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.