Friday, July 17, 2009


What I'm Listening To: Alexander Rybak - Dolphin

What I'm Doing: Writing - fanfics, admittedly, but better than nothing.

Although this new-found habit of mine will undoubtedly stand me in good stead while writing and revising, at the moment it's new enough to be a nuisance.


I finished a particularly well-written fic, and suddenly wanted to write more of my own. I'd left off with this:

Without waiting for a response, he ducked out of the other's bedroom and made himself busy in the kitchen.

Looking at it, I was thinking, "he's making tea. What does one do when you make tea in an unfamiliar flat?"

Poke through all the cabinets, of course. I added:

Deliberately, he let the cupboards crash closed and the mugs clink onto the countertops,

and then stopped there and stared at it.

Why is he making a ton of noise? He's afraid that his partner is going to kill him and stash his body somewhere, so why is he making enough noise to cover up the sounds of someone sneaking up behind him?

It drew me up short for a moment, and I found myself unable to continue until I'd answered the question. He's afraid. This satisfied my inner critic, and I continued the paragraph as:

Deliberately, he let the cupboards crash closed and the mugs clink onto the countertops, releasing the nervous tension he'd been feeling since arriving on the other man's doorstep.

Will this make me a better writer? Indubitably. Will it irritate the hell out of me, stopping myself every few paragraphs to make sure I'm explaining it to my own satisfaction? It's inevitable.

A bit of a(n) (r)amble

What I'm Listening To: Gerard McMann - Cry Little Sister (Theme from The Lost Boys)

What I'm Doing: Still reading fanfics, thinking about sleep, and now building another novel in my head.

This makes three in the queue now, (and I just imagined Mami smacking me upside the head for using the word 'queue' and how the first thing she did with Eversong was go through and pick out all my British spellings.) but I'm really excited over it. The line, I mean, and not Mami popping me in the head for not writing like the American that I am. I have to finish Eden, and it's not so much a burden - I want to finish it, not like in the past when I've just ... dropped whatever project I was working on for a newer, shinier one - but it simply refuses to finish itself. Scenes from the end are there, but I can't get them into any sort of respectable order, much less put them into words.

After I finish Eden, I've got three to choose from. I can work on Return to Eversong, the second the Legends trilogy, or Wish (the more I think on it, the more I prefer WishMaker or The WishMaker), or the Vampire Novel that's been haunting me for several months now.

Every so often, it'll present itself to me unexpectedly, and something new will come out. At first, I thought it was going to be about a vampire-hunter, and then I decided it would work better from the point of view of the vampire himself - in which there will be no clandestine romances between the vampire and a teenage girl, much to the horror of all Twilight fans in the world looking for the next Bella-To-Be. And I think I've said this before, but the very first line of the novel presented itself to me as I was listening to Cry Little Sister; it's going to begin I was twenty five years old when I died.

This serves multiple purposes. Backstory, a hook, and most obviously, the beginning, which is often the hardest part for me to get out. It also takes the action away from everything I've written or considered so far; Ally notwithstanding, he'll be the oldest character I've written yet (Vicky is twenty two at the beginning of Eversong, Zander's twenty. Ally's twenty nine, nearly thirty, Riley is in his teens - sixteen or seventeen. Nalia's nineteen.) But Perfect is on the backburner; I used to describe it as a stew pot in my mind - my muses were tossing things into it, but for the most part it was just sitting there and simmering. And I don't quite feel ready to deal with everything that's going to have to go into Perfect - it's going to be more work than Eversong and Eden's Gate put together, simply for the fact that it's not a straight line. It's going to take all sorts of twists and turns and curves and unexpected side routes, and until I figure out what those side routes are, I'm not going to be able to write it.


What I'm Listening To: Tiziano Ferro - Ed Ero Conentissimo

What I'm Doing: reading fanfics, and considering sleep.

I've been reading a lot of fanfics lately, trying to recapture the writing spark. Some are so-so, and some are just so ... utterly amazing. I get completely sucked into them, and it's only afterwards, when I'm sobbing into a tissue over such a happy/bittersweet ending, that I think, How do they do it?

How do they write characters that make me feel so much for them? What is it about that story that sucked me in so hard? Why am I crying right now, how did they DO it?

I'm proud of myself for these questions. Because I know it means I'm asking myself, How can I do it, too?

But it doesn't lessen the frustration of not being able to pick out the moment when they turn generic characters into real people that I feel for. I foresee a lot of rereads in my future as I try to decipher this little mystery.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mortality in fiction.

What I'm Listening To: Royksopp - Remind Me

What I'm Doing: Reading fanfics and being generally angsty.

Uh... some rather major spoilers for a novel I haven't written yet. If you're worried about it, don't read this next little paragraph.

I recently came to the conclusion that the main character in my next novel is going to die. I don't know if she's going to die victorious, or if it's going to be a total win on the side of evil.


I've been reading fanfics recently to get myself motivated for writing, and because I'm utterly sick of reading and rereading my books. Unfortunately, I seem to have chosen to read an author who writes uplifting and yet horribly depressing stories. The first one I read involved a murder/suicide plot, with the intention for eternal torture to be carried out after death. (I admit it, I'm a Harry Potter fan. I read and write more fics than I ought to. But because it's Harry Potter fanfiction, you can do a lot more with it than you could with a 'real life' thing, what with all the magic.) That said, the perpetrator planned to capture his enemy in a portrait for the torture, but he died before he had a chance to implement his nefarious scheme. He then became trapped in the very portrait he'd planned for his revenge, and he became friends with the person whom he was going to kill. Over the years in the story, they fell in love, and both ended happily in the portraits after the death of the other. It was such a bittersweet ending that I cried for about fifteen minutes.

Immediately following that, I began reading a fic in which Harry finds out he's going to die of cancer and he's got a year to live. Immediately, it struck me, because I've always been horribly aware of my own mortality.

My mother died when I was twelve years old. She left behind her new husband (my stepdad) a four month old baby (my brother) and myself. (as a result, I'm rather testy when people make 'your mom' jokes to me.) She had an aneurysm in her brain (one of the blood vessels in her brain burst, for those that don't know) and while she was in the hospital after surgery, she had a stroke (a blood clot in the vessels of the brain. I'm not trying to insult anyone here, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I even found out exactly what a stroke was - I'd known she had one, but I didn't know what it was.) and died. She was only thirty four years old.

It's been ten years since then. This October will make it eleven years. As a sort of traumatic reaction to losing her so suddenly when I was so young, my mind blocked off nearly all of my memories of her. I wouldn't recall what she looked like if not for the pictures I cling to, and I can't remember what her voice sounded like, or anything. But it also means that I just literally don't remember much of my childhood. I don't remember things like my seventh birthday, or the details of any Christmases, or who I went to school with, nothing. I call it traumatic amnesia, but there's probably a more technical/proper term for it. I've always been fascinated with amnesia as a condition, but it wasn't until last year that I applied it to myself and recognised that I had amnesia. Clearly, I remember who I am, and I remember her name, and whatnot, but I don't remember any details of my early childhood. It's not until I was well into high school that I have any sort of linear memories and not just scattered snapshots in my brain.

But back to the point of this blog entry. Just a few months after my mum died (I refuse to use euphemisms like passed away - she didn't pass on, she didn't go away, she died.) my grandfather died of an aneurysm in his heart.

Just a year or so after that, a boy in my town was hit by a car and killed. He went to my school, he was around my age.

In 2oo5 my grandmother died of cancer.

But (naturally) the death of my mother affected me the strongest. Because she was so young when she died, I've never really considered living past thirty, myself. I don't intend to kill myself when I reach 31 or anything so stupid. I want to live past thirty, but I never really thought that I would. I still don't. Anything I plan to do - I plan to do it within the next ten years. I'm only twenty three right now, but I intend to pack a lot of living into the next seven to ten years. I want to see the world in that time, because I'm so aware that life can end in an instant. Billy - the boy who was hit by a car - was riding his bike down the highway, on his way back from seeing a girl he'd met at the local fair. He liked her, they may have dated. He certainly didn't intend to die when he did. But in an instant, his life was gone and there was no more Billy Black. My mum had a twelve year old daughter, a new husband, and a four month old baby. The last thing she wanted to do was die when she did. She never got to see me through high school, something I'd always counted on her being there for. She was never with me when I dated, or around to show off embarrassing baby pictures of me in the bath. She never got a chance to see Alex grow up. He's going into middle school this year. Sixth grade. But there's still a possibility that he won't make it through. There's a chance that he'll never grow up. There's a chance that we could all die tomorrow, and most people don't think of it. They get up, they go to work, they trudge through life like it's a burden, never realising how precious it is until it's gone.

I'm not nearly so arrogant as to believe that I'm impressive or interesting enough to write an autobiography that people will want to read, but I'm going to write it, or something similar to it, anyway. I want to leave something of me behind when I go, something that says, I WAS HERE! I lived! I breathed! I loved!

But it will be, inevitably, a story about death.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The world ends with you (standing shotgun in hand above your vegetable patch)

What I'm Listening To: something on Investigation Discovery

What I'm Doing: reading internet articles about being alone.

From Old MacDonald Had A Farmers’ Market –
total self-sufficiency is a noble, misguided ideal

The idea of self-reliance is so deep in our psyches, however, that even when we attempt to escape from the unhappy and unsustainable cul-de-sac of our society, we’re likely to turn toward yet more “independence.” The “back-to-the-land” movement, for instance, often added the words “by myself.” Think about how proudly a certain kind of person talks about his “off-the-grid” life — he makes his own energy and grows his own food, he can deal with whatever the world throws at him. One such person may be left-wing in politics (à la Scott and Helen Nearing); another may be conservative. But they are united in their lack of need for the larger world. Not even to school their kids — they’ll take care of that as well.

Such folks are admirable, of course — they have a wide variety of skills now missing in most Americans; they’re able to amuse themselves; they work hard. But as an ideal, especially an economic ideal, that radical self-reliance strikes me as being almost as empty as the consumer society from which it dissents. Consider, for instance, the idea of growing all your own food. It’s clearly better than relying on food from thousands of miles away — from our current industrialized food economy, which figures “it’s always summer somewhere” and so orders take-out from that distant field every night of the year. Compared with that, an enormous garden and a root cellar full of all you’ll need for the winter is virtue incarnate. But if you believe in many of the (entirely plausible) horror stories about what’s to come — peak oil, climate change — then the world ends with you standing shotgun in hand above your vegetable patch, protecting your carrots from the poaching urban horde.

From How to Drop Out
It is a path and not a destination. And you walk the path not by disconnecting from the rest of the world, but by engaging it in an intelligent and creative way, instead of in one of the disempowering ways that are made to look like the only ways. The myth of the pure and total outsider is one of those disempowering ways. It's a trick designed to make you set an impossible goal, get discouraged, and give up.
This is how I feel about my life. It's about the journey, not the destination. I don't care where I go in life, as long as I have a good time getting there. I could happily spend the rest of my life on the road, just driving around to place to place, seeking out all the little out-of-the-way restaurants and spectacular, historic areas. I think this is what drives my wanderlust. I don't want to be trapped into a single stall for the rest of my life - as the Japanese say, a frog in the well doesn't know the ocean.

When I say that to people, they often go "WTF?" Basically, it means expand your horizons. If the frog spends it's whole life in the well, all it will ever know is the circular stone walls, and the little bit of water and sky that are immediately visible to it. But if it gets out of the well, it can see the ocean and everything that it's been missing it's whole life. That's me. And that's the driving force behind what makes me tick.

Writing and Whatnot

What I'm Listening To: Breaking Benjamin - The Diary of Jane

What I'm Doing: Putzing around, mostly.

Hey, I live! Again! HAH, I AM JESUS. *coughs* Um, well. Yes. Okay! The long absence this time was unfortunately NOT due to writing. In fact, much of my time was occupied with watching a great deal of television (and the most amazing movie I've ever seen. XD It's called Wasabi Tuna, and I found it on Logo, which should tell you at least a little bit about it.) (for those that don't know/don't have my range of channels, Logo is the 'gay' channel.) and playing alternating games of solitaire, spider solitaire, and pinball on my computer.

My stepdad decided that he was going to 'fix' my computer, and proceeded to take up vast amounts of time just dicking around with it, and in the end was revealed to have ulterior motives of wanting to make the wireless card that was in my computer work, so that he could take the wireless USB thing it had been using so that he could hook the 360 up to the internet.

So, he totally effed up my computer. 83

When I finally convinced him to make it work again, I was goofing off with it, and put a password on my account. He apparently didn't like this, and so changed the account (which is currently at 'limited access' which basically means I CAN'T DO SHIT.) password to something different, locking me out of the computer entirely for several days. I'm still frustrated as all hell about the computer, because while the internet is working again, and that I have access to it at all is good, it's still a limited account, so I can't install any of my messengers or the other things that I'm accustomed to having, and worst of all (at the moment) I can't update Flash. So I can't do ANYTHING, because pretty much everything on the internet these days is flash based.

Anyway, enough about me. This is a writing blog, so I'm going to talk about writing. I was reading over the blogs I've missed keeping up with, specifically The Blood-Red Pencil, and the writer of this particular day was talking about a writer's voice.

She said this:

How do we help a writer develop voice? First, we peruse their work. How do they structure sentences? Are characters unique, well defined, and do they remain true to their previous actions? Is the dialogue realistic? Does it vary from character to character? How does the author use punctuation? Do we find consistency in style? What kind of flow propels the story forward? Does it move progressively toward a logical climax?

And it got me started thinking about Eversong, which Mami (my new patron saint of writing) gave me some insightful comments on (without giving away any of the details she's thinking of) the other day. She said it's not terrible, which was a terrific comfort to me, as I'm convinced the whole thing is awful and is going to need extensive rewriting to make anything sensical out of it. (hush, sensical is a word because I say it is.)

But, in particular, I started thinking about my four main characters, Vicky, Jesse, Daemyn, and Faye. "Are characters unique, well defined, and do they remain true to their previous actions? .. Does [the dialogue] vary from character to character?"

Well, yes, it does, but I wonder if it seems contrived.

Vicky is emotional and calm by turns, depending on her situation. She's a 'make the best of it' kind of girl, so when she finds herself in a new world, she's like, "Okay, I can do this, I just gotta find a way out of here."

Daemyn doesn't talk much, but when he does, he speaks... formally. He does not use contractions, and I picture him as somewhat reserved.

Faye is the exact opposite, and often has verbal diarhrea, and is constantly like OMG! Hey guys she totally just did loop the loops! Is that okay? Do you think she'll do it again? How does she do that! That's so amazing that I can't even describe it to you!

Jesse's got anger issues. He blows up over small things, and this often leads to fighting between him and Vicky. This doesn't really become apparent until the second book, as he doesn't get much screen time in the first, though I'm going to work on his irritability in the edits, so that when he starts freaking out in book 2, it's not such a surprise.

These seemed to me to be just the normal personality conflicts between four extremely different people, but now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder, does Faye seem too excitable? Is it contrived and fake seeming? That's just the way she is in my head, but I don't know how it comes across in words.

And I'm wondering about it in Eden. Eden's getting some extensive revisions to add in scenes from other people's POVs - instead of being exclusively Zander's POV, there's a section when Zander's completely out of commission, but I had to interject what was going on with the others during that time, but it was the only time I did that, so I'm going back and adding it to other parts of the story so it's not all like... "OMG where did that come from!?"
(I did that in Eversong as well, but I may end up taking that part out, as I'm not willing to go back and write in tons of other people than Vicky just to make that one section make sense; I believe it can do without it.)

But, I wonder if the characters are diverse enough. I didn't start Eden with any sense of what the story was about, who it contained, or what they were going to do, and didn't find any of that out until I was halfway into it. Dominick's a complete asshole, but he puts up a nice front, but where does Rafe fit in? He's like Jesse, he's got issues, but do they make sense? Or is it just... random? His issues spur from the fact that he's totally in lust with Zander, and is jealous of Dominick's attention to Zander, and Zander's attention to Dominick, and doesn't know how to deal with that, and I'll make sure to point that out when I do his 'scenes' so that when it's Zander's POV again, Rafe's odd moods make sense.

Having written Eversong with pages and pages of notes and long outlines that weren't exactly detailed (one chapter's outline said "The fight between MC and D.Elf King" - and that was IT. XD) and then going straight into Eden with absolutely NOTHING, I've come to a pretty good spot with Wish, my newest idea. Wish takes place in the far future, and the backstory is a girl is born a "WishMaker" - someone who makes a wish and it's granted. Any wish at all, although there's a limit to it. Things that have unpredictable results won't be granted (say she wished for the oceans to dry up or to flood the earth - it wouldn't happen, because it's just SO far reaching with unpredictable results.) but pretty much everything else is. She wishes for little things, like a new bike, good friends, lots of money, long hair, nice clothes, all those sorts of things, and she also sets up the story - she idly (almost jokingly) wishes for World Peace.

It's granted. The global wars end, and the leaders of the world come together in a sort of Global Council, and govern the Earth peacefully for many years. But of course, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and before long, the Council begins unraveling.

The last thing that Thalia (the original WishMaker) wishes for before she dies is for everyone's wishes to be granted, turning everyone in the world into WishMakers.

Decades later, the Council has enacted laws to prevent people from Wishing, and people suspected of WishMaking are hauled off and never seen from again. Gradually, people stop using their power, for fear of being taken away, and one of the Councilmen makes a wish that NO other wishes will ever be granted. Since no one Wishes anymore, they don't notice that they're not granted, and it keeps the council in power because they still go on as if people could Wish, effectively removing anyone suspected of anti-governmental actions.

Much of this isn't stated in the book itself; it's all backstory, and relatively useless, except to me. The protagonist is Nalia, another born WishMaker, but she doesn't know about her power.

The funny thing about this story is that the idea behind it - the WishMaking - was spawned in another story idea about Zombies. XD I was trying to figure out how zombies could be overrunning the Earth without using any of the old themes (a viral infection, most notably) and decided that a kid wished for it and it happened, but then I realised that the idea of WishMaking was bigger than just a zombie apocalypse and Wish was born. An alternate title is "The WishMaker" in case "Wish" falls through, but for now, Wish is the working title.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


What I'm Listening To: 311 - You Wouldn't Believe

What I'm Doing: Putzing around a bit. I need to write; I took a short break from it when the writing petered out, but now the need is rising again.

I was running through the blogs I watch, looking for interesting updates, and noticed that something new had been posted to The Public Query Slushpile. It made me wonder how Eden's Gate would be received (the query for Eversong is... crap. 8// I don't know what to do with it. I figure I'll worry about it later, because Eden's Gate was so much easier.) so I quickly jotted down a query about it, and submitted it to the Public Slushpile. Then, I was so excited about using my 'tagline' that I thought up for it, I decided I'd share it here as well.

Here you have it folks, draft one query for EDEN'S GATE.

Zander Jaden hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in three years. Ever since his mother’s death, the minute the sun goes down, he feels eyes on him, watching him, and waiting. In a desperate attempt to get some rest, he swallows an entire bottle of prescription sleep-aids. After his supposed suicide attempt, Zander is committed to Edensgate State Psychiatric Hospital, a massive sprawling building in the Kirkbride style, now mostly defunct.

He meets Rafe Nazario there, and the two boys become fast friends. Zander confides his problems in Rafe, and in turn, Rafe details the reasons he finds himself there in Edensgate. As they grow closer, their routine is interrupted by the arrival of Dominick O’Brennan, the son of an infamous mafia family from Boston. Dominick despises Rafe and Zander from the start, and does everything he possibly can to make their lives miserable, up to and including stealing Zander’s file from the hospital and taunting him with information. After Rafe and Zander have a fight, however, Dominick moves in, and Zander falls into bed with him.

After Dominick is released from the hospital on the word of his family, Rafe and Zander are finally free to explore their own relationship, with the ever present night-watchers a constant irritant. As Zander tries to find a way to free himself of his curse, he begins to delve deeper into the history of Edensgate – in fact, history presents itself to him clearly in the form of a girl who died there sixty years ago! – and he discovers the powers within him, passed down by his mother, that will help him be free of the night-watchers once and for all.

The only thing standing between Zander and total freedom is once again Dominick – after his family found themselves unable to deal with him, they recommit him to the hospital, and this time, he’s not so forgiving. Knowing Zander’s paralyzing fear of the dark, Dominick nearly kills him when he locks him in the unlit basement for three days.

Time is running out when Zander recovers from Dominick’s mischief, however, for he knows that the power of a solar eclipse on Halloween night will give the night-watchers exactly what they need to obtain their goals – to leave their bleak home and overrun the Earth. Dominick’s acting strangely, Rafe is concerned, and Zander just wants to get some sleep. With the help of the ghosts of Edensgate and a doctor who works there, the two boys work to stop the night-watchers before they can use the hospital as a launch-pad for the destruction of the human race.

The fate of the world is resting on the shoulders of one young man in a mental hospital, and all Hell’s about to break loose at Eden’s Gate.


After some extraordinarily helpful comments over at the public slushpile, I shortened the query from 460 words to about 230 words.

Zander Jaden hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since his mother died three years ago. What he’s not aware of is the reason behind his insomnia – Cassie Jaden was a powerful psychic, and she passed both her talents and her curse onto her son. The minute the sun goes down, Zander feels eyes on him, watching and waiting in the dark. In a desperate attempt to get some rest, he swallows an entire bottle of prescription sleep-aids. After his supposed suicide attempt, Zander is committed to Edensgate State Psychiatric Hospital for treatment, and it’s there that he meets Rafe Nazario and Dominick O’Brennan.

Rafe is friendly enough, but Dominick hates them both on sight, and spends his days doing everything within his power to make them miserable. Through it all is the ever-present threat represented by the night-watchers, who want to claim Zander’s power to throw open the gates between their world and Earth. Zander realises their time is running out, for just before sundown on Halloween, a solar eclipse is scheduled to block out the sun, and the metaphysical energies of both the auspicious day and the eclipse are what the night-watchers are waiting for to tear down the barriers holding them in check. With the help of his friends, Zander must overcome the watchers and prevent them from escaping the bowels of hell to overrun the Earth.