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NaNoWriMo Update

26 Nov

So far, my NaNoWriMo attempt this year has been laughable. When asked how my novel is going, I respond like this:

image

Seriously folks, I have spent maybe a total of two hours on my NaNoWriMo book “A Zombie Love Story”. I have maybe over 5,000 words. I only have another 45,000 words to go. Hey, glass half full, right? And I so thought this was going to be my year! Eh, whatevs. In my defense, I had quite a bit of hubbub going on. If nothing else at least I have a pretty cool outline I can flesh out into a book whenever I want to. That’s right. I have the power!

In other zombie-related news, how did everyone like the latest episode of The Walking Dead?

https://i0.wp.com/i.imgur.com/XZNND.jpg

C. L. Parson

A Little More About My Novel “ASYLUM”

7 Nov

What is the working title of your book?

 Asylum.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I go to school in Dahlonega. It is a very cool little town in North Georgia and I thought it was time to write a novel set in the old gold-mining settlement. As for the actual plot, I noticed I’ve read a lot of books about the paranormal and the supernatural, but these books rarely have ghosts. So, I thought it was time to write a scary ghost story. Other than that, it just kind of came to me as I sat in my kitchen. I was working on another book that didn’t really go anywhere. I let my mind wander and came up with the outline for Asylum. I was so excited about it, I scraped the old book and began working on Asylum.

What genre does your book fall under?

 Horror.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?

I would love for Olivia Wilde to play Jet. I believe Wilde would be able to portray the evolution of Jet. There are some emotional and violent scenes in this book and I believe Wilde’s talent would be put to good use in portraying what Jet goes through and how it affects her. As for Sawyer, I think Joe Manganiello would be a good choice. He can be tough as well as vulnerable, a flexibility that is essential to properly portraying Sawyer.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Jet infiltrates the oldest asylum in Georgia to discover the truth behind her sister’s suicide only to be admitted as a patient and forced to fight for her own life.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope to go the traditional route and get an agent. But first, I must finish polishing my manuscript.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A little under two years.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

I would compare it to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods only because we both include myth and legend as real beings in our novels. He is certainly a much better writer. I would also compare it to Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stakehouse series because the humor element is similar.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Eventually, I would like to quit my day job and write full time. I hope to someday support my family comfortably with my writing, so that is really what drove me to finish this book. That and I absolutely loved the plot and characters.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It is a unique story I have never seen done before. I wouldn’t have written it if it had been done to death. It is a ghost story that contains other horror elements revolving around the cultures of different groups in the US like the Cherokee.

C. L. Parson

And We’re Off… Kinda

1 Nov

It is that time of year again folks. It is that wonderful, magical month filled with caffeine-fueled dreams and wastebaskets stuffed like cornucopias with pages and pages of trashed ideas and dangling plot threads. Yes, it is officially time for National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo.

If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it occurs every year in November. You have 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel. That means you must write at least 1,667 words each day to reach the goal. What do you get if you win? The ultimate in prizes: bragging rights. Sounds easy enough, right? 1,667 words a day doesn’t seem too bad. You might have the will power and discipline to complete your daily word count goal. (I know at least one Wrimo who can write all 50,000 words in 24 hours.) For the rest of us mere mortals, it can be a little difficult finding time for NaNoWriMo somewhere between work and family life. But as Mom used to say, it isn’t whether you win or lose.

The point of NaNoWriMo is to have a blast while writing alongside your fellow writers. The forums are awesome plot fodder in and of themselves. This will be the fourth year I am participating in NaNoWriMo and I have not won once. Why do I keep coming back year after year? It is just good clean fun. How am I doing so far this year? Not so hot. I have not written a single word as of yet. However, I did create an awesome book cover for my novel.

So give it a go. Everyone’s doing it. You know you want to.Visit their website http://www.nanowrimo.org to sign up and join in the shenanigans.

C. L. Parson

Using Podcasts for Inspiration

12 Oct

I am a podcast fiend. They help me get through the monotony that is my day job. But they have started to serve a much more important purpose other than just a mental escape to help me keep my sanity. To my surprise, podcasts have become wonderful inspirational tools for my writing.

First, I started to just browse around for podcasts that interested me. I am a huge fan of “We’re Alive”, a radio drama podcast about survivors of the “zombie” apocalypse. As I waited for new episodes of “We’re Alive”, I explored the realm of podcasts a little deeper. I am big into paranormal experiences, legends, etc, so I found a few podcasts about those subjects. These podcasts were like a match to a keg of gun powder. My mind exploded with ideas for my next novel. Though the podcasts don’t include all of the information I will need for the new plot lines, they provided a great springboard from where I can start my real research.

Podcasts are also useful in other ways. There are podcasts for everything. There are even podcasts about podcasts (shout out to “We’re Not Dead”). Even the most off the wall podcast has plenty to offer. There are some podcasts whose hosts make me cringe with embarrassment for them. They are obviously not cut out for radio. But that doesn’t mean they are boring. Far from it. The less polished the podcaster, the more I am able to “see” the personality of that person as they really are. I am talking about characters, people. I note their speaking patterns, the phrases they use over and over again but always in the wrong context, whether or not they have a slight wheeze to their voice, etc.

These subtle character traits help me develop dialogue that feels more true to life. Think of it as people-watching, only you don’t get those ugly glares back from the strangers you are staring at. And you wouldn’t believe what kind of personal information a perfect stranger will tell a microphone for millions to hear yet won’t tell a curious writer on the street.

I’m telling you, podcasts are a never-ending goldmine of plot and character ideas. Give it a shot and see for yourself. No need to thank me.

C. L. Parson

Sabotage

9 Oct

No, it isn’t just a Beastie Boys song.

Whether you like it or not, life will always try to sabotage creative works. Just as soon as you sit down to write, the phone rings, the dog has an accident, or the washing machine begins to spew suds all over your laundry room. It feels like the whole universe is plotting against you to prevent you from writing. That’s just how it is. No use complaining or trying to prevent it. It is an unstoppable force of nature. The only thing to do to save your sanity is  to recognize it and accept it.

For me, sabotage comes in various forms.

Self Sabotage: I sabotage myself accidentally on purpose.

Example: I sit down at my computer to write. First, I decide to check my emails. Then I will start to write, or so I tell myself. An hour later, I am trying to beat my high score on the Phineas and Ferb game on the Disney Channel website.

Familial Sabotage: My lovely family members also work as saboteurs on the side. They don’t do it on purpose, but somehow, they have an impeccable ability to interrupt me at the exact time I am just about to reach my writer’s climax.

Example: I love my husband to death. He is very supportive of my writing. But for a week straight, he somehow always interrupted me every time I sat down to write. During my lunch break, as soon as the pen hit paper, he would call my cell. When I finally managed to escape to my writer’s office in the basement, fire up the computer, and start typing, the inevitable sound of his footsteps would thunder through the basement not five minutes later, right on time.

Furry Family Members Sabotage: My dog’s thought process: “Oh, she has the computer in her lap and looks all comfy on the couch. Time to piss.”

Example: My dog, Tama, is as annoying as he is cute. I could be up and about the house for a whole hour, offering him a chance to go outside every fifteen minutes or so. Did he take those ample chances to do his duty? Hell no! But without fail, the second I sit down with the computer to start writing, he is at the door giving me the you-better-get-moving-or-your-carpet-will-become-a-nice-shade-of-yellow look.

Technological Sabotage: Whether it is the dryer, the washing machine, the computer, or the entire electrical grid, if something can go wrong, it will.

Example: I get home from work, all revved up and ready to write, only to discover my water heater had finally given up the ghost, but not before flooding my entire basement. Talk about raining on my writing parade.

So these are a few examples I could think of. Like I said before, there is no use in trying to avoid it or fight it. Shit happens. Grab a shovel. Take care of it. Then write and pray the universe will give you more time before sending shit your way again.
C. L. Parson

Numbers Game

2 Oct

This post goes hand in hand with my post “Making Time”. Once I made the time for my writing, an amazing thing happened. My writing actually got somewhere. Color me surprised. And I actually was!

For each hour I wrote, my word count went up. A word count goal to a writer is like heroine to a junkie. Picture me, disheveled, sitting in my car and eagerly scratching at a note pad. Every five minutes, I pick up the note pad and begin to count the words I wrote. Shy of my goal, I grab my pen and feverishly scratch at the pad once more. Finally, I reach my goal. I throw my arms in the air, “Success!” I am sated until the next day when my fix is due.

Word count goals can also be my downfall. If I set them too high, I am doomed to fail every time. I have to be realistic. It is much more satisfying to set a modest goal and succeed than to set a ridiculous goal and fail.

Another risk I face is the temptation to stop and count my words every other minute. This can halt any real progress I am making, and my poor muse ends up with a serious case of whiplash. Instead, I try to guesstimate as I write. I know I write somewhere around 250-300 words per page. It is a lot easier to keep a page count straight in my head without having to stop writing. At the end of my session, I know about how much I wrote.

That doesn’t mean I don’t count each word after my session. Hell yeah, I do! But, at least I have the willpower and the grits to wait until my writing session is finished to count. Most of the time, I find myself within 20-50 words of the figure I ball-parked.

But the ultimate ecstasy is reserved for when I add a day’s word count to the word count total for my novel. At that point, angels sing from the heavens, the lion lays down with the lamb, and everything is right with the world. I go about my day, a stupid grin on my face. If I glowed any more, I would be radioactive. I may get strange looks from passersby, but it doesn’t matter. On these days, I’m the victor fit to wear the title “Writer”.

This is what I look like when I meet my word count goal.

Making Time

26 Sep

I was out to dinner with my mentor and we were both complaining about not having the time to write. We asked ourselves the reason for putting our art on the back burner. We came up with a spectrum of reasons from guilt to America’s puritan heritage. Would it be considered selfish to spend my time writing a fictional novel that has not made me one red cent or washed one dirty dish instead of doing something else that others may deem “more productive”? How could I battle my guilt and self-loathing for locking myself in a room with my computer when I could be spending more time with my family?

For me, it was about making the time for my writing when and where I could avoid the guilt and distraction. After looking at how I spent my time during the day, I decided that my lunch break would be perfect. It would give me an hour where I’m away from everyone and everything and I could just write.

Easier said than done. There are days where I am lazy, and I rather spend my mid-day break watching stupid YouTube videos than write. To be honest, there have been times where I skipped my hour-long writing session. However, these days are few and far between.

It is much easier to write once you have the momentum going. It is like brushing your teeth or your daily BM. Your mind knows what is coming next, so it transitions into writing mode much faster and easier than it would if you hadn’t been writing everyday.

Once I made the time for my writing, I was able to finally finish my book. Maybe it will work for you too.

 

C. L. Parson

Killing My Darlings and Disposing of the Bodies

20 Sep

Yesterday, I did some hardcore rewriting. It left me drained and oddly excited. Below are all the grisly details. Viewer discretion is advised.

Let’s start with the murders, shall we?

And by murder, I am talking about the twenty pages I completely trashed. I debated with myself about throwing away so much work, but in the end, the murdering of those pages helped make a stronger manuscript.

What about the bodies?

The twenty pages included some important information I still needed in order make my novel work. I shifted through all of the shit to find the bare essentials. I wrote them down on note cards to remind myself that these “bodies” needed to be relocated. Then on the back of the cards, I jotted down some ideas about where the “bodies” can go in the novel without it feeling like an info overload while still contributing to the natural flow of the dialogue. Below is one example.

The front of the card AKA the corpse

Back of the card

Seeing RED

After I had a few ideas about where to dispose of the bodies, I began to rewrite the manuscript. It began innocently enough. I told myself I was just going to read through it and make a few notes if I didn’t like something. I ended up doing more slashing than Freddy Krueger at a sleep study clinic. Below is a picture of the carnage. Oh, the humanity!

Avert your eyes!

In the words of Catherine Scully, a friend of mine, “that, my friend, is a lot of red ink.” (You can find Mrs. Scully on twitter @CatMScully. She also has an awesome blog: cscullywriter.wordpress.com.)

Instead of cowering in fear, I find myself rubbing my hands together, sharpening my knives (red pen) for round two. Muahahahaha! Manuscripts beware. There is a killer on the loose.

C. L. Parson

Rejection

17 Sep

Rejection can be difficult, especially when in the form of a rejection letter for a book you wrote. Plenty of my poems have been rejected in the past. Eh, whatever. A poem takes time, but no where near as much time it takes to write a book (for me anyway). So today, I received my first rejection letter from an agent I queried.

The agent was very gentle with me, pointing out a few things that were wrong with the first few pages I sent over. It didn’t feel great to have someone critique my work negatively, but it was constructive criticism. What surprised me the most was that I agreed with the agent.

Bwuah?

I had to admit to myself that even though I loved my book, I did not love the beginning. I guess I was a tad bit lazy. I had finished my first book ever and I didn’t have the courage nor the testicular fortitude to completely rearrange it.

Editing?
Sure, no problem.

Rewriting some sentences that don’t work?
Bring it on.

Throwing out the first thirty pages and starting from scratch.
Ouch! It burns!

But it is something that needs to be done, whether my lazy-ass likes it or not. For me, I must compare and take the lesser of two evils.

Sit my ass down in a chair and make the painful, excruciating changes.
OR
Never get my book published.

Well, when put that way, it really is no contest. And I should have known from the beginning that those changes needed to be made. After all, if I am unhappy about something in my book, what would my readers (though they are non-existent at this time) think? If I have a hard time getting through the blah blah blah at the beginning, how can I expect my readers to, or better yet, an agent, or a publisher?

Now some may say I am committing career suicide by posting my downfalls as a writer, but you know, we have all been there before. We are all human. Why pretend like we are perfect, when everyone else knows it’s all a sham? So I have decided not to play the “perfect, professional writer” game anymore. I’m taking my ball and going home, damn it.

Maybe writing about my imperfections as a writer will help other writers and let them know it’s okay to not have all the answers. Hell, half of us (myself included) don’t even know the damn question.

Now if you will excuse me, this lazy writer has some hardcore revising to do. Sigh. Hey, I never said I had to like it.

C. L. Parson

Testing. Testing. Is this thing on?

17 Sep

Hello citizens of the great Interweb!

So I have been thinking a lot about the whole “blog thing”. I finished my first book and have a few ideas for the next one. But it is getting around the time to really buckle down and begin to consider the marketability of my first book. I also found it might be necessary to have a place where all my fans (my mom) can read about my writing process, my struggles, my triumphs, etc.

My experiences with blogging in the past have been very touch and go. So keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll try not to screw it up too bad.

C. L. Parson

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