Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Novel Series #12: The Tattooed Man

In the beginning there was light. There was likely also some kind of really loud booming sound, but mostly there was light. Anyway. No one knows what will happen in the end though there has been a lot of speculation. Hell, I wrote a whole anthology of short stories about it and plan to write at least one (other) full post-apocalyptic novel. Moving on: the following novel holds the title of being the last in a thirteen book series. That's right, THE LAST IN A 13 BOOK SERIES.


Sorry. I got excited. Honestly I'm still on a high from writing "The End" on this thing instead of "To be continued in *name of next novel here*"

It has taken 10 months (November 8ish 2013 until September 1 of 2014) to write it. That's 938,886 words NOT including the short stories that go with it (Memories) or the alternate zombie apocalypse novel I wrote between the 12th and 13th books. Yeah, that scared the crap out of me too.

I have reached the end of a 13 book series and this is the final summation for my first (and possibly only) attempt at thriller/mystery fiction set completely in the real world.

The Tattooed Man concludes the events started in Face Snatcher and continued in *deep breath*: Hangings, Dryer, Witches, Car Jacking, Hunter, Disease, Trust, Child, Bloody X Mas, Pieces, and Senses. It is the end of an era.

This is the 12th book I wrote for the year and I was kind of hoping it would be number 13 because, you know, 13th book written 13th in the year. Ha. Actually. It is the 13th book. I wrote a novel-length piece of fiction between all the books. HA!

Okay. Sorry. ONWARDS with the summary:

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Word Count: 65,818

Prompt: So, I was touring the NaNo threads like two years ago (maybe more) and was in the adoption section because I was procrastinating on something. I stumbled upon the adopt-a-villain thread and saw a description for "The Tattooed Man." I ran with it. Honestly, I didn't have the plot for this one until about four months ago, maybe less.

Main Characters: James Reeves, Mia Liu, Lucy McGregor, Sable Abella, Michael Brown, Gavriila "Karma" Saytakhmetov, and the Tattooed Man.

Minor Characters of Note: Chief of Police Patterson (who finally told me her first name), David Jones and his boyfriend Andy (I know, again), Jasmine McGregor, Simon Jenkens (who was supposed to be MMC3 in the whole series), Mike Clemmons (you'll remember him from Witches and Trust), and Sandra Gideon.

Summation: Mike Clemmons finds a body in the woods and suddenly the team finds the grave sites of 16 women, all victim of a mass murderer that no one's know about till, well, now.

High Points: Michael and Gavriila's relationship.

Low Points: Yeah, see those six named main characters? One of them dies. No I'm not telling you which one.


Memorable lines:

James let out a breath and wondered why he felt like something was going to go wrong. He wished he knew what that something was but he knew he wouldn't see it until it was about to happen. James only hoped they could be prepared.

"Son of a fucking bitch." McGregor muttered.
They'd hit a particularly large root or rock or something. As long as it wasn't the body she was somewhat happy. Hitting her head (against the roof of the CSI van she's driving through the woods) wasn't great but at least it wasn't the body. Screw optimism.
"You okay?" Sable asked.
"I've been better." McGregor said.
"I've never been glad that I'm short." Sable said. (She's five foot four inches)
"No, you're average height for a female. I'm freakishly tall. Ow." McGregor said. (Five foot ten inches.)

"The unsub poured some kind of metal over the victim's face." McGregor said.
"Metal?" James asked.
"Metal, kind of like how Drogo killed Viserys in A Game of Thrones, er, I've been re-watching, sorry. Anyway, yes, hot metal poured over the face staring from the forehead and ending at the mouth. Lots of pain until the metal got into the throat: a slow death." McGregor said.

"I am coming in December." Gavriila said. (Brown's Russian girlfriend)
Brown stopped typing and stared. She was grinning at him. They hadn't discussed anything about an actual visit. Apparently Gavriila didn't give a shit. Brown opened his mouth then closed it. He tried to find words but didn't know what to say.
"Are you okay?" Gavriila tried.
She was frowning.

"You broke my brain. Gimme a minute to get it back online." Brown said.
Then again, she was coming to Woodborough to see him. His girlfriend was coming from across an ocean to see him. Brown let out a long breath and stared at her smiling face.
"Michael?" Gavriila asked.
He really like the way she said his name. (D'aww)

"He's established, comfortable, unlikely to make a mistake, and will be exceptionally difficult to find. Adding to it, if we count those ten potentials as victims then we've got another mass murderer on our hands." James said (about the unsub).

"And we ran into some reporters downstairs asking about what we're working on. I glared, they took off, standard stuff." McGregor said.
James was glad McGregor was intimidating, really, but she didn't have to be so blasé about it. (Hehe)

"Hope doesn't exist, really. You make shit happen. You don't hope it'll happen."

"I should give you cooking lessons." James said.
"It'd probably go over just as well as me giving you shooting lessons." Mia said.

"Whoever he is, he's patient but not angry. There are no other signs of torture. He's basically strapping them down, pouring the pewter over their faces, waiting for them to stop moving then carrying them out into the woods to bury them. It's not a proper burial so he doesn't feel any remorse for what he's doing and like we've said, he's doing it because his significant other likely miscarried and can no longer have children. I don't think it will be any kind of doctor." James said.

"Do I dare ask how the case is going?" Amy questioned.
"You all ready did." James told her.
"Smart ass." Amy said.
"It's Doctor Smart Ass. I have a degree and everything." (Haha)

They were looking at him like he'd grown a second head. Brown wished he could screen cap real life. It took him a second to realize that was called taking a picture and he wished he could laugh. Maybe they did need the others to look over things.

"Yeah but I want the whole thing: the guy to kill the spiders, the father, the man in the bed all the time, ya know?" Jasmine (Lucy's sister) said.
"I can kill spiders." Lucy told her.
Jasmine almost spit out her wine. They started laughing and it took a while to settle.
"Naw, ya don't kill 'em, ya catch 'em, study 'em then let them go when they start freaking out about the woman poking at 'em. Ya scare spiders into leaving." Jasmine said.
Lucy laughed. Jasmine had a good point.
"Maybe that's why we haven't seen any in this place." Lucy said.
"Or Raven eats 'em all." Jasmine said.
Raven meowed from his position on Lucy's lap and Lucy petted him. It was probably a combination of both.
"Here's to hard cases and no good men." Jasmine said.
"Yeah, no shit. That's why I date girls." Lucy said.

"Woodborough Police Department, how may I direct your call?"
"To Hell I say, sorry. It's Dragon-God. I have a pizza coming, paid for." Brown said.
"Sorry, I can't direct you to Hell, Dragon-God. You could make an extension 666 and direct it to well, somewhere. And I'll ring you when it comes." Carol said.

Draken-Devil: On it like a fat kid on pie.
Agent0069: What he said but not as offensive to fat kids.
K: On it like a ninja ;) (He's Asian...*whistles innocently*)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing Tips #2: Contractions

The author I mentioned in Writing Tips #1 (yeah I know this is old, sorry. I suck at keeping track of things sometimes) had this thing with contractions. Taken out of writing context that sounds weird. Oh English, how I love you and your homonyms....

Anyway, in her prose there wasn't a single contraction to be found. Even her characters did not use many (if any) contractions. That's a feat in any kind of fiction.

This tip kind of expands on the first because if you don't use contractions in dialogue your characters will come off as too formal, arrogant or downright rude. Perfectly fine if you want this to happen but not so good if it's not what you're aiming for.

Some examples: in Tale of the Twins, Lysandra never contracts her words. Why is this important? My friend said to me the other day Lysandra comes off as a bit arrogant where Leopold is the more personable (and crazy) of the two. I explained that's how they're supposed to work: Lysandra being the super-organized, highly intelligent twin with Leopold being the complete nutcase. They balance each other out.

Xeros, Tashira, Ayla and Kien from The Cara Series all speak without using a single contraction and when they do use one, people around them know they're really angry or under a lot of stress. Why don't they? Well: Xeros and Tashira are both 10,000+ year old Mages who grew up in a time where being formal as a Mage was looked well upon. It was schooled into them. Ayla is the last remaining member of her family so she wants to come across as more capable (to rule), and highly intelligent. Kien because he's a prince born out of wedlock and wants to come across as capable of being King.

In Seer/Seeker Ice doesn't contract his words either. Why? Because he's cold, emotionless and arrogant. Sometimes he's downright rude, especially to his four-hour younger brother Dawn. Furthering that, one of the 'bad guys' avoids words that could contract at all making him seem a bit insane and arrogant. The vampire Magnus doesn't contract his words and comes across as arrogant and powerful.

How a person talks tells you a lot about that person. It's an especially effective way to get a character's personally to flow into their words in fiction. Accents, contractions, emphasizing certain words all tell reader's stories of what your character is like.

Listen to how people speak. Do most people use do not, cannot, did not, will not, I will? No? Then don't use them in character dialogue. If you know someone who doesn't use a lot of contractions then ask yourself why. Is it their upbringing? Their education? How do they speak? What's their candor and tone? How does their way of speaking make you feel?

You can use contractions in prose, especially if your prose is from the first person point of view because no one thinks that formally either. In third person it's touch and go. It depends completely on what is going on in the scene, what the POV character is like/how they talk, the tone of your book and your intended audience. I've used contractions in most of my novels and they're especially helpful if you want your writing to feel more "real." A quick Google search will tell you that contractions are accepted in prose but like everything else: it depends what is going on at the time.

I'll try to keep up numbered writing tips but no promises. I tend to get distracted by shiny things, writing, kittens, TV shows, and life in general. I'll eventually delve into showing vs telling, and Point of View. Probably a few other things. And if you missed it I'm trying to do a numbered writing series because hey, after writing 3 million words I must have learned something...right? RIGHT? Ahaha...

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 Novel Series #11: Zombies

Dealing with the fact you KNOW you're going to kill off a character and the death scene is coming is difficult. Adding dealing with crazy killers, gore, morbid deaths, a character with a form of DID/Multiple Personality Disorder, and a lot of emotional baggage from basically every main character and you tend to get a bit loopy.

So, how did I deal with all these horrible, upsetting emotions that would eventually lead to a main character dying? Why, I threw all my main characters into some kind of zombie apocalypse alternate dimension of course! What better way to deal with character death than to KILL THEM ALL OFF!

No seriously. I wrote the characters (major and minor) of the Detective Series into a zombie apocalypse. Then I killed EVERY. SINGLE. ONE...except one. Technically she died too. Kind of. It's complicated. Anyway, here's the summary:

Genre: Alternate Reality/End of World/Zombies

Word Count: 103,746

Prompt: There was this scene in Senses where McGregor and Sable are dissecting a cabin in the woods and Sable's thinking about Walkers/The Walking Dead and yeah...

Main Characters: James Reeves, Mia Liu, Lucy McGregor, Michael Brown, David Jones, Andy Smith (his boyfriend), Gavriila (Michael's girlfriend), and Ashley Reeves.

Minor Characters of note: Patterson, Cade Golding, Jasmine McGregor, Dominique, Lee, Sheryl, Harry, Katherine, Joey, John...too many to name...

Summation: Zombies. Nuff said.

High Points: I...huh. I basically went on a killing

Low Points: I basically went on a killing spree so...

The World: Ours but with zombies.

Memorable Lines:

"So, you're all seeing zombies on screen, right?"

James had a feeling McGregor had been planning this since she had first heard the word "zombie." When in doubt: trust the friend with the darkest mindset when the world ended.

"I'm prepared to die up here if I can give you guys an advantage." Michael said. (He's the tech who sees all.)

McGregor wondered if she could get her hands on a sword. Bludgeoning someone to death, second dead, took too damned long.

He had a backpack and a freaking broom. A broom. Who the Hell brought a broom to a zombie apocalypse?...The things (zombies) couldn't climb and they both (Mia and Lucy) had four magazines on them. And Andy had his fucking broom. (LOL, she can't get over the broom.)

"Um, time delay. There's a horde out back, was a horde, it's moving in." Michael said.

"How big a horde?" McGregor questioned.
Six were coming down the produce section.
"Run." Michael said.
That was a big motherfucking horde.

She couldn't afford to crack. People needed her.

"Better to be paranoid than dead."

"You don't have a magical penis that will make me straight." McGregor told him. (Yes, she's a lesbian.)

"You know how to use that?" McGregor asked (about a sword).
"Stick them with the pointy end." Ashley answered.
It was the first time since 10AM that McGregor smirked in amusement. She frowned a second later.
"We'll never know how A Song of Ice and Fire end. Damn George Martin." McGregor said.

"I didn't notice the scratch until a few minutes ago. I'm sorry."

"I'm thinking logically, not optimistically. Logic wins over optimism every fucking time."

"You were just like "Oh, we're dealing with zombies now? Cool, let's do it." Then did it like it was nothing."

"I'm glad I was an orphaned only child."
"Poor, poor, Batman."

"You know what's ironic?" McGregor asked.
"What?" James questioned.
"I'm pissed that I have no idea what happened on The Walking Dead."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: The End

I'm about a week late on this for various reasons. I went to a concert on Sunday so I didn't get to sleep till about 2:30AM, worked the next day for 9AM then couldn't concentrate on anything Monday night. The past week has been crap work wise, writing wise, and everything in between wise. Yes. But hey, better late than never, right?

Final Word Count: 251,956. My NaNo board count is 252K and change but I'm not entirely sure why there's such a difference. I'm fairly sure I beat last year's 250K WC by about 1000 words. This is with missing two weeknights, and a weekend. Yeah...

Novels: Mists of Time Book 1: Discovery, Mists of Time Book 2: Seeking, and Mists of Time Book 3: Finale. Book 3 still has four chapters left in it though so the series isn't over.

Plot so far: The Mist Watcher started going crazy on the worlds he wants to destroy which means Blair, the Ala'gan I mentioned in the last NaNo Blog, Tenkondin, and a few other characters end up world hoping. They visit 8 other planets, one of which happens to be Cara, the world that has a four book series about it. The other is Ambrosia which not only got two chapters but is about the characters and world I've been fiddling with for almost my entire writing career. For those that don't know: almost 20 years. Yeah.

Final Thoughts: The last week was pretty stressful and reminded me why I had originally decided NOT to go for 250,000 words. But I hit 200K by day 24 (or so) and decided "why the heck not? Let's go for 250K again!" The fun part was I ended up getting 10K every night on the 27, 28, and 29 which gave me the final push. I didn't write Sunday (the 30th), didn't even turn on my computer actually, and worked two Saturdays which I normally don't do. Basically even with the few days I missed I beat last year's WC by 1000 words. I didn't think I could do it. I'm glad I did.

I don't regret being less active in the forums. Last year I spent at least an hour a day in there and with my writing speeds I lost about 60K words. I didn't have to be as stressed as I was last year if I hadn't been in the forums so long. I learned it this year. I also learned no matter what, there will always be someone who's faster than you who you will (no matter what) be jealous of. There will also be A LOT of people (more so if you're an over-achiever) who are way behind you and are angry/jealous/hateful towards you.

There was a thread made in one of the forums where people accused those with high word counts of cheating, bragging, arrogance, disrespect, and a slew of other things that frankly, is what makes people like me so self-conscious about saying how far I am. One person even went as far as to say it was going to be their last NaNo in part to the over-achievers. Another implied that OA-ers implied to others those others didn't have the determination of over-achievers.

The hatred is the main reason I decided to say "screw it" to the forums this year. When the event isn't actually happening the forums are a great place but when November and the camps come around, so do all those negative people that have driven OA-ers out of their regions, and out of the forums. I SHOULD NOT be afraid to enter the "NaNo Ate My Soul" forum with a high word count because I'll be accused of cheating or lying or whatever.

People seem to forget NaNo is a PERSONAL challenge. If I can hit 250K words in a month and you can't, it doesn't make you any less of a writer. It just means I write faster and (maybe) have been doing this for much longer. And yes, sometimes it DOES mean I'm more motivated, self-disciplined, and determined to get the extreme word goal. It still doesn't make you less of a writer.

The problem is I (and everyone else) can say it doesn't make you any less of a writer all I want but humans are a naturally competitive bunch so when someone sees someone else succeeding so (seemingly) effortlessly they'll get jealous and angry. Occasionally the success will motivate a person but it's rare.

But writing (playing sports, working out, singing, playing an instrument, dance, etc. etc, etc) relies on practice and experience. The more you write the faster you'll write and the more you'll learn about you as a writer which means the quicker you'll come up with GOOD ideas and BETTER first drafts.

I didn't wake up 20-ish years ago with the ability to write like I do today. My first drafts are solid (minus grammar and spelling cuz I'm not a pro) enough they don't read like a first draft. Re-write isn't in my vocabulary but YES, it used to be before. In fact, everything I wrote prior to 2009 has to be re-written. Hell, even some of the things I wrote from 2010 till now have to be re-worked. Not fully scrapped-start-from-scratch, but re-worked.

But after writing on and off for 20 years, learning about myself as a writer, PRACTICING THE CRAFT, reading, and having the decades of experience: I feel confident in giving a FIRST DRAFT to someone to read. And those someone's usually come back with "I want to keep reading your writing," "THIS IS AWESOME!" "I can't wait for the rest!"

So yes, I can pump out 250K words of quality writing in a month. Maybe you can't but I'm not any better than you. Anyone, ANYONE who takes on the task of writing a NOVEL is a winner in my book. And even if you didn't get the 50K in a month: you're still a winner because YOU WROTE SOMETHING. Even if it was 1,000 words, it was 1,000 words more than what you had on Oct 31. The simple fact is YOU WROTE SOMETHING. Now all you have to do is keep writing something.

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