Terrible Strange: Behind the Scenes

Hi everyone.

Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes of my first novel, tentatively titled Terrible Strange. I started this and completed a rough first draft when I was in grad school a couple of years ago. However, there was so much wrong with it that I decided to put it away for a while – it just wasn’t speaking to me, you know?

Anyway, it did start speaking to me a few months ago so I set about rewriting it. I’ve changed the POV, made the characters older, took them out of high school and put them in grad school, got rid of the clichéd “angry dad” character, and did a LOT more digging into my protagonist’s backstory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also left behind “pantsing” in favor of plotting.

I’m not gonna lie – it’s been a struggle to make such a big change to my writing process, but whenever you combine pantsing with ADD all you get is a hot mess that kinda looks like a story. At least, that’s been my experience.

 

 

 

 

So, I checked out a bunch of different plotting books – there are so many good ones – and loved two books in particular: Save the Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody and Story Genius, by Lisa Cron.

I was already familiar with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat series from my screenwriting days, and Lisa Cron’s blueprint method of building a story that has both internal logic and a sense of urgency is brilliant. Plus, constantly asking yourself, and your characters, questions – as she recommends – really, really works. Who knew?

 

 

Anyway, despite my lack of productivity – God, how I wish I could regularly churn out 2,000 words a day like my OCD girl idols on YouTube – I have still managed to reach the midpoint in my novel. Yay!

How about you? Have you ever rewritten something from scratch because the story just wouldn’t let you go? No matter how hard you tried to leave it in the box of shame, or the folder of forgetfulness?

Please let me know in the Comment section.

Thanks for reading.

Message in a Bottle

Hi, welcome back.

Spent this morning helping my husband set up a recording studio in our living room. He’s recording his first Bad Buddhist Video vlog, based off his original Bad Buddhist Radio podcasts right now. I plan to do something similar, myself, although I don’t have a body of work to pull from like he does. Also hoping to get my own podcast up and running soon.

Anyway, all of this we’re doing lately — the blogs, the vlogs, the podcasts — made me think of how old-fashioned this stuff is (despite the technology). Whether we’re writing a book, or a song; making a blog post, filming a video, or recording a podcast … they’re all basically the same thing. We’re all reaching out,trying to make connections with other people to stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Because believe me, no matter how much we all deny it, humans really do need other humans. Connections — social, physical, and spiritual — are sort of like the grease in the wheels that keep we humans going. Without it, we can carry on for a little while, but it won’t be long before we grind to a halt and possibly burst into flames.

 

 

 

 

Connection is especially important to creative people — it’s the sustenance we crave to keep creating. It’s the reason why there are so many new YouTube videos are being made right now; why so many artists and musicians are sitting in their living rooms or garages singing to us; why talk show hosts are bravely doing their monologues from home — complete with strangely flat jokes — knowing that none of it’s the same without us in the room with them.  They — we — are all trying to connect with one another during this strange time.

It’s sort of like together we’re all creating a 21st century version of Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. Why Defoe’s “historical fiction”,  and not Pepys’ diary, (a contemporary account based on his actual experiences)? Because even though Daniel Defoe was only 5 years old in 1665, the year of the Great Plague in London, his Journal was a combination of his uncle’s personal experience, research and systematic detail. In other words, Defoe tried to paint the bigger picture while still grounding the event in the personal.

Which is kind of what we’re all doing, on a subconscious level.

So here’s my message in a bottle.

Someday it will be found and added to the 2020 edition of the Journal, making some OCD historian very happy as she/he/they pastes my little scrap of humanity in it’s proper place on the Covid19 timeline.

 

How I’m Going to Make 2020 My Bitch

I realize that making a public declaration like this is one of the stupidest things you can do. Everyone knows that as soon as you make a grand pronouncement like this you are essentially cursing yourself in a very public manner.  (This is probably why nearly every great undertaking starts off with very little fanfare. In secret. If it fails, who cares? Nobody, because no one knew about it.)

Well, where’s the fun in that?

I believe in the Accountability Model of Achievement (aka The Public Shaming Model)– the more people whom I tell, the more likely I am to actually do what I said I was going to do. Because if I don’t then everyone and their mother will be guaranteed to ask me “Whatever happened to that thing you said you were going to do…?” for the next freaking year. Or two.

So, the more people who are invested in something, the less likely I am to let it die a quiet, unnoticed death.

That’s the plan anyway.

So, here goes.

In 2020 I plan on finishing my novel (… that I initially started about 4 years ago in grad school. Don’t ask. I did actually, technically finish it, it just sucked so bad I couldn’t bear it. Hence, third draft’s the charm, eh?) and  publishing it.

 

 

 

I am working on getting the movie  I made a few years ago — Gameheads — broken up into bite-sized videos and put on YouTube as a serial.

I am revamping my old student blog into a new author blog. (You’re looking at it right now, babe.)

I am starting a podcast, which will be about writing plus whatever-the- hell-I-feel-like-talking-about.

I’m going to do more book reviews — both fiction and non-fiction — along with some movie and TV reviews.

As God is my witness, I am going to learn how to play the guitar even if it KILLS me!

 

 

 

And finally, I want to start

attending some writing or sci-fi/fantasy  conventions as a guest again.

 

Whew! That’s enough for one year.

How about you? What are your plans for 2020? Don’t be afraid — just spit it out! Believe me, not only is it therapeutic, but the prospect of some good, old-fashioned public shaming might be just the kick in the ass you need to get things done.