Friday, March 28, 2014

90 Day Writing Challenge - Week Two

Okay, so, I'm a week in, and I've already missed one day. On a brighter note, I have written two blog posts, a few really cool scenes, and a bunch of plot notes. I now have basic ideas for what I'm doing for five books in this series. And come up with names for four of them. I'll call that productive, and not beat myself up too much for the day that I was in too much pain to write. (TMI time: PMS + headache = OMG I think I'm dying.)

As for this week's question. Where I got the idea for this mess is kind of funny, really. Three years ago, I started in an online role-playing game. A week after I created my character, her "best friend's" world exploded, and she blithely informed me that she did NOT think of him as an older brother, as *I* had originally envisioned their relationship, but rather that she was in love with him. So, I got a lovely little baptism by fire as she threw me into a major bit of plot, including a relationship I had no intention of playing when I first started. Luckily, the guy that played her new boyfriend was pretty awesome, as were most of the others in the game, and I had a lot of fun playing with that. I played her for JUST under a year (her first day of play was March 1, 2011 and she died on Feb 26, 2012). But, their story was just so epic and fun that I got it into my head that it would make a great book. So, that's what I started out doing. Eternity's Price is basically a novelization of the plot of that game, with some changes, both planned and from various characters coming up with ideas for how to make it better.

And things snowballed from there. While writing the scene where Eli fights his Sire, my muse decided that Ana was a pretty awesome character in her own right, and I should write a prequel around her and Nicolaus. Chat logs from the game had me decide to pair another of my game characters up with one of the guys from the game (they had one scene together, and it wasn't even really him in the game. But it gave me a major springboard for a relationship between them). Interestingly enough, the MMC of Eternity's Promise was supposed to die at the end of Eternity's Price, he got a reprieve thanks to Dani. So, that was three. And then Katy Perry happened. I talked about it on Monday, where the idea for Book 4 - which I'm currently calling Magic's Curse - came from her song Dark Horse. Well, in fact, it wasn't just Magic's Curse that came about from that song. By the end of the weekend, I knew what had brought the mages to Sangue Collina, which gave me some kind of actual plot for Eternity's Promise.

My muse wasn't quite done, though. Her idea for how to end Magic's Curse made it necessary to have a fifth book. And it didn't take long to realize that the cliffhanger in that one gave me the perfect way to FINALLY tell Rory's story. She's a character in Eternity's Price that I've been wanting to write a book about since she showed up. She's a vampire who had been a mage before she was turned. Now, mages lose most of their powers if they become vampires. But, Magic's Curse ends with a huge magical power surge. It seemed the perfect time to bring Rory to the front by making the power surge give her all of her old powers back. That one is tentatively being called Magic's Return because of Rory getting her magic back.

So, to make a short story long, as my dad likes to say... My ideas came from a role-playing game and song lyrics. And from having a really annoying muse who nags me until I agree to things.

And that's all for today folks. Come back on Wednesday for my weekly ramble. I have a few ideas for that one, so not quite sure what I'll be talking about.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On what I laughingly call my writing process

I've been tagged by the lovely Tiakall to write a blog post about my writing process. I'm not sure I actually HAVE a process, but hopefully the questions in the post will help me focus and define this. So, without further ado:

What am I working on?

Most of you know the answer to this, and I talked about it at length in my last post. (I knew I was going to be answering the same questions twice this week.) My main project is a Paranormal Romance called Eternity's Price about Catie and Eli, two vampires who have been denying their feelings for each other since World War II. In the midst of their love story is a plot to try to prevent the apocalypse. As in, the main villain may or may not be the Antichrist. 

I have more books planned in the same series, though. And to some extent I've started writing on them, mostly a few scenes here and there, just to get them on paper before I lose them. So, in the order I have planned for them:

Eternity's Redemption is the prequel to Eternity's Price. It's the story of Eli's Sire, Anastasia, and his friend Nicolaus - the driving force behind the attempt to stop the apocalypse in Eternity's Price. Redemption scares me a little as a writer, because it uses a story structure I have never attempted before. It's a frame story, with the bulk of the story being told in flashbacks, that are not being shown in chronological order. And it spans 1300 years all total. It's a huge project, but it's a story that I think needs to be told.

Eternity's Promise picks back up where Eternity's Price leaves off. The battle of Sangue Collina has been fought, and the vampires and werewolves are all trying to get back to some semblance of normal (I love using "vampires", "werewolves", and "normal" all in the same sentence.). Catie's friend Dani arrives and starts a flirtation with Eli's friend Marcus.  But there's really no such thing as "normal" in Sangue Collina. A science experiment conducted by the German military during World War II had gone very bad. The results had laid dormant all this time, but something in Sangue Collina is reawakening it. 

And that's where I run out of titles. The next book shifts focus to the mages, though. The vampires are still in it, but this is the mages' show, now. Nicolaus has called for reinforcements. A time mage is no match for zombies, what he needs are necromancers and energy mages. But mages were not meant to so heavily populate one city. Livvi, especially, is a force to be reckoned with. Her time mage father had seen this coming and used his own abilities to speed up her training. But the power to level entire cities in the hands of a 22 year old girl in way over her head may not really be the best thing.

And reading through these descriptions, I'm starting to wonder if I really write Paranormal Romance, or if I write Urban Fantasy with a strong romantic element to it. Where is the dividing line, anyway? *Adds this to her research list* Anyway... I guess I should get around to the next question...

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

This is a really good question. I kind of wish I had a really good answer LOL. I try to tackle big topics.  My tagline for the series as a whole is "If you literally had forever, what would matter most to you?" And a big theme running through all of the books is the characters all trying to find their own answers to that question. Religion gets brought up more than once and is a fairly big part of Eli's life. The FMC of Redemption is a psychopath. That's actually the meaning behind the title. It's all about whether Nicolaus can fix Ana's shattered mind and redeem her. In Promise, we see what happens when we try to play God. And Livvi becomes an example of what can happen when someone with more power than she knows what to do with loses control. Plus, I'm straddling a line with my genre. I'm either writing Paranormal Romance with major, fate of the world is at stake here, stuff going on around them, or I'm writing Urban Fantasy with a romance as the main subplot. 

Why do I write what I do?

Well, it started out because I had two vampires grab me by the throat and refuse to let go until I agreed to write their story. Or at least that's what it felt like. And so Eli and Catie were born. While writing a scene with Ana, I fell in love with her and my muse decided that her story needed to be told. The other two came from various inspirations. This is what is burning in my blood, right now. I've tried my hand at other genres, but nothing else has ever gotten me so excited as this series does. It's like I've finally found my home as a writer. And in a way, I've come full circle, while also growing up. The first story I remember that I wrote was a horror story about... zombies. I wrote it in sixth grade. It was stupid, and childish, and really made no sense, but I wrote it, and my teacher liked it enough to have me read it to my class. And now, here I am, once again writing about zombies, and vampires, and werewolves. Only now it isn't horror, and there's a point to it. (And hopefully it makes more sense.)

How does my writing process work?

Usually, I start with a character, or two characters. Something about them speaks to me, and I start building a story around them. A song will inspire a scene, or a character, or the plot of an entire book. (My mages book started to take shape after hearing Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" and having two unconnected lines ("So you wanna play with magic" and "are you ready for a perfect storm?") connect in my head to create Livvi, and give me a great scene with some awesome lines. "There's a reason why energy mages are the ones that other mages fear the most. Livvi may not look like much, but you don't mess with someone who can tell the laws of Physics to go fuck themselves." is probably my favourite. The line is spoken by her boyfriend as an explanation of what is going on, because a freaked out Livvi is in the process of creating something like a hurricane - in Illinois.) Anyway... After I get some inspiration for a few random scenes, I usually have an idea of what kind of plot I have, or at least what the main conflict is about. I can make some semblance of an outline from there, though I don't always. Then it's time to fill in the rest. My first draft is very dialogue heavy, and I have a tendency towards long scenes. Those are both things I intend to fix in edits and rewrites. As for the writing process itself, I usually put a song that fits the mood of the scene I'm writing on repeat, put my headphones on, and let the music inspire me. Really, I don't know if I HAVE a writing process. I may have mentioned that way back at the start of this thing, but I don't feel like scrolling up to check. 

Anyway. This ended up longer and more... rambly than I intended, but it was kind of fun. Come back Friday for my weekly 90 Day Writing Challenge check-in where I'll talk about exactly where the idea for this story came from.

Tag, you're it

Friday, March 21, 2014

90 Day Writing Challenge - Week One

Okay, the 90 day writing challenge starts today. Week one's post is to introduce my project and give my goals. Those of you that have been following from the beginning already know the project I'm working on. But I'll reiterate for those here for the challenge. Plus, this gives me a chance to talk in more depth all at once.

So, as most of you already know, I'm working on a Paranormal Romance friends to lovers story called Eternity's Price. It's about two vampires, Catalina Terranova and Elijah Cavendish, who met in Italy during World War 2, and fell in love. However, for various reasons they never admitted it even to themselves, much less to each other. For the next 57 years they wandered in and out of each others' lives at irregular intervals, with both of them needed to keep on the move so nobody would notice that they weren't aging. Plus, Eli had a psychopathic vampire on his tail who wanted him dead. So, of course he had to stay one step ahead of Anastasia. Twelve years ago, in Calais, France, they had been together for a while until Eli saw Ana and ran, this time to America. For the next twelve years, Catie honestly thought that Eli might have been dead. A month before our story starts, Catie bites the bullet and hires a private detective to find Eli. The story starts with Catie arriving in Sangue Collina, the city that Eli has been living in for the past several months.

Things should be great after that. But, in a city filled with vampires, nothing ever goes smoothly. There are things going on in the background, things they don't know about. And before this is done, their entire world will turn upside down, and Sangue Collina would become a battleground.

As for my goals, as I mentioned yesterday, I want to write 150k in April, which should finish my first draft. Then I have 2 more months left to the challenge to work on fixing my timeline and starting a rewrite. I'd love to finish the rewrite and have it ready for CP's by then, but I know that the rewrite could take time, and I'm not going to beat myself up if it isn't there, yet.

And that's my first check-in for the 90 day writing challenge. Next week, I'll be writing on Monday, because I've been tagged in a blog hop type thing to write about my writing process. I wonder how many of the questions in it I actually answered here? Oh well. See you all on Monday.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Writing challenges

So, I have officially signed up for two overlapping writing challenges. They work well together, so it's not a huge deal, but oh dear Gods, committing to writing like this is scary. First up, is a 90 day writing challenge. It's exactly what it says on the tin. Write every day for 90 days straight. It starts tomorrow. And it is what's going to alter my "blogging schedule", yes I'm aware that I haven't been keeping to my schedule, anyway. But, the writing challenge involves blogging about my progress every week. Since the challenge starts tomorrow, I'll be doing my weekly check-ins on Fridays. Which means that when I get around to character bios, they will have to be on a different day. I will still be doing my Wednesday Rambles, though. I bought a book of writing prompts, so when I get stumped on blog topics, I'll skim through that to find something. Hopefully that will help keep me better on schedule. 

My second writing challenge coming up, is Camp Nanowrimo. I've set a goal of 150k because "5k a day is such a nice, round number". Also because I am a masochist. But really, it's because I am determined to finish this thing, and I'm hoping that the structure of Camp Nano will give me the boost I need. I seem to need someone to be accountable to to get anything done.So, yes. During April, I will be trying to write 150k words. While also, ya know, looking for a job and stuff. Let the games begin.

One last thing. I am doing research and will be moving this blog as soon as the 90 day challenge is over. Hopefully to my own website. I'll work on building the new one during the challenge and keep you all informed of what I'm doing with it. 

And that has been my ramble for this week. Come back tomorrow for my first blog of the challenge, where I'll be talking a bit about my project and what I hope to accomplish over the next 90 days.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Being a fan of your own work

I had a very interesting conversation on twitter today with one of my writer friends. I admit that we seem to be a breed apart, able to discuss and commiserate with each other on issues that would probably make most people roll their eyes at best, and start measuring us for the white jackets with extra long sleeves and far too many buckles at worst. After all, from the outside, many of us seem to have some form of schizophrenia, or multiple personality disorder, or both. Only another writer can understand the concept of figments of our own imagination utterly refusing to do what we want them to do. Only another writer can understand the idea of these same figments of our own imaginations keeping secrets from us. Only another writer can understand the tips found in writing books that involve things like sitting down and having a conversation with your characters. 

A non writer would scratch their head in confusion if we tried to talk about this sort of thing. After all, they're our characters, we created them. Getting them to do what we want is just a matter of writing it that way, isn't it? Oh, if only it was that easy. Other writers get it, they've been there. They've all had the character that dug in their heels and rewrote the plot to suit their own whims. Funny thing that only writers can understand, usually when we let the characters do that, they create something a million times better than anything we originally had planned. So, even if we COULD force them to do what we want, that wouldn't mean that we SHOULD. I have a character that you will meet as soon as I find a picture for her. She was supposed to be a bit player, a way to make something that happens later make a bit more sense than it would without her. But very minor, nonetheless. With five words, she turned that upside down and became not only a pivotal character, but one of the viewpoint characters in the prequel. Both books will be much better than they were before because of the new role this character gave herself. A non-writer wouldn't have understood that. They would have told me to take that line out if it messes things up. 

So, what does this have to do with my subject? My writer friend was talking about another blog post she read by a writer who felt a disconnect with fans and was told - by another writer - that "you're not one of them. Ever." That just makes no sense to me, and having a WRITER say that is a bit disconcerting. I am a fan of Eternity's Price. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be writing it. But, I'm more than that. I am a total fangirl, sometimes. I squee'd like a schoolgirl when Catie and Eli finally had their first kiss. I cried when they broke up. I did more squee'ing when they got back together. I wrote a scene last week that had me bawling. I wrote another scene that had me giggling like a maniac and calling Eli "adorkable". I also fully admit to being slightly in love with Eli and have semi-joked that I would marry him if he wasn't devoted to Catie. (And, ya know, a figment of my own imagination.)

I really think that it falls under the heading of "if you don't care about these people, how can you expect anyone else to?" So, if you aren't a fan of your own writing, how can you expect anyone else to be? I think that we SHOULD fangirl/fanboy about our own stuff a bit. That's the emotional involvement that will eventually suck our readers in and turn them into fans. And if you aren't fangirling/fanboying then why are you writing the thing? If there is nothing in your own book that makes you squeal in delight, or want to burst into tears, or laugh your head off, then why would I want to read this thing?

So, I'm sorry to that writer who gave that quote. But I don't agree with you. Because to me, saying that you aren't a fan of your own books is the same as saying "I write crap whose sole purpose is to make money. I don't care about it, and neither should you. Just buy the thing, I don't care what you do with it after that." And I just don't agree with that. I want my readers to CARE. I want them to laugh, and to cry, and to squeal, and wish they could live in this city and meet these people for real. If you don't want that for your readers, then why are you bothering?