2013: Adaptations

© Redshinestudio - Fotolia.com

© Redshinestudio – Fotolia.com

Here we are, this year coming to a close and staring down the barrel of a new one.

2012 was a great year. Many good things happened. I won some awards both for academics and for writing. I didn’t publish as many short stories, but I feel like the ones I did publish were better stories. I got paid for my first story, Nowhere Land, and that story got some great reviews. I had my first reprint: my story The ABCs of the Apocalypse was reprinted in The Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2. I had a vampire story, The Bloodletter’s Tale, published in the Flashes in the Dark e-zineI have a story called The Apprentice’s Mother, being published in the Sunday Snaps anthology soon.

I ventured into journalism, writing a story for the school online newspaper about President Obama’s visit to one of our campuses.

I was nominated by my school for the All Florida Academic Team. I had a short story win two academic awards.

I did not do everything I planned to do in 2012. I’m still working on getting my book of short stories finished and out there in the world.

That being said, my list for 2013 contains some items of old business.

There are also some major changes in store for me in 2013, some life adaptations that I’ll be making. But as a friend of mine, Sophie Solitaire once told me: “You have to adapt or you will die.” Sophie is a character in my post-apocalyptic story Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl. 

2013 Goals:

Writing/Publishing Goals:

Kill the Crow — Get the stories that are going in it finished, get them all assembled in anthology format and find beta readers for the book. Find out how I can publish to both Smashwords and Amazon. If anyone reading this can help me with beta reading or publishing suggestions, please comment. I need all the help I can get.

Quellseek: Army of Empaths, Book 1 — This is the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I want to finish it and let it sit for a bit before I start editing. I’ve also begun note-taking and planning the second book of the series: Blood War. 

Blood War: Army of Empaths, Book 2 — The second book of Army of Empaths. I won’t give too much away, but Quellseek ends with some cliffhanger stuff. I want to start work on Blood War right way, while the momentum and juices are still hot and flowing.

Army of Empaths, Book 3 — I want to begin planning what’s going to happen in the 3rd book while I’m writing the 2nd book, taking notes as I go along on anything that might be a loose end that would need wrapping up. We don’t like loose ends.

Short stories  — I’d like to get some short stories written, I don’t know if I’ll have time. If I get invited to write another eMergent story, I’d definitely say ‘yes.’ I love working with Jodi Cleghorn and the eMergent crew.

I’m also planning a children’s fantasy about a dragon princess, but it’s just in the beginning/tinkering stages right now. And I’m playing with the idea of putting  a volume of poetry together.

The Were-Travler My first year as a fiction magazine publisher went pretty smoothly. Ever since the mag was listed on Duotropes, the submissions have been pouring in. It may be that I’ll need someone to help me with it eventually, but I’m having a lot of fun with it and definitely plan to keep it going.

Academic Goals:

Find a new school. In May, I will receive my Associates degree. I need to make up my mind about what university I’m going to attend to get my Bachelors. I need to make this decision soon. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve applied for some scholarships, we’ll see what happens. 

Awards. I’m trying to get another short story ready for Phi Theta Kappa Regional Awards for this year. I’m also entering a poem.

Survive Spanish 2. I need to pass this class in the Spring. It will count toward my BA. I haven’t been able to practice my Spanish much since I took Spanish 1 in the summer, so this will be hard. I may have to get a tutor. 😦

This is what I hope to accomplish for 2013. If I can achieve a fraction of it, I’ll be happy.

I wish everyone a successful and happy new year ahead!

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Series-ously: My Best Reads of 2012

kitty readerI gave myself a reading challenge with Goodreads this year. I set a goal of reading 50 books (that’s 1.04 books per week). Even though that was a daunting figure, and I did not succeed, I did manage to read 43 books! Only 7 short of 50, and the year is not over yet. I plan to challenge myself to the same goal in 2013.

Some of the best reads I’ve had in 2012 (most of which have been series):

  • A Song of Ice and Fire Series, by George R.R. Martin.
    • Series-ously, these books are freaking fantastic! Like Tolkien for grown-ups. Sex, war, dragons and these strange creatures called the Others that create zombies out of the dead. So good it’s an HBO miniseries. Can it be more awesome? Oh, and there’s a wise-cracking noble dwarf. So good, I’m in the process of reading them all again. And this time, not from the library, but spending my own bucks on them. That should tell you how good I think these books are. Here’s a listing of the books in their proper reading order, though I warn you, if you haven’t read the books, you WILL become hopelessly addicted. Hopelessly. Did I mention the dwarf? Tyrion Lannister is the coolest wine-swilling, whore-mongering dwarf ever!
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
    • I always include a healthy helping of classic reading in my intellectual diet and this book is one of the best classic gothic scary stories I’ve consumed in quite awhile, with one of the scariest protagonists. Jackson’s writing is superb, and if you’re a writer, you should read her just as a study of the craft, never mind the enjoyment you’re sure to receive in her exquisite storytelling. But I’ve been a fan of her work for awhile.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1), by Ransom Riggs
    • A fantasy that contains all of my favorite elements (except dragons). Creepy kids with supernatural powers, a hero discovering himself, horrifying monsters, and time travel. There is also the fact that the author scoured the world for weird photographs and then wrote this strange and surreal novel around those photographs. It’s a favorite of Tim Burton, who is considering making a film of it.
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    • This is my top post-apocalyptic series of the year it beats out the one following just by a hair, mainly because the hero in it is a girl. I like strong female characters and Katniss Everdeen is one of my favorites. The fact that she’s not perfect and seems to become more emotionally scarred as the series progresses only makes me love her more, because the struggle she endures makes her stronger, and more sure of herself in the end. Here is the reading order for those who haven’t indulged in the Games:
  • The Chaos Walking Trilogy, by Patrick Ness
    • I loved the premise of this series. Mankind has journeyed to other planets. A religious group founds a planet where they can escape the craziness of the technological world they came from, live in peace, and get back to the basics in life: farming, worshipping, living simply and purely. Sound idyllic? Think again. Due to the Noise Germ, animal thoughts can be heard aloud…and so can men’s thoughts. But not women’s thoughts. This leads to mistrust between the sexes and eventually war, war against each other and against the indigenous species known as the Spackle. Interesting and sometimes infuriating to read (the POV character is the illiterate boy hero and Ness writes in his voice, complete with spelling and grammar faux pas that normally would send me into fits, but somehow seems right in this book). Also has one of the most despised villains I have had the joy of hating in awhile (Mayor Prentiss—he’s even more despicable than Cersei Lannister and would even give good ‘ol King Joff a run for his money, too). This series is also being considered for a film. The reading order:
  • Temeraire Series, by Naomi Novik
  • Anathem, by Neil Stephenson
    • This book is not for everyone. It’s a hard science fiction book that takes place on another world, but a world that shares similarities with Earth. They have convents (on this world called ‘concents’) but the monks are not the religious. They are the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers. Secreted away and kept a close watch on by Warden Regulants and the Inquisition. The story is told through the first person point-of-view of one of the ‘avout,’ a young man named Erasmus who is with the astronomy branch of the order, the Edharians. When Fraa Erasmus’ superior, Fraa Orlo sees something strange in the night sky, Erasmus’ sheltered life comes to an end. There is a spaceship from another world orbiting Arbre, and soon Erasmus and his friends will play a pivotal role in dealing with the alien visitors to their world. I really dug this book. I dig science and I kind of dig math, and those bits are good, but I really enjoyed some of the philosophical interactions between the fraa’s and suur’s (female members of the avout). The “nerve-gas farting pink dragon” scene where Erasmus gets “planed” by his mentor is hysterically intellectual. My brain thanked me for reading this book! Stephenson demonstrates spectacular world-building skills. I totally believe in the possibility that an Arbe-like planet could exist out there. And if it does, it may well be the Hylean Theoric World.
  • Must Love Dragons, by Monica Marier
    • Last, but never least. I love to read Indie authors, and Monica is one of my favorites. I’m not saying that because she’s an online buddy of mine, I’m saying it because she writes some kick-ass stories. Monica takes fantasy elements and blends them like an artist. Like Dali, all funky and stuff. Toss in humor and adventure and you’ve got Must Love Dragons. The hero of the tale is a Ranger named Linus Weedwhacker (hows that for a name?), a half human/half elf who has gone back to work because his wife (a feisty red dragoness) is pregnant. Again. Linus gets caught up in a caper that involves killing an ice dragon. His Ranger co-workers on the quest are an elf, two spoiled elf kids, and a giant man who is more than he appears to be. I wrote a review of this book earlier in the year. I’m currently reading the second book in her Linus Weedwhacker series, Runs in Good Condition, and her Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid is on my To-Read list for 2013.

I wish you great reading joy in 2013!

Quellseek Songs: Alverin Ness (Dare You to Move)

One handsome masculine male with nice eyesAs part of my writing process for my novel Quellseek: Army of Empaths, I’m seeking out songs that I can use to inspire my muse before we sit down at the laptop to write. I’m going to be using songs that I associate with my POV characters.

I have to admit it. I had a hard time finding a song for Alverin Ness.

He only has two POV chapters in the novel, but his character will have tremendous impact on future events in the story.

Alverin is the natural son of Manyx Atarem. Manyx is a known philanderer, but the only bastard child he’s ever acknowledged is Alverin.

Alverin lives mostly with his mother in a small village outside the Hungry Hills, where he has to contend with people looking down on him and (what he really can’t stand) his mother.

Although he is the son of a Bon noble, he has never been involved in the blood feuds that exist between the noble families, particularly the one against Atarem and Sanis. As a bastard, he’s always been beneath everyone’s radar. Not worth the time or effort it would take to kill him. So, he’s never had to have a Quell (physical empath bodyguard)…something for which he is thankful.

He’d like nothing more than to remain in his village with his mother, marry the girl he has a crush on and have a quiet, simple life. He gets to see his father and half-siblings when he visits Hook Harbor.  Even his father’s wife, if she treats him a little coldly, is not mean to him.

He likes his life the way it is.

But everything is about to change for Alverin Ness and his whole world will soon be turned upside down. He will face challenges and danger as finally, after fourteen years, people have the Atarem Bastard in their sights.

As his chapter opens, Pelees has come to escort him to the court. Bon Manyx wants the family united at the side of his friend, the ailing King Eggar. The last time Alverin saw his brother and father was at his brother Evander’s funeral pyre. Now he must go to the court, where all the Bon families of the kingdom are gathering to attend the king on his deathbed. He is not looking forward to being in the presence of the other noble families, most of them enemies, who have nothing but contempt for the Atarem Bastard.

So what kind of song did I choose for this unfortunate boy facing a world of challenges that he must either rise to or perish?

I chose Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” because to me it says that from his birth and throughout the battles to come, Alverin Ness has to step outside of himself…and become more than what he is, or his enemies will destroy him.

“Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be”

-Switchfoot

The Death of the Servant Nissen: Excerpt from Quellseek

@Dundanim - Fotolia

@Dundanim – Fotolia

Quellseek is the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo. The following is from the opening of the novel.

For three horrible days and nights, they watched as Nissen died, lingering in agony and screaming for all the gods and devils that ever were to end his torture, despite the extremely high dosages of opiate he was given…every hour it seemed…until exhaustion from the screaming and straining against the straps which held him down gave way to uneasy and fidgety slumber.

For three horrible days and nights during his un-peaceful bouts of sleep, everyone in the keep prayed to all those unmerciful gods and devils to hear him and grant him a reprieve from this world, which was too much a burden, on him and everyone…selfish as that may sound; it is no easy thing to listen to the torments of a man in the throes of a death such as his.

And through it all, yes, through the most wrenching screams that set ones teeth on edge, though the episodes of blood and bits of internal flesh spewing through his mouth and nose, growing so frequent now that one had to wonder how there was anything left inside him, let alone how he was able to continue to draw breath; through it all, it was Bona Marta who remained at his side.

Nissen was a stubborn man, though, and he continued to cling to life by the tips of his fingernails, which had all turned a blue-black shade, no doubt due to the pseudo-toxins which continued their slow course through his pain-wracked body.

Finally, on the dawn of the fourth day, Bon Pelees paid a visit, and everyone knew then that Nissen was dead. Bona Marta pulled the sweat-soaked sheet over his stilled face, which had purpled almost as much his fingertips in the last hour of his torment.

Bon Pelees sat bowed and huddled, shivering at the side of the deathbed, while Marta hurried to get the servants to wash and prepare the body before disintegration set in.

Pelees opened his weary eyes. His face was gray and taut; he’d fought his own struggles, and they’d left him wearied and palsied.

“He shall have to be on the bier tonight,” Corman spoke from his seat far in the corner by the fire. He’d arrived with the Bon, having stayed by his master’s side during the poisoned illness. “No part of him can be left for the spies of Brax to find.”

Pelees nodded, slowly. “He was a brave man. But then again they all are. Where will I find another like him?”

Corman snorted. “Haverton, of course, unless the Order refuses you. And who could blame them? The Good Seekers go through priests and priestesses at a fearsome rate.”

Pelees lifted his head and favored Corman with a angry look. “I did not mean that. He will be replaced. And it has been a year, Corman. A whole year. Since the last.”

“True enough. Either your enemies love you better than they do your father and mother, or they find it more difficult to try and kill you…or…” Corman cut himself off suddenly, and blushed, as if he’d said too much…

from “The Death of the Servant Nissen,” Chapter 1 of “Quellseek: Army of Empaths”

Cover of “Quellseek: Army of Empaths.”

NaNo 2012: Six Degrees of Preparation

November is National Novel Writing Month!

When I did NaNoWriMo back in 2010, I was happy to get through it and win it without losing too much of my sanity. I have so little left to lose. 😛

Writing 50,000 words in just a month’s time can be a daunting task and can put a severe strain on the other areas of your life. I have a lot of stuff on my plate: work, college classes, and other obligations that also need to be considered and can not just be shunted aside for the sake of a making a daily word count.

So why did I decide to to it this year and how will I manage it? These are the questions I’m going to attempt to answer in this post.

I’m doing NaNo this year for two reasons. One (and perhaps the most important): I have a story I’m dying to tell and I’m totally in love with it. I don’t know if anyone else will ever love this book as much as I already do, and right now, I don’t really care. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but I’m writing this book because I want to. I don’t know if there will be a market for it. Don’t care. Two: I’ve been in a slump lately with my fiction writing and I need to break out of it. I have a couple short story projects with upcoming deadlines. I’m hoping that by getting into a groove with my novel, I will feel inspired to begin these other projects.

How am I going to do it? I’ve been planning this novel for a little while now…long before I began entertaining any thoughts about trying to write it in November. Here’s some of the ways I’ve been preparing to write my November novel, Quellseek: Army of Empaths:

  1.  Preliminary NotesWhen I first got the idea for this story, I started taking notes on things that would come to me about it. I make sure I have small notebooks in my purse now to scribble things on. I also use Notes or Evernote on my iPhone to keep track of little things that come to me.
  2. A.B.T. & D.S.E.: Always. Be. Thinking. This leads to more of Number 1. It’s good to think. I couple this with…Dropping Some Eaves: I listen to the conversations happening around me. You never know when a great literary nugget will come from a complete stranger, or a good line of conversation. Thinking and Eavesdropping can be turned into some great plot twists or dialogue in your book, and when you’re writing a novel, every little bit helps. Once you learn to fine-tune  your senses, you’ll discover tidbits all around you!
  3.  Outline: I’ve got an outline I’ve been working on in Evernote.

    Click for larger.

    Evernote is a great tool for simple outlines. I love the hell out of Evernote. It’s available as a phone app, too, so I can work on stuff when I don’t have access to a computer. I also use Evernote to record revelations I have concerning characters, plot, settings and to collect research. Seriously, Evernote is one of the coolest organization tools out there. And the basic package (which does everything I need it to do) is free!

  4. Story bible for serious notes (WIKA): I always buy and use story bibles, just plain Mead notebooks (with pocket folders inside) that I can carry around with me to jot stuff down in while I’m having lunch or riding on the bus. When I’m working on a story, I suffer anxiety if I don’t have my story bible with me. I only use them for longer stories, and novels, of course. One type of notes I’m taking for this one involve the POV characters. I’ve never written a novel where the POV will switch back-and-forth, so I’m writing a page or two of a chapter synopsis about what happens to the POV character in each chapter. I call these “What I Know About,” or WIKA for short. I’ll do the first one as a character sketch, then just write chapter details in subsequent ones. I also have a copy of my tentative chapter list in my story bible. I write the titles of the chapters followed by one or two empty lines…to add any chapters I may have to insert along the way. You never know.
  5. Character Set-up (StoryMill): I use the writing software StoryMill. I know a lot of people use Scrivener and swear by it, and to each their own. StoryMill works for me. It is set up a lot

    Click for Larger.

    like Evernote. There’s places for notes and research. But what  I dig most about StoryMill is the mini-character database within it. I can create and keep track of all my characters. I can use tags to identify which characters are dead. I can then run a SmartView later to show me all the dead characters. It’s just a wonderfully helpful piece of software that works for the way I write. It also has a Timeline feature, but I haven’t figured out how to use it yet. I may need to play with it when I start getting deep into the plot of this story. It also has a section for scenes.

  6. Time Management and Expectations: I confess: I do not have great time management skills. I’ve been trying to get better at it by making myself to-do lists and such. As far as my novel goes, I’m hoping that what I have managed to do with my story bible, and setting things up in Evernote and StoryMill will help me to at least keep things straight in my head and will save me some time. Another important aspect involves my own personal expections for NaNo 2012. I’m not as concerned this year with finishing up November 30th with 50,000 words. If I don’t finish, it’s okay. I want to get a good grounded start on this novel. That’s what my goal is. Any word count I finish with will be okay as long as I can keep going and advance the plot when November is over. I’m not setting a high bar that I’ll likely be unable to cross. My goal is to start telling the story of the people on this world, and tell it to the best of my ability…and still want to tell more when I’m done. I have high hopes for this novel. But I’m smart enough to have learned from my NaNo of 201o. My high hopes may not be answered at the end of NaNo…but I can, and will, keep writing this book.

Happy (NaNoWriMo) writing!

The Best of Friday Flash 2 Launch Day and My ABC’s

Launch day for Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2 is here.

This is the second anthology of works by authors that post and tweet links to their stories via the #FridayFlash hash-tag on Twitter. Friday Flash is an awesome Twitter community of writers who work together to help each other grow creatively. We read each others stories and comment on them. You don’t just get feedback on your stories through Friday Flash, though, you build relationships with other authors. And in this gig, you need to build relationships.

When I started posting stories on Friday Flash just a little over two years ago, I didn’t know a soul. Now, I have a ton of friends from FF on Twitter and many of us have also connected on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and even Linked-In. So, if you’re reading this and you are a new writer looking for a) a venue to get feedback on your work; and b) want to virtually meet some of the most kick-ass writers on the net, head over to Twitter and get started.  The Friday Flash web page has more information.

Now for the good stuff…the book! I just missed out on getting into the first volume of Best of Friday Flash, so when it came time for the second one to collect submissions, I had no doubt which story I wanted to send in to Jon and the gang.

The ABC’s of the Apocalypse was originally published in an anthology for Static Movement called Cosmic Catastrophes. I had sent the rough draft to my friend, writer and editor Jim Bronyaur, who sent it back with the words “I F**KING LOVE THIS!” written in black marker at the top. Now, Jim’s a horror guy. For him to say this about a science fiction piece of mine…well, I felt pretty damn good about it. So I sent it to Static, and they published it in Cosmic Catastrophes. After it was published, I posted it for the Friday Flash crowd. It was one of my best loved stories from Friday Flash and garnered the most positive comments of any Friday Flash story I ever posted.

The concept of the story is not a new one. I borrowed the style from a creepy fantasy story I read and liked by Tim Pratt, called Annabelle’s AlphabetAs for the theme, I was inspired by Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, except that Amy in ABC’s has the opposite problem that Charlie Gordon had.

I am happy that BOFF2 liked ABC’s and included it in this anthology alongside some of the best flash stories around.

I will be getting an extra copy of BOFF2 delivered to me in a few days and will be giving it away during a contest soon.

Stay tuned for more information…and you can order a copy here, if you don’t want to wait for my lottery: Order BOFF2 .

Cover for NaNoWriMo WIP “Quellseek”

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I’m insane, I know, what with intense classes and all the other stuff on my plate. It’s okay. I’m not as fanatical about winning as I was in 2010, which I did win…with a 50K plus novel that’s still unfinished.

I just want to get in the driver’s seat and start spinning down the road on this story. It’s been in my head for a good long while and it needs to come out.

I’ve been playing with pics and fonts and making a cover for it. That’s one of the fun parts of the NaNo experience (next to the writing and the camaraderie of 300 K plus other insane people in the world, of course). If you’re one of those insane people, feel free to buddy me on NaNo. We can encourage each other in our mutual craziness.

I’m putting up a synopsis of the story later in the week.

Meanwhile, I envision this young man on the cover as one of my POV characters, Rafael Errick, a Quell in hiding. I’m planning for Rafael to be one of my more intense characters. I picked a good image for him, I think…