martinlivings: (Genius)
So, yesterday on Facebook, I bragged to [profile] mikandra that I wasn't going to plan anything to write for my NaNoWriMo this year, just go with the flow. Nothing in mind.

Yeah.

Then I went to bed and continued reading [profile] kaaronwarren's Slights, struck by the voice and style she's using in it, a personal, rambling Palahniuk-esque flavour. It reminded me of how I once intended to write a book I've been thinking about for some years now, a non-genre novel called Mister Phoenix. I've tried to figure this book out dozens of times over the years, but could never crack it.

I turned out the light, closed my eyes, tried to go to sleep.

Then Mister Phoenix appeared before me, almost complete. I saw the entire book, from the opening line to its conclusion. I saw the characters, the voices of the characters, the method of the storytelling. And I saw that it just might work.

It's hard sharing a bed with a writer, just ask my sweety. I leapt out, ran to the study, and frantically typed some notes (not too many, mind you!) before they faded. Then I went back to bed.

Today it's not quite as clear as it was last night, but it's still there. And it's a book and a style that will benefit from the quick-fire method of NaNo, it needs to be a stream of consciousness, entirely subjective and as unstructured as I can bring myself to be [1].

Now I have to wait a fortnight for NaNoWriMo to start. I can hardly wait!

[1] I'm a ridiculously structured writer, it's one of my worst flaws. Before I start a book, I usually decide how many chapters I'm going to write and how long each will be. Kind of kills the spontenaeity of it, huh?
martinlivings: (Default)
More writing squee... thanks to [personal profile] editormum, I found I'd scored an Honorable Mention in [personal profile] ellen_datlow's Year's Best Horror for 2008! One day I'd love to get an actual reprint in there, of course, but considering the competition, I'm pretty frickin' chuffed to even get noticed.

The list of fortunate Aussies is dutifully posted HERE.
martinlivings: (Default)
Well, [personal profile] jennifer_brozek wasn't kidding when she said she'd get back to people in October... I just found out my story "Lollo" has somehow made it into her Close Encounters of the Urban Kind anthology!

I think that's officially my first purely international sale! Yippee!

martinlivings: (Default)
Big congrats to [profile] mikandra and [profile] felicitydowker on their honorable mentions in the most recent WoTF quarter!

http://wotfblog.galaxypress.com/2009/09/3rd-quarter-first-set-of-honorable.html

And, additionally, how did I only just hear that [personal profile] jasonfischer WON the previous quarter???

http://wotfblog.galaxypress.com/2009/09/2nd-quarter-winners-announced.html

Almost makes me reconsider my tenuous moral objections to the competition, it does... which, in turn, is just my easy excuse for not entering and getting ignored by it! :)

Not that I'm probably eligible anymore... )
martinlivings: (Carnies)
Two writerly things have caught my eye today. Firstly, the good news that the wonderful folk over at [profile] twelfthplanet have accepted a story of mine for their Spec Fic for Kids project. It's not an area I write in very often, so I'm over the moon that they liked it. It's actually a really old story that I reworked, one I wrote for my niece many, many moons ago. It'll be great to see it in print, and love the fact that Twelfth Planet are exploring such previously largely-ignored demographics as this. It's so good to see some SF aimed at people who aren't necessarily white adult males (yes, including me! I'm a member of an oversaturated market target audience, deal with it!).

Secondly, I notice a new horror market in Australia has just opened for submissions here:

http://www.blade-red.com/submissions/

I especially liked the guideline:

Try to avoid the overused cliches like senseless revenge, cookie cutter serial killers and predictable monsters.

Based on this, I think I might have to write a story for them titled "Senseless Revenge, Cookie Cutter Serial Killers and Predictable Monsters". The possibilities are already whirling dervishes in my twisted mind... *g*
martinlivings: (Default)
I made the finals in [personal profile] jaylake's Flash Fiction competition! Woo!

Go read the stories, then vote for the one you like best, whether it's mine or not. The more people who vote, the truer a result we'll see. Of course, I'd prefer if you voted for me, but only if you genuinely like mine best. Honest. :)

http://www.jlake.com/2009/09/15/flash-fiction-open-voting-poll/
martinlivings: (Default)
From the challenge laid down by [personal profile] jaylake HERE...

Story beneath the cut )
martinlivings: (Default)
So, I've now sent my story off to Close Encounters of the Urban Kind. I have no idea if [personal profile] jennifer_brozek's gonna like it, but it's done, which is the main thing. And it also marks the last of my deadlines for the time being.

I think I'll take a short break from writing. It's been pretty intense, writing these last two stories, both very different from one another. I'm very satisfied with how they both turned out, though. We'll just have to wait and see if the editors feel the same way!

Hmm, wasn't I meant to be writing a novel, not short stories? Ah well...

*hangs up his quill and parchment for a little bit*
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
Regular readers might have noticed that I've been a little quiet lately. That's because my boss is off work sick, so all of her duties have fallen to me, along with my own. The nice thign is, Those Above have acknowledged that and temporarily increased my pay rate to recognise this, but nonetheless, it's been a bloody steep learning curve. I'm not a manager, but right now I'm acting as one. It's very unnerving.

Anyway, as a result, not much blogging. And not much writing either, but I have now managed to finish up a first draft of a story for Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, the final version of which is due at the end of the month.

The only problem is, looking at the story now, I have the strange feeling that it's... well, kinda shite. Plus I have no idea what to call the damn thing. It's a quandary. In fact, it's more than a quandary. It's a quintary. Maybe even a hexary. I'm not sure.

So, anyone feel like taking a quick look at about three thousand words of rough first draft and telling me if my suspicions are correct? If so, please comment here with an email address and I'll send it your way. Comments are screened, so your email won't be seen by anyone but me.

Damn this writerly self-doubting tendency...

RIP

Jul. 28th, 2009 02:50 pm
martinlivings: (Down)
Rest in peace, novel. You were never meant to be.

martinlivings: (Me)
The news illustrates perfectly why I'm seriously considering giving up writing horror... there's nothing I can do that's worse than reality...

Otty Sanchez 'beheaded newborn, ate brain'

Former Liberian President denies cannibalism charges

Mobster 'watched mafia's Mad Sam grind body'

And this is just headline news from today... Jesus...
martinlivings: (Default)
Work on The Novel - uh, none. A bit of reordering and rethinking the timelines, but that's about it. [profile] halspacejock, your software has given me a multitude of ways I can avoid actually doing any writing on it! ;)

Work on short stories - uh, also none. Need to rewrite my first draft for my Sekrit Projekt (unless [personal profile] petekempshall says I can be more specific!), and write a first draft for [personal profile] jennifer_brozek's project too. Once I finish with The Novel, or it's finished with me, whichever comes first!

So, why the update? Well, I submitted a story to Antipodean SF a while ago, and got it accepted today. Which theoretically brings my total stories either published or to be published this year to ten, a new record for me! Woohoo! *does a little dance*

That is all. Back to work, you lot, nothing to see here, move along.
martinlivings: (Default)
Or: Don't put off until tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely...

Yesterday I described writing a novel as paleontology. Today, though, it feels less like arranging bones and more like eating an elephant. The task is so big that it's hurting my fragile little brain. And it's not that big a novel; how people write those massive fat fantasy books, I'll never know.

So, I decided to change my method. I usually write books as a single big Word document. Which is fine during the initial writing, and usually okay in the editing, as long as you get it basically right the first time. With this one, though, there's a lot of chopping and changing around, reordering chapters, inserting new chapters, all the while trying to keep it consistent. It's a frickin' nightmare.

So I bit the bullet, and decided to try something new. or, more accurately, something old, something I utilised a little many years ago when working on Carnies.

I decided to install [profile] halspacejock's yWriter.

This version's a huge improvement over the previous ones, I have to say that. Importing my work was... well, tricky, because it refused to import the first fifteen chapters, deciding instead to start at sixteen for no readily apparent reason. But I got over that and managed to get the entire manuscript imported and split into "scenes" (actually my chapters, but I knew I'd be changing it around so much that having chapter divisions at this stage would be pointless). It's a neat way of getting an overall look at the book. For example, I now know that I have too many scenes from one of the characters' point of view and not enough of the other. I can also see at a glance where I need to add more stuff. Neat.

Will it help? Who knows. But, if nothing else, it let me avoid doing any actual work on it for the entire morning...
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
Slight change of plans... I don't think my brain can handle writing 6000 new words a day, so instead I'm aiming for 3000, plus some editing at the same time. I may not finish the whole thing by the end of the month that way, but at least I'll have the wordage on the page to edit if need be.

So...



3000 / 30000 words. 10% done!
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
At the moment, I'm finding the act of writing a little like field paleontology. You go out and dig somewhere you think there may be something. Sometimes there's nothing there at all. Sometimes there's junk, bits and pieces of worthless detritus. But sometimes, just sometimes, there's something good.

Short stories are like fossils for me. Generally they're complete animals, even if only skeletons and a hint of an outline. The only work to do is to fill in the gaps, flesh it out, make it come alive. That's how my story for the latest sekrit projekt came to me, and more recently (ie, last night) the story for [personal profile] jennifer_brozek's project, though I'm not sure if that story is any good yet, there's still a lot of dirt on it to be cleaned off. But no time for that right now, i have to make some field notes then put it aside for later inspection.

No, right now is novel time. And novels are like the bigger dinosaurs, in that they aren't discovered fully formed and clear. They come in pieces, large and small, dug up over weeks and months and, yeah, sometimes years. And sometimes you think you've assembled all the bones correctly, only to discover more bones later on and realise that you made some mistakes in your initial assembly.

That's the stage I'm at right now. I thought I had a complete skeleton, only to find more bones in the pit. So I have to add those bones to the big picture, and rearrange the ones I'd already found. Some of them may not even be the right bones at all, might come from a different animal altogether.

But in the end, I will have my dinosaur. And it will have big teeth and big claws, and yea, it will make the earth tremble beneath its mighty feet.

And yes, I am avoiding getting started on this... how could you tell???
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
Or, the pain of leaving things until the last minute...

So, as astute readers may recall, the last three months were supposed to be spent working on finishing up a novel to a point ready for submission. And, if you're astute enough to remember MaNoWaMo and MaNoPoMo, you also realise that I didn't do any of it at all.

Now there are two work weeks to go before the end of July, which is the deadline I set for myself. A sane person would accept that they've left it far too late, and give up on the deadline.

As astute readers may recall, I am not a sane person.

So, the plan. I need to write another 30000-40000 words of the novel to bring it up to publishable length, and edit the entire thing into some kind of shape. In other words, to complete both MaNoWaMo and MaNoPoMo.

Two months of work.

In ten working days.

Piece of cake.

Write at least six thousand words a day for the first week. Once that's done, edit twenty thousand words a day every day for the second week. Sounds reasonable.

Did I mention next week is orientation week at the uni I work at? One of our busiest times?

Like I said, piece of cake... *twitch*
martinlivings: (Me)
Via [personal profile] angriest, [personal profile] dalekboy and [profile] tikiwanderer, we're looking at first lines of work. For this, I've decided only to include works currently in my "Under Construction" folder on my thumb drive, a lot of which I haven't actually touched or looked at in, well, years, and will probably never actually be completed. Plus the ones I have in "Working On For Publication", so we can get some slightly better lines, though they're all very much in rough draft form, so don't expect "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"!

So...

First lines below the cut... )
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
  • Saturday morning - receive email asking to submit to an anthology with a (VERY) specific theme
  • Saturday afternoon - ideas beginning to coalesce
  • Saturday night - quick discussion with Izz about basic idea for plot
  • Sunday morning - sit down and type out detailed notes for story
  • Monday - work distractions
  • Tuesday afternoon - write 3000 word first draft
It's a shame not all stories come out that easily. For example, the one I'm supposed to be writing for [personal profile] jennifer_brozek (waves!) hasn't even reached the ideas phase yet (I'm so stumped on this one! Aargh!). Others, like "Blessed Are The Dead That The Rain Falls Upon", just come out all at once, from initial idea to completed (very long!) draft in a matter of an hour or two. But this one's pretty typical for me; get an idea, think on it for a while, maybe a few days, then write a first draft. And then, down the track, the last draft is unnervingly similar to the first one. That's because I actually write the first twenty or so drafts in my head [1] before I even put pen to paper [2].

And fast is good, at least for me. Fast eliminates that tiny internal editor and grumpypants that tells you something is a bad idea. That schmuck has no idea, trust me.

[1] And be grateful no-one ever gets to read those drafts, trust me...
[2] Figuratively, of course. I rarely even use pen and paper for notes, let alone actually writing!
martinlivings: (Default)
Based on the post by [personal profile] ashamel where it's deemed important to have famous people seen with your book...

Pics beneath the cut! )

It may appear that I have too much spare time on my hands, but appearances can be deceiving. It's more that I'm doing anything I can to avoid doing what I have to do...
martinlivings: (Default)
As the subject says, it's a woohoo and whoops kinda morning.

Woohoo, because "I'm Dreaming" made it into Festive Fear. I'm really proud of this story, it was bloody hard to write, and I hope people like it.

And whoops, because I completely forgot about another short story project I'm supposed to be submitting to. Luckily the deadline's still a few months away, and I've been reminded of it now, so don't worry, [personal profile] jennifer_brozek, I'll get it done!

And now it must be time to get ready and go look at a few more wedding venues, take advantage of some nice weather... not a bad way to spend a Sunday, all things considered!

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Martin Livings

December 2009

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