Writing Journal: A Wine Tasting

“Aren’t you gonna drink your wine, babe? A lotta grapes died to make that wine. It would be too bad if they died for nothing.”

It was a throwaway line, something that fell out of my pen, and needed to rest before I could evaluate its usefulness. But from there, in the contorted labyrinth of my subconscious, the heroine had ideas of how the story should go. Images from the story flowed into a continuous stream, and while I was driving to work this morning the song ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ (Bob Dylan, again…) came up in the shuffle. I must have repeated it ten times. The answer is locked up in that song; I just know it.

I had chills and goosebumps thinking about what is going to happen in my story tonight, even though I don’ t quite know what it is yet. I know where, when, what, I know who and why, and am only left with how, so I think I’m going to get some answers.

And there was the part about the heroine being an oenophile (wine connoisseur) that got lost in the rewrite. That part has come back in a different way this time through. I liked the part about the sun and the rain preserved in the wine, to be set free in the flavor. I was just surprised to discover that instead of wiping his blood off her fingers onto the sheets, she tasted instead. I just know that will come into play in this scene.

I promise, no vampires.

Only a glass of chardonnay spilled onto the bar.

(Photographs courtesy of ‘Gracey’ and ‘Cohdra’ @ morguefile.com)

Writing Journal: The Writer is Back

1852 words. The writer is back! Just in time to do this candy bar scene.

Got my characters into bed and, who knew, they started talking again. So much in fact that I got the dialogue I needed yesterday. The sublime stuff happened too; now that I am in control of point of view it is very cool when one character crosses into another’s mind, and gets to see what they see.

I checked my numbers and it looks like I will be coming in 3000 words below my projected length of 85k. Not a problem at all. I’m a ‘putter-inner’ and the freedom to add words in the type-in will come in handy.

Getting Comfortable with Critiques

Six percent of writers, according to a poll on Critique Circle, are most comfortable keeping their manuscripts in the drawer, sharing them with no one.

At least I’m not alone.

And yet.

I love the joy of discovering a book so good that I can’t seem to put it down, while at the same time wishing that it didn’t have to end. On the good writing days that is what my stories feel like to me. If I could share my creations, and make someone feel the same way I do, I would feel I’ve given something back.

That part of my journey was to begin with getting critiques of my work, as well as learning to critique other writers. I’m getting quite comfortable with the latter, but as far as getting my own work critiqued, I have stalled after one submission. I’m up to my elbows in revision I told myself; I have no time for line editing what might be cut in block revision anyway.

The other day, however, I received an email in my Inbox.

‘Your story has been critiqued.’

What? Story? There must be some mistake. I haven’t submitted any stories.

But there it was, a heartfelt, in-depth, inspiring critique from a writer whose soon to be published novel I’d had the pleasure of critiquing. Ivan Borodin, whose novel ‘Pandora 2011: Accounts of the Cursed Shopping Mall’ is due out this fall, had taken it upon himself to look at my sole submission and provide insight into a story I had all but forgotten.

Having rediscovered the value of an excellent critique, I used his and the other fine critics’ suggestions to complete my first revision of this chapter. I posted the revised version for the world to see, and I plan to start preparing other short submissions.

Really, I will. Even though I will probably forever remain among the six percent of writers most comfortable stuffing their manuscripts in a drawer.

(Photograph courtesy of ‘jeltoski’ @ morguefile.com.)

Writing Journal: Dreams and Promises

627 words that I am proud of for a change.

I was faced with another weak scene, that I had to admit didn’t have much of a twist, and the following scene which was nothing but twist. But, since I know how to fix things now, I combined the two, literally weaving them together leading up to the twist.

Then I sat back and couldn’t believe I wrote that. Smack dab in the middle of my target for this book. Dreams, promises, music, forces of nature-all there, just like I imagined they should be.

Surfing at Night

It never occurred to me to surf at night until one of my adventurous characters brought it up. Really, can one surf at night?

A quick check with Google confirmed that, yes, the few and the foolhardy do surf at night. I found the coolest video that showed what it might be like.

It’s only thirty seconds long, but is incredible. Check it out at:


Mad Mutterings by Moonlight

563 words on the revision.

Relentless writhing rhythm of the tide, demented mutterings of moonlight. My pen took me on another adventure yesterday. 

I am ashamed to admit it but I am still building the magic system in my revision. I know I am supposed to have it all figured out, but there were certain aspects that I just couldn’t seem to drill down to. I understand how and when each gimmick comes into play, but I have serious gaps in my understanding of why.

Why is my heroine able to return from what I call the higher consciousness? She herself doesn’t entirely understand, and so therefore I don’t either.

Maybe I find it easier to write from the character’s perspective if we are both equally in the dark about the cause, and I grope for the answers in the same way she does. As for the main character, he doesn’t know anything about the power he wields, which was as I always intended, and yet he wields it anyway, subconsciously, instinctively.

Kind of like the way I write. Maybe I feel if I know every nuance and the exact pseudo-science behind it, that I might inadvertently give it away too soon? I don’t know for sure.

It does keep me coming back to writing the story though. Those words- pulsing in rhythm, resonating between the drum of the surf, the drone of the planes overhead and the mutterings of the moon, somewhere between all these songs Dr. Milo’s luminous potions sustained this life- were my muse looking for ways to explain what lay behind the magic, and what brought these events into motion. My characters searched for answers along with me.

Writing, for me, feels similar to reading but better since I don’t ever have to suffer a disappointing ending again. I’m behind the wheel of this story, even though it feels a little rough sometimes. In fact, if I feel like it, I can write multiple endings and enjoy each one. Then pick which one I like the best.

This is probably wrong, and puts me firmly in the camp of the pantsers. But it gets me consistent words, and gives me great joy. So I keep writing.

(Photograph by Seemann @ morguefile.com)

Scene Titles-The Muse was Right

Yet another reason I’m glad I decided to jump into HTTS even though I’m still working on my revision.

Way back when I finished creating my new scenes in preparation for the block revision I ended up with unwieldy titles like FO-19 OM 39a/b and OM 148/151 or FO-1a OM 27. These were indispensable for locating the parts of the first draft that needed rearranging, but not so great to look at.

Can I have names? Please?

I have a very polite muse and he knows to ask nicely. I have enough Sturm and Drang in my life. Writing must remain my sanctuary.

“Of course you may.” I said, “But no dithering. Give me your best names quick, or I’ll assign boring ones.”

Scenes titles bubbled up like fizz in a freshly poured beer, and an hour or so later I had a list of scenes that looked like they could tell a story.

From this lesson I found out that I what I was doing straight from my gut was, in fact, doing it right! I’ll have to learn to trust my instincts more often.

As for scene titles, they were often given to me by the main character, whose snarky sense of irony is a mirror of my own. Sometimes my love for double meanings came along for the ride.

And, since this is MY blog, I’ll take the liberty of listing them all:


The Sky Loved the Sea

The Serpent’s Coils

Jack Daniels

He’s Just a Boy

A Gathering Storm


Stuart’s Shadow

Sapphire Eyes

Broken Wings

Instrument Failure

Get me Out of Here

Punch Buggy Blue

A Bad Dream?

Play your Music, Man

The Price for Sight

Emerald Green

Smoking Kills

Plan B and Tears

Requiem of Rain


I am Real



One Way Ticket

Welcome to LA

Remember Be Here Now

Don’t Stop Dreaming

A Message

She met Libra

The Dreamless Son

Gallery Reunion

What the Hell?

“She’s With Me”

No Place Like Home

New Strings

A Silver Thread

Dream Dancer’s Son

A Warning

Fish Tacos and Coronas

Into his Breath…


A Bad Trip

The Key of Sea


Staying Apart


Till Breath do us Part

Libra Returns

Draw Him In



To the Night

One Soul per Person, Please

The Pool

X Marks the Spot


Tears and Rain


The Beach House

Turn off the Switch

The Sea Loved the Sky (reprise)

The Shadow Stopped


I’ll let my readers guess which ones qualify as candy bar scenes, and which ones inserted themselves as I was writing…er, revising.

Playlist: Tempest's Serenade

I am away from writing and my blog, but I have a special treat today.

The one that started it all. Because, you see, I came to writing backwards. Usually people want to write and they dig for the story. In my case, the story came to me and found me lacking the skills to tell it. These are the songs that accompany my vision. Often I despair that the story may ever become anything more than a daydream, but these songs will always evoke those first days when I shyly approached my computer and attempted to write it down.

Warning: I mix it up a lot, as you’ll see. Led Zeppelin nestles up next toThe Shins and Moby nudges The Who. It’s all good. 

I Am the Sea The Who
Quadrophenia Disc One

Lamb Between Darkness and Wonder
Guinnevere Crosby, Stills & Nash So Far
Judy John Renbourne Pentangling
Clothes of Sand Nick Drake Made to Love Magic
Prodigal Son Ashton Allen Dewdrops
Bron-Yr-Aur Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
The Past and the Pending
The Shins Oh, Inverted World
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin
Maggot Brain (Alternate Mix) Funkadelic Maggot Brain
Hotel California (Live) Eagles Selected Works 1972-1999
Heroes David Bowie Changes
Don’t Go to Hell without Me House of Fire House of Fire
With or Without You Vitamin Piano Series Desire-Piano Tribute
Benediction Winterpills Winterpills
Pretty Little Ditty Red Hot Chili Peppers Mother’s Milk
The Godspell According to A.A. Newcombe The Brian Jonestown Massacre Bringing it All Back Home Again-EP
Everloving Moby Play
Love Reign O’er Me The Who Quadrophenia
Woodstock Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon
Seagull Bad Company Bad Company
Scarborough Fair/Canticle Simon & Garfunkel The Graduate
Crosses José Gonzalez Veneer
Hurricane Stateless Exit-Single
Take Me With You VAST April
Dreaming…,Pt. 1 Evermore Dreams
Novio Moby I Like to Score
Stormseeker Billy McLaughlin
Love of Strings Moby Exclusive-EP
Walk Away The Cruxshadows Telemetry of a Fallen Angel
Fury Muse Absolution
Idiot Drugs White Rose Movement Kick
Pretty When You Cry Vast Visual Audio Sensory Theatrue
New Moon (The Meadow) Alexandre Desplat The Twilight Saga:New Moon
Time Precious Time Lindsey Buckingham Gift of Screws
Solution Superbass & Relation Toolroom i-Trax 002
Night Ride Preston Reed Handwritten Notes
Only Time Enya A Day Without Rain
I Can Change Shane Nicholson Faith & Science
I’m Not Dreamin of You De/Vision Six Feet Underground
The Rain Song Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
Jewel Box
Jeff Buckley Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk
Dead Souls Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral
Close Watch Agnes Obel Philharmonics
One Caress DePeche Mode Songs of Faith and Devotion
Ghost in the Circuit Velvet Acid Christ Lust for Blood
Here Comes the Rain Again Coury Palermo Boxsideout V.1

Link to this list in youtube: “http://www.youtube.com/p/2BAE612CB2A88488?version=3&hl=en_US&fs=1

(Photographs courtesy of morguefile.com, Darren Hester @ http://www.morguefile.com/creative/darrenhester, also, dpawatts, rubencolorado, mzacha, and clarita. Thank you! You guys are the best.)

Doodles are Invading My Revision

1662 words on the revision. My goal was 20k words of revision in July, and I squeaked under the deadline with 20,025 words.

I am surprised how much I enjoy the cutting and the pasting and the big red ‘x’s in the block revision. But today my pen took another surprising turn, when at the end of the scene I started drawing the little thoughts I had as I wrote that didn’t make it into the story. I’ve always ended every scene I with a little flourish, sometimes even drawn using a template. It is my feeble effort to make this whole mess look a little prettier. I had an art minor in college. I guess this was bound to happen.

The past few day’s flourishes took a different direction entirely, as one can see from the attached scans. 

This could be the beginning of something cool.

Or maybe this revision has simply driven me over the edge of sanity.