Summer Recap

Hello again, my freaky darlings!

A thousand apologies, a million mea culpas for the extended radio silence on this, Zee Blog o’ Doom. I’ve been taking a wee break from social media to catch up on writing (because hopefully that’s what y’all really want, and not a bunch of relentless navel-gazing). The one exception to this has been Twitter, which I’m new to this year but zomg, I’m already a fan. For people like me who are 1) easily distracted, and 2) plagued by the incessant need to write, write, write until the words are piled eyeball-high (brevity is not one of my strong suits; I’m a word glutton and no mistake), Twitter seems to be a wonderful way for me to feel connected to reading/writing fans and friends without getting lost for hours on end in crafting some perfect, scintillating post. If I can’t cram it into 140 characters, it probably wasn’t worth saying anyway, and I move on. Twitter is mah new friend.

did participate in the July Camp NaNoWriMo, but it came up on me fast and I almost missed it. I ended up meeting my goal of 50K, though, and upped it to 70K, meeting that as well with a few days to spare. I had originally intended to participate with a few writing friends for this one, in a private cabin, but as noted, it sort of jumped out at me from behind a bush like Jason Voorhees and I barely scooted in myself.

It was very productive, though. I finished all the “back work” for October Dim, including fleshing out back stories and taking my rough outline to the next level. I know that’s not for everyone, but I like writing the entire novel out in a form of scenic shorthand first. I think of it as verbal storyboarding — the entire novel is written in a detailed, summarized form, which makes the actual writing process that much easier. I’m just fleshing out a story that’s already there, which is my preferred method of working. I’m a combined pantser/plotter. More plotter, obviously, but I think of my outline as a map for my writing road trip. I don’t ignore the flashes of additional inspiration when they come — yes, let’s take this detour to see the World’s Biggest Ball of String! — but I want to know how to get back.

Or we could go see THE THING! Shout-out, AZ fans!

I cleaned out my Pinterest board for October Dim as well, which was tremendously enlightening. I went through and removed all the inspirational pins that no longer applied to the novel, but in doing so it was fun to see how the novel has evolved from those first days when it was just some vague, nebulous idea into the full-fledged creation it is well on its way to becoming now. You can get a feel for the novel as a whole by browsing through that board, which tickles me to no end. I’m a very visual person, too, so it helps me get in the right headspace every time I sit down to write. I can’t thank Joanna Penn enough for the suggestion. I never would have thought of it on my own, and it’s proven invaluable.

So, summer recap is as follows: I’m 3/4 of the way through the Cliff Notes version of the current novel. I have a collection of short stories coming out in beta before the end of the month, with several reprints and some new things as well. The summer is hot, the cotton is high, and the horror abounds! More news and updates to come!

Camp NaNo (April Recap)

I won Camp NaNoWriMo! “Winning” Camp NaNo means I successfully met my writing goal for the month, which on a purely personal level is actually pretty awesome. I went for the standard 50K word count and made it with a week to spare.

It was weirdly validating. I’m only about halfway through the novel itself — and maybe less than that after edits — but it made me silly and giddy and I walked around all day feeling super accomplished. Like yeah, bitches, I’M A REAL WRITER NOW.

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I’ve been a “real writer” (in the published sense) for a decade now, but this felt different somehow. You’d think getting paid would be validation enough, but what can I say? Writers are a needy, greedy bunch! We need petting on a regular basis.

So yes, I’m already looking forward to Camp NaNo again, in July! I even broke down and bought a damned Camp NaNo Storysquatch T-shirt. Represent, yo.

Things I was able to finish during Camp NaNo: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I did make a great deal of headway, though. I’ve finished several chapters that I didn’t really want to write (not because I disliked them, but because they were connective chapters and like a kid who wants to skip dinner and gobble up dessert, I was having more fun writing the whizz-bang-rotting-corpses-all-hell’s-breaking-loose-gaaaaaaah! parts instead). I also discovered a few plot holes and have set about filling them in.

(Speaking of — brief aside here — if you’re a fellow writer and you sometimes find yourself getting bogged down by plots, I can’t recommend Alexandra Sokoloff’s Stealing Hollywood highly enough. Best four bucks I ever spent.)

I also came to realize, in the desperate need to stop dicking around and finally solidify my novel’s premise, exactly what sort of novel I was actually writing. This probably seems like a no-brainer, but while I’ve been writing short stories for a long time now, this is my first real go at a full-length novel (not counting one long-ago fan fic and a truly awful fantasy novel I wrote more than ten years ago before I had the first foggy clue what I was doing).

OCTOBER DIM is definitely Gothic horror. I would call it a love letter to every Gothic trope I ever loved in novels, films, and an avalanche of penny-dreadfuls. I stopped trying to fight it and just went with it — gaslights, fogbound cobblestone streets, gloomy cemeteries and all.

It’s also deeply religious. I realized I kept trying to bury the religious themes and go for more subtlety, but nope. It’s a religious novel. I’m owning it.

Now I just have to FINISH it. *flails!*


Camp NaNoWriMo and THE NOVEL: An Update

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo started last Saturday, April 1; I’m a participant for the first time this year! While I have no idea how the traditional November NaNoWriMo works (I’ll be doing that this year for the first time as well), with Camp NaNoWriMo you’re assigned “cabins” of 20 fellow participants. The part I like best is the sidebar, where all your cabin mates are listed plus the name of their current project, target goal, and most recent progress.

It’s awakened in me a streak of friendly competition that I didn’t know I had. Nothing will light a fire under my ass like peeking at that sidebar and seeing someone that’s ahead of me. What?! xxBooberry13xx has 1,452 more words than me? I DON’T THINK SO, SUGAR!

“What do we say to xxBooberry13xx?”

It really is a super-friendly competition, but it helps keep me motivated and that’s the entire point. I’ve been using the camp to plow through scenes in my current novel — those connecting scenes that are super important but where nothing terrifying and/or epic is going on. I end up skipping them when left to my own devices so I can get on with the cool stuff, and then kicking, procrastinating, and flailing about when I can’t ignore them any longer.

Novel Update

Speaking of the novel — and while this is sort of “burying the lead,” I guess — it has a name now: OCTOBER DIM. While that is, of course, subject to change, since the novel isn’t finished yet and I’m sure my beta readers and editor will have their own opinions and advice to offer, that’s what I’m calling it instead of “Untitled” or the tongue-in-cheek working title, A Pocketful of Dead Things. The last one always makes me laugh, but that’s exactly why I can’t use it. I’m sure it has a few funny parts, but it’s actually pretty dark. Names, names — this is why titling a book tends to give some authors hives. (I am scratching myself as we speak. Sheepishly.)

I have a hard time describing the novel to people. I’m not worrying about it too much at this juncture; I have a feeling that as the story goes through the editing process, the “how” of describing it will sharpen and come into focus. But right now, mix Repo! The Genetic Opera and the Gormenghast books, sprinkle some Neuromancer on top, add the darkest and most dreadful fairy tales from the past with a healthy helping of classic monsters, then slather the whole thing in zombies — and there, that’s my novel.

It sounds cracktastic. It probably is. But I’m tellin’ ya, it works.