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I’ve Got Something to Say: Why TEROH is Not My First Draft (or Novel)

17 Nov

I don’t think this is clear to people who haven’t been following me for very long, but the version of The Elementalist: Rise of Hara (TEROH) that I sent out to my beta readers recently—as many flaws as it still maintains—is actually not my first draft. Technically, it’s not even my first novel.

Granted, I still have a good amount of work to do on the manuscript, not having consulted outside eyes until I felt I had a solid understanding of the story’s soul, but the point I want to make is that this novel (and the series it continues to spawn) has not only seen several rebirths of its most basic concept; it’s also seen numerous cycles of development to a minute level of detail, which has allowed my subconscious brain to make connections between my ideas in ways that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d only spent one or two years on this project.

There are several reasons for this.

Element 7 Wordle 2

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It’s done.

21 Oct

You guys. I have something important to tell you.

You know that novel I’ve been working on for over 10 years now? The one that started back in 2007 as a series of random journal entries that eventually became scenes, which eventually became a novel? The one that I rewrote several times just so I could “get it right” then edited more times than I can recall?

Yeah, well…it’s done.

No, I really mean it. I sent it out to beta readers. Today. Like the whole thing. Completed.

Does that mean it won’t see any more changes? No, but I’ve gotten it as good as I can get it on my own, so now I’m sharing it with others who can help me make it even better.

What Comes Next?

Well, once I’ve gotten feedback from my beta readers (thank you!), I’ll be reading through that then deciding what changes should be made to my story. After which…

See, now that’s where things get fuzzy. Do I get ready to send the thing to literary agents and hope that I can find representation and a publisher, or do I strike out on my own as a self-published author? I’ve been debating this for some time now, and I’m still no closer to an answer. I’ve been telling myself, “Hey, why don’t you do some submissions for a while and see how that goes? If nothing comes of it, you can always self-publish.” Which is fine. But the very designer/creator side of me really likes the idea of having a say in things like the cover and layout design of my first novel.

Besides, I’m hearing it’s tough for self-proclaimed dieselpunk writers to get any representation right now—simply for the fact that they identify their work as “dieselpunk”. And that’s messed up ’cause y’all know I’m all about dieselpunk. I’ve gotten very involved in that community lately on Facebook and am even one of the top profiles that pop up on Twitter when you search for “dieselpunk”. In other words, I’ve been branding myself a certain way and would like to continue doing so.

In any case, I could go back to brainstorming ideas for Book II, which I’ve already started. I might wait a few weeks on that, at least, though. Take a break.

*sighs*

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me.

What Are You Working On?

Writing a novel yourself? Or maybe you’ve been reading some good stories lately. I wanna know!

Flash Fiction: ‘Mmm…thought so.’

16 Jul

“Is he here? Is he seeing all of this?” Andre asks, referring to Voi’s clairvoyant handler as he knowingly runs a hand past her stockings, pausing on the garter straps.

She murmurs incoherent noises into his ear, struggling to make sense of words. Chamber music echoes off the walls—waltzes or trots or tangos. She forgets which.

“Mmm…thought so,” Andre says anyway. He stares into Voi’s unfocused eyes, flipping a clip undone with his thumb. Her pupils enlarge suddenly just as a gale bursts through the window.

Andre curses, flinching away.

Obliviously drinking in the fumes of ambrosia with another drag on her cigarette, Voi soon tosses her head back with a manic laugh as she allows herself to slip further from reality, no longer resisting Andre’s attempts to “parley.” All the while, the crowd continues dancing under the spell of the domesticated ball downstairs…

Voi gasps, then breathes.  The wind starts to die down some, and so does her laughter.  She begins humming.

“You’ve been a naughty girl, Voi…” Andre carefully takes the contraband drug from her fingertips now and stares at it.  “Where did you manage to get this from anyway?”

Voi pulls her head upright, peering at him with dark eyes. They no longer seem unfocused.  Instead, she says in a low voice, “Is that really what you came here for, Andre?”

Sometimes, I come across art or music that gives me a very specific idea for a scene in a new novel or, perhaps, one I’m already working on. This painting, “Night Geometry” by Jack Vettriano, is one such piece of art. Actually, a lot of Vettriano’s work has been inspiring scenes for my fantasy series over the past few years. It’s sultry and moody and full of tension, sometimes with noir-ish undertones, and that appeals to me. (Not your typical fantasy stuff, eh?)

Anyway, I had this particular scene in mind for a story that I won’t get to for another three novels from now—The Elementalist: Grand Masquerade, in fact—but hey, gotta catch that inspiration when it strikes, right? Also, my series has been in third-person limited, past tense so far, and sometimes it’s subjective because the narrator will add a bit of whimsical dramatic irony here or there, so I don’t know why I’ve changed forms here in this snippet.  Not even sure what perspective this is in or if it’s consistent! Kinda feels omniscient, in a way—which would be fun to play around with later, given that Voi is apparently playing with drugs at this point in the series…

I guess that’s what happens when you try and wing things.

In other news, I’m about 70% done with my edits on Book I. Kind of a nice feeling, considering. 🙂 Planning on being done by the end of August, at the latest. If I keep making steady progress, I should be able to hit that goal.

Would be nice!

…And here’s a little (not-so) random music to go along with the snippet, just because.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0fw2O8ZuCHgFt6CVvDZZds

Let’s Be Honest

18 Jun

I’ve done it yet again: I’ve fallen into a slump with my novel, TEROH. (Thank God I’m not a career novelist!)

Can I be honest? I’m not a very consistent person. Except at work. Though, when I’m not at work—that is, getting paid for said work—I have a totally different mindset about, well, everything: if it’s not work then it’s basically leisure.

I know, that’s not how real life works (chores, bills and the like), but my brain forever has a hard time accepting that.

Anyway, out of my three big goals for this year, finishing TEROH is the one I’ve yet to cross off the list. (Okay, technically I haven’t started writing the second book yet. Though realistically, I should have set the goal as “start outlining and otherwise conceptualizing the remaining books in the series,” which I’ve done.) Every time I take a break and look back at what I’ve accomplished, I only see how much I’ve left to do. And when I think of the effort it took to get to where I am now, it saps the energy right out of me.

I have tunnel vision when I’m set on something, too, so I get really intense when I do work on my novel. It’s like the only thing I work on (outside of work). Worse, when I’m not in “work” mode, I’m as scatterbrained as they come.

What I’m saying is I don’t know how not to operate at 100% in any one mode, resulting in a spectacular crash-and-burn followed by a complete standstill on certain projects.

So, what have you been doing instead of writing, Tiyana?

Working on my house, apparently.

 

I have a lot of interests outside of writing, so when one thing stumps/overwhelms/bores me I’ll just hop onto something else. Thing is I really don’t want to get to the end of 2017 and not be able to say, “Hey guys, it only took me 10 years, not 11!” (This is not an exaggeration.)

This may be hard to believe, but I do just want to be done with this novel. I also know what will be required of me to get it to its best and it’s still a decent amount of work—less than I’ve had to do in the past but enough to psyche me out every now and then. (Hence the prolonged periods of nothingness.) Up to this point, I’ve been reading the whole thing aloud, but I actually find it effective to do a mixture of things:

  1. First, do a quick read-through of a scene to see if anything glaring sticks out then fix what I need to.
  2. Next, read the scene aloud and edit whatever else jumps out at me.
  3. Third, at a later date, read back through my changes and assess whether things still sit well with me. (Since I’ve divided the novel into five parts, I find it helpful to go back a do a quick re-read of that entire section as a whole once I’ve finished editing all the scenes in it.)

Doing this, I find, helps me finesse over errors that can happen in the middle of editing and makes me feel good about moving on—for good! Something I’ve been able to do with Parts I and II, thankfully. (I’m two super short scenes shy of finishing Part III. I’ve just been putting it off for reasons I don’t entirely understand.)

This is all fine and well, but when do you plan on finishing edits on TEROH?

Honestly, I have no idea how/when I’m going to kick myself into finishing the rest of my edits right now. I just know the goal was to get it done before the end of the year. So instead of pushing myself into these intense sessions where I’m working on it all day during my free time to make insane levels of progress, maybe I should just pace myself a bit slower and take more time.

It’s not like I haven’t taken enough time already.

(Edit: when I say “take more time,” I mean “take more time actively editing” and not “more time doing nothing.”)

How do you get yourself back out of a writing/editing rut?

Oh, yeah—and on a totally unrelated note, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Also, is it just me or has WordPress been annoyingly buggy lately? I mean I go to type something then come back later and it’s like I never typed it!

‘Does your book have any romance?’

7 May

We were sitting in this high-rise apartment, this stranger and I, J, talking about my novel. Sipping on some mixture of pale Moscato and red wine he’d poured, not realizing I wasn’t really into wine.

I like juice and whiskey, I said. Oh, then you might like this, J assured me.

He kept pouring. Turned out the drink was alright.

J was a writer, too. He understood. Though, when he asked the question, “Does your book have any romance?” I fell quiet for a moment then gave him this kind of wry, bitter laugh.

That he didn’t understand. He furrowed his brow, so I had to explain.

“The men in the novel aren’t exactly romantic. One tries to be, but it doesn’t come across that way because he’s too forceful; the other’s profession involves manipulating the protagonist to do something she normally wouldn’t do. I can’t really call that romance.”

J didn’t have much to say about that. The night carried on regardless.

Why There Isn’t Any ‘Real’ Romance in My Novel

Photo by Nathan Walker.

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Writing Vlog #2: Planning a (Fantasy) Series

19 Mar

Today is the day Tiyana explains how she actually sat down and thought about the future of her fantasy series…

…after 10 years of working on the first novel, heh.

 

I’m amazed at how much my brain can come up with simply by listening to music. (A lot of this I actually talked about in the “goals” portion of my last blog post, so this may be a little redundant for blog readers. However, if you like videos more than text, then voilà!)

How do you plan for a novel series?

If you’re working on one, that is. 🙂 (Or have worked on in the past.)

Channeling Your Emotions into Dark Writing Themes & Writing Complex Characters + Goals Update

4 Mar

Last weekend, I released a new YouTube video discussing the idea of channeling your own emotions in order to tackle dark themes in your writing and how this can result in more complex characters. Also, I reference some of my personal life experiences and explain how they manifest in my writing.

 

I really believe that if you’re going to play with any particular theme in a story—be it light or dark—then it’s important to come from a personal place when doing so. Otherwise, you run the risk of writing a story that does not emotionally resonate with readers in an authentic way and instead comes across more like a dry essay or intellectual exercise in flexing your technical literary muscles.

At least, this has been my experience while wrestling with my WIP and reading other people’s writing. Continue reading

On the Importance of Being ‘Black’ & the Burden of ‘Proof’

1 Mar

Today, I was watching an interesting YouTube video by a biracial writer named Maya Goode, who was discussing the topic of “do I have to ‘prove my blackness as a writer?'”—to which my response would be a resounding hell no.

Allow me to explain.

‘Blackness’ Today Retains a Mindset of Enslavement, Sadly

To be honest, I’ve always found it mind-boggling how biracial people can be treated in the United States. My cousins, who are mixed, have always talked about feeling as if they never really “fit in” with blacks or whites. Yet, as for me and my black family and how I didn’t grow up with “the struggle” of being poor, I have constantly been reminded of this—especially by my mixed cousins. How could I possibly understand what it means to be black when I haven’t even had to “struggle?”

Personally, I don’t care for being black. At all. “Black” is a prison some choose to erect around themselves in order to feel safe then force onto others who make them feel unsafe.

Why would I want to be “black” when so many other “black” people have failed to accept me—the same “blacks” who are constantly trying to find ways to invalidate other people’s experiences so they can elevate their experiences over that of others, just so they can feel better about themselves? That is the most enslaving attitude a person can choose to cling to all of his or her life, and I refuse to live that way.

It’s like certain black Americans today simply refuse to just let go of the idea of slavery…despite that it’s everything our ancestors have suffered for and fought so hard against. (Oddly enough, I don’t think this mindset restricts itself to the black community.)

What good is there in limiting your creative potential to ethnic or cultural expectations? Continue reading

Writing Vlog #1: Plotting & Editing a Fantasy Novel

4 Feb

So today, I decided to post a vlog about where I am with my WIP novel, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Basically, I discuss the methods I’ve tried, what’s worked for me, what hasn’t, etc…and what that all amounts to: in the end, you just have to try different things and find out what works for you!

 

In other news, today has been a very sad day for me.  I decided it was necessary to put my two kitty cats, Kit Kat and Tigger (shown in the video), to sleep. 😦 I’m incredibly sad about it so won’t go into the details today, but I plan on talking about it in a more appropriately-themed post a few weeks from now.

Anyway, that’s all for now. 🙂 Thanks for reading/watching!

Why I Write Fantasy

22 Jan

Quick note: just posted a new short-ish video on YouTube talking about why, and how, I decided to start writing fantasy stories! (It’s 15 minutes long—short for me, anyway.)

Why do you write/read fantasy?

What drew you/continues to draw you to this genre? Or alternatively, what do you like about reading fantasy stories? Let me know in the comments!