Genres and labels.

I’ve always had a problem describing my own work, it’s like trying to pin down mercury.   But after taking a long, hard look at Clearing of the Way, I decided that it is indeed paranormal romance.  I mean, it’s full of the paranormal, both main characters qualify as paranormal, and there’s definitely a romance involved.  That should make this easy, concrete.  Hi, my name is Melissa and my most recent series is a paranormal romance!

So I decided to take a look at the community that has sprung up around this genre, to look for guidance, to become familiar with a genre I’m new to.   I was pleasantly surprised that there is a huge, HUGE, paranormal romance community and that so far, it’s been a very kind and supportive group to be involved with.   That’s the good.  The bad?  Well, Clearing doesn’t seem to fit the template that they consider to be paranormal romance.  I feel like I did when I first fell into fan fiction… there’s a lexicon, there’s shorthand, and there are certain expectations tied up in the community.   Yes, both Nathalie and Gideon are paranormal.  But they’re not vampires, faeries, were critters, zombies, mages, witches, they’re people.  Imbued with power, but still pretty ordinary people.   While they’re both attractive, especially to each other, neither one of them is drop dead fantastic.  And most importantly, they lack the love-hate, gasping, grasping, fascination  that I admit that I find rather creepy now that I’ve reached adulthood.    They’re there for each other, they love each other, but they’ve always lacked the romance relationship angst… I figured end of the world zombie plague style was angst enough.

But I’ll keep up with the community because they’re a bunch of really nice people.  And I definitely recommend them to anyone who has a story that fits the template.


Back on track- “Way of the Blessed”

I’ve been doing well, managing to push fan fictions behind me to focus on what I really should be working on, Way of the Blessed.   I’ve produced twenty pages in the past two days, and it’s walking forward under its own power again.   It’s bad news for those who are waiting for the endings of those three fan fics, even worse knowing that at least two of them are just a chapter or two away from being completed, but I’m always much more secure in what I’m doing if I’m working on my own original works.

And for this one, it means research.  While I love to do it, I always feel like I’m just scratching the surface and somehow, somewhere, I’ve gotten something desperately wrong along the way.   I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so insecure with “The Harder Right”, although I did as exhaustive a research as I could, given my limitations, I still feel that there is something in it that would be glaringly wrong to someone who has been there before, I just can’t see it.

Thankfully, Way of the Blessed’s research right now is strictly map based,  (Thank you, Google Earth!) plotting the path between Nathalie’s main home in the Arkansas Ozarks and her destination…her parents’ home in northern Texas.  That part of Texas, I am familiar with and don’t feel the same doubt about writing as I do when I put Nat and Gideon in places I’m only passingly familiar with or have never been before in my life.  But it can’t really be helped, I just have to do the best I can and accept the fact that I will get something wrong along the way.   Science fiction and fantasy are so much easier for me, and I miss always being right with them, but at this point, Way of the Blessed is still very close to here and now and it’s something I just have to deal with.

But, all of that angst aside, it’s good to talk to Nathalie again.  It’s good to be writing my own stuff again (sorry, fan fiction fans!).   And it’s good to be truly writing again.    (Oh, and it is an absolutely beautiful, clear blue day here in the wilds of SW Wisconsin!   I know we’re due for another winter storm later this week, but again, I’ll take what I have right now.)

Spring Fever-These Dragon Haunted Days, Songs of the Unsung, Path of a Calling

Ah, yes, it’s late winter.  And it seems like every February and March in Wisconsin gives me the same restless lack of focus.

I’ve been playing the rejection dejection game with the short stories I’ve described earlier, and that brings its own issues.   I’m fairly used to the dreaded rejection letters by now, but sometimes the whole process still confuses me.  How can they reject a story merely six hours after I email it?  Is their staff that up on their slush piles that they’re waiting with bated breath for the next one to arrive?   Did they change their guidelines for content and/or length without updating their submission guidelines?  Are they full up, but again, didn’t update their sub guidelines?  I know that I’ll never know the answer, but the immediate rejections really make me wonder.   I’d rather wait the usual weeks and at least delude myself into thinking they had a chance.

Writing fanfiction…again.  (Or is that, still?)   Unfortunately, that lack of focus means I’m flitting from fanfic to fanfic like a sugar high hummingbird.  I’m currently writing three.  At the same time.  Yeah, I really don’t suggest it, but thankfully I believe that “These Dragon Haunted Days” only lacks a chapter or two before I stick a fork in it and call it done.

On a brighter note, I’ve become involved in a new writing group, and unlike the one I describe earlier in the blog, this one seems to be much more my style and more closely fits my needs.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s also much closer!  Maybe having some push and input will help me get back to Way of the Blessed and give it the swift kick in the pants it needs to get going again.

The first page is the worst- The Way of the Blessed.

I finished Clearing of the Way knowing exactly where the planned sequel, Way of the Blessed, was going to start at.   I have the scene locked firmly in my head, but as usual, getting it to start rolling has been difficult.   I normally get into the writing groove by rereading at least part of what I’m going so that when I reach the end, I step right into what I was working on earlier.   But with a brand new work, there is no ‘rereading at least part’, and I’m faced with a bright, blank screen.

Because Nathalie and Gideon are sulking in a corner for some unknown reason, hiding behind that killer whiteness of a completely empty page, I’ve been digging in those short stories that, for whatever reason, I let lapse or just stopped paying attention to.   I completed one “In Mysterious Ways” that has been sitting on a back burner for way, way too long, and started sending it out.   There’s another short story, “Dog Eat Dog World”  that I wrote a couple of years ago that came very close to finding a good home only to be rejected at the last moment.   I looked at it with fresh eyes and I know it would benefit from a rewrite.  Then there’s the story I placed as an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest.   I’m positive it would probably also be much better with some work now.   And I have one lonely and bizarre ghost story about halfway done.   It’s time to get cracking!

And it’s done!

Over the past few months, I have shared the experience of writing a novel, from story kernel to end, with Clearing of the Way. It’s been a great ride,  I put the final touches on it this morning and put it up on Amazon Kindle.      Here is the breakdown… I put the first word down on 12/6/2011 and the last on 4/18/12.    341 pages, 67,412 words.   Then I let it sit for awhile while I worked on editing the sequel to “The Emperor’s Finest”, and went back to it a couple of weeks ago to look at it fresh again.


What can I say?  Overall, I’m very pleased with it, and even more so since it is the first original work to come completely after my stroke.   It is definitely one of the cleanest novels I’ve written, editing really meant chasing down all the changes in venue (we did finally decide to set the start in Chicago and forget about New York) and killing more than a handful of oddly placed commas.   So, now it’s onward…to the sequel…

Way of the Blessed.

Thanks for taking the time to walk Nathalie and Gideon’s first steps with me.  I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of it.


Titles: Why isn’t there an app for that?

I recently read a site dedicated to writing tips, and it lost me on pretty much the first line.   Apparently it is strongly advised that my books have a working title before I start them.  Oh, and it is strongly advised that I keep extensive notes and such… there’s an app for that now, you know.

Quite bluntly, if I waited for a title before I got started, we’d still be waiting for me to start anything at all.   Usually it’s the book itself that gives me the title, there’s some phrase that gets repeated, or just sticks out.   The first, The Emperor’s Finest…well, that was a struggle and I’m still not happy with it.  It’s cliche.  I know it.   It just never bothered to tell me another name, and I couldn’t send it off to publishers calling it “Arien and Niel.”  (As I’ve said before, works in progress are identified by the names of their main character(s) until they show me a working title)

Fall of the Old Guard and its unwritten sequel Rise of the New Guard are pretty self explanatory.  The Harder Right, my single solitary contemporary fiction, is entitled from a line out of the Cadet Prayer for the United States Military Academy (West Point) which reads “Make us to do the harder right, rather than the easier wrong) and it seemed to fit the work much better than just about any of the titles I’ve ever managed to come up with.

Why am I thinking of this?  Well, pretty simple… the sequel to The Emperor’s Finest, currently in editing, has a working title of seq.   I’ve been pounding my head here, because obviously ‘seq’ is just not going to cut the mustard when it comes time to actually do something with it.   My mind is full of ….of the Empire.   Daughter of the Empire…sorry, taken.   Scions of the Empire…ugh.   Harsh blunt instruments of the Empire?   Well,  yes but.  I’ve even contemplated doing the Richard Castle thing and naming it some takeoff of Arien’s last name, but that bogs me down as well.  While Arien does have a commonly used word as a last name, Noble, it’s always been an irony play because she’s not particularly noble, her boyfriend is.

So, as I sit here, staring at the little yellow post it notes clinging to my desk… (A list of the military schools that Gideon would have been through to have been what I said he was, and the cryptic “108 repeats on 188, 188 version stands”)  knowing that there’s an app for that…   I have to ask:

Titles.  Why isn’t there an app for that?

Erotica…or whoops, there goes my pacing!

The vast majority of my works involve a central male/female pairing relationship.   Which means I often find myself at a point where that relationship wanders where these relationships go… in a bedroom or other convenient, private and somewhat plushy place.   The moment this happens, my clickety clack pacing goes down the drain.   Sex scenes take me forever, as I try to balance what I want to convey while still holding on to a certain level of discretion.  I don’t write porn.  I don’t want to.   I want to express a true, intimate relationship, not just sex and I want to do with the same polished vocabulary I use for the rest of the book.  This is not nearly as easy as it should be, at least for me.   I spend a lot of time during these scenes fighting the urge to go do something else, anything else.  Laundry?  Well, there’s always that.  Dishes?  Sure.   Vacuum?   Ditto.

So here I am.  Most of Clearing the Way has been written to a techno soundtrack, Global Deejays is my newest love, but that’s just not hacking it through this day, with a full bore erotic scene unfolding.   So, I must sadly admit, I’ve gone back to even worse…techno love songs.   :/   It’s a morning of Cascada, Dj Sammy and DHT while I try to find the best route through where I’m at.   My hope was to actually see the first draft finished today, and the writing is going well, but as long as this scene is taking, I’m doubting if I’ll actually get to the end.   Agh, maybe it’ll be tomorrow, if I can get these two out of bed.

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