Category Archives: Writing Progress

Multi-Novel Plotting

I do have to say … writing three interconnected novels all at the same time is rather fun. In the later novels you get an inspiration that affects the other books, and since you haven’t published them yet, you can go in and make the appropriate changes … leaving all sorts of fun clues and foreshadowing that readers will scratch their heads at until they read the next book … and get that wonderful “Aha!” moment.

I also have to say that doing it without using something like Scrivener would have been rather difficult. Not impossible, but not as easy. You’d have to resort to the old fashion method of an entire wall of your abode used as a giant post-it note gallery, with yarn and pushpins to tie the various points together.

Come to think of it, that sounds like fun too.

I doubt my landlord would appreciate 10,000 push-pin holes in one of the main walls of my apartment, though.

Sasquatch Village

It’s just after 9 PM and I’m staring at my manuscript while listening to rain pattering on some metal part of my chimney. It tinkles, clinks, and clunks.

I’ve reached a stopping point, and need to ponder something.

In this part of the story I need to figure out exactly what a Sasquatch village would be like. The problem is in my minds eye, I keep seeing the Ewok village from Star Wars.

That is not what I want.

These creatures — at least, in my story — have long ago learned to live in such harmony with nature that the need for developing any kind of technology was unnecessary. They are the true shaman of the forest. I’m thinking that they don’t even need fire.

Would they build shelters? Or would they would live in giant burrows? I don’t see them living in trees because they share a common ancestor with bears, not apes. But does that mean they would live like bears? Not necessarily — we don’t live like monkeys.

This is where I need to simply go to bed and let my brain process it overnight. Tomorrow morning I hope I’ll know exactly how a Sasquatch village needs to be.

Villain Grandstanding

The villain in my current manuscript is grandstanding.

I am hesitant about this, but in the case of this story, I think it works. Plus we’re all conditioned to evildoers grandstanding during times when they think they’ve won – it’s in every single Bond movie, every single Star Wars movie, and I could make the argument you see it in Indiana Jones as well.

I’ve never done it before, so it feels like cheating. It feels like the villain is going, “Here, I’m going to dump some plot points on you.” But … if the character is truly an egomaniac (hell bent on taking over the world) and he thinks he’s in the right – to him, he’s not the evil one – his twisted sense of self righteousness is going to make him gloat over his win. In this case, though, instead of grandstanding before throwing the hero into a pool of laser-guided sharks, he is explaining that he’s won, and why he’s won, and why he’s going to let the hero live, and what exactly he’ll do to the hero if the villain ever sets eyes on him again. It all fits perfectly with the character, and so…

I’m going to let him do it.

Do you ever let your villains grandstand?

Break from novel, writing short story

I guess I jinxed myself with that last post about crossing the 50,000 word line on the manuscript. I’ve suddenly lost interest in it — again.

Time for a break. This morning I’m working on something I haven’t worked on for a long, long time … a short story.

I’m wondering if I can remember how to do it. Short stories and novels are two entirely different types of writing.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today marks several things on my calendar. One of course is the turning of the days, as after today the nights will start shrinking and the days expanding. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, but I also like warm days where the sun stays up longer and I can open all my windows without freezing into a solid block of ice.

Today is also the start of my long holiday vacation, during which I intend on doing a lot of work on my current manuscript. Yesterday was my actual official start of the vacation but you can probably guess what I did: work. I had a photo shoot in Chicago that needed to be done, as well as a time-lapse camera which had to be mounted and turned on to capture a project.

Time sensitive things wait for no vacation.

But today, on this chilly and ice-stormy Chicago Winter Solstice, I put another couple thousand words on the manuscript and slipped past the 50,000 word mark.

This novel, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is tentatively titled “A Wild and Untamed Thing,” and is about a character named after my favorite cat, Wellington. In the story, he was born a kitten, but then changed to a human boy when only a few days old — so Wellington has grown up a human, but only externally. Internally he’s all mixed up — a magical chimera — something he’s had to run away and figure out on his own. Finally having come to grips with it, he returns to his home, a small coastal town deep in the heart of Humboldt County, California, surrounded by giant redwood trees, pot farms, witches, Sasquatch, and magic … to solve a mystery, and to heal some of the wounds he left.

One of which is his son, a black cat named Shadow born from a human mother, who from all outward appearances is a normal cat but internally has the brain and intelligence of a human.

Wellington’s nemesis in this, I think, is the most truly evil character I’ve ever worked on — and I can sum it up with this: I have never written a rape scene before, but in this manuscript, I’ve had to tackle it — and as ugly as that is, I made it even uglier. This guy is the worst of the worst, because he’s thoughtful, intelligent, and justifies it all to himself. He thinks he’s the good guy.

So, anyway, that’s what I’m doing on this winter solstice. What are you up to?

NaNoWriMo is Here Again

I love NaNoWriMo, but I don’t really participate in it anymore. I’m always working on a novel. If I participate it kind of feels like I’m cheating as I have a perpetual head start.

I’m hoping to finish the manuscript I’m currently working on by the end of the year, though — that would mean two first drafts in one year. Then 2014 could be all about rewriting and getting them in print. I love the fact that we’re living in a time where there’s no question about getting something published. One way or another it will happen.

Both the books I’ve worked on this year are in the same “universe” as Eleven Days on Earth, and both have to do with gods, goddesses, and magic. The one that’s a finished first draft is about a suddenly orphaned teen in the mid 1970′s who has to go live with his swinger aunt and uncle, and who falls in with a goddess who is suffering depression after a huge setback — and the way she suffers “depression” is rather unique. They end up helping each other without realizing it, and he ends up saving the world with a single act of selflessness and caring.

The one I’m working on now is dedicated to every pet I’ve ever loved, and is centered on a character named “Wellington” who was born a kitten but changed into a human while still an infant, and raised by an ancient witch. So here you have a chimera in modern society trying to deal with life as we know it mixed with the fact that he’s not truly human.

And with that … back to writing I go!

Happy NaNoWriMo everyone!

Wellington’s Six Paragraph Interlude…

…before the shite begins to hit the fan non-stop.

“There’s a black furred bird eater in the tree,” the news bird sang. “Right over there. Bird eater in the tree! Black fur! Be warned! Be warned! And ground monkeys inside and outside their box cave!” It looked down at Wellington, cocked its head to the side as it realized that, perhaps, it was delivering news to the enemy, and with a flick and flutter it shot into the sky.

Wellington had mixed feelings about the way he involuntarily salivated whenever in the immediate proximity of birds.

Continuing his short trek up the side of the hill, he stooped down and picked up a small severed pine branch with thick green needles intact and used it as a broom, sweeping splintered wood and other fragments off the surface of Mother Maggie’s front porch. Damn Sasquatch could be so messy at times. Couldn’t it have simply knocked on the door? Why so dramatic, pounding on the side of the cabin with a log?

Porch swept — or at least a section of it — Wellington curled up in a nice patch of sunlight, eschewing the ancient and crudely made adirondack chairs, and closed his eyes. The early morning trek had him completely worn out, and his tummy was full. The urge to sleep felt like a physical pressure, and to fight it made him feel ill.

Most of the time, if he had to choose what he was — human, or cat — he would choose human. The opposable thumb was the most under appreciated possession that humans had. Totally taken for granted.

But at times like this, when the temperature was just right, and the breeze was huffing through the pine needles like the Earth itself was breathing, and the sun came down in gentle waves of life-giving warmth, there was nothing more pleasant than curling up like a cat and taking a nap on a nice flat surface.