Mar 30, 2009

Drug Induced Creativity

Let me start by saying I really feel like crap. It’s hard to think because my sinuses are so filled up they’re leaking into my brain. And the amount of cold medicine I’ve taken is making me nauseous. Just thought I’d share.

Thank you to Chippy for the suggestion of the blog post title. I've been writing this while talking to her on MSN and I'm pretty sure I've made no more sense to her than I'm making here.

I have to be honest here, I didn’t get any writing done this weekend, other than jotting down an idea or two. I did do some editing, but nothing of my own. This was something of a friend’s I’ve had sitting around for a while and I found it while looking for something else. The folder didn’t seem all that big so I thought I’d get it done, only once I was really into it I discovered I’d only printed out the first 50 pages.

So there I was at 1:30 a.m., trying to find the disk I’d saved it to. Yes, it was that long ago. I’m suitably ashamed. I did find the disk, and now I have a copy of the file sitting on my lap top. I also printed out the remainder of the document so I can try and get it finished up ASAP.

My brain is just not functioning today. I’ve spent the last two hours trying to write this post and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I keep typing in circles and contradicting myself. I’d planned on revamping this blog today, but I haven’t found one of the pictures I wanted to use and every time I look I get distracted.

Time to go have a nap.

Mar 27, 2009

Creative Friday

This week I have another excerpt from Always. This takes place after the FMC, Trez, has escaped from a crazy old woman who was holding her prisoner on a planet she made an emergency landing on. She was helped by Ape, a fellow prisoner whose mind has been damaged. Currently they’re on their way to a planet where Trez has friends, one of whom is a doctor.

* * * * * * * * * *

They were two days out from Sigma Alpha Four when Trez slipped away into the cockpit to contact her friends.

“Trez!” Jenna said in pleased surprised when she answered the signal from the vid com. “I was beginning to think you’d fallen into a black hole.”

“I know it’s been awhile,” Trez admitted. “How’ve you been?”

“Oh, you know me. So many men, so little time. Same old, same old. How about you? What exciting adven–” her voice broke off as her eyes tracked something behind Trez.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch all that, Jen. What did you say?” Trez looked up from the console she’d been working on. “Jenna?”

Her eyes narrowed as she realized Jenna was watching something behind her. Swivelling her seat around, she spotted Ape standing in front of the main view screen.

“Ape!” she hissed. “What happened to your clothes?”

“Clothes in bedroom,” he told her. “Ape still on ship, not need clothes until planet. Woman said.”

“Oh, for–” Trez bit off her angry exclamation and took a calming breath. Mentally, she counted to ten.

“You need to wear clothing if you’re going to be in the cockpit,” she said in an even voice. “At the very least you need to go put some pants on.”

“Okay,” Ape said cheerfully. He turned around and left the room.

Cautiously, she turned around to face her friend in the vid screen again.

“Trez, I just saw a man on your ship. A naked man. Why was there a naked man on your ship?”

Trez sighed. “It’s a long story, Jenna.”

“I’m all ears,” Jenna said, grinning at her.

“I’ll tell you everything when we get there,” Trez promised. Well, almost everything, she amended. “We should be there in about two days.”

“This is one visit I’ll be looking forward to.”

“Jenna, it’s not what you think,” Trez sighed. “Look, can you do me a favor? Could you see if your father could clear a few hours off his schedule for us?”

“You’re not sick, are you?” Jenna asked anxiously. Her eyes widened and she lowered her voice. “You’re not pregnant are you?”

“What? No! Why would you think something like that?”

“Hello, hot naked man roaming around your ship.”

Trez massaged her temples. “I am not pregnant,” she said between gritted teeth. “I’ll see you in a couple of days. Treasure out.”

She sat back in her chair with a groan. Jenna would never let her hear the end of this.

Mar 26, 2009

Editing Woes

Driving Into Forever is beginning to drive me a little batty. My main characters are not behaving, or maybe the problem is they’re a little too well behaved. There’s a lot more going on with them than they’re willing to share. I seem to be doing more cutting than anything else, if I don’t stop soon I’ll be ending up with a short story!

I’ve been going over Always a lot in my mind, unwilling to commit the changes I’m considering to paper just yet. Near the middle of the book, due to medical assistance, the MMC regains his memory. It might make for a better story if he only regains part of his memory, the rest to follow later. This would require a lot of changes in the second half of the book, but as I said, it might make for a better story. Especially when she leaves - it gives her more of an incentive to leave.

Unfortunately, it also means I’m going to have to do some research on amnesia. I’m not sure if what I want to have happen is possible, although even if it isn’t I might be able to get around it because his memory is returned to him with the help of some kind of technology . . .

Maybe I should do less thinking and more writing.

Mar 23, 2009

Weekend's Over

Zokutou has been off-line for long enough that I figured it was time to do something about my progress bars. After looking around to see what others are doing, I decided on the progress bars from Writertopia . You can check out what they have to offer by clicking on the name.

They may not be as pretty as the Zokutou bars, but they use a lot less html coding. The only problem I had was trying to adjust the size of the Editing picture to fit. It’s been awhile since I worked in html, but as you can see, I managed . . . sort of.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but my brain seems to have wandered over into editing mode. Instead of coming up with new ideas, I’ve been coming up with changes to works that are finished, or all but finished.

My mind has been flitting from Driving Into Forever to Always (the working title of my Nano novel), even though Always isn’t quite finished yet. I had some doubts before I got to the final scene of Always and I’m in the middle of doing a sketchy outline to see whether I got off track with the story or not. I believe I mentioned in an earlier post my concern that there’s too much going on in this one. Sometimes it helps to simplify.

I’ve been reading a lot of the advice posted on Absolute Write and checking out some of the more informational author blogs and the general consensus is that with a work of romance the two main characters should meet as soon as possible in the beginning.

Technically, in Magic, they don’t meet until near the end. That’s just the way things worked out. Now in Changeling, the main characters know each other right from the beginning, but circumstances parted them for ten years. In Always they’re strangers, but they do meet up within the first couple of chapters. Driving Into Forever, however, is a different story. There’s a whole chapter of her, then a whole chapter of him, then they don’t really get together until about chapter four.

*sigh* Guess what I’ll be working on this week?

Mar 20, 2009

Creative Friday

I can’t believe it’s Friday again already! This has been a strange week.

For your reading pleasure this week I have the prologue (which I may or may not keep - only the rewrite muse will know for sure) from my Nano novel.

* * * * * * * * * *

She found him in the north garden, curled up beside the koi pond, watching the fish swim in lazy circles. He looked so much like his father at that age. With a sigh she sat down on the stone beside him, putting her arm around his thin shoulders.

“It is almost time, ‘Sandar.”

“Grandmother, what if the prophecy is not favorable?” he asked quietly.

“Prophecies are neither good nor bad, they just are. Sometimes it is years before they are fully understood.”

“But Cayden said–”

“And since when do you heed Cayden?” she chided gently. “Now come,” she rose, pulling him up with her. “Time grows short and you still need to dress.”

Feet dragging, he went with her back into the palace. Servants were waiting for him in his quarters to help him dress in the ceremonial supplicant’s robes. He endured their fussing stoically, having undergone many ceremonial functions in his short life.

When they were finished he met his grandmother in the corridor and together they walked towards the temple where the others were waiting. Despite his reluctance to attend the Prophecy Ceremony, he did enjoy visiting the temple. It was cool and white and peaceful, the clergy always had time for him and never seemed to mind that he was always filled with questions.
They mounted the thirty-nine white marble steps and at last stood before the open temple door.

“Are you ready?” his grandmother asked quietly.

He nodded, eyes facing forward. She smiled slightly and then slipped into the temple ahead of him to take her seat. At a nod from the high priestess, he started forward. The aisle seemed to stretch forever, but he placed one foot in front of the other until he reached the altar where the priestess and the oracle waited.

One of the acolytes behind the altar rang the giant brass gong and the witnesses in the temple bowed their heads. The priestess winked at the boy and he visibly relaxed. Schooling her features once again she spoke:

“Prince Aleksandar of Khren, do you come forth of your own free will?”

“I do,” the boy said clearly.

“What do you seek?”

“I seek my future.”

“Is the council ready to bear witness?”

“We are,” said the council members, raising their heads again.

“So be it.” The priestess raised her staff and rapped it sharply three times on the floor.

Aleksandar knelt in front of the oracle. He tried to sneak a peek at her but there wasn’t much to see. She was not tall, and she was veiled all in white so that her features were hidden. The hand she held out to him was smooth and unlined, it could have been any age. Her voice, when she spoke, was dry and clear.

“Aleksandar, prince of Khren, I see thy future.” And then she paused. A long pause. Such a thing was almost unheard of during the Prophecy Ceremony.

“I see a soul in torment, I see a treasure, I see a dark future.”

He tried to pull his hand back but she tightened her grip. There were murmurs from the witnesses before she finally continued.

“Before you become king you will suffer a great darkness of the soul. There will be a treasure to lead you from torment. The winning of this treasure will make you the greatest king Khren has ever known.”

Her head bowed and she let go of his hand, signifying the end of the prophecy.

Aleksandar stood and backed up a step, eyes wide and frightened. The acolytes led the oracle away and the priestess moved to stand beside him. She rested a hand on his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“The oracle has spoken,” she said in a loud, clear voice. “Long live Aleksandar, future king.”

“Long live Aleksandar!”

Mar 18, 2009

Just a Dreamer

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . . sorry, wrong story. But it was a long time ago that someone describe me as “nothing but a dreamer”. They meant this in a derogatory sense but I have come to think of it as a compliment.

Think about it. Where would we writers be without our dreams? It’s our imagination, fueled by our dreams, that make us what we are.

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams go
Life is a barren field
Covered with snow.
~Langston Hughes

I remember having a dream once that was not only in vivid colour, it had a sound tract. The next day I heard the song on the radio - it was a song I’ve never heard before. Another time I dreamed that I had the perfect idea for a trilogy and I was telling my idea to my father (who’s been dead many years now). He told me what a wonderful idea it was, but when I woke up I couldn’t remember it.

My more detailed dreams I often record in my writing journal. It makes for some very interesting reading. A few have even made their way into my stories.

Lately I’ve been having some really weird dreams. One was about a planet with sentient dogs (the one I was friends with was a Tibetan Mastiff) and another was about a red neck baby shower. I wonder what my dreams are saying about me?

Mar 15, 2009


The Poet

I sit at the typewriter
tapping my life away
with fingers too weak
to leave an impression;
but still I persist
until all that remains
is an empty page.
~CR Ward

Mar 13, 2009

Creative Friday

I see Zokutou is off-line again, hence the lack of progress bars on the right. This has happened before so I’ll give it a few days before I look for something to replace them with.

My Nano novel is ready for edits. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because it means I’m pushing forward. It’s bad, because I’ve been thinking a lot about this book lately and there’s a lot of changes to be made.

A few weeks ago I had coffee with a friend and I was describing the plot of the book. When I was finished, she said: “Wow, there’s a lot going on, isn’t there?” I’ve realized she’s right. There is a lot going on in there, perhaps too much.

Even though the draft is finished, I think I’m going to go back and do a quick outline, just to see where I am with it. I think once I have all the action listed in chronological order it will be easier to decide what should stay and what should go.

* * * * * * * * * *
Today's creation is another excerpt from Magic, this time a flashback from the main character’s grandmother.

The fair had been one of those transient things, setting up here for one weekend, there for the next. Eloise and her friends couldn’t resist the lure of the carnival atmosphere. They giggled at the so-called exotic dancers, and cooed at the strong man’s display of prowess. While the others flirted with the carnies, Eloise had wandered over to where a wizened old woman had a display of trinkets for sale.

Her eye was immediately caught by the long, narrow crystal, suspended by a chain.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said, carefully removing it from the display. “What is it?

“Is wishing crystal. You see flaw? That is crystal’s heart, is magic. It will call forth your heart’s desire.”

“How does it work?” Eloise asked.

“You hold in hand and say aloud heart’s desire.”

“Is that all? It’s almost too easy.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” the old lady warned her.

“I wish for a love that burns fierce and hot,” Eloise said, holding onto the crystal.

The old woman glared at her. “That was ill done.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll still buy it,” Eloise said with a laugh. “Do you have a box for it?”

Now the old woman was looking at her strangely. “No box, just this.” She handed her a tiny velvet bag.

“How much?” Eloise asked, reaching for her purse.

“For you, is free. One day you pass magic on, eh?”

It took her years to realize she’d gotten exactly what she wished for that day. The love she and Elliot shared had burned hot and fierce. But like any fire, without anything to sustain it it had burnt itself out. Just like the cabin they’d shared.

Mar 10, 2009

Poet Tree

On the bookcase behind the desk in my office, I have a figurine of a gnarled tree that looks like an old man holding a book of fairy tales. This is my Poet Tree, a reminder that I was a poet before I was anything else.

I don’t understand these people who spend days (or weeks) agonizing over a perfect word for their poem. If you ask me, it’s a little pretentious. If you can’t find the right word, use a different one until it does. And if it never comes, then it probably wouldn’t have fit anyway.

Poetry has always been a hit or miss thing with me. It either comes or it doesn’t. An idea for a poem comes to me, I sit down and write, and it’s done. None of this locking myself in an attic or heartfelt sighing for me.

I don’t believe in forcing a poem. If I did, I’d be buried under a mountain of it. Sometimes a line or two will stick in my head and I’ll write them down and keep going. Before I know it, I have a poem. A few times I’ve been over in the poetry forum on AW and one of the challenges appealed enough to me to participate. Seriously, if you enjoy reading/writing poetry, check the poetry forum out HERE

Like paintings, for me poetry is a subjective thing. It either speaks to me or it doesn’t; I either like it or I don’t. I will not say I love a poem (or a painting) just because it is the work of Famous Person.

For me, the poetry muse is the most fickle muse of all.

Mar 6, 2009

For Better or For Worse, It's Creative Friday

I wasn’t feeling poetical enough to write a poem for today, so instead you’re getting an excerpt from my WIP, Magic. The main character, Annaliese, has had a run of bad luck which ended with her being homeless, so she’s temporarily living in her grandmother’s cabin in the woods while she writes the novel she’s always dreamed of writing.

* * * * * * * * * *

Annaliese sat down in front of the typewriter.

“Okay,” she said, pulling its cover off. “I’m here to write, now what should I write?”

Glancing around for inspiration, she found none. The view outside the window showed trees and underbrush. Not so much as a deer or a rabbit wandered into the picture.

“Maybe I should try a romance. I like romance novels and they seem easy enough.”

Tapping her finger thoughtfully on the desk she thought about the last time she’d been in a book store. The lack of noise distracted her from her purpose. Okay, honestly, it was creeping her out. No cars, no buses, no sirens screaming; how did people live like this?

“What about a paranormal romance?” she mused. “They’re pretty popular these days.”

She’d just finished reading a whole series of romances about werewolves. Werewolves were hot. She glanced out at the darkening day. “Guess I only have to look out there for inspiration. These woods are the perfect backdrop for a werewolf. A werewolf has definite romantic possibilities.”

The staccato rhythm of the typewriter could be heard, broken only by the occasional curse, followed by the sound of a page being ripped out. The stars began to show and the moon rose, beginning its journey across the sky.

Annaliese sat back and admitted that writing romance might be just a little harder than she thought. The light of the full moon beckoned her through the window. Maybe some fresh air would help. She promised herself she wouldn’t go far, surely a short walk in the woods couldn’t hurt?

As the cabin door shut behind her she breathed deeply. Now this was something she could definitely get used to, clean, fresh air. The moonlight was so bright she had no trouble picking her way along the path down to the lake.

She sat down on the short dock, arms around her knees, absorbing the nuances of the night. The silence no longer seemed absolute. Bullfrogs called to each other from the shallows while crickets chirped with wild abandon. Waves lapped soothingly against the shore. The wind caressed the leaves of the trees.

Annaliese wondered if she was the only one her grandmother had ever told about Elliot. She thought so, but didn’t want to upset Grams by asking. What a terrible secret to have carried all these years.

Her father must have known. He was the oldest and didn’t look anything like his brother or sisters. And Gramps, he must have known. He must have loved Grams very much to marry her when she was carrying another man’s child. One day she hoped to find a love like that.

The shriek of some animal dying rent the night. Like a switch being thrown, the night was suddenly still. The quiet lasted for several seconds and then the crickets began chirping again followed by the bull frogs.

The night lost its magic. Annaliese scrambled to her feet, suddenly chilled to the bone. She stumbled on the path back to the cabin. The moon was behind her now, casting ominous shadows. There was a rustling in the woods beside her. She halted, staring blindly into the underbrush.

The brush rustled again but she couldn’t tell which side of the path. She had the strangest feeling of being watched.

“Hello? Is someone there?”

A bird shot out of the brush, right across the path in front of her. Annaliese gave a shaky laugh. Just a bird, nothing to get nervous about. She took another step up the path, stopping when she heard a growl.

“Whoever this is, this isn’t funny!”

Glowing, yellow eyes stared at her from the underbrush.

Annaliese backed away a step, then another. Again she heard a low growl. The breeze shifted and the growl became something else. A cloud slid across the face of the moon, taking what little light there was with it.

More movement in the brush, coming closer. Almost before she realized what she was doing, Annaliese turned and fled up the path towards the cabin. She could hear something behind her but was too terrified to look back to see what it was.

Sobbing with relief, she saw the cabin, just ahead. She was almost there when she tripped on a protruding root. Before she could scramble to her feet, whatever had been chasing her caught up to her. It landed on her back, planting her face in the dirt again. Her breath left her in a whoosh. Whatever it was it was large and heavy. It snuffled the side of her face and neck.

Rapid fire thoughts shot through her as she lay there, waiting to be torn apart. This was it, she was going to die. They’d find what was left of her body eventually and Grams would blame herself for sending her up here in the first place when really it was her own stupid fault for not being more careful. Or maybe the creature was going to drag her off and they’d never find her body and they’d always wonder what happened to her.

The creature, however, did not tear her apart but continued to snuffle her face, her hair. It’s breath blew out in harsh huffs. Her knees and hands started to sting where she’d tried to break her fall, she shifted minutely. The creature growled, low in its throat, but shifted as well.

Any relief she felt when its weight left her was short-lived as she felt herself being flipped over onto her back. No sooner had it done this than it was on her again. Though she struggled, he held her down easily. She could tell it was a man now, laying his full length on her to keep her still.

“What do you want?” she sobbed. “Why are you doing this?”

The moon slipped from behind the cloud and in that instant she could see the glowing yellow eyes and the long, furry muzzle with sharp, white fangs reaching for her. Annaliese opened her mouth to scream.

She woke with a start, heart still pounding as though she really had been chased through the woods.

“I can’t believe I fell asleep at the typewriter.” She took a deep breath and let it out again.

Covering the typewriter for the night, she glanced at the pages she’d typed out earlier. Gathering them up, she tossed them into the fireplace.

“I’m thinking werewolves are just a little too paranormal for my taste,” she said with a shiver.

After double checking the lock on the door, she headed up to bed.

Mar 4, 2009

Call Me Crazy

Yeah, like no one’s called me that before! ;-)

I need something to get my writing rear in gear so I have tentatively signed up for the Lenten challenge over at AW. The challenge is 40,000 words by Easter. Should be doable, right? Especially for someone who managed 50K+ in thirty days.

The funny thing is, when I signed up I had in mind an idea I’d been kicking around off and on for a couple of years now. This one isn’t something I can just do off the cuff, it would require a lot of planning, and it has nothing to do with either romance or fantasy/paranormal.

I tried to use this idea a couple of years ago for NaNo, but I just couldn't find my starting point. I really need to take a few days and work it out on paper first. It's one of those ideas that doesn't seem to want to start out on the keyboard. I think part of it is because there's going to be about six main characters, all equally important. I'll have to juggle six distinct personalities and six story lines that intersect and come together in the end.

So, that was the idea when I signed up for the Lenten challenge. To take a few days and work out the details for this contemporary idea. But this does not appear to be what's going to happen.

The space idea I mentioned a few posts back kind of fizzled out. Ideas do that sometimes when you keep going over them in your mind, which is why I do that. The whole “how the main characters meet” premise was weak and I wasn’t happy with the back story between the hero and the antagonist.

However, as I was falling asleep last night (of course), I had an epiphany. I found a way to make the scenario work without it sounding so contrived. Her character makes sense, the Evil Prince’s reasons for using the hero make sense, and I can even use the sanctuary idea and have it make sense. And the best part is, I still remembered it this morning when I woke up.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Mar 2, 2009

Anthology Day

When I was in junior high, we did not have English class, we had Language Arts. Predictably, this was my favorite class, especially Fridays because Fridays were Anthology Day.

On Anthology Day the teacher would show us a short film or some slides for inspiration and then we’d get the rest of the afternoon to write. We had special notebooks for our work, which got handed in once a week for the teacher to check.

You could write a poem or a short story, but you had to write something every week. I usually wrote a poem, although I do remember writing at least one story about horses. Most of my classmates just copied something from a book, which was allowed, but I only did that once. It was some modern poem about a fly that I copied out more for the shock value than anything else. It was pretty gross.

Every Friday I’d hand in an original piece, which my teacher would make much of. Although even back then I was not encouraged to do anything with my writing other than just dabble for pleasure. Journalistic endeavors were encouraged, not so with fiction or poetry. Journalism is something that never really interested me so I was never encouraged to pursue my writing. But, that’s beside the point.

At the end of the school year the best poems and stories were published in a school funded chapbook called Serendipity. I remember I had the distinction of having not one, but two poems included. One was called the Overlanders (I remember the teacher was very taken with it), based on a film we watched on the settling of the prairies, and I’m sad to say I have no idea what the other one was. Neither my anthology notebook nor my copy of Serendipity made it to adulthood with me.

The reason for this ramble down memory lane is that I’ve decided as a boost to my creativity, I am going to designate Fridays as my informal anthology day. Most often it will probably be a poem, but I might sneak in the occasional story or excerpt from a work in progress, so remember to check back and be surprised.