The Queen of Tangential Thinking

20 05 2010

Weather:  High: 70º &  Sunny– A whiff of summer in the air. Bah.

The title for this post comes from a conversation I was having with a couple of friends, some who are writers. I was commenting on the fact that whenever I start researching something for a story, whether it be history, or mythology or whatever is needed, I find myself wandering off into tangential searches. These tend to be triggered by a small piece of info in the topic I was initially researching.

For example, yesterday, in a fit of pique spawned by my current bout of writers dry well syndrome, I decided to do a little world building to see if it would jumpstart some creativity. So, I thought, let’s see if we can’t create an origin story for the race of vampires in my story. Let’s look for ancient vampire myths.

First I started with Ancient Egypt, seeing that the Archive story arc is heavily immersed in the Library of Alexandria. Since that was one pole stuck in the sand, timeline wise, I figured I’d work BACKWARDS. So into Mesopotamia I went, and started with the varied groups that existed around that time. Picking through the different kingdoms/civilizations, I stumbled across the Hurrians, a Trans-Caucasus race that had some ties to the Hittites & had , much like the Hittites, vanished from the timeline, taking their unique language and mythology with them.  (They didn’t really “Vanish” as in POOF!, but their people were absorbed by the Assyrians, as was their language.)

well, this triggered a memory of Lilitu and her lore related to the area. So I was off to research Lilitu myths, trying to weed out those that were from the Judaeo-Christian lore. This in turn revealed archaeological links, which in turn sprouted some tendrils into the practice of kurgan burial…and you see how I somehow got derailed from my initial search.

This is typical for me, and although it may seem a scatter-shot way to go about researching, it has actually led to some very juicy plot points. I look for the holes in historical records. This is where you can plant your fictional seeds and see what takes root. Holes produce a lot of “what ifs?”. And “what ifs?” lead to “how about this!”  and voila! You have a nice little plot bunny a’nibbling at your brain stem.

So, now armed with about 40 pieces of random info, I shall endeavor to bang and mash together a history of my vampires.  Next, onto the plot of Book#2, which is looking to be gutted from the original and re-written. A challenge indeed, but I want something percolating on the stove while I try and shop around Book #1.

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Why I write.

6 04 2010

Weather: High: 80º  (O_0)  and scattered thunderstorms

So warm day and my brain is a-whirl with plot development at the moment.

Why do I write? Well it’s a question that you can ask a thousand writers, and get a thousand subtle variations on a similar answer.

I write because I have no other choice.

I write because the ideas and plots and characters occupying my brain multiply at a rate that is hazardous to my mental health if I don’t spill all the info out onto the page.

I write because if I didn’t, my head would explode. Possibly literally, as in a scene from Scanners. And that wouldn’t be good, especially for anyone in the vicinity.

I write because if I didn’t, I’d start talking back to the verbose muses in my head, and that would land me in a bouncy room with a jacket in which I can hug myself all day. Sanity is not found in this direction.

I write because I love stories. Because I love to read stories & sometimes, I can’t find the stories I want to read, so I write them myself.

I write because I want to share the movie that constantly runs through my head.

I write because the characters that come to  me need a chance to meet other people.

I write because it’s a great excuse to spend money on obscure reference texts and perform research on things that normally would get you strange looks, institutionalized or at least shunned from polite society. (Granted, you’ll still risk the possibility of all three, but if you tell them “It’s for a book.” they at least might switch to curious. )

Conversely, I DON’T write because I want to be rich, or famous, or popular. If any of those things happen, well that’ll be icing on the cake. But nowhere in my lists of motivations are there entries of money or fame. They tend to be bad motivations anyway.

In any case, whatever the reasons we write, the important thing is that we continue to write.  I have a feeling the day I keel over, I’ll have a pen in my hand or be at my keyboard.  It’s kind of a nice thought.

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Now playing: Muse – I Belong To You/Mon Cœur S’ouvre À Ta Voix
via FoxyTunes





Monday musings….

29 03 2010

Weather:  Sunny & High: 48º but warm up on the way.

Writing and life have kept me from properly blogging, but maybe I’m too worried about posting something substantial to keep up with it daily. Hmmm.

Well, a lots been going on around Chez Ellis . My husband has finally landed a freelance position that has the potential to become a full time gig. This is good news of course, because we might actually get to build up the moving money sooner rather than later.

Seattle is still on the horizon, and no further away because of this development. Our house needs to go on the market sooner rather than later.

We just had to have the big sewer line dug up and routed.  $$$$ later, and we’re realizing the Universe is kicking us in the pants. I told my husband, we should have moved last year. He was firmly in agreement.

On the writing front, When the Lights Go Down has received a massive overhaul. As in I’ve rewritten over a third of the story. That’s why it’s not done yet. I’ve radically changed some scenes, and slightly tweaked others. Luckily I’ve had some fantastic editing help from my friend Jill.  I’d originally hoped to have the MS done by end of February, but it’s looking more like mid April now. Better to have it done right than done fast, I guess.

It’s funny how I can see the whole book as a movie running through my head. I’m actually looking forward to sitting down and just READING the MS all the way through from start to finish post edit. There’s a small naggy feeling in the back of my head that the story may need culling and streamlining. It’s over the word count limit I know most publishers have in place, so yeah, some cutting will be necessary. Another concern I have is that the tone of the book has changed over the course of the story. Granted, it might work since the whole point of the story is taking a normal girl with a normal life, and following her spiral into a darker more dangerous world. And this book is the springboard for the universe I’m creating over the next 13-14 books.  We’ll see.  I just want to get the last bit written, then I can get all flaily over theme and structure and length.

I’m finding more and more that the moment I’m able to, I’m going to jump into full time writing with both feet. This catch as catch can, trying to slip in a paragraph here and there between lunch hours, commutes and housework is just not helping. I could get so much more done in longer stretches if I had them.  My brain goes a thousand miles a minute, and trying to get the story bits down and into the flow when you’re trying to transcribe something you only have rudimentary notes from three weeks ago to work from, well….it doesn’t make for optimum storytelling.  I realize this is not a realistic possibility for right now, but that doesn’t stop me for yearning for it.  In the meantime, I’ll do my best to attend the muses dictates  during lunch breaks, keeping my moleskine at hand when I’m unable to write properly, and take copious notes when I can. This is how a lot of people are relegated to writing, and I know it can still be done.

The thing is, I love my characters. I sometimes wish I could some how make them real through a combination of alchemy, black magic and Silly Putty. Would love to sit down and have a drink with them . So it’s hard to say goodbye to them when the story’s done. I watched “A Year in the Life of JK Rowling” over the weekend, and I am totally of the same mind as her, when it comes to her characters. She knew the life story of each character  for several years after the books ended. Knew their family trees, knew what happened to them and also could rattle them off at request. She’s not going to write it though. I’m exactly the same. I have side bits, and back bits and future bits, that won’t be in this book.  But I have them written into my moleskine. It’s like a bit of comfort. An Epilogue for the stories that no one will get to see. But as Jo says, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s giving the writer the comfort of making the characters entirely hers. So that even if fanfic writers or other authors want to take up the subsequent plots, she alone knows what REALLY happened to them. I like that.

Ah well. Need to get back to the writing on the MS now.

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Now playing: three days grace – TV
via FoxyTunes





::blows the dust of the blog::

4 03 2010

Weather: High: 40 º & sunny.  Yes, the giant yellow hurty thing is back. Le Sigh.

So it’s been a while since I blogged, mostly because what spare time I have has been entirely soaked up with rewrite & editing on the WIP.

Received an entry form for a writing contest yesterday, and for the first time in a long time, I’m actually planning on entering. If nothing else, to give me the impetus to write something shorter than a novel. There’s an entry for a 4K short story and I think I’m gonna make the attempt. If nothing else, it will be something to put on my writer’s resume if it does well. 🙂

And yet again the day has gotten away from me. I’m on a roll with the MS so I’ll be doubling down on it again tonight.  Can’t believe I’ve set myself up for 13 more of these. OY. But the Universe is huge and the arc is complex, and I have a lot of characters to torture before it’s done. 🙂

More tomorrow.


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Now playing:
Three Days Grace – Get Out Alive
via FoxyTunes





It’s get annoyed at your manuscript Thursday!

5 11 2009

Weather: High 53º and SUNNY. Like BURN YOUR EYES OUT OF THEIR SOCKETS SUNNY!

Yeah. Even with sunglasses, the sun was a tad FLAMING BALL OF EVIL this morning.

NaNoWrimo Morning Wordcount Total: 10033 words. Aiming for 12K today.

UPDATED: Only managed another 500 words over lunch, so I’ll need to do 1500 between the commute home and this evening. Brain seems to have thrown a coil. May need to to work on something else tonight or just take a breather. The story is there. It’s not writer’s block, just malaise has set in. We’ll see if I get a second wind on the way home.

Supernatural/Vampire Diaries Thursday -WOO!  It’s silly how much I’ve gotten addicted to these two shows.

Brian has an interview today. Not saying any more so I don’t jinx it. Could be a VERY good thing for us if he gets it.

And a picture of the cast of Being Human, snurched from Here:
http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/40665774.html

66515967

Lenora, Russel, Sinead and Aidan ❤ !!!

CANNOT WAIT FOR SECOND SEASON!

Have a good evening all!





It’s Friday. And I’m talking about writing stuff again.

23 10 2009

Weather: High: 58º and RAINY. Like SEATTLE RAINY. Seriously.

It’s been rainy this week, but mostly a light drizzle. Today its been RAINING. With some volume and force. I love this weather, just not on a work day. I’d rather be home with the laptop, sitting by the window and letting the sound and visual of the rain falling envelope me while I’m writing. Sigh. But this is not to be, at least not today.

What sucks additionally is that my cube here at work has NO access to a window. I can’t even see the rain. Just the migraine inducing fluorescent lights over head (hisses) and the soul sucking burgundy walls of my cube. Which, thank the gods, are wallpapered in pictures of musicians, family photos and the Muses. 🙂 Oh and several snarky signs. Makes my life much happier. 🙂

Not recent, but you get the idea.

Not recent, but you get the idea.

And no, my desk is not as messy as it seems. TRUST ME.

Laura Anne Gilman posted on twitter about how a proposal was using every bit of her history degree & added that  she was glad she saved her textbooks.  It’s funny how many writers I’ve spoken with have made similar comments. I’m a book pack rat and I’ll tell you, like Laura Anne, I’ve found more often than not that it’s been a boon. My college degree is something of a bizarre Frankensteinian mish mosh (I started out pre-med, then switched to communication. My electives are…well, ECLECTIC.) Needless to say I have a ton of biology, chemistry and statistic books nestled in among the mythology and esoterica.  I went through a phase where I collected books on epidemics (The 1916 flu, the Black Death, Ebola outbreaks, you name it!). Then I started picking up books on genetics, both 101 and more advanced versions of the topic. Amusing anecdote: These were all for a vampire novel I was working on at the time. It’s still on the back burner and will hopefully see the light of day, so to speak, in the future.
I also have a ton of books on the occult, supernatural and almost a library unto itself on paganism & witchcraft. (Kinda the go to area for me and the husband on the High Holidays. 😉 ) The reason I’m pointing all this out is that sometimes, the inter-webs may be the most convenient way to research things for your novel in progress, but I think we forget that we might have better sources in our home libraries, or the public libraries, or even in our own heads.
Wikipedia can be helpful, but honestly? Use it as a stepping off point. Try some books from the time period you’re writing about. If you’re looking for a neat little known fact about a place your setting your story, contact their chamber of commerce or the tourist center. Sometimes they’ll have brochures or fact booklets to add some color to your story. (Thanks to Terri Osborne for that one!)

Writing is one of those phenomenally unique endeavors where we can get source material from virtually ANYWHERE.  So I guess what I’m  suggesting is step away from the computer once & awhile and pester your local reference Librarian. Believe it or not, they actually wish MORE people would. And you might find out those old college textbooks have more interesting things in them than you remembered.

Some websites that actually have electronic copies of useful texts (Not pre-digested information) :

www.sacred-texts.com Has an AMAZING wealth of electronic texts on almost any area of religion, spirituality and philosophy you could ask for.

Project Gutenberg Another great source of electronic texts. (nearly 30,000 books here for FREE)

Perseus Digital Library More digitized scholarly works

Medieval Sourcebook Lots of full texts from the medieval period

Sometimes reading the actual source text is more revelatory than someone else’s Cliff’s notes analysis of the text. 😉

So. Weekend is splayed out in front of me. In between going to look at bridesmaid dresses (OY!) and the usual housecleaning, I have a bunch of writing goals planned for myself. Also, next Friday is my 4th Wedding Anniversary, so I’ll be incommunicado on Friday and Saturday. Saturday night I’ll be handing out treats to the wee children. And NaNo starts on Sunday. ZOMG! I’ll be updating my wordcount here daily. Even if that’s all I post that day.

If anyone reading this wants to be a fellow masochist writing buddy, my writing handle over at the NaNoWriMo site is Fairygothmother.

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NOW PLAYING: Bleeder (industrial Strength Mix by Seb) — Zombie Girl





Dragon*Con Musings…..

8 09 2009

Weather: High: 75º and partly cloudy.

So we’ve managed to survive our first Dragon*Con. And we enjoyed it so much that we’ll be returning next year. (Though this time around we’ll definitely be staying at a con hotel.)

so here’s the whole tale of the trip as I recall it.

Thursday:

After a late start, Bri and I piled into the car and drove to Atlanta. The drive wasn’t too bad until we hit hour #12 and started getting the drive madness that sets in about then. We had hoped to be in Atlanta by dinner time, but ended up checking into our hotel room (our WEE hotel room) at 10pm local time.  After making the requisite phone calls and texting everyone to let them know we landed, we hooked up with our friends Heather & Chris who were staying at the same hotel for a late dinner and some fantastic convo. (BTW- Heather & Chris have a fantastic website  here for their publishing company: Triscelle Publishing. Go check it out) Then it was off to bed so we could get some sleep before the festivities began.

Friday:

Up early for breakfast and off to Pre-Reg, Which involved standing in a very long labyrinthine line that got smellier as we went along, to get our Badges and con booklets. We were lucky! After hearing horror stories of 2-3 hour waits, we got through the line in a miraculous 45 minutes.  Then it was off to panels!We lined up for a panel and while waiting in line, met up with two of my favorite online friends, Anne Marie & Kara. Wonderful to meet people I’ve only been able to converse with online.  Then to the panel! It was a Farscape panel with Lani Tupu and Virginia Hey. Funny and gracious on both their parts, ti was informative and funny. We re-hooked up with Heather & Chris again after this panel and Heather and I headed off to some writing panels. First up was the “Vampires are the New Vampires” panel which was very informative.(Panel: Rosemary Laurey, Alethea Kontis, J F Lewis, Richelle Mead, Allan Gilbreath, Derek Tatum) Got to ask my first question about how to market a vampire novel in this ever expanding genre & received a lot of good feedback. A lot of authors that I am now in the process of looking up were on the panel and I got a nice insight on how different the takes on the genre have been fleshed out.

Then we went to get in line for the BSG panel. (There was an ongoing theme of standing in line for a lot of things! LOL) Met up with my long time friend Terri Osborne (author of numerous tie-in Trek novels & a soon to be published Stargate:Atlantis novel, in addition to her own line of “Realms Next Door” books.) Nice to see her after a couple of years. (She and I went to college together and have known each other for about 20+ years) So after a bit of geebling, we met up with Heather & Chris again for the BSG big panel. (Cast including Luciana Carroll, Kate Vernon, Mike Hogan, Michael Trucco, Kandyse McClure, and Alisandro Juliani) Very funny and nice to hear all the behind the scenes stories. We headed out to dinner with Heather & Chris then off to bed.Yes we’re that sad. Really wanted to stay up for the Abney Park gig, but between the drive and all the excitement during the day….my 42 year old body was not having it. 😦

Saturday:

Up early again for more writing panels. First up was “Time travel & Paranormal writing” which had Terri Osborne & Anna DeStefano on the panel. (The entire panel: Chesya Burke (M), Terri Osborne, Carole Nelson Douglas, Rita Herron, Anna DeStefano, Mari Mancusi) I was really happy I got to see Anna and talk with her briefly as we’ve conversed a bit on Twitter. She made sure we got a photo together as well. 🙂 Terri and I conversed briefly before the panel about the “Realms Next Door” chapbook that she’d brought along and then it was time for the panel. Great discussion on how best to utilize the mechanics of time travel in story telling, along with some great discussion on how the paranormal market is exploding right now. After this we took a quick run up to the Hyatt Concourse to catch the Faith & the Muse Acoustic set which was AMAZING. Back to another panel, this time on “Herding cats..er fictional Characters” which was a very lively discussion on character development. Gene Wolfe was on the panel and was at turns brilliant and hysterically funny. (Panel was Sandra Anglin Chastain, Kathleen O’Shea David, Rebecca Moesta, Janny Wurts, Toni Weisskopf, Gene Wolfe, Gary Raisor). I then ran off to kidnap my friend, author Phaedra Weldon ,from the Catalyst Games booth so we could meet up with the rest of the fangirls to see Abney Park’s acoustic set Since I’d missed their gig, I was NOT missing their set today. It was made of AWESOME! They performed a few classic tunes & a few of their own, and included a lovely mess of a cover of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” that has to be seen to be believed.

SEE? They’re awesome! After I got a copy of one of their albums that I was missing and got my Abney Park messenger bag signed by Kristina. Phaedra went back off to her booth and I floated on a fangirl cloud out to where Brian & Chris were holding places for me and Heather in line for the BEEG Farscape panel. Which was also FTW! Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Lani Tupu & Virginia Hey held a lively & funny as hell unmoderated panel. (I have some photos I’ll post later!) After this it was back to zee hotel and a lovely, if expensive dinner. Bri and I turned in for the night.

Sunday:

Up REALLY early for breakfast. Had a 10 am panel with Heather & Chris.. Bri’s first wasn’t til 11:30 so he met up with us later.

First panel was Paranormal Fiction & Urban Fantasy (Panel: Rosemary Laurey, Susan Sizemore, Jennifer Heddle, Jeanne C. Stein, Jackie Kessler, Heather Osborn, Mari Mancusi, Julie Kenner, Liz Maverick, Carol Malcolm ) Lively discussion on what the differences and similarities between the two genres, and how marketing is kinda fuzzy here. (Also realized my writing may lean more to PR rather than UF. Hmmm. ) Was very helpful for me & Heather (who is a librarian and runs into categorization problems as well)

Next up was Writing Paranormal Fiction (Panel:Dr. Bob Blackwood (M), Sandra Anglin Chastain, Gail Z. Martin (M), Christina Barber, Carole Nelson Douglas, Rita Herron, Jennifer St. Giles, Tracy S. Morris, Kat Richardson, Heather Osborn, Anna DeStefano, Laura Anne Gilman) This unfortunately was moderated a little too formally and was stuck in a very small room for such a large panel. But still, I got a comment in and got to FINALLY chat with my friend Laura Anne.  While I was in this panel, Brian was attending a panel on Steampunk Attire for men . (WIBBLE) We snagged Terri, Heather & Chris for some lunchtime Sushi and had a nice chat. Then Bri, Heather, Chris & I were off to A Self-Publishing panel. We caught the last 15 minutes of the Copyright Law panel and I’m really glad we did. Good info! The self-Publishing panel was really informative and was more a compare & contrast of self vs. traditional publishing. We got a lot of pros and cons for both avenues, which was more than helpful.

After all this, Bri and I parted ways with Heather & Chris and were off to dinner by invite with Kathleen & Peter David. Wonderful dinner, wonderful conversation with a bunch of authors and friends & a hilarious MST3K-ing of the Dragon*Con Parade, which we watched on Dragoncon TV. After, we & a couple of friends went to the elevated platform overlooking the Atrium Floor at the Marriott, had a couple of drinks and enjoyed the people watching before heading back to out hotel to pack.

Oh! (FACEPALM) Before Dinner: I had my first real mortifying fangirl moment. Bri and I ran into Nathaniel from Abney Park in the little shop at the hotel. I was at first reluctant to approach him, because I didn’t want to be THAT ANNOYING FANGIRL. But, he was starting to leave and I blurted out “Nathan, can I get you to sign my bag?” (I fumbled the name, because nathan is part of his LJ & Twitter name…OY!) He was all “OF COURSE! but then realized he didn’t’ have a pen on him. But I did! So pulled out my cache of pens which I had rubber banded together, and pulled out the sharpie, which launched two other pens at the poor man. (Facepalm #2) He was absolutely lovely, and instead of being appalled at my shaking nervous fumbling, got down on one knee and asked “Fair Lady, may I sign your bag?” I giggled and replied” Please do kind sir…” He signed my bag, stood up and said. “Now I need a hug!” Which I was all too happy to provide. (Again, what a wonderful sweet guy!) I told him about us missing their gig in Seattle earlier this year and that we were moving to Seattle next year (Which I got a smile and a fist bump in response!) He made sure I knew when they were having their next show in Seattle and I thanked him and that was that. He left, I was mortified but happy, and hopefully he remembers me as the awkward but nice girl from the shop. Sigh.My husband spent the next 15 minutes reassuring me that I wasn’t a complete pratt. Double sigh.

Monday:

Up early for breakfast with Heather & Chris (Who I might just add fro the thousandth time are the LOVELIEST PEOPLE.) We said our goodbyes and piled into the car for the eleven hour drive home.

All in all it was a fantastic, if exhausting time. I got a ton of great advice and motivation for my writing. Met more wonderful people that I am humbled to call friends. Saw some fantastic performances & have definitely made the decision to attend again next year!

So Dragon*Con 2009, I enjoyed every minute of you!