Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The creative brain divided


I have discovered a secret way to be more productive—work on more than one project at a time. 

Now, before you all start screaming about it being hard enough to get one creative thing down at a time, let alone multiples—just hear me out.

At the end of August—the start of the school year, and the most hectic time of year for someone who works at a college—I started demanding a higher word count for myself. Now, in part, this was an attempt to save my sanity by massively immersing myself in my creative world because the day job was brutal.

As a “gift” for getting the word counts in for The Sapphire Manticore, I allowed myself to start Victorious Dead (the follow up to Warrior Wench). I wasn’t sure how it would work doing two different books in two different series in the same squished amount of time.

It worked!

Since the end of August, I have cranked out the highest level of word counts I’ve ever done outside of Nano.

I even upped the multi-world issue by adding a light read/edit of A Curious Invasion- a steam punk adventure with vampires and aliens coming out next year.

Now, a few caveats:

1)      There is a very good chance I have a weird brain. I’ve always enjoyed multi-tasking and while I do also enjoy big chunks of magic time to work on a single subject, that isn’t my reality in my day job—nor my writing.

2)       The three projects are all within the SF/F heading, but all different. The Lost Ancients series is a six-book, first person POV, monster. Aka- it is one giant story carved up into six pieces.  The AsarlaĆ­ Wars trilogy, is a 3rd person POV, three book only series- shorter story arc, and third person is a different head than first. The steampunk is also 3rd person, but is an open ended series—all books are connected and build on each other, but they are not a single story. The pacing is different-these people drink a lot of tea. Not to say it’s not as fast paced as the others, but the feel (and my headspace) is very different.

3)      I couldn’t do it if they were all the same sub-genre.

The benefit is an increased vitality for all three stories- I am writing more, but they also act as each other’s palate cleanser.  I’m tracking more of what happens in each because I have to stay focused since I have three going. Sort of like juggling, I need to keep my eye on three balls, so there’s less likely of me getting distracted ;).

Will this work for you? Dunno. Worked for Isaac Asimov. He apparently would have a bunch of typewriters with a different story in each—one gets stuck, move to the next (and yep, I’ve noticed that too ;)).

It’s been a great experiment, higher word counts, more engagement, and stronger stories. I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised.


Folks often try to make time for what they want, you can’t do that. Make the time. Push yourself. Go beyond your perceived limits. You might be very pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I wanna be a KILLJOY!!!

WRITER....Killjoy writer. As in a writer for the TV show KillJoys, one of the best shows to pop on the airwaves in many a year.

There is NO way I'd want to actually be a Killjoy, unlike Dutch, I wouldn't live more than a few minutes in that world. But to be a writer for them? Or even just be hanging out in the writer's room?!  

OMG. SIGN ME UP!!!

First, I'll explain for those of how have managed to not hear of KillJoys  go here  http://www.syfy.com/killjoys, watch the first two seasons (they are short seasons, I'll wait.).

Killjoys is an amazingly fun, dramatic, actiony, sexy, SF TV show. But the main reasons I love it are the characters- they are flawed, massively in most cases, but they still pull you along for the ride. The writing is awesome. They don't "explain" the world, or the set up to you repeatedly and they get that most folks who watch SF shows get it- we've seen SF shows, we can figure out the basic ideas as we go along.

I'm rough on shows, I think it's the writer brain, but I am always guessing what is going to happen--far too often, I'm right. With Killjoys I am almost always wrong. But their writers are so tight, that their way makes absolute sense.

So, my dream is to one day sit in a Killjoys writer room, absorbing all the magic....hopefully for their tenth season ;).

So what TV shows have just knocked you out of the park in the last year or so?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#IWSG- MORE TIME!

Today is the day! A chance for writers everywhere to shout out their fears, worries, conundrums, etc to the world--and hope someone shouts back.


Join us!
http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

There are some times prompts for this wonderful day, no one has to use them, but they can come in very handy. Like today ;).

So, today I will be talking about time to write- it is made or found?

First off, I have a full time day job. Most writers, unless they have a spouse with lots of money, have a day job. That means 40 + hours are just sucked out of my week faster than a really thirsty drunken faery working on her first bottle.

Then you have sleep, food, hygiene, etc, and you don't have a lot of time left.

So, I make time. Waiting for it won't work.

I get up at 5am so I can get words in before the day job (I aim for between 500 and 800). Then after the day job, I aim to get the rest of my 1600 word goal for the fourth fantasy book.
Recently, I started adding on 500 a day for the new space opera after dinner.

I limit my TV time to ideally only an hour, and I'm getting up at freaking 5 am.

But it is so worth it.

I don't do this everyday, these are goals to follow and strive for,  not to control my life. But I know when I hit them, even just getting some words in, I feel better.

I've never had anyone tell me, "I wish I had time to write a book". But I'm waiting. So many friends and other writers in groups have told of these people who think we write just because we have nothing else to do. I have been practicing my look of derision and scorn for when that question happens.

No, we write because we make time to do it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BOOKS! Where are your BOOKS?!

Now, if I were a neat, organized writer, I'd show you my library/office at this point. Some nice, awesome photo to make folks purple with envy. The point being to get you thinking about books, where yours are, how you organize them, etc.

Alas, I am not.

So, I'll describe it because a photo would terrify millions.

My office/library (could never decide which name I like better, but I do lean more toward library) is in an extra bedroom, the walls are a dark green, I have a cool, but starting to look not so cool border of burgundy, dark blue and dark green along the top of the walls. My desk faces the window overlooking the side yard. And I have six bookcases, a small square spinning bookcase, and wait for it-- an actual bookstore book cart. All loaded with books.

The book cart was from when they closed my Waldenbooks (I was the manager) way back in the day and I asked if I could keep it. 

My books are sorted by non-fiction and fiction, by subject for non-fiction, alpha and series for fiction (yeah, if I didn't just tell you I was a former bookstore manager, that would have epicly tipped it off).

I counted them (I also have two bookshelves in my bedroom) a few years ago and I had over 1,000. There have been some purges since then, but then more books have flowed in to take their place.

I do read on my kindle as well, but I just love books. I love being surrounded by them.  They make me happy and are a great thing to be around when one is writing ;).

Ironically, I don't read much in my library, I usually read in bed or the living room. But I keep my books here, some are my friends, read repeatedly, some just waiting for the right time.

So what do you do? Have tons of books? On shelves?  On a e-reader? 



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Focus? Or Scatter?

I've had theory for years that people are either a "focus" or a "scatter". Now, I don't mean scatter brained, although that can happen ;). I’m talking about the way people work and function in their lives. 

Focus people usually have a very narrow and intense way of doing things. In school they often excel at whatever topic they study. My former thesis adviser is an excellent example of a focus. When I met her she was only 27 and was already a tenured professor at a University. She also had spent time with the World Health Organization in Geneva. At 27. Scared the crap out of me for reasons you'll see very quickly.

I, on the other hand, am an example of a scatter (stop laughing folks ;)). Someone as intensely aimed at their area of study like my thesis adviser was a bit unnerving for me. Scatters find so many things interesting that we rarely get to the level of intensity that a focus does. The whole "ooooooh!  What's THAT?!" can really cause a crimp in our plans for world domination.

 
Both types in the extreme can be problematic. Scatters may fail to reach their potential if they can't put some blinders on and focus on the task or goal. I have been mostly able to combat this with my writing, but only in the last eight or so years. Before that I would write for stretches, then get distracted and wander somewhere else.


The focus folks can miss out on many things in life if they become too obsessed with a single subject. I'm thinking my former adviser did NOT have a rip roaring fun time in college-LOL!

But both types have strengths as well. If the object of the focus’s intense dedication falls through, they may find themselves at a loss. But the scatter can pick up and find another topic of interest. However, the focus can get to a level of depth within a subject that would be very difficult for a scatter.


Like all personality traits- my little scatter to focus category isn't extreme. Just like most folks are on a scale for introvert verses extrovert, people range on this one as well. 

Now how does all this relate to writing, you ask? It impacts both your characters as well as you the author. Understanding where on the sliding scale of focus your characters are can help you keep their behavior consistent and believable.  And it's always handy to have another personality aspect to play with ;).

Understanding your own position on the scale can help you keep your writing form in top shape. You need to understand how your mind and personality work best so that you can keep moving forward in your writing career. Now it doesn’t mean that a scatter can’t become more focused and visa versa- but before anything can change, you have to understand what’s there to begin with. True for our characters and ourselves.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cover Reveal for Pets in Space

Cover reveal
Nope, I'm not in this one, but some awesome authors and writer friends are! Please make sure to add this collection to your "gotta buy" books for fall!

Pets in Space
Out October 11th, 2016

Even an alien needs a pet…
Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?
New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Bestselling authors have nine original, never-released stories that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of profits from the first month go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
A MATE FOR MATRIX: CYBORG PROTECTION UNIT
By S.E. Smith (New York Times/USA TODAY Best Selling Author)
Matrix Roma is a member of the elite Zion military Cyborg Protection Unit. Matrix gets more than he bargains for when his cyborg partner, a hybrid Wolfhound named K-Nine, goes missing and ends up finding a mate for Matrix in the middle of a deadly mission on an unknown planet called Earth.
STRAY
By Susan Grant (New York Times Best Selling, USA TODAY, and RITA Award Winning Author)
Interplanetary Marine Lt. Lukas Frank has a lot in common with a street dog named Bang-Bang; they both started off as scrappy orphans fighting to survive—and beat the odds. Things change when Bang-Bang leads Lukas to starpilot Capt. Carlynn Riga. The tough war hero learns what it means to surrender — his heart. Lukas’s struggles with PTSD threaten to tear the three of them apart, but nothing threatens them more than when Carlynn goes missing on a mission. Can a scarred marine and his unlikely canine partner find Carlynn and bring her home, or will he lose everything he’s finally found worth fighting for?
SPARK OF ATTRACTION
By Cara Bristol (USA TODAY Best Selling Author)
Memory: intact. Cognitive function: enhanced. Emotion: erased. After becoming a cyborg, Captain Dante Stone didn’t think he’d ever feel again, until a traumatized young woman and a ball of synthetic fur named Sparky helped him to love.
STAR CRUISE: STOWAWAY
By Veronica Scott
Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.
THE REAL DRAGON
By Pauline Baird Jones
Emma Standish didn’t think her day could get any worse. Her dad is marrying his boss, her dragon suddenly came back talking and typing, and it’s her fault the Earth, or at least ten square miles of Texas, is going to be destroyed. That’s what happens when you forget something very, very important. Luckily for her, she’s got the love of her life that she can’t remember and her dragon by her side. Who needs to worry when you’re having a day like this?
STARDOG
By Laurie A. Green
Navigator Taro Shall has a mission no one wants – find a way to eradicate snakes on a starship. He never expects to find the answer to his problem in a charming street vendor named Adini. His already unusual mission becomes more complicated when he suddenly acquires an adorable StarDog that soon sweeps him and Adini into the maw of a brewing insurrection.
SPIKE
By Alexis Glynn Latner
Young Roboticist Ten Jaxdown has to deploy, and possibly sacrifice, the swarm of investigative robots that he has invented and cares about more than anything else in the star system. It may be the only hope for those depending on him and his robots to save them. Yet, even as frantic preparations for the unprecedented deep-space rescue mission are set in motion, it could all be threatened by sabotage.

Anastasia Steed is an intrepid young mission designer. She steps forward with an idea that can improve the odds of the mission. Neither she nor Ten expect the assistance they receive from a very unusual pet. A pet that will bring together two alienated human beings who didn’t realize they needed each other. Can Ten and Anastasia discover who is behind the sabotage, save the mission, and discover what is evolving between them? With a little bit of unusual help, anything is possible.
SPACE RANGER
By Lea Kirk
Graig Roble is the Senior Commander of security for the Guardian Fleet. His expertise as a weapons specialist and combat master is his world, what he was born to do – or so he thought until he finds his resolve and focus inexplicably wavering. Even returning to his position aboard the Atlantis can’t save him; if anything, it has left him questioning his own motives. He never thought that could happen until he met Simone Campbell.

Simone’s focus is on her home world – Earth. She thought her life was full with her research as a botanist. After all, she always believed that helping the people of her world become self-sufficient should take all of her concentration – except it doesn’t. There is one man that keeps pulling her attention, and her heart, away from her job.
Graig’s gift of a puppy to keep her company does more than that, it keeps him in her dreams. How can such a simple gift bring her comfort and make her long for more? Graig and Simone are about to find out that sometimes love can blossom from the smallest, furriest ties.
ESCAPE RUN
By Carysa Locke
Teegan’s job as a hunter is to track down the Talented, those driven insane by their gifts. She and Ember, her psychically gifted fox, have tracked dozens of people for Cole, the man who works to rehabilitate and recover these troubled souls. When one of Cole’s most dangerous patients escapes, Teegan and Ember are on a hunt that could prove fatal if she doesn’t keep her focus on her mission. Unfortunately, Cole is proving one distraction that might make this her last hunt if she can’t do that.


Can Teegan keep her heart and mind in the game long enough to save an entire planet’s population, or will her distraction lead to heartache – and possibly death for everyone?
Sign up here to get more information and make sure you don't miss this book!  


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Right character- wrong story

Sometimes you have an idea for great character in your book. Maybe you already wrote them in, maybe they're something that just popped up as you're writing (or plotting for you plotters ;)) and you think they are awesome!

Then they just seem to clunk around in your story. You know, like when your washing machine is out of whack and you get that thunk, thunk, thunk as it tries to get back into balance?

Yeah....sometimes writing feels like that. Sometimes READING feels like that.  Since none of us as writers want to do that to our readers, and as readers we don't want a good book damaged by that thunking noise, it is important to do a catch and release on those characters.

For me, it's usually more of a reduction of a character, and mostly minor ones at that. Since I am a serious pantser, I often don't know who is going to stick around for the long haul of my minor characters. The bigger ones are fine, primary, secondary- yeah--I KNOW them.

I just relocated one of my secondary characters.

Now, the character in question is from one of my unfinished books, an epic fantasy. She was an important character to the story (or so I thought at the time) but her section never really fit. Since that book is waiting with the other half-books (and two completed ones) for time to finish, I wasn't really worried about it. I figured I could save her somehow, make her work.

But yesterday she popped up in my head while writing The Sapphire Manticore (aka Book Four of The Lost Ancients). I had a type of character I knew was going to be in this book, but hadn't fleshed them out at all (pantser, remember?), then while working on the draft yesterday morning I started writing her voice...and it was the troublesome character from the unfinished Epic Fantasy!  

I think she'll fit much better here, and has already gotten to know the drunken faeries (apparently her long lost sister was semi-responsible for them meeting Taryn--but that's another story ;)).

So, if you have a character who you LOVE, but they just don't fit in that book--remove them, but hold onto them. They may just need to be relocated (although I'm not completely sure she didn't just relocate herself ;)).