Friday Fantasy Escape – Welcome to Arkham!

One of my favorite things about being a reader (and a writer, of course) is seeing how imagination is contagious. How the best books are really just starting points and they end up inspiring people in different ways. A new irregular feature I am going to around here is my Friday Fantasy Escape where I showcase something cool that is someone taking an idea and running with it in their own specific way.

This first one I am going to lead off this series with is this fantastic tour of a model railroad HP Lovecraft’s Arkham! Lovecraft has been such an inspiration to me personally as well as to pretty much every genre writer of the last 60 years. A really cool thing to do is looking around for all of the little touches that make it Arkham-and all of the little Easter eggs that are hidden for other Lovecraft stories. It’s easy to get lost on this page (and the entire site!) so make sure to poke around at the other Lovecraft inspired model rail road pages off the main one. They are all amazing and make me wish I had time and space for a hobby like this. As opposed to the creatures from out of time and space that would pursue me if I did.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 4.57.58 PM

Some of my old school favorite writing resources

I’ve had a few people ask me recently what I like to keep close at hand while I write and edit and since a picture is worth a thousand words (and also a lot quicker) I thought I would just show you.

Writing stuff

Sure, the internet is a great tool and all, but it is also a great distraction and I find when I really dive in I usually turn off any internet connectivity so lo-fi beats wi-fi for me when it comes to productivity. What about you, any tools and tips you find you can’t live without when you get to work? Let me know! I’m always looking to grow my toolbox!

Read a good book, do a good deed

With the holidays upon us it is natural to think about giving to others but it’s hard with everything else going on this time of year. Or maybe you really want to do something good but are kind of lazy and would rather just kick back with a good read. Maybe you just need a break from the negativity of the election season and want to read a good fantasy book. Or maybe you are super lazy (and poor) but want to feel good about yourself for making a real difference in the lives of some underprivileged here in the United States the price of a Starbucks coffee. The very talented author (and friend of mine) Kenton Kilgore has you covered no matter which of the above categories fit you.

For the entire month of December he will be donating 100% of the profits from the sale of both the e-books and the print copies of his book, the Dragontamer’s Daughters to a non-profit organization that helps provide running water to homes on a Navajo reservation in the American Southwest.

To buy the book, go here – ebook Version on Amazon | print version on Amazon

To read more about this go here – Author to donate profits to Navajo Water Project

To learn more about Kenton go here – Kenton’s webpage

What does editing really look like?

So, I got back the first round of edits (thanks Matt!) and am knee deep in them now, and was talking with a friend about the editing process. She was a bit curious about it, thinking that once the writing was done that most of the work was done and about how much actually changes and I thought it would be a pretty good – although short – post because, well, you will see.

This is a picture that I took of the page I am editing. It is actually pretty typical of most pages, there are some notes and comments off to the side that the pic didn’t get, and this page just randomly didn’t include many of them, but there are typically a number of them that call out important points that the writer might have missed or overlooked or just plain got wrong, In addition to this, there is also often an overall letter that discusses the structure, characters, etc of the entire book that doesn’t necessarily address one specific part of the book, but more the work as a whole. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting for you to see, so enjoy!

Edit

So, yeah, editors are a big deal, and really important to the process. Absolute monsters and lifesavers all in one, and I guarantee that your favorite writer wouldn’t be your favorite writer without their favorite editor(s). When they thank them in the acknowledgements it isn’t because they caught that double “the” or the mispelled word (though undoubtedly they did that – also, yes I misspelled mispelled on purpose so congrats if you caught it), but it is for making the story and the characters so much closer to what they are in our head, and what we failed to put on the paper – and often they make them even better than they were in our head. So, with that, another big thanks to the editors I have worked with and those I will work with in the future, as well as a big I’m sorry for the condition of the story you have to read – thanks for believing in me!

Now, back to the word mines with me!

P.S. Even as posted this shot, I saw a few things to change, so remember this is just a draft…

It’s all success even when it’s not

I know, when you aren’t a big shot writer, it’s easy to imagine that we are all living it up like Hemingway, on some island paradise, knocking back the drinks, going on big game hunts (with cameras these days, because we’re cool like that), doing a bit of spying for our respective governments and generally living the lives we write about.

hemingway

While that may be a true a few weeks out of the year for some of us, the rest of the writerly life is one of endurance and perseverance. Oh sure, you may think that the movie Rocky is about a boxer, but its really an allegory for the life of a writer. You get hit. A lot. You get back up and you keep punching those keys. What comes out is sloppy and its ugly but you keep going until the bell rings (that’s the deadline, by the way). Then you do another training montage – outline – get in the ring, write, okay yeah the metaphor is a little thin at this point.

Anyway, what I was getting at is that writing is ugly business and it is painful. The author you see on the shelves at the bookstore has likely been turned down several times (hundreds even!) before finding a home with a publisher. My friend and fellow writer Aeryn Rudel has decided to own this ugly side of the work with his very excellent blog Rejectomancy.  One of the really cool projects he has going there is a live-blogging called Real Time Rejection, which begins with The Journey of Story X. It has received a single rejection so far, and it will be interesting to follow along with it and see where it ends up. He also has some free stories up on his site, so go check him out, I think you’ll enjoy it!

The end. Page 1

Well, that is one book done and off. Now as I await the editor’s notes which will draw blood and make me cry, but will result in a far better product than I ever dreamed I start work on the next book.

After an informal poll on Twitter and Facebook it looks like the next book up is going to be the first book in an urban fantasy noir series that I have been tinkering on for a while, and I am quite excited to flesh it out (sorry Gar, that Historical Romance will have to wait!)

The working title for this one, by the way is simply “Prey” so if you see mention of that, you know what I am referring to. Don’t worry, that won’t be the final title, I have one in mind, I am just not ready to drop it out there yet.

It’s great to have a couple of outlines already lined up and ready to go, and to be equally excited about them. I just need to get my hands on a Time-Turner…

A Crown of Adamant, Solid and Enduring

Hello, it’s a been a while. Sorry I haven’t posted as much as I intended and this won’t be much of a post either. It’s been a bit of a rough going the last couple of months, there have been a couple of hard personal losses followed up with a knee surgery and some complications there. I won’t bore you with the tragedy, I am just going to say it has been a hard couple of months and very, very draining physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Pretty much any other -ly you can think of as well.

I have fallen behind on a couple of projects but barring any other unexpected trips to the hospital, or graveyard, or other house of misery (please, whatever minor diety I have offended, accept my most humble apologies) things should be back to a more normal schedule over the coming couple of weeks.

As to this post, I am going thank my friend Kenton, because it was his own blog post I read today that encouraged and inspired me greatly. I am going to add the quote that spoke best to me, bringing tears to my eyes (though I readily admit that my emotions are razor-burn raw these days) – even though the quote comes from John C. Wright’s blog. It’s a circuitous journey, but one I hope you find worth taking.

I write for that one reader I will never see, the one who needs just such a tale as I can pen, in just such a time and place, some rainy afternoon or dark hour, when providence will bring my book into his hands. And he will open it, and it will not be a book, but a casement, from which he will glimpse the needed vision his soul requires of a world larger than our own, or a star in a heaven wider and higher than ours, a star aflame with magic more majestic than any star mortal astronomers can name.

I humbly but strongly suggest you write for that unknown reader also, and not for worldly praise, or influence, or pelf, or applause. The world flatters popular authors, and the clamor of the multitude of brazen tongues is vanity. It is dust on the wind. The unknown reader will greet your work with love. It is a crown of adamant, solid and enduring.

Writing Katas

I used to take martial arts for years. One of the things that traditional martial arts do is a thing called katas, which is basically a stylized dance that goes through the martial arts moves. I can still remember many of them for both Tai Kwan Do and Kempo even though they were basically a lifetime ago. The point of them is to train your body to flow from one move to the other and to know the moves. To commit the movements to muscle memory to make sure that you really know them and to really integrate them into your martial artist toolbox so that they are there without thinking about them when you need them. You usually start and finish at the same point on the floor.

I hadn’t really thought a lot about the idea of katas until I was recently taking a software java class put on by 8th Light Software. They have a really interesting concept of software craftsmanship using the idea of a kata to hone that craft. It opened my mind the concept of the kata outside the physical and it is something that I have carried over into my writing craft. Where the martial arts kata is very structured and the same every time, I do the writing one kind of different, I have a few “setups” and then write the paragraph. It’s kind of a seed I guess. The point is to not write the same thing every time, but to write something.

How are they done, you might ask? And not only how, but why? After all, if I am writing, shouldn’t I be writing something that goes to my project that I already don’t have enough to work on as it is?

Well, those are all good and valid questions. Let me answer each of those in time, young seeker of knowledge, though not in the order you asked.

Let’s start with the “why?” Writing is a craft and the best way to get better is to do it. One of the most difficult parts of writing is the creative part, and the idea of the kata is that the idea is already there and this is, ultimately, a mechanical exercise, a honing of the craftsman part of the work more than the creative part if you will.

Now, on to the next part, this doesn’t replace your project. This is a warm up. You are sharpening your tools before going to work. I find that this is a great thing to do when I only have 10 minutes to write, or if I am feeling the dreaded writer’s block.

Finally, how do you do it. This is up to you. I personally started with a paragraph. I have a few different katas that I do now. I’ll list a few below and you can take them and run with them. Remember, the point isn’t to save them. You should start and finish with a blank page. Also, only do one at a sitting.

Character enters a room.
Action fight between characters.
Describe a town as it comes into view.
Describe a man.
Describe a woman.
Describe an alien.

Wow, Do I Ramble

I had a nice little chat with Lela Markham about all sorts of things from what inspires me to write, to my process, to how I came to cowrite with Aiden and what that is like. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed rambling on! I seriously had no idea how much I go on and on and on. Believe it or not, I actually think of myself as a pretty quiet person.

Anyway, thanks Lela!

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/interview-with-patrick-burdine/