It came to me earlier while I was doing non-writing related things and my mind started to wander as it often does: why outlines sabotage me. I think sabotage is the right word. I know a lot of people swear by outlines, whether they be loose or written with beat by beat precision, and I’ve expressed my share of jealousy at how nice it must be to know what’s going to happen in your book before you actually write it. Sometimes I wish I had that kind of certainty. But I don’t have it. I go into my stories with a vague sense of what might happen and a fair bit of bravado. Just like my characters. That’s what keeps me going. I write so that I know how the stories end. Even when it seems impossible in the beginning. Even when I’m terrified that I don’t have the skills to tell that particular story. If I don’t write it, I’ll never see how things fall into place. That’s generally an effective motivator for me. But it isn’t always enough.

Endings.

Endings are the things that destroy me the most. Putting a fitting end to the story, something satisfying, something exciting enough to justify the pages that went before. But not just that, something to preserve the mystery and the uncertainty that came before. That is what is the hardest for me because by that point I have a vague idea of how the story will end. My characters don’t. It’s more difficult to pretend like I’m with them when I know that their plans will or will not succeed. It’s hard to let go and let them plan daring attacks that are obviously doomed to failure when I’m sitting in the passenger seat thinking “But you should’ve known they would betray you.” To write from that sense of I can’t wait to see what happens next when I already know. Instead of being with them I’m ahead of them, looking around corners for danger. That’s just a fancy new version of outline sabotage. That’s me writing things the way I think they should happen and not the way they actually do.

It seems it’s never too late to do things the wrong way.

Now I know why everything feels like a holding pattern in this book. Instead of letting my characters march their stubborn asses into danger I was trying to lead them around like a string of kindergartners on their way to the park. Well the end of this book isn’t going to be the park. You don’t break hearts in between the slide and the merry-go-round (well, maybe you do but this is not that kind of book). It’s time to go back to fumbling in the dark (sadly not as dirty as it sounds in this case). I just need to figure out how to forget what I know. Somehow. If that means throwing out the ending I thought this book had, so be it. Hopefully the ending will be better for it.

the boulders conflicted feelings

Okay I lied. I might still be over here crying over my garbage can for a while. I really liked that ending.

 

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Thank you, David Bowie

Posted: January 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

On the very first page of my very first diary in big round I’m-still-learning-to-write printing was one sentence. I love David Bowie. I was probably six or seven at the time. Labyrinth was my life and David Bowie and the Goblin King were my first loves.

Over the years I fell in love with David Bowie again and again. As Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke. As Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth and as an Earthling. So I would like to thank him for being my first love and my tenth, for showing me that it was okay to be yourself no matter which self that might be, and for making me realize I was not alone. I belonged.

Thank you, David Bowie, for giving me the courage to be who I am. Not just once but over and over again. I would never have been able to do it without you. Thank you. You will always be my king.

I’m not much of a planner. I don’t plan meals. I don’t plan trips. And I sure as hell don’t plan ahead when I sit down to write. A premise, the desire to entertain myself, that’s about all I have going in. The benefit of making everything up as I go is that I can start writing a story as soon as I have the idea. There’s no world building or character naming to deal with. I don’t have to title. I just have to write.

Here. Let me provide a handy gif of my process:

corgi splash

Do I have stories bomb due to poor planning? All the freakin’ time.

Do I have to edit out pages and pages of random scenes involving cats and stolen jars of jelly when I’m done? Hell yeah.

Do I mind? Yes and no. If I’m being honest.

Sometimes I envy the people who can sit down to outline and have it work for them. I wish I could do that. I’ve tried and I suck at it. I’ve sort of gotten the hang of keeping a loose mental checklist for things that could happen in the next scene/chapter/20,000 words. But that’s as friendly as outlines and I are ever likely to get.

What’s my point with all this?

It goes a little something like this: I never know where my stories are going to go. Not really. I might have an ending in mind but they can (and often do) change. (I’m looking at you over there, Sef. You were supposed to die, not get three books and a novella.) So by now you would think I would stop being so surprised when stories twist out of my greedy little fingers and run away to do their own thing.

And yet.

Any of you who have seen me lamenting on twitter know where this is going. My current story was supposed to be the trashiest, smuttiest piece of throw away crap EVER. I have a list of favorite tropes and I planned to check some of them off the list in one fell swoop. (On a side note, if you haven’t tried writing trash you should give it a go. I’ve never had more fun with my writing.) This was the plan. Write trashy smut. Bang out another novella while having some fun. Emerge refreshed and ready to edit an older novel.

It started so innocently.

I still don’t even know what happened.

confused staring

No. That’s not true. I know.

My character Farrow happened. He may be fictional but he is also a force of nature.

I didn’t get the trash I was aiming for. No. Instead I am nearing 70k on the weirdest, most complicated, strangely personal story I’ve ever written. There’s magic and intrigue and an awful lot of blood for something that I swore was going to be a romance. It’s still fantasy but at its core it’s also very much me talking about issues I didn’t know I was still holding onto. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t INSANELY nervous about it. About sharing it. About reading it. About having to imagine once again, in full surround sound and Technicolor, the anxiety of being in a situation from which there is no obvious means of escape. But I’m doing it.

This wasn’t the story I was looking for. Apparently it was the one that was looking for me.

This novel’s not trashy or smutty (Thanks for being asexual, Farrow. You’re awesome) but I love it anyway. Even though Farrow is an asshole with horrible fashion sense. Even though there are days I want to throw the whole thing into the lake instead of finishing it. (Admittedly, I probably would have done just that if certain people hadn’t kept asking about it.) So… thank you, Farrow, for being an asshole and ruining my hopes of a bit of trashy fun. And thank you to everyone who took an interest in his story. You are the reason I kept writing it. Especially during the aforementioned throw-it-in-the-lake-where-it-will-never-be-heard-from-again moments. Maybe someday you’ll get to read it. (Yes, even the parts that make me remember that I have feelings when I would rather not.)

blowing kisses key

Editing is hard, you guys

Posted: September 4, 2014 in writing

In case anyone didn’t know this already, editing is hard. I spent an hour this morning working on about 200 words. Taking them out. Putting them back in. Rearranging them. Looking at the next ten pages of manuscript and wondering if all this dialogue should move somewhere else. It’s nightmarish. I’m still not even sure that what I ended up with is in English.

clue flames heaving breath

There are some writers who seem to enjoy the process. I am not one of these people. If I had my choice I would never edit anything ever again. Ever. Ever ever. Sadly this is not a thing I can do. Readers seem to want these things called “endings” and apparently they also enjoy coherent plots in their books. Go figure.

So I’m editing.

It’s the downfall of my pantsing process (aka: no outlining and making stuff up as I go) that it also requires extra work to insert things that I didn’t know I needed or to remove the extended scenes of my characters making breakfast while I figured out what they were going to do next. (True story.) You would think that my intense dislike (loathing, hatred, paralyzing fear) of editing would make me switch to outlining. And you would be wrong. Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. You would also think that after spending the last year and a half on edits (for two different stories, mind) that I would be better at this whole thing. And you would be wrong again.

Editing is still hard. I’m pretty sure it will always be hard for me.

Some days I’m overcome with a manic kind of joy at every hundred words I finish. I like those days. I wish I had more of them. Right now I’m back in that place where I stare at every paragraph and wonder if I hate it because it really needs to go or because I’ve been editing too long. Am I killing my darlings or am I taking a meat cleaver to them just for the sake of doing it? It would be easier if someone could tell me the answer. Maybe I should invest in a Magic 8 Ball. It’s liable to be about as accurate as any real person’s opinion, including mine.

fuck this shit hannibal

So hello from the land of editing! I’m procrastinating now and writing a blog post for the first time in months because it’s just that awesome. Wish you were here. No, seriously. I wish you were here. Editing this book for me.

So, in case the title wasn’t clear, it’s cover reveal time. It’s very exciting. *throws confetti* I’m excited. Are you excited? Because you should be. My very snazzy friend Kai Kiriyama has a book coming out in August. She also let me ask her some more ridiculous questions (aka: an “interview”) about the book and about herself.

But first, you may be wondering “Hey, what is this book whose title you’ve just rattled off? How do I know if I’m interested?” And in response to that I say, “Number one, you should always assume you’re interested. And number two, I was just about to explain before you interrupted me. Read on, dear blog reader.”

EXHIBIT A: the Cover! *gasp*
knight_surgeon_COLOURED_VERSION
Isn’t that so pretty?

 

EXHIBIT B: the Summary!

BLAZE TUESDAY AND THE CASE OF THE KNIGHT SURGEON is a pulpy noir set in a futuristic New York. The oil and technology market crashed in the mid-2000′s and the world has developed into a technologically advanced form of SteamPunk. Body modification has become commonplace with rebellious teenagers, but this time, it’s literal. Clockwork body parts are touted as a medical miracle by the companies who make them, and high fashion by the stars who sport them, and a lot of kids go through illegal surgeries. The sub-culture of Gearheads is full of kids with robotic body parts from poorly done surgery in less-than-sanitary conditions, and these are surgeries that don’t always take.

Blaze Tuesday is New York’s most accomplished private investigator. A former police officer with a bone to pick with the corruption in the city, he’s earned a name for himself as a guy who gets results, and who is willing to uphold the moral values so many others have forgotten, even if he has to break a few faces to do it.

Blaze is hired by Wayside Firms, one of the medical firms that produces the Clockwork, when a charity doctor who worked specifically with less-fortunate kids who have had botched illegal, is found murdered. As Blaze investigates the unfortunate death, he discovers a conspiracy that stretches from the lowest gutters in Hell’s Kitchen, to the highest corporate fat cats at the medical firms who create the Clockwork body parts.

Can Blaze get justice for the dead doctor, and bring some hope back to the kids in Hell’s Kitchen who were counting on the Doctor’s help? Or will he get caught up in the underworld of body modification and the big money it brings in?

BLAZE TUESDAY AND THE CASE OF THE KNIGHT SURGEON will be released on August 5, 2014 and download and purchase links will be posted primarily on Kai’s website, theraggedyauthor.com

 

Exhibit C: the awkward interview!

Prepare yourself, people, because I am a master of insightful interviewing.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Blaze?

Kai: I decided just before NaNoWriMo 2012 that I wanted to try my hand at writing a noir, Blaze came from an old quote from the cartoon Bonkers “My name was Tuesday, it was a Wednesday and I was eating a Sundae.” The premise came from the fact that I have a rainbow mohawk (At the time when I was writing the book, I had “normal” hair due to my day job) and I want tattoos, eventually, and so I was thinking what if ink and piercings and everything we consider to be counter-culture was suddenly acceptable? Where would rebellious teenagers turn to get their rebellion in? Well, extreme body modification seemed to be the answer and so Clockwork implants was born.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the book? About writing it?

Kai: My favourite part of the book overall is the dynamic between Blaze and Kali and how I get to play with it and expand on it in every scene, Every bit of dialogue for them, everything. I think Kali is my favourite of the 4 characters because she’s so far removed from the action happening with Blaze and Jackson that she gets overlooked and kind of written off as “just Blaze’s Love Interest” which she isn’t and was never meant to be. Which is why the bonus story in the special edition release takes place from her POV and is extremely focused on her side of things and how she comes into play with the major events of Blaze’s life.

Can I say that my favourite part about writing the book is that it’s done and finally becoming available and I don’t have to edit the damn thing anymore? No? Okay, pretend I didn’t say that. Really though, just getting to throw Blaze into all sorts of trouble and getting to ‘be’ him while I write is just the best and I really hope that the fun and passion I have for him shows through in my writing.

Bonus question time! Tell us your life story in as few words as possible.

Kai: I was born of a dying star, cosmic chance landed me here, born into my awesome family, pretending to be another human. I write and bide my time until my powers fully manifest and I am able to return to my destined home world. This won’t be the last you hear from me. And this won’t be the only series I publish.

 

There you have it, folks. Interviewing at its finest. 😀  I hope you’re adequately excited for Kai’s book. It’s got everything you could possibly want in a book: a cover, words, characters, and kickass-ness. But if you’re still not convinced, I will present to you Exhibit… *scrolls back up to see what letter of the alphabet we left off on* Exhibit D!

 

Exhibit D: the Bio!

A writer of many things and many genres, Kai is currently working on a novel (you can pretty much always assume that she’s writing something!) that involves murder, mayhem and probably a ghost or some other form of otherworldly creature. She is also working on some non-fiction but she’s not entirely sure why.

Kai has been writing for far too long and she’s convinced that both her “to be read” and “to be written” lists will never be completed before she dies. She has a diploma in palmistry and can read hands with an accuracy that scares even her sometimes. She is also accomplished at tea leaf reading and crystal divination, both of which she has also achieved a diploma for and scares herself with the accuracy of the things she has predicted.

A time-travelling, demon hunting, Asgardian geek, with an affinity for Pokemon and Shakespeare, you can be sure that there will be general insanity and dubious wisdom dispensed no matter where you chat with her. As always, she requests that you “be excellent to each other” while she’s away.

Kai currently lives in Canada, but if she told you where, you’d have about fifteen seconds to assume the party position before the special ops team arrives.

She can be reached by email at kai@theraggedyauthor.com

So. Now I’ve been tagged twice for this blog hop. I figured it was time to actually post my entry about my writing process. I’m slow, but I’m posting now so that should count for something.

For those that don’t know how this works: I got tagged by Murphy and now R. James Stevens. So now it’s my turn to blather on about my writing process. *rubs hands together* Finally a blog subject I can handle.

Blog Hop Rules:  
Answer the four questions below, link back to the person who invited you, and link to the people who will be posting the following Monday.

 

1. What am I working on?

Back when I was originally tagged I was still on the tail end of edits to Taisce and Sef’s book (code name: the idiots; actual title: Forgotten Monster) but now, after much swearing and headdesking, I’ve gone back to wrapping up Dade’s book (code name: that asshole or “my gay superhero book”) and writing the novella that popped into my brain about a month ago. It’s got superheroes and cage matches. It’s fun. I think I’ll keep it. As of this writing I’m 5,000 words into the novella and starting to wonder if it’s actually going to be a novella or something else. (Just please not a novel. Anything but another novel.)

When I’m done drafting, I have no clue what I’ll do. Probably more editing. Because I’m a glutton for punishment.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think this is the question that tripped me up last time I attempted writing this blog post. How does my work differ?

It differs because I wrote it and not someone else.

It differs because, though I enjoy a dark atmosphere as much as the next person, I can’t write dark. I can’t resist sneaking in a little sarcasm and humor which sadly seems to be lacking in a lot of fantasy based books lately. Either that or I’m reading the wrong books.

I also like to twist things or mix my genres. Taisce and Sef are set in a Victorian/Old West kind of world, the story is largely romance, but there’s also a bit of magic. Make of that what you will. Dade is slightly more straightforward—superheroes are easier to explain—but I think he spends more time doing everyday things than people might expect. I wanted to cover the parts of being a superhero that don’t usually get written about.

 

3. Why do I write what I write?

I write what I write because it’s what I would like to read. That sounds kind of cliché, doesn’t it? Everyone always says that. But it’s still true. And since I’m a pantser, if I don’t write the stories then I won’t know what happens at the end. That would make me sad.

 

4. How does your writing process work?

I’ve been pretty honest about where I get my ideas. They’re usually from ridiculous places. Dade was born after reading some smutty superhero AU fanfiction and realizing that I wanted to write superheroes too. I used to read comics religiously but I’d never really thought of writing my own. (Well, okay there was that one time but it only lasted a couple of months.) I considered the superhero/reporter dynamic, the superhero/cop dynamic, superhero/villain, etc. etc. and so on and so forth before finally settling on rival superheroes who try to one up each other and end up romantically entangled. (The plot kind of changed along the way but that’s where it started.) I think that’s the most preplanning I’ve ever done before starting a story.

Taisce and Sef were born out of binge watching Merlin last year. Two of my older novels were based on dreams I had. A loose story I’ve been working on (code name: apocalypse girl) came from the title of a movie I found on Netflix one night. And my true claim to fame (or shame) is my only YA idea ever. It arrived after I was forced to watch the Equestria Girls movie repeatedly. I admit it. I appropriated a starting point from My Little Pony. But I doubt you’d ever realize it if I hadn’t told you.

So I guess that leads me to step two of my writing process. I pants everything. I don’t outline. I don’t do character sheets. Any planning I do stays in my head until it’s time to start writing the first draft. I’m told this is weird but it’s just what I do. If I write things down I forget them or over think them. I tried outlining a few times but I need to be surprised when I write. If I know what’s going to happen in too much detail I get bored and I don’t finish. While I work, I form opinions about what should happen next or where the characters need to go to work out certain issues. I guess that’s sort of an outline but it changes as I go and it’s only in my head. My characters usually know what they want better than I do. And when they don’t, we wander around for a while. It’s a pain in the ass when it’s time to edit but I’ve learned to accept it. Better to have a load of editing than an unfinished story. Plus, sometimes all that wandering around helps me dig up some extra gold that I didn’t know I needed.

I also listen to a lot of music while I write. It keeps me going and, occasionally, sets the tempo for certain scenes. Making playlists is my favorite form of productive procrastination, especially since I end up listening to really weird music. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about the music I wrote certain scenes to. Someday. Not now. The contrasts are chuckle worthy to say the least.

So, I think that’s it for me and my writing process. Now you know all two of my steps. Or three if you count the listening to weird music part.

Thank you for reading my babbling. Much obliged.

And a nod back to Murphy and R. James Stevens for tagging me in this blog hop. I will now pass the baton on to:

Ellie (who was already tagged by Murphy too but never posted her entry *stares significantly*)

Trisha (who should know better than to say she needs to get motivated when I’m within hearing range.)

and last but not least @NexusWriter (whose blog link will be added later because I forgot to ask for it.)

I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long. So it’s Trifecta time once again! This week’s prompt was “ass”. How could I skip that?

*******

Ford was an ass and Bree would have told him so if it wasn’t for the gun pointed at her head. But she thought it. A lot.

Dumb-ass.

She glared at Ford standing beside her with his hands up. He was still grinning like the world amused him.

Asshole.

‘No one’ll be there,’ he’d said. ‘Quick in and out,’ he’d said.

She could kill him.

“Nice night, ain’t it?” Ford asked, unconcerned. As if he were looking into the barrel of a toy gun instead of the real thing.

Jackass.

His eyes flicked to the side. He nodded at the posted sign, the one he’d been chuckling over while he lit the damn cigarette a few minutes ago. “Geez, I didn’t realize this was a nonsmoking area,” he said. One raised hand pointed at the cigarette dangling from his lip. “Mind if I put this out? I swear I won’t try nothing, officer sir. I’m a law abiding citizen an’ all.” Ford smiled that big eyed picture day smile of his, the one that made him look like a golden haired angel.

“Don’t move.” The cop pivoted, eyeing him with automatic suspicion. Smart guy.

“Only be a sec.” Ford slipped the cigarette from his mouth, pinching it like he meant to flick it away from him. Instead he sent it flying into the cop’s face and followed it up with a punch so fast Bree almost missed it entirely. The cop dropped to a knee.

“Ya see that?” Ford asked with a high laugh. “Damn I’m good.”

“Good and careless,” Bree said. She kicked the struggling cop in the head and grabbed Ford’s hand. “Now let’s go.”

They ran through the maze of shipping containers hand in hand, Ford still laughing like a hyena. After a minute, Bree finally smiled too. Her hand cupped the bulging pocket of her coat. They got it. Now they just had to keep it safe.