Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting Back in the Groove

The last few weeks have been a blur of dizzy spells, hospital stays (had another 3 days in the hospital last week--fun fun), doctor visits (another this afternoon, too), and getting back to work.

Another week and maybe things will feel back to normal.

Throughout it all, I didn't have much time for rereading and editing, which is where I'm at now with the book, which does put me behind schedule. Or it would if I was on a real schedule.

I am on enough of a self-imposed schedule that I do feel a bit behind. So now I need to buckle down and go through the manuscript again and get into a final "I'm willing to let people see this again" state.

Sometimes it feels like a great big spinning wheel, and that I'm coming back to someplace I've already been. At least it is something I enjoy doing. That makes the work worth it.

Hope everyone is in good health and keeping on task with their own projects, writing or not.

has also been gardening, and the fruits of that labor are ripening. And delicious!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Ah vacation.

It was a lovely plan: a few days in Yosemite for a wedding, a couple days in San Francisco with some friends who live there, a day in Sonoma, a day in Monterey, and then back to San Fran to fly home. My wife and I were really looking forward to it.

But it was not to be. The wedding was Friday--we made that--held at the top of Glacial Point in Yosemite park. Gorgeous!

The next day on the way back to San Fran, I had a stroke. I spent Saturday in ERs getting tested, and Sunday and Monday in the hospital getting tests and results and recovering.

Yeah, a stroke. I'm 31. Over an entire week I usually run about 10-12 miles (6-8 in one run, a few smaller ones during the week), and lift weights 3-4 times. One of the nurses noted I had the best cholesterol profile in the hospital. My resting heart rate was so low (from being in good shape) that nurses were worried when I went to sleep.

And I had a stroke.

Spent nearly two days not being able to walk because the damage ruined my sense of balance--though I can now walk again, so it has been a very speedy recovery. And 3 days of a 7-day vacation were spent in a hospital in Fresno.

I was released Monday evening, and we made it to San Fran that night. Had a great day Tuesday with our friends--good way to end the vacation--and spent all day yesterday coming back home (that 3 hour time shift really does make it a full day of travel!).

And now I get to make some more doctor appointments and try to get in to see a cardiologist and a neurologist sometime this week or next and see where I go from here.

So that was my week.

How was yours?

is doing very well. The whole stroke, from why/how it happened to the speed of the recovery, has been baffling doctors. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Power of Love

Here's the true power of love: I'm posting this love scene from a hospital--while I'm on vacation. Yes, for the love of my book and an awesome writing contest, I'm still posting this.

Name: Wes

Title: A Spoil of Wishes
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Entry word count: 748
Manuscript word count: 110,000
Link number: 13
Hot, savage passion mingled with sweet longing in that kiss, erasing Shae’s every doubt: Lorian wanted her. Beyond physical desire, she tasted the raw emotion bursting from his lips. She wanted to get closer, to push this feeling ever onward and see how far it could go.

Shae struggled briefly with his coat. The shirt she handled with less finesses, sending a couple buttons scattering across the room as she rumbled to remove it.

Lorian gripped the low neckline of her dress and with one sharp yank ripped bodice down the center. Shae shuddered at his display of lust and power. She reached up to kiss him again, and her tattered clothing fell away.

Lorian tossed her onto the bed, and she landed amongst the pillows feeling like he had thrown her into the sky onto a cloud. He climbed through the canopy curtain on his hands and knees, slowly crawling up her body. Shae’s fingers traced across his shoulders and down his back, across the patchwork mess of scars.

Shae drew him down until their bodies met, and he rained kisses on her lips and neck, making her gasp and sigh and clutch hard against his skin. He was so strong, so powerful. She was trapped by him, caged underneath his hulking form, but she felt safe there, enveloped completely in his arms. With her lips and her touch she tried to show him everything her words could not express.

He reponsed in kind at first, but then Lorian murmured between kisses, his voice quiet but firm. “We shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Yes we should!”

“You’re drunk, Shae. Really drunk.”

“I swear I want this, Lorian. Oh God, I want you so much.”

He touched her cheek with a gentle hand. “The punch, Shae—the powdered unicorn’s horn--it distorts things; it can confuse what you really want.” He pulled away from her, leaving her feeling cold and alone. “Sometimes people wake regretting what they did the night before.”

Shae was quick to reach out to him, to reconnect physically. “Please, Lorian. Don’t go. Don’t…don’t stop.” If she had known about the was in the the punch, she wouldn’t have had it. This was what she wanted, not the influence of some elixir. She couldn’t communicate all the thoughts and feelings tearing through her, and he was already pulling away. “Please, no.”

His unnatural green eyes were on her again, filled not just with longing, but with sorrow. “I care for you, Shae. I can’t do this. I don’t want it to be like this.”

She had started this; she had been the one to make the move, to kiss him. They had connected. Everything had been so perfect. And now he was rejecting her. She felt hollow—her heart stopped existing.

She lashed out, led by her maelstrom of emotions. “Why don’t you want me? Am I not enough? Am I not enough like her? Do I need to boss you around? Is that what you need?”

“Shae, I didn’t mean—”

She slapped him hard across the face. “How’s that? Does that turn you on?”

His face jerked to one side from the impact. He was very still after the slap, but it couldn’t have hurt him much. Shae took his chin in her hand and forced his head back to her.

“I’m going to fuck you so hard you aren’t going to be able to get up for breakfast.” She planted a kiss on his lips. She would get him back, show him she really did want this.

His lips were lifeless. Everything that had been there was gone.

His eyes were full of pain. Not from her slap but something much deeper. Realizing she had hurt him, Shae was quick to apologize, but it was too late for that. Lorian rose and started for the door.

“No!” Shae scurried across the bed after him, but she made little progress. “No! Lorian, I’m sorry! Please, don’t go. Don’t leave me! Stay! I’ll stop. We can just…we don’t need to. Just don’t go!” The room blurred as tears filled her eyes. “Please, don’t leave me!”

She couldn’t see him now, but the crushing sound of the bedroom door closing chilled her blood with harsh finality. She collapsed into the mountain of bright white pillows, her body still smoldering with unsatiated lust and her heart torn asunder. Shivering in the cold, lonely night, Shae curled up around one of the pillows and cried herself to sleep.

And that is my love scene. The First Kiss scene of the book. Anyway, more from me later this week when I am no longer hospitalized and home from "vacation."

is OK now. But man did he do a number on himself.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Touching the Soul

There are times when I think I suck as a writer.

I'm sure we all do. It's not unusual. Self doubt. It's a good thing. Keeps us hungry to improve.

I have talent. I'm not being proud or arrogant when I say that. I do. I'm not saying I'm more talented that other published or non-published writers, but I can identify that I do have a gift for imagination and, probably to a less degree that imagination, for putting words to page.

But then I come across something that truly touches the soul. Most often it's music for me, because I love music and I suck at it (completely tone deaf), but sometimes it is a work of art (for which I also have no talent), and other times it is a scene written so beautifully and filled with such emotion that it fills me up to the point of bursting. Usually it's sadness, but not always.

And that's when I feel like don't have that kind of talent. I've never managed that level of...whatever you call that. Inspiration? Being inspiring? I don't know. Capturing the raw beauty of life. Yeah, let's go with that.

Not everything we read or write or watch or listen to can or should do that, of course. But it's powerful when it happens.

A few of my test readers have told me my book did get them choked up and teary (at an appropriately place). I was little surprised, and pleased, that it did so--especially when they said they had the same reactions across multiple reads. But still, I know I didn't touch the soul, not the way I mean.

And I'm not sure I can.

Some examples, if I may.

Music, in fact, the very song that got me feeling this way right now, The Book of Love. This is Peter Gabriel's cover of the original. There are some other great covers out there, too, which does says to me how awesome the song is.

For a book scene, I'll just reference the most recent one I recall. It was a scene in The Hunger Games, but I won't go into details and spoil anything. I'll just note it deals with Katniss and a crown of flowers. The second book, Catching Fire, had a great scene that built off of this, too. Just amazing the affect those scenes can have. Powerful.

I'll also add that the TV show Scrubs did this amazingly well. Never have I seen a show range from such comedy to such intense emotion. So many awesome episodes. This particular video sums it up very well, I think.

I suppose it would be hubris to think I have or should be able to create something like that. It's a goal. A far reaching one, I guess. And maybe, if I'm really lucky and I work really hard, I'll create something in my life that touches someone so powerfully.

It's a hope anyway.

How about you? What stirs your soul? What drives you on to lofty goals?

will keep striving.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And Now...Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Well, that was a bit of a hiatus. I don't think I'll win my official Blogger Cap with breaks like that!

It started with a week away from home for work travel. Our annual conference in Orlando. Good times! Got some sun, had some fun, ate some great food, and did a bunch of "video blogging"--they gave me a camera and had me roam around talking to people and filming my thoughts.

I feel bad for our editing guy--4 hours of me rambling. My voice will haunt his dreams.

The week after? I was just lazy, I guess.

OK, so back on track. Where am I?

I was rewriting. I trimmed the beginning--made a change that echoed throughout the manuscript and required a go-through to make all necessary changes.


And I'm glad I did it. I think it is a hell of a lot better.

And now, I switch hats. I go from author to editor and go back through and tear the whole thing apart.

Then I get some some lovely critical reviews from people other than myself.

But this is Now. Right Now. What we are seeing/doing is happening right Now. We are working on the Now, not the Then, and even though the Then will become the Now soon, it hasn't done so yet (and we don't want to skip a head to Then now cause that would be confusing).

So editing it is. As if I don't do enough of that at work.

did make a Spaceballs reference, yes. Thanks for noticing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Confession

This isn't easy to admit. But I feel like I need to get this out there or risk continuing deception to my readers. I probably shouldn't have kept this fact secret as long as I have. But I didn't feel comfortable revealing it before, and even now...I hesitate.  Pushing that friendly orange Publish Post button will be one of my Herculean trials.

Here we go.

No more procrastinating.


I play Dungeons and Dragons.

OK, that actually was pretty easy. I think D&D doesn't have the same negative connotations it used to have, and honestly, in my life, I am open about my gaming. I'm out there. I'm not "in the basement" like some people are. And I've already said I write sci-fi/fantasy here, so a littler nerdity is kind of assumed, right?

Even worse than just playing D&D, I play in two different groups. Worse still, I am the Dungeon Master (DM) in one of those groups. (Don't know what that is? Don't need to--I think you figured out from context that somehow the DM is somehow--improbably--nerdier then the rest of the group).

We all need out creative outlets, and D&D is one of those. I design adventures and monsters and characters in a vast, magical realm that I have created over years of playing. I even write short stories based on that world (though they are very much written to be non-D&D stories; no gaming background required, just a love of high fantasy).

D&D does take up time I could be writing. Last night, for instance, I spent a couple hours working on the next adventure, and a couple more hours will go to the same endeavor this evening. And then tomorrow, I'll spend an evening hanging out with friends, playing the adventure I created.

I could, perhaps even should, be editing. I could be working on my query and my pitch and my synopsis (I get chills just mentioning that bugger).

But we need downtime, right? Something to switch up the pace, to shift gears. Instead of tackling another short story or novel in order to take a break from the Main Book, I create adventures and then spend some times socializing--in person!--with my friends.  That's my creative outlet to the madness of writing a novel.

Anyone else got any "confessions" for their little outlets?

just wants to point out that the movie Mazes and Monsters starring a young Tom Hanks does a TERRIBLE job portraying a typical D&D game. The most glaring error is the lack of Mountain Dew, but there are so many I can't even list them all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Like a Freakin' Energizer Bunny of Awesome!

Sometimes I get in a zone, and I feel like I can keep going forever.

I'm sure we all do. That wasn't meant as some statement of me having super powers. And if I did have super powers, I want the ability to manipulate time.  Just in case any super-power-granting entities are out there reading my blog and feeling benevolent.

Anyway, back to my zone. I usually get in the zone when running, more specifically running on a treadmill at a relatively light job while listening to my my Running playlist (go figure, right?). I can go for twenty minutes in the blink of an eye and if my Droid wasn't purring out time intervals, I'd run right through the morning and be late for work. It feels great to be that free. My mind is just open and pouring through possibilities and the energizing music rollings right into me, keeps me going.

Of course, that's not the only time I'm in the zone. I've sat down and plowed out ten pages without pause, never aware of how far the story got, how much I got down, only that I had a story to tell and it was growing and breathing and coming to life as fast as I could type it. Faster. There was more I wanted to do, stuff I had missed or skipped or held off on.

Sometimes the story just keeps on going and I'm racing to keep up and get as much of it down as I can before it's lost like Kubla Khan.

And then I have to go back and edit. Sadly, I don't have a zone for editing. I think that takes too much concentration.

made a Samuel Coleridge reference in a blog post. Sweet!