• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Excuses

I haven’t posted anything about the evanescence story in a couple weeks, and of course I have myriad of excuses why I didn’t. I sat at a blank page wondering if I should barrel on through the creation of the middle (which is where we left off) or if I should do something else.

To be honest, I haven’t been “into” this story right now, so I figured , I should write a blog post about excuses.

We all have excuses, and some of them are actually valid. Many, however, are not. The first week that I missed my blog post I was on-call. I think that’s a valid excuse for not posting. It was a very busy week, I lost a fair amount of sleep that week due to issues overnight at work, and I was just lucky to have finished the week w/out going crazy.

The second week is where it starts getting fuzzy. Part of the week I told myself that I was “recovering” from on-call. While there is a small amount of truth to that, it’s really just a lie I tell myself to justify why I’m not working on something. The other thing I tell myself is that the blog posts I put up aren’t my ‘core writing.’ Again, there is truth to that statement. It’s something fun and different that I do that I really enjoy, but it’s not what I do when I “sit down to write”. It’s a side-project, one that I want to finish, but it’s definitely low priority when I have time to write.

My first main project, one the other Dwarves can attest to, is a Paranormal adventure/mystery book. It’s consuming most of my available-writing time right now, despite the fact that I already wrote this book for NaNoWriMo back in November. I’m currently in a complete re-write of the book due to some major flaws I found in my first draft. A lot of POV issues, too much telling, way too much backstory, and a lackluster ending made me realize pretty fast that I needed to go back to the core of the story I wanted to tell, and rewrite it from scratch.

So that’s what I’m doing. My main goal is to make sure I’m writing enough to keep submitting regularly to my writing group, editing said submissions, as well as critiquing my writing group’s stories. After that I work on this other side-project.

Maybe someday I’ll have the time to juggle multiple projects, and know that each one is contributing to my success as a writer, but for now, I only have a certain amount of time, and unfortunately the Evanescence story takes a back seat from time to time.

Till next week, keep writing!

Building the Plot: Pt. 04: Beginnings

Last week, we examined the ending to this illustrious in-process story. This week I want to start with the beginning of the story, so let’s jump right in.

I imagine the story opening with one of the first scenes I’ve ever had once I formed the character of Peter in my head. Hooded figure, calling himself the Black Angel, prowling around at night. He is sneaking around in alleys, crouching on rooftops. Doing pretty much a Batman kind of thing here.

When suddenly he notices a girl getting pulled into an alley. He swoops into action! Peter comes up behind the man to meet out justice when suddenly the voices in his head stop screaming. It throws him off his game enough that the mugger gets the jump on him. (I’m not 100% sure I want this to happen this way.) Maybe he doesn’t realize the voices in his head had stopped screaming immediately—anyway, back to the story.

This is clearly different for Peter. He’s not used to this, but he eventually gets back into his groove and sends the guy packing, and by packing I mean the dude is crumpled on the ground.

Peter then goes to check on the girl. She screams at him. Peter is just trying to help. She puts her hands over her head and runs, terrified of Peter out of the alleyway.

Peter is going to let her go, turns to scrounge stuff from the guy lying unconscious beside him, when the voices in his head come back.

Peter then realizes being near the girl has something to do with the voices being gone out of his head. He has to follow this girl.

Peter bolts off down the alleyway, turns and tries to follow her now.

He follows her as close as he can while still having the voices in his head. Sometimes they disappear and he realizes he’s too close. Eventually he tails her back to a building where she ducks in.

Peter waits around outside for a while trying to figure out what to do.

That’s when someone comes up behind him to attack.

How’s that for a beginning?

Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it myself.

Next week we’re going to keep going with the middle of this story—expect about three blog posts dealing with the middle, as it’s the longest part—and I’m still working things out in my head. We have to get Peter from this street to being tied up and almost sacrificed. Strap in, it’ll be a bumpy ride!

Steps to Self Publishing

Dream

Everyone will have a different experience when it comes to publishing. Some of this will be determined by the route they want to follow:

  • Large publisher
  • Small publisher
  • Self publishing

But there are other factors that are equally important. Basically, how do I take my finished first draft and get it to a published book in my hands?

This is what I’ve done so far:

  • Took first draft and submitted portions of it to my writing group for critique
  • Combed through all feedback, and the entire book, and edited everything
  • Resubmitted it to my writing group as a completed novel
  • Submitted it to a handful of family and friends
  • Took all feedback, complied it, and slowly combed through all the comments, applying what worked
  • Went back through and made sure all the edits worked
  • Read back through as a “reader”
  • Resubmitted book to past readers, as well as, new readers
  • Applied final feedback
  • Read novel again
  • Had an editor comb through it
  • Self published

Okay, so I’ve still got a couple more steps to do before I can self publish, but I am nearly there. And how long has all of this taken? I think it has been about two years.

It’s a bit crazy to realize that, but no one ever said being a writer is easy. It takes a lot of work and dedication. And, I think, a true love of writing.

At the end of the day, maybe no one will even read my book, but there is that flicker of hope that at least a few people will pick it up… and I might have people read my story and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

That’s the dream anyway. Then, maybe, all of this will have been worth it.

Like my post, check out my personal blog at: https://lisamorrowbooks.wordpress.com/

Building the Plot: Pt. 03: The Ending

I have to apologize for being a day late in my post. I was struggling with what I should post up since there will be more spoilers in this portion. After some ruminating on the subject, however, I’ve decided to post up everything but the twist at the end, to keep some surprise for the actual story once I get it out.

Let’s talk plot!

I’m going to break this down into three chunks:

The Ending

The Beginning

The Middle

All in that order. I’m doing it this way so that I ensure I know where I’m going before I start off with anything else.

As a matter of full-disclosure, I actually do have the complete ending figured out, but I will be leaving the twist off this blog. You’ll have to RAFO (Read And Find Out). Since I’m building this story on the blog as a sort of experiment, I will be posting up everything else related to the plot otherwise.

So here goes: this is a bit rough, more of a brainstorming idea, but it’s what I have right now.

Little backstory: Bael has created a runed spell on the ground that requires blood sacrifice every moon cycle (still working out specifics on it).

At the end, Peter has arrived to offer himself up as a sacrifice to the demons so that he will close the portal with his mixed-angel blood, but it turns out that they were waiting for him the whole time due to REDACTED. Because of this they actually wanted him to show up. Bael has been planning for it the entire time.

At the same time, Celeste, who Peter left behind, has also turned up, and tricks the demons into allowing her onto the rune in order to comfort Peter before he is sacrificed. She knows fully well that REDACTED, and since the demons were blinded by hubris, they won’t think about REDACTED.

Thus the rune will fail right before Peter is sacrificed and the portal to hell that Bael and his minions have been working so hard on for the last few years will be thwarted. The block that was keeping the Angels in Purgatory will be opened, and the angels will sweep back down to earth in righteous fury to cleanse our world of the demon taint once again.

So there we go! I am holding a couple things back, but next week we’ll take a look at the beginning. Then go from there with the middle. We might spend a couple weeks on the middle. Once all that is done then it’s on to the entire plot as a summary post then I will begin writing out the rough draft of the story. Once I have the plot down we’ll know a little better just how long this story will be.

Till next week, have a good one!

Rogues

Rogue

The world is not all black and white, at least not for every author. There are those authors who see a whole spectrum of grey, and try to create fascinating characters who exist in this grey zone. Recently, I finished reading a collection of short stories about rogues, which I found absolutely fascinating.

I’d assumed characters who existed in this grey zone were those who failed to live by any code of ethics. However, after reading these stories, I’ve realized I’m wrong. Rogues aren’t characters who lack a moral compass; instead, they are characters who live by their own standards of right and wrong.

Some of the characters did things that I wouldn’t personally consider the right thing to do. They might have been cowardly, selfish, gluttonous, or have any number of other poor character traits. But they were also loyal, hard-working, or followed a certain code of how they lived their lives.

In my own writing, I usually have an easy time creating a protagonist who has flaws, but is wholly good. My antagonists I usually like to make a little more complex, showing that even though what they are doing is wrong, they don’t see it this way. When we can see things through their eyes, we may also understand where they are coming from, even if we still think what they are doing wrong. These stories, however, inspired me to try to create a protagonist who exists in this “grey zone.” I think it’d be a bit of a challenge to create a rogue, with questionable behavior, but that special something that still draws a reader to them.

Like my blog?  Feel free to follow my personal blog at: https://lisamorrowbooks.wordpress.com/

Building the Plot: Pt. 02

This week I want to concentrate on the Setting of our story.

Normally I love setting, as my favorite genre is fantasy, but I have to admit I struggled with this a little bit.

With all the angels gone, I was initially thinking it would be fun to just have a slightly different world from our own. Angels are generally around to help us out, so I wanted a slightly higher mortality and accident rate. I wanted to show a world that still functioned, but it was palpably different from our own.

Then Bael showed up.

I’ve heard other writers talk about this many times. Characters do something unexpected.

Now Bael didn’t really do anything majorly different. He just showed up, and that changed the entire nature of the narrative. It made me ask questions.

If a demon had come through, why is he here? Did he have something to do with the angels leaving? The answer it turns out (at least in my head), was yes. He banished them from the earth.

In my mind, that changed the whole story. Instead of Peter fighting crime in a marginally different world than our own, things have changed drastically.

If Bael banished the angels, it stands to reason that they can be un-banished. Secondly, if the only thing keeping our world from being like it used to be was the angels being gone, then it might go back to the way it was if we can bring them back. That gives some hope for the world.

Lastly, and more importantly, it means that Bael is our antagonist. He’s actively doing bad things in the world, and that means Peter and now Celeste, have to go defeat him.

So that makes him the boss of the world so to speak. I imagine a world where demons have been running the show for a while. I’m not going to go down the path of wide-spread carnage. No body-filled streets, teeming with demons at every turn.

No, I imagine a ruthless dictator-based society where the government has essentially been taken over by demons. Each city is ran by one, but they still need humans for something, and that something is blood sacrifice to keep their spell open.

Yes. Bael is sacrificing humans, spilling their blood, to keep either a portal or a spell open to keep the angels from coming back. Wherever they are currently trapped, he has them there.

Okay, so that’s more about character, but it does dictate our world. I imagine this world being like a Gotham. Lots of lawlessness. People are genuinely terrified of leaving their homes, but they have to if they still want money and food. So people are still having children. People still have jobs. People still need to work. Transportation still goes.

The drudgery of normal life is there, but we are under new management!

Not exactly a ray of sunshine, but it’s something.

So let’s talk more about the setting:

I’m going to set this story in a place called New Harlem.

Near-future alternate history. Not quite post apocalyptic. Just imagine all the politicians deciding one day that they are going to seize power and start making their jobs permanent. They get to dictate all new laws and we have to follow them no matter what or we the humans are punished.

It’s hardly forced labor camps, but it’s brutal living here. Gritty and dirty It’s every person for themselves.

I think that’s about enough for setting. Hopefully I painted a clear picture of what the world is like being run by demons.

Now that we’ve looked at characters and setting, next week we will look at the plot of the story, or at least what I have of it. We still have a ways left in our journey so buckle in.

Creating Interesting Characters: Part 2 By Tara Rane

interesting character

I love book and movie characters with surprising twists (see my latest blog post about this at www.tararane.com). In my opinion, the best kind of characters are complex and anything but stereotypical.

A common trap that writers often fall into is having one dimensional heroes and cardboard cutout villains. For example, the heroine is sweet/sassy nurse or teacher, while the hero is a stoic alpha male working in some branch of the military/law enforcement. The villain spends all his time harming innocents, and plotting the end of the hero. These characters (and the books they appear in) are often generic and forgettable.

My previous post provided some suggestions for developing interesting and believable character personalities. The next challenge is getting away from the default characteristics associated with the roles of our characters. In a recent writing workshop, Mary Buckham (a USA bestselling author of an exciting urban fantasy series and several outstanding books on the craft of writing), offered some tips on how to do this.

Mary proposed creating a list of characteristics often associated with disparate roles. For example, let’s take engineer, rock star, nurse, and escort. Below I’ve listed several attributes that came to mind when thinking about these roles.

Engineer Rock Star Nurse Escort
Nerdy Dramatic Caring Desperate
Analytical Self-Absorbed Hard working Risk taker
Antisocial Rebel Nurturing Materialistic
Intelligent Charismatic Generous Damaged
Focused Social Empathetic Uninhibited

engineer rock starnursesexy woman

The next part in the exercise involved flipping the roles. Also, if there is a stereotypical gender associated with the role, you can switch that too. What you end up with is a template for interesting and memorable characters. Who wouldn’t love to read about a nerdy, highly intelligent male escort or a desperate, risk taking female engineer?

Escort Nurse Rock Star Engineer
Nerdy Dramatic Caring Desperate
Analytical Self-Absorbed Hard working Risk taker
Antisocial Rebel Nurturing Materialistic
Intelligent Charismatic Generous Damaged
Focused Social Empathetic Uninhibited

Another exercise I enjoy doing (especially for my villains) is taking the stereotypical attributes associated with two (often) opposing roles, and mixing them. For example, let’s take the characteristics associated with clowns and psychopaths.

Clown Psychopath
Flamboyant Violent
Jokester Bold
Zany Cruel
Self-depreciating Lack of Empathy
Entertainer Amoral

If you created a character possessing both types of attributes you’ll have brought to life the nightmares of millions of children throughout the world. We don’t expect the evil villain to come cartwheeling into the room. Nor do we expect the bad guy (or girl) to wear a friendly face. There’s a reason why Joker in the Batman comics and the clown from Stephen King’s It stick out in our minds as the creepiest villains of all time.joker

You can create al kinds of  interesting character mashups. Stay at home mom and serial killer. Veterinarian and mad scientist. Sunday school teacher and cyborg. Play around. Mix and match. The combinations are endless and the results are unique characters that stick with readers long after they finish your book.

Building the Story: Pt. 01

Now that we’ve gotten some brainstorming done, it’s time to start working on the actual story. For the last couple weeks I’ve been working on additional brainstorming and I think I’ve come up with some pretty interesting ideas.

For the next three weeks I want to nail down the three main things: Character, Setting, and Plot.

This week, I want to spend some time looking at all our characters; Main, Antagonist, and Secondary.

First let’s look at Mains. For this story that would be Peter and Celeste:

Peter: 20 years old

Motivations: Peter is motivated by a sense of honor. He feels that because he was able to see Angels before they left that he’s somehow special and should carry on with their work as best he can. He has studied scriptures and feels he’s a Nephilim, the only one in the world.

Additional Notes: Peter was 15 when the Angels all left. He was standing on a subway platform when they all evanesced into mist. Since then he’s been hearing the angels screaming in his mind and they are there in his vision just out of sight, but always there, haunting him.

Peter at his core is a good kid. He wants to help people. He has since taken on a persona of a Black Angel. Kind of like Batman from the comics he read as a kid (no longer produced). He’s a vigilante who deals out street justice to try to bring down crime in his city.

Celeste: 9 years old

Motivations: Celeste feels she’s special because of the Angels. Calls them her protectors. She’s always seem them her entire life, never knew anything different. She’s young, so she just mostly wants to help out the group that she lives with. This will all change when she meets Peter for the first time.

Additional Notes: Was only four when the Angels left the earth. Since then she’s always seen them, just out of her vision, but they are calm. They make no noise. She has no memories of her life before the angels left.

Celeste lives with Lady Katherine. She goes out with the other bigger kids to help steal and forage for food for their small gang. Celeste is a natural, having grown up on the depraved streets of New Harlem, plus her natural tendencies as a Nephilim giving her extra powers makes her an excellent thief.

 

Secondly, our Antagonist, Bael.

Bael: Unknown Age

Motivations: He wants to rule Earth.

Additional Notes: One of the demons of the underworld who has been looking for a way to stay in in the mortal realm in his own body. Up till now hasn’t been able to do it but he figure out a way to banish all the angels while allowing himself to come into this world and stay.

He’s currently working on getting more of his demon army to come to the mortal realm, but there is a restriction they have to deal with with mortal bodies that makes it go slow, though through births possibly they could have an exponential growth over time? It’s why it will be key to stop it before it goes too long.

 

Finally, our secondary characters:

Father Gary: Early 60’s

Motivations: He’s CRAZY! Poor man has lost his mind since the fall and spouts scriptures.

Additional Notes: 50’s ish. Ex bishop of a Catholic Parrish. Wanders around New Harlem with his ratty-ass-bible quoting scriptures. He’s totally crazy as far as everyone around him is concerned.

Lady Katharine: Late 40’s

Motivations: Katharine just wants to help people. She feels like she missed the rapture when all the angels left and is abandoned here on the earth. She wants to feel right with God but thinks her sins have doomed her to a life here on this hell-earth. She tries to help as many people as she can to atone for her sins.

Additional Notes: Lady Katharine used to be a nun before the Evancesance. She now takes care of kids/runs a small gang to help these kids have some kind of normal life.

There we have it! Next week we will dive into the Setting! Let me know anything you like!

Ideaifying Pt 6: Side-word on process

I wanted to have an aside on what it is I’m doing here, and a little thought about how long writing can take.

Normally this entire brainstorming process takes place all in one day. I generally sit down for about an hour (for a short story), and just dump down words on the page until I have nothing more to say. Novels are far, far longer. For this blog, however, I’ve been breaking them up each week, and giving myself some time to ruminate on the things I did the week prior.

This doesn’t mean that I take all of my stories from a single word to a full outline in one day. Far from it. Ideas need to percolate to allow the cream of the crop to rise to the surface. I’m actually enjoying having this semi-force gap in between brainstorming sessions, it’s giving me a different perspective each time I sit down.

I’ve heard it said before that an overnight success takes ten years to obtain.

What does that even mean? Here is my thought; it means that the author has poured over their work for ten years, ideas mulling in their head, jotting down things on the train or the middle of the night. Spending sleepless nights re-reading over old notes to put them all into one place, then writing the product.

And that’s just draft 1. They edit and edit, agonizing over every chapter, paragraph, phrase, and word. They fix commas, delete entire chapters, re-write the ending four times and the beginning ten times. Then, they delete the first four chapters and re-do them from scratch.

They cut entire characters. They take one character with too much going on and split them into two.

This is all a lot of work, and many published authors, from what I’ve seen, talk about their process much like this.

Only then do they sell their book to a publisher and “suddenly” come up with a half-million dollar publishing deal.

The rest of the community may have just heard this new author’s name for the first time when they got their deal, but for them it’s been a long journey. And this is just one of the many stories. Some authors have written 7-13 books by the time they sell their first one. Others sell that first book that took 10 years to write. For every possibly scenario, there’s a different author with a different story of how to make it.

So buckle in, fair reader. Tis a bumpy ride where we go.

Ideaifying Pt 5: Concatenating

This week I promised to take the last few weeks of posts and re-iterate what we have come up with. So here we go!

We started with the word Evanesce.

I then ruminated on what that word meant to me, and came up with a few phrases and other definitions that resonated with me:

Fade Away

Angels

Screaming Masses

Which led to this singular phrase:

Mass of Angels, screaming as they fade into nothing.

This really felt right to me, and has been the phrase I come back to when I think about this world.

We then started with a character, given the angels motif we named him Peter. Then we started brainstorming.

Here are all the things I liked about the brainstorming:

Peter can see angels. The angels help people. They save lives. Unseen heroes.

When he was 15, these angels disappeared. Without their protective detail, crime has increased, death rates by accidents have skyrocketed, disease spreads much more virulently. Social order has taken a hit.

Peter is now twenty years old. He sees himself as the Black Angel. He is trying to fill the void left behind with the angels no longer around to protect humanity.

Peter also still sees angels, but they are just out of his peripheral vision. And they scream. They scream all the time.

One day Peter meets Celeste. Celeste is a little younger than Peter. While he’s around her, the screaming stops. Celeste can also see angels, but they are calm. They don’t scream. When she’s around him, the angels scream.

Both our heroes have “powers”. In addition to being able to see the angels just outside their vision, they have slight precognition to keep them out of trouble, faster reflexes than an average human, and don’t tire as easily.

Turns out Peter and Celeste are Nephilim, as mentioned in Genesis 6:4. They are two halves of a whole. Peter is the demi-spawn of a demon and human, while Celeste is Angel-Human.

Demons, after being cast from heaven have always lacked corporeal bodies, being relegated to spirits. Other than possession, they have never managed to truly own a body here on Earth.

There is one such demon here now known as Bael, who is related to why the angels suddenly went missing.

Peter and Celeste need to go on a mission to kill/banish him, and hopefully bring the angels back to earth to help restore balance.

So there we are! All the details that our brainstorming has come up with, all in one place. Now I have a lot more brainstorming to do, but I’ll do that off-screen from now on, unless my readers really want to see my brain-dumps.

What we need to do here though, now that we have our main characters, and the main “goal” of the story, is to start fleshing out, well, everything. Some people are outliners, some are free-writers (aka pantsers), I’m somewhere in the middle. I come up with ideas by free-writing. I then take a break and put it into a basic outline, which I call a proto-outline. It’s basically a brainstorming exercise in the form of a story start-to-finish. But before we get that far, there are a lot of details that need to be figured out:

These are: the magic, the world, Bael himself, Peter and Celeste and how they fit into this plot, and specifically how their opposite nature makes them the two best suited, or solely suited to resolving this problem.

That’s it for now. Do you have any specific questions you want addressed while we finish up brainstorming? Anything you want to see added to the story, anything you don’t like?

Till next week!

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