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Feelin’ Like A Struck Match

 

Me staring at the screen with my good eye.

Me staring at the screen with my good eye. The other one burned out.

The back of my eyeballs hurt.

This is the un-fun part of authorship. The point right before publication, raking through each chapter one mo’ gen, making sure there’s no escaping extra spaces, or errant commas, or misspelled names. Yes, I’ve managed to misspell my own characters’ names in several places.

These are the tasks put upon me by my editing team. This dynamic duo (and thankfully, came as a two-fer) are cleaning through I Blew Up Juarez with katana-like precision. But like respectful editors, they let me have last glance and last say.

So yesterday I spent the better part of twelve hours adding literary putty to fill in cracks in the plot, confirmed changes by chapter, and committed to the spelling of Maclaggan as Maclaggan, not McLaggan, not MaClaggan, no, these fuckers are called Maclaggan!! And to prepare you for your reading engagement, it’s pronounced mack-lag-gun. You British Empire folk can throw in your customary lilt where it’s right for you, I ain’t stoppin’ ya.

I’ve hit Send on the processed file, and now it’s in the hands of The Dynamic Duo. I need to rest my eyeballs, so I’m spending the rest of the day putting together the world’s best stew for tomorrow’s get-together at the demigoddess’s house. I’ll be reading a chapter from the book, not any that are already posted. If you’re attending, awesome, if not, indulge in some escapism, courtesy of yo gurl.

Happy Thursday! It’s Thursday, right??

How Many Times Do I Need To Talk To You??

There's the end! Look, it's the beginning! Ah! The End! No, it's The Beginning!

There’s the end! Look, it’s the beginning! Ah! The End! No, it’s The Beginning!

I said this out loud today. To my supporting character.

As the photo demonstrates, I am chasing my tail, creatively speaking. I’m so close to clamping the end of this danged revision. Seriously, I can smell the “The End”! But then I have that, oh, but one more thing… moment, feeling I’m closing out the story without providing enough for the reader to close out to.

If I’m not careful, this is gonna become Lonesome Dove sized! And the sad thing is, even if I do add on and add on, once the editor gets his hands on it, it might not even matter.

Taking a break, for now. I’ll ooze out the remainder of what I think is necessary into the file, and I bet 70% will be trashed by the next time I read this. Oh, sweet Muses, get me out of this spiral!

Confidence and Adversity Shouldn’t Fight

I had that moment again.

The garrulous absurdity to actualize my station in life out loud, in front of other people. A verbal check-in/confirmation: I am at where I planned to be this time two years ago. I am on schedule.

The result of that mis-slip of affirmation: a reminder someone else hasn’t got it all figured out.

It’s not a competition, homie. Nor is it your role to turn on the shit spigot. We should take moments to celebrate other people’s achievements. We should swim in their wakes. It’s a terrible aspect of American social conditioning: if someone is happy, do your part to shut it down, immediately!

Two months, people. My first fiction novel is available to you in TWO. MONTHS. My project management skills have gotten me to the point of final editing towards full publication, but good ol’ gumption got me to proclaim that I exist in an artistic vocation, full time. That’s the kind of woman I felt I deserved to be right now: an artist in bloom.

So perhaps my liberty in proclaiming a collected sense of self-worth was too outrageous, too ostentatious. I felt it erupt, I felt the knowing of the thing erupt from my mind and develop into spoken word. I expressed joy, and in that expression, the reaction was…oh, I’m not there yet.

There is a way to get there, though. Jump on the shoulders of giants. Swim in the same channels as those who care to venture in the same waters with you. But don’t self-loathe about it. Self-celebrate about it. Have self-faith, you’ll only develop pure confidence from there.

Today I looked on my blog page and saw the countdown tally had shifted from 3 to 2 months and I feel excited about it. I feel relieved, really. I am finishing what I started, what I set out to do. And when that person folded inward, when he admitted, ‘I’m not there yet,’ I said, it’s ok. I’m here. For you. Let me slingshot you in the direction you want to go. Let me be your muse.

And then I asked, ‘What is it I can do to help you on your journey?’

He’s still thinking about it. But it’s good that he’s thinking about it.

Two quotes I recently mentioned in conversation, one acquired from The Dude himself, the beautiful Jeff Bridges. The other quote is straight from Douglas Adams’ final book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Omnibus, Mostly Harmless. Both were applicable in the actualization I experienced today:

[Jeff Bridges]

“I think that it’s not only the same fight that you have with your spouse, but it’s the same fight that everyone has with everyone—everyone. And basically the fight is: You don’t get it.”

You don’t get it?

“You don’t get it! What is, for me, being alive. And what you do to me. And the thing is: That’s true! I don’t know how you feel, what it is to be you. But that’s something to kind of celebrate and respect and honor! And that’s, that’s what we have in common. None of us, none of us, get each other. So you have to just be with that.”

Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/celebrities/201310/jeff-bridges-cover-interview-october-2013#ixzz2mI1i6w00

[from Mostly Harmless]

You cannot see what I see because you see what you see. You cannot know what I know because you know what you know. What I see and what I know can’t be added to what you see and what you know because they are not the same kind. Neither can it replace what you see and what you know because that would be to replace you yourself.

What I Have Learned Through Bleary Eyes

Dang I’m tired.

Progress has been made. Gotten into Act Two. Dialogue is choppy, at best, and my brain’s too mushy to work in a fight scene. It’s appropriate, but I’ll literally need to sleep on it.

I learned that my friends in India are up and at ‘em 4AM my time. Namaste to all of you, and thanks for viewing my blog. Please follow, and I’ll do the same. :)

What else have I discovered? The soft spot on my L-bend couch is sinking. Time to create a new soft spot.

I’m giving myself two more hours. My ass hurts from sitting between the couch and floor. I really need a standing desk.

I have also discovered several people starting blogs due to National Blog Posting Month. Some are really good, and I’ve followed the ones I liked. There are several that are not so good. But I like to see the effort put forward. What the world needs is more creative writers, and less bitchers. Just sayin’.

Another discovery: my playlist is so extensive, there has YET to be a repeat in this now seven hour venture.

Cracker Barrel seems like a GREAT idea right now.

My eyes are so bleary, as much as I can see this sexy Mexican goth curandera in my head, I just can’t seem to convey her beauty in words. Let’s hope she writes herself for me.

Alright, made it through 15-minute break. Back to it!

Up All Night

This is what I get for procrastinating.

November snuck up on me waaay too quickly. I have contracts to administer by November 13. Which means, gotta pay people. Which means, this manuscript I’ve been pushing off needs speed revisioning. Barely raking through the rest of Act One. Of a three act book. Go me!

And then, of course, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo as I blogged about in “My 2013 NaNoWriMo Influences” (please check that out and LIKE it!)

So I’m pulling an all-nighter. Yup. Actually, not a bad idea, as I’m launching this blog with the desire for an international reach. So while the east coast of Merica is sleeping, I can hang out with my friends in the Eastern Hemisphere. Namaste! Hola! Hallo! Bonjour! G’day! That’s all I got for now.

Let’s use this 15 minute break to extrapolate. Contracts, why bring that up? This book is my first fiction publication, and I worry about integrity and solid delivery. So I’ve invested in a NEW editor who can work faster and ideally turn around a manuscript by the end of January. She’s very experienced in the literary world and very familiar with my writing style, which is a plus when you’re shopping for an editor. What happened to the original editor, you may ask. She’s still around, just wearing the Publisher hat. A separate editor makes for a smoother delivery schedule, trust.

Since we’re only a few months away, I have to consider artwork, the book cover and chapter inserts in particular. I’m paying respect to science fiction authors and comic book enthusiasts by going with a Manga-esque design. The artist commissioned to do this work is a female comic book artist. I’ve reviewed her portfolio and I’m pleased at how she captures women warriors without them looking so stereotypically disproportionate. Don’t get discouraged though. Johnny has huge boobs!

Why are you still working on the manuscript when you’re about to get edited? Fair question. I have produced so many drafts of Book Two my nose bleeds (not really) for every Save As… I administer. The storyline took a dynamic hop over the summer, and well, I haven’t done all the proper adjustments. So this all-nighter is a bit of compensation. Get the revisions in and done, structure the plot so it’s intelligible to the editor, but don’t add more than necessary. She’s gonna shave through the muck anyways. But the temptation is there to expand on Johnny’s journey. I have to remember, though, this book is Star Wars. The next one is Empire Strikes Back, it is worth holding back on some stories until Book 3.

How are you writing this and a novel for the contest? The good news is, I was smart enough to outline ahead of time with my writing partner exactly what I was going to develop for NaNoWriMo. I Blew Up Juarez is already fully written; I don’t necessarily have to think up a whole scenario or plot with that. Momma’s Boy is going well. I’m substituting my morning pages writing time for NaNo writing time, and am averaging 2000 words. That makes completion by the 30th very feasible.

I’ve constructively used my 15 minute break to post to my blog. Now to drink more coffee and get back to work! If you haven’t clicked on Follow by now, you’re just letting the terrorists win. Go click!

My 2013 NaNoWriMo Influences

Yup, I’m a freakin’ zealot. Trying to complete my manuscript revisions to deliver for final editing by November 13. But noooo, I gotta throw my writing pen into the National Novel Writing Month ring and go for Halo Numero Dos.

Day 2 of the competition and I’m rowing along smoothly. Marie and I are planning to meet this evening for a writing session. That’s right. You go ahead and hit the nightclubs. We party hard with our word processors!

Am writing a horror story, working title, Momma’s Boy. I don’t really have to stretch the imagination too far to satisfy a lead character profile, thanks to every single strange Generation X and Y-er who’s introduced me to his exponentially stranger mother. It’s an epidemic, people. Let’s stop having babies for a minute and figure out why women are screwing with their sons’ heads!

Off the soapbox.

As per my style, I gotta have a song in my head in order to get flowing, and this is the song I’ve chosen as this novella’s theme:

But this particular episode of Key & Peele really brought my lead character to life [06:36]:

http://hulu.com/w/geo2

Dan Smith KILLED IT!!

The STAR of my horror story credit: Key & Peele, Comedy Central

The STAR of my horror story credit: Key & Peele, Comedy Central

Happy NaNoWriMo Season! May your pens be swift, your keypad be stable, your coffee be strong.

I Have Nothing To Write About

Original Post Date September 18, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Writing about nothing is actually writing about something. Von demonstrates how.

It started that way for everyone sitting around the pond. Our instructor, who I have a photo of but can’t remember her name, was trying to instill a writer’s fervor into our 11-year old heads. My fellow advanced writers and I that spring of 1988 sat staring at blank pages of journals. “But I have nothing to write about,” one lamented. We backed him up in solidarity with a whine of agreement. The instructor sighed. “Write that down, then.” So we all wrote, I have nothing to write about, across the page. And paused our writing tools for further instruction. “You have ten minutes, write from there.” And she walked off. We looked at each other. We looked at our single sentence. The ducks looked at us.

1991. Coen Brothers' Barton Fink

1991. Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink

This morning felt the same way. I opened my journal, flipped to a clean page, and stared. And stared. Most Wednesdays I wake up knowing exactly what I’m going to deliver to this blog. Today? Hoy? Nada. I thought about describing my morning dream, but I’ve done that before, and frankly, it was pretty gruesome. I haven’t written any new poetry, and haven’t been drawn to the archives to find one to offer. I’m in study mode with Juarez, so there’s nothing to expound on here yet, as it’s still in development. So. What to write about?

I sat cross-legged with my spiral journal on my lap, my pubescent mind growing anxious as it stared at those ominous six words, now given a time limit to fill the page with something, anything. I looked around and observed some of my counterparts in a flow. Some were still holding a pencil in place. I caught the eye of one of my cohorts doing the same thing I was doing, panning the group and panicking. Then I caught sight of a duck moving my direction. What’s that duck doing? Write that down. The duck started to wobble up from the pond, closer to my perch on the wall. I began to document everything the duck was doing. I was thrown into the phenomenon of duck encroachment, describing its motions, its thoughts (as I perceived them to be), its hunger for revenge for the death of its ducklings. Its embodiment of a human spirit cursed by a witch. Its thirst for blood, a la Bunnicula. Scribble, scribble, scribble, and, next thing you know, she called “Time!” The ombudsman of the group whined, “but I still have more to write!” And we chimed in with our concurring laments. She made some statement about staying there to complete our writing, but it was time for dinner. I didn’t even hear the rest of her statement. I heard food was ready. No more journal.

In my not knowing what to write about today, I developed something to write about, merely by letting my mind ramble, and then applying it in written form. This is how writers work, this is where we excel.

 

P.S. I just did the memory walkback thing. Her name was Mrs. Vickers!

Von the Queenmaker

Original Post Date September 25, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Von pulls out tried-and-true tactics to sketch next year’s marketing campaign.

arjunaAutumn announced its arrival Sunday by saturating the entire West Coast. Constant rain made the mornings dark, the afternoons cool and moist, and the evenings sudden, pretty much forcing all outward activity indoors, forcing me into a reflective, contemplative mode.

Roses and Thorns Analysis. What have we accomplished this year? What are our opportunities? What failed and why? The rain doesn’t just signal the shift in season, it signals the time to start planning for 2014. The big question: once I Blew Up Juarez is published, what are we gonna do about it?

I switch from contemplative to productive. An experienced event planner and campaign manager, I implement Z to A planning: using the date of an event as the starting point, and building back to current time to see what pieces have to be in place in order for that event to succeed. Where to launch? When to launch? The rain’s constant beat outside the bay door encourages my planning process.

The power of networking. I consider the context of my novel (military background, military installations) and start making phone calls. Looks like the date I would like to promote my work is not only available, but they’re willing to stock the paperback version of the book prior to my arrival on that military base. Glorious! I consider other aspects of the novel, and which communities are highlighted, and start networking those contacts.

The rain lightens up just enough to take Bobby outside for a brisk walk. We quickly pace the soggy trail, my mind crunching numbers, ordering events, prioritizing goals. I’m fully calculative now. I’m designing a plan of attack, an offensive. I’m slapping on the campaign helmet, I’m General Schwarzkopf!

Back at my work desk, I’m writing out if-then scenarios, running algebraic equations, putting weights to variables, I’m freakin’ everywhere. My left brain is excited, having relinquished command last year to let the right brain do her creative thang, now back in the lead. My initial scope is elliptical in nature: an outer sweep and then a concentrated inner sweep. I sit back, fold my arms across my chest, and look down at the schematics I’ve freestyled to the drum of the rain. Yes, yes, this is looking pretty damn doable.

VS Enterprises was conceptualized for just this type of situation. I am an independent writer and an independent consultant, so I not only produce art but am skilled at promoting and marketing it for others, as well as myself. I work with vendors, venues, and promoters. I network with like-minded artists. I draw on my previous experiences managing people and campaigns to enable interest in the work. I am not alone in this process. The co-owner of VS Enterprises is a seasoned marketing director and a practiced social media campaign manager. She’s also relocating to the coast, which will make honing my 2014 promotional campaign a fun, collaborative procedure.

Yes, I enjoy being a writer. But I equally enjoy being a queenmaker.

Entering the You-niverse

Original Post Date June 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

The author shares a video of her first book reading from I Blew Up Juarez.

What a great time we had at Irene’s last week! No butterflies at all, proud to say. I think it’s the combination of being amongst friends and confidence in my story that made the performance enjoyable. The only problem was standing in heels for longer than ten minutes…oy!

Mil gracias to Irene for allowing me to hijack her Poetry Night and Open Mic Nite. Her next event will be June 26. Come hang out with the coolest people in St. Pete!

Please enjoy me reading Chapter 1 from “I Blew Up Juarez,” my FIRST fiction work. NSFW my friends.

Lay Back, Close Your Eyes, Enjoy the Ride

Original Post Date June 05, 2013 at 04:22 PM

The author collects her dreams as resources for story and character development.

space174-hubble-wings-angel_45873_600x450

Recently entered in my morning pages:

I had been dreaming. Argument between people, and I had to come between. We were a space colony, and the isolation was getting to people. But it was a fight between an adult and a young teen, the kid angry with the adult to the point of shoving. I snatched at them both and sent them in opposite ways. Later, I was slicing up a large, red, boiled egg. As I buried the blade of my spoon in its mass, a bit of boiled yellow would draw up and I began to make sort of a Fabergé pattern with the yellow yolk along the red skin of the egg. ‘I was trying to keep the peace around here,’ I lamented to someone in the room, unseen. I suppose the topic in the colony was I shouldn’t have gotten involved. But I had to. I was there to maintain order. And they were fighting over some dumb [expletive deleted].

This was an actual dream sequence I had, prior to waking up at the sound of something dropping into the kitchen sink.

20130605_103903I can use it as a writing prompt to develop a scenario where a recently arrived colony on Mars has to learn how to be a community in isolation. It could be the story of the person who broke up the fight. Why was he/she/it put in charge? Could explore the perspective of the boy who started shoving the adult. And what about that egg? Was he/she/it going to eat it? Or was he/she/it performing an experiment? The room he/she/it was in was dark except for the space at the table. The red was really red. The yellow, very yellow. But everything around it, including the spoon, was grey.

It does help to capture these dreams in my morning pages, just in case I’m feeling uninspired or blocked. Been dreamcatching since a child, but not until recently did I find it good practice to note these dreams in journals or my morning pages. I’ve got pages and pages to refer to. In that aspect, I’ll never be without a writing prompt or a possible storyline.

I Blew Up Juarez includes actual dream sequences that I took straight from Dreamland and stitched into the storyline. I love these dreams and where they take me. And before you suggest there is induction to these sci-fi like sequences, no, I don’t medicate on, imbibe, or ingest anything prior to bed! I merely relax, I embrace the silence, and I whisk away.

* * *

My publisher and I have made significant progress in bringing my action-packed story to a completed state. I thought I’d introduce a bit of the novel to all you awesome people. If you’re in the Saint Petersburg area on June 12th, I’ll be reading from I Blew Up Juarez at Irene’s Poetry Night and Open Mic, located at 3747 34thSt South, behind St. Bart’s in the thrift store. You read that right, and it’s an amazing venue. Come check it out!

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