Writer’s Status (Ain’t Dead Yet-I)

So, I “technically” lost my job in August (formally separated vs. furlough) and had to switch over to a different health care provider. Which, fortunately enough, was through Covered California and Kaiser. And, sadly because of the Crow Flu, I can’t see my psychologist in person. We had a few on-line video cat appointments, and she wanted to get me off my current medication for insomnia. I can’t blame her for wanting to change medications, the medication I use has issues-you can build up a tolerance for it, it does have some issues at higher levels (which I was close to, but not at yet), and she was hoping to move me to something not as rough.

However, I’ve had issues for years with being able to turn my brain “off” for sleep, and I also had issues with what I call “hiccup sleep”. “Hiccup sleep” is when you sleep, wake up for a bit, and go back to sleep again. Not the most helpful thing for getting a good night’s sleep. Oh, and sleep apnea, which means I have a C-Pap. The medication I was using did well for what it did, and I had the rare insomnia run-slight more over the last few months. So, I’m in the process of switching over from medication A to medication B, and doing well on half-and-half. Last Friday was when I completely cut out medication A (old) and was entirely on medication B (new).

Worst insomnia I had for years. Pretty much small skips of sleep, oversensitive for the C-Pap machine, etc, etc, etc. So, I do some research and discover that getting off medication A takes a few days to clear out my system. Okay, let the psychiatrist know and take a slightly higher dose of medication B for Saturday night’s sleep.

About as bad as Friday night. I think I got some more sleep, but not that much more.

Sunday night? Upped the dose, and keep trying. Didn’t sleep well at all.

Monday night? I actually got a night’s sleep. Yay!

Last night? Took me nearly four hours to get to sleep and got about four hours of sleep.

Tonight? We’ll see. I’m hopeful…

Anyways, about my writing progress-

  • The Winter Solist-At about 2/5th to 1/2th of the first draft, and hope to get close to a finished first draft before the end of the year. I’m happy with what I’ve got so far, and had to do several “for plot” revisions.
  • Unknown Erotic Urban Fantasy Novel-No title yet, not even sure if I’ll be publishing it or just writing it to clear my palate, but I’m writing it anyways. Worse case, it’ll give me an excuse to figure out how to write erotic scenes better.
  • Other Projects-Nothing to share just yet, fingers crossed for one project idea that I will be working on after the first of the year. No details yet.

The Annual Writer’s Nightmare

Ever writer has this one nightmare about their work. Sometimes it’s just an inability to find an audience. No matter what you do, nobody likes your stories and you can’t really publish them. Call this the Lovecraft terror-that your work is terrible and your friends are just humoring you. Instead, you’re ahead of the curve. And, hopefully, the curve will reach you before you die.

The second one is the “why do these people like my books?” one. Call this one the John Norman one. He wrote the Gor series because he probably needed to put food on the table and pay for his apartment. He sure as hell (I hope) didn’t intend for his books to be an instruction manual on terrible BDSM practices. Or how to handle relationships. Or even…well, anything other than mild titillation in a Conan re-skin that would hopefully sell more books.

The third one is the “pretender” nightmare. That you think you’re conning everybody along, that one day they’ll figure out that you’re tricking everyone. That you weren’t really talented at all, just…able to market your bullshit better. It’s almost the Peter Sellers nightmare.

Mine? Call it the “what the?” nightmare. It’s almost always the same thing-I’m at a big sci-fi convention, say DragonCon. I’m at a panel about my books, and the story that I love, the story that I’ve always wanted to write is what I’m here to talk about. It’s a space opera magnum opus, something that I wished there was more of and it’s why I got into writing. Starship battles, grand epic scope, explosions that can blot out the sun, Oh John Ringo No, adventure, that kind of thing. On the sixth book, it took me nearly two years to do, but it’s done and I want to pitch the hell out of it. And, I’ve got a plan for this series, no GRRM Winds Of Winter is delayed yet again thing.

Nobody wants to talk about my book.

They all want to talk about this nasty little sword-and-sorcery series that I wrote, that I churned out at nine month intervals for years because I needed the money to pay for things like food, rent, and dental bills. That I ripped off a mixture of Byzantine, Goth, Han Chinese, Warring States Era Japan, and England/Ireland/Scotland with more tits to build the nations. The religious system is a mixture of “mystery worship,” Gods that try their best to not make a mess of things, and a very weird form of Satanism. Oh, and the magic system? Mixture of Victorian-era spiritualism, the system from Fate Stay Night with the serial numbers filed off, and Pokemon.

Yes. Pokemon.

I had to write this series for years because it sold and I needed the money. It wasn’t a bad series, but I really wanted to get away from it for the longest time. The Space Opera is the work I really wanted to be known for and that’s why I’m here. Yet, nobody wants to ask me questions about it, they all want to know little details about the sword-and-sorcery books. Including validating all of their fanon- such as several gay relationships that make me nauseous to even hear them. Not because of homophobia, but because the two participants would try to kill each other immediately. Or themselves. Or the other then themselves. And, I can’t even convince them of this.

So, at the panel rolls on, I get angry and I pretty much stand up and tell everyone that this panel is about my new Space Opera book and while I enjoyed answering the questions about the sword-and-sorcery novel, that’s not why I’m here. So, what are people’s questions about my Space Opera book?

One girl, cute as a button, stands up and asks, “Is the Space Opera set in the future of the sword-and-sorcery novel?”

You can’t win sometimes.

Vignette-The Lady And The Axe

Wendy panted and sweat stuck the back of her cotton nightgown to her heaving chest, even in Lord Worthington’s cold “study” under the main house. She could smell the rapidly-increasing rot as the re-vitrification chemicals came out of Lord Worthington, the smell of mustard and unripe apples filling her nose over the rotten-pork smell. Some of chemicals has touched her skin, and there wasn’t any strength in her to brush them off. If anything, she was leaning up against the axe handle like a crutch, her lungs clawing for breath.

“Congratulations, Lady Worthington,” an all-too-familiar woman’s voice said behind her, raw fury and adrenaline causing Wendy to drag up the axe and spin around, green eyes blazing with rage. From the doorway to the study, Rose waited in her immaculate black governess outfit, not a single blonde hair or hemline out of place. She stepped across the blood-and-chemical soaked carpet without pause and with the same careful steps as she taught the “blossoms” under her care to walk and dance. Her porcelain white face flushed with some unknown emotion as she said, “I suspected that the day I met you, you could do this-and he lowered his guard for that one moment.”

Wendy’s voice came out in huge heaves, as she tried not to throw up again. “Why…why didn’t you do this?”

“Because when I was of age, about the age you are now, Lady Worthington, he made sure to put cogs deep into my brain to prevent this. I could not disobey him, nor lie to him, nor think of raising my hand to him even in defense. And, Lady Worthington, I wanted revenge. You saw what he did to that woman from the village that got lost on his lands, what happened to my mother. Merely a notation in his notes, a ‘daughter’ to serve as his assistant. I wanted revenge for decades, ever since the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty. I could consider it, dream of it, lust for it…but never enact it, ever,” Rose continued, stepping close to Wendy. “But, if you consider the literal and the logical, Lady Worthington, he never commanded me to prevent his death. Arrogance on his part, a fault you do not have.”

From a pocket hidden in her skirt, Rose removed a carefully folded small towel and began to clean off the bits of blood and flesh and chemicals from Wendy’s body. “You will need to take a shower and a bath, Lady Worthington, if you would wish me to serve as a maid for you in this,” Rose said with an odd and uncomfortable kindness, as if she hasn’t been truly kind for a very long time.

For a moment, Wendy lowered the axe, then realized what Rose kept calling her, and hissed, “Why are you calling me Lady Worthington?”

“Because you are now, Lady Worthington,” Rose paused for long enough to take some wine from the bottle on the desk and use it to wipe off the more caked-on gore. “Upon Lord Worthington’s death, his will shall note that you are his heir. I…might have aided in this, but the genealogy is clear. Even if the gender is not, this is merely an issue to be resolved by a good solicitor. And, you will need to be ennobled and entitled, Lady Worthington. You will need the resources here to preserve your life.”

To Wendy’s confused expression, Rose sighed, “Lady Worthington, you are like your sisters-you might have two shillings of life left in you. Of course his customers would want to make sure that their mistresses never swelled, never told, and never would outlive their ‘patron.’ They would have twenty to twenty-four years of absolute perfection before their flesh failed in days. But, do not worry-the processes to sustain you are much kinder than what Lord Worthington used. Time and research has allowed for a great deal of improvement, and he was angry that the newer processes would not work for him. There were so many things that made him angry. I would show you the scars, if they did not heal as fast as your flesh could.”

(I admit, I’m addicted to writing small vignettes and story ideas on Sarah A Hoyt’s website, and I’ve decided that I’ll start collecting all of them here, as time goes on. I might even turn these into proper stories and novels one day. This one will be…painful. Interesting, but painful, to turn into novel format.)

The Wonder Of Writing

Right now, I’m in the middle of purging a whole plot line from The Winter Solist. Have to, really. Initially, I thought it was going to be because I needed to expand the story and plot some more…but, then I realized something.

With the fact that I’ve expanded the book series from eight books to eleven, I now have a chance to talk about more of the story universe and it’s various aspects….

So, I’ve had to start planning to put a new plot-line in. Part of which will be resolved in A Solist In Rome. And, tie up one plot line from Solist At Large.

What’s going to be worked through this and the next book?

Short version-Roman Catholic Magical Girls.

Long version-there’s been a lot of problems at the lower levels of the mystic underground that has been fought by several groups and organizations. One of them is in the Lycée, and they recruit from the students there. And, Adelaide, in all innocence, stumbles on them…

The Process Of Major Revision Work

Just to explain where I’ve been so far…

Before I published Solist At Large, I was (at a rough estimate) about a quarter of the way through The Winter Solist, and I had the major plot beats going on. Then…then, I published Solist At Large, and in the glow of “I’m done!“, I realized that I had made the book far too dense, plot wise. And, The Winter Solist was just as dense.

Clearly, Something Had To Be Done.

I decided that I was going to do two things-

  1. I was going to trim one of the plot elements in the novel that was going to be a snarl, because I wanted to have at least three trains of plot running into each other…and, I could not for the life of me figure out how to slam them together.
  2. I was going to add at least one more book to the series, tying of a plot line from the first novel and expanding on a plot point that I have been nursing through the first book and this one.

But, this one particular plot line? It will. Not. Leave. Me. Alone. The woman in it is hold on for dear life in the writing, and I can admire her tenacity. Still doesn’t mean that I’m not going to get rid of her ASAP. Maybe use her in another novel, I’ve kept notes.

And, that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.

Book Writing Information For This Week

After celebrating my birthday this week and managing to get…sixty to sixty-five percent of what I wanted from this year, I got back to work on The Winter Solist. Right now, I’m de-cluttering the plot of the book in a way that Marie Kondo would be very proud of. Before I had over-done the plot in my last book, I was up to 16 chapters and hit several stuck points. I think by the time I’m done, I’ll be down to twelve or so chapters, unstuck where the plot wasn’t working, and sadly going to have to get rid of one little side plot that I was really enjoying working on.

But! I did save original copies of everything I cut, so I can maybe use it in the future. Probably not, but I’m still hopeful.

The de-cluttering also revealed something that I hoped I wasn’t going to have to do. Since I’m going to have to stretch out the book some more, the original eight book plan (covering a semester of Adelade’s life in high school) is probably going to have to be eleven or twelve to finally tell the whole story.

Damn.

The good news is that I know what the title of book #3 in the series is. The title is A Solist In Rome, and we get to see Adelaide have fun with some of her peers and find out how much deeper the rabbit hole goes. A Solist In Rome is currently in the plotting phase right now, and I do know that it’ll be one of those odd hybrid first/third person books like The Apocalypse Codex, since we’re going to have to see the story from a number of other perspectives. And, it’s set in Rome and the Vatican City, so I have to do a lot of research on those as well. Mostly for the final dance number (i.e. final big confrontation of the book), have to place it properly.

Well, back to the writing work. Wish me luck.

Every Time You Think…

We just had another fire outbreak nearby. It’s about one to four zones on the East side of the freeway, depending upon how you measure it. Other than orange sunlight, ash, and embers, we’re not in any trouble.

Yet.

There’s a contingency for this. We do have a plan for this, and lots of practice the last few months. Bags are packed, the “get out NOW” stuff is loaded, we’re mostly logging stuff in case of having to claim it for fire insurance loss. Got a place to stay with family friends. But (and this is a BIG but), that means that I’m not going to be able to get any writing done today.

Grr. Arg. Grr.

So, Where Have I Been?

Where I wish I was? Nice hotel room, lovely ladies of consenting age, and peace and quiet for a weekend, to celebrate my upcoming birthday.

Where I’ve actually been? At home, writing. Getting through the plot-detangling for The Winter Solist and starting to write around the holes I made. Dealing with the switch over of medical plans from my employer to one I’m paying for myself. And, general “avoiding CNN when the cheap gay Chinese Anderson Cooper gynoid is on,” because putting an axe through the TV will get me talked about and require me to pay for a new TV.

And, sales numbers, very important. I’ve looked at how well Solist At Large has been selling and I could buy…three, maybe four of my sister’s over-processed diabetes-inducing Starbucks coffee concocitions with the profits. So…yay?

Back to work.

Yep, I Did Too Much

Just to remind everyone, Solist At Large is currently out for sale.

And, looking back from the perspective of “I can’t really do anything about it,” it’s now hitting me that I tried to squeeze two books-maybe three-into one. I have plot points that I will not use immediately, story bits that I could have moved into The Winter Solist (and now, will probably have to move into the untitled third book), and in general the book is too dense. Future researchers of my work will probably go, “he tried, but this was his first book and he overdid it.”

Live and learn, I suppose.

The great thing about this? I’m going through The Winter Solist, with an eye for getting rid of one or two major plot threads. The great thing about this? It’s going to allow me to really trim down some scenes that weren’t working well. There’s a major plot point in there that I couldn’t figure out how to make work-the threads were there, but I couldn’t connect them.

Trimming them let me make the plot work even better. I admit, it has also caused me to do two things-

  1. I’m probably going to have to add at least two or three more books to the series.
  2. A plot hook that I was going to move through the third book is going to be the whole reason for the third book.

Yes, very vague. I’m allowed to be vague, I’m a writer.

Back to the salt mines.

I Am Now A Published Author

I even have my own book on Amazon and everything!

Solist At Large is currently up and running on Amazon, I’ve gotten it written and finished and everything else done, and now I have to write the next book in the series, The Winter Solist.

This is going to be a good time all around, even with the crazy madness of the last few weeks and the next few months. But, I am doing my little happy dance of joy-I’m published!