Category Archives: Dark Mystic Quill

Pantser, Plotter, Plantser

I’m not a pantser anymore. I have a poster up on my corkboard that has “My Contract With My Reader”. The first thing is: “I will not waste your time.” Ergo, “I will not waste my time.”

As a pantser, that’s what I did. I would write myself into boxes, toss half of it away, and start over. Frustrating as all hell. So I tried plotting, and you know how that goes (read some past posts).

I plot with a lot of wiggle room. I have a point where I start, and usually a point where I finish, and how I get there is…open. Most of the time. There are a few times that I there are certain things that need to happen, and I make room for that.

However, with this newest WIP, I’m creating a “bible” that has all the background information. The story is told in the main character’s POV, and she hasn’t got a clue really what’s going on. In an attempt not to infodump (which is what my first draft was) I’m trying to spread the information out a little bit at a time. But I have to put the background somewhere.

I have a 3 subject notebook. The first subject is characters. The second subject is scenes behind the scenes, that the main character doesn’t know about but that I have to clarify for the other characters to move on. The third subject is for the live plots in the story.

I’m still working on the character page. Right now I have:
Relationship to MC:
Personality and Skills (Thank you GURPS and Vampire: The Masquerade)
Physical Description (Which is the name of an actor/actress from IMDB)
What chapters they are in and what they do.

So yes, Jason Momoa and a “Raiders” Harrison Ford are in this book. I’ll let you figure out who they are.

I haven’t written down any background scenes and I’m still organizing the plots.

Oh, and what is the WIP about, you ask?

Imagine that the northern part of Maine, north of Route 95, are all feudal societies. Some live with technology and no magic; the rest live with magic and little technology. What if a person is able to use magic in the technological world, and technology in the magic world? That’s the Taurin. Among other things.

I’ll give you a few more snippets of the story another time. My editing is going slow now because I’m doing podcasts for Small Publishing in a Big Universe and my own Dark Mystic Quill. SPBU is a showcase for my publisher’s wares. DMQ is the same thing it’s always been: Writing, Witchcraft and Woe. Maybe not so much woe anymore.

So I am off to get my hand looked at. Carpal Tunnel, here we are!

NaNo, week 2

I’m up to 21K words on this horrible novel that I’m going to trash when I’m done. I worked on it all weekend and half the day today so I could take tomorrow off on it, since it’s a dialysis day and I’m usually a wreck on Tuesdays.

I did a podcast if you want to listen to it.

A part of me is wondering why I’m even bothering with this novel if I’m not going to do anything with it. I might do something with the characters in the future but the story itself is stupid as hell. That’s what I get for pantsing the thing.

So far, I have one explosion, and now I’m writing the aftermath of it. Just to get words, I’m describing EVERYTHING in detail. It’s like reading a Victorian novel. Problem is, I’m listening to AC/DC while writing, and the music wants action. So I have to switch to Steve Winwood on loop as white noise. Otherwise I will put myself to sleep with my own writing. (And that’s pretty bad.)

Almost there!

The good thing about dialysis is I have time to read books. I broke down and got Kindle Unlimited, so I could get some fiction books for “free” ($9.99/month). I also purchased a few Kindle editions of books that are best sellers or recent sellers. I downloaded a few novel-writing workbooks, too, that I’m working with in my journal.

So far, I have a few scenes for NaNoWriMo’s story. I need subplots. I’m making up this entire thing. It’s not going to be an accurate representation of Latino life, and I’m not appropriating that culture for this. This story is mine and mine alone, and is never going to get published because I’m not backing it up with facts. You know me, I research things to death before writing anything, which is why War Mage took me so long to write. I finally threw my hands up and just said, “Forget it,” and wrote War Mage just to finish the story.

I found the original story in one of my notebooks, and I’m kicking myself for not sticking with that original story. It would have been better, I think.

I read most of a book called Shadow Company by Michael Hesse. So far I’m the only reviewer on Goodreads for him. I gave him four stars for military accuracy and interesting story world, but the character had been through too much by the time I got almost half-way done with it, that I didn’t want to bother anymore. I didn’t realize that it was a 500 page novel, either.

Shadow Company has a bit of “The Chosen One” trope, which I have outgrown since reading the Dragonlance series and attempting (every few years) to read the entire Lord of the Rings series. But I would suggest you read it if you like military fantasy like I do.

I plan on doing a podcast today in anticipation of NaNo, and hope to do podcasts every week updating people on my progress. I’m tempted to write the story upstairs on my Mac, without any distractions other than some music and tarot cards for jumping off points.

Butt in gear

I have lots of things to obsess about. The dialysis (which has given me four hours of reading time three times a week), the next book which already has a writer’s block on the first chapter, and what’s going to happen for the rest of my life.

As soon as I move the computer upstairs to my third office (I live in a 10-room house) I will be doing a podcast.

I’m having trouble with the new novel, tentatively titled Ova. I want to introduce the main character, but I can’t seem to catch her voice. I don’t hear her very clearly–though I know what she ends up doing, at the beginning here I can’t seem to get her down right. I need to ask myself some questions and do a little “interview” of her to get where she’s coming from. I’ve plopped her down on the page and have no backstory, only what happens in the future.

I tried to write her home life, but it was boring. Eat, watch TV, go to sleep. Wake up. Do chores. Go to work.

It’s really hard for me to describe something or someone without making it seem like a description. I have to use active words, have characters do something other than stand there while we take a picture. Describe and action at the same time.

One down, one to go!

Finished “Gemini” for Air yesterday. Now I have Aquarius. I was going to do an abolitionist who teaches free blacks how to read, but as I dug more into what the Aquarius man was like, I have decided to change it to Walt Whitman.

I didn’t know this, but Walt Whitman is considered one of the few 19th century gay icons (Oscar Wilde is another). I honestly have never read Leaves of Grass, but according to some gay history websites, it talks about homoerotic sex. So I picked it up and I’m going to read it (and try to copy the style. Wish me luck!).

I plotted out the story. It will be the last in the series, because its theme characterizes what the entire series is about–true love and humanity.

Next I have to plot out the prologue, get that to the publisher by the end of the year.

After this, I have to work on the Grimaulkin Collected book of backstories. 

A couple of days ago I was contacted by a fan. A real fan! Someone who read my work and really enjoyed it! I was so happy to talk to her via FB and so excited. If anyone wants to be friends with me on FB, you can look for L.A. Jacob and I’ll be happy to be friends with you. Twitter, I do more under Maxwell Thomas (@MaxwellTAuthor) than under anything else. Contact me there, if you like.

Well, back to work. No podcast this week because getting Air finished is top of the list of things to do. I noticed most people are taking the month off anyway. I’ll be back in your ears in January.

Research and twisting history

I am doing research right now for a story for Air.  I’m taking history and twisting it around. Two men worked together as Washington’s spies. What if they had relations between each other? I won’t go into the whole thing, but I am taking liberties with history.

There’s nothing wrong with taking history and putting a spin on it for fictional purposes. But it has to be believable. In my case, the story is inspired by Washington’s Spies by Alexander Rose. The book itself is interesting, but I’m making assumptions about the two men in the Culler ring, assumptions that probably never happened. But it’s an inspiration, not fact. It’s not narrative non-fiction; it’s fiction, with some history thrown in.

Personally, I love little history nuggets. Although Air is an erotica series, I want to make the settings just as important. Air will have the spies, a vigilante marshal in the American West, and an abolitionist teacher of freed black slaves. All of these require some research. I can get away with some things, I’m sure, but if I put in that the marshal is using a 9 millimeter gun, I’m doing a disservice to my readers. It’s like a clunky stop that throws the reader out of the story. So I try to be as accurate as possible.

Fire is coming out on Tuesday. I already have the preview for it on my L.A. Jacob FB page. My favorite in that book is Leo (for some reason, I really like the first-person narratives). I’m thinking of putting Blood From a Stone – which needs some heavy-handed editing – be Max’s next novel.

Meanwhile, I am going to do NaNoWriMo this coming November. As usual, it’s based on a character from Champions Online. The character’s name is Vegas Fey, and his story in Champions is going to be different than the story I’m developing. I want it to take place in Jamestown, RI, because I’m familiar with it and a trip to Boston is required, but I also want to broaden my reach and horizons. Maybe it takes place in Florida, at Fort Pierce (which I am familiar with, also). A drive to Tampa might be in order there…I have almost three weeks to decide.

I hope to have Marc Ducrow, who did the covers for Homecoming and War Mage, do the cover for this upcoming novel. I really want this story to be told, and I think with some editing, it my be out next year.

And then the first weekend in November, I will be at RI ComicCon. So that kills 24 hours of writing time. But if it means I sell books or gets my name out there, then it’s worth it.

A new Dark Mystic Quill podcast is out as well. It’s about magic, not writing this time around, being that it is October and the time of year for weird and magical things.

At the Con!

I’m reporting to you live from the Worldcon76 in San Jose CA!

So far, we’re doing fairly well with the books and selling. But mostly I came out here to get my name out. Hopefully to sell more books, too! I’ve sold a few bundles of books, which are con-only available, and given away freebies like hotcakes. I’ve met so many interesting people here, went to a couple of panels, and everything’s been interesting and eye-opening. I might do more cons, but the price is not necessarily right to do so. The niche market that I write for (LBGTQ positive and fantasy) are not a big deal in our local area. I have to go where the LBGTQ community is. So maybe some of those cons.

I’ll be heading back home on Monday, and hopefully things will go well on the way home (I’m taking the red-eye).

I’ve sent Blood From a Stone to the editor and as soon as WorldC0n is finished he’s going to take a look at it, However, Maxwell Thomas might write the book under Zarra Knightley….we’re still under discussion on that. It’s not a romance. It’s more of a murder mystery with transvestites and a queer in the closet. But we’ll see on that one, too.

My new Dark Mystic Quill podcast is up, and is an interview with Wayne Barber of WNRI radio. My more recent interview should be available in a couple of months, where I spend the whole hour talking to Wayne about books and the author process.

Wish us luck on day four of five!.

On my mind

War Mage….

How tough it is to write. But I have to; there’s a fan base that’s looking for it. Or there may be after the Cons I’m going to.

I’ve written eight parts of the “Devour” story on Maxwell Thomas’ website, but I’m putting up one part a week. Right now there’s two parts, so things are going to get interesting.

Writing War Mage is like work. There’s so many things I want to put in there, and so many things I want to make sure I don’t put in there. Like too many vampires. I have to put in the Black Lions, and the dragons, and the werewolves, and, of course, the soldiers, what they’ve gone through. Someone I know suggested I go down to the VA and try to talk to vets there and get information. I don’t know how to go about that, but it’s an idea to try.

My poetry has stalled. I went to a poetry/prose reading and it turned into a revival. Now me, not being Christian, felt a little out of place. After what they did, I’m going to read “Trigger”, a poem about school shootings at the next poetry get-together. The other thing I want to do is try hymns to the muses, or the gods that I believe in and work with. I don’t know how that will go over, but that’s what I’m itching to do. Maybe the muses will give me something before the next reading.

Episode 21 is up and ready of the Dark Mystic Quill. It’s about Success and what it means. It’s available on Apple podcasts.