PG: Hey Nacho, what’s your favorite snack food?
Nacho: When the fantasy has ended/ and all the children are gone/ Something good inside of me/ helps me to carry on.
PG: Singing? Oh…okay. You’re really going to--
Nacho: I ate some bugs/ I ate some grass/ I used my hand, to wipe…
Nacho: my tears/ O Pistachios! / Pistachios! Pistachios! (diddle-diddle-dee, diddle-diddle-dee) O Pistachios!
PG: Good choice. Nice and healthy.
Nacho: When I am eating at the party/Everyone is dancing, happy, party/ But Nacho is not dancing, he does not dance at the party/ Where are the pistachios?
PG: You really love them, don’t you?
Nacho: At night I play my games/ I go to sleep, I think of pistachios/ The people in the street/ they eating treats, they eating candies.
PG: Any other favorites?
Nacho: Pistachios, number one/ the secret of desire/ RAPAPAPAPILIAPUPALIAPUPPA/ Pistachios, number one/ they put the people all on fire/ RAPAPAPAPILIAPUPALIAPUPPA/ Pistachios, number one/ eat them on the playa/ RAPAPAPAPILIAPUPALIAPUPPA
PG: Alrighty then. I’m gonna go with no.
I've mentioned it before here, but I want to say it again. I plant Easter Eggs in my stories. So if you're reading something from me and wonder, did that come from INSERT NAME? It's a good possibility, especially if it's from a movie. For example, I am working on Book 3. I just used the number 117 for something. 117 is an intentional reference to Halo, Master Chief's school designation, John-117.
Below are the lists for the first 2 books. No spoilers.
Book 1 - Trespassing:
Chapter 1, section 3 we get a quick background on Walter Fielding, a newly retained host. As mentioned above, The Money Pit is the source for Walter’s name, wife’s name, location and vocation.
-Top of Chapter 2. “How not to be seen” is a reference to a Monty Python sketch.
-In Chapter 3 the IT room they are in is “room 101”. Room 101 is from George Orwell’s book, 1984 and is a place of personal nightmares. By using this reference I am attempting a subconscious connection to how the characters think about this space.
-Chapter 6, section 5 I had Korben Dallas from The Fifth Element in mind when it came down to making one person question if the safety on the gun is on or off.
-End of Chapter 10 my villain borrows a line from Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back. When Vader and Boba Fett are discussing the condition of carbon freezing Han Solo. You’ll know when you read it.
-Chapter 12, Lysandra is trapped inside a mini-theater. This setting was inspired by a recent visit to Castro Theater here in San Francisco.
The amazing thing about this, is that the theater is in her own head. Not two days after I wrote the scene I was reading a book about human consciousness and was introduced to the concept of the Cartesian Theater. Check it out, it’s a trip.
-At the end of Chapter 16 I let Lysandra quote Princess Leia from Return of Jedi.
Book 2 - Linchpin:
In order of appearance, I think.
-Conference Room is Room 101 from 1984
-"Face of doom" is a Dane Cook reference from his routine about how to cut in line.
-The Creme fraiche ice cream dessert from the Ice Cream Bar. (If you ever get the chance to go, do.)
-Ho Eriksson, "Ho" is a greeting used in Ender's Game.
-"Comfortable? Cozy?" Captain Hook from the movie Hook
-"Get used to disappointment." The Princess Bride, of course
-"It's a legitimate question." Ender's Game the movie (not the book.)
-Never do business with people who scare you comes from Firefly
-"Protest, formal protest" is Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory
-A character drops an object as a ploy for something else. This was inspired by Everafter.
-"Allies against a common foe" Galvatron to Hot Rod in the only acknowledged Transformers movie (1986)
-Room A3 is a shout out to Alpha Trion, also a Transformers reference.
-"I am vexed with them" Inspired by Commodus from Gladiator
-"I like him too." Alexandra from The Fall by Tarsem Singh. (Link is to the trailer on You Tube.)
-"It's where I keep all my stuff." From The Tick about why Earth can't be eaten.
There will be a whole new batch with book 3, looking at you Red vs. Blue fans. If you find any not on these lists please let me know.
While looking for something completely different I found this nifty fictional fact sheet. I still marvel at being able to forget the things I've created. If you have no idea what this is talking about then you need to read my books. Ha! #ShamelessPromotion, but you are the one on my website so I think it's okay.
I love going to the movies, always have since I was little. As a fan of movies as medium for telling stories and as a writer I have a keen interest in books with movie counterparts. I personally prefer to read the book first before seeing the movie if at all possible, but that’s just me.
So I have finally gotten around to reading “All You Need is Kill.” This is a book by a Japanese author, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, that the movie “Edge of Tomorrow” is based on. It’s short, a quick read. A little over the top in some places and it does not pull any punches when it comes to war in its purest brutality.
I had a particular interest in this story because I wanted to see how the author wrote the time jumps and repeats. Turns out, it’s actually pretty simple. Deftly done in way that it doesn’t actually repeat the same tuff over and over verbatim. Sakurazaka switches it up to keep you reading and the pace never slows (the movie handles the looping in a similar way, unlike Groundhog Day.) As a writer, it is worth looking at the technique he used.
The weirdest thing about the book versus the movie is that the plot of the movie is significantly more complicated. Usually you have to strip a novel to just its main action for the sake of time (i.e. Ender’s Game) but not here. Except for a few flashbacks, we pretty much never leave the army base that the main character, Keiji, wakes up in every time he dies.
There is no scientist that worked with Rita when she was stuck in the time loop. And all training is on the day of battle, during the same battle over and over (implied.) No training room montage with cheeky banter. Though seeing Tom Cruise get beat up by robot arms is pretty gratifying.
The movie slows way down when Cage, Tom Cruise’s character, tries to break the repetition of days by running away. This happens in the book too, but only once and it’s a much shorter scene and ends in an unexpected way.
The biggest point of divergence is of course the end. I will not give anything away but I have read other science fiction novels by non-Americans and it’s pretty easy to tell American writers from others, at least with the books I have read. I find writers from other countries are okay with having wide open endings with no sequel in mind. Unsettled endings and unanswered questions, not an issue. Leaving the reader in a destination they had no idea they were going to and have no way of getting back from doesn’t bother them one bit. As a child of the 80s and the American sitcom this is not how I like to walk away from a book.
But anyways, the ending of the book took me by surprise from the moment it started and I liked that. And when I think about how the movie went about solving the problem of the time loop and its creators I just think, why mess with what the author had intended? It was so much better. Why add complication where none is needed?
I’m sure it was a decision made by the powers that be at the movie studio but to me it’s an insult. Either they didn’t trust the actors to pull off that kind of complexity or they didn’t trust the audience to be able to feel something without having to have loud music and contrived conflict. See what I mean? Insulting.
One point of cool for the book in particular. The author has included an alternate chapter sequence (below.) It ends on the same chapter but huge chunks are moved around. I intend to re-read this book with this order in a few months. I want to forget it a little bit so I can enjoy it more and be surprised again.
If you’re so inclined and don’t mind some colorful language or violent deaths, I recommend reading this book. The movie's pretty good too.
Just finished reading another article about the the importance having a "platform" for new and established authors. I get having a presence, but this whole thing about authors HAVE TO have followers, and traffic stats to their website is a bunch of BS if you were to ask me.
First of all. I don't read blogs, so why would I write one? I know other people read blogs but I'm not one of them. I don't like spending my time on the internet, reading or writing. It takes up my time and creative energy trying to think of stuff to say so why would I use that energy on a blog and not my story. At least with a novel I can get a sense of accomplishment. Not so with this thing.
Second of all. The HAVE TO part really pisses me off. As far as I can tell there is no one way going about this whole writing thing. On one level I envy Phillip K. Dick and Issac Asimov, they didn't have to put up with this nonsense. I do recognize that I would not have the freedom to publish either my if I had been a part of that era, but they did things their way. Why can't I? There is more than one way to succeed and I doubt it will have anything to do with this blog. If the universe wants to prove me wrong, then go ahead.
Thirdly. Stephanie Meyers hasn't blogged anything since October. J.K Rowling doesn't have a blog of any kind, just updates on various HP things. Stephen King just posts stuff about his books. It's one giant advertisement. Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin admittedly have more interesting sites but nothing I'm gonna bookmark and check every week.
If those people don't have blogs, why should I HAVE TO? What those aforementioned writers do do is interact. On social media, in bookstores, on other people's blogs. THAT I am down for. Interaction. A conversation. Not this exercise in ego. Say something interesting so the agents will look at you. I don't want to trick people with click bait to going to my website just to get my numbers up. So dumb.
Having a website, yes. It makes sense to have a place where people can go and learn more about the writer and have the opportunity to interact with them but this list of do's and don't's is asinine. The only thing I've seen across all arenas of life, especially in art is persistence, perseverance, and long-suffering. And none of that has to do with a having a regular blog. I'm in this for the long game, it's a marathon, not a sprint. I've set my pace and I have my eyes on the target.
So having said that, I am abandoning this notion of HAVE TO. If I have something interesting to say I will will write something up. Usually if I have something interesting to say it will be on FB or Twitter but otherwise this page will now just be a digital archive of stuff I said once.
Because of the terrible weather that day I didn't make it to the after party for NaNoWriMo. There you can bring two pages of our novel to share. Since I didn't get to share it there, I will share it here.
Book Three of the DPA Declassified Files: Iteration
Downtown Los Angeles, 3:00pm
Lysandra watched the steam from her coffee swirl in the afternoon sunlight. Her mind turned over all the possible explanations for the consistent smell of boiled cabbage that permeated the tiny cafe.
“So...” Matt sat down across from her with his usual glass of whole milk and a warmed chocolate chip cookie.
The Formica table they sat at looked like it had been stolen from a fifties drive-in dinner. The small mom and pop type shop was directly across the street from the Department of Planetary Affairs building. When the DPA had fist moved into the neighborhood people were alarmed by their presence. The imposing uniforms with classified weapons and an association with the government intelligence and the mystique of dealing with aliens unnerved people.
Lysandra imagined this must be what it’s like to be a cop, a strangely contradictory position for her. The nervous looks and the way people moved out of the way for them wherever they went. She had never liked giving the authorities deference and she certainly did not like receiving it.
But now after months, the area workers and residents had gotten used to them and the interactions with public were usually positive. Putting names and faces with mysterious members of the DPA really helped people feel more comfortable with their presence. Most officers had gotten used to the impromptu question and answer sessions citizens asked them. Commander Draegg had been very pleased with this turn of events.
Matt cleared his throat.
“Sorry,” Lysandra shook herself and took a sip from her coffee. “What were we talking about?”
“We weren’t. You’ve been suspiciously quiet all day.”
“What’s suspicious about it? You’re the one who usually does all of the talking anyway.”
“Not all of it. And yes, I have always been more talkative than you, but today it’s like you’re not even here.”
“Sorry, I’m distracted.”
“Uh, I wouldn’t call staying out all night nothing.”
Lysandra could feel the heat in her cheeks. She was not going to be discussing her sex life Matt of all people. The thought made her cringe. How many people knew she had been off the premises all night? Did it matter? She had never cared what people thought about her before, but it could make for awkward working relationships.
“Edward Drake asked me to marry him.”
Matt gagged on his milk and started coughing violently. Lysandra jumped up from her chair and got him a cup of water. She patted him on the back until he regained his composure. “Are you being serious?”
Lysandra nodded solemnly.
“What did you say?”
“What any sane person would say, ‘we’re not going to talk about this.’”
“Uh- huh.” Matt turned in his chair to sit square with the table and held his milk at arm’s length, silent and unmoving.
“Speaking of which, how was your date?”
“Not yet, no changing the subject on me.” He relaxed again and looked at her. “So what are you going to do?”
“Do? There’s nothing to do.”
“Well you have to give him an answer.”
“No I don’t. Where’s the rule on that?”
“Lysandra. Come one. The guy is—“
“Is what, Matt? Being vulnerable with me? Going out on limb? Exposing his soul? What are you going for here, buddy?”
“Okay, sarcasm is your defense mechanism. So for whatever reason, this is hitting a raw nerve. But yeah, all those things. This is some serious stuff.”
“Okay. Now you and me are not going to talk about it.”
“Hey, woman, you’re the one who brought it up with me.”
“True. But only because you’re supposed to agree with me. You’re my friend, on my side, partner.”
“Friends don’t let friends act stupid unless it will be hysterical.”
“I. Am not Derek.” Lysandra tapped the table with each word. “So you do not get to make jokes at my expense.”
“I’m just being honest. I don’t like the guy but I think he’s good for you.”
“Why don’t you like him?”
“For all the same reasons you shouldn’t like him either.”
Esben was the Elbie, not the man. Esben had been the worst of them all and caused all of them the most suffering. Edward, as a host, had not come onto the scene until well after the damage had been done. Being allied with the worst Elbie of them all did not help his case in the eyes of Matt and his friends.
“You mean you don’t like his Elbie.”
“I don’t like either of them, but as a host Edward has really tamed that Elbie and I’m sure the world is a better place for it, even though he refuses to register or cooperate directly with us.”
Lysandra drew doodles in her cup sleeve with her thumb nail. Edward and Esben were very distinct entities that happened to work really well together.
Lysandra looked up. “What?”
“I said, you are smiling.”
“Shut up.” She sat up in her chair and took another sip of coffee. Matt broke off pieces of his cookie, looking at her. “Fine, Matthew. I’ll think about it.”
“There ya go.” He gulped down his milk in triumph.
A.K.A. National Novel Writing Month.
The goal of this annual frenzy is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That's it. Those words could be arranged in iambic pentameter, back to back flashbacks, stream of consciousness, doesn't matter. The point is to get it done come hell or high water and some days that is what it takes. I have pulled off this feat on three occasions so far. Come November 30th, 2015 I completed 31,583 words of my next novel. But I consider myself a winner and here's why.
There is a blissful euphoria that you can experience doing something like this, probably similar to a runner's high. It's an amazing feeling to look back on just 30 fast and furious days and have over 200 pages to show for it. It's a mess, sure, but you can't edit nothing. Progress is still that. You've moved forward on a project. It does however, consume every waking moment and every spare thought. I block off my calendar and send out a mass e-mail to friends and family to announce my disappearance for the month. I have a day job so my only opportunities to write are after work and on weekends.
This year, I didn't want the all consuming fire that is NaNoWriMo. But I did want to ride the wave of momentum that comes with meeting with other writers in the act of writing. It's very encouraging to be in the company of people who have your same obsession with imaginary people and places. I really needed the jump start but not the stress. So I decided to make my own goal of doing 30,000 in 30 days. Since I have accomplished the 50k in years past this could seem like I was not challenging myself. However, I had been suffering from writer's block for about ten months. I attempted the same goal 30k words for Camp Nano in July and didn't even break 15k. So while doing 1000 words a day is achievable it still felt considerably more daunting.
Then about a month before NaNo I found my idea. In the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep it stared back at me in the dark. I turned on my light and started writing it all down. At the time I wasn't even sure of the full implications of what had come to me but I as continued to turn it over in my mind the ideas began to bloom.
This was the difference between Camp NaNo and NaNoWriMo.
Here's the thing about a 1000 words. If I'm on a roll, I can do that in an hour. Two hours if I'm struggling. Just one hour. That's it. I could make dinner, go to the gym, watch a show, or take a nap and still have time to write. And I don't mean me up until 2am when I can no longer see the screen. It was liberating. It was FUN! The burden that I had felt trying to get in the standard 1667 words a day was no more. The burden that had been the last ten months had vanished. At a 1000 words a day I could still make steady, valuable progress and still enjoy the process.
Here's the other thing about 50,000 words in 30 days. My experience has been that only two-thirds of that material is useful so I figured, I am actually being more productive because I am not writing whole chapters that have to be scrapped later because I was trying to pad my word count. So 30k is what I normally end up with after the fact anyways.
Lastly, one of the great benefits of NaNo is that it gets you into the habit of daily writing. Once your brain is used to it, it is very easy to maintain and with that 50k deadline you can't let up, no excuses. You've just got to do it. For me once that habit is there, I really want to do it. The daily word count moves from a "have to" to a "get to" ritual.
So I won NaNoWriMo 2015 because I had fun, didn't waste my time, and now a have regained a solid writing routine that fits with my life. Every writer has to find their own way to the sweet spot and mine is 1000 words a day. What's yours?
My second book, Linchpin, was written during NaNoWriMo 2012, and I think it is the better book of the two I’ve written so far. That first draft went through some major revisions, whole sections and ideas scrapped. But a shitty first draft, as Anne Lamott puts it, is better than no draft at all. You can’t edit something that doesn’t exist.
My first novel took over ten years to finish. Now I really do believe that it’s possible a book needs to take ten years, or twenty- five or whatever, only the writer can decide that. Books may seem static on the outside but they are living things and as the author, maybe you need to go through some stuff to finish it. That is totally legit. But what I can say for sure is that between my two experiences the second one, the 30 day draft, started off better than its predecessor and is a stronger story.
It doesn’t have to be a month. Give yourself up to six months but anything longer than that and you’re going to run into issues. The biggest of which is continuity. I know for sure I absorb everything I see and hear and after ten years that stuff is leaking out onto the page. I changed characters sex, country of origin, and most certainly their personalities. Now I had to go back and fix all of that, not so bad, but once you make one change you have to follow that ripple to the end to make sure none of the old version remains.
The other continuity issue is plot. After that long I had forgotten what I had written. Similar to the absorbing and assimilating characters to add to your own, was forgetting why I was going in a certain direction. And a person changes a lot in ten years and so had my syntax, sentence structure, vocabulary, and even style. Your narrator voice will change over a long period of time. So by the time I had a completed story is was much more of mess. I was a different person from the one who had started the story. All well and good for my inner life, bad news for my editor who had to slosh through all of that to create the consistency.
Ray Bradbury said that quantity leads to quality. Another reason why I believe that Book Two is the better book, I had had way more practice by that time. I don’t know if I’ve gotten to my 10,000 hours in yet or not, but all writing is practice. I’m a big believer in RE- writing, mostly because I don’t do outlines, but seriously, re- writing is where you get to dig deeper into this thing you’ve discovered in the first draft. Re- writing is opportunity to enrich your world and characters. Which is what also makes that lightning fast first draft so awesome. Perfection not required. Just let her rip. No holds barred, get as crazy as you want. Use the first draft to explore the characters and their space. Have things happen that you as the rational god of that world would never allow otherwise and just see what happens. You can have loose ends, dead ends, and Inception like loops, it doesn’t matter. What does matters is that the draft exists which means you can now hone into the story it really wants or needs to be.
So whether you do NaNo or not, or even make it to 50k or not, being a writer doesn’t end on Dec 1st. If you’re ever going to finish that draft there is only one way to do it and it’s best to get it done sooner rather than later.
Whatever you decide to do and however long it takes, happy writing!
In the movie The Fall there are two stories going on at once. In the real world, Roy and Alexandria are patients in a hospital. What happens there is story one. Roy begins to tell Alexandria a story of adventure and revenge, this is the second world of the story. We hear Roy’s voice narrating the story but what we see is in Alexandria’s imagination.
If you have not seen the movie and want to, do not go any further. I give away some important plot points and if that’s going to bug you, come back after you’ve seen it.
In the real world, Roy has become paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident. Seeing his life as essentially over he is depressed and looking for a way to commit suicide. In the adventure story he is confident and fearless.
Remember what we see in the story world is what Alexandria imagines. Children have a talent for truth and because of that I believe what she is imagining is Roy’s true self. The person he is capable of being if he would face his pain and deal with it.
Real Roy being suicidal is fact. Red Bandit Roy is his true self buried under the disappointment and pain.
Pretty quickly what is happening in the real world seeps into the fabric of the story world but by the end they are so tightly intertwined with each other there is a reverse flow. What is happening to Red Bandit Roy starts to affect the real world, specifically what is happening with Real Roy emotionally.
And it is in that final moment, as with all pivotal moments, he has to make a choice and that choice is critical to the survival of Red Bandit Roy and thereby his truest self.
It's a choice we all have. I can let the stupid things that happen in this life wear me down. If I wanted to, I could be filled with anger, bitterness, and venomous criticism, but I have worked really hard to not become that. Even now, I have to make decisions at least weekly to not let other peoples crap change the person I want to be. It’s too easy to take part in other people’s anger and bad attitudes. And sure, I’m not immune to a bad attitude. I curse under my breath and I think things I would never say out loud but then I move on. I choose the higher road and I try to do the mature thing, the adult thing. The two Roys is really a struggle we all have to deal with.
I choose to believe Red Bandit Roy triumphs over the Real Roy outside the scope of the movie because Red Bandit Roy is his true self. I have to believe for myself, as well as the people I love, that change on the deepest levels is possible and permanent.
I am not a fan of social media. I think it's a time suck that takes away from spending time with actual people. There are some good things about it too, but that is for another time. I am on Facebook because of my friends. I am on Twitter because it's expected of writers but that is where I drew the line for a long time.
Then one day I was searching Google Images for something and the object of my desire could only be seen on Pinterest and only if I signed up. So I did. The next four hours disappeared down the rabbit hole that is this site. But now that I have my boards up and filled I have to say it is my new favorite place to go. And here's why.
I love fan art. I love that people use their mad skills to express their love for something in the most creative ways. If I could draw I would do the same thing, but I can't. I'm a writer so I could do fan fiction but I have enough trouble keeping my own worlds spinning, much less those of others. Besides, the immediate gratification of a visual art is so satisfying.
So what's a fan girl to do?
I can't draw, but I can pretend. That is a game I have always excelled at. So I am taking it to the next level in a new blog.
As you may have read, Red Vs. Blue is currently my favorite show and Michael J. Caboose is my favorite character. This blog will be a pictorial account of his adventures which will most often coincide with my own, because we are best friends after all.
See! It's up in the menu if you want to take look. Scroll back to the top, you'll see. Stop by! This is going to be so much fun!
If something comes up, I'll put it here, otherwise find me on FB and Twitter.