Best Wishes in #2015 and what I learned from this past year…
“…and I count the times I have forgotten to say, THANK YOU. And just how much, I love them…”
[embedplusvideo height=”255″ width=”400″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1xwlxnA” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/X0WjOiqebbI?fs=1&vq=hd720″ vars=”ytid=X0WjOiqebbI&width=400&height=255&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=¬es=&lean=1″ id=”ep9939″ /]
So a quick post about where I am after this whole writing endeavor of mine that I plunged headlong into without really thinking about it all.
So what did I learn?
Quite a lot, actually.
I learned that writing is a very quiet, lonely (save for some really great discussions about the craft with my hubby and some writing pals and my betas) business. I sort of knew that, but really didn’t understand the full breadth of it all.
I learned that writing a novel, no matter the actual size, is a very cathartic craft and really does take it out of you emotionally as well as physically (just the sitting for hours on end can be a bit grueling).
But I’ve also learned to listen to others. To truly try to understand where they were coming from (even if I didn’t wholly agree with their positions). I learned that after all these years I still crave to hear what my gay brothers (and sisters) have to say about our lives – even if I feel we have quite a way to go in creating a real and lasting community amongst us.
I’ve conversed (over my social media) with some really amazingly creative people in all facets of their various occupations and social lives. I was heartened to discover that the experiences I’d amassed in my life regarding my sexuality and my perceptions about it weren’t dirty or wrong (I never really thought they were – just that everyone in the mainstream seems to have a bug up their ass about it). In taking a Human Sexuality course this past few months really gave me an appreciation about sex and humans that made it all very real and personal for me.
I’ve liked my on-going conversations with sex workers (like Rocco Steele, Boomer Banks, Tayte Hanson, Colby Keller, Levi Michaels and Armond Rizzo, to name a few) who have been kind enough to respond to my little tweets to them about the work they do and the other things that interest them outside of the porn business. I really am fascinated with all they do – beyond their current incarnations as porn stars. They are truly some amazing individuals and I am heartened to see how truly brilliant they are in how courageously they live their lives.
I am emboldened that the few who have previewed my current work (I haven’t published anything yet – though they’re all going to hit early in 2015) have said that I really have something with Angels of Mercy. That’s been the most rewarding thing of all this past year.
For my wolves of Sparrows Hollow – A BIG THANK YOU – ’cause you’re gonna be my very first release to the world in 2015!
I like that my musical muses – Steve Grand and Jay Brannan have been kind enough to exchange and, in their own way, encourage me to reach for my own stars. It makes my devotion to their craft and their art that much more special and personal. These men, these brilliant writers, inspire me each and every day in the things they do.
To all of my newly formed author pals I’ve come to know and interact with, I am heartened and enriched by our exchange. A special shout out to Jayne Lockwood and Brad Vance for being the great people you are. Thank you.
To my family and friends – you still teach me so much and I am looking forward to knowing what you have in store for me next year. To Michael Rumsey, Matthew Gallien, Vincent Mazza, Patricia Hamilton and the hubby JL. To Zorro and Katya (my two brilliantly smart, and infectiously lovable cats). To Matt Rayne and L.a. Le – two crazy cats in my FB life… I look forward to what you’ve got in store for me next year!
To Keely and Whitney – the girls in my life and the family I cherish.
And lastly, to my cast of characters in my works. Thank you. Even if you aren’t real except in my mind and heart, you mean the world to me because you’re mine. Of my heart, of my mind, of my flesh and blood and tears (there’s been a little of each to create them all).
So I’ll close this first year in the chapter of my writing career and be thankful for what I have and what I know I have yet to do. It’s a lonely craft, this writing thing is, but I can’t think of anything else I want to do.
So in these final hours – I’ll leave you with a simple song that from the time I heard it as a boy it affected me so. It is from the Carpenters – who were my absolute love when I was a boy. Karen’s voice still gives me the chills every time I hear her. I miss her creativity so.
And for any nay-sayers this next year – yeah I got only one thing to tell ya…
Boomer and Rocco both were quick to respond to my NYE tweets – proving yet again, what lovely men they are! LOVE THESE GUYS!
When is a goal not a goal?
Answer: When the 50K word count has been reached but you ain’t done with the danged book!
So my NaNoWriMo goal is within sight – I’ll have my 50K tucked away by this evening and I’ll post it for validation. Whoo-hoo! I did it and I finished it well before the November 30 deadline! I am proud of myself for pantsing it along.
Now, to the real task – of getting the damned thing in order cause it sorta feels like I’m trying to hug fog at the moment. This shit is nebulous as all hell and I need to straighten it up. Not that it can’t be done but fuck me if I know how to do it.
I guess I am gonna have to poll my beta’s and see where I am missing shit…I know what I want to do, just in the thrust of gettin’ to my goal I think I have some massive holes in plot and narrative.
So yay, me! Well done! (That sound you’re hearing is the patting of my own back – cause sometimes you just gotta to keep ya goin’).
Above is my adjusted cover art. It’s rather subdued but at least it’s got some umph, no?
Thoughts on it?
As a rule of thumb I am opposed to those manly half naked men on the covers – I just think that most of that will look so damned dated down the road.
Also, while I have your attention – what do you think about the word “adventure” in the tag line? It’s not really an adventure – more of an experience, tale, event (now that’s just plain lousy)?
The story does have some angst that I am gettin’ to now. Just not much in the way of adventure – I mean it’s not a wolfy Indiana Jones. Even though I can sorta see Harrison as a wolf man.
Anyway, the goal for NaNoWriMo will be reached by tonight. The story – eh, not so much.
And it’s been nice to have Steve Grand in the rotation to get my boys where they are. Only now it’s gonna get darker – a whole mess darker. I may have to switch up the playlist for a bit to get into the groove. Riley, Hank and the boys are in for some bad assed times. Then my HFN for the moment.
Free reads of where I am up to the 50K mark will be posted later on tonight.
Then I need to pen some more of Marco’s Angel’s volume – I’ve left him sorta hanging and he’s got shit to say now about his burgeoning love for all things Elliot. The boys in my worlds are gonna drive me bat-shit crazy!
Til next time…
Our Dirty Little Secrets – Part 2
My on-going conversation with Savannah Smythe/Jayne Lockwood on the craft of writing, how gay authors are under represented in our own literary house, and my forthcoming novel – Angels of Mercy.
Check them out over at the following locations –
Savannah Smythe Blog (the continuing conversation from my blog post a few days back)
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…
I’m a Scrivener, and this is how I do it…
Okay, this one is for all of my fellow authors out there. And fair warning – this is a generalistic overview of this remarkable application. I’ll dig deeper if others seem interested in the offering.
No judgements on anything that you all are doing but just putting out there what my journey has been and the things I’ve discovered. Maybe, just maybe, there is another author out there struggling with Word or some other writing app not knowing that this little gem might be the answer to their problems like it was for me.
I should emphasize that I’ve bought nearly all of the other writing programs (including Microsoft Office, so yeah, Word was in the mix as well – personally Word is about the crappiest program to write documents in long form (such as a novel)), but i understand its ubiquity within the authoring world so yeah, I get why some authors stick to it. I did for a while too. But then it just became unwieldy (I have to use it at work so yeah, I am a power user but word is just bloatware – I wanted more from my writing program).
So my search began: Dramatica, Storyist, Write, etc., I paid and tried them all. None of them had the one-stop shop that I wanted in a writing program, until I found Scrivener. And at roughly $45 (US) it was a STEAL of a program!
If you’re not happy with your current writing environment, might I suggest you take a look at this little screencast and see if it doesn’t appeal to how you’d like to work while creating your next masterpiece.
[embedplusvideo height=”255″ width=”400″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1p93udr” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/-DthBJhBrYs?fs=1&vq=hd720″ vars=”ytid=-DthBJhBrYs&width=400&height=255&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep8796″ /]
I know the video is a bit long but the things this baby can do are astounding. The greatest part – it is TOTALLY one stop shop for authors (no matter whatever your genre or type of writings you do).
DISCLAIMER: In no way am I getting anything by way of a kickback from Literature and Latte (the publishers of Scrivener) for doing this. This is all my own doing. My way of putting out there what I do, and how I do it.
Of Note: while all the screenshots I show are from my Mac, the Windows implementation is virtually identical and the files can be used interchangeably between the two platform versions.
PART I – The Project
As you can see the application is pre-configured with templates to assist you with whatever type of writing you do in your personal/professional life. For the purposes of my own journey, I will be focusing this blog entry on the fictional template. Bear in mind that this is how I am using Scrivener. The application has many options that can accommodate just about any workflow. This is just how I am using it.
So from the Project Template window select Fiction and then Novel.
When you first open a new project you get the picture I show above. This is the new project window and your authoring environment. There are places for index cards to keep ideas flowing, and targeted word counts (if you’re into that sort of thing) to be set. All in all, the interface takes a bit to get used to where everything is. But I will tell you that, in the long run, it is well worth the effort.
The sidebar along the left side has become my “home” base. Everything I do, I do from there. It contains the MANUSCRIPT as well as the RESEARCH binder (in fact the whole sidebar is called the Binder – think of it as your author library, of sorts).
The one BIG takeaway from the sidebar is that anything in the Manuscript area can ONLY be included in the final compilation of your manuscript (be it in any format that Scrivener can compile – which is fairly extensive).
For the purposes of my novel I was able to compile my .mobi Kindle file and the epub standard used by Nook and other readers (including iBooks) as well as a printed manuscript (if required) straight from the application itself. How I set up the structure only made the creation of my final product that much easier. A little foresight goes a long way with this application.
To keep things tidy I moved everything BUT the manuscript files (the sample chapter folder and the subsequent text file that makes up a scene within a chapter). Everything else I dragged down into the Research binder. This way I was sure that the only thing that would compile was just the manuscript.
The structure of the manuscript can be what you want it to be but for me I wanted just the title page, my dedication, quotes (if any), preface, and anything else you want to include beside standard TOC which the application will build based upon your chapter/scene structure in the Manuscript Binder.
Okay, I guess I should pause a bit on this and explain the two terms I’ve been using over and over here. There are two main sections:
Manuscript: The body of your work, the novel itself. (Area to be compiled into a final published product)
Research: Where you will keep your research. (ONLY research – cannot be part of the compiled project)
I realize that seems like it should be obvious but when you look at the interface for the first time it might be a bit confusing on how to read that sidebar.
Here’s what I consider to be one of the most powerful elements of Scrivener that puts it far and above the competition: The Research binder. This binder is a drag-n-drop binder that can hold just about anything you throw at it. Find something on the web? Drag it’s contents to the binder, or copy the link (whichever you wish). It can even hold audio and movie files if you wish (though that will grow the file size exponentially). But the beauty of this Research binder is that it becomes your repository as you write. You can organize it any way you want. It’s your personal research lab to support all of the things you’ve collected about your world. It’s like your story has its own personal Pinterest.
So back to the story construction in Scrivener. The proverbial and mythic cork board:
The nice part about the cork board is that you can see your storyboard in the traditional story building fashion that many authors and screenwriters employ when building your story structure. A birds-eye view of the whole thing.
NOW, FOR THE NITTY GRITTY –
Here’s how I applied all of this to my own novel:
I set up my chapters by creating folders for each – in the beginning they were just Chapter One, Chapter Two (etc) as I just was looking for structure. Later on when I had names for them I just retitled the folders with the name of the chapter and Scrivener created the HTML links in the kindle or epub file for me concatenating the chapter number (1, 2, 3, etc) with my chapter title (e.g.: Chapter One – For the Love of the Q) with the latter part of that title being the folder title in my Scrivener file. Handy, huh?
If your chapters have scenes or sequences that make up the entire chapter than you just create a text doc for each. The way I handled it was to name the subsequent chapter documents with the chapter and scene number (Scene 01-02 was Chapter 1, Scene 2 and so forth). Like the example I show below:
How does all this play out when you are ready to compile? Like this…
So now you do what you want to do – write. Right-clicking on the chapter folder or the previous scene document and adding as necessary to flesh out your great novel.
Sidebar: In a future post (not to far off from now, I promise) I’ll reveal one of the wonderful things about Scrivener – Snapshots! They are a writers dream! Look for it…
While your writing you can always check on the project status and can set target marks while you write to keep you on track.
So we’ll jump ahead several months or so (if you’re like me it takes a few months to get things going to where you’re ready to publish (even if its just to beta readers as a preview or pre-flight test of your ebook offering).
Part Two: The Compiling
Once you’ve got it to where it needs to be then it’s time for compiling it into a final product (either as an e-book offering or a printed manuscript). Here are the offerings when it comes to compiling in Scrivener.
This is where the magic truly is within Scrivener. This dialog allows you to customize and publish to various epub and printed formats. The example I am showing above is for my current forthcoming novel “Angels of Mercy.” But the options are pretty far reaching:
One caveat to this whole epub thing: you will need to get the kindle gen (generator) installation file from Amazon and install them onto your PC/Mac to enable the Kindle publishing/compiling option. But once you’ve done that, then you’re all set with regards to publishing the Kindle edition of your novel. Cover art work? Covered with Scrivener. Build of the chapters and how you handle it is entirely under your control. What you include, how you include it, all managed by the compilation dialog.
The best part though was that all of this was at a remarkable price of $45 (US). That’s the part that I still can’t get over for me. Having poured through them all and trying my best to work with other vendors offerings (at a much steeper price for the software) I was really taken with how much power this program wields for the author’s buck.
Is it right for everyone? I can’t answer that. Some writers are just too entrenched. But if you’re not entirely happy with your writing solution, I say give this little writing gem a gander. What I’ve written here is merely the tip of the iceberg (as they say) on what this program can do. In the coming weeks I’ll try to lift the lid on various aspects of how Scrivener works (where my exposure and usage of it has taken me thus far). I am still trying to discover new ways to use it and I’m finding at each turn the application as risen to the challenge and then some.
I hope you find this write up helpful and as always, I am free to any comments or questions regarding the app.
Again it is available from the folks at Literature and Latte in the UK.
$45 US (Mac version)
$40 US (Windows version (v 8.1 ready))
Word has it they’re working on a linux version but I don’t know where they are in the process of releasing that version to the masses. Demo versions are available for downloads to try before you buy.
Lastly, their tech support is very responsive as I’ve never had to wait more than a day to get some traction on whatever I was dealing with. In addition, they have a very active and prolific forum/support board that is also of use. When you couple all of that with the video’s posted online you get quite a lot for your $40-45 (US).
Leave any areas you’d like me to post about in the comments if you’re so inclined.
Until next time… PEACE!