I had one week off from school during which I had originally planned to do the first rewrite of my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel. It was naive of me to think I’d accomplish it, especially because half my week was taken up by taking care of house chores that had been pushed off over the last four months, not to mention I also had to study for an exam I have right upon my return to classes. That said, I did go ahead and transfer my novel from Word into Scrivener.
I’ve been using Scrivener as my writing tool since I got it earlier this year and I absolutely love it. I knew from the start that I wanted to import the novel into it for all subsequent drafts, as I love the organizational tools available, especially for a long project like a novel. Take a look at the screen-cap above to see what I mean.
In Word, the novel was one long text file. That was fine for the first 50-thousand-words-in-30-days draft, but for rewrites I knew it would be a bitch. Scrivener allowed me to break off the manuscript into Parts, Chapters and Scenes. A wonderful thing happened once I had taken the time to reformat the text for Scrivener: I was able to see patterns I simply would have missed in Word.
I’ve been intrigued by the Steampunk genre for a while now. I like the visuals of it, the gears and clockwork and pseudo-Victoriana, but it’s a curiosity that has been left at the periphery as other things have taken priority. My friend Mick Bradley is, however, quite into it (he does Steampunk-inspired crafts), so I always have some imagery coming through my social networks thanks to him, keeping it somewhat in my radar. I was happy to leave my interest vague, simply enjoying looking at pics, until last week.
This scene popped into my head some time ago, a scene featuring an airship battle inside a thundercloud, and it fermented there long enough to want to be written down. I didn’t know anything about the characters or story beyond that vague description. So I started writing, and behold, two characters emerged fairly well defined, along with the beginnings of the battle between two airships. In my mind airships are really closely associated with steampunk; along with some of the descriptions and dialogue that came out, it seemed that this is what I was writing right here. Great!
The issue then became, what is this I am writing? Not so much in terms of the story: that I actually have a pretty decent idea what it’ll be by now; but what about this genre I know nothing about?
Understand my approach to genre is very fluid. In general, I don’t care for genre; I always strive to write a good story first, and if it fits in some genre due to X or Y, then fantastic. But I’m also a firm believer of the adage “Know the rules before you can break them.” So I set out to learn at least some basics about Steampunk.
My professors like to say that being a nurse is really about being a compulsive observer, about catching little details that others would miss, and using that information to help treat the patient. Earlier this week, I was at the library at school and I saw a guy sitting at the table right in front of mine. I then notice that, when this young woman walked in, he perked up immediately and, almost imperceptibly, I saw him catch his breath. I noticed the way he looked at her as she approached his table, and how he simply swallowed it all up as soon as she sat down and went about pulling out books to study for their class.
That little scene stuck in my head; I felt there was a story there. I tried to tease out what it was over the next couple days but my mind wanted to run too rampant. I felt it needed to be a very short story for a very short moment. It was his breath catching that made it click for me. In order to get it out of my system, I set myself a one-man flash fiction challenge: write about the scene at the library in less than 1000 words. An hour and a half later, I had exactly 1000 words and a new short story entitled “Breath.”
I hope you enjoy it.
Music has always featured in one way or another in my fiction writing, though mostly it has been in an inspirational guise. I don’t play music while I’m writing, but songs that I’ve heard have, at times, fueled everything from scenes to entire stories. To this day there are a couple of songs that I can never listen without thinking of the story they inspired me to write years ago.
As I approach a much-needed break from nursing school in a couple of weeks, I find myself desperate to start the rewrite of my novel, which I started for NaNoWriMo and finished last December. When I say I’m desperate, I mean it. I need to get that story done with, get those characters out of my head and into the page once and for all. Why? Because they are living, breathing people caught in stasis and they take over my thoughts and my emotions. And it gets very tiring feeling other people’s emotions on top of your own.[ref]This is where non-writers look at me kinda funny and think I’m loosing my marbles, while writers nod in full understanding.[/ref]
Thing is, one of the key aspects I know I need to strengthen during my rewrite has been stymieing me for a while now. I know what the end result I want is, but I also know I need to better portray it in the novel for some of the emotional punches to really hurt. I’ve been struggling with the nature of the relationship at the center of this issue and I just couldn’t quite see how I’d work that problem out.
Enter a new song into my jukebox.
I heard this song by Gotye just last week for the first time, and today my classmate played it in her car while she gave me a ride. The words snuck into my head unknowingly. When I got home I found that I was humming it absentmindedly… And that something in the lyrics had suddenly made things click in regards to the problem I was having with my novel! I still don’t know what it was: the music, the melody, parts of the lyrics, the emotion conveyed. Something. Whatever it was, I have now taken notes that will help me during my rewrite and finally allow me to bring my novel to completion.
I absolutely love it when a song does this to me.
Back in late December, we finally published my wife’s debut novel, SONGBIRD. We did an initial promotional push when it went up for sale on the Amazon Kindle Store, and again when it became available for Nook and on paperback at Amazon.com. Since then, however, we have both been swamped with work and school and have not had time to promote the novel as a self-published book deserves and needs to be. I’d like to change that.
Here is the copy at the back of the novel:
How far will friendship stretch when put to the test?
Jacqueline Aguirre is a wallflower. Her best friend Sophie Martinez is anything but. Yet somehow the two became best friends, inseparable through thick and thin. That is, until charming Irishman Liam comes into the picture, throwing their perfect world into disarray and challenging Jackie to unfurl her wings and fly. Established patterns are broken, emotions taken for granted are challenged, and the friends’ lives are turned upside down. Now only one thing is for certain: things will never be the same.
SONGBIRD is a story of contemporary women that is not Chick Lit. Personally, I like to think of it as a coming-of-self story, where we see the events that propel the main character to finally come into her own as a person. I think it is a good novel (I am terribly biased, I know, but I stand by it) and I would like for more people to read it.
I will give away 5 copies of SONGBIRD in e-book format (Kindle and ePub) with the only request that, if you like and enjoy the novel, you leave a review at Amazon.com.
If you are interested, leave a comment below and I will get in touch with you.