Tag Archive: LJI


NaNoWriMo?

This is the first year in the past like, 3 or 4 that I haven’t outright committed to doing NaNoWriMo. I keep going back and forth. I have a novel I need to finish by December 31st (Gray Morning). I am still in The Real LJ Idol Competition, though things have gotten tight now that there’s about 60 contestants left (out of a starting total of like…280?). I am working nearly full-time. I have a five year old with special needs. A divorce to plan and prepare for, and a free online writing course that starts tomorrow, of all days.

I kind of want to just…write something purely without doing ANY preparation. Gray Morning and The Stellar Challenge both require so much work, for two entirely different reasons. Gray Morning is on its second official draft, I’ve written large chunks of it out of order, and I need to piece it all together/fill in the gaps (which is probably around 20-30k worth of words, maybe more). I have a good idea for the plot arc of it, I know the major events, it’s just…filling in those gaps and rounding everything out.

The Stellar Challenge is still on draft one, and very, very slow going, because it requires a lot of forethought and planning. Each Planet focuses on a specific Challenger. Once each Planet is complete, there’s a “(Character) Story,” that explains how the Challenger came to do the Challenge, in the first place. Like how they died, why they think they need to go on a redemption quest, etc. I realized just yesterday that the book’s true Main Character is Saito — who is possibly one of the grossest characters I’ve ever written.

I’m doing an abridged version of his Planet Chapters (Saturn) for Idol — where he essentially breaks the cycle of his own Limbo/Hell and finally, finally earns a fate other than the one he’s been experiencing for the past however long. But he has to do it by preventing another Challenger from falling into the same traps he has for the past however many (I’m thinking at least 100) attempts at the Challenge himself. Saito is supposed to be forced to redo the Challenge forever and ever for all eternity; but after so many repeated attempts, he starts to remember his past attempts. He’s resigned himself to his fate, but he sees a lot of promise in Jordan — a young teenager who killed himself in a murder-suicide (with his mother as his victim). So when he sees Jordan falling for a trap that’s been set for Saito at least one hundred times before, well…

It should be interesting to write. But I have worked the past 5 nights (and, in fact, have only briefly napped today after getting out of work at 8am), and I’m exhausted, and it’s difficult to write something like this. I am not unemployed anymore; I don’t have the time to dedicate to the writing and the LJI competition like I used to, and it kills me.

So adding a NaNo project on top of these two novels (which are my closest to “completion”) just seems kind of… silly. I have a couple of other words that aren’t as well developed, but I’ve at least started all of them or have completed shorter, rougher drafts of them. And honestly, if I do NaNo, I want to do something fresh and new with characters I don’t know like the back of my hand or with a universe I haven’t done all the worldbuilding for, etc.

But like, I can’t seem to come up with anything? I dunno. It’s been a struggle. I’m sure on November 1st, I’ll find myself opening a new document and titling it NaNoWriMo14 and just… going with it. But until then, I keep going back and forth.

The start of my LJI entry, if you’re curious:


Saito stood at the threshold of the train, his lips pressed tightly together and his jaw clenched.

Saturn.

He had made it to Saturn.

“Dude, are you going to get off the train or what?” Jordan’s grating voice asked.

Saito’s jaw clenched further, and he took one step off the train and moved out of the teenager’s way. He didn’t look at the boy, instead averting his eyes from him as much as possible. Megumi followed Jordan off the train, her tight, black dress seemingly tighter and more revealing in the odd, overcast lighting of the gaseous planet.

Saito looked away from her, too.

He might not remember all the details, but one too many trips back to the Start had broken the amnesiatic effect of death. He remembered his mistakes. Remembered the promise of Redemption, and how he was to fail at it, every time, as punishment for his crimes.

But this was the first time he had made it to Saturn since his first trip.

LJ Idol

In this kooky online writing competition I’m in, we have a deadline on Monday. I work third shift’s (midnight to 8am), have a small child with autism, and not a whole lot of free time as a result.

I’ve been kicking around this piece for the past three days. It’s heavily based on one of my novels. If I’m completely honest, it’s me, disguising the Gray Morning universe as much as possible, changing character names/titles etc so that it reads like it’s based in the US, and so that people might not have their eyes roll into the back of their heads.

Except my antagonist, Mitchel, is so clearly himself. The protagonist of the scene, Amelia, is clearly herself, as well, but in the book she’s a minor character; her role is huge, but her screen time is very understated. Mitchel? Well, he’s been the focus of an Idol piece or two, and how his actions and words have a huge impact on my novel’s protagonist, Savin. He’s been deconstructed in a piece or two of meta I’ve written for the competition, as well.

I don’t want people to recognize him, but I do. I don’t want people to go “Oh, she’s writing that *%$#)*% novel again,” and back out of the entry. Not to mention, the topics this go around (we had to pick one out of a group of 5) are so open-ended and up to interpretation, and the voters have been favoring the very literal, very close interpretations this season. For people like me who sometimes view the topics abstractly, it’s been a challenge boxing myself in, a little.

The basis of this piece? Mitchel is undergoing an interrogation for the murder of Jasper (Jazz) Callahan — except, of course, the names are changed. Jasper is the Emperor of their particular world; Mitchel is his second-in-command, in a way. So I changed it from their world to the US; Mitchel is Vice President, Jazz President. Amelia is head of the Secret Service and is doing the interrogation herself.

Mitchel’s motivations are varied. He wants power. He wants control. He believes that Jazz never should have been handed this position — that Jazz is effortlessly perfect (and here is my topic connection — Mitchel believes that Jazz is a man of “shibusa,” though if you know Jazz’s character, you realize this is just a projection on Mitchel’s part), and therefore, shouldn’t have it.

There’s also a jealousy component — Jazz fell in love with Savin and married him, and not Mitchel, who Jazz had known first, longer, and just as intimately.

But in the interrogation scene I’m writing, I’m essentially doing it from Mitchel’s POV. I am deep inside his head; using his syntax and his word choice and just general state of mind. He is in control. He is lethal. He believes he isn’t going to end up charged with anything, though he is under arrest.

And seeing outside of his very narrow view point (me me me) and his own perceptions of himself (I am perfect and great and smarter than the rest of the world) is so difficult, I’m having trouble seeing what will trip him up. Because Amelia will get him to falter. She WILL get that confession. And she WILL secure the ability to indict Mitchel for treason.

But getting it down on paper when I am so deep in Mitchel’s POV is difficult.

I guess this is why I don’t write in first person. It’s hard, working so close to a fictional person’s brain. And I’m not even writing in first! It’s in third! But to write like how he speaks, I have to strip away that extra layer of distance.

Characters, man.

So for some of you who’ve been around on this blog for a while, you’ve heard me gush about this particular writing community from time to time. The Real LJ Idol can be found on livejournal.com, at therealljidol.livejournal.com. It is, perhaps, my favorite community on that particular website. It is a sprawling community, one that brings amateur and professional writers alike to its fold. Right now, it’s in between seasons, with the final season slated to take place in early 2014. 

I want to tell you all (and the world) how much I love LJI. How LJI has even changed my life, and produced irreplaceable friendships, and also a level of confidence in myself and my writing that I never quite had, before.

I’ve been writing for a long time. I have notebooks with my scrawling handwriting in them that date back to the late 90’s, when I was roughly 9-10 years old. I’ve posted fanfiction on fanfiction.net since the age of 12. But there was a time where I stopped writing. Most notably, it was after I got married. My whole marriage, I struggled with writing. It wasn’t as fun. I had ideas, but I couldn’t quite break the block. I was depressed.

And then, my ex-wife and I moved from North Carolina, back to our home state. And we were both unemployed, and looking for work, and we were living with my father. It was around that time, back in October 2011, that I discovered this writing community. A writing  competition, with reality show-esque twists like Survivor? Sure, I thought to myself, I’m game.

The commitment? Write one entry, based on a prompt given by the wonderful (and terrifying) host, Gary. Each piece was to be completed within 3-4 days. Sometimes, we got multiple prompts to do over longer periods of time. Sometimes, we’d get an Open Topic, which we all then would proceed to Flip the Fuck Out, because wtf does Gary have up his sleeve? Better bring our A Game! 

It’s because of this community that I found the commitment to write on a weekly basis again. And then on a daily basis and pursuing my own projects with renewed vigor, once I got voted out at 30 Weeks (and made it to the top 30 out of some 300+ contestants — not bad, if I do say so myself). It forced me to grow as a writer. To experiment. To learn how to tell non-fiction in a way that was compelling, that had a point, that didn’t feel like an LJ entry. 

This is a writing competition you simply cannot forget. The struggle, the pain, the cursing of Gary for some really absurdly weird prompts. The camaraderie you develop with your fellow contestants. I met my best friend Sarah through LJI Season 8. We started talking as the season was heading towards the end, and she made it to 4th place.

LJI restored my faith in myself as a writer. Made me realize that yes, writing is my life’s blood. I need it to breathe. I need it to cope. And I was competing in Exhibit B (a mini-season) when my ex-wife told me she wanted to end our marriage. It was Idol that carried me through those rough few months immediately following the news. Idol that kept me writing when all I wanted to do was quit, and give up, and never write again and never feel again. 

I implore you all, when I link the Sign Up Sheet, to get a livejournal account. To give Idol a spin, just like I did. It may be a writing marathon, a test of your skills and your ability to pull something out of your ass when there’s no time and no ideas, but it is, hands down, the best writing competition. It is the first of its kind, and no others can quite compete.

Thank you, LJI, for shaping me into who I am today. For shaping me into the writer I am today. For introducing me to wonderful, amazing people who enrich my life and make me a better person. For the support I found when my ex-wife severed emotional ties with me. 

And thank you, Gary, for pulling it all together for us every year, for veterans and noobs alike. This labor of love has done wonders for me, as I’m sure it’s done wonders for others, as well. ❤

It Lives!!!

So I finished redoing my outline for Seize the Day. Had my trusty bff look it over. She approved it, said it felt stronger now, etc. And today? Today I felt inspired to work on the first chapter of it. 

It’s obviously still in rough-draft form, but with the outline as solid as it is, this rough draft will hopefully be spared a lot of my heavy rewriting. If I complete this draft, then move on to the draft for Surrender the Night (after redoing ITS outline, of course), and then eventually on to the draft for Gray Morning, I’ll be set. 

My hope is to work on getting another erotica short or two up for sale this week. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be writing, though. A friend on livejournal suggested I write a f/f piece. I’m sure there’s a niche for it, but I’m terrified of writing lesbian erotica. I’m much more comfortable writing about dicks. But I also want to try something new this week. So hm. 

Speaking of livejournal — that writing competition I’m in? This week, the gracious host is dropping 4 contestants. I’m at the very bottom of the poll. Considering getting dropped now means I’ll have juuuust missed the top 10, it makes me kinda sad. But eh, I’m playing with an alt, the popular pieces seriously make no sense to me, etc. Granted, a vast majority of us left behind have a great deal of technical skill, but so many fall flat on execution, to me. I’m not very impressed with the group that may end up being this mini-season’s top 10. 

But, I have written 1500 words today and reworked some additional 700 I had written before in order to obtain a coherent chapter one? If I can punch out 2-3 chapters a weekend from now on, that would be pretty glorious. The outline only has 28 chapters — and chapter 1 was actually chapters 1 and 2 on the outline combined. Oops?

Without further ado, the second half of Chapter One:

***

“Ah, Ryin. You’re here earlier than I expected,” his uncle Francis muttered, emerging from around a corner. He wore clothes unbecoming of an Emperor — if jeans and a t-shirt could be considered unbecoming. His hair reminded Ryin of the ash from the end of a cigarette — grey and black, some parts flecked with white. His age certainly showed in his hair.

It also showed in his movements, slow and purposeful, as if every move caused him pain. He sat down at a small table, gesturing for Ryin to do the same. Ryin strode across the room and took his seat, taking care to position himself so that he could still see the television screen — Jazz had appeared on the set, a slight frown on his face as he approached the podium. 

Ryin tore his eyes away from the screen, focusing them on his uncle’s face. “Your Guard was pretty fricken insistent that I come before Jazz’s speech started,” he muttered, leaning back in his seat some. 

Francis’s lips twitched. “I apologize for that,” he said, crossing his arms on top of the table. “I understand that Jasper is family, unlike them. I know you would have preferred to see his speech in person. It’s his first, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Ryin murmured. He strained his ears to ear Jazz’s voice over his uncle’s. It wavered, but only slightly as Jazz forced himself to stand even straighter. “His first televised one, anyway,” he continued, tapping his fingers on the table.

“They made a good choice with him, the NBLM,”. Francis said, turning to glance at the television. “How many years was it since I last saw Jasper?”

“Five,” Ryin answered, his throat tightening, threatening to close for good. He stopped his tapping, openly looking at the television screen himself. “Just after Mom and Dad were killed.” 

“Has it been that long?” Francis mused, his frown deepening. “They would have been proud of you both for joining the NBLM. They did love you both so much.”

“I know.” Ryin didn’t say anything else, instead continuing to focus his attention on Jazz’s speech. He had gained confidence, now, his voice ringing loud and clear. The crowd before him was obviously captivated, their cheers and shouts sometimes overtaking Jazz’s words. 

He didn’t want to think about his parents. Didn’t want to think of how Jazz reminded Ryin of his mother. How her voice used to ring out the same way Jazz’s did now. The confidence, the emotion. Ryin listened to the crescendo of Jazz’s voice, the cadence to his words. The way Jazz gave speeches reminded Ryin of the music by the same name, hence the nickname that long since replaced Jazz’s given name. His mother had never sounded quite this smooth, but her voice had been raspier, to begin with. 

Ryin had been so distracted by Jazz’s speech, he didn’t hear the next words issuing forth from his uncle’s mouth. He blinked, his brows furrowing together in confusion as he looked towards his uncle. “Say that again?” 

“I’m dying, Ryin,” Francis repeated, clearing his throat. The lines in his face seemed to deepen as he leaned forward. He ran his fingers through his hair. “My doctors diagnosed me with cancer. There isn’t much that can be done, at this point.”

Ryin choked on his own spit, sputtering for a moment before shaking his head. “That’s fucking impossible,” he managed, banging on his chest with an open hand. “You’re the Emperor. The best doctors in the Empire should be falling all over themselves to help you –”

“I’ve been seeing the best doctors the Empire has to offer for years, Ryin,” Francis stated, folding his hands on top of the table. His eyes never wavered from Ryin’s, his lips set in a grim line. “They advised me to inform my successor that the Empire will be theirs, which is what I am doing now, despite my better judgment telling me to wait a little longer.”

Ryin had barely finished wheezing for air when his heart stopped at Francis’s words. “My — my mother was next in line.”

His uncle nodded, that grim line deepening. He didn’t say anything as Ryin remembered how to breathe again, his heart hammering out a new rhythm in his chest. “I’m next in line,” Ryin breathed, his eyes growing wide. “I’m next in line! I — I don’t know how to run the Empire. Not to mention I’m a Natural Born, and –”

“You and Jasper are my only living relatives,” Francis muttered, waving his hand in a dismissive gesture. “– and Jasper is younger than you by a couple of years. The law is quite clear on the order of succession; your birth status is irrelevant.”

“My birth status is irrelevant?” Ryin laughed as he ignored the lump forming in his throat. “My birth status is irrelevant? Uncle, my mother and father were killed because they headed the NBLM — hell, the NBLM wouldn’t fucking exist if –”

Shots rang out, cutting off Ryin’s next words. He jumped, looking towards the television as his stomach plummeted and crashed through the floor. Jazz’s face no longer appeared on the screen, and the screams and shouts coming from the crowd deafening as members of the NBLM scrambled to retrieve his crumpled form behind the podium. Ryin watched, his stomach twisting and his throat filling with bile, as they dragged Jazz’s limp body away.

Ryin was on his feet, striding towards the door without a second thought. “That is why my birth status is perfectly relevant, Uncle,” he growled, turning to point at the screen. “How the fuck am I supposed to run an Empire when its people would have me killed just because of the way I was born?”

He didn’t wait for an answer as he slipped out of his uncle’s private chambers. A member of the Guard stood by the door, her hands clasped behind her back. “Take me to whichever hospital Jasper’s getting taken to,” he ordered, wishing his stomach would start churning. “He’s just been shot.”

Doin’ Good

I not only finished up the current draft of my LJI entry, but I also finished the writing portion of The Best Competition, which is my next erotica short I intend to sell on Amazon. I’ve been trolling the internet for a cover and came across a rather goofy one, that as a joke, I would use in a heart beat. 

Don’t you hate it when you debate whether you should take things seriously all the time, or have a little fun? I mean, it’s smut. I enjoy writing sex scenes and I do a damn good job at it, if I do say so myself. But obviously erotica is not “SRS” writing, so why should I have to take my covers super-seriously? I mean, a picture of gummy bears posed in suggestive positions? Is that really such a bad thing to have as a cover for your smut?

I don’t know.

But I think I’m about to find out. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work for me and it’ll net me a few sales because people saw the cover and were like OH THAT’S SOME FUNNY SHIT RIGHT THERE. And, bonus! Sexy story that’s well-written to go along with it. 😉 

Clearly I think about these things a little too much. I even have a public poll going on over at my LJ, which can be found here, if you’re curious.

For those who don’t wanna go over to my LJ, here’s the image in question that I want to use:

Image