Tag Archives: series

Three Days in Hell

Tuesday afternoon I started getting a tickle in the back of my throat. By end of day Wednesday it had blossomed into a full-on head cold. I toughed it out through most of my day at work on Thursday, but I took Friday off and spent most of the day in bed. I did the same on Saturday, and Sunday morning I am finally (hopefully) feeling a little better. If I take it easy today I just might be able to function at work tomorrow.

It was rough, but I managed to finish my apotemnophilia story on Friday. I think it turned out pretty well, even if it isn’t very exciting. It probably isn’t something that would sell on its own, but it might make an interesting scene in a book. I’m not sure what I’ll write this week, but based on the experience I just went through, maybe something about a plague.

That’s it for today. I’m going back to bed to keep working on the recovery. See you again on Wednesday!

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What Do You Think of This?

I finished my prequel stories for my Alchemist character, and now I have a new idea for either a series or at least a book. I was hoping to run it past you fine folks and ask for your feedback.

But first, as promised last week, here is a picture of me in my new outfit.

Sheriff Steele

Sheriff Steele

I don’t know about you, but I think I look pretty damn good in that getup, and I’ll definitely be wearing it to WisCon next month. Of course, it needs a few accessories, like a sheriff’s badge, a fancy pocketwatch, and a tooled leather holster for my shooting iron. Yeehaw!

All right, now that I’ve got that out of my system, here’s my new idea.

The title is “Broken”. And it’s all about a man in the middle of his failures. I started making a list of different things associated with the word broken, like broken dreams, broken heart, broken leg, broken promises, etc. For a novel, I thought I would try to fit in as many of these associations as possible. However, I might start with short stories (since I have been getting so much practice this year), and focus on one of those things per story.

I’m not sure just yet where I am going with this. I might write it as some kind of anti-hero, who gives up after all of the disappointments in his life and turns to the dark side. The other option is to show how he overcomes all of these things and struggles on, like the biblical character of Job. With the way my writing has been going this year, it will probably be door number one, but you never know.

So leave a comment and tell me what you think. And make sure to list your suggestions for other words associated with “broken …” that you think might make a good story.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Wednesday to let you know how it is going. See you then!

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I Feel Good!

I did it! I finally managed to write a story that wasn’t dark and disturbing. And the best part is that I have ideas on more of the same.

I actually finished Dirty Little Freaks #11 on Monday. Way ahead of schedule. And I didn’t have to go to the dark side to do it. It’s a little over 1200 words about a boy who goes exploring by himself and finds something wonderful. I used all first person, with no other characters, so there is no dialogue and no need to introduce himself, so I didn’t even have to come up with a name. However, I am planning to write more stories with this character, and I have decided to call him Trevor.

Trevor was out looking for the perfect tree for his tree house, and while he was exploring he became so in tune with the world that when his rope broke and he fell down, it triggered a vision that allowed him to see and manipulate matter at the atomic level. This allowed him to heal his injuries and walk away from his accident with no ill effects. But this is just the beginning. I’ve got four more stories planned that will chronicle how his powers develop over time, and those will be followed up by a novel-length adventure.

I’m calling him the Alchemist, and I am excited about this idea. I already have a rough plot drafted for the next four short stories, as well as the beginning of the novel. So now it looks like I have at least two possible ideas for this year’s NaNoWriMo, and if these short stories continue to inspire me like this I will probably have several more by the time November comes around.

I’m planning on spending the rest of this week continuing to plot out Trevor’s novel, and maybe make some refinements to the idea for his next short story. These ideas are enough to keep me going for the next four weeks, so I won’t need to worry about what to write for a long time. I’m not sure if I will write them all now, or spread them out over time. I guess that will depend on whether or not I get another idea that I can use instead.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope your writing is going well. If not, don’t worry. That’s what edits are for!

See you Sunday!

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Meet My New Friend

As you should remember from my last post, last week I finished my story early. That gave me time to mull over what I would write this week. I’m not sure how well I did with that, but I did get an inspiration that I think will work nicely.

As usual, my inspiration came in the form of a dream. I don’t remember all the details, but the meat of the dream was centered around a sort of prison, or maybe a secret government lab, where several mutants were being held captive and experimented on. I don’t recall if the dream me was there as a prisoner, a rescuer, or a lab tech, but my main concern was with one of the inmates in particular.

My new friend is a boy of undetermined age who is able to absorb and manipulate matter with his touch. And by matter I mean down to the atomic level. He can literally locate specific atoms and pull them into himself just by touching his subject. And once he has them he can use them however he wants.

I think this guy could probably have a full-length novel, detailing how he wound up in this place and what he does to escape. But for now I think I will start with a short story that explains how he got his powers. I might make it into a series, working up to his capture. That would definitely help me develop the character in preparation for a novel.

So that’s the plan for this week. Write a short story about a boy who thought he was normal, but turned out to be a little bit more. It’s probably not going to be a long story, so I might be able to finish early again this week. If I do, I might use the time to plot out some more stories using this character, and maybe even get a head start on planning for the novel.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with another update. See you then!

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Whoops! I Did It Again.

I finished story #9 for my Dirty Little Freaks series yesterday, and it wasn’t too bad. But once again, I had to go to the dark side.

The story is about a little boy, about eight years old, who is orphaned and homeless. He is on his own in the big bad world, except for one thing. He can see ghosts. To be specific, his dead parents are still looking out for him, and he understands that as long as he listens to their advice things will turn out okay.

This time, however, he’s not so sure about what they want him to do. While he was settling in for the night, hiding in the woods along a deserted country road, a car parks nearby. The man driving then pulls a bound woman out of the trunk and takes her into the forest to do terrible things.

Little Jimmy wants to run away, but Momma and Poppa have other ideas. They convince him to go help the woman, even though he thinks the only possible outcome is for him to end up dead like them.

Then I cut to the woman, Jessie. I had to do this because I wanted to go into the characters of each of them before the end. I describe some of the details of how the kidnapper prepares her for what he plans to do to her, and mix in some of the thoughts running through her mind. In particular, I explain that she thinks she is doomed and she regrets not having kids of her own.

Just when our villain gets to the point of no return, however, Jimmy shows up with a tire iron and conks him over the head. That gives them just enough time to get Jessie out of her bondage, but she has to hit him again to keep him out of trouble so they can get away. In the end, the victim and her rescuer tie up the bad guy and head back to the road. When they get back to the car, Jessie meets Jimmy’s parents and find out that they want her to be his new mother. So we get a happy ending.

Not a bad story, but I woke up this morning still thinking about it. Going over and over in my mind some of the edits that need to be made. For example, I really think that I need to focus more on Jimmy and Jessie’s character, and less on describing their situation. In order to properly build up to the ending, I have to make them both realize how much they belong together. I also think I need to work in a little more history of each of them, such as how Jimmy’s parents died, and what Jessie’s lifestyle was like before she was kidnapped.

But that’s exactly what editing is for. No writer expects to get it right in the first draft. The trick is to ignore all those nagging thoughts about correcting your work while you are still writing that first draft so you can get the story done. If I had gone back to rewrite the beginning before I came to the end, the story wouldn’t be done right now. And if I took the time to start working on my edits right now, I probably won’t be able to finish this week’s story on time.

So this story is going into my pile along with all the others, and will be one of the first on my editing schedule at the end of the year. Between now and then, however, I’m going to ignore it.

I’m still trying to figure out a way to write a story without it being rated PG-13 or worse. I know that the most powerful stories are where the characters are put through hell, but I’m getting tired of the twisted thoughts that are coming out of my head. I’m considering attempting to write a comedy, even though my sense of humor is probably just as twisted.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts about my story. Feel free to leave a comment. And as always, I’ll be checking in again on Wednesday. Catch you later!

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Changing Things Up

First off, sorry for the lateness of this post. I have been goofing off since I got home from church today and just realized that I haven’t posted yet. So this may be a bit short, but better late than never. Now, on to the show!

We all need something new every once in a while. Even if you don’t like change, at the very least there are times when you need to replace the things in your life that wear out, like your clothes or your car.

For me, there are a few new things in my life right now. I just got a promotion at work, which means I have some new duties and I am learning new things about the tools and programs that I have been using for years.

I also just got cable television for the first time in years. I have been getting Internet and phone from our local cable company for several years, but with their bundle price I was able to add television service for a few dollars less than I was paying before.

And finally, I am changing things up with my short stories. The three that I have written so far have been about midgets, which is all well and good for a series titled ‘Dirty Little Freaks’, but the word Little doesn’t necessarily have to restrict the theme to those people who are vertically challenged.

So my new story for this week is about a child. A little boy with a dangerous secret. I’ve already written 400 words, and who knows how many more are to come? My last story ended up at about 2800 words. It didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to, but it’s a good start, and I can always edit it later.

So embrace the changes in your life, and if you feel you are in a rut, go ahead and see what you can do to mix it up a bit.

That’s it for the night. See you around the campfire on Wednesday!

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What Was I Thinking?

All right, I admit it.

I’ve got nothing.

I thought that my “Dirty Little Freaks” idea was a good one, and I did get some positive feedback from people. It still could be a great project. I’m just not sure that it is one that I am ready for right now.

The only thing I have written so far is an “introduction” that actually limits the project, and which I already think will need to be scrapped. There’s nothing wrong with the character, just the idea that he is the narrator of the series. Making each story something that he has encountered or heard about in his travels would mean that the stories would be limited to something in his time and world.

Not a good idea. I want the option of throwing in some fantasy stories, and maybe some science fiction as well. So if I do decide to continue with this project I am going to have to toss out my beginning and start from scratch.

Of course, that depends on whether or not I want to start over. First, I have to come up with some more ideas. And nothing is coming.

One of my friends gave me the idea of riffing on the seven dwarves of Snow White fame. I thought that was probably a good idea, but when it comes down to getting words on the page, nothing is coming to mind. It’s hard to write a decent story without a starting point.

Maybe, what I really need to do is forget about the seven dwarves and just start writing something. Anything. And if the opportunity presents itself I can thrown in one of my dirty little freaks and call it done. If not, at least I will have a story, which is the main point of this exercise. I don’t have to have a coherent theme in these stories, it just was a nice idea. The important thing is to get some work done. Some art in my portfolio. Some horses in my stable.

I promised myself I would get one story done a week. Even though I think I will be tossing out what I already wrote, technically it was a story while it lasted, so it counts. I may try to replace it with another one if something comes to mind, but meanwhile I will just work on getting something on the page by Saturday.

I’ll check in again on Sunday to let you know how it went. See you then!

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Trying to find Balance

One of the hardest things for me as a writer is finding a balance. I’m not talking about balancing plot points and character development, although that is difficult as well as important. No, what I am speaking of is finding a balance between my writing and the rest of my life.

Part of being a writer is opening yourself up to the rest of the world. You have to share a vital part of yourself in order to engage the reader. The tricky part is figuring out which part, and how much you can show. Show too much, too soon, and people will think you are overeager. Show the wrong parts, and people will get bored, or angry.

Kind of like being an exotic dancer.

Think about it. If you went to a strip club and the dancer showed you the goods right off the bat, you would be a little disappointed, wouldn’t you? After all, part of the show is the “reveal”, and you can’t have a reveal if you never cover it up in the first place. And if the dancer never showed you anything, you would be just as upset. After all, you paid good money for this show, and there are certain expectations about what is going to happen when you get inside.

Okay, now this analogy is starting to get me off-balance. See what I mean?

What I am trying to say here is that I am having trouble reconciling my personal life with my writing. I have certain, deep-seated beliefs that frequently conflict with the things that I write. There are many times when the words that come out of my head make me uncomfortable, because they aren’t the kinds of things that I believe I should be writing. And yet, there they are.

I’ll come right out and say it. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Otherwise known as the Mormons. Yes, the same church that Mitt Romney belongs to (even though I think he’s a bad example of our faith).

One of the tenets of being a member of my church is living the law of chastity. That means so much more than just not having sex. It also means avoiding pornography and keeping your lustful passions confined to the marriage bed. And it means that when I start writing about sex and use four letter words in my stories I am either walking a fine line or stepping over the edge. And that’s what makes me uncomfortable.

This is tough for me. On the one hand, I’m not being unfaithful to my lovely wife. I’m not even looking at dirty pictures on the Internet. But when I write about other people having sex, it’s like letting a fantasy out of my head. And it’s probably not a fantasy I should be having in the first place, much less share with the rest of the world.

What makes it even more difficult is that I know for a fact that there is a huge market for erotica out there, and writing about sex would be an excellent way for me to make enough money to keep the hounds at bay. An important consideration in this economy.

Last week I announced my “Dirty Little Freaks” project, and I said that it would possibly contain some erotica. To be honest, I’m rethinking that decision, for the reasons I have just stated. I started the series with an introduction to the narrator, Boomer. I wrote it as a one-legged midget who uses his “other leg” to make up for the missing one. He used words that I would never use in public (or in private, for that matter).

I don’t think I like this guy. I think he needs to go away.

But that means that I need to come up with something to replace him. I kind of liked the idea of a dirty little freak introducing the stories as tales of the strange and unusual that he came across in his travels around the world. But that also means I would be limited to stories set in the modern age, and on this planet, and it may be better to open the floodgates a little wider and give myself some more room to play.

I was thinking that doing this series would be a good way to have some stories on file for possible submission to assorted magazines and anthologies. And the more different types of stories I have, the more options I have to present to editors.

Pardon my rambling. I find that I have a tendency to start on one topic and end on another. I hope you guys don’t mind. And this post is getting a bit long-winded, so I had better wrap it up anyway.

But first, a few other things that I need to say about my struggles with balance.

A few years ago I made a commitment to lose weight. I started at 320 pounds and by the time I was done (about a year and a half later), I was down to 175 pounds. I was proud of myself, and I swore I wouldn’t let myself get that fat again.

I broke that promise. I am back up to 290 pounds, and I have to say that part of the reason for the weight gain is the hedonistic lifestyle of being a writer. I have splurged on unhealthy food and gone out to eat at restaurants when I should have been dining at home. I have enjoyed cake and candy when I should have been sticking to carrots and celery. I have stopped exercising, and my bike (which I used to rely on as my main mode of transportation) is rusting in my basement.

I’m sick of it. I hate what I have let myself become and I have made a resolution this year to get back on my diet and start dropping the pounds again. I have started logging my food intake again and I am trying to keep my calories under control. I plan on getting my bike to the shop for an overhaul this spring so I can start riding to work again.

The diet and exercise will also be taking time away from my writing, which will make it more difficult for me to meet my writing goals, but it is more important to me right now for me to get back to a healthy lifestyle.

This is the balance that I am trying to find. Balance between my faith and my words. Between my diet and my urges. Between my health and my writing.

Life is all about finding balance. I am working on finding some in my life. How are you doing in yours?

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October 20 – Character Arc

Today I promised to talk about Character Arc. This is one of the things that I struggle with in my writing. My problem is that I want my characters to be perfect from the start, just like me. 🙂

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

Perfect characters don’t make for a very good story. I have to admit that even I have gotten bored with my characters when things are too easy for them. So this time I am trying to work out some character flaws for my Valkyrie. Then I can see about helping her overcome them.

My character, Nicole, is a state trooper. She joined the force as a tribute to her father, who disappeared during a “boating accident” on a fishing trip when she was sixteen. The only thing she remembers is that a storm came up suddenly. She hit her head and was knocked out. When she woke up her father was gone and they never found the body.

The truth is that a monster attacked the boat and her father sacrificed himself to protect her. She has blocked out the memory from her conscious mind, but the experience has made her very protective of everyone else. This is the real reason she joined the state police. Other effects of her experience are an obsession with the legends surrounding the “Great Lakes Triangle”, and the occasional nightmare about tentacles coming out of the water.

My question now is how to use these character traits to tell a better story. Her obsession and nightmares are relatively easy. They can be used to create tension between her and her superiors in the force, as well as her friends and loved ones. The tough one is her overprotective nature. On the one hand, it is good trait for a police officer to have. And when she gets her Valkyrie powers she will be much more effective in keeping people safe. On the other hand, giving her those powers will make the tension level of the story drop. It would be a little like having Superman show up to get a cat down from a tree. He would have no problem at all with the little kitty. So what kind of Kryptonite can we put on the little cat’s collar to make things more interesting?

My mind turns back to the legends of the Valkryie. They are said to be sent to collect the dead heroes from the battlefield, so they can join the ranks of the Einherjar in Valhalla. So if Nicole is too protective, the heroes won’t die. If she is too effective, they won’t even be heroes, because she will be the one doing all the work. Somehow, I need to make her realize this, and then she has to allow someone to sacrifice themselves as a hero, just like her father did for her. And of course the person that would cause the most conflict for her with this choice would be her boyfriend.

My plan is to introduce this backstory and her obsession before she becomes a Valkyrie at the first plot point. She will learn to use her new powers and struggle against some supernatural foes, while in the background she starts to remember more of what happened in the boat. At the second plot point she will be pointed in the direction of the monster that killed her father, and which is now threatening her boyfriend. She will then be forced to choose to let him sacrifice himself for her and be a hero.

That’s the plan.

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

My library is undermining my prep work for NaNoWriMo. I now have three books to read in the next month, including REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson. The book is over 1000 pages long. The “good” news is that I only have two weeks to read it, so I have to finish it before NaNoWriMo starts. I took the afternoon off yesterday and managed to get through the first 200 pages, but there are still 800 to go. I’ll be spending most of my free time reading over the next two weeks, but I will still check in, and I will still be thinking about my story when I can, so I may be able to post some more information about how things are going. At the very least I will let you know when I finish this tome.

I may even post a review. So far the book is interesting, but my writing background is making me critique the story as I read it. For example, I am finding a lot of exposition in the book. Most of it reads OK, but some of it seems to fall into the “As you know, Bob” manner of explaining things. This is when the author does his exposition by having one character tell another the information as part of a dialogue. It can work if done right, and like I said, Neal does a good job of this most of the time. But due to my experience in the writing world, it caught my attention. It also makes me wonder how much of this manuscript is story and how much is Neal standing either behind his podium or on his soapbox.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I’m still dieting, but I haven’t been able to get back on the exercise bike yet. I don’t like reading while I ride. I have tried it before and it just doesn’t work well for me. I will try to get on again soon, but I’m not sure when.

Do you think my ideas on character arc will work? Or am I just being mean? Leave a comment to let me know what you think. I’ll be back on Monday to let you know at least how much I have read.

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October 17 – Working on my Concept

As I mentioned on my last post, I have been reading Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. It has been very helpful in making me think about my NaNoWriMo project plans. Today I will cover the first step: Concept.

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

My original concept was a simple sequel to Finding Valhalla, but using a different main character as the Valkyrie. I was going to continue the plot to start Ragnarök, expanding it and raising the stakes for this second book. However, after thinking about it some more, I have decided that since I need to rewrite Finding Valhalla anyway, I think this book may be better suited to be the first in the series, instead of a sequel. I think that Miranda’s story may actually be better suited to be the last book instead of the first.

The writing book talked about defining the story concept as a What If question. It also said that the question should immediately raise other, similar questions. So I tried it out. Here are some of my concept questions:

  • What if a state trooper was forced to become a Valkyrie to take the place of another one that was killed protecting her?
  • What if she had to hide all this from normal people?
  • What if her partners in the police force were suspicious about some of the things she had to do to keep the supernatural world out of the press?
  • What if a federal agency got involved?
  • What if some of the other Valkyries were threatened by the risk of her being discovered?
  • What if the Valkyrie leaders or even the gods got involved?
  • What if the supernatural world was revealed as a result of her failure to do her duty as a Valkyrie?
  • What would the other supernatural races think about this?
  • What if she joined the police to honor the memory of her father?
  • What if whatever killed her father was supernatural and she saw it?
  • What if that drove her to train to fight them, and that is why she was chosen to become a Valkyrie?
  • What if the thing that killed her father is still out there and that is what drives her?
  • What if she is obsessed with revenge for her father’s death?
  • What if that obsession interferes with her duty as a Valkyrie and as a state trooper?
  • What if she also had to try to stop a plot to start Ragnarök?
  • What if the man she loved was killed as part of the plot?

As you can see, there are a lot of things that came to mind, and there are even more that I haven’t put into the list yet. I have a lot of things to think about in the next two weeks. I am also starting to think about working on an outline. I would like to at least plan out the major plot points and work out the character arc before I get started. To be honest, the character arc is the part that I am really struggling with. I think I have a good idea where I want to go with it, but I’m not sure how well it will work out when I start writing.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

I updated my author’s info on the NaNoWriMo website. I plan on starting my outline this week.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I got on the exercise bike twice yesterday, for 20 miles each time. I burned a little over 600 calories each time. Hopefully that will be enough to at least keep me from gaining anything over the last week. I’m going to have to continue to dedicate myself to do it again though. I should really do at least 20 miles at least three times a week, preferably more.

Please leave a comment with any thoughts you have about my concept. I’m interested in hearing whether or not you think I am heading in the right direction. I’ll be back on Thursday to talk about my character arc.

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