Confessions of a Writer

You know you have a problem if you straight up forget the name of your blog. Well. Crisis averted, for just now, we have an INCOMING!

Thanks to my friend Maxwell of The Wandering Quille who tagged me in this wandering blog thing, you all get a blog post! Not only that, you get a HUGE blog post. 

Sit back, and enjoy the enigma that is the inner machinations of my mind.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be? 

Hah, no. Compared to some, I’m a late bloomer as a writer. According to my parents, I’ve always been good at writing. They’ve always urged me to write, but as a child I never seriously considered being a writer. Looking back though, I think I still was a writer at heart. I remember now I created an epic fantasy romance story at the age of 8, to which I would add a little every day…in my head. I never had the guts to write it down, but the characters stayed with me.

Still, the first time I seriously wrote something was on one summer afternoon when I was 15. I was bored, so I thought, “I’m going to write a novel.” So I started writing about the first thing that popped into my head, which was a single light struggling through the darkness of space. That light turned into words of fire. I pecked away at a pace of only 100 to 500 words a day on average, but over the next year it blossomed into a rambling, incoherent, purple prose laden space fantasy monolith of over 100k. 

Which I never finished. My flash drive accidentally lost my draft, and with it, all will to continue. I tried to resurrect it several times from the older backups I had, but it never worked. It just wasn’t the same. The characters still stuck around in my head too. Sometimes I think my characters are smarter than me.

The second time I seriously wrote something was seven years later, when I decided to do NaNoWriMo 2010. I had heard of it before, but had never screwed up the courage to try. I gathered together some new characters, and ran off. I won. After that, I realized that I want to do this for the rest of my life. I haven’t looked back since.

What genre do you write?

I write a blend of fantasy, steampunk (ish), and science fiction. I think that was a foregone conclusion. The stories I love best were always about far off worlds, the wonder and danger of the future, the best and worst of humanity, magic and power from beyond time and space that humans can never understand, but seek to control. I blame Narnia, Lord of the Rings, pretty much anything Isaac Asimov wrote (but especially his robot stories AND his story ’The Last Question’), Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet, and Arthur C. Clarke’s stories, and many others for this. I think the best descriptor would be science fantasy. I love stories that read as one genre but are really another. 

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project? 

Oh man, here’s another one with two answers. Well, because it’s November, my work in progress is my NaNo novel, which I have previously described as Swan Lake in space. My NaNo novel has fragmented into two different stories though, so,  

Godlost is a time travel science fantasy adventure about a bitter Time Agent of the Dominion (think female James Bond with magic tattoos like The Illustrated Man), Caliiry ren Tandoraen, who’s sent to a planet that has dropped out of the universe to restore it and retrieve a precious Dominion artifact. When an accident with a kills her team, she's told to lie low and await orders. Having gone through a similar event in her past though, Caliiry knows that there's more to the accident than there appears to be. So against orders she puts together a crack team of rebels and locals (a.k.a. Biopunk Avengers) to journey into the heart of the paradox, find out what happened to the team, hopefully save them using the remains of her time travel allotment, and restore the planet before their world is wiped out. However, what she finds is an intricate conspiracy between the planetary races and the Dominion that has chilling ramifications for the future of humanity...and the key to unlocking it all lies in her own past. Can she face the nightmares that haunt her, and unravel the web of conspiracy that stretches across the galaxy and into the heart of time itself?

The Star Dragon is the story of my first characters that I'm finally writing down, although there are changes to get rid of the cheesy bits. It takes place in my main story world's far past, in a time that has sunk into legend. Dragons and humans have lived in uneasy peace for eons, with wars breaking out every so often. Ever since the coming of the Draderi, skilled mages who can journey to far off lands in the blink of an eye, the human kingdoms have been prospering, bolstered by the influx of foreign goods and magics. The kings of the realm hope to band together to finally defeat the Sorcerer, a dark force that has plagued the realm for ages.

However, it's a little known secret that the power of the Draderi on which it all rests is drawn from the dragons. As the humans get stronger, the dragons grow more angry, and mass to attack, drawing off the human forces from the sorcerer's citadel and scattering them across the realm to put out the fires. Empires turn on each other, and prepare for war. Dragon slayers again rise to prominence. The Draderi play the nations against each other. And the Sorcerer's shadow grows...

The story centers on the nobles Saanelaph and Vhíl, Saan's rejection of her rigid upbringing to join the ranks of the Draderi, her partnership and romance with the ex Dragon rider Vhil and his uncanny luck,  Vhil's struggle to balance the call of a deadly dragon speaking gift and his desire to rise above the petty tyrannies of his men, Anelaph's quest for the source of the trouble, Vhil's endeavor to reunite the kingdoms against their true foe, their conflicting loyalties between their life's calling and their kin, and their struggle to create a patch of order and find their rightful place in a world gone mad. The truth is, they can't win them all...  

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about? 

It was in fifth grade. There was one about a boy named Billy who woke up one night to find out that the world had been taken over by evil water people who mysteriously disappeared by morning, but they were still there. Lurking. Watching.

What's the best part about writing?

Once I would have said 'the thrill of creating something out of nothing,' except now that I'm more familiar with what a mess these things are. 

Therefore, I would have to say the best part about writing is revision: hacking the dead wood off my original draft, connecting the dots, and watching everything come together to become the beautiful, mad-eyed beast it was born to be. Making little connections on a reread that I didn't even know were there. Making a new layer of connections that flat out weren't there in the first place because I didn't know about them before, but well up out of nowhere. Chipping away at a scene, a story, a draft, adding  another layer of complexity and depth to it - and that moment of perfection when the gears all fit, and it sings, and it's way different from what I had envisioned originally, but it's also way better.

What's the worst part about writing?

Writing. Seriously. The first draft. The beginning. Hate those things. I write weird. I write in half sentences, random scenes, train of thought, random bits of worldbuilding, and generally rambling randomness. Then I assemble the story sentence by sentence, scene by scene, using those things as building blocks; I would say the story crystallizes layer by layer around a set of tiny plot grains rather than being written from start to finish. It's completely out of order and it takes forever, but I like the end result much better. This just means that the first draft is extremely difficult for me because it's the point where it's easy to fall into hate with the story because nothing is known yet and everything is a mess, and all the things that made me love the idea are as yet invisible. Yes, there are moments when I come up with a lot of ideas, but most of it is false starts and fighting uphill for me. I'm getting better at recognizing those, but for me the early stages are always the worst. 

What's the name of your favorite character and why?

I can't pick just one! I love them all. Some more than others, but not really one. One of my favorites, though, is one pain in the butt who calls himself Oscar Octavius Octodyne. He's a oneiromancer with the charisma of baby Lord Voldemort and the scruples of Darth Vader combined into one insecure package of doom, gloom, abandonment issues, and teddy bears. He was born when I dreamed about him in a fluffy hero adventure. Then I scrapped his story because it was going nowhere. Then I dreamed about him a second time and he came back with evil Vader powers and insinuated himself into another story. I cut him out again because he was creating plot holes around himself. Then I dreamed about him a third time, and he outright ousted the heroine from her place in his quest for a home, and made himself the villain. Needless to say, I shudder to think what will happen if I dare to cut him again. Probably he'll take over my brain. 

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I write when I can. It's difficult for me on weekdays because I have a full time job. I'm not at all a morning person so writing early in the morning is out of the question. I can't concentrate if I have to think about other things anyway. The ideal time for me to write is between 11PM and 4AM, but that's pretty much impossible with a day job (even on weekends because it disrupts my sleep schedule), so I shoot for evenings. I'm usually drained when I get home, but sometimes I manage to get in about 300 words before I sleep. Weekends I put in some grunt work in the afternoons when it's quiet, and maybe before I sleep. I love waiting until it's dark, dimming the screen until I can just barely read my words if I want, turning off all the lights, closing my eyes, and then typing blind while blasting music.

Did you go to college for writing?

Nope. My major was information science with a computer science minor.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?

All of them, but I usually notice spelling first. That's not to say that nothing else bothers me though. I could write an entire post by itself about all the things that drive me up the wall, but I would really have to also put incorrect word usage (like confusing affect, effect, and effecting) as being right up there with the rest. 

I don’t really watch TV, as such. The only thing I’m really watching is Doctor Who, because it’s on right now. Every weekend, I catch up on the newest episode. It counts as writing homework because something or other always sets my muse off, right? Right?

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you? 

Write every day. 

I never said I was good at it. Oops.

What advice would you give to another writer?

Don't compare yourself to others. There will always be those who claim that their way is the best and only way, but for every one of those, there will be someone else who works completely differently. Well, it's just what works for them. I'm not saying that trying new things is bad, but forcing yourself to conform to other people's methods and then worrying about why you're not where you "should" be can be at best a waste of time chasing shadows and at worst a blow to one's confidence. Yes, this means that everyone will develop their craft and stories differently and at their own pace. Some people can post readable excerpts of their first draft as they write it, and some will have rambling utter nonsense for the first three drafts. Neither is wrong. Figure out how your unique brain works, try a method that works with it, and play with that. If you find you're never reaching your goal, you might be letting the tool get in the way of forward motion.

What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

TerribleMinds is one of my favorite blogs. If you don't mind bad (but absolutely hilarious) words, it's a great place for practical advice, motivation, and butt-kicking.

AbsoluteWrite is another great place. It's got a wealth of information about what not to do, how to get published, and has a huge community of fellow writers to hang out with, and exchange help and tips.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I love baking. Death by chocolate is the way to go. I also enjoy drawing, and hope one day to create a web comic of my own. That's a long way off, though. I'm also currently trying to learn how to play the guitar. I suck and I can barely play a few chords, but I love music. It's never too late to learn a new thing, eh?

What’s the best thing you’re watching on television?

I don't watch much television these days, because I can't do that and write and keep up with my reading. That said, I am catching up on the new season of Doctor Who at the moment, although after next weekend it'll be on hiatus until Christmas. Does it count as writing preparation if every single episode inspires me somehow?

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I'd have to name a series that reads as one story, which is the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. It's the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White retold as one single science fiction adventure/thriller/dystopian series. Those who know me will know that I absolutely love retold fairy tales with a science fiction angle, so this is right up my alley. Well worth reading!

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

The Martian. Usually I don't go for survival stories because of a huge rant that I won't go into here, but I loved this one for its wit, humor, and geekery, the fact that it didn't go for the usual stereotypes, and that it had other believable plot elements besides the usual survival disasters. I haven't read the book, but the movie was great. 

What is your favorite book or series of all time?

Of alll time? Hard to pick just one, but one of my constant sources of inspiration, thus one of my favorites, is the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. It's science fiction, fantasy, and world hopping all rolled into one seriously epic story that I never get sick of reading.

Who is your favorite author?

Again, it's hard to pick just one, but one of my biggest reasons I write the stories I do is because of Isaac Asimov. His robot stories are the greatest thing, as is also his short story 'The Last Question,' which is hands down my favorite short story of all time. So epic.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Well, given that there's only one month left of the year, not much. I had originally wanted to finally finish a draft of something...anything...but it's too late for that. Instead, riding on the heels of the realization that NaNo's exuberant imperfection and manic pace just doesn't work for me anymore, I'm just going to keep working on my draft and focus on writing slowly and editing more as I go.

Where else can we find you online?

I'm on Twitter @Bobo_the_Bard, and I'm Agent Double Oh Zero on the NaNoWriMo website, but I only check those periodically. The one place I haunt, though, is my writing group - Steve the WriMo Forum. We're gearing up for NaNoFiMo over there! Which...is technically what I'm supposed to be working on now. Dang. 

Well, that brings me to the end of the segment where I talk about myself. Now it's time to talk about you guys! More specifically, IT'S VICTIM LIST TIME. 

I tag you!

If anyone else wants in, please leave a comment here with a link to your blog, or contact me on Steve.

To make it easier, here's a list of the questions below: 

Just to make it easier on you, here are the questions:

When did you first start writing?
Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
What genre do you write?
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress?
When did you start working on this project?
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
What’s the best part about writing?
What’s the worst part about writing?
What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Did you go to college for writing?
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
What advice would you give to another writer?
What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
What’s the best thing you’re watching on television?
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
What is your favorite book or series of all time?
Who is your favorite author?
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Where else can we find you online?


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie.

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I love collecting books, and am picky about how keeping track of which ones I have and how they're arranged to the point of being downright OCD.  We've got bookworms and book pack rats on both sides of the family. Teacher, my DNA ate my sanity, can I go home?

So of course, I was ecstatic then, when last weekend we were going through some old things, and I found a big book!

Look at that big book. 

If you can't read that, it's the complete novels of Charles Dickens.

It doesn't look that big.

Yes, that is my hand.
Does it? 

It's actually about a foot tall and wider than my hand, all 2000+ pages of it. It was still in its plastic wrap, unopened, but there were lots of holes, and it was falling off. I might have helped it along a bit. 

That's when I realized that this thing is older than I am. It had been sitting quietly buried somewhere all this time, never read.

I'd better get reading.

What, it's not just there to make my bookshelf look fancy!  


Blog Hop: The Dragon's Loyalty Award

You have now reached the edge of the internet.

But wait! It's alive? It can't be!

But it is.

That's right, this little blog got nominated for The Dragon's Loyalty Award in another blog hop!

First, I'd like to thank my friend Maggie Maxwell at The Wandering Quille for nominating God of Ephemera. That I must now resort to this blog necromancy is entirely her fault.

Second, I should probably explain how this works.
  1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
  3. You must share 7 things other bloggers may not know about you.
  4. Nominate up to 15 bloggers for Dragon’s Loyalty Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
  5. Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.
In that vein, therefore, I bring you: seven facts you might not know about me! (Unless you know me in meatspace. You know who you are.)

Brace yourselves. There's a wall of text coming!
  1. There are certain things I HATE wearing, and will only do so under varying levels of duress:
    • Pants and shorts. ESPECIALLY jeans. Can’t stand ‘em. No matter how loose and pajama-like they are, I always feel like my midsection is being compressed. Ugh. That is why, unless it’s an activity that absolutely requires pants (like riding a bike), I’m almost always wearing a dress or a long skirt. Air flow. Freedom. I like those things.
    • Socks…and shoes. Sweltering foot prisons, all of them! Unless I’m doing something that requires extra protection, I wear comfortable cushy flats. Socks IF it’s cold.
    • Turtlenecks. Neck vices. HELL to the NO. When it gets cold, I rock the scarves or die trying.
    • Sweaters that don't have a button-down front. Again it's because they make me feel suffocated, but I can get away with avoiding them, given that I live in Florida.
  2. My handwriting never did settle down into one neat pattern like most people's do. It's not that it's terrible, or illegible. Neatness I can achieve, and it looks like an adult's handwriting, but  consistency is impossible. I can never make my letters the same size, shape, weight, or style, across more than two lines of text. It's easier for me to write legibly when I don't have to lift the pen or pencil as much, which is why I when I hand write anything, I write only in cursive/longhand. Even so, I end up with about five or six different styles of handwriting just on the same page. As for printing, NOPE. I can't be having with that.
  3. I love gloomy, rainy weather. The nastier it is outside, the happier I am. Sunlight, hisssssssss! It burns usss! I like sad. It's like happy for deep people. Sad, yes. Sad endings, no. Much as I love drawing inspiration from the gloom, there must be at least a ray of sunlight at the end of the story. That’s the end though, and until I hit it, I love putting my characters through every level of hell. 
    • My favorite mode of writing is to wait until it’s pitch dark outside (bonus points if there’s a thunderstorm), turn off all the lights, turn up the music, dim the screen, close my eyes, and pound away at the keys. However, having to wake up in the morning for work has made that a luxury. Still, in order to properly keep characters in the throes of existential angst, any sort of rotten weather is the way to go. I do my best writing then. 
    • It's true, I function like a Terry Pratchett troll. The colder it is, the better my brain works. The hotter it is, the more I shut down. I work best when it's slightly chilly. Thus, writing-wise, my most productive months are the ones with dreary weather. Needless to say, living in Florida does NOT help. 
    • Hurricane season this year has made it a little better though. While my coworkers groan at the miserable weather, I'm sitting in my cube or car grinning like a kid at the glorious thunderstorms we've been having. (Also, since music is as necessary to writing as breathing, I grin like a kid every time the riffs of the song I'm listening to sync with the lightning, because that is pretty metal, no lies.)
  4. The only romance I read is by Georgette Heyer. I could probably write an entire post about why I love Heyer, so I'll just go with the short version here. Her stories are historically accurate, it's actual romance as opposed to mere smut, and her books are hilarious. In general though, I don't have any objection to romance as a genre, but I find so much of it to be an excuse for smut with not much in the way of character or world development, which just doesn't do anything for me. That said, I do love romantic subplots/arcs coupled with other main genres.
  5. I'm obsessed with music, specifically metal and rock. I’ll talk about metal here, because it is the main source of many of my plot bunnies, and comprises the vast majority of my novel soundtracks. 
    • Doom metal, death metal, black metal, power metal, prog metal, symphonic metal…I will listen to it, no matter how obscure or esoteric. I collect and categorize albums into my own arcane genres the way writers organize their bookshelves. 
    • I trawl the internet daily for stuff I haven’t heard, and I pretty much listen to a new (new to me, even if it's been out for years) album every day for at least 5 out of 7 days of the week. 
    • I’m pretty sure that all the albums I’ve amassed over the years (either via Spotify playlists, digital purchases, CDs, etc.) number in the thousands.
  6. I’m increasingly realizing that while I’m a writer, I kind of enjoy being an artist too. My parents always knew I’d be a good writer, though I didn’t see it until much later. However, I know that I've been drawing things since my chubby little hand could hold a pencil. It trailed off after high school (though it never entirely stopped) for various reasons - time, lack of direction, tedious art classes that sucked all the joy out of it, hand injuries. 
    • Those of you who were around when I started seriously writing after my first NaNo will know of the struggles I had wrestling with my story hydras, and figuring out how I worked, let alone how my story worked. Well, I was (and still am, to a degree) having the same troubles with drawing. 
    • In suffering through those art classes though, besides gaining knowledge, I learned one thing: I just cannot draw anything that doesn’t have a story behind it. Landscapes? Still lifes? Abstracts? Pretentious interpretations of life, the universe, and everything? Copying a model from a magazine? Psh, I’d rather scoop out my eyeballs with a charcoal stick and serve them to a yeti on top of a hot fudge sundae. 
    • Drawing a character enacting a scene from a story, though? BOO-YAH. Somehow, finding reference pictures of human models who looked like that character, scenes from our planet that looked like that scene, etc. all suddenly became fun. Practice became fun. 
    • Strangely enough, I’m also realizing that the opposite is also true: I can’t write an entire story without drawing at least some part of it out. It’s a great tool for breaking through plot holes and POV problems for me. In fact, I’m increasingly coming to realize that drawing and writing are inextricably linked in my mind. I can’t do one without the other. 
    • That's why I really want to do a web comic one day. This would help me use how I work in order to help me fill out my two greatest weaknesses: plotting a story beforehand, and designing the world, both of which are required for a comic, to some degree. It also lets me properly exercise and practice both my writing and my drawing, without having to switch and prioritize between them. That’s not to say that’s all I’ll ever do, but I would like to do at least one comic to practice with.
  7. At this moment, I have 115 ideas. 92 novels, 39 short stories, 4 novellas, and 6 plot marshmallows (ideas and snippets that haven’t been formed yet.) Oh wait. Add one script to that, for which I just had an idea. Let’s just say that with the workload I’ve given myself, I’ll have to hope that some of the life-extending technologies I have in my stories actually come to life, because the only way I’ll get through them is if I clone myself repeatedly so that I really can work on multiple novels at the same time.
Well, so there's that monolith for you to ponder over! Make of it what you will.

Ideally, this is the part where I would nominate some fellow bloggers to receive this award next, but this is the edge of the internet. Any who go beyond are liable to fall off into the void, where the tumbleweeds live.

Therefore, I dangle this shiny badge in the eyes of the cyber stars and electric wind. 

Who among you elusive spirits is brave enough to take on the dragon? 

If you so dare, and would like to be nominated next, post in the comments or let me know through your usual channels (forum, message, whatever).