Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Writing advice

Having just finished doing Nanowrimo, I read a lot of writing advice in the daily/weekly posts from people that are meant to inspire us. One thing I see all the time is ‘just get the words down - it doesn’t matter if your first draft is messy’. Or to put it another way - ‘do not edit as you go’.
I fail at this.
Epically.
I CANNOT leave a misspelled word, or a badly written sentence. I just don’t have it in me. Those little red squiggles under the word make my skin itch and I have to fix them.
Some days my word count almost went backwards in Nano because I deleted whole paragraphs, but I get why it’s a good idea not to edit when hitting that monthly target is the main aim.
I have often thought that what I really need is a speed typing course. Sometimes when I get writing quickly, my letters get out of order. ‘The’ becomes ‘hte’ for example. But most programs have the ability to learn my usual typos and autocorrect them, so it isn’t a huge issue. Typing faster would be nice I suppose… *adds typing to endless list of things to do*
In my experience of writing short stories, or one shots as they are called in fanfiction, my first draft is often the best.
So I was quite gratified to read a blog post from Dean Wesley Smith where he basically denied the rough first draft rule.
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/writing-in-public-year-2-month-5-day-10/
He swears that “I have never heard one successful writer talk about a “rough first draft.”
Well, I agree with him. I just don’t see the logic in doing something so badly the first time that you waste hours more fixing it later, but like a lot of writing advice, you should do what works for you.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Spectrophobia


A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!

The psychologist cleared her throat. “I think... you have something called... Spectrophobia.”
“Excuse me?” The girl frowned at her. “What does that mean?”
Rather than explain, she just read a definition out to her. “Spectrophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of ghosts. Sufferers of spectrophobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational.”
Irrational.
Abnormal.
Persistent.
.
.
.
She didn’t believe her. Hours spent pouring out her experiences and her fears and they had been labelled as irrational.
~~~~~~
Somehow she made it out of the office. The final insult was having to pay for the advice that had upset her so badly. Her hand shook as she handed over her medical insurance card and her credit card. Lucky she didn’t have to sign; it would have been illegible.
She didn’t make another appointment. She decided never to return.
~~~~~~
Her apartment was very old and kind of run down, but it was all she could afford.
She saw her on the stairs, floating above the bannister. In the classic cartoon style she was wearing a cover over her body that looked like a sheer tablecloth rather than a white sheet.
“You’re not real,” she told the spectre. “The psych said so.”
She walked past it and unlocked her door.
The spectre passed through the wall and hovered benignly in her bedroom as she threw down her bag on her bed. “Do NOT follow me to the bathroom,” she told it.
“Oh, crap. I interacted with you. I’m not supposed to do that.” She stomped off to use the toilet. While she was in there, she did some heavy thinking.
When she came out, it was hovering near the stove. She sighed and put the kettle on. She held up teabags from her herbal tea assortment until it nodded its head.
“Peppermint, huh?”
Putting it in a large mug, she poured boiling water on it when the kettle whistled.
“So, your immune system needs boosting?” She chuckled to herself.
She placed the mug in the centre of the table and stood back to let the apparition hover over it.
“I am told you’re not real,” she repeated.
The spectre turned its blank face towards her.
“But I know...” She stopped talking. Watching the spirit, she knew if it was a figment of her imagination, that she had got so used to it that she would prefer to live with it. “Never mind.”
It turned back to inhaling the steam or whatever it was doing. When it floated away, she could drink her tea.
She sat, leaning her head on one arm as she took small sips and they studied each other.
“All right,” she said. “You exist.”
Another sip.
“And you want or need some things from me.” She lifted the mug.
“So... what do you want from me? Why me?”
No response.
“I guess I can see you, eh?”
She waited.
“Can many people do that?”
A head shake.
“Cool. So we can do yes and no questions.”
A nod.
“I like the sheer sheet thing.” She waved a hand. “That’s pretty stylish.”
That made her think.
“Maybe it’s not me; maybe it’s you. You seem to be a bit different. At least to the run-of-the-mill ghost. And plus, I can’t see any others.”
She sipped her tea.
“Spectrophobia.” She snorted derisively. “I’m not frightened of you.”
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Thursday, 11 December 2014

More fun with covermaker

I am still loading stuff onto #Wattpad. This week I did ‘Cleanse my Soul’; one of my darker one shots. Well, technically I suppose it's angsty not dark. It starts with the death of Jared and a desperate Sam knocks on Bella Swan’s door. It was a photo prompt and the guy just looked like Sam to me and then I had to imagine why he needed a bath with all that bubble stuff.
My new cover looks like this and the story is here:


It has less than five reads so far, but I also popped the cover onto my tumblr page, with a link to Ao3 and got some kudos there, too. It all counts.
I did write some notes on extending this one shot, too. Now where did I put those...
Josh is doing very well on Wattpad with 1,600 views and 118 stars (the voting system there for stories), and on FFn it is keeping pace with Closer to God. Who would have thought it?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

My other half

I wrote a super creepy short horror story some years ago. It was from a picture prompt. I sent it out to a few places and entered it in a competition, but nothing really happened with it.
I always liked it. So this week I messed around with Derek’s #covermaker and posted it on #Wattpad. And it looks awesome.
The link is here:
And yes, I know, it could be extended… imagine… skin-walker assassins. Oh, now…


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Rensho Kraft


A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!

Picture Source: 
lagro-ross.deviantart.com
http://writeworld.org/post/103763151892/writers-block-artists-tumblr-a-picture-says-a

“Oh, my,” she said as she peered down at the prisoner. “You wrapped my present for me.”
“Just the woman I came here to see,” he growled back at her.
“Rensho.”
“Hello, Vadima.” A pause. “I don’t rate a ‘hello’?”
“No, you do not.”
“Wife, you disappoint me.”
The guards twitched.
“I seem fated to do that.”
“Come down here and say that.”
She laughed, but she did take the stairs down to stand closer to him.
He watched her every step of the way. He didn’t even glance at the others with her.
“You have some new scars, my love.” She stood right in front of him. Her fingers brushed over his epaulettes; he had some new rank, too.
“I value the scars you gave me the most.”
“I would never mark that face.” Her finger traced the welts that radiated in three distinct lines across his right eye. “Is the eye damaged?”
“No. I can still see how beautiful you are.”
“Who did this?” Her lips pressed against the scar that marred the top of his left lip and stretched up towards the base of his cheek.
He chased her face when she pulled away, until the wrist cuffs held him. “It doesn’t matter; I killed him.”
“Good.”
“Because otherwise you would do it for me?”
“He damaged what is mine.”
“Wife, you do not share well.” He gave her an enigmatic smile.
“I do not.”
He had a small pouch on his belt. He saw her glance down at it, but with his arms held, he could not stop her opening it. “Do you still have it?” she asked.
“I do.”
She pulled a ring from the pouch. It was hung on a chain.
“He is your husband?” the guard with her asked.
“Yes, he is. I do not lie.” To him, she asked, “Why the chain?”
“So it stays with me when I am out of uniform. I cannot wear it for obvious reasons.”
Leaning in, she pulled the collars of shirt apart enough to plant a kiss on the skin of his lower neck. “I would see you out of uniform,” she whispered, and she hung it around his neck.
“Release me,” he said.
“You are our prisoner,” the guard objected.
“No, lady. I am a husband who has missed many conjugal leave visits.” His eyes gleamed.
Vadima’s laugh was a delight.
Rensho raised one eyebrow. “Or... we could just do it here.”
“Do I have your word you will not harm anyone?” she asked.
“Captain, no!” a junior officer objected before Rensho could answer.
Vadima rounded on them. “Do you dare to question my authority?”
“No, ma’am.”
“Did he hurt anyone when he was apprehended?”
“No, ma’am.” They risked a glance at the prisoner. The capture seemed too easy now given how dangerous he looked.
“You do know who this is?”
“No, ma’am.” They sounded more doubtful, now.
“This-” she waved a hand at him, “-is Rensho Kraft; designer of the Kraft method and leader of the interrogation squad for the imperial forces. If he wanted you dead, you’d be dead.”
The officer paled. They had all heard of the Kraft method. He got inside people’s heads, it was said, but that was not possible. They suddenly realized what he had done; he had got inside theirs and had cleverly manipulated them and they hadn’t even noticed. “He said he wanted to see you and we brought him right to you. I am so sorry, ma’am.”
“Indeed. Lucky he is not here to kill me, just to-” She stopped.
He smiled at her. He finished the rest of her sentence with that smile.
“Give me your word, Rensho.”
“I give you my word that I will not... kill anyone on your ship.”
She tilted her head. He had left a loophole; injury was allowed. “I accept. Release him.”
She spun on her heel and marched away, knowing her orders would be followed.
Freed, he jogged to catch her up. He didn’t try to touch her, but followed a step behind her; not directly on her heels. They made a striking couple. He taller by a head and so pale with his grey hair. She was darker skinned with glossy black hair. They both radiated authority.
At the door of her quarters, he followed her in, watched as she locked it with a command code he automatically memorised, and then he was kissing her.
They didn’t speak. They lived their lives assuming others were watching or listening to them. As their bodies joined, so did their minds. It had always been that way with them. An ability he had used and expanded, and she had kept a close secret. It had bound them together far more effectively than a ring, and as a result, neither ever trifled with another.
When everything they had was interlaced, he showed her the information obtained during an interrogation. A conspiracy so vast and deep that they were all betrayed. He had left everything behind to come to her and warn her. He had come to her to try to save her.
Now, it was up to her to save them both.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

An excerpt from my nano2014 novel

The adventures of a boy called Edwin and a wizard called Conon.
Conon started off bisexual and has become omnisexual. He’s basically become Captain Jack Harkness and will have sex with anything.
What did Conon have sex with?
A dragon?
Omg… writes furiously...
 ~~~~~~
“Wait…WHAT?” Edwin almost shouted. “You had sex with a dragon?”
Dead silence.
“A dragon!” Edwin repeated. He fumbled around in his clothing and pulled out the medallion of the dragon, looked at Conon, looked at the medallion and then looked back at him, and shook his head. “I know you said you had seen one close up… but… really? Like that close!”
Conon lips were held firmly together. He was so intent on not talking to Edwin about this.
Perversely, that made Edwin keep talking.
“How big are dragons anyway? Linnae said they were large enough for people to ride. Well, not ride in the sense you are talking about here… ride like a horse kind of ride. Did it change size or something? Did you turn into a dragon? No wait… oh, now… did you change size? You’re scary enough the size you are now, I can’t imagine how threatening you would look if you were larger.” Silence for a beat. “Or did just certain parts of you get larger?”
“EDWIN!”
“That’s a point… did you tell Linnae about this?”
“No.” Grunted.
“Why not?”
“It was forbidden.”
“Well it would be; people might get hurt, or trampled or burned to death.”
“Or frozen.”
“Ha.” Edwin pointed at him. “It was an ice dragon.”
Conon grabbed the front of Edwin’s shirt and hauled him bodily towards his face. “Shut up.”
Edwin blinked. “Why was it forbidden?”
Conon dropped Edwin, smacked one hand across his eyes and sighed heavily.
Edwin bounced on his feet. He thought Conon might eventually tell him, so he bit his lip to stop himself from speaking.
After another heavy sigh, Conon spoke, “It’s forbidden for just the reasons you said and because it might change the balance of things.”
“Linnae said the dragons had all the power.”
“Yes.”
“So if one got a crush on a human, it could be bad. So to speak.”
“Yes.”
“Why did you do it?”
“I wasn’t much older than you and I thought it would be … fun.”
Edwin raised his eyebrows. “Fun?”
“Yeah… it wasn’t fun; it was utterly terrifying. And irresponsible and stupid.” Conon attempted to dissuade Edwin from stupid activities.
And failed.
Edwin sounded awestruck, “You could have died!”
“And I might have if I wasn’t a wizard.”
“What did she want out of it? Given she had the power.”
“It’s hard to say ‘no’ to a dragon.”
“Right…”
“I don’t know what she wanted. Maybe it was an experience for her, too? She was young… for a dragon.”
“So you speak dragon?” Edwin guessed. “You’d have to to flirt with one.”
“A bit.”
“You can say ‘oooh baby… that’s it… right there’ in dragon?”
“I will hit you.”
“Nah.”
Silence for a beat.
“Oh, wow… maybe you have little dragon babies out there somewhere?”
“Oh, for…” Conon strode off swearing loudly.
“You could have,” Edwin argued as he followed him. “And they wouldn't be little by now. That was years ago.”
“That is not how it works!”
“How do you know? If there was magic involved in this… coupling, anything could have happened,” he tried.
“Coupling?”
“Well, I don’t know what to call it. It was the only word I could think of.”
“Coupling?”
“Dragons are magic, too, right? They could be magically mixed ice dragon babies.”
“We are not talking about this any more.”
~~~~~~
They argued about it for days.


Monday, 1 December 2014

nanowrimo 2014

I won #Nanowrimo2014
See!

I got three different word counts in Word, Scrivener and Drive. I can’t tell how they are different (and it’s quite a lot) so I have over written to cover it.
My daily average was 2,026 words. I set my usual daily target at 2k anyway. But I did write a few other things this month; about another 20k. So it is a monthly total of over 80k.
I changed the name of the story to ‘Fate, Chance and a Wizard’ but I am not entirely sure about that, either.  Thinking of titles is fiendishly difficult without making something that is terminally boring or too much like someone else’s title.
‘The Adventures of Edwin Ash and Conon’ - no
‘Edwin Ash and the journey from crossroads to capital’ - no - it sounds like a travel diary
‘Wizards, magic and boys, oh, my’ - NO - and there are girls as well.
‘Paths that lead to home’ - no
‘Have wizard; will travel’ - NO
‘The affairs of Wizards’ - a snatch from Tolkien “Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” NO
You get the issue…
There is an African proverb, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ To cut it down the title might be, ‘To go far, go together’ I don’t mind that one and they do, indeed go far. In fact, all the way… hehe.
‘To go far, go together’
OR
‘Fate, Chance and a Wizard’
I am not sure that either title is easy to remember; the last thing you want is someone forgetting the name when they try to order it.
Ah well, I will probably change it again, anyway.
A large chunk of the story is written but there is still a lot of detail needed to be added. Rather than get bogged down in descriptions (I do prefer to write dialogue) I just pop two %% where I need to research or add more. It is very easy to search for that symbol later.
There is still a lot more story to tell and I really like my characters, Edwin Ash the inquisitive boy, and Conon the wizard who has travelled alone for too long. Edwin drags him into adventures by asking questions, touching things he shouldn't and demanding that they help people who are in trouble. And he makes Conon nuts.
“Somebody should do something and we are somebody,” says Edwin.
He’s so sweet. And eventually my surly wizard falls in love with him. Just like me.
And then, it all changes when… but you will just have to read it.
When it’s finished, of course!