Tag Archives: inspiration

Rags

I was actually going to call this post “Ragweed” because pollen count has been making me miserable the last few days. (Seriously. I was ready to drill a hole through my cheekbones to relieve pressure the other day.)

Instead, I’m going with the title “Rags” as a nod to Thursday Threads, which gave me the subject for this post.

What is Thursday Threads?

It’s a weekly flash fiction contest hosted by Siobhan Muir. You can find the rules here, and follow the Face Book group here.

(Unlike my Wednesday Words prompts, Thursday Threads is actually judged.)

Anyhow…

Yesterday’s prompt (“Do I make you nervous?”) brought up a great scene in my head. Unfortunately it didn’t make it to the contest, but I did start writing it. And saved it in a Word doc because it wants to be a side story for the Academy of the Accord series.

(Please note: this is only a side story, not another novel. It doesn’t even involve any of the characters in the series. At least, so far it doesn’t even involve any of the other characters in the series and I’m going to do my best to keep it that way.)

So, yesterday’s Thursday Threads prompt turned into a scrap of a story – a rag, if you will.

Actually, a lot of the Thursday Threads prompts do that. I can’t even begin to tell you how many novels have been started on Thursdays. (But it’s a lot more than the number of actual Thursday Threads entries I’ve made.)

And so it goes…

Now, if will just go from rags to riches…

(But that’s a plot bunny of a different color.)

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Grapevine

This is probably going to be a non writing related blog post.  At least mostly.

I came home from work Friday night and was letting the dogs out and noticed that the majority of the grapevine on the back porch was gone. I asked my roommate what had happened to it and she said that our neighbor had cut down the dead part. I asked if she was aware that he had cut down living vines – vines with flowers that would turn into grapes. She said she hadn’t really looked at it.

Well, I got a better look at the damage Saturday morning and all I want to do is cry. It’s gone. All of it. What I saw still hanging on the rails the night before is just a handful of vines not attached to anything.

The neighbor came out while I had Riley out and said it will grow back. I finally got up enough nerve to go down to ground level (instead of looking from the porch) and it’s worse than I thought. There’s nothing there. Nothing. I can’t even see where the vine was. I don’t think there’s anything left to grow back.

I am heartbroken.

Heartsick.

And even if does grow back, it’s not going to be the same.  That lovely ancient twisted and gnarled trunk is gone forever. (This house was built in 1905. I don’t know when the vine was planted, but the original owner made wine from its grapes.)

I feel like I lost a friend.

So, yeah, it wasn’t a good weekend.

I have been invaded by a couple new plot bunnies though.  *sigh* I can’t keep up! I am doing pretty good at writing them on index cards but I think I’m going to need to get another flex binder (I’m pretty sure I don’t have one on my avalanche prone office supply shelves) and use it to keep outlines in.  I think this project may have outgrown any hopes of fitting in a traveler’s notebook.

Anyhow, one of the plot bunnies is a shifter story.  I have characters (with no name of course) but not much plot yet.

The other grew out of the grapevine butchering and is something that’s going to make me change some stuff in another novel (semi-finished – it needs to be expanded and edited) and create a whole new… not really a series but…

What do you call a bunch of loosely related books set in the same universe?

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Evolution of a Novel #1

So, on Friday I mentioned that I’d started outlining my project for November.  It’s a science fiction novel that’s been kicking around in my head for a lot of years (long before I’d even heard of NaNoWriMo).

It still doesn’t have a name but for now we’ll call it The Desert Planet. (The Word doc name is my usual ever-(not)-helpful “NaNoWriMo 2017 Outline.”)

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to explore where the idea came from and trace it from that one bit of inspiration through to the final project.

This novel started as a single scene that hit me as I walked out of an air conditioned building in downtown Pittsburgh and into a wall of city heat.

And that’s all the scene was – the main character walking out of an air conditioned building and into a wall of heat.

Then a second character came up to him. Said second character was supposed to be his guide on a rescue mission.

And for a long time that’s where the whole thing sat.

Throughout the years a couple more scenes got added inside my head, but nothing major was happening, just two characters traveling through the desert.

Then last Wednesday, years after the initial idea, it suddenly had a prologue, some background, and a plot twist. (What brought it to the forefront after all that time? Unseasonably hot weather that hit me when I stepped out of my much cooler house.)

So, I started outlining.

So far I have the prologue outlined, and the first two scenes.

Scene two used to be scene one, until I decided that there was too much telling (it was MMC1 reflecting on the mission briefing he’d just left) so I made the briefing scene one so I could show it instead.

Scene two is MMC1 meeting his guide for the mission – one of the planet’s natives.

It still doesn’t have a title, and none of the main characters have a name. One minor character does, but the main characters are MMC1, MMC2, and FMC. I also need names for the planet, the city, the natives, their tribes, and the enemy.

But, hey! I have over five months to name everything, right?

 

 

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It Takes Balls

So, I’d had a crazier than normal shift at the Evil Day Job, ending with a resident who was talking to someone no one else could see – probably one of the ghost children who roam the halls. (Seriously.  Several residents are plagued by them.)

But anyhow, I was talking to a friend about it on FB, and we had the following conversation:

DM: Maybe you need to take a stress ball to work with you.

Me: I’d probably bounce it off a few heads.

DM: *Snickers* Well, that DOES help with stress…

DM: One of those isoflex sand filled are stress things wouldn’t be so bad. You can’t bounce it off someone at least. Can still throw it but…

Me: I’d rather have something hard…

That led to a discussion of various types of balls and which ones hurt the most.  She reminded me about wiffle balls, but I settled on bowling balls as my weapon of choice. (They bounce!  Sort of.)

Anyhow, we went on to other things, like my sudden obsession with Pentatonix, and I commented that I needed a topic for a blog post.

DM: Talk about balls. That would be interestingly hilarious.

Our conversation cycled back to Pentatonix, then back to my lack of a blog topic.

DM: Hey I gave you a suggestion, you didn’t like the balls.

Me: My mind slipped into a different direction when you said that and I almost replied “It’s not that kind of a blog.”

DM: ROFL! My mind’s already down that gutter. Why do you think I said it like that?

Me: Well, it’s still not that kind of balls.

DM: *Snickers*

Don’t you mean blog?

Me: Balls, blog… at this point, they both start with a “B”

DM: Good point.

Me: Okay, balls it is.

And, that, dear reader, is why you are now reading a blog post about balls.  Blame it on Daelyn Morgana.

(And it’s still not that kind of blog.  Nor is this post about that kind of balls.)

Writing novels while working an Evil Day Job is a lot like juggling a bunch of balls. (Not that kind of balls!)

(Although, there are days…)

Anyhow, there are all the normal writerly balls: the writing ball, the plotting and outlining ball, the editing ball, the revising ball, the promoting ball (I drop that one a lot), the wrangling of plot bunnies ball, etc.

And then there are the normal non-writerly balls: the stuff to do around the house ball, the keeping up with the rest of the world ball, the errand running ball, the cooking and eating ball, the laundry ball, the pets ball, etc.

And then there are the EDJ balls: the getting dressed to go there ball (hey, I’m an introvert and a would be hermit – leaving the house just isn’t my thing, okay?), the dealing with people ball, the pulled in seventeen directions at once but still need to get tasks done on time ball (welcome to the wonderful world of nursing), the keep everyone alive and safe until the end of shift ball…

And then I come home and stare at my computer wishing I had the energy to juggle the writerly balls.

So, yeah, when they say it takes balls to be a writer, they don’t necessarily mean that kind of balls.

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The (Plot) Bunny is Growing

I had no idea what I was going to write about for a blog post today. It’s been a very stressful weekend at work and the creative portion of my brain was hiding. (Can’t say I blame it, and I’m tempted to go hide with it.)

But then I read an article that a friend posted and it triggered all sorts of interesting plot bunnies. I don’t know if I’ll actually write anything based on it, but it might be something that I can work into Paranormal Picnic

(Yeah, it’s trying to turn into something other than a short fun story.)

(And, yeah, I’m trying to tell it that I really don’t have time for another WiP.)

(And, yeah, it’s not listening.)

(And, yeah, I’m losing the battle.)

(And, no, I do not have an addiction to parentheses. Why do you ask?)

So, anyhow…

It’s kind of amazing how one little thing can change the whole tone of your day.

(Well, okay, maybe not the whole tone. I am still dreading going to the evil day job this afternoon, so that hasn’t changed.)

Since I’ve mentioned Paranormal Picnic a time or two now, I thought maybe I should give you a snippet of it.

 

“Dad?  What are you doing here?” 

Maya rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and stared at the scene outside her door.  Her father stood at the grill, smoke rising from around the meat he was turning and an assortment of people she didn’t know were gathered around the picnic table.

“I’m barbecuing ribs, what’s it look like I’m doing?”

“But…” She took a deep breath and decided to ignore the rest of the scene and focus on him.  “Dad,” she said gently. “You’re dead.”

“I know I am.  That doesn’t mean I can’t cook.”

“Well, yes, actually, it does.” 

“No it doesn’t.  Now bring out some plates and silverware.  Everyone’s eager to meet you but don’t worry, no one bites.  Well, Alfred might, I don’t think he’s fed recently, but it won’t hurt, and, oh, hell, you’re my daughter.” He turned toward the table and raised his voice. “Alfred! No feeding from my daughter.”

An older gentleman, lean and well-dressed, nodded and waved off the comment, not really looking up from the chess game he was involved in.  His opponent, however, looked up and laughed.  She was a short stocky woman with reddish brown hair and almond-shaped amber eyes. 

“Dad? Who are all these people and what are they doing here?”

“Having a picnic.  That’s Alfred and Ginny playing chess.  Ginny brought fried chicken, and potato and macaroni salads, would you get them from the fridge?”

“Right.”

“The two little girls playing tag are Dina and Annie. Dina’s the one with the dark hair.  Oh, and don’t worry, Mariposa is keeping an eye on them.”

She followed his gaze and saw a woman perched in the old oak tree, her clawed feet clutching the branch as easily as any bird.  She waved a wing at her in greeting and turned her attention back to the children.

“A harpie?”

“And the girls are ghosts and Ginny’s a werewolf. Alfred’s a vampire in case you hadn’t figured that out.”

“I’m going back to bed until I wake up,” she muttered. “This can’t be real.”

Juice from the meat dripped down onto the coals, splattering and hissing, and the smoke that rose from it carried a scent that made her stomach rumble.

“On the other hand, maybe I’ll just set the table.  If I’m losing my mind I might as well enjoy it.”

“You’re not losing your mind.  And can you grab me a Pepsi?”

Dead people don’t drink Pepsi, she thought. But then, dead people don’t cook ribs, either.

 

 

 

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Progress and a Plot Bunny

So, there’s this plot bunny starting to form.  I don’t actually have a story yet, just a main character: a Mexican demon named Charlie.  And I’m not sure, but I think maybe he can only possess pencils.

If you’re as totally unaware of trending teen things as I am, you’re probably scratching your head wondering what on earth I’m talking about, so here’s the explanation.

At work last night I was on a different unit than the one I usually work.  One of the aides there is also a preacher and is a bit… over zealous… at times.  I’m not sure what prompted the conversation but he asked another aide if she had heard about “the Charlie Charlie pencil game.”

She thought for a minute and said, “Do you mean the thing with the piece of paper with yes/no/no/yes?” and started to get a piece of paper to draw it out and was demonstrating how the pencils laid on top of each other for it.

He stopped her and said not to do that because it would summon a real demon.

He was completely serious.

And apparently it’s a Mexican demon. (Although he did say that demons don’t have nationalities.)

Anyhow, I now want to write about a Mexican demon named Charlie.

I’m just… not sure what his story is.

Yet.

Any work on this story (other than kicking it around in my head) is probably a long way from happening, but it’s so rare that I have a clear example of where a story idea came from that I had to share.

In other writing news, I started working through the bit that blocked me from working on entering changes to Onyx Sun. And I wrote (more of) a scene to be added to the first book of the Academy of the Accord series.  The scene seems kind of… not really necessary (although it will further character development, world building, etc) but it’s needed for a scene in Book 12, so…

And I got a bit more done on the Elven Bard novel that only has half a title.

So, there you have it. My weirdness and inspiration for the week as well as a bit of progress.

 

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Suggestion Box 9-9-16

So I’m feeling kind of at a loss for something to write about today.

I’ve been writing, but not on any main project.  (I really should get back to that and maybe after I get this next bit of the thing I started written I will, especially since I have no clue where this is going, but anyhow…)

Yes.

But anyhow…

Where was I going with this?

Oh, yes!

What to write about.

I thought I’d ask if anyone out there reading this has any suggestions for things they’d like me to talk about here. Kind of an “Ask the Author” sort of thing.  I can’t promise that I still won’t just ramble aimlessly, but I might ramble aimlessly about something different than my current writing or editing woes.

What sort of things?

You can ask pretty much anything, really. (I’m not saying I’ll answer everything, but you can ask it.)  It can be related to a published book, a current WiP, a Novel I’m Ignoring, a character, future plans, my rats, other hobbies, my evil day job, whatever weird thing you’re dying to know more about.

(And if you’re not dying to know something, you’re allowed to fake it. I won’t tell.  I probably won’t even know.)

If I get enough suggestions I’ll make a “Reader’s Choice” post every couple of weeks, probably on alternate Fridays.

So hit me up in the comments section.  I want to hear from you.

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Up, Down, and Inside Out

Things are looking up a bit since Friday’s post.

Well, at least as far as Onyx Sun is concerned.  One of the comments I got from a beta reader was that the end was… unsatisfying.  That she wanted to see Maureena get what was coming to her, not just read about what happened in a summary type thing.   Well, while soaking in the bath tub the other day I had a great idea with how to do that.  I haven’t written it yet because, well, because I can’t seem to figure out exactly how to start it. But the idea is there, percolating, and it won’t be long until it comes out as actual words on a screen.  (Maybe even on my “weekend” – Tuesday and Wednesday.)

Although Tuesday and Wednesday should be spent doing house stuff… (If I get the blog hops finished before I go to work this afternoon I might tackle a little bit of that.)

Oh, and good news on that front — we have access to a dumpster for getting rid of big stuff.  Yay!

Now for the down.

I’ve been working on the first round paper edits of Book 5 of The Academy of the Accord and every time I start working on it I swear it’s a bigger disaster than it was the last time.

I was talking to my friend Danielle about it and she suggested (and then ran away) that I might need to start rewriting it from the ground up.  I’m afraid she’s right, and that’s sort of what’s happening.

And that leads to the “inside out” portion.

In an effort to salvage as much as I can I’m going to get a bunch of colored index cards. I’ll use one color for Book 5, one for Book 6, and one for Book 7. (And maybe one for Book 8.)  I’ll go through Book 5 and write one scene on each card and if it’s something that belongs in one of the other books I’ll put it on a different color.   (I love to color code things.)

That’s going to let me see at a glance where things belong so I can sort them out and put them in the appropriate novel files.

Then I’m going to rearrange a few scene cards for Book 5 and see if I can move some things around so I can anchor the plot better.  Right now the plot is sort of hard to find, and the major conflict takes place (and resolves) far too early in the novel.  (Not to mention that it doesn’t seem to be all that major or threatening, so I need to kick that up a few notches.)

So, yeah, it needs a lot of work, but at least now I have a handle on how to tackle it.

Now, if I only had a handle on how to get more hours in a day.

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What Doesn’t Work

In Friday’s post I mentioned some ideas that I’d come up with for the villain of my current novel that were just too far fetched to use.

Like having him be some sort of ancient evil being who is trapped in a human form that drains people’s life force so he can live forever.

And the one where I had him body-hopping into the body of his own eldest son down through the generations.

And I’m probably not going to go wit the demon-summoning, either.

How, you may wonder, did I come up with such weird things to begin with?  Did they just happen while writing the way my village of zombies did in my first ever NaNoWriMo?

Nope.

For one thing, I haven’t gotten that far in this novel yet, although I am currently starting to give the reader the idea that the antagonist is… not normal… and that there is something going on that my protagonist doesn’t know about yet.

For another thing, my first NaNoWriMo novel was the first – and last – time that I went into November without some sort of outline.

So, nope, these weren’t November insanity ideas.  These ideas came while working on the outline.

Where did they come from?

Free writing.

It’s like a brainstorming session with yourself.  Or yourself and your muse.

You just write down ideas.  They don’t have to be good ideas, just ideas.  And you keep asking yourself questions and writing down the answers.  Do it longhand on unlined paper because it’s fun to draw arrows all over the place.

When you’re done, you’ll have a mess.   A big glorious mess of hilariously bad ideas, some of which you may really like but which just won’t work in the world of your novel.

But that’s all right.

Because somewhere in that mess, when you start discarding the stuff you wrote down but didn’t like, you are left with some ideas that will work.  And even if they aren’t perfect, they can spawn another round of brainstorming and free writing.

And what about those ideas that you like but that won’t work?

Well…

Non-workable ideas are frustrating.  They seem like such good ideas, and often they are, but just not for that story.

And that’s okay, because there’s always another book, and what might not work for the current one may be a plot bunny for another, so ideas you don’t use in that book can be saved to be used somewhere else.

And sometimes, in order to find out what works, you have to find out what doesn’t.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

(Who am I to argue with him?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Shift of Focus

Well, this sucks.

I’m behind on word count already:  too many things have been getting in the way and distracting me.  It’s my own fault:  I took on too many projects, didn’t get them completed, and began feeling really overwhelmed, which has led to feeling like I’ll never get out of this hole I’ve dug myself into, especially with getting more hours at work, so what’s the point of even trying?

Yeah, no.

I don’t like that line of thinking.  It’s a defeatist attitude and I am not a defeatist – I’m a defeater.

Ha!  Take that, life!

So, what do you do when you’re behind on word count and have a ton of other things hanging over your head?

Well, what I’m doing is starting one new thing (an old standby to get me turned around) and actually cutting back on the writing.

Wait, what?  Cutting back on the writing when I’m already behind?  Am I nuts?

No, hear me out.  I’m not quitting or giving up on NaNoWriMo.  I still fully intend to make my word count goals. But in order to do that I have to free up some energy for it, and currently my energy is spent hiding from things that need to be done, so…

I’m going to keep writing every day, but only trying for 500 or so words.  Not enough to get me caught up or to keep me from falling further behind, but enough to keep some sort of flow going.

My main focus, though, is going to be on other projects, namely the pocket letters that should have been mailed a couple weeks ago.  Once I get them done I’ll focus harder on writing because I’ll be able to focus harder on writing.  Right now when I try to write I keep thinking of the other things that I should be doing, and that really sucks the energy out of me.

Oh, that new old thing that I’m starting? It’s a Gift Journal.  Every day I’ll list at least three “gifts” I’ve received that day.  They don’t have to be physical, tangible things…  It can be a sunny morning, the sound of fall leaves rustling in the breeze (I love that sound), a cuddle from one of my rats (usually Peter or Parson), something someone says… anything that gives your spirits a boost and shifts your focus from the doldrums to joy, because…

Well, think about it.  When you’re feeling happy and excited about something you have the energy to take on the world.  When you’re feeling down you can barely eat dinner.

So, yeah, time for a shift in focus – on all levels.

And I’m still gonna “win” NaNoWriMo.

 

 

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