Monday, August 26, 2013

The spoils.

Week one of book 3 has been a doozy. I finished the week with a total of 7,584 words, and 20 pages (yes, we're back to 1.5 spacing). I think it was harder than usual to start it because I didn't have a 3-4 month break like last time, and I didn't do as much research. Since I started again so soon, and after I had practically buried myself under a ton of research material, the evil monster of overthinking rose its annoying and ugly horned head. By the time Friday rolled around, I wrote maybe 300 words and just got frustrated. I actually walked out of my room, found Mom and told her to give me a hug and tell me to stop overthinking things. So she did, atop with giving me extra reassurances that I've always had these kind of moments and the story would still come out fine. Shadow made sure to give me some cuddling time as well. After that, I went back into my "cave", shut my eyes for a while, and just said, "Alright voices, all of you need to get in line. No order, no story." Next thing I knew, one character "spoke", and I ended up with a total of 2,112 words for that day. I realized after that moment that I tried to do what some other writers did, which was their usual process of researching and outlining, trying to write in some sort of structure, etc. That's not entirely what I do. I'm the kind of writer who yes, will research, but outlining is not something I always found useful. I just write what tends to come to mind. It's what felt right to me. I do edit like a madwoman, so it's not as if I'm intending to publish something I just wrote and didn't bother to check over. The point is, I unconsciously tried to follow a format that I normally hated. I didn't do what I usually do, which was to just sit there and let the words come out on their own.

With that being said, I do expect to be a bit more productive this week! I shouldn't be too hard on myself though. 7,000+ words for the first week is still pretty damn good.

I have also been a reading machine lately. I recently finished reading Sara Douglass' The Devil's Diadem, and when I finished it, I almost cried. For those of you who don't know, Sara Douglass passed away about a year ago with cancer. This was the last book she ever wrote. To this day, she is still one of my favorite authors. She got me through high school with The Wayfarer Redemption series and through my post-collegiate graduation phase with The Troy Games series. The Darkglass Mountain trilogy was brilliant to me; she took a lot of her characters from her other series and novels and put them together to battle some familiar and new evils. It made me wonder how my characters from other stories would interact with one another, and I had been seriously tempted to do a free-write to see just that. But anyways, back to her final book. She described in length of this plague that she threw against her characters, and a part of me couldn't help but wonder if this was how she felt during her cancer treatments. A great writer was taken from the world, but at least her suffering ended. I've always loved how she wrote stories of the "Old People" and would compare them to the people who follow the "true" religion. This is something I tend to write about myself (Shadow Walker, for instance). This isn't to be an insult to those who are religious, I'm just stating that this is something that always fascinated me and this was (and still is today), a great battle in our society. The only difference today is that we fight over many religions rather than just two (y'know, Paganism and Christianity).

I should also note that I have truly gained a newfound appreciation for mystery novels. I'm currently reading a series by Margaret Coel, who writes about a priest who serves on the mission of a Native American reservation in Wyoming (and just so happens to stumble across murders). It's actually fascinating, and the priest is quite an interesting character as well (addicted to baseball...even if it is the Red Sox, former alcoholic, etc.).

In case you were wondering, I did make a trip to the bookstore last week. I made out with quite a haul, actually. I picked up some research material (a book on Norse mythology, the ending period of the Medieval Era and the start of the Renaissance), and some stuff just for myself (The Lovely Bones, a full copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight since I only had a snippet of it from my Brit Lit class, and book 3 of the Walt Longmire mysteries). Now, I have a story concerning Kindness Goes Unpunished (book 3 by Craig Johnson). I couldn't find book 2 of the series, and with the stack of Johnson books that were there, I ended up picking up book 3 without even realizing that it was so. I tend to search through books in second-hand bookstores, just because there are surprises hidden there sometimes. One time, I found a Native American poetry book and found a small feather stashed away in the center of it. I currently have that feather in a little vase, along with the raven feathers I've collected since moving out here. With Kindness Goes Unpunished, the little kid inside of me screamed when I found Craig Johnson's signature inside. After the excitement died down, I actually got upset.

Who pawns a signed book?! Seriously???

You know what they say...one person's "junk" is another's treasure. I can't believe somebody gave up a signed copy of a book, let alone one that currently has a television show that is filmed here. I died a little inside, I'll admit that. At least the book is still in pretty good condition. While I'm not at the stage of signing autographs and whatnot, I think it sucks to find autographed books in second-hand bookstores. It's nice for me to take them home, but it's like, you stood in line for some time to briefly meet the author and get their signature (after you already paid for the book), and then bam, you give it up. It's kind of blasphemy y'know, since there are other people in the world who would kill (not literally...though I can't speak for other bibliophiles) to be that lucky. The point is, if you go through all that...don't give up your autographed book. Stash the book away in a box or something (I just cringed at that thought, by the way), but don't give/sell it away. That's pretty crummy, and you wasted the author's and another fan's time by doing something like that. I thank whoever did such a thing though, because now I own it, but I won't hesitate to scold you either.

Monday, August 19, 2013

So it begins...again.

 
It's book day! It's book day! It's book day!!!!!! :)
 
Yes, today is the day I start book 3. Excited, I am! The beginning is always the hard part of the process, but I know I can manage. I can already feel the relief of some of my characters, since they know that they have my full attention again (they're pushing away the Shadow Walker characters right now...it's a war all over again).
 
 
They'll forgive me. Or they'll bug me again when I research something and demand another free-write. And speaking of which, I actually let my mother read the free-write I worked on during my last research session. Needless to say, if she had any doubts of my not being able to write certain things and situations, they had been put to rest.
 
I love it when that happens. It means I'm doing my job.
 
I also have a much needed trip to the bookstore. I think any trip to the bookstore is important, since I can never have enough research materials. Naturally, I'll be getting some books on my "must have NOW" list too. There's this neat little bookstore close to the house so when I get the chance, I'm going to raid those bookshelves.
 
 

 
Book shopping is a sport of its own. I take it very seriously. It's also why I only go with a select few people to bookstores...they're the ones who are already used to my crazed book modes.
 
This also means that I'm back to being a recluse to the world. However, and I MEAN however...I want to try something new this time around. Normally when I'm writing, I'm either in my room, my porch, or my yard. Sometimes I'm even in the kitchen. I'm actually going to try some new spots away from the house, even if it includes some cafes. Not trying to be a stereotype here, you know! I'm just seeing if it'll actually do something for me. I've edited my manuscripts in coffee shops before, so I know I can do that much...but actually writing is a whole other thing. I might have to bring extra cash for pastries too. I'm not worried about distractions. I used to have friends play video games or watch movies in my dorm because there were times where I could only work with noise around. Sometimes the brain is a funny thing.
 
I'm going to have to edit my iPod playlists too for this. That's as every bit important as the writing spot. Books 1 and 2 were its own sort of saga, whereas book 3 and 4 represents the next saga in the lives of my characters. Yes, it's far more chaotic now. War is coming, and I need some music to help set the mood. *cue maniacal laughter*
 
As always, there shall be updates on my book progress, and hopefully that'll include the indie publishing updates too. Just because I'm back to writing doesn't mean that I'm not setting up a plan for that part of the process! ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happiness is...

 
...when you can start working on the series again. That's right ladies and gents! My reader has finished reading Mistress of Blackwen, and I was told that I definitely should be proud of it. So I'll be making a few changes here and there today, looking over the notes and whatnot. Definitely the best news ever.


There have also been some changes in the plans of visitors, which means that this gal can start writing much sooner than expected! Next Monday will be the day I start writing book 3, Champions of Arrygn. Yes, that is the true title. The original title I had for it didn't fit everything that's been swirling around in my head, and this one feels just right. I am excited.

Another reason I'm waiting to start writing next week is that I still have a few more books to finish reading, and I'd like to give them as much attention as I can before I go hiding away in my den/cave/nest and what other puns people like to use when "writer mode" occurs. One of the books I'm reading is from my list, and I'm learning that I'm gaining a newfound appreciation for detective novels that aren't necessarily dealing with the supernatural. Granted, this one I'm reading right now is dealing with the supernatural, but more in the biblical sense. You would think that someone like me would love reading about exorcisms, crazy priests and whatnot, but I actually don't. To be honest...it bores me. All those movies and novels felt the same to me, and why would I go spend $8 and up to watch something that'll make me jump because of how loud the music and sound effects are the moment something "scary" happens? As I said, boring. When it comes to biblical tales and inspirations, I prefer reading and watching stuff about the first war, the apocalypse, and researching angelic lore in general (particularly of the Archangel Gabriel...he's probably one of the few religious aspects I've kept close since childhood). I also loved watching the anime Trinity Blood and Hellsing, mainly because of the vampire tales mixed in with the biblical plots. Through the Glass, Darkly is actually a British novel and it has given an interesting twist to one's "gifts" (or curse) despite living in a "normal" world. I'm not even bored with the multiple priest characters - that should say something. I'll give a more extensive review once I'm done with it.

Speaking of research and lore, it is Indian Market week here in Santa Fe. This weekend I'll be checking out the market in the Plaza and will hopefully catch some dances and other shows of all the tribes that will be here. As always, I'll be admiring the arts and crafts. I can't promise pictures, since I didn't even take any during the Spanish Market. I can only promise stories! It's also crazy to think that Indian Market is here already...where has the summer gone? It felt like the last summer went by so slowly, even with all the time spent at the baseball games.

Since I've mentioned baseball, I should mention that yes, I am angered about the Yankees playing A-Rod while he's appealing his suspension. I have not watched any games since his return, and I've focused solely on the Mets since. People are entitled to their own opinions about what's going on, and I am stating my opinion that I think the fans sticking by him and calling the rest of us judgmental are delusional. Rodriguez HAS tested positive before for PEDs, and he admitted use of it before. Yes, we won the World Series in 2009 with his bat, but I said it then and will say it again: thank you Kate Hudson for dating him at that time. I'll admit he was the better shortstop back in his time with the Mariners, but it still does not excuse his actions since his time with the Rangers. First time offenders, fine, I'll admit I'm angry there but we do live in a world of second chances. If they keep clean, then they've earned their return. Doesn't mean that I or other fans will forget. Rodriguez has NOT earned that, considering that he WAS on his second chance. He interfered with the investigation and bought any documents that mentioned him. Is that an act of an innocent guy? Hell no. I've also met the guy when I had my stint in the YES Network - the guy is, putting it mildly, an arrogant and narcissistic prick. A player bets on games and gets a lifetime ban...and Rodriguez only gets banned from the 2014 season? Seriously? What bothers me more is that this is supposed to be Mariano Rivera's year. I'm appalled that A-Rod pretty much stole the spotlight from him. Mo played the game clean and with class...and he's now retiring in the year where his own teammate cannot own up to trashing the game as much as he had. The Yankees should have benched him the moment he returned. I can care less that we "have a great need" of him...I'll take minor league players at 3rd playing like crap over him ANYDAY. I can't respect that, sorry. This isn't my being judgmental, this is my saying that I want to watch a sport I love played the way it should be - without cheating. That goes for all sports in general. What's the point of playing if you have to cheat to win and be the best? That's spitting in the face of the rest of us who put our bodies and minds through hell and back because we live for the game, as well as the non-athletes who just love the game. So for those of you who are calling us "fake Yankees fans", you guys should take another look at yourselves. You don't really appreciate the sport and you're basically supporting the fact that people who cheat deserve the recognition when there are those who have been clean and have been cheated out of awards.

Stepping off the soapbox now.

At least it's football season now, right? :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

"The earth has music for those who listen." - George Santayana

 
After my "mini" vacation last week, I can say that I am fully recharged! Spiritually, mainly. We did quite a bit of exploring while Kasia was here, and "magical" might be the understatement of the adventure.

From Thursday to Saturday, we squeezed in a ton of road-tripping. Our adventures included the Enchantment Loop, Abiquiu Lake, the Echo Amphitheater, Ghost Ranch, Taos, Madrid, the Santa Fe National Forest, and a lot of driving in the scenic routes in general. Even with some scattered rain on Thursday, we were determined to see as much as we could. Shadow enjoyed every moment of it!

This was the first time Shadow spent more than half an hour in a car, and he did really well! Mom and I kept saying how fortunate we are that Shadow is a mellow pooch, even with his random hyperactive moments. He was hyper in the beginning of the trek, mainly because Shadow absolutely LOVES to hike. When we were hiking the Winsor Trail in the Pecos Wilderness, Shadow was well-behaved around the dogs we passed. We ran into a couple with a pair of German Shepherds, and it's interesting to see his size compared to them. While he is half German Shepherd, again, Shadow's personality as well as size is predominantly Husky (and wolf...he was "hunting" for a bit during the hike). Shadow is fully grown, while the pair of shepherds we ran into were still growing (and he was so tiny compared to them). I could only imagine what it would be like if Shadow were as big as they. He'd take up more of my bed than he already does!

 
Furthermore, I got my reconnection with nature. On a part of the trail, I was greeted with a chorus of deep croaks that a raven lover such as myself would welcome. Ravens are shape-shifters, and the various myths that surround them always intrigued me. I myself, am a bit of a shape-shifter, hence why I consider the raven one of my totems and animal guides. It is said that the animal chooses you, not the other way around, and I very much believe that. When I heard their calls on the trail, I was instantly reminded of a hike back in Vermont. I asked a friend to take me on a hike once, when my emotional state was, well...bleak. He took me to hike Haystack, and I remember telling him that I felt like I was going to find my totem (at the time, I had just started to embrace my spirituality and felt that I was being "called" to embrace my new path). We were maybe at the halfway point of the trail when all of a sudden, I heard a strange series of croaks. It was the first time I ever heard a raven before, and my friend laughed because at the time, we associated the raven to someone else (and naturally, the cause of the bleak mood). In the beginning, I did fight that connection. I didn't want to be associated with an animal that reminded me of someone I did not want to remember. Mom used to scold me and say that I always did like ravens beforehand (I mean, I AM a Poe nerd), and I should just stop fighting and listen to them. Once I had, everything changed. When I heard that similar call on Winsor Trail, I couldn't help but smile and I realized just how far I had come from that day at Haystack. 

Abiquiu and Abiquiu Lake are what many call "Georgia O'Keeffe" country. For those who love her work, you would recognize a particular mountain in which she herself stated that if she painted it enough, God would give it to her. I recognized it right away when it came into view. I may or may not have sounded like a giddy 5 year old...hey, it happens to everyone at some point. It just occurs more often for me in writing and sports. So when Mom asked me if Georgia O'Keeffe got it right in terms of magic, beauty, and inspiration here in New Mexico, I replied with a simple answer: "absolutely". I felt a great peace here...even more so at Ghost Ranch.
 
I have wanted to visit Ghost Ranch ever since I first set foot in New Mexico. Granted, I wasn't able to hike the trails or check out the educational centers because they don't allow dogs on site, but that's ok. I at least got a taste of the place that's been calling me. There was a little cabin where we stopped off, and the first thing I was said was, "I found my house!". I've told people that one day I was going to buy myself a little cottage in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a mountain range or a view of a lake, have a big library inside of it, and have a nice deck where myself and my dog (which I now have Shadow) can sit and relax. Of course, I would have already published a ton of books and this was how I was planning to spend most of my days in life. Naturally, I'd have a car too. A gal like me needs an occasional sports fix, after all. Note that I never mentioned a husband or children; if that's to be in my path then great! If not, that's great too - I march to the beat of my own drum, and sometimes it is rather fun scaring off guys because I do so. Anyways, thank you Ghost Ranch, for showing me where I can actually carry out this vision. Well, there could be other places I'd carry out this dream, but so far, Ghost Ranch has given me a taste of my future lodgings. It was not easy for me to leave when we had. If it was possible, I'd have stayed there all day, rain and all.
 
The Echo Amphitheater was a sight to behold. There is a legend behind it where the red streaks of the rock actually represent the blood of the early settlers as well as the Native Americans that were slain here. The story goes that a group of settlers met with a band of Navajo Indians and were killed here - hence the "blood stains". Three years later, the Navajo band were killed in the same spot, and more "blood" seeped into the rock. It is said that at night, one can hear the cries of the dead. On top of the sight of the red streaks within the rocks, there were also "faces" within the formation.
 
This was interesting to me, because this is not the first story I have heard concerning executions and spotting such "faces" as well as "red streaks" within mountain formations and other surfaces. When I visited St. Augustine, Florida, I saw similar things in the main fort. In the walls that showed evidence of a firing squad (and I should mention that the Spanish were RIDICULOUSLY short in that age), one would have to look at the wall as a whole from a distance, and they would see one large face staring back at you. Many people who love history know that torture was (and still is) a main practice of warfare, and when one culture becomes the "majority", they'll do whatever they can to keep it. I just find it interesting that yet again, I run into a place of "power" and find a story similar to one in another part of the world. It's why I love mythologies as well as history - you can find so many similarities that remind you that we are all indeed, connected. Had I gone through with the thought of grad school, I'd have gotten my masters in mythology.
 
We drove through Taos, but didn't do much in there. Madrid on the other hand, I fell in love with. It's a "town" along the Turquoise Trail/Route 14. It has a population of about 149 people, and it's known mainly for the array of stores and galleries lining the side of the "trail", the coal mining, the once well-known Madrid Miners baseball team (back in the 1930s I think), and Java Junction - the site of awesome coffee and equally awesome merchandise. If I were able, I would spend A LOT of my time there. It's a tiny, fun little area that just makes me happy. If you want a better reference of the town, just watch the "Wild Hogs" movie; the ending of it was filmed there. Once I get my license, as well as a car, I'll be hiding away in Madrid for a good deal of my "work time". It's a perfect little spot to write.
 
I should also mention that I had a two time sighting of a Native American actor, Zahn McClarnon. If you don't know him, you can recognize him as the Reservation Police Chief, Mathias, in the television show, "Longmire", and if not there, there are a ton of other films and shows where you can spot him ("Into the West", for starters). Santa Fe, and New Mexico in general, is a place where you'll come across a ton of actors and "famous" people. Even with the amount of filming that's done out here, you'll find that a lot of them tend to stay out here. It's just that kind of place where they can really relax and people will allow them to do so. So while inside, I was a giddy child because I recognized another actor, and on the outside I was poised and returned a smile upon a mutual glance. Actors are people too, you know...and no one deserves to be pounced on by crazy fans. Even so, it was cool to catch him twice (once in a restaurant, and the second time on the day after in the Plaza).
 
Before my vacation started, I caved in and started a free-write piece for the SHADOW WALKER storyline. I continued on with some other research as well. I'll be continuing the free-writes and the research until my reader finishes with MISTRESS OF BLACKWEN. It looks like book 3 will be started in mid-September...2013 has proven to be the year of guests (there are more coming!). Don't worry, things will get done and I will enjoy the spurts of "freedom" and adventures!