Monday, January 31, 2011

Feeling Old

This showed up in my inbox (coincidentally after I complained on FB about the irritation of texting). While I never promised myself not to lecture kids about the hardships of my childhood, nor did I endure similar tales from my elders, the bullet points very much resonate.

And, yes, I edited it. Too many exclamation points. My apologies to Anonymous.

If you are 40, or older, you might think this is hilarious.

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... ways. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it. But now that I'm over the ripe old age of forty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy. I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia. And I hate to say it, but you kids today don't know how easy you've got it.

1)      I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog.
2)     There was no email. We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen. Then we had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there.
3)     Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick my tail. Nowhere was safe.
4)     There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes. If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself.  Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and mess it all up. 
5)  There were no CD players. We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?
6)     We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting. If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal. That’s it.
7)     There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOSH! Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7. And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.
8)      And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either. When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was. It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you didn't know. You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister.
9)     We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics. We had the Atari 2600. With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square. And there were no multiple levels or screens. It was just one screen...Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died. Just like LIFE! (yeah, I bolded that one)
10)  You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on. You were screwed when it came to channel surfing. You had to get off your tail and walk over to the TV to change the channel. NO REMOTES.
11)  There was no Cartoon Network, either. You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little--!
12)  And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove. Imagine that!
13)  And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside... you were doing chores.
14)  And car seats? Oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shotgun" in the first place.

See? That's exactly what I'm talking about. You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten. You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before.

There's my technology rant for the day. Now I must brave the icy mist, drizzle and snow flurries to get to work, God willing, intact. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Today's topic seemed more suited to Old-Fashioned Thoughts in a New Age World.


Dark thoughts for a dark day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have trouble paying attention. I'm not ADD or anything. I just don't find much interesting. Certainly not life. I've spent most of my time on this planet avoiding life on this planet.

I set Past Ties in 1990 Manhattan KS because I was there. So why can't I remember anything about it?

I remember So I Married An Axe Murder came out during that time, and the first STNG movie. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Disney's Trifecta: The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. We all had The Lion King soundtracks, and Madonna's Ray of Light, and Margaret Becker's Soul Tattoo, plus the best of REO Speedwagon.

TT: I may be seeing the problem.

Unfortunately, those aren't the details I need for Past Ties. I can use them, but they aren't what I need. And pushing to remember things I didn't notice just gave me a headache.

I can't remember the intake process for a hospital mental health admission. I took a class. I got an A. Makes no difference. Knowledge ain't there. No sense pushing for it.

I'm hoping I took notes. Fortunately, I kept my DSMIII-R, so at least I have the book in use at the time.

These are the blocks I've run into as my story progresses. Hardships where I expected smooth running. They've slowed me down and depressed me. I keep pushing but I don't seem to be getting anywhere. 

I had a strange bout of writing last night. It wasn't long, it wasn't ground-breaking, but it also wasn't pure dragging torture. The story moved forward. I chuckled a bit. I thought of another string to weave in. I was content with what I did. I didn't even jump ahead. Yet.

When I stopped, I sat in my comfy chair with a cat in my lap and pondered.

I've never written to a deadline before, not for my books, anyway.

I wanted to try doing so to see if I could. A real writer usually has to, right?

Well, I'm not a real writer yet. I don't have a contract or a publisher pushing me for pages. Right now, it's just me pushing me, and I don't think I like being pushed.

When I started Past Ties, I promised myself I no rules, no pressure, no constraints. I've been breaking that promise ever since. 

So I'm not going to worry about deadlines or word counts or the NAF WIP progress report. I'll just write for a bit and see what happens.

'Cause I'm officially out of ideas.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Scott Wilder has a phrase. "It wearies me."

He uses it when the government does something typically brain dead. I'm using it about Past Ties.

It wearies me.

If I'm tired of griping about it, you must be tired of reading me gripe about it. So why do I continue?
Good question. The best answer I can give is that I used to give up all the time. The minute a story stopped being "easy" to write, I jumped to a new story. I don't want to be like that anymore. I want to be a professional. I want to finish what I start.

But I am weary.

So weary I'm "this close" to setting it aside -again- and taking up Dangling Participles, the side-quel to Star of Justice.

I may not be ready to write Past Ties yet. It deals with the search for origins (I know mine), the problem of guilt (I don't believe in guilt) and the pain of unrequited love (I got over that a long time ago).

I just don't have the emotional resources to delve for this story, and it's making me grumpy and difficult to be around. 

Reading my fellow authors' successes on FB has not helped, either. While I'm happy for them and all their gushing and rushing of inspiration spilling out onto their keyboards, my darker half would rather smash those keyboards over their heads than hear about it one more time.

See, that's the "grumpy" I mentioned. I'm not normally the envious type.

Past Ties has one more week. I'm going to take a chance before giving up.

I'm going to jump ahead in the story and write some of those scenes rather than write in order like I did for Star of Justice and Elementals. It's a risk. It's what I used to do when I only wrote the "interesting" stuff and ignored all the groundwork that makes a story more than a short story.

But I'm dying here, and the story is dying with me. Maybe I need something drastic to kick this critter into gear.

Otherwise, February will see a new WIP for NAF, and a new word count, and possibly a new deadline.

'Cause I can't take the weary anymore.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting to Know You

It may have been Anne Lamott. It may have been The Lioness quoting Randy Ingermansen. I don't remember. Somebody said "get to know your characters."

I thought I did.

I've been looking for all these reasons why the writing isn't happening. It may come down to the simple "I don't know these people."

That would be a real reason I can't write it.

So, I've spent the last week thinking about them. The only writing I've done is in a file called Past Ties Outline.

I wrote down the major events of all three "books," and I stared at them. Why did these things happen? Who is this Gavran fellow? What horrendous event broke Shah? How important is Parok/Petrov/Orell (the poor guy's gone through more changes than an Animorph).

Mostly I've been asking myself "Do I like these people? Would anyone other than me like these people? Why?"

Good questions. My Outline file has expanded and contracted. Some backstory is showing up. Some continuity and plot issues are resolving. Some new ideas have grown and some old ones have been buried.

As I've considered Robert Jordan this week, reading the various reactions of other folks to his work, I've realized a very important thing.

I don't do simple.

I like complicated. I like details and intrigues and connections where no apparent connections exist. I like layers in my stories. I want to write things you can enjoy once, but will enjoy more when you go back.

Don't get me wrong. Simple has its place. Probably a bigger place in the market than my stuff.
But when I write, I want more to do.

So the Outline will continue, focusing on the history of the characters and their motivations when facing the crisis I've given them.

Gavran will lose some anger issues. Shah will lose some whine. Orell will get some hair (I originally wrote him bald, but I'm just not feeling it anymore, even trying to keep Vin Diesel as inspiration).

I'm not giving up. I'm digging in. I see a crack in that writer's block and I'm going for it

And to prove I'm serious, I closed my Fishville app. It's just me and the Farm now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


What do I think of Robert Jordan?

Find out at The New Authors' Fellowship.

Just so you know, I'm not the only author to post there. Feel free to stop by daily and see what's up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The book began like any other Wheel of Time book. A prologue with characters I may or may not know - a quick update on who is where before the story begins in earnest.
No clue is given at these times of which characters will be visible through the course of the book. With so many, the choices are endless, much like a soap opera.
Ah, but there's Rand, my shepherd boy. A boy no longer, but a man. A king, hunted and haunted and struggling to unify the known world before Tarmon Gaidon, The Last Battle.
What is this? It is Rand. All of him (except the hand he lost in the last book). I know him.
And there's Min, and Nynaeve, and Aveindha, and Cadsuane. Perrin and Faile. Mat and Talmanes and Tuon and ugly little Olver. Siuan and Gareth Bryne and Gawyn. They're all here! They survived!
Brandon Sanderson has done it. He's breathed life into people I feared dead with their creator. But, no, the young upstart has jumped into the gap with the determination of a Malkieri, the stubborness of a Stone Dog Aiel, and the creativity of an Aes Sedai working around the Three Oaths.
Yes, I saw the occasional stumble. Too many "agains" in the same sentence. An abundance of "nows" on occasion. The use of the word "watery" three times to describe blue eyes. Jordan wouldn't have done that.
But out of 760 pages, that's it? That's my gripe? Pretty small.
There was a chapter with Gawyn that didn't quite feel right, too emphatic, perhaps, but Gawyn isn't quite as established as many of the others, so Sanderson may have him and mold him.
When the Seanchan attacked Tar Valon, I couldn't see for the tears. Very annoying, by the way. How can you find out if everyone is okay when you can't see to read?
When Semirhage confronted Rand -again- I held my breath. Who would win?
When Rand attacked his own... Well, perhaps that little surprise is best held back. I will say, I also cursed Cadsuane for her meddling.
Towers of Midnight, the second to the last book is out. I can only hope we will discover how a pregnant Queen Elayne is coping, whether Moiraine survived her fall into the ter'angreal oh-so-many books ago, what new tricks the Aelfinn and Eelfinn have up their sleeves and the fate of al'Lan Mandragoran.
Of course, I will be searching for news of Rand, my tortured Dragon Reborn.
Thanks to Brandon Sanderson, I will know what happens to my boy. For his stunning success in taking up the challenge, I give The Gathering Storm my elusive 5 buttercups. I have never been so pleased to be so upset.
The Light protect you, Mr. Sanderson. You have ji to us, but we have toh to you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I intended to read it last year when I got it for Christmas. I didn't.

I was afraid.

I started reading The Wheel of Time series sometime in the late 1990's, perhaps 1997. I fell in love with Rand al'Thor immediately. He's exactly my kind of guy: tall, red-blond hair, hazel blue eyes and the fate of the world on his shoulders. Oh, I like Mat and Perrin, too, and the womenfolk, Egwene and Nynaeve. But my heart belongs to Rand.

I've followed Rand through 12 books. I've waded through seemingly senseless (and endless) chapters about other characters who don't hold my heart, because I know they will be important to Rand. I started late enough to read the first books within the same year, but early enough I've had to wait for installments to emerge.

When Robert Jordan (whose real name is James Oliver Rigney, Jr. according to Wikipedia) died in 2007, I was devastated. Alas, not for his family so much, although my heart bleeds for them. From all I've read, he was as great a man as he was an author.

But what about his other family? What about Rand? What about the Third Age? Who would fight and die at Tarmon Gaidon? Rand al'Thor or Lews Therin, the madman in his head?

I thought these questions would never be answered. I've accused Jordan of dying just to escape having to write that last book because he didn't know how he would do it. I was unkind and unfair.

Robert Jordan cared about Rand more than I did. He passed the pen to another writer.

Brandon Sanderson.

The fear remained. 

Yes, a successor was chosen, but was it because the lad was worthy or because Jordan was desperate? 

Could he do it? Could he continue Rand's story in a believable way? Would I care about Rand as written by this upstart newcomer? Would the differences be too distinct for me to care?

Remember, I've read this story for 14 years, 12 books and almost 4 million words. I know these people. I've laughed with them, cried with them, bled with them.

Would I still care about them with a new writer at the helm?

Guess you'll find out tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Survey of...Past Ties

Last one for now. I'm not working on any other books at the moment. 

1. What’s your word count? Aiming for 80K. Don't know if I'll make it or not.Though I recently eavesdropped on a discussion about how it's 100K or nothing for a new writer. I wish someone would put these rules in stone.

2. How long until you finish? At this rate? The end of my life. 

3. If you have finished, how long did it take you?  

4. Do you have an outline? No. This could be the problem. 

5. Do you have a plot?  No. This could be another problem.

6. How many words do you typically write a day? My goal is 600. Haven't been making it lately. 

7. What was your greatest word count in one day? 900+

8. What was your least impressive word count in one day? Today would be "nothing."

9. What inspired you to write? So sad, this answer. The movies Second Sight, Vibes and Jack's Back. Somebody kill me.

10. Does your novel have a theme song? 
In the Morning by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. 

11. Assign each of your major characters a theme song.
Tayra Shah: Return to Me by October Project
T. Gavran: Don't Give Up by Peter Gabriel And this video is a little silly. Try to ignore it. Except for Peter's coat. It's nice.
Kylucka Yolanda Luckfellow: Delaney Talks to Statues.
Alan Smith: If I Knew Just What to Say by Roger Whittaker. You'll have to trust me. I can't find it anywhere.
Kiven Smith: Uncle John's Band by Jimmy Buffett.

12. Which character is most like you? I don't know. Could be part of my problem. Alan, maybe? Possibly Janice, and that thought scares the tar out of me. 

13. Which character would you most likely be friends with? Alan. 

14. Do you have a Gary-Stu or Mary Sue character? No. 

15. Who is your favorite character in your novel? Kiven. 

16. Have your characters ever done something completely unexpected? Not yet. Wish they'd get on it. 

17. Have you based any of your novel directly on personal experiences? Not yet, which could be part of the problem.

18. Do you believe in plot bunnies? Crunchings and munchings. Still don't know what they are. 

19. Is there magic in your novel? No. Maybe that's my problem. 

20. Are any holidays celebrated in your novel? Do birthdays count? 

21. Does anyone die? Haven't decided yet. Oh, wait. Yes.

22. How many cups of coffee/tea have you consumed during your writing experience? Average remains 4 per day.

23. What is the latest you have stayed up writing? This survey? 9 PM. 

24. What is the best line? None, yet. 

25. What is the worst line? So very many.

26. Have you dreamed about your novel or its characters? No. 

27. Does your novel rely heavily on allegory? No.

28. Summarize your novel in under fifteen words. A haunted psychic must put her past to rest. 

29. Do you love all your characters? Don't know them yet. Can't say. 

30. Have you done something sadistic or cruel to your characters specifically to increase your word count? It's coming. 

31. What was the last thing your main character ate? Tayra? A banana. 

32. Describe your main character in three words. Arrogant. Guilt-ridden. Broken. 

33. What would your antagonist dress up as for Halloween? A homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else. 

34. Does anyone in your story go to a place of worship? No. Most of them avoid such places. 

35. How many romantic relationships take place in your novel? If I knew this, I wouldn't be having trouble writing it. 

36. Are there any explosions in your novel? Yes. 

37. Is there an apocalypse in your novel? No. 

38. Does your novel take place in a post-apocalyptic world? No. In fact, this future is better than the one I actually foresee. 

39. Are there zombies, vampires or werewolves in your novel? Only the normal kinds. 

40. Are there witches, wizards or mythological creatures/figures in your novel? Nope. 

41. Is anyone reincarnated? Nope. 

42. Is anyone physically ailed? Seth has a heart murmur. 

43. Is anyone mentally ill? The serial killer, yes. 

44. Does anyone have swine flu? Hasn't been invented yet. 

45. Who has pets in your novel and what are they? I do expect a dog. Doesn't yet have a name. 

46. Are there angels, demons, or any religious references/figures in your novel? No, no and yes. 

47. How about political figures? No famous ones. 

48. Is there incessant drinking? Only in the bar scene. 

49. Are there board games? If so, which ones? Didn't plan on it, but...maybe.

50. Are there any dream sequences? Unfortunately, yes.

51. Is there humor? Not yet. Maybe that's the problem. 

52. Is there tragedy? Only in the writing of it. Maybe that's the problem. 

53. Does anyone have a temper tantrum? Yes. 

54. How many characters end up single at the end of your novel? Not a clue. Maybe that's the problem.

55. Is anyone in your novel adopted? Yes, but not like you think. 

56. Does anyone in your novel wear glasses? Yes. 

57. Has your novel provided insight about your life? Not yet. Maybe that's the problem. 

58. Your personality? How many times can I write "maybe that's the problem?" Let's see, 75 questions...

59. Has your novel inspired anyone? Not even me yet. 

60. How many people have asked to read your novel? Right now, they run the other way. 

61. Have you drawn any of your characters? Yes. 

62. Has anyone drawn your characters for you? No. 

63. Does anyone vomit in your novel? I don't think so. 

64. Does anyone bleed in your novel? Must I reiterate? Everybody bleeds in my novels. Except Janice. And LUCK-I. It doesn't have blood. 

65. Do any of your characters watch TV? Yes. 

66. What size shoe does your main character wear? Tayra? Probably a child's size 4. She's very small.

67. Do any of the characters in your novel use a computer? One of them is a computer. 

68. How would you react if your novel was erased entirely? I'd throw a party with ice cream and cake. 

69. Did you cry at killing off any of your characters? Not yet. 

70. Did you cheer when killing off one of your characters? Not yet. 

71. What advice would you give to a fellow writer? Don't try to base your book off the movies Second Sight, Vibes and Jack's Back

72. Describe your ending in three words. Not A Clue. 

73. Are there any love triangles, squares, hexagons, etc.? Maybe. Something may be building. 

74. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least stressful, 10 being the most) how does your stress rank? About the book? Heading toward a solid 7.

75. Was it worth it? Not yet. But I'm hopeful.

Well, at least this has shown me where my potential problems are.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Survey of...Star of Justice

American Family Radio changed its morning program schedule and threw mine off. I'm stumbling around trying to adapt, but turtles aren't known for flexibility.

Plus, I need to head out into the -4 temps and shovel my driveway and car. Have I mentioned I hate winter?

But God is good and provided today's topic through the auspices of one of Crazyhair Vaulter's FB notes. I'm not sure what her purpose was or where this originated, but I liked it and I'm taking it, so there.

Star of Justice
1. What’s your word count? 166,000
2. How long until you finish? Done. 
3. If you have finished, how long did it take you? About 400 hours, conservative estimate.  
4. Did you have an outline? No. 
5. Do you have a plot? Boy, I hope so.
6. How many words do you typically write a day? About 500 words/hour of fresh writing.
7. What was your greatest word count in one day? Not a clue. I didn't keep track of word count while writing this book.
8. What inspired you to write? I had some free time and a curiosity to find out if I was mature enough to finish a book.
9. Does Star of Justice have a theme song? No.
10. Assign each of your major characters a theme song. No.
11. Which character is most like you? Caissa.
12. Which character would you most likely be friends with? Kirk.
13. Who is your favorite character in your novel? Raven.
14. Have your characters ever done something completely unexpected? Yes.
15. Have you based any of your novel directly on personal experiences? The fainting and the puking. Those kind of went hand-in-hand.
16. Is there magic in your novel? Yes.
17. Does anyone die? Anyone? 
18. How many cups of coffee/tea have you consumed during your writing experience? I'm thinking it was mostly hot chocolate during SOJ. The hard part was not eating my way through the book.
19. What is the best line?
"No one's ever wanted to eat me before."
"You don't get out much."
20. Have you dreamed about your novel or its characters? No.

21. Does your novel rely heavily on allegory? No.
22. Summarize your novel in under fifteen words. Caissa doesn't want to die saving the world.
29. Do you love all your characters? Yes.
30. Describe your main character in three words. Self-absorbed, clumsy, and naive. Hyphenated words count, right?
31. How many romantic relationships take place in your novel? At least one.
32. Are there any explosions in your novel? Oddly enough, yes.
33. Are there witches, wizards or mythological creatures/figures in your novel? Not oddly, yes.
34. Is anyone reincarnated? I want to say "no," but that may not be true.
35. Is anyone mentally ill? I want to say "no," but you might call me a liar.
36. Who has pets in your novel and what are they? Jasper has Raven. 
37. Are there angels, demons, or any religious references/figures in your novel? Yes, but not by those names.
38. Are there any dream sequences? Not that I remember.
39. Is there humor? Boy, I hope so.
40. Is there tragedy? Absolutely.
41. Has your novel provided insight about your life? Not until recently.
42. Your personality? Can't be helped. I wrote it.
43. Has your novel inspired anyone? Maybe? Oh, wait, yes. Me!
44, Does anyone vomit in your novel? Caissa throws up more than she sword-fights and she's a knight.
45. Does anyone bleed in your novel? Everybody bleeds in my novel. HAHA!
46. What size shoe does your main character wear? I'd guess 7s. She's got big feet for a little person.
47. How would you react if your novel was erased entirely? I would kill myself, right after killing whoever did it. With a sword. It would not be pretty. 
48. What advice would you give to a fellow writer? Get it down and get it done.
49. Describe your ending in three words. Happy, happy, happy. I like happy endings.
50. Was it worth it? Totally.

I'll survey another book tomorrow. Now into the snow I go!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Killing Bill

I admit it. I've watched Kill Bill, vol 1 and 2. I like Vol 1 better because Vol 2 gets a little True Lies toward the end, and I'm all about the fight scenes. And the soundtrack. Yes, I like sword fights staged to music.

TT: The fight scenes are the only things I watch. The rest of the movie is fairly disturbing. Quinton Tarantino disturbing? Say it ain't so! 

Anyway, Kiddo gets some great advice at the end of Vol 1. When seeking revenge, a warrior is given a "pass" on secondary carnage she wreaks in achieving her goal. However, it is easy to lose sight of the goal when obstacles (like innocent people) get in your way. So Hattori Hanso the sword maker advises her to set goals as a reminder. This leads to The List (the one ending with 5. Kill Bill) and directs her steps for the movies.

I like lists, but I'm not a big believer in resolutions. I figure if it's that important, why wait until the New Year to start, right?

Once again, I'm looking at it wrong. I usually am.

I laughed at Ren Black's highly detailed resolutions for the year, but she's got the right of it. If I don't set some goals, once again I'll spend the year wandering around, missing opportunities and getting side-tracked.

The scary part, the part I want to avoid, is the accountability. Once I write it down, I'm committed. The only time I ever made resolutions (I made three of them), I achieved all three within 6 months. That's powerful, and I wanted nothing more to do with it.

Wrong again.

I'm not listing my goals here. Not yet.

I need to think about them. Consider where I'm serious and where I'm fooling myself and go from there. But I will resolve a few things this year. It feels grown-up to do so.

Hope all my readers are careful today as they plow their way to work and whatnot. Be safe.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Check out this stunning post at

The New Authors' Fellowship.

Okay, that was a little cheesy, even for me.

Mmmm. Cheesy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


The trouble with writing a book inspired by the movies Second Sight, Vibes and Jack's Back (if you're familiar with those movies, you're probably thinking "whu-huh?") when you're 20 years old and filling time between yogurt runs is you don't have the necessary background work for a character-driven plot.

That's my newest excuse.

I've been ignoring it a for a little while, but I don't know these characters. I know their physical descriptions (except for the twins Alan and Kiven who may or may not be identical - never decided).
This isn't a problem for plot-driven writers. I'm not one of those. For me, it's the people and their problems.

TT: A deeply ironic fact, considering I didn't like people until college.

I'm a third of the way through the original wordcount. I'm staring at my cursor thinking, "I could scrap the remaining original storyline and probably be fine."

But then what?

Petrov would remain. Do I want him? He's evolving from a hulk in the background to a person, so he could come, but what does he bring to the table?

McLellan has turned much whinier than originally written. He's a family man under stress, so I suppose that's possible.

I have some guy named Jake hanging around. Where'd he come from?

Worse, Gavran lacks depth. I'm not saying he's the deepest guy on the planet, but I don't know what motivates him. That can't continue. He's a viewpoint character, for goodness sake!

Tonight, I will sit down with paper and dice and work it out. They're all getting backgrounds. I don't have the old background book anymore, so I don't technically need the dice, but I miss playing with them.

The one upside is LUCK-I is emerging through the eyes of the other characters. That's unexpected and hopeful. If a machine can become a real person to me, all these other folks should fall into line.

Maybe if I watched the movies again...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Did I Say That?

I don't swear.

Let me qualify. I don't swear like most people.

Startle me enough and you'll get the number one verbal response of Protestant Americans, yes. It seems to be hard-wired into my system. But on most days, you'll get "for the love of Mike," "shut the front door (thanks for that one, WGR)," or "son of a buck-naked tavern wench." For minor expletives, you might hear "uff da (that one's real and I've had to apologize to a few Minnesotans)," "frell" or, on exceptionally bad days, "George."

As you see, I don't swear like most people.

I don't like when other people swear, either. Not that I run at folks with a cricket bat and a bar of soap, but I don't use that kind of language myself, and I'd prefer not to be assaulted with it in the Walmart shopping aisle. Not from an immodestly dressed 12 year old or her immodestly dressed mother and runny-nosed 4 year old sibling.

One of the hallmarks of a declining culture is increasing vulgarity. Not on my watch, people.

But some of the characters in Past Ties are developing potty mouths. Not severe. Certainly not as bad as those Walmart aisles, but more than I use.

This is the point where some authors would say, "That's real. People talk like that. Go for it." Others would say, "You can find a way around it if you're creative enough. No need to use the real words."
I'm generally more of the latter kind of writer. I make up swear words for my characters. Easy to do when you mostly write fantasy.

I thought I'd gotten around this problem by creating the "New Clean Air Act of 2070." After the EPA is dismantled (my future, remember? I can do what I want), Congress passes a no-public-vulgarity statute. Not as restrictive as the one from Demolition Man, but the idea being after the Revival of 2064, most people don't want to hear it or say it.

People continue to swear, of course. As long as we can be startled, there will be a place for potty mouths. However, for the most part, public swearing falls by the wayside for the next 50 years. What a fabulous time to be alive, eh?

I suspect during revisions, the language will come out. For now, though, it seems to be part of the process. I'll deal with it, I guess.

I don't frelling have a choice, do I? Uff da!

Monday, January 3, 2011

And What Do I Get Instead of Thanks?

Threats. -Malik, Conan the Destroyer.

I tried permissive parenting. Nothing. I tried cooperative parenting. Nada. I threaten exile, and bam! the story starts to come together.

Not 24 hours after setting a timeline for pulling the plug, the story started to unfold. I wrote about 3K words this weekend. Not great, but more than I've been writing. I'm not going to complain.

I also seem to get inspired later than usual for me. After 7 or 8 PM later. The problem with that is I'm not winding down on time for bed. I stop typing but the story keeps going. Last night, my bed was milk, and I was the butter churn. The cats had to leave because I kept kicking them.

TT: I suppose that could be a result of the 6 extra hours of napping I did Sunday, but how likely is that? 

It also occurred to me I have decided to combine Past Ties and Present Tense into one book, and the original Past Ties will be the shorter part. A sort of extra long prologue.

It does free up the title Present Tense, which may take over from Dangling Participles, which seems to confuse more people than it amuses.

This would make my crossover book into the world of Ah'rahk book 2 of the Past Ties series instead of book 4. I can live with that.

My story children will be the death of me.