Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sharing is Caring

Folie à deux. Essentially, a psychosis shared simultaneously by two people. I'm sure I'd heard the phrase more than once in my life, but most recently, and specifically, heard it attached to Ursula and Sabine Eriksson (here's the Wikipedia, but here's the Cracked article where I first learned about them).

What causes somebody to "go crazy" (obviously, "crazy" isn't really the most PC to refer to this, nor the most effectively with regards to expressing diagnostics)? Granted, we in the business may call something like that a psychotic break, and as a total layperson who knows next to nothing about the case, I won't call it a schizophrenic break, as they appear to be free-range at this point and nobody in fact seems to bring up schizophrenia, that I've seen (or that I remember, anyway). But both twins? At the same time? That's some road trip.

You can watch the documentary about the Erikssons, Madness in the Fast Lane, at Documentary Storm, which has a number of free documentaries available to watch streaming (so you're aware, if you do watch Madness in the Fast Lane, they play the footage of the women getting hit by cars on the freeway repeatedly. Spoilers: they survive.). I don't remember liking documentaries much in the past, or maybe I didn't really think about it. But I like them quite a lot now. Maybe they've gotten better? Maybe I'm just a grown up? Whatever.

But, introduce a notion like folie à deux into a consciousness like mine, and I wonder two things: how many "freak occurrences" can be attributed to it, and how can I use it in a story? Is it useful in the case of establishing an unreliable narrator? Or is that too much? Just something to add to the subconscious stew.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why are you making duck face, Julie?

Coworker 1: I've dreamed about babies two nights in a row.
Coworker 2: Well, let's hope you don't do it a third time, because it'll come true.
Me: Nah, it just means an incubus has been visiting you in your sleep.
Coworker 1: What is wrong with you?

Me: When I'm on, I'm on. When I'm off, I get told jokes are for other people.

While eating jelly beans:

Fiancè: Wow, mixing flavors is always a bad idea.
Friend: It's a party in your mouth and everybody is throwing up?
Fiancè: I can taste purple and aftershave.
Friend: Ralph Loren has a new
Me: Jellybean?
Friend: If there was a Polo jellybean, I'd do it.
Me: Of course you would.
Friend: Well, I had an incident once with Polo. I got some on my hands and then my hands got
Me: Your hand got in your mouth?
Friend: If it gets near my mouth, it goes in. But it was kind of peppery.

Me: So, I'm worried. You haven't said "What is wrong with you" for awhile. Not today certainly. Maybe not since last week.
Coworker: I guess I'm just used to everything.
Me: Oh, so I need to up the ante?
Coworker: I guess.
Me: Did you know that the raccoon penis actually has a bone in it?
Coworker: Why do you know that?
Me: Well, you can buy them on Etsy.
Coworker: What...why..what were you even searching that you found that out? What is wrong with you?
Me: I saw a snake vertebrae necklace once so I wanted to see what else was out there. There's a lot of taxidermied stuff on Etsy.
Coworker:  ....

Me: I'm not a total spaz, come on. I want examples.
Fiance: Okay. Well there's that time you ran into a concrete pillar while walking. And you punched yourself in the face. And you used to throw your fries on the floor every time we got McDonald's. And your perpetual toe injuries.
Me: Is that it?
Fiancè: You know that's more than normal people have, right?

Me: I just need to put on my jewelry, and I'll be ready to go.
Fiancè: Who's Julie and why are you talking to me like that?
Me: Jewelry. My jewelry.
Fiancè: Oh, okay. I'll be on the porch. Julie.
*call each other Julie for the rest of the day*
Fiancè: What is wrong with us?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why "Learn to Howl" is different

I understand there are a lot of agents who don't want to see werewolves anymore. There are some agents who never wanted to see werewolves in the first place. That's cool. I didn't write a werewolf book (and start a second, with the third in a "notes" sort of stage) because I was thinking about what other people were writing, and reading.

Of course, now I have to. Once Learn to Howl has been read by people who are not me, had appropriate things added in certain places, and been edited within an inch of its pages, I need to write the query letter that says BUY MY BOOK. And the query letter that says why my werewolf book is different from the others.

I can do it in in "normal language", certainly. I can tell you that Learn to Howl is an Urban Fantasy novel about family, and the decisions people (or werewolves) make when people they love are involved. I can tell you Learn to Howl is about responsibility, and change (with an absence of puns), and about learning how to feel comfortable in your own skin. And oh yeah, there are werewolves. Obviously, that figures pretty heavily in the story, or I wouldn't be worried about having written the next To Kill a Mockingbird or something.

I can tell you the wolves of Learn to Howl do not need the full moon to change, nor does it affect them overly much. Silver does. I've kept the werewolf origin of the family to folklore that I've read, but of course made my own fictional changes. Werewolves are born, not "made".  No other magic is actually involved with the story; no telepathy, no "pack bindings", no Alpha theory. No dominance, no submission, or at least not any more than "regular folks" might use when being overbearing, or not. I use a lot of body language, because body language (canine and otherwise) is interesting and effective.

Any resemblance to people living or dead is strictly coincidental.

I have to learn how to express this in query letter language. I have to reflect these things so that I'm not expressly assuring the reader, "Oh yeah, it's in there" but so the reader takes it away from my 250 word or less letter and actually wants to read the pages. And then wants to request the full (Janet Reid, though I will not be querying her with Learn to Howl, has said that with electronic subs, if she requests, it's the full. Because why not?)

With NaNoWriMo looming, and Learn to Howl "resting", I'm not really working on the query right now anyway because, well, I don't wanna. I was perhaps correct, a few months back, when I wondered if I should query The Last Song first (to get my foot in the genre door, as it were). Of course, The Last Song isn't finished, or fully edited, so it's far behind in the process. And right now, while planning for NaNoWriMo, is not the time to start editing it.

And oh yes, of course I started planning for NaNoWriMo far too soon, and when I realized I couldn't start writing my occult biker novel, my brain put it on a shelf and presented me with another novel entirely. This one is actually based in a place I've been, if you can believe such a thing (Asbury Park). It will be Urban Fantasy; I'm just going to go ahead and embrace that it's my thing (like I've been fighting that anyway). And I've got that rosy "Maybe this one is the one" sort of feeling associated with starting a new idea I quite like.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And then he was a she....

So, apparently they found a sealed tomb that's like, 2600 years old. They went "Oh, woo, Etruscan warrior prince!"

My title may have included spoilers.

You see, the warrior "prince" was a "princess".

Now, I am not an archaeologist, or a forensic anthropologist (though I wish I'd thought up that career path 15 years ago and I might be. Ah well). But I know, know, that there are people in those professions who are trained to tell sex from just skeletal remains. Which, y'know, they figured out eventually. But why did it take any kind of time? Was this just confirmation bias? Etruscans with spears must be male?

Well, evidently the Etruscans defied gender roles (gasp!) because the spear in said sealed tomb belonged to the female skeleton, and the jewelry belonged to the male. They think maybe the spear was a status thing. So maybe she wasn't a warrior princess. Or maybe she was! Who knows anything about Etruscans anyway? (They are not one of my niche interests, I must plead ignorance. I at least know how the word is pronounced.)

Bonus to every source which put a picture of Xena in their article on this topic. I will not, as I do not wish to be sued. But I loved that Goddamn show (well, until it got kinda wonky in the later seasons, SPOILERS with Gabriella also being a warrior princess and Xena having a baby and going to Tibet or some such. But Hercules got weird too, what with the Ireland trip and perhaps time travel? END SPOILERS)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Theme Song

I've talked before about listening to music while I write. Hell, my "Nirvana" station on Pandora helped me pull out my 2012 NaNoWriMo win. I think because music has been so ingrained for me, in the car, or at home in my room, or in the basement while I played pool against myself, or in college trying to do work, or even now, with my novel playlists and Pandora stations and whatnot, it only makes sense to seek out that connection. I want a piece of music to evoke a piece of writing. I want it to help me with the mood, the setting.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pieces of flair....

While I'm not a fan of the "8-bit" theme for this year's NaNoWriMo, I don't have a problem "representing". This one I dig, the coffee, the lightbulb, the.....sneaker? Well, whatevs.

I got super excited at the beginning of October, and started planning for NaNoWriMo. Then I was ready to write, and lookee here, it's only October 16. Freaking October anyway. So now I'm in the research/screw around phase, in which I don't want to start another project, or work on something else too intensively, which will make it hard for me to get to my occult bikers.

So, NaNoWriMo "writer flair", anyway. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Question of Voice

In the 90's, if you picked up and read a Stephen King book, you damn well knew it was a Stephen King book. Even if it was a Bachman Book (which is something he addresses in the introduction to my worn, red covered paperback collection of The Bachman Books, of which Roadwork is probably my favorite, though it fights sometimes with The Long Walk). His voice was strong, familiar, recognizable. There were certain bits of diction, and dialogue tags, that would make you smile and nod your head. Yup, Steve is in fine voice today. This one's good for the long haul.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Year Anniversary

Two years ago, I wrote the Pilot post of this blog.

At the time, I was under contract to publish an anthology of short stories with a small press. The date kept getting pushed back, though, and then the publisher went on hiatus. So I asked for my rights back. Said publisher seems to not be operating as such any longer. So, I guess I dodged a bullet?

I started this blog with the purpose of "building my platform", getting people interested in my writing, et cetera. My intent for this blog has always been more than Buy My Book! shilling, though. I wrapped up that very first post saying

"I feel that a good writer needs to read.  I believe that a good writer learns about the world, and never stops learning, regardless of whether there's a classroom. Writing, authoring, is a process and a journey, and I hope you enjoy coming with me. "
I still believe these things; it's one reason I'll post on seemingly random topics, like black market rhino horns and James Bond's pants. They're things I've learned about, and find interesting, and all of that is story fodder. I will probably never write a story that revolves around said pants or rhinos, but it might come up in conversation. I might throw it in for flavor, a cultural reference instead of a literary one.

So, to those of you who are still reading, thank you! To those of you who are new, thank you and welcome! I hope you enjoy my crazy train of thought here, and I hope to one day be able to write a post in which I do, in fact, suggest that you buy my book.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My First Poe

My first Poe exposure was from the Simpsons. It was their very first Treehouse of Horror special, in the second season, in 1990. I realize now what a very long time the Simposons has been going, and also how long it's been since I've watched it (years and years). My dad would watch it with me, and In Living Color, which came on right before if I'm remembering right. He ascertained, correctly, that over-my-head jokes wouldn't bother me because they were, y'know, over my head.

But I digress.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Write 'em or Lose 'em

Typically, when I write, I write a story from beginning to end. I don't cherry pick scenes to write and then string it all together once it's finished. I don't write the end first, and then go back to the beginning.

When I'm planning to write, it's also typically in the loosest sense. I kind of think about it. Consider story angles. Think about characters I'd like to explore, experience, whatever. When the words start coming is when I start writing. If I don't write those words, I'll lose them.

It's one reason I'm what's referred to as a "pantser", in NaNoWriMo jargon. I write "by the seat of my pants". Because in NaNoWriMo, everything you put into your novel must be fresh words, not sentences or paragraphs or passages written in the time that came before.

If I prepare too much, I start getting sentences. If I don't write them, I lose them.

So, I've done my planning for NaNoWriMo. I'm doing the research bit now, though my library system is a bit slim on topics of the occult. Ah well, I can use the Interweb, which is not slim on topics of the occult.

I've also been doing more work on The Wolf You Feed. Not editing, mind you. The first portion of the book is still how I left it. But writing some end chapter stuff, which I do not typically do. But I know how I want those portions to go, and there is no rule that says you must write your book in order. Or if there is, fuck that rule. I don't care. I'm writing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The importance of NaNoWriMo

I can sympathize, really I can.

I'm sure there comes a time where people are like "For the love of God, if I hear NaNoWriMo one more time, I'm going to pistol whip somebody." I know there are people who bang out a novel in November and then merrily start subbing it to actual publishing professionals in December and January. I hear that and I cringe. I feel that agents must cringe as well, when they hear about NaNoWriMo, then grit their teeth and wait for the aftermath.

As you might guess, I'm not one of those writers. Other than Suzie Townsend's query critique thing she did last month, I've yet to contact an agent with a query (I'll occasionally tweet at/with one, or comment on a blog, but that's been it so far). Sure, I've been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2007. Does it mean a single one of those novels is query-able? Not yet.

"But Jen," you ask, "doesn't that make it a waste of time?"

Well, no.

See, the beauty of NaNoWriMo, the magic of it, is that it's intended to be sheer madness. It's supposed to be pell-mell words on a page. Words you never have to read again, or words you can spit shin to your heart's content....after November. I've in fact discovered NaNoWriMo works best for me when it's a project I technically don't care about. When it's a project I'm not afraid of screwing up by throwing myself down its mountain.

It's a complex notion, for me. It doesn't really mean I don't care about the book. But if it's an idea that I thought was dreadfully clever, and have toyed around with and babied in my thought process....yeah, the first draft that NaNoWriMo will produce might not be what I envision for that project. Or I'll get all wound up about getting something right and choke halfway through (NaNoWriMo 2010, I'm looking at you).

I think that 2007 and 2008, my first two, were also my most complete. The novels are technically "finished", and though I've reread parts, I haven't edited, polished, nothing. Both would require severe rewrites, I daresay, but they have a story arc. 2009 was the year I wrote my Second Unfinished Steampunk Novel. 2010 I got to about 23k words and was dead in the water for three days before I started a new novel, blasted through 20k words, and ran out of time. So almost 50k total there, just not on the same novel. 2011 was Another Unfinished Steampunk novel, wherein I muddled my waters with zombies, and I won't be doing that again. 2012 I laid down the groundwork for The Wolf You Feed, the sequel to Learn to Howl.

And 2013, I have a plan, I've named my main character and changed it at least once already, and I've got a rough idea of the opening chapters.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Something unique

So, my NaNoWriMo idea is in the oven, or the slow cooker, or whatever food preparation mechanism my brain and subconscious have cobbled together when they're making novel stew but don't want to let me taste it yet. Solar oven? Whatevs.

But, I have a general idea that I'm doing an Urban Fantasy thing (big surprise there, right?) involving bikers and Something Supernatural™. So, to get an idea of what's out there on the market, I've been searching things like "supernatural bikers" and "urban fantasy bikers" on Amazon, in addition to my usual searches for new books on motorcycle clubs.

There's more stuff there than I expected there to be (and who expected there to be paranormal biker werewolf romance? Not I!), but nothing that appears to be what I actually intend. There's some demon slayer witch girl series thing, and lots of werewolves, though still not my kind of werewolves, even though they will not be making an appearance. Maybe werewolves of my urban fantasy world's type will get mentioned by somebody, it only makes sense, but this is not a werewolf novel.

I also saw some biker Kindle book that was listed for $199.99, no joke. I wonder if it was a typo? I probably couldn't find it again now if I tried, because of course saving it to link as an example (or whatever) clearly would've made too much sense.

Also, I'm still battling this cold...whatever that I have, which is making my attention span and comprehension skills a little interesting. I was transfixed by tea tree oil floss in the grocery store today, and though I do dearly love the smell of tea tree oil, I do not love flossing, nor the idea of spending six bucks on floss. And of course I have a headache too (though not a migraine, dear Elka would have told me about that, if I didn't notice on my own). So I'm simply left with the dear wish that the people at the grocery store don't just think I'm on drugs. Because I'm not.