Monthly Archives: December 2018

Where’s the beef?

I started to revise Yellowtree using class notes I had from a few years ago when I did the rewrite for Grimaulkin, around 2012. Using these notes, I realized a few things.

  1. There’s no conflict.
  2. There’s no antagonist.
  3. There’s no reason for the title.
  4. The sword has nothing to do with the story–it’s a cool prop, that’s all.

Oh, how that hurts.

Now, normally, I would just toss the whole thing in a circular file and call it a day. But I have a story that has to get done, and this is the only one that’s promising (right now, anyway). So I’m going to suffer through the 22 week (compressed, of course) course and do the rewrite as best I can. It will be a better story, because right now, it’s a wreck.

Air is in its final stages and on track. I am also writing Grimaulkin Collected, the anthology with some stories in the Grimaulkin universe. I’ve done Ritter and plotted out Chevalier’s back stories. Now I need to work on the Grey Man from the Atheneum and maybe Mike’s marriage proposal to Scott. I already wrote that in the game–I just have to remember it.

What I’m reading now:

Shiver – Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliot (obviously not their real names)

Yes, another Jocelyn Drake book. I liked Deadly Lover so much I wanted to read more by this author. There’s a lot of heavy-handed “cold” motifs in this book. It’s the first in the “Unbreakable Bonds” series, which includes short stories in the series.

However, in this book so far–I’m only on chapter 2.5–I don’t care about the characters. Snow (yeah, see the heavy-handedness?) is too rough, Lucas is too cardboardy, and Rowe is Justin from Deadly Lover. Whoever the writer is for the fight scenes, though, knows what they’re doing. The detail is fantastic, even though my eyes glazed over after page four of the description. I want to write like that when I grow up.

Air completed (V1)

Due to surprise complications at work (basically, IT decided my department wasn’t a priority), I had some free time to finish writing Air. The editor said that I seemed to have more fun writing these. I wouldn’t say it was fun – it was very experimental for me. I wove real history into my stories, using actual historical figures.

But the good thing is, the first editorial pass is complete, with the first corrections in the can. It’s on course to be released for February of next year.

Next is Grimaulkin Collected, an anthology of Grimaulkin stories. I’m going to start doing what I did with Air’s stories–plot them out with enough wiggle room to “discover” the story. Even though my plot cards may not survive contact with the page, at least I have a bit of a guide of where I want the story to end up. Before, I would keep it in my head. Now, setting it down on paper solidifies the ending for me. Also, I can decide whether or not the ending is actually any good.

Switching between Grim’s stories will be Yellowtree. Although I have a story on the page, I can’t seem to answer basic questions. What’s the theme? Who is the antagonist? Why did the protagonist do what he did? Why is the antagonist (if there is one) doing what they’re doing? And most of all, what’s the plot? Until I can answer questions like that, I don’t have a story–I have a protagonist acting and reacting.

So between that and double XP on Champions Online, that’s what my holidays will consist of: writing and gaming. Oh, and reading:

What I read this week:

A new feature of this blog, I think, should be what I read or am reading over the past week. That’s right, I got so much copious free time. Actually my reading time is an hour in bed before my sleep meds kick in.

Be Counted – D.R Perry.
This is a local RI author. She’s really very good, very funny, and, as we say in RI, wicket smaht. This is the second book I’ve read of hers, the first being A Change In Crime. I liked this one, with a couple of exceptions.
1) Errors in name and age. The main character’s sidekick is either named Scott or Patrick. His ex-partner’s partner is named Weintraub or Tierney. The main character himself is, I think, 25 or so, which is way too young to make detective; and his best friend, who is the same age, acts much, much older.
2) Snarky goes so far At first, the snarky comments were amusing. Then they just got irritating. I’m impressed that the author kept up that level of snark, because I couldn’t.
3) Personal preferences. No chapter titles/numbers. Formatting on the Kindle created no indentation of paragraphs. And most of all, the entire novel is in present tense. That is something I can’t do at all and, again, I am impressed by it.
I gave it four stars because I liked the premise, the writing was good, and something I might want to emulate. But, mind you, I didn’t finish the book. Why? The snark level had gotten to me.

Deadly Lover–Jocelyn Drake (in progress)
Okay, so i have a type for romance–enemies that become lovers. I just love to see how other authors can make that twist because I can’t seem to do it. This one is about two mercenaries, alpha males, who are gay, hide it, hide everything from each other even while they circle around trying to pierce each one’s armor. I’m learning a lot about how mercenaries work, how some special ops can quickly go sideways, and how to recover. I don’t think I could write a book on special ops using this book–need to read a lot more Tom Clancy, I’d guess. But this author keeps things tight and tense, and has kept my interest for 35% of the book.

Leaves of Grass–Walt Whitman (up to poem 45)
Whew, fan yourself after reading this! So much masculine love. I needed to read the poems for “Aquarius” (you’ll see why when it comes out). I didn’t read him in college. I remember a long time ago, finding this book in the wild in downtown Providence. I picked it up, leaved through it, didn’t get it, and left it there. Now that I’m older and coming at it from a gay perspective, I can see what he was trying to do. Hot stuff for the 1850’s!

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.

Down the hill

Now it’s the end of the year, and nothing left to do but write.

This afternoon I just finished “Libra” for Air. The publisher would like Air for the end of the year. This means I need to write a lot more quickly than usual.

When I need to write quickly, I plot it out. I use index cards, real live paper index cards, not virtual ones. I put the title of the piece in the left hand corner, in this case, the symbol for Libra, POV is Point of view. SH means the Sheriff, the main character. SC is the scene number, in this case, 3.

Next I write the setting I need to establish. Then in three or less sentences I summarize the scene. This is based on Holly Lisle’s “How to Revise Your Novel” online class which is not worth the $300 to spend on it when you can get a few other “How to Revise Your Novel” books for $14.99. But Holly’s course is actually fun if you’re like me, and like to deconstruct your novel over and over. I used it for the first Grimaulkin book, which unlocked a few ideas. I also used it for War Mage, twice, and it didn’t work.

Man, this picture doesn’t do it justice.

This gives me enough space to do the actual writing without giving away the details. Because the fun of writing for me is coming up with the details, the plot cards only guide me. This way I don’t meander, waffle, or get distracted. I can get the writing done.

So hopefully Air will be done in 3 weeks. I’ve done most of “Gemini” (I need to add more sex scenes, to tell you the truth). I’m having trouble with “Aquarius”. Need to do research on him. Was going to do the “Summer of Love” but there was a lot of darkness then, too. After all, Charles Manson came up through the ranks at Berkeley. 

Hit and miss

At the Rhode Island Expo, I sold ten books. I was happy and excited, because I got to meet a real fan who read my books (the erotica series) and loved them. I also met two people who traveled from the northern part of the state just to come get my books (and another LBGTQ fantasy author). In RI, being such a small state, that’s a big thing. I also sold a few War Mages for the card reading aspect.

I ended NaNoWriMo with 9500 words to go. The more words I added, the more stupid the whole thing started to sound. I knew I had to go back to the beginning and introduce Nash instead of introducing him in the middle. And I didn’t take note of the timing because I knew that Nash had to reappear on Thursday or Friday night – but I didn’t know where I wrote Thursday or Friday night. I started to re-read, and realized the entire first scene was a throw-away…so I gave up.

But the important thing is that I got a story out. Any words is better than no words, and now that I have something to work with, I can take care of things on the second pass. I’m going to let it rest for about a month, while I write one of the Air stories, and then get right back to it.

Here are my goals for 2019:

Brothers of the Zodiac: Air – Spring 2019
Grimaulkin in the Wild – (an anthology of backstories for Grimaulkin) Spring-summer 2019
Blood From a Stone – Fall 2019. That one needs a lot of TLC because it is really a hot mess. Max may end up telling this one.
Yellowtree – Summer 2019 Once I make it pretty.
Futhark (tentative title) – a standalone erotica story by Max – Unknown when.