31 August 2011

Angie's Playlist

Lots of authors listen to music while they work. Some writers listen to anything, while others carefully pick each song, sometimes down to those with words or not.

Me, I do something in between. Sometimes I play one of my stations on Pandora, other times I pick an artist like E.S. Posthumus. If I really need to get in a groove, Placebo's Running Up That Hill plays non-stop. Though usually, I listen to a shuffle mix of albums I've picked that give me a general feeling for the story I'm working on.

My laptop has limited memory so I don't have a large music selection on it. Right as I start a story, I look in our large music library on the home computer and copy the ones that stand out to me as fitting the story over to my laptop.

So, this week I thought I'd share which albums I currently have in my playlist for my modern story dealing with tech and modern characters, the main character is named Angie (hence the name of the playlist). I created this list a few years ago, and now that I look it over, I think I need to add more Techno, like Oakenfold and Tiesto, and those E.S. Posthumus albums I mentioned.

What do you listen to?

PS If interested in sharing playlists, I just started using Spotify (user: AZAnne).

26 August 2011

#FridayFlash - Hunting to Come

Another bit for your Friday Reading.


Whisky. One of the few things that he enjoyed in this forsaken place. The last of his whisky burned its way down into his stomach. Everyday Edison Simpson thanked his ill fortune for all the amber liquid he found in abundance in these parts. Sometimes the peaty-flavored liquid gold was the only thing that kept him sane.

He glanced at the men sitting next to him at the long table, worn soft by long years of use. Many of them were locals probably escaping from a nagging wife at home, but a few of them were travelers like himself, looking for a decent meal and decent drink at this village inn. He knew one of them had to have helpful information, know of someone, or have heard a story that didn’t ring true. He refused to accept the alternative.

As he placed his cup on the wooden table, he decided they’d drunk enough of his offerings. Time to get what he wanted. With a casualness he didn’t feel, he asked, “Where is the closest stone circle?”

The men kept their eyes on their plates and chewed their bland stew and bannocks, not even acknowledging they’d heard him. Not that he could blame them, folks avoided talking about the damned things. A superstitious lot with good reason, as he well knew.

Minutes passed as spoons continued to scrape bowls and inane chatter drifted over from the other tables. The inn-keeper’s wife patrolled the room, stopping to talk to customers. He found it curious that she avoided his table, she probably knew something. How could he arrange to question her?

He brought his attention back to his primary quarry. The men’s continued silence assaulted his hearing, as it did every time he asked these questions. He considered himself a patient man, but his growing desperation was chipping away much of his forbearance.

Taking a deep breath, he realized he’d have to open the lines of communication a bit more, loosen their tongues. Glancing around, he caught the inn keeper’s attention and lifted the empty whisky jug. The man’s curt nod signaled that a new bottle would be coming soon, the frown on the man’s face expressed the man’s displeasure.

Setting the jug down with more force that was necessary, Edison sat up straighter on his bench. He could care less what the judgmental man thought of all the drinking. Getting men drunk and letting them talk was a sight easier than beating an answer out of them. He’d learned that lesson in the army.

What he wouldn’t give to be with his men right now searching for enemies among the grand plantations of those tobacco and cotton farms, even in the cold and damp winters. That’s where he belonged, not here in this run-down inn, plying men with liquor for the answer to his most important question, the question that he could never ask another living soul.

He sighed. What had his men made of his disappearance? Given his service record, they probably thought him dead. His jaw tightened as he reasoned he might as well be given his current circumstances. With a shake of his head, he gave up feeling sorry for himself, there was no time for that.

No matter. He intended to return to his men, to the war, to get away from this treeless, machineless, backwards, God-forsaken—

The innkeeper set the jug in front of him interrupting his internal tirade. He nodded his thanks and poured himself a drink. Without putting the jug down, he tossed back the contents of his cup then refilled it before giving a portion to each of the men around him.

The man next to him, nodded his thanks before he sampled more of the amber liquid. After an appreciative sigh, the man said, “Leave them be, man, strange happenings occur at those cursed stones. Dinna look for trouble.”

Edison chuckled. “I’m not looking for trouble.” It was entirely too late for that. As a matter of fact, he was looking to get out of trouble, out of here, away from those cursed things that had ruined his life. He took another swig of his drink.

The beady-eyed man with the red nose squinted at Edison from down the length of table, suspicion written clearly on his face. “Only fae and witches are play around those wicked places. Which would ye be?”

Edison refused the impulse to challenge the man for his insolent accusation, instead he sent him a sharp glare. “Fairies and witches? What would you know about that?” Unable to stand the heat of Edison’s gaze, the beady-eyed man looked down to focus his attention on his meal before him. Edison muttered to himself, “I thought not.”

Fairy tales and witches. He might as well be listening to slaves talk about their voodoo dolls. All of it nonsense. Except, for the strangeness of the stones, which he knew to be true. Knew all too well.

He took another swallow of his whisky, welcoming the burn, forcing the memories of that day away. With all the whisky tonight, he would have no nightmares. Another reason to love whisky.

The innkeeper took the empty plate from Edison and peered at him, suspicion clear on his face. “Are ye one of those who chase after witches?” The warning note in the old man’s voice wasn’t for Edison’s benefit, but for those sitting at the table. Damn the man for warning the others, and for no good reason.

Edison leveled his gaze at the innkeeper, silently cursing the man. Edison wouldn’t lose what little in roads he’d gained, he needed answers. He’d have to use the tool handed him by the meddlesome old man. “It should be every man’s occupation to rid this world of evil. Don’t you agree?”

Someone at the table behind him whispered the words that would, depending on the men’s sense of security, either make Edison’s gamble on this village and all the coin he’d spent on food and drink tonight a waste or boon.

Witch hunter. Someone that sought out suspected evil doers, only to make them disappear, never to be heard from again.

The irony that he should be considered at witch hunger struck him hilarious, but he refrained from laughing, allowing a corner of his mouth curl up. If his suddenly larger and very attentive audience should take his reaction as proof that he was a witch hunter, so be it. Particularly if it gained him the information he needed. Edison took another swig from his cup, all the while keeping his eyes on his audience.

24 August 2011

Bits & Pieces

Bits: Inspired by Lisa Cohen's recent decision to share her short stories, I've decided to post more bits of my first story as #FridayFlash. (I've already posted a few scenes here, here, and here. Those posts inspired by Sylvia van Bruggen's posts.) My practice won't follow all the guidelines of the #FridayFlash community, but hopefully it captures the spirit: writing and sharing one's work. As a side benefit, it will force me to finish the story revision. Since I intend to focus most of my attentions on my other revision in process, my posts may be a bit sporadic. Why do this, beyond wanting to share? Akeva and Brian just won't let me be with Angie and Jason exclusively, so this is my compromise.

Pieces: How is that 2nd story revision going? Well, another scene is done. My scenes-to-do list continues to shrink, one piece at a time. The next scene actually requires the revised back-story I created a few weeks ago. I  look forward to changing the dynamics between characters with this new information.

Bits & Pieces Together: Yesterday, my husband asked if I had a plan in place to prep for November's NaNoWriMo. No, as I hadn't planned on participating this year. But since he mentioned it, of course I can't stop thinking about the thrill of a new story. Luckily, I've got something I could develop and wedge into my writing schedule. Anyone else planning on NaNoWriMo?

17 August 2011

Slow Progress

I'm chugging along. Progress is slow. Slow as we settle into the kids new school year. How slow you ask?

Well, since last week ... One Scene Done. Yes, Done. Just One, but Done. Only ~90 more to go.

A lot of work left, right? Fortunately some of those scenes, which ended up as thinking/no-action scenes, will be folded into others. Or is it unfortunately as I'll have to work to blend information that originally wasn't intended in the other scene? I don't know.

In this small progress, I'm reminded that revising takes so much more time than just writing a scene. Rereading, deleting, adding, rearranging, questions to ask and answer, picking the just perfect words, nailing the emotional impact, all while maintaining the flow.

But completing that one scene, that small victory, appeased the Muse (btw: she still holds that sword) and gave me energy to keep working.

Since the Muse watches me out of the corner of her eye while she sharpens that sword, and I desire that Victory High, I'm off to revise.

(Don't ask if I like revising yet. At this stage, better to leave the question unasked. And unanswered.)

10 August 2011

MY Way

This whole revision process stinks, especially the crossing out, scribbling on a copy of my manuscript with red ink without making any real changes in the actual file. Instead of feeling I'm creating a tighter, stronger story, all I feel is frustrated for not really accomplishing anything. And no, having my digital notebook rather than dead trees to do this is not enough to keep me going.

This manuscript mark-up stage is why I stopped working on my 1st novel revision -- typing in over 300 handwritten pages of story with stickie notes, inserted chicken scratches and other instruction -- became too daunting.

Just about everything else Holly Lisle has taught me, I can get behind as it speaks to my relatively logical and organized style. I get why she encourages this multiple-pass revision process... major changes made later while revising can be easily incorporated all in one swoop of the keyboard type-in. But it isn't working for me.

So, I've decided, no, I've chosen not to follow her method to the T. Not this step. Nope. Not going to do it anymore.

I'm doing it MY way.

What is my way? Sort of like ...
  1. read scene
  2. make notes of what to change on the scene
  3. incorporate those changes in the file
  4. make sure all is good
  5. repeat steps 1-5 with next scene until all scenes done
And while MY process is only slightly different than Holly's, making the choice to find a way that works for me, cliche as it sounds, leaves me feeling unencumbered. Like I can finish a revision without a bunch of busy work.

So, tonight after the kids are in bed, I'll pull out the computer, my notes, and get working. And finally make some progress. MY Way.

02 August 2011

Answers => Constraints => Questions => Creativity

Recently, I received answers and other helpful tidbits to some questions I'd asked of one of my experts. Receiving this information, from a bona fide expert, is thrilling.

Based on the information I've received,  I have to work a different angle for my main characters' backstory and relationship. Nothing like a few constraints to get the creative juices flowing in my problem-solving/engineering-trained brain.

Thrill and creativity in one week, what's a writer to do but revel in it all! Frankly, I sorely needed any jolt of energy I could get as I've yet to enjoy this revision process.

So, I'll be thinking over my expert's answers over the next few days and developing new questions. This time, the answers I provide will hopefully lead to a stronger and richer story.

PS Thanks, Expert!