.  So I'm safe...for now.

Just gotta keep my eye on the current goal, which is to write and get the novel finished.  Then I can go back, edit, rewrite, make it pretty.  I do that all the time in my day job; that's nothing new for me.  And--eventually, when the right time comes--it will be an absolutely joy* for me to do it for my own writing.

* That's what I say now, but mark my words: I'll be clawing my eyes out and ruing the day I dreamed up this series.  At least part of the time I'm editing, anyway.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

RIP VII: I'm taking on "Peril the First"!

When I heard about RIP VII (the RIP is short for Readers Imbibing Peril), I knew I had to participate.  As a writer who loves to create monstrous characters, this is a great way for me to get some new inspiration.  The purpose of RIP VII is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified as mystery, horror, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, supernatural, or other similar genres.  The goals are to enjoy what you're reading/watching, and to share that fun with others.  So in the spirit of sharing, here's what I'll be indulging in:

Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay
The Dark Half, Stephen King
Coraline, Neil Gaiman
Ten Great Mysteries, a compilation of stories by Edgar Allan Poe

Full disclosure: I've read the top two before.  But they're such great writing inspiration for me that I'm gonna read them again, dammit.  I've had this Poe compilation kicking around since middle school, so I figure it's high time I read that--and I've always wanted to check out Gaiman's stuff, so I think this is a great opportunity to do so!

Are you participating in RIP VII?  What stories will you be reading that go bump in the night?  :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm going to love what I write...tomorrow.

I wrote a chapter today, but it sucked.  I don't know whether to be ticked because it sucked, hopeful that there are some gems I can pull out of it to use in a future chapter that doesn't suck, or proud of myself because I worked an extremely stressful 9.5-hour day plus wrote 2 articles for another project and still managed to write a chapter.

Or maybe I'll look at the chapter tomorrow and think it's not that bad.  Maybe it really isn't that bad.  Maybe it's just the negative energy of too much non-novel-related work that's poisoning my viewpoint.  Maybe I just need sleep and a set of fresh eyes.

My brain feeling fried and the rest of me feeling stressed and exhausted makes me unnervingly hateful.  And my own words are one of the worst things I can ever hate.

Tomorrow my goal is to write something--a chapter, hell, even a paragraph--that I love.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fashionable inspiration.

Just a little something to keep in mind--and keep me smiling--as I write...

Just one chapter.

It was only a chapter. Just one chapter. But last night, I finally wrote...for the first time in 2 weeks.

Work's been beyond insane. And the house has been messy. Both of those things can contribute to me having an inability to write.

Every day I remind myself that what happens outside of work hours is actually the most important stuff. That stuff is what satisfies me personally and creatively. I have to remember to not lose all my steam in the 9 hours of the day that happen before I can get to the stuff that really keeps me going.

The house got quite the cleaning over the weekend, making Labor Day an aptly-titled holiday. Vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets, and a total overhaul of the kitchen. I can now actually find all my baking stuff! Now I can write...while noshing on freshly baked gluten-free cookies, brownies, etc.

Just as a little added fuel/inspiration, last week my friend Joe mentioned me in an article he'd written.  I'm grateful--in addition to reminding me that OMG MUSE ALBUM NEXT MONTH!!!!!, his article also reminded me that I am, in fact, a writer, and that it's time to start acting like one again.

Last night, I wrote. Tonight, I'll write again. Seems overly simplified, but that's exactly how the book will get done.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ups and downs.

On a good note: The kindness of people never ceases to amaze me.  I rarely have occasion to ask a favor of a perfect stranger, but last week I did, and the results couldn't have been better.  I sought some help about paraplegics--I'm not a paraplegic expert, and here I am trying to write a story character who's a paraplegic.  So I made a little pitch and asked for anyone who understood the day-to-day life and challenges of paraplegics to reach out to me.  Four people did--from doctors to nurses to paraplegics themselves.  And they were not only all amazingly helpful, but really, really sweet people.  The fact that these four strangers reached out to help an unknown writer with some information for her first book just because...well, it warms my usually cold little heart.  ;)  I want to find a way to pay the kindness forward.  I'll think of something, I'm sure.

On a less good note: I've had zero time to write lately.  Shit just keeps going wrong and distracting me from writing.  Like yesterday, the air conditioner started spewing water out the bottom of it, forcing me to abandon my writing and clean up the mess.  Or over the weekend, when I was awakened from sleep, couldn't get back to sleep except for an hour and a half before I was supposed to wake up, and then--after a long but fun day of walking around the zoo--I had to take an uber-long nap because I was freakin' exhausted and couldn't keep my eyes open, thus killing the writing time I'd set aside for myself.  And work's been more insane than its usual insanity, with longer hours and more stress.  I try to take time to do novel-related stuff every day, but...sometimes it still feels like I've gotten a big ol' F on the day.

Today I did some writing--well, I took some story notes during an epically long and irrelevant meeting.  I got struck with some inspiration.  The problem?  The notes were for book 4 (I'm writing what I believe will be a 7-book series), not book 1, which is the one that really needs the words right now.  Sigh.

Tomorrow, goddammit, I am going to write.  And I am going to write a lot.  Here's hoping life doesn't get in the way.

Monday, August 27, 2012

For my fellow writers...

This is brilliant.  Also a bit frightening.  And definitely good for a chuckle or several.  Enjoy!  :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

On Lost and Dexter.

I make both obvious and subtle references in the first Emerson novel to my two favorite television shows: Lost and Dexter.  In general, my barometer for "Is this a good character?" is "Would this character work well on Lost?"  I've always felt that Emerson would (I bet she and Kate would have had plenty to talk about!), although ironically, one of my favorite characters ever (from both book and screen) is Dexter Morgan, and he'd be a horrible addition to that crazy island.  Had he been let loose on that island, there's a good chance we'd have barely gotten to know Sawyer, Sayid, and Ben Linus!

I've been re-reading a lot of the Dexter books (yes, Dexter was a book character first, and Jeff Lindsay writes him brilliantly) because while he and Emerson share one major characteristic--they both kill people who are typically seen as "bad guys"--they're very, very different.  Emerson feels very little compulsion to do this; with Dexter, it's pretty much in his blood.  Emerson does it for logical reasons--mainly money, sometimes revenge, and also because she's eventually blackmailed into it--and Dexter, for the most part, does it because killing's what he does, because his Dark Passenger compels him to.

Somehow, reading something that constantly helps me see what Emerson is not is also helping me understand even better what and who she is.

Things that go bump in the night.

Gotta love those ideas that go bump in the night, the ones that show up like little monsters emerging from under the bed at 2:30 AM.  I may sound ungrateful, but I'm really not at all; I'd much rather be inspired now and sleep-deprived later than well-rested tomorrow but devoid of any interesting ideas.

My new (and aggressive) goal for the book: Draft 1, finished by Halloween.  I currently have slightly over a third of it done, and if I write another 8,000 words per week, I'll have it done before Halloween for sure.  Doable, but not easy.  Just gotta stay focused, motivated, and energized.

Cherry Vanilla Pepsi Next, you're totally gonna be my new BFF for the next two and a half months.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"What's a nice girl like you..." v2.0.

On Day 4 of my writing vacation, here I sit waiting for muffins to be finished baking and laundry to be done in the dryer.

While Googling info about roofies.

You heard that right--roofies.  Because my character needs to get her hands on some, and I don't know enough about 'em to write about 'em.  Case in point: I'd originally hit up Google searching for "rufies."  Yep, I didn't even know how to spell it. 

This is why I love the internet: In under 10 minutes, not only did I get the correct spelling of roofies, but I've also quickly become an expert in them.  Ahhh, the things a nice girl will do in order to get all the information she needs to write her novel!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's donut time!

I recently started bribing myself to write.  Every time I reach a word count milestone, I'm giving myself a fun little gift in celebration.  I just reached the 20,000 words milestone, and my gift this time is gluten-free jelly and custard donuts.  I've been craving them during my writing lately, and soon they will be mine!  (They're already ordered and paid for, so I'll be watching my mailbox...)

The next bribe gift?  At 30,000 words, I'm gifting myself a Dexter coffee mug.  And then at 40,000 words (my estimated halfway point--or maybe even a bit more than halfway) I'm giving myself a pretty labradorite ring.  As if making good progress on the novel wasn't reward enough, now I'll have something tangible--and in this case, also edible--to remind me of my achievements.

I'm already trying to figure out what my prize will be for finishing up the novel at 75,000 to 80,000 words.  It'll have to be something good, 'cause that'll be a hell of an achievement.  Luckily, I have plenty of--but hopefully not toooooooo much--time to figure it out...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Writing vacation

I’m on a writing vacation.

I took the week off from work to write.  It’s something that I’ve done before.  But this time, I’m doing it differently.

I’ve made no goals this time around, hitched my heart to no expectations.  I am going to write.  That’s what I’m going to do, and I’ll see where and how far it takes me.  By definition, any progress is progress—and I’m of the mind that all progress is good.

I’m mixing the writing with regular exercise (walking to keep me active as well as help me think), reading (because a writer must also be a reader), and filling my eyes and ears with inspiring things: Muse, reruns of Lost, wooded trails that lead to who knows where.  No distractions like email or internet that isn’t directly linked with a writing-related need (the horror, I know!).

This week, I’m going to kick some ass. 

What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?

That’s what I feel like people are thinking every time they ask me about what I’m writing and I actually answer honestly.  “Well, I’m writing about this assassin…”

Inevitably, the other person’s eyebrows raise.

“I mean, she’s an assassin, but not really an assassin.  She’s kind of blackmailed into it…”

The incredulous look gets more noticeable.

“She’s actually a really nice girl.  Not exactly your typical assassin…”

By now there’s usually a few nods or mm-hmms to accompany the incredulousness.

“And I’m learning a lot because, well, she has to kill people, and I have no idea how to kill anyone, so, you know, research…”

By that point in the conversation I’m usually getting a full-on Look.  The person’s sizing me up, taking in my small frame and colorful nails and bright eyes.  I don’t look like the type of person who’d be writing about assassins.  I look like I’d be writing about something, well, nicer.

But I’m not, and I never have been.

I love the dualistic nature of people.  And I revel in my own two-sidedness.  By day, I’m one thing.  When I write late at night, I become another.  Someone better acquainted with life’s little shadows and what’s lurking within them.  In my opinion, the best people and characters are exactly that way.

I love writing about monsters, but I firmly believe that very few people are fully monstrous, and I believe most characters written as being fully monstrous would be largely unbelievable.  My favorite characters are the delightfully dualistic ones, the ones who keep you on your toes—the Severus Snapes and Benjamin Linuses of the world.  Hell, I’d even argue that Hannibal Lecter is not a fully monstrous character; he, too, is two-sided (he has a real soft spot for Clarice, and he can be surprisingly human and empathetic when dealing with her).

There’s part of Emerson—my character—that is monstrous.  This thing inside her, laying dormant; that anger, that fear, and what it causes.  There’s a bigger part of her that’s filled with love.  But that’s not the interesting part, is it?  You want to hear about how she goes bump—or BANG!—in the night.

You don’t want to read about kittens and rainbows and cotton candy.  You want the blood, grit, tears, scratches and bite marks.  Don’t worry—you’ll get ‘em.

So what’s a nice girl like me doing writing a story—a series—like this?  Indulging my own dualistic nature for your reading pleasure.  I’m sure the little monster inside you will enjoy it.