Of Feathers, Stars, and Melodies

Image courtesy of Steven Iodice @ stock.xchngWings, rain, dreams, starlight, footprints, silver and songs —these are some of the spices in my Muse’s cupboard, and with every story I brew up, I find the same flavors mixed up in different ways. A bit of moonshine, a dark melody, a flutter of wings and before I know it, my story sizzles with a different seasoning, but one that hints of previous endeavors.

In this latest WIP, I’ve just discovered the name of my male protagonist and one of my Muse’s favorite flavors, feathers and wings, once again played a role in its creation.

Intrigued, I decided to trace the history of our feathered friends through my storytelling evolution.

I guess you could say it started with my NaNoWriMo handle, which is Larkk. I needed the extra ‘k’ because, apparently, Lark is a popular handle amongst writers who try to write fifty thousand words in month!Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 7.51.35 PM

Then, as if pointing the way to future stories I would write, my very first novel draft ended with two birds flying into the darkness. Two revisions later, a dream the protagonist has about doves flying under the full moon led me to the place the story began. My second book seems to have escaped the feathers, (just wait until revision, I say!) but the heroine bears the nickname ‘Nightingale’ because she is the Muse of the protagonist’s dreams.

Birds played an important role in my third story, where the population of a distant world shares a psychic bond with the animal kingdom. The sorcerer overlords imprison all the birds inside their lair because if their subjects could see what birds see, the sorcerers’ secrets would be exposed and their dominion overthrown.

Have you ever flown in your dreams? In my fourth story, Constants, I propose a science fiction reason why all of humanity shares that common dream. The secret project to unearth this reason is named Nightingale. To further tie into the theme of flight, the main character in that story is an aerospace engineer who works at Boeing in Seattle. As you’ll see, I have a thing for rocket scientists.

In my fifth book, A Crown of Thorns, animatronic dragons fly between the moon and the earth, their flight courtesy of the future’s anti-gravity technology.Image courtesy of Asif Akbar @ stock.xchng

My most recent creation, The Whole of the Moon, the prequel to A Crown of Thorns, features another aerospace engineer, who eventually takes the name Swansong, and designs aircraft designed to protect the pilot at all costs. His wife is named Avery, which means Elf Ruler, but also sounds an awful lot like aviary.

Anyway, I suppose it was only a matter of time until the birds made their appearance in this new story. With a nod to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, and inspired by a favorite line from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I give you: Falcon Cooper.

Do you find recurring themes in your writing? What spices are in your Muse’s cupboard?

Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian @ stock.xchng

Geese and moon image courtesy of Steven Iodice, falcon image courtesy of Asif Akbar, spices on spoons image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian, all @ stock.xchng

1967

Hi there. I haven’t forgotten about ye olde blogge, it’s just that I’m writing. A lot!

To prove it, here’s some of what’s been going on in the land of revision, where I converse early and often with the story’s main character, Nick Moore. In fact, something eerie and magical happened the other day while I was writing an outline and I was excited to tell him all about it …

“Something kind of cool happened last night,” I type, hoping Nick isn’t too far away to hear me.

Image courtesy of Cema Graphics @ stock.xchngHe stumbles out of the bathroom, sleepy-eyed and unshaven. “It’s early,” he says.

“These are morning words– they’re supposed to be early. And besides, it’s Saturday. This isn’t as early as I usually get up.”

He cracks his knuckles and yawns. “Yeah, I suppose, but still …”

“I’m going to look up knuckle cracking. If it’s bad for you, you’re going to have to stop,” I type.

He grins. “Make me.”

I’m beginning to have misgivings about making him more bad@ss. So far, though, I think I can manage him. “I was going to tell you the cool thing that happened last night.”

“I’m listening.” Nick leans against the door frame, stretching his arms in front of him with his fingers entwined. “But you’re taking an awfully long time to get to the point.”

“I know, but this is morning words, and the point, I think, is to get a lot of words in a short period of time. Besides this will make me laugh when I read it over later.”

“Well, I think you’ve got that down pat then.” He raises his upper lip in a smirk. “But you had a point?” He’s done stretching and is fiddling with the tie on his sweatpants. Libra is right. He never stands still.

“Yeah. I was working on my Editor Outline last night.”

Nick holds up his hand, palm towards me. “Wait. Isn’t that part of Lesson Eleven of How to Think Sideways? And aren’t you on Lesson Twenty-One of How to Revise Your Novel?”

“Yeah, but remember our story is full of holes …”

He grins again and chuckles. “Did you ever think I might be messing up your story just so I can stick around? To keep you from moving on to other stories?”

“Yeah, I’ve worried about losing you. But the thing is, as a writer, I can conjure you up long after the story is over. It’s like my own personal fan fiction. I will finish this course though, even if I keep getting sidetracked.”

“Speaking of sidetracked …” He glances out the window and I notice the hyacinths have blossomed in the yard. Image courtesy of Claudia Meyer @ stock.xchng“Pretty,” he observes.

“And I’m in here with you. Working on an Editor Outline because I think it’s fun. Crazy, I know. ”

“So, how’s that going?”

“Splendidly, actually,” I write as my adverb alert spikes into the red. “I’m starting to see exactly where the holes in my story are. Do you want me to tell you about them?”

“Not particularly, but I have a feeling I don’t have a choice in the matter.”

“No, you don’t, but I’m going to tell you about the cool thing first. I was tired last night—“

“You don’t say?” He rolls his eyes and finds a spot on the bed, then pulls his feet up and leans against the wall with his head resting against his hands.

“Could you stop interrupting me?”

“Sure, but could you get to the point?”

“I will. I was tired so I stopped where you and Libby are in the apartment and you’re about to take her to the Hacienda.”

Nick raises his eyebrows. “Why’d you stop there? That was the good part, I finally get to kiss her.” His eyes turn dreamy.

“I told you. I was tired.”

“Okay, I suppose.”

“But anyway, as I was closing Scrivener I glanced at the word count, and noticed that I had exactly 1,967 words.”Screenshot 1967 words

“So?” Nick eyebrows rise again.

“Well, let me read you the first sentences of my outline. They’re about you and Milo:

They called it the Summer of Love. 

In 1967, Nick Moore packed up his guitar and joined his buddy Milo Young on a trek to the west coast …

“Okay, that is cool,” he agrees.

“Sometimes, Nick, it feels as if a ghost is watching over my shoulder. A good ghost, but still something bigger than I am, something that speaks through my fingers and guides me to what needs to be written.”

He cracks his knuckles again. Suddenly I know why. “It’s because you don’t smoke anymore, isn’t it?”

“What?” It’s when he looks innocent that I love him most. 

“Cracking your knuckles. You always need to be inflicting pain upon yourself, whether you’re ingesting nicotine and tar into your lungs, or cracking the bones in your precious hands.”

He looks stricken and I feel wistful because I love that word and have decided I simply must use it in the next thing I write. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Nothing. It’s just that you know me so well, it scares me sometimes.”

Silly man. It’s because I wrote you.

Have you ever had weird coincidences happen in your writing? Do you have a hard time letting go of your characters?

And, is cracking your knuckles really bad for your hands?

Alarm clock courtesy of Cema Graphics, hyacinths courtesy of Claudia Meyer, both @ stock.xchng

IWSG: A Whole Lot of Why

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s time, once again, for the Insecure Writers to unite and encourage each other. If you’d like to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, all you have to do is click on this linky and add your name to the list. Alex J. Cavanaugh has hosted this group years now, and I can assure you, there is no nicer group of writers on the web.

In the past month, I’ve had a lot of insecurity about why it is that I’m driven to write. When I see everyone around me rushing to publish, and all I read is about the many ways to bring readers to my words, it sometimes freaks me out a little. Is this really the reason I write? Or is there an even more important reason I keep coming back to my words? As I often do, I discussed the matter with my alter-ego Muse, and found answers that surprised me.Image courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng

I come home to an empty house and the Muse is waiting. He watches me get ready to write as I pour my Pepsi and sort my bills. He’s humming in the back of my head. He has something to tell me.

I open my laptop. Since I haven’t done my morning words today, I decide to write what I please for a while.

The Muse rests his chin on his interlaced hands, doing his best Brandon Lee impression. “Glad you’re back,” he says without a trace of irony in his voice.

Ink Blot 2“I’ll always come back,” I type. But I know he’s had doubts.

“Thought so,” he says, hiding his misgivings. “So tell me, what’s eating you?”

“It’s all the commotion about publishing. Everyone’s publishing, and if they’re not publishing, they’re at least critiquing, exchanging manuscripts, blogging a novel … Sometimes I feel as if it’s all about who can get their words to the most people the fastest.”

He points at the title at the top of my blog to remind me. “I worry sometimes,” he says.

“What? You worry? You’re a Muse. You’re completely made up, a figment of my overactive imagination, less substantial than feathers and moonbeams.”

He looks at the ground, his shoulders sag and his wings droop. “That’s just it,” he mutters. “For the longest time you never even noticed me.”

My fingers stall on the keyboard as I remember. I had a dry spell so long I thought my words were an abandoned planet, without air, without water or sign of life. I wanted to be a writer way back in high school. I took classes and read craft books, but ultimately made the wise choice—

“Which was?” the Muse asks to prompt me to talk to him, instead of ruminating endlessly.

“I live in a safe neighborhood; I have a great job. I can sleep without worrying about where I will end up a few years from now.”Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng

“But something’s missing?”

“You bet something was missing. I felt mute, empty, adrift. But I didn’t know why.”

“Should I remind you of why?” the Muse asks. Though he will defend me to the last, his eyes burn with accusation.

“No, you don’t have to remind me of why. There’s a whole lot of why …” I take my hand off the keyboard to change the playlist. The Muse waits patiently and eases back from my desk once the song begins.

“You’re afraid of something,” he prompts.

 I hesitate, then type, “All this commotion about publishing reminds of what I felt like when I abandoned writing.”

Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng“How did you feel when you left writing?”

“I felt that what I had to say was unimportant, that my words were insignificant when compared to the great writers, and that if I didn’t have anything ‘important’ to say I should just shut up. I was certain that no one would be interested in what a girl who grew up in a quiet town in Wisconsin, who went camping and sailing and loved rock music, had to say.”

“What makes you think you’d feel that way again?” He folds his hands across his chest and the corners of his mouth turn serious as he tries to imitate a shrink.

“Well—” I pause as I try to visualize him and write down his body language. “A lot of writers have advice on building a brand, on how to reach readers, on how best to market a book, on how to escalate a plot, on how to keep adverbs at bay …”

“So?” the Muse asks. “That’s all good stuff, and I’m happy to help you with all that.”

“You have no idea how much I appreciate the offer. But that’s not what bothers me.”

“Then what does bother you?”

“That it stops being about the writing. I worry that I will find myself torn away from writing the next book. I’d rather just write. I need this for me. For you.”

The Muse purses his lips thoughtfully, and I cringe as another adverb pops up on my screen.Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng

“Can’t we do a bit of both?” he asks.

“I can try. But don’t you see? That’s why my blog has a destination name and not my real name? I don’t want this to be about me. It’s about the words.”

The Muse holds up his hand. “This is morning words so you can stop here. How about we take this up again tomorrow?”

“But tomorrow is IWSG day.”

“Then the next day. This isn’t a contest. This is for you.”

I close my laptop gratefully, confident that I’m not going to stop writing just yet.

Image courtesy of 'kuleczka' @ BigStock

How about you, insecure (and secure!) writers? What’s the why behind your words?

Related posts: What My Writing Teacher Should Have Told Me

Ten Days in the Life of a “Non-Writer” by Katherine Checkley

Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng,  and ‘kuleczka’ @ BigStock

So Obvious in Hindsight

Me again, talking about my revision. This is so big, I just have to share.

I was not expecting much today, because I’m managing a minor Muse meltdown. He is going all Monastery on me, shaved his head and took a vow of silence. He refuses to eat anything but broth, has his wings hanging on a hook next to him in the cellar … and writes only one word at a time on a slate with a piece of chalk.Little black chalkboard, isolated

I know—what a melodramatic pain in the butt. But, he’s worth it.

Only ten minutes into my revision session, (I’ve slowed down to two chapters a night to preserve the Muse’s sanity. The rest of the night will be devoted to downloading new music, watching Jimi Hendrix videos and looking up cool sixties quotes) I asked the HTRYN lesson 19 question: What is the credible problem in this scene?

Let’s just say, the answer knocked my socks off. Turns out, some of my characters have something in common that I didn’t see before. They are living on borrowed time, just like my main character. You’d have to read it to see. But Wow. The best revelations usually seem so obvious in hindsight.

My notes look something like this:Roman Malyshev/Big Stock

BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG

Credible problem: Nick is putting together the pieces of his strange waking dreams.

… (Spoilers ahead, sorry) …

Is this a major Eureka? But I just started writing tonight! What’s next, complete writing nirvana?!

BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG

I love revision.

How do you manage your Muse? What is your writing nirvana? Roman Malyshev/Big Stock

Images courtesy of Marinic Borislav and Roman Malyshev @ BigStock.com

What's In Your Bucket?

jamiebucketAwful quiet in here lately …

You might think I’m hibernating— but actually, I’ve been absorbed in revision, (more on that soon) reading fellow writers’ works-in-progress (you guys are awesome, all of you!) and, okay, sleeping.

But I’m back because one of my cyber-buddies, the lovely and super-talented Jamie Ayres, has a book release coming up! This week, on January 24, her debut novel, 18 Things comes out. Be sure to check it out!

Isn't this a lovely cover!
Isn’t this a lovely cover?

As a way to promote her release, she’s sponsoring a fabulous blog hop that poses the question:

What are 18 Things on your bucket list?

Since I love to ponder what I want to do with my life, I simply had to come out of my winter slumber and post mine. So, without further ado:

My Abridged Bucket List:

  1. Experience weightlessness or zero-g
  2. Visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa.
  3. Read the top 100 novels of all time (though opinions vary widely on what those are!)
  4. Work at an archaeological dig
  5. Learn to play all twenty-one of Chopin’s Nocturnes on the piano.
  6. Swim with dolphins
  7. See an opera
  8. Visit the Haleakala Observatories on Maui and look at the stars
  9. Go hang glidingImage courtesy of Dave Dyet @stock.xchng
  10. Ride an elephant
  11. Celebrate Midsummer Night in Sweden
  12. Live on a sailboat for a year
  13. Pay off my mortgage
  14. Drive a Porsche
  15. Walk a half-marathon
  16. See the Northern Lights
  17. Visit Australia
  18. Hold a real live copy of one of my books published in hardcover

Stephanie Syjuco @stock.xcngWhew, that’s a lot of things! Makes me want to take a nap just thinking about them all …

How about you? What are some things on your bucket list? And, can you tell I love astronomy?

Congrats, Jamie on your  upcoming release, 18 Things!

Images courtesy of Dave Dyet and Stephanie Syjuco @stock.xchng

Liebster Award-Holiday Edition

Liebster Award 12-12As I was casting about ideas on what to post for your reading pleasure, all the while frantically wrapping presents, baking cookies, and packing my suitcase for another cross-country trek, I was honored to discover that the lovely and talented Vikki at the View Outside has presented this blog with the coveted Liebster Award. Thanks, Vikki!

Me? How sweet! But what about Christmas?

So I’ve decided to combine the holidays and this honor to unveil the first and only Liebster Award-Holiday Edition. Now these awards come with rules—yes I know, so confining—but here at A Scenic Route, we like to twist things around a bit, so expect a surprise or two.

Here are the Official Rules:

1. When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

2. Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!)

3. You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.

4. You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!

5. You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)

Sleigh HollyIn keeping with the Holiday Liebster theme, here are eleven things I like most about Christmas:

  1. The smell of fresh pine in my house
  2. Christmas music, all kinds from Mannheim Steamroller to Vince Guaraldi to Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  3. Mulled wine: the taste, the aroma, and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you drink it
  4. Cozy sweaters
  5. Cars driving around decorated with wreaths and antlers
  6. Wrapping presents!
  7. Random acts of kindness
  8. Gingerbread houses
  9. Streets lined with twinkling white lights
  10. Jingle bells
  11. Sitting around the fireplace with the people I care about most in all the world

SnowmenNow I am to answer the questions Vikki asked:

  1. Are you a punctual person or are you usually late? I come early and bring a book to read while I’m waiting.
  2. How many hours a week do you spend watching TV? Now come on, be honest! Honestly, we turned off the cable a few years ago. I know, blasphemy! We just rent movies a few times a month.
  3. What do you wear in bed? Umm, pajamas. It’s cold outside!
  4. In a heated argument do you walk away or keep at it until you’ve had the final word? I walk away before the argument starts. I usually know how people feel about stuff before they start talking, and no one ever listens to me anyway.
  5. How many times a day do you look in a mirror? Come on, you can tell us. To put my contact lenses in and my make up on. Then I never look back.
  6. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Pet the cat.
  7. Do you consider yourself lucky?  Yes. When I met my husband I knew I was the luckiest girl in the world.
  8. Do you fear death? Of course. But what I fear more is not leaving a mark on the world before I die.
  9. What are your top 3 pet peeves? Impatient people, rude people, presumptuous people
  10. What character in The Wizard of Oz are you most like? The Wizard! I’m the man—or rather, the woman— behind the curtain.
  11. How many pairs of shoes do you own? At least thirty. And that’s not counting boots! But I love them all equally.

Pine AngelMy eleven questions are going to be holiday themed too.

  1. What is your favorite holiday gift of all time?
  2. Which is your favorite holiday special: Charlie Brown’s Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life?
  3. What is your beverage of choice: Eggnog, mulled wine, or hot chocolate?
  4. What is your favorite holiday song?
  5. Who are you going to kiss under the mistletoe this year?
  6. What was your best holiday bonus from a job?
  7. What is your best holiday memory?
  8. What was the kindest holiday gesture ever made by a stranger?
  9. What’s on your wish list this year?
  10. If you could spend your holiday anywhere in the world just by snapping your fingers, where would you be?
  11. Who would you take with you?

Gingerbread BowAs for my nominees, I’m making a list, checking it twice, and all these bloggers have been especially nice:

Armchairauthor at Ink

Peter Cruikshank-It Is What It Is?

Virginia at Poeta Officium

Rabia Gale-Writer At Play

Anushka Dhanapala at Finding My Creature

T. F. Walsh

Jamie Ayres

Tangent Shell

Melissa Maygrove

Katherine Checkley at The Intrinsic Writer

But wait, you say,  that’s only ten nominees? That’s because the last spot is reserved for you, loyal followers. You are all deserving of this very special holiday Liebster Award, so if you’d like to participate, pull this one out from under the tree and take it home for your very own.

Whew! That was longer than the Twelve Days of Christmas! So, how about you? What do you like most about the holidays?

(Images courtesy of Renate Kalloch @ stock.xchng)

Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest

11.19 Cavanaugh Blogfest LIVEIt is my great pleasure to be a part of the raucous party known as the Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest and raise a virtual toast to the enigmatic but influential writer who has made the blogosphere a better place to be. While the self-proclaimed Ninja seems to be everywhere at once, he remains an enigma to us all. It is time to fuel the rumors and postulate on the man behind the myth!

This blogfest comes with prompts to keep us from waxing on endlessly, so let’s get to them:

  1. What does Alex look like? He is a broad-shouldered god with dark wavy hair, towering in his leather boots, wearing a cloak embroidered with a Floyd Rose Tremolo.
  2.  Who could play Alex in a documentary? Christian Bale – rugged, cerebral, and blessed with a mellifluous command of the English language-would be perfect!
  3. Who does Alex remind you of? Since Alex is the rock star of the blogosphere, Matthew Bellamy of Muse, with his hot licks and prowess with women would be someone that Alex reminds me of.
  4. Write a flash fiction using all these prompts: ( Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar)

Apocalypse AvertedImage courtesy of Rodrigo Tambem

Drowning in a river of insecurity, a forsaken writer tapped out her final post.

“Help me, IWSG! The writing community has scorned me!”

Alex J. Cavanaugh, hunched over his guitar, engrossed in strumming the last minor seventh of his requiem to the end of the world, heard her cry. Since his Cosbolt was in the shop, the Ninja engaged his trusty blog hop companions. “A writer is in need! Encourage her!”

The blogosphere heard his entreaties. The hapless writer nearly spilled her Michelob over the keyboard when she saw all the comments awaiting moderation.

“Keep going!” “First draft always stinks.”

Before you could say CassaStar, she was back at her keyboard, finishing the novel that would take the world by storm.

How about you? Has there been one person who makes the blogosphere a happier, saner place for you to visit?

Thanks Mark Koopmans, Morgan Shamy, David Powers King, and Stephen Tremp for hosting and thanks, Alex J. Cavanaugh, for all the kind words of encouragement and inspiration! You Rock!

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Tambem @ Stock.xchng

Something Completely Different

And now for something completely different.

Dragons.

A steampunk Lunar colony.

A question of where the man ends and the machine begins.

In other words, my story for NaNoWriMo 2012.

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, in my never-ending pursuit of literary abandon I’m going to shoot for writing 50,000 words in one month. Or even 100k. It happens.

In preparation, I’ve stocked up on coffee, hot chocolate, and frozen dinners. I’ve backed up my computer. Reorganized my scene cards. Made playlists, one for each day in November, labeled by date and mood.

And I composed a letter to my main character, Teragus Swansong, warning him of my impending assault on his story. Here is what I wrote:

October 28, 2012 The Eleventh Hour

Whispering Pines Writing Retreat

Dear esteemed Lord Swansong,

Though I know it is late, I am writing to request your assistance in chronicling the early years of the Luna colony, as well as your involvement in its development. You might recall that last year I made a similar entreaty as I prepared to write the story of your daughter and future son-in-law, and I am still in your debt with regards to your efforts. However, once again I find myself in the difficult position of attempting to write your entire story in the period of one month.

I must confess that I wish you had you been more forthcoming with your involvement in the emergence of the DRAGN technology so that I might have written your story first. Fortunately, though I have been able to reconfigure my story to put Cerule and Rigel’s story second in the trilogy.

I hope you are not overly concerned that I will be delving deeper into the story of how you came to meet Avery, and why you decided to return to Luna, despite Luna’s betrayal and subterfuge. I understand why you chose as you did and will be sure to represent the story fairly. As far as your dalliance with Daphne is concerned, now that you understand how sparing her life led to a bright future for the DRAGN transports, I’m sure you will have no objections about my revealing the details to my readers.

And was that a hologram of you I saw as I was walking in the park the other day? You seemed so real, though I was surprised you’d chosen to visit me covered with oil and wearing your grey jumpsuit. I saw your eyes for the first time, and I think you were as surprised to see me as I was to see you. I would almost swear it was really you, and not a hologram, except that you were much younger than you are now.

I am still working through the intricacies of your inventions, and am amazed and impressed by your achievements, especially given that you did much of your work underground away from the supervision of the Lunar regime. If you might further elucidate how you managed that I would be grateful.

I hope my missive finds you well, and that I am able to do your story justice in the coming month.

With my regards,

Lady Larke

 

Tune in next week for Lord Swansong’s reply!

And, how about you? Have you ever written your characters a letter or an email? What do you do to prepare for NaNoWriMo?

The Next Big Thing

Exciting news from the scenic route today!

Those of you familiar with the How to Revise Your Novel course by Holly Lisle will be pleased to hear that I have finished my second pass through the Lesson Seventeen Block Revision. I’m exhilarated, exhausted, but most of all I just want to give my manuscript a big hug! After everything it’s been through in this revision, I think it deserves one. Finally, I feel like I’ve written a real book, instead of just a collection of loosely related scenes.

To commemorate this occasion, I’ve  decided to pull over to the side of the road and let you guys check out the view. Thank you Jamie Ayres for tagging me with The Next Big Thing Blog hop and giving me an excuse to talk about my story!

Yay, questions! Ten in all. Ready?

  • 1. What is the title of the book?

The Tempest’s Serenade.

  • 2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

It took a bit of writing for me to even decide this was a book, and that I would have to be the one to write it, but once I started it, I couldn’t stop!

My idea was to write about a musician with a prodigious talent who didn’t live long enough to express it fully. I was inspired by the sad stories of musicians who died in their prime: Jeff Buckley, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison… and I asked the question:

What happens to the music if someone never has a chance to fully realize their talent? So I wrote about that, and more than a hundred thousand words later I had the makings of a book.

  • 3. What genre does your book fall under?

It has elements of mainstream, but there’s also a big helping of magical realism alongside a bit of paranormal with a side dish of romance.

  • 4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

For Nick Moore, my lead character, I would start with  Adrian Grenier’s easygoing charm, then mix in the athletic grace of Brandon Lee, add the brooding menace of Trent Reznor and I think I would have him.

For Libra Duvall, after much debate I finally settled on Avril Lavigne, in one of her quieter moments.

For Stuart Livingston, I’d borrow David Beckham for a soccer season, but put curly hair on him.

  • 5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Disillusioned by the Los Angeles music scene and frustrated by a lead singer hell-bent on self-destruction, a gifted guitarist pursues the angel who haunts him to find the songs he left behind, and the soul he borrowed to escape his past.

  • 6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Published? As in hordes of strangers descending upon my unsuspecting story? Pardon me while I take a moment to compose myself!

Let’s just say that right now I’d prefer to navigate the treacherous waters of publication with an agent at my side!

  • 7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started writing in February of 2009, but only recognized a few months later that I might have to write a book to get this story told. After that, it took me four more months to finish all 126k words of the first draft. However, the first draft was nowhere close to where the revision has taken me. I’ve been revising it for almost three years now!

  • 8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

My story is inspired by books like The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Lovely Bones. 

If movies are your thing, it’s as if The Crow met Sid and Nancy.

  • 9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Any musician or artist who battles obstacles that stand in the way of their creativity is an inspiration. As I revised the story, I realized it was also about my own creativity, a reflection about where it had gone and why it had suddenly returned with such force.

  • 10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll … with magic!

Now comes the moment we’ve been waiting for. Tags! I get five for this blog hop. These fabulous novelists are working hard on stories that could very well be The Next Big Thing!

Nancy H. Doyle

Anushka Dhanapala

Armchairauthor

Peter Cruikshank

Katherine Checkley

How about you? Can you describe your story in one sentence? What actors would play the roles in your favorite books?

If It Makes You Happy …

He paces outside my morning words, his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, a scowl on his face. I dread confronting him, but now that morning words have been procrastinated into evening words, I venture inside and type my first question.

“Are you mad at me?”

He looks up, and the darkness doesn’t leave his face.

I knew it. I should never have let him out of my fingers. I should never have posted any of my chapters for anyone to see. He should have stayed exclusively mine.

“I’m sorry,” I sputter. “I shouldn’t have done that. I fluffed your lines and had you saying things no rock ‘n’ roller should ever say. I’ll fix it, I promise—pronto. I was wrong and you were right.”

“You thought I was mad about that?” His scowl splits into a grin. “Nah, I’m just wondering why it took you so long to get to these words today. What’s with watering the grass, and the blog posts, and that other writer who keeps asking for help?” He shrugs one of his all too frequent shrugs, and pulls his hands from his pockets to spread them wide in a gesture of dismay.

If he was the hugging type …

But I remember in time— he’s not. He’s a rocker.

“You bet I am, sister,” he agrees. “So don’t forget it next time.”

I breathe a huge sigh of relief, and settle into some normal typing. “I have questions for you.” Still the tentative writer, I add, “Would you mind?”

He shakes his head. “It’s about time, so fire away.”

“I liked your words last night,” I type. “Thanks for getting me going again. I was having a lot of doubts about that scene.”

He looks surprised and stares at me from behind the lock of hair that falls into his eyes. “Why? It’s just me, except before. Same guy, remember?”

“Yeah, I guess that’s the idea. But you look different, so I thought I might have to write you differently.”

He grins so that his eyes narrow with mirth. “Now you know what Libby feels like.”

“Are you going to call her Libby too?”

“Thought I’d try it out for size,” he says and shrugs again as I try to think of a new gesture besides shrugging for my dialogue beats.

“Sure, call her Libby then, if it makes you happy,” I type.

“My happiness isn’t what’s at stake here, you know.” He lets his gaze fall from mine as I turn back to my computer screen. “It’s the story that matters.”

“If you’re not happy there is no story, Nick. Happiness is what you want, and why you do what you do.”

“Isn’t that everyone’s need?”

“Depends,” I reply. “Some people are only happy when other people around them are miserable.”

“Lucky for you, that’s not what I’m about.”

He stops pacing to gaze out my window. I don’t know what he’s looking for since it’s twilight and too early for lightning bugs. “But you said you had questions for me?” he asks.

“I might not be able to continue your scene today. I’m going to put chapter four and maybe chapter five up for critique.”

“So?” he asks with a nonchalant smirk.

“I want to know what you think about that.”

He draws a heavy sigh. “Did you do your best with them?”

I’m biting my lips as I type. “I think I did. But I’m just not very good at this.”

“You’re getting better. I can tell.” By the sound of his voice, determined as waves crashing on the shore, strong as the tide in the moonlight, I’m forced to agree that at least I’m getting better at pleasing myself.

“You might be right,” I type.

“I know I’m right. When you read me back, sometimes you laugh out loud. I hear that you know.”

“And sometimes I want to cry …”

“But those are happy tears. I see them. I’m not here to make you sad.” He pauses. “Have I ever made you sad?”

Because I detect worry in his tone, I hasten to assure him, “Of all the people I’ve ever known, Nick, you must be the only one who has never made me sad.”

“See–” His stride lengthens to a strut, as if he’s preparing for a show. He stops look at the dark sky outside. “And writer?”

“What?”

“You kick ass.”

How about you? Do your characters pace outside your words? Do they approve of what you’re writing about them?