Irons in the Writing Fire

I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I typically work on more than one project at a time. I tend to pound out a lot of words then pause to consider it. See, I don’t plan or do an outline. I start a project because I have an idea, a “what if…”, or just a title. Usually I know the ending, sometimes I don’t. Other than that, the plot for the book just flows. And sometimes that flow takes my characters to places or situations I didn’t expect. And I need to back up and think about it. The more I write, the less I discover it was the WRONG direction. Either I’m becoming a better writer (and trust me, some of my early stuff truly stinks) or I’m getting better at figuring out how to get out of the corner I painted my novel into.

What I do while I think is either play games on my PC (my current obsession is Homeworld Remastered) or I go to another project. Sometimes that thinking takes a while and even if I come up with a solution, the path to getting there is not clear so I gotta think some more. And as some friends will agree so quickly they spit, I tend to think too much and not just freakin’ do.

So what irons are in my writing fire? Glad you asked.

Perchance – Book Three of The Soliloquy series. I’m well over half done (64,048 words) with this but the corner I just painted poor Karen into is itty bitty small. I’m not sure if I will keep what happened or delete and try again. I’m leaning toward the latter.

The time it took from when first multi-cell organism was formed from the ooze until man killed another man was but a blink in the eye of the cosmic consciousness. That moment of same species violence revealed the truth of what was to come. The magnificent art on the caves and the formation of spoken words and music: all of them so emotional. They could not compete to the violence man was capable of. The violence man carried out over the ages. The violence man carried out now.

The weapons sweep had brought about the fall of…something. I’m no philosopher. I just know Humans will never be the same again. They’d held this thought, brought on by generations of movies showing how easily humanity could bring down alien space ships, that they could do the same thing in real life. Not so. (snipped)

But now the only weapons left were those being handed out to police and select military groups. Keyed to the user’s DNA, the weapon could not be used by anyone else. Oh, sure, there were some bows and arrows somewhere. Molotov cocktails were all the rage with the rioters but skill to make one, fuel to fill it, and aim to make it go where one wanted were three things seemingly in short supply in the same location at the same time.

Elements – (working title) My foray into magic. It started as a “What if…” and went from there. I once said I would never write magic books but this one demands to be set free. Will it ever get finished? Let’s just say it needs some serious editing and rewriting and filling in spaces (it gets from A to W in, like, three pages).

Alicia stood in the {Something} Archives, with a book open before her. She questioned not just her occupation, but everything about it and her life and her world. She bent her neck again, slowly, to gaze down at the page. To see if maybe she had read the words wrong. She’d already read them three times but maybe…

“The four primary elements are strong, mighty guardians of the world. The two intrinsic elements are stronger and mightier and do not interfere with the primary elements’ duties. The six are combined into two when the Mother starts to awaken. The result will either full awaken or assist the Mother in returning to sleep. It will depend upon the two who hold the six.”

Simple Sarah – Book One of the Something Series – Poor, poor Sarah. I started writing this book in 2004. Finished it in just a few months. And then it has been cat licked to death ever since. I swear upon my mother’s newly dug grave that I will finish that damn thing this year or archive it. Okay, by the end of 2019 because I really need to get Perchance out this year or my publisher may give up on me. Sorry Mom.

The storm had started just before dusk and had increased in intensity as night deepened. Between the thunder and the pounding rain, Sarah Durnhold did not get much sleep in her attic bedroom. She finally gave up and went downstairs to the kitchen. Restarting the stove was easy enough as her father always banked it to perfection. A few little bits of old cloth, some kindling, and soon she was able to add several quartered pieces of wood. She was filling the kettle when she heard movement upstairs.

“Might as well fill it enough for three,” came her mother’s voice.

Sarah got down two more mugs from their hooks and the basket of teas from the shelf. Her father was not much of a tea drinker but Sarah found the packet of “untainted” tea that he preferred. He did not understand the need to take perfectly good tea leaves and ruin them by adding fruit or the like, just to add flavor, when the flavor was just fine left alone, thank you very much.

The Relic – working title. (24,354) Ah, I’m loving this book. It’s been a slow, delicious burn in my mind and releasing it is fun. It has a lot of layers though, but I’m working hard to keep it a single novel and not another damn series.

Many times the relic, and those just like it, had been moved across the world. From the sharp peaks of the Himalayas, to the hot sands of Africa, to the moors of Scotland, to the mountains of what would eventually be known as North Carolina. The stewards had been charged with keeping the relic safe. At all costs. Many called it a burden but a necessary one. Few called it what it was: a privilege.

The Norse had been far to the north. Spaniards had not yet arrived to the New World. The caretakers of the relic were of mixed ethnicity, gathered from the places the relic had rested, and intrigued the Cherokee, Catawba, and other native tribes in the area. Years later when the Cherokee were forced to leave, the stewards used some of the gifts granted to them and helped hide not only themselves and the relic, but also to hide many of their Cherokee friends. They did it again during the Civil War. By then the world had grown and it would be difficult to hide and explain the relic if it were to be moved. Instead, it was relocated just to the north. The sarcophagus was placed in a natural cave that had been expanded. Wards were set. And the stewards settled down.

As Advertised – one of the Butch Girl books. Yeah, I know. Lesbian readers love love love their romance books. But I dislike writing them. Well, dislike isn’t the right word. Remember above when I told you that I often had to step back from a book to digest or think something through? Well imagine writing about magic or feathered aliens or whatever and then trying to slip into the relative simple angst, conflict, and lives of normal humans. It doesn’t work for me. However, I keep trying and As Advertised is indeed progressing. It started back in 2004 as well and was actually the first BG book I started. But BGCFA was finished first and the rest is herstory. I have several other Butch Girl books in progress, too.

Nikki Rogers pushed off with her foot so the stars above her swayed and blurred. The beers from the gathering and the tequila shared with Harri later, had her head buzzing. She closed her eyes against the moving universe above her to wait out the swing’s momentum. But that just turned her thoughts inward and reminded her of Kelly and Grace’s gathering. Nikki was over the moon thrilled for her friends. But it also made her realize how empty her life had become. She had become financially comfortable, had a wonderful, renovated home, and plenty of land to maintain privacy. Yet, there was no special someone to share it all with. Except Spam, of course, but in matters such as these, he didn’t count as special.

She heard muffled breathing and felt the elephant land on her chest. She scrunched up her face for what she knew was coming next.

Two At Once

I typically work on two, sometimes three, projects at once. This gives me a chance to walk away from a project and sink into another one for a while. Then when that one needs a break, I can go back to the first one. Yes, one of them usually suffers from it and that’s okay. One is always designated the “major” project and the other then “minor” one although twice now that designation has switched.

Sometimes my brain gets so excited about different ideas, that if I do not write them down, or at least get them started, I lose the momentum altogether. And that’s just sad for everyone. It may not go very far, that idea and the momentum, but it is there for me to pick up later.

Like right now, the two I am working on, one is Butch Girls 2 (I just cannot decide on a real title) has been written about half way in two different plot lines. I finally forced myself to pick one and I am writing it from the beginning to get another BG book out there for my screaming (and stalking) fans. Meanwhile, I dug through my massive archives (I am such a data hoarder) and have started to pump life into a massive manuscript I love but just can’t seem to let go of. I flip between the two projects–which are so very, very different–and soon one of them will win and I’ll feverishly get it finished. The BG book will be the winner because it has to be done first. It just has to be. Stalkers are demanding.

And, to prove to you I really am working, here’s a bit from BG2:

The next one rudely explained how she was looking for someone who had a “firmer grasp on the English language since they were in America, after all, and the short, simple reply clearly demonstrated” that Ellen was “most likely Phillipino or, on second thought, Puerto Rican”. Ellen stopped reading the very long diatribe at that point. She pulled back up the reply she had sent to her and read it aloud, in a Hispanic accent like her friend Toni.

“Nope, doesn’t sound like something she would say at all.”

The third was from the southern lady: “You bring the coffee, I’ll bring the brownies. The dating site has a built-in chat room we can use. How about Wednesday afternoon, 7pm Eastern? Whoever gets there first opens a private chat room with their username with only the other one able to join? I think that’s how it works.”

Ellen glanced at the corner of her monitor. “Dammit, it’s only Monday.” She sent off a quick reply, agreeing to Wednesday. She resisted the urge to complain that Wednesday seemed so far away. She then set several reminders for herself so she wouldn’t forget. “Am I that desperate?”

“I am that desperate.” Nikki set the alarm on her phone and put a big note on her fridge to match the one on her monitor. She and Spam, who was following her everywhere, returned to her office. She went to the dating site to test out how to open a chat room. It wasn’t as difficult as she thought. But staring at the blank chat window was depressing. Then text appeared.

“I see you got it to work.”

Fast Forward to Chapter Six!

Usually, the beginnings just explode out, all messy and nasty, like a can of Coke from my nephew. Then it settles down and I go with the rhythms of the characters and the story, sometimes the setting, too. That rhythm may usually will include some plot holes and some kicking and screaming but, gah, that screamin’ don’t usually happen so dang early!

Butch Girls 2 (aka BG2, aka Butch Girls and U-Hauls, aka Butch Girls: Intentional, aka What the Hell Am I Going to Call It?) is about Nikki Rogers and Ellen Hess. I actually started it before BGCFA but I didn’t like it and set it aside. Then I wrote BGCFA in NaNoWriMo ’04 and the rest is herstory. For one, I could never agree with myself on how the two of them were supposed to meet. And I guess I still can’t.

Option 1 was to have Ellen and her friend Samantha move down and be on Nikki’s mail route.
Option 2 was to have Nikki and Ellen meet online somehow.

I’ve written both ways several times and both has potential but I like Option 2 the best because it can be more, plot wise. Anyway, maybe because I went back and forth so many times, mostly on the dang beginning, that here I am doing it AGAIN, that my brain just says “WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME!?!?!?!”.

Anyway, I need to get to writing it and stop whining it. Right? Write? Wright?

Spring mornings and squirrels

A scene that came to me this morning. It is rough, there’s some grammar bits that need fixing.

Ellen is a character in Nikki’s not yet named Butch Girl book. Nikki is a character from BGCFA. Spam is her dog, a big Rottweiler.

***

Ellen stepped out into the chilly late-spring morning. She could see the steam from her coffee as she raised it to her lips. She leaned her hip against the porch railing and watched Mother Nature in Her natural element. She could see fog down toward the river (no, creek as Nikki keeps reminding her). Wet dew glistened off the tall wheat-like grass in the field beyond the yard’s fence. As she sipped her coffee, she watched the sun’s rays slowly crawl across the yard, causing first the yellow iris then the purple ones to bask in the spot light.

Despite the house being fairly far off the road and in a rural environment, it was quite noisy outside. Dozens of birds flitted about from feeder to feeder. It seemed to her they spent more time chasing each other off than actually eating. The birds hadn’t noticed her standing there or perhaps they didn’t care. Mourning doves and bright yellow finches fought for positions on the thistle feeders. Big blue jays and several grackles hopped around each other as they ate the cracked corn from the flat stones Nikki used for ground feeders. A red and black little bird (something towhee?) scratched at the grass where the sunflower hearts had fallen from one of the feeders. A bright red cardinal perched on another feeder where he pulled out a big sunflower and cracked it open on the edge of the tray.

Ellen heard a low growl and turned to see Spam staring out in the back yard. She followed his gaze and saw a squirrel on a branch. It seemed to be weighing its options as to which bird feeder to feast from first. Ellen grinned. “Must be new to the neighborhood”, she said to herself. The squirrel ran up the branch then came down the tree trunk. It clung to the bark, upside down, about a foot from the ground. Last minute perimeter check.

Spam waited, his big head getting lower and his rump got higher as he slowly rose to stand. Ellen was fascinated with this. She’d seen him chasing the squirrels away before but had not seen him preparing for the event.

The squirrel reached the ground and in leaps and bounds, made its way across the yard toward the closest ground feeding station. Just as it was about three feet or so away from it, Spam let out a deep “woof!”.

For a brief half second, nobody moved. Then the backyard exploded in feathers and fur as the birds and the squirrel frantically tried to disappear. The birds flew away but the squirrel didn’t seem to know where to go. It ran in a circle, still looking for the source of that bark. By then Spam had charged off the porch and was across the yard. The squirrel seemed to realize the errors of its ways and headed back where it came. Ellen laughed as it looked like a gray, blurred line straight back to the tree and back up the trunk.

Spam stopped where the squirrel had been and he sat down. His mouth opened in a wide grin. His duty for the morning was done.

Speaking of Tease…

Here ya go. Let me know what you think.

****

Several hours and most of a case of beer later, Sam had reached a conclusion. “Let’s move.”

“Move? Where?”

“I dunno. Somewhere that’s not a city. Not too hot, not too cold.”

“Juuuust right?”

“There’s nothing to keep me here. Nor you, for that matter. You’ll keep bumping into Ruth and I’ll never bump into whatshername.” Sam opened another beer bottle.

“You still hurting from her? It was a one-night stand, Sam. Get over it.”

“I don’t do one-night stands. And she said she didn’t either. Yet, well, don’t get me started. I’ve almost purged myself of her.”

“Must’ve been fantastic sex.” Ellen nudged Sam.

Sam sobered up for a moment. “The best I have ever had. But it wasn’t just the sex, although that alone was enough. It was the talking, the sharing, the laughing. You know?”

“Yeah, I know.” They were silent, each lost in their own thoughts. “So, we’re moving? Where to?”

“You got a map of the U.S. around here? A big one?”

“Nope, but we can make one.” Ellen weaved her way to her computer and opened her web browser. “Wikipedia is our friend.” Soon the printer was spitting out pages that they laid out on the floor to form the map.

“How many of these dead men are yours?” Sam pointed her unsteady hand toward the various empty bottles on the table and floor.

“Shit if I know.” Ellen giggled.

“Find the caps. We’ll toss them one by one onto the map.”

“Then we play connect the dots?”

“Nope. We see where they land and we choose where t’ move.”

“Oh! I get it now.” Ellen gathered the bottle caps within her reach while Sam did the same on her side of the floor. They began tossing them onto the map. Of course, it took a while since far too many of them missed the map altogether.

When they were done, they lay on the floor side-by-side and surveyed their choices. “I say take out all the Florida and Alabama ones. Too dang hot.” Ellen took off the Alabama ones and Sam removed Florida’s markers.

“And Washington. Nice state but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

“Texas?”

“Isn’t that where one of those companies is? Are? Whatever?” It was Sam’s turn to have a giggle fit.

“Yep. Too hot.” Ellen flipped the cap to the side. “Louisiana?”

“Hurricanes.”

“Missouri?”

“Tornadoes.” At each of Sam’s responses, Ellen picked up the appropriate caps. “That leaves Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming and both Dakotas.”

“Take off the Dakotas and Wyoming. Too cold.” Sam held out her hand for the caps.

“Two in North Carolina, and one in Virginia.”

“Then I’d say North Carolina wins.”

Believable Angst

Angst is: “An acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom” (WordWeb). But it is also used by a lot of authors to describe the internal emotional twisting for characters and/or the tension and conflict in a book. Not enough angst, and you wonder why the book was written. Too much, and the reader is exhausted or you’ve made the story unbelievable.

With Romance, the tension/conflict is usually “does she love me yes or no” followed by “she said x but I think she means y so I’m going to run now”. If it were that easy, no one would read it. Usually there’s some sort of medical drama (nothing says I love you like wiping blood of your face or cleaning up your puke, right?). Someone pointed out that nearly every lesbian romance has a concussion in it. And a shower sex scene. Most also have sex in an alley.

So I got Nikki. She’s tall and cute and kinda stingy with her money after years of not having any. Then I got Ellen who is short and cute who spends money too easily because she’s always had someone to bail her out. That and she also keeps an emergency fund on hand for ‘justincaseities’ that crop up. They meet, get to know each other, feel the attraction, get together by the end. I can’t come up with any angst for them. There’s the money thing but that only goes so far before it gets to be annoying. And there’s the Yankee vs Redneck thing which, along with the height thing, is more for comic relief. There’s the dead brother thing but that ties into Harri’s book. I just can’t come up with some believable conflict for them. They just get along rather well, actually. I don’t want to do the misunderstanding thing (something I overdid in BGCFA). Oh, there’s the kitchen. They both love to cook and are rather picky about their kitchen space. But again, that only goes so far.

There has to be something I can do. I want to do this book quickly, get it written (again) and get it sent out. I know I know. Nearly exactly a year ago it was supposed to be out but shit happened. Real Life knocked me for a loop (and Mom is doing well, thank you for asking).

There’s the personal space issue. One is a neat freak (Nikki) and the other is far from it. Then there’s Spam, the big huge Rottweiler with his stuffed elephant.

Sometimes I think I think too much.

Hard at Work

Honest, I am. Simple Sarah, the novel I’ve been working on (and finished twice) is over 43,000 words. I am still on track to get it done by the end of March, editing in April, and submitted in May. That is my goal. I want to finish it with no less than 90K but hopefully over 100K.

I like this version the best. I think it has finally come together. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the side-threads and just concentrated on the MC, Sarah. This also feels so much more like a Fantasy rather than a Romance which was my goal.

Once Simple Sarah is submitted, I will pound out another Butch Girl book. Either Harri’s or Nikki’s story. They are so intertwined, I am tempted to do just one book. But I don’t think that would be fair to the reader. Harri’s book has to take place in the summer. No choice there. Nikki’s can take place at any time.

(thinking, so there will be smoke….)

Perhaps do Harri’s and end it in the Fall then do Nikki’s immediately after. It would mean, however, that Harri’s book would have to be read first. There’s a Great Something that links them together that is solved in Harri’s book. So to read Nikki’s first….I dunno. Hell, gotta finish Sarah’s story before I even get to theirs!

So, if you have been following along, that means I have a goal to finish and submit three books this year. Sarah’s will be submitted in May. One or the other of the BG books will be submitted in July/August and the other November. By then, the editing process (that is assuming Regal Crest will buy it) for Sarah should start shortly after that.