Category: On Writing

I’m On To The Next One, On To The Next One

What’s next?

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That’s the question writers always have rattling around in their heads, isn’t it? Sometimes you might have half a dozen new plot ideas floating around in your brain soup and sometimes the ol’ skull bowl will have been drained bone dry. It’ll fill up again eventually, though. The stream of ideas is never truly dammed up.

One thing is a constant in the life of the diligent writer (0r any creative pursuit, really) – regardless of where you are in your current project, there’s always going to be a Next Thing. There will always be the need to make the Next Thing.

I tend to be someone who has too many Plot Bunnies frolicking through my Mind Fields at any given moment.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that I run quite a bit. In the Not Winter months, I’ll log about 10-20 miles over the course of the week. The portion of that running time not spent on keeping myself from collapsing into a wheezing heap is devoted to plotting stuff. Plotting whatever my current WIP is, but also thinking ahead to what the Next Thing is going to be. A lot of time out on the open road has turned into wild Plot Bunnies.

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But now it’s decision time. My YA Superhero manuscript, THE MANY FOES OF AURORA OVERDARK is done and it’s being queried right now (and eternal thanks to a number of my fellow Scribes for their invaluable input into the final product). It’s time to start the Next Thing. I had three ideas I was kicking around for the OVERDARK’s successor:

Weird Western with demons and this kinda Hellfire-punk technology and stuff. The Dark Tower is one of my favorite book series, so I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing a western-themed story (really hope they don’t butcher the movie, btw).

Lady Heroes of the Multiverse – basically female trope heroes joined up to save the Universe. Multiverse hopping is a thing that’s done a lot in comics, and by golly do I love my comics. Also, I recently read Michael Underwood’s first GENRENAUTS book and that kinda got me excited to do a multiverse team thing.

Those two came up from the usual On-The-Run-Brain-Bubbling.

The third one has a bit of a story. If you’ve listened to fellow Scribe Kristin McFarland and I’s podcast The Young Podawans, you’ll know that we discuss What We’re Drinking at the beginning of each episode. One week I had a beer called the Ginga Ninja and on the side of the can was a mini story about The Brewmaster and his Ninja Wife. I said to Kristin on that episode “I want to write this book.” 

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And I think I’m going to write that next. I’ve got a little Brexit inspired plot starting to brew (lol) around the Brewmaster and his probably not Ninja, but some kind of soldier wife and also his husband who’s also integral to their beer making / soldiery business.

So what’s the point of this post besides “look at these ideas I have and and have to pick one waaaaaah”?

It’s interesting where we get our ideas from. The impetus for some of my previous books were a D&D campaign from high school, a ghost girl from a comic book, and now a story on the side of a beer can.

And not just that inspiration can come from anywhere, but that it can come at any time. Some people do their greatest thinking in the shower. Like I said before, I do a lot for my plot brainstorming during my runs, but I also have a 30 minute or so commute to and from work everyday and I find that to be a good time to mull over new ideas as well.

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I think it’s vitally important for writers to carve out not only writing time, but thinking / plotting time. The ideas for the Next Thing need a place to be cultivated, whether they’ve come from the random mundanities of everyday life, plumbed from a lifetime of stories we’ve consume, or a little bit of both.

So, I guess I’ll leave this post with a question:

When and where does everyone else do their plotting and idea brewing? We all have so many different commitments and needs pulling us away from our stories, and I’d really love  to know how people find the time in their lives and keep the stream of ideas still flowing.

THE MASKED SONGBIRD Soars – An Interview with Emmie Mears!

A special treat for everyone on the blog today – we’ve got an interview with the inimitable Emmie Mears, to celebrate the release of her debut novel THE MASKED SONGBIRD which come out FREAKING TOMORROW! 

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So read onwards my friends, and enjoy my five scintillating questions for Emmie and her beyond wonderful responses!

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The Querying Two: Literary Boogaloo

I told myself at the beginning of the year I would do more posts on this blog about the journey from starting my first novel OF FATES CONVERGED to (god willing) getting it published, but I don’t think I’ve really kept that promise. Actually the most effort I’ve put into this space since the beginning of the year is the SPN vs Buffy posts, which have been pretty great, but are not in the spirit what I had originally started this blog for. And I still haven’t even finished those, as I’m up to S9 of SPN.

And they have gotten more hits that anything else I’ve posted though, so…

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But I digress. 

So where are we at right now with the books and the publishing and all that? 

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The Many Lives of an Opening Line

A couple of posts ago, I discussed writing my second novel, THE LUMINOSITY OF BLACK and the need to return to the first one, OF FATES CONVERGED, for more edits. This includes a complete rewrite of the first chapter.

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Not something I was really happy to have to do again, but as my fellow writers know, it’s imperative that the opening few pages of your novel catch the reader immediately. This is especially so for the writer trying to query a novel for the first time. Nailing down the opening for FATES has been the most challenging thing I’ve dealt with in my extremely short writing career.

The Telegraph just released a list of some of the greatest opening line in literature. There’s a ton of great ones in there, but may favorite has to be from Stephen King’s THE GUNSLINGER. This line (and novel) blew me away when I first read it back in junior high and was one of the true drivers me wanting to become a writer later in life. Reading The Dark Tower, especially the first four books, was when I was first like ‘damn I real want to make something like this.’ So what is that great first line from THE GUNSLINGER?

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

So simply, but so perfect. The line does the job that it’s supposed to – it sets up the action forthcoming and hooks the reader with an interesting premise. Who is this man in black and why is the gunslinger chasing him across the desert?

Boom. There it is. Perfect.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to be able to craft an opening line or chapter of FATES thats ‘s great as the ones mentioned above, but I’ve will need to find one that’s engaging to the reader and gives them an attachment to the main character, Alexia Anarita right from the get-go. So I thought for this post, maybe it would interesting to take a trip down memory lane and see how FATES’ opener has evolved and where I’m at with it now.
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What I Did About Book Number Two

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Way back when I wrote a post asking what I should do about writing my second novel. Would I continue the story of Alexia and company and craft the second volume of the FATES saga, or would I start a whole new story, in case FATES never saw the light of published day? This was coming off of a trip to Writers Digest Conference East, where I came to realize that FATES was not quite ready for prime time yet.

From the response to that post I got, the general consensus was to go with the new story. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of you, dear readers, so that’s exactly what I did. It was hard to step away from the story I had spent the previous three years writing, but I knew it needed to be done. And I really didn’t completely walk away from FATES, I spent a couple of months editing it again in the fall, trying to get it into a more publishable condition. In fact, I’m just about to go back to the grim task of editing FATES one last time before querying again. Please allow Jon Snow and Ygritte to express my joy as I prepare to descend into the Edit Cave once again:

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Yeah, not really looking forward to it, but one must do what one must do.

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Writers in the Wild

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The writer’s life can be a lonely one.

One full of solidarity that’s often just yourself and your words.

Not that it’s a completely terrible thing, quiet alone time can often be a writer’s greatest ally. But what I do find is that I don’t get to talk “the craft” very often in my day to day life. My day job is nothing related to writing, so there’s not really any opportunity to talk about my stories, my processes, the difficulties or or the triumphs I’m experiencing on a regular basis. Most of my talking about writing is done with my writer pals on Twitter – whom I love dearly, and don’t know where I would be in this crazy writerly world without.

It’s interesting though, every now and again I’ll unexpectedly meet someone in everyday life who is part of the greater community of authors. It’s always a pleasant surprise and awesome because there’s a certain sparkle you can see in someone’s eyes when you say to them – “Oh really? I’m a writer too!” There is a kinship there, even with a relative stranger, once you realize the two of you have both been through many of the same experiences trying to make it in the industry. You know you’ve both spent those long hours staring at the that blinking cursor, wondering if all the time you’ve spent writing this book, all the words you’ve poured out onto these pages, was really worth it, all the while still knowing deep down inside that of course it was. You know it was because you know there are others like you out there feeling the same way and now you’ve just met one of them!

Well that’s happened to me twice in the last couple of weeks, and both have been wonderful and affirming experiences.

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My Moderately Triumphant Return

*Browses through Internet history*

Hey… what’s this thing in here with my name on it?

Oh yeeeeeeah… it’s that blog I haven’t updated since July!

*Clears throat*

Well, it’s a new year, why not a new blog post?

Right?

Right.

In all seriousness, I really do need to blog more. Originally, the whole point of this blog was to discuss my journey down that long hard road into the publishing world, but it turned out my first novel was not quite ready to begin that journey yet! Besides that little tidbit, the lack of blogging mostly comes from the fact that it’s often a toss up between writing a blog post or writing / editing one of my novels.

And guess what folks? The novel almost always wins.

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BUILD! THAT! WORLD!

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“The task of writing a novel can be a long and arduous one,” said every writer ever.

The process of taking the tempest of ideas inside of one’s head – all the wonderful storylines, lovely characters, thrilling plot twists – and transforming them into actual words can be grueling. It will no doubt be a great day for writers everywhere when someone invents a helmet that just allows bang your head against your keyboard until all of your awesome ideas just come tumbling out. Until that day though, the actual process of writing, however rewarding the finished product may be, will be a slow and difficult one.

That all sounded dreadfully pessimistic didn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I love the process of writing and creative development, but it is tough. There is something about it though, especially when starting a new project, which brings unequivocal joy to my wordsmithing heart.

Word building.
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What to do about Book Number Two

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 So You Wrote a Novel? Good for You. Now What?

OF FATES CONVERGED, my first novel, volume one of the sprawling fantasy epic I’ve had in my head for the last 15 or so years is finished. Months of retooling, editing, and all that good stuff, in the bag.The querying has finally begun in earnest (and I got a request for 100 pages already *does the Cat Daddy*), but the question that looms large is – now what?

This is the dilemma – should continue writing the sequel to OF FATE CONVERGED (tentatively titled OF AMBITIONS UNBOUND) with the hope that over the next months (or year, or however long it takes) that an agent will pick up this first volume. The thing is though, even if agent does pick it up, there’s no guarantee that it will be sold to a publisher. And then if a publisher does take it what if nobody buys it? What if it languishes – collecting dust on store shelves and unclicked into Amazon carts? What happens to the other four books in the series I have planned? Scuttled unceremoniously into the the endless of void of the Never-to-be-Read?

Deep breath.

I’m really getting ahead of myself.
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We’re All in This Together – The Power of the Tribe

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Yet Another Amanda Palmer Post

I reckon most of you have seen this already (it went viral on the Interwebs, as these things are wont to do), but here is the video of Amanda F’n Palmer‘s TED Talk. She speaks regarding the sharing of an artist’s work and life experiences with his or her audience.

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