Reopening The Blog — May 3, 2016

Reopening The Blog

I have officially decided to reopen the writing blog. I still have the cosplay blog over at the cosplaywrite.blogspot.com address. But at least for purposes of blogspot, I’m going to retain some separation. There won’t be frequent postings here for now save for WiP Wednesdays to try to keep myself motivated.

If you have a question you’re dying to ask me, something you want me to address here on my site, or an interview or other similar request, send it to info(at)stephanie-mcgee(dot)com General email can be sent to stephanie(at)stephanie-mcgee(dot)com

Inspiration After Walking Away — August 26, 2014

Inspiration After Walking Away

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been on inspiration pinning sprees. Why would I do this if I’ve walked away from writing?

Because maybe someday I will come back to writing. And if I do, won’t it be nice to have a bunch of lovely images ready to pull me back into the story worlds I’ve currently left?
A very short post but one that was pestering me to be written.
The Future: A Long, Hard Look — July 16, 2014

The Future: A Long, Hard Look

Friends, I think it’s high time I admit defeat. It’s been a long journey to this point. Five years ago when I sat down and decided to get serious about this writing thing, I was happily oblivious.

Writing was still fun back then. Writing hadn’t sapped the joy from everything else yet. Writing hadn’t become ONE MORE THING I had to get done in a day. Daily word count goals weren’t something to feel guilty about not meeting.
Having a life, interests and hobbies outside of reading and writing weren’t something to feel guilty for enjoying.
I’m tired of feeling like a BAD PERSON for not writing. For not reading. I long for the days when reading was a pleasure and a joy, not one more thing I should be doing.
All this to say that I am walking away. Forever? I don’t know. It could be forever, it could be for a month or two. Probably at the very least, until next year.
But frankly, I may never write again. Why should I when I’m no good at it, as people are all too fond of telling me.
A Sign of Progress — July 12, 2012

A Sign of Progress

If you ask an author at their signing how many books they wrote before the one that got them published for the first time, most will answer with any varying number from none to 13. (I believe that was what one author who spoke at a conference I attended said he wrote. Then book 6 was what got him published.)

So far, I’ve written 5.

Of those, two are complete rubbish and will never see the light of day. (Except maybe as an example at a conference presentation, if I’m ever cool enough to present.) One has been shelved forever (and is pretty rubbish as well). One is worth rewriting because I love the story and the characters, it’s just the prose that’s rubbish. And one is off with betas right now where it is being subjected to a sword fight, burning at the stake, possibly a cleverly-conceived torture or two, and an overall mauling.

These are all good things.

But these are not the sign of progress of which I am speaking in the title of this post. No, that sign of progress concerns my current project, Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods.

I think it’s the sign of a good, or at least improving, writer when they can recognize the flaws in the manuscript mid-draft and come up with a way of fixing or addressing those flaws while drafting so as to reduce the amount of headaches and hair-pulling later on.

This book is absolute rubbish. Yes, it’s just a practice novel. But it’s rubbish and I’m not afraid to admit that.

I think the biggest problem is the POV and the tense that I chose for this story. I’m nearly 17K into the book and, well, I’m losing my motivation to finish it. I think it’s partly the POV and tense issue and partly the ridiculous pace I’ve set for myself.

I’m feeling tapped out mentally by ten in the morning. That’s not good.

So I’m scaling back my efforts at pushing out the word count and tackling the POV and tense issue head on before I go one word further in the draft.

Maybe it’s bad. But maybe it’s a sign of progress. A sign that I am improving at my craft even if I can’t see it.

Editing to add: This project is likely going to be shelved. Switching it to third person past tense isn’t working and I’m not sure if past tense in first person will work either. I’m also not in love with the story and why spend my time and creative energy on something that doesn’t sing to me?

Project Overload — December 1, 2011

Project Overload

I realize I probably shouldn’t say this, but I have too many projects in the pipeline.

*dodges rotten fruit and vegetables*

Right now I’m sitting on two projects that I want to revise and four that I want to world-build and draft.

That’s not including the 4 short stories sitting on my hard drive unfinished and the 4 poetry collections I have in-progress and the 1 poetry collection I want to have published and the 1 collection that I want to write and submit.

Sometimes I wish my muse were an android I could rewire so she’d stop giving me story ideas and give me inspiration on the ones that are sitting there waiting to be brought into being.  Some of these projects have been on my shelf for years.  Others are much more recent additions.  All of them are equally clamoring for attention.

All this to say, if you see me tearing my hair out or muttering to myself in a quiet corner of Twitter (while rocking back and forth and looking around shiftily), just smile and nod and maybe call the doctor.  I’m likely going crazy from feeling overwhelmed.

How do you deal with project overload?

Experience and Practice — October 20, 2011

Experience and Practice

It’s no secret here on the blog that I’ve written a fair number of books and stories that have all gone into the drawer of practice.

It’s all practice and experience.  Sure, I could read craft books but they put me to sleep.  (Great cure for insomnia.)

That’s just not how I learn.  I learn from practice, from seeing examples in living color (read: television and movies), and from doing.

I’ve written three fantasy novels, one steampunk/fantasy hybrid short story (which I later tried to transform into a novel. Still want to make it work), two romance novels, two romance short stories (one of which I transformed into a novel), and done world-building on another fantasy and on a contemporary adventure novel.  I’ve the beginnings of three or four other short stories on my hard drive.  Not to mention all the poems.

What’s the point of confessing all this?  To say this: For the first time in my short writing life (two years I’ve been going at this in earnest), I feel like I’m finally getting a handle on how I work as a writer and what’s going to help me make a book as strong as possible.

When I set out to world-build and plot my latest WiP (and the second and third books in the trilogy), I knew where I needed to improve off my last attempts at writing a novel.  Every word I’ve written has given me experience.  Every word has shown me a glimpse of what works and what doesn’t.  Every word helped me to develop that eye and intuition for character and plot which are, in my opinion, so necessary for good writing and revising.

It may take 10,000 hours to become a master at something, but perhaps it only takes one 90,000 word novel to flip the switch on a lightbulb in the writer’s mind.

Goals and Dreams as an Author — September 20, 2011

Goals and Dreams as an Author

Last week, Rachelle Gardner blogged about goals as a writer.  (What?  I write blog posts a week in advance so the rest of the week was full when this came up in my reader.)

I commented the following:

“I want to be read.  I want to be respected as an author who has a valuable and worthwhile voice to contribute to the conversation of the genre I’m going to publish in.  I want to touch the heart of someone who reads the words I write.

“That’s all.  I don’t dream of J.K. Rowling fame or having my books made into movies.  The money either of those would bring is just a mega-bonus to achieving my dream of seeing my name on a bookstore shelf. (It’d be nice, but I do try to stay realistic in my goals.)”

What I left off the comment was this:

One way that I’ve found helps me to define my goals in this publishing journey is to compare author events.  Which one strikes the chord with me?  The ones where literally hundreds of people show up, making it impossible to make a meaningful, if brief, connection with their readers as the author signs readers’ copies of their book?  Or the ones where a hundred and fifty people attend, equally if not more interested in the presentation the author is there to make than getting their copies of the authors’ book(s) signed?

For me, it’s the latter.  I’m on this road to be read, to touch the heart of a reader and make them realize that maybe they have a voice, too, and if they can’t express it themselves they can find the strength within to do so at some point.  That’s what reading and characters are, to me.  They’re meant to be larger-than-life explosions of what a reader may be facing, showing them that whatever demons are lurking can be vanquished.

Honestly, if one person reads something I wrote and they come out better for it, stronger for it, I’ve done my job as a writer.  I’ve impacted them through words and that’s the best gift I can receive as a writer.

A Precious Illusion — August 4, 2011

A Precious Illusion

Last week, I went on a binge.  (More on this in tomorrow’s post.  It gave me a couple ideas for blog posts.)

Maybe three weeks ago, a little more perhaps, several people on Twitter started talking up the SyFy show “Haven.”  Its second season was about to premiere.  I was home on a Friday night (shocker, I know) and so I decided to check it out.

The first two episodes of season 2 got me intrigued.  Well, I couldn’t just stop there.  I went out and bought season 1 on DVD.  I watched the entire thing in two days.  (In my defense, the season only consisted of 13 episodes.)

Afterward, I watched one of the special features.  It was a sneak peek into the writer’s room for season 2.  A bunch of people sitting around a conference table with their laptops out and someone at a white board at the front of the room.  One of the writers said something that was cool.  Maybe I’ll have to get a white board for when I’m plotting/world-building.

Essentially it was this: “Nothing is too precious.”  (That’s the only part I can remember directly.)  After saying that he said they write everything up on the white board.  They erase it and write something else to make it better.

I think this is my problem with Oracles Promise.  I’m too attached to a handful of characters and can’t bear to see their stories go away.  Which is why I shelved the project.  I don’t have the ability to fix it.  Yet.  Someday I’ll get there.  Because every time I open that document and read through the story, looking for how to fix it and make it work, I fall in love with those characters all over again and they become too precious in my mind to fix.

But the truth is, the writers on this TV show have it right.  Nothing is too precious to be tossed out the window in search of the better choice.

And, you know something?  I think this can apply to life sometimes.  (Obviously on a metaphorical level.)

How I Came Into Writing — May 19, 2011

How I Came Into Writing

I’ve been reminiscing lately on how I got started on this whole crazy journey.  The start of my writing life is a little nebulous in my memory.  (A fact which would shock my family.  I’m known as the one with a mind like a steel trap.)

Basically, though, this is what I remember:

In ninth grade I was obsessed with a certain boy band.  No, I won’t say which.  That would date me.  I think at around the same time the movie, “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron” came out and, well, I’ve always been into horses.  (I used to have one but we had to put him down last year.)  Somehow I got the idea in my head to write a screenplay for an animated movie about horses.  And since the member of said boy band with whom I was most obsessed was also into horses my brain had the casting down to a tee.

I started working on the idea, trying to learn how to write a screenplay, and coveting screen writing software that would automatically format the script properly.  (You know, character names in all caps, action tags, to be used sparingly, in brackets, one minute of screen time per page, etcetera.)  Boy was that software going to be expensive.  And at the time, I of course didn’t have a credit card.  (Oh, to return to that time.)

Somewhere along the way between ninth grade and my junior year of high school (in Utah, middle school is 7th, 8th and 9th, while high school is 10th, 11th, 12th), the idea got abandoned.  I’m sure somewhere in all the boxes of books and miscellanea at my mom’s house I still have my basic notes that I took on the idea.  (Casting alongside notes on who should do the music, since it was going to be classic Disney, singing characters and all.)

Also somewhere in here I was doing a lot of reading.  Fantasy mostly.  We’re talking my first exposure to Tolkien (junior year); J.K. Rowling, Tamora Pierce, and David Eddings dominated.  I know that thought crossed my mind, “I could do this.  I could write a fantasy novel.”

I launched into the world-building.  My parents had years before bought a large encyclopedia set and it sat on our shelves.  I took to thumbing through it for maps and pulling random place names for locations in my fantasy world.  This was after I’d hit on the inspiration for my entire plot, the meaning of a name given to one of the principal female characters in the saga.

By senior year I was writing the story.  My English teacher that year, Sly, was kind enough to offer me feedback on my chapters as I went.  I spent down time in every class revising those first few chapters.  My folder filled with the hard copies of those chapters and my special writing pen were never far from hand anywhere I went in my day.  (Nor were the notebooks I wrote in at the time, even when I went to work that summer after graduation.)

Eight years later, after abandoning the novel on two different occasions (and some encouraging words from Jasper Fforde), I launched into a start-from-scratch world-building frenzy and rewrite of the first book in the series.  I finished it after five or so months and the monkey left my back.

I have since shelved the book but I still think about it and the characters almost constantly.  I know it can be saved, I’m just not there yet.

Tuesday’s Words — September 14, 2010