Sunday, December 23, 2012

And silence above endings

Shall be vanished from the interwebs until the 3rd of so of the new year; heading out East to visit family and attend a wedding.

So I leave behind a poem, as follows:

I ran out of words a thousand poems ago
and so all I offer you – this –
a sheet not blank enough.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Writing output for an evening ...

Last night consisted of the following:

1K of notes toward an online game I'm running (and research toward it)

1K written of Ghoulish Happenings in the end. 

Re-reading the one scene from the first draft I plan to work into the new one, starting to add/twist/fix it, so it's  not really new writing insomuch as editing or repurposing.

Fixing a poem I wrote in 2004. Also wrote the first two 'real' poems I've done this year, not happy with either. 

And time spent poking odd byways of the internet, of course. For example, I know know that grawlix is the term forthe string of typographical symbols comic strips use to indicate profanity ($%@*!) and I have no idea what I shall ever do with this knowledge. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dear Star

I didn't start out wanting to hate you. You have to understand: everything follows from that. You were brilliant, you know that? In every movie I saw, in every TV series you briefly guest-starred in – even when you looked like you were slumming, you slipped into characters like other people did pants. It was amazing. Understand, too: you didn't make me want to be an actor. You made me think the art was a Calling, and too high for me to reach.

And I was okay with that.

Until the interviews. Until I read about you on the internet. Until I found out what you thought about certain people, and why. No matter how good you are, I can't forget that now. In every movie, when you smile at the woman and say, "of couse I love you," in a voice women would drown in I hear under it the exceptions. The people you won't love. The ones who think aren't worthy of love.

You slummed in the TV shows; I see it in the movies now. Lowering yourself down to our level. You have enough money not to need to, but someone has a favour – maybe photographs, if I'm being ugly – and so you end up in another movie, and another, and in each I can't forget what you are under the masks you put on.

You would hate me if we met. I can't forget that. I wish I could. I wish your smile was more than artifice. I wish you could be more like some of the character's you play.

I wish I could watch your old movies again without knowing the kind of person you really are.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Magician's Tale

Every morning Marcus Tull opens his mail and expects to have been found out. Every day he leaves his small apartment is another chance someone will know him, that word will get out. It wasn't his fault. That's what he told everyone, but no one believed him. On really bad days, he didn't even believe himself.

Most of the really bad days stopped when he ceased drinking. Not all, but most, when the bottoms of bottles terrified him and he worried it might happen again. It never had, but it could. Surely? He had no idea and no one he could ask. He had tried, but those he asked put things together, asked the internet. He got discovered and driven out from town after town until there was no one to rely on except himself.

All he did now was shop when he had to, remain home, read books. No computer or TV, no interactions with children. He would have killed himself rather than visited a park or school. The police believed him when he said that, but for all the wrong reasons. It had only been five years but it was too long and not long enough.

Stage magic is simple, you understand? He did illusions, worked tricks. The audience played along, laughed, made jokes: as jobs went, it wasn't bad. He'd had a flair for the dramatic, played up the spookiness with the kids. And then the birthday party. It wasn't Emily Horne's, small mercy. But he put her in the box, waved a hand over it along with his cape: the usual trick.

He'd distract, she would slip to the side, the box would he empty. Only that time – just the once – no one had left the box. A child got in, no one got out. Abracadabra, hey presto! and there were screaming parents and police officers, the press and federal investigators. He could not explain it. Nor anyone else.

She'd been an ordinary child, not the sort to play jokes like this. Not that anyone could for five years, surely? The ground has been solid, the box's trip door unopened. And every day he went to get groceries he'd find himself studying boxes, listening to stories, half-hoping he wasn't alone. He'd tried magic after, a few times, desperate and terrified, scared and angry. Nothing.

He didn't know if that was bad or worse. He hoped it was good, that it would never happen again. He did no tricks anymore, not for himself or anyone else, but the old instincts remained. He sometimes made coins vanish from his palms, but they were always palmed by him. Nothing strange. Nothing unusual.

Just another day of waiting for the horror to end.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ah, writing prompts (intentional or otherwise)

Before the medication, the author wrote. People read, damning with faint criticism. It was beautiful, what he wrote, but had all the non-sense of a poem half the time, his words as verse, filled with gaping holes left for the reader to fall into.

The kind compared it to sex with strangers. The rest — most — simply turned away. It was both too small and demanded too much of them.

Time passed. Words came at the expense of all else. Lives fell apart. It did not matter. Words happened; next to that nothing mattered. Money fell away. Things were sold, lost, defenses weakened by cheap diets. Friends and family gathered, circled like kind vultures.

The author was taken to a place that was cruel to be kind. Electroshock had been replaced with pills, they explained, and it was another death of imagination. There would be no great story to come from this, no real moment to twist into fiction. Just exercises and pissing in cups. Eventually the pills stopped making his urine smell, soaked right into the bones.

A cured status was pronounced, like a wedding ceremony gone slightly south. The author was bundled out into the world amid quiet warnings to never come back: the cured could not fall away from their new state. It was an issue of funding. Kindness, you see, comes at a price.

The author returned home. It did not matter where: it was a place to write from. Words came, and were understood. Praises were sang, a book deal offered — out of pity? the author did not know. Months from the world had shifted the author out of gear. The writing was distant, removed.

Polished, some said. Better, others opined. But better than what? And why? They would not say.

Everyone understood what the author meant now when he wrote. Everyone got it. Even he did, much as he didn’t want to.

The ending was inevitable.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Small excerpt and thoughts on genre

Between work, feeling like crap from some cold, work Xmas parties and Christmas baking (later today) my word count since the first of December has been ~5K. I am now on plot point 7 or 20 and a few hundred words away from 20K into the story so things are shaping up rather solidly. This story will lead into a direct sequel, though I may hold off on writing it to give  myself a small break from the setting and give thought to other sequels set after a small time-jump. Mostly because it occurred to me that a lot of urban fantasy uses the occult detective theme, but very few show the character in the process of becoming that.

Which seemed suited to YA, as a platform at least. Both Wray and Bryce get to grow over the course of the two  novels and then I work out the ones after that. As the second novel is going to involve preventing the end of the world, the novels after it will not up the ante. You've saved the world, and then someone asks you to deal with some sheep being killed on a farm, say, and how you cope with that shift, and how one makes small things matter again, will be fun to explore.

Also, at one point down the line, Wray is going to put 'saved the world' on a resume when applying to work at a McJob.

On a deeper level, I've been working on urban fantasy stories for some years now, shifting characters and situations around and trying to find an idea that grabs and holds me. I make no guarantees that this will be it, or that I won't shift between this story and others, but lately every novel I have worked on ends up with plots whispering, in a chorus not at all greek, 'sequels, stupid!' in the back of my head.

I have no idea if this will be that story, or just a flavour of X month/year in my head, but we shall see. It has more potential than some, since I'm starting the characters -- and reader -- off at ground floor, rather than the usual 'established characters, A, B, C major backstory events that will be Important umpteen novels down the line' that tends to be more common. Not that I dislike that: I've used it often enough, and I think it works for what it does. I just wanted to try a different tack and see if it held together better.

We shall see :)

Excerpt from Yesterday:

And it all made Hamish that much harder to stomach. I didn't want to hate him, but I was learning that it was really hard not to hate someone when they hated you in turn. Especially not when the part of me that looked in the mirror at the ghoul that stared back agreed with him in some small way. What better response to a monster than hate? So, to drown out all of that, I walked slowly and tried on mantras, like: 'It's not me, it's you' and 'I may be a monster, but it's not all I am'. It probably didn't help, but it also didn't hurt. Much.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Ghoulish Blurb & writing methods ...

And my first quick stab at a back-cover blurb for the story....

For over a century the town of Nowhere has been a battleground between two ancient families of 
magicians, one determined to claim it back as their own, the other to stop the town from being used to end the world. At least, that's how the propaganda machine of the Smiths goes ... 

Wray couldn't care about any of that. His memories of his human life seemingly stripped away in the transformation into a ghoul in the town cemetery, all he wanted was to be left along to gnaw on some corpses. Instead one of the Smiths had dragged him into the world with the intent of civilizing him and getting him on a no-humans diet.

If that wasn't bad enough, the local police have threatened to arrest him for the crime of existing, a magician has summoned Bigfoot into the town, werewolves are having a war over territory and the ancient battle between the Smiths and Joneses is heating up, with Nowhere as a focal point – and when you have centuries of enmity stoking the fires, the resulting conflagration could be more than anyone expects.

Tagline: some meals even a ghoul won't eat, especially those spiced by revenge ...

The tagline needs serious re-working but I do like how it highlights one aspect of the plot that the blurb does not. I suspect the actual blurb used, in the end, will be a modification of the first paragraph of the story with the last paragraph of this blurb-attempt, but it is at least something.

As for the story itself, I've reached the point where I'm entirely happy that the first draft is being tossed aside. A few lines are being kept, some scenes reworked: Say, 1,000 words out of 50,000 will be salvageable in this treatment. It is more extreme than normal, but also the first time I've tried doing a story almost entirely by the seat of my pants, hence the utter failure of story and setting to mesh together.

I've finally reached the point where my now-basic method of 'write a draft, toss it aside, redo it' has reached my brain as: 'This is your method. Deal with it and don't burn out on the story.' I'm also dealing with the fact that most stories I am working on now want to have sequels and be series despite years of having no desire to do anything like that at all.

We change, and what/how we write changes. I figure as long as I still enjoy writing -- which I do, even past the dreaded 1 million words marker -- I should just embrace things and run with them. Hopefully they shall lead to a finish line :)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Cumulative Nanowrimo Word Counts (2012)

Waking Dreams (2003): 52,214
Higher Ground (2004): 105,857
Guardian Monsters (2005): 54,347
My Cat Used To Be A Buddhist (2006): 50,074
New Fires (2006): 50,857
The Coroner's Tale (2007): at 62,857
Roadside Attractions at the End of the World (2007): 50,314
Necessity and Power (2008): 74,988
Roadside Attractions (new version) (2009): 50,269
The Adventures of the Miskatonic Elementary School Kids #1 (2009): 50,277
Shadows of Never (2009): 50,002
Monsters & Miracles (2010): 67,571
Dogs of War, vol. 1: Contact (2010): 72,747
Found (2011, summer): 50,045
Rites of Exorcism (2011): 69,681
The Long Way to Home: a journey of a Boy & Fox (2012, summer): 51,695
The Second Theft (2012): 75,086
Ghoulish Happenings (2012): 62,691

For a staggering 10 year total of: 1,101,572.

Bloody. Hell.