For Worse Or For Better

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A rainy Saturday is the perfect day to write. Unfortunately yesterday I had to attend a work event. Yes, it was outside, and mostly tented, but truly it was miserable. The tent sucked. The parking sucked. The traffic sucked. I am sure there was a place to pee, but I chose not to venture there.

My second novel, Forever Falling, is nearing the end of first drafting. My characters and I have about 10,000 more words to journey together, before I let them rest awhile. Shit is getting real, as they say, in this land of fiction.

This has been an excellent writing week. Two or three pivotal, very challenging, scenes are finally taking shape. When they started to unfold, the action was fairly clear, but the internal and external dialog were a bit muddled. I wasn’t nailing it. I wasn’t getting near enough to it. I was seeing it, but not feeling it. Then my week got weird.

I was having some fluttering in the area of my heart. It was absolutely nothing but still required an EKG, which failed after three attempts. It reported that my pacemaker is functioning perfectly. No, I do not have a pacemaker, but I appear to be a cyborg. This all required me to share way more of my anatomy with my slightly too cute above the neck doctor, than I typically choose too. Topless horror.

Then there was the annual celebration at work. Suffice to say I was standing in the middle of 160 sitting co-workers taking photos. My dress wrapped my foot and you can guess the rest. There are two ways to go from there, you can cry and run out of the room or understand that you have a captive audience and perform some standup. I chose the latter and while my material was off the cuff, it wasn’t terrible. My newest Facebook friend deemed me the next Jennifer Lawrence. Somewhat of a triumph. Still miserably stressful.

And then writing went to a very different level. Oddly this week I have been writing a humiliating experience for my male main character, Callum. Then the great work face plant happened and Callum’s feelings of shame and embarrassment became much more accessible. He was exposed (much like my breasts) and degraded (much like looking up at 160 co-workers from the floor). The timing on this was fantastic.  As much as I like writing from beautiful landscapes and listening to the pounding of the surf, there is something to be said for inserting the shitty day to day into the lives of your characters.

Long live the bullshit. It keeps this land of make believe more real.

The Devil Inside

Greetings to you all,

This has been a rather interesting week with some changes and a lot of reflection. Birthdays make us naturally introspective I think…

My first book, Circling started its journey to some where (we’ll hold off on that discussion). Book Two finally earned a name! Forever Falling has been resting comfortably at 36,000 words, while Circling got a last push out into the great unknown. This week Forever Falling will take center stage and be moved to the veritable front burner. I am very excited!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago in the post When Is The Forgivable, Unforgivable, my mind has been on villains a lot these last weeks.  In Forever Falling, the lines between doing what is right and what is wrong, but for the right reasons, becomes blurry. Forgiveness is the key here, but it has to be balanced with self-preservation. A few nights ago, with the encouragement of my Twitter writer companions Nate Philbrick (@Flashfloord14, flashfloodfiction.com) and Susan Kicklighter (@writing 4kix, writing4kix.tumblr.com), I signed up for a Pottermore account to let the sorting hat do its job. This is the part there non-Harry Potter fans hit the back arrow and move on – no offense taken – have a lovely day.

So – I signed up at Pottermore and followed the required sequence that allowed me into the Great Hall at Hogwarts to participate in the sorting ceremony. I took this seriously, my friends. I could have manipulated that test any way I wanted (a lesser talent of mine), but I was truthful and it was a hard test. I had concerns. I am fairly sure there aren’t many Leos in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. I figured I had a decent shot at Gryffindor. But I have a dark side that requires constant management.  Again – I had real concerns. The questions were not obvious. It wasn’t… Would you remain faithful to the Dark Lord after years of absence? Are you a Death Eater? Would you date Draco Malfoy? It was more about your thought process.

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I AM SLYTHERIN

After the horror passed and my family fell out of their chairs laughing at the obvious, I did a little research about Slytherin beyond Salazar, Tom Riddle, Malfoys, Lestranges, etc. Here is what I learned: Merlin was Slytherin. Traits = cunning, ambition, likelihood to look after their own (loyalty?), play to win mentality, powerful, oft misunderstood, keen instinct for self preservation.

“Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness.”

Bottom line, I have to own it, I am Slytherin. I am the sweet writer sitting next to you at Starbucks, but screw with my people, zombies take over the world, danger knocks at my door… I will handle it.

Which takes me back to the beginning. Villains. This unexpected Slytherin twist is giving me much more to think about. When I started asking questions about villains, I didn’t realize the villain was possibly me. Now I know more than ever, understanding villains is about understanding the capacity for dark works that lives within us all.

My birthday was this week, but it was inconvenient so I decided to move it to July 31st to share a birthday with J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter (on the beach). I feel less worthy of them than I did a few days ago, but I know that kindness does live in my heart. Just don’t fuck with me. 🙂

 

 

 

 

When Is The Unforgivable, Forgivable?

 

Happy weekend to you all.  I hope this summer is as wonderful as summer should be.  These last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster.  Summer brings its usual joys including drinky dinners outside, a consistent diet of melting marshmellows and chocolate tucked into graham crackers (Are s’mores international? They feel fairly regional.), of course some outdoor concerts (OneRepublic shown below), a very special 4th of July, and a bit of baseball.

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I am sorry to say I also attended two funerals these last weeks. Lovely ladies, who both passed well before their time.  My heart goes out to their families.  They have a long road ahead.

In spite of, or maybe because of these few week of highs and lows, I have been giving a lot of thought to stories and story telling. Before the 4th, I started the process of deciding what is next for my first novel Circling and I am taking action toward next steps. I have no idea how things will pan out, but I look forward to the day it will be available to share with all of you – one way or another.

With Circling settling into a good place, I have been spending the last two days reading over the first 35,500 words of draft one of Book 2. I really need to title it already.  I hadn’t picked it up for about two weeks and this was my first go back to the beginning read-through. My memory is weird, or maybe I drink too much when I write. I can honestly say there were some surprises in there for me. Of course I know the story, but the actions and dialog surprised me in places. It felt really, really good too. I am asking a lot of dark questions in Book 2 about forgiveness and retribution, and finding right in the face of wrong. The unnerving part is that even 1/3 through, I have no idea what the answers are – morally, ethically, I’m not even sure what I believe.

I see things in black and white – good/bad, right/wrong, nice/mean, happy/sad, exciting/boring.  My thought process is very definitive. More and more, I am learning that writing, for me, is all about finding a way to think in grays (not 50 shades, though).  Villains and heroes are rarely one or the other. If they are just one facet, they are not very interesting.  Favorite villains? Hannibal Lechter, Darth Vadar, Loki (Thor’s brother for you lesser geeks). Even Draco Malfoy tugs at my heart strings.

If we can get the slightest insight as to what made a villain a villain and if they are moderately engaging, we can love them. Even as they betray our hero, we do love them and hope for them to change, but maybe even root for them (just a little) when they don’t. If they are good looking, all the better! (sorry I am not balancing my villains gender-wise here). My question is how far are we, as readers, willing to take that good will.  How much will we forgive?

I would love to get specific, but I don’t want to give my Book 2 story away.  I am going to try to find the boundaries here, and it is going to dark places, but very interesting places, too.  In the interest of research, I’d love to know…

Who are your favorite villains and why do you care about them?