Head on over to Adventures in Writing where I talk about How to Create Back Cover Copy.
Head on over to Adventures in Writing where I talk about How to Create Back Cover Copy.
Today no one tried to kill me with a knife.
Today my wife did not miscarry.
Today my wife did not miscarry again.
Today I did not witness a violent crime, helpless to do anything about it.
Today my heart wasn’t broken, making me feel used, dirty and cheap.
Today I did not have to put my beloved cat to sleep myself because I could not afford to take her to the vet.
Today I did not wake up from surgery and cry tears of blood.
Today I did not see a volcano explode and destroy the family vacation spot.
Today I was not homeless.
All of these bad things happened to me, but not today.
When I read I want to forget. Sometimes all I want to do is remember. I want to go somewhere else. I want to be entertained. I want to know what you think at night when the house is quiet. I want to you to be honest with me. I want you to weave your values and moral fiber throughout your story. I want you to tell me what’s in your heart. I want to laugh, I want to cry and I want to snicker at a bad joke.
Show me with words. Show me the feeling when the man you loved lowered himself on you for the first time. Show me how your heart would beat so fast when you saw that special girl in her pretty dress on Sunday during church. Show me the little face sleeping in her bed when you snuck in late at night to stare at her and take comfort that her chest was going up and down, her breath going in and out.
I need it all. I need nothing. I need a connection.
Today nothing bad happened to me today.
The day is not over yet. If something bad will happen to me today, I might cry. I might hug. I might kiss. I might wake up before dawn and feel sorry for myself. I might grieve. I might freak out. I might never be the same person that I was when I woke up this morning.
All of those are maybes. One thing is certain as the blood running through my veins.
I’ll pick up a book and read, either to escape or drown in it. In that moment, it’s just you and me.
And the Writer.
I have been accused of having mad love scene writing skills.
Of this, I am truly guilty and now impart the Rehabilitated Hack Writer Secret to Writing Hot Love Scenes.
It’s that simple, folks.
No need to thank me, that’s just the kind of guy that I am.
Dinner in the Toulouse poly marriage can be exciting.
Everyone at dinner thinks Papa moving in is a great idea.
Mainly because, sometimes, I am a medical mess.
Except Katie. To her, this is beyond a good idea. She looks so happy she is about to burst.
“What?” It is easy to think that Katie is a dumb blonde, rather than one of the smartest scientists ever to walk the Earth, the bio-equivalent of Albert Einstein.
Minus the crazy part. Right now, she looks like a bubblehead with a goofy grin.
“My twenty-five-ish year old evil plan is coming to a close!” She actually claps her hands.
“What?” asks Cazandra, looking confused.
“Babies! Milo would make a great grandfather. It’s what he wants, really, really bad,” says Kate, although it is blazingly obvious who wants the babies.
“I need to relearn how to just be a normal woman first,” I say.
“Oh! Oh! She didn’t say no!”
I roll my eyes, but then I look at everyone. “Yes. I would like to have a baby someday. Not anytime soon.” I give Kate a big grin. “Just warn me before you stick an egg up there.”
She startles as if I poked her with a shock baton. Oh my God!
“Sharon Kaitlin Toulouse! You were not planning on putting an egg in me for fertilization without me knowing about it, were you?”
“Yeeeeee…no. No, of course not.”
I reach across the table, grab her wrist and twist.
“Ow! Ow! Let go!”
“If I suddenly find myself pregnant without planning, I swear to God I will chop your hand off at this wrist and feed it to the beagle!”
“Okay! I’ll be good!”
“I swear,” she says with hesitation in her voice.
I twist and pull. Her place setting crashes to the ground as she comes partially out of her seat. Everyone is looking at me with wide eyes.
“Ow! I swear I won’t impregnate you without you knowing about it first. I promise!”
I yank her all the way onto the table. Dishes and food go everywhere. I pin her hand to the table with one hand and with the other, I grab my steak knife and make a cut on her palm.
I stand on my chair and put a knee on her arm, and I let go. I then cut my own palm, and hiss in pain.
I grab her bloody hand and with my bloody hand, then remove my knee. I squeeze her hand tight until she cries out again.
I let go.
“There. Your promise is a blood oath. We are now blood sisters by honor and deed. The vow is set.”
Kaitlin is lying on the table, smeared with food, drink and blood soaking her clothing, and crying.
I turn to Caz.
“So, what’s for dessert?” I ask, dripping blood on the floor.
“Aaaaand that’s why you don’t fuck with the LT,” says Vash.
Someone asks in a recent blog post:
If you write, where do your ideas come from? Do you start with a scene? A character? A premise? Or do you have some ridiculous trigger that demands you spin a story out of it?
That is a good question. A novel thrusts itself into my poor overloaded mind based on two things: a character, and a theme.
This is the heart of my creative process. I need both a main character with a distinctive voice, and I need a unifying idea. When the two meet, it’s magic. My brain will refuse to let go of the two, and, at some point, they merge and I will have the resulting plot and setting. I am now compelled to write the story.
But where do these characters and themes come from?
Mainly, I observe. I am not a shy man, but I am a quiet fixture. Why does that smartly dressed woman at the airport waiting for the same flight as me have a perpetual frown? Why are the neighbors across the street so reclusive? Is the wife sick? If so, will she ever get better? The Sheriff Deputy in the coffee shop–if she were in trouble, big trouble, would she have the will and fortitude, beyond her training, to survive? If she did have this internal strength, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time, would anybody come to help?
Observation can give me characters, and it can give me themes.
For example, why does our society have a culture of blame-the-victim, bordering on the tolerance for the criminal? Where did this corruption come from, and where will it lead? Why do some cultures today feed off each other, becoming stronger, while others clash, causing conflict? Is a society that devalues the lives of children for the sake of control and equality doomed to failure? If so, how will it fail?
Sometimes, I will be thinking these questions and suddenly they will merge into a story. Like this proto-outline:
The Sheriff Deputy in the coffee shop is in trouble. She is a strong person but in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is a righteous woman, but righteousness is not going to save her now (this is the character, maybe the main character, or an important minor one).
Career criminals, released by our society to prey upon the weak once more without mercy, decided they were going to kill a copy one day. Our society tolerates evil men such as this. It has happened before (in the real world), and it will happen again (sadly, this is also a reality). Where did this corruption come from, and where will it lead? (this is a theme).
The righteous and the evil go at it in the coffee shop parking lot. Outgunned and outmaneuvered, the death of the female deputy is a forgone conclusion. How would she get out of this?
She gets help. A woman caught in the crossfire draws her sidearm and joins the gun battle (this is the glimmering of a plot and also a very strong character).
Why did this woman have gun? Well, she has the typical ex-husband who has threatened to kill her. She decided she wasn’t going to use a paper shield and actually defend herself (this is related to the theme, but also further characterization).
Only, she isn’t defending herself. She is defending someone sworn to defend her! She is shot. Several times. Nevertheless, everyone lives, except the evil men.
And this heroic action caused the next American Civil War (this is now the plot).
That’s my writing process. For me, only when I have a firm character, or characters, and a unified idea to generate conflict as a theme, can I get a plot that works for me. At this point, I have a novel. All that is left is my outlining process (which I do in my head) and typing.
You may think a gun battle in a coffee shop parking lot and the next American Civil War is a gigantic, random leap–but it’s not. The theme, as you recall, is “Where did this corruption (tolerance for evil) come from, and where will it lead?” With these characters and this theme, the plot burst out of me like the alien from the chest of poor Kane on the Nostromo.
This is my creative process, how I obtain ideas and turn them into novels. And it works very well for me.
Every Wednesday you can find me over in Adventures in Writing.
Today I write about recharging your writer batteries on the Oregon Coast.
Here is a self-involved writing update!
But hey, if you can’t be self-involved on your own blog, where can you be? Isn’t that three-fourths of the interwebs or something?
I’m actually in a self-imposed writing restriction. Editing work on my own novels has piled up and so I pledged, to the Writing Powers That Be (which, conveniently enough, is me), not to write until I am finished with my editing tasks.
And that is killing me.
With no words, killing me softly…
Ahem. I digress.
Poor Bunny. I created this awesome three-dimensional character, and now it feels like I am neglecting her. It’s not her fault I can’t use the book to breakout as a published author.
But, she is becoming better with age. I’m contemplating a change that will cut the text all the way to 100,000 words.
We’ll see. It’s a good novel. And I don’t want to mess it up.
By the way, in about a month I can have the latest draft ready to go to any blog reader that wants to read Libertarian Gun Nut Science Fiction.
Actually, I take it back. I am looking at one indy publisher who actually does do Libertarian Gun Nut Science Fiction. I’m not holding my breath, though. I am going to polish the manuscript per above just in case they want to see it.
I am looking for an agent for this book project. I’ve had partial requests, and partial rejections. Ha.
This novel really struck a chord with my beta readers, but I am left wondering if my first chapter is as good as I think it is. I’m going to have someone look at it in that regard and give me some feedback next week-ish.
The Baby Dancers
This is actually my next book project to finish. It’s a fun YA fantasy story. I have a need to finish it, not only because I want to see how the story ends, but also because I also plan to shop this around and see if I can land an agent. I am convinced my novelist career has firm roots in Science Fiction. This story, however, is demanding to be written, and I can’t deny the sheer amount of fun I have writing it.
It goes like this: any book with goblin ninjas on fire, you just gotta finish!
This is the next book in the Bunny Trouble series. I outlined it, but I am not going to start writing it until I finish The Baby Dancers.
Armageddon’s Princess Sequel
Another murder mystery, of course. I am enamored with the plot and I give all the beta readers who liked the first book, more of what they liked. Because, I am a giver.
This sequel is full of NOM. NOM I say!
I have already fully outlined this novel, but I am not going to write on it until The Baby Dancers is in the hands of my beta readers.
YA Urban Paranormal Fantasy About A Girl Named Lisa Who Turns into a Bad-Ass Wizard via a Tattoo and Gets Her Divorced Parents Back Together Again
When I was doing a blog redesign, I noticed this excerpt, which I pulled out of my literary butt, was popular with my female blog readers. And other random people who came by but never left a comment.
Out of all these book projects, this one just nags on me. It is an itch I can’t scratch, and I have no idea how long I can ignore it.
Now I know what you are thinking, you are thinking, “don’t!” And I might not be able to, we’ll see.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s actually set in the Baby Dancer universe. In a grand-conjunction kind of way, I could go like this:
I will never speak on this again. It will be our secret, buried in the electrons of the interwebs, forever.
But it is a cool idea.
Anyway, I don’t know when I will get to Lisa’s story, but I will. I originally thought 2010 might be a good time. That’s a good guess on my part.
Geeze. I wrote a chapter of “space opera” just so I could see things blow up in space, and this post gets random hits all over the place by people searching for “space opera” and other people who mysteriously click on a link from email readers.
Yet these people do not leave comments.
So here I am thinking it’s crap.
But if it is crap, why do people keep finding it?
Here’s my initial take: people are hard up for Space Opera Science Fiction. Publishers are not meeting this need.
But what do I know? I do know I have resisted the urge to edit the thing like three hundred times, only because it is an example of a first rough draft, preserved forever on the internets.
It was fun to write, but literally, that excerpt is less of an excerpt and more of my only idea for this story. Before and after, I have no idea what happens!
Perhaps if I figure that out, I will treat Space Opera more seriously.
Any of you space opera fans, just click on comment on either post (this one or the actual post), and leave a comment with your thoughts. I don’t bite. Really. You can also send me mail, my contact information is on the right-hand side of this blog near the top under “Contact Me”.
I have a book backlog. And I vow to make a big dent on it this summer.
As you can see, I have a large amount of stories to write on, an embarrassment of riches. I do know which book I will start to write on after I finish The Baby Dancers. And I will never complain about this type of problem. Never! I can think of no other writing “problem” I would rather have.
I love writing. I love storytelling. It’s fun!
A shout-out to anyone reading this far… I am curious, out of this list, what would you like to read? Besides the story in the art below by Daniel Conway, of course. Which I will not do, but damn howdy (and damn howdy is a technical term), that painting rocks.