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A Quick Update

28 Jun

I will be rewriting Another Pretty Nothing as part of Camp NaNoWriMo this year.  I think I can squeeze at least 20k words out of the plot that I’ve already come up with if I stretch it out and actually add some conversations and I know exactly where it’s supposed to go so I’m hopefully in good shape.  Wish me luck!


Don’t Judge Me!

23 Jun

So I know I’ve been in the middle of total radio silence the last year or two.  The good news is I’m not dead!  I’ve been doing things that aren’t writing.  Like, you know, starting a new job, moving, getting the immigration ball rolling, and watching the entire run of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.  I’ve been swamped!  But I want to be writing again.  My brain is itching.  I actually participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this spring, but I’m having trouble coming up with an outline for the book I want to be writing.  So I figured my first step should probably be blogging more often (and I don’t mean on Tumblr, although I am constantly on Tumblr so look me up at HooligansofScience if you are too!).

Honestly, the stories I’m feeling compelled to write lately aren’t in the Promise Me Paradise continuity, which is the continuity that I’m wanting to hit.  There are two stories I’m feeling inspired by:  One is Another Pretty Nothing, which is the short story I was pantsing for fun on here.  I really want to restart it to add more depth and conflict to the characters and their situation, because I think the whole “marriage of convenience” angle has a lot going for it.  Something I didn’t tell anyone when I started it is that I actually based it on real people.  Sort of.  One of my dearest friends lo these seven years is an ex boyfriend of mine.  We were really only involved for a few months when I was 20 and he was 22 (I thought he was SO grown up, you guys, it’s ridiculous) but that was long enough to decide that we were unequivocally wrong for each other in nearly every aspect that didn’t involve the ability to discuss Star Wars characters.  We’re amazing as friends and there’s always been a slight sexual chemistry, but neither one of us wants to risk me going to jail for manslaughter.  So it’s the story of what would have happened in an alternate universe where I was forced to marry him or live with whatever harpy my brother decided to marry (he has AWFUL taste in women) and the idea of two people who were poorly suited but ended up stuck together for all the wrong reasons who now have to figure out a way to make things work (and maybe even fall in love!) appeals to me.

The other one I’m wanting to work on isn’t quite as well developed an idea (well, it’s more developed but my scope is so wide that it’s less feasible at the moment) but it’s the story of a woman who is living as a man in pre-Revolution France.  She’s actually a French revolutionary.  The hero is minor nobility who dislikes the boy (the heroine) who’s been nosing around his sister.  She develops a crush on him and he eventually figures out her secret and they become involved, but the Revolution drives them apart.  She becomes disillusioned with Revolution itself once she sees that the Peasants are worse off and then the sister gets pregnant, so the heroine pretends to be the father so they can sneak off to the country for the wedding at her/his parents’ home.  Instead they sneak out of the country and flee to America after the hero and heroine reconcile.  It’s a lot darker than my other stories and a lot more in depth and I have absolutely no idea if I’m even skilled enough to do it yet.

So long story short, keep an eye out for maybe a few more sections of Another Pretty Nothing in the near future!

Is Fiction Too Realistic?

22 Jan

(Okay, first off in NaNoWriMo news, I am still “technically” editing by which I mean I’m probably going to call it quits on fixing the formatting and missing words for now and start sending it out to betas this week.  I’m in school again and trying to actually get GOOD grades so I can go to law school instead of my previous plan of getting mediocre grades so I could be finished and also trying to prep a novel to write during Camp NaNo so my time has officially vacated the building and editing is on a back burner until at least May.  If you’d volunteered to be a beta reader, keep an eye out this week because I’ll be sending it away.  Now that THAT is out of the way…)

I’m taking a literature class this semester.  I haven’t taken anything remotely related to literature or writing since 2006, and that primarily dealt with poetry and short stories.  This class is specifically interested in survivor’s tales.  Stories about people overcoming great obstacles and surviving in horrible situations.  Now, when I signed up for this class I was pretty upset.  I tried to get into literally any other literature class but African American Literature, Women’s Literature, and British Literature were all full.  It was this or bust.  I was afraid it was going to be “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” style stories about people who were drinking their own pee and cutting off their own limbs and crap and I didn’t want to deal with it, but I bucked up and decided to go through with it anyway because I need a literature class to graduate and I couldn’t really get any of the other classes I needed this semester.

Well, it turns out it’s NOT all high seas adventures and hiking down Everest on one leg.  The first book we’re reading is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.  Now, this is not a review site and even if it were, I haven’t finished reading this book yet.  However, there are parts of this book that are absolutely unbelievable.  I mean, I’m sure they really happened.  I assume if she were making things up, one of her siblings or her parents would have mentioned it by now.  And anyway, my family has a long and happy history of dysfunction that makes stories like this incredibly believable.  So there’s that.

But I have a friend who I was talking to as I read the first hundred pages of text and I’m just going to post this little exchange in its entirety because it makes up my thesis for this post.  Just beware there is a minor spoiler for The Glass Castle in this conversation:

[14:29] Me: Oh my.
[14:29] Tim: Yeah?
[14:29] Me: This book is just horrific.
[14:29] Me: I’m reading The Glass Castle still.
[14:29] Tim: Oh?
[14:30] Me: The parents just had their fourth child and she’s a few months old and the other ones are about 8-5
[14:30] Me: And they almost got caught driving with no insurance, registration, brake lights, and a license plate stolen from another car.
[14:31] Me: So they ditched the car and rented a U-Haul but the front is only big enough for two so they but the four children in the back of the U-Haul for 14 hours “plus some scenic detours.”
[14:31] Me: With the 6 year old narrator holding the baby.
[14:31] Me: If this were a novel I would call bullshit.
[14:31] Tim: Heh.
[14:32] Tim: I think that’s the general thesis for why memoirs have become so popular over the last decade or so: non-fantasy fiction has become “realistic” to the point of tedium.

I bolded that myself for emphasis because I think it raises a good point.  I have a tendency to role my eyes at characters who have a lot of things “wrong” in their backstory.  This is a trait I probably picked up over my years of reading fan fiction — a lot of amateur writers will just toss everything and the kitchen sink at their original characters/”Mary Sues” to make them interesting or less perfect or whatever.  It gets to the point where you can gauge pretty quickly whether you want to continue reading an OC fic:  if the character is an orphan who was abused and molested by their caregiver, left homeless from a young age, prone to abusive relationships in the past, has a child with an unknown parent, forced into prostitution, etc. before the story even begins?  Just quietly hit the “back” button and pretend like you never saw this because shit’s about to get stupid.  When I started getting into Sim stories (people who make up stories about their characters using The Sims 2 or The Sims 3) and contests (people who have competitions to see who can make the prettiest Sim and tell the best story about them in words and images) I would mentally role my eyes at the people who seemed to delight in throwing one bad thing after another at their poor character — before the story even started!

I’ve always tried to make a point of only including 1-2 “bad” things in a character’s background for my stories.  In the background, mind you.  I think that’s the big difference.  Anything that you want to have happen during the story is fair game, but if you want to deal with the after effects of a molestation, then you (a) want the character to come to grips with it during the course of the story or (b) want to show it happening.  Tossing it in as one of many background horrors that were visited on your poor heroine during the planning stage means it’s probably only going to get minimal screen time in the story.

But I think it also comes down to Reality is Unrealistic.  I’m going to illustrate this with a story from my own past that I don’t think would work in a fictional work (although if anyone would like to try be my guest.  I’d just like an acknowledgement).

In high school, I was a bit of a slut.  Same in college.  I kept stumbling into committed monogamous relationships when I was looking for casual sex.  The guy I lost my virginity to assumed it meant I wanted to get married and live happily ever after, but I had only intended for it to be a semester long fling to get my hymen out of the way of future happiness.  I ended up dating him for 4 years because I couldn’t find a compelling reason to break up with him beyond “gee I’d really like to be having some casual sex right now.”  I had a great relationship with my dad, I was confident, I was fairly pretty.  But I didn’t particularly enjoy sex at that time (I do now, lemme tell you) but I felt compelled to have a lot of it with random men.  I didn’t, but I wanted to.  I had been molested, but honestly I never really considered the molestation to have been the worst thing that ever happened to me and I didn’t blame myself for it particularly.  So why did I do it?

Well, a lot of soul searching and research and thinking hard on my behavior DID lead me to an answer.  An answer so stupid that if I were to come across it in a novel I would throw said novel across the room and take to the web to rage about it:

When I was 8 or 9, I said something sarcastic to my mother.  She’s never been particularly well equipped to handle sarcasm although she grew up in a sarcastic household and my father was sarcastic (also passive aggressive).  She, at that point, basically told me nobody was going to like me if I kept being so sarcastic.  That took me off-guard because I wanted people to like me.  I really did.  I wanted to get married and have friends, but I also didn’t want to give up this central piece of myself to achieve that so I decided I’d just deal with it if I ended up alone because of my sarcastic personality.  So then I get to high school and I’m pretty but I’m not conventionally pretty, I’m very tall, I’m chubbier than most of the girls, I’m smarter than a lot of the boys (which I considered at that time to be a weakness in the world of dating, and it probably was in high school but that’s a whole other post someday), and I think I have a terrible personality.  Why would anyone ever want to be around me?  Well, I put out.  And I did.

I know, that’s the worst reason ever, isn’t it?  But it’s a true reason.  To my high school (and college) brain, sex was what you did so the boy you liked would deal with your obvious flaws as a human being.  I mean, it worked but still.  Who would write that?  It’s a terrible story.  It was a throw-away comment she made because I hurt her feelings but my brain turned it into this huge thing and I think that’s where I should probably start allowing my characters to have more angst-ridden pasts than I have been.  I’m fascinated with the idea of a perfectly normal person thrust into unusual circumstances, but I think everyone has a story like mine of some minor slight that grew inside of them until it was an insurmountable hurdle.

What do you think? Do you prefer a simpler back story or do you like one with the “kitchen sink angst” effect?  How far can a novel go and still be considered “realistic” to you?  Am I just a judgmental bitch?  Because I’m okay with that.

Resolutions in the New Year

1 Jan

Happy New Year! I meant to write this post last night but one of my friends was feeling kind of down and long story short, just because you don’t FEEL the half bottle of rum right away doesn’t mean it isn’t working. Anyway, I’ve officially stopped throwing up and whining on Twitter and it’s time to blog!

I’m a fan of resolutions. I’m a fan of change in general, actually. What can I say? I’m a water sign. I make New Years resolutions, I make birthday resolutions, I even make “just because” resolutions. Resolutions rock. Let’s all change for the better! The thing is, resolutions only work when you’re ready for change and most people aren’t. Change is big and scary and unexpected. Change is uncomfortable. Change is also something that is going to happen whether you’re ready for it or not, so it’s better to be ready for it so you can have some control over the outcome. See? It’s kind of logical!

Anyway, if you are ready to make a change in your life, now could be your time! I try to look at my New Years Resolutions as less of a holy mandate for how I’m going to like, completely turn my life around, man! and more as a list of things I want to accomplish for myself this year. That way it’s less intimidating, it’s just things I want to get done not big scary things.

  1. Finish editing Promise Me Paradise and begin the second draft
  2. Complete the first draft of The Madness in the Moonlight
  3. Read 25 NEW books (however many rereads I can squeeze into my daily activities as well)
  4. Finish my BA and sit for the LSATS
  5. Get a job
  6. File immigration paperwork so my fiance can move to the country
  7. Try to take at least two long walks a week, more if I can find the time

I’d like for the walking to be slightly higher on the list, but everything else on there is non-negotiable whereas the walking is something I can add in if/when I have free time. Note that I’m very specific in my goals. “Read more” and “get some writing done” aren’t very helpful at all because it’s so easy to trick yourself into thinking you’ve done more than you have. Also I think I should add in the resolution that I won’t drink myself stupid and hungover again unless it’s a really special occasion. Ugh.

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

So the thing nobody tells you about writing until you start doing it is that in the beginning it’s less hanging out in Starbucks wearing a corduroy blazer with leather elbow pads and more sitting in your kitchen on Christmas Eve eating Handi Snacks and trying to figure out whether your heroine actually likes the hero in the beginning of the book and, if not, why she decides to try to be friends with him anyway.

Also whether or not the hero has full blown shell shock. I should probably know that by now, but I’m slowly changing my mind. Maybe he just doesn’t like people anymore. Anyway, in case you’re bad at context clues, I’ve started working on the next book in the series. I’m not done editing the first one yet, but I’m not in an incredible hurry. Nobody will be able to beta read in the middle of the holidays anyway and my brain is finally functioning.

Anyway since I love people who read my blog so much I’m going to give you a sneak peak of the main characters! Call it your Christmas present. These two make a guest appearance in the beginning of Promise Me Paradise, so the beta readers will get to meet them soon.

Sarah Gertrude “Sally” Newson — Sally is the youngest of three girls and her two sisters were 8 and 9 when she was born and her parents lead a busy social life. As a result, she spent most of her time reading. She went to boarding school with her cousin, Josie Hudson, and they spent summers together at Josie’s parents house in Florida so the two are closer to sisters than cousins. Sally did well in school, and participated in the drama program where she tended to be cast in male roles as a result of being slightly taller than most of the other girls. She’s flippant, self-absorbed, constantly needs to be the center of attention (a result of her childhood being spent largely in benign neglect by her parents), and is utterly charming about it. She’s a shrewd woman, but has an overactive imagination who loves going to the cinema. On first blush, she comes off as entirely silly which causes Sinjin to underestimate her abilities. She loves Valentino pictures and is at first surprised when Egypt does not resemble the film “The Sheik” at all. She doesn’t understand the nuances of the British peerage system particularly well, which leads to a small misunderstanding about Sinjin’s place in society and makes her believe he’s a criminal. I very much adore her.

Sir St. John “Sinjin” Cuthbert Godolphin Fforbes-Prentice — Sinjin is the eldest son of a baronet, possibly ends up knighted at some point for his service during The Great War. A career military man, he had some minor shell shock towards the end of the war and the shame of it caused him a lot of embarrassment and as a result he all but retired from public life and wound up resigning his commission not long after hostilities ceased. His parents are both quite proper, and he and his younger brother were both raised “right.” As a result of those two things, he can come off as aloof, cold, and snobbish. He feels crushed under his responsibilities. He came to Egypt hoping a change of scenery would snap him out of his funk. Initially, he thinks Sally is all fluff and no substance, but he’s rapidly impressed with her knowledge of the classics as well as the fact that she’s unaware of his mental problems and treats him like she would anyone else. He attempts to befriend her, unaware that she suspects him of banditry. When he discovers her suspicions, he lets her drag him into an adventure!

So, you know, Merry Christmas y’all! Hope you get everything you ever wanted!

So this is what it feels like to succeed

22 Dec

Guess what! The first draft is done.

No, seriously! I finished it yesterday afternoon. I know, right? I didn’t think I’d ever finish either. I was starting to seriously doubt myself.

Anyway, I sent it off to a friend of mine to read and I’m going to spend the next few days fixing the formatting and doing the most basic of bare bones editing. I’d be done today except I went to Arkansas with my mother to try to write without distractions (it worked, apparently) and we’re driving back to Texas tonight. I’ll be working on it and sending it out to beta readers sometime after Christmas.

Thanks for being so supportive everybody. This has been a ridiculously positive experience for me.

Give Thanks!

24 Nov

Well, here in the US it’s Thanksgiving today, and this year I’m thankful for the fact that at some point since high school my cheekbones have developed enough that when I accidentally cut my bangs too short I can pull them back with a headband and don’t look like a very effeminate boy.  It’s the little things.

Oh yeah, I’m also thankful that I cracked 50,000 words for Promise Me Paradise early yesterday morning and as a result, have officially “won” NaNoWriMo.  Or I will have as soon as winning rolls out tomorrow morning, even with taking the holiday off.

Yes, that’s right, I won NaNoWriMo.  That doesn’t mean the book is done by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m still about 15k from the end, plus a few scenes that I skipped over that need to be replaced when I’m done.  Then I just have to do some editing, send it out for beta (and a big special thanks to everyone who has and will volunteer to beta!) and then rewrite.  Then I want to finish at least the first draft of The Madness & The Moonlight before I submit this for publishing.  I have been working on the characters and plot for that one for  awhile, and now that Promise Me Paradise is almost done I’ve been focusing on it a little more.  If I’m lucky and far more disciplined than I have ever been in the past, I might be done with it within a year.  Then I have a third book in the series and a fourth, unrelated, book that’s been banging around in my head for a few weeks and I’ve been taking notes on it as they come to me.

So the blog?  Shall not die!  I have never had this much self-control in my life and I am loathe to give it up yet.  I usually get a little OCD if I can’t update a blog daily and forget about it until all the entries are me apologizing for not updating, and I usually burn out on fiction before I ever finish.  If I finish this book, it will mark the first time in my life I’ve ever finished anything.  I love that.

This year, I’m thankful for being one year closer to the person I want to be.