Stages of co-writing (or why we’re past pub deadline)

Sometimes when the plot is not happening, the hunt for new ideas and ANYTHING to make the story work can make co-authors go off the rails. (Those of you who know us: Shhh.)  One of our many conversations recently:

J: I have an idea! Flabberwit, then gooleymoo!

K: Sounds good. What about ebielah?

J: Ebielah, then maybe fenlur.

K: Fenlur? I… ??

J: Fenlur, y’know. F.e.n.l… oh wait. You mean Fienlar?

K: Did I? Maybe. Sounds good. Let’s do it.

J: Oh wait. What about Flabberwit? Or was it flebenwat?

K: Flebenwat? I don’t even know anymore.

J: We forgot gooleymoo.

K: I think we need to rethink some things. Again. Still.

J: Color codes! Blocking! Figurines!

K: Squirrel!

J: What?

K: Who?

J: Skype on Monday.

K: I need more coffee.

J: Definitely.

Disclaimer: Yeah, we could have used Idea #1, Idea #2…but you get the gist. No brain cells were harmed in the making of this post. We wish.

 

Still writing

Things have been a wee bit slow around here.

There was a death in K’s family.

Then there was the crazy election.

And now we’re into the end-of-year shenanigans.

But there are buttertarts!

butter-tarts

And the Seattle area had its first snow (which is super unusual as it’s in a convergence zone–snow falls to the north and east and in the mountains, of course, but not in the metro area much). Thankfully, the snowpocalypse that had been predicted fizzled out; we’re still experiencing wintry cold that makes midwesterners shrug, and we’ve got something to talk about other than political insanity and the Seahawks’ terrible game (but yay Sounders! Go sportzball teams).

We are poking away at Val Ferrel #3. Slowly. And we will miss our 2016 pub deadline. But we’ll get the book done and out as soon as possible. Thank you to those who’ve read and liked the first two Val Ferrel books; if possible, a review is always appreciated.

Happy Holidays and hope you enjoy tasty treats, yummy hot beverages, family, and friends.

–J.

What she said.

–K.

Author Spotlight: S.K.S. Perry

Welcome to the start of our periodic feature on other independent authors. We’ll throw a bit of a spotlight on how they think and create their fantastic works.

We’ve known our first author, Steve Perry (no, not that one), for a number of years. S.K.S. Perry is a Sgt. currently serving in his 34th year in the Royal Canadian Air Force, is an avid martial artist, and a drummer in a rock band, amongst other things. We first met in the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (more commonly known to members as the Oh-Dub-Dub). We joke that he’s the most famous non-famous author we know, with rabid fans who write him on a constant basis.

S.K.S. Perry

He is the author of the urban fantasy series DARKSIDE, and the first book in his heroic fantasy series THE MOONLIGHT WAR.

 ***

 What’s the inspiration for your story?

The Moonlight War was inspired by the thought, “What if a movie like Pitch Black or Alien was written by someone like George R.R. Martin or David Gemmel, as a heroic fantasy? Or…um…by me? Since I couldn’t convince either of them to write it and share the profits with me (or even approach them without being thrown roughly to the ground by security) I decided to write it myself. For the most part, I write the books I’d like to read (or the movies I’d like to see.) In a way, you could probably consider the Darkside Series as almost a sort of fan fiction, as they are set in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-type universe, or at least have that same sensibility, but not so much that Joss Whedon could sue. As for The Moonlight War, there are not a lot of people writing heroic fantasy any more—it’s all elves and orcs, grim dark, and the long lost prince of whatever. I miss the old Sword and Sorcery genre, and figured I’d write my own and just update it a little in the hope that there are other people who miss it, too.

How do you find your characters’ voices?

Trust me, they find me. James Decker, the main character in the DARKSIDE series, was easy. He’s basically me. As for the others, a lot of them are friends or an amalgamation of friends—and I know a lot of weird people who make for interesting characters. Well, at least seen through my eyes they are.

Do you have a process for world building or do you just wing it and fill in the blanks as you go along?

Oh, I’m definitely a wing it kind of guy. That said, though, I insist on my worlds being logical and consistent. There are rules to the way things are, even if I am making them up as I go along. And to be honest, sometimes I’m amazed at the way things hang together, how I can take seemingly incongruous ideas and throw them at the wall and make them stick as if I’d planned it that way all along. I’m the same way with plotting. I really have none when I start out. I just write and see where it takes me. That it all makes sense in the end constantly amazes me. Of course being able to go back and edit certain bits for continuity and whatnot makes it somewhat easier. It’s not like I’m an idiot savant, or even just a regular old savant. The jury’s still out on the idiot part.

How do you keep yourself motivated to stay on target?

Um…I don’t. I’ll get stuck and not write for long periods at a time. I know that’s horrible, but it’s true. When I finally come back to it it’s usually resolved by just sitting down and insisting that I’m going to write, which I could have done from the beginning. I’m trying something new now, though. Now that I have a few different projects on the go, I’ve decided that when I get stuck on one book, I’ll just work on another. Of course I decided that about six months ago and haven’t really written much since. Luckily, I have friends and fans who have been nagging encouraging me to get back at it. So, any day now. Promise.

Darkside Series

James Decker just won’t stay dead. Slain while rescuing a young woman from a would-be rapist, he finds himself in a pseudo-life, caught between two realities, belonging to neither. Follow James and his new found friends as they battle demons, the Fae, vampires, minor gods, and an odd assortment of otherworld creatures, and hopefully save the world in the process—or at least the city of Kingston. And maybe Victoria.

The Moonlight War

Three caravans have vanished traversing the Cowcheanne Way. The truce between the warring Kael-tii and Ashai nations is put to the test when a caravan is outfitted and they are forced to travel cursed The Way together. As an ancient evil is unleashed upon them, a group of heroes, friend and foe alike, must band together for survival.

Can they set aside their differences in time to combat the menace that imperils them all, or are they doomed to join the ranks of lost souls claimed by the Cowcheanne Way?

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/S.K.S.-Perry/e/B0051HEZ30

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/sksperry

https://www.facebook.com/sks.perry

You can find his books available in paperback and most electronic formats at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and Smashwords, to name a few.

Stories we’d like to write

Writing with a co-writer is a different experience than writing alone. We bring our individual life experiences to the table, which means we go about building the story in different ways. We started writing together because we wanted to write the type of stories we’d like to read. We set up a series of questions and answered them back and forth over email. This is the result.

What kinds of stories do you enjoy reading for fun?

J: I really enjoy stories with action, adventure, big world stakes or big problems to solve. I like escapism, a supernatural or occult flavor and a consistent world.

K: Action, adventures, heroic deeds. (I first wrote that as heroic deads. Okay, I’d read that.) Protagonists who struggle to do right where no choice is a good choice and all they can do is the best they can in the hopes of a decent resolution and a victory or two. They don’t have to win all the battles but they do have to be forged or changed as a result.

Does this affect the kinds of stories you want to write?

J: Naturally, yes. I’m going to be spending a lot of time eyeball deep in a project, listening to the characters argue for attention, and trying to figure out how to make it exciting and readable so I’d better enjoy the process or else  I should go start an alpaca farm. They’re adorable and their wool makes nice sweaters.

K: Yes.

Writing Meme
Okay, the real truth. (Source unknown but probably one of our writer friends. You know who you are.)

How do you go about pinning down a story idea?

J: K and I have never had a problem coming up with story ideas—characters, plots, problems, neat-o world things. Our challenge is settling on one and sticking with it. Since I’m usually the bus driver, I try and keep us on the chosen route, mostly after many many sessions of hammering out the ending and middle. But I admit I’m the one with the Google map, and sometimes I realize I’ve actually been giving K the older map that sends her into the river instead of down the off-ramp. Oops, my bad.

K: No, you actually do a pretty good job… the problem is I keep turning the map upside-down. Really, if people could see us mugged by all the cool, shiny ideas that pop along every two minutes, they’d marvel at how we actually managed to finish any books at all.

What types of characters argue the loudest (or want the most attention)?

J: The side characters. It’s always the characters that had a funny line or an attitude who think they’re the new diva. The main characters are the ones who keep mum. Stupid characters.

K: Oh wow, yes. How come they always have all the snappy dialogue? They know exactly who they are while the protagonist is all lumpy and stingy with the information.

What inspires you to make a dastardly villain or are they just misunderstood?

J: The villains I like best are the ones who don’t think what they’re doing is technically wrong; wanting to rob the world bank is nice, but logistically difficult, and who wants to rule the world—so much bureaucracy and red tape! The scary villains are the ones who think what they’re doing is the “right” thing or the “best” thing to fix a problem–their world view is different than those around them, and they have the charm or money or influence to make it happen. Those villains are more nuanced and more fun to read than the mustache twirling bad guy who can’t seem to stop telling the main character his plan for world domination.

K: Dastardly villains feel too one-dimensional for me. I like a complex villain who, just like the hero, believes he’s doing the best thing, even if it’s to gain all the power and take it away from the other “bad” guys. He or she should have items or people they care about or want to protect as well. The challenge is writing the kind of villain that one can simultaneously hate and feel sorry for at the same time. I’d love to write a villain like that.

Guess in some ways, we’re not so different after all. We have to get back to writing now. What kind of stories interest you?

Oil and Water? Writers and Social Media

Writers and social media

Authors are not social animals in the first place, except for K. who likes talking to everyone. She’s weird that way.

If we followed every bit of known advice currently available for writers, we should be:

  • maintaining a cool website
  • writing every hour on the hour in our blog
  • having lively and active discourse in our Twitter stream
  • interact with folks on Facebook
  • creating video masterpieces on YouTube
  • running a Pinterest page
  • gathering entertainment-worthy photos for Tumblr
  • meeting shady characters on SnapChat
  • joining at least one or sixty writing forums
  • tagging everything over on Google+ (Hasn’t that ship sailed?)
  • creating a witty newsletter and entreating one and all to join our mailing list
  • creating fun podcasts
  • being interviewed on a podcast
  • looking alert for every radio and TV opportunity out there (why?)

 Facepalm

WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE TIME FOR WRITING?

So, we’re curious: What do you expect from a writer you like to read? Should the answer be, “A good book” and leave it at that? Or do you search for your author online?

 

No posts today – writing!

No real post today. We’re delving into our 3rd book outline of our next book, Oracle in Charge, in the Val Ferrel trilogy. A solid morning of brainstorming, and off we go.

In the meantime, we bring you WriterPig™ who is keeping us honest. Can you deny that face? We can’t.

Writer Pig

Please enjoy spring for those of you who have it.

Book 2 Release – Oracle in Trouble

Oracle in Trouble FINAL

Following the events of book 1, Val Ferrel uncovers a decades-old conspiracy that threatens to undermine the delicate truce between psychics and non-psychics.

Val Ferrel, the first oracle since the Sundering, feels like a total failure. Unable to siphon energy through the gate and control her own unstable powers, she returns to what she does best—finding the dead.

The case of a missing high-profile psychic executive seems tailored made for her. Wanting to shield Val from the threat he’s envisioned, the precognitive Agency director Daniel Norris insists she stay close to the gate.

Ignoring Daniel’s warning, Val enlists the aid of security head Philippe Toussaint and discovers a growing number of missing people that include members of powerful psychic Families. Val’s insistence on digging further gets dangerously close to uncovering a secret others have killed to keep. With the murderers closing in, Val struggles to master her oracle powers, deal with her celebrity status, and placate her meddling stage mother.

~*~

Oracle in Trouble, book 2 in the Val Ferrel series, is available for $2.99 (ebook) or Free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

What’s in a name?

 

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.- Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

Yeah, apparently there are few roses going by the same name as ours, boo.

We thought we were so clever. We selected K. and J. for our first names (careful not to switch the two because of the association with J.K. Rowling, although we’d be fine with any $$$ mistakenly sent our way). Garnet sounded dignified enough plus it was short and nice photos of jewelry popped up online.  It was a lot better than some of the other names we could have selected:

funny-dog-name-meme1

We checked to see if there were other K.J. Garnets out there, we really did. Of course, they popped up after we committed to the name  — a Japanese Instagram-er, and a Belgian writer who seldom uses the Internets but still managed to scoop the name (and it’s probably her/his own so we can’t really growl… much.)

Well, maybe a little. So the moral of the story is that we’re control freaks adopting a new mantra: *sings* “Let it go, let it go…”  We’ve got some stories to write.

Playing around with wor(l)ds

“Really, it’s not hard to search the net for the biggest murder mystery Rockridge had ever witnessed. Rockridge is a small bedroom community of overpriced, turn-of-the-last-century period homes hugging the hills between Oakland and Berkeley. This case had been the town’s first real haunting since the Sundering and had been sensational enough to get noticed around the world.”– Val Ferrel, Oracle in Doubt

We should point out that Rockridge is actually a lovely place. It’s a subdivision in the Oakland Hills a bit northeast of Oakland city center with a lovely view of San Francisco.

Upper Rockridge

As far as we know, there aren’t any terribly haunted houses in Rockridge, and if there are, we are not basing our Becker House on any of them. We just liked a certain type of house that had certain types of features which might be attractive to a ghost. The Queen Anne architecture of the Flavel House in Astoria, Oregon, certainly appealed to both of us.

Flavel House Oregon
Flavel House, Astoria, OR (Credit: Michael D Martin @Flicker)

This house is not actually in Rockridge. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Because we’re setting our world just left of reality, it’s not accurate. You couldn’t draw a map and follow it anywhere. San Francisco and the Golden Gate bridge fell when the psychic war set off the big earthquake and the Pacific made a new coast. The world we imagined doesn’t actually show up in book one, Oracle in Doubt, but the entire planet has been shifted.

That’s half the fun of writing–we can tweak our world just so and tell a fun adventure in a familiar but not-quite-real place.