Saturday, December 28, 2013

Novel Series 12: Face Snatcher

In the beginning there was light. There was likely also some kind of really loud booming sound, but mostly there was light. Anyway. The following novel holds the title of being the first in a thirteen book series. It also holds the title of being the second NaNo2013 novel I completed on Nov. 17th. It and its partners will be the ONLY series I write that goes over 4 books (I hope). It and its partners will also be the ONLY crime fiction I write and the only fiction I write that occurs completely in the real world with no fantasy or sci-fi elements whatsoever. I hope. Here we go:

Genre: Crime Fiction set in the real world.

Word Count: 80,323 (probably a bit big for crime fiction but considering I'm a fantasy writer writing crime fiction, not danged bad)

Prompt: So, funny story. Back about three years ago now a friend I made through FaceBook (Cassie, I'm looking at you ;) ) directed me to this video about a girl who went around chopping people's arms off then potted them like flowers for a garden until she chopped her own arm off. It was Japanese animation style and I probably couldn't find the video if I really tried. Anyway, my first thought was: What if someone did that with people's faces? And thus, Face Snatcher was born. It took six months before I knew who the detectives were and another two years before I finally sat down to write the thing. Yeah.

Main Characters: Detective James Reeves, Detective Mia Liu, and the Face Snatcher.

Minor Characters of Note: Chief Patterson, Lucy McGregor, Michael Brown, Catherine Taylor, and Sarah Clark AKA victim number 3. Special mentioned to Ceria as well as David Jones.

Summation: Someone's going around taking people's faces and it's up to James and Mia to track that someone down.

High Points: Brown. He's that character who adds the comic relief to the book but is way useful besides that. You know something's going to happen to him in a later book because I always treat the funny ones horribly.

Low Points: James having a kind of mental breakdown about being under so much pressure. It's his and Mia's first really big important case so he doesn't want to screw it up.

The World: Ours, as it is, right now. No magic, no future tech weaponry or hovering cars. Exactly as it is, right now.

Memorable Lines:

“He took her eyes carefully too, I’m not seeing any kind of scraping on her supraorbital process, lacrimal, zygomatic, maxilla, palatine, oh, there’s a bit on the sphenoid but that could be natural structure. I hate to say it but he’s good.” McGregor said.
“Um, I don’t know how to spell most of that.” Mia muttered. (Neither did I Mia, don't worry)

"...Anyway, the optical nerve is severed pretty deep. So he pulled the eye out as much as possible before making a single, clean cut with a pair of scissors. I only know that because the nerve looks kind of pinched here in the left eye. It’s sliced a few times in the right so he switched tools after taking the right eye and realizing that a scalpel wouldn’t cut it. Er, bad pun, sorry..." (I had to take a break to laugh at that. Ha.)

“The work emails can be hacked into by a 12 year old in one hour. I refuse to have anything sent to me through that email but ads for Viagra.” Brown said.

“Hi yourself, Reeves. They’re just about done with the pictures so you won’t really have time to interview the bartender if you want to stick around for me cutting off these bandages. I’m pretty sure we all know what’s not going to be under them though.” McGregor said with a frown.
“What a brilliant ray of sunshine you are.” Mia muttered.

“It’s a guy this time.” McGregor said.
“I see that. Our unsub must be strong. This victim must have bench pressed cows for fun.” James said. (He totally didn't realize he made a joke, btw)

“Triple B is warming up to you. I’m pretty sure Hell has frozen over.” Mia returned with a grin.
“Actually it doesn’t start snowing in Michigan until December.” James told her. (OMFG James. How are you so oblivious to these jokes? Ha)

“Welcome to my lair, leave your souls at the door and come on in.” Brown told them.

"Yeah. I need coffee but don’t want to work that stupid machine in the staff room. I swear it hates me or something.” Mia said.
James chuckled and she huffed at him.
“It’s an inanimate object and feels no emotion. It can’t hate you.” James told her.

“Reeves?” Brown asked through the door.
“Liu.” Mia said.
“Oh, better. Come on in.” Brown returned.

“I know you don’t like talking to people much, I mean, okay, that came out wrong.” James started.
McGregor smirked so quickly that James was sure he had imagined it.
“It’s okay. I’m known as the building’s bitch. The other meaning of Triple B is “Big Bumbling Bitch” seeing as I’m tall, don’t like talking to idiots so sometimes answer in monosyllable and, well, bitch is obvious.” McGregor said.
“That’s just not nice.” James muttered.
“You learn to deal or you jump off a bridge. Anyway, what else did you want?” McGregor questioned.

“Coffee?” a waitress asked with a smile.
“Can you set up an IV drip of it for me?” Mia questioned.

“Sorry about that. We got called out right after I got off the phone with you.” James said.
“No problem-o. Is that a laptop you’re holding wrongly?” Brown asked.

“Just do me a favor: don’t call tech support if your computer randomly restarts. That’ll be me. Just let it go, okay?” Brown asked.

“Tell me next time, okay? No matter how much I’m sulking or how upset I look, just tell me what you’re thinking so we can work together. I should have been there with you.” James said.

“Yeah, date night with my girlfriend, Annie. We were going to watch some slasher films then make out.” McGregor said.
(McGregor leaves)
“Okay, what part are you confused about?” James asked.
“The slasher movies. I didn’t think someone in our field would watch something gory, you know?” Mia returned.

“Focus on the case. My love life or lack thereof isn’t important right now. Besides, she’s not my type.” James told them.

“Triple B is warming up to you, Brown is calling you Boss and Taylor hates you. I think you’re having a good couple of months, all things considered.” Mia told him.

“You’re not even worthy of your badge, Liu. You’re lucky that you were partnered with Reeves or you’d have been fired years ago.” Taylor told her.

“Thanks, Brown, really, thank you. You’re amazing. I don’t know how everyone else around here gets things done.” James said.
He meant it. For a long moment all that came over the line was heavy metal music. James strained to listen to the song but could catch none of it. Brown chuckled over the line a moment later.
“Boss, if my head gets any bigger I won’t be able to get out of my office. But thanks, it’s nice to hear that once in a while. If you need a favor outside this case, let me know.” Brown said.

“Yo, yo, Taylor, chicky, way to be a bitch. Ya know, I don’t like people messing with people I like and I like the Boss and the Bossette. You’re gunna get a call from the Pats-man in 2.5 minutes I’m sure. Just long enough for her to look over the video feed I put on her desktop.” Brown said.

“He thinks he’s a kind of God. That he’s entitled to collect what he wants because he is who he is.” James uttered.
“Yeah, that’s terrifying. God complexes are the worst.” McGregor added.

“Who dares disturb the Dragon?” Brown called out.
“Boss and Bossette.” James said before he could stop himself.

“You need a shirt and I know you started storing backups at your desk. That and it would be nice to have a bullet proof vest just in case the unsub attacks either of us with a TASER again.” James said.

“You are one sick man.” Mia muttered.
“I’m just a simply collector.”

“Simply lovely.” (the killer) uttered.
“I hope you remember my face. Because I’m the one who’s going to make sure you never see the light of day again.” McGregor said.

“You’re an adrenaline junkie.” James told her.
She grinned at him then took another sip of her coffee.
“And you’re an oblivious neat freak who won’t trade up partners because no one else knows or will bother to learn how to deal with you. So, you up for doing something like that again?” Mia questioned.

"Takes all kinds."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Is it June yet?

So I had this plan, see. It consisted of writing 14 novels in 2014 to go along with the 13 novels I wrote in 2013. Details here of course. But as some of us might know life doesn't always go as planned.

I work for a start up company. There are four of us trying to get these products that are really awesome into the world. I've been doing it for about six years now and haven't been paid for it in over a year.

Now you're thinking: Renna, why don't you just quit? Well, that would be the easy way out and I'm a stubborn git. I haven't quit because despite hating driving myself deeper into debt: I love my job, my boss has become a father figure to me, and I believe in the products. I believe that they're great and if someone would just take a damned well chance on them we could make improvements to the markets the products are in.

With that being said: the company can't keep going the way it's going and we've decided that if we can't make it by June then we're shutting it down. My boss is in no way a quitter and he didn't even want to give it up but his wife is right: we can't keep going the way we're going.

Which means if we don't make it by June I'll have to start looking for real work. If you clicked on the link in the first paragraph you'll have seen that my goal for this year was to write two books a month, finishing my crime fiction series in June. I'm not 100% sure if I can pull it off as giving that final push for work might cut into my writing time. If it does, when June does come and if we're not getting cash flow, then finding a job definitely might cut into writing time.

So, life has happened. The unexpected came up again and I'm left trying to plan for something I'm not entirely sure will or will not happen. I could be an optimist and say that with our combined efforts the final push will pay off but small business rearing in this economy, eh, not so much. I could be the pessimist and say that I'm prepared to start looking for a new job in June but the reality is that I'm not. I don't do well with change.

I really don't like not being able to plan for the future. I don't like that the plans I did have for my writing year have gone awry. I don't like a lot of things that have happened the past decade or so of my life but like always I'll have to deal. I'm kind of sick of dealing but hey, crap happens. We wipe it up and move on.

The thing is though that no matter what happens I'll always be a writer. It's the one constant that will not change and really, it's the only thing keeping me sane. But even that hasn't helped all that much.

This month has been exceptionally tough as I haven't been writing as much as I normally do (I like to take a month off in December) and I found out the above news last week. I'm conflicted on the news because it means I can finally leave without feeling guilty but again: I love it there. Normally I bury myself in a writing hole but I just can't this month.

I want to but I don't want to. It's weird, I know but I never said I was in any way normal. The news is kind of sitting in the back of my head and I can't think of doing anything beyond June. I know when I meet up with my one friend tomorrow it won't be a fun meeting. I'll be talking about this and how we can't go on vacation this year or to the convention we normally go to. It sucks, it really does.

And when I meet up with my other friend I'll have to give some form of explanation to her about why I don't want to go on vacation (or do other things that require money) this year and it'll suck worse because she won't exactly be supportive of it. It's complicated. Then if we do close shop in June I'll have to explain to my family and that'll be another mess. I'm looking forward to start Milwordy but I'm wishing I could stay stuck in 2013 so I won't have to deal with this.

But, we deal. That's what we have to do to go on right? Either that or give up and I'm not the giving up type of person. I mean I've been self-pubbed for four years, haven't broken even or come close to it and yet I still write. That's either tenacity or stupidity and I'd like to think I'm not stupid.

Anyway, writing will always be therapeutic for me so getting all of this out has kind of helped. At least for now.

Until next time: Comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Novel Series 11: Seeker

This is the sequel to Seer. Originally, Seer did not have a sequel but when I finished it, I couldn't write "The End" or put it into my "Finished" folder on my hard drive. I knew this was coming but I didn't know how or when. It's why I took two months to write Changed. This was the first book I completed during NaNo2013. I finished it on the 8th.

Genre: Low Fantasy or Supernatural

Word Count: 78,795

Prompt: Sequel to Seer that kind of appeared out of no where.

Main Characters: Ice and, well, only Ice really. It was from his P.O.V and he kind of left everyone from Seer behind.

Minor Characters of Note: Claire, Dawn, Ray, Eva, Zillah and his men, Valko, Jasmine, Felix, Krasimir, and Odin.

Summation: Ice is tired of waiting for people to find out how he and his twin brother Dawn became immortal or why Dawn is so much weaker. He's going to find out himself, even if he has to become a serial killer to do it.

High Points: Ice running into a "Love Shop" to avoid Claire. Oh and Ice realizing that, YES, he does love Ray.

Low Points: Dawn.

The World: Ours but with immortals.

Major Plot Twist: Zillah and his men

Memorable Lines:

"I will continue to do what I have done every night of my life."
"Try to take over the world?"

"I am going to go to New York and force out others like us if there are others to be found."

"Unlike you I can enjoy the company of a woman without the need or want to have sex with her." (Go Ice.)

"He's some kind of angel of vengeance or something. This must be for killing that dude and all the others."

"I am not so good as my looks imply."

"You know we all come with secondary powers. You'd be wise in remembering that."

"You know there's something to be said about a man who risks his life to help his brother."

"I am ready." "Darling, those are words every woman likes to hear."

"Of course I care you fool. You are my brother."

"The question is: would you die to let your brother live?"

"I know it's not what you were looking for but you should know better than anyone that you can't always get the thing you want. Life sucks, you grow old and you die. You have to make the most of it and all that new-age bullshit."

"I am also decidedly stupid for not realizing sooner and I apologize for that."

"And you made an ass of yourself. I know you're under some kind of pressure here and I want to help. I think I'd be more helpful if I wore more clothes, you know?"

"It's Eva. She wants to know why you're still killing people so famously and I'm trying to tell her that you haven't hunted in a week. She says seven people have fallen victim to the Ager. I think we've got a problem."

"Bonjour mes petite imbecile."

"What? You like Ice. Besides, I'm your older sister and you shouldn't be taking our mother's name in vain."

"Someone took him. We don't know who and we couldn't stop them."

"We're loyal, not stupid."

"Freedom, hm? Thank you Anthony for your final gift to me but you are free too, dear brother. I will miss you."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Novel Series 10: Changed

This novel marks a lot of firsts for me. It was the first novel based almost entirely on a song and was inspired by that song. If you go listen to "Pain Redefined" by Disturbed you'll get the guts of this novel. Especially with the lines "memories don't lie" and "I stand and fight. I'm not afraid to die." It's also the first short novel I've written clocking in at only 66K. And it's the first one where I tackled a whole ream of "political" issues as once: trans* struggle (not so much with Jayden, more so with Billy), monetary segregation between rich and poor, some racial segregation (there are rich black people in here but they're few and far between), society's views on men and women, and the can of worms that comes with genetically engineering "perfect" humans as opposed to letting nature take it's course.

With all that being said I'm sure I didn't touch on some of those issues as much as I wanted. This will likely be the first one I do a full read through and add a lot to. Also, this is one of the first where I had to go to the NaNo forums to ask people if it would seem insulting to trans* people. Some did find it offensive. Most didn't once I explained myself a bit better. I also have to add the point that it is possible for a male to female trans to get a working uterus. It's *almost* possible in this day so it should be in the future. Anyway, here we go:

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 66,456

Prompt: "Memories don't lie" - Pain Redefined by Disturbed.

Main Characters: Jordan, Jayden Sanderson, and Eric Sanderson

Minor Characters of Note: Billy, Bull, and Nadine

Summation: Jayden Sanderson, daughter of the ruler of the world, wakes up in a hospital with amnesia after surviving a brain surgery that should have killed her. The problem is that she feels like she is no longer Jayden Sanderson.

High Points: Um, Billy was a high point in general. There's always that one character that helps make a novel less depressing and he was it. Then I hurt him. Badly. Poor guy.

Low Points: The whole freaking thing. No really. I don't think there's a particularly nice thing about this novel.

The World: The future, obviously. But the gap between the rich and the poor has widened even more to create the Esteemed and the Shanties. The Esteemed are those with the "superior" genes: no genetic disorders, better body/face structure, stronger, smarter and faster. The Shanties are those who are genetically predisposed to diseases (anything from cancer to having a too big nose).
The Shanties people are tired of being at the dregs of society just because they're "inferior." They're tired of working in the mines, working in factories and not being able to eat every day, or live in a home that doesn't leak. They're tired of not having the latest tech or not being able to go to college just because they're Shanties. They're tired of living behind an electric fence, not getting medical care and being treated as dirt. They need a leader to replace the one who has gone missing. They find their leader in a completely unexpected place.
Also: there is a one-child per person ban on the ENTIRE world to control population. This becomes exceptionally important to the novel in later chapters.

Major Plot Twist: Jayden Sanderson and Jordan in a HUGE way.

Memorable Lines:

"Good. Continue with the procedure. We need her alive."

"It was an operation to cure you from that horrible malformation. You're healed now, at the expense of your memories it seems. Don't worry though: it won't be hard to help you remember who you are."

"It's really none of your business."

"That's the problem: I don't remember, in case you forgot."

"We're Esteemed. The cooks don't cook with things that would fatten us up. All those scrapes go to the Shanties, remember? I could survive on junk and not gain a pound. Even if I did I could get it scraped off, right? I mean, we can afford that?" (This is said with anger, not in a matter-of-fact way. It's meant to be insulting and tells you all about the segregation in one little block.)

That Jayden had looked happy to be female, relished in the attention her body got her and enjoyed being Esteemed. The Jayden she was now did not like dresses, skirts and was coming to the slow realization that she wanted to look more masculine. Jayden frowned when she comprehended that she was about to take part in another Esteemed cardinal sin.
The Esteemed were not enthusiastic about men who dressed too much like women or women who dressed too much like a man. There were distinctions between men and women that had to be followed and only those in the Shanties were stupid enough to question the gender they had been born with. Changing that gender went against God and that was not right.

Jayden stared at the blonde on the screen. The blond was wearing a white dress that bellowed out around the hips. Her hair was curled sweetly and there was a pink bow in her hair to match the pink sash around her waist. That Jayden, from six months ago according to the time stamp, looked like a precious doll.
The Jayden watching doll-Jayden was in a pair of formless white shorts, a baggy white tank and eating cheese chips straight from the bag. Doll-Jayden’s nails were perfect and her skin looked flawless. Watching-Jayden had chipped nails with bright orange junk stuck under them. Her skin was greasy from sweat and eating crappy food right now.

"You're an Esteemed and you hate the Shanties. You're supposed to be in dresses and skirts and attending meetings with me. I don't even want to take you because of how you are now. What is wrong with you?"

"In case you forgot: I have amnesia. I'm pretty sure those tumors did something to me or took something from me. You're not helping. Shouldn't you be more concerned?"

"I don't know anymore. I'm born-Esteemed, I think or something but that doesn't make sense. I know this place. I know you Bull."

"Guys, we can't just let her go without figuring out who she is. I mean, she knows us. Esteemed Jayden Sanderson knows us."

"Who's Jordan? I recognize the name but," Jayden started.
"He was our group leader. No, more than that. The people here in this city (the Shanties): they loved him. We loved him. He was the Golden Boy, you know? If you had a problem you went to Jordan and he'd fix it. Kids needed medicine and he'd go into the Esteemed places to swipe it. People needed food and he'd find a way to divert a hover car meant for the Esteemed here. He went in a few weeks ago and hasn't come back. I was supposed to go with him but I got sick. It's my fault he's gone." Bull said.

"Keep it (about a hover board Jayden buys for Bull). Unless you can outfit everyone here I'll be a target." Bull said.
"Sorry, I guess I forgot." Jayden muttered (she remembers after she tries to hand it to him that Shanties people will target their own if that person has better).
"You've got amnesia, I can't blame you." Bull returned.

"I don't really feel like a girl." Jayden said.
"Aw, I totally get it. I don't feel like a boy. Too bad we couldn't like, switch bodies." Billy said.

"It's okay here because well, we don't believe in God the way Esteemed people do. God is the final judgement of what we do, you know? So if it's wrong for me to want to be female when I was born a male, I'll take my punishment." Billy said.
Jayden blinked and nodded. The answer had come to her a moment after she had asked the question. Somehow she knew more about the Shanties life than the Esteemed life and it made no sense...

"Are you coming Bull or are you going to paw at the ground and wait for me?"

"You're not male. You're female through and through and always have been. You will always be too because my daughter is not getting a sex change. You'll be thrown into the Shanties for that."

"What makes us (Esteemed) better anyway? A few genes that give us brighter skin, bigger eyes, shiner hair, pouty lips, natural thinness, stronger bones and muscles all with less potential for disease? There are people in the Shanties who are just as,"

"I'm not Jayden Sanderson, am I?"

"I want to talk to her alone. She's my girlfriend and deserves the privacy to kick my ass if she wants it."

"I don't know whether to kiss you again or smack you."

"I'm always ready, dingbat." (Best nickname for your lover, ever, btw)

"I want the Shanties, no; I want all people to be able to live in unity. No fighting for food in the dirt, no choosing between paying an electric bill or feeding themselves, no dying from common colds, no forcing them into jobs they don’t want to do, no living in darkness because they can’t afford to turn on a damned light or can’t buy candles. I want people to have the ability to live to their full potential no matter what genes made them.” 

“The time of the Esteemed is over. The time for unity is beginning and if it takes a war to bring unity, equality, and life to all then so be it. I’ll stand and fight. I’m not afraid to die for my people, all people. If you agree that everyone should be able to reach their full potential no matter what genes made them or if they have “bad genes” then you’ll be in this new world. If you still think that the Shanties people are worthless, below you and don’t deserve to live proper lives then you will be eliminated. That is my promise and unlike the other people in the Sanderson family: I keep my promises.”

"You deserve your rest and I'll be here when you're awake again. Good night, dingbat."

"At least you're not crying."
"You know I don't cry."

Nothing needed to be said between them. They were Shanties. They were strong. Death was commonplace to them but this time Jordan knew what it truly meant.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Million and General Thoughts

If you haven't been following my blog or Twitter and just got here: shame on you. I'm kidding of course: WELCOME to the insanity that is, well, me. If you have been following my blog and Twitter then you know I've completed MilWordy number 2 and can skip the next paragraph if you want.

MilWordy is a challenge to write one million words in one year (12 months). It runs side-by-side with WriYe which is to just write every day out of the year. Milwordy doesn't have an official website but WriYe does.

Anyway, MilWordy No. 2 is done for me at 1.3 million words as of Nov 29th. I'm planning to do a third MilWordy in 2014 or 14 COMPLETE novels in 2014. Yes I know I'm crazy but I'm pretty sure if you've been following me for any length of time you'll have figured that out. I'm also fairly certain my limit is going to be 14 novels in a year just because of you know, life.

As this is the end of the year and the end of NaNo I figured I should say a few things.

I notice that around this time of the year a lot of talk starts up about self-publishing. As someone who has been self-published for four years in March (omfg, right?) I know a fair amount. I know what works and what doesn't but I can say with confidence that if you have the DETERMINATION, TIME, and CASHFLOW YOU CAN SUCCEED.

Yes, you will need some start up fees. Editing ain't cheap (I did that deliberately), neither are cover-designs and no matter what you should NEVER skimp on those. Also: you're a writer. What's the thing you do best beside write? No, no, not watching YouTube videos about cats because of procrastination. No, no, not reading though reading is important. RESEARCH. Yes. Research: your editor, your cover designer, HOW TO market and promote, and self-publishing in itself.

It may look intimidating at first (and it kind of is) but don't worry. If you do it right then you can succeed. I normally don't name drop without reason but go check out Russell Blake if you think I'm lying. Also, check out his self-publishing advice by clicking on these words. He's sold about 200,000 e-books this year at about $5 a piece. You do the math my friend, then come back and tell me the industry is dead as some other self-publishing authors say.

Being self-published isn't about writing. I know, right? It's about being able to MARKET and PROMOTE. If you can't do those two things then it doesn't matter how AWESOME your novel is: you're going to fail. There are authors out there who have written absolute CRAP and are still making money. Heck, there's published (as in with a publishing company) authors who have written absolute crap and through clever marketing are making hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anyway, enough rambling about that. I wrote a million words this year or 13 novels and a bunch of short stories. The final, er, four novels, will be posted here every Friday if you'd like to learn more. I'll also be attempting to post things every Monday (or mid-week) for writing advice and tips. Both have their own sections so look up. Not at the ceiling silly, look at the top of this page for links.

Now, because I'm doing MilWordy, I made a thread about it over in the NaNo Forums that I hope to be checking every week (at the least) so if you're doing some kind of "write all year challenge" that can be the place to hang out.

Of course it wouldn't be MilWordy if I didn't have a plan so here's my plan (taken from another thread in the NaNo Forums, ha):

December: Read Face Snatcher and Hangings to get back into the series and make sure everything's consistent. I'm pretty sure it is as writing at the break-neck speeds tends to help me remember where I am/what I'm doing and keeps everything good. But yeah, I need to read through those to so I can be back in the grove.
January: MilWordy begins. This will be dedicated to writing Dryer and Witches.
February: Car Jacking and Hunter
March: Disease and Control
April: Wedding and Bloody X Mas
May: Pieces and Senses
June: The Tattooed Man which will finish the 13 novel crime fiction series. This would bring me to 11 novels in the year and 825,000 for MilWordy. I likely won't get two per month but, hey, I can dream. I am aiming to be done the series by the end of summer (August) at the very least.
July: Editing the above 11, or finishing them off.
August: Editing the above 11, or finishing them off.
September: Another novel. Not sure which one yet, hopefully the re-write of Tale of the Twins.
October: Another novel. Again, hopefully the re-write of book 2 of Tale of the Twins.
November: NANO! I'm going to go for 250K again. Maybe. At least 225K. So that's three novels, or one and a bunch of short stories. If I went the three novels route that would bring me to 16 novels in the year. I have a weird thing for numbers so I'd like to keep it at 14 rather than 16.
December 2014: Editing/re-reading/chilling till Jan 2015.

Until next time: Comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, November 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Final Week

And with this ends National Novel Writing Month. There is still one day left in the month but I'll be busy working on the rest of the Novel Series for 2013 so I can start posting those when I come back from holidays. I need to add four. Ha.

Anyway, in keeping with tradition this is the final update for NaNo2013.
Week one, week two, and week three can be found by clicking the links.

Word count: 250,209
Goal: 250,000
Words Needed: NONE. I'm 209 over. ;)
Novels: Novel 1: Seeker (complete as of Nov. 8): Sequel to Seer. Novel 2: Face Snatcher (complete as of Nov. 17). Novel 3: Hangings: Sequel to Face Snatcher (complete as of Nov. 25) and as a padding a continuation to Lies, the novel I did for April's Camp NaNo.
Plot so far: As stated in the Week One Post: you'll have to wait and check out the rest of the novel series coming in December.

Thoughts of the week: I FREAKING DID IT! I hit the 250,000 words with a day to spare. A day. ONE DAY to spare. Normally I have a week or something after I count up all the days I didn't write. But no, there were no spare days. I couldn't afford taking a week off because of life.

But that doesn't matter. Life happened and I still got 250,000 words. I finished THREE NOVELS for crying out loud at a pace that was both fast and allowed me to deliver my normal quality of first draft. That means all three novels are editing for weird sentences, spelling, grammar, wrong words, repetitive words, useless scenes, and all that other stuff. Seeker is probably the most "edited" of the three. Face Snatcher needs something minor added to tie up a subplot that's probably not worth worrying about. Hangings has to be looked through for date changes as I made them important about half way through and didn't go back (yet) to fix them. I think that's the only thing wrong in Hangings.

Speaking of, Hangings ended climatically. James' thoughts while he was chasing the unsub down were awesome. The description was right on. And the unsub was caught so hey, it's all good. Actually, all four of them (Mia, Brown, McGregor and James) were spot on and they got to interact with each other on a more personal level. The scenes with Mia and McGregor were great, they have such good chemistry considering they just started becoming friends. Brown is just, he's awesome. As a unit they're great. They all have weaknesses (Mia can't run, James can't shoot, Brown doesn't leave his office, and McGregor is anti-social) but someone on the team can pick up the slack (Mia can shoot, James can run, McGregor will leave her office and Brown is oddly more social).

The only disappointment this week was the realization that I couldn't start Dryer (book 3 in the series) because I just wouldn't have had the time. I would have had to force myself to stop right when it started getting interesting then leave it for a week. I just can't do that. With only 5 days to write as well as packing and other preparations for a trip I'm going on to do: it couldn't be done. I knew my limit.

I know my limit. That is, I know now that anything over 250K in a month is not possible for me. Not with my life the way it is now. If I was a full-time author and didn't have to work 9AM to 5PM to, you know, live, then yeah. I could pull off more than 250K. But, seeing as I have a full time job the 250K is all that can come out especially with life being life.

Now I'm sure next year I won't have to buy any new appliances so that gives me an extra two days or so. But I could have used those two days between novels. It would have helped my brain.

I'm also sure that next year I might not have certain time constraints. Heck, I might not be in the same job and could be writing full time. I do know that as it stands right now my goal for next NaNo will be 250,000 words.

This doesn't mean I'm going to wait until then to write Dryer and the other 10 books in the series. Oh no. I'm once again doing Milwordy. I plan to write two books a month (about 140,000 to 160,000 words a month) until the entire series (13 books) is done. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but I want to be back into fantasy and sci-fi by the summer. I do have this feeling that once I get back from my vacation that I'll start and finish Dryer. Maybe. My hands are hoping not.

Until next time: Comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, November 22, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Week Three

In keeping with tradition this is my update for NaNo Week 3. Week one and week two can be found by clicking the links.

Word count: 183,323
Goal: 250,000
Words Needed: 66,677 (Haha, YES! I love that number)
Novels: Novel 1: Seeker (complete as of Nov. 8): Sequel to Seer. Novel 2: Face Snatcher (complete as of Nov. 17). Novel 3: Hangings: Sequel to Face Snatcher
Plot so far: As stated in the Week One Post: you'll have to wait and check out the rest of the novel series coming in December.

Thoughts of the week: Holy freaking crap I'm tired. I think the sheer volume of what I've written has made me bloody exhausted. Adding to the writing front I needed to go out and get a new fridge, a new TV, go to a few social events and yeah. So it's been a busy month for this event but I'm not lowering my goal and I WILL get it.

I was happy to finish Face Snatcher. It ended well and left a bit of a cliff hanger for Hangings. Some people read my last lines and the excerpts I have on the NaNo board and liked them. It was encouraging.

Discouraging is the fact that if I want to hit 200K by tonight at midnight I have to write about 17,000 words. That's not happening in 4.5 hours. Even at my top speeds I can't do that. It's been a bad week as I took Monday night off from sheer tiredness. I couldn't catch up the rest of the nights (only getting 7K when I needed 9K or something) and the daily online word counter I've been using since January 1 is giving a 503 error every time I try to log in. Luckily it didn't keep track of monthly totals so I've still got my overall total if I add the monthly totals I've been keeping track of.

Encouraging: The throw-away character that was introduced in Face Snatcher is an important minor in Hangings which is awesome because I had a feeling that minor character would be someone's favorite. Kind of like Matt from Death Note. He had one or two scenes and he's one of the more popular characters. This was what David (the throw-away character) would become so I made him important. I'm sure he doesn't like it because I'm being mean to him but at least he gets spotlight unlike the many throw-away police officers and forensic people.

Like Face Snatcher, Hangings has a lot of plot going on in few words. It's just over 24,000 and so much has happened. I'm sure that it'll end like it's prequel: fewer things happening but everything being wrapped up in a climatic final chase. The ending for Face Snatcher was a bit anti-climatic (in my mind) as the unsub did cooperate and let himself be taken in. I'm not sure if Hangings unsub will do the same as the only thing I know for sure is that they'll catch the guy. Said guy's motivation for killing these poor people has changed twice all ready so yeah.

Hangings is the least planned of the series but as I found out in Face Snatcher my characters will do as they darn well please, including changing the plot enough so the conversations I did write prior to NaNo didn't actually work as the characterization changed.

With all that said, until next time: Comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Week Two

As I write these words week two of NaNoWriMo is ending, well for me. It officially ends Sunday at midnight but I'm a weird one when it comes to counting things. The explanation (and other fun stuff) for that is in the Week One post.

Keeping up with my tradition of updating weekly during NaNo, here we go:

Word Count: 133,317
Goal: 250,000
Words Needed: 116,683 (I'm over half-done. YAY!)
Novels: Novel 1: Seeker (complete as of Nov. 8): Sequel to Seer. Novel 2: Face Snatcher which is the first book in a 13 book crime fiction series. Yeah, 13, cuz again: I have a weird thing for numbers.
Plot so far: As stated in the Week One Post: you'll have to wait and check out the rest of the novel series coming in December.

Thoughts of the week: I was ecstatic when I finished Seeker. Seriously, I put to rest characters that have been in my head just about my entire writing career and have been with me through three restarts. It was a bitter-sweet ending: good that it was over but I'll miss Dawn, Ice and the crew.

Then I started Face Snatcher and wrote about 21,000 words on it on Nov 9. I also realized how freaking detailed crime fiction is. After the first Saturday on it, I took the Sunday off (for me) and wrote 7K. I also made a folder within my "Detective Series" folder for Face Snatcher and all subsequent novels. That's right: each novel in the series has its own folder.

Why? Well. I have a list of: victims, witnesses, the story itself, and other important points in that folder. I can guarantee that each story will need it's own victim and witness list so I can do these things right. Adding to that in the main folder I've got the plot for all 13 novels as well as another list of all the police and other detectives I've mentioned.

This week was Hell. Again. I got so discouraged when I realized how freaking much there was to remember when writing crime fiction until Mia, my FMC in the series gave an idea: make a list. So now for each chapter I'm starting it with a list of things for my characters to do and checking things off on the way. It helped that I had plotted the MC's being new to big cases so they're over-whelmed and needed a list of things to check on. We're going to get better together. Ha.

My hands still hurt. My wrists are in pain. I've slowed down my pace so I can produce a draft that's better than a first draft (which is what I normally aim for anyway), so I need more time to write while producing a few hundred less words. That doesn't mean I'm not writing huge amounts. If I'm not researching something mundane (IE: getting distracted and needed to check on something when I don't have to) I can still get 2,000 words an hour. My lowest word count was 1,400 in an hour. Highest was over 3,000. Anyway, let's move on.
The good news is that I'm about a day ahead of where I should be. The better news is that I don't think I'm too busy this weekend so I'm going to finish Face Snatcher by Sunday at 10PM. Why Sunday at 10PM? Well by then I can watch The Walking Dead and that's one thing I'm allowing myself as a reward for writing during the week.

I should mention that I did get 125,000 words on Day 13 as I had planned WITHOUT the 40K weekend of last weekend. It was a good feeling. My goal for this week it to either hit 200K or be really close. I'm also looking for a 50K weekend but I'm not sure how well that'd go. I've got stuff to do tomorrow morning which kind of has to be done. As it stands, I'll have one day to pack before going on vacation and into a social media silence. Totally not used to packing the day before so depending how this week goes, I might take a day to pack next weekend. Or get it started.

So overall: I'm feeling pretty good. I'm ahead and will only get further ahead tonight when I add anywhere from 5-7K words. I'm aiming for 200K (or close) by this time next week which will give me an nice, easy 50K in a week with writing time on a weekend. Which means I can be finished with my 250K goal by the 24th at 10PM. It's a hope.

Until next time: I found this about the quality and quantity debate. You should read it. Comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Week One

The first week of National Novel Writing month 2013 is lying at our feet: defeated. Well, almost. There's still tonight for some people and really it depends if you consider the end of week 1 a Friday or a Sunday. For me it's Friday so, yeah.

Since I needed to do more writing this month (sarcasm, btw) I've decided to keep up with the tradition of writing a weekly update on my NaNo progress for this blog. Oddly enough I just finished checking last years blog post for NaNo week 1 and I'm at (almost) the same word count as this time last year. I find that freaking hilarious and depressing at the same time. Moving on.

Word Count: 70,064
Goal: 250,000 (Yeah, I'm an 'over-achiever' but for all intents and purposes: I consider anyone who gets over 50K for the month an over-achiever. Hell, anyone who gets more than their personal goal this month even if it isn't the 50K is an over-achiever.)
Words Needed: 179,936...oh that's painful to know...
Novel: Sequel to Seer
Title: Seeker
Plot so far: The thing is almost done so stay tuned for the "Novel Series" on it coming in December sometime. There will be a lot of them, trust me. I need something to do at night when I'm not writing and December is a non-writing month.

Now onto the thoughts of this week: It's been Hell. I'm not even going to lie. I missed all but two hours of writing time on Saturday because I was helping a friend move. I could have said no but she's one of my best friends and I would have felt bad. It turns out I was actually needed even when she said there were enough people.

I did hit a 25K day on Sunday through sheer willpower I'm sure but even now I don't have much of a buffer which is unusual for me. If I was keeping right on track I should be at 66664, meaning I ONLY have less then 4K as a buffer. This means I cannot take a night off no matter what. And I kind of like have a day or two between novels so I can switch plots in my head better.

Worse yet my entire Saturday morning (tomorrow) will be taken up with running errands that have to be done. Actually, I won't be able to get onto my computer until about 2PM which leaves me with 10 hours to write and gives me a potential of 20K. I might get 30K if I can keep a 3K/hr thing going but I highly doubt it. My hands do need some kind of break.

Furthering that: I'm losing my Sunday night to a supper I have to go to. And let's not forget that in the first week of December I'm going on vacation so I'll be losing November 30th for packing and other such things. It's like everything decided to happen this month which is totally not cool.

My hands hurt. My wrists hurt and I'm miss-firing on typing this blog post. I WILL NOT give up because I refuse to lower my goal and I refuse to be defeated by it. Besides, I've got all of December to give my poor hands a rest.

On the plus side: I did a 25K day so I can catch up if I manage 40K this weekend. That'd put me at 110K when I'm supposed to be at 84K. Big buffer. I like big buffers and I cannot lie (I would totally continue this rap if I had the mind to. But it's focusing on other things). I do have to say that I thought this year was the year I completed the 50K the quickest but that title belongs to last year when I won on the 4th. Oops.

Anyway, I'm looking to start week 2 strong (which again runs from Sat morning to the next Fri night for me cuz I'm weird like that) with the 40K weekend. I hope to continue it by getting 125K by the middle of the week (the 13th) so I can keep my buffer. My big buffer that other buffers can't deny. Cuz when you see a big buffer...ha. Sorry.

Also, it should be mentioned that I'll be doing four novels this year. Seeker is the first and the others are the first three books in a crime fiction series. The series will span over 13 novels and if I manage to get all four finished by the end of NaNo I'll have written 14 books this year. I was aiming for 13 because, you know, 13 in 2013 but Seeker isn't turning out to be as long as I figured it would be. I was hoping for like 90K. It's panning out at anywhere from 76-80K if it doesn't grow a second head tonight.

With all that in my head (it hurts I tells ya) I'm going to go finish Seeker. That means killing a character (or two, not even I'm sure yet) that I've had in my head for about a decade now. It's going to hurt, especially the whole how he dies but it's got to be done.

Until next time: comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Throw a Ninja at it

We're one week away from the beginning of National Novel Writing Month so by now you're doing one of two things: sitting back and waiting impatiently or freaking the HECK out. If you're sitting back and waiting impatiently then I congratulate you. I (like a good handful of others) and freaking the HECK out.

Why? I'm not quite ready yet. I've still got to answer a bunch of questions for my first novel, type out the planning I have for novels two, three and four, get new tires for my car, do some laundry (it lasts a month. Yes I have THAT much clothing), clean the house, and help a friend move during the first three days of November. Yeah. I'm not in a good place but here I am sitting around online. I'm special like that.

ANYWAY. Enough about me and the woes that if I buckle down would only take a day or two to complete but I probably won't because I'm easily distracted and a huge procrastinator. Deep breath, there we go, ready? Good. This is supposed to be about ninjas. Ninjas are fun and your biggest friend during NaNo.

Why ninjas and why are they your biggest friend? Well, for one, ninjas are freaking awesome. For two, er, there is no two. One is enough. It should be noted that when I say ninja I don't just mean this guy:

I've always wanted to include ninjas in this blog
That guy can be included, don't get me wrong. But ninja also means a random and unexpected plot point, character, sub-plot, scene, place or basically anything else you didn't plan when writing your novel. Those ninjas are sneaky, aren't they?

Ninjas are meant to be these shadowy beings that tip-toe around in the dark then BAM! Attack. It's a good thing. Well, it's a good thing for you as a writer so long as you're not actually walking around in the dark and get attacked.

A ninja means that you're adding word count and (hopefully) another layer to your story that without said ninja would not exist. It might not make sense when you write it but later on you could have hit upon something that tied up a loose end without you realizing it. And if it really doesn't make sense then you can edit it out.

Basically, in order to fully utilize the ninja, you have to get to a writing Zen. My best writing is done when I'm not thinking about what happens next and I'm going with the flow of the story. I call it subconscious writing, or throwing ninjas at it. It's the writing that happens when you let the story come out of its own free will instead of forcing into some cookie-cutter you plotted out for a year.

Now, you can write successfully without a ninja. It's not as fun but it can happen. And depending on the type of writer you are (go check out this blog post for tips on that) you might not even need a ninja.

But for those of you who are truly stuck, panicking and have no idea what you're going to do for NaNo: throw a ninja or two at it. Heck, toss a whole ninja clan at it if you need to. Don't be afraid to open up a new document (or notebook if you're handwriting) and just start writing. It'll come. It might take a while and a lot of ninjas but you'll end up with something that could turn out to be really cool.

And for those of you that do have a plot in mind but still find yourself stuck: ninja. It doesn't mean that you have to veer away from your plan. BUT, if you find yourself so stuck that you can't continue on the nice, neat little path you've got set out: it might mean your characters/story subconsciously wants to go in a different (most time better) direction and you should follow the ninja.

In short: Ninjas are freaking awesome and you should follow them more often. Let your story go where it wants and learn to write subconsciously. Remembering: you're telling a story, not forcing it. Until next time: comments, questions, rants, rage and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Writer's Block and Reaching 50K

When NaNo rolls around there are a lot of people generally asking one of two things: 1) How do I deal with writer's block and 2) how do I reach 50K/how do I know if my novel is going to be 50K?

There is no right or wrong answer for either. The boon and bane about being individuals is what works for me might not work for you. Regardless, in the spirit of NaNo and all that is writing I decided to organize some tips and tricks for writer's block and reaching 50K. Cuz I'm nice like that. I'm actually procrastinating on finishing my WIP because I'm about to kill off a main but that has to do with "writer's block" so hey, it works.

Writer's Block

Writer's block is defined as "a condition in which an author loses the ability to produce." There are plenty of causes, one for everyone who writes and it would take more than this blog to explain them all. The main ones are as follows.

Lack of inspiration: This is probably one of the most common forms of writer's block. You just can't think of what to write, how to write it, or why your characters are doing the things they're doing. Solution: Move around. Take a walk, change your writing spot, change your writing position, vent to a friend or even a stuffed animal. Sometimes a change of pace can clear your head and let your muse back in.

Distraction: One more YouTube video. Oh, NaNo forums. One more episode. Been there, done that. The internet is the most distracting thing for anyone, never mind a writer who may or may not be procrastinating on finishing their novel. Solution: Get rid of the distraction. I'm not saying cut off the internet completely, just use something to block it for a while. This right here is what's stopping me from finishing my WIP and moving onto planning things for NaNo.

Pressure: This can be anything. You just broke up with your significant other, you lost your job, someone close to you has died, or you're being forced to write in a way you're not used to. Solution: Time. I know, it sucks, but sometimes you just have to wait it out. It takes time to get over death, rejection, and other things and sometimes you have to concentrate on "fixing" that problem before you can move on. Take the time and effort to make yourself happy again before trying to write. On the opposite spectrum you can try to use this time in your life to simply write about what's making you feel so horrible. Perhaps once your thoughts are on the page you might feel unblocked.

Intimidation: This can go one of two ways. 1) You've written something so great that you don't think you can write something else as great. 2) You've been a victim of the cruel reviewer. Solution: For one: well, there isn't one writer out there who's ever written their "last novel" because everything else after will suck. No novel truly sucks and what might make your best work great will shine through in any novel you write. You can only get better, not worse. For two: Sometimes that bad review can do you some good. No really. It can point out any mistakes you may have made and then you can fix them. Feel free to feel bad, but take a look at the review objectively afterwards. Is that person right in what they're saying? If so don't be depressed about it. Fix it. You'll become a better writer by reading those bad reviews with a clear and unemotional head.

Reaching 50K

There's actually a whole forum dedicated to this on NaNo. What you're going to see below are the things I do to not only reach 50K, but go above and beyond, not only in Nov. but for every month for about a year.

1) Wrist Position: This is a biggie. If your hands and wrists aren't aligned properly for typing (or simple hand-writing) then you're going to be in a world of hurt, especially if this is your first time writing anything of length. Keep your wrists flat with your keyboard and give yourself a break every now and again to rotate, flex and rest them. Last NaNo I was starting to think I couldn't participate because in Oct, my wrists began hurting something fierce. I got a wireless keyboard which put my arms, fingers and wrists into proper position and now I can write again. You'll have a longer writing career if you take care of your hands.

2) The Idea Shuffle: How do you go about picking one? Easy. Put them all in a hat (I put them face down on a dart board) and pick one. I can almost guarantee that the idea you pick won't be the one you write. Why? Because once you're "forced" to pick one, the one you really want to work on will kick you in the face. Why is this important? You won't hit the 50K on an idea you're not excited about.

3) Character Love: Just like you won't reach 50K on an idea you don't like, you won't reach 50K with a cast you hate. If you don't have one redeemable character, one that you like (even if he's evil) then your best plots will go bad. If you find yourself hating them all change them or tweak them a bit until you do like them. Yes, in the middle of the story if you must. People do change you know. ;)

4) Thoughts, description, etc: So there was this thread about Chuck Palahniuk saying to eliminate all thought from your novel. Basically he said to stop using "Andy knew Carol liked him" and instead show how Carol liked Andy. It came down to the basic of "show, don't tell." It's fine and dandy, really, but NOT ALL THE TIME. Yes it can help pad your word count but when I tried to read Haunted I couldn't make it through the first chapter because of the insane amount of "showing" and description. And yes, even Guts (as much as I like it) is somewhat over described. You have to have a balance between showing and telling. And for gosh sakes if a character likes another character they will not "roll their eyes, shove off on one foot, and walk away." That means they're mad. That's the other reason for not "over showing": some people react different than others in situations and some people's life experiences make them read body language differently.

5) The Muse: Never and I mean NEVER ignore your muse and by extension your characters. If they want to go somewhere that you don't have planned, just go with it and follow. If you force them you'll start suffering from writer's block. Trust me. I've tried and it doesn't end well.

6) Stick to your style: No matter what anyone says about how they get to 50K (including me) stick with what YOU know works for you. Don't go switching up things because that is a sure-fire way to NOT get your 50K

7) Participate in forums/discussions: when you can. The community is great if you're stuck on where to go, how to get there and if everything is just a mass of frustration you have to let out or implode. There's a forum for every kind of writing problem and there is always a willing writer or dozen who will help. So don't be afraid to take a few minutes and ask a question or rant where applicable.

8) Will it be 50K? No one really knows if the novel they're planning will be 50K or not. There is no way to be 100% sure. For example: Chosen Ones of the Forbidden Object, my NaNo12 project was supposed to be 200K. It's 152K and had to be stretched. I thought Changed, the WIP I'm stalling on (I've got a case of the distractions), was going to be 100K. It just hit 60K and I've only got about 4K to go. Seer was supposed to be about 70K. It's 92K. Heck, the Cara Series was supposed to be one book and morphed into four. Again, just go with it. If you find yourself under don't worry because it's easier to add a subplot or a bit more description then to take stuff out.

9) Social life: The thing that enables me to write as much as I do is that I don't have a social life. No really. I have two really good friends who both work weekends and nights when I'm free. We get together twice a month, sometimes more, but communicate by texting. I'm also a bit anti-social and a hermit so that helps. I'm not saying cut everyone out but you may have to reduce some time with friends/family/etc if you want the 50K. It depends on your typing speed and motivation.

10) Motivation: Even if you feel like crap you have to write. Forcing something onto the page can sometimes break the writer's block and if you're sick it can make you feel better. But, DO know when to give up. If you're almost in tears because you just can't find the right word then stop. Take a break. Take a walk, vent or whatever, then try again after you've cleared your head. Just don't let the head clearing take too long.

11) Write every day: this is a given but if you make a habit of it in November, why stop? Keep going through the year and by next Nov you'll have increased your typing speed, smoothed out your style, figured out how you write effectively and the 50K will be a breeze.

Final words: No matter what happens during NaNo (or during any writing project), remember: YOU HAVE NOT FAILED. Even if you only manage 5K, it's 5K more than what you had going into this thing.

Until next time: comments, questions, rants, rage and out-right insults can be directed to the comments.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NaNo Prep

October is half over so Nation Novel Writing Month 2013 is creeping closer. For the veterans (those who have done at least one NaNo event) we know what we've got to do. For newbies, not so much. So I've made a list (or something) of what a newbie (or veteran) can do to prepare in the coming days. Of course this is based mostly on my writing style and it might not work for everyone. Also these tips appear in the order I thought them in, not necessarily the order they have to be done in. Lists make things easy to read. Anyway, here we go:

1) Know what you're doing: Kind of obvious right? I mean you can't do anything until you know what you're going to write. Is it romance? Fantasy? Sci-fi? Crime fiction? None of the Above? All of the above? Some made-up genre that combines other genres? Figure out what your story is and it'll help you with a lot of the other stuff you'll need to do.

2) Who are you? I mean this in two ways: who are you as a writer and who are your characters. Let's do the characters first, okay? You need to know the goals, challenges, weaknesses and strengths of any major character including good guys and bad guys. Don't worry too much about description right now (unless they're missing an eye which is a weakness) but concentrate more on who your character is and what they want to achieve in the story.
As for you: What kind of writer are you? Are you someone who can write for hours on end (welcome to the club) or are you someone who writes for 15 minutes, breaks for five, writes for 15, etc? Can you pump out 10K or more in a day or are you limited to the bare minimum? Knowing how you write is important during NaNo because along with planning out your novel you've got to be able to plan out how you're going to reach the 50K.

3) So this happens, then this: Start planning out what happens in your novel. This is where the pansters mainly go "ah heck with it" because they usually only have a vague idea in mind, sometimes not even an ending. The planners will start making chapter by chapter play by plays depending how much they plan. THIS IS TOTALLY DEPENDANT ON YOU AS AN AUTHOR AND NO ONE IS RIGHT OR WRONG. Yes it had to be shouted and yes it's dependant on the tip above.
I fall in between: I NEED to know my ending but I don't need to know every detail before I write anything. Most of the time my characters will lead me along and fill me in with subplots. The only time they didn't was in Testing Grounds and I coulda killed 'em.

4) Organize: make sure that along with your story work-book (or Word Doc) you've got somewhere to jot down some notes. You need to remember who's dating who, what your character looks like and all the subplots going on at one time. It's a lot to remember so don't feel bad or whatever if you can't remember it all. Make sure everything is organized in a system that works for you and easily accessible whenever you're writing.

5) The Inner Editor: MOST people will tell you to shut off the Inner Editor. I'm simply going to say this: if you've learned to work with it then don't shut it off. If you can't work with your Inner Editor then shut it off. I mention this because there's still two weeks before NaNo. This is the time you should be using to learn how to write without the editor if you have to and getting their den ready so they don't bug you if you can't work with them. AGAIN: TOTALLY DEPENDANT ON YOU. This is where knowing who you are as a writer helps.

6) Research: anything that you need to research this way you don't have to go to Google in the middle of a writing session to figure out how many police officers are in a certain city so you can make your made-up city seem more realistic. I just did that during the writing session before this blog post. ;)

7) Have a plan: and I don't mean just for your novel. Plan out when you're going to write, where, and for how long. This goes back to number 2 because you can't figure out where, when and for how long if you don't know what kind of writer you are. For me I know I can only write weeknights. On the weekends I'm planning to write all day from 8AM to about mid-night. So I've informed the people who might bug me not to bug me. They'll message me sure, but they won't expect a quick response.

8) Make sure that everything is done: As in if you know you've got a paper due in the beginning of Nov., get it DONE before November. If you know you're moving, pack the things that can be packed away before November. If you've got family coming, pencil them in at a time you don't normally write (that's reasonable). If you've got a trip planned (right here), make sure you've prepared as much as you can before the trip so you're not scrambling the day or two before. Less things to do = less stress = more writing.

9) Go with it: Don't be afraid to change your writing times, your plot or anything else if something comes up. Life happens, characters want to go in a different direction, and we don't have complete control over everything no matter how much we think we do. Just go with it especially if it can't be helped. Try to make the best of it.

10) Have fun: NaNo isn't about killing your hands/wrists/brain and exhausting yourself to get 50K. It's about having fun while writing. So don't think it's the end of the world if you "lose" because really everyone who writes anything when they haven't before (or even if they have) is a winner. If you can't make the 50K then you've got whatever you did get when you didn't have it before.
Unless you're used to writing huge amounts of words in a short time don't try to tackle OVER 50K. It won't end well. BUT if you find yourself over 50K with more story and some days left in the month feel free to keep going. And welcome to the "overachievers" club...which brings me to my next point.

11) Overachievers and you: For the love of all that is NaNo DO NOT be afraid, intimidated, jealous, mean towards, etc, the overachievers. We're all writers working towards a goal. There's no need to call someone who's "won" NaNo in week 1 (or day 1) a cheater. And just because someone has "won" NaNo doesn't mean that they're immune to plot/character/novel problems.
I understand jealously (heck I'm jealous of the people who can get a million in a month but I still like them), I understand the intimidation, and all that other stuff but none of it is an excuse to make someone feel bad about getting over 50K. None of it is an excuse to make your regional overachiever leave the region because of stress. It's happened, I saw it happen to someone I know well(ish) and it's not fair for anyone.
It will make the overachievers reluctant to help you if you need help (I know I am once the bar is full) and that's bad for everyone involved. The overachievers are likely some of the best motivators in NaNo: they know what it takes to get 50K, they know how to get 50K and they're willing to help you get 50K if you're not insulting them or making them feel bad for being over 50K.
On that same token if you are ahead of the game it's no excuse to make fun of someone who might be struggling. You motivate, you help, and you cheer. You don't bring down, tease, and ignore. NaNo is not a competition against other people. It's a competition for yourself. You're "competing" to force yourself to write more, faster. NaNo is not around to bully people who are ahead or behind you.

12) Know the rules: of the forum. Take a brief look over them and make sure you're not posting things in the wrong place or breaking some other rule. If you're not sure go for the best place that you can think of. Ask a moderator: they're nice and they don't bite. Also make sure you know how the site works so you won't be struggling to find something or someone during the month. This is the time to do it so don't be afraid to do it. We were all there once so we're not going to think you're stupid for asking something that's obvious to us.

That's all I can think of right now. I'm always willing and free to chat so if you find me on the NaNo forums don't hesitate to PM me, reply to a post or generally chat. I might take a while to respond and PM'ing is probably the best way to get a hold of me. My name on the forums is Dairenna and this is my avatar:
I'll see you all there and until next time comments, questions, rants and generally anything else can be directed to the comments.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Writing Tips #1: Talking

When reading through an author's blog the other day I noticed that they had put up some flash fiction. This is a great idea not only to attract potential readers but for the author. It gave her the experience of beta readers and critiques without having to ask. Of course, I critiqued. Why? Well, I've been writing for the better part of twenty years and through all of it, even if I'm not professionally published: I've learned a lot.

I might not be the best grammatically and I probably would suck at spelling if not for spell check but when it comes down to dialogue, description, contractions, the actual writing itself: I know a few things. So, inspired by another indie author (one who just started on the writing journey I might add) I've decided to set up some basic tips for all writers who can use it.

These tips will be replacing my Novel Series as I won't be actively writing novels (at least I don't think I will) for some time. Plus it'll give me a weekly blog to upkeep so hey, it works all around.

And if you've missed one and don't feel like hunting through my whole blog looking for it: I've got links to important serial type blogs. Click on the link and you'll be brought to a page that links to everything having to do with that link: either my Novel Series, my NaNo Blogs or these writing tips.

Anyway, this writing tip is going to focus on dialogue. Since I started writing how I write my dialogue has gone through a lot of changes. I stared by always using a dialogue tag and always using said. Good but boring. I morphed into never using said. Not good but more interesting. Then it morphed into using a mix of said and other dialogue tags. Much better. Now, it's a mix of said, different dialogue tags and no dialogue tags. Meet the fully evolved dialogue.

As I've said in the past, dialogue tags should not be reduced to one word. Said is not the be all and end all of dialogue tags and you can and should mix it up with other words to give some variety to your tags. BUT, you have to watch the words you use. A person cannot laugh, growl, purr, chuckle, hiss, hum or any other action word an entire sentence. Try laughing out an entire stream of words. I dare you.

Good? Now, try to mutter, whisper, utter, tell, question, ask, enquire, mention, announce, yell, scream, or affirm those words. You can do that, right? Good.

It comes down to this: if you can physically do the dialogue tag you want to use (without looking silly) then it can be used. BUT do not, I repeat DO NOT over-inflate your dialogue with anything BUT said. Most reader's don't focus on it (though I hate that, why shouldn't they and why should we be okay with it?) but if you use enough to keep things interesting it will bring some life to your dialogue.

Another method is to just skip the dialogue tag all together. I do this when it's perfectly clear who is talking to who and when only two people are talking at once. It can probably be done with three or more people so long as the sentence right before or right after that piece of dialogue reminds the reader who is talking. For example:

"Did your hamburger grow eyes?" Shawn asked in amusement.
"With the chemicals they put in food today I wouldn't be surprised. But no, it looks like the patty is made out of meal worms." Derrick returned.
"You know, you're right. I think they roasted a whole bunch of meal worms together with some batter and made it roundish." Shawn said.
Derrick smirked and Shawn bit into his pizza. Bracelets jangled as Derrick dropped the bun back onto the patty and picked it up one handed.
"You know, I think I saw someone sneeze over the pizza display. It looked like they were sick too." Derrick told him.
Shawn blinked and looked down at his pizza. Derrick chuckled but Shawn grinned.
"I might get a cold but you'll be infected with worms."
"Dead worms so no harm done. Plus they'll give me more protein."
"Well true, they are 60% protein with valuable amino acids."
Shawn was trying not to laugh....

It's good to sneak in an action sentence or two when you've got long streams of back and forth talking. Don't be afraid to mix up said, non-action dialogue tags and lack of dialogue tags in your novel. It helps the dialogue to flow and gives the reader a better understanding of how your characters are talking. No one goes around saying everything. They shout, scream, whisper, mutter, stutter (this ones give or take), announce, point out and mention.

As for what a long stream of conversation is: usually anything that starts to confuse you. If you can't figure out who's talking and who isn't then your reader won't know either. As to when to use said and when to use something else: it depends what that character is saying, to who, why and what they want to achieve with their words.

The best thing is to ask yourself  something like: Are they in a situation where if they speak too loud, they'll get caught? They're not going to say then, they're going to whisper, mutter or say lightly/softly/gently. Are they trying to get the attention of someone across a crowded room or are they mad? Then they'll yell, scream, shout, or they'll say angrily/in rage/in annoyance/loudly.

Remember, if you start getting annoyed with the amount of said (or lack of said), the amount of different dialogue tags, lack of emotion in your dialogue, then change it up. If you're annoyed at it: your reader will be too.

Next week (if I remember ;) ) I'll be talking about contractions: when to use them, when not to use them and how to use them effectively.

Until then: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comment section.

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Million Words 2013

So for those of you that don't know: I wrote a million words this year staring on January 1st and ending August 31st at 5:00PM EST. Why? Well mainly because I can. I've been writing long enough that I can produce decent first drafts quickly so I figured I'd par down my story list.

Sadly, it's not as pared down as I wanted it to be despite me writing nine novels this year. Four (or six) of them were new so I added to the list then took something away. Counter-productive: yes. Fun: HELL YES.

Anyway. This is the second year I've done a MilWordy successfully and the second year I finished before the year was up. This year's novel list:
The Bonehemmer Princess
The Harmonizer
Dragon Knights
Troubles of True Love
Glory Hole
Testing Grounds

You can find more info on all nine by clicking the "Novel Series 2013" above (or there, whatever floats your boat). Adding to the nine above there were a baker's dozen of short stories, a novella and a few 500 word stories.

I was recently asked "where do you get the inspiration/ideas to keep going?"

My long answer is a blog post: Writing is Breathing.

My short (and nice) answer was: "I have a story list of about 60 ideas. I pick one, flesh it out and keep going. I get ideas from everything. This months' WIP came from a song lyric."

My REALLY short (and not so nice) answer is: "Fucked if I know."

No seriously: fucked if I know. I just keep going. And going. Kind of like a deformed energizer bunny on anti-depressant meds who cackles madly at torturing the voices in her head. That's a Hell of a mental image...

Regardless. I haven't written much since finishing MilWordy. I did plot out and make some character descriptions for novel number 10 and started it. I'm halfway through chapter two or so. For those who don't follow my twitter (shame on you): this novel is going to be exploring racial issues, society issues, and gender issues. It'll be one of those ones where you're like: "Okay, I KNOW something is creeping me out here but I can't figure out why...OMFG! WHAT?!" It'll be fun.

I figure I'll finish NaNo with 13 novels. So, 13 in 2013. Because I'm a bit of a freak for numbers like that.

Novels 11, 12 and 13 will be the beginning of my crime fiction series which I talked about like, two years ago or something crazy. I started fleshing it out when I was in Los Angels and trying to get Tale of the Twins made into a movie. Now it's got 13 books. Creepy, huh?

The characters are set. The plots are set. All I've got to do is read it all over and start writing. It'll be a crazy trip because there will be no magic. There will be no weird creatures. There won't even be a future aspect. It's all the world as it is now, nothing odd about it except the monsters who pretend to be human otherwise known as serial killers and psychopaths. Consequently I'm going to be totally mind-fucked when I'm reading up on why killers kill. It'll be fun, really.

Until next time: direct your comments, questions, rants, hate, love and other oddities to the comments. I'll get there eventually.