Tag Archives: the process

Music and Writing

I have been listening to the same handful of songs for about a week. I know there is something in my brain that this particular list speaks to. It’s right there, just beyond my fingertips but it’s coming. The more I listen to the songs, the closer it comes. I don’t know yet exactly what it is but it feels pretty desolate and angry which feels about right for right now. I really don’t think it’s a short story. I think this is a new book brewing and I don’t think it’s related to any of the ones I’ve written before. I see big, sweeping battles amidst a barren landscape full of fire and smoke and I’m pretty sure that’s not Earth’s surface they’re fighting on.

This playlist consists of mostly Black Veil Brides with a little Godsmack, Metallica, and Sisters of Mercy thrown in for good measure. I’m looking for more in that vein right now. I’m open to suggestions if you have them, especially a female lead with a sound/feel somewhere between Otep (a little too aggressive for this project) and Myrkur (a little too ethereal for this project).


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National Novel Writing Month, for those who don’t know. I at least attempt it every year and have since 2008? I think. I don’t remember anymore how many years I’ve done it but it seems like a long time. My youngest was still pretty darn little but not tiny. I don’t “win” every year but I do more often than not and, even when I don’t, at least I was writing daily consistently.

It seems like every year, about this time (starting mid-September through October), my creativity, motivation, and drive crash while my doubts and all the angsty crap that goes with them flourish. Knowing it’s all related and all part of them same thing that happens every year doesn’t change it or stop it from sucking me in.

And every year about this time, I talk myself into Nanowrimo. 50,000 words in the span of 30 days. It is remarkably doable. And, having that goal in a place that sort of holds you accountable make it easier for me. I love deadlines. I work so much better – the writing is cleaner and crisper when I have a deadline. Nearly every year, I finish a rough draft of a novel, meeting the goal word count a few days before Thanksgiving.

My novel, Guardian of the Gods, started out as a Nano novel. It’s been through a lot of drafts and edits between then and now of course but that’s all part of the process. I have three other novels looking for homes and two of those were also Nano projects (though one has so little left of the original that I’m not sure it counts anymore and one took me well into December to finish). I don’t keep all my nano projects – there are a couple that I’ve scrapped entirely for the time being.

I am, of course, doing it again this year. I don’t plot, outline, or plan much going into Nanowrimo. I’ve got some backstory figured out and a list of characters and that’s pretty much it. I start November 1st with a blank document and see where it takes me. Sometimes the journey is a good one, others not so much, but it is always a good jump start for me after the general blah that sets in every year. Hopefully, this year’s project will be fun and I can manage to write my poor characters into some horrible corner just to see how they weasel out of it – I don’t always keep those interludes in the final product but there is no faster or cleaner way to figure out who the characters really are than to throw them into something nasty and see what happens. I almost feel bad for them.

I’ve got a stronger sense this year of what I want to do – at least tonally. This year is something post-apocalyptic (*sort of). When I wrote Guardian of the Gods, all I had to start with was one sentence: Jaffine monster hunter. Jaffine being Thosha’s (the main character) race. It turned out pretty good in the end and I hope this new one will too. For the time being, I’m calling it Demonborn (unless a better title occurs to me later). I know my main character a little bit and that’s enough for me. I can’t wait to get started but I have a lot of things to do between now and november so I have the time to commit (plus then I won’t want to just get writing already).

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Round and Round We Go

The crazy merry-go-round that is the process of seeking publication continues at strange speeds. For some publications, it is lightning fast, for others it is forming amber slow. And it’s all a bit disconcerting.

I have three novels and maybe a dozen short stories somewhere in the submission process, looking for their forever homes. I’m confident in these stories (especially the novels – so far, what rejections have come in have been personal – from publications that don’t generally do that – and complimentary) but the process is still daunting.

Every publication, publisher, and agent wants everything just differently enough to make preparing the submission or query package time-consuming. From searching through markets, looking for the appropriate ones, reformatting what needs reformatted, crafting the appropriate cover and/or query letters, and waiting for what always feels like forever for responses. It’s no wonder to me why so many are now choosing to self-publish – there’s no waiting period or chance of rejection. If only they would hire editors first.

Today I’m bouncing back and forth between market hunting and drooling over pictures and videos coming out of the San Diego Comic Con. I haven’t gotten much done on the market hunting though as I’ve been busy looking at neat stuff. As far as procrastination devices go, it’s certainly been fun! Bonus: the kids are both pretty interested in most of it too!


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Stories and Soundtracks

Some writers work best in silence. I will never be one of those writers. For me, music and writing go hand in hand. The music I listen to will influence the story I’m working on. I love Pandora because I can tailor a station to suit what I’m aiming for with any particular story.

When I’m writing fantasy, I want sweeping scores, Lindsey Stirling, and rock and roll played by orchestras. Horror will always be accompanied by classical with a little opera and the occasional bit of heavy metal. Science fiction comes from metal, punk, and various electronica. For some reason, any work with an urban fantasy flair comes with classic rock and hairbands. Right now, I’m working on something with a decidedly (I hope) cyberpunk aesthetic. For this, the Juno Reactor station has been just about perfect.

Some stories, even years later, I can remember exactly what song was playing while writing certain parts. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.  What do you write to?

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Current WIPs

I have two novels I’m working on right now. One of them is a complete rough draft and making its way through my critique group. The other is new and I’m working through it a little differently than I usually do.

Usually, I write a zero draft and revise it in its entirety before sending it to my crit group. This one, I’m working chapter by chapter instead of the whole project at once. I’m working now on revising the second chapter so it’s ready to go to my trusty critters.

I very much dislike letting anyone read my zero drafts. They are missing so many elements at that stage. A lot of the detail work, the style and voice come after I make sure the plot is going to work. If the plot doesn’t work, it won’t matter how pretty the writing is and my goal is always looking a few steps ahead of myself at possible publication.

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Not a bad problem to have

My biggest problem with my writing is this: everything wants to be a novel. I have all these great ideas and I so badly want some of them to be short stories. I want for some of these things to be able to be written, rewritten and sent off without having to go through 90,000 some words.

Writer’s block isn’t something I have to deal with very often. When I get stuck, I just change projects. That’s not to say that sometimes I can’t write but it isn’t for lack of ideas but lack of motivation or confidence.

I have this short story that I would love to keep short. Unfortunately, there’s too much story for even 10,000 words without it feeling rushed and full of info-dumps. Humbug. I have too many projects right now so it’s going to get shoved in the Sarah’s Stuck file for the next stumbling block I hit on my current projects.

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