Monday, June 20, 2016

One Year of The Crimson Mage

The current file for The Crimson Mage is labelled "Crimson Mage June 2015." Yes, I've been working on this current draft for a year.  Actually, it's been one year and six months.  I had naively assumed that it would only take me ten months to write the sequel, just as I wrote Return to the Castle.  A wrench was thrown into my plans.  It wasn't a single wrench, but more akin an earthquake in Home Depot.

On December 7th I wrote about how I was recovering from post-partum depression, totally back on track with The Crimson Mage.  I was so happy and energetic. A few days after that post my grandfather had a stroke, because the universe has a crappy sense of irony.  The following month was miserable. My daughter's first Christmas was the worst Christmas of my life, only to contend with Christmas 1994 when my mother couldn't walk after a car accident and I figured out Santa Claus was a lie because all of our presents were given to us in stapled grocery store bags.

My grandfather passed away in late January.

Writing takes your soul and your time to a solitary place.  In the beginning of this year, any spare moments that I could have spent on Centernia, I spent with my family, because that's where I needed to be.  I shared this on my personal Facebook page, but I didn't blast it across any of my public pages or sites.  I'm a very energetic loud person, but when it comes to true emotional pain, I'm pretty silent. Death is awkward.  It is the worst thing on earth and nobody knows what to say. Words are magical, but there is an emotional chasm they cannot cross when the shadow of death has past by.

I'm making this public now because I wanted readers to know what was going on in my life. I'm that still here, and I am still editing through the mire.

My artist friend Cathy Razim has been the Centernia evangelist in my absence from conventions. Some of you have met her and I am so grateful to her and her husband Joe for sharing my novel throughout the east coast.

This past weekend was my sister's wedding, which in itself was a lot of work and attention. Weddings after funerals are like emotional napalm.

I've been increasing the blog posts again, writing more, getting my groove.  I'm not going to dare to say I'm back on track for fear something else will try to get in my way. Thanks for your patience.

My little princess was a pint-sized flower girl

Questions and Answers: Editing

How old were you when you started writing?

When I was in second grade, I wrote and illustrated a story called "Marvin the Marry Mouse".  It was a Christmas tale about a mouse whose older sister told him there was no Santa.  He wrote a letter to Santa and then received bunch of presents.   Character, conflict, resolution. It was drawn on tracing paper in blue pen while I was playing in the back patio of my grandparents' house.  I continued to write from that point forward.  Many of my stories featured cats, horses, and whatever I was obsessed with at the time (stickers, XMen, Littlest Pet Shop, Sailor Moon, Star Wars, etc...).  When I was twelve I began writing original work.


Do you edit as you write?  When I write I start with an idea, but get stuck looking for the correct words.

No, I do not try to edit on the first draft. For me, writing is this mad dash to grab everything that is falling out of my brain.  I focus on the dialog and conflict first.  Without conflict, there is no story.  In the first run  there is usually some bits of setting, but the character interaction is paramount. On the second run through I begin to fill out setting and fix spelling and grammar.  I lose track of the amount of times I edit as I'm ironing story.

Do you use any special software as you write?

I keep track of the story with Excel spreadsheets.  I have editing checklists to help me look out for problems like overuse of pronouns, forgetting to describe setting, and comma splices (I swear I'm mending my ways!).  I like to print out my spreadsheets and check-off sections as I move along.  As far as writing goes I use plain old MS Word.  Sometimes I will capture chapters in Google Docs if I don't have my writing laptop with me.

Do you have any trouble deleting chapters that just don't fit?

I don't get overly attached to chapters because I don't permanently delete anything.  I have documents of story scraps. I haven't thrown out a single bit of Centernia since 1997.  Story that's meant to be a part of the story has a tendency to bubble back up.  I may delete something, but then that bit of dialog reappears months later in a different chapter.  Some days it seems as if the story writes itself and my job is simply to record it. :-)

No question too oddball!  Email us to have your questions answered in the next Centernia Q & A.