Tags: writing


Being Published

This is going to be a long post. I know it's been awhile, journal. I've been pretty busy. With what, you ask?

With this:

Yep. That is the print cover of my first published book. It is a novella, and it is, of course, the first publication in what will be known as myTelepathic Space Pirates series. You may remember it from my many posts and tags. It is currently up for pre-order on Amazon, here:

But this post isn't about telling you where the pre-order is. This post is about the journey it took me to get here. I know a lot of the old LJ gang isn't around anymore (on LJ or Dreamwidth), but I think a few still are. And I would be very remiss if I didn't post here and talk about how very instrumental your role has been in getting me here. When I joined LJ back in 2003, I was very active in fandom. I was writing fic and visiting forums and participating in chats with a lovely group of ladies who were also huge fans of the TV show, Alias. I started writing Sarkney fic before it was a thing (seriously - there was only one other writer at the time writing genuine Sark/Syd that didn't involve ugly rape-fic, and I wish she was still around to be reading this. Wherever you are, Rach, your stories gave me the confidence to write again.) This was during a period of my life when I had lost confidence in myself as a writer. I'd gone to a writing con, and a big time NY editor ripped my work to shreds in front of a room full of people. At the time, I thought I was okay. What was one woman's opinion? But I stared at a blinking cursor on my screen, and didn't write another word on that WIP. Ever. I didn't write another word of original fic for a very long time. Only discovering fandom and finding a safe place there allowed me to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and write again. I wrote, I posted, and people gave me instant feedback! They asked for more, they were positive and encouraging, and many of them became my friends. Without the confidence they gave me, I would not be here, looking at my book up for pre-order, looking at that gorgeous cover with my pen name on it.

For a long time, Livejournal was the center of my writing world. Not just for fic writing, but for my own original work. I posted progress meters, snippets, and talked about what I was doing when I finally started writing my own stuff again. The agent who originally asked to see the full manuscript of my first draft of the first Telepathic Space Pirates book, did so because someone she knew had pointed her to my Livejournal, and told her "I think you would like this." Even though I journaled anonymously, when I queried her for something else entirely, she recognized me, and asked to see the full draft of Nemesis when it was finished.

That was my first lesson in "you never know who is reading you online". A good lesson, thankfully.

That book, the book that was Nemesis, will be going up for pre-order in March, and will launch in June. I already have a gorgeous cover that is so stunning, I cried when I saw it for the first time. It wouldn't be happening if not for Livejournal, if not for those fandom friends who supported me, encouraged me, cheered me on, acted as beta readers, told me I had what it takes, and were generally the best damn group of friends a girl could have. Maybe someday, some hopeful writer will be writing fanfic of my worlds, and won't that be a kick? Words will never express what this community has done for me. Even though most of us have moved on, I will never forget it, and I do not regret spending the money for a "lifetime" Livejournal account. At times as I wait out this pre-order period, I am happy, excited, so anxious I want to throw up, and filled with self-doubt. And I remind myself, "This is no different than putting your fanfic out there for the world to read." And I take a deep breath, and know it is all going to be okay. Thank you, members of the Harem. You know who you are. I still think about you all. Some of you, I keep up with on Facebook, and some of you, I have lost touch with completely. But you are never, ever forgotten.

This is a copy of the acknowledgements I wrote to include in this first book. It doesn't say everything I wanted to, because I was limited by word count, which is why I wrote this post. I love you ladies. I hope you are all having excellent lives, and achieving your dreams.

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 I'm reading this awesome writing book called Save the Cat, and it's changing the whole way I approach structuring novels. I have been restructuring Nemesis, and I think this is possibly the best thing to happen to my writing in some time. 

Anyway, one of the steps is coming up with a logline for your book. This is a one line summary that identifies your protagonist, and what they must overcome, and it should contain a sense of irony and emotional impact. A sample one for the movie Die Hard goes like this:

A street-wise cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, only to find her office building taken over by terrorists.

An enhanced, more detailed logline would be something like: On the brink of a divorce, a bullheaded, street-wise, New York cop is trapped in his wife’s office building by terrorists, and teams up with an L.A. “desk cop” to stop them; but when his taunts of the terrorists risks exposing his hostage wife’s identity, he must learn to adapt and change to outsmart the lead terrorist and prevent the true goal of a billion-dollar heist.

Here is what I have come up with for Nemesis:

A galactic courier with the outlawed gift of telepathy is searching for the mother she lost fifteen years ago, when she is kidnapped by pirates - the family who tried to kill her as a child, but now need her to embrace her gifts if any of them are to survive. 

What do you think? Would you be intrigued and want to read that book? Yes or no. All feedback is appreciated. Any suggestions for tweaking it further?

ETA: (new version)

A resourceful space pilot with a troublesome telepathic gift is searching for the mother she lost fifteen years ago, when she is kidnapped by pirates outlawed by the government for their own psychic abilities; but when she discovers her kidnappers are also the family who once tried to kill her as a child, she realizes the mystery of her mother’s disappearance holds deadlier secrets than she knew, and she must embrace her gifts if any of them are to survive. 

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there. Comments welcome on either post.

On writing

So, yesterday I wrote 2000 words. It wasn't anything epic. Just a short ficlet based off a prompt. But I wrote, and I fell right back into the rhythm of fitting words together to say what I wanted to convey, and it didn't completely suck! I could feel myself being a little bit creaky and rusty, but not anywhere nearly as bad as I had feared. When I finished it, I felt a sense of victory and relief; maybe this will finally convince whatever part of myself is doubting that I can still write despite the last few years of academia interfering.

I am on to the next prompt today. Please feel free to leave me a prompt if you are so inclined. :)

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there. Comments welcome on either post.

Fic: A Poison Tree (OUaT)

It's been a really long time since I've done this. I asked for prompts earlier today. And you guys, I wrote. It's not much. Just a little ficlet. But I wrote! Small steps.

This was the first prompt:

Regina tries to get the town to celebrate Arbor Day, but people are wary of planting saplings from her apple tree.

Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Characters: Emma, Regina, Robin, Marian, Hook, Leroy et al.
Pairings: Regina/Hook (alluded to)
Rating: Um...I forget what ratings fandom uses these days. PG?
Spoilers: Through the end of S3
Author: Rhien Elleth

Words: 2,126


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Cross-posted from Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there. Comments welcome on either post.

Well, the universe is tired of my whining!

So, yesterday [personal profile] ariestess was offering free rune readings as a part of celebrating the Fall equinox, and I went ahead and asked for one. I couldn't decide how to frame my question, so I just asked for a general reading. I wondered at the time if I would be able to tell what in my life it was really addressing when she gave her answer, but as it turns out, it was blazingly obvious:

Your rune :: Kenaz [reversed]

In a reversed position, Kenaz indicates exposure and being laid bare. At the same time, this means that you will lose any sense of false hope about the situation plaguing you right now. This is the time for being practical and pragmatic about your options. You can continue to wallow in instability and a lack of creative spark, or you can take the initiative and find a way to turn this situation around to your benefit.

Tip It! rune :: Tiwaz [reversed]

In perfect connection to the previous rune, reversed Tiwaz points toward a major blockage in your creativity and energy flow. Don't allow yourself to be paralyzed by the negativity that seems so oppressive. Take a step to the side, tilt your head, and look at the situation from a different perspective. Think outside the box and find new ways to conquer this demon plaguing you.

I'm creatively blocked. I can continue to wallow or do something about it, basically. So.

I need to write, people. And I'm allowing my own self doubts to paralyze me in a ridiculous kind of self-fulfilling merry-go-round of negativity. I'm going to start small. Someone, anyone, please give me a fic prompt. Something where I can write maybe a short little character driven vignette. Unusual situations for the character are fine. The prompt can be something like a whole sentence to springboard from, or just a set of words.  People who know me know my tastes, but for those who don't, I tend to like darker characters or those with a bit of an edge best, but that doesn't mean I won't write about others. For example, Hook and Regina are two of my favorites on OUaT. Dark!Ward on AoS is awesome, but I also love Fitz and Simmons, and so on. Here are fandoms I feel comfy with for the moment:

Agents of Shield
(pretty much anyone)
(I have not yet watched the season opener for Sleepy Hollow, so for now, let's leave this one off the list.)
The Originals
Once Upon a Time
And of course, fandom of old:
Alias (I wrote Sark a lot back in the day)

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there. Comments welcome on either post.
inara-shadows - ladytirimasu

Writing. Depressing things.

I almost started crying at work just now and had to step away from reading my f-list. Let me explain.

Over three years ago I made the super important decision to go back to school and finish my BA. I had lost my day job with no others in sight. I felt like it was something I needed to do for my future and financial security. Then I finished that, and made the hard choice to do another year+ of school to get my Masters, because in order to go into teaching, I need one. I did these things. I am done, I have my MATLT. And I don't regret it, exactly, but I resent the hell out it.

Allow me to explain: I used to write ALL THE TIME. I wrote fic. I wrote books. I wrote every day. I wrote a book you all might remember about telepathic space pirates that garnered me a really awesome phone conversation with an agent who read the whole thing, and gave me invaluable feedback about hoe to make it better. I had another story I wrote rejected, but with a wonderful personal letter from the editor asking me to expand it into a full length book. I feel like I made this choice about my financial future at a critical moment in my writing career, if you want to call it that. School happened, and it demanded so much reading and well, academic writing time that I just didn't have the energy left over to write creatively. I barely had time to read anything. I kept telling myself "When school is done". Well, it is, and I still haven't picked up the gauntlet again.

I read about friends of mine, writers doing the things I used to do - finishing books, querying agents, working on things - and something inside me breaks a little bit. I mean, I'm happy for them, I am. But I just seem to sink deeper into my own personal writing depression. I miss it SO MUCH. So why am I not doing it? Why haven't I picked up that pen again and started being creative?

Honestly? I'm scared. I am terrified in some deep part of myself that I've somehow "lost it". That in the three years of academic writing, my ability as a fiction writer has somehow vanished. While I might be a tad rusty, I know logically that that is ridiculous, and that if I just do it, I will soon be churning out words and characters and stories to the level I was at previously. But the fear is paralyzing in a way that I cannot explain. I WANT to write, but forcing myself to actually do it is proving to be this huge hurtle I never thought I would EVER have to overcome.

The longer this goes on, the worse it is. Fandom and fic writing helped me get back into writing the last time I experienced an issue kind of like this. But it wasn't this...much. It wasn't as intense, and hadn't gone on for as long. I know the answer: write, stupid. But I am really, really struggling with how to make myself just move past the fear and do it. And in the meantime, I am almost crying when I read about how happy writerly friends are, or the strides they are making in their own writing.

This can't continue. I have to do something to move forward. But fandom isn't what it once was, and I don't know if writing fic will give me back my confidence the way it once did. I am sad, and afraid, and I don't know what to do to kick myself in the rear and move forward.
wardrobe - jinxed_icons


 So, this morning one of MSN's headlines was something like "jobs that make $30 an hour", so curious, I clicked on it.  It's an interesting, but I suspect not exactly conclusive list.  Why?

Well, #10 on the list was:

Writers and authors write material for scripts, magazines, books, websites and other publications.                 

Hourly pay: $31.04         

Annual salary: $64,560

Really?  How did they come by that number?  Is that an average of some kind?  Like, take all the script writers in Hollywood, some of whom might get paid six figures for a single script that may never even get made into a movie, and average them with all the authors out there who can't afford not to quit their day jobs - something like that?  (Disclaimer: I'm sure there are script writers out there who can't quit their day jobs, either.  I'm just saying.  Usually a script sold in Hollywood goes for a LOT more money than the average book contract.)  

Just how did you get those figures, MSN?

Also as an aside, I happen to know that a teacher equipped with a Master's degree and seven years of teaching experience doesn't even make the National average income.  At least in this neck of the woods.  How freaking sad is that?  Teaching is ridiculously low paid.


 Hey guys.

Cutting to the chase: It's taken me nearly two years and a handful of rewrites, but I think Nemesis is finally where it needs to be.  Or, you know, firmly going where it needs to be.  It bears such faint resemblance to the original draft I sent to beta readers, I marvel now that I ever thought that draft "done" and "polished".  Along the way, I've gotten invaluable advice from beta readers, critique partners, industry professionals, and friends.  But at the end of the day, I'm the one that has to decide what makes the story good, and when and how to implement those changes.  I've cut so many pieces that didn't really belong in the old draft, and beefed up and concentrated on others I never thought mattered.  

Mercy as a character has come so far.  I hope it's far enough.  At some point, a writer becomes too close to the work to really know.  I never realized before, that people weren't able to connect to her emotionally as well as they should.  A fault in how I wrote her.  A lack of the reader's ability to know what Mercy was thinking and feeling, because I just didn't put it in there (even though I really thought I did.)  

Now, things are different.  Now, the reader gets to know not only Mercy's innermost thoughts, but also Reaper's.  (Something that has made my beta readers very happy.  His POV did not really exist in the original drafts.)  

I know I've mentioned occasionally here that I'm working on the rewrite(s).  That has had a few starts and stops, as I've struggled with what to get rid of, and what to keep and expand.  But the extra time it took me was worth it, because it allowed me to put some space between the old draft and my connection to it, to look objectively as some things I would never have considered getting rid of before.  

Now, here I am on the fourth (fifth?) rewrite since that old draft, and I'm feeling better about the book than I have since I was so certain that old draft was the draft.  I'm rewriting scenes I never thought needed to be rewritten before, and cutting out whole chapters, and adding new ones.  I think only a handful of scenes from that old draft even resemble themselves anymore, and that's not a bad thing.  It's a better book.  A stronger book.  

So, have a word count meter:

I'm averaging about 8K a day, and hoping to keep that up until school starts on Tuesday this next week.  

Oh, and have a snippet:
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**end snippet**

Oh, and just a note that I am looking for a couple of additional beta readers.  If anyone feels up to volunteering.

Hello hello

 I know, I know.  I said I was going to be better about posting regularly.  Writing for school is eating my brain, mostly because I hate my current class, and thus writing for it takes WAY too much energy and effort.  And if I'm not writing for school, I'd like to be writing, you know?  I miss writing my fiction stuff when I'm not, more than I can possibly express, which puts LJ at a very sad third on the writing priority list.  

On the good front, not being able to work on the book means I spend more time thinking about it, and I've worked out some things that (I think) put all the final pieces together, in some ways for the whole series, but most especially for how everything works together in Nemesis.  (Right - that's what I should have been doing with the villain(s) all along!)   So...maybe this rewrite will be the last!

For now, anyway.

And to think, I used to privately laugh at those authors who talked of doing three, four, or God forbid a dozen rewrites.  *wipes tear from eye*  I crack myself up.  You know, once upon a time, I couldn't move on from a book.  It's a classic blunder - write a book that is in some way broken, or just not there yet, probably because you as the writer are still learning your craft and just not there yet, and then keep rewriting it and never actually working on anything new, ad nauseum, never submit it, and thus never really have a chance at publication.  I used to be that writer.  And then a bunch of things happened that kicked me out of that horrid cycle, I wrote a couple of new books, stopped rewriting altogether, and now I find myself come full circle, back to multiple rewriting.  Except it's different.  I don't know how to adequately explain it.  And right now, at almost 3:00 in the morning, I'm too tired to try.

I think it comes down to, these rewrites have a purpose.  The first one I did because someone in the business, someone who looked at it and said "this is good, but it could be so much better, and here's how" advised me to.  I did it thinking I understood, and knew what I needed to do.  But I didn't actually.  I fixed some things that needed fixing, but the core problem, the one that really needed addressing, escaped me until a beta reader came back from the rewrite saying almost exactly the same thing that earlier person had.  Only this time, it clicked.  I got it.  It was a forehead slapping moment for me.  So, yeah, now the rewrite is about fixing that core problem.  If I could just find extra energy from writing academic papers (ugh!) to work on it.  I asked my beta readers to kick me the other day, and they did, but it didn't work.  It wasn't enough.  Now, increasingly, I find myself angry at my own lack of personal writing time.  Is it important I finish my degree?  Yes.  But it is, if anything, vastly more important to me to finish Nemesis, but good.  So I need to find a way to balance it out and make it happen.  

That means I will probably remain somewhat scarce around here.  Still lurking, but not posting as often as I once did.  We'll see.  I miss it.  I miss the community here, and the daily updating.  So here's a brief bullet list:

Things Currently Happening in My Life (other than school):

~ Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 is so far as awesome as I expected it to be!

~ That Criminal Minds ep saying good-bye to JJ was totally ironic, am I right?  Like, the writers were making some very not-subtle parallels there.  Damn if they didn't do it well, even if I am still angry about it.

~ Does it mean something, that I have visited the Dragon Age II website often enough for it to be a permanent fixture on my Safari homepage?  You know, the one made up of all your most frequently visited websites.  Google...and Dragon Age!  Ha!

~ My sloth is not just limited to writing!  We had out of town guests recently, and when thoughts turned to snacks whilst we watched some DVDs, I dug into my pantry and served....stale girl scout cookies!  Because I am just that awesome of a hostess.  You totally want to come visit me now, right?  On the other hand, I did provide some very nice alcoholic beverages, if I say so myself. :)

~ Guardians of whatever-it's-called, aka "that owl movie" was very, very pretty!  It is every epic fantasy story ever written, and thus extremely predictable, but still enjoyable and well done.  

It took me four tries to properly spell 'guardians', so I think it's off to bed for me, finally.  I blame Seanan McGuire for keeping me up.  Not only am I behind on my writing, but I am hopelessly behind on my reading.  I had no idea the new October Daye book was out until about 10:00pm tonight.  "I'll just stay up a couple of hours and read", i thought.  Yes, well you see the time.  I stayed up until I was done reading.  Haven't done that in...since I can't remember.  I do have one very vaguely spoilery thought on the book at this sort of sleep deprived, punch drunk juncture: Collapse )Okay, now I really am going off to bed.  I have officially turned into a pumpkin. Night!

This morning was a two cup day.

After yesterday's epiphany, I thought I'd post an example as I work on fixing it.  Also, unexpected things about one's characters often come out on the page when you aren't looking for them.  Apparently, Drug (a minor character) is devoutly religious.  And Mercy (my MC) isn't.

Since I myself am of a religious bent, this is an odd realization to have.  Especially given that this counts as the third rewrite of this book, and religion has never particularly played a role before.  But what do people do when faced with death?  If they believe in a God, often they pray.  

So, without further ado:

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See how, not once do I mention how Mercy feels in this situation?  Everything is conveyed through dialogue, or a description of her doing something.  Even though the story is told from her POV, we aren't really in her head here.

And here's the new opening.  Same scene, different approach:

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See how adding bits about what Mercy's feeling makes the situation more immediate?  At least, I hope it does.  In fact, I think it changes the entire mood of the scene.  Let me know if you agree, or if you don't! :-)