Writer

Happy New Year! Time to Start Writing Now.

Yep. We had a great time eating the food and drinking the drink. Marathon watching TV shows on Netflix and going to the cinema to cheer for the final chapter of The Hobbit. So we are all refreshed now and should be ready for what comes next.

A year of great storytelling.

We will be writing until we are done, my friends. So get a good chair, crack your knuckles and be sure to check back here three times a week to see how you and I have done. Feel free to leave your word count, page count or sentence count when you visit. I’ll be happy to know I’m not the only one down in the salt mines. I’m giving you today off because it’s New Year’s Day and we know what you did last night. But no mercy tomorrow.

And weekends count for extra. Or you can just leave them for your family and fun, as I plan too. I have to recharge often, and weekends do that for me. I have too much to do in those two days, so I’d rather use my spare time to get ready for the rest of the week.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, lots of writing and plenty of online friends (me included!) to share your trials and tribulations, successes and achievements with.

Welcome to 2015!!

And just for fun, here’s how a writer’s mind works most of the times…

Still Here and Still Working

I know I’ve been gone forever. I have a great excuse. At the end of October, I came down with Chik V. This was just before a very important week of meetings at my job during the month of November. I managed to get my work done, but I was lucky enough to be one of those people who suffer from the chronic stage of the disease, which means even now I still have lingering pain, numbness and other symptoms. I’m not alone, of course. Lots of Trinis have the same problem. The virus has spread like wildfire here. And let me tell you, this virus is the sickest I’ve been since I was a child.

November and December then became consumed with catching up on the work I had to drop for two weeks, trying to write every day, cleaning the house and generally getting ready for Christmas. Christmas turned out great and I’m finally enjoying my vacation. But the plan for the new year is to get back to working out and writing every day again. The fatigue has let up enough for me to return to my regular schedule, I think.

I want to thank all of you who came by, followed me, or just commented. Sorry I haven’t been around, and I will be by all of your blogs before the end of the year to remedy my absence.

I’m currently cleaning up the first part of the sequel to LEX TALIONIS, which I’m calling IACTA ALEA EST (The Die is Cast) for now, so I can get some more forward movement on it. I’m pushing on with THE NIGHTWARD (also known as the ‘Hand of Gaia’) because it’s in my head right now. But if you read LEX TALIONIS you’re probably wondering what the sequel looks like. It’s rough right now, and there’s stuff that needs to be edited, but have a sneak peek at the opening below:

The C.S.S. Invincible

The technician screamed, the smoking stump of his hand smearing his lab coat as he held it to his chest. Through watering eyes, he looked up at the two soldiers standing over him, their faces hidden behind the wavering diamond reflection of distortion masks. The ship’s flashing emergency lights limned their black armour, turning the figure-hugging contours scarlet, then black, then scarlet again.

He could smell his own flesh cooking, and vomit scratched at the back of his throat even as pain tore his nerves to shreds. If he turned around, he knew he would see what was left of his hand lying on the floor of the corridor behind him. But there was no point in turning around. His hand was gone for good. And he was a dead man.

The one on his left lowered the massive lasrifle to his waist, still keeping it at the ready. The soldier on the right held his weapon with the business end pointed at the floor. The soldier was silent for a moment longer, apparently studying the tech, though it was hard to tell through the distortion masks.

“Are you ready to speak to me now?” he intoned, his voice flat and expressionless through the mask.

“I told you, I don’t…”

The rifle came up again, sighting on him. He screamed and felt warm piss trickle down his leg.

“You waste our time,” the soldier continued. “If you will not help us, there are others. Doubtless they will want to live more than you.”

The tech heard the soft whine and click of the lasrifle and could not stop his tears. Above him, the computer informed them that Decks Five through Ten had been breached by intruders and that the Fire Squad should report to a blaze in progress in the Dining Hall. It was a detached report on a dying ship and he knew that if he did not do as they said, he would only suffer more pain.

He was a tech, a lowly tech, not crew and certainly not one of the fearsome security personnel who–inexplicable as it seemed–were dying in droves at the hands of these relentless attackers. Soldiers, really. Soldiers who were better than the best that Conway Enterprises had to offer. Better than men genetically bred to protect and kill. It was unthinkable.

As unthinkable as what he was about to do. Because the only thing he wanted as much as a way off the ship right now was no more pain.

“Shoot him in the–”

“Wait!” He felt every breath that left him as if for the first time.

“I…know where it is. I know where the room is. I can take you there. Please…let me take you there.”

The solider did not move for a moment, then he raised his rifle.

“Lead the way. But be warned–-if you attempt to mislead us, you will die. Slowly and in great pain. Get up.”

That’s all for now. I’ll post more from both books as I go along.

Have a great season and see you again soon!

The “I Pinch Myself Every Day Now” Roundup

So I was so excited yesterday, I forgot to point out that if you want to read part of Chapter 1 of my debut novel, LEX TALIONIS, you can head on over to Tara Maya’s blog at bestfantasynovel.com. Just scroll past all the interviewy stuff and you’ll find the excerpt waiting to sit you down, put your feet up and give you a bucket of popcorn so you can settle in for the short haul 😉

Hopefully, you’ll like it and want to throw money at it.

LEX TALIONIS is now also available at Barnes and Noble.

And if you have something against them, just head on over to Kobo.

It should be up on Amazon really soon, so I’ll drop a note when that happens.

And as if that wasn’t surreal enough, one of my sister’s co-workers got her copy today, so my sister got to touch it and flip through it and realise the bedtime story of her youth was really out there in the big, bad world as a novel. It was a head-spinning moment for both of us (she sent me pics). One that I think made it worthwhile.

I’m always worrying if I did the right thing. If it was worth all the sacrifice to just keep pursuing this crazy goal. If it was smart to put myself and such a dark, difficult story out there like that. When you start to get your first ‘meh’ reviews and reactions your heart kind of plummets and you start wondering why you ever signed up for this.

But then you see an interview go up, or you read a reader’s reaction where they basically freak out over how much they love your story, or you just hold that dream in your hand as a real physical copy of all the thoughts and words you had. And it’s totally, totally worth everything it took to get there.

Even if you never sell another copy. Even if the books sinks into the massive trove of new books out there without another peep. Even if every critic that reads it hates it. I realise now I don’t care. I have shared my story, and part of me, with other people. No one can take that away from me.

I have been luckier than many to have this opportunity. And I treasure it.

So no matter what, stay thirsty, my friends. Take it from me; you’ll get there as long as you don’t quit.

No Victims Here – Just Writers

There’s a conversation going on about trauma and PTSD and writers as survivors of trauma here:
http://mykecole.com/blog/2013/03/what-ptsd-is

and here:
http://susanelizabethcurnow.weebly.com/1/post/2013/03/in-response-to-myke-coles-post-on-ptsd.html

and here:
http://matociquala.livejournal.com/1120951.html

That last one was a while ago, but EBear (or, as she’s better known, the Amazing, Award Winning Elizabeth Bear) posted the link in response to the first post by Myke and as it turns out, though I follow her blog, that was the first time I’d read that post.

It got me thinking about how come so many of the writer friends I have turn out to be both geniuses and survivors of trauma, particularly childhood abuse of some sort. As EBear said, we know each other, I guess.

(No, I’m not a genius. At least, I have no idea. I’ve never had a real IQ test. I just pal around with interesting people and bam! They turn out to be bonafide MENSA and I’m like, ‘That’s why you’re so smart!’)

Yes, I’ve been through some…things. I don’t really like discussing them ’cause, as EBear said, it comes off like you’re looking for sympathy, or worse, trying to make yourself out to be the one who REALLY suffered. My philosophy is that someone else–a LOT of someones–has had it way worse than you so shut up already, precious flower.

But I do find stuff showing up in my writing. Sometimes I give people life stories that carry parts of my baggage. All writers do this, I guess. But sometimes I think I might be schizo, because part of me builds characters that see the world so positively, and the other part wallows in the darkness that tainted so much of my life. For all intents and purposes, I’m an optimist. How that happened is still a mystery to me. But I think it’s important it happened because I can write people who have never had a bad thing happen to them, and people who’ve never had a good thing happen, and even some in-between.

I think most people have amazingly screwed up lives you’d never believe in a movie and that everyone has been through something that would make my jaw hit the floor. I’ve been travelling lately and met some inspiring women working throughout the Caribbean in the education and training field in the course of my paying job. One woman is a miner, with her own company, who rescues child labourers and prostitutes from the wild interior of Guyana in her spare time.

I’m not kidding. She does this with her own money. You would not believe the trouble it’s brought her. But as she said to me, she could not stop. You see, she used to BE those kids.

Now that’s a hero.

Sometimes I think that’s why writers write. So we can silence the demons and be the heroes instead of the victim. So we can make the story have the ending it deserves instead of the one reality dealt us. So we can show ourselves what victory looks like.

Because not all of us made it out. And some of us did, but carry scars that will never fade.

So many of us used to be victims.

But when you write, you’re in control. You’re not the victim anymore. You’re God and you have a pen. The world does what you want for a change. And there’s nothing more fun, satisfying, terrifying, illuminating and healing than that.

So keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep on keeping on.

There are no more victims here, after all. Just writers doing what they were born to do.

Share your thoughts and stories below, if you wish. I’d love to hear them.

Write What You Know

imagine

Write what you know

It’s what every writer has been told in every class they’ve ever taken. For a long time, I took it literally and despaired. Because I loved all things genre. I loved science fiction–“hard” or “soft”, whatever that means–fantasy, horror, mystery… You name it, I loved it. But how could I write it when I was only allowed to write what I knew?

I didn’t know enough about science to do science fiction, I thought. I certainly didn’t know enough about crime-solving to do mysteries. But, oh how I wanted to. I kept thinking of stories, kept writing stories, that had fantastic elements. Stories my teachers frowned upon in school, but my friends loved. Stories that came to me down a dream-pipe, completely without my assistance. When something beautiful shows up, just like that, dressed and ready to go, how do you ignore it?

Then I learned the truth. That the ‘what you know’ meant what you knew as a human being too. So stories weren’t all about the academic or procedural research. They were about translating the human experience. Your human experience. Because yours was the only one you were an expert on.

I should not have taken so long to figure this out–after all, if that rule was literal, how could Ray Bradbury write the Martian Chronicles, or Carl Sagan write Contact–but it was a daunting thing, all the same. Now I not only had the responsibility of credibility that research catered to–I had to bare myself in public in certain ways. I had to write what I knew, and in doing so, tell the whole world a little about myself. I don’t remember who said it, but they were right when they said a writer is someone who appears in public with their pants down.

It’s not an easy thing to put down your thoughts, hopes, dreams, nightmares so others can share them. There’s always that risk that you’ll be rejected. Or laughed at. Or worse, that no-one will care. But for everyone who has the courage to write what they know, they take a chance that somewhere, someone will find a kindred moment.  A shared experience. Somewhere out there, a bond will form between writer and reader, between two people who have never met. And it will be a deep and lasting friendship.

So to those of you who have had the courage to risk yourselves in the telling of your stories–take a bow. It doesn’t matter if you get paid to do this. You know what this really means, this writing what you know. You deserve to celebrate yourselves a little.

And to those who haven’t had the courage to try yet. Well..what are you waiting for? Write what you know.
We’d love to hear from you.

write

Unblocking

write

I have recently come to realise something. If you decide you will write every day, no matter what, and you give yourself no excuses and no quarter, even a champion procrastinator like me can get at least three lines out per day.

Now, you might say three lines are nothing. But you’d be wrong. At least according to some famous author I read years ago who did the math and figured out that if you wrote three lines a day for a year, you’d have a 50,000 word novel at the end. Or a 60,000 novel. Doesn’t matter. What matters is, as my friend Bone says, there will have been PROGRESS.

This is actually a big deal for me, progress. Because I’ve been stopping and starting with long breaks between my writing for a couple of years now. Until I made this demand of myself last month, I had not written a word since late last year. Now I have two new scenes and I’m still going.

Yep, it was all just lack of will to follow through. I guess some authors are right. Maybe there is no such thing as writer’s block. Just writers who want to be blocked.

Either way, celebrate with me. I got a new scene finished and I edited my sequel a bit.

What have you accomplished lately that you’re really happy over?

discuss

The Next Big Thing

I’m participating in a fun author blog hop called The Next Big Thing.

I was tagged for this exercise by the talented Susan Elizabeth Curnow, who has a wonderful science fiction novel out called Game of Adversaries.

I was lucky enough to read this book at the beta stage and I’m so happy I get to finally see it in print and check out the published ending!

She blogs at http://susanelizabethcurnow.weebly.com/games-of-adversaries.html. Her scifi novel presents unforgettable characters and inventive alien societies clashing over the future of an incredible world.

What is my next big thing?
A science fiction mystery novel coming out in the fall of 2013.

What is the working title of your book?
Lex Talionis (The Law of Revenge).

Where did you get the idea for the book?
Several things came together in my head one night while I was lying in bed. Bats in the roof were keeping me awake, and I’d just seen what my 9 year-old mind thought was one of the best movies ever. A made for TV romp called Ice Pirates. I started thinking about mercenaries flying around space, and how cool it would be if the leader was a tough-as-nails girl.

What genre does your book fall under?
Science Fiction Mystery. Is that even an established genre? No idea.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Lex: Well, that’s a tough one. She’s not classically pretty to my mind, but she’s arresting. I must have dark hair, even if I have to give up her green eyes. I recently discovered Rachel Nichols in Continuum and I like her because she reminds me of Lex, but she’s a bit older than I’d want.

Elena Satine isn’t bad either, but she’s also older. Chloe Grace Moritz and Hailee Stanfield can act the part, and they’re young enough, but are they too young?

And I’m taking this waaaayyy too seriously now.

Michael: Tom Sturridge

Colin: Matthew Morrison might be okay

Anton: Idris Elba in lieu of someone bigger. If I could have someone the size Michael Clarke Duncan and with Idris’ acting chops I’d be in heaven.

Andor: Steven Amell  or Sam Worthington

Ru-ad: Ben Kingsley or Bill Nighy

Oux: Andy Serkis ::grin::.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young woman searches for the her identity–and the men that murdered her–with the help of the alien that brought her back from the dead.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Dragonwell Publishing. http://publishing.dragonwell.org/

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s been in existence in one form or another since I was a teenager. However, I sat down and finished the first real draft over a period of about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not sure I have a genre to compare it to.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I came up with Lex, there weren’t a lot of kick-ass leading women in science fiction. I wanted to write about a real person, with problems, flaws and loves, and I wanted her to be strong and unique, but vulnerable too. I wanted a kick-ass woman I could relate to.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
At its heart, it’s about revenge and the consequences of choosing that course of action. But the universe Lex lives in has humans practically on the bottom rung of the ladder, and I also explore the future of eugenics and how it might influence warfare.

Next up, I’ve tagged awesome authors to participate and tell you about their Next Big Things:

Walter Williams http://renakuzar.livejournal.com/ has a historical fantasy novel coming out from Dragonwell this year called The Garden at the Roof of the World. I had the pleasure of seeing early drafts of this book, and I can tell you, he’s captured the past in beautiful passages that make our history as interesting and wondrous as an alien world.

Tara Maya http://taramayastales.blogspot.com/ has book 6 of her Unfinished Song series launching soon. If you’re looking for a fantasy with a unique magic system, these books are for you!

Welcome

Hello and Welcome!

This blog is about me, you and the stories in-between. I’ll be talking about what moves me, what inspires me, what frustrates me–anything and everything about the craft of writing. As I’m also in the middle of publishing my first novel with an indie publisher, expect to see some of the process as well.

I will probably update this once a week. I’ll only do more if I find I have more to say. But sometimes the blog will be about other things I like too–for example, movies, books, and my mostly quiet life in the Caribbean with my extended family and my shared puppy, Loki. (How is he a shared puppy? Well, he has two mommies, a grandmother, a grandfather and a daddy to start with!)

Feel free to check out the rest of the site. I’m most excited about the area called ‘The Trunk’. There, I’ll post free stories that are finished, but unpolished, polished but never sold, even stories that sold. I’ll also have stories from different stages of my writing development (let’s just say I started a looong time ago). I hope that it will tell you something about me, what I write and where I’m coming from as a writer. Some of those old stories are unsalvageable. Others might be. You, dear reader, get to choose which is which. There is a poll under the stories and if you like an unfinished or old story, then vote on it and I’ll finish the story, just for you. Or re-write it, if that’s what you want. I won’t do so until I get more than a few votes so feel free to vote away.

That’s it for now. Don’t be a stranger.