Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tasting the end....

Closing in on 74K. Taking the day off from writing to plot the last bits of story and plan to have the draft 'finished' sometime this weekend. There are scenes I need to add early on and likely things to fix even in the latter half of the story. Ironically, I was trying to pace the writing so I didn't rush things and still wrote over 5K yesterday, but about half of that was a scene that had been sitting in my head for weeks now so I don't think it went too badly.

It is fun that the sequel will be a completely different beast, with the MCs having both grown up a bit.  Ghoulish Happenings is very much a coming-of-age tale, whereas the sequel (tentatively Ghoulish Trappings in my head .... as of now ...) is more about finding one's own feet as adults and navigating a wider world. If you screw up, it becomes your duty to make that right: that other people will be trying to drive them out of the city is only proof that they have already screwed up in the worst way possible -- that of not having noticed they did at all.

I have a truckload of research to do for the next couple of weeks and then will begin the edit/fix of GH. If all goes according to plan, of course.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Benefiting from error

The first section of Ghoulish Happenings is done: what was going to be the end of the first novel has happened in the story and became more abrupt than planned, also changed a fair bit due to plotting out the second novel in my head at the same time. The major plus side is that the ending, which felt abrupt even when plotted out initially, now flows into the second story/half of the novel far better. I'm almost at the 63K mark in the story and will probably have another 20K to go after this, paring down what would have been the second novel to the basics as an ending to this story.

There are still things to alter in the early part of the story, a couple of useful scenes to add but so far it is working. Now what will happen in the sequel, on the other hand, is mostly still a question in my head. I know some of the players and their goals but I'm still working out the overall thrust of the story though I know it is going to be more of a quiet and personal story than the first novel was.

From last night's output:

“He killed my friend,” I said
“And that’s the solution?” Lance didn’t lower his gun. “Do you plan to kill everyone who kills your friends?”
“Killing them won’t make you feel better,” he said, and there was nothing save certainty in his voice.
“It won’t make me feel worse.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

YA Research. Really. Honest.

Probably, one should not do research while writing the novel in question, but what the hell. Soon-to-be-current reads include:

Food for the Dead, a folklorists look at vampires in New England (mostly for the chapter on ghouls..)

A History of Cannibalism and

Cannibal Killers: murderers who kill and eat their victims.

To be fair, most of this research will probably go into the sequel but it is nicely weird to be researching this for what is still, in my head, YA.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dry Amusements & Novel Stuff

In which i go meta on my own work. Kind of. I used to write poetry pretty often. Way back in 2006 I did over 500 in a year (the genesis of this blog, in fact) and did a 30 poems in 30 days and poem an hour for 24 hours once as prior experiments as well. I did write poems in 2007 but slowly petered off, to the point that my ones from 2009 onward languish on my computer without having been printed out.

This is only interesting because I have been posting older things on tumblr, having gone through 2004 and into 2005, ignoring the longer ones -- most of them being, in retrospect, not that good at all. The differences are interesting. 2004 was a mishmash of styles and influences, whereas 2005 is largely rhyming poems, many of them relatively challenging and some needlessly complicated. Some of them are decent. Most, I think, suffer by being constrained too deeply into restrictive styles.

I tend to post a poem a day, mostly because I will run out eventually, but it is nudging me into writing small bits of poetry again though I tend to view the results thus far as not that good at all. I may have to do a poem-a-day project soonish just to find out if that spark is, mostly, gone. It shall wait until the current novel is doing before I really think about it.

In better news, the draft of Ghoulish Happenings has passed 53K. It's worked out to roughly 1K a day of 'finished' material though I have a series of notes on some characters and things posted to this blog that need to be fixed. None of that is major and much of that has been incorporated into the latter part of the book (Post 40K). As the last third of the book is plotted out in very loose terms -- meaning I know the ending but the details of getting to it are a bit sketchy -- I suspect this draft will count as 'done' sometime by the end of February.

At which point I shall give thoughts to the sequel, which I've begun to write. It was going to be a short story submission to a zine but I realized there is no way I was going to make the deadline for submissions and figured that having a first chapter as a short story is probably a good idea anyway for a novel. As long as it connects to the larger plot of course.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Day of Discordant Discombobulations Wherein We See Ourselves For The First Time And Steal A Boat From Some Old Man By The Sea

Found out people were viewing this on my rpg-game-thing blog. I am not sure WHY people were viewing it, let alone why they found it. Or why I put it on that blog. I don't even recall writing it (it was done in 2006) but the context seems to have been doing it as an example of purple prose for someone. I believe it probably left purple and went to invent its own shades.

She crested slowly, rhythmic sensuous curves undulating in the azure world, pale as sky me the verdant, broad and sprawling ocean and as the earth nestled with the heavens, suspended between substrates as water funnelled from fish and we froze, Japanese tourists with camera faces staring, the world turned to paparazzi flashes.

Then we came down, like a zipper creasing into folds, stick and moving, the spears of our destiny stabbing into flesh and blubber and the whale died, reminding each of us in one poignant yet somehow meaninglessly shallow empty moment of our in-laws and gaping maws and poetry disguised as prose but why, for what -- no one knew. Knows.

We killed her quickly, her children watching, frozen, blood curses in whale song a sound that still haunts my dreams, sounding like child molesters, in the shower, singing as they are shivved; the tourists never stopped clicking, prisoner to their terrible plan, sucking away our souls by pieces -- but we had paid them away long ago.

Under other stars and distant suns seen once and never again under eyelids we sold ourselves, our souls, our lives, for just the pursuit of happiness and never its possession -- and so, waving, we carried the whale home soulless, feeding our families in bleak homes for another year, another turning of seasons and the relentless pitter-patter of time
falling down the stairs.

"Honey," he said, his voice breaking the silence like cheap dinner plate therapy on a basement wall, "why do I call you that?" in a quizzical, confused tone that implied in an implicitly explicit manner akin to the exoteric esoteric way of spouses something his darling wife entirely failed to notice.

"Call me what?" she asked languorously in a voice like rough sandpaper scraping over an open wound, her eyes the colour of limpid swamp water with a body that had not tasted solid food in a week of desperate dieting to fit into a reunion dress for someone six inches shorter that lay, moth eaten, in an upstairs wooden trunk filled with her lost hopes and a small, lonely tic tac.

"Honey," he said imperatively with the slight, hesitant whine like the drone of a biplane, the voice of all men ho are right but not in the eyes of their wives (a voice Hitler used, asking about the Jews, saying they might not be good people but at least they kept to themselves to a wife who was tired of hearing how they threw the best bar parties for children), and he beheld at her and froze, not unlike a bowling ball floating in the water.

"Yes?" she snapped snappishly, her voice skeletonizing his ego like a piranha, a whiplash of failed memories and corroded vows skittering over his flesh like hungry ghosts.

"The word. Honey. It - doesn't suit you," he noted miserably, his voice fluttering between notes, a song in need of a singer to free it from the entrails of time and the broad expanse of the gulf that nestled between them like the deep ends of the couch.

"How now? How not?" she exclaimed, correcting herself with a moment of mental whiplash, her eyes, steely-eyed like ball bearings, dared him to comment from their dead, cold, desiccated and mysterious depths that he had yet to grasp the courage to plummet and swan dive - or, perhaps, belly flop - into the abyssal abyssness of night and - oh! - her abs, that glistened with years of work like oil-stained rags.

"You aren't a bear," he smiled, the expression a fractional upturning of lips falling into the Shrodinger laugh that was not funny or morbid yet until a reply is made from the box of anothers being; neither living nor dead, trapped between reply and answer as unto a butterfly hovering above a jar of ether.

"You begin to bore me," she flounced, her voice slate-pale-grey-green as she turned and appraised him, hands on hips like the wife of some mighty Ice Giant of halcyon days of yore waiting for an explanation for the party that kept him up, not buying Ragnarok as an excuse again.

"I am sorry," he whipped in whispered words warbling whitely.


Monday, January 07, 2013

In which two novels become one ....

The original plan for Ghoulish Happenings was to make two novels out of the major events compassing the first few months in which Wray and Bryce know each other. As I'm over halfway through the stated plot and mid-way past 30K into this draft I've realized that isn't going to work at all. But keeping it feeling as if it was two separate novels might, in the sense of Wray giving the impression to the reader than the ending is where it's at even as the second act kicks into high gear.

Given that the reader will know this -- i.e. because they have half a novel still to read -- I'm not sure how effective a transition it will be, but I'll probably give it a whirl anyway. Turning both novels into one single novel will likely work better in the long run and also help with the pressure-cooker of events that pushes the character toward certain actions.

Things to alter in the next draft:
* Bryce. The story isn't served at all by making him terribly shy nor does it fit the revised ideas of how the various families of magicians work. Or, frankly, his parents wouldn't have put up with that shit. Thankfully, this should be an easy fix overall as I am pretty inconsistent about how shy he is, and when, and why as is.
* The nature and effects of the memory-damaging curse on Wray needs to be fixed, but that's also an easy enough fix overall.
* All the Smiths need to smile and laugh a lot less. The twins and Wray are an exception to this because they aren't, strictly speaking, a part of the natural order of things.
* Show Bryce going to school, doing Family stuff on the computer after and such early on. Have Wray doing chores around the property (handyman stuff) as a way of him paying rent as well.
* The Families of magicians are highly political and secretive. That the town of Nowhere is something of an anomaly -- being outside the perpetual war for status and influence -- needs to come up earlier.

The sequel: I have a few ideas rummaging in my head, a lot of it based around the idea of the Private Investigator as protagonist in urban fantasy. In this case, the series is intended to be about the character starting out on that path, rather than being one from the get-go, which I figure should prove more interesting overall, ditto with thoughts on what day jobs they'll do to pay the bills in the meantime.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Four months later: an essay for the school paper

Everyone is getting his name right. That's the long and short of it. There was a trick to being Sean's friend, and it was saying his name. S. E. E.N. Blame his mom for that, but probably nothing else. You could blame me. The fucktard on TV did when mom said I should on his show, screaming at me that I should have seen it coming or stopped my best friend. As if. Sean was my friend, yeah, but that's it. Tell someone that and I get told I'm dishonouring him, or myself, or whatever.

Like I give a shit. It's not like anyone else is going to want to be my friend at school now. His mom even tried to say it was all my fault, as if I was some kind of bad influence. But that's OK. Honest. I think my mom'd do the same if it was reversed. Honestly, I think most parents and friends would. Might be this whole essay for the paper is me not blaming myself. Fuck if I know. I'm not looking for sympathy or those pity-parade things.

Sean didn't have many friends, but he did have some besides me and none of that was a pity-thing at all. Some people are good at making friends, some not, some just don't try or try to hard. Shouldn't be hard to figure out which one you are, but it probably changes a lot anyway. Sean just wasn't good at all, all self-conscious and quick to jump on people over his name. He could hold his own in fights, thanks to that, but he shouldn't have had to. I guess the teachers were too busy with the bullying of kids who lisped or were foreign.

I almost deleted that sentence, or added a few more cliches to it. But fuck it: we're all part of the world. Actions lead to reactions, in chemistry and in life. Every Action is a reaction against the world. Like art: you see something, and you think you can do better. Reaction and ego. You see a school shooting, you think you can do better. Not art, but the same impulse. I'm not saying that's what Sean did. I am saying it could have been part of it. That everyone wanting to know about shit like that didn't help. That's what I'm saying.

And the jokes about his name, every damn year. We did talk about that, and I don't think it bothered him as much as he let on. You don't get used to it, but the anger is more reflexive than real? Maybe? Not that he'd have admitted it to anyone, but everyone is like that, too: we keep a large part of ourselves hidden, maybe even from ourselves. I'm not saying he's not at fault, but I am saying he's not exceptional. That Sean wasn't different from the rest of us, not really.

He wasn't crazy. He wasn't on drugs. It wasn't about some girlfriend. Or boyfriend, if the press have gone that way already. I think he wanted everyone to know his name, to say it properly, and to do that he could be a monster or he could be a hero.

So he chose to be a hero. Opened the door to the teacher's lounge, aimed. Fired. How many of us like school? How many find high school useful? Not many. And he knew that, and acted. To be a hero. Fucked up, yeah, but he probably got the idea from some action movie or thriller novel: not what he did, but the how and why, the headspace of it. Because that's the kind of heroes we have in our movies, the mavericks and all that shit.

And even if he's not a hero, and won't ever be one, and this essay won't ever get published, you're all getting his name right. Even those deliberately getting it wrong on that facebook hate-page know it. I think that might be enough for him. I think it really is that simple, and no one wants it to be.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

And back from vacation; actually managed to write close to 5K on two projects, most on the Untitled Boy-After-Fox Project, ,the rest on Ghoulish Happenings. It is, also very hard to write with relatives peering over your shoulder as you write ... but hey. New year, had a good time, but I doubt the mayan-botherers did at all.

An excerpt:

"You don't need to worry about power: you have the names of every angel inside you, both their use names and true names, the power to call and bind –." Boy shakes his head. "Think of it like the ability to summon dinosaurs and possibly control them."

"Dinosaurs," Zex says in tandem with Hole, his tone pure shock to her delight.

"It's a good metaphor."

"A dinosaur is not an angel." Hole's voice is firm and unamused.

"They're big and scary; it works," Boy says.

The god just shakes his head in despair as Zex looks up at Boy. "There's a 'but' in that, right? Cuz there's a 'but' in everything."

"The reason Hole asked you to come here, I imagine. I imagine they wipe your memory to protect themselves and since you now know what they are and can do..." Boy trails off.

"But you're a magician. Can't you just," she waves a hand, "poof?"

"If I could, do you think I'd be in this apartment?"

"It could be camouflage. The good kind?" she adds after looking about it again.