Monday, November 28, 2005

can you kill brain cells by eating too much?

The first part of this devastating holiday season has come and gone.   I am wider, softer, and more tired than I was a week ago.  What does that mean?   It was a great, multi-feast Thanksgiving.   To recap, I partook in three glorious meals.   Two on Thanksgiving (at my cousin, Maria’s house…we Italians know how to throw down), and then another at the Rossi parent’s house on Saturday.  I got to spend a ton of quality time with the Jen, my parents, and my nieces and nephew.    We had a celebration for the engagement as well as an early birthday celebration.  Everything was capped off by a gig with el Habito Male at the Acoustic CafĂ© in CT.

I feel completely brain dead today.  It might have to do with either the “turkey sweats” or the endless drive home last night.  Tonight, Jen and I are “celebrating our love” by getting Indian cuisine and a DVD.   I personally will be celebrating my first successful (the word is relative) completion of a short story as well as the opening night of editing the novel.

Go team!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy (day after)Thanksgiving

Hope your turkey day was full of a lot of eating, drinking, and uncomfortable digestion. I have been busy stretching my stomach over the past several days and shall continue to do so for the next couple. Whats coming up? I'm approaching the start of editing the novel next week. I'm working on finishing a short story, and, I've got a couple of shows coming up as well.

Back to regular postings next week :)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

and I'm done

One month, several bottles a wine, and ten sore finger tips later, I’m done with my second novel.  It was definitely an intense process.  It went far faster than I would have imagined.  There were days when I was not motivated to write, but I still sat down in front of the computer and with fingers like lead, I churned out several thousand words.  In our day to day lives, as busy as we get, there are a lot hidden pockets of free time.  I’d use lunch breaks and spend an hour writing.  I’d get up early before work and write for a couple of hours. I’d stay up late.  I established weekly goals and did what it took to meet them.

There was a big difference between writing this book and my first book.  The first novel was written over the span of a year, with many breaks in between.  It was hard to keep things cohesive and there were times where I lost a sense of character and/or place.  That was not an issue with this book.    Writing at least five days a week, even if for a small span of time, kept things fresh and characters real.

I’m thrilled to be done with the book.  The plan now is to take off a week or two.   During this time I hope to zone out for a bit and perhaps churn out a few short stories (while writing some new music and spending a bit of time stargazing).

Presently, I’m enjoying a glass of wine and watching some mindless TV.   To all of you who are endeavoring to write something – anything – it can be done.  Just keep writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the end is near

I’m coming close to the end now.

It’s strange reading those words.   It is hard to believe in just a month, I’m on the cusp of finishing the book.   Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to provide a post of substance here in several days.  My time has been limited and I’ve focused my writing on the novel. I’m sure you understand.

I will say this: the experience has become completely immersive.  The characters, places, and events have become exceptionally real.  At the completion of each writing session, I feel an odd sense of displacement as I return to reality.   It takes me a few minutes to get resituated.   Jen must think I’m crazy at this point.
Almost there.  Tomorrow is the big day.

Word count: 80,101    

Monday, November 14, 2005

exactly, what is a juicy tidbit?

Well – the “real” world got real busy for the remainder of last week. I hope to have some juicy tidbits for you some time later. Until then…

Word count: 71, 295

Current research:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

fictional fact in the fiction

I’m edging closer to the grand finale of the book now.  I’ve entered a critical portion of the story where different storylines begin to get tied together.   I’m faced with the daunting task of delivering a lot of “fact” in the current chapter.   The dissemination of fact when writing fiction is a necessary evil if you hope to create a believable world.   It’s easy to lose a reader when you go into “text book” mode to explain technical or historical aspects of a tale.  Personally, how do I go about avoiding text book mode?   I’ve found it takes only takes a sentence or two (well placed) to keep the reader attached to the character and story.  The environment can be extremely useful in keeping the reader emotionally invested.   Simple, absent behavior helps to keep things real.  He ran a hand over the old, damp railing, flakes of rust fell to the dead leaves that covered the patio.  The visceral impact of the environment: the acrid cloud of cigar smoke burned her nostrils and made her eyes sting.  Hugo and his habits disgusted her, but still, she tried her best to concentrate on each word he said.    

Reading is a great learning tool and extremely important for any writer.  There is a lot to be learned from reading both good and bad novels.    This is just one tidbit I’ve picked up through reading.   By no stretch do I consider myself an expert.   But, the technique certainly seems to work.

Word count:  67, 291

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

character sketch - loralie arlyle

I thought I’d do something a little different today.    Per suggestion, I’ve written up a brief character sketch of one of the prominent players in this story.  Don’t worry; I haven’t spoiled any critical plot lines. I tried to remain as vague as possible ;-)

Loralie Arlyle – the Lady Baroness of Trenton  
Loralie has been an interesting character to watch develop during the course of the two books.  In book two, she plays a larger role.   I must say, as I’ve been writing her, I’ve grown to really love her character.  Loralie is a beautiful creature with delicate but proud features.  She has her father, the Lord Baron Arlyle, to thank for the thick mane of red hair - always worn it in a tight bun.  To flaunt the hair would just not be proper. Loralie has always been a self-reliant soul – independent and carefree with no few true sources of stress.  Her only charge is to excel in the predominantly male-attended Royal University.  Large scale responsibilities begin to pile atop her shoulders as the world rapidly changes around her. While attempting to struggle with these outside forces, she is taxed with a myriad of inner conflicts, including, but not limited to bearing the child of a man she loathes.  A painful question weighs heavy on her heart – will she hate this child, as she hates the father, when it is finally born?

Word count:  64,100

Monday, November 07, 2005

week four

I’d like to cordially welcome myself to week four of the life of my book.  Week three was pretty much a bust.   If you’ve been following my word count, I only wrote a relative handful of material.   I’m not feeling too guilty about it.   Well, maybe I feel a little guilty about the time spent playing God of War and watching TV.    I’m only an [easily distractible] human – what do ya expect?

Okay.  I had a week prolificacy.   Then, I had a week of laziness. I guess that isn’t entirely accurate.  My activities just didn’t completely revolve around writing, is all.  Where does that put me now?  Well.  Some ideas I had prior to the week of laziness are a little hazy – which is why I took notes when the ideas came to me.    It’s simple, really.  I’ll sit down, and write.  Full well knowing these first 1,000 words or so will be like pulling teeth. Then again, maybe they won’t.   I am feeling eager to get back to it.

I think many of us writers come against the wall when we’re forced (passively or aggressively) to take some time of.   The question always arises of (How will I get back into this project?).    The answer is simple.
Do it.

Now I shall state my goal.  Give me a second to climb atop the mountain so that I may say it loud and say it proud.   Ready?  I will finish the first draft of this bastard by my birthday.  On December 1st, you all may send me cards that a)say happy birthday b)sing praises to my name for finishing the draft.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

thursday evening

A wee, scant nipper of a post.  Today was unexpectedly long and without computers and internet.  Tomorrow the stylus will be picked up with great fervor and Ill have some insightful tidbits to share.

Word count:  58,646

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

a bit of illumination

Yesterday, I wrote like a human being that has responsibilities that are non-writing related (what?). I hit my daily minimum (2,000 words, if you’re wondering). Of course, it left me eager to write more, but last night was all about quality time with loved ones (pets and people, alike). One of the many (relatively speaking) loyal readers of this blog sent me a request this morning. He is interested in learning a little more about the book(s). In going forward, I will provide periodic glimpses about the substance of the book, as well as some of the more visceral experiences in telling the story.

The working synopsis for Book I: A Prayer for Rain is as follows:

Scentless. Tasteless. It is the key to life, prosperity, and power – the inciter of great wars and the cause of even greater champions. Lafranjia is running out of water.

A woman, plagued by a mysterious and crippling illness, digs through the echoes of a civilization long dead, seeking answers to questions of her past and future. She will lead an unlikely group of adventurers into the shadows of a secret and forbidden place. Here, salvation will be found and an ancient evil will be awakened. In this forgotten city, they will all sing A Prayer for Rain.

The first book serves to establish the foundation of the world, Lafranjia. It introduces the reader to the key elements of this world including, but not limited to places, history, population, economy, and political structure as seen through they eyes of the main characters. It is story about (to be as unpretentious as possible) searching for answers, finding answers, and finding more questions. It takes the characters from their established routines and thrusts them into an ever changing environment. There is a healthy dose of deceit, lust, love, greed, and horror tossed into the mix.

Book II: Floodlands (working title) picks up only several months after where the first book has left off. It is a logical continuation in the development of characters in the first book and their relationship to each other and the environment. This book is more expansive in terms of revealing the history of this world, which is integral to the events of both books. The reader, through the characters, gets taken to new and strange places. Conflict increases in scope in this book as everyone careens toward some final, climatic resolution.

Obviously, I tried to be as vague as possible. I don’t want to give away any plot secrets. What fun would that be?

Current word count: 54, 310.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

how I spent my break

It's odd. Driving into work today, I felt like I hadn't written in a week. Likely, that is the byproduct of writing my nice buns off last week (and they are quite nice). That or maybe I was in the bar a lot longer than I thought. I must say, I am feeling remarkably refreshed. The Ashburn Pub was my best friend last night. Monday night football was the aural backdrop (along with the cheers and jeers of the football fans). The nice thing about the Pub on a week night is there really isn't a crowd to speak of. I had my choice of seating, the booth of course, and got individual attention from the bartender. All of these positive factors contributed to an instant state of calm.

I went on to enjoy several frosty and delicious beverages (Captain was the poison of the night). I also went on to write a copious amount of notes adding up to the next third of the book (Why a third? Arbitrary choice – it sounds better than “chunk”). As the night wore on, and my level of sobriety shifted slightly, my attention span began to dwindle. Fortunately, the Jen showed up around that time and we shared a tasty sammich and then called it a night.

Moral of the story? Sometimes it’s just good to remove yourself completely from your writing sanctuary. The change of scenery and vibe was indicative in sorting out some tricky plot snags and generated some shocking and new ideas for the book. I was able to take a break but continue in my productivity, all at the same time.