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Monthly Archives: April 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

This is the first time I’ve done something like this in quite a while. I was tagged by Will Hahn. Thanks for thinking of me, Will!

Sometimes, timing is everything. Shortly after I posted something about making this blog a book chat site once again, Will emailed me, offering to loop me into a blog hop he just happened to be participating in. So I went along with it.

You regular readers may already know the answers to these questions, but you may want to read on anyway, because I may just have tagged you. That’s right–participation is the name of the game.

Here it goes:

1) What am I working on?

I am working on a time travel historical called East of Yesterday. It takes place all throughout the 20th century before plunging into the 19th at the very end.

And I have a Regency-inspired fantasy called Magic by Starlight almost ready to query. If I can just smoothen (don’t you just love that word? My daughter invented it) out one key scene…

And finally, I have a highly experimental science fiction dystopian series of short stories out there called Petroleum Sunset. Episode Three is almost ready to go, but since I am self-publishing these, it takes me a while to crank these out. Here is the info on Episodes One and Two.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I am very excited about East of Yesterday because I am using time travel concepts that I have not seen anywhere else. I spent two weeks scrutinizing tvtropes.org time travel section to be certain.

So yeah. I’m not going to be specific. I’ll just say two words: road trip. And four more: fish out of water.

Magic by Starlight is a very polite action-oriented spy fantasy that draws heavily on Jane Austen. I went for pure fun with this story. I have a couple of other stories in the series thought out too, with fairly comprehensive outlines.

To sum up what is different about my work, I’d have to say the characters. In my two published works, The Sevenfold Spell and The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf, my main characters are a strumpet (Sevenfold) and a dwarf (Magic Mirror). I’ve gotten more subtle about the characters in my works-in-progress, but still, I like writing about characters who don’t quite fit in, even if the reason is not entirely obvious.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I like writing books that I’d love to read, so I write books that take place either elsewhere (out of the Western world), elsewhen (future or past), or both. I almost never read contemporary work. Julie Moffett is currently the only author I know who can get me to read contemporary work. I want to be swept away from modern life. I want wonder.

And so that’s what I write.

4) How does my writing process work?

Very poorly at the moment. Due to exhaustion most evenings, I am doing most of my writing on the weekends. That includes blog posts.

But when I do write, it is on a recliner, with my laptop on a very superior lap pillow (from Brookstone), with a small pillow propped behind my head. This is all to avoid repetitive motion injuries. (I am currently recovering from a dislocated shoulder blade that went undiagnosed despite repeated attempts for about 3 years). My recliner is tucked up next to a bay window, and I have two small tables at my side. It is very pleasant.

I warm up by looking at social media properties such as Facebook and Twitter, but I am not very good at social media that is not blogging, so I mostly participate by posting replies. I do this for about 20 minutes before opening Word and plunging in.

I always keep a wiki of my worldbuilding gazetteer using a wiki tool called TiddlyWiki. When I am drafting, I generally keep my wiki open and add any new names, places or concepts to it.

Tags

Since I didn’t clear any of you in advance, instead of tagging, I decided to ask for volunteers. As incentive, if you want to post your writing process next week, let me know in the comments and I’ll put up a post linking to your blogs.

Happy Easter – Blog Updates – A Decision

Happy Easter, everyone, no matter your religious affiliation. It’s kind of cloudy and rainy here, and it looks like it will stay that way all day. We’ll make the best of it anyway. The temperature is looking to be a glorious 70 degrees.

~*~

As part of my website update, I have updated my Policy page and started tagging old posts. Boy, was I a messy tagger. I spent hours deleting useless tags and retagging old posts. Then, I was almost finished when I decided that I really ought to to study up on the practice of tagging. It was then that I discovered that I’m doing it all wrong. Apparently, I’m supposed to categorize and tag. I’m tired just thinking about it. I guess I’ll have to do without categorized tags, and I’ll just stick to plain old tags.

As for writing, I keep plugging away at my manuscript, cutting almost as much as I’m adding so I am now up to 84,000 words. I am almost through these difficult “big reveal” scenes, though. I’m having to rearrange a few things so they still make sense, and I should have it all straightened out soon.

~*~

I have made a decision to leave RWA, and will be letting my membership expire in May. The reason for this is simple, and has nothing to do with the organization: I can no longer say that I write romance. As a genre, it was never the greatest fit for me, but The Sevenfold Spell and The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf had enough romantic elements to satisfy the requirements and justify the expense.

Every year when you renew your RWA, you must reaffirm your claim that you are a writer who is actively pursuing a career as a romance novelist. Although East of Yesterday has romantic elements, I would classify it as a historical novel with science fiction elements. And although Magic by Starlight has a romantic storyline, it is more fantasy than romance–with about as much romance to satisfy fantasy readers, but not nearly enough to satisfy romance readers.

(BTW, RWA does welcome “romantic elements” authors, but I think my quirky brand of writing would be a better fit elsewhere.)

If I were to take up a romance novel again–and I do have some ideas–I will consider rejoining the organization. But until then, I will have time to explore other organizations like Broad Universe, and/or see if there is something else out there that I have not discovered yet.

A Science Fiction Historical?

So for the last six weeks or so, I have been writing and rewriting the “big reveal” scene in East of Yesterday, trying to nail down the basics of time travel.

(Yeah, so the book is almost done, and I still had not figured out the rules of time travel. But in many ways, the story shaped the rules.)

I wrote an exhaustive scene that walked through all the whys and wherefores. Even as I was getting through it, I knew it was a bit much to expect the reader to absorb, but I kept going because I knew I could always cut. I finished it up, went to the point at the end of the story where I left off, and realized that what I just wrote would not work with what I already had. Did I want to change the story? No. It is all plotted, and I like it, and it works, story-wise.

So I threw out the Big Reveal scene (3000 words) and wrote a much shorter scene that left most everything in the dark, and gave a few kernels of info to the reader, and let my story stand. And I was happy. This was much better. I thought I was done.

But. Then.

On the way to work the other day (I probably better never give up the idea of going to work, because these epiphanies during morning or evening drives have happened more often than I can recall), I had a marvelous idea. It was one of those “Aaaah. Now that works!” moments.

So I wrote it all into my wiki today. And I realized that this is no longer fantasy-based time-travel. It’s science fiction. Everything I base it on comes from science–except just a couple things.

One fantasy element–a mental power–is about as fantasy-like as a Vulcan mind-meld. It is certainly not as fantastic as the Force. And not as powerful as the dragon time-jumps in Dragonriders of Pern.

The other fantasy element is the supposed temporal qualities of silver. I used silver because (1) the pure silver content in sterling silver jewelry is quite high and (2) because silver does have a legendary history as an esoteric metal, which I used slightly.

The scientific elements that I had to research came from the Periodic Table of the Elements, the stellar history of planetary ores, alloys vs. pure elemental metals, the Chronoception sense, also known as our perception of the passage of time, and (lightly) time as a fourth dimension.

So two fantasy elements vs. five science elements.

I’m still calling it a time travel historical, but I feel happier about this because I always thought of time travel as a geeky science fiction thing, and now the story comes closer to what I intended.

So, now to rewrite that scene for the fourth time. And then to get on with the ending.

A Failed Experiment. A New Start.

Well, that didn’t work for me.

A while back, I put forward a proposal to convert this blog into some sort of shared memory blog. I worked to develop the idea, and I even wrote two blog posts.

That’s right. Two whole posts. Since December.

Woohoo. Big whoop. I guess that idea didn’t even take off with me.

So, that’s out.

Therefore, I’m bringing back a format that works for me: book talk, book reviews, author guests and writer talk. And I’ll work in my two shared memory posts as occasional retro posts, which I have been known to do from time to time.

Since I want this blog to be distinct from the rest of my site, I should give it a name. I don’t focus on debuts anymore, so anything goes. Here’s some possibilities:

  • The Broken Bookspine – way back when, in 1996, during the early, early days of the Internet, I wrote a few pages about my favorite books. It wasn’t a blog, because I was using straight HTML and blogs weren’t thought of back then. It did have a tiny following, and someone asked permission to reprint part of one of my “posts”, where it still persists here. But the original site existed before the Wayback Machine started caching pages, so it is gone forever.
  • Tia’s Bookshelf – Simple and direct.
  • Elsewhen BookTalk – Takes off on the anywhere but here, anywhen but now thing, plus I’ve been using Elsewhen as my location in Twitter. Also, “reviews” isn’t in the name to prevent an expectation of a significant number of book reviews.

I think I like the last one. How about you?

It’ll take me a couple of weeks to get this going. I’m going to start by arranging for some author guests. I will narrow down the genres from what I used to cover to my most fav genres, which are:

  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Historical

I am deliberately keeping these broad. There will be certain subgenres I will gravitate toward. Although I occasionally enjoy mystery, romance and Christian, those genres will not be the focus of this blog. Narrow worked best for me, and narrow is what I am going back to.

Before I get started, I’ll also clean up my post tags so I can use them usefully. Right now, they are a mess. And it will be a big job cleaning them up. I may also import in my Fantasy Debut posts, but that will be a Phase II task, postlaunch. Very post.

Wish me luck. I know I’ve run a lot of ideas by you guys, only to get busy and let them fall by the wayside. I’ll try to not let it happen again. Thanks for sticking with me!