Everything on my Work List

I took on more this November than most.  My plate is definitely full.  Thankfully, most of it is going well.

First there’s my NaNo novel Goddess Investigations.  Granted I worked on it in fits and starts this past week, but that’s not uncommon or unusual even during NaNo.  I’m still working on Ritual Dreams as well.  I suspect it will release in the first quarter of 2018.

Plus, I am content editing/history checking 2 other novels by different authors.  Those two jobs are fairly easy. I consider them “afternoon” work.  Meaning I work on them in the afternoon when the pain killers have stopped working and my brain can’t process being creative.  And while it’s “easy” it’s also slow.  I feel they need my critical thinking brain and a line by line read.  I’m averaging 4 chapters a day on one of them.  I couldn’t do this kind of work all the time.  I don’t have the focus and self discipline to do it more than once in a while.

I have The Dysfunctional Expansion on my plate as well.  And the next Nephilim Narrative has been started but it’s going no where in a hurry.  I have too many story ideas and not enough time to get them all out.  It’s not an uncommon occurrence.  But it is an annoyance.  I used to be able to churn out 5 or 6 books a year.  I hate that it’s basically not an option anymore.

Dictation of stories started early this year.  On November 8th, we got 3 inches of snow.  Coupled with a cold front that moved in.  It’s not really the snow that’s the problem, it’s the cold that came with it.  Normally, it’s late November or early December before I have to break out the gloves and hand warmers for use inside my house.

Anyway, here’s the condensed list of November Goals:

  • Goddess Investigations – At least 50,000 words this month
  • Here Be Dragons (not the real title) by C. Patt.
  • Aliens and Cloaks (not the real title) by LH
  • Ritual Dreams (after I finish my 50,000 word goal)

December Goals:

  • Ritual Dreams (Finished by December 31st)
  • Goddess Investigations (Finished by December 31st – while 50,000 words is technically a novel, mine usually run closer to 75,000 words and a lot of my fun paranormal novels run over 100,000 I think Goddess Investigations will be much closer to 100,000 than 75,000)

 

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Working on Books

This is not my NaNo Update, it’s a generalized update of what the hell I’m doing with my time.  I continue to plug away at my NaNo novel, but I took on a job fact checking the history/mythology portions of a “coworkers(?)” book.  I’m on a tight deadline for it, which is fine, I work on it for several hours every day.

I’m making slow progress, mainly because I feel I lack the information needed to buy into the mythology and alternate history being presented to me.  Of course, I always expect this to some degree when I do one of these jobs.

I know I’m just as guilty of this as any writer, sometimes I have it all sorted in my brain and forget to tell the readers.  I feel this writer did the same thing.  Which is 100% fixable with a couple of handy dandy rewrites.  That’s why we create drafts.

The problem for me arises because it annoys me that I can do this to someone else’s book, take it apart and point out the logistical problems as well as parts that are lacking in information needed to understand the narrative, but can’t do it in my own books.  Because as I said, we all do it.

Sometimes, I don’t think readers realize how hard it is to create a brand new universe in which different things happened, often with only the barest bones to go on.  For example, any fictional book set in Atlantis, does not have much to begin with, it is only mentioned a few times by a single author.  I’ve done an Atlantis based thing in the Brenna Strachan series.  But in it, I placed a completely fictional framework dictated not by the myths of Atlantis, but on the myths associated with my characters.  That made it much easier to work with.

However, the creation of an entire civilization whether it be Atlantis or Mu or Lemuria is  incredibly complicated.  The writer first has to decide whether their society is going to hold true to norms of other societies at the time or if they are going to strike out and do their own thing.  And if they don’t mimic other societies… There is a lot that goes into a civilization.  This is something I am oddly familar with, not because I learned it in a writing class, but because I took an anthropology/archaeology class in high school.  The final for the class was that we were divided into 2 groups and each had create a brand new civilization (that included all 7 identifying factors of a civilization).  Then we had to break up our artifacts, bury them in the ground, dig up the other team’s artifacts and attempt to decipher the fictional language, interpret their societal structure, identify their religious system and at least some god figure within it, and write a summary on their culture.  We got points when our summary items matched the summary items of the opposing team on their creation worksheet.

It was a terrible thing.  I learned I do not like to be dirty during that mock dig.  I was fine with being the recorder of information, as long as it wasn’t my hands in the dirt and like that, I knew I couldn’t be an archaeologist.  However, I never thought I would use that information again.  Then I decided to write a piece of paranormal fiction.  And suddenly all those things were important.  I know have a checklist for creating fictional civilizations and societies and I fill it out when I start a brand new society.

I got off easy with the Nephilim Narratives, very easy, because there was already an angelic hierarchy to draw upon as well as a mirror hierarchy among demons.  The only thing I had to do for this society was explain how it happened.  How did angels come to live among man and battle against the possessed?  Simple enough really, especially since the religious structure and hierarchy were already there…

And those two things are very tightly interwoven.  Whenever I look at a piece of historical fiction or something like this, which is not historical fiction, but the writer would like to get it as close to historically correct as possible is what kind of leader is there?  I don’t mean a benevolent leader v. not so nice.  I mean is it a king?  If yes, is it a god king?  Is it a divine right king?  There is a serious difference and it shapes how society works.  The best example of a God King comes from Egypt.  Ancient Egyptians believed their pharaohs were the physical embodiment of the god Horus.  As such, an Egyptian pharaoh could do no wrong really… except Akhnaten, who decided to tell Egyptians he was not Horus and that they should be monotheistic – it didn’t go over well.

Whereas a divine right king, is more like Louis XIV of France, in this instance, he rules by divine providence, he is not a divine being himself.  Louis’ position was tenuous though, with many deciding God was punishing them for Louis being on the throne, sending them a horrible famine in which peasants were eating tree bark and grass to survive.  Eventually, the peasants and nobles revolted, and beheaded Louis who had obviously gone astray and God was punishing his people for it.  He was not infallible and God was quite capable of forsaking him, which doesn’t happen with god kings.

This single idea shapes social hierarchies.  Because you can dethrone and behead a divine right king much easier than a god king.  Even Akhnaten the Heretic was not beheaded or dethroned in Ancient Egypt, because doing so would bring the wraith of the gods down on the people.  Also, with god kings, nobles have less power as in lords, dukes, etc. (they weren’t called this in Ancient Egypt, but it’s basically what they were).  Giving them less power meant they could do far less if a pharaoh stepped out of bounds.  But I digress a bit.

So when creating a totally new civilization for a book or series of books, you need to know what kind of political structure is in place, as it determines what sorts of confines are placed on the characters.  We don’t think about it, but any early civilization needs a few things, are they wearing clothing made of cotton, linen, wool, silk, leather?  What’s the climate?  You can’t have everyone running around in wool clothing in a tropical zone, the death toll just from heat related illnesses would be very high.  But if you can’t grow cotton or flax, what do you use for clothing for your characters?  If you say they are all wearing cotton tunics, a reader assumes a supply of cotton is available.  But again, if you have everyone wearing heavy cotton tunics near the equator at some point, a reader will comment on it, probably in a review, because it’s going to break the spell the book has for them.

And as the reader’s review gets read, it’s going to affect other readers.  People who do not think about what sorts of clothing should be worn in a tropical zone is going to read the review and then as they read the book it’s going to dawn on that reader that it doesn’t make sense.  It could affect their review at which point, you’d have 2 reviews talking about it and that could snowball.

It sounds silly, but remember I have a review of the Strachan novels that dings me for demons running around the planet.  They said “It couldn’t happen, that’s not the way it works.”  My gut reaction to that review was “did they forget it was a fiction novel?”  But as I thought a little more about it, I realized what they were really saying was that some inconsistency between what they know and what they read caused them to stop and go WTF?!

Because all readers bring their understandings and experience to reading even a work of fiction.  Whether that’s fair or not, is up for debate, but as someone who enjoys Stephen King novels, I know why the first 25% of his novels are hard to get through.  I usually skip that huge portion, but that portion is his world building section.  That’s where he lays out the rules that govern that book.  If, in the first 25% of The Stand, we were told that men and women had been treated equally for thousands of years, we would have gone what?  No, they weren’t.  They still aren’t.  And without an explanation, this piece of information would have been jarring and we wouldn’t have had the experience to understand it.  We would require him to give us more context, in what ways were they treated equally?

Here’s the thing, the reason that happens in every King novel is because he has crafted a universe very far away from the expectations and experiences of his readers.  The Stand, The Shining, It, Pet Cemetery, Rose Madder, The Dark Tower Series, all these books take place in the same universe and it isn’t our universe.  So he has to explain it every time we open a book, that way we realize we are not in this Maine, we are in an alternate Maine, one that exists in a reality we don’t live in and so things are different and we have to be given that information to understand it, to connect with characters, to keep us from being jerked out of the book to scratch our heads and ask WTF?!

NaNo Updates

I will be doing weekly Friday NaNoWriMo updates.

As of November 2nd (today in other words), I have 5,226 words completed on Goddess Investigations.  

I have a couple of people who have contacted me about writing lately, either for themselves or their teenage kids.  By the way, I think this is awesome.  The world needs more writers and more books and if I can assist even one person in writing a novel, that is fantastic.

The weekly updates are for everyone, not just those people.  You can track my progress on the NaNo novel I’ve decided to write.  It will be a word count update as well as my thoughts on the progress I’ve made, every Friday in November.  Possibly, even after I’ve reached the 50,000 word count goal (if I finish early, as I sometimes do).

I may do word count updates for the other stories I’m working on as well, since I rarely write just one book at a time.  Who knows, maybe if I get into the habit of doing word count updates on Fridays, I may continue the updates on other stuff just for fun.

 

 

The Serialized Novel

Many writers have started producing serialized novels for their blogs.  I’ve been wanting to write a horror story that doesn’t involve a serial killer for a while now.  I have some ideas, even if I haven’t sat down and started writing them.

The other day, I thought about taking one of these ideas and serializing it on my blog in chunks of say 1,000 or so words.  This is one of the things I like about NaNo, I usually come up with a few new ideas that aren’t just plot lines for books.

Progress on Ritual Dreams has been slow.  This is partly  due to the rigidity of Ace’s character, it can be limiting at times.  And if I’m not wanting to color within the lines, it makes it a battle to put words on it.  It’s also partly content.  After my last Ritual Dreams update post, I got a few messages that surprised me.  The first told me that if Ritual Dreams deals with ritual abuse, they would stop reading the series completely.  There is an element of ritual abuse in the novel.

However, I don’t think it will be what people think it will be.  For starters, I have no desire to get into the graphic details of ritual abuse.  Blood and gore is fine, but I have my limits.  I wanted to close my eyes while listening to the audiobook of Under the Dome when it got to the rape scene of Sammy.  And continuing with the thought of content; I worry I’m just rehashing the same things over and over again at times.  I mean I have 12 of these books out…. so I worry about the repetitive nature of the action and plot at times.

The second informed me that a few dead Satanists shouldn’t rank very high on the list of serial killers the SCTU needed to capture.  Um, what?  Did we forget these are fiction novels?  And if they weren’t, why would someone’s religion preclude them from having their murder thoroughly investigated.

I responded to the first explaining some of what would be in it.  They seemed fine with it.  I did not respond to the second as I decided trying to wrap my head around the logic of their argument might make my brain go into meltdown mode.

Word Count for Ritual Dreams stands at 33,017.

Word Count for Oh My Wizard (working title for Nephilim Narrative 2) stands at 2,440.

Finally, the word count for The Dysfunctional Expansion is 9,169.

It’s only the 1st of November, so it is possibly I will get all three of these done before the end of the year, maybe, or at least 1 of them.

 

Outlining Explained for the Non-Writer

I mentioned I was going to start trying to outline a little more, see if that counteracts the brain fog Lyrica causes.  First, let me explain a bit about how I write, because it will explain why the Lyrica is such a problem that I’m trying outlining.

There are basically two kinds of writers: Pantsers and planners.  I’m a pantser.  I get an idea, I sit down at my computer, put my fingers on the keyboard and away we go.  When the ideas are flowing this means I may write for three or four hours before I take my fingers from the keyboard.  And it means I might be doing the pee-pee dance in my chair, because stopping to empty my bladder is distracting.  It also means that if the writing is flowing, I miss meals.  I miss text messages and phone calls, because I often put my cell phone on do not disturb when I’m writing.

This hyper focus is how I write entire novels in just 7 days.  It works for me.  My favorite books ever have been created via the hyperfocus I can achieve while pantsing it.  These include Fortified DreamsDark Resurrections, The Dysfunctional Affair – the original, the novel, not the novella, Demonic Dreams, and Natural Born Exorcist.  Most of these books were written before Lyrica entered my life.  And while I love Demonic and Natural Born Exorcist (NBE), I had to fix them after I was done writing them.  I’m not talking got the first draft written and need to polish it up.  I’m talking dropped plot lines, which isn’t something I’ve had a lot of experience with, it’s a new thing and a side effect of the medications I must take for my CRPS.  And I’m sure the CRPS plays some role as well.

Now, Demonic didn’t have a huge mystery, they aren’t those types of books, so how did I drop a plot line?  I forgot to talk about the rest of the team and what they were doing while Ace and Gabriel were trying to decide what to do about Raphael.  Which was kind of strange.  I mean the book itself was strange because the ensemble wasn’t there.  But I had thoughts about different chapters to replace the killer’s chapters that just didn’t happen because I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be doing with them.  In NBE it was the ending.  I had a grand ending planned.  I forgot what it was.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m satisfied with the ending it has, but I know I had something different planned.  The final cemetery scene was supposed to be different, somehow, but I can’t remember how.

This writing method is why when people ask me how I came up with ideas, I struggle with an answer.  I don’t know.  I sit.  I type.  The ideas come like tidal flooding.  They aren’t something I control very well.  And quite often, it’s flood or drought with my writing style and it isn’t something I can force very well.

Okay, so outlining for me.  There are a ton of outlining methods some with weird names that make sense once you get into the outlining.  One of my college creative writing classes focused on the methods of outlining and we made all sorts of outlines.  Like one of our projects was to outline a short story (no more than 15,000 words long) using post it notes on poster board.  Blech.  During one of the outlining projects using the snowflake method, my professor and I had a long talk because I didn’t understand why everyone else was in love with these outlining methods and I wanted nothing to do with it.  And we were spending weeks on these stupid outlining method projects.  I hated it.  So he and I had a discussion one day about why I hated them, because I didn’t know why I was developing a patholical hate for outlines.

He explained it was basically the difference between Stephen King and James Patterson.  King is a pantser.  Patterson does extremely detailed outlines, which is how Patterson manages to outsource his books (co-writing them with other authors).  And we spent an hour talking about something he called a rough outline.  A rough outline is exactly what it sounds like: you put the plot, the beginning, and if you know it; the end, and a handful of bullet points that are ides that have to go into the story.  You don’t do a chapter by chapter “this is what should happen in chapter 10” like you do with a lot of outlines.

I did okay with rough outlines and have used them a few times over the years when I’ve had things that I knew needed to happen to move the book along.  So I am doing rough outlines.  They don’t tell me what’s supposed to happen in chapter 10.  They tell me the plot, the key points I need to get to the end, and maybe a few ideas I had that I want to work in.  Like the angel quota comment in NBE.  I thought of that late one night while lying in bed trying to sleep.  So I broke out my phone, wrote the idea down, and then finally managed to sleep.

Before phones, I used to keep a small notebook beside the bed for those midnight ideas.  And there were times that at 2 in the morning, as my brain was trying to settle into sleep, I had to grab the notebook and write down a rough outline for a book.  Dark Resurrections was outlined this way in the middle of the night, in the dark on my phone.  As was NBE to some degree.  Although, I didn’t write down the ending for it and I should have obviously.  But after the first day of writing on NBE, I went to bed, my head still composing the novel as I tried to sleep and sure enough, at 2 am, I ended up outlining it for the next day.  And away I went with it.  Finishing it in just 7 days.

So what does this have to do with Lyrica?  If you’ve seen the movie Up with the dog who has a thought translator, I can explain it like that.  I’m the dog.  One moment I will be thinking of one thing let’s say the chapter of a book and then it’s like “Squirrel!” and my concentration is shot and I have to reread huge sections to figure out where I was going, but even then, the original thoughts are gone, sucked into the Lyrica ethereal plane.

I am hoping the outline, which I have stuck to the wall above my laptop helps keep “Squirrel!” from happening or at least cuts down on how often it happens.  My brain has always been a bit scattered, but it has never been this bad.  It often switches topics mid thought and then forgets to return to it.  Another thing I hope the outlines combat.  And something happened the other day that helps highlight the difficulties of life on Lyrica.  I drink a lot of fluids during a day, so I am a prolific urinator, I know, TMI, but it serves a purpose.  I went to empty my bladder, and then got distracted by a text message while I was in the middle of my task and forgot I was sitting on the toilet and was done.  I think I sat there for a good three or four minutes trying to remember what I was doing.  How does one forget that?!  Yep, that is what I am battling and a big part of the reason, I am trying outlining.

 

Outlining Novels

I’m not an outliner when I write.  I sit down, put my fingers on the keys and hope they can keep up with my brain.  This has always been how I wrote.  But in November 2017, I started taking Lyrica and I may need to shake up how I write.

The biggest side effect I have noticed with Lyrica is that it feels like I don’t think the way I used to.  For nearly a year, I have tried to put that into words that a doctor could understand.  I continue to fail.

How do you explain that the brain in your head doesn’t feel like your brain?  Seriously.  I’m open to suggestions.  I can’t pinpoint a single example of what I mean, to illustrate the feeling.  It just doesn’t feel like me.

To get through the writing of Demonic Dreams, I had to do a very rough outline.  And again with Natural Born Exorcist.  Once those rough outlines existed, I was able to get the books written.

I have decided to try it with Ritual Dreams even though I’m half way done with the book.  And I have done it for the second Nephilim narrative already.  Wish me luck with this new writing habit.  Since I’ve been a dedicated pantser for 30 years, it’s weird to switch that up… But you do what you have to do.  Let the writing continue.

What is Natural Born Exorcist About?

Someone asked what Natural Born Exorcist was about.  I wanted to give them the smart ass answer – it’s about exorcising demons.

And it is.  But honestly, it runs along the same theme as most of my books, it’s about family.  Sometimes, that family is biological and sometimes the family is not.

However, this may be the first book I have written where the primary theme is love.  All love.  There’s familial love, a touch of romance, and the love you feel when you meet someone and it just clicks and you know that this person was destined to be in your life and it doesn’t matter if you’ve only met for 5 minutes or 5 hours, you feel like you’ve known them all your life.

Basically, it’s about love and hugs and fate and fighting evil and demonic possession and demons and magic and angels and having the ability to see beyond what’s on the outside to what is inside a person’s heart and loving them for it.

There are zombies, demons, archangels, angels, nephilim, vampires, werewolves, witches, wizards, magic, dragons, Mayan storm gods, comedy, action, betrayal, mystery, Christopher Walken impressions, and I am positive this one book has more swearing than all my other published books combined.

All that said, it is basically a happy feel good book that has a mystery, neat characters, exorcisms, and a half angel/half human that swears like a drunken pirate.

I think it will be well liked.  Or at least, I hope so, because I loved writing it.

It will release on all sites September 30th, with pre-orders available everywhere except Google. I didn’t do Google pre-orders, because Google doesn’t play nice with other retailers and last time I did a pre-order, the prices were different between Google and everyone else, because of the 30% discount Google automatically puts on all indie published books and both Amazon and iBooks threatened to not let me sell books on their sites for a year if it happened again and since that is where 90% of my sales comes from every month, I need to keep Amazon and iBooks happy.

 

Racing the Clock

I felt like I was racing the clock last week.  I already know that people with CRPS don’t heal as fast from surgery as people without it.  So, unlike my husband who was really sore for 3 or 4 days from gallbladder removal, I suspect it will be closer to 5 or 6.

On top of this, I’m in the middle of prepping a book for release.  Since I suspect I will lose a handful of work days after my surgery, it is even more important to get it done as fast as humanly possible.

Someone in one of my support groups told me to use a pillow, placing it lengthwise over my entire abdomen during the time I am sitting up and hug it to me.  Someone else told me to wear form fitting shirts.  They said these things would help with the pain and healing time.  Yet another sufferer told me to expect two weeks to get to the same healing stage my husband was at after just 5 days.

Multiple things are happening next week that are unavoidable.  My league has a tournament that weekend at my in-laws campground at Mark Twain Lake, where our camper sits and I am expecting to have to run it.  It’s the 21st & 22nd.  I’m dreading it.

And I have to have the finalized version of Natural Born Exorcist uploaded to Amazon on the 25th.  However, I was not going to put off this surgery, not even for a day.  I have been awake until 3 am the last several days because food makes me sick.

But it has created an atmosphere of anxiety for me, as I race the clock to get as much done before the surgery as I can.  And the middle of the night misery, has made me lose precious working hours during both the day and night.  One night, I worked until 10 pm, then I spent several hours sick and finally crawled into bed at 3:30 am.  That meant I didn’t get up until nearly noon the following day.

I’ll manage, I always do, but it will be a bit of a struggle.

Changing Things Up

I am considering using DropBox to work with Beta Readers.  Each would have access to their folder where they could download the book and insert the edits into the document then save it back with their changes.

Mostly, it would save me time and some confusion. I find Gmail occasionally sends emails with Word attachments directly into my spam folder or trash.  I know a few beta readers have complained about this too.  I’m a big fan of streamlining things and making them easier.

However, I know not everyone has internet at their house due to rural internet restrictions.

Thoughts?

 

Nephilim Zwei

I have been attempting to work on edits and rewrites for parts of Natural Born Exorcist.  One of my test readers pointed out I turned a couple of chapters into a lecture on the metaphysical that governs the book.

One of my greatest failings as an author is the trouble I have finding my own areas that require revision.  Unfortunately, that test reader is finishing up a second master’s degree at this time and classes just started back, so she won’t be able to go through and mark the places that need work.

As I try to find the areas to rewrite and remove the metaphysical lecture the next book idea sprang into being.  Good grief.  That’s a problem.  I can’t write and revise at the same time.  Not really.

Besides, I have my goddess private investigator story in the works.  Sometimes, I find my brain overwhelming.  It’s surreal when it happens.  Surely my brain should be able to work out that it is overloading itself, right?  Nope.  Doesn’t seem to see the trees for the forest.

It’s difficult to find a test reader to begin with, one that doesn’t mind pointing out your flaws.  The very idea scares most people.  It starts with thoughts like “well, am I going to hurt their feelings?”  The answer to that is no.  Not because I don’t have feelings, but because I find revision satisfying.  If I disagree with my alpha reader’s opinion, I just ignore the suggestion.

However, those situations don’t crop up very often.  Not with this particular alpha reader anyway.  Perhaps I value her opinion enough that I just automatically figure she’s correct in her assessments.  Who knows.

So the second Nephilim book is officially in progress which doesn’t actually help me.  And I still need to get the first one sorted out… Life.  *sigh*

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