vox crania

M & M

Last month, I gave you dear readers a glimpse of my brain on writing. In that post I showed you how talking to one character led to his brother showing up and hilarity ensuing. Complete with Geordie accents! (It's kinda fun in my head. Most of the time.) Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on the family drama. While working on deeper outlines for Book 3, the following played out in my mind...Me: Alright, so it's settled, Malcom definitely has a role in Book 3.Mal: YES! *celebratory dancing and much pelvic thrusting* Marius: Dammit! He's going to do nothing but make my life a living hell! Woman, what did I ever do to you? Me: *giggles* Have you seen the rest of the plot for Book 3? It's no picnic for you, love. Marius: Fantastic. Me: Don't worry, Marius. Check this out. At the end of Book 3 Malcom [redacted]. Mal: *stops dancing; crestfallen* What? Tha's not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to be in your book. Me: Tough shit. You're stuck now. Marius: *slaps Mal on the shoulder, grins* Welcome to Hell, brother mine.

Y'all are going to love this.

By The Numbers

So, the other day I was blog-surfing and came upon this post by literary agent Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Lit. If you're a writer, read her blog. There is awesome information there. Anyway, the other day I found this post about chapter titles in books and I wanted to bring that discussion here.As a rule, I hate chapter titles. As a reader, it's because they often give away too much of what will happen (no spoilers, dammit!). Over the years I've learned to just skip them. There is no such thing as a table of contents in a novel, I breeze past it. Chapter titles are blurred out in my mind. Very very rarely have they worked in a book I've read. As a writer, I have different reasons to loathe titles.

Way back in the days of yore when I started writing, I experimented with chapter titles. Usually, this meant that I'd finish one chapter, come up with a title for the next one and keep going. I hate that. Why? Because it can skew not just a reader's thinking of a chapter, but also the writer's of how it's supposed to be. And, as a story evolves, a chapter title can become entirely inaccurate. It can lose any and all meaning it once had, making it just a string of words to make you stumble from one plot point to the next. So, in general I avoid chapter titles and stick with good old numbers.

And then, TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES happened.

Like the trickster gods angling for my heroine's soul, this book threw a few monkey wrenches at me in terms of process, preference and style. I wrote the rough draft with nothing more than a number as the chapter heading. Did a few editing passes and realized there was a crucial event in Catherine Sharp's past that I'd only told about...and I needed to show it. This pivotal event needed screentime. So I opened a new word document. Since it could've fit in between any number of existing scenes, I gave it a title as if it were a piece of short fiction. "Scar Tissue". Ironically enough, when I started working on that  piece, the Chili Peppers song by the same name came up on ye olde shuffle.

No problem. Finished that. Went through and plugged it into the rest of the story. Did another proofing pass so I could send something clean-ish (but still raw) to my beta readers. (I prefer to send them something less polished at first for various reasons, but that's another post entirely.)  While I'm doing this pass, my shuffle keeps throwing songs at me that provide the perfect soundtrack to this book. Titles or lyrics jump out and stick to the page, mating with the appropriate scene.

Next thing I know, every chapter in my novel has a title. Each one is indicative of the mood of that chapter, or has a deeper meaning for the arc of the series. Each one is a Red Hot Chili Peppers reference.

Now, other stuff I write? Eff chapter titles. Still can't stand them. But for this project, the titles work and fit. They don't tip my hand, but if you listen to all of the songs, you'd get a damn fine playlist and a soundtrack to the story.

Song titles as chapter titles may sound a bit cheesy, but remember earlier when I said that there have been very few books where chapter titles work? The one that stands out is HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by Lish McBride. The song titles give the slightest hint of mood for a given scene, but reveal nothing. That, I can get behind.

As I've been plotting/outlining/drafting companion pieces and sequels to TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, certain scenes pop into my head with a title attached. I'm sorry, but when I'm doing a scene sketch (think of it like a storyboard only instead of drawings, I have vague dialogue and minor blocking) and my Vox Crania calls out, "This is called 'Screams and Whispers from In Between'," and I get mad chills? Yeah, the title stays. Otherwise, it gets a number and we move on to take care of all that in post.

So yeah, that's my personal feeling on chapter titles.

How about you? Any bias one way or the other as a reader or writer?

Flashbacks and Fear for the Future

Good Monday morning, gang. Alright, let's just mention it now: Yes, Whitney Houston passed away this weekend. I have to say that while I wasn't  FAN! of hers, I have so much respect for her. In the 80s it was Michael Jackson, Madonna and Whitney. She is part of the soundtrack of my life. She's someone's mother, daughter and friend and I'm sorry her light has gone out.Last night was the Grammy's and I was glad to see Adele kick so much ass. I am sad for the state of our youth, though, when Twitter is flooded with people saying they have no earthly clue who Paul McCartney is. *facepalm* I just don't know where to begin with that and I refuse to be the one to educate you now. Why? Because my lessons will be riddled with more profanity than a submarine with Denis Leary, Sam Kinnison and George Carlin in a pissing contest. Anyway.... it's Monday, it's morning. Life is pretty damn peachy at the moment. I got a new office chair! I now bask in the glory of lumbar support. AND! I made it m'self! Alright. So IKEA made it and I put it together. But I did it myself! Also... I GET NEW GLASSES. Went to the eye doctor this weekend for the first time in damn near 5 years. Sean did, too, because he's now over 40 and thinks his eyes are starting to go. Well, my prescription has changed (go figure). When the doctor asked me to cover one eye and read the best line I could without squinting, I giggled and proudly shouted, "E!" Sean, of course, read something about 11 lines down but couldn't read the copyright date. *rolls eyes* The doctor and I both felt absolute disgust that my husband's eyes are damn near perfect and mine are shit. We told him to get out.

Truth be told, Sean and I are both a little sad he didn't need glasses. He found this awesome pair of rimless glasses. Sexy in a young Dumbledore kinda way. (And I love that Dumbledore doesn't set off my spell check.) So yeah, I pick up my new glasses today. I get to see again! *happy dance*

There is new ink in my future as well. I'm getting my memorial tattoo for Nicki in a few days. You'll see it soon and I'll just explain it all then with circles and arrows and captions and all that stuff.

SO! Today I'd like to offer you all a flashback. Some of you have been hanging around on my various blogs for a while, others are new. Back in 2001 or so, I blogged on this other site that I won't give press here. Had my own little following there. One thing the fans loved: my Vox Crania entries. Now, a few days ago I let you in on my character generation style with a Vox Crania post. To make it fun, I'm going to post one of the older, classic Vox entries.

This one was originally posted to that OTHER site on December 24, 2004. (Yup, it's my Christmas special!)

Quick primer for those who may not get it:

  • "Kemi" = my alter ego. My personality. Me. The Prima Wahine and Bee Girl herself.
  • "--ex Wahine" indicates someone who is in my life. Their "ex Wahine" vox is the version of them in my head.
  • Deus Ex Wahine is the part of me that figures shit out. Wisdom, Providence. Whatever.
  • Superman = a guy I had a date with back in 2004 before I started dating Sean.
  • Yes, parts of my body actually get a say in the Vox Crania.
  • Tigereyezz and Steal This Diary = My then-roommate and her then-boyfriend (now husband), respectively. Also, Steal was at the time a Legolas look-a-like.
Anyway, here's an old style post from yours truly and all the voices in my head. (Just enjoy how good you have it now that I've got 8 years of blogging experience under my belt and a more stable mind.)
Gift-wrapped Voxes Under the Tree - 24 December, 2004Kemi: *putting tinsel on the tree* On the last day of Christmas my Voxes gave to me...

Deus ex Wahine: A stupid special like on TV!

Clit: *putting tinsel on herself* I had the best dream last night...Superman was all sorts of sweaty and...

Kemi: Yeah and then my ex from high school showed up. Deus: I blame The Roomie and Steal. Kemi: So do I. Both: Damn the men with long blonde hair. Clit: Damn them indeed.

*doorbell* 

Kemi: I wonder who that could be. Deus: Expecting anyone? Kemi: Are you kidding?

*opens door*

Kemi: Look, Deus! It's Sarcastic Wit and Work-Induced-Dementia.

WID and Wit: Happy Christmas! Wit: We brought food. WID: We were going to bring the Wahine's Work Ethic, but the past week has turned Work Ethic into a cripsy crust.

Kemi: You brought a dessert I see. WID: Yes, it's a cheesecake with a nice cripsy crust. *looks knowingly at the audience* Wit: The crumble crust of a cheese cake is paved with good intentions. WID: Since this work ethic is fucking useless, we're going to feast upon it in this season of giving.  Movie Quoting Vox: We'd gladly feast on those who would subdue us. Wit: And how.

*Wit and WID go forth, skipping, towards the tree*

WID: What's this I see before me? Wit: Egg nog? Cider? Kemi: Margarita. 

Deus: Did you really expect otherwise from this Wahine?

*doorbell rings*

Kemi: I'll get it! *bounds back to door*

*opens door*

Kemi: Heart! and Mind! Look at you two, all friendshippy and stuff!

Heart: Very Merries, everyone! Mind: And Happy Stolen Holiday with large monitary burden--value to you, too. Heart: Why can't you just say Happy New Year? Mind: By which calendar, my dear? Heart: Impossible, this one.

Deus: Come in, come in. And what's this you've brought? Mind: Oh, just a little something we kinda went in on. Heart: I wrapped it. See. Deus: Why, it's covered in little...Superman S'es. Heart: And they're pink! Deus: Methinks you should go speak with Clit. Heart: Really? *bounces off in a flutter of pink* Mind: Deus, she's peachy, honest. But being the holidays I just let her go a little, ya know.  Deus: Keeps her sane, I'm sure.

*Dingdong*

Deus: Look everyone....it's our friends...Blue Man Group!

Blue Man Group: *enters* Kemi: Hi Guys! Blue Man Group: 

Kemi: Make yourselves at home, play, whatever! Blue Man Left: *crosses to Tree* Blue Man Center: *crosses to Cheesecake* Blue Man Right: *crosses to Clit and Heart*

Ex Wahine Delivery Man Vox: Knock Knock. Clit and Heart: *bounding to the door* Hello there. Delivery Man Vox: I have a delivery for Worker Bee.

WID: I'll sign for it. Worker Bee is Blue Man Center: *shoves heaping piece of cheesecake in mouth* WID: ...indisposed

Delivery Hunk: Merry Christmas. *leaves*

WID: K, what have we here. *opens bag with large Santa face on it* Bath stuff. From ... Freaky-Eyed-Boss Lady?? What the hell? Kemi: That's nice of her. She's been driving you crazy and to aberrant acts of cannibalism and she gave you bath gel and a loufa! WID: What is she trying to say? That I don't bathe? I do! DAILY! With expensive shit from Victoria's Secret. Clit: What say we do some after Christmas shopping together, there, WID? WID: What the fuck is this?  Movie Quoting Vox: PC Load Letter?

*ding dong*

Kemi: Look everyone! It's Hoss and CatEyedGirl Ex Wahine! And they've brought The Boy! Hoss ex Wahine: Greetings. CatEyedGirl ex Wahine: Heya, darlin'. The Boy: *hugs Kemi*

*ding dong* Deus: And look, it's The Divil ex Wahine and Tower ex Wahine with the Venerable Pooh ex Wahine!

Divil ex Wahine: Happy Holidays, my Ego and I will be over here under the mistletoe. Clit: That's what I forgot!

Tower: San Juan is the Greatest Game Ever! Assembled Ex Wahine Voxes and Kemi: SHUT UP!! Blue Man Group: 

CatEyedGirl Ex Wahine: This cheesecake is phenomenal. What did you use for the crust? Sarcastic Wit: Lots of hard work. Pooh Ex Wahine: Look, something shiny.

Hoss ex Wahine: Beer. Where is the beer?

Kemi: Wow, Deus, looking around I'm not sure who's missing.

*dingdong*

Deus: How hard did you work on this script? Kemi: What script?

Movie Quoting Vox: *opens door to see The Illustrious Roomie and Steal This Diary* Neb Dolan (spelling?) SUBTITLE: You're Late.

Assembled Voxes turn and stare.

Hoss: You're done. Movie Quoting Vox: It's a quote from LoTR!! Aragorn arrives to Helm's Deep... bah, fuck you all.  Venerable Pooh ex Wahine: *following Movie Quoting Vox* But I got it!

Kemi: That's the holiday spirit!

Tigereyezz: He's Here!!!! Steal: Hi. Tigereyezz: He's here!!!! Wit: *to Steal* Cheesecake? Blue Man Group: 

*ding dong* Kemi: Now I really wonder who this could possibly be...

*opens door*

Bri and Carrie Ex Wahine: Surprise! Bri ex Wahine: Hello, lover! Carrie Ex Wahine: Jaymbay *running tackle hug*

Kemi: WOW! What are you doing here? Bri and Carrie Ex Wahine: Well, it's your Christmas special.  Bri ex Wahine: what would it be without all of thems you love present, eh, sweets?

*Thumpa Thumpa music starts playing* 

Sarcastic Wit: Ya know, every time there's thumpa thumpa a Drag Queen gets his stilettos. Kemi: That's right.  Deus: Gods bless us everyone.

Kemi: Wow, we've got friends, and margaritas and good music... what more could anyone ask for?

Blue Man Group: *starts playing along to thumpa thumpa, a tech'ed out version of PVC IV*

From all of our Voxes to all of yours...

Very Merries, Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Time!

Vox Crania: The Return

So years and years ago I used to do these blog posts that consisted solely of internal monologues. Each of the voices in my head had a clever name or something and the reader got an insight of what it's like to live in my brain. God help you all, they're back. (Sometime I should post one of those old entries here...those were fun.) This one, though, is different. Unlike its predecessors, today offers you a glimpse into my writing process. I've never been one to say that I have a particular muse. I don't curse this one being who heaps ideas upon me like some overworked UPS drone. No, I am a slave to my characters. They talk to me at all hours and they don't give a damn that it's my head they're living in. One of the most notorious attention whores in the high rise condo that is my mind is Marius, a satyr and the male lead of my Etudes in C# series. Now, when I first started working on Book 1, Marius kept running in any time I'd try to have a sit down conversation with Catherine, my protagonist. "No, you don't want to talk to her," he'd say. "I'm more interesting. I'm sexy and fabulous and actually know how to have a good time. Pour some wine, break out the laptop and let me tell you about the time I taught this Joshua fellow how to walk on water."

See what I mean?

Anyway, Marius and I eventually came to a kind of agreement where he can talk all he wants when we're discussing Book 3 (his book). Other than that, he has to make an appointment or raise his hand. He can't just barge in and take over a brainstorming session.

So today I'm listening to some British comedy and the following exchange began... Me: Wow, this guy is awesome. If Marius ever had a brother, he'd probably look and sound a lot like him. Marius: *heavy sigh* Don't get me started. Me: What was that? *door opens in my head* Vox Satyr: Hello, love! Where 'ave ya been all me life? Muse: *giggles like a fucking 8th grader* Me: Marius, who the hell is this? Vox Satyr: I'm 'is brother! What, ya mean ta say 'e's never told ya'bout me? Me: Figures, your brother speaks in a Geordie accent. You're serious? You actually have a brother? Marius: What have I told you about satyrs, dear heart? A satyr's gotta sate. Do you honestly think I wouldn't have siblings with all the shagging my father did? I wouldn't be surprised if by some happenstance I'm related to the wopps that spawned your lot. Vox Satyr: Are you ashamed of me, Marius? Your own flesh and blood? Marius: Yes. I thought we'd cleared that up a long time ago. Me: Dude, this really doesn't work for me. I don't have room for you to have a brother. Vox Satyr: There's always room. I think you'll find you just need to stretch a bit. Me: Muse, get this guy outta here. Marius: Please do. He's a blight of the bloodline. Vox Satyr: Oh, like you're something to be proud of. Me: He's not? Trouble at home? Vox Satyr: Aye, 'e's the black sheep o' the fam'ly.

At this point I snicker. Muse is giggling again and Vox Satyr is waggling his thick eyebrows at her.

Marius: No, this is how it starts and I'll not have it. Out with you. Vox Satyr: You always were a jealous nag. You know I'm prettier than you. Marius: Oh bugger off, will you? Me: Marius, I think I agree with you. One satyr in my head is enough, I think. Nice meeting you Unnamed But Cute Sibling. Muse: Does he have to go? Me: Who's in charge here? Me. Marius: Too right. Now about Book 3. Vox Satyr: What book? Muse: Oh, that's the one she's writing where Catherine {redacted!} and then Marius {redacted!} Vox Satyr: Did you go and get yourself a girlfriend? Here all this time I thought you were gay. Marius: I've done nothing of the sort and wouldn't dream of anything as disgusting as commitment. Vox Satyr: (cozies up to Muse) You'll notice he didn't comment on the gay part. Muse: *giggles* Me: That's enough. Vox Satyr: Now wait just a minute. I can be in a book, too. Watch this. *flips long hair around and makes eyes at Muse* Nice shoes, fancy a snog? Muse: *giggles* Vox Satyr: You see? I'm better than this tightass of a brother. Look at him all dapper in his suit, glamourin' away his better virtues. Me? I'll show you how a real satyr parties. Marius: Malcom, the lady said it's time to go and if I have to drag you out by your horns I will do it. Now politely bugger off and don't come back. Muse: Your name is Malcom? Malcom: Aye. Me: *facepalm* Shit, he's got a name. Marius: Fuck! Muse: *hopeful* He followed me home, mommy, can I keep him?

Me: *sigh* Alright... let's see where this goes. Marius: Dammit! Malcom: Yes! *dances* Muse: *giggles*

See? This is why it's weird being in my head. There's all sorts of people showing up and talking and once they've got a name they usually stick around.

Fucking satyrs.