Just Let It Burn

Diesel, darling. It burns slower and hotter. Gas goes up in a flash and hardly makes an impact.

 …said one of my closest friends and fellow writer, RC Murphy, when describing how I should feed the flames of my writing prowess. I’m not exactly sure where I’m supposed to find this metaphorical accelerant and I’m definitely not sure if I should pour it all over my carefully laid plans. One thing I am sure of is that R.C. Murphy is a damn genius and there hasn’t been a single piece of advice that she’s extended to me that hasn’t made me a better writer or person in the process. That being said, I took her advice to heart this past week and the results have been utterly amazing. Not finished book amazing, but more like powering through five chapters in as many days amazing.

From the prospective  of a new-ish writer and someone who has yet to finish a single novel, I can admit that it can be extremely disheartening to try and write a book, only to continue running into obstacles that prevent you from progressing, rather it be writers block or just plain ole laziness.

I have been working on my first novel, Bound, since Feb 2011 and I must say there have been times when I just wanted to close my Microsoft Word document, delete all my saved files and simply forget that I was ever foolish enough to think that I was talented enough to write my own novel. I mean, really, I legit deleted my entire manuscript, threw away all my notes and tried to forget that there was even two men in my head screaming to be heard. That turned out to be the best thing I could have done.

You see, my very first manuscript (all twenty something pages of it) was complete shit. Yeah, I can admit it. That thing was shit. And not just regular shit, but the kind of shit you have after a whole lot of Mexican food and sriracha. I had completely gone against everything I had been taught by my amazing writing group (shout out to R.C Murphy and Sandi Bischoff!) and almost destroyed an amazing tale of betrayal, love and redemption.

This is where I believe that bit about diesel and gasoline comes in.

You see, when I first began writing what would become Bound, I was going through Basic Military Training. I was sneaking to writer here and there on corners of napkins and in secret notebooks, but I wasn’t giving my boys the time and attention they need to share their story with me. In all honesty, I think my motivations to simply write a but to say I did was where I went wrong. I was, in essence, pouring gasoline on a fire and hoping it would burn forever, and what I got was a big explosion of shit.

After much internal debate, some guilt tripping and tough love from R.C Murphy and finally escaping BMT to get back to freedom, I decided to pick things up and give it another go with my boys. The right way. And what do ya know, those two little jokers got to jaw jacking like two Mean Girls at a debutante. That when the chapters just started basically writing themselves, the stories falling in line like good little duckies. I believe it was at this point that my writer’s mind figured out what worked for it (which accelerant, that it).

Long story short, we all write at our own pace and it is simply bad practice to judge you progress based on the progression of others. I made the mistake of trying to apply someone else’s methods to my own works and it blew up in my face, but thankfully I have a great circle of writers who are not afraid to tell me when something is shit or when I need to get my head out of my ass. Hopefully you all have that or will some day. In the meantime, find your accelerant, and let that bitch burn.

-QuamaineB

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Don’t Throw That Away!

Throw away ideas.

According to my ball busting, kickass editor and good friend Renee Murphy, there is no such thing. I usually disagree with her, just because that is what a goddess’ second does, but in this I’m inclined to agree.

Remember that saying, “Don’t be a sore winner?” Well, Renee is a sore winner and, as a result, I’m writing this post in response to her challenge. I am to pull a detail from my last manuscript (ironic, seeing as I haven’t even finished my first) that’ll work icc_red_pen_editn a sequel. Of course, I tried to slide out of it by reminding the Editor Goddess that I have no finished manuscript, but she knows me too well. I’m always thinking ahead and she knows it.

In my first run through of my book (we’ll call it Book 1, since I’m holding the actual title hostage) I found something intriguing within the first chapter. In a flashback sequence, there is a conversation between two characters, one named and one unknown. At the time I didn’t think it important, but four months and twenty-one chapters later, I received a pleasant surprise.

Turns out that unknown was someone I had previously “met” in a scene that I wrote months before and completely forgotten about. Imagine my surprise when he came back to let me in on a few nuggets of information and one huge secret that’ll have far reaching ramifications for the entire series.

Another example is the geis I have incorporate into the series mythology. The idea was originally given to me by the Editor Goddess herself when I consulted with her about a character named Augustine, the half-demon son of a witch.

In tradition Irish lore the geis is a form of magic that can be either a curse or a gift, of obligation or prohibition, depending on the individual placing it. In Augustine’s case it is a curse, manifesting physically as a band of stylized scrollwork around both his wrists that prevent him from harming humans. His counterpart, an incubus named Jourdan, also possesses a geis, though his are hereditary.

Originally, the geis was unique to Augustine alone, but after the discovery of what would come later in the series, I realized what my mind had been trying to tell me.

All of Jourdan’s kind possesses a geis, though theirs is of obligation, not prohibition. At first it didn’t seem like a huge discovery, until I continued plotting out my endgame for the series. It was then that I realized in simply being a sounding board for me, my Editor had given me the solution I’d been racking my brain about for months.

Long story short, nothing idea/detail is insignificant. Even if you feel like that person who served drinks at in the scene is just a bartender or if they’re really the guy that ends up shooting your main character in a back alley in the sequel later.

My advice? Write every single thing down. Make sticky notes. Pin up napkins with scribbled ideas on them. Your mind is a vast and imaginative thing, and you never know if what it’s churning out is a slam dunk or not, but why risk forgetting it?

-QuamaineB

Repeat After Me via R.C. Murphy

Author R.C. Murphy

There’s no such thing as a throw-away idea.

Got it? Good.

What? You’re confused? Fine, I’ll explain. *dons smart-looking writer’s cap*

In the course of planning and writing (slowly) the final book in my vampire trilogy, I’ve discovered something I find hilarious. Some of the details I thought would never amount to anything in Be Ours Forever ended up being huge parts of the other books. For instance, I tossed in a line about Caius’ cabin in the woods in BOF. That cabin, mentioned only once in the first book, became a major setting in In Too Deep and will play a minor role in the third (yet unnamed) book. I never thought twice about the cabin while writing BOF. It was an easy way to drop a quick story that’d give readers a better sense of his personality since we never saw his point of view and it was…

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I Have a Problem

Nee has a problem…

Author R.C. Murphy

No, it isn’t my obsession with everything Guardians of the Galaxy. Or my over-zealous eyebrow tweezing.

It’s book sales. Or rather, the difficulty I’ve found trying to sell books which don’t really fit into any fad genre clogging the best-seller charts.

First thing, I’m not bitter over anyone’s success. I knew out the gate, especially with Enslaved, that pitching the idea to a publisher wouldn’t be an issue. It’s readers who I cannot, for the life of me, convince to give the book a chance . . . even after they read it.

Conversations generally go like this:

Me: “Guys, I wrote a thing! Please buy it.”

Reader: “Nah. I’m gonna buy this overpriced iced coffee. Decaf. Non-fat. No whip.”

Me (Thinking, “What’s the point in that?”): “I said, please. There’s hot guys.”

Reader: “I don’t know . . . .”

Me: “Hot guys who have a lot of sex–incubi!”

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Peer Interview – R.C. Murphy

Some month ago I took some time and shot the breeze with my best friend and fellow author, R.C Murphy, to discuss some of her writing experiences. Join us and try not to hold my questions or her answers against us- we’re a bit insane.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

RC: Don’t think less of me, but I started writing with really bad Goth poetry in high school. I mean…it was awful. When I got into college, the poetry tapered off and I began to jot down screenplay ideas. Some of those turned into my very first short stories. They weren’t good at all, but I kept at it. Sometimes being a stubborn bitch pays off.

That being said, I didn’t finish my first novella until about a month ago. I have the beginnings of two other novels that just didn’t go anywhere. Only one of them seems salvageable, though. I may pick that one up next year to see what the characters tell me.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

RC: Writing about supernatural creatures was kinda natural. It never occurred to me that I could write anything else. What is funny is I read a lot of crime novels growing up, occasionally tossing in some Stephen King and classic monsters like Dracula. Even then, the creatures were the ones to set up camp in my head. They won’t go away, so I let them talk. Pick your battles as a writer. Sometimes you just are not destined to write plain ol’ humans.

Where do you get your ideas? I mean, I know about Larry, but can you tell us all a little more about your muse?

RC: Larry, my muse, is more of a face I can put on my thought process. It gives me someone to glare at when things are not going as planned.

I’m seriously hating you right now because I’ve failed numerous times to properly convey how the hell these ideas come to me. Stupid shit sets off a half-formed idea and the next thing I know, I’m 5k into a story with no clue where it is going plot-wise or what I’ll do with it once it is finished. Sometimes I dream up the ideas. Sometimes I catch someone behaving oddly in public… there is no magical formula.

Have you ever gone out in public with your shirt on backwards, or your slippers on, and when realizing it, just said screw it?

RC: Hell. No. Never. Even when I feel like death warmed over, I’m still dressed properly when out in public. The only time people catch me outside in anything less than jeans and a t-shirt or tank top is when I’m hauling the trash out into the alley or outside watering the garden. My neighbors know I’m a weirdo-slob and I don’t care any more. But public… I have to have on my armor—a set of clothes that makes me look damn good so I can hide behind them. Did I mention I have social issues? Yeah…

Do you ever experience writer’s block? I know I do, but it seems like you’re always writing. How?

RC: I get what some consider writer’s block. But I don’t give myself time to get truly backed up. There’s a reason why I typically work on two main projects at a time. If I get stuck on one, I shift to the other. If that doesn’t work, I pull up a flash fiction or short story to write for my blog. And if for some strange reason not even that works, I write articles and reviews for the Zombie Survival Crew. My daily writing goal covers every writing aspect I handle, except editing. Editing is a necessary evil that requires a lot of bribing, typically.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you and/or in any way? Who is your favorite?

RC: Laurell K. Hamilton made me realize that all of the crime novels I read as a kid could mesh with my love of supernatural creatures. When I stopped writing screenplay ideas and started writing only stories, she was a major influence. However, my main influence is Sherrilyn Kenyon. Not because of the novels she’s written, either. Sherri is a constant source of inspiration. She has gone through hell in her pursuit of being a writer, a road I’m very much on right now. Any time I feel at the end of my rope, I remember what she went through and push forward.

How hard is it to get a book published? What are some of the challenges?

RC: To be honest, I don’t know the process of publishing yet. My first book will be self-published because of the format I originally wrote it in. I also realized that, while I love the book and my readers love the book, no agent or editor would put money on a vampire novella right now. Next year or so I hope to have experience with the gut-wrenching process of tapping into a larger publishing game plan. But for now, I’m dealing with the nightmares of finding my own cover art, formatting my own book. And did I mention how soul-sucking editing is?

What are you favorite scenes to write and why?

RC: This is the time all the readers sit forward, expecting the juicy dish on writing sex scenes. Honestly, those are fun. I do enjoy finding new ways to depict the sensations during sex, but there’s only so many ways to write a blowjob. My favorite scenes to write are blood-n-guts scenes. Give me a slow death or torture any day. There is a world’s history packed with cruel ways people tortured each other. I dive into that sort of research like a child diving at candy that’s spilled from a piñata.

How in the name of the gods do you come up with a title for your book?

RC: I suck at titles. They never fit what I want to convey or give away too much of the story. Usually I give a story a working title and save giving it a proper name until the last possible minute. When I get to that point, I spend a lot of time with my nose in a Thesaurus to find uncommon words that will snag interest.

I know that you are in the process of editing Be Ours Forever, but what comes next? Is there a book two, or are you moving on to something else unrelated?

RC: There will be a prequel story for Be Ours Forever with Jarlan and Meghan, but they aren’t next on deck. The next novel/novella will be Enslaved. I took the traditional myths about an incubus and turned them upside down. It will be a good one and I can’t wait to get back to work on it as soon as BOF is safely in the hands of my readers.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

RC: You know…I don’t get any criticism, really. Which sucks donkey testicles. The feedback I get from my stories is generally all positive. I love the ego stroking, but sometimes I wish someone would (politely) point out where I’m lacking so I know where I need to grow as a writer. This is probably due to the fact that I haven’t tried to tap into Big Girl publishing yet. I’ve heard tales that the rejections from that process will make you doubt your ability to breathe properly.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? Or maybe just me? *wink*

RC: Is tú mo ghrá, mo chuisle.

Peer Interview – Quamaine Byrd

Nope, no Pre-Fall Journal post today, but be sure to check out my Peer Interview with fellow author R.C. Murphy!

Author R.C. Murphy

This week I sat down with one of my favorite people, Quamaine Byrd, and bugged the hell out of him about his experiences while writing. In the course of the interview we had a little unwanted “help” from my characters. They never sit by and let me have all the fun.

RC: Why did you decide to start writing?

Quamaine: Well, that’s a pretty good question. I guess you could say that I started writing more out of necessity than some irresistible urge. Back when I was first beginning middle school I had a lot of things going on (moving to Michigan, my father leaving the country, and some other things) and I did not have a positive outlet at the time. It was either go down the same road as my cousins and get in trouble, or find something positive and constructive to do with my time.

I settled on writing short…

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