12

01/22

Top Ten 2021

4:30 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Reading,Review

10. “Reduction in Force” – Steve Soult (fiction, short story) You think you got it bad…

9. The Sorcerer’s Secrets – Jason Miller. (non-fiction, magic) Although he’s a little full of himself (what real practicing magician isn’t?), this is a really good introduction to magic without fear.

8. Three-Story Method – J. Thorn. (non-fiction, writing) I read a lot of books on writing. I liked this book so much that I bought the corresponding workbook which was worthless. And I liked this book so much that if you ask me now what was so great about it…I don’t know.

7. Being Indie – Eeva Lancaster (non-fiction, writing) Marketing as an indie. Useful tricks and tips.

6 “Best Served Cold” – Bob Schnoover. (fiction, short story) It’s so unfortunate that we lost this author last year. I would have loved to read what he planned to do in our Truck Stop series, and wish I could read the other stories that Analog rejected.

5. The Viking Spirit – Daniel McCoy (non-fiction, Norse magic) The warriors of the north. My kid got me interested in Loki – Marvel’s Loki. Who I think is cool, but not someone I want dating my kid. Reading this reinforced that idea.

4. The Conflict Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi. (non-fiction, writing). I have to pick this up in paperback. It’s wasted on Kindle.

3. High Magick – Damien Echols. (non-fiction, ceremonial magic) The first book that got me on the Qaballic Kick. I didn’t need to read the other books on ceremonial magic – this one was fine.

2. Mastering Your Mystery – Cheryl Bradshaw. (non-fiction, writing) Excellent, excellent book on writing mysteries, even if they are formulaic. She goes from planning to writing to publishing to marketing.

  1. Seeker – Morgan Chalut (fiction, fantasy). Well-written, easy to read, plotted well, twists, realistic, and excellent world-building.

05

12/21

A Grimaulkin Return?

2:25 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Characters,Grimaulkin,Inspiration

I have the itch to write. I put aside the NaNoWriMo project after its epic fail last month. I want to write something, but I have no idea what.

So I sat down with my writing journal, and what came to me was a scene I had done years and years ago on another blog. I had Grim create a spell call the Cornucopia Spell that he put on a fridge. Anything you wanted would appear in the fridge. Cooked or uncooked, but just the way you wanted it.

Well, one of the characters in the hostel that the fridge was located in liked to “stump the fridge”. He created bacon ice cream. A long and very funny role-playing session happened (but not as memorable as Penis Coat in the D). I could do a short story with that character and the Cornucopia scene. It could be part of the Storyteller’s Tarot as the ten of cups (wish-fulfilment).

As I kept writing in my journal, I realized that there were a few other characters I wanted to bring out. Jules, the naive wanna-be hero; Eule, the prankster; Masonry, the anti-hero; and more from way back in City of Heroes and Champions Online. I have to go back to all the stories I’ve written (skipping Bomber because he’s quite dead) to get what I was trying to do with them. Do I want to bring them all out, along with Grim, who owns this hostel for “wayward boys” because he’s forced to do years of community service for a crime he committed?

The thing is, I don’t want to mine old stuff. But it seems to be the fastest way to get at anything.

I’ll play with the idea. Let it stew and pull out old characters, read/write them up.

Maybe another Grimaulkin story might find its way out.

01

10/21

NaNoWriMo Planning

4:26 am by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,NaNoWriMo,Prince of Providence

All of a sudden, I have a hankering for LARPing. Ah, the nostalgia of my college years, when Vampire: The Masquerade was all the rage and Mind’s Eye Theatre had a foothold in Brown University. Instead of doing it, I collected the books and stayed on the fringes. Far be it for me to be of the same ilk as Brown kids.

I still have all of my White Wolf books, the V:TM core rule book. The Player’s Guide. Mage: The Ascension first edition. Vampire: Dark Ages. Changeling: The Dreaming, first edition. Werewolf: The Apocalypse, first edition. Somewhere is Wraith: The I Forget, but I can’t put my hands on it right now. I pulled down all these books and paged through them, remembering the good old days when I would create a character and…nothing.

I had in my head at the time a story which I now know would be considered fanfiction. The Giovanni vampires took over Rhode Island. An old Gangrel who had been Prince of Providence comes back to see how things are going. Providence is a mess, with Sabbat packs roaming the streets, crime up, everyone in the Giovanni’s back pocket, and all the Camarilla scattered “in hiding” around the state. (Now, RI is as big as some counties, so it’s not like they’re far away from each other.)

In 2005, I was on a tear for anything V:TM or Mage-related. I know this because there is a digital RPG site called DriveThruRPG that I downloaded a ton of source books and novels at that time. They’re still in my library, all the .pdf’s. So I downloaded them all and read most of them.

What if I wrote the story that was in my head from the 2000’s? Scenes and bits are still there in the recesses of the corkboard of my brain, ready to be used. Thus, Prince of Providence is in gestation.

I pulled out a 2-subject notebook (on clearance at BJ’s Warehouse, doncha know). The first section is characters. The second section is plot or brainstorm. No scenes yet, because if I write them out, I might as well start the darn book. And I can’t until November 1. Then I printed out sheets for each character.

Boy, was that a mistake.

I now have a pile of RPG character sheets, which, although good for keeping my characters in line, created a huge cast of characters that I probably won’t use half of them. There’s Camarilla and Sabbat and Mages and Lupines. For a week, I’ve been filling out RPG sheets, getting inklings of characters, sitting with each and every one, making notes on their idiosyncrasies. I didn’t bother doing “Merits and Flaws” because that’s shoehorning them into something more strict. But it’s like D&D: Charisma and Intelligence and Strength.

There is “Nature” and “Demeanor” that I find indispensable. Nature is what the character is on the inside; Demeanor is how the character presents themselves to the world. This is how I plan on keeping the characters straight. “Concept” helps too. That’s what the character is supposed to emulate. For instance, the main character, Ragest, has a concept of “Adventurer”. Then there’s details: skills, abilities, and knowledge.

My plan is to “play the game” while writing. If I get stuck, I’ll roll the 10-sided dice. Example: Ragest has to figure out how to get into a laptop. He has one “Computer” related die, and four “Intelligence” die. I roll them versus a difficulty of 8 (6 is average, but because he’s not a computer guy, I increased the difficulty). If he gets three out of five successes, he wins. If not, it’s a loss, and he’s got to hand the laptop to someone else with better computer skills. If they all fail, it’s a “botch” and he broke the computer.

What this will do is cause me to do twists and turns that I normally wouldn’t do. It’s totally random and unpredictable.

This is gonna be fun.

15

09/21

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:
Age:
Relationship to MC:
Titles:
Family:
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!

20

07/21

Oh, to the Shredder with it (for now).

1:48 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Grimaulkin,Inspiration,Methods of Writing,Writing

I picked up A Rook Given and decided to establish the POV as Rook’s only. This meant I had to change Edwin as “Master Edwin” or “his master”, and Mebahel didn’t exist any more. The scene that sparked the story had to be taken out (Mebahel heals a little crippled girl and the parents are upset because they can’t get insurance or money from her disability anymore). After rewriting the few chapters I did, the story got cut in half from 22K to 11K, six chapters to four.

This morning I sat down with my outline and plan, and went right off the rails when writing. This means that the Muse is just as sick of being forced into the square peg of this story, that She wants something else. I pulled out my trusty box of StoryMatic, and pulled something random. I sat with a blank page for about ten minutes, then wrote ideas. None worth anything.

But there’s two ideas that are noodling around in my head. One is from The Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy world, where an archeologist who is on the station for SCIENCE! hits a wrong button and…oops. The other is Mike (Grimaulkin) goes to a local Comicon. Both would be fun, for my own…edification, not meant for public consumption. Maybe I need to write those before the Muse will either go back to A Rook Given, the Werewolf story, or something else new. Time to clear things out for new stuff.

11

07/21

“A Rook Given” continues…

5:58 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: A Rook Given,Inspiration

I’m on Chapter 6 of A Rook Given and have finally introduced one of the catalysts for the story. Maybe it’s kind of late by now.

In a way, I don’t like switching the third-person-limited between three main characters: Rook, Edwin, and Mebahel. What one does, the other doesn’t know the reasons for. Example: Rook’s friend saw everything that happened to Rook and feels the need to tell Edwin. But the reader doesn’t know why. Or how she feels afterward. How do I tie up that loose end?

I’m up to 19K words, a quarter of the way through. Seventy-five K is my goal, but because my writing style is sparse, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get that far. I meant for Chapter 2 to introduce the “call to adventure” but maybe it’s now Chapter 6, and everything else before it is going to get tossed out. I hope not.

The werewolf story… this is where it gets weird. Or magical.

In my writing group, there’s a woman who writes fantasy, and somehow the conversation got on werewolves. “I’d want to write a story where each phase of the moon, the wolf changes.” Well, the funny thing is a couple of weeks ago, the publisher and I started talking about that. I didn’t go with it because it’s been done by White Wolf Games and their Werewolf: The Apocalypse series and didn’t want it to be fan fiction. Coincidence?

In Big Magic, by Elisabeth Gilbert, she goes into a section where writers will suddenly have the same idea. It’s not that she stole the idea from the publisher and me, but it’s that the Universe has this idea, and someone is going to write it, by God. If not me, then maybe this other woman.

It hurts my heart to feel that the Universe doesn’t bless me with the story idea, Even though I rejected it. It’s like not being invited to a party so you could tell them “Oh, sorry, I can’t.” Doesn’t that hurt?

16

05/21

Writing like you’re gonna die

5:43 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Characters,Inspiration,Life Sucks,Writing

My days, empty of work now, have been filled with what am I gonna do when I die. Skip the following block if you don’t want to hear anything about my medical issues.

{begin) Last June, I was told that to get out of dialysis, I need to weigh 100 kilograms. I’ll let you go calculate it, but it sounds better in kilograms. I weigh more than that. It was suggested that I get gastric bypass surgery. Before that, I needed to go on a “strict” liquid diet. Um, I’m on dialysis? Liquid diet is bad? So they allowed me one meal a day, and protein shakes for two other meals. Fast forward to today, where I’ve definitely lost some weight, though it took me a year to do so. I’m not at 100Kg, but I’m within sight of it. Because of that, I’m seriously thinking of not doing the gastric surgery and just trying to lose the weight by eating less and less, and drinking these shakes, which really aren’t that bad if you shake them up really good and they get frothy. I’m giving myself another two years to get down to 100 kg. Problem is, will dialysis last that long? (end)

I’ve been thinking of my own demise, what will happen after that, what will happen with all the stories and characters that are in my head. Gone. They will be gone. So I’m writing and creating characters like the hounds of Hell are on my tail, because I believe that they are. I’ve kind of stopped initiating Role Play in City of Heroes/Villains, but I have characters with eensy-weensy backstories. (I’m lazy in the costume creator and I like mohawks for some reason.) If faced with an RP group, I join in, of course, pulling out those one-line backstories and throwing myself into a character. But I don’t make a point to RP.

Because I don’t want my ideas, the characters, the stories, to spill out from the page that they’re meant to be on. I believe that my writing needs to exist somewhere on paper/computer files for it to be real. Posterity. That isn’t to say I haven’t touched some people by role playing; I’m afraid these characters will go up into the ether. Since I’m a Published Author (TM) I’m afraid of losing ideas.

Now, if you read “Big Magic” by the woman who wrote “Eat Pray Love”, she is of the opinion that The Universe Provides Infinitely. Yeah, wonderful. But I have a finite time on this earth. I’m too scared to lose any ideas that are given me. Which idea will pay off, put me in the best seller list, get me that one big break?

I have 51 characters on City of Heroes. That could be 51 stories if I flesh them out. Once I hit the top level of a character, I will usually stop playing that character because what’s left is lewt and pwn sets. The only one I still play is Grimaulkin because I can play him in my sleep and I don’t have to make much effort.

But let me be honest. I miss the effort, the reasons to role play. If I join an established supergroup (“guild”), they’ve already established story lines and cliques and relationships and I’m a third wheel. If I join one from the ground floor, it’ll go “poof” (That’s happened twice already, so I know better). And then, there’s Pocket D, the club where everyone role plays; but they want to talk about how badass they are and not involve you except as a soundboard. RP in groups is slightly better as long as you don’t get the one who talks about themselves and their backstories in the middle of a fight.

Grimaulkin the book proves that the character ideas in CoX are worth while. I just have to claw through them to find which one to stay with.

04

04/21

“A Rook Given” – 8000 words

3:42 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: A Rook Given,Inspiration,Methods of Writing

My newest novel is tentatively titled “A Rook Given”. It’s about a magician who makes too many familiars and God is jealous. So God sends one of his angels to destroy the magician and his familiars.

I’m already up to 8000 words with it. My plotting is out to three chapters so far, and I’ve written two. I do have the overarching plot already written out. I decided to use a notebook to keep track of all my ideas, and then transfer them to Scrivener 3’s index cards. Scrivener 3 has a way of keeping track multiple POVs by coloring the index cards.

The good news is I now have disability starting July 1. No more worrying about whether work cares if I write or not. No more worrying about whether I have a job (I don’t have a job to go back to–I was notified last week). Just two more months of TDI (six weeks, actually) and then I’m on the dole.

07

03/21

No more (writing) books!

12:53 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Carnival Farm,Inspiration,Reading,Writing

This weekend, I plowed through my writing books to figure out what to get rid of and what to keep. What to get rid of is a small group, but I don’t know what good home to give them to. What to keep is bigger, mostly because “It took me so long to find this book” or “I plan on doing the exercises in this book” or some other sentimental value. Note sentimental. It’s not because they’re great books, helpful references, or anything like that – it’s because I feel something about them.

That’s most of them. I also organized my Kindle library and noted that a couple of years ago, I was into every writing book that came out. How to write a mystery/fantasy was the biggest topic. I don’t know why I bought those. Because now, I know the real secret to writing books is reading books.

I’m presently reading a lot of magical theory/non-fiction books, so my sense of fiction is pretty meh. I’m planning on reading some books and magazines I got on Kindle Unlimited that are fiction, just to see what people are doing. My biggest wait is for Morgan Chalut’s series from Water Dragon Press.

I’m also back on Twitter @warwriter . Look for quick and dirty reviews, daily life musings, and retweets that I find to be interesting.

“Carnival Farm” just hit 40K. Today’s writing seems forced – my Muse doesn’t want to work today. I think it’s because She knows that I’m waiting for other things to happen today (my friend is supposed to come over and I had other plans for today) and doesn’t want to put me “in the zone”. I mean, I showed up for Her this morning, but, oh well.

I want to write, but I want to play-write, write without a reason. That’s another thing that all these books say: You have to have a purpose, an audience that you’re writing for. I’ve been brought up with that and taught that. In my first incarnation of 800 Words I would write scenes for the fun of it. Take a character, take a situation and go.

I want that again. 800Words.net was supposed to be that, but requires a picture. Sometimes it takes me a half hour to find the picture that matches the bit that I wrote. Maybe that’s my goal for today: Play-write. But when I play-write, I usually do it in a notebook.

06

06/20

When it all goes sideways

4:52 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Life Sucks,Reading

For two weeks, I’ve been rewriting my newest WIP. Not editing. Rewriting.

And now it’s totally off the rails, and I’m only on chapter 4.

I tried to make it more involving, make the main character more sympathetic instead of accepting of everything. I ended up making her a lovesick puppy pining for some eye candy.

All the potential, all the fun in the story, is gone. I’m trying to make it logical, give it a plot, make it a typical fantasy story. I’m trying to extend a story line, establish the side stories, introduce characters that will show up later.

It’s logical.

It’s dry.

It’s boring as hell.

That’s not to say the first draft wasn’t boring. The first draft’s main character accepted the Mean Spirit and ran with it. There was no conflict. Oh, there was a plot. There was a story.

It reads like the first hundred pages or so, I’m trying to get my legs under me. By the first quarter, I had a clue. I dropped things here and there that, to be honest today, I have no idea what they meant (I wrote this first draft before having a Story Bible). So with that in mind, I started to sit down and edit.

The next thing I know, I’m rewriting the first chapter because of the deep edit cuts I did in chapter three. The main character should have a lot more questions than she does. But I because i know the answers, I don’t know the questions.

I need to walk away from this story and come back to it and choose to rewrite it. The more I write, the more it’s getting away from me.

As for reading, I’ve read a couple of gay romance novels that were really good, and others that said to me, “If I had that character, I’d do this instead.”

One I was reading at the same time as writing this one and I was thrilled with the characters–until book 2. A friend of mine said, “In Book 2, they always take the character you cherish and do something horrific to him.”

The author did just that. I didn’t finish book two because i was disgusted–more at myself for being led on. I suppose that’s part of the formula (hell, I did it in Book 3 of Grimaulkin’s series).

I took out my cards one day and asked, “What should my next writing project be?” I don’t remember the exact card, but its meaning was clear: something new and different. Because my life is taken up with dialysis, kid, work, and sleep, a brand new writing project doesn’t show up there.

Part of me wants to write to market. Part of me wants to write to write. All of me has no idea what to do next.

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