Birth of a Novel - Part 3

This is the ninth entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.

Let me start off by saying this was the first time I've written anything bordering on romantic. I've always been a "tension+action=plot with the occasional quiet interlude to let the reader breathe" sort of writer. But there I was, creating some teenage romance. Before anyone gets too excited (or horrified), it's nothing too squishy or explicit. Surprisingly, I knew exactly what I wanted and was able to pull it off. It was slow going, mind you, because I kept refining it. Normally, I let the words spill from my brain as they may and worry about cleaning it up later. The problem was that the muscle pumping behind my ribs was the real driving force for much of this chapter and the ol' noggin organ wasn't in sync. Hence the extra tweaking.

There were a couple things that made writing this scene quite fun. First off, Zydeco is really conflicted about the whole thing. It makes him extremely happy, but it also makes him think he's rejecting his past. As you might imagine, he's "all frigged up" inside, but to his credit, he's not acting that way.  Secondly, and most important to yours truly, I love these two characters, the other of which is Tameina. I feel like I know them and I am totally rooting for them. More so, because I know what terrible things I'll be doing to them as the book progresses. *evil grin*  So, it was unbelievably important for me to make these scenes very sweet. I tend to be more mechanical and less creative in my second and third drafts, so I was afraid to leave this stuff till then.

Okay, so where does that leave me? Ah, yes. The bad guy comes out in the open, more or less, and I dedicate about four pages to a preliminary good vs. evil stand-off. In business terms, it's the pre-meeting. You know the kind - it's like when Superman first meets Lex Luthor. It's not really "on" yet, if you catch my drift. I hope I built some "mood" suspense leading up to this meeting. Naturally, I'll wind up ripping it all out in later revisions, but for now it stays. :-)

Oh, and I have one simile I'm seriously worried about. I like it, but we'll see if anyone else does. I'm not sharing it here, though. *sticks tongue out*

What am I sharing? This bit.

“Why are you smiling?” I asked.

“Am I?” Her glasses reflected the green traffic light at the corner, and here, with the taxicabs zooming in and out of traffic, carrying fairs to their destination, it seemed ridiculous to think of her as anything more than a girl from school, a pretty, human girl who, along with Blaine, was my best friend in this world. And what she’d shown me in the library? Perhaps she has something, some ability, some kind of supernatural talent. Whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter to me. It is beyond hypocritical for we Mythos to doubt the unknown.

She gazed down at the fancy dinner I had provided for us, the corners of her mouth still raised upward. “I guess I’m just happy right now.”

On to the next chapter!!!!

To see what I thought about the last chapter, slide on back to the previous entry if you like.


A little Mythos and a lot of the agent/publisher list.

I seem to have forgotten that my blog isn't all about Mythos/Creatures. I have been busy writing, though. I'm in the middle of a chapter with its own complexities. It's really the first time I've ever written a romantic scene. I mean this sucker is by no means a romance novel, but there's teens with raging hormones, so y'know, it kind of comes up. But I really don't want to leave this chapter without certain aspects of it being "just right". I think I'm getting close to where I want it to be. But I'm ready to move on to the second half of the chapter.

I also spent time last night with something I've neglected for over a month. I have been maintaining a list of publishers and agents for the middle grade and young adult market. I do this in my portfolio on Writing.com. Since I write in the realm of MG/YA, and a lot of my writer friends do the same, this started out as a way for me to share with them some of the info I'd found. Considering all that I've learned from these folks, it was the absolute least I could do.

Medeia Sharif complimented me today on the list, and this caused me to go back and look at it in the larger sense. I'm generally in there adding or editing the content, validating the links and whatnot. This time I just looked at the whole. The first thing I noticed was that I actually began this thing over two years ago. What? Are you kidding me? Has it been that long? Sheesh.

I also noticed the size. My list currently has 36 publishers, and 104, count 'em, 104 agents. It's like I'm a stalker or something. I've also got some other helpful links on the list. I try to update the page about once a month. Change appears to be a constant within the publishing industry, so there's never a shortage of new information to put out there.

So please check out the list, use it, share it, and I'll try to keep it up to date. And if you have anything you think I should add or drop, please let me know!


Birth of a Novel - Part 2

This is the eighth entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.

What a week. I don't want to bore anyone with my personal life, but let's just say it made writing a smidgen difficult. But it's all good now. And, as Howie Rose would say after a rare Mets victory this season, "Put it in the books!" A few things before I get into this chapter.

I alluded to this in a prior post, but my new working title for this book is now called, Mythos. I like the name better, and it's what Zydeco and all his creature pals call themselves anyway. It's pronounced "Mith-ohz" - not "Mith-ohs". :-)

The other bit of business is that I combined the previous six chapters into three. I was originally going for the, "the chapter is done when I think it's done" approach, but really, the chapters were too short. Thanks to Mireyah for reaffirming my belief in that. As a result, I've decided to drop the chapter numbers from the title of the Birth of a Novel series. This way, I won't have to renumber in case it happens again. And trust me, when I revise, nothing will ever look the same. So, y'all, we're inaugurating the rest of the series with the sublime title of "Part 2". The next post may well be "Part 3". Or maybe it won't. Maybe it'll be "Part 2, the sequel".

On to the book!

This chapter began with all kinds of fits and starts. I think it took me a few hours of constantly interrupted writing to get one page written. Still, one page is better than nothing, right? But in the last two nights, I've been on a role.

We're deep into Zydeco and Tameina now. That's what this is all about. Developing them. How do they act around each other? What mysteries do they hold? We all know Zydeco, being a mythological creature holds many mysteries. Guess what dudes. Tameina is not just this one dimensional girl who adores Zydeco. Okay, she totally digs Zydeco, but that's beside the point. You know how Shrek is an onion with layers? Or so said Donkey? This girl has layers. She is complex. She has layers and DUM DUM DUM!!!!! she has secrets too.

Most of this chapter takes place in the city public library. There's one bit where they walk up the great stone steps to the front door of what many readers may assume is the New York City public library. Probably because Zydeco initially notices the marble lions. That library is definitely the inspiration, but this novel takes place in a fictional city. There's a bit of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and maybe some San Francisco in this city. Anyway, much to Zydeco's surprise and dismay, only the back half of the marble statues are lions. Hint hint. I'm not divulging anything else.

Anyhow, a little taste of this chapter -

We plopped onto the plastic stools attached to a round cafeteria table. I tore into a bag of chips before we split a snickers bar. Damn, I love snickers bars. Sadly, though, I encountered a slight eating disorder right then, and somehow a large uneaten hunk slipped down my chin and hit the floor despite my feeble attempts to catch it.

Tameina snorted, and then covered her mouth, her eyes wide. Apparently this disorder was catching.

I picked up the chocolate from the linoleum floor. It lay in my hand mocking me.

That's cute. It reveals nothing, except the fact that they both are on the slobbish side of life?

I do have some concerns about this chapter. I didn't really move the plot to the next crucial point yet. That will be in the next chapter, as it is presently mapped out. You see, I had this idea about a bizarre room in the library where strange things happen. As I began to write the scene, serious doubts crept in as to whether this was a good idea. It wasn't central to the story, and as I've learned, if it ain't what makes the choo-choo go, then it's just slowing the train down.

But a funny thing happened as I wrote it. The characters took over. They showed me the way. And while it's not central to the key plot line and conflict, it definitely moves along an idea I had about a subplot for Tameina. And it makes her that much more complex. I think I like it. We'll see what my awesome YA group members think when they critique it.

The next installment is sitting here, just a'waitin' for ya.

To see what I thought about the last chapter, hop on back to the previous entry if you like.


Writing and Reading

News on Creatures, a.k.a. Creatures of Knucklehead City. I have a new name - Mythos. The Mythological Creatures refer to themselves by that name, and I think it's slicker than Creatures. It was while reading Sandman Slim that I realized my characters needed to refer to themselves in a much niftier way than, "Creatures". Know why? My mythological creatures are all seriously cool.

Also, I have come to the realization that the chapters are too short, and that, fortunately, chapters 1 and 2 belong together, and the same for 3 & 4, and 5 & 6. So, on my next Birth of a Novel post, I'm going to have to rejigger the chapter numbering for those of you who've been following along.

Speaking of Sandman Slim, it is one of those books that keeps you turning the page. There are no chapters, only scenes. And the pace is frantic - it just keeps going and going and driving and driving and you can't put it down because just when you think you're about to hit a moment of calm, BANG!

Okay, okay. So now the last few books I've read were not YA. I need to jump back into some YA, lest I lose my YA voice. I suppose I could watch and listen to me son, but he mostly complains about all the homework in high school. That wouldn't make for a super interesting character, eh?

I've got some ideas, but if anyone reading this has any recommendations, please pass them along. They don't have to be fantasy or sci-fi, although I'm almost ready to read Ender's Game again. Please, no vampire books. I've read Dracula and that is the bible. Okay, if there's a truly unique YA vampire book that isn't the same as everything else, then by all means. Oh, I've already read the Graveyard Book... which I also loved. Of course, that's middle grade, but still, great book.


Birth of a Novel - Chapter 6

This is the seventh entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.

It took a week to finish this chapter. Why, you ask? Life got in the way, dangnabbit! I finished ch 5 last Friday, then I was busy all weekend with family and friend commitments. Then it was Monday, a holiday, and we took the kids to see Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince in IMAX (a bit of 3d thrown in), so we were out most of the day. Finally, I got down to a bit of writing Monday and Tuesday night, then it was Freshman parent night at my son's high school on Wednesday. Then Thursday I worked on Frankie's awesome blog. So here we are. Friday night again. My friend Friday. Apparently, I'm a productive writer Friday nights.

Wow, what a rant.

In a nutshell, this chapter is the follow up to chapters 1 & 2, starring Zydeco, Blaine & Octavio, with a couple new characters thrown in. Blaine's got himself a date for the prom, but Zydeco doesn't! Zydeco is the obvious prize and everyone knows it, but he's just... oh, I don't know. Let's say he's saving himself. Sadly, he's saving himself for a time that's already passed.

I weaved in the official antagonist, via the network news. He's a funny looking little guy who goes by the name of Phineas Malice. Like the name? Is it evil enough? Think of Phineas as a cross between Teddy Roosevelt and a walrus. Oh, and he has henchmen -- Hunter is one -- and he's the Deputy Mayor of the city.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about what really happens in this chapter, but it's pretty important. Let's just say, you won't be hearing from Octavio for a while.

The tricky part of this chapter was the fact that I had the three characters you know: Zydeco, Blaine & Octavio. But I also introduced two minor characters - who, I think, will reappear later on. Five people inclusive in one scene. For me, that's tricky business. How do I keep them from being talking heads? How do I keep the reader from feeling like they're a pinball? I think I managed it.

At the same time, I needed to introduce the real bad guy. Phineas is the Emperor to Hunter's Darth Vader, by the way. In any case, I didn't want Phineas interacting with anyone just yet, but I wanted the threat of him hanging low over our beloved characters. In coming chapters he will definitely hang lower. Wow, that sounds weird. Anyway.

I had a couple of metaphors and similes, and some imagerythat took me a while to get right too. I hope they came out okay, and aren't sledgehammers.

So, here's how the chapter ends - it certainly doesn't give anything away, but it so typifies Zydeco and Blaine's relationship (which will make future events stronger when I put Blaine in some serious danger).

I stared at him. “You know what? You’re depressing me, Blaine. I rely on you to keep my funny valves lubricated. What a disappointment.”

He lifted his head and faced me. A smile worthy of the Grinch appeared on his face. “How vulgar.”

The next installment is floating around here.

To see what I thought about finishing chapter five, you can zip back to the previous entry if you like.


Birth of a Novel - Chapter 5... is done!

This is the sixth entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.

A little vacation seems to go a long way, I tells ya. :-) Chapter five is NOW in the can. What happened? Brainstorming!!!! I bought myself a Sasquatch composition notebook, and began. I kinda sorta outlined what I expect to happen over the next several chapters. I always know how the novel will end, at a high level anyway, but I prefer to do what I call "just-in-time" outlining - about the next 7-8 chapters at most. As I get closer to the end, the end becomes more and more concrete.

In any case, this helped move the plot along, but then I also delved deeper into my characters. I've got several pages filled with all sorts of ideas, some of which will certainly come to light in the novel, but others are simply notions I'm toying with. We'll see.

So, where did I leave off? Last we saw, Elexuslash showed up, causing a nice awkward moment for Zydeco and Tameina. This scene is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for Tameina, but I think Zydeco comes through, leaving Tameina feeling pretty darn good about herself. It also sets up a very important future chapter involving Tameina & Zydeco, among others.

Once Tameina departs, it's just Zydeco and that vixen/siren, Elexuslash. Here's a snippet of their aborted flirtation.

Next thing I knew Lex’s hand was running through my hair, and it was like warm serenity drained out of me, replaced with something hot. It wasn’t a bad hot. Or, maybe it was.

“It’s very unusual, you know, silver hair at your age. I like it, though, especially how long you keep it.” She touched the stud in my left ear. “Diamond?”


She nodded. “It is diamond.”

When she slid her hand down the black rope around my neck and reached for the yellow stone, I flinched and pulled her hand away. Nobody touched the stone but me. At that exact moment, the heat had gone and whatever spell this siren held over me broke.

She pouted. “What’s the matter, Zydeco? It’s just a little pendant, isn’t it?”

I cradled the stone in my fist, and realized this girl was cataloging me like so much inventory. “I’m sorry, Elexuslash, but it’s personal.”

Her pout vanished, and she raised a pale eyebrow. “Elexuslash, am I? Not friends anymore?”

I also get to have her explain to Zydeco what happened to her "off-stage" after the events of chapter one. Hopefully, between her explanations and other questions, I've left the reader the slightest doubt about her in this chapter.

The chapter end's with Zydeco's gnome buddy Blaine reappearing. This kicks off the next chapter nicely. That next chapter - woo-hoo - I'm excited about it. It'll drive more of the mystery, give the readers more information, and if it all fits, kindle something more between Zydeco and Tameina.

Stay tuned!

To see what I thought about chapter five before I took some time off to clear my head, you can go back to the previous entry if you like.

You can jump forward to check out chapter six.


Home and 20 Degrees Cooler

Florida in August. Whew. I've been down there countless times in the summer, but this time it was buhrooootal. While shvitzing down in the Mouse's House, both Frankie AND Mireyah nominated my lil ol' blog for a Lemonade Stand Award! Ladies, you are just the swellest, sweetest, and awesomest folks out there. Really, there's just no denying it. :-)

Look at that lemonade! So coooool-ing. You don't see those in EPCOT Center. Now, the good folks at Disney would have you believe EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, but those of us who've visited in August know it is truly the acronym for Every Person Comes Out Tired.

But the lemonade stand is all about paying it forward. This puppy is a feel good award that shows gratitude or a great attitude.

Here are the rules:

1. Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
3. Link your nominees within your post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

Ten blogs!!!! How am I going to come up with 10 blogs???? Frankie and Mireyah already nominated mine, so I can't nominate them back, can I? Okay, I'll play by the rules. Sort of.

Here's ten, and they are by no means in any particular order.
  1. Brooklyn Arden - Cheryl Klein's fabulous blog.
  2. Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent @ Curtis Brown.
  3. Christopher Golden - Writer of my absolute favorite fantasy trilogy
  4. The Literary Lab - The three writers - David Malasarn, Scott G.F. Bailey, & Michelle Davidson Argyle
  5. Vicky Blaylock! - Yeah, Mireyah already nominated Vicky, but she's the bomb.
  6. Sara King - A really awesome, terrific, Sci-fi writer. She set me straight the moment I arrived on WDC.
  7. Tamara Heiner - Another renomination, I think. :-)
  8. The Query Shark - (Really, Janet Reid)
  9. Robin Mizell - Gave me great advice, even in rejection.
  10. Emerin - Because of her, I found the YA Group on WDC.
These are all fantastic folks, and I appreciate each of them.