Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Won!!!

I just found out that I won first prize in Newmarket/Aurora District's Community Living 4th Annual All Ages Poetry Contest. The theme was "Family Memories". As Passover was upon us, I wrote about Passover, the seders I used to plan when I was little and how we are sharing those traditions with our children. Of more value than the Vaughan Mills gift card I win is the right to brag that I won this contest. It renews the fight in me that makes me say: I will get published.

The still-as-of-yet-unpublished third novel in the Molly series is progressing well. I still haven't figured out it's identity yet, whether it is sci-fi, detective, or somewhere in-between. If I can smoothly meld the two stories together, I think I can work it out. This novel represents my best writing ever. I have no problem writing, but the story's the thing. If I can make the story work, and make it interesting enough, I think I will be okay.

I just finished reading the 6th (I think) Sookie Stackhouse novel. I absolutely loved the first five that I read and I love the television series, but as I read, I realized that there's a whole lot more telling going on in the story than showing. The thing that keeps the story moving forward is a lot of eccentric characters, a little bit of sex, and a whole lot of danger.

What perils can I place my characters in, I wonder?

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Tale of Three Stories

A Tale of Two Stories is rapidly becoming A Tale of Three Stories.

Recently I have decided to incorporate a third story, the as of yet untitled subway archaeology story, into the still untitled current story. Though I am enjoying writing the detective-fiction story, I found it becoming a Molly and Michael story rather than a Molly and Palmer story. It is the dynamic between Molly and Palmer that grounds my character. Adding the archaeological site helps to keep Palmer in the story, adding the "spice" that many of my earlier stories are lacking.

The challenge in writing this story is in integrating the two styles (detective and pseudo-archaeology) and making them sound as if they belong together, rather than dividing the novel into two separate stories. Though at some point the detective story will end and the sci-fi will continue, at least initially, the two should intertwine into one in order to keep the reader interested in both and not feel cheated that they signed on for detective fiction and wound up with sci-fi/adventure.

To that end, I have begun to read detective fiction in an attempt to study how to write good fiction. I love Castle on television, so I tried a Richard Castle book, but I find it confusing at times, bordering on cliche. I definitely want to avoid cliche of any kind in my book, this time trying something slightly more literary. Though I do not have the expertise of a Kathy Reichs, I would like for my stories to be more along the lines of her novels than Castle's, integrating the forensic evidence that Palmer finds from the skeletal remains with the detective procedural of the investigation, juxtaposing that against the detective-like procedural of the archaeology work.

I have also set up Schliemann as the villain in this piece (and the last), though this time his part is akin to hiring Molly and Palmer to find the fountain of youth and then drinking it all before they have the time to analyze it to see if it really is the fabled fountain. There are other villains as well, such as suspects that realize the only way that Molly and Michael will leave them alone is to take one or more of them out. Schliemann may have also come to the same conclusion.

The longer I think on it, the more the stories seem to come  together, I'm happy to report. Though I'm not looking forward to the actual hip replacement, I am looking forward to my convalescent time in  which I will have nothing more to do but to exercise, go to physiotherapy and write.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Stories

I have two stories to tell.

The first is about a story similar to a case that happened nearby about a missing girl, the second is about a fictional site I've created. The trick is in trying to meld the two.

I've written about the fictional site before in a short story I called "The Nexus". In it, a pseudo-science guru hires Molly (against Palmer's wishes) to excavate a site that will reveal an ancient church and a portal to another time and place. Yadda yadda yadda, Molly accepts, finds the portal and the guru vanishes, goes back in time, is buried there and the archaeologists find his remains under the portal.

I think I'd like to begin with the remains of a murder and as the police, Molly and Palmer are solving the murder, they are digging on their site, and meet the pseudo-scientist who purchases the property and convinces them to continue digging. Eventually they solve the murder and the rest of the novel is spent on solving the mystery of the site, which is currently a mystery to me. Beginning as a detective sort of fiction, how deep into sci-fi can I go at the end without spoiling the momentum of the story? Do I even want to go to sci-fi on this one? Is there enough solving the murder to keep the novel going and of an appropriate length?

I am writing both parts concurrently. Hopefully they soon begin to make sense and I can successfully meld the two into one that gels.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Confessions of a (Harmless) Internet Stalker

I am an Internet Stalker. Don't be alarmed--I'm harmless, really, I am.

Internet stalking was something I began when the Internet was still new. Back then, I was just beginning to discover who I was as an author. I had been imagining Nick Mancuso as Palmer, looking like he did during Loving Evangeline, but my memory was fading. Loving Evangeline was 10 years old at the time and I'd been imagining him in the part for close to 20. I watched whatever I could on television (which wasn't much, because I didn't know which titles to look for), and combed the rental shelves for whatever I could find (which wasn't much because, again, I really didn't know what to look for), and so I started looking him up online. Again, this was over 10 years ago, when the Internet was still in its infancy and so there were few photos online and that was about all. Still, it was enough for me to gel Palmer's hair and eye colour, and how he looked when he smiled and things like that, which helped to feed my writing.

Later, as the body of content on the Internet grew, I was able to watch Nick on YouTube. I found and joined an online fan club which led to my meeting him (in a controlled setting and at his request, I assure you), which, in turn, fueled my writing even more, because now I can write about his physicality, mannerisms, and the sound of his voice, making Palmer as well-rounded a character as Molly.

I am told that this is unusual and that not all authors cast their characters before writing. I suppose that makes me more visual than most. My best "writing" occurs late at night in the moments twixt awakefulness and sleep or in the wee hours of the morning when I can't sleep. I close my eyes and imagine the characters interacting, how they look when they move, and what they do; I can almost hear what they say.

My latest stalking project is Robert Carlyle.

I first "met" Robert Carlyle in the persona of Nicholas Rush on Stargate: Universe, and I disliked the character. But then Rush began to mellow. He had a terminal wife to whom he was faithful though tempted by a student, whom he still loved. He killed a member of the Alucian Alliance for killing Guinn. He loathed the side of him that could kill an ally out of anger. He learned to form an alliance with the SGU soldiers. He was growing into a complex and likeable character.

I searched up his filmography. The Full Monty was on television in the last week or so. I loved the movie. The character he played was so different from Rush that it was fun to see the contrast. I also saw a few clips on YouTube, but have barely begun to scratch the surface of this amazing actor.

It's incredibly fun to be able to write for a new character, especially when such a versatile and talented actor has been cast in the part.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Past and Hello to the Future

So the Twitter Novel was a bust. I quit posting just before I reached the climax. I also abandoned this blog. Both felt a little like talking to yourself in a darkened room.

I sent Phase Shift to Luna this week, an imprint of Harlequin Romance. I figure one of three things will come of it. The obvious one is that they will pass. The next is that they will publish it as is, which is highly unlikely, given Harlequin's propensity for graphic sex scenes in their novels. While publishing as is would be the best outcome of this, my $24.00 lottery ticket, there is one last option: they will publish it as long as I sex it up. I would be fine with that, though it would be the most difficult thing I'd ever have to write. I dabbled in Harlequin when I was younger, but the genre never stuck. I chose to send it to Luna after reading one of their novels that included adventure, ghosts and, yes, sex. I enjoyed the story but could have done without the sex.

I'm not a prude. It's not that I have anything against sex, it's just that I'd rather have the romance. I think that's what Molly and Palmer have. They love each other. They touch each other, caress each other, enjoy each other's touch, get excited when they are together, but I always end the chapter there. I am interested mostly in story, and I get excited writing the scenes when Molly and Palmer are together, but...I don't know.

I gave this URL to the people at Harlequin/Luna and, if they are reading, I want them to know that I understand why some women might want the scene to go further. My primary interest in sending out my manuscript is in seeing it published. Though the "sex" in it is fairly tame right now, if I have to "sex it up" to get it published then I will take a stab at it. I want to be published so badly, I can almost taste it at times.

I am currently teaching Writers' Craft via Virtual School this semester and I love it. I have read so much about the writing craft that I relish the opportunity to share that information with burgeoning authors. But I also have been craving writing myself lately, and it's not like I don't have anything to write about:

The Latest Molly/Palmer Novel - Someone plants a skeleton on Molly's site and then Schliemann shows up. It is a combination murder investigation/epic archaeological dig with Sci-Fi undertones that takes place on the streets of Toronto. I've been focusing on this endeavour lately. I just wrote the scene where Molly and DC Crestwood question someone Molly believes is guilty of looting her site.

The Last Molly/Palmer Novel - a time travel story including aliens and once and future alien technology left on Earth.

The Maranda Saga - a detective/love story in which the main character may or may not have Mercury poisoning (I'm still wavering on that - hard to go back to that dark, Mercury-induced place now that I've been free of Mercury for 4 years).

The Revenant - a sort of Vampire story that includes a Buffy-type Scooby Gang where everyone is some kind of paranormal-powered person, aimed at a teen market. In it, the revenant searches for his long lost love who may or may not have been killed more than a century ago.

Lately, I've been focusing on the current Molly/Palmer story. I don't know what it is--probably the fact that I've been living with them in my head for about 30 years now--but the characters speak to me.

Harlequin/Luna people, if you are, in fact, reading this, please know that I am 100% dedicated to writing and to working with you to get Phase Shift published. I have been working hard at my craft and have reached the point where I LOVE what I write, which is quite a change from the days when I threw everything I wrote out because I couldn't stand the way it sounded. I am determined to get something published eventually, and I believe in Phase Shift and my writing ability. Please take a chance on me.