Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pantser turned Outliner. Is it the end of the world?

No, not the end of the world. 

I've spent the last few days away from the computer. Yes I was still writing. I was back to the old, can't go wrong, pen and paper method.  I have to say that I really did miss that free flow of ink to paper feel.

So why the switch? Am I still working on that stubborn MS or did I create a new one? Answer: Both.

I've been having difficulties in some chapters. I had written a full first draft. It was alright but on the editing I found I needed a revamp, bad. So I started the rewrite. I cannot state this enough, don't just focus on the first chapter till you think it's perfect, because you'll end up spending the rest of your life 'perfecting' it. Impossible to do. My suggestion: rewrite it and move on and rewrite each and every chapter. Life too short to focus too much on how well you opening line catches the reader's attention. That can come when you're into a deeper edit.

From Cliffhanger Editing Website
Okay, now that I've revealed my woopsie, I can tell you. I was panicking on not knowing exactly where I was going. My characters were just as confused as I was. Never a good thing. So I started looking over some tips from some writer/editing buddies on my FaceBook. (If you haven't checked out Cliffhanger Editing, click this link. Don't worry I'll still be here when you come back.) They, like myself, are trying to get ready for NaNoWriMo. So I thought, TJ Loveless outlines, and she's epic. Let's see what I can do.

NaNoWriMoRight now I'm writing a summary of every characters story arc. Let me tell you, some things I was completely stuck on came to life with answers. It's refreshing. I'm going to keep working on them before I continue the rewrite. Everything is starting to fall into place.

So Let me know how you outline, if you do. What steps do you take? How long does it take you to outline?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Katherine Lampe

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Welcome to this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest, Katherine Lampe. When she was twelve years old, Katherine was thrown out of Sunday School class by her minister father for advancing a symbolist interpretation of the story of the expulsion from Eden. This marked the beginning of her career as an Iconoclast, which she pursues on a daily basis by asking difficult questions until people run away in terror. As a writer, she is a staunch proponent of the Independent movement and is outspoken against the sexism, classism, and narcissism often found in traditional publishing. HerCaitlin Ross series of paranormal novels follow the adventures of a witch married to a shaman in Colorado, and explore problems ranging from abuse of power to dysfunctional families. The fifth in the series, The Cruel Mother, was released in September, 2013, and Katherine is currently working on the sixth, to be titled Demon Lover.
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Part 1 @ T. W. Thursday, October 10
Part 2 @ Welcome to the Realm - Friday, October 11
Part 3 @  Sandra  - Monday, October 14
Part 4 @ Vicki - Tuesday, October 15
Part 5 @ Terri – Wednesday, October 16

Section Two: The Writing Life

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

I have a tiny purple office in the back of our house, with a rather lovely desktop on a cheap computer desk from Wal-Mart. Also, a shrine to my particular household gods, like Batman and Yoda, and a fellow whom it’s better not to mention by name, because that can get awkward. I write almost exclusively on the computer. I say “almost,” because I do write sticky notes to myself, generally things that pop into my head at inconvenient times, like when I’m eating dinner or sitting on the toilet. “The cabby has been to the magic store,” or “Aconite, asafoetida, and hemlock.”—stuff like that. I used to write longhand, but that’s become impossible because my mind just goes too fast and pen and paper just can’t keep up. I get frustrated and distracted and start thinking of what I want to do when this frustrating thing is over, and nothing is accomplished. Working in my office, at my desk, gives me a certain amount of structure in that it’s easier to turn off the writer’s mind when I leave the office; that can be a real problem for me if I carry my writing all over the place. And the computer makes it very convenient to pop onto the Internet for spontaneous research if I get curious about something.

But the spatial thing, that’s really the only routine I have. I’m very bad at routine. When I have a story going I write. When I don’t, no amount of routine or forcing myself to write is going to help. In fact, it’s hurtful. So I allow myself to be who I am and follow my own pattern, not someone else’s.

When I do have a story going, my day looks like this: After “doing the morning thing,” which involves sitting on the couch and staring into space while the coffee takes effect, having breakfast, forcing myself to participate in some kind of physical activity, etc., I open up whatever document I’m working on. I keep separate documents for each chapter, because I find that easier to deal with. The first thing I do is re-read what I did the day before, because that’s when I have a fresh eye and can add bits and pieces of body language and expression that might have got left out, or change strange or repetitive words. (This is a process that continues on and off pretty much up until publication.) Then I go on, just getting words down. If I get stuck I get up and walk around the house or go to a different room. But as long as I’m “working”—i.e., involved in my working  day—I have a difficult time letting it go until I’m done for the day.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

Well, I could say “Very badly,” or I could say, “What other aspects of my life?” But neither of those things would be entirely true. Although, in a real way writing IS my life. The stories, the characters, have a veracity and importance for me that other things fail to achieve.

But I suppose what you want to know is more about time management. I don’t have much difficulty with it. Partly this is because my life has thrown me some…I hate to call them advantages. I have a disability that makes it impossible for me to hold down a job in the outside world. So I don’t have that conflict. And it’s a good thing, because when I was trying to be that normal person I couldn’t write at all and it nearly destroyed me. I have no idea how some people you hear about work 40 hours a week in some office and then come home and write their novels. I simply can’t do it.

I don’t have any kids, unfortunately, so I don’t have the same demands of family as other people. And I’m a terrible housekeeper. I don’t think I’ve mopped the kitchen since the Fourth of July. I do laundry, but that’s not much of a conflict: just pop a load in while I’m wandering around thinking of something else and get back to the desk. Everything else can wait. Oh, and I’m super introverted. I could happily not leave my house for months at a time. So it’s not like writing takes away from a fantastic social life, or anything like that.

When do you write?

Depends. Most weekdays, except Fridays (because my husband has Fridays off), and often Saturdays. I generally start around ten-thirty or eleven in the morning and quit around four in the afternoon. But if it’s going really well, or if there’s something I very much want to get down, I’ll go back to it in the evenings or start earlier. When I was writing A Maid in Bedlam, the third Caitlin Ross book, I was spontaneously waking up at five every morning; I’d start writing around seven, go until five in the evening, break for a couple hours, and go back, sometimes until ten at night. And I did this seven days a week. It was like my head was on fire. I think I got the entire first draft done in five weeks—140K words—and it was all good enough that I had very little editing to do. Sometimes it’s like that.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

Strongest? I honestly can’t think of any mind-blowing criticism, other than the critique of the beginning of a fantasy novel I got from a friend, who wrote me a ten-page screed dissing my manuscript because it wasn’t the book she would have written. I hate it when people do that: fail to see your story, with all its good and bad, because they’re going into it with the expectation of some other story in their heads.

The weirdest criticism I ever got was from Gardner Dozois, from The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He was soliciting humorous stories, so I sent him something that I’d read out a lot and that inevitably had the audience rolling in the aisles. It was called “Some Dang Alien Thing,” and it was about this crotchety old guy in a rural area saving his neighbors from being abducted by aliens. Well, I got a rejection letter back, and it wasn’t the typical “This doesn’t suit our needs at this time” kind of thing. It was actually from Mr. Dozois, saying that he didn’t understand why my story was funny. To this day, I have no idea how he could have missed it. Everyone else who’s read it says it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever written.

And—this is probably going to sound cheesy, but it’s true—the best compliment I get is just people telling me they enjoy my stories. I can never hear that enough.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

This is very difficult for me. I haven’t had to deal with many negative reviews, fortunately—since I’ve put my work out there, it seems everyone who actually reads it likes it. But rejection is hard. Especially since all I’ve ever wanted to do is write, it gets very personal for me. Getting a rejection, it’s like being told I can’t be who I am, can’t have the life I want and it’s completely out of my control. So, I have the habit of going into a really bad depression and giving up on writing for days or months or years, which I would not recommend to anyone as a coping mechanism. It’s part of the reason I decided to take my work Independent, actually. Doing that over and over was killing me. And since I consciously took myself out of that cycle, I’ve become more and more aware of how damaging it is (which I’ll be talking about more in a different part of this interview).

I guess, in the end, I dealt with rejection by using it to motivate me to make a positive change in the way I approached my work. And that’s a good thing.

Cruel Mother resize v 2THE CRUEL MOTHER: When Caitlin Ross was fifteen, her mother had her committed to a mental institution in hopes of curing her of magic. After a sympathetic psychiatrist helped Caitlin secure her release, she left her family, and ever since she has kept as much distance between herself and them as possible.
But when her sister calls to tell Caitlin her mother is dying, she yearns for some kind of reconciliation and chooses to return to her childhood home. In Detroit, Caitlin runs into her former psychiatrist, who asks for her help with one of his patients, a troubled teenaged girl. Although Caitlin at first refuses to get involved, escalating family tensions drive her to visit the girl as an escape. Discovering the source of the girl’s problems will lead Caitlin into a world she’s only imagined, one that holds a startling revelation about her own origins.

Website: is my official website, but I actually am terrible at keeping it up. If anyone wants to take on web design, please contact me!

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?

All my books are available in both print and electronic format.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Joshua Legg

Welcome to this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest, Joshua Legg. He resides in San Antonio, Texas, with his dog, Ruby. He studies history and English, as well as about a dozen other subjects. His debut novelEtched in Soul and Skin was released this year by Musa Publishing.
Don’t miss the rest of his BRoP interview at:
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Part 1 @ Vicki – Tuesday, October 1
Part 2 @ Terri – Wednesday, October 2
Part 3 @ T.W. - Thursday, October 3
Part 4 @ Emily – Friday, October 4
Part 5 @ Sandra – Monday, October 7

Section #4: About Your Current Work

BRoP: Tell us about your new book—what is it about—and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

JL: “Etched in Soul and Skin” was released on May 17 this year. It’s available at the big e-book retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and the publisher’s website.

The plot follows Adanna, a member of a nomadic tribe who wanders through a world of untouched wilderness and overgrown ruins. While she and many others in the tribe can use powerful magic, it’s no defense against the sky demons: terrible creatures that attack only at night. The sky demons take people from the tribe in their terrifying raids, including Adanna’s mother.

However, these sky demons are not magical beasts or anything supernatural. They’re men and women from the flying city of Shuran. Their home faces a terrible energy crisis: the powerful engines that keep Shuran aloft require magic to run, magic that only comes from people like Adanna and her tribe. If the ‘sky demons’ didn’t do their terrible jobs, the entire city and its half-million inhabitants would come crashing to the ground.

In Erik’s first raid on the ground, he captures Adanna. However, the new ‘sky demon’ sees something special in Adanna and rebels against his people to free her. However, in rescuing her from Shuran’s engines, he has only stranded them both on a flying city that is rapidly running out of fuel.

BRoP: Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

JL:  “Etched in Soul and Skin” is basically the same story you've seen in “Dances With Wolves” or “Avatar”, but done in the opposite. Instead of the young military man from a technological society learning to live in a more natural one, and eventually defending them from his old comrades, a young member from the natural society is brought to the technological one.

Another thing I worked hard on in the narrative is making the inhabitants of Shuran as sympathetic as possible. Yes, the engines and the system that ‘feeds’ them is monstrous, but it’s the only thing keeping hundreds of thousands of people alive. It’s a moral dilemma you don’t often see in stories like this, or at least glossed over completely. Likewise, it gives my villains a depth many steampunk or adventure stories often lack.

BRoP: What was the hardest part of writing this book?

JL: Like in all my books and stories, the hardest part is always the first word of the first sentence. I've had times where I've sat and stared at an empty first page for hours at a time, for days on end, because I couldn't think of a satisfactory first sentence. When it comes time to write, I always have the opening images and scenes vivid in my mind, I just can’t find the right words to portray them.

BRoP: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

JL: My favorite part of “Etched” is the middle of the book, when Adanna experiences culture shock on the streets of Shuran. It’s much lighter in tone than the rest of the book and gives a look at the “other side” as it were. My favorite passage to write is one in which she is given a big puffy dress to better fit in with the crowds on the street. However, she had other ideas for the garment…

BRoP: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?
JP: I would have probably fleshed a few things out a bit more, especially the people who live on Shuran. Writing those middle chapters was very fun and I shouldn't have cut them so short. I also wish I had added a few more pages with Allison, the antagonist. While I feel she is a very solid character with a good arc, she should have been given a bit more time in the limelight to emphasize some of the choices she made.

How to find Joshua and his book:
Etched in Soul and SkinETCHED IN SOUL AND SKIN: The Sky Demons have hunted Adanna’s tribe for centuries, kidnapping people in vicious nighttime raids and disappearing without a trace. Her life has been one of deprivation and loss, always striving to keep one step ahead of relentless attackers.
Erik is the newest soldier in a secret military, one dedicated to keeping his steam-powered city in the air. Only a select few know the dark secret of his flying home. It’s not their technology that keeps it aloft, but the magic that flows in the veins of the people who live below them. He has been trained for one purpose: to hunt and retrieve human beings.
Captured and almost turned into a living battery, Adanna is rescued by the very man who imprisoned her. In her, he sees a chance at redemption. In him, she sees a chance to escape. And maybe get a little revenge for the years of terror the ‘sky demons’ have inflicted on her.