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.

Showing Off the Craft

I got this friend/acquaintance (seriously, I have several) who is this crafter/knitter/sew-er/creator kind of person. And a waitress who knows her stuff in that arena, too. I recently “friended” her on FB (wave at Sammi everyone). Most of her stuff on her page is all pics of her craft. Really cool stuff, really creative. Makes me uber jealous. Writers are crafters, too, but we really have no daily pics to show off. Sure, we have books as the final products but…you know, one every six years is just not enough.

So I thought I would share some of my work process.

This is the folder I have for To Dream.
– “Awakening” was its initial name but, obviously, I changed it. When I did the rewrite (Awakening is the raw-arse draft), I saved the original and started fresh, basically. I’m a document hoarder.
– “Beta” is what I sent to the Beta readers, bless their hearts. It also contains their responses in all its brutal honesty.
– “Edit chunks” is when I realized Google Drive had eaten a huge chunk of the manuscript. I was editing heavily, taking out what I had edited and putting it into a new document. I then had to go through both to figure out what pieces were missing. Yes, I saved these, too.
– “Images” are some drawings I did of maps and some houses I built in Sims3 so I had an idea of what their house looked like. Yeah, I am that freakin’ weird.

The rest are the actual current documents. The .doc files are the ones I put on my tablet. The program I use there only uses .doc format, dammit. There’s one that can use .odt but it is awkward as heck to use.
– The “~lock” ones are the currently open documents. It is how OpenOffice works in doing their autosaves and recoveries I think.
– “ack-ded” is the acknowledgements and dedication that goes into the front of the books. I keep track of this so I don’t leave anyone out. I have a short memory.
– “synopsis” is, duh, the synopsis.
– “cuts” is what I remove as I edit. I save those because sometimes there’s a word or phrase I can use later. I said I was a document hoarder, get over it.
– “edit” is, duh, the edit version.
– “wb” is the world build document
– “To Dream” is the final version before I started this edit.
– The .txt file is one that I brought over from the “To Sleep” folder. It contains some quotes about butterflies, mostly.

I use a variety of tools, just like Sammi. Although mine aren’t as colorful, dangit!
WordWeb Pro – way cool thesaurus, dictionary, reference. I have the paid version but the free one has a lot to it.
OpenOffice – a free word processing program that also has a spreadsheet (excel), database (access), presenter (powerpoint), a drawing something, and something to do math equations.
IrfanView – an image program that resizes and does other stuff. Simple and to the point, the way I like ’em
NovaMind 5 – it is called a “mindmapping” program. I call it a “brainstorming” program. Works either way.
SimpleMind – While NovaMind has a lot of bells and whistles, it doesn’t work with my tablet. SimpleMind does. So sometimes I use it instead.
Notepad 2 – a simple alternative for Windoze Notepad. Much better for those who do coding, too.
SyncBack Pro – After my disappointment with Google Drive, I needed some other way to keep everything together. My bro pointed me toward SyncBack Pro and I love it. Syncs, backups, both. Does both via FTP, too.
Dragon Premium – I recently got this again. I don’t expect my hands to completely fail but there are days where typing is impossible. And there are days where sitting is difficult. So I’d be stupid to not give it a go. The problem with Dragon is you cannot edit what you have not used it to write with so I can’t edit with it. I got the Premium because I can dictate into my phone and then load it into the program on the desktop later. My goal is to do one of the Butch Girl books completely with Dragon. One of the characters in BGCFA was Rain who had multiple disabilities including the loss of both legs. I plan on doing her book via Dragon as it feels appropriate to do so. I have two others to do first, probably three. That gives me plenty of time to learn Dragon before I jump on the Dragon Wagon. Heh.

On my Samsung Note 10.1 tablet, I use:
Kingsoft Office – good software.
LectureNotes – I am soooo freakin’ glad I found this. What a great program. And makes me glad I got the tablet with the pen! For real students, they have some other excellent software.
OpenDocument Reader – allows me to view (but not edit) .odt documents. But I can’t figure out how to point it to the external card
AndrOpen Office – OpenOffice for Android. Has nearly everything OpenOffice has which makes it clunky on the tablet. Not giving up on it yet though!
WordWeb – yep! Got it on my tablet, too! And my phone! And my iPod Touch! I really love this program.
SimpleMind – the Android version (which I don’t use as often since I found LectureNotes)

Oh, and one last thing. Want to know another reason why I prefer OpenOffice to Word? Go back up to that image. Look at the file sizes of To Dream Edit.odt and To Dream Edit.doc. See the difference? Totally unnecessary.

Writing Is Much More Funner

I currently have one book in Official Edit (To Sleep). One book in rewrite/edit (To Dream). Four books in rewrite/JGTDTF (BG and Stereotypes, BG and U-Hauls, Simple Sara, Long Lea). Three Four books in the writing stage (BG4, BG5, Butterfly Effect, Centric). One in planning stage (To Die). And several others that have been written (mostly) but are in limbo (’cause they stink).

Yet I have this urge to just start another from absolute scratch. Not linked to any of the others. Not a sequel or prequel or series or nothing. Just brand new.

I love writing. I love watching the screen to see what happens next. When it is done, it is a raw, organic, fresh from the fingers and brain novel. Then I have to edit. I hate editing. I probably wouldn’t hate it so much if I could do it faster. Get the pain over and done with.

But I must stick to the schedule I have in my head.

To Dream MUST be done and submitted by Mid-August. (it was supposed to be submitted by yesterday)
BGaS MUST be done and submitted by the end of October. (sooner would be better)
BGaU SHOULD be written and edit started by the end of the year.
To Die MUST be written, edited, and submitted by May (June at the latest) of 2014.

In between all that, I’d really really love to get Simple Sarah done and submitted. Bless her heart. I started that back in ’02 or ’03. I’ve cat licked it to death several times. Poor Centric will never be finished. I’ve accepted that. Don’t make me any happier, though.

It’s Tribbles. That’s what it is.

So I’m trying to finish up the sequel to To Sleep. It’s a good book, in my humble, totally unbiased opinion. When I decided it was getting too big, it was roughly about 120K.

I went through it, really looking at the scenes. Which one belongs, which one doesn’t. I eliminated some characters. I eliminated some scenes. And when I was finished, it was 126K. Yes, it grew.

I then listed all the major events that happen. Then I filled in the events (scenes, really) that lead up to each major event. I am very, very, very visual so seeing the list helped. I trimmed a huge section. My cut file has grown by over 6K words. The book has a better feel so far. I’m on page 264, a little under half way.

But, dammit to heckaroni, the damn thing is getting BIGGER! What the hell? It is now at just under 128K.

I am really hoping that it will start shrinking soon. I didn’t want to do a third book. I may have to, just to make this one light enough to carry.

I wanted some events to happen by now but they aren’t fitting in just yet.

Anyway, just wanted to say I am still writing.

Getting Larger

So I am still editing To Sleep. Using the advice from the beta reader and Lorna, I’m making some changes and fine tuning.

And it is getting larger. It is now 107,922 words. I added in a scene which got bigger than I intended. I cut a lot (nearly 20K) then put one scene back and added another. Sigh.

But, I love this story. Not as much as I love poor Simple Sarah but close. The good thing is I am not freakishly attached and am looking forward to setting it free and submitting it to RCE. Yeah. I can do this.

My bro and his family will be here on the 28th. I want to submit this before then. I am fairly certain I will make it. I am on page 374 of 419 and steadily moving forward.

Teasers below. Some were cut completely, others were left in.

Mona touched my arm to get my attention. “I need to return to the Pod’s Infirmary. Do you wish to return with me or shall I leave you in their capable custody?”

“Stay with us, Karen. It is time for us to eat and probably you, too, if Mona’s kept your schedule going.” Tora said.

“If you truly do not mind…”

“Not at all!” Chloe pulled on the hem of my shirt toward an empty table. “I’m starving! I’ve just been polite but I was beginning to wonder if you would taste better fried or baked.”

I did more math in my head and realized that if all of the Firsts and Seconds were present, there would be eighteen thousand women in this room. I looked behind me and could believe that. Over half of them were on their feet and the rest were starting to stand as well. I wondered if they would do riot control now or just let it burn out. My question was answered when the First Mother left the podium and sat back down. No one else stood to take her place. She sat, hand folded in her lap, and stared toward the back of the room.

I had an urge. A strong urge. I didn’t know where it came from because I was not a public speaker at all. I hated talking to groups. Yet, I had the urge to get up and go stand at the podium and tell everyone to shut the fuck up. As I stood, Julie did as well. She took my hand and we stepped out of the aisle and walked toward the front. No one stopped us. As we walked, I stared at the First Mother, daring her to look me in the eye and deny she was influencing me. But as strong as the urge was, I knew I was fully capable of going back to my seat. I knew I could do it yet I chose to follow it through.

We reached the stage and climbed the steps together. I felt her damp palm in mine and I held onto it tightly. We got to the podium and stood there, looking out over the multitude of women. I let go of Julie’s hand and she took one step back.

“Shut. The. Fuck. Up.”

That’s all I said. The sound system was marvelous because my words echoed throughout the room and the shock of them did what I wanted. They shut up.

(….)

“We all have questions. We all want those questions answered. We will not get those answers by shouting them all out at once. I am sure there exists a way to ask in a safe, sane, and consensual manner.” That got some laughter. “We are lesbians. We organize Uhaul trucks better than a professional mover. Surely to shit we can organize ourselves and get our jobs done. Those four billion people will need to be woken up somehow. We have been given the task to come up with a list of ways to do that. They respected us enough that THE leader of their entire people is here. Now let’s return that respect and let her take the podium again.”

I turned then and looked her in the eye. All I felt from her was shock. I realized it wasn’t her that had gave me the compulsion to say my piece. I bowed deeply and stepped aside. Julie again grasped my hand and we stood there, waiting for the First Mother to stand. She didn’t. Instead, the Malon next to her did. She addressed the crowd.

Synopsis

I dislike synopsis. Synopsi? Anyway, I hate writing those things. I spent most of the day working on one for my novel To Sleep. It was too wordy, too relaxed, too….something. Then someone over at Lesbian Fiction Forum said to check to see what the publisher requires as some state the length. Whoo Hoo! RCE doesn’t require one! Happy dance.

I’ll still do one, I just won’t make it all pretty. I will submit a brief ‘plot summary’ however. A synopsis is quite useful before and after writing a book. It helps you to see any plot gaps or problems. For one, there’s a lot going on in this novel. Not quite too much, but close. The idea is to not overwhelm the reader but also not put them to sleep. It’s a delicate dance especially with science fiction.

When I have something finalized, I’ll let y’all know. My goal is to have the novel submitted by the end of this month. But I’ve got a toothache and came home from Minneapolis with a stomach bug. Yay. But I am working on it. I am editing and using the beta reader’s input as I go.

It’s Off!

My novel, To Sleep, is off to the two beta readers! May their eyes not bug out and may their brains not turn to mush.

After the editing, chapter adjustments, and putting back in a scene, the word count is 99,116. The ‘cuts’ document is 17,745 words.

I really like this novel. But, like I just told the beta readers in their email, I don’t want this one to languish in perpetual re-write like poor Simple Sarah.

Now, to work on a synopsis. I hate those things.