Geek Log – Star Date 4.25.2019

As of this week I have finished the second season of Star Trek Discovery and, while I know I will read some blog post bemoaning over-used tropes and character complaints, I maintain my love of this series.

Michael Burnham’s character continues to engage me, and the resolution with her brother Spock was satisfying to the extreme.

Speaking of Spock… The actors who continue to reprise this role have all done so with great respect to the original – our beloved Leonard Nemoy – and I find myself loving each incarnation. Ethan Peck’s version was everything I needed it to be in this season – though I did prefer the beard.

The surprise for me was how much I loved Christopher Pike. I want very much to follow this character, though I recognize the story will likely not take us via Enterprise again.

I am uncertain where season 3 will take us, but I look forward to finding out.

Prepping for Submission – March Round Robin 2019

I know this goes against the age-old adage not to edit your book as you write, but to keep going until you’re finished and THEN edit but… I totally don’t do that.

Normally, I write the first 3/4 of the book and then go back, edit and take notes on what I’ve got so that I can see what subplots need tied up and what characters I lost in the narrative. Once I reach my stopping point, I have a clear view of what the ending needs to be and move on from there.

Then I have a third draft, which gives me the word count and helps me write the synopsis alongside it.

But I broke my own rules with The Melody of Bones and this newest approach seems to work even better. Before I explain, I should leave a disclaimer that I have a wonderful husband who works and allows me a great deal more time to write than some, so this might not work for you if you can’t block out large periods of time for writing.

He also spoiled me with a super-awesome laptop that has a pen-function so I can take notes directly on the screen instead of constantly printing things out. So keep that in mind too.

Currently I have 3 drafts going on the same novel, all at once.

I got to the 3/4 mark and started my major revision, using the ‘track changes’ portion of my word program so I could go through and review what was going on. At the beginning of my writing time, I track those changes, accepting them and permanently inserting it into the novel, for about three chapters.

This reminds me of what I’ve changed.

After I’ve done at least three chapters – sometimes more, depending on what other work needs doing that day – I start writing the new stuff. I aim for 1500 new words a day, inching my way through that last quarter of the novel.

This is normally where all the BIG action is, and it always takes me a long time to write, which tends to be depressing for a writer. We don’t like it when we feel like we’re slogging through the swamp of sadness.

Which is why, at the end of the day, I take that neat pen/tablet mode and start from the beginning of the novel, highlighting typos and sentences that feel off. These bits will be fixed when I do my 4th draft.

Another recent change I’ve made is that I am writing the synopsis at the same time as the novel. I work on it once a week (on Tuesdays) so that by the time the 4th draft is completed, I should have something palatable for agents/editors.

Maybe.

The synopsis is the great nemesis of the novelist, after all. I’m never quite sure if I’ve nailed it.

See what my fellow authors do to polish their work…

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1dm
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Love and Relationships – February 2019 Round Robin

Not to sound too much like a prude but I blushed my way through my first intimate scene. All I could think was that my mother was going to read this and the next time I see her there will be that long, awkward moment when she tells me she liked the book and then won’t look me in the face.

Which is probably why that scene lasted all of two paragraphs in Sedition. The sequel had a much longer scene, but after Saboteur I came to a place in my writing where I recognized that as much as I enjoy love stories, I did not enjoy explaining what 100% of the adult reading public already knows how to do.

Granted, there is a HUGE market where authors are making bank on steamy scenes. I even read some of them.

Are there boundaries I think shouldn’t be crossed in writing?

Well… That depends on if you’re asking professional-writer-me or happy-reader-me.

Professional-writer-me understands that the moment we censure fiction is the moment we’ve crossed into someone’s freedom. That said, there are things that even romance publishers express as tasteless and wrong, and I agree with them.

Because I don’t want to trigger anyone who may have suffered from trauma, I will leave it at that.

Happy-reader-me skips over steamy scenes.

I just do.

It’s nothing against the writing. If I’ve made it to that scene, it means the relationship in the novel has progressed enough and engaged me enough to keep me going. The steamy-scene is just sort of… obligatory?

I also do not enjoy writing the typical romance novel where strangers meet and grow into lovers. This is probably because I have a general fear of meeting new people – Introverts Unite! – and all my experiences have been full of anxiety and paranoia.

BUT…

I am a romantic.

My stories are full of characters who love each other, but it is a love that has grown naturally over the course of the story . And honestly, I am more interested in seeing how that love defines the lives of the characters and shapes who they are both as a couple and as individuals.

I like stories about marriages.

Nelek and Trenna, who star in the Sedition Series, are a marriage.

In the Tapped series, Seach and Jorry grew into a romance after many years together.

Cordon and Tessa, who will be in my upcoming novel The Soul Between Us, were married young but military/life pulled them apart. Their story is about mending a bridge.

So where does that leave me in the romance/relationship aspect of storytelling?

I want my readers to love how my characters love each other, and that goes beyond the bedroom. It goes into the sacrifices they make for the other person, the decisions they make as a team, and ultimately the story they have to tell.

I can pretty much guarantee that my intimate scenes will fade to black. They exist because intimacy is a part of every relationship, and without it there would be some serious alarm bells going on for every marriage counselor out there, but sometimes even fictional characters deserve some privacy.

See what my fellow authors have to say about relationships in fiction…

Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1vP
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Near The End

There’s a moment in every book where you’re so close to the end you can taste it and suddenly you lose all talent you ever possessed.

Poof!

Gone in an instant.

Or at least, this is what happens to me. It’s different for every writer, but it seems universal that we all come to a point where we realize what hacks we are.

The tension isn’t there. The characters are flat. The setting is nonexistent and we’ve discovered a love of one word that keeps repeating itself every other sentence.

Mine is the word ‘just’ if you’re wondering. He just managed to catch it. She just loved him. If she could just stop using the word just she might be capable of writing something worth reading.

I digress.

My moment of self-loathing always comes near the end of the novel. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind this, like I don’t want the story to end because I’ve spent so many hours commiserating with these characters that I just (see?) can’t let them go.

Or this is when my self-doubt rears its head because the next phase in this process (after editing) is querying and sweet holy banana’s on toast, how I hate querying.

Whatever the reasons, it’s there. And it’s a bear to get through. But if you’re a writer out there and you identify with anything I’ve said in this post, then allow me to stand in solidarity with you.

It sucks, but you’re not alone. Take a deep breath. Eat some ice cream. And let’s get back to work.

January Round Robin – Secondary Characters

When I started writing Tapped – my science fiction about rogue super-soldiers inadvertently starting an underground railroad in space – the character named Seach Barlow was secondary. He was meant to be a complication on the road to happiness in Jorry’s life, a memory of who she had been in the war, and a reminder of what she had lost.

Their freedom had come from the sacrifice of one I thought was the other major character of the tale; Johnathan Relo. The man had given himself up so that Seach and Jorry could get away from the authorities; men who meant to trap them in a quasi-prison that would take away their autonomy. Relo is, in my estimation, a true hero; a man who was willing to lay down his life for his friends and the woman he loved.

With Relo casting such a shadow on the narrative, it was easy to put Seach into a little corner – at first. But Seach had other plans. As the story progressed, he began pushing himself to the front, proving that he was every bit as heroic as Relo when he rescued a man on Pluto. And then again, on Neptune, when Seach kept his cool under interrogation, inevitably aiding in their escape.

At every turn, Seach was there.

Midway through the rough draft I realized how much more interesting Seach was. He had spent too much time with Jorry not to have formed a profound bond, and since he knew about the romance between Relo and Jorry, it caused a great deal of inner turmoil for him. But more than that was the fact that he showed up every day. Perhaps he would have laid down his life the same way Relo did, but that’s not the way his story turned.

His sacrifice was of a more subtle manner, and as I came to understand it, a far more profound one.

And that is how Seach bumped himself up from Secondary character to a Main POV character, and one of my favorites. He will forever hold a special place in my heart, and in the books. Dealing with him has helped me broaden my focus when writing, forcing me to dig deeper whenever a character makes their way onto the page.

Interestingly enough, my current project has been nudging my character development skills as well. I am editing Castle of Three Kings and, in fickle writerly fashion, I decided to switch from Third Person Limited to First Person POV. This change has required me to focus more intently on how the secondary characters affect my POV character.

Given that we live in First Person POV, this shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. Every person I meet affects me somehow, even if only in passing, and it should be no different for my character Kevin. But in asking how these secondary characters affect Kevin, I am also having to question the motivations and machinations of these characters.

It’s been a journey, and a fun one at that. I’m looking forward to seeing how the finished product looks.

Take a minute to check out what my fellow authors have to say about Secondary Characters in this month’s Round Robin…

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1tC
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://rhobincourtright.com/

Book Review – Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

I’ve made no secret of my family’s love for the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik and this book, while ending on a gut-wrenching note, did not disappoint. Because we all enjoy this series, we listened to it together in the car. Laurence continues to be a steadfast man of honor and I enjoy the way he negotiates through life as an aviator, dealing with prejudices and less-than-honorable politics.

Temeraire the dragon is a source of joy, and the interactions between dragon and Captain Laurence are always a delight.

I will note, however, that near the end of the book both my husband and I had to read ahead on our own because we needed to know what was going to happen. There is a distressing situation that crops up, and in fact my husband – traitor that he is – snagged the next book to read without me.

(Note: He did this without telling me, which is why he gets an extra special glare.)

As to the novel itself, I find Novik’s narrative fluid and comfortable, easy to both listen to and read. I enjoy the moral pickles she puts her characters into, and the heroic means in which they meet such challenges. This series continues to be a joy to read and the cats in our house have all been honored with dragon names because of them.

Wherein I Forecast 2019 (Writing-wise, of course)

Last week I noted the things that I managed to complete in 2018 – which was a lot and I’m still patting myself on the back for a good year. I recognize that only die-hard fans really care about this stuff, and for those of you out there who count yourselves among this rare breed of reader, let it be known that I love you all and pray you never change.

For those who watch the blog for the writing class updates and other content, this might not be the post for you. And that’s OK!

If, for reasons neither of us can fully explain, the idea of peeking inside an author’s deadline calendar entices you, then I fully welcome you to read on. Otherwise, this is mostly to keep my head on straight through the year.

So, what do I want to accomplish in 2019?

  • A short story every month. These stories will vary in theme and substance and, hopefully, will find their way into the market. Others may find their way onto this site for FREE content.
  • 2nd and 3rd drafts of The Castle of Three Kings completed. And then, of course, start submitting this MG/YA story to places.
  • 2nd and 3rd drafts of The 13th Month completed. Also with the submission process in full swing.
  • Record Enemy Souls into audio to be released in segments for FREE. The hard copy will be available for sale if people don’t want to wait a week to find out what happens.
  • Release the Fact vs. Fiction edition of Tapped at the same time as Enemy Souls.
  • Inmate rough draft. (Camp Nano)
  • Warpath rough draft. (Nano)
  • City of Cemeteries rough draft.

I am sure I’ll get sidetracked by something and replace stuff and/or scrap a project, but for now I’m sticking with this list. I look forward to seeing how much of this I can get done and I hope everyone else has fun in the coming year.