How Does This Thing Work? Do I Remember?

chattanooga

Chattanooga: The Scenic City

Hey, look, it’s a blog! Someone just left it sitting here idle….

So, finally, some good news on the personal front. For those of you who don’t remember what happened nine months ago, when the radio went silent here on… whatever I call this blog… Kinky Vampires Sniffing Potpourri, or something like that–I got a new job at my old company, which entailed a move to Chattanooga. Except that we had a house 140 miles away that we needed to get rid of, and the only way we could afford rent in one town and pay a mortgage in the other was if I had a small studio apartment that wasn’t big enough for two people. So my husband stayed at home and worked on packing, cleaning up, and making repairs, and I had the fun task of working all week, then driving the 140 miles home on the weekend to pack, clean, and make repairs. Every weekend. For nine months.

Except, partway through, I: 1) got a small promotion and my own office (yessss!); 2) the husband got a temp job in Chattanooga (that we’re hoping will become permanent); 3) since we couldn’t both fit into my studio, we got a nice house (we moved upstairs from the basement where I was living, actually; it worked out great); and 4) we SOLD THE HOUSE THIS WEEKEND!

So, hopefully, the closing will go through in 30-45 days, we will make one more run to Eagleville to empty our barn-garage, and then we’ll have our weekends back! (And, if we ever finish unpacking, we’ll have our evenings back, too!)

Okay, so now it’s confession time. You may think that with all this packing and commuting and general crazy-don’t-have-a-life situation that I haven’t had time to write. Well, I have been writing… fan fiction, of all things.

Oh, it started innocently enough. I was vegging out, playing some Legend of Zelda, when I thought to myself, this game is telling a story. And, frankly, it could be better; they’re a bit hazy on the back story–to the point that parts don’t quite make sense… like you’re missing a bit of information.

And I thought to myself, “Pfft, I could write a story for a game.” So, that’s what I set out to do.

I must admit, the project has gotten a lot bigger than I originally intended (isn’t that always the case?), but it does have an end, and I’ll eventually reach it. LOZ_CircleofDestiny2.jpg

I’ve learned some things along the way that have made the effort worthwhile. One, I had to plot the story in advance. For a story like this (any quest-type story, actually), you have to know where you’re going in advance so that you can put the people/weapons/magic thingamabobs in place before your character(s) need them. As you may remember from earlier confessions, I’m a pantser; I rarely have anything more than a vague idea for a plot in my head when I begin to write; I make it up as I go. So plotting each. and. every. chapter. in. advance. was a unique experience for me. At first, I didn’t like it, because I felt like it was stifling my creativity; I didn’t like having to stick to a script. But, eventually, I figured out that, while I really can’t take away chapters, I can add them. So, if I want to get off on a tangent, I can, so long as it fits between the chapters I’ve already written and the ones that I must write. (This is why it’s gotten a bit long; I got a little crazy with going off script.)

I think I’m going to apply this new-found knowledge of pre-plotting to The Bloodsuckers, since pantsing a serial novel is pretty damn hard. I think it would be easier on me to meet regular publishing deadlines if I took the time to sit down and plot my chapters in advance, and then write them. If I get a brilliant idea along the way, then I can just insert an extra chapter.

The other thing I learned is that I write relationships. Whatever the action or mystery, at the heart of any story I write, there must be people having at least some sort of relationship. I think this is why my idea for a dystopian novel has floundered. I think it’s a good idea, but it just doesn’t want to write. And I think that’s because the main character is alone and he stays alone (aside from a brief relationship). Dialogue has always been my strong suit and I just can’t do dialogue with only one person (or with people who don’t readily communicate with one another.)

I think the other thing I’ve learned is that you can really get your ego stoked publishing fan fiction. I’ve only had one bad review out of 229 (and that was someone who was complaining that Link was too much of a goody two-shoes. I can’t help that; I didn’t invent him; he’s always noble and self-sacrificing in the games) and I’ve had over 53,000 reads, which is a median count of about 500 reads per chapter. That’ll make any author feel better about themselves. (Which is good, because I’m not exactly racking up huge sales figures for my published stuff.)

Speaking of published stuff…. Now that I’m soon to have time again, I’m going to try to salvage my publishing schedule for The Flames of Prague and, hopefully, get it published by the end of this year. I’ve read through it and have marked up the printed copy with my first round of grammatical edits (it’s already had a major structural edit). I just need to make those changes to the electronic file, then print another copy and do another grammatical edit (or three).

I read somewhere that if you have to proofread your own stuff (which, of course, is never a good idea, but when I looked at the price of professional proofreaders, it was going to be $1,000+ for Acceptance; I’m a long way away from affording that), you should start at the back of the book and read forward. If you read from front to back, you get caught up in the story and your eyes read faster and skip more; they will naturally fill in what’s missing. But, if you read from back to front, that doesn’t happen nearly so much and you can take it one sentence at a time.

But, let’s not talk about proofing, because that’s boring and everyone hates to do it. Let’s talk book covers. Yes, you know I’m a Photoshop junkie who can’t leave well enough alone. This weekend, I got a wild hair and started to play around with Photoshop (it had been so long since I used it, too, I had almost forgotten how).

This is my original idea for Flames, which I was never quite happy with:

Final-Cover-for-WebI mean, I liked the back and the layout, but I just wasn’t digging the front cover. It looked a little too ‘shopped. And, despite the fact that it’s a legitimate, Pre-Raphaelite piece of art, I thought that the naked woman was a little risque. Yes, it’s a romance novel, but it’s not erotica, for God’s sake.

So, here’s the alternative that I came up with, which I already like much better:

Cover-(Alternate)You can see that I left the formatting pretty much the same, but I went with a different type of flame and a very different picture (although still a Pre-Raphaelite piece; I can’t help it; they did a lot of romantic medieval pieces).

What do you think? Better than the first one? And yes, it’s supposed to look like they’re being burned at the stake. That’s in keeping with the threat they’re facing.

The only thing it doesn’t have going for it is any hint of a city, but, actually, Jakub and Alzbeta not only meet in the woods, but they flee to them, too, while the city is on fire.

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