24 December 2013

50 States of Pray

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! The last horrible day of work! Ok, that's not actually true. I still have to get through New Year's...

Today is the day for the 50 States of Pray event, thought up by the awesome Mark Koopmans. Click the link if you'd like to see the other participants, or join in, too! There's still the whole day! I'm posting from Massachusetts. I'm not entirely certain I've ever told you guys where I live. Anyway...

Christmas Eve, 2013

Here's the thing. I'm not very good with prayer. I've had a lot of things happen in my life that have left me a little faithless. So I haven't really been able to figure out what to write for this post ever since I signed up. So I went back to Mark's original post and read it again:
Why not set aside a moment to reflect on the year that was and share some hopes for the next year?
So I guess I'll start from there. 2013 was sort of a mixed bag of emotions. As far as writing goes, it was great. I finally finished my first draft, got to 100 blog posts, and made some great friends through blogging and networking. Life-wise, however, it wasn't so great. I still feel like I'm waiting for my mom's death to hit me like a ton of bricks, but maybe it isn't going to. Maybe I'll just have those random moments of sadness that will hit me from time to time. Then I worry if I'm incredibly resilient or just incredibly numb. Still figuring it out, I guess.

But anyway, I don't like my blogging being a therapy session, so I'll move on to the second part of the question: hopes for the new year. Like always, all I can really think about is my writing. I want to get my second draft done super fast, then start getting queries out. I want to keep up with my blogging, hopefully reaching more and more people and making more blogger buddies. I'd love to be at a point where I can actually decide what I want to do with my life. Getting more writing done will probably help me figure that out.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope everyone has a great Christmas!

23 December 2013

A Somewhat Jaded Christmas

Has it been a week already? I suppose I should get back to blogging...I know I never actually said I was taking time off. It just kind of happened. I don't have to be so rigid anymore, but I'd still at least like to try to stick to my schedule.

Ok, if I'm going to be honest, I'm feeling a bit jaded. Maybe I do just need a break from blogging. Maybe I need to work on editing for a while, let my second draft be my main focus. Maybe I feel a bit like my 100th post was a complete failure. Maybe I really need a vacation. Or to just sleep for 24 hours straight.

Maybe there's just a tiny rock stuck under my backspace key that is driving me insane!!!

Did I tell you guys I rewrote the first chapter? I don't remember and I'm too lazy to go look at older blog posts. But yeah! So that's good. I completely changed the first paragraph. My original first line now opens the second paragraph instead. It was one of those things where you think you're going to struggle with the decision but then just immediately realize that it needs to change and you'll get over it.

Honestly, though, the first chapter was the easiest to edit. Nothing about the overall structure really changed. Now I'm staring at the second chapter and wondering if I should break it down into two or three separate new chapters. Or should I just write scene by scene and worry about labeling the chapters later?

Part of me doesn't even want to think about trying to write until January. Partially because resolutions and fresh starts and whatnot, but also because that's when work slows down for a bit and maybe I can relax a little.

And yeah, I kinda don't care about Christmas this year. I mean, I'm really excited about the gifts I got for other people. I had fun with it. I ran a Secret Santa at work, which we've never done before. But anytime someone asked me what I wanted, I had no idea. Because I really don't want anything. At least nothing that other people can give me. There are only things I can do for myself. Things that take time. Things that have already taken too much time.

Blah. Ok. I feel most of my blog posts come off as more depressing than I mean them to. But anyway, I'll be back tomorrow for Mark Koopmans' 50 States of Pray event. Although I still don't know what I'm going to write...but you should check it out!

15 December 2013

The 100th Blog Post/ Jordan's 18th Birthday Extravaganza!

I've always liked the word extravaganza...

Hello, everyone reading this! Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my (drum roll please) 100TH BLOG POST!!! If you've been following me for the past few weeks, you know I've been planning this for a while. And you'll know that this is going to be a long post. So if you make it through to the very end, I salute you!

It's also my muse, Jordan's 18th birthday. He's not all that enthusiastic about it. But he says he accepts praise as well as actual presents. So feel free to leave a comment telling him how wonderful he is. I'm not rolling my eyes right now or anything.

I figured I should keep the introduction short. I now present to you my list of 100 fun facts about my novel. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about my book--how it all started, character details, my writing process. I've put all of the facts into categories just so they wouldn't be all over the place, and there's a "Spoilers!" section in case you want to avoid them altogether. Not that my book is anywhere near being published, but you know.


Humble Beginnings

1. I started writing this as a short story on February 15, 2011. Approximately 9:30 PM. I was riding the train home from my fiction writing class, where I would eventually workshop the short story (with much regret). 
2. I wrote the first lines on my iPhone. It erased them somehow by accident (after I typed them onto my computer, of course), along with a poem I was working on.
3. The short story was 19 pages, single spaced, and took me just a week to write.
4. The idea sparked from watching an investigative special on E! about student-teacher relationships. I decided I wanted to write about one.
5. When I started it, I referred to it as my “perverted love story.”
6. The original title was “Saying Yes.” This referred to an understanding between my characters, that literally Jordan saying “yes” would mean they would have sex. I erased this from the novel version so the title doesn’t work anymore.
7. The first people to read the story were three coworkers at the bookstore I worked at. I gave it to a fourth but he never read it. In his defense, he gave me a story that I never read, too. There were just so many typos to get past…
8. I kinda had a nervous breakdown when one of my classmates critiqued my story as “offensive” and “clumsily written.” I even went to my professor to talk about it, but to get some perspective rather than to tattle. This person didn’t write much else so clearly didn’t put much thought into it, and I suspect she did the same with everyone’s stories. I think I was mostly mad that I actually put in some effort when critiquing hers when she clearly didn’t deserve it.
9. My temporary title for the book (that lasted oh, about a week or so) was The Formula.
10. It took me a couple months to finally make the decision to develop the story into a novel.
11. This was the third short story that I’ve developed into a novel. I have some sort of genetic defect where I’m incapable of writing a short story without wanting it to be longer. 

Straight Girl, Gay Fiction

12. I did not plan on the story being gay fiction. As I was developing ideas, the characters decided to both be male. And I don’t fight with my characters.
13. I still struggle with my identity as a gay fiction writer. ‘Cause, you know, straight girl. I guess I’m still in my fiction closet (I also can’t decide if this phrase is offensive or hilarious. Definitely one or the other).
14. I actually think my quest toward become a writer of gay fiction started when I was sixteen. I had some ideas but just didn’t know what to do with them. There was also some manga that a friend let me read…*cough*
15. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do get turned on by the thought of two men together. There, I said it. But there’s also something adorable about m/m relationships that I don’t get from reading/writing m/f ones.
16. I do have more ideas for gay fiction stories (and not just the stupid vampire one). But I don’t want to solely identify with this genre because I have other ideas as well. 

All About Jordan

17. When I finished the short story and read it back, I realized that my narrator was completely lacking a conscience. This was completely unintentional but it worked. So I say that Jordan is a bit of a sociopath.
18. I didn’t figure out what Jordan looked like until a few weeks after I finished the story.
19. Jordan is a bit full of himself, but it’s not completely unfounded. He is good looking, and girls hit on him all the time. Which he just finds hilarious because he’s gay.
20. Jordan is very skinny, not short but not ridiculously tall, with brown eyes and short brown hair (that’s just a bit long in the front).
21. I originally ended the story with Jordan dating a girl, but people seemed to think that meant he was “going back to girls” which was not my intention at all.
22. If you want to get super technical, Jordan is bisexual. He describes himself as “mostly” gay. I sort of see him dating a couple girls in high school, but by the time he gets to college, he’ll exclusively go out with guys. It’s kind of reflective of the fact that it always takes him a long time to make up his mind.
23. Jordan is a very good singer but he doesn’t realize it until almost the end of the book.
24. I purposely don’t mention Jordan’s first name in the book until Tom says it when they meet.
25. Jordan’s last name is Palmer. In my town, there is a Jordan Dr. next to a Palmer St. I discovered this after I named him.
26. Jordan’s catchphrase is “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
27. It was tricky crafting Jordan’s voice, but now it’s like second nature to me. 

Age Differences

28. Jordan is fifteen and Tom is twenty-eight.
29. I really, really hate math. I don’t know what I was thinking having Jordan need a math tutor. I remember absolutely nothing about geometry.
30. One of the hardest scenes to write is a tutoring session where my characters are going over geometric proofs, but flirting at the same time. It still needs serious revision.
31. Jordan is not the only teenage boy that Tom has been attracted to, but he is the only one to make him act upon the attraction.
32. The hardest aspect of the story for me is Tom’s attraction to teenage boys. I didn’t want him to seem ridiculously perverted, and thought about cutting it entirely and just having him be attracted to Jordan exclusively. But I felt their structured relationship wouldn’t work without it. I’ve developed some background info about Tom’s past and his family that helps explain it more, and he comes off as more paranoid than perverted.
33. I’ve done a lot of research on ephebophilia. A lot of this was reading a message board on a psychology site where a lot of people confess to being pedophiles but refuse to act upon their urges.
34. The way my characters’ relationship works is that Jordan will get something (usually food) in exchange for letting Tom be physical with him in some way. It starts out very tame and structured. For example, their first time together, Tom makes Jordan dinner and then they kiss only once. As the story progresses, they change the rules but the basic give-and-take structure is still in the back of their minds.
35. Writing this story has given me far too much knowledge about age of consent laws. It’s seventeen in NY, which is necessary for me to know for the story. But I know other states. It’s sixteen where I live. I’ve brought it up in conversation before.
36. I worry about the fact that I find my characters to be adorable together. Does that make me some kind of pervert? 

Subplots & Sidekicks
37. Jordan’s two friends in the book are Brian and Eric. He mentions “other guys” but they’re never named nor do they speak.
38. The subplot is reflective of some issues I had with friends at the end of high school. Since I had to change the actions to fit teenage boys instead of girls, it bears little resemblance to what actually happened to me.
39. The character I’m most like is Eric.
40. I make references to Eric being like the character Moritz from Spring Awakening, my favorite musical (I’m eternally obsessed with it, and anyone involved with it*). He’s terrified of sex and at one point Jordan tells him to call him if he feels like sticking a gun in his mouth.
41. Eric is the one who helps Jordan realize that his passion is for music.
42. Brian beats Jordan up about halfway through the book. He certainly gets revenge, though.
43. Eric ends up having to choose between Jordan and Brian. I would mention this in the “Spoilers!” section, but it’s probably obvious, anyway. 


44. The book takes place in New York City. I worry that the setting doesn’t come across very strong because I don’t actually live there.
45. Jordan’s favorite thing to do is just walk around Central Park.
46. The only “on location” research I’ve done is going to The Met. Twice.
47. I wanted The Met scene for the short story but didn’t have time to develop it and fit it in. So I wrote it for the novel version.
48. There are two reasons for The Met scene. One is that when you pay to get in, it’s a “suggested donation,” meaning you can technically decide how much you want to give. I thought this related to my characters’ relationship very well.
49. The second reason is that I could have my characters looking at art from Ancient Greece. ‘Cause, you know, pederasty was a big thing back then. And I’m all about symbolism. 

Food, Glorious Food

50. Tom’s job is being a math tutor, but his real passion is for cooking.
51. Some of my favorite scenes to write involve food descriptions.
52. When my characters meet, Tom gives Jordan a key lime pie. It’s kind of a lame joke (Pi! Geometry! Get it?). Jordan ends up eating the whole thing in one sitting.
53. I’ve never made fresh pasta but I could give you step-by-step instructions on how to. Tom makes homemade ravioli for their first “date.”
54. Since my characters make chocolate chip cookies in one scene, I made a batch and took notes while I was making them and when I ate one.
55. I learned why you usually use salt in baking from writing this book. It helps to balance out the flavors and without it, whatever you’re making would be too sweet.
56. Jordan has a big sweet tooth. This also reflects the sort of people he’s drawn to, meaning those people are sort of sweet and innocent.
57. There’s a lot of eating in this story, but Jordan has crazy teenage boy metabolism so he remains the skinny little twig that he was when the book began.
58. In the third chapter, there is a lemon-vanilla cupcake with raspberry filling and raspberry buttercream. Well, of course I’ve made them! 

Words, Theme, & Symbolism

59. I make (extremely) vague references to cannibalism throughout the book that most people probably wouldn’t even pick up on. Except for the fact that I keep telling you about it…
60. My book has colors. Yes, colors, like a school or a sports team. Gray and blue. If I have book signings, I will only wear these colors. They’re my favorite colors to wear anyway. My favorite color is gray and it’s all Jordan’s fault.
61. I think I associate gray with Jordan because it’s a blending of black and white, a sort of moral ambiguity. I also usual picture him wearing gray.
62. I’ve got a thing for sexually ambiguous names. There’s Jordan, obviously. The girl he almost sleeps with is named Madison. And in my unofficial sequel, Jordan’s boyfriend is named Cameron.
63. The time frame of the book is from January to July.
64. There are 196 f-bombs in the first draft. The highest in one chapter is 33 in Chapter Twelve. Every chapter before that has 10 or less. I have no explanation for this.
65. I kinda sorta stole a line of dialogue from an episode of Scrubs.
66. I only use the word “love” once in the entire novel. And yes, it is in the phrase “make love.” You’d be surprised how hard it is to not use a word.
67. I also only use the word “pedophile” once. It seemed too obvious and technically, Tom is an ephebophile. But since I didn’t even know that word before I started this story, I didn’t think Jordan would know what it was, either.
68. As of right now, there are twenty chapters. I plan on making the chapters much shorter in the second draft, so there will be more.
69. Actually, there technically are only nineteen chapters. Because I had to edit the first few chapters (for a novel-in-progress contest), things shifted before I went back to where I left off. I didn’t change the numbers for the later chapters, so technically there is no Chapter 7.
70. I have some backwards symbolism in my book. Meaning, I have a few objects that I know could be symbolic, I just don’t know what I want them to be symbolic for yet.
71. The basic theme of my book is that a person can never completely fight off who they are, even if they try to suppress bits of themselves.
72. I call my theme “The Inevitability of Self.” I could totally write an entire AP English style paper on this.
73. The first draft has 70,900 words. 

74. I was convinced I would never find a song that would fit my book. I now have a full playlist, as well as playlists for certain characters.
75. The first song I added to the playlist was “The No Seatbelt Song” by Brand New. I’ve always loved this song to death but it was ruined by the fact that I associated it with my first boyfriend. I like to think that Jordan saved the song for me. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time now.
76. Jordan has over 10,000 songs on his iPod.
77. My two favorite CDs to listen to for writing this book were Brand New’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me and Duncan Sheik’s Covers ‘80s. I imagine that Brand New is Jordan’s favorite band and Duncan Sheik is my favorite singer (*see #40!), plus the tone of both CDs seem to fit the book in my mind.
78. I can picture an opening title sequence for a movie version set to “Stripped” by Duncan Sheik.
79. The song I imagine during the sex scene is “Handcuffs” by Brand New.
80. By the end of the book, Jordan and Eric have started a band and are writing songs. I know I have to write at least some lyrics. This terrifies me. I have no musical talent whatsoever. 

Movie Deal

81. I fully intend to write a screenplay version of my book.
82. If my book is ever turned into a movie, I will give the actors gift baskets filled with Chapstick, breath mints, and antacid. Lots of kissing and eating.
83. I don’t have a dream actor for Jordan. This is partially because I haven’t seen an actor who seemed to fit. It’s also because I haven’t tried very hard, not wanting to become attached to someone who would get too old to play the part (should all my movie dreams come true).
84. I have no idea what the sort of legal issues would be in filming a movie like this, but I don’t think I would want the actor playing Jordan to be older than 17 (18 if absolutely necessary). But I also think an actual 15-year-old would be too young.
85. My absolutely perfect, don’t even try to change my mind, dream actor for Tom is Jonathan Groff (*You weren’t paying attention, were you? See #40!!!). After I finished the short story, I realized Tom looked like him and then I was doomed from that moment on. I probably did it subconsciously because even in the depths of my brain I’m still a spaz.
86. I fell in love with the idea of Anne Hathaway playing Jordan’s mom after seeing one of the first trailers for The Dark Knight Rises. I thought she would be able to pull of the combination of cynicism and sarcasm that is necessary for the character.
87. For about eight months during this year, both of my dream actors were actually the ages of my characters (28 and 30). Coincidence? I think not! 


88. Jordan kind of gets the idea for his and Tom’s relationship from his mother, who has a similar “get things in exchange for sex” kind of relationship with her boss, who is also about twice her age. She never actually mentions any of it, but Jordan is pretty sure of what is going on.
89. Jordan’s mom was 15 when he was born. I don’t reveal this until about halfway through the novel.
90. There isn’t a single reference to Jordan’s father. He has no idea and doesn’t actually care, so it seemed unimportant to mention. Plus I like not answering an obvious question. 
91. I came up with a plot twist (and one of my favorite parts of the book) while having a half-drunk,half-asleep dream about my characters.
92. The twist involves the fact that Jordan and Tom both almost cheat on each other on the same night. But it’s hard to call it cheating since they’re not actually in a relationship.
93. Jordan has to come out to four different people over the course of the novel. One time isn’t actually necessary, since the person already knows. Three of the times it’s completely calculated and to him, serves some greater purpose.
94. Jordan and Tom have a ridiculously intense fight about ¾ into the novel. It upset me writing it and actually gives me chills when I go back and read it.
95. When one of my coworkers gave me back the short story, she said, “I don’t think this was a story about a pedophile and a bi-curious teenager. This is a story about a pedophile and a sadist.” I don’t necessarily think Jordan is a sadist but it was a big sigh of relief for me because she got it. I don’t think anyone in my fiction class understood this.
96. There is a hand job scene in the book and it’s actually more explicit than the sex scene.
97. Jordan and Tom have a rather scandalous conversation via text message while Jordan is at lunch at school. The texts themselves are good, but trying to balance them out with what else is happening in the scene is very difficult.
98. I wanted the sex scene to be a bit vague. Initially I thought this was because Jordan didn’t care about it by the time it happens (this fits the short story), but now it’s more like he’s sad and doesn’t want to admit it, and also is embarrassed to share all the messy details.
99. The last line of dialogue is, “Well, thanks.” It’s what Jordan says to Tom before he leaves.

And finally...

100. I finished the novel on October 11, 2013 at 11:50 PM.

There you have it! I can't believe it's actually over. I'm thinking I'll take a quick break from blogging, at least for tomorrow. I don't have to stick to my rigid schedule anymore but I do want to stay active. I'll probably be back on Wednesday. I hope you enjoyed all of the nonsense that was my 100th post. Now I just have to come up with an idea for 200...

13 December 2013

Post 99: The Dialogue Awards

That's right, this is the 99th post! That means the 100th is only two days away! I'm really excited. I hope everyone enjoyed the blurb I posted on Wednesday, and thanks to those who left comments. Now there's just one more thing to do before the big day...

It's The Dialogue Awards!

I originally wanted to share some dialogue with my 100 facts, but I realized there were far too many lines that I liked. It was hard to pick just a few. So I decided to devote a whole post to some of my favorite lines of dialogue. Some of the categories are typical, some are ridiculous. I wanted to give every character a chance to be featured, as well as include some of my favorite moments. I tried to pick ones that could still shine out of context.

Do we need a drum roll? Or dramatic music? No? Ok.

Most Adorable:
            Tom: "You’re cute. Can I keep you?"

Most Shocking:
Jordan: “I’m amazed I wasn’t an abortion.”

Best Back and Forth Banter:
Jordan: “Couldn’t spring for a coffee?”
Tom: “Are you allowed to drink coffee?”
Jordan: “Am I allowed to make out with a twenty-eight-year-old?”
Tom: “Touché.”

Best Lie That’s Actually Kind of True:
Jordan: “Mom, there’s no easy was to say this. I started prostituting.” 

Best Inappropriate Comeback:
Tom: “What good could possibly come from it?”
Jordan: “I dunno, orgasms?”

Best Dialogue That Has Lasted Since the Short Story Version:
            Tom: “You’re fifteen.”
            Jordan: “It’s just a number.”
            Tom: “Yes, a big flashing red number. With sirens.”

Best Just Before the First Kiss Line:
            Tom: “Oh, for crying out loud, haven’t you ever kissed anyone before? Just hold still and close your eyes.”

Best Tom is Crazy When He's Cooking Line:
Tom: “You can’t rush risotto!”

Mom’s Best Line:
            Mom: “You know, I really do miss when you were a baby. You didn’t talk.”

Best “What the Hell is My Stupid Mom Doing Here?” Discussion:
Tom: “I feel terrible.”
Jordan: “Why?”
Tom: “Because every instinct is telling me to punch your mother in the face and snatch you away forever.”
Jordan: “I think if you just ask she would let you. Actually, she might sell me to you.”

Best “We’re Not Entirely Certain Who the Adult is in this Relationship” Line:
            Tom: “Are you kidding me? You’ve never had a cookie fresh out of the oven? Were you born forty years old?”

Best “It is what it is” Line:
Jordan: “No, having a sugar daddy has worked out great for my mom. And I don’t even have to fuck you.”
Tom: “Please don’t call me that.”

Best Words of Wisdom from Eric:
Eric: “Oh. You mean…? Oh! Is it that guy? From your date? Is he your boyfriend?”
Jordan: “Shh! No, he’s not…I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. You really want to know this stuff?”
Eric: “I dunno, that sort of thing might gross out someone like Brian, but it’s cool with me. I’d tell you if I had a date with a girl, right? We’re friends.”

Best Brian Still Doesn’t Know That Jordan is Gay Line:
            Brian: “Christ, Palmer, are you going out with a vampire? I hope she sucked your dick that hard.”

Best Dialogue That Shows Theme (Possibly Also the Saddest):
            Jordan: “But it’s who you are. You can’t fight who you are. I can’t, either. That’s why I can’t stay. You always knew that. You knew you couldn’t keep me.”

There you have it! I did too much, didn't I? I'll understand if you skipped a few. Or if you think I'm just nuts. If not (or if you're totally ok with that sort of thing), be sure to come back on Sunday for the 100th post! I should probably get back to work on that...

11 December 2013

Post 98: My Book Blurb

Ok, bear with me, people. I'm actually typing this post on my phone, which I've never done before. I had to be at work at 7, but now have nothing to do until 11. Don't ask. But I didn't feel like putting this off until tonight, so here we are. If I can get through it without a typo, it'll be a miracle.

I came to realize that "synopsis" was not the right word for what I wanted to share with you guys. I wasn't planning on writing pages and pages of summary, or on giving away any spoilers. What I really wanted to share was a blurb. I know I said I wanted to carefully craft this, but really I've just scribbled it out over the past hour or so. I'm a procrastinator, ok? So obviously it's not back-of-the-book ready or anything (it's too long, for one thing), but I think it's decent enough so that I can share it with you.

And this is mostly for everyone who's ever asked "what's your book about??" Like my boss this morning. And I avoided the question as usual. So without further ado, here is my not-so perfect blurb for Uneven Lines:

If there's one thing Jordan hates, it's being bored. Right now, two things are boring him to death--girls and geometry. Since he's not quite ready to ask out a guy, he has to find other ways to amuse himself. His plans to fail math class just for fun backfire when his mostly absent mother hires a math tutor. It's not all bad, though--Tom is really cute, and most importantly, not boring. Turns out he has a few secrets of his own, and eventually the two can't deny the fact that they're both attracted to each other. Since Tom is nearly twice Jordan's age, he's certain that they can't do anything about it. But Jordan is always up for a challenge. He develops a plan to keep their relationship in check--because it isn't really a relationship at all. It becomes more of an arrangement, where Tom gives Jordan whatever he wants in exchange for any physical acts, all the while keeping the boundaries in place so that certain lines will never be crossed. It's fun at first, but they find those boundaries need to be stretched until they break. Everything comes into question, and they no longer know what their relationship is or what they want from each other. Finding the answer may be impossible.

Woo, so there it is! It's like bearing my soul. Be sure to come back on Friday for The Dialogue Awards, which should be really fun. Then, of course, the 100th post on Sunday! I should probably work on those facts...

09 December 2013

Post 97: Something Unexpected...

All right, here we go!

With less than a week until my 100th post, I'm doing a lot of special posts this week. Today is #97. And it sort of came out of nowhere.

If you've been following me for a while, you know I've struggled to come up with a title for my book. Sex scenes? Half-drunk plot twists? Easy. But a title? Not so much. I'm sure I've said it a million times, but it seemed so hard to sum up my entire book in just a short little phrase.

Well, this is the list of folders on my flash drive at the moment:

Normally all of my book related things are filed under the first one: "A Folder Because Jojo Said So!" I made this a long time ago when all of my various files devoted to this story were taking up too much room and the muse demanded organization (Yes, sometimes I call him Jojo). "BL" is for Bleeding Life, an old book that I've shelved for now. Blood Lust was my NaNo book. The rest are pretty self-explanatory.

But what is that at the bottom?! I've never mentioned this before! Well, um, that's my new folder for the second draft. And yes, it has a title.

Ok, I'm not going for fireworks or any sort of big celebration here. It's kind of like being in a new relationship. It feels right, but you don't want to rush it. I've got to sit with this title for a while before I'm sure it's the right fit.

How did I come up with this title? It kind of just hit me out of nowhere. Well, half of it anyway. The other half has been pestering me for a while. The word "uneven" came to mind like a slap in the face. I was in the shower, actually. I do most of my thinking either there or right before I fall asleep. I liked the word, it felt at least somewhat right. The whole point of my characters' relationship is "being even," although it's easier said than done. I think the word "uneven" fits on this level, as well as a few symbolic ones.

The thought of having a one word title was strange. I told my boyfriend the idea and he wasn't all that impressed (not that he's much help on the title front, really he tries, but he's terrible at it). But what really killed it is the fact that whenever I come up with a title, I like to look it up and see if it's already a title to something else. I know there's no copyright on titles, and it would be hard to come up with something that's never been used for anything before. But I still like to check just to make sure I'm not naming my book the same as something that's already famous. When I checked Amazon, well, it wasn't a famous book, but it was the name of a gay BDSM novel. So yeah, kinda ruined it for me. If it had been a m/f book, then maybe I could have gotten past it. But I was already back to the drawing board in my mind.

After a while, the phrase "uneven lines" came to mind. I've always kinda wanted to put the word "lines" in the title. It fits with the geometry aspect, as well as the idea of crossing lines, morally, legally--whatever. Having "crossing lines" as a title seemed way too obvious. But these two words that I came up with completely separate--well, they seemed to fit together. And that's how I got Uneven Lines. I've been playing it over and over in my head. Occasionally I'll have the "I hate it!" moment, but for the most part, it's growing on me. I know, I know, I've said that before. But I think this time might be different.

What do you think? Like the new title? How do you come up with titles for your books? Be sure to come back on Wednesday for the next post in my week-long drum roll to the 100th!

06 December 2013

Things I Should Be Doing

Since I couldn't quite decide what to write about today, I thought I'd provide a sort of counterpart to my Things I'm Doing Today post. Because that was a busy day, and today is not. So here are the things I should be doing.

Turning off the TV
If I can turn it off before the Law & Order: SVU marathon starts, then maybe I can save myself. Oh wait, was Glee new last night? It was, wasn’t it? Uggggh…must…resist…On Demand screen!!!!

Grocery shopping
            Seriously, I have no food.

Working on my 100 facts
Still at 55. I’m sure I can come up with more ideas. Right? I just don’t want them to be nonsense! Like this post!

I know I write better when I’m also reading something. But then reading takes away time that could be spent writing! I can’t win! I’ve got a pile of books waiting for me. I still have J.H. Trumble’s latest book, but I kind of don’t want to start reading it because I don’t want to be done reading her books. I love them so much! And I know the universe wants me to read David Sedaris but I’ve only gotten two stories into Naked and that was like, two months ago. Somebody tell my books to stop staring at me.

Planning this stupid trip
Still no hotel room. No bus tickets. No dinner reservation. I still want a picnic, though. Yes, in February. It could happen.
Writing my synopsis
Do I really think I’m going to be able to do this last minute? No, this needs to be crafted. Every sentence needs to be perfectly executed, giving just enough detail to tell people about the story and still leave them curious.

Doing more to promote my blog
            It’s not like this is something new or anything.

Actually venturing out into the world to do my Christmas shopping
But…but…that would require interacting with people. And finding a parking spot. And dodging psychos with shopping carts. It’s just so easy to point and click and wait for a package! I’m introverted, what do you want from me?!

And finally...

Things I’m Actually Doing That Aren’t Useless:

I did start my second draft last night. Totally revamping the first chapter. I wanted to start in a scene rather than having a whole page of exposition before anything happens. I really like how it’s coming out so far. And I’m handwriting it! How crazy is that?!

I'm also planning out my blog posts for next week. Sort of a buildup to the 100th post. I think I’ll post the synopsis sometime during the week, so that on Sunday I can just focus on the 100 facts and not have the post be too long. I’m also thinking of sharing some snippets of dialogue in a post called “The Dialogue Awards.” Hopefully they’ll make sense out of context. But I’ve got fun categories, like “Most Romantic,” “Best Inappropriate Comeback,” and “Best Brian Still Doesn’t Know that Jordan is Gay Line.” Should be fun!

Well, hopefully this post was good for a laugh. Come back next week when all the festivities begin! Still don’t know what to get Jordan for his birthday, though. It’s kinda hard to keep a secret from someone who lives in your brain…


04 December 2013

The Impending 100th Post of Doom...Sort Of...

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog to learn more!

First Wed of Every Month

I think I'll start by telling you what I'm NOT insecure about:

I'm not insecure about failing NaNoWriMo miserably. At a certain point, it just didn't feel right to be working on it any more. I'd rushed in, hadn't developed the characters enough. The voice was slowly starting to shape itself but it still wasn't good enough. I felt like I was forcing myself to write it, and the words weren't as good as they could be.

I'm not insecure that November was my very first perfect blogging month. I posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with no exceptions. Sure, some posts weren't as thought out as others, but I still managed to pull it off.

I'm not insecure about diving headfirst into editing and crafting a second draft. Yet.

Ok, what's really weighing down my mind is this 100th post I have coming up on December 15. Yes, I know that's a Sunday. It's also my muse, Jordan's birthday (if you've never been here before and haven't seen me talk about it fifteen billion times). So the timing seemed kind of perfect for me to have my 100th post be on that day rather than on one of my usual blogging days.

What I'm concerned about is making this post live up to its potential. Making it be everything I want it to be and everything I've promised it would be. Getting enough people to see it. Having the people who do see it not think it's stupid. I know it's going to be a long post, so I'm worrying that some people won't get through the whole thing. And then sometimes I just feel like I'm going crazy.

I'm insecure about what to write. I've decided to share 100 fun facts about my book, whether it's about characters, my writing process, or what music I listen to in order to write. Pretty much anything. But where I'm fine telling you my characters names and how many f-bombs are in the first draft (Yes I counted. You'll have to check out the post to see!), I'm really weird about sharing other details.

It's not just because I don't want to completely spoil my book before I even finish writing it. I'm not giving a lot of plot details away. More like things you wouldn't find by reading the book. But there's a lot of things I'm sharing about myself. Finding 100 facts to write is difficult, so after all the obvious things come to mind, I have to dig deeper. And there's some things I'm uncomfortable sharing.

They're not all ridiculously personal things. Some things I'm just really awkward about sharing. Like the original title for the short story, or my dream casting for my characters. I don't know why I'm so weird about these things. And then there's my issues with identifying as a gay fiction writer, which comes up in a few of the facts I've written. It's like part of me wants to share all these things with the world, and part of me just wants to keep it all to myself.

I'm also just afraid that no one's going to care at all.

Ok, really, it's not all doom and gloom. This just seemed like a good day to vent. I really am looking forward to my 100th post, and coming up with these facts is a lot of fun. I'm also finally going to post the synopsis for my book on that day. So if you're interested in all my nonsense, come back on December 15 and check it out!

02 December 2013

Jordan Takes Over: Sweet, Sweet Freedom! And Some Other Sh**

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

You know what's great about December? Well, that I was born, but I'll get to that in a minute. What's great about December is that November is over!!! Start the fireworks! Cue the orchestra!

Wait, am I the only one who's happy about November being over? And by November, I really mean...NaNoWriMo. Ugh, it gives me chills just saying it. I suppose you're wondering how it went. But really, come on, do you seriously care?

Ugh. Fine. The final word count was 30,434. Not a whole lot done structure-wise, just the first two chapters, but a lot of random scenes that are later in the book. She never likes to write things in order. So, yeah, we failed. But it's kinda hard to work on something when your muse wants nothing to do with it. And for me, it was like being locked in a cage for a month. Well, guess what? Now I'm free! And I couldn't be more thrilled. Believe me, it takes a lot to thrill me.

So now that the horrible vampire shit show is pushed aside, we can get back to what really matters. Me, duh. We've got some serious editing to do. And I want it done fast. So chop chop. I'm thinking second draft by February, just in time for the *sigh* muse-iversary. Such a stupid word. But there is a whole big trip to plan. And besides getting the concert tickets, she hasn't even started. We've got a lot of work to do so I guess I'd better start kicking her or something.

Aaaaaaaand the best part! What I know you're all just dying for--the 100th post! December 15. It's coming up fast. Less than two weeks now. And it's on my birthday, of course. It's weird, turning 18 doesn't seem all that exciting for me. Well, because there's not much I'll be able to do that I'm not able to do at 17. I don't smoke and I certainly don't want a tattoo or anything. I could buy porn, I guess, but there's this great thing called the internet that hasn't exactly stopped me before. Plus, you know, technically I'll only be 2 years and 10 months old. But I don't want to confuse you.

Let me just tell you, the 100th post is going to be an extravaganza. A list of 100 fun facts, the synopsis, and possibly a title reveal. If the one she's thinking of right now actually sticks. I can't make any promises. Plus, it is my birthday, so I'll be expecting presents!

Hugs and kisses! I know, that was weird for me, too. I must be in a good mood.


29 November 2013

The Not So Happy Ending

I have a confession to make: I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I've read several books that have made me completely miserable but then make up for it by everything working out in the end. Sure, the characters go through hell but it ends up being worth it. It makes them stronger, and it makes having to read through the bad stuff worth it.

Well, here's my second confession: my story does not have a happy ending. I don't know how this happened to me. I always write happy endings. Maybe that's partly because the kind of stories I used to write always had a villain--a very distinct antagonist that needed to be defeated in order for the story to end. Well, that isn't the case with my current book. And I haven't read a lot of romance novels, but I'm guessing they usually end happily. Not that my book is 100% romance, but still, it kind of goes against the grain.

I've certainly read books that haven't ended happily before. Usually I want to throw them against the wall. And I have this secret desire to have my characters stay together forever, but I know that can't happen. That's life, really. Things don't always work out perfectly. They're not always wrapped up in a neat little bow. Maybe that's why people like happy endings so much. If things can go so well for these fictional characters, maybe things in life can always end happily, too.

Every story is different. Every character is different. Usually, the writer will know how their story will end before they get to the ending. I always knew this story couldn't have a happy ending. It just wouldn't have made sense. My book would have to span several years rather than just a few months. And in the end, I don't think my readers would be satisfied with the ending. They wouldn't believe it. It's funny, because I think my goal for this book is for the reader to want that happy ending, but to still be satisfied when they don't get it. Hopefully they'll want these characters to stay together, but they'll be able to understand when they can't. My ending is sad, but it's not miserable. It has a silver lining. No one's going to jump off a roof once the pages end. And it's partially about growing up, so a bit of harsh learning is necessary.

Ultimately, you have to choose an ending that works for the story. A happy ending isn't always going to be the right fit. Really, it doesn't matter whether you have a happy ending or a sad one. You just need an ending that makes sense.

27 November 2013

I Have to Blog Something!

Normally on a day like today I would just skip posting a blog, but since I can't miss a single one until my 100th post, I must blog! I know, I know, I rambled on Monday already. It's been a busy week. This will be short and sweet.

I've been up since 5:30 and worked for over 13 hours straight so I'm exhausted. My feet are throbbing. Hopefully I can finish the post before I fall asl-- *snore* Huh?! What's going on?

Oh, right! I was blogging...except I have nothing to blog about. I haven't worked on NaNo in days, but I think I'm probably going to wait until November ends to officially give up and get back into editing. I never thought I'd ever look forward to editing, but I can't wait!

I think that's all I'll bother you with for tonight, since I'm about to pass out and all. I'll write something more meaningful on Friday, I swear.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

25 November 2013

Ramble Ramble Ramble

Hey, I know I've rambled before. But this one's gonna be bad. I would have just skipped it altogether, but if I don't completely stick to my blogging schedule then I'll just ruin my plan for the 100th post. Can't have that. I'm also on a double today. Again. Geez, you guys must think I work doubles all the time. Well, kind of.

I had an awesome weekend. Saw Catching Fire in IMAX and watched The Day of the Doctor, of course. I'm so stupid, I only realized that I actually have BBC America on Friday night. I thought I could just watch on demand the next day. So after I had a complete spaz attack, I was able to watch it when it premiered on Saturday afternoon. Which was awesome!

The next three work days are going to be hell. I have to deal with all of the people buying whole cheesecakes for Thanksgiving (ugh, just make a freakin' pie like everyone else!). So before Wednesday I'll be spending a lot of quality time in the freezer sorting cakes for pre-orders. It's not that much different from being outside (so cold!) at this point so it won't be THAT bad, I suppose.

Speaking of work, for Christmas, I get a sweatshirt with my name on it. This excites me far more than it should. I'm a bit of a dork.

I still have absolutely no idea what to do for my 100th post. I mean, it is on Jordan's birthday, but since I let him write a post every month, that's kind of a lousy present. I COULD save my synopsis (which I'm totally working on, yeah...) for that day. Maybe. It's a thought. If I could come up with a title before then, that would be a pretty good present and a great reason for a special post. We'll see.

I'm also doing absolutely nothing to plan for my Muse-iversary trip in February. I really need to book a hotel room and get bus tickets first. Then I can worry about planning fun stuff. Mostly I'm concerned with where/what I'll be eating. Because food is a big part of my book. I'll probably only want to eat stuff that is mentioned in the book. And obviously I won't know until about a week before so I'll know what the weather is like, but I'm still gonna hope for a picnic. Yes, in February. If you're wondering if I'm crazy, I'm thinking you've never been to this blog before...

Ok, one more thing.

Hey...psst! Guys! Guuuuuuys! Do you know what happens this week? No, not Thanksgiving. Pfft. Frozen comes out on Wednesday!!! I'm so excited! I honestly don't remember when I first heard about this movie, probably when they started casting since I'm a psychopath with anything related to Broadway, but I've been dying for it ever since. I mean, have you seen the cast list??? I'm drooling over it. Unfortunately I don't really know anyone who shares my obsessiveness, so I'm probably seeing it on Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. Since my four-year-old niece is the only person I know who's looking forward to it as much as I am. Can't wait!

What's everyone up to this week? Got any awesome Thanksgiving plans? And for the love of God, don't mention NaNo to me...

22 November 2013

The Final Push

Well, it's almost the end of November, and I find myself realistically thinking about whether or not I'm going to finish my book for NaNoWriMo. And it's not looking good.

I've only written about 23,000 words. Even at my creative best, I can really only write about 1,000 words an hour. I'll admit it's hard for me to write anything when it's not the perfect word in my mind. I do a lot of blank page staring.

But honestly, it's a bigger problem than that. I just have no motivation for this book anymore. And yes, it's partially because I wrote the most intense scenes already and now it's more about filling in the gaps. I really have no desire to write the flashback scenes. The narrator's voice has been shaping itself a bit more, but really only during the most interesting moments. When he starts thinking, when he's worrying about what to do in a situation, it gets boring. I do love the first kiss scene--good lord, was that intense. See, it's better when there's action.

Sometimes when I think about trying to work on this book, I sort of cringe and try to avoid it. I do the dishes or watch TV. At best, I'll write about 300 words in a day. I just have no desire to work on it anymore.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I just want to get back to editing my other book. I really miss working on it. And I've wasted enough time NOT working on it, since, you know, it took me over two years to write the first draft. Plus I really, really miss writing in Jordan's voice. It's more fun. And I've worked on it for so long that I don't even have to think about it when I write as him. It just comes naturally. And it's not boring, unlike this stupid vampire narrator who doesn't know what the hell he wants. It's kind of like temporarily breaking up with your boyfriend for a month to go out with some other guy who turns out to be really boring.

So chances are, I'm not going to make it to 50,000. But tonight is WriteClub and I have to try! I don't have to necessarily finish the book, I just have to make the word count. But honestly, if I don't make it to 40,000 by tonight, I don't see it happening. So we'll see. I'm still going to try to get it done, or it least keep working on it until the end of November. Then I'll set it aside and get back to editing. And it'll always be there if I need a break.

Also, I was planning on running errands today but since it's raining and yucky out, that's really not gonna happen. So, more time for writing!

20 November 2013

Things I'm Doing Today

It's time for another list! Because I don't have time for a real post! Kinda sorta like my fun facts. But instead, here's a list of the various writing and non-writing things I am doing today. Hope it's worth a chuckle.

Today I am:

  • Working a double. Yay. 
  • Looking forward to the next four days off! 
  • Accepting the impending doom that is my NaNo defeat. I've barely gotten past 20,000 words. It's not looking good. But hey, four days off, you never know. 
  • Procrastinating. On several things. Activating my new phone. Finding a hotel room for my trip. Grocery shopping. Not a lot of fruits, veggies, or pretty much anything to make dinner with, but there's lots of yogurt and waffles! 
  • Totally cheating on my diet. I've lost about 8 pounds so far, but I also have absolutely no will power. Plus, you know, no food. Which results in either take out or bringing food home from work. So even the salads will make you fat. 
  • Making a motivational playlist. It seemed like a good idea. I may or may not share it once it's done. Because, you know, spaz. 
  • Geeking out that Catching Fire, the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, and Frozen all premiere within a week of each other. And that week is almost here. So much geekery, so little time. 
  • Feeling a serious need to go shoe shopping. I mean, it's getting cold. I need boots! Nice boots. With heels. In several colors. 
  • Anticipating the end of NaNo and the return to editing. Really, really want to get my book query ready. Don't get me wrong, I like my NaNo book, but focusing completely on that is giving me withdrawals. 
  • Still having absolutely no idea what to do for my 100th post. 
What is everyone else up to today? 

18 November 2013

Title Troubles

I'm amazed that I've actually kept up with the blogging to stay on schedule. November might be my first perfect month ever (posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). If I finish NaNo, this month will have been very productive. I still have no idea what to do for my 100th post. There's still time to figure it out, though.

I know I've talked about it before, and certainly other bloggers have as well, but I've been thinking about how hard it is to come up with a title. I tried some brainstorming this weekend, but it didn't go well. Every so often I'll think I'm on to something, but it never pans out. I'll usually have some smidgen of an idea, then go through the thesaurus (and the geometry textbook I got for $12 on Amazon) trying to find the words that fit that idea. And nothing ever seems right.

Titles are hard. You have to find some way to both summarize what your novel is about and draw in the reader so that they want to pick up your book in the first place. Sometimes it seems impossible. How could I possibly summarize my entire novel in just a few words, maybe even one?

When I first started my book as a short story, it had a title. That title worked. But as I developed the story into a novel, things changed. I pretty much eliminated any reference to that title, as well as any symbolic meaning that it held. It just wouldn't make sense anymore with how the novel stands now. Then there was the fiasco of the forced title, The Formula, which I feel is heading in the right direction but isn't there yet. I honestly think it needs to be more complex, because the novel itself, or the relationship that I'm writing about, is a complex one.

Maybe it's too complex. I try thinking about how I would describe my novel to other people (forgetting the fact that I usually just avoid the question), and it's always a long, drawn out explanation. I can't seem to simplify it. I could make a list of words that fit for it, but none of them stand out or fit together to make something that feels right.

Usually when I brainstorm, I just drive myself crazy and then give up on it entirely for months. Why is coming up with one phrase so much harder than writing an entire novel of complex words, characters, and situations? Will I just go insane trying to come up with one before I even get close?

It does kind of drive me nuts sometimes, which is why I avoid it. Maybe if I actually get that synopsis I've been talking so much about done, someone else will be able to look at it and come up with some ideas.

How do you guys come up with titles? Does it drive you insane? Is there such a thing as a perfect title?

15 November 2013

Dealing with Fear

Oh, you thought I was going to tell you how to handle your fear? No, no, I have no idea how to do that. It’s too scary. This is more of an outpouring of my fears. 

Everyone’s afraid of stuff. Like spiders (what the hell do they need all those legs for?). But as a writer and blogger, I’m afraid of lots of things. It’s not the obvious things, either. Like rejection. No, I expect that. I’m not afraid of it. I think I’m afraid of actually succeeding. I’m afraid of things changing. I let my anxiety get the better of me.

I’m afraid of my own drive. That it’s too much for me to handle. That I couldn’t possibly have all my ridiculous dreams and fantasies come true without curling up into a ball and hiding from them. I’m way too much of an introvert, and yet I fantasize about book signings and writing plays and movies and winning awards and giving speeches. How is that ever going to work?

I’m afraid that even I don’t understand this pull I have to write gay fiction. I’m afraid that I’m encroaching on a culture that I have no right to be a part of. That people are going to hate me for this story. That I have absolutely no idea how to make a difference, to show that this is something I really care about besides making up stories. How is that enough?

I’m afraid to share my obsessions. My quirks. My favorite music, books, TV shows. The random celebrities I love. What turns me on. All the little things that make me who I am. I don’t know why. I guess the obvious answer is the fear of being judged. Like I’m afraid about you getting to know me because you won’t understand the way I am.

And yes, I’m afraid of people reading my book. I’m afraid to even tell people what it’s about (I’m working on that synopsis, I swear). That doesn’t mean that I still don’t want them to read it. God, do I want them to. I’ve never had such passion for a story in my life. I just don’t understand that passion.

I'm also afraid I'll never finish this NaNo book. But if you're interested, I put up a quick little excerpt on my page on the NaNo site. Also, I just really want to share my favorite line of dialogue so far, spoken by Benny, the human love interest to my vampire protagonist: "It's like I'm living the gay version of Twilight...which, ironically, still isn't as gay as Twilight..." 

Oh, and my tickets came yesterday! I was going to take a picture of them for you but then I was afraid that would be too silly. Plus, see above for the part about obsessions. Now I just have to plan the whole rest of the trip! No pressure, right? I’ll get around to it...

What things are you afraid of? Heights? Clowns? Or ten thousand rejection letters? 

13 November 2013

The Sparkling Comment

Today I'm gonna talk about the influence of other people's comments on blog posts. And pimp some people out. 

But first! In case you were just dying to know, I did get my concert tickets. So Phase One of the Muse-iversary New York Adventure is complete! Phase Two was asking my boss if I could have President's Day off, so I could make it a two night trip and not be rushing around to only do one thing. He just sort of chuckled evilly and said, "As long as you work Valentine's Day..." Yeah, like I really thought I was getting out of that one, anyway. So Phase Two is complete. I'm not sure what Phase Three is at this point (Profit!), probably finding a hotel and getting bus tickets and blah blah blah. The more fun part is finding book-related things to do. Like, maybe a trip to the Met (do you think my boyfriend would mind? We've already been twice...). And a picnic in February is totally plausible, right? 

Geez I really have the tendency to ramble, don't I? 

So! Comments! If you're like me, you put a blog post out there and you spend the rest of the day stalking Blogger or your email for comments. I absolutely love getting comments. I crave them. It's fun to interact with other bloggers, and when someone leaves a comment it shows that they really took the time to read your post and put some thought into how they would respond. Plus, it gives me the chance to check out their blogs and learn something new, since I always like to return the favor. 

It's exciting to get a new person commenting. You've probably never seen their blog before so you have something new to check out. It's a good way to meet other bloggers. It's also just as great to have some bloggers who always check out your posts and leave a comment. You'll usually get some attention for your more insightful posts, but it's also nice to have people respond no matter what you're writing about. Quick shout out to two of my favorite blogging buddies, Aaron Browder and Casey Lynn Clark, who almost always leave a comment on my blog, even when I'm rambling about absolutely nothing. You guys are awesome!

I have an interesting story. Last Wednesday for my Insecure Writer's Support Group post (which you should also check out, by the way, it's the most awesome of all the blog hops), I talked about my insecurities over whether or not to let people read the first draft of my book. A lot of people have asked me, "When can I read it?" and I'm not sure if I'm ready. Since it was IWSG day, I got more comments than usual. And almost every single one said that I should get a second draft ready before giving it to anyone. I did want advice, because I was so uncertain, but I'll admit I was a little disappointed. I've been working on this story for a long time and I'd really like for people to read it. But after reading the advice of other writers, I thought, ok, they're right, it's not ready and I shouldn't give it out. 

But then I got one last comment. I was actually checking my email on my phone leaving work after a double. I had to stop and stare at it for a while. It was the sort of comment you don't get every day. It sparkled, it outshone all of the other comments that came before it. This comment was from David P. King, and I feel I have to share it to do it justice: 

This may sound awful and I don’t mean it to, but I’ve come to learn that there are many types of readers – some casual, some critical. And I tend to let my casual readers be my alphas and those who will dissect every last sentence my betas. This helps spot the obvious problems first and the tiny ones become more noticeable while editing the next draft. Do share your story with others, especially those who are willing to help…

Whoa. I was completely thrown back by this comment. David was saying what no one else was, and it made perfect sense to me. Why not let some people read? Most of the people who have asked to read are coworkers, who are just interested in the fact that I wrote a book at all, especially after my years of working on it. These are not people who are desperate to critique, who will be able to rip it apart. That's not even what I need right now. I'm perfectly capable of ripping it apart all on my own. Once I've fixed everything that I feel is wrong with it, that's when I'll need people to point out what I missed. 

Maybe what I need right now is just that sort of confidence boost of someone reading it at all. Even if it's complete garbage, if they find just one moment that they love, then it'll be worth it. If they find things wrong that I haven't noticed yet, that will be worth it, too. 

So I've made the decision to share, probably with the people who keep bugging me at work about it. I do need to do a tiny bit of editing, basically fix all the parts that I'd be embarrassed to have someone read. But nothing too extreme. I kinda just want to put it out there. I'm not sure who my beta readers will be yet, maybe I'll seek out some former coworkers from the bookstore who are avid writers and readers. Who knows? But at least right now I have a starting point. 

11 November 2013

Monday Morning Ramblings

I don't have any set topic for today and I've got a lot of things on my mind so I think a rambling post is in order.

I'm up way too early and having an anxiety attack. But the good kind. I'm waiting for tickets for the American Songbook series to go on sale. Technically, they go on sale tomorrow, but not if you like their Facebook page! So I'm just sitting here waiting. I have a hunch they'll go on sale at 10, but since they haven't actually said so, I must stalk the page all morning. I know, I'm a complete spaz. But if I get tickets to this particular show, I get to plan a really awesome trip to New York for my three year muse-iversary! (Since, you know, last year's was so successful and everything). Hey, when the universe tells you to do something, you don't question it.

The great thing about being up early, though, is that I get to watch Buffy.

Speaking of vampires, I guess I'll talk about my NaNo progress. As you can probably tell from my abundant enthusiasm, it's not going very well. I've had trouble focusing lately. Between that and work, I'm about 5,000 words behind of where I should be. If I can get back the same momentum I had on the first day, I should be able to get back on track. Right now it's kind of discouraging, though.

I realized something last night that could potentially be pretty awesome. I'm getting close to my 100th post here (this one is the 85th). And if (and this is a pretty big if) I post on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until I get there, my 100th post would be on Monday, December 16. And well, because I'm a spaz, remember? Why don't I just reschedule that for the day before, December 15, because guess what day that is! Yup, it's Jordan's birthday. If I could have my 100th post on my muse's birthday, well, that would be pretty damn awesome. The only problem is that I actually have to stick to my blogging schedule. I can't miss a single post. It's going to be tricky. It's going to take a lot of ideas and a lot more motivation. Because, that's right, the universe has spoken!

Do you think I can stick to my blogging schedule? Anyone else being a spaz about anything? Falling behind on NaNo? Or just watching Buffy? Crickets?

08 November 2013

Having Some NaNo Issues

I almost forgot to blog today! Work was blah, and I have to be back tomorrow morning at 7 for some lame meeting. Also, I sliced my thumb open last night on a can lid (not stitches worthy, but still pretty bad). So I'm only functioning with one good hand. Hey, I really don't mind reenacting scenes from my book, but the part where Jordan cuts his finger while chopping vegetables and blood gets everywhere--not my first choice! I do love that scene, though...

Anyhoo, I thought I'd check in with my NaNoWriMo progress. It WAS going really great, but I've fallen behind in the past few days. Not ridiculously behind, but I'm not exactly happy about it. Maybe the fact that my narrator has a weak voice is bothering me. I'm not exactly going for a masterpiece here, but I do want to get it done and I still want it to be a good story.

I pretty much know exactly what my problem is. I wrote the first two chapters in order, then started jumping around writing random scenes. Mostly the ones that I've been playing over in my mind since I came up with this story. Which is ok, I guess, in that I'm getting out the ideas I already have, and it's ok if I fill in the gaps later.

Well, it would be ok, if I wasn't already writing all the good parts. Seriously, all the violence, suspense, kidnappings, bad guy staking, and man on man snuggling (hey, I'm leaning more YA here, nothing too sexy). All of it! All the good parts! Guess what happens when I write all of the good parts? They're done! And I know what you're going to say, everything should at least be interesting, if not intense. I'm just worried about getting bored. I'm avoiding the flashbacks altogether. I know it's because I don't want to write them. But they're part of the characters' background stories that need to be told. If I don't add the flashbacks, you'd wonder why these characters are in the situation they're in, and how they became vampires in the first place.

I just don't want to write all the parts that I find interesting and then get bored and give up entirely. I guess that's why falling behind on the word count is discouraging. As long as I stay ahead, I'll have more motivation to finish. But why am I wasting my time writing this blog? I could be writing my NaNo book! See ya!

How is everyone else doing on their NaNo books? Having issues, too?

06 November 2013

Second Draft Woes

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog to learn more!

First Wed of Every Month

There’s plenty for me to be insecure about lately. I’m insecure about my NaNo book, but I think Jordan pretty much covered that on Monday. So I’m aware of what isn’t working, and I’m just trying to push through with it, hoping that my narrator grows a backbone.

What I’m really insecure about is diving in to the second draft of my newly finished novel. For several reasons. The first of which is that editing is scary! It’s so different from writing a first draft. The first draft is fun; it’s passionate. It’s all about words flying onto the page and not worrying about how perfect they are. Well, editing is more about hard work. It’s about getting those words to be perfect. I don’t even know if that’s possible. In poetry, people say that the work is never really done. A poet can even look at a piece they’ve published and think of ways to make it better. Is the same true for fiction? There’s a lot more to work with, so you’d think that every time you looked at one page you’d find a word or two to change. So when does it end?

I’m also nervous because I really want people to read my story, and I’ve had some people express interest in it, but I’m afraid to give it to them. I don’t know if I should wait until I have a second draft. But then I think, wouldn’t it be easier to combine my own edits with whatever critiques they have, rather than doing two revisions? But there are some portions that I know need to be fixed. There are some parts that embarrass me and I don’t want anyone to read yet. I know Chapter Eight needs a complete overhaul. The setting doesn’t feel developed enough. I’m still uncomfortable with the sex scene. And some of my potential readers are gay men, so I have this fear in the back of my mind that they’re going to tell me how wrong every single aspect is, not just with the sex scene, but with how the characters act and well, everything!

So I’m not sure what to do. Give my first draft out or fix everything that I know is wrong with it first? 

But I’m just dying to get some readers who aren’t my boyfriend who just says everything is wonderful. I’m having these fantasies of going into work and having someone come up to me and say, “I just finished Chapter Twelve and I hate you,” or “Oh my God…that fight scene…I was in tears!” I want it so bad. But what if I don’t get that? What if everyone hates it? Or thinks I’m some kind of weird pervert for coming up with it in the first place? 

I don't know what to do but I guess this is just the sort of thing I'll have to deal with when I actually publish it. Some people are going to love it, some will hate it. Some people will get what I was trying to say, others will think it's sick and wrong. I'm still hesitant to give it out even though I think for the most part it's a good story, just with a few hiccups. But I also feel I should give it out now while people are still interested, before they forget all about it and don't care anymore.

What do you think? Should I give out my first draft or edit first? Anyone else going through the second draft woes? 

04 November 2013

Jordan Takes Over: Creating a Voice

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance. **

Sarah wanted to write a quick little paragraph to introduce this post but guess what? I get one post a month and it’s MINE. So no. No no no. I’m plenty good at explaining things.

But first, holy shit I haven’t posted since we finished the book! No one has given me any credit! You know it’s not entirely my fault that it took so long, right? But we won’t get into that. I mean, yeah, the end was tough, but I don’t think everyone is just peachy spilling their guts over how they lost their virginity. So there. But yeah, it’s done! I won’t get into the second draft woes. She’ll probably write about that on Wednesday. *heavy sigh*

So I guess we’re taking a break to write about VAMPIRES. Ugh. Whatever. It’s only a month. But it’s kind of like being in a relationship with someone for a while and then they turn to you and say, “Oh by the way, honey, I love this super lame thing and you have to love it, too!” And you’re stuck.

But anyway, we’ve been writing away on this thing for only three days and she’s already having doubts about it. I mean, like, put on the brakes and give up sort of doubts. Because she’s got good ideas, but they’re just not translating to the page the way she wanted. As usual, I figured out the problem right away. And it’s all about voice.

The problem is the narrator, Alex. He’s a wimp. He’s not even a good vampire and he can’t decide who or what he’s attracted to—boys, girls, or just someone whose blood smells tasty. He refuses to kill anyone and that’s really what gets him into trouble with the bad guy, who’s still nameless, by the way. Needless to say, I don’t like him. And I had absolutely nothing to do with creating him, thank you very much.

The other characters are cool. Jackelyn is the best—she used to be a slayer who tried to kill Alex and when he beat her instead of letting her die he turned her into a vampire. So since they’re eternally linked or whatever, or because she just wants to annoy him to get revenge, they live together. And she kinda still wants to kill him. Benny, the love interest, isn’t exactly a strong character, but he’s well developed. He’s sort of fragile and naïve, and he was abused as a kid and is afraid of the dark. I mean, come on, you’re dating a vampire and you’re afraid of the dark? That’s some complex stuff right there. Oh, and the baddy is just sadistic for the sake of being sadistic. Who doesn’t love that?

I’m getting off track here. I’m supposed to be talking about voice. Your character’s voice is never gonna come to you instantly. No, not even mine. When Sarah first wrote the short story about me, guess what? It sounded like a girl’s voice. It takes a while to craft a unique voice. The first step with me was to just throw in a bunch of f-bombs and then we worked from there. Now it’s hard for her to NOT write in my voice. It’s like second nature. It’s probably because I’m so awesome. Does my voice annoy you? I’m not as bad in the book, I swear.

So I know why this book is bothering her so much. Alex doesn’t have his own voice yet. Sure, it’s fine for the character to be wishy-washy because that’s something for him to overcome. But his voice shouldn’t be, and right now it is. There’s nothing very striking about it, nothing to distinguish him from anybody else. But honestly, we’re probably not going to make it perfect AND get the whole book done within a month. The best thing we can do is make the story interesting, and then if she wants to go back and edit, then we can craft the voice into something better.

But if she keeps WORRYING about it, then nothing is going to get done. Nothing. We just need to go with it.


01 November 2013

NaNo is Here! Gay Vampires, Shorter Chapters, and Why I'll Always Be a Pantser

The time has come! It’s finally November 1!!! The first day of NaNoWriMo. I’m so excited to finally be doing this. I just hope I’ll have enough time to get it done.

I guess I’ll start by revealing the plot of my NaNo book, since I’ve been so psychotically secretive about it. You might as well know it all. Here’s the synopsis I’ll be posting on my NaNo page for Blood Lust (Blech. Titles. Why do they vex me so?):

Alex is still breaking in his fangs. The vampire who made him is long gone, and he’s stuck with Jackelyn, his psychotic protégé—a former slayer who may still want to kill him. With only two years of being a vampire, he’s taking immortality one night at a time. But after saving a boy from a group of bullies, everything changes. Benny is shy and a little damaged. And he’s gay. For some reason Alex feels drawn to him, and is now forced to question his sexuality along with his existence. When he finally accepts the relationship for what it is, a new threat arises when an older vampire comes into town, wanting to probe into every aspect of Alex’s life. Now Alex must protect his human companion and prove his love, not only to an unbeatable enemy, but to himself.

Thaaaaaaaaaaat’s right. I’m combining my love of fantasy with my love of gay fiction. Someone had to have seen this coming. Besides my sixteen-year-old self. This all started with a really bad short story that I wrote, and then I tried to develop the characters more, but it just never worked out. But it always stayed in the back of my mind, and now I feel like I’ve finally figured it all out.

Obviously my NaNo book is going to be completely self-indulgent. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s a good story. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, plotting out scenes in my mind, repeating lines of dialogue over and over so that I would remember them. But I haven’t written down a single word. I’m really a pantser when it comes to writing a book. I don’t like to outline. I don’t usually even write in order.

My favorite thing about a new story is to imagine the scenes in my head like a movie, sort of indulging myself with the story before I write it down. If you can’t enjoy your own ideas, then how can you expect other people to enjoy them? The images will usually plague me until I get the words down, and then they’ll be gone. Since these scenes will relentlessly bother me until they’re written, I don’t really worry about forgetting them. It’s actually bittersweet to write them down and let them go, but I can always go back and reread.

For a while I’ve thought about plotting out Blood Lust, maybe making an outline or just writing down ideas for a few scenes. But every time I tried, it just didn’t feel right. Because that’s really not my style. And I’ve learned not to fight my instincts when it comes to writing. They’re usually right.

Some good news! On the editing front, I had an intense two days of marking up my manuscript, and managed to get through the whole thing. It was like editing boot camp, with the muse as a drill instructor, screaming, “What do you mean you’re hungry????!! Food is for wimps! Pick up the goddamn pen!!!” (Side note, Jordan says he could never be a real drill instructor. Too much distracting eye candy.) Surprisingly, there aren’t really any scenes that I feel need to be cut. Several that need to be rewritten of course, or trimmed down, but everything feels necessary to the story.

What I have realized is that my chapters are waaaaaaaaaay too long. I need to break them up. For the most part, I think each individual scene could work as its own chapter. My next step before rewriting will be an outline of sorts (gasp!), writing down each scene with a brief summary, maybe on notecards. I’ll be able to see what scenes can stand on their own, maybe shuffle a few around, and, the most exciting part, writing a few new scenes to fill in the gaps. If I can somehow manage to balance this with NaNoWriMo, I think I’ll have a second draft by the end of the year. Then I’ll probably get some readers and maybe even start querying. Ahh! Scary times.

Well, I’ve got to start cranking out my NaNo book. I’ve got work all this weekend, so I’m aiming for 3,000 words then I’ll do a lot more during the week. Of course, Jordan will be taking over on Monday for his monthly post. I have no idea what he’ll be writing about, so that probably means he doesn’t either. Now that’s scary.