Monthly Archives: August 2010

30 Days of Writing (Day #6) and 10 Years of LJ

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?

I have problems with my joints, so just about any place can be uncomfortable. My desk is probably most comfortable with my chair, keyboard and monitor at the right height. But, my desk gets a bit boring. I like changing it up and writing other places, but usually, I’m just too lazy to go anywhere. Time of day shifts. I’ve probably shifted to mornings, but I need to stop doing other crap in the mornings and write. I do 95% of my writing using my computer. Some editing and some free-writing is done by hand. Arguably, my entire writing career from freshman year in college onward has been done electronically. First, I used a word processor and then a computer.

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This journal is a decade old. It was created on the August 28, 2000 and the first entry was on the 1st of September. I’m considering finding choice sentences from past entries, around 140 characters long, and tweet them. Or maybe not. If anything, I might try to tag some older entries. It should only take me about five years to tag things this way…

Obviously, lots has changed in 10 years. In 2000, I was newly married and settling into that life. I had never played ultimate frisbee. I was just starting to send Lucinda at the Window to publishers. I still knew no one in AZ and LJ was a way of connecting with Henrik, a pen-pal friend from college. Soon, I found other great people on LiveJournal, or rather, they found me. It was the beginning of social networking for me, even if it wasn’t known as such.

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Journal #12774!

30 Days of Writing – Day #5 (and other stuff)

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

Danielle (in Divine Fire) is probably my youngest character, being in her early to mid-20s. The oinos in Fuel Eaters are probably about that age as well. Those are aside from random short work characters. (Two of the five pieces I’ve written for 52|250 have had young characters.) Obviously, I don’t have much affinity for writing young characters. Ionun (Model Species) is the oldest. In real chronology? There are probably characters older than Lucinda, but not any that have survived into any projects of note. The newest is, well, Nicholas Howell. Amid a discussion of things including box-office receipts, aging thrill-seekers, and the difference between perception filters and creativity filters in relation to schizophrenia and "neuro-typical" thinking, Eric came up with a character for Luck for Hire this morning. Mr. Howell is being worked into the scene I should have written last week.

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Also did some work on the query for Model Species today. Well, Eric did the work; I smoothed the occasional sentence.

This afternoon I had a documentary called It Might Get Loud on in the background. It’s a profile/conversation/jam session with guitarists Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. I was struck by the love these three have for their profession. Not just while performing, but the unabashed passion when talking about what they do, how they do it. Just something to remember when I feel a little dumb discussing the things I love.

30 Days of Writing – Day #4

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

The first story I remember writing down was for an 8th grade assignment. I don’t remember whether fiction was called for, but it’s what I did. (And if that were the case, it set the stage for many college papers that were about writing rather than the interpretation of literature.) The story was a murder mystery. A cook poisoned a diner’s pumpkin pie with tainted cinnamon. Our hero detective subdued him with a mackerel. Mystery and food: some might say that my writing hasn’t progressed much.

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I slept for nine hours last night. Went to bed at 9pm, woke up at 6am. Between a socially draining week and very unhappy joints, I was exhausted. This week needs to be much, much more productive.

30 Days of Writing – Day #3

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

Depends on setting. For Model Species, I went with vaguely Greek sounding names because their culture is vaguely similar to ancient Greece; Divine Fire‘s names are somewhat Italian to indicate their Italian Renaissance culture. Some names are based on their inspiring gaming characters; some names just come to me or I try to fit a name to a sound I want.  Luck for Hire is one of my few contemporary set works, which means I need to Google names. Just in case. Some of the names Eric comes up with are anagrams. I don’t take the meaning of names into account when I name a character, though I might with place names. Place names in reality are often descriptive in nature. People names can be used to tell the age of a character in a real-world set story.

One of the most screwy things about fictional names is the tendency to not have more than one character or place named the same thing. I easily know half a dozen Erics. I’ve been on a league team with three Erics and two Jeffs (as well as one with a record four Erics). Another team had three Daves. We don’t do this enough in fiction. (Though an episode of Doctor Who did have two Daves: Proper Dave and Other Dave.)

30 Days of Writing – Day #2

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

How many characters do I have? As many as I need.

I probably favor male characters though I don’t do a good job of writing truly masculine-thinking men. I’d say most writers don’t do a good job with truly masculine-thinking men because the very virtue of being writers skews us away from those thought patterns. Most male characters aren’t as focused as most men are; they notice way too many frivolous details. I don’t do a particularly good job with girly women either because, well, I’m not one.

In my current WIP, Luck for Hire, there are thus far four main characters. Three male, one female.
In Lucinda at the Window, there were mostly female characters, though the main POVs were split, 2 and 2.
In Pas de Chat, the "main" character is female, with about two other female characters and a host of male characters.
Model Species
has two strong minor female characters, the rest male.
In Divine Fire, I have two substantial female characters with about 4 male characters.
In random short works, I’m probably 1:1, male to female.

Friday Flash: Joanne and the Jaguar

Mr. Luck has been neglected this week in favor of VOTS stuff, but Pas de Chat has been longer neglected in favor of  Mr. Luck.  The following is a semi-stand-alone except from Ch. 15 of Pas de Chat which will be posted on Sunday, Aug. 29th. So, this is a sneak peek/tease of sorts.

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Joanne and the Jaguar

"What kind of kitty-cat are we going to see?" Joanne asked.  "A lion or a tiger?"

"I think your daddy said it was a jaguar," said her mother.

"A jaguar?" said Joanne.  The word was hard to get her tongue around.  "Jaguar," she repeated.  "Do they have stripes?"  She liked tigers better than lions because of their stripes.  And because they were orange.  Orange was good, there weren’t too many things that had the same color as Joanne’s hair.

"I think they have spots," said Mom.

Spots.  Once again the day held promise and not even a shush from her father could squelch that.

They were standing in front of an area cordoned off by thick red velvet ropes.  Beyond the rope there was a podium and a large cage that was covered by a beige sheet.  The edge of the sheet moved as though a breath of wind was blowing against it from within.  Joanne felt her heart beat a little faster.  "Jaguar," she whispered once again to confirm the word.

A man stood next to the cage.  He was taller than Joanne’s father, and lean.  His face was especially long.  His nose came to a hook and it seemed to twitch in time with the movement of the covering sheet.  His ears stood out from his face in a way that would have made Billy Walters from school make fun of him.  The tall man laid a protective hand on the top of the covered cage as the man with the red flower in his pocket walked up to the podium.

He made a speech, but Joanne ignored him.  Outside the sky gave way, and the rain poured against the complex’s roof with a boom of thunder.  The man at the podium made some sort of joke that the grow-ups laughed at.  The tall man standing by the cage didn’t crack a smile.  His eyes roamed the crowd and finally fell on Joanne.  Joanne smiled at him.  To her surprise the edges of his thin lips raised ever-so-slightly.  His eyes shifted to the podium and Joanne decided that she’d pay attention too.

"But we wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for all of you and your generosity. And therefore, each of you primary docents will get the chance to meet the first resident of the Harris-Ellison Cat Complex, face to face."

The weather complemented the man’s words and lightning crashed outside.  Thunder never scared Joanne.  She knew it was just what happened when it rained sometimes.  It was nothing to worry about, her mother had told her, even when the lights went out during a storm.  The only thing that Joanne was scared of was the dark thing in the back of her closet and she even doubted that was real sometimes.

The tall man slowly drew off the beige sheet.  The cat was smaller than the tigers that Joanne had seen.  More like the size of a lion.  Maybe smaller.  The cat’s fur was beautiful.  The markings on the thick orange fur looked like dark flowers to Joanne.  One rosette surrounded another; each spot was distinct and dark.  It might have been that because Joanne was small that the jaguar stopped and met Joanne’s eyes.  The cat’s eyes were pale yellow and glowed in the low light of the complex hallway.  Joanne’s heart sped up, and she clutched her mother’s hand tighter, but she didn’t make any effort to hide.

"This is one of the oldest jaguars in captivity. She was captured in the jungles of the Yucatan nearly ten years ago, already an adult," the man with the rose was saying.

After a moment, the jaguar began to move again, pacing around the cage, panting with her pink tongue hanging out.  The jaguar’s teeth were a pale yellow color and long. 

"And this is Howard Devlin, her caretaker.  Howard?"  Joanne was vaguely aware that the tall man with the hooked nose, Howard, had taken a step closer, placing himself between the crowd and the jaguar.  Her eyes stayed fixed upon the cat.

"I need everyone to do as I say," said Howard Delvin.  His voice was rich and accented.  He spoke softly, with more authority than Joanne’s father ever brought to bear.  "I’m going to open the cage up and lead her out.  Then you all may, one by one, have a picture taken.  No more than one person at a time.  I will be at her side at all times."

Now Joanne’s mom’s hand tightened.  "I don’t think this is a good idea," she whispered to her father.

Howard slipped a rope strung through a pole between the bars of the cage.  Quickly and easily, he looped the rope around the jaguar’s neck.  The cat halted her pace, but otherwise didn’t seem to notice.  Howard held on to the pole and slowly opened the cage door.  The jaguar paused and then stepped out.  She laid her ears flat and surveyed the crowd one more time.

"Well, if you don’t like it you can always leave," said Joanne’s father.  His smirk didn’t leave his face.  For a moment, Joanne feared that her mother would actually leave.

"I want to see the jaguar," she said.  Her mom’s eyes were worried, and Joanne immediately regretted making the statement.

"See," said Father.  "My little Jo isn’t afraid."  He took Joanne’s other hand and her mother let go reluctantly.

"But he said only one at a time," said her mother.

Her father didn’t hear.  He led Joanne to a gap in the velvet cordon.  Howard shook his head slightly before they stepped through.  "I said one at a time only."

"She’s just a little girl," said her father.  "There’s no harm in both of us, together…"  His voice lost power under Howard’s head shake.

"One at a time or not at all, sir.  She’ll be perfectly safe."  Howard leaned down and let his hand rest against the jaguar’s back though he managed to keep the rope and pole taut.  The jaguar rested back on her haunches and regarded Mr. Ellison and his daughter.

Her father bent down, but not far enough to look Joanne in the eye.  "You want to be the first one to have your picture taken with the kitty, Jo?"

Joanne knew her father wanted her to say yes and her mother wanted her to say no.  One of them would be unhappy with her when they returned home.  In the end, it was the thick spotted fur of the jaguar that made Joanne’s decision easy.  She nodded.  "Yes."

"That’s my brave girl," said her father.  He patted her cheek and ruffled her hair.  From nearby, she heard someone cheer her, ‘That-a-girl!’

"Come here slowly," said Howard.  Joanne still found his nose entrancing, but it was the jaguar that she concentrated on.  The cat panted again with her tongue out and, like Joanne, seemed oblivious of the thunderous storm that had hit outside.  Joanne walked carefully to a spot beside Howard Devlin on the far side from the jaguar.  She stopped when Howard held up his hand.  "Let her get used to you a little," said Howard, "and be very quiet."

Joanne nodded.  Her right foot ached to make the squeaking noise again, but she knew that wouldn’t be a good idea.  A short distance away, a man with a large fancy camera knelt down and angled his camera so the red velvet cordon wouldn’t be in the way. 

"Alright, come forward.  Keep your arms at your sides," said Howard.

Joanne walked forward.  Her eyes only strayed from the jaguar long enough to see the muscles in Howard’s arms tense as he held the rope and pole.  "You can come a little closer."

The jaguar was sitting, but Joanne was barely taller than the animal.  Joanne could see the details of the fur on the cat’s face and the wiry whiskers that surrounded her nose.  The patterns of light and dark were delicate and more intricate than the stripes Joanne had seen on a zebra.  She desperately wanted to touch the jaguar’s fur.  Joanne just knew that it would thick and soft, softer than any stuffed toy she owned.  She remembered Howard’s warning though and clutched at her skirt to keep her hands at her side.

The jaguar’s whiskers twitched as they took in Joanne’s scent.  There was a low rumble from deep within the cat.  "And now turn around for your picture," said Howard.

Joanne slowly turned to face the crowd and her father, but kept the jaguar and Howard in the corner of her eye.  She smiled.  Thunder rolled over the building as the camera clicked its picture. 

Then the lights went out. 

Startled sounds came from the crowd, but Joanne stood absolutely still.  She could see the slivers of light from the outward facing windows reflected in the jaguar’s eyes.  She knew the cat was much closer than when the picture was snapped.  Joanne breathed in the heavy smell of jaguar.  She reached out her hand and touched fur that was every bit as Joanne thought it would be.  Joanne felt the jaguar bump into her and leave a ghost of warmth against her chest and legs.  The cat knocked her off-balance and Joanne landed solidly on her butt as though she had abruptly sat down.  She was surprised when she felt hot breath against her face and the top of her head. 

She stayed very still.

30 Days of Writing – Day #1

I haven’t posted all week. I should be posting more often about writing. Via a retweet I was pointed to J. Koyanagi blogging the 30 Days of Writing meme. Sound procrastinatingly fun. 😉

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.

At any particular moment, I might love or hate whatever I’m working on. Luck for Hire has been pretty fun thus far, but it’s sort of too early to tell. The Weordan books probably win only because I’ve spent the most time in that world and it has the best potential for the comedy. I have a soft spot for anthropomorphizing animals and the lost technology of Weordan gives me the excuse to do that. (Maybe I’ll post some moth fiction for #FridayFlash…) Weordan has also been the most satisfying thing to write because of the complexity of the world. Whenever something in Weordan finally *worked*?  That’s been the best feeling I’ve experienced during the writing process. And it means that the process Eric and I engage in works.