Friday, June 18, 2010

An Open Letter To My Subconscious

I’m not doing too badly, all things considered. Looking at things objectively, I realize I could be a lot worse off. There’s a roof over my head (complete with air-conditioning), I haven’t missed too many meals, and even if we’re dropping the cable TV, at least we’ve got the ability to follow the television shows we feel that we need to in other ways. So I’ll concede that things are nowhere near as dire as they might be.


I was much happier and felt a lot better about myself when I was working on my writing. I don’t know what it was going to be at the end of the day – a book, a comic, a short story – none of that mattered. What mattered was that I was writing. It was more than that – I was taking the steps towards redefining myself. Then one circumstance after another left the bits and pieces in a jumbled mess.

This cannot be borne.

I’m thirty-five years old now. If I’m lucky, I’m a third of the way through my years, and I’m still fumbling with the basics. I want to try to move beyond this. To that end, I want to state the following.

I want to write. I was happier writing than I think any work has ever made me. And this act was a joint effort between you (the subconscious mind) and me (the waking mind). I’m not certain where things are falling down, because I have to believe that you want to see me write as well – you want to be expressed. For the briefest of moments, you had a voice and an audience in me, before things fell apart. If you can help me to figure out what I want to write, I would like to make another attempt – this time, unsaddled by a full-time job.

I’ll try to make sure that I block off time each day to write – even if I don’t have an inspiration. I’m just hoping that you’ll give me a sign that we can give it another go. We were making a great team.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Today just felt like I was stumbling in my efforts to write. I just didn't seem to be able to make it happen. I suspect it's a result of not having been as physically active today. I spent most of my time today dealing with my defunct car, which is no longer mine.

I've been sitting up late to try to write, but I'm just not getting anywhere tonight. I think I'm going to call it a night and try again tomorrow. This time with a bit more elbow grease.

Tonight's Word Count: 257

Total Word Count: 31,360

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Nights In A Row

Alright, this is feeling a bit more like it.

I didn't get a writing exercise done today, but I got a lot of cleaning done around the house. The errands are really lining up for tomorrow, too, but hopefully I'll find a bit more time to write.

Tonight I worked on a scene between Erin, and her former mentor Achilles. It almost seems like any time I'm having a hard time getting started, I should work on something with the two of them. They seem to work pretty well together, and I think they probably get some of my better work. Here's a snippet of their dialog:

Alec walked over, and rested a hand on her shoulder. “You did the best that you could in a bad situation. Even though there was a lot I hadn’t taught you, I could tell you learned a lot more just by paying attention.”

“Maybe, but I never really felt like I knew what I was doing.” She stepped away, and turned to face him. “I always felt like I was faking it, or guessing what I had to do next. I knew I wasn’t ready, but they wouldn’t hear it.”

Achilles shrugged in response. “You seem to be doing a fine job right now. Your friends are obviously looking to you for guidance. And I think this thing you guys are looking into might wind up being a bigger deal than the rest of the Brigadiers think.” He smiled at her. “You’re doing fine.”

“You might be wrong about that,” Erin replied with a chuckle. “I’ve been going over Baker’s notes again since our meeting topside. I’m not done, but if I’m right, Kosmos’ ‘Atomic Nebulizer’ isn’t anything more than an alien battery charger. At least, that’s what I’m getting from Baker’s notes.”

“I guess that’s a relief,” Alec agreed. “But sometimes the tiniest things cause the biggest problems. Are you going to keep at it?”

I need to figure out how I'm going to proceed through the second act, though. My first attempt brought things to a head really quick. I've figured that I can spend more time on Erin's growth, and her issues with her parents, but I want the plot to continue alongside it. I'll puzzle it out.

For now, it's... god, It's 12:24 and I'm about to say "it's late". I've been on a daytime orientation for a few days now, and I guess I'm adjusting. But that means I need to get to bed soon.

Today's Word Count: 591

Total Word Count: 31,103

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Back Into The Groove - Part Two

It's a fresh week, and a new chance to try to get into a rhythm.

So today, I woke up in the morning, and did a bunch of housework. I pretty much reclaimed our guest-room from a tide of filth, and took a time out to do a writing exercise. I sat down to try to write, but I was having trouble getting into the scene I'm working on.

After talking to Hilary about it over dinner, I think I found my way in though. I got some writing done tonight, but it's late and I'm calling it a night for now. With some luck, I'll have an easier time getting back to it tomorrow. So there's no excerpt tonight. But here's my total word count:

Total Word Count: 30,512

Writing Exercise - Airplane

Okay. My weekend wasn't terribly productive on any particular front (except helping to fix up my Dad's computer for Hilary.) So a new week starts, and I'm trying to roll straight into it, and get some stuff done. What better way to start than with a writing exercise from C.M. Mayo's website. Here's what we have for today:

February 22 "Airplane"
This is an exercise about generating specific sensory detail. On a typical flight, what are:
5 things you might see; 5 things you might smell; 5 things you might touch;
5 things you might hear; and 5 things you might taste?

Another listing exercise? Still, these are good at helping to visualize a scene. Here we go:

noxious odor from 'bathroom'
real food up in first class
unwashed person in the seat next to you
baby that needs to be changed

Crying Children
quiet fart/burping
flight attendant

Fabric of the seats
the rough carpeting on the ground
another person's hand
airplane window

electronic devices

chewing gum

And... time.

This one was actually pretty easy. I've been on a few flights in my life, and I think our culture has enough understanding of the potential of any kind of shared-transit experience to know what you might run into. Of course, being almost seven feet tall, flying is certainly not my desired mode of transportation. Even if I was at my ideal weight, it'd be an uncomfortable experience at best, considering the cattle-car conditions in a 'coach' flight. I'd almost rather ride with the luggage.

And a note: I did actually get 700-800 words written on Friday, and didn't document them. I meant to sit back down Friday afternoon and try to write some more but never got back to it.

Now, I'm going to get ready to do some cleaning, and job hunting. I'll get back to writing a little later. I want to build up some good, positive momentum before I start.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Writing Exercise - The Unwanted Gift

Okay, taking another stab at diurnal existence. It's not my cup of tea, but here we are. So I'm going to start my day with another writing exercise courtesy of C.M. Mayo's Website:

February 19 "The Unwanted Gift"
Make a list of 10 unwanted gifts. Then circle the one you find most intriguing. Describe it. Start writing.

Interesting. We'll see how I do.

  1. Socks
  2. Sweaters
  3. Music
  4. Sports paraphanelia
  5. Utensils
  6. Kitchen gadgets
  7. Vacuum Cleaner
  8. Lawn Tools
  9. Necktie
  10. Nothing
I find music on my list the most intriguing - probably because my tastes are so eclectic and far from mainstream culture that attempting to buy it for me is almost a hopeless cause.

He looked at the CD grimly, before peeking up at his mother. He knew that if his face showed what he was thinking, her smile would fade, a step at a time. She probably just asked the clerk what the most popular thing was. Does she even bother to pay attention to what I actually listen to? Of course not. He struggled to force the corners of his mouth up into the semblance of a smile. There's got to be something I can do with this. I mean, I'm sure I can sell it off at the very least, I just need to keep her from finding out. "Thanks, Mom".

And... time.

I actually had a rough time coming up with 'unwanted' gifts at all. Half of the things I wrote, while hardly something I'd call desirable, are things that we could at least find a good use for around the house. (I guess that's part of the whole 'growing up' thing?)

I'm trying to hammer out a daily schedule that should give me some exercise, some writing and job hunting time, and some time to do chores. Hopefully this'll help things fall into place.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Post For 2/17

No change in word count for the 17th.

I'd been growing more aware of a problem I was having with my story. I felt like it was hurtling straight into the third act way too early. My antagonist was just moving way too quickly, and hurting the pace of everything.

The impact of changing my sleep cycle back to nights hasn't helped any, either of course.

But tonight (with Hilary's help) I think I've hammered out the difficulties in my plotting. I'm going to have to go back a few nights, and make some changes. I'm not throwing anything out (at least not yet) but I think I know what needs to go where. So my progress tonight isn't really measurable, but I've got a lot going on later today. Hopefully I'll have a word-count back tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Awkward Shift

My head is really in a fog today. I got to bed around 3am, and was back up at about 9:30. I've done some writing in fits and starts. It's not as much as I'd have liked, but it's still some progress. Since it's my first daylight attempt, I think I'll just accept it as-is, and hope to do better tomorrow.

Today's Word Count: 504

Total Word Count: 29,341

Writing Exercise - Falling Snow

Okay, so maybe I should change the title to the Diurnal Writing Journal? We'll see how long this sticks.

I woke up a couple hours ago, and I'm trying to warm up to get some writing done today. So I'll start off with another one of C.M. Mayo's Writing Exercises. Here's the one she has for today:

February 16 "Falling Snow"
With specific detail that appeals to all the senses--- sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell--- describe falling snow.

Interesting. Living in South Carolina now, I rarely see snow anymore. I suppose as a former New Englander, I've got an advantage over the natives though. While I can count the snowfalls I've seen in the past decade on one hand, I've seen a lot more than that in my lifetime. But we did just have the great 'Blizzard of 2010' so at least the memory of snow is fresh.

Here we go:

The cold air penetrates my nose, almost burning it. The scent is unlike anything else - it's impossible to place, but it smells clean as the world is slowly buried under a pure, white blanket. It covers the grass and the leaves, making it impossible to see where the lawn ends and the street begins.

The moonlight glimmers off the ivory blanket covering the world, creating an eerie luminescence that gives the night an otherworldly feeling. This is a night that one might find elves, or changelings. The White Queen of C.S. Lewis would be more likely found on the street tonight than a car or an SUV. I make a note to beware of Turkish Delight.

The wind whispers to me, as it makes the falling flakes dance one way, and then another. Opening my mouth, I catch one on my tongue, feeling first the sharper coldness, then fading into a warm wetness. The only taste I can use to describe it, is that of winter. And it's a taste I haven't known for a long time.

Stepping out into the snow, I feel the satisfying crunch it makes underfoot, and my lips rise in a grin.

And... time.

I miss the winter. What we typically get down here in South Carolina passes for late fall by my standards, and moves almost straight into early spring. But the snowfall we got last week served as both a gift and a gentle reminder that real winter is a lot of work. It's shoveling snow out of the driveway, scraping it off the car, and stockpiling food in the event that the roads aren't drivable for a few days. I had to clear the new-to-me car of snow before I could leave the house, and I realized that I don't even own an ice scraper anymore.

Now, off to real writings.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Well, since my work situation is still up in the air, I'm going to try to shift back onto a daytime schedule. As such, I won't be writing tonight before I go to bed - but I'll try to make sure I do so after I wake up, and before midnight. (So it'll at least be on the same day.)

And after I wake up, it's job-hunting time.

Dialects and Accents

It's probably a huge mistake on my part, but tonight I started playing around with an accent. Floyd, patron of the diner frequented by much of the superhero community in my story, has his first lines, and he's got a pretty distinct way of speaking.

The way I picture Floyd, he's a part of the city (whichever one I eventually decide this is). He's lived her all his life. His parents were poor, but honest and hardworking. His diner is his pride and his dream. So the way I hear him sounds like he's from the city. Here's an excerpt:

She caught Floyd’s attention, and waved him over to the counter. “What’s going on, Floyd?” The folks around her shot Erin a few sharp glares as they strained to listen to the television.

“You been under a rock, or somethin’?” Floyd pointed to the sinks behind the counter, and quietly continued, “ain’t no water in the city, accordin’ to the news. Every tap’s gone dry. City officials are sayin’ that the water’s just gone.” He shook his head. “Only water to be found is in bottles. Some mooks are already chargin’ outrageous prices fer ‘em. I’m tryin’ to hold the line tonight, but I’ll probably be out by mornin’.”

This is what Alec’s busy with. “I’m going to guess that the Brigadiers are already on it,” she whispered.

“Yeah,” Floyd answered with a nod. “They been’ checkin’ the sewers and pipes fer signs of tamperin’ but there ain’t been none. They said it was like the water all just left on it’s own, or somethin’.”

Please tell me if I'm laying it on too thick, or god forbid if I'm doing it to an offensive level.

Tonight's Word Count: 833

Total Word Count: 28,837

Writing Exercise - Shelly's Scene Objective

Once again, housework kept me away longer than I initially planned. I was hoping to have nestled myself in bed by now, but I'm just warming up for some writing. So I turn, once again, to C.M. Mayo's website for a writing exercise to start myself out. Here's today's:

February 15 "Shelly's Scene Objective"
The Power of the Actor, Ivana Chubbuck shows actors how to use their emotions to empower a goal. Actors identify their characters' overall objective, as well as their scene objective. Applying this to writing, assume your character is "Shelly"; her overall objective is to get married; her scene objective is to get "Kyle" whom she has just met, say, in a coffee shop, to ask her on a date. Write the scene from Shelly's point of view.

Sounds a little more doable than yesterday's, but then again I did manage to get that one too. Here we go:

Damn, Shelly thought to herself as she stepped forward, I really like this blouse.

She walked straight into the path of a man who was staring rather intently at his phone. As soon as she felt contact, she whipped her coffee cup back at herself, drenching her violet blouse. At least it wasn't fresh, she thought as the liquid began to seep through.

"Wha..?" The man stumbled backwards, and looked up, finally noticing Shelly. "I'm sorry, Miss," he stammered. "I didn't realize, um, I guess I should keep my eyes in front of me when I'm walking."

Shelly looked down at her blouse, and sighed loudly. "This was my favorite top, too. Can today get any worse?"

"Is there any way I can make it up to you?" he asked sheepishly.

Shelly grinned inwardly. "Well, you could pay for the dry cleaning I guess..."

Okay, I didn't get as far into the scene as I wanted. My notion was that Shelly had seen Kyle walking through the lobby of this building for weeks when she stopped in to get coffee with her friends, who have teased her relentlessly about him. Today, she went in early, and set an ambush to get his attention.

Now that I've got the wheels turning, let's see about my own work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Forward Progress

Well, I may not have made up for last night's lack of anything, but I've done enough for tonight. (Though peeking out the window behind me reveals that the sun is up, maybe I should say 'today' instead.) I'm tired, and I really need to get to sleep soon.

I hate alarm clocks. Despite is actually a closer word for the intense feeling I hold for them. One of the few advantages of the posting I worked for the past 18 months or so, was that I didn't need one. I went to sleep as soon as I got home, and woke up when I woke up. The way these clocks jar you out of your sleep and back into the waking world sets a horrible start to your day. Whatever I wind up doing, I hope I can avoid an alarm clock.

A sharp, piercing cry penetrated her sleep. She rolled first one way, and then another, trying to escape it but it pursued her no matter how she lay. Finally, she cracked one eye to see that six hours had passed, and her clock was trying to wake her up for work. Please, just let me sleep.

The clock was unmoved by her pleas, and instead redoubled it’s beeping. “I’ll put the clock across the room. That way, in order to turn it off, I’ll have to get out of bed and wake up.” That was a brilliant idea. Struggling free of the blankets, she sat up before pushing herself onto her feet. Her lithe, nimble feet thudded numbly across the floor as she groped for the clock and switched off the alarm. God, I want to get back in bed. Let me just get a drink, first, and then I’ll decide. She moved to the kitchen, and pulled a clean cup out of the cabinet. But when she opened the tap, nothing happened.

That’s odd. She tried the cold-water tap again, but nothing came out. Snarling slightly, she tried the warm water, also to no result. Did I forget to pay the water bill, or something? Shrugging, she opened the fridge and winced at the brightness of the light. “And it’s all caffeinated. Okay, clock, you won.” Pulling out a diet coke, she twisted off the top and took a deep sip as she walked over to the light switch.

Tonight's Word Count: 569

Total Word Count: 28,004

Writing Exercise - St. Valentines Day Massacre

This past week has thrown a lot at me, and I'll certainly confess - I'm rattled. But I'm going to get some writing done tonight. And to warm up, I'm going to return to writing exercises from C.M. Mayo's website.

Here's the exercise for today:

February 14 "St Valentine's Day Massacre"
This is a plot-generating exercise.
(1) List 5 small gestures Bob makes that show he loves his wife, Betty. (For example, he might do the dishes; he might buy her jewley, etc.)
(2) List 5 actions by which Betty reveals that she no longer loves Bob (For example, she might not pick up the phone when she's sees the caller ID that shows it's him; she might travel on business when she doesn't need to, etc.)
(3) List 3 ways Betty could kill Bob.
(4) In three words -- no more--- describe Betty's secret boyfriend, Jeb.
(5) Where did Betty meet Jeb?
(6) Finally, in what way is Jeb a suprising character? Answer in only 2 adjectives.

All that in five minutes? I'll see what I can do.

1) To show that he loves his wife on Valentine's Day, Bob prepares her breakfast, and delivers it to her in bed. He then tells her to go back to sleep, because he's going to clean the kitchen and entertain their son. That night, he plans to take her to the restaurant they went to on their first date, before taking her to an expensive hotel for the night.

2) To show that she doesn't love Bob, Betty doesn't eat breakfast (she tells him that she's not hungry.) When she does get out of bed, she makes starts working on something from work that could wait until Monday. She criticizes the way that he's cleaned the kitchen. She refuses to talk about anything intimate at dinner. Back at the hotel, she gets drunk on the wine he's romantically provided, and passes out before things can get amorous.

3) Betty could easily poison Bob - the ingrate lets her do almost all of the cooking. She could also sabotage his car - he's always underestimated her knowledge of cars. She could also have her lover fake a break-in, in which Bob might be shot.

4) Betty's lover is Dave, a guy she's been working with at the office for the past several years.

5) Dave's secret is that he's in witness protection. His last girlfriend was the wife of a powerful mobster.

And... done.

Okay, I may have fudged that by a few seconds, but I got almost all of it in the allotted time. Plotting isn't typically one of my problems, but I can see the value in doing something like this. Next time I find myself in a position where I'm not sure how to get from Point A to Point B, I'll try to brainstorm alternatives. It can't hurt.

I'm feeling better about things. I found out yesterday that my employment is in question. In the course of a week, my car has died and now my job may be next on the block. I'll go see what they have to say, but if they fire me it won't be the worst that could happen. Even if they don't, I'm going to start looking. But I'm going to also try to keep the writing going - starting now.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nothing Coming

I've been sitting here for almost two hours now, and I've got nothing. I've had another issue on the same magnitude as the car trouble hit, and I'm just not focused. I'll have a few nights to work with it though.

Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down and start hammering out a writing exercise. Hopefully that'll help snap me back into things. But for now, I'm going to chill out before going to bed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Something Witty Goes Here

Sorry to let you down tonight, but I'm not going to have an excerpt or a discussion of what I'm writing. I got a whopping four hours of sleep yesterday (and didn't get into bed until noon). But we may have a solution to the automotive oubliette in which I've found myself. Hilary's boss has a (seldom) used '94 Buick LeSabre that's in our price range. According to Kelly's Blue Book, her asking price is a little high, so we might try to talk her down a little. But she's kindly letting us borrow the car in the meantime, which means that I've got transportation.

But for now, I need to catch up some sleep. Seriously. No, I'm not even kidding.

Tonight's Word Count: 311

Total Word Count: 27,435

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Parent Issues

I've noticed that there's a particular mood, or mindset that I reach when I'm having a good night writing. It helps me tune everything else out, and it feels like my fingers are struggling to keep up with the words. I've been having a hard time reaching that over the past week or so. The past couple nights have been more of a trial. (Go figure.)

But tonight I hit a vein of words, and mined it. It wasn't my biggest night, but that's fine. If it helps me get back into that mindset again more regularly it doesn't have to be. I think my writing's better, and I know I get more done when that's the case.

Tonight, I'm focusing in a little more on Erin's life beyond the superheroics, or even beyond the support group. She's got work and school to juggle along with the night-life that's slowly pulling her back in. But when she arrives at her apartment to get ready for work, she finds a letter from her Dad wedged between the door and frame.

An envelope was waiting for Erin at the door to her apartment. It was wedged between the door, and frame. There was no address written on it, and no stamp. Hand delivered, then, she quickly deduced. The front simply had her name hand-written on it in a bold script.


She recognized her father’s handwriting immediately. She seized it from the door, and stepped into her apartment. Tossing her jacket over the back of a nearby chair, she flopped onto her bed and regarded the missive from her parents. What the hell do they want? If I were smart, I’d just burn it. Instead, she opened the envelope, and read the letter inside.


Your mother and I were very surprised to see that you had been out wearing the armor last night. You made it clear that you weren’t going to pursue those career options when you had yourself emancipated. Does this mean you’ve changed your mind? If so, might you change your mind about some of your other decisions?

We saw an article in the paper about an apartment fire where at least one hero helped rescue several people from the flames. Was that you? Were you working with Keller?

We would love nothing more than to help you resume your career. You’re always welcome to come home. But if you’re working with Keller, and don’t want to come home, please remember that we own the name ‘Amazon’ as well as the visual design of the armor. If you’re working with Keller again, then we need to sit down and come to some arrangement for compensation for your use of our property.

I know this sounds harsh, but your mother and I are only doing what we think is best for our family – and that includes you. We’ll be hoping to hear back from you.

Please, come home. Are we so bad that you’d rather live in a place like this?


By the time she reached the bottom of the page, Erin’s jaw was hanging wide open. “Are you so bad?! Yes, you are,” she exclaimed to nobody in particular. “In the same breath you ask me to come home, and threaten to sue me if you don’t like what I’m doing.” She crumpled the paper into a ball, hurling it across the room and then lay still on her bed for several minutes.

Turning her head, she saw the time and cursed. Why is it that family has such a talent for driving you up the wall when you don’t have time to cope with it? Rolling off the bed, she trudged to the bathroom to start her shower, and begin preparing for work.

I think it goes without saying that she's got family issues? Well, we all do. It's one of the few universal certainties. But the courts actually had to get involved in Erin's issues with her parents. Erin's parents are like the parents who force their kids into music, sports, or beauty competitions, but taken to the very small extreme who try to turn their child into their meal ticket. But they do care about her - all the other stuff has just gotten in the way, and her winning legal emancipation from her parents was a blow to their pride - and that never stops smarting.

Tonight's Word Count: 906

Total Word Count: 27,124

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back On The Horse

I was still a little distracted tonight by the drama with my car, but I refused to go to bed until I'd written more than last night. I'm trying not to panic, and I still know where my towel is.

Of course, I also wrote a post regarding the blog award Stefanie over at 52 Weeks of Wordage passed along to me. Thanks again, Stef! That also helped to remind me that while I've got my troubles, I've still got a lot to be thankful for.

Today's excerpt is actually last night's work. Erin and Wanda (formerly a super-speedster known as 'Flurry') were talking about old times during an idle moment, so I indulged myself in a flashback to the incident they were discussing. Here's a bit of Eris in action:

Erin crouched in the rafters of an old High School gymnasium. She took in the scene below her carefully. A motley group of kids, varying between scrawny and overweight, had corralled 23 members of the school’s football team in the gymnasium. The captors were all members of the East Hills High Science Club. I don’t get this, she thought to herself. I know a few of these guys. They’re shy and quiet. What’s gotten into them?

“I hope you guys are in position,” she whispered into her suit’s built-in communications system.

“We’re good to go.” The voice came in from her earpiece, funneled straight into her ear to prevent any noise.

“Here I go, then,” she whispered back. In a fluid motion, she slid out of the rafters and swung on the line she’d already anchored behind her. She swooped through the room dramatically, a cape flowing out behind her, before releasing her line. She landed on the balls of her feet in a crouch just a few feet away from one of the kids holding the football team hostage.

Steve Hollister’s face made no indication that he’d noticed her arrival right in front of him, but after a moment he began to speak. “Eris, superhero, partner of Achilles. Named for Greek goddess of mischief. Are you here to rescue us?”

Rescue us? The question echoed in Erin’s head. “Actually, you guys look like you’re doing fine all by yourselves.” She nodded in the direction of the captive teenagers. “What do you need rescuing from?”

Steve’s face remained blank and vacant, but again he began to speak. “Science Club, misfits, intelligent, misunderstood. Victims, targets, weak. Football team are the worst offenders. Protective measures, keep our self safe. Cannot hurt us.” As Steve’s voice faded, Erin realized that each of the members of the Science Club had said the same thing and at the same time. “Other offenders still free. Unsafe. Require help. Are you here to help?”

Beneath her mask, Erin gently chewed her bottom lip. Right now, Flurry should be waiting by the side door. Flashback would be waiting at the main door for the signal from either Bass or herself. If I can’t talk these kids down, the Justice Teens are going to kick in the main door, with a huge flash of light and sound while Flurry tries to round them up before they can hurt anybody We don’t even really know what these kids can do. “Alright,” she answered. “I’ll see what I can do. What do you need to be safe?”

The Science Club answered again as one. “Require safety. Punishment of threats, bullies. They must be removed.”

Erin chose her answer carefully. “They won’t threaten you again. But I can’t punish them.” But I’d hate to see what you make of jail, or prison if you’re sent there.

The sudden flash of rage on Steve’s face, as well as all the faces of the captors took Erin completely by surprise. “Eris, goddess of mischief, deceiver, betrayer! We will not be imprisoned! We will have justice, retribution!” A blinding glow began to build up in each pair of eyes.

Erin dove to the side, and yelled the signal but she never heard it escape her lips. The gym was swallowed by an ocean of light and sound that buffeted her Erin was knocked onto her back.

I'm interested in hearing what you think. I've been trying to pick bits and snippets that'll make sense without a lot of effort to introduce them, or set them up.

But for now, I think it's just about bed time. (Though I may stay up to give the car place a call before I go to sleep.) Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me. :)

Tonight's Word Count: 823

Total Word Count: 26,218

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Unexpected Award

In yesterday's post I mentioned that Stefanie over at 52 Weeks of Wordage passed an award along to me and I really wanted to do an entire post related to it. I really appreciate that. I started this blog to document how frequently I started writing. The only folks I expected to look at it were those who already had a personal interest in my writing. And while it's hardly the most frequently read blog on the web, I'm still humbled whenever I see a comment or a follower. So, first off, thanks to everybody who reads this.

Of course, there's a form to be followed - I have to list ten things that make me happy, and then pass the award along to five bloggers who make me happy. Despite my panicking yesterday, I think I can manage it.

So here it is:

What Makes Jason Happy?

  1. Hilary - It's certainly cliche to say that your wife/girlfriend/fiance/partner makes you happy, but that doesn't make it any less true. She brightens my life in no end of ways, and her unflagging support is the single most substantial reason I'm trying to write at all. I can't think of anything or anybody that makes me happier.
  2. Writing - January was probably the best month I've had in years. I attribute it largely to the fact that I wrote regularly. I know I'm not writing the next New York Times Bestseller, or the next great novel to be taught in literature programs around the world, but just the act of writing makes me feel better.
  3. Our Cats - In our home, we have ten furry bundles of joy. While Hilary and I both acknowledge it's way too many, we love each and every one.
  4. My Job - For all that I gripe about it, I've got a job that provides me with time to read, time to write, and medical insurance. It also provides me with long hours, so I knock out a work week in four days, tops. I don't care for the pay, and the actual 'work' can get on my nerves, but I'm happier with it than without it.
  5. You - Any time I see that somebody's not only reading my blog, but commenting on it, I get a little boost. Thanks for that!
  6. Our House - We've got a nice, large (if overly cluttered) house. Every day I go to sleep in my own bed, and pull warm blankets over myself. I've worked in a homeless shelter, and it shows you how important this really is.
  7. Our parents - Hilary and I both have some really great parents who've gone far above & beyond the call to help us out. They're great folks, and we're lucky to have them.
  8. My (relative) health - I'm a creature of habit, and most of them are absolutely horrible. My taste buds seem genetically destined to long for only the very worst, deeply fried foods. I prefer sitting and reading, writing, or just about anything to exercising. But defying all logic, my last doctor's visit revealed that most of my 'numbers' for Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, etc. are remarkably normal despite it.
  9. Stories that surprise me - I'm very much an eclectic person when it comes to my taste in television, movies and books. I'm not sure if it's a talent for writing, or just vast exposure to stories in many media, but much of the time I feel like I can make a pretty good guess at where a story is going. I absolutely love it when a story takes a sudden left turn, and leaves me holding my jaw.
  10. My nephew - I haven't seen him nearly enough, but a week ago he ran Hilary and I ragged (along with his grandparents and my sister.) I'm now starting to buy comic books for him, in the hopes of bringing him to the dark side. :)
My car would've made the list, but for it's performance yesterday. If it recovers for under a thousand dollars, maybe it'll make it next time. :)

Now it's time to list off five bloggers who make me happy:

  • First and foremost, I have to pass it back along to Stef at 52 Weeks of Wordage. I don't know if I'm allowed to do this, but it's my blog so I say I can. She's inspired me to try the writing exercises I've been neglecting lately, as well as to start posting some excerpts.
  • Caine is second only to Hilary for inspiring me to get on my butt and write. His own blog, Blaque Spaces, covers a gamut of cool comic book stuff, and technology that's stepped right out of the pages of comics. He's also working on a webcomic pitch for Zuda, and when he has that ready, I won't shut up about it.
  • Miriam S. Forster's blog, Dancing With Dragons Is Hard On Your Shoes was brought to my attention by Caine by way of a post she wrote pointing out that writing even 500 words a day over the course of a year is a mighty achievement. I always look forward to a new post.
  • Jen over at unedited inspires me with the brave way she puts her work up there to see. It's another blog I read regularly.
  • I've only been following Jamie Grove's How Not To Write for a brief while, but when he posts, it's usually a good swift boot to the hindquarters - and I need that from time to time. Does it make me happy? In the long run, yes it does.
Thanks again for the award, Stef! Now it's time to get to the writing. :)

A Heck Of A Night

Hey folks,

I've had a roller-coaster doozy of a night. As I got onto the interstate yesterday evening to head in to work, I noticed that my engine was racing, but I wasn't getting over 35 mph. For some reason, my car doesn't want to shift out of first gear. The interstate isn't a good place to find this out.

So I've spent a chunk of my evening trying to arrange to tow my car from work (where I did eventually arrive), where to tow it to, and how much I might be willing to pay in repair work before I just write the old girl off. (I still don't have a good answer for that last one.) To say that my head wasn't properly in the game for writing is putting it lightly.

But I did write. I didn't get started until late, and it wasn't as much as I'd like but I should have plenty of time to make up for that tomorrow. I've already called off, since I won't have a way to pick my car up until Thursday at least. Barely into February, and I'll have used 24 hours of my 40 hours of vacation time.

I do want to point out Stef over at 52 Weeks of Wordage - she gave me an award which I'm planning to properly highlight and answer tomorrow. It hasn't gone unnoticed. :)

Here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 614

Total Word Count: 25,395

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super-Team Drama

One of the things that's constant with superheroes is the drama that follows them. They've got rivalries, and hatreds among their peers and enemies. Many add the neuroses that come from living a double life that they feel the need to hide from not only the world, but their loved ones as well, and it's not hard to see that only part of the conflict in these stories comes from fighting the villains.

And drama seems to be the order of the day with the Brigadiers. I think it makes sense, though. These are people playing their roles on a huge stage, and they're widely accepted to be the 'best'. There are probably very few people who could live with that without being changed somewhat by it.

The chief drama of the night comes from the antagonism between John Doe, one of my characters, and his ex-wife. Here's an excerpt of it:

Well, this is it, Erin thought to herself. I guess I can admit to myself now that this has been kind of fun, but it’s probably for the best if someone else handles it. She inhaled, and stepped forward to address the room.

“Achilles told us that you’ve got an important matter for us,” Animus cut in sharply. “I hope you’ll pardon the absences, but we can be hard to pull together on such short notice.”

Erin felt the gentle flick of a lash in Animus’ voice, and cringed inwardly.

“I cancelled lunch with the Secretary of Defense to come here,” the armored form continued. “So please be brief. The five of us in this room don’t have time to waste.”

A blur of motion in the corner of her eye caught Erin’s attention, and she turned just in time to stop John from rushing forward. His lips were curled, and his eyes squinted with rage but her sharp look and her hand planted on his chest stopped him. Turning her back to the dais, she mouthed the word ‘No’ and saw him back down. Are things really that bad between them that she’d try to goad him like that?

While John isn't the one speaking with her directly, his presence has her irritated. (I'm not sure if I've done a good job of showing that, though. I'm tempted to break my own rule to go and revise that a little bit, despite not having finished my first draft.

Animus (formerly known as Annie-Mation) was married to John Doe, one of the has-beens who's working with Erin. Their separation was messy to say the least. There was infidelity, backstabbing, and lots of hard feelings. And now she's running The Brigadiers - the team that Erin and her crew need to convince of the gravity of a threat that they've discovered.

But not all of my writing was this drama. I'm writing a scene with Erin and Wanda talking about old times, and it's got me thinking of throwing in another flashback. One of the folks I've given access to the whole shebang liked one I had in the first chapter and I found a place that feels like it'd be a natural fit to do another one. Of course, it's precisely where I stopped writing for the night. We'll see how that feels tomorrow.

Here's the word count for the night:

Tonight's Word Count: 1,064

Total Word Count: 24,781

Tomorrow night should easily carry me over 25K. And it felt good to have another night over a thousand words, even if it wasn't by much. January was a great month for me in every regard, and I want to try to carry that over. I've been worried about losing momentum.

I'm looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow. But for now, it's almost time for good vampires (and nocturnal writers) to get to bed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Brigadiers Revealed

Well, okay, I've only revealed five of them, and I already knew who three of those were, but it was enough to get me moving again.

I'm trying to play off some of the comic book archetypes I see in mainstream super-hero comics with the members of this team, and I think the couple that I had to invent were pretty good. At least I like them right now. Two might be missing at the moment, but I think superheroes can be a tough bunch to gather at short notice.

Here's an excerpt from tonight's work:

Tearing her eyes away she looked off to the right. At Animus’ right hand sat The Veteran. He nodded to her, acknowledging her gaze, and giving a friendly smile that lifted Erin’s heart a bit. At least he’s here. I don’t know if anybody could go against The Veteran. I’d probably jump off a bridge, if he asked me to. He was a veteran of World War II, but right afterwards, some kind of government experiment made him the first real superhuman. He’d served his country again in Korea, but after the turmoil of the Vietnam era, he viewed himself more as a guardian of the innocent rather than pledging his loyalty to any single nation. That was when he’d traded in his red, white and blue outfit for the blue and green uniform he now wore – the colors of Earth from space.

The Veteran is one of the Brigadiers, and the one I thought would give me the most trouble. He surprised me in that regard because of the two that I fully developed tonight, he was the one that came to me first. I think that Superman and Captain America serve the same role in current comics, despite the obvious power differences, because their greatest gift is their ability to inspire those around them to greatness. They also both have a sense of right and wrong that guides them. I wanted to create a character like that. This excerpt doesn't tell his whole story - though I have more than I've shared here. But I hope I've got someone who can pull off that same vibe without feeling corny or 'lame'.

I didn't get as much writing done as I'd have liked - I blame no one but myself. But the important thing is that I broke through a bit of a block I was having - and that block was coming up with some additional characters. I think I've gotten myself to a point where I'll have an easier time picking back up.

Anyhow, here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 732

Total Word Count: 23,717

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's Not Happening Tonight

Well, a late night is turning into a no-go night. I was up a bit later than usual gaming online with a buddy from High School. I took a break to eat something before getting to work, and it's just gotten later and later.

I'm going to declare tonight a night-off. In all honesty, this whole weekend has been focused more on having fun but I need to get back to work tomorrow night. In the meantime, I need to come up with some more good superheroes to be in the Brigadiers.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Enter The Brigadiers

Tonight's writing has brought Erin and her friends face to face with the premier super-team in the world I'm creating - The Brigadiers. They're the Justice League, and the Avengers - everybody knows them and I'm trying to play up a few specific things here.

I don't think that it's hotly argued that superheroes and their stories are the mythology of the modern age. Thesus lost his father because he forgot to hoist the right colored sail on his return from slaying the minotaur in Crete. Peter Parker lost Gwen Stacy because the Green Goblin knew who he was. Hercules performed his legendary 12 labors to atone for having killed his own children in a madness inflicted on him by Hera. Bruce Wayne fights crime in Gotham because he wasn't able to save his own parents from it.

So Superheroes are the gods and demigods of the modern age. I'm trying to play this up as I describe the Brigadiers' fortress (carved into an asteroid in stable orbit around the Earth.)

Here's an excerpt:

The Brigadiers conference room was massive. The vaulted ceiling reached upwards to space, ending in a transparent view of the eternal night sky. The crystals that provided soft light in the other parts of the compound that Erin had seen only lined the walls here. Several brilliant light fixtures were suspended from the ceiling. The floor here was tiled, forming a path leading through the center of the room towards a raised dais.

Upon the dais sat a table in the shape of a half-circle with the straight edge facing the door. Behind the table stood seven large chairs facing the entrance, and in those chairs sat the Brigadiers.

What do you think? Am I overdoing it? My notion is that of a room with seven thrones, in which these gods of modern myth look down on the Earth. Aside from playing around with the mythology angle that I already like, I think it foreshadows that Erin and her friends' concerns won't be viewed as 'important' by these other heroes.

Anyhow, here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 1,000

Total Word Count: 22,985

Oddly, I found I was at precisely a thousand words when I decided to break. (The excerpt above is the tail-end of my night's work.) I still haven't filled the tale of The Brigadiers, so I need to try to think on that a bit before I sit down to write again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Slow Night

I didn't get started until late tonight, and had a harder time getting started. It's my own fault - I got caught up goofing around while waiting on some laundry and next thing I knew it was 4am. It's strictly my bad.

I did get some writing done, but not quite 500 words for the night but I think my bed's going to be calling me soon. I'm not beating myself up over it, but I need to make sure I get started a bit earlier tomorrow.

Here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 444

Total Word Count: 21,985

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Getting Back Into The Groove

One thing I've known about myself for a few years, is that I'm most comfortable with routine. I like my wagon ruts, and generally get to feeling a little anxious whenever I veer from my established patterns. So naturally I feel good, getting back to my regular schedule.

Tonight, Erin revisited an encounter she had earlier in the story. She'd come across a pimp menacing one of his girls back in... Chapter 4, I think. She wasn't in costume, and couldn't see him clearly enough to know whether or not he was armed so she opted to try to scare him off. I wanted to show that she had to do something, but that she wasn't ready to intervene directly. She was still smarting from the events that forced her to retire her superhero identity a couple years ago.

Tonight, encouraged by several successes (including reconciling things with her old mentor), she came across the same man getting ready to work another one of his girls over. This time she stopped him, and laid the smack down upon him. (She fractured his hip in her initial attack, and when he kept trying to attack fueled by adrenaline and rage, she shattered his leading hand and elbow.) I'm hoping that the contrast between these two encounters helps to highlight the change in her state of mind. And in a story featuring superheroes, it really was time for some kind of violence, I think.

Which is a shame, because I think that tomorrow night's writing is going to start battering her new-found self esteem. But she's stronger than she gives herself credit for - and this is how she's going to learn that.

Here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 933

Total Word Count: 21,541

I didn't get a writing exercise in tonight. I'll see if I can't catch up with those over the next few nights.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Second Month, And 20,000 Words

Just under a month ago, I started this journal to help document my attempt to produce a book. I've now passed two more milestones: I've been working on actually writing this story for about a month now, and tonight I've passed 20,000 words.

Tonight I've been writing another meeting between Erin and her former mentor, Achilles. Erin went into this one a little better prepared though, so she's a bit more secure about it. This meeting is going to lead her (and her companions) to a meeting with The Brigadiers - the premier super-team in the world I'm creating. I know who several of them are, but I think I need to come up with a few more. Of course, once I've hit the writing mindset, my trouble with coming up with names disappears (or at least shrinks a lot.)

The past month has been one of the better ones I can recall. I've actually begun (and continued) to write one of my story ideas. I've made some progress in cleaning the house, including clearing myself a better place to isolate myself from distractions for some writing. I've made some realizations about my relationship with my parents that have changed how I look at them (for the better), blood work from my doctor held some good news, and I've had an excellent time with Hilary. Now I need to work on making February just as good.

Here's tonight's word-count:

Tonight's Word Count: 1,085

Total Word Count: 20,608

Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing Exercise - OCD

Well, now that I'm back on my normal hours, I'm feeling a bit less tired. I had an excellent time over the weekend, and it's well worth the temporary discomfort of shifting my waking hours for a couple days, but it's good to be back on nights.

I lost a couple nights of writing exercises there. Maybe I'll make them up later, but for right now, I'm going to pick up with today's from C.M. Mayo's website (as always)

February 2 "OCD"
Your character is an obsessive compulsive. Describe his or her morning. Do not use the words "obsessive compulsive." (Show don't tell.)

Sounds like fun. Here we go.

The alarm sounded, and Kyle rose. Swiveling neatly, his feet touched ground directly on top of his slippers. And... now, he thought to himself as he reached out to turn off the alarm. Standing, he turned to head to the bathroom, but he saw his bed out of the corner of his eye.

The far side was unused, untouched, perfect. Passing the bathroom, he stepped over to the far side of the bed. Bending over for a closer look, he began smoothing it completely flat and gradually worked his way over to the side in which he had slept. He meticulously straightened the sheets, and folded the blanket back. He removed his pillow from the case entirely, and reached into his nightstand.

The tips of his fingers brushed against a neat stack of crisply folded replacements. Withdrawing one, he carefully slid the pillow in before folding the now empty case and placing it atop the pile of neatly folded clothing in the hamper. Stepping towards the bathroom, he turned abruptly and picked up the alarm clock. He held it up to his eyes, ensuring that the alarm was still turned off.

And... time.

I didn't get quite as far into it as I would have liked, but I think by this point I've figured out that I'm almost always going to think I could do better.

I'll be standing up to take a walk around shortly. After that, it's back to writing.

Wiped Out

Over this weekend, Hil and I went to see my parents. Our plan was to drive down Friday night, and spend Saturday before leaving after dinner. Amazing how plans change.

The weather reported that Columbia was the recipient of freezing rain on Saturday. Driving back home at night on highways potentially littered with black ice didn't sound like what we consider to be a good time, so I called my boss and arranged to take Sunday night off.

Since my parents don't share my own nocturnal tendencies, I wanted to temporarily muck with my sleeping habits to spend a couple of days with them. They were a great couple of days, and well worth the minor inconvenience of being tried tonight - but I'm just not sure I can get any more writing done.

I sat down about an hour ago, and managed to get a couple hundred words out but now I just can't stop yawning. I think our bed is most likely in my immediate future. So I don't have much to comment on in my writing tonight. I know where I'm going to take things from here tomorrow. Of course, my next shift presents a new difficulty. My monthly shipment of comic books is scheduled to arrive while I sleep. I'll be taking it with me to work in order to comb through the box, making sure that I've received everything on the invoice. And of course, to read a bit. But I want to get back to writing, and I'm confident that'll get me on-task.

Here's tonight's word-count:

Tonight's Word Count: 287

Total Word Count: 19,523

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Writing Exercise - Movies Between 10 and 15

Tonight I'm writing from my parents' house on Hilton Head Island. We came down for a visit, and apparently Columbia was drenched with freezing rain, making the drive home less than optimal. We're staying overnight, and driving back tomorrow.

But am I going to let that stop me from writing? Not if I can help it. Here's tonight's writing exercise courtesy of C.M. Mayo's website.

January 30 "Movies Between 10 and 15"
In a 1974 interview with Gerald Clarke for The Paris Review, Gore Vidal said, "Every writer of my generation has been influenced by films.... Find out the movies a man saw between ten and fifteen, which ones he liked, disliked, and you would have a pretty good idea of what sort of mind and temperment he has." Either for yourself, or for one of your characters, list the movies you (he / she) can recall having seen between ten and fifteen.
(Is this bananas? Or is there some nugget of something to this?)

Here we go:

Predator, Aliens, Big Trouble in Little China, Overboard, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, UHF, The Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Dances With Wolves, Top Gun, Total Recall, The Running Man, The Dream Team, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ghostbusters 2, Beetlejuice, Batman, The Wraith, The Naked Gun, Three Men And A Baby

And, time:

I definitely think that there's something to this. Several of these movies have stayed with me, and I'm sure they will stay with me for all my life. It's a little more of a memory exercise, but I think it bears thinking about.

I'm going to try to make some headway writing tonight. I'm not in my usual writing habitat, but I'll see what I can do.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Act Two Takes Shape

I think I have a more specific idea of how this second act is going to progress. I had some of the story-beats I wanted to hit worked out, but now I think I've got a better idea of how I'm going to get there.

This part of the project is going to test Erin's resolve. I told Hilary roughly how I think things are going to go, and I'm not sure she liked it. I don't think it's because she dislikes the story, though, I just don't think she wants Erin to be taxed the way I think she needs to be.

This story's moved away from my original vision, but it also hasn't. The seed, the idea that the whole thing leapt forth from is still there, but the focus on Erin is making it more about her and less about the other characters. I think it's fitting, since as soon as I finished writing my first draft of her 'bio', I said that I could write so much about her. This really feels like the story of how she really comes into her own, and that does tend to mean some hardships coming.

I tried to reassure Hilary that Erin would not only overcome her trials, but that she'd be made stronger by them. Or at least that I thought she would. That didn't quite reassure her, though I think it gives me a bit more confidence early on into this stage.

As a question for anyone reading, at what point do you officially call a story or writing project a book? I'm into my 40th typed page in Word. (Single-spaced, formatted for a typical sheet of paper.) I was wondering that as I typed this.

Here's this morning's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 834

Total Word Count: 19,236

20,000 words is on the horizon, and it doesn't feel like it's taken long at all to reach it. Outstanding. I'm not sure if I'll be writing the next couple of nights, though. We're making another attempt to go visit my parents tomorrow evening, and returning Saturday night. I'll take the laptop for opportunistic writing, though.

Writing Exercise - The Five Dollar Bill

And here's tonight's writing exercise (courtesy of C.M. Mayo's website):

January 29 "The Five Dollar Bill"
A five dollar bill changes hands five times in one day. Make a list of where, when, who hands it over, and for what. For example:
~Where: Starbucks, New Jersey Turnpike
~When: 7:30 am;
~Who: Bob, a truck driver;
~What: a cup of coffee (black) and a bean burrito.
If you can complete this exercise in less than five minutes, go back and add more detail to describe the places and the people.

Starting now:

Where: McDonalds off a nearby interstate
When: 5am
Who: Jim, road-tripping back to see his parents after a 3 year absence
What: 2 Sausage Biscuits and a large coffee

Where: Mcdonalds off a nearby interstate
When: 6:17 am
Who: Sam, the McDonalds clerk working the drive-through register
What: Payback - angry at his boss for yelling at him, he takes the money from the register and pockets it.

Where: Corner of Senate and Park St.
When: 2:28 pm
Who: Millins, the dealer Steve buys pot from
What: Part of the payment for some 'comfort' for the weekend.

Where: Movie Theater
When: 5:15pm
Who: Rachel, the clerk at the ticket office
What: A ticket to see a movie with his girlfriend

And... time.

I thought I knew what the last stage was going to be - but on reflection, Rachel would've needed a reason to be taking money from her register, and I've already had one person steal the bill already. Five minutes went by kindof fast on this one.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's In A Name?

I can't speak for anybody else, but one of the hardest things for me to do is to come up with a name for someone or something.

And it can completely stop me in my tracks. Tonight, I sat in front of MS Word for a good 45 minutes to an hour because I needed to come up with a few names for active superheroes in the city my story is set in. I had nothing, so I let myself waste a little time - check Facebook, catch up on some of my feeds on Google Reader.

I've gotten better, and once I'm warmed up, the name thing doesn't intimidate me so much anymore. Once I'd built up a head of steam, I deduced Achilles' name rather easily - Alec Keller. But here, I wanted a few superhero names to toss out at Floyd's at the beginning of this chapter, and it had me stopped cold. Eventually, I figured one out, and dug out two more that I'd mentioned earlier and it worked. Do you have anything like that? Anything that can paralyze you for an hour or longer?

Tonight's writing was pretty good for Erin, though. Too bad that in the coming nights, she's going to face a lot of demoralization from several quarters. I'll let her live it up for tonight, though, and call it.

Here's the word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 847

Total Word Count: 18,402

Writing Exercise - Purple Things

Tonight's exercise from C. M. Mayo's website is another listing exercise, and I'm not entirely sure what to make of it:

January 28 "Purple Things"
What things are purple? Make a list

But I'll give it a go.

Eggplants, pants, bad suits, shirts, ties, flowers, aliens, eyes, beams of cosmic energy, Galactus, handkerchiefs, the sky (through a red lens), bruises, prose, crayons, magic markers, paints, computer screens, bubble gum, jewels, jello (if something went wrong), cars, trucks, Barney the Dinosaur, blueberries, colored ink, stained glass, dye, dice, pictures, shirts, cups, plates, houses (if the resident is color-blind, maybe), candy

And time.

Well, truth be told, I didn't come up with anything new for the last 30 seconds of that five minute period, and I feel like I was really reaching for some of it. (Though I'd imagine that the 'reaching' was the focus of the exercise.) I wasn't so much thinking what is purple, but what could be purple. At least, that's the direction I went.

Time to settle down now, and try to get some writing done.

Act One - Completed

Well, at least for my first draft. I know I'm going to have to revisit it - especially the first week and a half, or so. But my story is taking shape. And while the past week or so provided me with the comfortable sensation of having a better idea of how that part of my story was going to work, I now find myself preparing to start on Act Two. Once again, I've got a general idea of where I'm starting from, where I'm going to, and a few of the events - but the immediate future is clouded.

I'm both excited and nervous. I think I was a little more confident as the story beat I was heading for grew closer. Now it's out of my sight again, though I know roughly what direction to head out in. I'll be fine, I'm sure, it'll just be a matter of getting started next time I sit down to write.

This next chapter's going to introduce this world's more prominent superheroes. Erin and her friends are thinking they might be out of their depth, and it's time to look for some help. This is going to be challenging for another reason - I only know who one of those characters is, and only in the sense of a one-sentence summary. (That'd be Achilles, referenced in Erin's trip to the dentist on this blog.) A couple months ago, that'd paralyze me until I did some pre-writing on each of them. Now... I think I'm more ready to just roll up my sleeves, and see what I come out with. Though it's going to mean re-reading what I have, and writing down the names of any superheroes I've already referenced. (If anybody wants to do that for me, please let me know? I'm not sure if I'm ready to actually read my own material yet.)

My next writing session will be from the writing room back home, with a lot fewer interruptions. But I don't think I've got anything to complain about tonight. Here's the word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 1,564

Total Word Count: 17,555

And it's a record-breaking night. Not only did I exceed my best nightly word-count, but I polished off my first act. That might call for a reward.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Writing Exercise - Flying A Kite

Another day, another writing exercise from C. M. Mayo's website. Here's today:

January 27 "Flying a Kite"
Describe a person flying a kite

And start:

He bent over and picked the plastic form off the ground. What's the matter with this thing, he thought. Turning it over in his hands, he looked it over. The frame still looks good, and I don't see any tears. Why won't it fly?

He turned and felt the wind whip through his hair, carrying the salty air past his face. The beach was empty. He'd seen a jogger about twenty minutes ago, and nobody since. The sun was barely over the horizon. I can't believe I'm having this much trouble with a kite. He held it firmly into the wind, and felt the breeze trying to wrench it from his grip. Alright... let's give this one more go.

With an upward toss, he released the kite and stepped quickly back. It struggled to navigate the currents of air buffeting it. He tugged on the string, pulling it into a better angle to catch the wind, and gasped involuntarily as it took flight. He slowly fed out the string, watching it rise higher and higher in the early morning air. He stopped feeling the chill air, and stopped noticing the wind as it rose.

And, time.

It's been a long time since I've tried to fly a kite, so the mechanics escape me. ;) I'm trying to do a little better about injecting my characters' voice into bits that don't have any dialog, so I'm trying to work that in where I can.

I haven't started writing yet tonight. Apparently the University of South Carolina won a basketball game tonight, so things are a little busy for 2am on a Wednesday morning. I'll be getting to work on that presently, though.

On The Verge Of A Climax

Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm on the very edge of the first act climax to my writing project.

I was in the middle of a detailed post about what I wanted to do for the climax. I was talking a bit about the narrative technique I wanted to employ for the way I've pictured this scene playing out - but I realized that not only was I spoiling my story before anybody had read it, I was spoiling it before I'd even written it. I think that it'd be better for a reader to judge the dramatic affect by reading it before they know it's coming.

So I've shelved that post. I'll go back to it after I've written it, and one or two folks have read it. I'm lucky in that I've got friends like Caine who are willing to give my first draft a look, while I'm writing it. He's already given me some feedback that I'm trying to work in as I work my way forward. I've made a conscious decision not to go back and apply it to the early parts of the story until I've completed the first draft. I'd be willing to take on a couple other 'Alpha' readers if there's any interest.

I think I'm going to stop writing for the night, though. I've still got some time to work with, but I want to sleep on this scene and give my subconscious a chance to weigh in on it. I've still gotten over a thousand words written, so it's not like I'm slacking. Here's tonight's word count to prove it!

Tonight's Word Count: 1,102

Total Word Count: 15,991

Almost a third the length of a NaNo entry. Not bad, though I'm taking a more relaxed pace. I'm definitely going to have to take another stab at NaNoWriMo this year.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Writing Exercise - Dream Solution

Since I don't have a convenient excuse to avoid doing the writing exercise on C. M. Mayo's site tonight (other than I'm probably going to seriously time out) I'm going to have a go at another one.

January 26 "Dream Solution"
Your character has a nightmare. But in the middle of it, he or she creatively solves the problem. For example, Ted dreams that he is being backed to the edge of a cliff by someone coming at him with a saber. All of a sudden, Ted realizes that the saber is made out of the same tin foil his wife used to wrap up the peanut butter cookie dough for the freezer, and so, he sits down and starts playing the kazoo. Hey, have fun! What is your character's nightmare, and what is his or her "dream solution"? List as many as you can think of in 5 minutes.

My concern here, is that I'm not sure what my characters' nightmares are, much less how they resolve them. But I'll give it a go.

And... start:

Erin gasped as she stared at the sky. Women were falling from the heavens. "That's not it", she thought to herself. "It's the same woman. Hundreds, thousands of the same woman are falling from the sky throughout the city." Without thinking, she leapt from the precipice she stood on, and caught one of them, but just a few feet to the side was another. And another next to her. And more, and more.

She caught movement out of the corner of her eye, and Erin turned to look. The woman next to her had been caught by... well, by Erin. Across the city, Erin dived from rooftops and billboards. She swung in on grappling lines, catching the multitude of the single falling woman. Each and every one.

There's one character down. After reading it, I'm not sure if I was as clear as I'd have liked. Erin's nightmare is a falling woman, one that she didn't save. So her nightmare is an impossible task - the same woman falling a thousand times at once. But the solution is that an army of her, one of her for every falling woman appears. I think it means that she has to understand that one person can only do so much, and to trust herself and others more.

John looked down at himself was disgust. The filthy flesh that comprised his body was decaying before his eyes. It was putrid and rank, covered in open sores and crawling with insects. But he couldn't help trying to pick a it. Removing a large chunk, he found cool, steel underneath.
And... time.

And there's another one, though I'm not sure I had a chance to do justice to him in the time I had left. John (or J.O.H.N.) is me playing around with another type of character from science fiction and comics - the robot that wants to be human. John managed to achieve his wish, but it was the worst thing that ever happened to him. The decay and putrefaction he sees is his own self-loathing for what he's become. But underneath it all, he's still the same being he was.

I think I surprised myself with that one. I was expecting to have a hard time with it, but once I thought about what my characters' nightmares were, I came up with dreamlike solutions a lot more quickly than I thought.

Act One

I think I'm drawing to a close in my first act.

To keep things simple, I tried to plot my project according to the three-act structure so that I could get a grasp on what shape the story was going to take. I think I see the light at the end of the first act now.

I'm not sure where my story is geographically, though. I keep referring to 'the city' because I'm too cowardly to either make up a city, or pick one. I'm going to need to do that in my second draft, though. The city I'm making, though, I feel like I added a pretty colorful locale to. Floyd's Diner is a 24-hour greasy spoon that's particularly popular with the cape and mask crowd. (Or at least, with those on the right side of the law.) There aren't many places to grab lunch at 3:30 in the morning, and so Floyd's got the occasional bit of 'to go' business with the city's heroes who aren't too busy to break for lunch. It just came to me, and I like it. If I get the chance to tell more stories with these characters, I expect Floyd's to appear again.

I didn't do tonight's writing exercise. It involved adapting a few lines from elsewhere, and adapting them for lines of your own. It sounds like the type of exercise that helps you get a feel for the flow of your words. I just didn't have it in me to find a bit of rhythmic text that grabbed me.

But I did get some writing done. Here's the word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 896

Total Word Count: 14,889

In my next shift, I expect to break 15,000 words - all of which will have been written since the New Year. A month ago, I hadn't taken any of my ideas past pre-writing notes and now I'm almost 15,000 words in. It's exciting. I'm looking forward to getting back to it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Writing

I took a break after my writing exercise below to do a little housework and relax some. I sat back down a little while ago to try to get to work on a scene between Erin and her former mentor Achilles. He's the man who saw her, and was so impressed that he trained her as his sidekick. But the past couple years have changed things between them. Erin's left the superhero life behind her, and Achilles' presence alone is enough to make her uncomfortable.

I wanted this scene to really work, so I asked Hil to read what I had down, and bounced some ideas off of her. She had some helpful feedback, and I think she helped set me on the right path. At the very least, the scene finished writing itself.

Now I'm changing locations to Floyd's Diner. It's a 24-hour greasy spoon, that's frequented by the cape-and-mask crowd from time to time. (Or at least, those on the right side of the law.) As a consequence, Floyd's is probably the safest eatery in the city after dark. Most of the time, they pick up their food via the rear door and run, but occasionally they have a seat at the counter next to anybody else who's looking for a hamburger at 3:30am. They're harder to find than you might think.

Here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 705

Total Word Count: 13,993

Writing Exercise - Your Character Visits The Dentist

Tonight, I'm warming up with another exercise courtesy of C. M. Mayo. Here's tonight's appetizer:

January 24 "Your Character Visits the Dentist"
Your character visits the dentist. Write the scene

Let's get started.

Erin stared up at the institutional ceiling and tried to relax. The chemicals she'd been given by Achilles helped to negate the effects of the sedatives, and she was attempting to lie still and calm. The fluorescent lighting gave an unnatural palor to the room. She hated going to the dentist to begin with, but this one was something else.

Quietly, she heard the door behind her open and soft footfalls moving about the room. "Is she ready?" a man's voice asked in hushed tones. She heard a drawer open, and saw a shadow out of the corner of her eye.

With no prelude, she whipped her foot up, catching the dentist square on the side of the head and sending him reeling. She spun her body around, leaping to her feet. "You thought we wouldn't notice you'd come back to town, Dr. Decay?" A crash from the direction of the waiting room signaled that Achilles had also made his entrance. "Or did you think we wouldn't notice you trying your games as a dentist instead of a doctor? Time to throw a little chaos into your plans."

And scene.

Erin's the main character from my current project, a story regarding a group of former superheroes. This is an 'untold tale' of her life as a sidekick to the costumed her known as 'Achilles'. They both play important roles in my project, and I thought that it would be fun to portray the dentist as a super-villain. After all, who hasn't wanted to kick their dentist in the head? :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Writing Exercise - Your Publishing Firm

Another writing exercise with kind thanks to C. M. Mayo and her website.

January 23 "Your Publishing Firm"
Assume that you have both endless hours in every day and endless pots of money. Therefore, you could, with the snap of your fingers and no worries, start your own publishing firm. What would you call it? What sort of books would you publish? What sort of image would you project? What would your office look like? What kind of "culture" would your firm have? What sort of people would you have work for you? Who might be your customers? (By the way, you can also try this exercise for one of your characters.)

Here we go:

Here at Quirk Publishing, there's one rule that needs to be remembered - Jason gets final say. Mainstream political and military thrillers are a dime a dozen. So are biographies, franchise science fiction and fantasy. Don't even get us started on Young Adult stuff. Jason's tried to make a home here for things that other publishers wouldn't bat an eye at. If it tickles his fancy, you've made it. You may have to edit it a time or three, but you will be published.

We find that this takes a lot of pressure off the author, which helps them to produce better work. Of course, many writers have a lot of interesting quirks themselves, so along with editors we have licensed and certified counselors to help talk the writers down from their ledges... both literal and metaphorical.

Culture around the office... it's chaotic, but fun. The odds are that you can find a project that interests you. Fiction, histories, the odd biography... they're all here. We even have a small comic book publishing arm. That's Jason's personal pet-project. He vets all the artists and writers for that one himself. It's not big enough to catch the eye of the big comics distributor... yet. But he's worked out a deal with our book distribution to get those out there.

And done.

That one was pretty fun. It felt like a reflection of my personality, at any rate. (Though 'Quirk' might understate things a little in my case.) My tastes in everything are so across the board it's hard for me to keep up sometimes. The one thread that binds them together reliably is the fact that I tend to prefer things that tend to skew away from the mainstream. (Though I do have to confess a love of cop dramas. It seems like I'll watch anything with 'Law & Order' in the title. And Castle is probably my favorite show airing right now.)

I'm not going to do any story-work tonight. I've put down this writing exercise, and that'll have to be enough for now. I'm going to relax a bit more before bed. I return to work tonight, so I want to make the most of what I've got left.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Light Night

Tonight, I'm working on a scene where my main protagonist, Erin, is facing her father-figure for the first time in a couple years. He bailed her out of some trouble last time they saw each other, and she's been too ashamed to face him since. He means well in this encounter, but she's immediately defensive and takes everything the wrong way.

So, this is an important scene, to me. I want to try to show the truth of their relationship instead of explicitly stating it. (Hey, it's been years since I've tried to write almost anything before starting this project.) But because I think this scene is important, progress was slow. I'd still be working on it, but I'm getting tired and I want it to be right.

I want to try talking a little more about what I'm actually writing here. I know it'll be more interesting to read, but I'm still a little unsure about how much to share, and how much to hold back. Any feedback on the subject is certainly welcome.

Here's tonight's word count:

Tonight's Word Count: 497

Total Word Count: 13,288