Archive for May, 2008

May 28 2008

What You Don’t See

Published by under Random Musings

I was looking at the Moira Rogers Collective today, and their blog got me to thinking. In five months, they have six contracted works, which is pretty damn shibby. Those two are really on fire. We’ll be begging them to sign our print novels at major bookstores in no time.

Of course, my own list isn’t that impressive. In June 2007, I submitted my very second story to Cobblestone Press, a novella called “Chef’s Choice”. I got a letter back stating that they’d love to publish the novella, but might I change the name? Like most authors presented with their first contract, my initial answer was, “I’ll chop off my feet if you want!”

I didn’t send that. I just said, “Sure, what did you have in mind?” And thus, Meghan’s Submission was born, and was released in November.

In the year since that day where I signed the contract, I’ve done a lot of writing. I’ve done a lot of stuff, period. Most importantly, I’ve done a lot of learning. About the market, about writing romance, about what makes a romance, and about my current and future places in the publishing world. And there’s more than a few stories that haven’t seen the light of day.

So I thought you might enjoy a look at what you haven’t gotten to see.

  • The Great Fantasy Novel – I’m keeping the title of this one under wraps, as it will be published (see how confident I am?) under my real name. I have 45k words in on this one, and I’ve been writing it for probably five years. I’m at the stage now where I understand what’s wrong with it, and how I can fix it. Someday.
  • The BDSM Space Opera – I started writing this one, then realized I had no idea where I was going with it. It is tentatively called Sovereignty, but that’s subject to change. I really love the idea, though, and I love what I have of it, so it will get done someday. It was where I started to see the value of an outline, however.
  • Golden Boy – I hate it when you have to scrap a good idea just because it won’t work. This is a terrific idea. The characters are tremendous. The prose is light and funny. But in execution, it’s not working like I wanted it to. I hope that I’ll find a way to fix it someday, but it’s really not a priority. Still, I’d love to see my idea for a sexy descendant of King Midas work out.
  • Thirty-Two – I love this “lost love found again” story for inexplicable reasons, since I am usually not into “sweet” stories. This one, however, is practically saccharine. Which was why I stopped. I have to decide if I want to leaven it with some harder ideas, or just finish it out sweet and loving and see if I can find a market. This story taught me about researching who buys what, and testing my marketability.
  • Dominant Enigma – I sent this to a publisher, who really liked it, except… It’s always those ellipses that get you. The editor had a lot to say about it, and every piece of her advice was dead on. Just by writing a revise/resubmit letter, she taught me about romantic tension, the romantic plot versus the external plot, and how to draw both out. This is the best rejection I’ve ever gotten as it not only taught me those things, but taught me about prioritizing and being true to a story’s voice. I may redo this story someday, but I have so much I want to accomplish first.
  • Road to Canaan – This is a story that I will finish. It’s either next in line, or right after that. I got started, I got stalled, and I realized it had to do with rushing the plot, and rushing the outline. I busted it back down to the stellar Chapter One, and it will be a lot better from there on out. Because I’m getting my futuristic Western right.
  • Yesterday’s Sins – Oh boy. This story. I found a piece of pre-made cover art by Sable Grey that I loved. I looked through my Great Big Notebook of Everything, and I found this idea I’d had months before. And I started writing. And writing. I wrote 5.5k words on this bad boy one night. I have the voice, the idea… Once I start in on this one, I don’t stop. But what it taught me is not to rush the ideas, or cram them into a space in which they don’t fit. I intended to make this one a short story to use that piece of cover art. Then I realized that I love the world and the idea, and that I need to seriously revise it, make it longer, and send it to an agent. This story gave me ambition. I have something like 30k words in on it. And it may be what I work on next.
  • Hangman’s Dues – Ahh yes. Another “oh boy, this story” moment. Hangman’s Dues is something no one will ever read, probably. This story is emotionally twisted, hard, and dark. And I love it. Writing on it gives me great joy. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find it a market, because it’s a warped, difficult romance where the heroine gets her man in the end, but in such a way that it makes you wince. To market it, I’d have to change it, and I don’t think I want to. I like it just how it is.
  • Home from the Hill – That was the tentative name for a futuristic I wanted to write. Then it turned from futuristic action to straight romance, something I’d never tried before. And I loved it, even if it confused me, so I kept writing. Then I realized that it wasn’t futuristic anymore. It was historical. Which meant I had to rewrite a good five chapters of the thing and re-imagine the ending, not to mention do all the research for the time period. So I decided I’d write the original idea, and the historical both. But I put them on the backburner because, again, priorities. The sequel to my werewolf story comes first.
  • Masquerade – I try not to talk about this one. This was the first story I wrote and submitted. And boy…does it suck.

That’s a lot of stuff hiding on my hard drive. Some of it’s good, some of it’s awful, but all of it’s valuable. It’s a lot of fun to look back over, and in some ways, it’s frustrating, because I feel like I have so much to do and not enough time to do it in. I’m excited about almost everything I write.

Some will surface again, get finished and published. Some will stay buried, where they should stay. Not all ideas should come into the light. Especially mine…

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May 23 2008

Unspooling Threads

Published by under Random Musings

I love moments of epiphany, where the idea comes and I realize that with this last piece, the puzzle fits.

I’ve been plotting the sequel to Taint of Shadow, the Shifter story I just sold to Cobblestone Press. It’s unlikely to come out before next year, but I’d like to get a jump on the release schedule and get the next one finished and submitted before I move on to my next project. That way, people don’t have to wait too long to find out what happens.

It used to be that serious plotting of this nature freaked me out. I get stressed when the idea isn’t formed yet, but I want to write. Plots don’t usually come together in a day, at least, not for complex tales. They take a week, sometimes two, to lay themselves out properly. Lots of outline drafts get written. I do website maintenance, I knit, I scribble, and most importantly, I think.

And shower. All my best ideas come to me in the shower. I don’t know why, but they do. In fact, my husband has often had to yell into the bathroom, “Hey! Quit plotting and turn the water off! I want to go to sleep!” He knows me too well.

So the ideas were there. I went from “this is a story about this guy and this chick” to having scenes forming in my head. Pictures, dialogue, everything. But scenes without cohesion mean nothing. The “ripcord” was missing.

That’s what I call that one essential thread that binds the story together. Sure, there are plot threads that go this way and that way and come together at the end, but there’s that one that holds the story together. If it’s not there, the whole thing falls apart. If it’s weak, the tale unwinds into a mess.

All my other threads were laid out this week, slowly, carefully, and painstakingly. But that one eluded me until this morning. Maybe it was my shampoo. I swear it though, the kids and my husband could hear the angels start singing from the living room as that last golden idea came to me, that final thread to keep the story together.

Nothing feels as good as epiphany. It’s better than sex.

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May 19 2008

Heroes in Song

Published by under Random Musings

I love story songs. They’re a favorite of mine. They trigger the same instinct that some movies do: keep telling the tale in your head, explore the story, learn more, go further. Sometimes, the songs don’t have to tell a whole story in a classic way for me to do it, either.

I have favorite story songs, of course, and I always want to meet the heroes. I want to know more about their lives. They appeal to me and make me want to sit down and write stories about them. I don’t, of course, but sometimes you see echoes of their themes in my works.

So who are the musical heroes that I want to know about the most?

1. Grayson, “Tom Dooley” – This is the lawman that catches Tom Dooley after he stabs the woman. Grayson foils the killer’s escape plan and returns him to hang. I love his name, and I imagine him to be a rugged, tough man that has a good heart. I’ve always wanted to hear his side of the story.

2. Johnny, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – I have no doubt in the world that Johnny is hot. He’s confident almost to the point of making it a fatal flaw, he’s brave, and he doesn’t bow down to evil. He also plays a mean fiddle.

3. Captain Thompson, “The Bonny Ship, The Diamond” – “Captain Thompson gives the order to sail the ocean wide, ‘For the sun, it never sets, my lads, nor darkness stems the tide’.” This guy’s got to have balls of steel. I want to see him come off the ship, wet with the sea, and roll into town.

4. Major Tom, “Space Oddity” – This song makes me crazy (in a good way) every time I hear it. I want to know where the spaceship knew to go. Why was it so important for him to leave his wife and go off among the stars? What did he find there?

5. Unnamed Condemned Man, “Long Black Veil” – This song haunts me on both sides of the tale. A man accused of murder has an alibi that he refuses to give: he was sleeping with his best friend’s wife at the time of the killing. So that he won’t dishonor her, and so that he won’t hurt his friend, he keeps quiet, and is hanged for the killing. This is a man, folks, and it’s a damn shame he had to die. I want to know more about his life.

But wait. There’s more. The woman also keeps quiet. She loves this man, but she also refuses to sully her husband’s honor by admitting she was unfaithful. And she’s there. She doesn’t say a word to save her lover’s life, not even at the hanging. Then she visits his grave in a long black veil, and cries for him. I want her story very badly. I want to know what was going through her head, and how she feels about herself now. I burn to get into her head every time I hear this song.

Every story I do has a soundtrack. I’ve always got my music going when I write. And sometimes, the music has the story hidden in it, not necessarily in the words, but in the melody and harmonies.

Want to see what inspires me? Have a look over to the right. You can see what I’m listening to, when I’m listening to it! LastFM is a very nifty tool.

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May 15 2008

New Look

Published by under Random Musings

It was definitely time for an overhaul on the site. The new look is cleaner, more flexible, and will let me do more things with it.

Enjoy!

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May 12 2008

Movies My Way

Published by under Random Musings

Have you ever seen a really awful movie that you somehow decided you loved?

I do this all the time. “Mars Attacks” for example. I loved that movie. I laugh hysterically at it. Everyone thinks I’m weird. Well, they think that anyway, but this really makes them think I’m off my rocker.

But most often, I see a mediocre (or worse) movie and decide I like it not because of the movie itself, but because of the story that keeps telling itself in my head. This is a very bad habit I have. I see a movie that could have been done a lot better, and I just edit the heck out of it in my head. I fill in the blanks, flesh out the characters, and change it all around until it’s this terrific tale.

My husband actually asks about it now. “That movie was ass. What did you do to it in your head, hon?”

My biggest mental rewrites to date are probably:

1. “I Am Legend” – I never read the original story, and I should, because I hated this movie. In my head, it got a lot better though, when I rescued the dog, killed the guy off, and then the dog saved the world. (I do not like movies where animal characters die. I forgot to check before I saw this one.)

2. “The Chronicles of Riddick” – I loved this movie on its own merit. It was not as good as “Pitch Black”, which was a beautiful, artistic, tight little morality tale. I enjoyed it, though, and liked it even better when I got the DVD and watched the deleted footage. They cut out some of the best parts of the story! Then, of course, I filled it all in mentally. All the pieces that would have made it really epic, I put together. I wish you guys could see my version of this movie. It kicked ass.

3. “Doom” – I loved this video game. And the movie had The Rock and Karl Urban in it, so it had eye candy. But the Doom game actually had a really neat storyline, which they completely butchered in the movie. My mental edits on this one told the story of the video game, and it was a lot cooler my way.

4. Star Wars, All – Okay. I have had to rewrite a portion of just about every Star Wars movie in my head, mostly because of George Lucas’ inability to handle villains in a dignified way. Darth Maul did not die in an ignominious fashion. Jango Fett did not die like a wimp. And Boba Fett was not accidentally knocked into the Sarlacc to die like an idiot by a bumbling Han Solo. I have repaired all these grievous errors mentally.

Oh yes. And Han shot first. ‘Nuff said.

5. Predator Movies, All – I have a thing for the Predator. I do. I love them dearly. There’s no mythos that makes me want to write fan fiction more than the Predator, and I don’t do fanfic, by and large. But the Predator concept makes me want to churn it out in droves. Every time a Predator movie comes out, I have to mentally fill in a ton of backstory, not to mention rewrite all the cheesy stuff that ends up in there.

The writer in my head never takes a break.

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May 05 2008

Death by Boxes

Published by under Random Musings

Oh ow.

I hate moving. I hate it with an unholy passion. Why? Well, first, I’m a nester. I like things just so. I want my stuff on my desk, my fishtank set up nicely, and all in a familiar environment where I can relax, get comfortable, and concentrate on letting the words out.

Moving uproots that. The light is different, the smells are different, the sounds are different. Nothing is arranged like I’m used to. (And currently, my computer’s on the dining room table, because my desk didn’t survive even getting picked up…) Moving messes with me.

Second…who likes moving boxes? Our old place was at the top of a very large hill with a bunch of steps leading to it. Our new place is upstairs. After just a few hours walking up and down all those stairs, my legs were protesting. My tennis shoes are really more fashion accessories than functional athletic wear, so my feet were screaming.

Third, I think we had more stuff than we thought we did. It never seemed to end. I kept finding boxes, bits and pieces, oh look, we forgot to clear out this closet, and how come it’s 8:30 at night already? Why is it 11:00 PM and we’re carrying a guinea pig cage across the apartment complex? Holy crap, why is it Sunday and getting dark and I haven’t drained my fishtank yet? Why do I not have the water I need? Did I forget to go get it and where did my day go and don’t we have to turn in the keys tomorrow?

Fourth…bees. Yes, we lost half a day on Friday because we found a swarm of bees moving into the porch in front of our place. They got aggressive, and we got trapped inside until they decided to calm down. We had to call the complex manager to come and fix it.

Our new place is really nice, though. Upstairs means no more toddler on my head at unholy hours of the morning, a cathedral ceiling and skylights. It’s so much roomier. Instead of a tiny shower, we have a full bath, and room for all that stuff we hauled upstairs. It also means a designated parking spot, instead of the gladiatorial combat for the good spots on the other side. Covered, lighted parking! As the temperatures try to head for 100 degrees, that gets more and more important.

But boy, was getting here rough. After four days, I’m exhausted and ready to start settling in.

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