zombie sequel

525,600 Minutes

2011 has only a few hours left to it. As is tradition, I'm going to a party tonight with my Ohana. This is the same party where Sean and I became "us". Seven years ago tonight we both took a chance on one another and here we are. Every year we go and kiss at midnight to honor our anniversary. Another tradition at this party is the Year In Review. We started this seven years ago, too. Every year we sit around the fire pits with our nearest and dearest, start with January and go around the circle. We recount the good that happened in the year month by month.This year is weird. Good things happened. Bad things happened. Life changed irrevocably. People got married. Babies were born and conceived after much heartache of trying. A woman left this earth. A family came together. I wrote a novella, several short stories and the first novel in a new series. I lost something I thought I wanted/needed only to find that the loss was the best thing that could've happened. I lost an uncle. I almost lost my grandmother but had the chance to see her...and she made it through. I lost my sister the day after we started to mend fences. A friend beat cancer for the second and third times in his life proving once again that we haven't found all of the horcruxes. Tribe Ohana grew and got its own website. The tooth fairy came to my house a few times. I've made new friends and reconnected with old ones. Weird, I tell ya.

Right now, it's work to come up with good things for the year in review because everything is clouded with the fact that Nicki isn't here to add her voice. I'm tired. Even though it's only a Saturday turning into a Sunday, there's something about changing the calendar that refreshes me. On one side of midnight is an old skin I'm more than ready to slough off and leave behind. On the other is the promise of something new, undiscovered and full of possibility. I'm ready for 2011 to be over and done. I'm ready for what the future brings. I'm ready to hit the reset button.

In 2012 I will reconnect with myself. I won't let the love from October/November dissipate into apathy like it once did. I will get a new tattoo. I will write more stories. I'm going to keep querying on Etudes in C#, write more books of that series. I will write more short stories and send them to lit mags for publication. I will spin poi. Maybe I'll even spin fire again. I don't know when, though. I'm not ready to do that without Nicki yet. I'm going to vote. I'm going to read books, see movies and live music and sit around a fire drumming until my hands go numb. I'm going to laugh and cry. I'm going to play games and go to at least one Comic Con. I'm going to hold newborns and then gratefully pass them back to their parents. I'm going to read with my daughter and cuddle her and watch her grow. I'm going to snuggle the hell out of my husband. I'm going to live, love and laugh.

These aren't resolutions. They aren't plans. They're life. It happens.

2011, it's time to part ways. 2012...let's rock.

Have a safe and happy new year everyone.


Closing Time

Hey, gang. I come to you bearing tidings of great joy. As of 12:28pm MST today, I received the single best rejection email of all time. Not only was it tactful and encouraging, it was the last hold out of hope that the zombie novel would shuffle its way into the publishing door.

But wait! you say. Why are you happy to get a rejection letter? Did you spend months writing/revising/editing/pursuing publication on this very project? How can you be happy to see it just fizzle and die on the vine?

Gentle reader, I'm not just happy. I'm fucking ecstatic. And here's why.

So, for those of you that followed along on the journey with me and my second novel I WANT HIM FOR HIS BRAINS, you may recall that this is a project I started outlining 2 years ago. I wrote the rough draft of my zombie book quickly and then spent months polishing it and making it ready for the ball. I even landed an agent with it this time last year. But, if you've been around you know that my agent situation changed this year. Since then, I've been working to salvage BRAINS' chance at publication. I had a lot of support from people in the industry and community. I sent out fresh queries and submissions to a handful of interested (and obviously deranged ;) ) agents. Feedback came in saying it still needed a lot of work. Looking over the combined comments, I realized they were all right. The book needed about 80% ripped out and replaced.

The thing is...at this point... I don't care enough about that story or those characters to do that work. It's not that I'm lazy, but that it doesn't even excite me any more. I look back at my first novel (Dreamseed) and see it as a true freshman effort. BRAINS took what I learned and built on it, refined technique, but it still missed the mark. I wrote STITCH, a novella companion to BRAINS and worked on my short game... then I started working on TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES and I'm in love with this whole project. The series is going to be a ton of work, but I love the material, the characters, the world... it's fun.

Going back to BRAINS right now would require a lot of love. And right now, I just don't love that book. It deserves more time and effort than I'm willing to put into it right now. Approaching a project with that mindset? Toxic.

I gave up on BRAINS a while ago and have been holding out on this last response. Today, when I saw it in my mailbox, I cheered. I could finally move forward without that project hanging over my shoulder. And--and this is pretty important, too--it's the last shred of the drama that happened in June. It's done.

So, this is actually pretty damn awesome. I'm officially free of any contractual sticky tape I might have had with the former agency. I know beyond a doubt that this book is done and I'm free to move on.

I was asked if I will self-pub BRAINS. No. I will not. A) That's admitting defeat. and B) I'd be putting out sub-optimal work and that is not acceptable to me.

I'm going to play in my TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES universe and run around with satyrs and technomages. I finished the 3rd draft last night, as a matter of fact. I already know where I need to start with round 4. I will work and polish and refine this puppy until I think it is shiny and ready to go into the world. When that day comes, I'll cut the cord and send queries flying into the inboxes of poor, hapless agents. I know, though, that this book isn't ready. I didn't know that with BRAINS.

So, you see, once again we've learned something. I'm so grateful to that book, those characters and that story. They brought me a step closer to where I want to be. The experience was more than worth it.

Now, though, it's time to pull the plug. Or in this case, maybe it's better to say that it's time to double tap those zombies. Because, for now at least, it's closing time for I WANT HIM FOR HIS BRAINS.

Spice - It Flows

Wow, I've gotten bad about updating this thing. Please accept my humblest mea culpas, intrepid readers. Life around ye olde homestead has been interesting lately. The Tooth Fairy visited our house for the first time last week. That's right, my daughter lost her first tooth. The second isn't far behind.What else, what else... ?Oh, I'm surrounded by awesomeness. Good friends are expecting babies, getting married, changing jobs (for the better) and life continues its awesomeness. I'm excited for the babies, I gotta tell you, because while my biological clock ran out of batteries, I have been wanting to snuggle a newborn for the past couple of months. I don't want another one of my own--several reasons for that, and it's a whole other post!--but I miss babies. And strangers get kinda weird when you just try to randomly take their infant from the shopping cart and snuggle. Sorry, Guy-at-Target. It won't happen again. Life here is pretty sweet.

In writerly type goodness, the Wahine--that's me, for you newcomers--started a new project. I had to put the zombie sequel aside. I need some perspective, and I've been angsty/obsessive over it, so into the proverbial drawer it goes for a bit. Well, one of the other projects I had on the side was a short from the point of view of one of my side characters from the first book. It's her origin story. Well, I started writing it and like the Spice, it felt it a moral imperative that I fill many kilobytes of computer space with a quickness. The story took different shapes than I originally expected, darker twists than I could have hoped. And to top it all off, I fucking love it. In its unfinished, raw and rough form, I'm incredibly proud of it. It's longer than anticipated as well. (That's what she said.) I don't intend for it to be another novel, but it will probably top out around the 35-40k mark on the wordcount.

Also, I've begun a torrid love affair with Pandora internet radio. Yes, I know, I'm late to the party, but for a while I just didn't get it. Why do the Pandora thing when I've got iTunes? Oh, silly rabbit. I freaking love Pandora. Yesterday, it provided the perfect mix of sweaty, bitter, angry-sex music to act as a backdrop for the scene I was writing. Plus, I've tried to stump Pandora. Give me a station with Daft Punk and Bollywood. You did it! Alright, Gogol Bordello and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" by the Beatles. Fucking awesome. And somehow, Shivaree ends up on every station I make. Go figure. The new music I'm getting is just fueling this feeling of inspiration.

Spring is coming and the cold winter finally recedes.

Let's make something awesome.

PS: If you're not already reading the hilarity over at #publishingmyths on Twitter, you should. It's priceless.

I Am The R & D Department

So, I think I've written here before that I'm sometimes afraid I've drawn the attentions of Homeland Security. You see, as a writer, I do research to know what the hell I'm talking about. As I have no car, most of my research is Google-based. (All praise to the Google!) Now, when writing my first novel, I thought that poor, hapless bastard tracking my Internet searches earned his pay. On one day, I did searches for all of the following:Elephant hair ropeC-4 explosives Dynamite Black Powder explosions, video Puppies*

(My daughter was 3 at the time, you figure it out.)

Well, no one came knocking on my door and I kept on writing. My last novel (the one that is on submission at present) didn't have too many searches to raise eyebrows. So, today, I started test driving some new ideas for the revamp of my sequel. This led to a few ideas and the need for some more research to make sure I wasn't writing out of my ass.

Those search terms, though... yeah, I'm a little worried.

White House Rose Garden Pennsylvania Avenue Secret Service Code Names

If I disappear, please know that I am innocent! I'm just a writer trying to hone my craft and inject some realism into my world with hordes of rotting undead--who find love and meaning in the world.

Also, I need to brag about my daughter!

So, apparently her kindergarten class started a unit on the solar system. Awesome! K is totally into astronomy. Has been for years. I think she was 3 or 4 when she explained to me how a black hole works. When I picked her up from school yesterday, her teacher told me that she had told the class a lot about planets.

"We're very excited for her knowledge," Teacher T said.

I couldn't help but wonder if this was code for, "I just wish she'd shut up and let me teach the class."

So, we're driving home and K tells me that the Universe has no edge. "That's right," I said. "The Universe is expanding."

We talked a bit about how the planet doesn't expand, but the Universe does. What's the difference? Oh, okay. That kinda thing. Then she asked, "Mommy, how does the Universe expand?"

If I hadn't known her her whole life, I probably would've stared at K with a deer in the headlights expression and tell her to ask her father.  But, instead, I got excited. I know this one! said a little geeky voice in my head.

"I'll show you when we get home."

I took a bowl of water, a marble and some blue food coloring. The bowl of colored water was my not-to-scale model of the Universe. I dropped the marble in the water a few times and showed K the ripples, pointing out how they get bigger as they get farther from the center. Once I knew she had that down, I asked her, "did they talk about the Big Bang at school?"

"Yes!" she bounced. "It's a big explosion!" "Right," I said. "So let's say this marble is the Big Bang. When it hits the water going to set off an explosion in the center of the universe. That explosion causes shockwaves--like we see on Mythbusters--and that energy ripples out, expanding through the Universe."

"Wow!" she said, dropping the marble again. "Get it? Understand how the Universe is still expanding?" "Yeah!" She looked at the water. "Can we make it green now?"

She's still five. :)

Tangled Up In Blue

 So, what's got me all twisted up? Writing a sequel. That's right. I've written two novels in my life, one of them is on submission, and now I face the daunting task of a sequel. But that really shouldn't be so bad, should it? After all, I've had ideas for Book 2 running circles in my head for months, so this should be just as easy as Book 1. Right? Hehehe, silly writer. You're so cute when you're naive!

So, what's the problem, you ask... let's talk shop. Meet me after the jump.

Alright, so here's the deal. Originally, I saw this overreaching story arc being a trilogy. I wrote Book 1 and edited the hell out of it. Somehow, I managed to land an agent (woo! Liz is awesome!), melted my brain doing more edits and now we're in that nebulous, nail-biting process that is submission. So, I thought I'd spend that "downtime" (yeah, right) with the sequel. Crank that bad boy out and let Book 1 fly on its own. Well, while Book 2 has had some moments that just really flow, the further in I get, the more it stalls. But, I subscribe to the "get your ass in the chair and fucking write" theory, so I kept going. More stalling, more feelings of "what the hell is wrong with this? where am I going wrong?" This week, the gears have been grinding like sweaty chicks with implants in a club scene. Yesterday, I looked at the manuscript sitting there in Word and just heard the metallic snap of the machine.

I took a walk. I let my mind wander, gently breezing over the characters, the situations, the nuances of plot. And like proverbial lightning, it struck me:

I'm writing the wrong book.
Most of the ways I want to torture  challenge my protagonist are deep, soul-wrenching things. But she's not ready for this. The reader hasn't built up any attachment to some of the newer characters, so their impact is lessened. The protagonist hasn't grown in such a way that she can handle what I want to thrust upon her. This is too soon. These plots and storylines? Not Book 2 material.
So, this changes the landscape considerably. For one, I'm no longer looking at a trilogy. Nope. Eve's story goes beyond just three books. (Plus, there are stories I want to tell from the POV of other characters.) But, for another, that begs the question: what the hell is Book 2 going to be about? Can anything be salvaged from the draft I have going right now? Well, sure. My opening will be great in a few books. A couple of scenes are appropriate for Book 2, so they can be absorbed. But for the most part, I'm starting from square one again. Hell, I don't even know what the working title for this one will be as "Mourning Sickness" does not fit at all.
Yesterday's walk helped clear my head a bit. There's still a tangle of plot threads and stories that I need to sort through and put into some sort of order, but there are fewer knots.
Today is a day for imagining. For brainstorming. For letting creativity live and thrive.
And how could it not? I started using Pandora and the first station I made was based on Daft Punk, Bollywood and Gorillaz.
Yeah. It's a good day.