In Which We Get In Touch With Our Darkside. (#ROW80)

Or, Monkey See, Monkey Use Force Lightning, Monkey Laugh and Eat Cookies
Confession time, y’all. Which never fails to remind me of that scene in Angela’s Ashes when Frankie spews the Holy Christ (literally) all over his Gran’s back porch within minutes of his First Communion. And then has to run back to confess this latest transgression, and ask if Holy Water should be used to clean it up.

So last weekend Evil Monkey came out of the closet, costumed as Evil Emperor from the original Star Wars trilogy. You know—the good one. (Anyone who saw my Thanksgiving Moment of Awesome picture last week can guess how I feel about the later movies, which I like to pretend don’t exist.)  Evil Monkey had been dispatched to invite me to the Star Wars: The Old Republic BETA weekend.

I am a bad Jedi. And a worse Writer Monkey. I gave in to the Dark Side.

What? There were cookies. Also, Force Lightning. And Twi’lek snark.

But mainly cookies. They formed a mysterious trail leading away from my office/sanctuary/Ninja Kat habitat to the Tech Monkey simian cave waaaaaay across the house. There Darth Me awaited ascension via character generation. NOM NOM NO—“OOOOoooooo . . . what does this but-ton do?” BOOM! Hooked.

Apparently I ate. I may have slept, but probably not. I think my eyes may have turned a little red. Whether from evil or tearful joy is a matter of debate.

I admit it. I hardly wrote a word. When I did, it was mainly something to do during server crashes and restarts. And even then my heart wasn’t in it. Because I needed my next fix of Dark Side Cookies.

I should mention I’ve been waiting for The Old Republic to go MMORPG since the first game, when it was straight RPG. Dying for it. Quivering, even. In the rain outside Bioware’s house with a ghettoblaster held over my head, blaring the Imperial March on endless loop (Thank you, John Williams. Your work may gotten largely predictable over the years, but it still gives me chills sometimes.)


So here’s what it comes down to. This crack game will be released for mainlining live play on December 20. Pre-Orders, such as mine and the Tech Monkey’s (because he is my enabler) will get early download on December 15.

This means, in order complete a draft, any draft, of Big Dang Projeckt, I have (as of Monday) 18 days to get my writer monkey $%^# together, and 34 until December 31. Meaning, I have 18 gawds-given days to get into the home stretch, because I’ll be back in Junkie Mode as of the 15th. This is gonna be a sprint and marathon combined.

This is gonna hurt.

*Jumping Jacks* *Runs in Place* * Stretches*         

*Pulls hamstring* Ow ow ow. *whimpers* *falls over*

But don’t worry about me. I can quit any time I want to. Really. No, real—what are you all looking at me like that for? Oh, gawds. Is this an intervention?


Oh, wait. Are those cookies?

Weekly Moment of (Dark Side) Awesome:


In Which We Are Thankful (#ROW80)

Or, Pass The Stuffing. And A Large Spoon.

'Tis the season to express thanks to the Universe At Large, lest it decide you are an ungrateful schlub and take it all away, or cancel your reservation at the Restaurant at the End of its constantly expanding/contracting borders. (What is Out There, do you think, besides the ever elusive truth? Sushi, I hope. And large, rainbow-colored rum drinks with a fruit salad in it and little umbrellas to keep the ice from melting.) And for those who have never read Douglas Adams, get thee to a bookstore or library forthwith. You'll thank me.

Ahem. And now, Things I Am Thankful For, Verily:

1.  This year I made my first sale, Brighid's Cross, to Samhain Publishing. Everyone involved has been helpful and friendly and pretty darn-tootin' wunnerful. Maybe I'll be able to grow up to be a writer after all, sans the growing up part.

2.  Stunt Cate, who has gotten me through many a sticky wicket, and with bountiful laughter. My only regret is that she no longer shares my Evol Daye Jobbe, an invaluable bonus.

3. The Tech Monkey: Surely happiness is a spouse who Gets It, or when they don't, Appreciates It anyway. He's kept me in working computers, incredible cooking, and magically accomplished Evol Housework so I can get on with the writing. When curious folk ask him what his wife does, he does not invoke Evol Daye Jobbe, but states, quite assertively, that she is, in fact, A Writer. Because clearly that is what I am.

4.  Anne McCaffery, who died recently at age 85. When I was twelve I was laid up from May to August with, quite possibly, the worst broken leg EVAR. Because there are consquences of being hit by a car while crossing the street from getting off the school bus in front of one's very house and mother, who suffers from panic and anxiety disorder on a grand Irish scale. Because nothing Irish is ever done on anything but a grand scale, up to and including tea and Guinness, and, of course, broken legs. Wheelchair and couch bound, my silently sympathetic stepfather gave me some of his old sci-fi paperbacks to help pass the time. One was Dune, another Larry Niven's Dream Park. The rest was mainly Anne McCaffery, and hoo-da-lally, what an experience THAT was. It was the very first inkling that Writing Was Kewl, in a sense that playing D&D at the time was, in fact, not.

All things considered, I am an exceptionally lucky Writer Monkey. As a wee Monkey there were certain things I knew I wanted in my life, and other things not so much, and it's worked out pretty well so far, though in often strange ways. For those who don't believe Everything Happens For A Reason, well . . . have a drink and pull up a chair. Have I got some stories for you.

And now, Your Moment of Thanksgiving Awesome:


In Which We Do The Time Warp (#ROW80)

Or, It's Just A Jump To The Left . . .
Okay, I confess. My discovery draft of Marked reads and feels like I phoned it in. Hate that. HATE HATE HATE. Fortunately it's only a discovery draft, and I've got a self-imposed deadline of November 30th to get it into some kind of order. I can take more time if I have to, I just don't WANT to.

Also fortunately--because it's a discovery draft, I've made some, well, discoveries, of all things. Huh. Go fig. Among my spelunking endeavors:

Setting: I've decided that New Orleans of the near, natural-disaster ridden future will resemble Florence some ways--people access buildings from the upper levels and get about by boat because the French Quarter is now permanently flooded. Being New Orleans, the party hasn't slowed much, it's just gone rooftop.

Storyline: When first repurposed, my protagonist knew about the murders of some of of her fellow Keepers and is already investigating. Then I remembered the gods are hardly ever straightforward, so I've decided she doesn't know. The discovery of the latest will bring her to New Orleans and our faithful Romantic Interest, and she'll find out about the others during the course of the climax/catharsis. Yay, Stakes and Conflict! (*pauses while vampires scatter*) No, not those stakes, I meant--oh, nevermind. To Van Helsing with you.

KISS: No, not that kind of kiss. KISS, as in "Keep It Simple, Stupid". I tend to make things more complicated than they have to be, and not necessarily in the right way. I need to start simple, THEN raise stakes, complicate conflict, and generally beat the living daylights out of my characters. I tend to start overly-complicated, and then try to disentangle myself, only succeeding on getting myself even more tangled.

I also still need to focus on the romance aspects of Marked. It's there, I know it. Probably buried in the web of my over-complicated complications, like a catepillar. Eventually it will bloom to butterfly status, I just need to work at it some more. When it does, watch for thunderstorms.

Until then, have your:

Weekly Moment of Awesome:


In Which We Need A Little Romance (#ROW80)

Or, What’s A Story Like You Doing In A Place Like This?
So I’ve been thinking about romance lately. Not necessarily because the Tech Monkey and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary in October, but mostly due to reviews for Brighid’s Cross point out that the romance between my main characters is a mite less developed than it could have been. I think in an effort make the romance more conflicted by events and less so by character angst I may have over-edited the emotional impact. This may have been an answer to all the “I love you one moment, now I don’t, no wait I’ve changed my mind AGAIN” that so annoys me in some stories. I wanted it less than emotionally exhausting, a product of the story, but I may have left it underdone as a result. In hindsight, I probably could have included a bit more of Aika’s backstory, since it could have been a source of additional conflict. It being an apocalyptic story, and given Aika’s character, I’d thought the romance had hit the right, believable notes, being mostly straight forward, but apparently it could have used a little more oomph. Brighid’s Cross has been a learning experience in so many ways, and this is no exception.
Time, I decided, to take a good, hard look at the other burgeoning romances in my writing life.
Big Dang Projeckt
I am so far loving the developing romance between our favourite Fallen Knight and The Minstrel. To be fair, being a full-length novel, I have more time to insinuate this subplot into the main story. It’s mainly conflicted by Fallen Knight’s unfinished business with Childhood Sweetheart and the guilt that drives him to make amends for his past. On The Minstrel’s part, there’s the whole witnessing her father’s murder and putting her job first that’s holding her back from making emotional investments. But could there be more without ensuing melodrama? I don’t do melodrama well as either an audience member or a writer.
Marked (Keepers #2)
This being the second book in the Keepers of the Flame series, this is the one that concerns me most. Once again, I’ve got about 20K words to interweave the romantic subplot among the demons, betrayals, Loa, and murder investigation. So, how can I show this growing romance without telling? Again, without the dread melodrama? I’m a fan a subtext versus context, but for clarification purposes maybe a little context isn’t such a bad thing? Time to search for some balance, now that I have a discovery draft ready to be developed into a meditation draft.

The good news is, I recently got smacked between the eyes with an idea in regards to setting for Marked. Now I just need to figure out how to Make It Work.
So those are my goals this week—search for ways to promote romance without hitting my audience over the head repeatedly with a club, screaming “See? See?! ROMANCE!!” WHAM WHAM WHAM!!

How 'bout you, fellow ROW-ers? What are you focusing on this week? Lay it on me.