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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Without a Care in the World

Meet Ro. She's a badass.
That security camera never stood a chance.
My good friend Boobulon knocked out this sketch when he needed something to draw the other night. I love it. I haven't really written a character like Ro before, and I'm loving that too.

Ro (aka Agent Rohalia Bernard) doesn't care what you think of her. She doesn't even care if you like her. The filter between her brain and her mouth is almost non-existent, unless you ask her something she doesn't feel like answering. (Or, as another good friend put it, "She speaks her mind, but doesn't bare her soul.") Some could argue that she's selfish and insensitive. She still wouldn't care.

As with everything else, I need to strike the correct balance with this character. She's the female MC in this book, and while she may not care about how she comes across to other people, I don't want her to be completely unlikeable. (Or maybe I want readers to like her for being unlikeable? Here I go running in circles again.) She has to have some redeeming qualities (and I assure you, she does). It just becomes a question of how to peel away the layers in a convincing way.

Either way, she's fun and fearless, and quite possibly my favorite character to write so far. I can only write good things about her, you see. Or else she'll kick me in the face and possibly stab me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

For this installment of Six Sentence Sunday, we revisit my first book, Searching the Skies. Sometimes I look at it and think, "Wow, I could have done so much better," or "Wow, I've come a long way," but I'll always be rather fond of it. This is from one of my favorite chapters/scenes to write, even though editing it drove me up the wall:

"I could turn on the light," he helpfully suggested.

"No! Then someone will know we’re in here!"

He chuckled as she shoved the remains of her panties into her pocket. "For someone who’s seen so much excitement in her life with the military, I thought you would have been used to living dangerously by now."

"There’s a fine line between ‘living dangerously’ and getting caught by your superior officers with your pants down!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Finite Pool of Possibility

Last night, when I was futzing around the internet instead of writing, I was reading a brief article on a website I frequent about a remake of "RoboCop". I'd never seen the original, knew nothing about it (other than, presumably, it involved a cop who was a robot), but the website is humorous and the article was short, so I read on. As I read the one-paragraph summary of the movie, I started feeling queasy. "Shit," I thought. "This sounds an awful lot like the book I'm writing."

Panicked at the thought that I would be accused of ripping off a rather popular franchise, I rushed over to wikipedia to read about the original movie. Long story short: while there are some similarities, enough was significantly different from my book to allow me to breathe a sigh of relief. But that got me thinking - how many "original" ideas really exist?

Back in my high school music theory classes, a friend and I were being all philosophical one day, and we pondered whether there would ever come a point in time where every tonal melody or logical chord progression has been written. (The comedy group Axis of Awesome may have proved we're closer to this than we think.) The same can be applied to literature - have we run out of ideas? Are writers just taking the same basic plot outlines, character archetypes, and other tropes, and just twisting them around?

There's a large group of people out there who believe Suzanne Collins's mega-popular "The Hunger Games" trilogy is a ripoff of an older Japanese novel (later film and manga) "Battle Royale". She claimed that she had never read/seen it prior to writing THG. Some people believe her, some claim there are too many coincidences and she must be lying. Me, I never strongly cared one way or the other, but I fell on the side of believing what she said was the truth.

It never seemed too strange to me to consider that two people in two different places (even at two different times) could come up with similar ideas. There have been plenty of such occurrences over the course of history. But let's come back to my near heart attack from last night: As I said, I have never seen the movie "RoboCop", or anything that spun off from it. I was vaguely aware of its existence, but I knew practically nothing about it. Until I read the wiki article, I'd assumed for some reason that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in it (I was wrong).

Will I be accused of stealing ideas from this movie I've never seen? Possibly. I know the truth. Regardless of whatever similarities there may be, I also feel that there's a big difference between a novel and a 90-minute movie. I'm not saying one is necessarily a better form of entertainment than the other, just that they're different experiences. I like to think that I can develop my characters and themes enough that my story will truly become mine. (And let's not forget about the erotica component.)

However, I'll also make sure that when I write up the blurbs for promotion, I'll highlight the points that make my book different and unique. (That is, if anything's really unique these days!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

I finally crawled out from that rock I live under and officially signed up for Six Sentence Sunday. For my first participating post, here are six sentences from my current WIP (sci-fi/erotica):

“Don’t sell yourself short. I admit to being curious as to the various ways your…condition makes you different. But I liked what I saw in our initial training sessions. It’s been a while since anyone’s actually impressed me.” The trademark smirk made its appearance again. “And don’t forget, we’ve already been on top of each other.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Hate That

I know it's blasphemy to some, but I edit as I go along. In The Edge of the Sphere, I edited at the end of every "part" (there were four main parts, a brief interlude, plus a short "Part Five" with a shorter epilogue). The current project isn't broken down that way, so I've decided to edit every 10,000 words or so.

I was going to write another blog post about my editing experience. However, it has become clear to me that while I think I'm learning things as I keep plugging away at writing, I'm probably just fooling myself. I decided rather than rambling on about the same nonsense for another couple hundred words, I'll just provide an illustration to speak for me in regards to what I've been doing today and yesterday:
Fear my mad MS Paint skillz.

I know "that" is unnecessary, like, 95% of the time. I've been trying to avoid it. I KNOW IT IS WRONG. And yet, "that" keeps sneaking in there. Between "that" and the adverbs I've also been slicing mercilessly, I'm surprised my word count is still above 10K.

From now on, whenever someone says "I hate that" in reference to just about anything in the world, I will agree. And I will not be lying. I really do hate THAT.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Artistic Vision

We've all been there: writer's block. Back when I was working on The Edge of the Sphere, I needed some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. I do have a deviantArt account for my crocheted dolls, so I went over there, plugged in some vague search phrases related to the setting of the scenes I wanted to write, and flipped through a few pages of results. I bookmarked several pieces of artwork that I really liked. One of them was this painting.

I looked through the rest of the artist's gallery, and fell in love with her style. Some of my friends had commissioned artwork via dA before and encouraged me to contact her to see if she ever did them. While we were exchanging notes, I saw that the original painting that I'd admired so much was for sale. She quoted me an extremely reasonable price, and I couldn't turn it down.
I didn't even screw up my DIY framing job that much! My photography leaves a lot to be desired, though.

I told her I'd be in touch regarding a commission sometime over the summer. As always, stuff happens. EOtS came out ahead of schedule, I moved into the new house, and so on. A few weeks ago, I finally got my act together and worked out the details and sent in my request. I included a brief snippet from the book, plus a summary of the details.

The results were amazing:
Liora, one of the main characters of EOtS

It was a bit of a self-indulgent purchase, but I don't care. I love it. And I can't wait to hang it on my wall. I do a lot of my writing in the bedroom, so I'm tempted to hang it in there for inspiration, but I also want it to be visible to our guests because it's gorgeous!

Go check out the incredibly talented Oviot. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Like Tanks

On the spectrum of female stereotypes, I'm probably more on the "tomboy" side than the "girly" side. I'm at my most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, and I still get together with my (male) friends for marathon video game sessions. (However, in the interests of full disclosure, I do own a ridiculous amount of shoes.) That said, many of the stereotypical "male" interests do nothing for me. I don't care about cars or guns. When the aforementioned gaming sessions revolve exclusively around first-person shooters, I'll sometimes whine. (Hacking stuff to bits with a sword, though? Sign me up.)

There is one of those areas that gets me almost excited as my guy friends: tanks. Tanks are cool. Tanks are fun. I'll quit my bitching about games I don't really care for if I get to drive a tank. Also, in the history of movies and television, I am always entertained by tanks running over stuff. It's just funny. I tried to go old-school and find the clip of Major Frank Burns losing control of a tank on M*A*S*H, but my search skills were failing me. You'll have to settle for Tim Taylor impaling a sign and demolishing some golf carts:

See? Never not hilarious.

Now, what does this have to do with writing? My current work-in-progress is a sci-fi/erotic romance. Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself lacking when it comes to the "sci" half of "sci-fi". Luckily, I have a friend, the invaluable Boobulon, who is willing to 1) teach me all the SCIENCE, and 2) is doing some artwork for me in an art exchange we worked out.

I was working on "It was Chapter Three, but now it's Chapter One" that I referenced in my last post, and got to the point where my main character gets severely injured. He was already riding in a fairly basic tank (with a few snazzy futuristic upgrades), but he needed to go up against something bigger and stronger. I asked Boobulon for help. I believe my words were something like, "I want it to be more than a standard tank, but I don't want to get into hokey Transformers territory or anything like that."

He read my mind and managed to verbalize exactly what I was going for. After a lesson on how different vehicles could move over different types of terrain, and what sort of weaponry the enemy tank could have in order to maximize damage to the MC without killing him, he knocked out a super-quick sketch for me:
Unless he's the operator of the tank, that guy down there is probably gonna get fucked.
That is one badass tank. I love it. I want to find more opportunities to use it in everything I write. If I ever get the urge to write a contemporary romance or a murder mystery, that tank is making an appearance.

I like tanks. Tanks are awesome. Happy Labor Day!