Uriel's Fall

Coming July 2014: The eternal struggle between heaven and hell has gone corporate. Read More
Friday, February 11, 2011

If you're just hearing about #RANDOMfest for the first time, Click Here for a full description, and there's still time to sign up below. The short version of this entertaining activity - find a random story idea you have that never went anywhere and share it with us in your own blog.

If you've got shorter ideas - a single sentence or maybe just a story title, we're also going to try and tweet them all day long with the #RANDOMfest hashtag, so join us there ^_^

I have tons of these things. My 'Writing' folder has aproximately 300 documents in it. A lot of these ideas have gone somewhere in one for or another, but I pulled out one that was awesomely vauge to share today:

Document Name: Dream from last night.doc (this file is at least five years old)
First two paragraphs:
Dream from last night, that all the while that I was dreaming it seemed like it might lend itself to a really good story, but now that I’m conscious I’m not so sure.

Girl ends up on the porch of her best friends house with a couple of bags of suitcases, she’s been kicked out of her own home for some reason. Something to do with a fight with her father, or brother, something. Maybe she just can’t afford to pay her rent any more, or her roommate doesn’t want her around any more. I guess she’s not the super sweet like-able type of character I usually put in my stories. She has some friends and then there’s some people who just don’t care one way or the other and others who just don’t like her. That would explain how she managed to lose her place to live.

Visit these other #RANDOMfest participants next:
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Yeah, yeah, I know, it's not quite Friday yet. But it is for me. I have a four day weekend coming up for no other reason than I can. At old job, I went for two years without a real vacation. I mean, I accrued vacation days, and I took days off, but never without being on call. And during the last year I was there, I also worked six day work weeks. The upside to this? When I left I had a month's worth of vacation banked that they paid out on.

And now with new job I've finally reached the point where I have days off. And by Loki I'm taking them. But don't wory. I'll still be around tomorrow for...#RANDOMfest. If you haven't signed up yet, you can sign up today and all of tomorrow. Details are behind the link and it's going to be a ton of fun.

And I have my steamy kiss scenes for two separate blogfests set to auto post on Monday morning (when I'll be sleeping in because I can and I love sleeping in on Mondays).

One of them is from the piece I'm just getting into revising, Serious Game 2.0. The other is from Uriel's Fall. Which is the reason I'm sleepy this morning. The reason I woke up at 2:30 and couldn't fall back asleep until after 4. It's because...

I'm DONE!. You might think on January 24 when I submitted the manuscript to ABNA that it was done. I knew it wasn't, but at the time I also didn't know what else I needed to do with it. It was as done as I could make it. I also (cue self-doubt) don't plan on making it very far regardless of how polished the story is. I've seen the stories that win/place in the general fiction category. This is not one of them. So why did I enter if I don't suspect I'll win? Awesome opportunities 1 - for feedback and 2 - to see how each section of my submission holds up.

Anyway...I've been getting feedback from a couple of readers. There are still three more outstanding, and now one of them (the only actual 'reader' in the group as opposed to a writer who's reading for me), has the newest version. The feedback I've gotten so far had me stumped at first. Not because I disagreed, but because I didn't know how to implement it.

A week or so ago an idea started to form. I didn't implement it right away because it wasn't enough. The Dark and Stormy Night blogfest rolled around and I realized it was now or never. I started implementation by writing a new first sentence to the novel. Which became a prologue (yes, I like prologues when they're done right. Flog me if you must. I also like dream sequences, flashbacks, and changing narrators from scene to scene).

But it needed more than the prologue. So while I pondered how to fix the second issue I worked on polishing my query. Which wasn't bad, but it also wasn't great. It lacked voice. Suddenly I know how to fix it. I rewrote some sentences, made sure Ronnie's naive brand of snark showed through, and grinned.

And then I suddenly knew how to fix the entire rest of the story. All because of the hook I'd created. I hate the hook/pitch concept in general. A single sentence that conveys the meaning and tone of your story and still makes it sound unique? ICKY! But I think I'm close now, and it told me how to fix the other issue with the book.

The pitch
She’s a little na├»ve and sure, she’s new to existence in general, but even so Uriel knows hearing voices probably means she’s nuts.

And it terrifies me to put that up there because now everyone has the opportunity to come in and tell me that it's not as grand as I think it is, and poke holes in it, and tell me I suck.

But for now I'm in love with it. I feel like the story is at that 'done and ready for submission' point. And I've never felt that about a novel before. Not without going "You really should fix .... before you submit this."

Have you had that 'DONE' feeling before? If so, what did you do to celebrate? (I'm thinking ice cream). If not, what are your plans to get there? (You know you can do it.)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
In the last six months I've watched three very good movies. I've seen two of them more than once, and I've tried to pick apart all three to see what made them work and what didn't, but was easy to ignore on the big screen. (Warning, this is all an excuse so I can ramble about 'The Social Network' which I finally saw last night and loved so much I want to have its Facebook babies...or something)

First: 'The Watchmen'. The majority of the movie...I can't say it was great or not great. It was compelling, it was emotional, it was a lot of time trying to introduce characters which is common for a superhero movie. However, there are so many movies I've seen recently where I'm like "It was awesome, but the end was a let down." This was the opposite. It was good. But the ending was its saving grace. It ended the way a story like that should have and I was in awe of how they reached that conclusion. I struggle with endings so I will probably pick this one apart again and again to figure out how they got there.

Second: 'Inception'. Looking back on the movie, it's almost all flash bang. The plot isn't super complex - just presented in a complex manner. The movie is more about eye candy and spectacular explosions than it is about the underlying story. However, it still left this lingering 'what's real and what isn't' in the back of my head both times I watched it. So for this movie I analyze how you make a standard story into something people will talk about. Something that makes them think.

Third: 'The Social Network'. Did I mention I'm in love with this movie? Watching it was a massive rush for me. I suspect a lot of people didn't like it for whatever reason, but I have personal reasons for being enthralled. I'm a technology junkie and I love the way the mind of a brilliant tech geek works. Few things are sexier to me. No, really. I also willingly watch stories about the inception of Microsoft and Apple. And oh yeah, some of my novels are based on similar concepts.

The thing is, this movie was boring. I mean, pick it apart, analyze what was really going on, and the premise is downright dull. You're talking software development and court cases. IRL - few things are less interesting. And there was a lot of technical and legal jargon in this film. The dialogue was laced with it throughout.

So why did I feel like I had just gotten off a roller coaster when it was all over? My adrenalin levels soared, and I even had that kind of achy feeling in my gut when the rush started to subside...which it does right toward the end of the film as it should. (Think roller coaster after it comes off it's last big dip and starts to head back into the station).

It all had to do with the story telling. All three of them were compelling because of the way the stories were presented. Did they have elements that wouldn't have translated well to the written page? Oh hell yeah. But the delivery is what made them work, each in their own way.

I have a two page document on my hard drive. It's called 'The YA/MG Fantasy formula'. By answering a series of questions in this simple script, anyone can build the plot for the next Harry Potter/Percy Jackson/Lemony Snicket/etc. But...what makes those three names come to my mind above any other that followed the formula? Their story telling.

It doesn't matter how epic your idea is. How great, grand, high-concept, unique, same-but-different it is. Unless it's told well. And really, there's no formula for that. Storytelling really is an art form.

What have you seen or read lately that left a positive/contemplative impression on you and why?
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
For anyone who's new here, *waves* hi! Thanks for giving me and my ramblings a chance. If you're not 'in the know' yet, I'm going to fill you in on some important information. I'm fascinated with all manner of religion and mythology.

Loki isn't the only god who's caught my attention over the years. I've researched a lot of them to put my Apathy's Hero universe together. Kali is one of my favorites. Janus is another. I don't give him as much screen-time as I should, but today he gets to be in the spotlight.

Wikipedia defines Janus as: the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, endings and time. Most often he is depicted as having two heads, facing opposite directions; one head looks back at the last year while the other looks forward to the new, simultaneously into the future and the past.

In modern society having two faces has a different meaning, one that's frequently applied to Janus. I think as writers we live this more than we like to admit. Which is part of the two-faced deception we hide in the back of our minds. I'm not talking about the fact that we can write characters who do things we would never even contemplate (from skydiving to murder). I'm talking about the face we put forward versus the face we repress.

I've read lots and lots of blog posts about writer doubt. I agree with these. I sympathise, and empathise, and go through that same kind of self-doubt many times a year/month/week/day. I've been paralyzed by self-doubt, I've allowed it to keep me from finshing projects, and I even allowed it to keep me from writing for almost a year.

That's the face we put forward. Our insecurity, our humility. And I'm not saying we're deceiving anyone by doing so. These feelings are genuine. Never for a minute think I'm saying otherwise. Self-doubt and insecurity are sincere in any artist.

But there's the face we don't show people. The other side of the coin. Janus's second head. It peeks out occasionally, but for some reason we try and stifle it. Perhaps concerned it will make us look vain and arrogant.

Because that's what it is. It's vanity. It's arrogance. It's pride and belief and what keeps us up until five am writing that 'perfect scene' when we know we have an eight o'clock meeting.

Part of us knows we've got talent. It's not just that we have a story to tell, it's that we look at the words on paper, the ideas, the thoughts and a part of our mind whispers "damn, I'm good. I'm better than good. I'm absolutely amazing." It's the part that cringes every time we receive feedback on something we adore, that screams in our heads "the reader is wrong. I'm brilliant, damn it." The part that knows who to share that rant with that will back us up. The part that keeps us trying when self-doubt wants to drive an ice pick through our creativity.

Some writers let that arrogance rule their actions. I don't think that's right. There's always room for improvement. I can't name a single author in history - regardless of sales or awards or pretige - who is without flaw.

However, most of us supress it. We tuck it away, we pretend it doesn't exist. And it's usually the talented ones who are guilty of this. I don't think that's right either. There's nothing wrong with having confidence in your work. With wanting to share it, to brag about it, to bask in the glory that praise brings it.

So next time you realize you've got something in common with Janus (besides a stunning classic Greek figure), don't try and deny it. Let that second face out for a little bit. Never let it take control. Never let either face dominate your actions. But consider a little balance. Look backward and forward and appreciate what you're capable of, tempered with just the right amount of humility.

What's something you've excelled at in your writing that you feel guilty about mentioning? Now's your chance to brag and own up to your well-earned accomplishments.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Scroll down for an early morning rambling and some updated information about #RANDOMfest. But this..

Brenda Drake is hosting an awesome blogfest/contest for the next three days. The premise sounded simple enough when I signed - I post the first sentence of my finished story and then go critique other first sentences from other participants. Once I've received lots of helpful feedback, I go post a revised/final version of it on Brenda's blog. On Wednesday morning early, the contest closes and there are epic prizes available for the top three entrants. (like critiques from the awesome Weronika Janczuk, from D4EO Literary).

It sounded simple enough. Until I read my first sentence of my finished manuscript. One sentence is so very little to go off of. But, I'm in anyway. Sentence is below:

Title: Uriel's Fall
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cherub existed in the ether, absorbing the day-to-day of her creator’s heaven.

After reading the comments that have come in, I've revised this a little. here's my newest working revision:

Cherub wished it had a name to define it beyond its station: a label to give it shape and form like the angels it admired from a distance.

Revision two:
Still tweaking and refining based on some fantastic comments. Here's my newest version:

Cherubim longed for a name; a label to give it shape and definition like the seraphim it admired from a distance.
I've decided (again) that every day of the week needs its own acronym. For instance, on Friday's we get TLIF (Thank Loki it's Friday). Today we get CBIM. Curse Ba'al it's Monday. I can curse Ba'al because he's dead and would probably just laugh at my curse even if he wasn't.

Mini Full-length rant re: #RANDOMfest: apparently over the weekend, the linky host I used to use decided he wanted to be paid for his service. I don't blame him for this. Writing code, hosting websites, is all time consuming and expensive (I know, because I do it for a living). He had every right to make the decision he did.

However, the e-mail I received with this notification came right as the weekend started. It gave me until this morning to pay or lose my lists. Two days. And the e-mail was formatted in such a way that it went straight to my spam folder (highlighted lines everywhere, big bold 'act now to keep your account', that kind of stuff.) It also promised that I had until Feb 21 to export my lists, I just wouldn't be able to make new ones after today.

Apparently I'm doing something wrong, because I couldn't export my single list this morning. So I've spent the last hour trying to recreate the blog list for #RANDOMfest. I really want it to be a success, so I hope I got everyone. If I missed you, I'm very sorry and I hope you'll let me know/participate anyway. If I got your link wrong, let me know that too and I'll fix it.

And to the person who owns the Linky site in question, I would have paid your subscription fee if you had given me more than Saturday and Sunday to do so, and hadn't obliterated my list immediately thereafter. That kind of service is not something I'm willing to pay for. Instead I'll be paying the new link host if this blogfest works out.

Beyond that, I spent Friday doing some writing research. I started to wonder if anyone writes books like the one I'm working on right now. You might think I should know that, but this is one of those ideas that morphed outside of any genre I'm familiar with. Except when I started thinking about it I realized I have read it before. Once in Microserfs, and once in High Fidelity.

So now my goal is to find more books like this. Especially since they're more than 10 years old and there must be something more modern out there. I'll tell you what I've learned is that searching for 'Contemporary Women's Fiction' brings up a series of books no longer known as 'Chick Lit' and searching for 'Contemporary Men's Fiction' brings up the same books, plus several that are gay erotica. Not what I'm looking for. Basically think chick lit, but for guys. Or if you prefer, Hackers meets Sex in the City. My new phrase: Dude Lit

Any recommendations?

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