Missing in action

It’s been a few days since I’ve blogged here, but I haven’t been slacking. On the contrary, I’ve been busy with that crazy thing called life.

After Rory was found safe, life hit full-force. Work, home, organizational stuff, gaming, laundry, work, meeting with a mortgage loan company, work…

Oh yeah, the mortgage thing. Yep, my husband and I have been pre-approved and will begin construction on our first house hopefully in October. We meet with the builder again this evening after I get off work. It’s both exciting and terrifying; on the one hand, we’ll be free of apartment life (forever, if we have anything to say about it), but on the other hand it’s a buttload of responsibility. Mortgage payments, repairs, upkeep, taxes, garbage pickup, etc. … plenty to keep us occupied–and harried.

It’s all new and different and a little more than overwhelming. There was a time in my life where I thought I’d never own a home of my own, let alone freshly build one from the ground up. Now it’s more than just a dream; it’s a swiftly-approaching reality. It will even be complete before our fifth anniversary. Some anniversary present, isn’t it?

Once the house is built, I suspect our social life will evolve in several different ways. We likely will have to adjust to the new, higher cost of living before our ability to participate in activities stabilizes, and we’ll probably host more get-togethers at “our place” as we get things settled. We’re already planning two or three major housewarming parties (family, work, friends) as well as having several out-of-town friends and family members come visit. We’ll need more furniture for sure–can’t have visitors sleeping on the floor, and guests would likely want places to sit–which will mean more spending. It’s cool to think of our house being done, but weird to think of it as being empty. There’s enough furniture to fill our two-bedroom apartment, but with three bedrooms (one of which will be a craft room), a great room, dining area, garage, kitchen, etc., it will be a while before the spaces are filled comfortably.

I almost wish I could speed up the process of finishing my latest novel. I know, I know, the likelihood of getting published any time soon (even if I finish tomorrow lol) is slim to nil, but the thought of being a traditionally published author and a homeowner is thrilling. Like, maybe some day there will be a photo of me standing on my land with the mountains in the background on the back cover of a trade paperback. That would be cool. (Better than the selfie I took outside of my old apartment, anyway. Granted, the selfie looks pretty decent for a selfie, but it’s not the same.)

The going has been slow on the writing, editing, and revising, mostly due to that little thing I mentioned earlier called life. I’m going to try to kick it up a few notches, though, and finish the character sheets I started while I wait for the most recent edits of book 1 to be done. I’ve debated starting on book 3, but I think I should slow my roll until I know what changes I’ll have to make after the edits and critique come back. I don’t want to get too far in and then have to make sweeping changes. That would suck. It feels good to have the next two or so books brewing in the ol’ noggin, though. I’d like the series to continue further, but a quadrilogy would be okay. Maybe a quintilogy. (Spell check says that’s not a word, but Google says it is, and who am I to argue with Google?) Not a trilogy though; there are too many ideas for just three books.

I hope that some of you blog readers will be interested in reading these books. Is dystopian sci-fi your thing? A little bit of politics, some action, some sexyfuntimes? (I know that’s not a word, but I don’t care lol) Keep an eye here for updates on how they’re going. My goal is to have something ready to submit to agents/publishers by the end of the year, with my goal for next year being to have book 2 ready for pubbing. I know it’s not likely that I’ll be anywhere close to having book 1 even published by then, but if I have more installments at the ready I’m hoping it will let publishers know that I’m serious, and that there’s more to come.

Will I be a household name? Probably only in my own house, but that’s okay. I can deal with that.

My own house. Damn, that sounds good.

Hijacked

Dear Gods, I wish I could sleep in some days. I’m not talking about just sleeping past the alarm going off–I just want to give the alarm an opportunity to go off.

On the plus side, these early mornings seem to be my most productive times of day. I get a lot of writing and cosplay work done during these times. If it hadn’t been for the early wakings, I wouldn’t have gotten book 1 finished, let alone halfway through book 2. Well, kind of halfway. There are a lot of revisions to do before I keep going, because if I stay the course it’s going to be really hard to fix after I’m done with the draft.

I don’t know how some authors can plow through a draft without making changes as they go. If I notice one thing that needs changing that will affect the rest of the story, I have to fix it before I can continue. I mean, if I don’t, that means more work for myself down the road. For instance, even though I’m technically halfway through book 2, I have to revise part of the story that just doesn’t make sense as is. If I don’t, the rest of the book won’t make sense. I’ll have half a manuscript that needs to be revised, as opposed to a few chapters.

I guess every author has their own style. Some people are planners; I plan to a degree, but for the most part I pants it. What’s going to happen next? I don’t know, and I won’t until I get to writing it. But hey, I get to see the story unfold as it’s written, so it’s almost as exciting as if I were reading it for the first time. I’ve had characters surprise me multiple times. I’ll just be writing along, minding my own business, when suddenly a character emerges that I’d almost forgotten about (or even a new character comes to light that I hadn’t planned on). That character does some crazy shit, and it gets to the point where I’m just trying to keep up.

Some of my best plot twists have come from this, so I guess I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes it requires quick thinking to stay on top of things. Okay, then, Minor Character #37, if you think you require more “screen time,” so to speak, then I’ll oblige. Just tell me what to do, and I’ll give it my all. What can I say? Sometimes the characters know better than I as far as where the story needs to go.

This latest background-character-turned-major-storyline-influence took my “plan” in a completely different direction. A surprise appearance by someone who I’d thought of as incidental ended up affecting things all the way down to bloodlines. Yeah, a major character’s genetics were changed by this one chick who decided it was her time in the limelight. All right. I’ll roll with it. It actually makes the next book(s) more interesting (and takes care of a minor-major issue of a power vacuum that I’d created for myself–once again, by a character surprising me).

I almost can’t wait to see what happens next!

Go with the flow

Finally have made forward progress on book 2!

I’ve been revisiting previously-written chapters because I had made them entirely too short and choppy, so I’ve been beefing them up and adding more substance. It’s created a new dynamic and a new flow to the story, which I’m really happy about.

It’s also taking the story in the direction I’d intended it to go. I’d been stuck on how to get my main protagonist out of her predicament, but now it’s bright and clear. She can move on and, more importantly, the story can move on.

There are still some speed bumps to get over: I’ve got to get to the title of the story (which will make very little sense if I don’t make progress in that direction), I’ve got to mix things up (because what’s a story without some conflict?), and I’ve got to continue weaving some side plot threads through there. It’s not all clear, but it’s becoming more vivid in my mind as I move forward.

Another 1,000 words written, another many thousand to go. 🙂

AMA w/Clare, Harper, and Eli

I’ve posted on this before, but figured I’d post again just for shits and giggles (and to get the word out) 😉

Yes, I’m hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything, for those not in the Twittertalk loop) with the main character of my new novel and her cohorts.

Clare, Harper, and Eli live in a dystopian future where the social elite have taken over the Old U.S. as the governing body. These richest of the rich are also blessed with evolutionary genetic Gifts, Gifts that are only allowed in the upper classes. Any low-class fetus found to have these Gifts are said to have genetic “abnormalities” and is terminated by government order…ostensibly for the safety of the mother and as a mercy to the child, which would have grown up deformed or mentally retarded. In reality, the ruling Council doesn’t want anyone in the lower classes to have the power to overthrow them.

Despite the Council’s efforts, Abnormals are still born. Their parents use a variety of methods to hide their Abnormal children from the Squads that patrol the streets of Heaven’s Light and the other remaining Old U.S. cities.

Clare and Eli meet under dangerous circumstances and end up on the run from the Squads to avoid capture and internment in one of the Abnormal concentration camps that dot the wastelands between cities.

Harper is one of Eli’s exes, and she inserts herself into Clare and Eli’s budding relationship when they run into her in one of the Dead Cities, abandoned cities run and occupied by Abnormals and their families.

Comment here (or tweet or comment on the shared posts on Twitter and Facebook) to ask a question to Clare, Eli, or Harper. I’ll answer “in character” in a post at the end of this month! 🙂 If you want to know more about Clare, Harper, and Eli or the world they live in, ask away! They’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Friday excerpt

I present to you part of the first chapter (eleventieth draft of the first chapter, that is) of my next novel, which I will hopefully have ready to publish on Kindle next year.

Now, this is still a rough draft; it hasn’t gone through proper editing and revisions, so bear with me.

Enjoy!

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Chapter 1

The electronic music in the club pulsed and throbbed, stirring Clare’s blood into a frenzy. Her silver-grey ponytail whipped around as she danced with her hips grinding against the nearest warm body. The Geff she danced with was a woman today, slender body pulled into an hourglass by a slick NeoSkin corset. Clare could feel the desire emanating from hu, and she fed off that to stimulate her own burning need. Maybe she’d take this Geff home tonight … and some friends of hus, if hu was up for it.

Hus name was Andie. Well, tonight it was; hu had been born Andrew, and a part of hum was still Andy on some days. Andie wore hus hair short in a style that could go from he to she and back again in with little to no effort. Clare loved the lightning-blue color Andie had dyed hus hair; maybe that would be Clare’s next color.

Andie’s twin, Billy (or Billie, depending on the day), was also somewhere in the club. Clare could sense hum nearby, but hu was unaware of her scan. Andie and Billy had an intimate relationship for twins, one that would have been abhorred a hundred years or so ago. Ever since the freelove movement of the 2050s, however, the definition of sexual deviance had been drastically altered. Clare sensed all this and more in the few minutes that she writhed with Andie. She knew that if she approached the two of them about a triple (or maybe a quad? There was a man in the corner who also caught her eye) they would both be receptive. Good. Clare could stand to blow off some pent-up energy after the week she’d had.

Whoever was stalking her was good. Too good. Clare had been finding chilling paper notes wherever she went for almost a week now, and each note was more … descriptive … than the last. Her stalker was into some depraved shit, and he spared no detail in his scrawling scribbles. This person seemed to know things about her that no one could possibly know: her address, her ID code, the fact that her NormID was a fake …

That last one could get her killed or worse, sent to a camp. Clare didn’t think she’d last very long in a camp. So why was she out at a club at three in the morning instead of getting the hell out of Heaven’s Light?

Because she thought she had it handled. She was wrong.

Another set of hips joined the dance without warning. It wasn’t something that would normally disturb Clare—the more the merrier, she figured—but two things raised red flags to her: she hadn’t sensed the person approaching her until the physical contact gave her access to their mind, and the mind controlling those hips was awash in sadism and deviance. This man (and he was definitely a man) wanted someone to dominate that night. Clare just had the misfortune of dancing straight into his radar.

She tried to disengage herself from the man behind her, but he grabbed her waist with strong hands, sliding his fingers under her vintage leather coat and digging them into her skin, latching on like a hawk snagging its prey. Images flitted through his brain, images so dark and disturbing and powerful that they radiated from him in waves, bypassing the implanted Psy-Block that had prevented Clare from sensing his presence. Clare closed off her mind to the onslaught of filth. She’d never seen memories that twisted in all her twenty-two years as a Telepath.

Fear spread through her as she felt a deep growl rumble through the body that pressed itself to her. It was primal, dangerous, and foreboding. He didn’t intend to let her go. Not while she lived at least.

Andie spun away into the crowd, leaving Clare alone with the predator. Clare didn’t care about whether she would be getting a triple or a quad anymore; she wanted out of the club, and she wanted out now.

Circling the drain?

I think I’ve exhausted my creativity for a while. I’m trying to plug through the beginning of Book 2, but at just 7k words in I find myself writing in circles. Seems my creativity has been drained after the marathon that resulted in the completion of Book 1’s first draft.

Can’t let myself get discouraged, though. I mean, I have quite some time to get Book 2 finished. Gotta revise/edit/revise/edit/etc Book 1 until it’s ready for publication, then I should focus on Book 2 more. I just can’t get these characters out of my head. They still want their story told, but they’re being stubborn about telling me what’s up with it.

I’ve been writing essentially the same thing worded differently for days. I find myself cruising the Internet or playing the Playstation more often than not lately, as opposed to my usual early morning writing time. Perhaps I should take a break even from Book 2? At least until I get my mind back on track.

What I should really be doing is working on cosplay. I’ve let that go for too long, caught up as I’ve been in writing and prepping for Christmas. I keep telling myself “after the holidays”…but I should just force myself to get started now.

Well, not now-now. Now I’m at my parents’ house for our weekly visit. But starting in the morning.

If the characters will let me.

Verbose

I finally have some momentum on my WIP again. I’ve added chapters, introduced new characters, and started weaving some more plot into the story.

It still has a long way to go; I don’t think I’m even a third of the way into the story, and I still don’t fully know where it’s going to end up. I have a general idea, but I’m kinda running around the woods without a map here. Or a compass. In the dark.

The characters are more vibrant to me than they were previously, though, and more of them are coming to the surface to have their say. Past histories swim around inside my head and vivid images of the characters–much more vivid than some of the characters in Whispers of Death–are flitting around my brain.

In a way, I’m glad Rory woke me up early this Sunday morning. Gives me more time to work on the things that are in my head.

Now let’s just hope they don’t go silent on me again.

Story Fodder

I’ve decided to turn this election outcome–one I had not wanted to become reality–into inspiration for my dystopian WIP. Got thrown some lemons, so here I am borrowing a cup of sugar from the Muses to make lemonade. Or something.

Oddly enough, I had started world building with this very situation in mind. A “what if” of sorts, only now the “what if” is “what is.” It gives me a platform to base my story on, though the main plot of the story has nothing to do with today’s politics. It takes place over a hundred years from now, but the unfolding of events will give me plenty of inspiration to guide my future world into a place that could possibly exist, given the current state of affairs.

I’m not trying to be defeatist. Things might not go to shit right now, or even in a hundred years. This is fiction that I’m writing. That’s the beauty of fiction: it can be whatever you want it to be. I’m warping reality to suit my needs.

Which reminds me, I have to go back and put the political pieces that are a part of the story into their places in the puzzle. Not being a fan of politics in general, I’ve been subconsciously avoiding that very thing. Here I go, though, diving in keys first. 🙂

When Characters Won’t Behave

I was on a great writing streak yesterday morning on my morning off work…

…until the characters stopped behaving and started going off-script.

It started innocently enough. One character (my main character) started doubting herself in her relationship with the other protagonist. Then things got complicated–on purpose, but still–and she turned into a whiny little brat. This proud, independent woman became a mouse, and I’m frustrated with her for that.

I’ve also realized that I need to introduce the main antagonists on a bigger scale a little sooner in the narrative. Right now, the protags are being pursued by a government task force, and though the “why” is there, the “who” is pretty vague. That bit can wait, though; adding in chapters between the MC POV is easier than what I have to do now, which is kick the MC in the proverbial ‘nads to get her to stop whining and be that strong woman again.

NaNo? Nah, no.

Last year at this time I was all geared up to write my first NaNoWriMo novel. I had a (vague) plot, some characters built up, a (general) idea of where the story was going.

I lasted maybe 2, 3 days, tops. I just am not cut out for NaNo, or at the very least I’m not ready for that kind of commitment.

Part of my problem was that I’m a pantser, so trying to plot out the novel was hard for me because I go where the characters take me. I have a general path, sure–like going hiking and knowing you want to go north but there’s no trail laid out–but as far as point-by-point outlining goes, I suck at it. I was the kid in school who wrote my essay first then “outlined” it.

Another part was discouragement. I’d write just a few hundred words, nowhere near enough a day to get to 50k in a month, and it was frustrating. I gave up because I didn’t think I could do it.

This year, after evaluating my previous NaNo attempt (and my current life schedule), I’ve decided to skip NaNo altogether this time around. It doesn’t help that I nearly forgot about NaNo, hence did no prep work. But even with a solid story idea in mind that’s already got a good start, I just don’t feel comfortable attempting NaNo this year.

My sci-fi/dystopian novel is still at a halt, though the short story I wrote a couple weeks ago (Room 1313) had some of my characters in it. I need to reboot (or rather re-reboot) the beginning and figure out where my characters are going. Literally, I don’t know where they’re going. This book is going to take considerably more work than Whispers of Death took. I’m starting from a theoretical future, and I have to figure out where in time and technology they are before I can set locales. I mean, if we have a Hunger Games-type world where war has torn the country apart, what’s left of the country? What cities have survived, and what ones were abandoned? What’s the rest of the world looking like? The good ol’ U.S. of A. isn’t the only country around here, and I’m sure the world political situation will be vastly different a couple centuries from now…I’m just not sure in what way it will be different.

I’ll get it all figured out eventually. I just need to sit myself down with a few global maps and a notebook & a bunch of Sharpies and play Devil’s advocate. What happens to X country if Y terrorist group defeats Z country’s defenses? It’s a lot more work than I had initially planned on.

So maybe I’ll see you next year, NaNo. Maybe I’ll have my world set up and ready to rumble by then.