I write dark things...
Time is a funny thing–moments and memories strung together in at times a haphazard fashion. We’re always seeking more. Living for the next weekend. The next vacation. The next day off when we can run away from work and finally relax and do all of those things we can’t do today. There’s a burning, unquenchable thirst to escape the tedium which won’t be slaked.
I’ve blogged about time management before, making to-do lists, productivity, and so forth. Yes, planning your roadmap is critical. It lets you know where you’re headed and what you need to do to meet your goals, both short and long-term.
Let me share a little secret with you: tomorrow doesn’t exist. Yesterday? It’s a relic you can talk about over wine and cheese with friends, but never visit. All you have is this moment. Now.
Never underestimate the powerful gift of now. When you surrender allow yourself this moment, your ability to focus amplifies and all other distractions fade away.
In a hedonistic sense, this is choosing to live fully within your skin. Owning your choices, good or bad, and handling each moment with as much grace and acceptance as possible. When you’re no longer fighting the present moment, each task eases. Instead of wishing to be somewhere else you can embrace the joy available in your current activity. Yeah, work may not be your ideal of sipping margaritas on a beach, but the fact is you can’t live on the beach every day. All of us live in a task-driven universe, with expectations–both external and internal–everyday. We can choose the joy in every moment or we can lose ourselves to a nonexistent reality of a tomorrow which may never materialize.
Joy is a choice. I invite you, in the moments of frustration and irritation, to seek it out.
No, it’s not easy. Life is imperfect, messy and sometimes painful. But if you don’t live it, immerse yourself in it, you’re missing the ride.
I had odd reading habits as a child which I never understood until I was older. A bit of a loner growing up, I never compared what I was reading with my peers. Everything I read, by definition, was my norm, because I it was what I read.
Imagine my joy when, among the books passed down from my Dad, I recently discover this collection of petite, leather-bound Shakespeare texts edge-gilt with gold. The case has long since fallen into disrepair, but the books are in fantastic shape. Each one fits in the palm of your hand, begging to be enjoyed.
In my youthful innocence I was fascinated by these gorgeous tomes. No one else in my family ever touched them, and I assumed because they were tiny that they were children’s books.
In retrospect, I remember using the glossary extensively, and wondering at the vocabulary Mr. Shakespeare thought proper for children. But then, his works were from an older time, and I assumed this was normal back then. Also, I read many faery tales, and so differing cadence and speech patterns didn’t slow me down.
It’s no wonder I swear like a sailor now, only that I do it in modern english. When my parents discovered I’d been reading them, and enjoying the likes of Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Othello, and the like, they had mixed reactions. My father was, well, disturbed. My mother thought my reading of the classics couldn’t be all bad, although she’d have preferred I waited until high school, I think. Eh, kids!
Here’s a picture from inside ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Someone’s being an ass.
I don’t know why my Dad saved these, but I’m thrilled he did. Sometimes life is all about the little things.
On rare nights my son and I enjoy a cuddly night watching TV together — neither one of us tends to slow down long enough to spend a ‘night’ watching television. When we do, it’s something akin to an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3K, where we heckle the actors and pick apart the shows at length. The experience is more about our discussion than what we’re watching.
This week we were watching a series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes on Logo, because he’s into the superhero gal and all things Whedon. He’s learning 101 ways to kill a vampire, and can’t figure out why wood is so magically powerful against them. We go a few rounds on this one. He’s pretty sure not all wood is strong enough to penetrate a super-strong undead being’s flesh, and I’m thinking he’s got a point. He’s been reading too much Harry Potter and worrying about Ollivander’s wand selections. I digress…
An ad for the show “1 gal, 5 gays” comes on the air. It’s a funny ad, catchy. My son takes offense. “Why’s the show called that?” he asks. I’m a little unclear–not sure what he’s asking–a common parental issue. I explain sexual orientation, which I know he’s already familiar with, because we have relatives who are lesbians. He gets worked up, his face twists with a frown and he puffs out, “It’s silly. They should just call the show, ’1 gal, 5 guys’. Why would they do that?”
He’s got a point.
I understand the marketing department needing to communicate to the consumer the focus of the show. I get a lot of things about labels. There’s great pride in owning and reclaiming all of your identity and in being able to support others of like mind. I know through my blog I’ve connected to other people with epilepsy because I’ve stood up and owned that label as my own. It’s a powerful and amazing feeling. I’m not against a person’s right to champion their causes, but I do question our cultural need to place others convenient buckets instead of discovering them as people.
My son lives in a world where many labels happily don’t register on his radar–it’s wonderful to witness, and a great reminder to question and reset assumptions when needed. I’m reminded of the ongoing discussions about legalizing “gay marriage” while others refer to the same topic as “marriage equality”.
The words we use form the reality we live in. When filled with labels which intentionally marginalize, we deliberately divide our culture. When we choose inclusive, non-hateful language, we instead build a framework to rediscover ourselves through each other.
Anyway, I’ve taken another look at my own labels, and making sure the ones I wear are self-chosen. How about you? Anything you need to peel off?
I faced a number of challenges and accomplishments in 2012, both personally and professionally. I completed and published my first full-length novel, The Daemon Whisperer. I stood by my father’s side as his medical advocate for most of the year while his health slowly declined and then arranged for his care after he’d passed in October. I worked on engaging projects in my programming job, only to be laid off in November due to the impending fiscal cliff of doom. (DOOM! doom!) In December I picked up writing the next book in my Liminals series, and then began edits for the first book in my Sci-Fi series at the end of the month over the holidays, all while job hunting.
Oh, I left out the up and down battle I’ve run with my epilepsy. At times over this past year medication has kept things well under control. Recently, despite all the meditation, yoga, vitamins, and exercise, I’ve slipped downhill in my fight. What can I say–epilepsy sucketh! Can I get a hell yeah?
As you can imagine in this 2012 retrospective, there are lessons I will take and continue to learn from, grow, and nurture. Despite the frustrations, I wouldn’t change last year’s journey for the world.
If you remember my post from last year, then you know I don’t do resolutions. Instead I keep a running list of goals and tasks. Well, multiple lists of to-dos. (Don’t laugh, they’re sorted by subject…anyway.) I’ve noticed something wonderfully awesome, and I wanted to share. I’ve blogged and tweeted before about how writing gets easier with practice. Recently, I’ve hit a similar threshold with editing.
Now, I know I only have two books published, so let me give you a bit more perspective on my writing path. I’ve also written the first two books of a Sci-Fi trilogy, The Depths of Memory, and have another two books (in two different series) which are mid-process. The Sci-Fi books I’ve edited a ridiculous number of times. I can’t rightly count how many, to be frank, because I’ve rehashed the material many times over the years. There’s a long story there and well … whatever.
You get the point. I haven’t reached this editing threshold through just working on two books. It’s taken years, at least for me … your results may vary. I’m unusually stubborn. You might be pliable as a willow frond. I can’t predict these variables! Right?
Yet want I want to convey is the sense of where I’m at now. The utter freedom. I’ve had it with writing for some time. Once I’ve imagined a scene, or at least the components and have the base elements of the research I need, the words flow. Heck, even if I’m missing something, I’ll put in placeholders and come back later and plug-in the things I didn’t have at the time.
I mean, honestly, do you know about pentilic tiles? No? I bet you know about frescoes, though? Thus, research! I mean, I’ve held those little buggers in my hands in Pompeii, but could I remember the name? Nope. Anyway, I digress.
There’s a freedom to editing too, and it comes with practice. I used to hate editing. From what I hear, it’s the norm. Yes, it sucks when you’re up against a deadline. I’m not talking about external forces, I’m speaking of the mechanics, and the creative flow of the editing process.
Revisions are the most creative part, when rework is required to enhance the flow or cohesive integrity of the story. What do I love most about revisions? Visualizing the architectural flow of the plot, like a spider’s web, and tracking all the ways the revision ‘threads’ into flow, for continuity. Invariably one new section requires slight to moderate adjustments in other areas, and catching all the connecting areas of the web is a wonderful challenge.
Then there’s the rework of catching overused phrases, or where characters and/or settings just aren’t fleshed out well enough. Those are easy to do once they’re located.
The repetitive, but oddly satisfying work, includes reducing unnecessary adverbs, removing crutch words (whichever yours are), honing the wording in key scenes where you want the reader’s focus drawn (I mean, strive to improve it everywhere, but especially there), and eliminating passive voice where ever possible.
Those are editing steps I take. But then there’s the mental leap: letting go and accepting the process. Treating it as a journey, and not a sprint.
It’s the same for me as writing, or exercising, dealing with my epilepsy, or any number of things. Yes, I have an end goal in mind. Sometimes there’s a daily time limit, sometimes not, depending on the activity. Sometimes it’s just about the mindset. My head space, if you will.
Yes, there’s the butt in chair, hands on keyboard, internet browsing off aspect. The other part is knowing the steps, and a willingness to dig in and do the work until it’s done, simply because you love it.
No, you may not love every step, but you love your book. Or, you did once, back before you wrote it and edited it twelve times and then worked it over with a chainsaw with your editor four times. Yeah, back then. THAT book.
That’s the book you’re editing and the book you’ll eventually publish. When it’s ready, and you’re proud enough of it to stand behind it and put your name on it.
All you have to do is embrace the journey. Your journey.
And put your butt in a chair.
As a holiday gift to my fans I’m reducing the price of The Daemon Whisperer from now until the end of the year to $.99! It’s only on Amazon for now, but in January it’ll roll out to other markets at the normal price. (I know some of you Nook users have waited a while, sorry about that!)
Amazon is continuing to discount the paperback version to just below $9! So if you’ve held out for a sale, now’s the time! (Especially if you can bundle with other items and save on shipping.)
Some of you have asked how you can support my efforts. The first and most awesome is, of course, by buying my books. I know many of you have already purchased a copy, and you have my enduring heartfelt thanks!
If you’ve read my book or books and feel so moved, I’d love an honest review. It doesn’t have to be long, even a basic star rating goes a long way sometimes towards convincing other readers towards giving a book a chance. You can leave a review as short as twenty words on Amazon, and Goodreads allows for star ratings only if you prefer. Usually when I do reviews I cut and paste the same text between both systems, because I’m lazy like that.
Now on to completely free and almost zero effort ways to help! Anyone who has an Amazon.com account can click the ‘Like’ button on my book pages and my author page. The more ‘Likes’ I have, the more recommendations and visibility my book will receive. At around 50 ‘Likes’ I become eligible for additional promotional spots. Spiffy, no?
To like my author page you need to get there first. Check out this next image, it shows how you click on my linked name under my book title.
Then, once you’re there, click on the ‘Like’ button to promote me as an Author. Cause I’m cool!
Another area on the book page you can help out are on the Amazon Book Topic Tags located further on down the page. Just click on all of them you agree on. If you want to there’s a textbox with an Add button next to it where you can add in new topics as well. This helps readers find books when they search on a given topic in Amazon, i.e. ‘cooking’ will bring up books tagged here, and the higher the tag counts the higher the ranking on the search results.
Wasn’t that easy? Now if you really love/’Like’ me, you can hit my other book page, Ripples, and like it too. Do you have other authors you adore out there? I’m sure you do! Go forth and spread some holiday joy around and ‘Like’ a few for fun, now that you know what those little boxes are used for. (Please use responsibly.)
Again, I want to thank everyone for your support over the last few months as I’ve debuted The Daemon Whisperer. I’m in edits on The Dream Sifter, the first in my The Depths of Memory Sci-fi/Horror trilogy, and soon I’ll start posting teasers for you here on the blog as the manuscript firms up.
I’m also continuing work on The Madness Path, and loving the book. It’s well…messier than the first book, and I don’t mean gory. Well, there’s broken bones in the first chapter–fine. I’m just saying, things are shaping up to be pretty out of control. But considering how I’ve named it, this is no surprise, eh?
November filled me with frustration and heartache. As predicted in my Juggling Priorities post, my time for NaNoWriMo stolen away, the opportunity slipping through my fingers, and thus I didn’t hit the 50k word count. I didn’t even come close. I hit 23k, well under the goal. Instead I spent my time in the first half of the month dealing with my father’s memorial and throughout the month dealing with heavy pressure at work to finish a project by an end-of-month deadline.
For work, because this specific project was business-critical, I skipped many lunches to make it happen. Time I normally scarfed down a quick bite and wrote or edited, I worked instead. I almost completed the project on time. It’s a few days shy of alpha roll-out.
Even in my evenings, which I’d normally spend writing with abandon, my energy was tapped out. Drained. I’d write a little, and then capsize, rolling into bed well before my usual hour. Yes, I got halfway to the goal, but I know I’m capable of so much more.
When the end of the month hit, I got some news from work. My job had been eliminated. Thinking about it, I’m not too surprised. I’m guessing it’s financial, everyone is tightening their belt these days, and I certainly don’t take it personally.
I’ve worked for a mortgage company that shut its doors, quite literally, overnight, and I’ve been laid off from a large corporation that went from 4,000 employees to 800 in the space of a year. Business happens, and it’s all a numbers game.
What do I love about writing? It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the connections, the characters, the meaning of it all. When done well, it brings the author and reader together on a field of suspended disbelief, and transcends the empty, emotionless accounting and focuses on the ruthless honesty of the moment.
Yeah, that. That shit is pure magic.
In this moment I’m evaluating my options. Yes, I’m looking to replace my day job. Likely with something a bit different. It may take some time, but I’ll find a great fit, not just a OMG I’m desperate please I’ll take anything job.
In the meantime, I’ll write, knowing I’m absolutely blessed with the time this opportunity has brought me.
First, I give you a video of the Daemon Baby, a gift from my dear friend Joseph. It’s creepy as hell! He gave it to me because I wrote a book about daemons, and therefore I needed it, or something. Yeah uh, nobody else send me any more creepy baby things. Correction: no more baby things. Kthxbai.
Anyway, since releasing The Daemon Whisperer at the beginning of October my life has zipped by in a series of still frames. Everyone’s response to my daemons and the world of the Liminals has been wonderful, and I want to thank you for your support (and at times dubious gifts). Your consistent demands for more of the story and expressed disappointment over the next installment not yet being available is music to my ears. (If sadistic to you, my apologies!) I will tell you the story arc consists of five books in total, so there’s more to come, never fear.
I spent a good amount of my free time in October finalizing my nitpicks on The Dream Sifter before handing it over to my editor at the end of the month. Content edits are due back today or tomorrow, and hopefully I can work through her first pass while continuing my forward momentum on The Madness Path. (Let’s not discuss the many passes of edits, never-ending in their nature.) My aim is to release Dream Sifter this Winter, i.e. by February-ish, but I’m not putting a hard date on it yet.
I’ve tried to focus on NaNoWriMo this month, but it’s been a rough go for me. I started out the month with my dad’s memorial on the 4th, and then what would have been his next birthday on the 14th, and instead of being able to feed my writing, I floundered. My energy has refocused and the words are flowing again, but as I’m only at ~17k and I’m aiming for 110k for Madness Path, my guess is I’ll wrap up the first draft around January.
There’s a few other projects in the works, but now I’m trying to mainly focus on these top two. Definitely let me know if you have any questions.
Cheers, and have a Happy Thanksgiving this week, everyone.
I’m SO awesome, I got tagged twice in one week. LOL. Once by Steven Montano, and once by Keri Lake. They must really want me to talk about my WIP, which at the moment is The Dream Sifter. In case you’re wondering, this blog hop started on She Writes, and will likely continue until every single writer’s been tapped. Oh yeah…
Before you read my post, take a look at both Steven’s and Keri’s. They both have exciting projects underway. Well, I’ll be reading them. If you want to be cool like me, you will too.
Now, for MY next big thing…
1. What is the working title of your book?
The Dream Sifter – The Depths of Memory, Book 1.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The Depths of Memory series came from an odd amalgam of ideas. I was inspired by elements from C.S. Friedman’s The Coldfire trilogy, Sheri S. Tepper’s Mavin Manyshaped series and her book Grass, which combined with some very odd dreams and a wide variety of other tidbits, have led to the overall story arc. Now I have to kill you all, lest you figure out what I have planned. But no, I haven’t given you quite enough clues. Not yet…
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Not much of what I write falls under just one genre–it’s all dark, but otherwise it’s a free for all. I suppose I never got the single-genre memo. Anyway, The Depths of Memory series is a blend of the sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, and horror genres.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is an easy one, as I already have a pinterest board dedicated to the characters. Not all of the characters are cast yet, I mean, there are a ton of them. But the main four are all set. I’d cast singer Hayley Williams from Paramore as Rai Durmah, Sienna Guillory as Matriarch Bauleel, Michael Fassbender as Guardian Graeber, and Jesse Spencer as Technician Rilte.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Rai Durmah seeks to regain her lost memories despite her recurring nightmares which hint at the unspeakable horrors of her past, and as she gets closer to the truth, she risks facing the death which haunts her dreams.
How’s that for a run-on sentence? Boo-yah!
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The entire trilogy will be self-published.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the main bulk over about 4-5 years. This is slow for me now, but it was my first manuscript. Then I realized I had one and a half books of content and re-segmented the material. It took a while to restructure things into the new format, but then book one was a standalone and I was able to wrap up book two. I took a ridiculous amount of time editing book one, and then submitted it to an indie publishing house. It was accepted but sat in the queue for over a year with no traction. When I learned it would be at least another six months before it would see an editor, I exercised my termination clause deciding to self-publish the trilogy instead.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’d say this series has similarities to books by Sheri S. Tepper and C.S. Friedman’s The Madness Season.
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Due to my epilepsy I have brief periods (a minute or two) of amnesia which have always haunted me. They’ll fade, but in the moment I’m utterly lost, frustrated, and panicked.
The idea of a character with deliberately induced amnesia and the challenges they’d face intrigued me. Why take away their memories? What latent body memories and skills would remain? When you lack your memories, what remains of your personality?
Around all of this I placed humans in a languishing colony on another world, under threat of a devastating plague, with an alien species just waiting to pounce on them when they fail. The theme of missing memories continues throughout the trilogy, on multiple levels.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If readers have read my others works, they know I tend towards dark subject matter. This story has suspense, action, complex world building, characters with depth and drive, and a particularly unusual set of monsters the colonists have to deal with.
The rules of the game:
If I tagged you, your blog post needs to go up next week, between Nov 4 – Nov 10. You answer the above questions for yourself, and you tag five other writers. If you are on She Writes you can put your post there too. Your Blog post should be labelled: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.
I’m tagging the following authors. Once you’ve posted your blog feel free to come back by here and post a link to your Hop.
Also, I’ve been tagged now, and thus I’m out. Done. No tag-backs! Cheers!
As I wrote The Daemon Whisperer I had very clear images for the characters. One of them started as a specific actor (see the last one on this page, and you’ll understand immediately), the others I thought about later. So the question is: if I had my druthers, who would I cast to play the roles in this book?
For the characters with daemon ink, daemon horns, and the like — well, you’ll just have to use your imaginations. That’s what the makeup and costume departments are for, after all!
Without further rambling, I give you: the cast of The Daemon Whisperer!
Meri (Meriwether) Storm – cast as Eliza Dushku (If you’ve seen anything Whedon, you know this gal.)
Meri lost her parents to a daemon in her teens, and she’s sought for their killer ever since. When Azimuth shows up offering her the name of their killer in exchange for a not-so-simple summoning, she jumps at the chance. When things go horribly wrong, she has to find a way to heal herself, but can she live with the cost?
Azimuth – cast as Taylor Kitsch (He’s been in some feature films lately, but not with this look. This is an old-school look for him.)
Azimuth is a member of Belial’s cabal whose abilities include detecting spoken falsehoods and the emotional states of other beings. His job is to recruit Meri to do a job for their cabal, and in return they’ll give her information on the daemon who killed her parents. After her job, when she’s ill and refuses the cabal’s aid, Azimuth keeps an eye on her.
Orias – cast as Chiwetel Ejiofor (Again with the Whedon source! Awesome actor, thus we should see more of him.)
Orias is also a member of Belial’s cabal and his abilities lie in foresight and flashes of telepathy. He does his best to try to keep his cabal safe, but even when you know how it all plays out, it doesn’t mean you can always fix the problem.
Kobol – cast as Kevin McKidd (Did you see HBO’s Rome? Well, this guy kicked serious butt, yet could be funny too. Great show.)
A member of Belial’s cabal, Kobol is an expert fighter and specializes in hand-to-hand combat. He’s the youngest daemon in the cabal, and despite his strength he’s generally the calmest and most lighthearted in the cabal.
Annamie – cast as Drew Barrymore (Needs no intro, right?)
Annamie is Meri’s closest friend, is the owner of Soul Paths — a local magical supply shop — and a talented spell caster. Despite her worries over her friend’s perilous career choice, Annamie continues supporting Meri even at great risk to herself.
Jackie – cast as Helena Bonham Carter (Needs no intro, right?)
Jackie runs the Flesh Playhouse Burner Enclave north of Denver. She’s friends with Annamie and gets asked for a big favor. Also, she doesn’t take any crap, from any species.
Ranna – cast as Michelle Pfeiffer (Needs no intro, right?)
Ranna is a trusted confidant and source of information for Azimuth in this story. She’s an ally of sorts, although he doesn’t know how far he can trust her when push comes to shove. We get to see more of her in Book 2, FYI. Although Pfeiffer is a tad tall for the role, she’s perfectly quirky. I can imagine her wearing steam punk to…other attire with no problems, a must for this role.
Belial – cast as Tim Curry (Again, if you don’t know Tim Curry, you’ve lived under a rock. I’m sorry for you. )
I know Belial is blue, and Curry red. Let’s move on, shall we? Curry was glorious, focused, and knew his goal in Legend. He embraced evil and went to any length to meet his goal, plus, he had a sweet amount of flair. How can we not adore Curry?
In contrast, Belial is a crown Prince of Sheol. Azimuth, Orias, and Kobol are members of his cabal. Distracting him even takes a bit of work. Be assured that if he’s helping you, it’s only because it furthers his own goals.
And sure, there are other characters, but I haven’t cast them yet. These are the major, heavy hitters. If you want others cast, make a request.
Three times in the past two days someone has asked me about NaNoWriMo 2012. The last time was at 10:30pm last night. (You know who you are.) I’m looking askance at you all right now. All right I’m over it — the moment has passed.
I did NaNoWriMo 2011, loved/hated it, and bonded with some awesome people. Why am I thinking about it now?
Because people are poking me! You know how it goes.
I have The Daemon Whisperer all wrapped up, tidy as a bow. I mean, there are blog posts/tours to do, marketing to hit, ARC’s to pass around, and what not, but it’s put to bed, ready for the 10/1 release.
I’m working on edits on The Dream Sifter, the first in my Sci-Fi series, and hope to have those wrapped and ready for an editor by November.
Which would leave November a grand month to kick butt on The Madness Path, the second book in my Liminals series (while Dream Sifter is off getting edits done). See how I multi-task?
And, of course, I’d get to bond with even more insane, erm, awesome writers. That’s the best part of NaNoWriMo. This is the debate. See, I’m not committed yet, just tossing it around in my brain.
I’m frowning as I remember how my husband laughed when I told him I’d never do that grueling, psychotic, thing called NaNo ever again…
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