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.

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.

Scary, Spooky Quiet

One of my biggest issues is my work environment for writing. It’s not so much bad as irritating and I know this irritation makes me not happy and it’s harder to write. The big thing is ambient noise-namely The Parents habit of watching CNN, daytime talk shows, and similar things at “ear bleed” levels.

So, my birthday was coming up, and I got myself a birthday present. Did my research and due diligence and found that the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones were some of the best at canceling noise and making things quiet. Ordered them by Amazon, just arrived today, and I had to download the drivers (because, of course, there are drivers) and I’m trying it out now.

And…it’s going to take some getting used to. Because of the software driver update, it’s only running off of my iPhone (an iPhone 6, BTW. If you want to contribute to getting me a phone made this decade, I do accept contributions, ask for PayPal link…). And, it is scary, spooky quiet. The loudest noise I can hear with these things I can hear besides the music are my fingers typing. That’s probably bone conduction through my fingertips-that’s how good the sound cancellation is. I have to clap rather hard-or make some other kind of noise-to hear anything outside of the headphones.

The headphones have a “3D sound” function, but that requires you to join a streaming service, and no thank you.

Opinion so far? Going to have to get used to this. I’ve never been a fan of headphones like this (I wear an AfterShokz Air when I go out rucking in the mornings or commuting when I was going to work, that kind of thing), but for work at home? Yes, absolutely. Especially if I won’t be distracted by the TV in the process.

Getting Closer To The Gate

Well, I downloaded the KDP Create tool, and starting to play with it tonight. I’ll work on it more tomorrow, but I’ve gotten most of the organization of the book done and I’m going to work on it more during the next few days. Still on track-fingers crossed-for a Saturday upload and a Monday/Tuesday release.

And then…

And then, I think about things for a moment, do not look at all at my reviews until October (as that might drive me insane), and get started on The Winter Solist. Again.

I thought I was going to have to junk quite a bit of the book-and I am. So far, it’s mostly what I’ll be saving from the remains when I move from Google Docs to Scribner. And, that is not as much as I think…

Still, first book and everything.

Yay.

Maybe I Should Take Up Pickle Farming…

So, I’m in the process of formatting Solist At Large for KDP (having a serious debate about Kindle Unlimited vs. straight KDP, I’ll have to look at if I can do both or something), and I’m looking for problems as I go. Because, of course I can. I was saying earlier “I think I’ve gotten most of the big bugs out of this novel.” And, this is pretty much my version of Storm Front-a freshman novel that I’m hoping will let me work out all the kinks in my stories, survive the crushing blows of Amazon Review comments, and give me a touch of additional income. Enough to make it easier for me to write The Winter Solist and go through the revision process.

(If I sound down on myself, maybe 70/30-it’s a mixture of “I want a successful novel, but I’m afraid of being a one-hit wonder/series that really doesn’t go anywhere” and “I don’t want to have this novel be a version of Empress Theresa, that exists as a massive internet meme to be lampooned.”)

I get through about a third of the formatting process and I catch some minor bugs, a few things that could be phrased better, that kind of thing. And then, I catch that a “B-” plot that I pulled out of most of the novel (it’s been moved “off screen” for some purposes and later in the story)…has a major segment still in the book. Despite using search to try and find these things.

It’s a freshman novel, I know. First time I’ve gotten this far with something other than fan fiction. And as long as you’re not involved in the shipping wars, most people will be kind about your mistakes in fan fiction. But, this matters to me more, I don’t know why. Maybe the money, maybe the risk, maybe just the sheer crazy of it.

I’m going to use my first full amount of money from this books for a Scrivener purchase, because I think I’ll need that for the next novel. I’ll keep working on it (and, I might have to redo the entire first few chapters, as it is not working how I’d want it to come out), but if that helps…

Still on schedule for finishing on Saturday. Fingers crossed.