Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alex J. Cavanaugh - Giveaway SPECTACULAR!

My cool friend Alex J. Cavanaugh is having a contest on his blog for the next two weeks! He just announced it yesterday. The prize is a copy of his upcoming science fiction novel, CassaStar, and, as Alex puts it, "a big feature here for the winner."

You should get right on over there and check it out! Click here to check out Alex's blog entry for the contest, complete with all the details!

And in case you're wondering about CassaStar, here's the book trailer! Take a look at this!

I can't WAIT for this book to come out!

Congrats on the 200 followers, and the upcoming release of your novel, Alex!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Contest Practice, topic: Murder in the Igloo

I was able to get a little farther tonight, at least it felt that way. I was also able to get all the words in this time, and even before the halfway point, I think. I also increased my word count by almost 100 words, which is absolutely true even though it sounds like CRAZY TALK. Wonder if that'll be a continuing trend or if it was just a fluke.

Ending is rushed, but... serviceable, I guess. I liked the way this one turned. Today's prompt was given to me by Jemi Fraser, via a comment on Monday's entry. Thanks for helping me practice for the contest, Jemi! I really appreciate it. Her prompts were:

Topic: Murder in the Igloo
Words: snow, blubber, knife, bear, sun
Leadoff sentence: see below (first sentence)
Did you know polar bears are all left handed?

The Inuit trader's words echoed in Reese's head as he worked his way across the snow from the sled to the igloo's nearly-buried entrance.

I found that out the hard way, the man had said, back in the last town before the ice cap took over what little lush tundra was left in this late month of November.

Reese had stopped to stock up on supplies, buying a new range knife and half a pound of blubber to feed to his dogs. While he was there, the one-eyed fur trader had decided to get friendly and strike up a conversation about bear hunting.

But Reese wasn't interested in hunting bears. He was a hunter of men.

He'd followed the blazing trail laid down by the sun across the icepack for the last sixteen hours. Disorienting, how it just hovered on the lip of the horizon like a rolling, bloody eyeball.

What was it the trader had told him? "I took the bear's right paw, that was the custom," the man had said in his strange accent. "He was a man-eater. But it angers the spirits to kill such a great animal. Better to take its paw so it may have the chance to live, and have learned to stay away from men."

Bullshit is what it sounded like to Tom Reese, but the farther he got out here the more he thought about the bear in the trader's story and how it reminded him of Garrity, the man he'd come all the way out here to kill.

He'd lost his arm in the firefight, but that wasn't enough for Montano. The old man had sent Reese to the end of the world to finish the job of silencing the traitor forever.

Reese pulled himself back to the present, crunching across the pink-tinted snow. Garrity wasn't here, he was sure, but there would be something here that led him to Garrity. He was very close now.

Which was all the more reason to be careful.

The bear took my eye, the trader whispered in Reese's memory as he began to methodically clear the igloo's entrance. He could have taken my life. I was lucky.

Lucky, Reese thought, and that was exactly the moment when the yellow, furred paw burst out of the snow beyond the opening and clawed across the back of his arm.

Reese jerked backward in surprise, barely feeling the ragged gouges in his flesh. Blood poured over the nylon of his blue parka, but he was oblivious.

All thought was lost to him when he saw the creature pulling itself out of the snow, widening the hole he'd made.

Garrity must have left it for me, he thought, horrified. Days ago.

And God, it must be hungry.

I wrote the last three paragraphs of that in a literal frenzy. This is bare, unedited stuff, let me tell ya. I could barely read my chicken-scratch. And my hand was KILLIN ME, friends. Still, it felt good to get it done. I want to keep doing this as much as I can, because it's REALLY good practice. I want to have this process down pat before I go to Vegas.

Gonna have to take the timer out of the equation because I keep staring at it, and I want to start getting a feel for how long fifteen minutes is without constantly looking at the timer to see how much time's left. Wonder if they'll let us keep a watch?

If you'd like to leave me a challenge, please feel free. What did you think of this one?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contest Practice, topic: The Living Dead

Howdy. Thanks to those who submitted a few prompts for contest practice for me yesterday! I have the first attempt ready. I definitely need to practice more at this. I managed to get about two paragraphs from the end. Right now, I'm just going to post what I was able to write. I may try to finish it later.

I chose Cruella Collett's prompt first, mainly because it was the first one to hit my inbox. Her prompts were:

Topic: The living dead
Words: shortcut, bushel, fist, tureen, mangrove
Leadoff sentence: see below (first sentence)
"Don't look back!" Gerda Aldrin said, as the last conscious look in her eyes faded into a blank stare of nothingness.

Christopher choked back a sob and transferred his baby sister to his other arm. They'd been running for nearly thirty-six hours now, and Elsa was heavy for a two-year-old. Christopher was exhausted.

And he was only eleven.

"Come on," he said to his sister. She blinked at him with sleepy eyes.

"Ma?" she asked.

"No, mom has to stay here," he said, and the black reality of that truth rolled over him like a boulder made of fear. He switched her to the other arm again - it wasn't much of a help - and pushed past the mangrove trees, on into the deeper swamp as quickly as he could.

Before their mother had a chance to open her eyes again and reach out for her children, dead fingers clutching, teeth clicking together like the ball bearings in Christopher's broken skateboard.

An hour later, Christopher gently lay his baby sister down on a dry hummock of swamp grass and looked around. He'd been sure this was some kind of shortcut, but now in the darkness - and through the shifting gray scrim of exhaustion threatening to bludgeon him into unconsciousness - everything looked the same. He sat down beside Elsa and punched at the ground, not realizing how mucky it was.

A hand closed over his fist.

Christopher jerked backward, eyes popping, mouth drawn down into a silent scream. He kicked at the mound rising out of the squelchy black mud. Eyes opened in the dirt, one bleary with mud, the other a clear and questioning blue. The bump of its rising head looked like an upside-down soup tureen, handles for ears, smooth dome of brow curving back for what seemed like forever.

Christopher grabbed his sister, shaking her out of her thin sleep. She began to wail immediately. Chris clamed down on her arm as hard as he could and her little mouth turned into a perfect "o" of pain.

"Else!" he screamed, crying out again as the creature in the muck - once human just like them - pulled him closer.

"RUN!" he cried.

OK, so that's what I came up with for the first attempt. I left out one of the words (bushel; it was coming in those last two paragraphs), and I wasn't able to get to the ending. Close, but no cigar. My hand was singing frickin Ave Maria by the time I was done, too... I think I need to do this more than once a night... but I gotta work up to it. I had a lot of fun with this, though. It was weird - no planning, no thought, just launch into a story while the clock is ticking... but it was fun. More will follow in future entries, I'm sure.

What do y'all think? I know what I think: MORE PRACTICE!!

If any of you would like to leave me a challenge, please feel free. I only need a horror-related topic, five random words, and a leadoff sentence to start. I'll take care of the rest. Thanks to Cruella for this great beginning to a new path!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Call to Writers

Exactly one month from now I'll be getting on the plane to go to Las Vegas for KillerCon. WHOO!!

If there's anyone out there reading this who'd like to attend the con and meet up there, please let me know in comments or by shooting me an email (or Tweet, or whatever social media poison you prefer). I'm traveling by myself and I would love to hang out with some blogiverse friends... Regardless, I hope I can make some new friends at the con. I don't want to spend the whole weekend by myself.

I'm also wondering if you guys can help me with something. KillerCon is having an on-site writing contest. The convention committee gives the assembled contestants five words, a horror-related topic, a leadoff sentence, and fifteen minutes. The contestants have a sheet of paper and a pen. After the fifteen minutes is up, they compare entries and choose a winner.

I want to enter this contest, but I'm a little nervous about writing it longhand for a couple of reasons. First is the physical side - because of a car accident two years ago, it's very difficult for me to hold a pen for any length of time. Five minutes is hard. Fifteen minutes is torture. But the more I practice longhand, the easier it gets to do.

The other side is how much slower my hand is at writing my thoughts as opposed to typing my thoughts. My typing speed is on average around 90 wpm, so it's a LOT faster to type than it is write longhand. Which means I don't write as well longhand, because it feels clunky and it's difficult to get up to the speed I want to write at.

So here's where YOU come in. I need to practice this longhand coming-up-with-stories-on-the-spot thing. If you will, leave five words, a topic, and a leadoff sentence in the comments of this entry. I'll time myself and try to do one each evening. Since it'll be hard to get more than a page or two out over fifteen minutes' time, I can post the best pieces on my blog. It won't be entirely spontaneous like the contest will be, but at least I'll be getting some practice at quick invention, along with strengthening the muscles in my hand for quick writing.

What do y'all think? Can you help a fellow writer out?

I hope each and every one of you has a fantastic last week of July. :D

Friday, July 23, 2010

Working and Working and...

Thanks to everybody who commented on Tuesday's Summer in the South entry. I posted one of those last month as well, and I hope I'm not being tiresome, but I'm working on a little project... at least one entry a month detailing whatever season it is, and how it relates to the South. June, July and August are my summer entries. September, October, November are autumn... December, January, February winter... March, April, May spring. Then next year I want to read them all in succession, maybe make a little story out of them. What do y'all think?

I've been working on editing again after being away for over a week. I was my sister's "hospital buddy" as she had surgery last week, and I wasn't able to do anything with the book while taking care of her... then when I finally got some time for myself again, a strange apathy had stolen into my muscles and bones, and all I wanted to do was read Stephen King stories and avoid my needing-to-be-pruned novel. I was able to get back into it last night, though, and I got another twenty pages or so carved out. Hopefully this is a sign that the struggle is lessening.

And my treacherous muse continues to taunt me with good ideas for short stories, ideas I would MUCH rather be working on instead of editing the novel. Currently I'm working on a steampunk short, for the upcoming steampunk deadline at Fissure magazine. I've already been published in Fissure, but I've never written a steampunk story, and I thought it would be fun to try my hand at it... and of course, it's yet another way to avoid the work that needs to be done on the novel. Gah!

Then there's the "death and shoes" short that still needs to be edited, and a host of other short pieces I could be working on to send out... but the novel just hangs over my head like a little raincloud made of pages. I want it to be DONE. Especially before I head to Vegas next month for KillerCon. I want to get the edited copy out to my first readers so I can have a clean copy to push to agents ASAP. Of course, I'd also like a mansion built out of ice cream sandwiches, and my very own pony. We'll see how it goes.

How are y'all doin? Anything exciting going on in your neck of the woods? Got any advice for me, to help me stay on task with the editing? How 'bout plans for the weekend?

Hope y'all have a fantastic Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer in the South, II


The pomp and circumstance of the Glorious Fourth has receded like outgoing tide and all that's left is the flat dull surface of superheated asphalt. June's hopeful beginnings lie deep in the past, dreaming in shady pools of memory. Now it's July, down-to-business summertime. Every day is the same: A stretched-out cavalcade of heat and humidity, punctuated by the occasional evening thunderstorm.

Tempers are short. Businesses crank up the A/C, even at 2 AM. Store windows are filmy with condensation, transforming everyday clear-cut interiors to surreal fogscapes. Old men sit on intersection corners beneath unraveling beach umbrellas, selling sugar-baby watermelons and boiled peanuts off their pickup trucks' rusting tailgates. Fans turn lazily on front porches; an ice-choked glass of sweet tea with lemon is the only thing that satisfies.

Children easily found just two weeks before, lustily parading in freedom from organized education, are nowhere to be seen. They hide in the air-conditioned shadows of their houses, their friends' houses; when their mothers shoo them outside to play they cluster in any air-conditioned spot they can find: shopping malls, grocery stores, bowling alleys, swimming pools, libraries. Even though they won't admit it to each other, part of them aches for the long, climate-controlled hours of school.

It's not just the kids. Everyone is off the streets, out of the sun, in the A/C; at 3 in the afternoon everything is bright and hot and still. There's not a car on the street, not a moving shadow to be seen. Outside the bees and butterflies have become true monarchs and the people have given quarter to the elements, for now. The only sad souls out in this oven of an afternoon are those who have to be, and when they make eye contact with each other, a silent plea seems to pass between them - is it five yet?

Mimosa trees are wilting, losing their color and scent; the few blackberries left on bushes are picked over by birds and baked in the heat, nothing but rounded clumps of coal clustered on the briars. In contrast, crepe myrtles bloom in florid hues of red and pink and purple. Trees - only a month ago vibrant and green with new summer gloss - are a tired and uniform shade, blending into each other like one huge organism.

The day drags on and heads into evening; all the while, sunlight hours grow imperceptibly shorter with each passing day. Softball games are won and lost. The tantalizing smell of grilling meat floats in the air of every subdivision. Sprinklers run endlessly - hish-hish-hish-hish-hissssssshhhh... A yellow rind of moon rises in the darkening sky. The evening star hangs on the lip of the horizon like a wet beauty mark. Everything is sleepy, soporific. Everything is slow.

Everything is summertime.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Soundtrack of your Life Blogfest

I'm participating in Arlee Bird's Soundtrack of your Life blogfest today. If you get a chance, swing on over to his blog and check out the cool list of people who are taking part in this one.

So I've been thinking about this a lot over the last few nights. Wendy commented that her soundtrack would be super long - multiple CD's, hundreds of songs - and I most sincerely concur. Over the years I've had many "Quintessential B" playlists, and if I put them all together for this blogfest, you'd be reading a LONG time. So, I decided to narrow it down to the top ten songs which I hold nearest and dearest to my heart - at this particular moment in time. I hold no illusions that this list will never change.

Hell, it might change in the next fifteen minutes.

Narrowing it down to ten was hard, but fun. I listened to a lot of music and rejected so many songs... this was a great project, especially since it falls on a Music Monday! I've posted a few lyrics and an explanation for each song, and I hope you guys enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed making the list. Thanks, Lee, for hosting this cool blogfest.

Without further ado, and in no particular order...

The Quintessential B List

The Pixies - Where is my Mind?

"With your feet on the air and your head on the ground..."

Some songs stay with you through your whole life, and I guess if I had to name any one song that was my "theme song", this would be it. I've loved the Pixies since I heard them in high school, way back in 1991... Yep, I'm old. "Where is my Mind?" became a generational anthem when Fight Club used it for its ending credits, but it was one of my anthems long before the movie ever came out.

Night Moves - Bob Seger

"Ain't it funny how the night moves... when you just don't seem to have as much to lose... strange how the night moves... with autumn closin' in..."

My sister once referred to Bob Seger in general and this song in particular as "mother's milk", and I agree. I grew up with Bob Seger and every time I hear this song it comforts me, while reminding me how lonely it is out there for everyone, at one time or another.

Pearl Jam - Oceans

"Hold on to the thread; the currents will shift. Guide me towards you - know something's left, and we're all allowed to dream of the next time we touch..."

I have loved this song from the moment I heard it in 1992, and it is one of the most romantic songs I've ever heard. Helps me remember that love comes from everywhere, and never to give up hope on the people who love you - and the people you love.

Arcade Fire - Wake Up

"And children, don't grow up... our bodies get bigger, but our hearts get torn up. We're just a million little gods causin' rainstorms, turnin' every good thing to rust. I guess we'll just have to adjust..."

Sometimes you need an epic song to help you remember why your life is epic. Try it. Cue up this song. Close your eyes. Listen to the music. Think about your life. You'll see what I mean.

Kings of Leon - Arizona

"And I go... stand up to a giant, say that I'm a fighter... too drunk to remember. Too drunk to..."

The lyrics combined with the soulful Southern rock sound of this song make it one of my new favorite entries in my "quintessential B" list. Every artist needs a song or two they can get inebriated to, right? This is one of mine.

Cursive - From the Hips

"We're from our best when it's from our hips. It's from our hips, we don't give a shit... it just feels good, and that's no sin. It's the only way to feel alive, the closest thing to being born again..."

I love the philosophical thoughts behind the lyrics of this song, and what it says about relationships. When we start talking and thinking, we start screwing things up. Go with what you feel. Your heart knows best, friends.

Gossip - Lesson Learned

"I guess I'm lucky 'cause I learned a long time ago, I used to try to be somebody else but now I know. People like you make me know that I don't wanna be stuck in a scene that only puts me down and judges me."

INDIVIDUALITY IS CLUTCH, people. I am awesome. You are awesome. WE ARE AWESOME. Please don't buy into someone else's definition of who you should be. Ever.

Murder By Death - As Long As There Is Whiskey In The World

"I have loved, and I've lost all that they gave me. They all try to save me, but I'm seein' this thing through..."

Yes, my drink of choice is whiskey. And as long as there is whiskey in the world, things aren't quite as bad as they seem.

The Murmurs - Genius

"She's got something to say to the world. She wants to know if she could tie it up... She's kinda freaky. She's kinda weird. She's kinda freaky... but I dunno..."

Someone very special to me once told me this song made her think of me, and I was touched. Now whenever I hear it I think of that time, and it feels kind of like a theme song for me. I'm eternally grateful to that girl for introducing me to this tune.

Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains

"My brother, where do you intend to go tonight? I heard that you missed your connecting flight - to the Blue Ridge Mountains, over near Tennessee."

I grew up going to the Blue Ridge Mountains - both of my grandmothers, aunt, uncle and cousins all lived in Waynesville, NC - and I have a strong connection with the Blue Ridge Mountains. This song helps me remember their beauty, mystery, and serenity.

I hope y'all enjoyed my list, and I can't wait to take a look at yours! Have a great week, friends!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Soundtrack of Your Life

On Monday, Arlee Bird is hosting a blogfest called The Soundtrack of Your Life. Here's what he says about it:
This coming Monday June 19th you will have the opportunity to join us in sharing the songs that have special meaning in your life. Tell us the songs that describe what you were going through at different stages of your life. Tell us about the music that tells something about you. Create your own soundtrack and post it on your site on Monday. If you like, tell us why you chose those songs.

I'll be participating in this blogfest, and I'm looking forward to sharing my songs with you. I've actually had many of these "soundtracks to my life" playlists over the years, and I want to go through the ones I have saved and pick out my favorites.

What about you? Will you be participating in this cool blogfest? I'd love to read about the songs you pick to describe yourself.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Left Turn at Albuquerque

I've switched tactics and decided to focus solely on Jack as the main protagonist of the novel. It's what I should've done in the first place, but I got so caught up in creating Dan's backstory that I thought he was supposed to be the main character.

Blood in the Orchard (working title) began as a short story that I just couldn't get right. I loved the monstrous creature in the short, but had no idea how it came about. I realized finally, after about two months of tinkering with it, that the reason I could never get it right was because my readers had no reason to care about the characters in the terrible situation I'd put them in.

That's problematic, because for me, the real root of good horror is identifying with the character in some way and caring about what the heck happens to them in the story. I started thinking about where that monster came from, and why. What it represented. How it was conjured into being. And suddenly I realized the damn thing was just too fricking long to be a short piece.

So I put it aside for about six months and didn't think about it at all. But then in August... it came swimming out of my imagination again, and I took the plunge. And now here I am, almost a year later. The first draft is finished and my first readers' polished copy's birth is in sight.

Anyway, back to Jack. I realized the story really is about him and how he changes through the book. When we first meet him, he's closed-off and somewhat reserved, especially with his emotions. He feels guilty a lot, about things he can't control. He's only got one close friend and he keeps himself from getting romantically involved with anyone.

Over the course of the story, Jack changes into someone who has to let himself feel, because he just doesn't have a choice. He's fallen in love with his dead sister's best friend, and his brother-in-law has gone insane, and a whole bunch of crazy shit goes down, but at the end he realizes he has to embrace and acknowledge not only his own special abilities but also the great amount of love in his heart for his family, his friends, and his town.

That's the story I want to tell you. Dan is important, yeah. But he's not the main character. At this point, he's not much more than glorified window-dressing, something I can use to make the readers feel sad or scared. I'm grateful for the character - for all my characters - and I like him, but I'm starting to recognize his value as a creative tool.

So, this is where my focus is going... for now. Ever watch those old Bugs Bunny cartoons where he ends up somewhere he shouldn't because he didn't take that fabled left turn? Well, hopefully that's Albuquerque up ahead... because I'm definitely turning left, kids.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Along for the Ride

Travel plans are falling into place, and I'm starting to get really excited about KillerCon at the end of August. You know you're still not a grown-up when the question "aisle or window seat?" gets you all giddy.

Window seat, please... :D

I am so excited about the prospect of meeting other horror writers and participating in workshops for the craft. There are going to be authors there to offer lots of helpful insight, and a dealer's room with all kinds of goodies for sale. Two contests, mixers and meet-and-greets, and three nights in Las Vegas! I mean... if that's not daydream fodder for the next few weeks, I don't know what is.

In other news, I'm about 20% of the way through the editing of the MS. I added a handy-dandy progress tracker to my sidebar, if any of y'all are interested.

I'm really hoping I can get this done in my original timeframe, but I just have no idea how long it's gonna take. I keep finding things that need to be rewritten, or added on to flesh out a concept. As I've said many times before, I'm just making this up as I go along, and it's kinda hard to gauge how fast this will go since I've never really done it before.

The work has, however, progressed famously since I realized I needed to scrap almost the entire first section of the novel (about 30 pages or so). I don't lament this at all; I look at the removed section as backstory that I will probably dip into later to beef up other parts of the book. It's good that it's written because it gives me a clear sense of exactly what happened, and that allows me to use foreshadowing and drop little hints here and there as to what's going on.

This is a fun process, but an exhausting one. So far, I definitely prefer composing to editing. But it's a necessary part of the writing process and I am throwing myself into it full-on like I have everything else.

I'm just happy I have you guys along for the ride. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Stop on the Rejection Train

I finally got word back from Weird Tales about my short piece, "Knights of the Road". Another rejection for the proverbial pile. The rejection letter was nice, though. Encouraging. And coming from a market like Weird Tales, that's saying something.

I opened it up and slashed the shit out of it. Took out even more extraneous words - hey, at least editing the novel is teaching me something - and now I have a product which is what I originally intended in the first place. I just needed several months' distance and a few kind words from a market editor. I like the story; it's solid, short, and frickin' scary. It's about a man who's been picked up by a creepy truck driver after his car has broken down. Here's a little excerpt:
“My wife would’ve given me hell if I hadn’t stopped,” the trucker said.

“Does she ride with you?”

“Oh, yeah,” the driver said. “Rides everywhere I haul, sittin’ up pretty as paint in that seat you’re in. She loves a crossword while I’m drivin’. Makes me crazy, askin’ me all the time if I know the words in ‘em.”

Owen shifted in his seat. The cab was becoming hot and stagnant with cigarette smoke. “She’s not with you on this trip?” He looked over his shoulder at the pink curtain.

“She got sick,” the trucker said. He shook his head, his lower lip jutting out like a shelf. “Real sick.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh, she still rides with me,” the trucker said, tapping his chest just above the bulge of his cigarette pack. He rubbed his fingers in a circle, right over his heart. The rasp of the man’s fingertips on the rough weave of his shirt made the skin between Owen’s shoulder blades shiver. “She watches out for me, keeps me company.”

She still rides with him? Owen wondered. He imagined a woman, tentacled with IV lines and trapped in the cage of a hospital bed, sandwiched into the back of the cab.

Owen searched for words to break the silence, trying to shove the image away. His treacherous mind replaced the trucker’s sick wife with the trucker’s dead wife, a see-through woman outlined in misty gray hues like a cheap television ghost, sitting right where he was, overlaying his skin and wet clothes with her presence.

Holding a transparent crossword puzzle book in one spectral hand.

“What… what’s her name?” Owen asked. He wanted to turn around for another look at that curtain again, but held himself in check. Was that a tiny tickle of motion back there in the blocked-off sleeper section of the truck?

Of course not, he thought. Just stop it.
What do y'all think?

It was nice to get away from being mired in the briar patch of editing my novel. Honestly, this is one of the most frustrating things I've ever done, writing-wise. Editing is TEN TIMES HARDER than writing. Whew. Trying hard not to get discouraged over here.

I sent the revised copy of "Knights of the Road" out to Apex Magazine. One of the biggies. But hey... shoot for the moon, right? Even if you don't make it, you fall among the stars. Wish me luck, fellow astronauts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Edits and Future Plans

Day two of editing... twenty pages into the original manuscript. This is a painful process. Anybody got an aspirin?

Since I have the liberty of making this up as I go along, I'm thinking time limit instead of page goal for editing. Such as, spending a solid two hours on pages, then taking a break. I'm overwhelmed... there's a lot, I mean a LOT of extra words on these pages. My original first twenty pages has been cut down to twelve. Whoo! On the plus side, I want my manuscript to be smaller, so this is a good thing!

It's pretty exciting to go back over the edited copy. It reads MUCH faster and the clunks are really starting to smooth out. I'm learning so much in this process and it's JUST THE SECOND DAY. How lucky are we to be writers, huh? This is the coolest feeling ever.

Do you guys work on writing new stuff while you're editing your manuscript? It's two very different parts of my brain and right now the idea seems laughable to me. Maybe it'll get easier the deeper I get into the book. I want to at least keep working on short stories to beef up my portfolio. The latest is almost ready to go out into circulation. I've got another two ideas I can work on, and then there's other shorts I've got half-finished that I can polish up. Problem is, after three or four hours of editing I'm zonked. That plus the Clark Kent job is all I can handle at the moment.

But I do want to continue moving forward so even if I can't produce new words I am researching for the next project, little by little. The short stories are fun distractions, but I'm ready to tackle another novel. I don't want to start it until this one has gone through its first big edit, though. I have an inkling of an idea for a book, and it's pretty interesting. I've been researching things like Paradise Lost, the War Between the States, the King James Bible, 18th century writers, Voltaire, British cemeteries, and pirates.

Yes, pirates! Pirate ghosts! They might make an appearance in my next book... we'll just have to see, won't we? ;)

All right... Somebody hand me a machete, I'm going back in...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back from the Depths of June

Hello, internet and blogfriends! I've returned from the dark, hot recesses of June. It's July and summer's into her stretch, but we've had a blessed respite from the usual hellish temperatures here in Greenville. The 4th was sunny and mid-80's... perfection. I enjoyed the last week of my vacation. Except for the fact that my computer got a virus... not sure if it's fixed, I'll need to reload it soon. Sigh.

But I'm not letting that keep me from plunging back into work this month! I printed out the first twenty pages of my novel today to start editing. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be. I'm second-guessing how I laid things out in the first run through. I think it's ok, but I wonder if it would be punchier if I did something differently with the material I have... like putting chapters in different orders, and so on.

I'm also striking a LOT of extraneous prose. I don't know if I just need to talk a lot in the beginning to get into the stride of the story, but my lord, this first chapter is super wordy. Some of it's good stuff, but it's pretty description just for the sake of pretty description. So I'm hacking it up and distributing the parts I really like into the surrounding paragraphs. Make sense? Hope so. I'm sorta like Indiana Jones... just making this up as I go along, heh.

I expect y'all will be seeing more of me this month than last month. I'm looking forward to talking about the editing process with you as well as hearing how your projects are coming along. What's up in your corner of blogland? Any advice for my fledgling editing processes?