26 October 2015

Why it's Taken Me Two Months to Get Through the New Star Wars Novel

Forget for a moment, that Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, and go back to the old universe. My sisters and I read most of the novels that came out. I did give up when Jacen Solo turned into a total idiot and started killing everyone he could get his hands on, so I never did finish the entire lot of novels. But in general, I'm a huge fan of Star Wars and the expanded universe.

Now you will recall that Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise. I saw a new book advertised, and almost ran out and bought it that day. I hesitated-I was probably writing like a mad woman. Anyway, I saw on Instagram that a neighbor had it. I may have put up a post akin to, "I need!"

Two days  later, his wife dropped the book of at my house.

A little chorus of heaven sounded there for a second.

Even though I was under a big deadline for my own writing stuff, I snuggled into the couch and pulled the pages open. The hard cover felt heavy but familiar in my hands, and my eyes eagerly swept over the first few chapters.

I was expecting the Star Wars feel. I was expecting more than one familiar character. I was expecting a Point of View I cared about, or was even interested in. I didn't really get any of that.

I'm not familiar with the author or any of his other works. Perhaps his writing style is heavy on the ADD side, and that jumping from character to character every two pages is normal. Plus it's in present tense, which is distracting for the first two or three paragraphs of every character switch. Which, like I said, take place ever two pages.

I hate it. With so many unfamiliar names, places and races (and hey, I'm a good reader. I can usually keep track of this info-dumpy stuff) I got confused. And annoyed. And more confused.

Each time the author went back to an interesting character, he or she only lasted a few pages before we were whisked off to another corner of the story to see another minor detail that I'm sure, if I could persist, would be a tiny thread in the beautiful web that this book is supposed to build.

And the metaphors. I'm all about immersing oneself into the universe, but this guy takes it too far. I give him credit for trying to make each character's voice sound different, but "The bala-bala lurched forward like a tauntaun with its tail stepped on" gets old after 300 pages. There are dozens of them, and while they are clever, I simply found them distracting. As if the author tried just a little too hard, and got in the way of his own storytelling.

Yes, this is harsh. But that's how I feel. I'm hoping the next one will be better, because I'd hate to have to ignore all of those lovely, Star Wars novels.

Although, I do have all of the comic books so far. So maybe I'll be okay.

12 October 2015

Life Gave Me the Bird

Fridays are my writing days. I don't have to go to my day job. I get to sleep in. I'm a morning person, so that means I'm up and going before 8am. Unless my rotten husband has kept me up late watching Supernatural or some other Netflix temptation. Still, I'm up by 8:30am. So much to do, so little time.

A few Fridays ago, I got up before 8am, exercised, showered and was in the midst of getting ready when the hubby finally rolled out of the house for work.

On a side note, my hubby is not a morning person, and I find it intensely gratifying to harass him until he gets out of bed. Flickering lights, curtains flung open, tickling toes, stealing blankets...I pretty much torture him. I may not go to heaven anyway, might as well make the most of it, right?

As I'm drying my hair, I hear a strange, metallic scratching sound. I thought it was the garage door or something, and ignored it. When it happened again, I continued to ignore it so I could finish my hair.

Don't judge me. My hair is fickle, and if I don't do it all at once, horrible, fluffy things happen.

Let's also note that we have indeed been watching Supernatural. I've never seen it before, so we're in the first few seasons where they go up against all of the good old urban legends. Creepy. I don't like weird noises.

The sound goes away. I'm ready for one last, intense session of outlining for my Jagged Scars series, I get breakfast, break out the lap top, position the TV tray, set everything down, sit down, am about to take a bite of my turkey sausage and egg white breakfast burrito (which tastes better than it sounded just then) and the scratching starts again.

Like four feet from my face.

I'm out of the couch and half way across the room before I realize that 1) I somehow managed to put my burrito down safely and 2) the sound is coming from the fireplace.

Scratching. Fireplace. In the living room. I have to put my heart back in my chest and take a few breaths before I can think straight.

Only once before in my life have I encountered something in my fireplace. It was a bird. That time I could hear the poor thing flapping. This intruder was just scratching.


Wonderful. I've never opened the doors to the fireplace, let alone figured out how to open the flue. And there could be a giant rat in there, which would drop down and dart around me and into the house. And it could be big enough to ram the doors hard enough to get out even if I did manage to get the glass doors closed before it could escape.

So what did I want? A giant rat in my house, or was I willing to listen to frantic, scratching noises all day until the hubby came home?

It only took me a few minutes to realize, the answer was neither.

I don't like wild animals. At all. Nature is great when it stays outside. I'm all for keeping it there.

But the scratching kept coming, and even with music on and all the way in my office, I could hear it. Crazed, angry, insistent claws on metal that, each time it sounded, made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

Let's also mention that I was about to embark on a very sensitive time of the month.

I only lasted about an hour before I decided something had to be done. But I was NOT going to open that door or the flue. No, no, no.

In today's world, what does one do when you have a problem? That's right, Google.

The mighty Google suggested that for a rodent down a chimney, to drop a rope for it to climb out with.

That sounds so easy. But remember, we've only lived her for two years, and neither of us had a house before that. So we're lacking a few things. Two of them being a rope that's bigger than twine, and a ladder that reaches the roof.

Seriously, I never knew how many things you needed to maintain a house.

By this point my independent nature had come out to see what was up, and decided that I could put my big girl pants on and get this thing done all by myself! As long as I didn't have to open the flue.

First problem, a ladder. Can't drop a rope if I can't get on the roof. So I sent a text to one of my neighbors, seeing if her hubby (who works nights) was up and if they had a ladder I could borrow. After an array of text messages and calls, her hubby dropped off the ladder and set it up for me.

I looked at the top of the ladder and noticed that it didn't extend very far above the roof.

At that moment, the rain started, and I said, "I guess I'll do this later. Don't want to go up there in the rain." My awesome neighbor left. I waited until  he was long gone, before gingerly climbing up the ladder until my head came even with the rain gutter.

The foot of ladder above the gutter instilled nothing but horror. The quick jerk I gave it dispelled any notions that I would be climbing up that thing without backup. I could get up, but that remount on the way down was going to be way too sketchy.

At this point I'd burned a good hour and a half, and had a lunch appointment. So I left for two hours, had a lovely time a lunch, watched the weather turn from rain to sleet to hail and back again before finally sort of cleared up.

By the time I got home, the sun was shining.

Big girl pants, just kept chanting in my mind, so I bugged my neighbor again and borrowed his two boys to come and be my back up.

I tried to sound tough as I nonchalantly asked them to hold the ladder while I climbed up and took care of the problem. The younger of the two asked, "What if whatever is in there climbs up while you're still up there?"

Great, there goes my cool demeanor.  I said,  "Well, you'll probably hear a lot of screaming."

I think he encouraged me not to fall off if that happened. Thanks, kid.

I have to admit, I got on the roof like a pro. I found the small hole in the mesh around the chimney cap, tied a tiny screwdriver to the rope I'd bought at Lowes, then lowered it down. I then tied the rope off, took a picture (duh, this is 2015) and then climbed back down.

Good thing for the boys, or I would have taken forever to get onto the ladder. Because they were watching, and I couldn't look weak, I only shook once before descending. I said thanks. They left. I went back inside and waited.

No scratching.

Hooray! I did it!

Time for some writing. Book 4 was still having some problems in the Bad Guys....


I froze and glared through the wall into the living room.

More scratching.

Dang it!

By this point it was late afternoon, so I gave my hubby a call. I told him what had happened, told him that I was supposed to meet his sister for dinner and shopping, and that I officially turned the problem over to him.

Tag honey, you're it.

I feel bad that I didn't feel bad just leaving him to it. By himself. Probably because he said, "Oh, is that what's been making that scratching sound since yesterday morning?"

Brat. Serves him right.

Turns out it was a bird. The hubby didn't Google (he's a man, and that would be like asking for directions) so after getting it out of the flue, he grabbed it and tossed it out the door. At least he put gloves on. Google would have told him to toss a shirt or something over it to calm it down. Instead, he almost got pecked. But not quite, so he's good.

And I supposed he's my hero.

And I still have to get back on the roof to patch the mesh around the cap.

Stupid bird. Way to mess up my Friday. If I don't make my 4 books in a month goal, I'm blaming you.

05 October 2015

Out of the Way, Nanowrimo, I'm Coming Through!

I mentioned a few weeks ago, that I went to the League of Utah Writers fall writing conference. It was lovely. Much better than I expected, and I learned a whole lot of little writing things. Or perhaps I needed reminding, and this was my venue. Either way, I'm glad I went.

As you all probably know, I Indie published a book called Fractured Memories at the end of May. It is the first installment of the Jagged Scars series. This is the story that's been kicking around in my head for almost twenty years. Wendy's been waiting to see the light of day for a long time.

I'm happy with the way the first book turned out. Most of the reviews the book has received have been positive, with people saying they would read the next book.

Well, I had a plan for the next book  to come out sometime next spring. I also had a plan for New Sight 2 to come out this fall and some short stories to go along with it that should already be out. If you read my last post, the short story plan mostly failed. And New Sight 2, while it's written, needs some serious revamping. Jagged Scars series was just a placeholder in the back of my mind.

While I was at the LUW conference, sitting in those splendid (sarcasm) chairs and listening to people talk, I had an idea strike me. Hard.

Like a kick to the jaw. I've taken a few of those in my time, so I know what it feels like. Yes, this felt like that. A wake up call of epic proportions that said, "What are you doing? Get off your duff and get writing what people want to read."

Yes, subconscious, I hear you. Please stop slapping me around.

Ouch! Cut it out!

Here's how it went in my head.

"You want these books to be around 60,000 words each, right? You can type 60,000 words in a month."
"Duh, of course I can."
"If you start on the first of September, you'll be finished with all four books by the end of the year."
"Yeah, and?"
"So, do it."
"Why not?"
"Because, I'll have to totally revise them all. I hate doing that."
"Okay, how can you prevent that?"
"I'm thinking."

Then it hit me.
What if I spent a month plotting. I mean, really plotting out the rest of the series? Plot arc, character arcs, bad guy arcs, cause and effect, world building, motivations, betrayals, love, hate...all of it.

I like to outline, but it's usually pretty loose, and I often stray from it.

I tried to ignore it, but this idea wouldn't leave me alone.

So guess what I've spent the last month doing? Plotting. Uncovering the puzzle pieces of my story and fitting them together in a way that I really, really hope will work.

The mad typing starts October 1st. 60,000 words (ish) each month through the end of January. I can do it.

For me, simply getting each novel finished will be satisfying, but I'm trying to figure out what kind of a reward I can give myself after each one.

Ideas? Please, fuel my insanity.