Running with Wolves…
So the NaNoWritMo event is coming up. I have to admit this is the first time I’ve heard of it. I guess I had my head down on my own shit I was writing to think about any sort of writing event outside of my carefully crafted worlds.
Let’s see the line up, shall we?
- Angels of Mercy (Volumes 1-3) – This one isn’t a surprise that it’s first because Volume 1 is in the can and on its way for final smoothing edits from a highly qualified editor that I am over the moon happy to be working with. So yeah, the boys (and girls) of Mercy, California are first on the list but theirs isn’t a supernatural story (despite the mention of Angels in the title – that is a reference to the high school mascot – an Avenging Angel).
- Far Wars – Fear the Feigr – This is my fantasy story that has quite the sci-fi slant all over it. I am talking Fae. But not just any Fae of the Celtic sort, no we’re going further back than that – I am talking NORSE fae – their forebears, the Feigr. Only my Feigr are fierce. They are in your face, kick assed dangerous bad asses – and we humans had better just learn to give them a wide birth. This one is a dark tale with a big gay twist (in that for the Feigr, it’s not gay at all… what could I possibly mean by that?).
- The Cove Chronicles – My Lord of the Rings epic tale gone completely NATIVE (as in Americans). This one is bold. It begins in the small town of Hallet’s Cove, Long Island (which later became Astoria) in the early 1800’s but wends its way to the Gold Rush time in San Francisco. But the Chronicles don’t end there. They stretch all the way to our more modern times in present day Hallet’s Cove – relocated to an inlet bay in Northern California. The Natives are restless and there’s good reason for that. They’re only defending the world against total annihilation as we know it. Yeah, it’s another epic. I tend to think Cecil B. DeMille epic.
- HO’M,O – Yeah, you read that one right… I have a book called HO’M,O. They really are initials that just happen to spell that the book is one big euphoric gay werewolf romp fest. Okay it doesn’t imply wolves at all, but I am telling you that’s what it’s about.
This last entry is the one I want to discuss today. You see, I am starting this bad boy off with the NaNoWritMo event that challenges authors to write a novel in 30 days with a minimum of 50K words. Now for a guy like me who can hammer out close to 10K a sitting (I am NOT bullshitting in the slightest – just look at my blog entries – words and the speed in which they flow are NEVER a problem for me), 50K is gonna be a breeze. I am more worried that I’ll get into it by November 15 and go well shit, I am only half way through the story and I’ve just broken 150K words! What the fuck am I gonna do now, Blanche?
That’s the real worry I have with the NaNoWritMo event. I think I’ll get too far ahead of myself.
HO’M,O is a tale about a young man in his senior year in high school. He lives a quaint and generally quiet life in the fictitious town of Sparrow’s Hollow (Holler) in the southern part of West Virginia (I chose it because my hubby is from WVA and can give me the 411 on it since he grew up in that area around the time I am setting the book (the latter part of the 1950’s). So no cell phones, no social media, hell, there’s barely ANY media of any kind in this po’ dunk of a town! And there be wolves in dem thar hills!
I wanted to play with the whole supernatural werewolf/shifter element in the m/m genre.
Now, to be clear, I still don’t fully ally myself with the m/m romance genre that so many of my author contemporaries write to. My books, from my perspective as they are created that way, are Gay Lit Fic across other sub-genres – in this case, supernatural. It has the gay element (which is why the whole Gay Lit thing is first). With my work, that is implied. It will generally always have a gay element to it. Why? Because there is a boat load of that other straight shit out there that they don’t need me reminding them of why they fall in love. Their romances do not intrigue me in the slightest. They are fully represented by the masses of authors who have to keep reminding that crowd of why they do what they do. Our side is still woefully under-represented. So yeah, totally on-board with the whole gay lit thing. It’s a given.
Anyway, I also wanted to do classic horror setup from the 1950’s. I am utterly fascinated with the 50’s in that it was an era of absolute dullness (nothing really went on). The social upheaval of the 60’s was still around the corner and down the road a piece. The frantic forties (what with the War occupying a great majority of it) are also of interest but in this case I wanted the horror classic feel of the 50’s in this book.
So yeah, wolves. In West Virginia, no less. It just sort of popped up in my head. I’ve never been to WVA. I have no knowledge of the area first hand BUT I do have it second hand (as I said my hubby was born in Wheeling, WVA). So yeah, I got that part covered AND from the same era as the book (hubby is a tad older than me).
I am working like hell to get the character sketches down. To flesh them all out. To make my bad boys be more, I dunno, wolf like. Wolf primed? Wolf enabled? I gotta come up with something better than that when the contest begins (I have to keep reminding myself that I m not competing with anyone other than myself to get the job done). The contest is to complete a novel in 30 days with at least 50K words in the body of the book. I think I can do this.
So why the blog post?
Because I am on pins and needles about it all. About the whole crafting it by the seat of my pants. Yeah, I am pretty much a pantser (what writers call themselves when they write by the seat of their pants) when I write. I have a general frame work, I have fully formed characters (and I do mean formed when I say it). I also have a majority of the plot line fully formed in my head before I ever put a word down on digital bytes and bits. It’s all a matter of hammering it all out.
Alfred Hitchcock (an idol/hero of mine) often said that for him the fun of making his movies or telling his stories was in the planning of it. The rest was just busy work to get it all down. I sooooo, get that. Epically get it. Epically – to the nth degree – do I get it.
Hank O’Malley (my Omega – and if you don’t know what those are in Lycanthrope lore, you better do your homework like I have) is my protag. He’s an amazing character. I love him already. I can’t wait to throw him to the wolves of Sparrow’s Holler (so to speak).
NaNoWritMo – it’s just around the corner as the final days of October come to a close. November 1 is the date. I start writing my new opus then. It’ll be far shorter than my other works, but I can already see a path to writing a series on these boys. It’s an ensemble cast from many aspects, so yeah, it could definitely grow into a real series. Hell, it’ll probably be even gayer than that whole Teen Wolf thing on MTV.
Sort of a Happy Days cross with Teen Wolf – eh, no, wait. That isn’t what I was shooting for at all. Well, it’ll come together I am sure.
In 30 days.
Tic-toc, tic-toc, tic-toc…
The Problem With Time –
So I haven’t made any bones about the fact that my very first novel ends on a cliff hanger. Yeah, untested me putting out a book that is one of a series. And I’ve asked my readers to invest in a character that I absolutely love but put through a fucking ringer. It’s just how the story goes.
I know I also said that the story will be what it’s gonna be. No apologies, no regrets.
Yeah, here’s the deal: I still want it to be on its best possible feet. I want quality. While I am writing book two I’ve sort of realized that I am going to probably have book two right on the heels of the first book. It means that I might delay the release a bit so I can have book two right around the corner.
That’s sort of disappointing. But I think it might be the right thing to do to give my first baby the lift it needs to have best chance possible to reach and find its audience. I know that I said I wasn’t so concerned with sales. To a great degree that’s true. I’d rather have readers who absolutely love the work rather than pedestrian ‘meh’ reviews and following.
I am still tightening the first one. But here’s the current dilemma: each book is told from a different character. So how to tell an engaging story that goes incredibly dark but never loses its thread of hope that all will eventually work out, AND tell it in a manner where you are covering a story that is actually much larger than the first book presents.
It all has to do with time. And time in this case is not my friend.
“I know you think this is sudden, Els. But I’ve watched you for two years now. I know what people say; I’ve heard the rumors, too. But I can’t deny it any more; you do it for me, Donahey. Always have; from the moment I saw you on my first day at Mercy High.”
Those words from the football quarterback jock boyfriend, Marco Sforza, is what gives the story its depth. It is what gives it is weight, its history. Which is something else he also says to the love of his life, Elliot.
So when I approached the second book (told from Marco’s perspective) I had the dilemma of do I pick up right from where the cliff hanger ends in book one or do I do what I wanted to do and go back those two years before and actually give the reader what I think the story needs.
While I start out with Elliot starting the story, I always felt it was Marco’s tale to tell. I just wanted you to fall in love with the love of his life so that by the time you get to Marco’s voice, you already know why he loves the man he loves. As a reader, you’ve spent the first book wrapped up in Elliot’s head. If I’ve done my work right you’ll walk away from a very complex and topsy turvy world that Elliot must navigate just to make it to the next day.
The first book is chock full of sexual situations, I didn’t want to shy away from that because that’s how hormonally charged teenaged boys are. My work will always have that honesty in it. My men will always behave like men do. Sex, while not the whole story, when present it does advance the story. It is not there to titillate or make anyone blush. I made sure that the sexual situations had the boys growing from the experiences (good or bad) each time it occurs.
But yeah, time…
So the second book (as it currently stands) goes back two years rather than answer the question that would be on my readers minds. They’re gonna have to wait a bit to get there – why? Because it is important that Marco have his say as much as I know he needs to.
One of the major thrusts of the book is that I wanted the jock in the story to go against type. Marco never questions his love for Elliot (well, not by the time he makes his move anyway). BUT he does quite a bit of second guessing prior to making his move to bring Elliot into his life. Though even in that, it’s not in the way you would think. Marco questions his motives not because isn’t sure about his feelings for Elliot (because he’s actually quite sure about that from the first moment he sees him), but because of something in his own past that colors on whether he thinks he’s the best thing for Elliot – better to love from afar and not cause any damage, than to bust into his life and make a real mess of things. So Marco really is one of the good guys, but to see that you have to get his whole story and a good part of that is how he gets to that moment that starts in book one (where he seduces Elliot). So in a real way Marco’s part of the story is as much a commentary on how gay men (from all walks of life) come to the realization of what it means to be gay in a hetero-sexist world – of what it’s like to swim upstream your whole life.
And Marco is a character that seems to have it all going his way – he’s sexy, he’s gorgeous, he’s rich, he’s a jock – but we soon learn that his world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. Marco needs Elliot to give him balance in his own upside down world. These boys need each other. Only when they’re together is the world right for either of them.
But the romance is only a part of the whole deal. There’s the ever looming threat of homophobia, which is ever present in Elliot’s book, the threat of each boy failing the other – Homecoming is a night that everyone would rather forget and one where not everything is what it seems. A lot went on that night – far more than meets the eye.
But it’s a big story, a complex story. But one that I am finding so rewarding to write. I love my boys, I love the secondary characters (Nick and Angus are my absolute favorite characters that I never saw coming but just blossomed on the page before my eyes).
So yeah, it’s a risk – pulling the reader back from the brink of the cliff at the end of book one, then shoot back two years and retell it all from Marco’s POV. But i can’t think of doing it any other way that would work. I toyed with starting it on the same day as the cliff hanger from the first book and then retell the historical elements as flashbacks but that seemed too contrived. It just seemed like a sell out, a cheap way to do it.
The hubby said I should not concern myself with the wheres and whyfores – and just put it all down. So yeah, I’m taking his advice on this one. He’s my Marco anyway (played for Clemson back in the day – so yeah, I married a football player myself so Marco and Elliot are sort of rooted in my own world too). Maybe he’s right.
Only time will tell…