Camp NaNo in April didn’t go so well. In fact, I haven’t done so well on my writing for a while. I’ve been trying to move ahead with “quick fix” projects, the ones that on the surface don’t look like they require as much time and effort and therefore would be ready for the “Agent Auction House” sooner. I seem to have creatively shot myself in the foot trying to take these shortcuts. I made the mistake of getting caught up in the idea of production, of “being productive” and just pouring out words. And there is a time and a place for that. But I’ve been wallowing in these isolated shallow pools for a long while now, not willing to take that step back into the ocean.
In the Character Module of DIY MFA 101,Gabriela postulates that, even if there are many characters of great importance, there is actually only one protagonist in a story. Of course there are exceptions, but this tends to be the rule. My first inclination was to reject this statement. After all, almost every one of my stories has a pair of central main characters: Ryn and Scion for Ravens and Roses; Samuel and Amaris for Seahawks and Storms; Nathaniel and Shakti for Courting the Moon; Asa and Tal for Faylinn; and Melyin and Ciar (see-are) for Rinamathair. Continue reading “The Heart of the Story”→
Hi folks! Just a short entry today. You know how most people end up in a turkey-coma after Thanksgiving? Me, I’m in a post-NaNo coma. I reached my word count goal for National Novel Writing Month (see Log #328 on my LeNoWriCha blog for details) but feel like I didn’t accomplish very much. Almost every word was a battle, and I’m not sure if it was because the story was fighting me, or because I just didn’t feel well. And, go figure, I haven’t worked any more on Seahawks and Storms since November 30th.
Okay, okay, I know, that really isn’t too bad. A few days to get my wind back from a well-deserved break. It is nice to be able to watch a movie again without feeling like I’m wasting valuable writing time. (After all, I still need to consume stories to feed my subconscious.) And I did do some writing this evening (by hand no less!) although it was not related in any way, shape, or form to Seahawks. But I must be vigilant and resist the urge to coast again, like it seems I’ve been doing for months.
Although NaNoWriMo refers to January and February as the “Now What?” months where revision takes place, I feel like it can begin sooner, depending on where you are in a project. Seahawks is still too new and unsteady to withstand editing, and I’m struggling to keep focused on writing rather than on all of the pressure towards publication that seems to have paralyzed me. So, the plan is to organize the prose that I do have into some kind of rough chronological order, reread previous notes, and do some research that I feel will help me get a better handle on what the hell is (or should be) happening. But most of all, I need to find my way back into that headspace that allows me to play and relax with my stories rather than twisting them into a predetermined shape with an eye to the future. Neither the past nor the future exist. There is only now… and words.
Week 3 of National Novel Writing Month has begun, and, as always around this time, I’m feeling kind of wrung out with the entire enterprise. Buckling down and pounding out words for a rough draft isn’t exactly new for me. I can’t say that it’s always been easy, but it can be done. I know because I’ve done it before. I did it for (most of) Ravens and Roses, the first book in the Mariner Sequence. I did it for my Dark Crystal novel contest entry, “Search of the Sun-Child.” I did it for the fantasy / romance / steampunk / political intrigue hybrid that is Courting the Moon.
While most people are excited for the coming of pumpkin spice, winter, or the season premiere of The Walking Dead, I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo, which begins in (gasp!) only eight days. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk since April when I finished Courting the Moon, and only nibbled at the edges of projects. But National Novel Writing Month (especially in conjunction with the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge) usually gives me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track.
So, to facilitate this imminent frenzy of vomit-typing, I picked a project that I only have the vaguest idea about: the second book in my planned Mariner Sequence series entitled Seahawks and Storms. Now, even though this is the second book I’m writing in the series, Seahawks and Storms takes place about 600 years before the events of the first book, Ravens and Roses. It will tell the story of the first Admiral of the Mariners, Samuel Tempest, his wife Amaris Seahawk, and the founding of their new home, the land eventually called “Marina.” If you’ve ever read The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, you’ll see that the relationship between my two books is in a similar style. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, in publication order, or in chronological order, and should all still make sense. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. Continue reading “Of Prep and Prequels”→
Now that I’ve recuperated (a little) from the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, it’s time to figure out what happens next. I’ve talked it over with myself, and I think I’ve (more or less) decided how to proceed:
Do another read-through of Courting the Moon.While I don’t plan on making any ground-breaking changes at this stage, there are a few tweaks I’d like to incorporate, plus a general overview of the manuscript before I send anything out.
Write and send out query letters. Since 4 out of the 5 agents I spoke with said I could query them and 3 of those 4 requested pages, I need to get those letters written and ready to go. My goal is to send them out within the next two weeks.
Continue researching agents and publishers. While it’s great that several of the folk at WDC17 showed interest (thank you!), I can’t rest on my laurels or put all of my eggs in one basket. After all, Courting the Moon might end up not being their cup of tea. (Have I used enough cliched metaphors yet?) So, as always, be sure to have a backup plan!
Prep for my next project. With Courting the Moon out of the way and NaNoWriMo on the horizon, it’s time for me to return to Marina. However, NaNoWriMo is best for writing the first draft (or “Draft Zero” as one of the WDC panelists called it) and Ravens and Roses is past that stage. (I still have scenes to write, but they must be more deliberately crafted.) But I do want to get back into that mode, so I think I’ll go ahead and prep the next book in The Mariner Sequence: Seahawks and Storms. I have only the vaguest outline for it at this point, and with so much fresh territory to uncover in an already-developed world, I think it will be a fun project and a worthwhile expenditure of time and energy. (And it’s gotta be done eventually, so why not now?)
Get back to work on short stories.One of the most valuable panels from WDC17, for me at least, was the one on crafting short stories. I even bought a book there that goes more in-depth with the topic. While short stories are not my forte, I still would like to master writing them, especially since they are still the best way to build writers cred. Plus, I really need the practice.
So, that’s the game plan for the rest of 2017. Guess it’s time to start my attack run. ^_^;;
Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin. I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel! Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one. While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such. But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!
I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015. As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading. Wow. That’s 170 pages written in 92 days. There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written. Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end. I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction. (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”) And those took me years to complete! The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete. Not like All’s Fair.
To put it quite bluntly, they don’t seem to exist.
Very little fantasy or even science fiction seems to address or even acknowledge the idea of gender-neutral pronouns or terms of address. I have seen a few instances in stories that present angels as masculine, feminine, or neuter, using “he” “she” or “se” (pronounced “SEH”). However, in most speculative fiction, the gender binary of male/female or masculine/feminine predominates. I understand why; English just doesn’t have a good system for addressing neutral genders. The only thing we have is “it” which is dehumanizing when applied in a social context. People I know who identify as gender neutral refer to themselves as “they” (which is a little awkward and confusing to me) or they use masculine pronouns because in English, when a gender is unknown, the masculine tends to be the default. I love Japanese honorifics because they can convey titles and respect without being tied to gender most of the time. I can also understand why a lot of older fantasy doesn’t go beyond two genders because authors and audiences either didn’t know about it or didn’t accept it; anything outside heterosexual relationships or traditional gender roles wasn’t readily acknowledged. (The first time I saw a homosexual character featured in print was in 2005 when I read the short story “Lord John and the Succubus” by Diana Gabaldon. I have yet to read a story featuring a gender neutral, asexual, or trans character,)
Luckily, we’re growing up a bit as a society and it would be nice to see the spectrum of gender and sexual identity recognized in fiction.