Sunday, May 22, 2016

Progress Diary: When Laptops Go Haywire

Entry #3

I am ahead of schedule. Hurray for me!

Week one: completed drafts of chapter 1 and half of chapter 2. Quota: one chapter per week. Diagnosis: success.

I might have nearly finished two chapters this week, but my computer was abducted by aliens and reforged into a new version of itself, which put it out of commission for most of Friday's writing period.

Alien abduction, not cool
Wait, literally aliens? No, not literally, but it was invaded and taken over by the un-American, freedom-of-choice-stealing Windows 10 update. I didn't see it coming. I had been ignoring those "Update now?" windows for so many months that when the window changed and told me (apparently) that the update would happen that night, I didn't notice it or read it and x'd out of it instead of clicking the option to postpone. So here I am, home alone, without my computer-guru husband within 800 miles of me, and this stupid process kicks me out of Guild Wars 2 near midnight and takes over my computer and changes it utterly and forever, without my permission. MY COMPUTER! MINE. MY WORKZONE. Not yours, you evil devs and the eviler people giving you orders.

Yeah. Pissed.

Worst of all, some setting that came with Windows 7 was moved over to the new OS instead of being reset properly. This caused my beloved laptop to lock up any time I tried anything. Yeah, I couldn't even SAVE MY EFFING NOVEL DOC without my laptop going haywire and locking up. What do I have to do? Reboot it. Again. Like 7 times. But did that fix it? No! I LOST CONTENT!!!

Fortunately for the Windows devs, I lost all of two sentences. If I had lost more than that? Oh, yeah, I was going to mail 100 rabid monkeys to Windows HQ and have them set loose on the tyrants who fucked up my baby.

But, like I said, lucky for them. I was (sorta) able to reconstruct those two lost sentences THE NEXT DAY after my husband worked a miracle. He's doing training in Ohio, right? When he learns of this situation, that he must know has me in a panicked state of banshee-shrieking madness, he spends his evening (when he's already exhausted) downloading this software that allows him to access my laptop from half the country away. After a couple hours of poking around, he found the screwed up setting, fixed it, and voila! Miracle. Laptop back to normal. NO THANKS TO DEV TYRANTS IN SEATTLE WHO DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT MY WORK OR ME AS A PERSON WHO CAN'T FIX THIS STUFF HERSELF. (and now, thanks to them, every time I turn CAPS on or off, there's a stupid/pointless window that pops up and tells me that  CAPS is on or off. No shit?!)

Point being, goal for next week:

* complete chapter 2
* start chapter 3
* slander Windows' name forever
* drink less because my husband is awesome and I don't have to be shrieking like a banshee from hell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Progress Diary: Writing Magic

Entry #2

I've broken ground on Fury. Day 1 is an immense success with a final tally of 2,745 words. My usual quota is 1,300 words, on a good day, so I'm ecstatic. Also, greatly surprised that I was able to connect with these characters as deeply as I did after having not written on them since last November. The morning was rough, I doubted every word and wondered how the hell I was going to express all that needed expressing, but then ... MAGIC. The faucet turned on, and my brain poured out the words, and this is what every writing day should feel like.

What a world away from the rough start that Cry suffered. The two writing experiences don't compare at all. If the rest of Fury goes this well, I'll be in writer's heaven.

God, I hope I didn't just jinx it.

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy, then an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant and, in the last state, just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) - November 2, 1949

Ah, the brutality of writing. Reflects what will happen to some of these characters as well. And what should happen to others, but doesn't. Delicious...

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fury of the Falcon: The Work Begins

This week I began work on Fury of the Falcon, Book 5, and the last installment, of the Falcons Saga. Which means that I dragged out the last block of paper that contains the Saga's original twelve-yr-old draft and am giving it the once-over, so that I can remember what happens and why. Since I don't. I've slept since then. A lot. Like if I add it up, I've slept almost six years, and written other things for the other six. So yeah... I need the reminder.

This has led to a couple days of outlining, brainstorming, groaning, and swallowing puke, since the old draft stinks worse than last week's garbage. It's 12-yr-old garbage.

It's so gross it's like sucking lemons till your teeth fall out.

So to begin, here's this writer's account of manuscript overhaul:


Entry #1

In only two days, I've gone through the entire ms and marked all the main events with stickies. The block of paper now thinks it is a porcupine's cousin. Have read through the first 100 pages or so and discovered what I feared -- the text amounts to a massively detailed outline. It's almost all tell and almost no show. It's atrocious. It's beyond atrocious. It's puke-worthy. Some of the dialog is fun, but that's the extent of the text's usefulness.

To attempt to remedy this pukiness, I've brainstormed the opening sequence, to completely reorganize the info, increase emotional tension, and cut the boring CRAP that plagues the ms like boils on a monkey's ass.

So far, I've found elements to cut, and scenes to add:

Spoiler Warning! (I'll try to leave things vague and cryptic, regardless)

Old content to cut:
* the Great Summoning, whatever the hell that is. Something that tries to sound significant, but isn't.
* Ice Elves. We don't need no more damned elves, okay? We got enough already. Give all dialog and action to Daryon, Miragi, or Dagni.

New content to add (spoilers, really, stop reading now):
* Thorn must test his invention on an unlucky test subject. Evil scientists, beware. There's a pissed avedra on the loose.
* Thorn and Daryon must put their inventions together, which makes foes even more unlucky.
* Kethlyn must deal with the rebellion on his hands, but he's drunk, so it won't go well. Where's Mum when he needs her?
* Valryk must get out of that dungeon cell. Old lovers prove useful after all. He then must go on a journey of twisted self-discovery and vengeance. I mean, it's everyone else's fault that he tried to have them murdered.
* Lothiar must expend his rage against his own people.
* Dax must try to sway Alyster to do nefarious things.


And that's not including all the content that remains (like Carah's storyline) and must be overhauled to match a more mature, sober tone.

Just to add, I've realized that this is the volume that will read like a George RR Martin episode. If a character is slated to die, they will mostly all die within the same hundred pages or so. (Yeah, I can think of 5 main or side characters that have it coming. Don't curse me, it's not my fault.) It will be over-the-top drama and bloodshed. Delightful.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Celebrating Shakespeare!

Looks like the western world is gearing up to celebrate the life and works of the Bard. Four hundred years ago, on 3 May 1616, at the age of only 52, Will Shakespeare died, leaving behind one of the most treasured collections of plays and poems the world has ever known.

William Shakespeare, 400th Anniversary
To offer my own tiny tribute, some of my favorite quotes:

(from Macbeth, Act V, scene v)

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

(from Hamlet, Act V, scene ii)

Not a whit, we defy augury: there's a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now,
'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the
readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he
leaves, what is't to leave betimes?

And for drama at its best, Lady Macbeth going mad with guilt (from Macbeth, Act V, scene i):

Out, damned spot! out, I say!--One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.--Hell is murky!--Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.
The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?--
What, will these hands ne'er be clean?--No more o'
that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with
this starting.
Here's the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!

"Ophelia: and he will never come again"
 1865, Arthur Hughes
I guess it's obvious that my taste leans toward the darker side of things. So many exciting passages to quote, I had a hard time choosing. The words are like dark chocolate on the tongue. Delicious and rich and a little bitter.

Fun stuff found on Twitter:

Care to share your favorite quotes? Any other worthwhile sites dedicating time and bandwidth to our favorite Bard? Please share!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My First Book Signing!

I am so excited to get to blog about this at last.

My first ever book signing is scheduled for the evening of June 6, at the LaVergne Public Library in LaVergne, Tennessee! Woot!

LaVergne is a burb of Nashville, a city I've always wanted to see. So this should be an interesting learning experience all around.

The event will also include a reading. I've never read my fiction aloud to strangers before, only some of my poetry, years ago in college. It was nerve-wracking, but fun. I've chosen my selection, a scene from Cry of the Falcon (that one, riiiight there -->), and my nerves have quieted. For now.

I have a month and a half to prepare. Book copies are arriving in large heavy boxes, just in case someone is kind enough to purchase something, and I've ordered business cards and a display banner.

As long as I can get to the library on time, I'll be okay. Best thing, I'm not going alone. Family got my back, so I'm toting along my mother and a cousin. I will probably be a wreck on the trip out, so I hope they can put up with my insanity. These were the same two wonderful ladies who I traveled with to Stuttgart, Paris, and Rome in 2009, so at least we know we can survive each other. Should be fun. As long as I don't freak out.

geek freaking out

I hope to bring home a basket full of new knowledge so that I can set up signings closer to home. OKC, Tulsa, Dallas, Kansas City maybe. And I have friends in Denver. I foresee a signing there too. Hmm, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's survive the first one, and then ... who knows?

Have book, will travel...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Adventures in Editing

My favorite part of the writing process has long been the editing. Writing first drafts frustrates me. But during the editing I get to relax, build out the characters, the setting, increase the tension, etc.

So as part of my "who am I?" journey, I've dived into my first foray as an editor of someone else's novel. It's been scary. Lots of pressure to catch the obvious along with the hidden problems lurking in a manuscript. And I've learned one thing. Editors don't get paid enough. Editing is hard work. I mean, I knew it would be, but by the time my work day is over, my brain has turned to mush.

It's amazing to me how we writers can be so close to our story that we are unable to see the contradictions, grammatical slips, and vagueness that an objective pair of eyes can pick up on.

Whenever I subject my own stories to critiques at LegendFire, it's usually with a face burning with embarrassment that I read over the issues the critiquers found, as if I've been caught being less than perfect.

Writer's Disappointed Face :(

Why do I do that to myself? Probably because during the editing of my own story, I will think I've caught all the glaring errors and fixed them, only to see that, to my reader, the story still has shortcomings. Editing, I've learned over the years, is to benefit the reader, not the writer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Falcons and Free Books

Cry of the Falcon is selling, and it's awesome to see the number downloads climb. Last night I received the final proof for the paperback as well, and it's gorgeous, so the print version is now available as well. Hurray! (may take it a couple of days to show up on Amazon)

Kicked that kid out the door, and he's on his own. Hello, universe! Sink or swim, baby.

So far, my baby is doing all right. The initial reviews are very promising, and I have no idea who posted any of them.

In honor of both digital and print versions being finalized, Cry of the Falcon will be available for FREE this weekend, starting Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6. Then again on March 12-13.

Woot! If you've read it and you like it, tell somebody.