Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Discussion Post 2

What I'm Listening To: Cold - Cure My Tragedy (A Letter to God)

What I'm Doing: Trying not to kick or otherwise do damage to the infernally whimpering dogs. I've got such a headache right now because it hasn't shut up for the last HOUR and a HALF. I'm ready to do bodily harm to it.

This is a relatively long post, and even then, I'm positive I missed a few comments. Don't worry, I READ them all - they get emailed to me - I just... fail a bit, when it comes to replying. XD


JessJordan I can almost understand the media thing. I was trying to think about it, and was telling myself that I didn't really use things I've seen... of course, I am a complete geek and don't watch things like American Idol or cartoons and the like; when my television gets turned on at all, I watch something on the Crime channel, or Investigation Discovery, or the History International Channel, or Science, or just History channels. I'm a huge fan of history; it's crossed my mind that while I'm working towards my MFA, (the school I'm thinking of requires a bachelors degree before they'll let you take the MFA course) I'll get teaching credentials as a History teacher, and teach high school history. I also plan on writing at least two different historical romance novels under a pseudonym, as I believe I've mentioned in this blog. (Not sure if it was this one, or my angstdump blog that I said that I could never teach Elementary or Middle school... I really dislike kids, and middle school drama would have me shooting kids with bb guns after the first week.)

No, but here I get off my point so entirely I forget what I was saying. Anyway, I read somewhere that it's... okay... in a way to use other people's ideas, so long as it's not plagiarising them - taking their exact idea and using it for your own. What they said was okay (and I've long since lost whatever it was I read that said this) was taking someone elses idea, and changing it a bit here, and a bit there, and making it your own, until it's unrecognisable as the beginning idea, and is now your own original. I find myself doing that with Eversong; It's damn near impossible to write a fantasy novel of any kind without touching on something that's already been done in one way or another. And anyone who hears 'elves' is going to think of Lord of the Rings, or those Keebler monstrosities. (Sprites, pixies, and faeries, as well as goblins, imps, and the like are tiny little short things. Elves, in my opinion, are relatively people-shaped, and just as tall.)

And as I was reading this, I realised that I don't base my characters off of people. Not yet, anyway. Vicky is the only one; she's based off of myself. A loner, reads a lot, has no friends, not 'skinny', at a point in her life where she's just drifting aimlessly. But that's where the similarities end, and her home life is radically different, and of course, she has fantastic adventures in a different world. (which is, admittedly, something that I've always longed to do, but I don't think I'm alone in it, which is part of what I think will make Eversong so ... appealing.) In my historical romances, those are most certainly based off of real people. I'm unabashedly changing my best friend's name, and sending her spinning through time where she finds her true love. But I think that's as far as it goes. As I write, I'll probably find so-and-so starting to act like my brother, or my stepdad, or so on and so forth, but for the moment, I don't think I've done that. I'm almost envious of people who do, I think, because they've got at least a template for their character.

Ahh, music. I can't think without music, much less function. I've always got either my ipod on or winamp/itunes open, and I'm constantly on the hunt for new music. And sometimes, certain songs are inspiring. There's a song by Stabbing Westward that helped with some of the scenes (not written yet, but they're in my head) for Mischief and Murder. "Sometimes It Hurts" - the lyrics have nothing to do with it at all, but the music itself, and the tone of the lyrics, it has something of an apocalyptic sound to it, and it's going to be my 'writing theme' for M&M.

And most certainly other people's writings. Sometimes when I'm trying to write, and I can't focus on it, I sit down with a book and within ten minutes I'm itching to get back to my own writing.

I think I posted a link to it, but I'm going to post the actual hacks themselves in another entry, with my thoughts and comments added (because you should know by now that I've got an opinion on everything, and can talk writing until I'm blue in the face/my fingers start aching.) I've never heard of morning pages, and it's funny, because I was just talking last night to my friend about this same thing: I'm not functional in the morning until I've had at least a cup of coffee, and an hour of doing nothing but things like checking my email and surfing over the pet sites I've joined. I'm capable of leaping out of bed and getting dressed and getting moving, but usually within a half hour of doing that, I'm zombified again, and am good for nothing without at least an hour of being awake and moving around.

As for your work, that sounds like it would be full of novels in and of itself. And some people just aren't made to be parents. I know myself for one of them; I have no patience for children (although I've been told many times that I'm 'good with them' - it's mostly because I think that if I'm nice to them, without being too nice, they'll respect what I say and leave me alone when I want it. XD) and I've got too much interest in my own life. I understand that kids are a lifetime responsibility, whether you're twenty years old, or eighty. Your life is never your own again after you have kids, and I don't want that. (not to mention I've got incurable wanderlust; I'd never be home, and that's just as bad as not being a good parent while you are there.)

I've never been able to make use of writing prompts. Oh, simple things like 'rubber chicken, carrots, and a giraffe" I can turn into a silly story, but things like "You're walking down a dark road late at night and you see..."
I can use them of course, because all I've got to do is imagine myself walking down a dark road, there's endless possibilities, but it doesn't lend itself to story creation; usually just a paragraph or two.

I make use of your number 8 almost all the time. As a kid, I called them 'dream starters' because I thought that if I went to bed thinking about flying, I'd dream about flying, and the stories built themselves in my head from there. I'm also a seer - I see things in leaves, and in patterns on the wall and such. When I was a teenager, my bed faced a window with an enormous bush outside, and when the wind would blow, the leaves and the light would arrange themselves in such a way as to look like an angry old man, shouting about something, so I used to lie in bed and think about what he was so mad about, and why he was shouting, and what he was saying.

In some of my writers hacks, the guy said that writer's block is a farce, and that he sometimes sits down and writes "I have nothing to say" so many times that he finally gets so pissed off about writing something stupid that he's able to write something decent, and other people have said they get writer's block looking at blank pages. I get artists block looking at blank pages; I've never been able to make much use of sketchbooks because of it, although I doodle endlessly on lined paper (to the utter horror of my artistic friends. XD)
Another thing the writers hack said was when he was talking about his wife, who is a painter, and always has two projects going on at one time, so that when she's stuck on one, she switches to the other until she gets stuck on it, and then goes back to the first. I started M&M when I couldn't bring myself to write anything else for Eversong, and now I've got a good portion of it mapped out, and a little bit of the beginning as well, and now, after a short break from Eversong, I feel the ideas building up for it again, and I'm getting the ball rolling on writing it again, and can't even think of writing for M&M. And I imagine I'll switch back and forth between them until they're both done.


Don't feel bad about being partially blind. I'm halfway there myself; I feel like an old woman some days, because my hearing's bad (especially right now, I got water in one of my ears a week ago, and now can't hear a thing out of it) and my eyes are getting worse and worse, and I've got back pains and can't hardly walk some days...

And I think I've said somewhere else, that I've got patience for things I like (for the most part.) I like to read other people's stories, and if something I said could help them become a better writer, then I've accomplished something. Granted, my patience started running out towards the end, because it was story after story that was just... terrible. I know the internet is famous for it's 'anonymity' but that didn't occur to me when I was telling people honestly what I thought of their excerpts, until afterwards, when one of the authors of something I'd commented on had asked me questions in return about something I'd said, but I'd also rather speak honestly and tell someone that something's not good enough, than sugar coat it, and get their hopes up. And as much as it'll pain me, I want honest feedback on my own stories (something my friends on LJ couldn't seem to manage. XD I asked them specifically "read over this and tell me why it's wrong/why you don't like it" and all I got was, "this is so great, I love it!")

I was trying to think if I've got anything that's a 'good example' of my writing, without simply copy-pasting bits of my novels (because I've heard that posting your book, or parts of your book online can interfere with the publishing process) but discovered that the only thing I've really ever written aside from starting these books is 'adult' rated, mostly slash fanfiction, for various anime games, and the Harry Potter novels. And I don't know what Eversong looks like right now (haven't reread any of it since I started writing) or I'd post an excerpt of it. Maybe I will anyway. Not my first 250 words, because I know for a fact that the beginning is weak and needs a lot of work, but something... *thinks about it*

All of my friends up until this point have been artists. Really good artists. And I'm ... not bad. I can make vaguely human-shaped drawings, if they're girls, in tight clothes. XD

Such as this, my oldest and favourite RP character, who will be making it into Eversong. Her name's Eshina Darksquall, nicknamed "Phantom"

And here is Phantom and her husband, Manessin Darksquall, aka "Spectre" as drawn by my friend.


Writing is a Thought In Progress

The 'write what you know' thing stems mostly from the fact that the majority of my books will take place in or around Virginia Beach. I know large cities like New York and Chicago are popular settings (yet another reason for me not to use them) but I've never been there, and couldn't tell you a damn thing about either city. Virginia Beach I've lived in over half my life, and while there are still things that surprise me, I still know my way around, and can picture any of the streets I frequent with ease, as well as give you vague directions on how to get to certain places.

I do think that a murderous rampage can be accomplished while still creating the perfect murder (leave no one alive, touch nothing, that sort of thing) but I'll say it again just so people don't worry - I'm not the least likely to go on a murderous rampage.

Thank you on the title compliment. I hadn't thought about it until you said something, but you're absolutely right. Perfect could be about any number of things. The perfect girl, the perfect body, the perfect score, the perfect murder...

The thing that gets me about my various ideas isn't the number (though there are many, and obviously the horde is growing) it's the diversity. Most people stick to just one genre, and they're good at it, but even for myself (that writer's ego coming out and showing off again) I reread the excerpts I posted, and I was thinking, that if I were reading those books, not writing them myself, they'd all be good. They're all GOING to be good. And now I feel like I have a standard to live up to; I've got fantastic starts with all three of them, and they're as different as different could be.

I don't think people realise that women can be just as coldblooded as men. Women as a gender-role have always been matronly, caring-for-people, child-raising people, whereas it's men - hot-headed, strong, less self-control - who are brought to mind by the thought of a serial killer. And it's true, that more men kill than women, and in male/female partner killings, it's generally the woman is an accomplice while the man is the killer, but that doesn't mean that there aren't women who kill. One of my favourite shows on Oxygen is Snapped and it's exactly that, stories about women who snap, and kill people.
That's another thing. Women generally kill their husbands/children/parents - people close to them. Most of the stories in Snapped are women who've found out their husband was cheating on them/needed the money from the life insurance/had a new lover and wanted the husband out of the way... things like that. Which is why I'm so stoked, personally, about Perfect - it stars a topically stereotypical female lead, who is carrying out actions predominantly manifesting in men. Random victims, really violent killings, and of course, she's pretty much above reproach, being the only daughter of Such-and-Such-Big-Name-Company's CEO. She's like 'the quiet guy who always helps out at church functions and helps little old ladies across the street and takes in stray puppies, and then every third Monday goes out and rips the skin off of hookers' only in girl form.
Also, feel free to get bossy. When people are excited about what I'm doing, it makes ME excited about what I'm doing, and that gets things done faster. XD Also, I'm just as likely to get the same way, and it's about time I got a little of my own back.

I haven't actually decided whether or not she'll 'get away with it' or not. I realise most people probably read crime stories in order to get their happy ending without all the sap and kissing that romance novels present, but at the same time, I'm already breaking all the rules in the first place, why not leave it with 'and she drove away into the sunset, ready to kill again.' instead of 'behind bars for the rest of her life.'

I hadn't actually considered mental issues as a base for the killing. I haven't given it any thought, really, but as of five minutes ago, she was just some bored twenty-something who finds the idea of killing a thrill. And then it turns out that she's good at it (she'll be one that frequents the gym, was a cheerleader in high school; not muscular, per se, but strong, with good control of herself) to boot. Instead of overthinking it, I'm probably just going to write, and see what types of mental problems arise on their own, if there's something deeper at work or if she's just had one too many martinis.

As for the pseudonym thing, Amy K for Eversong and A.N.K for the YA won't be that much of a leap to make, whereas I think I'm going to ruthlessly separate the other genres from those two. As for the crime novel about a female killer written by a woman...
It was the same problem I had with Eversong, when I was first starting out. I actually interviewed my best friend's husband, and asked him if he'd read a fantasy story fronted by a female character. I don't know the audience at all with crime novels; I only know the two or three that I've got, myself, and I haven't the foggiest what people would look for in that genre. I know it'll be good, and it'll be interesting because of the over-riding themes, but I don't know if men would be more or less likely to pick it up if they thought a woman had written it. J.K. Rowling did that to her name (in rumours, at least) so that boys wouldn't feel self-conscious about reading a book written by a woman. Naturally, it shouldn't matter who wrote the book, as long as it's good, but it does. One of the YA girls from Twitter posted about something similar a few days ago; they said something to the effect of the list of the 50, or 100 most influential books of the 20th century was compiled, and only seven of the authors were women. Girls are easier about picking up a book by either gender, but some men might see it as an effront to their masculinity to be seen reading a book written by a woman. And they may not even know that they think that way; I'm just considering how to reach the widest possible audience.


Just Keep Swimming (The sharks are vegans)

1- I may actually end up rewriting it, then. I've had Phantom (as a character) since my freshman year of high school; going on nine years now. And because she's so old, I've forgotten much of her original back story, but that is, as far as I can tell, a good representation; she was separated from her family at a relatively young age, and grew up 'on the road' as it were, with her mentor. The reason for the confusingly similar names is because they're twins. (Don't know if I made that clear in the actual story, because I can't bring myself to reread it. XD)
And the abrupt shift has more to do with the fact that I couldn't write, than your brain being on lock-down from work. I'm impossibly happy that you liked it overall, however, and it's made it onto the list of 'maybe someday I'll...'

2 - I'm still experimenting with actively writing to hook the readers in, and I must have rewritten the first sentence or two at least fifteen times before I finally settled on whatever you see up there now. She is killing at random, for two reasons: one, it's one less way to connect her to the murders, and two; as I said up there somewhere *waves vaguely in the direction of the top/middle of this post* women tend to kill their family members. There are, of course, exceptions, but I want this to stop being stereotypical after it passes her being the rich heiress type.
And I hadn't considered that, about the last paragraph. I'll go back and do something with that, as I was mostly writing in a hurry in order to get the initial opening out of my head and make it as eye-catching as possible.

3 - I'm not sure, exactly, how I ought to be 'showing' things and not telling them, which is why it's a little sketchy. Eversong was the first novel I started working on, and I've been on the fence about that beginning since I wrote it.
This is also a good a place as any to answer another question I remember you asking (somewhere) about her being in her early twenties, and never having fallen in love. She's very much independent, a sort of 'I'll do it myself' person rather than the 'Oh, help me, I dropped my kerchief!' damsel-in-distress type. And she's also more interested in books than she is in other people, and she's never really had any close close friendships in her life. She's had 'crushes' on people, but never serious, and that's the reason for her finding her true 'first love' while she's in Eversong.

4 - I tried rethinking M&M with human characters, and it simply wouldn't work. That's the reason I see them more like the characters from the Secret of Nimh or Once Upon a Forest. Very clearly animals, but still... upright-walking, clothes-wearing, and English-speaking. At some point, I'll get that across in the writing, but of course, that was only the first two hundred and fifty or so words. I picture Riley as something of a coward; not because he's REALLY a coward, but just because he's so overshadowed by so many other Huge Personalities in his home life that he never really has a chance to share himself.

Also, you've totally made my day with that comment. I'm pretty sure the publisher deals with whatever blurb goes on the back of the cover, but the point of the back cover is to create a story that lends itself well to such a thing, and still gets people interested in it. It made perfect sense, and like I said, it made my day. It's really nice to hear from friends that you've got something kinda good going on there, but it's spine-tingling, stupid-grin-inducing to hear the same thing from new friends that don't know me for the utter (but harmless) lunatic that I am.


  1. I'll start by saying this: dayum, girl, you can blog! :D I'm on my lunch break, so I'm sure I'll miss a few things, but I thought I'd reply to some of this while I have the chance. This week has been hectic w/the wallpaper removal and moving stuff to the new house, so ... anyway ...

    I wish I didn't watch American Idol. I really do. I make the commitment every year to NOT watch it. But then it happens. It's like chocolate--even the crappy kind I can't resist.

    with respect to other's ideas: I definitely don't feel like I'm taking anything from anyone. Well, I guess it's kind of hard NOT to have some sort of preconceived notion of say, witches and vampires, so of course there's always that common thread, but when I use someone else's idea to make my own idea, it's always just this tiny piece, and I take it somewhere else entirely.

    For instance: In the last SA contest, someone wrote about their character running in the woods from bullets. That's all I remember. I don't remember what the story was about. As I was lying down the other night, my character told me that he was running, and others were chasing him, and that is where his story started. Did the idea for the bullets in the woods come from someone else? Probably, since I'd read the SA entry a few days before that. But did I steal their story? To answer that, all I can say is that I don't even remember their story.

    What it boils down to is that everything has been done before, at least in one way. Our job is to take those and turn them around--just like you said in your post: to change them so much that you no longer have the idea of someone else; you have something completely unrecognizable that is yours.

    (lol at the Keebler elves, btw. sometimes i forget about them--i'd definitely say that i think more about lotr----and i love the artwork you linked to! and image w/the man and the woman was so ... believably passionate.)

  2. I really like that Vicky is at an aimless drifter phase of her life, b/c that will make her adventure so much more interesting than, say, someone who already lives for thrills and happens to stumble upon another one. Wouldn't we ALL love to have fantasy adventures in another world like the characters we envision in our heads? (Well ... except for the characters that end up bludgeoned or something ... that's not so fun).

    Music = Life. Period. And THANK YOU for reminding me about Stabbing Westward. I had a bunch of their stuff on my itunes (including Sometimes it Hurts) and forgot all about it. I love them, and they're perfect mood music for my new WIP.

    Wow ... You and I are morning twins. If, for whatever reason, I have to jump awake and get going, I find myself a completely worthless zombie after that. Which is why I end up online half of the time instead of doing something my work would consider more productive, like calling clients or filing, or what have you ... :)

    I don't have a lot of patience for children either, to be honest. I got better at it due to a brief stint as a substitute teacher, but I still prefered the high schoolers (even though they all took great advantage and attempted not to do any work). I could probably (probably ...) teach middle school, but I'm not sure. I def hate the middle school drama, but it doesn't get that much better in high school. I am definitely too selfish for children, and I know it. Maybe that'll change one day, but not for now.

    Some writing prompts work for me and some don't. Often I would stare at the wall until a scene came to me, prompt or non-prompt related. But I do have some scenes that I absolutely love that started with something silly, like a quick smell of peanut butter.

    about writer's block being a farce--your friend may be correct. i saw somewhere that morning pages are supposed to break that "block" by you keeping your pen to paper and writing things like "I have nothing to say," until the words break through the stubborn barrier in your head that tells you you don't.

    Great idea about alternating b/w Eversong and M&M. I think I may do that w/my 2 WIPs--one is more fresh writing, and the other is edit-edit-edit phase. Definitely need to break up the edits w/something.

    As for feedback: If you ask for it from me, I'll definitely be honest. Keep in mind, though, that this is coming from someone who is just recently getting into the world of fantasy, YA or otherwise. So some of the concepts that may be very familiar to others are a little lost on me. I may ask you questions and things of that nature, but I believe in honesty. What's great is that none of your ideas suck, so I don't have to sugarcoat anything. What's also great is that you can write--things just need tightening and polishing and a little more development in some areas. It's easy to find flaws with a project at the first draft phase.

    One of the things that I find helpful is letting the author know how I see their characters from the onset, so that if you, for instance, saw Riley as weak, but I saw something else, you'd know that from the beginning. It may be just me, or it may be that something in your mind isn't transferring to paper. These are the kinds of things I like to know from others as well, b/c I put my characters on a throne somewhere above my own critique at times. (fyi, I think your description of how you see Riley was pretty dead on as to how he's actually described. Just so we're clear, I was only using him as an example).

    Okay. Officially out of time. Will post more when I have the chance :)

  3. Writing is a Thought In Progress:

    I have a difficult time w/setting on my books, b/c Florida is perceived as "hot sun, bright colors, movin'-to-Miami!" And that's not what my stories are about. So I have to research other areas for some of my settings, especially my new WIP--Florida simply will not work for it ... Chicago and New York = ehhh ... been there, done that, definitely.

    About the murderous rampage. I don't have a problem w/the perfect murder possibility. I think my issue is with the word "rampage," b/c it implies a level of crazy, hot-headedness that doesn't equate to the calm crazyhead that i see committing this perfect string of murders. I think I'd call it a murder spree or something like that instead of a rampage.

    About the numerous genres you're working on: There was a blog someone posted either when I first joined or earlier this month discussing just that ... I 'll see if I can find it, but it was an author that is published in a wide array of genres kind of telling her story of her success, if I'm not mistaken. So it definitely can be done. The biggest switch I've seen lately is adult authorts coming out w/a YA series, or vice versa (e.g., James Patterson did some fantasy YA series, if I'm not mistaken).

    I think part of the reason that I like the idea of a female serial killer is b/c I find it terrifying, for precisely the reasons you dientified. Most women are matronly, hormonal, overly emotional. The idea that there are women out there w/an emotional disconnect so severe that they start killing for sport? Scary. (Again, I reference Mr. Brooks. I'll leave it at that so as not to spoil the movie, in case you ever want to see it.) And if it matters, I kind of like the idea of her getting away w/it, but a part of me would like to think that karma or something would bite her in the butt (maybe nothing too serious, but something). Whatever happens, in my mind, I don't really see her behind bars. I think so long as it's fresh, it doesn't matter where you take it, though :)

    as for pseudos: I kind of like the idea of an ambigious name--not threatening for boys, kind of intriguing for everyone :)

  4. a-HA, found it! and by "it," I mean the post regarding publishing in multiple genres. Here's the link: