Absent

Oh boy, I’ve been neglecting you, poor readers!

Work, New Jobs & Stuff

Honestly, I’ve been so swamped with finding new work and getting my business running that I’ve completely pushed aside my writing life.

*sighs*

Lately, when I come home from work, I’ve noticed that it’s almost impossible for me to get into the mood to write or edit.  As such, I’ve determined if I’m going to keep at this novel thing, I have to get up extra early and do my writing then.  In the afternoon/evening I find myself naturally wanting to work on stuff related to my business.

So yeah, early morning novel stuff–that’s definitely gonna take discipline…lol.

Inspiration

What actually prompted me to remember all of this was the fact that I just finished playing the new Tomb Raider reboot last night.  Some of you know I’m a fan of Lara Croft, as well other archaeological and tomb-raiding characters such as Indiana Jones and Evelyn from The Mummy series.  I love globe-trotting adventures that are connected to mysteries of historical significance.  This very same spirit runs through my novel, Element 7–in its own fantastical “secondary world” way, of course. 😉

For reasons I can’t explain, few things make me say “stop the world–all else is on hold!” like a new Tomb Raider game would–and that’s Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and new episodes of “The Legend of Korra.”

Silly, but true.

Anyway…the new Tomb Raider game was pretty darn awesome, imo.  And even though it’s set on one island rather than in multiple locations like the old games (or the ones I played, anyway), it’s still epic in its own way.  As you can imagine, after finishing the game I was reminded of my own adventure story, which has gone neglected for too long now…

A Struggle

This editing/writing stuff has always been a constant struggle for me, but now it’s only going to get tougher.  I’m basically going to be working three jobs in the upcoming weeks–one with my current part-time retail position, another part-time job as a contractor for a lady who runs an estate sales business, and then my own business.  So, as you an imagine, squeezing in writing time is not gonna be easy.  (Of course, not playing video games might help. 😉 Though, everyone needs a little downtime and a way to replenish their imaginations.)

So why am I doing aaaaall of this?

Because I haven’t been able to find something in my field full-time.

The good news is that the estate sales lady wants to draw in more business so that she can have a full-time team and offer better pay–which means I could eventually drop the retail job and focus on the other one while doing my own design stuff on the side (as most interior designers and decorators do these days, I’ve learned).

It might all work out; it might not.  At this point, though, I’m willing to try just about anything!

Carry On

I don’t know how much blogging I’ll get to do nowadays, but I’ll be sure to keep you folks posted.  I’ve got a lot on my plate, but Element 7 is always on the back of my mind and I’m not gonna abandon it yet after all this time.

As it always has, it will take time to finish the job, but by golly I will finish it!

Addendum: oh yeah!  By the way, I came across this cool new blog called The Archaeology of Tomb Raider, if anyone is interested. 😀

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Epic Emotions, Heroes & Parallels – Writing From The Heart

I have to be honest… I’ve felt a tremendous need for introspection over the past week or so on things that have nothing to do with my writing—probably because I’m going through a lot of changes.  (Don’t worry, I’ll spare you most of the details.) One way some of my most recent experiences are actually related to my writing, however, is that suddenly I feel more connected to my characters—particularly my heroine.

I remember when I was working on the last couple of scenes in Element 7 during my heavy edits, I felt really emotional about them because, in a way, I was going through some of the same things that my MC (main character) was: heartbreak, confusion, disappointment…

Those are very potent, less-than-desirable experiences, though perhaps going through these things will only serve to make my writing that much more potent.

2012 has been a very dark year for me, actually. (Most will never understand just how dark it truly was for me).  And really, it’s only been in the last couple of months that I’ve felt those dark clouds start to roll away.  The future—my future—doesn’t look quite as…well, bleak as it once did before.  I’d lost a sense of purpose in my life, but lately, I’ve seemed to find some…

The Drifter, by Jack Vettriano.
The Drifter, by Jack Vettriano.

A Call to Action

I’m sure many writers know that there’s a moment in every epic “Hero’s Journey” known as the Call to Action (or Call to Adventure).  (This is relevant because Element 7 is, essentially, a nontraditional hero’s journey.)  Typically, this Call occurs closer to the beginning of a story, but I’m working on a series, and I think my novel actually has two Calls to Action–one near the beginning, and one right at the end.

Why?

Well, there’s got to be something to look forward to in the sequel…right?  (‘Course, gotta leave readers wanting more. ;))

Anyway, the reason I’m even bringing this up is because, right now, I feel I’m facing my own “Call to Adventure” starting my own interior design business…and, to be honest, it’s a pretty darn scary place to be.  If I chicken out, then I won’t have a “story” to live out and tell to others; if I answer the call…

…Well, I’ll kinda have to change.

Fact is I can’t continue to be the person I currently am if I want to get to where I want to go in life.  I have to move even more out of my comfort zone than I’ve been doing lately.

Baby steps are great, for a while, but sometimes you just have to take a huge freakin’ leap if you want to get to The Next Level.

You know what I’m sayin’?

Personal (Ironic) Parallels Between Fiction & Reality

So when I first started formulating the basic ideas behind Element 7, I was 19. I’m 24 now.  (Yes, that means it’s been over 5 years since I started working on this thing!)

Ironically, my main character, Voi, is also 24, so I’m just now catching up to her.  Also, ironically, Voi once made the decision to run her own business at a young age.  She’s a bit ahead of me, in some ways, and lately, I haven’t been looking at her as a hero so much as my hero.

Yes, that’s right—I actually look up to a fictional character.

You see, Voi is a lot more outgoing than I am.  She’s not afraid to do something risky—like drop out of college to pursue her love of flight and become a stunt flyer then later an entrepreneur.  She’s not afraid to make mistakes—or rather, she doesn’t let fear stop her from making them.  Also, she’s a bit of a pioneer.

Most entrepreneurs are, I think.

The point is: I kinda admire that about Voi, and it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to relate to her so directly.

It’s kinda neat.

So, as I sit here churning out my last edits before beta reading, I feel that I’m at a special point in my life where I can stop writing/editing from the notes and outdated plans and whatnot and just simply write from the heart.

Writing Action Scenes

This past week I’ve been working on some scenes that lead to the climax of my WIP, and since it is an adventure story…well, that means a lot of action.

The Challenge of Writing Action Scenes

I think it’s pretty well-known amongst writers that when you’re writing an action scene you want to avoid using long descriptions (and words).  This creates the feeling of snappier pacing, mimicking the inherent swiftness of action sequences.  The challenge, then, comes in relaying necessary information that gives the reader a clear picture of what’s going on…without getting terribly wordy about it.

Easier said than done!

When I write I see everything as a movie, full color ‘n’ all.  I have this saying: if I can’t see it, I can’t write it–’cause it’s true!  I can also be very detail-oriented, zooming in on certain aspects in attempt to render full three-dimensional imagery, so it’s been challenging for me to weed out less-than-critical details during action sequences when my narration pacing feels like it’s starting to drag.

For example, the other day I was editing a scene that involves four of my main characters who were…well, violently engaging four antagonists, heh.  (Let’s just say there were both conventional weapons, like guns and knives, as well as magic involved.)  Most of everyone was doing something in the scene and it took place in a relatively confined area.  My POV character was in a position to see most of all that was going on, so I wanted to reflect that in my writing, mentioning only what he would likely notice.  Also, sometimes he likes to check on his team members by flashing a quick look over his shoulder or whatnot, so then there was that.

That’s a lot of information to juggle, when you think about it.

As far as I see it, the more props and actors (so to speak) that you have in a scene, the more difficult it’s going to be to clearly communicate what’s happening.  As such, you have to be strategic in what you focus on in your narration, which is usually (though not always) anything dealing directly with the POV character–unless you’re writing from an omniscient viewpoint… o_O

As an example, it might be tempting to launch into description as to what your character’s opponent(s) looks like, but unless something about that person’s appearance hinges on an earlier plot point or provides necessary context for the current situation–oh look, it’s that man with the good-looking smile who you thought was actually a good guy!–it maaaay not be the best idea to include that kind of detail.

This is what I’ve realized over time, anyway.

Linky Linky!

Not long ago, when I was tweeting about working on an action scene, fantasy writer Lindsay Kitson shared with me a link to some articles with advice on writing fight scenes.  The author, Marie Brennan, mentions having some martial arts training (fencing and karate, it looks like).  In any case, you might find the link worth a look!

What do you do to make writing action scenes easier or flow more smoothly?

Introducing…Athena Voltaire!

This isn’t exactly “writing” stuff (more like inspiration), but…yesterday I was trying to hunt down this movie that, several years back, I saw either a trailer of or movie stills for (at least I thought I did) which involved either a Chinese or Japanese spy around the WWII era (I know! I can’t remember which)…and she was wearing this pilot helmet, and…that’s all I remember.

Not much to go on, I know.  That’s why I couldn’t find it!  (If it even exists.)

But that’s okay–because I accidentally came across something infinitely more amazing!

She’s a pilot, she’s handy with a pistol, she can kick some Nazi butt… Who is this chick?

Introducing: Athena Voltaire!

Athena Voltaire started out as an online web comic which, after earning a nomination for an Eisner Award and becoming a big success, carried over into print (available here).  In the creator Steve Bryant‘s own words during a Critical Mess interview in 2010, “Athena Voltaire is a book about a 1930s globetrotting aviatrix who fights Nazis and supernatural creatures. That’s the book in a nutshell.”  It was inspired by the likes of James Bond and Indiana Jones, as well as the real-life aviatrix Florence Lowe “Poncho” Barnes, and is described as a pulp adventure.  (Originally she was to be a space ranger, though I, for one, am glad for the change.)

Seriously, what’s not to love!  (Okay, she is portrayed as an obvious feast-for-the(-male)-eyes with a cleavacious 36-24-36 figure, but the concept is cool enough that I can get over this.)

You can check out some of the comics here (just click the images to progress through the story).  To learn more about the comics and the illustrator, check out these interviews on Westfield Comics and The Mighty Crusaders Network, as well as Bryant’s own blog.  (Interested but don’t feel like reading?  Well, check out this MTV Geek! video interview with Bryant instead.)

Lastly, here is a teaser video for Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon when it first came out in ’06:

And if you really love it, you can even “like” it on Facebook. 🙂

In The Meantime…

I should get back to editing.  Though, coming across this while working on a rough spot in the manuscript was pretty inspirational.  A reminder of the kind of thing I’m working towards: good, old-fashioned adventurous fun.  Complemented by moments of introspective character study, of course.  I enjoy a bit of both.  (I also came across some really cool information about earlier aircraft models as well as modern-day fixed-wing VTOL aircraft, but…I won’t go into that.)

How About You All?

Have you come across anything recently that has inspired you with ideas or just provided that bit extra motivation you needed to push through something that wasn’t working out?

The Adventures of Philip Marlowe!

Since Anthony asked about this earlier, I figured I’d just make a quick post about it!  (Easier to find on the site than a comment on a post, heh.)

You may have heard of writer Raymond Chandler’s famous character before, Philip Marlowe–a hardboiled, wisecracking private eye.  Several movies have been made featuring this character, including The Big Sleep (1946) with Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe and a later adaptation The Long Goodbye (1973) featuring Elliott Gould, as well as some TV and radio adaptations.

Lots of radio adaptations.

I’ve only seen a couple of the movies like The Long Goodbye and listened to a handful of the radio episodes, particularly the ones voiced by Gerald Mohr.  (I admit, I have a weakness for his voice! lol)  Though, they were very entertaining and I’ve very much derived inspiration from them.

Anyway, if you’re into film noir and detective pulp adventures, then you should definitely check out some of the radio episodes from The Adventures of Philip Marlowe on the Internet Archive.  They’ve got a pretty big collection there and you can listen to them and even download some onto your MP3 player!

Great for a listen while you’re stuck commuting in traffic. 😉

Now, how about a movie trailer?