29 May 2011 0 comments

Behold, the Writer at Work

Scrivener & 'ZeroDraft' side by side.

Yes, more Scrivener porn.
Yes, it does happen to be the Trunk Novel.
There are pieces of it, character sketches and interactions, that are in my mind worth salvaging. At least insofar as they can serve as inspiration and/or catalyst for content I'm working on. Aerdin and his 'shadow blades' were a fascinating little piece I randomly muse-gasmed into existence. No real sheaths… they hide in the shadows of his aural energy, after a fashion. Completely out of sight, and feel, but within easy reach… though only for him.

A little detail I don't want to lose in the rewrite. There are others. Like Aerdin's little 'battle of wills' face-off against Renji. Faulkon versus Idolon. Should be interesting in the rewrite… I'm looking forward to that particular scene. Just need to plot the outline far enough to determine where it's going to fit in.

It feels like the dual POV in this story is going to revolve around providing a contrast into the motivations of the changes in each man's life. Not just for the sake of romantic interest. Jaedyn is driven by a need for vengeance—someone should pay for his father's death. For the attack decades earlier that resulted in his retirement. In his grief, he holds the Emendatio directly responsible for their lack of vigilance even though in both instances the serpens are to blame. Renji, rather unexpectedly, appears driven by duty to his aedis. How long he will let that sense of duty dictate the direction of his life's course, I'm uncertain… Though I suspect that as long as it doesn't conflict directly with his personal interests, he'd accept it.

Time to start plotting out that point of contention, then…
24 May 2011 0 comments

Reverting to the Old Way

The Green Book. Obviously.
I've not made any real big secret of the fact that my accumulation of wordcount has suffered a good bit in recent weeks/months. In general I've not been overly concerned about it. Not every book I write will come pouring out the way my co-write with Aleks did. 'Black' did, in its own way, but it was over the course of a few consecutive NanoWrimo events. And then it took some time to finish, and edit.

I've been trying to draft a scene of a funeral rite for my fantasy novel. Jaedyn is 'burying' (I use the term very loosely) his father. The scene has been a potato chip stuck in my craw for weeks now. I sat out on the porch yesterday evening, and out of sheer desperation grabbed a notebook and pen. And wonder of wonders, words flowed.

It was a relief, actually. Oh, words. On a page. On multiple pages, in fact. They're so beautiful. And the slide of a good pen on paper is … okay I'll say it. Sensual, in its own special way. Probably in a way that only a person with an addiction for writing could viably appreciate or comprehend, but I do love that Zebra with its metal shaft.

And yes, my handwriting is naturally that "sickeningly neat". I can write sloppily, but I have to either focus on it, or be so exhausted that I shouldn't be awake anyways. Look, you can almost read it!

Yes, that is the Latin word emeritus there in the text. My fantasy work is chock full of Latin terms and phrases… Not a particularly nouveau concept, granted, but one I'm finding great enjoyment and meaning in, as opposed to arbitrary creation of random "world-centric" terms. There's deeper meaning to it than that, of course, but whether that will actually come out in the course of the story remains to be seen.

So toward the goal of furthering the word flow (even though it will obviously require transcribing, which doubles the effort involved) I'm off to sit on the porch with my notebook, a cup of coffee, and my Zebra. And listen to some Frank Sinatra. He's singing "Witchcraft" at the moment…
18 May 2011 0 comments

The Big Five-Oh

As in my fiftieth blog post, not a reflection of law enforcement confrontations or that annual celebration of older—further from birth, closer to death, whatever.

I wanted this blog post to be a milestone of sorts, so I'd been giving it some thought. And I'm sitting here in the chaise lounge on my front porch, watching the dark clouds roll through, sporadic cloudbursts of rain interspersed with the spring-happy chirping of a hundred birds. And the rotor sound of the occasional Blackhawk. Contemplating the parallels and the bigger picture. The past few days have been a strange culmination of my writing lethargy as of late.

Father of All Things was the reason this blog was born. The first steps into creating public visibility of myself, and while there's plenty of room for expansion, improvement and optimization here…this will do, for now. At heart, I'm a simple person. Despite my predilection for convoluted ramblings. This is my first foray into the nitty-gritty of publishing. And while I'm feeling my way around on this journey, getting a sense for the interactions, relationships, and players…much of the rest I can see clearly.

Whether those that deal or interact with me from a professional standpoint realize this or not is vague at best. It's not as if I've gone out of my way to detail just what my education is, or how much I have of it. Application through experience of the hands-on variety is given greater weight and respect, and therein—for the time being—lies my greatest weakness. My education, insight, and understanding are moot.

I have no preexisting author brand, cultivated with blood sweat and tears. Does it bother me when I lend someone my lapis amulet and they slap red paint on it to match their attire better? Why certainly it does. I'd say it makes no sense to borrow something other than what you're really after. Better to showcase the assets than to cover them up and try to hawk them off as something less than what they are. Stage jewelry is, after all, rather easily acquired.

As it stands, the novel's release date marks its birth. Or close to it. That has meaning for me. As much as the novel itself, very much a labor of love. It has grown and matured over the course of the past nine months. Gestation and rebirth, perhaps?

Business models, managerial proficiency, marketing strategies, subcontractor relations, and excessive legalese. So often the artistry gets trampled beneath the feet of professionalism and the march to acquire more, more, more of the almighty dollar.

I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love. Or respect. Or honesty. Or integrity.

I'm a people-watcher, not prone to engaging in socialization. I'd rather sit and observe. And attempt to deduce an answer for the question, "how do you define your ethics and priorities?" The influence of one too many psychology electives, perhaps, but Sun Tzu is the one whose philosophy was functionally Know yourself and know your enemy…and know victory.


Deviating from the 'norm'

There's a reason why there are a variety of publishers out there. They choose a cross-section of the consumers toward which to gear their reputation and marketing. Once established, a rare few are willing to bend the parameters within which they deem a book's concepts and sub-genres 'acceptable' to their business model.

Ultimately, that's why a writer has to choose carefully a publishing house that fits the book they've written. Let it never be said that one limits the content or parameters of what is written strictly to what sells. If it can be written, with quality and depth, it can be sold. Full stop.

I spent many years frustrated by the limited content of quality stories on the market. The ones that venture into the darker shadows, that shed the skin of socio-cultural norms, and liberate the reader one eloquent word at a time. I recall thinking at one point, in frustration --

"Must I write every book I want to read?"

Thankfully, I don't. And in the past decade, the emerging market of electronic publishing has made it a less daunting task for publishing houses to delve into sub-genres that are less mainstream, and more niche. Not less of a risk. but less daunting.

The nice thing about it is being able to watch the niche markets gain weight and momentum. Granted, I doubt they'll ever spill into mainstream. But they have a strong and burgeoning slice of the customer base, and I can tell you now -- that's not going to go away.

Not with DADT being revoked. Not with the US Navy floundering over the permissibility of same-sex marriages on their bases. Welcome to the new world, mainstream writers. I expect you'll need to open that envelope of yours and step outside your box, toss away the formulas and inject some life into your stories if you want to stay competitive.

Why am I rambling this way?
I don't structure my writing strictly around the mainstream definitions of "what sells", but I have recently instigated a fresh story based on a specific submission call. And, like the social deviant that I am, the story immediately swung way out over left field and soared straight (haha) out of the park.

And as the story unfolds, I find I have my fingers crossed as I hope for a home run and not a foul ball. There are these blurry ethical lines at the edges of science fiction and fantasy. Does shifter sex constitute bestiality, if the shifter is fully sapient no matter the form? Do you apply the same rules of constraint to an alien species that is only marginally humanoid? Ethically speaking, the parameters as I have understood them have existed solely as a bounds of "one does not engage in sexual acts with a partner incapable of consent without duress." [For the purposes of this discussion, maturity is assumed.]

Granted a reader's sensitivity to the subject plays into the equation. But the Merriam-Webster definition uses "lower animal" -- can one safely draw the assumption that "lower" is a reference to intellect, awareness, and higher brain function, not physical stature?

Thus, the grey area that blurs the ethics, the reader's comfort zone, and causes many a publisher to shy away from a story. My endeavor, however, is to depict my aliens not as "lower", but as equals if not betters. That they choose to live in harmony with the ecology of their planet as opposed to destroying it with 'civilization' would echo strongly of Avatar. But I thought that movie echoed strongly of white man's invasion of North America, of stripping the land from the natives, down to the tribal diversity. The only deviation truly being the whisper of This is what would have happened, if the Indians had stood together sooner.

Of course, the short story I'm delving into has no such lofty aspirations.
And perhaps now that I've thought at least part of the way through this ethical quandary I created for myself, I can find my way back into actually getting the damned thing written.